Dr. Manju Benakanakere Selected for National Research Mentoring Program


Dr. Manju

Philadelphia – Dr. Manju Benakanakere, Research Assistant Professor of Periodontics at Penn Dental Medicine, was selected by the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) to participate in the NRMN Steps Towards Academic Research (STAR) Fellowship Program. He will represent the University of Pennsylvania in this year-long program that offers grant writing and professional development training for postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded NRMN is a nationwide consortium of experienced biomedical professionals and research institutions that provides career mentorship and professional development programming for researchers across the biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social sciences. The NRMN’s mission is to be a resource for researchers at all career levels, especially those from underrepresented groups. Aiming to address the need for greater diversity in the biomedical research workforce, the NRMN emphasizes their goal of increasing diversity through various mentorship and training programs, including the STAR program.

The NRMN STAR program features an extensive curriculum in grant writing and professional development training and is committed to increasing the number of successful NIH grants obtained by researchers from diverse backgrounds. Each year, ten trainees are selected from a competitive group of applicants across the country.

“I am delighted to be one of the 10 participants selected nationwide and represent Penn Dental Medicine,” says Dr. Benakanakere, who is part of the research lab of Dr. Denis Kinane, Morton Amsterdam Dean of Penn Dental Medicine and Professor in the Departments of Periodontics and Pathology. “It is an honor to participate in the NIH-sponsored NRMN STAR fellowship program to learn about grant writing and career development from coaches and seasoned grantsmen.”

“This program not only allows me to learn about grantsmanship,” says Dr. Benakanakere, “but it also addresses leadership and professional development topics.” With its curriculum and training targeted to postdocs and early-stage faculty, the program is designed to prepare them for independent research careers with the necessary skills to secure research sponsorships. The first session of the program was held in July and participants will meet monthly through June 2017 to facilitate the development of a competitive grant proposal to the NIH. Dr. Benakanakere is also one of the recipients of this year’s Joseph and Josephine Rabinowitz Research Award for Excellence in Research. The award was announced during Penn Dental Medicine’s Research Day on May 12, 2016.