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Second Opinion

Learn about policy issues important to medical schools and teaching hospitals, with Executive Vice President Atul Grover, M.D., Ph.D.

Washington Highlights

NIH Will Launch Initiatives to Increase the Diversity of the Research Workforce

December 14, 2012—The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will launch the Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Program and establish a National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) to increase the diversity of the NIH-funded workforce. The Biomedical Workforce and Diversity Implementation Team presented these strategies for preparing a diverse scientific workforce at the Dec. 6 NIH Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) meeting. Lawrence Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D., deputy director, NIH, presented on behalf of the implementation team.

Last year, the ACD established a working group on diversity to identify immediate and long-term strategies for improving diversity of the NIH’s investigator pool.  The diversity working group presented recommendations to the director in June [see Washington Highlights, June 15].  Each recommendation has been considered by NIH pre-implementation teams that developed draft strategies for implementation.  Feedback on the drafts was obtained from the NIH institutes’ and centers’ directors to develop the presented implementation strategies.

The BUILD program will provide both student and faculty support.  Up to 150 new students per year will be supported to have mentored summer research experiences and up to two years after graduation.  Tuition scholarships and possible loan repayment in graduate school will be available.  Faculty leaders for undergraduate research training will be provided with financial and infrastructure support, resources for mentor training, and an innovation space to enable organizations to develop novel approaches for increasing the diversity of students entering Ph.D. training.  The NRMN will facilitate engagement of people and organizations into a consortium in order to connect students, postdoctorates, and faculty with mentors.  The NIH plans to issue planning grants in FY 2013 for organizations that wish to apply for these programs.

The NIH also is implementing several new initiatives to ensure fairness in peer review and to increase engagement by all NIH leadership, including:

  • Establishing a subcommittee of the ACD working group on diversity to examine factors related to disparities in research awards;
  • Implementing implicit bias and diversity awareness training;
  • Piloting anonymization of grant applications;
  • Creating an NIH steering committee working group on diversity; and
  • Recruiting an NIH chief diversity officer to coordinate NIH initiatives.

Dr. Collins assured the ACD that the NIH is committed to implementing the initiatives in FY2013. 

Contact:

Jodi B. (Lubetsky) Yellin, PhD
Director, Science Policy
Telephone: 202-828-0485
Email: jyellin@aamc.org

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Jason Kleinman
Sr. Legislative Analyst, Govt. Relations
Telephone: 202-903-0806
Email: jkleinman@aamc.org