Washington Update

FASEB Comments on NIH ACD UNITE Initiative Update

By: Jacqueline Robinson-Hamm
Thursday, February 10, 2022
Last week FASEB  sent comments to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) on the UNITE initiative and recommendations from the individual committees presented during the December 2021 ACD meeting. NIH has moved swiftly to enact intramural changes to promote diversity, equity, and inclusivity, and recommendations for the extramural community were also presented.

FASEB applauded internal actions to hold leadership accountable for making progress in targeted DEI focus areas. The recently launched intramural toolkits on the UNITE initiative and ending structural racism are commendable, and FASEB urged NIH to share internal efforts with external stakeholders when applicable and appropriate.

Impact on the extramural community primarily comes from efforts spearheaded by the E Committee, which presented several recommendations during the December 2021 ACD meeting. FASEB praised the commitment to changing the culture to improve equity and inclusivity for scientists from diverse backgrounds. Since many recommendations highlighted possible changes in the peer review process, FASEB encouraged partnership with NIH’s Center for Scientific Review to effectively reduce bias and help retain talented faculty. Enhancing research capacity at minority-serving institutions is another mechanism to help diversify the scientific workforce; FASEB’s comments implored NIH to ensure such opportunities are truly meaningful and expand the awardee pool without causing undue administrative burden.

Finally, FASEB underscored the importance of UNITE initiative efforts broadening to incorporate scholars from all historically excluded groups to reach the ultimate goal of an equitable research ecosystem. As additional UNITE initiative recommendations are developed and implemented, FASEB looks forward to robust engagement with external stakeholders.