Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) Program Highlights

Second Round of NIH FIRST Cohort Awardees Announced

The NIH Common Fund FIRST program announced its second round of awardees to enhance diversity and inclusion among biomedical faculty. These awards provide funds to recruit diverse cohorts of early-stage research faculty and establish inclusive environments to help those faculty succeed. The new set of five grants totals more than $75 million over five years, pending availability of funds. 

The NIH FIRST Cohort awardee institutions are: 

  • The Northwestern University at Chicago Recruitment to Transform Under-Representation and achieve Equity (NURTURE) program aims to disrupt systemic barriers that impede full participation of underrepresented groups by hiring new faculty in the areas of cancer, cardiovascular, and brain and behavioral sciences. 

  • The University of California, San Diego FIRST Program aims to transform cultures of inclusive excellence by hiring a diverse cohort of biomedical scientists in four clusters of research excellence, namely in cancer, cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases/immunology, and neurosciences. 

  • The University of Maryland Baltimore FIRST Program is a partnership between the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the University of Maryland Baltimore County to hire a diverse cohort of faculty in the fields of cancer biology, neuroscience, and microbiology/immunology/infectious diseases. 

  • The University of New Mexico FIRST program aims to promote sustained inclusive excellence through hiring of a diverse cohort of early-career faculty in the areas of neuroscience and data science. 

  • The University of South Carolina at Columbia Faculty Initiative for Improved Recruitment, Retention, and Experience (FIIRRE) aims to create inclusive environmental change and support a cohort of faculty within the areas of health disparities and equity research. 

Through the FIRST program, these awardee institutions will build self-reinforcing communities of scientists committed to diversity and inclusive excellence through recruitment of early-career faculty who are competitive for Assistant Professor (or equivalent) positions and have a demonstrated commitment to promoting diversity and inclusive excellence. The institutions aim to foster sustainable institutional culture change and positively impact faculty development, retention, progression, and eventual promotion. 

The FIRST Cohort awardees will work with the FIRST Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC) at Morehouse School of Medicine to determine if their systematic approach to hiring faculty cohorts with demonstrated commitments to inclusion and diversity and integrating, along with other evidence-based strategies, will accelerate inclusive excellence, as measured by clearly defined metrics of institutional culture change, diversity, and inclusion.  

More information about each awardee is available on the FIRST Funded Research Page and in the individual institutional announcements: 

NIH FIRST funding comes from the NIH Common Fund, which supports cross-cutting programs expected to have exceptionally high impact. With a strong level of enthusiasm generated within NIH, several Institutes, Centers, and Offices (ICOs) made additional funding available to bring the total cohort awardees to five for FY22. These ICOs include: 

NIH issued a total of three rounds of the FIRST Cohort funding opportunity. NIH will announce the final round of FIRST Cohort awardees in 2023. For more information about Common Fund opportunities, join the Common Fund Listserv or subscribe to the Weekly E-Mail with New NIH Guide Postings.

NIH FIRST Awardees Announced

The NIH Common Fund FIRST program aims to develop cultures of inclusive excellence—establishing and maintaining scientific environments that can cultivate and benefit from a full range of talent at NIH-funded institutions. The NIH took a major step toward enhancing diversity and inclusion among biomedical faculty by funding its inaugural set of FIRST cohort awardees and a coordination and evaluation center.

These NIH FIRST cohort awardee institutions are: 

  • Cornell University 

  • Drexel University 

  • Florida State University 

  • Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai 

  • San Diego State University 

  • University of Alabama at Birmingham/ Tuskegee University (award is a partnership between the institutions)

The newly awarded FIRST CEC (Coordination and Evaluation Center) awardee institution is:

  • Morehouse School of Medicine 

These awardee institutions will build self-reinforcing communities of scientists, through recruitment of cohorts of early-career faculty who are competitive for assistant professor positions and have a demonstrated commitment to inclusive excellence. The institutions are also building efforts to positively impact faculty development, retention, progression, and eventual promotion, as well as develop inclusive environments that are sustainable. Overall, the FIRST cohort awardees, together with the CEC  will work to determine if a systematic approach that integrates multiple evidence-based strategies including the hiring of faculty cohorts with demonstrated commitments to inclusion and diversity will accelerate inclusive excellence, as measured by clearly defined metrics of institutional culture change, diversity, and inclusion. Read more about each awardee here. And read institutional announcements here:

NIH FIRST funding comes from the NIH Common Fund, which supports cross-cutting programs expected to have exceptionally high impact. However, with a strong level of enthusiasm generated within NIH, additional funding was made available through several institutes and offices to bring the total cohort awardees to six for FY21, from the originally planned four awardees.  These institutes and offices include:

NIH plans to announce a total three rounds of the FIRST Cohort funding opportunity. The first and second announcements are now closed. To stay tuned for the final funding announcement, join the Common Fund Listserv or subscribe to the Weekly E-Mail with New NIH Guide Postings.

This page last reviewed on September 21, 2022