Two New Programs Aimed at Increasing Diversity in the Biomedical Workforce


I’d like to spotlight two funding opportunity announcements that mark the beginning of novel initiatives for improving diversity in the biomedical research workforce.

As I’ve blogged about before, in June, an Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) diversity working group presented their recommendations in regard to the recruitment and retention of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, people with disabilities, and people from disadvantaged backgrounds in biomedical research careers. Then, at the December ACD meeting, we presented the ways we’d address these recommendations.

NIH’s newly established “Increasing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce” program, supported by the NIH Common Fund, will further NIH’s existing efforts to improve biomedical workforce diversity, and foster innovative ways to support the recruitment and retention of individuals from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social science research.

One aspect of this program, the Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity, or BUILD initiative, has the long-term goal of catalyzing cultural changes at academic institutions so that the best and brightest students are well-prepared to enter research careers. BUILD will allow the development and testing of novel models for underrepresented student recruitment and training within the biomedical sciences. The currently open funding opportunity lays the foundation for the BUILD initiative with the opportunity for six-month planning grants to enable under-resourced institutions to form partnerships and position themselves to prepare applications for the multi-year BUILD implementation funding opportunity, anticipated to be announced in 2014.

Another initiative, the NIH National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN), will facilitate the development of robust mentoring relationships by coordinating nationwide pairings of scientific leaders and early career scientists (undergraduate students through junior faculty members) who may benefit from additional mentoring, including — but not limited to — individuals from underrepresented backgrounds. The currently open funding opportunity lays the groundwork for the mentoring network implementation via six-month planning grants that will prepare awardees to submit applications for the multi-year NRMN funding opportunity anticipated for announcement in 2014.

Letters of intent, while not required, are encouraged for both programs and are due April 10. A variety of resources, such as eligibility details, answers to frequently asked questions, and a listserv for those interested in email reminders related to these initiatives can be found via the BUILD and NRMN funding opportunity announcements, as well as on the NIH Common Fund website for biomedical workforce diversity, if you’d like more information.


  1. I am often asked, but don’t know the statistics for funding of women scientists. Do you know what percentage of R01s go to female vs male scientists? What about the same statistics for R21s? These data would be very useful for a course I teach.

    1. We have related graphs and tables in the NIH Data Book that might be useful for your course — visit the “NIH-funded research workforce” section, and choose the “data by gender” sub-section. Hope this is helpful!

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