Giving to Vanderbilt’s ASPIRE Program

Recently, the National Institutes of Health formally recognized the importance of preparing future leaders of the biomedical workforce for a wide variety of careers, including those outside of traditional academic research, by offering the new NIH Director’s Biomedical Research Workforce Innovation Award: Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST).

In response to this initiative, Vanderbilt University’s Office of Career Development created and launched the ASPIRE (Augmenting Scholar Preparation and Integration with Research-Related Endeavors) Program specifically to expand graduate and postdoctoral training opportunities to reflect the wide range of career options available to the 21st century scientist. 

The goals of the ASPIRE Program are threefold:

1.    Empower and prepare biomedical sciences trainees to make well-informed career decisions

2.    Broaden experiences of trainees so they transition efficiently to research and research-related careers in nonacademic and academic venues

3.    Integrate career and professional development into PhD training

The next generation of biomedical scientists face challenges like no other generation before them.  Only an estimated 20% of current trainees will go on to hold tenured or tenure-track faculty positions in academic research.  Nevertheless, their graduate education has imparted them with broad skills in critical-thinking and problem solving that are invaluable assets in a wide variety of fields such as science policy, law, business, journalism, and education.  As such, it is imperative that we prepare trainees by informing them about these viable career paths and providing them with clear pathways for entry.  No doubt, students and postdoctoral fellows who receive this enhanced professional skills exposure, in conjunction with their formal scientific training, will emerge empowered to improve our world through their research, leadership and innovation. 

Generous philanthropic support from our alumni and community can make a tremendous impact on the training opportunities afforded our PhD students and postdoctoral fellows.  The Office of Career Development will use funds from the NIH BEST award to implement didactic programming to assist and prepare trainees in jump starting their career planning and management. 

With your help, they will have increased access to the skills training, real-life experiences and important networking opportunities that directly help them transition to a fulfilling and rewarding career path.

We are committed to helping our trainees attain the support needed to make valuable contributions to our world.  We welcome your gifts, large and small, to the following:

ASPIRE Scholar Fund




Through a competitive process, as determined by a committee of faculty leaders in the biomedical sciences at VUMC, ASPIRE Scholar funds will provide awards to exceptional PhD graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who wish to pursue externship and internship opportunities outside of ASPIRE’s didactic curriculum.

There are many other ways you may wish to help support our trainees:

  • Specific gifts may be designated to support a trainee pursuing a particular career path, or for an internship opportunity at a particular company or enterprise.
  • Named endowed scholarships can be established in honor of a particular individual, or on behalf of a specific employer.
  • Bequests are a meaningful way to leave a legacy for future generations


All gifts will be acknowledged and are tax deductible.

If you would like to discuss these options further, or have any questions, please contact:

Kathleen L. Gould, Ph.D.

Associate Dean for Biomedical Sciences

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
340 Light Hall
Nashville, TN  37232
Phone: (615) 343-9502


Roger Chalkley, D. Phil.

Sr. Associate Dean for Biomedical Research Education and Training

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
340 Light Hall
Nashville, TN 37232
Phone: (615) 343-7290


Thank you for giving to a great cause - the biomedical scientists of tomorrow!