Remember the Ginther et al. (2011) report on NIH Grant awards to Principal Investigators sorted by race and ethnicity? The one that showed African-American PIs suffered worse success rates even when controlling for a number of obvious potential contributing factors?
A new Notice (NIH-OD-12-031) seeks input on diversity in the NIH system.
The critical background:
The Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) has established a working group to examine diversity in the biomedical research workforce (see http://acd.od.nih.gov/DBR.asp for charge and roster) and provide concrete recommendations to the ACD and the NIH Director on ways to enhance diversity throughout the various research career stages, particularly with regard to underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and persons from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce has considered the evidence presented in “Race, Ethnicity, and NIH Research Awards” published in the August 2011 edition of Science and additional data provided by the NIH. This data shows that R01 applications from Black or African American PhD applicants between 2000 and 2006 did significantly worse than those applications from White applicants, even after controlling for observable characteristics. The article and a corresponding policy piece by NIH Director Francis Collins and NIH Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak can be found at http://www.sciencemag.org/hottopics/race-nihfunding/.
Now it is time for all of us to offer our insight and possible solutions (or reasons why this is a non problem) to the Working Group.
UPDATE: The CPDD Blog review of the recent ACNP meeting notes that a question was asked about this situation in a session featuring a number of NIH IC representatives. Insel, NIMH Director, polled the crowd as to how many people knew what the Ginther report found. There were probably less than 5 hands raised that I could see. I'm not great at room estimates but there were easily over a hundred folks sitting there, probably less than 200. Folks who bothered to attend a session from NIH representatives so likely people with more than average interest in NIH matters.
For your convenience, a few links from last August when this arose: