The NIH has long recognized that achieving diversity in the biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social sciences (collectively termed "biomedical") research workforce is critical for ensuring that the most creative minds have the opportunity to contribute to realizing our national research and health goals. The nation's population continues to become increasingly diverse and there is an urgent need to ensure that the scientific talent which is key to our nation's success is nurtured, recognized, and supported across all demographic groups. The NIH expects efforts to diversify the workforce to lead to recruitment of talented researchers from all groups; to improve the quality of the training environment; to balance and broaden the perspective in setting research priorities; to improve the ability to recruit subjects from diverse backgrounds into clinical research protocols; and to improve the Nation's capacity to address and eliminate health disparities.
A fundamental shift in the way scientists are trained and mentored needs to occur to attract and retain individuals from underrepresented groups in the scientific workforce. This program is a national collaborative through which the Diversity Program Consortium, in partnership with the NIH, will develop, implement, and determine the effectiveness of innovative approaches to strengthen institutional capacity to engage individuals from diverse backgrounds and help them prepare for and succeed in biomedical research careers, providing a unique opportunity to understand and address multi-dimensional factors (at the institutional, social, and individual levels) that may strongly influence student success, professional development, and persistence within biomedical research career paths. It will build upon and move beyond existing programs and paradigms to support transformative approaches to student engagement, research training, mentoring, faculty development, and infrastructure development. Transformation is expected to occur at awardee institutions, but broader transformative impact will result from dissemination of lessons learned to enable nationwide adoption of effective strategies.
The program consists of three highly integrated initiatives dedicated to investigating what training experiences work in various contexts. The Consortium is collectively determining hallmarks of success, including academic as well as psychosocial competencies, at each phase of the biomedical career pathway, develop approaches to enable young scientists to meet these hallmarks, test the efficacy of these approaches, and adjust approaches during the course of the program to maximize impact. Finally, the Consortium will disseminate lessons learned to enable adoption of effective approaches by institutions nationwide.