NIH Commits to Combating Structural Racism in Biomedical Science
The NIH has come out with a strong commitment to ending structural racism in the biomedical research field, outlining its long-term goals and initial actions in its ongoing push for racial equity.
In a new commentary published in Cell by NIH Director Francis Collins and other officials, the institute reaffirmed that structural racism is a chronic problem that has managed to find its way into biomedical research. The institute noted its diversity and inclusion programs have been “valuable but not sufficient.”
The officials detailed the progress of an ongoing initiative, UNITE, which seeks to identify and address structural racism in the scientific community by increasing inclusivity and diversity, establishing an “equitable and civil culture” in biomedical research and tearing down barriers to racial equity in the biomedical research workforce. The program was established in March, and NIH staff have been engaging in research to identify opportunities, make recommendations and employ strategies that increase the inclusion of minorities.
Efforts thus far include an increase in funding opportunities for projects that look to understand and address the impact of racism and discrimination on minority health and health disparities; expansion of the NIH’s diversity and inclusion programs for hiring senior trial investigators; enhancing recruitment of candidates from underrepresented groups and improving retainment rates for diverse staff; gathering demographic data for staff across all NIH job areas and sharing that information; and evaluating policies and practices that may contribute to perpetuating structural racism.
For example, the institute said it has already met its goal of obtaining support for a grant by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities centered on the impact of structural racism and discrimination on health equity. It has also completed its target of publishing a request for information on practical and effective ways to improve the racial and ethnic inclusivity and diversity of research-centered environments and staff. An effort to appoint high-level staff members that will work to improve diversity, equity and inclusion at each NIH institute and center is already underway, among other measures, the NIH said.
The NIH has established multiple offices focused on improving diversity, including its recently created Equity Committee, which systematically tracks and measures diversity and inclusion metrics for each NIH institute and center’s intramural research program.
Read the full commentary here: https://bit.ly/3gkUaHZ.