On March 1, NIH Director Francis Collins announced UNITE, a new effort to end structural racism and racial inequities in the biomedical research enterprise. NIGMS fully supports this initiative and is actively reviewing our own policies, practices, procedures, and priorities. We’re also intensifying our current efforts to undo the impacts of structural racism and all other forms of structural bias and discrimination in the biomedical research enterprise. Upcoming NIGMS communications and activities will identify structural and cultural elements in biomedical research that are contributing to racism and what we’re currently doing and plan to do to address them. New initiatives include, but are not limited to:
- Increased transparency for NIGMS applicants, investigators, and awards
- Funding research to test or develop interventions to address the structures in the biomedical research enterprise that impact the career advancement of scientists from underrepresented groups
- Launching initiatives to tackle structures that disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous, and other scientists of color (e.g., student debt)
- Incorporating language into NIGMS funding announcements that promotes and rewards the inclusion of diverse perspectives in research
- Developing webpages with resources to understand and undo structural racism, and current NIGMS actions toward these goals
These activities follow on to our June 10, 2020, post, which contains a number of resources to help individuals think about how to make a positive difference. Racism is not just about individual prejudice. Racism is also embedded in the systems and processes that organize and sustain biomedical research. For the sake of the biomedical research enterprise—our scientists, staff, and those who depend on the work we do—we must confront and undo these structures.
We invite you to share ideas below and keep an eye on the Feedback Loop blog for additional updates. NIH is also seeking input from the public and interested stakeholders outside NIH through various mechanisms, including a request for information open through April 9, 2021. For more information, see the UNITE website.