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NSF Releases 2017 Report on Underrepresented Groups in Science and Engineering

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) released the 2017 edition of Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering. The Congressionally-mandated report, which is released every two years, compiles data on the “participation of these three groups in science and engineering education and employment.” It reports on data across five categories: enrollment, field of degree, occupation, employment status, and early-career doctorate holders. The report digest, as well as more information on data sources and links to download the data in full are available on the NSF website.

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Posted in Issue 3 (February 7), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

NIGMS Analyzes RFI Response on Modernizing Biomedical Graduate Education

On November 2, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) shared its analysis of the input it received from the scientific community in response to a June 2016 request for information (RFI) (NOT-GM-16-109) on how to “catalyze the modernization of biomedical graduate education through NIGMS’s institutional predoctoral training program.” According to NIGMS, the comments received addressed 28 themes and fell into five categories: institutional and training-related issues, skills development, systemic issues within the research enterprise, careers, and administrative and review issues. The feedback around the issue of diversity and the role of institutional climate, one of the themes, included concern regarding the lack of diversity and the fact that it “…continues to be an alarming problem in biomedical research. Given our changing demographics, this is no longer a ‘minority problem,’ but rather a national emergency.” Another theme cited was the “strong support for interdisciplinary training in Ph.D. programs.” Additional details about the analysis can be found in the report.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 15), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

NIH Seeks Information on Research Supplement to Promote Workforce Diversity in Small Business

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is soliciting input on a “proposed new supplement to facilitate participation of women and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals in small businesses” through the congressionally-mandated Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. The request for information (RFI), Research Supplement to Promote Workforce Diversity in Small Businesses (NOT-OD-17-008), notes that although SBIR/STTR awardees are eligible to apply for diversity supplements, the participation rates in the program are very low. Accordingly, the agency is seeking input to understand the barriers preventing these populations from participating in the “existing diversity supplement program and to inform its consideration in developing a new diversity supplement program specific to SBIR/STTR mechanisms.” Responses to the RFI are due December 16, 2016.

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Posted in Issue 21 (November 1), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

NINDS to Hold Informational Webinars on Diversity Career Development Awards

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is supporting a series of webinars for potential applicants and mentors to its Mentored Career Development Awards to Promote Diversity in Neuroscience (PAR-16-220 and PAR-16-219). The Institute’s Faculty Development Award to Promote Diversity in Neuroscience Research is designed to provide “an intensive, supervised career development and scientific mentoring experience for promising junior investigators… from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical research.” The award also provides protected time from teaching and other duties in addition to providing resources intended to hone awardees’ skills in grant writing and publication of high impact research. Similarly, the NINDS Advanced Postdoctoral Career Transition Award to Promote Diversity in Neuroscience Research (K22) is designed “to support talented advanced postdoctoral investigators from backgrounds underrepresented in neuroscience research during their transition to independent research positions.” The webinars, which are optional, are intended to provide guidance to potential applicants. The initial webinar, What You Need to Know About the NINDS Diversity Career Development K22 Award: Tips for Preparing Your Application, is scheduled for December 13. A second webinar, What You Need to Know About the NINDS Diversity Faculty Development K01 Award: Tips for Preparing Your Application, is anticipated in March 2017. For more information, see the notice (NOT-NS-17-007).

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Posted in Issue 21 (November 1), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Tri-Caucus Introduces 2016 Health Equity and Accountability Act

On June 15, led by Representative Robin Kelly (D-IL), members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA) (H.R. 5475). The groups, also known as the Congressional Tri-Caucus, have introduced versions of the legislation since 2007, which has served to inform other health-related legislation considered by the Congress, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Introducing the bill, Rep. Kelly, chair of the CBC Health Braintrust, noted that HEAA “is a reminder that there is much work to be done to improve health outcomes in minority populations.” She was joined at the bill’s roll out by CAPAC chair Judy Chu (D-CA), CAPAC Health Taskforce co-chair Barbara Lee (D-CA), CHC Health Task Force chair Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), CHC chair Linda Sanchez (D-CA), and CBC chair G.K. Butterfield (D-NC).  The bill currently has 18 co-sponsors.

Among other things, if enacted, the bill would direct the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support research addressing minority health and health disparities. Issues and topics addressed by the 800-page bill include: data collection and reporting; workforce diversity; mental health; healthcare outcomes for women, children and families; “high impact minority diseases” (cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic disease, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, lung disease); health information technology; accountability and evaluation; and social determinants of health, the built environment, and environmental justice.

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 12), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

Scientific Workforce Diversity Discussed at NIH Advisory Committee Meeting

On June 9, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity Hannah Valantine updated the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) on the findings and recommendations of the ACD’s African American/Black Funding Disparity Working Group. Valantine presented the key findings of the Working Group followed by a discussion of how the Working Group framed its suggestions regarding NIH’s plans to address the issue in the coming months. She reported that the Group’s analysis found that there are funding disparities at every stage of the application process from submissions to funding. In particular, the analysis found that African Americans submit fewer applications, noting that it is a “miniscule applicant pool and even within that small pool there are fewer number of applications per applicant.” Compounding the issue is that there are fewer resubmissions from African Americans. The Working Group found that the initial review score drives resubmission and there is a small component involved as it relates to the research topic. Based on the data and the ongoing analysis, Valantine stressed that the “work needs to continue to be done and NIH needs to continue a vigilant eye on the issue.” (more…)

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Posted in Issue 13 (June 28), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

NIGMS Releases 2015-2020 Strategic Plan

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) recently released its 2015 -2020 strategic plan.  According to NIGMS director Jon Lorsch, the plan outlines the Institute’s priorities and activities, including “the goals, objectives and implementation strategies that the Institute—in partnership with the scientific community at universities, professional societies and other federal agencies—will engage in over the next five years.”  Additionally, the plan provides “snapshots” of specific institute priorities and achievements.

In his director’s message, Lorsch emphasizes that the Institute continues to place “great emphasis on supporting investigator-initiated research grants” and highlights NIGMS emphasis on “the critical importance of rigor, reproducibility and transparency in all biomedical pursuits.” He also underscores the Institute’s research training programs which recognize “the interdisciplinary nature of biomedical research… [and] emphasize experiences that cut across fields of inquiry.”  This includes the recognition of “a compelling need to promote diversity in the biomedical research workforce.” Lorsch further emphasizes that NIGMS is “committed to galvanizing efforts to diversify the workforce by recruiting talented researchers from all groups and supporting quality educational and training environments in a wide variety of scientific areas.”

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 24), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

NSF Releases Report on Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering

The National Science Foundation (NSF) National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) has released its biennial report, Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering. Mandated by the Science and Engineering Equal Opportunities Act, the report details the participation of these underrepresented groups in science and engineering. The data is organized by enrollment, field of degree, occupation, employment status, and academic employment. More information, including downloads of the report digest and data, are available on the NCSES website.

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Posted in Issue 3 (February 24), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

NIH Makes Awards to Enhance Diversity of the Scientific Workforce

On October 22, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the awarding nearly $31 million in FY 2014 to enhance diversity in the biomedical research workforce. The awards are part of a five-year program and will “support more than 50 awardees and partnering institutions in establishing a national consortium to develop, implement, and evaluate approaches to encourage individuals to start and stay in biomedical research careers.” Twelve of the awards will be supported by the NIH Common Fund and all of the NIH 27 institutes and centers and will be part of three initiatives that form the Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-funded Workforce program. (more…)

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Posted in Issue 20 (November 3), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

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