The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently developed a framework to boost the number of black researchers who receive NIH funding based on data that show black applicants are less likely than white applicants to be awarded NIH research project grants after controlling for factors that influence the likelihood of a grant award.
NIH initiated the study in 2008 to determine if researchers of different races and ethnicities with similar research records and affiliations had similar likelihoods of being awarded a new NIH research project grant, known as a Type 1 R01. The study found that typical measures of scientific achievement did not translate to the same level of application success for black applicants. The study controlled for education, citizenship, country of origin, training, employer characteristics, prior research awards, and publication record. Although Asian applicants also were less likely to receive an award than white applicants, those differences disappeared when the sample was limited to US citizens. Award probability for Hispanic applicants did not differ significantly from white applicants.
Calling the results "unacceptable," NIH officials have committed to implementing a framework to increase the number of early career reviewers, including those from underrepresented populations; examine the grant review process for bias and develop interventions; improve support for grant applicants; and gather expert advice on additional action steps.
To learn more about this study and to provide additional suggestions about causes and remedies, visit the NIH Director's Page and NIH Feedback Web site.
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