Media Advisory

Monday, September 21, 2015

NIH addresses the science of diversity


In a new co-authored perspective, NIH Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity, Hannah Valantine, M.D., and NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., offer a fresh take on scientific workforce diversity – approaching it as a scientific opportunity rather than as an intractable problem. They posit that diversity is a research challenge that can be pursued through the scientific method.

In their piece, Collins and Valantine outline four challenges facing the biomedical community’s efforts to diversify the scientific workforce: the impact of scientific workforce diversity on the quality and outputs of biomedical research itself; evidence-based approaches to recruitment, retention, and career advancement; psychosocial factors like unconscious bias and stereotype threat that influence who joins biomedicine and who leaves; and scalable strategies to disseminate and sustain scientific workforce diversity nationwide for the long term. Collins and Valantine welcome more basic and applied research on the science of diversity.

Beyond ensuring fairness in scientific workforce representation, recruiting and retaining a diverse set of minds and approaches is vital to harnessing the complete intellectual capital of the nation. It is abundantly clear from research – much of it in the business, social sciences, and educational literature – that diversity improves team performance and has many other positive benefits. What is less clear – and where we need more research – is how diversity plays out in scientific settings.


Valantine H, Collins F. NIH Addresses the Science of Diversity. PNAS Early Edition (2015). .


Hannah A. Valantine, M.D., Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity, is available to comment on the findings and implications of this research.


For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact the Chief Officer of Scientific Workforce Diversity at 301-402-9628, or email the office at

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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