Increasing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce


The NIH recognizes a unique and compelling need to promote diversity in the biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social sciences research workforce. The NIH expects efforts to diversify the workforce to lead to recruitment of the most talented researchers from all groups; to improve the quality of the educational and training environment; to balance and broaden the perspective in setting research priorities; to improve the ability to recruit subjects from diverse backgrounds into clinical research protocols; and to improve the Nation's capacity to address and eliminate health disparities.

In 2012, the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce provided concrete recommendations toward improving the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities, people with disabilities, and people from disadvantaged backgrounds (collectively referred to as Under-Represented Groups, or URGs) across the lifespan of a biomedical research career from graduate study to acquisition of tenure in an academic position or the equivalent in a non-academic setting ( Influenced by these recommendations, NIH is undertaking a variety of activities both internally and in its support of extramural institutions. One component of this comprehensive response to the Committee’s recommendations is the establishment of the "Increasing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce". This program is intended to unify and strengthen institutions and faculty dedicated to the recruitment and retention of diverse scientists.

The program, to be launched and piloted through the NIH Common Fund, will build on the many existing programs that currently support students, faculty, and institutions. It is intended to create an integrated consortium of institutions and organizations working together to establish a community of diverse scientists, strengthen ties between mentors and mentees at all career stages, and build effective collaborative networks.  The program will consist of a series of coordinated initiatives:

The Common Fund expects to solicit applications for one-year planning grants for BUILD and NRMN in early 2013, with the first awards to be issued in the fall of 2013. Applications for the Coordinating and Evaluation Center will be solicited in mid 2013 with awards made in mid 2014. Future awards for implementation of BUILD and NRMN will be solicited in late 2013 with awards anticipated in late-2014.

Other initiatives emerging from the ACD recommendations are being explored elsewhere at NIH. These initiatives include efforts to ensure fairness in peer review, implementation of an NIH Steering Committee Working Group on Diversity, and recruitment of an NIH Chief Diversity Officer.

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Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives  •  National Institutes of Health  •  Bethesda, Maryland 20892