Washington Update

FASEB Comments on NIH-Wide DEIA Strategic Plan

By: Jacqueline Robinson-Hamm
Wednesday, May 10, 2023
On May 2, FASEB sent comments to National Institutes of Health (NIH) supporting the overall goals detailed in the NIH-wide Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA). As previously described, the strategic plan emphasizes the main goal of NIH being a people-centered organization where all feel a sense of belonging as they advance the NIH mission. The agency will focus on growing and sustaining DEIA through structural and cultural change, implementing organizational practices to center and prioritize DEIA in the workforce, and advancing DEIA through research. 

A substantial portion of FASEB’s comments highlighted the need for workforce data collection and dissemination. Importantly, data must be collected and analyzed in a manner such that findings elucidate barriers, highlight successes, and result in actionable opportunities for change. Measures of the internal NIH workforce, as well as external scientists as NIH applicants and awardees, may uncover exemplary programs and areas for improvement.

Furthermore, NIH proposed identifying and promoting the application of measures of productivity aside from the usual metrics, such as publications and patents. FASEB strongly supported this goal of the strategic plan, noting current measures of productivity undervalue the human aspect and curiosity driven nature of research. Additionally, innovative metrics will aid in our understanding of the value and impact of diverse teams and inclusive environments on research findings and the scientific ecosystem at large.

FASEB also commented on the existing paradox that the sexual and gender minority (SGM) community is treated as a minority when they are the subject of research, but SGM scientists themselves are not recognized as a minority population in the official Notice of NIH’s Interest in Diversity. We encouraged NIH to be more inclusive of additional historically excluded populations from science, such as LGTBQIA+ scientists, in the future.

Overall, the strategic plan details NIH’s commitment to embracing, strengthening, and integrating DEIA across all NIH activities. FASEB looks forward to future advancements in inclusive excellence across the scientific ecosystem.