NIH Makes Awards to Enhance Diversity of the Scientific Workforce

On October 22, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the awarding nearly $31 million in FY 2014 to enhance diversity in the biomedical research workforce. The awards are part of a five-year program and will “support more than 50 awardees and partnering institutions in establishing a national consortium to develop, implement, and evaluate approaches to encourage individuals to start and stay in biomedical research careers.” Twelve of the awards will be supported by the NIH Common Fund and all of the NIH 27 institutes and centers and will be part of three initiatives that form the Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-funded Workforce program.

In announcing the awards, NIH noted that the awards respond to research which demonstrates that “economic, social, and cultural factors have a powerful impact on the pursuit of science careers, and has provided small scale data on interventions that have the potential to transform biomedical research training if implemented widely. This body of work suggests that a fundamental shift in the way that scientists are trained and mentored is required to attract and sustain the interest in people from underrepresented groups in the scientific workforce at all career stages.” The three initiatives will form the Diversity Program Consortium and will implement the recommendations of the NIH’s Advisory Committee to the Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce (see Update, December 23, 2013). The initiatives are:

  • Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) – A set of experimental training awards designed to learn how to attract students from diverse backgrounds into the biomedical research workforce. The 10 BUILD awardees will work with multiple partnering institutions.
  • National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) – A nationwide consortium to enhance the training and career development of individuals from diverse backgrounds who are pursuing biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social science research careers (collectively termed biomedical research careers), through enhanced networking and mentorship experiences. NRMN consists of more than 100 partner institutions and organizations, including private and public colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, historically black colleges and universities, organizations supporting tribal colleges, and scientific societies, including COSSA and a number of its members. NRMN is comprised of five regional hubs: (1) Northeast/Atlantic/Islands, (2) Southeast/Deep South, (3) Midwest, (4) South, (5) West/Northern Plains.
  • Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC) The CEC will coordinate consortium wide activities and assess efficacy of training and mentoring approaches developed by BUILD and NRMN awardees. The Center will develop short- and long-term measures of efficacy allowing it to collect the data necessary to respond to emerging program needs.

Additional information about BUILD, NRMN, and CEC awardees and partners is available on the NIH website.

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