In what the National Institutes of Health (NIH) deem "unacceptable," it has been discovered that black researchers are 10 percentage points less likely than their white counterparts to receive research grants from the same organization. Blacks were less likely to receive the grants, regardless of education, training, citizenship, country of origin and prior research and publication history.
The NIH in fact called for the study of its own practices in dealing with 40,069 individual applicants between 2000 and 2006 reported that Asian American or Hispanic researchers were just as likely as whites to receive the new research project grants.
NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins stated:
"The results of this study are disturbing and disheartening, and we are committed to taking action."
NIH officials were also disturbed by the small number of applications from non-white applicants. The study found that white applicants far outnumbered those of all other racial/ethnic groups: 28,456 whites (71 percent); 5,402 Asians (13.5 percent); 1,319 Hispanics (3.3 percent); 598 blacks (1.5 percent); and 11 percent were other/unknown.
NIH is the largest source of funding for medical research in the world, creating hundreds of thousands of high-quality jobs by funding thousands of scientists in universities and research institutions in every state across America and around the globe.
NIH is made up of 27 Institutes and Centers, each with a specific research agenda, often focusing on particular diseases or body systems. NIH leadership plays an active role in shaping the agency's research planning, activities, and outlook.
Donna Ginther, who was part of the investigation and professor of economics at the University of Kansas, said in an NIH news release:
"In order to improve the health outcomes of all Americans, it's important for the biomedical workforce to reflect the diversity of the population. As the population becomes increasingly diverse, we will continue to get further from that goal unless the community intervenes."
More than 80% of the NIH's budget goes to more than 300,000 research personnel at over 3,000 universities and research institutions. In addition, about 6,000 scientists work in NIH's own laboratories, most of which are on the NIH main campus in Bethesda, Maryland. The main campus is also home to the NIH Clinical Center, the largest hospital in the world totally dedicated to clinical research.
The Office of the Director is the central office at NIH, responsible for setting policy for NIH and for planning, managing, and coordinating the programs and activities of all the NIH components. The NIH Director, with a unique and critical perspective on the entire agency, is responsible for providing leadership to the Institutes and for constantly identifying needs and opportunities, especially for efforts that involve multiple Institutes.
NIH is responsive to Congressional legislation that adjusts NIH's programs to meet changing research needs. As a result of the NIH reauthorization process, NIH is able to respond strategically in an era when medical research requires constant innovation and increased interdisciplinary efforts.
Successful biomedical research depends on the talent and dedication of the scientific workforce. NIH also supports many innovative training programs and funding mechanisms that foster scientific creativity and exploration. The goal is to strengthen our nation's research capacity, broaden the research base, and inspire a passion for science in current and future generations of researchers.
Written by Sy Kraft