The NIH has chosen 13 researchers for the inaugural class of the Distinguished Scholars Program (DSP), launched earlier this year to build diversity within the NIH Intramural Research Program. “Nurturing diversity in the NIH Intramural Research Program is paramount to upholding our mission,” said NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD. Research has shown that a “diversity of perspectives” is vital to the improved quality and number of discoveries, he adds.
The DSP aims to facilitate hiring and career progression of tenure-track investigators who have demonstrated commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion in the biomedical research workforce, according to the NIH. The DSP is unique in its focus on early-stage investigators, says Hannah A. Valantine, MD, NIH Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity. She says that is the “major point where we lose underrepresented groups from scientific careers.”
Dr. Collins says the DSP can serve as a model for universities to prevent the attrition of underrepresented groups, including women, blacks, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The pilot program will fund 3 cohorts of up to 15 scholars each. Nominees are chosen for their scientific excellence and commitment to diversity and inclusion, shown through participation in activities, such as mentoring programs.
Scholars will receive 4 years of research support of up to $2.35 million from the DSP; their nominating institute or center will continue to fund their research throughout their tenure track. Each scholar also will be mentored by a highly experienced NIH senior investigator and receive professional leadership training, workshops on management skills, and networking opportunities with NIH leadership.
NIH selects first scholars in pioneering program to enhance diversity within inhouse research program [news release]. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health; October 23, 2018. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-selects-first-scholars-pioneering-program-enhance-diversity-within-house-research-program . Accessed October 31, 2018.