Media Advisory

Thursday, June 10, 2021

NIH leaders detail commitment to end structural racism in biomedical science


In a commentary in Cell, scientists, administrators, staff and leaders from the National Institutes of Health set forth a framework to end structural racism across the biomedical research enterprise and spur much needed widescale, systematic changes. Known as the UNITE initiative, it represents the first time all NIH Institutes and Centers are jointly focused on structural racism in biomedical science — both within the agency and throughout the biomedical workforce, as well as in the research NIH supports. 

Recognizing that NIH-led diversity and inclusion programs have been valuable but not sufficient, the authors describe actions in process or planned to expand NIH efforts to the scale and scope essential to creating a more equitable ecosystem across biomedical science. These actions are informed and shaped by the five interacting committees of the NIH UNITE consortia, and include:

  • Increasing funding opportunities for projects that help to understand and address the impact of structural racism and discrimination on minority health and health disparities.
  • Understanding contributors to racial disparities in NIH funding and updating NIH Databook with grantee demographics by race and ethnicity.
  • Expanding current diversity and inclusion programs for senior investigators hired at NIH.
  • Enhancing recruitment of candidates from underrepresented groups and improving retainment of staff from diverse backgrounds and life experiences.
  • Gathering demographic data for both intramural and extramural staff across all job categories and ensuring transparency of that data.
  • Identifying and correcting any NIH policies and practices that perpetuate structural racism.


Collins, FS et al. Affirming NIH’s commitment to addressing structural racism in the biomedical research enterprise. Cell. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.05.014 (2021).


  • NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
  • NIH Principal Deputy Director, Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D. (UNITE Co-Chair)
  • NIH Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity Marie A. Bernard, M.D. (UNITE Co-Chair)
  • NIH Deputy Director for Management Alfred C. Johnson, Ph.D. (UNITE Co-Chair)

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

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®