Leveraging Stakeholders to Promote Diversity

NIH takes many steps to enhance diversity in its extramural programs. In order for these efforts to succeed, we need the active participation of all stakeholders. Senior leaders, faculty, and researchers in academic settings play key roles in enhancing diversity of science curricula and NIH-supported programs. This page identifies some stakeholders that can be leveraged to enhance the pool of applicants for participation in science and research programs. Is there an easy way to partner with us? Download this flier and share with anyone who might be interested in this site's resources.

Faculty and Senior Leaders in Academia
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It is well-documented that educational environments benefit from diversity. Faculty and senior leaders at educational institutions can enhance the pool of individuals from underrepresented backgrounds in scientific disciplines by considering diversity in recruitment, teaching, mentoring, and accelerating leadership. Building participation should be a consideration in the development of all research programs in the institution, and in all research education, training and career development programs.
Research Organizations, Professional Societies and Affinity Groups

Public Law 106-525, Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act of 2000 provided guidance for federal agencies as follows: “Federal agencies should work in concert with the private nonprofit sector to emphasize the recruitment and retention of qualified individuals from ethnic and gender groups that are currently underrepresented in the scientific, technological, and engineering workforce.”

Research organizations are in a unique position to organize and support scientific research generally, and research in specific fields, diseases or health conditions. According to a 2018 report from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the fastest growing and second most prevalent source of postdoctoral support at degree-granting institutions comprises organizations such as philanthropies, research centers, and professional societies. (see the NASEM report The Next Generation of Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences Researchers: Breaking Through) Leaders in these organizations provide focused opportunities for research and discovery, development of rigorous science curricula, and interaction with established scientists. Professional societies and affinity groups also support the development of scientific careers among their members. Because science leaders play a major role in professional development, well-planned and coordinated outreach strategies with input from other stakeholders can eliminate potential barriers to the application and participation of individuals from underrepresented backgrounds. Such partnerships can make critical contributions to enhancing scientific workforce diversity. Learn more about the strategies used by the NIH Common Fund diversity initiatives.

Institutions that Support Underrepresented Students
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Many institutions have historical missions that promote the educational advancement of underrepresented students and contribute significantly to the diversification of the biomedical research workforce. These institutions include Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions, and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs), among others. The U.S. Department of Education has identified many postsecondary institutions enrolling populations with significant percentages of undergraduates from diverse and underrepresented groups in their grant portfolio.  A list of these institutions can be found on the U.S. Department of Education website . Other institutions have been established to provide educational opportunities to individuals with disabilities, and students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Here is a list of colleges and universities exit icon that have developed opportunities to serve students with disabilities. To learn more about institutions with a track record of training students from underrepresented or disadvantaged backgrounds (including information on the percentage of Pell grants awarded in particular undergraduate institutions), see the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). These institutions are valuable sources of talent, and career success strategies.

Graduates from these institutions provide health care to underserved populations and are uniquely positioned to engage them in research and the translation of research advances into culturally competent, measurable, and sustained improvements in health outcomes.

Selected Reports

Under Resourced Institutions

NIH also supports a variety of capacity-building programs with the goal of providing opportunities for investigators from relatively under-resourced institutions. These programs support the institution’s efforts to compete independently for research support, while enhancing the institutional research base. Some of these programs include the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program (broadens the geographic distribution of NIH funding for biomedical research) and the Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) Program (broadens participation of institutions with low NIH funding). One goal of these programs is to provide research training opportunities for students. Institutions receiving such grants are also a rich source of students from underrepresented backgrounds who may have interests and skills in advancing further in research careers. The NIH RePORTer is a resource that can help identify institutions receiving these grants.  See also Using NIH RePORTer.