Government relations update

NIH releases new funding announcements aimed at enhancing diversity

Addressing racial disparities in the U.S. health research workforce.

On Dec. 19, 2013, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a new round of funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) aimed at enhancing diversity in the U.S. health research workforce.

The new funding announcements come two years after an August 2011 Science magazine article identified racial disparities in the proportion of minority research applicants awarded NIH funding through the R01 grant mechanism. Specifically, the study reported that overall, when controlling for a variety of factors, African-American applicants were less likely to receive NIH research funding than white applicants, although proposals that scored strongly in the review process were equally likely to be funded regardless of race of the applicant.

The American Psychological Association offered comment on the issue in a September 2011 letter (PDF, 134KB) to NIH Director Francis Collins, and provided recommendations (PDF, 164KB) to the NIH Working Group on Diversity in Biomedical Research Workforce (established by the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director) in February 2012 based on feedback from the psychological science community.

The new FOAs establish three new programs and initiatives. The Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC) for the NIH Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce Program will coordinate, oversee and evaluate the activities of all the new initiatives. The two additional programs include the NIH Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) initiative, which is designed to engage undergraduate students in research through innovative training and mentorship programs and strategies. The third program, the NIH National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN), is a nationwide consortium to enhance training and career development at all levels for individuals from diverse backgrounds. Applications to these programs are due April 2, 2014.

For more information on the new NIH announcements: