August 17, 2011

NIH Addresses Need to Encourage Diversity in Biomedical Research Workforce

A few years ago, NIH leadership reviewed anecdotal data that found disturbing gaps in NIH grant success rates among various racial and ethnic groups.  Rather than guess or rationalize why such gaps may be occurring, the NIH commissioned a study to systematically and comprehensively examine NIH grant success rates by race and ethnicity.  The study, which is published in the Aug. 19 issue of the journal Science, found that, even after controlling for education, institution, and other factors that influence the likelihood of success, black investigators were still 10 percentage points less likely than white investigators to receive a new research project grant.  These results are troubling and unacceptable.  Armed with the insights we have gained from this study, NIH is committed to taking decisive action to identify causes and implement remedies. NIH Principal Deputy Director Dr. Lawrence A. Tabak and I address this critical issue and provide a framework for action in the Science Commentary below.

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, National Institutes of Health