In a commentary in Cell, scientists, administrators, staff and leaders from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) set forth a framework to end structural racism across the biomedical research enterprise and spur much needed widescale, systematic changes, reported the agency.
Known as the UNITE initiative, it represents the first time all NIH Institutes and Centers are jointly focused on structural racism in biomedical science — both within the agency and throughout the biomedical workforce, as well as in the research NIH supports.
Recognizing that NIH-led diversity and inclusion programs have been valuable but not sufficient, the authors describe actions in process or planned to expand NIH efforts to the scale and scope essential to creating a more equitable ecosystem across biomedical science. These actions are informed and shaped by the five interacting committees of the NIH UNITE consortia, and include:
· Increasing funding opportunities for projects that help to understand and address the impact of structural racism and discrimination on minority health and health disparities.
· Understanding contributors to racial disparities in NIH funding and updating NIH Databook with grantee demographics by race and ethnicity.
· Expanding current diversity and inclusion programs for senior investigators hired at NIH.
· Enhancing recruitment of candidates from underrepresented groups and improving retainment of staff from diverse backgrounds and life experiences.
· Gathering demographic data for both intramural and extramural staff across all job categories and ensuring transparency of that data.
· Identifying and correcting any NIH policies and practices that perpetuate structural racism.