Washington Update

FASEB Responds to NIH RFI on Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

By: Jacqueline Robinson-Hamm
Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Earlier this week, FASEB responded to the recent National Institutes of Health (NIH) Request for Information (RFI) on advancing and strengthening racial equity, diversity, and inclusion in the biomedical research workforce. In its comments, FASEB highlights the importance of culturally aware mentoring; sponsorship in addition to mentorship; promising practices for equitable recruitment, retention, and promotion of diverse scientists; and professional societies taking action to create inclusive spaces and combat harassment.

NIH has already launched several exciting initiatives aimed to promote individuals from historically excluded backgrounds such as the Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustaining Transformation and Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers programs. FASEB looks forward to evaluation of these programs and, if successful, additional investments in these or similar initiatives. Furthermore, the pilot of anonymized review of the Transformative Research Awards will provide enlightening data on potential bias in the peer review process.

FASEB supports the Advisory Committee to the Director Working Group on Diversity’s Racism in Science report, which takes a bold stance that structural changes to mitigate the impact of racism and implicit bias in the scientific workforce must occur. In an effort to end structural racism, NIH recently launched the UNITE initiative, which will be informed by feedback from the RFI. Two of the UNITE committees focus on transparency and the extramural research ecosystem. Therefore, FASEB recommends additional engagement on the UNITE efforts, including inviting extramural stakeholders to be sitting members of these committees.

NIH is interested in comments from all aspects of the biomedical workforce, including individual graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and biomedical faculty. Responses to this RFI are due by 11:59 pm ET on April 9.