Government Relations Update

NIH seeks input on how to increase diversity of research workforce

Effort responds to finding of racial disparity in grant success.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a call for input from the scientific community and general public to help NIH develop a strategy for increasing the diversity of the research workforce.  This input will be used by a working group established by the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director that is charged with making recommendations “on ways to enhance diversity throughout the various research career stages, particularly with regard to underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and persons from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

The NIH working group seeks comments on such topics as: how diversity can be enhanced at specific points in the training and career development sequence, the role of mentors and role models in scientists’ development, NIH’s messages to scientists from underrepresented groups, institutional infrastructure and climate, and the NIH grant application review process.

This NIH effort was initiated following the publication in 2011 of a study that found that black applicants were less likely to receive an NIH R01 grant than white applicants, even after controlling for a variety of factors (see previous coverage).

Further background and instructions for submitting comments can be found in the formal Request for Information (NOT-OD-12-031).  The deadline for submitting comments is February 24, 2012.

The American Psychological Association (APA) plans to submit comments and encourages individual psychologists to do so as well.  For further information about APA’s efforts, contact Karen Studwell (202-336-5585) of the Science Directorate’s Government Relations Office.