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AAAS Issues Draft Plan to Address Systemic Racism in the Sciences

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has released the first of three draft plans intended to address systemic racism in the sciences, Holding up a Mirror: Demographic Representation in AAAS Functions that Advance Careers. The plan outlines AAAS’s commitment and proposed actions to embed diversity, equity, and inclusion within its operations. Forthcoming draft plans will focus on AAAS programs and initiatives to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in science and engineering and on AAAS actions to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion with the AAAS as an organization. They are expected to be released by mid-September. Comments and suggestions may be submitted to suggestionsforaaas@aaas.org.

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Posted in Issue 16 (August 4), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Scientific Community Responds to Racism and Police Violence through #ShutDownSTEM Campaign

On June 10, several academic and scientific organizations participated in the Shut Down STEM campaign, forgoing business as usual to instead reflect upon racism and police violence and its effect on science and research. Participants in #ShutDownSTEM took action in several ways, including the cancelling meetings, classes, and research activities, discussing potential methods to improve the research climate for Black researchers, and participating in a broader social media campaign using the hashtags #ShutDownSTEM and #ShutDownAcademia. More information can be found on shutdownstem.com.

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Posted in Issue 13 (June 23), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

NSF Announces New Collaboration between SBE and Minority-Serving Institutions

On February 24, the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate at the National Science Foundation (NSF) released a Dear Colleague Letter announcing the new Build and Broaden initiative, a collaborative effort between the SBE Directorate and Minority-Serving Institutions. The initiative invites proposals for research conferences intended to promote ideas and partnerships in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences at Minority-Serving Institutions.

Conference proposals for Build and Broaden are due May 1, 2020. The Dear Colleague Letter and more information are found on the NSF website.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 3), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

NIH Seeking Comments on Inclusion Across the Lifespan II Workshop

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a Request for Information (RFI) seeking stakeholder input on a planned workshop on Inclusion Across the Lifespan, a policy intended to encourage inclusion of underrepresented participants in clinical studies. The Inclusion Across the Lifespan II Workshop is a follow-up to a 2017 workshop mandated by Congress in the 21st Century Cures Act. Comments will remain open until February 15, 2020. More information can be found in the NIH guide notice.

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Posted in Issue 1 (January 7), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

NIH Updates Diversity Statement

On November 22, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a notice updating the agency’s official statement on diversity in research settings. In a blog post by Deputy Director for Extramural Research at NIH Dr. Mike Lauer, the main reason for the updated statement was to expand the criteria for qualifying as an individual from a low socio-economic background. In the post, Lauer claims “this revised definition should better capture many scientists with a disadvantaged background, and be relatively easy to assess, ensuring we continue enhancing the diversity of the biomedical research workforce.” The updated diversity statement and the previous diversity statement can both be found on the NIH website.

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Posted in Issue 24 (December 10), Update, Volume 38 (2019)

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)

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