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Vol. LXV, No. 3
February 1, 2013

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Big Data, Diversity Initiatives Get Acting Directors

NHGRI director Dr. Eric Green and NIBIB director Dr. Roderic Pettigrew recently accepted acting roles in two new senior scientific positions created by NIH director Dr. Francis Collins as part of NIH’s response to advisory committee to the NIH director (ACD) working group recommendations on Big Data and the diversity of the scientific workforce. Collins also said the search is on for permanent hires for these posts.

Green will be acting associate director for data science (ADDS), leading an NIH-wide initiative to take better advantage of the exponential growth of biomedical research datasets.

Photo of Dr. Roderic Pettigrew Photo of Dr. Eric Green

In newly created posts, NHGRI director Dr. Eric Green (r) is acting associate director for data science and NIBIB director Dr. Roderic Pettigrew (l) is acting director for scientific workforce diversity.

“The era of ‘Big Data’ has arrived,” said Collins. “There is an urgent need and increased opportunity for increased collaboration and coordination of access to, and analysis of, the many different data types that make up this revolution in biological information, including genomics, imaging and phenotypic data from electronic health records.”

In his ADDS role, Green will lead the coordination of data management, communication and data interpretation for both the NIH community and the biomedical research community at large.

Pettigrew will be acting director for scientific workforce diversity, leading a new initiative to diversify the biomedical research workforce. The permanent position will be known as the chief officer for scientific workforce diversity.

“The area of workforce diversity and inclusion is critically important to the success of the NIH to achieve scientific outcomes that advance the nation’s health,” Collins said. “Recent analyses have shown that there is great need to appoint a nationally known scientist at the NIH to develop a comprehensive vision and strategy to diversify scientific applicant pools and pipelines, expand recruitment methods and retention strategies, guarantee the fairness of peer review and help promote inclusiveness and equity throughout the biomedical research community at large.”

Pettigrew will oversee NIH programs and activities designed to address the unique diversity and inclusion challenges of the biomedical research workforce and will serve as co-chair of both the working group on diversity of the ACD and the newly formed internal NIH steering committee on diversity.

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