The NIH has long recognized that achieving diversity in the biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social sciences (collectively termed “biomedical”) research workforce is critical for ensuring that the most creative minds have the opportunity to contribute to realizing our national research and health goals. The nation’s population continues to become increasingly diverse, and there is an urgent need to ensure that the scientific talent which is key to our nation’s success is nurtured, recognized, and supported across all demographic groups. The NIH expects efforts to diversify the workforce to lead to the recruitment of talented researchers from all groups, to improve the quality of the training environment, to balance and broaden the perspective in setting research priorities, to improve the ability to recruit subjects from diverse backgrounds into clinical research protocols, and to improve the Nation's capacity to address and eliminate health disparities.
In 2012, the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce explored ways to improve the recruitment of individuals from diverse backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical research and prepare them for successful biomedical research careers. (These individuals include persons from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, people with disabilities, and people from disadvantaged backgrounds; see http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/showpub.cfm?TopID=2&SubID=27, and the latest NSF report on Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering, http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/women/). The Working Group provided recommendations, endorsed by the ACD, about how to develop and support individuals from diverse backgrounds across the lifespan of a biomedical research career. In response to these recommendations, the NIH established the Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce program.
This trans-NIH program is funded by the NIH Common Fund and managed by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). The overarching goal of the program is to develop, implement, assess and disseminate innovative and effective approaches to engaging, training and mentoring students; enhancing faculty development; and strengthening institutional research training infrastructure to enhance the participation and persistence of individuals from underrepresented backgrounds in biomedical research careers.
The unique aspects of this program include:
- A focus on three levels of impact: student, faculty and institutional.
- The integration of social science research and psychosocial interventions into the process of training and mentoring students and faculty.
- Rigorous assessment and evaluation of the training and mentoring interventions implemented across the program.
Through the implementation and evaluation of effective approaches to improve training and mentoring across the consortium, this program aims to have a significant impact on the participation and persistence of individuals from diverse backgrounds in the biomedical research pipeline, as well as on transforming the culture and efficacy of biomedical research training and mentoring nationwide.
The program, also referred to as the Diversity Program Consortium (DPC), consists of three integrated initiatives: Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD), the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) and the Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC).