Washington Update

National Institutes of Health Program Aims to Diversify the Research Workforce

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced three funding opportunities aimed at transforming the biomedical research community by implementing successful training and mentoring strategies targeting underrepresented minorities. The Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce program will establish a national consortium to develop, implement and evaluate approaches to encouraging individuals to choose and stay in biomedical research careers.

“A lack of diversity jeopardizes our ability to carry out the NIH mission because innovation and problem solving require diverse perspectives,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “The future of biomedical research rests on engaging highly talented researchers from all groups and preparing them to be successful in the NIH-funded workforce.”

Funding will go to three distinct but integrated programs:

  • The National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) will address the critical need for increased access to high-quality research mentorship and networking opportunities across the country. NRMN will also develop best practices for mentoring, provide training opportunities for mentors and provide professional opportunities for mentees.
  • Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) will provide support for relatively under-resourced institutions with high concentrations of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Awardees will be encouraged to partner with research-intensive institutions to expand research opportunities for their students, foster networking and enrich the training experiences available to students at both institutions.
  • The Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC) will coordinate activities across the three programs and assess efficacy of the training and mentoring approaches developed by the BUILD and NRMN awardees. The CEC will also take the lead in disseminating lessons learned by the consortium of awardees, so that effective approaches can be adopted by other institutions across the nation.

Applications for funding are due March 18, 2014, with awards to be announced in September 2014. Last fall, the NIH issued six-month planning grant awards for the BUILD and NRMN initiatives. More than $2.7 million was given to 15 BUILD planning grant awardees and more than $1.3 million was given to seven NRMN planning grant awardees. More information about these awards can be found here.

The Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce program is funded through the NIH Common Fund and managed by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities in partnership with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The NIH Common Fund encourages collaboration and supports a series of exceptionally high-impact, trans-NIH programs.

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