NIH to fund program to encourage diversity among biomedical faculty

Dec. 11, 2020

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) plans to support institutions’ efforts to recruit diverse groups or "cohorts" of early-career research faculty and prepare them to thrive as NIH-funded researchers, according to a press release.

These groups include underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, and women.

Two new funding announcements were released as part of the NIH Common Fund's Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) program.

The NIH Scientific Workforce Diversity office, directed by Acting Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity Marie A. Bernard, MD, leads NIH's effort to diversify the national biomedical science workforce and expand recruitment and retention.

Funding through the FIRST cohort awards will enable biomedical research institutions to hire a diverse cohort of early-career research faculty committed to inclusive excellence and diversity. The program will also support development and strengthening of institution-wide approaches facilitating the success of cohort members and future faculty from a diversity of backgrounds. For the cohort members, this is likely to include mentoring, sponsorship, and networking opportunities. For the institutions, this may include training faculty in approaches known to foster inclusive excellence and changing the rubric for interviewing processes.

The FIRST program will also fund a coordination and evaluation center, which will develop and guide collection of common data metrics to rigorously assess the effects of new faculty cohorts on institutional culture. Lessons learned by the hiring institutions, then captured and analyzed by the center, will be shared with the broader biomedical research community.

The program is expected to fund 12 awards over the next three years, contingent upon the availability of funds. Applications for the Funding Opportunity Announcements are due March 1, 2021, with awards to be announced in 2021.

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