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AAMC Submits Comments to NIH on UNITE Initiative

April 8, 2021

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CONTACTS
Anurupa Dev, Lead Specialist, Science Policy
Stephen Heinig, Director, Science Policy

The AAMC submitted a letter to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on April 9 in response to a request for information (RFI) on strengthening racial equity, diversity, and inclusion in the biomedical research workforce, as well as advancing health equity and health disparities research. The RFI is to inform the agency’s UNITE initiative, which is focused on addressing structural racism in biomedical research [see Washington Highlights, Mar. 5].

In its comments, the AAMC expressed its strong support for the NIH’s commitment to ending racial inequities in the biomedical research workforce and highlighted the importance of diverse perspectives in solving complex scientific problems.

The letter proposed strategies to improve representation and reduce barriers for a diverse workforce, including investing in partnerships with minority-serving institutions, building more cohorts and communities for underrepresented scientists, stressing culturally aware mentoring, reforming components of the peer review process, and streamlining programs and support across the NIH.

The comments also noted the importance of a multisector approach to health disparities research, including basic science research funded by the NIH, and the need to accurately track this research through the NIH RePORTER platform.

Finally, the AAMC recommended that the NIH and other agencies in the Department of Health and Human Services adopt an anti-racist agenda developed through the input received through the RFI and focus on making their organizations and grant-making activities oriented toward equity.

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