Scientific Workforce Diversity

A woman in a lab coat and goggles experimenting in a lab.

In 2014, the NIH Director appointed the first Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity (COSWD) to lead NIH’s thought in efforts to diversify the nation’s scientific workforce, expand recruitment, and support retention. The COSWD’s centralized coordination of NIH scientific workforce diversity was established in response to recommendations by the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) based on input from the Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Workforce. The working group was charged with examining the factors that contribute to the current state of diversity in the scientific research workforce. The working group also was tasked with examining the findings and implications of an NIH-commissioned study that found that African American/Black applicants were less likely than White applicants to receive NIH research funding. NIH established several key programs in response to the ACD recommendations.

“As a woman of color in science, I have seen the missed opportunities to take advantage of the full spectrum of scientific talent. It is profoundly important for all members of the biomedical workforce to feel included, welcome, supported, and that they have a fair and equal opportunity to pursue their passion for research and scientific discovery; our institutions and society must take steps to eliminate threats that create barriers such as structural racism, incivility, harassment, and bias.”

— Marie A. Bernard, M.D.
NIH Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity


The mission of the Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity (COSWD) is to be NIH’s thought leader in the science of scientific workforce diversity, using evidence-based approaches to catalyze cultures of inclusive excellence. As these cultures mature, the COSWD ultimately aims to enable NIH and NIH-funded institutions to benefit from a full range of talent, fostering creativity and innovation in science. The Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity is Marie A. Bernard, M.D. COSWD goals are achieved by the staff within the COSWD office, and broad collaborations across NIH and beyond.

UNITE collaborates with the COSWD to enable the development of new programs and the enhancement of diversity within NIH and throughout the extramural scientific ecosystem.

The COSWD pursues strategic goals through strong internal and external collaborations. Below are select examples of recent and ongoing initiatives in the intramural and extramural environments.

Guided by its strategic plan, the COSWD aims to achieve its mission through three strategic goals:

Learn more about these efforts on the COSWD website. Also, plan to attend one of the COSWD’s online events as part of their Scientific Workforce Diversity Seminar Series (SWDSS).

This page last reviewed on February 1, 2024