In the wake of a recent meeting at the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC), a renewed effort is being made to increase the amount of scientists engaged in the behavioral and biomedical workforce from under-represented minority backgrounds.
A kickoff meeting was organized for the recent National Research Mentoring Network that featured the four principal investigators responsible for the project, including Dr. Jamboor K. Vishwanatha, PhD, from the UNTHSC and Hannah Valantine, MD, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The NIH granted $19.2 million in new, five-year funding for the project, a portion of which will include UNTHSC to help form the network. The University of Minnesota, the Morehouse School of Medicine, the University of Wisconsin and Boston College are partner institutions in the effort as well.
According to the press release: “The National Research Mentoring Network is one part of the NIH’s $500 million plan over 10 years to develop new approaches aimed at helping researchers from underrepresented backgrounds thrive in biomedical careers. The mentoring network’s aim is to diversify the scientific workforce by encouraging individuals from underrepresented groups to start and stay in biomedical careers.”
For about 30 years, the number of the members of the faculty (across the United States) in the biomedical sciences from underrepresented groups has remained stagnant. Several studies, taking into account multiple variables, indicate that research projects that belong to those from minority backgrounds are not in fact as successful as their peers when it comes to securing large NIH grants.
Dr. Vishwanatha is the head of the Networking and Mentorship Core projects and David Burgess, PhD, of Boston College; Christine Pfund, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin; and Kolawole Okuyemi, MD, MPH, of the University of Minnesota are leading the network. In addition, UNTHSC has already hired a technical project manager and a program manager, and an administrative assistant and a social media coordinator are being recruited.