For NIH Extramural Applicants and Awardees

NIH is committed to:

1. Developing a diverse biomedical research workforce and improving the recruitment of underrepresented groups in science, science leadership, and science administration.

2. Implementing approaches to improve the success rate in NIH grant funding that support researchers from diverse backgrounds, including underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.

The NIH Office of Extramural Research (OER) supports and oversees the grants infrastructure by providing policy, guidance, systems, and other support to the grant recipient community as well as to the 24 NIH Institutes and Centers that award grants. OER guides institutions and researchers through the process of attaining grants funding and helps them understand and navigate federal policies and procedures.

NIH’s ability to help ensure that the nation remains a global leader in scientific discovery and innovation is dependent upon a pool of highly talented scientists from diverse backgrounds who will help to further NIH's mission. Scientists and trainees from diverse backgrounds and life experiences bring different perspectives, creativity, and individual enterprise to address complex scientific problems. There are many benefits that flow from a diverse NIH-supported scientific workforce, including: fostering scientific innovation, enhancing global competitiveness, contributing to robust learning environments, improving the quality of the research, advancing the likelihood that underserved or health disparity populations participate in and benefit from health research, and enhancing public trust.


“Having a diverse workforce is not only the right thing to do, it leads to better science and better health. We will be working in every way we can to identify and remove any impediments that promote structural racism to foster a more inclusive and diverse workforce.”

— Michael Lauer, M.D.,
NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research


You can learn more about the many NIH-supported programs to diversify the scientific workforce and address the funding gap for scientists of color on the Scientific Workforce Diversity website. Learn more about NIH’s extramural diversity efforts.

To improve racial equity in NIH grant funding, efforts under the UNITE initiative will seek to perform a broad systematic evaluation of NIH extramural policies and processes to identify and change practices and structures that may perpetuate a lack of inclusivity and diversity within the NIH-funded biomedical research ecosystem.

Concrete actions to achieve this goal include:

  • Aggressively and immediately implement approaches to address the funding gap for Black/African American researchers and enhance portfolio diversity to appeal to scientists across the research spectrum, including researchers from underrepresented groups.
  • Expand existing extramural grant funding data to include funding support by race and ethnicity.
  • Develop a sustainable process to gather systematically the demographics of our extramural scientific staff, including program and review staff and make the information publicly available.
  • Review and evaluate existing NIH diversity programs in:
    • Diversity, training, career development, and capacity building
    • Peer review
    • Equity of interactions between NIH staff and the community
    • Limitations of NIH funding mechanisms and policies, pre-application processes, and application submission forms and systems
  • Review diversity programs at other organizations, for example, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) SEA Change and the National Science Foundation ADVANCE, to gather best practices.
  • Seek input from extramural stakeholders through listening sessions and an online Request for Information to inform NIH strategies to enhance diversity and inclusion in the biomedical research workforce and develop a more robust portfolio of research to better understand and address inequities in our existing system.

This page last reviewed on March 1, 2021