The purpose of the FIRST Cohort is to transform culture at NIH-funded extramural institutions by building a self-reinforcing community of scientists committed to diversity and inclusive excellence (defined below). Implementing and sustaining cultures of inclusive excellence within the program has the potential to be transformational for biomedical research at the awardee institutions and beyond. This community will be built through recruitment of a diverse group of early-career faculty who are competitive for an advertised research tenure-track or equivalent faculty position and who have demonstrated strong commitment to promoting diversity and inclusive excellence.
Companion funding opportunity: RFA-RM-20-023 – NIH Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) Program: FIRST Coordination and Evaluation Center (U24 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
NIH institutes and centers remain committed to increasing and sustaining the diversity of the biomedical research workforce. NIH’s commitment has been informed by an extensive body of research supporting the argument that scientific workforce diversity is essential to accomplish the NIH’s mission of discovery and innovation toward improving human health (Nielsen et al., 2017; Valantine and Collins, 2015). Despite recognizing the pressing need to enhance diversity in NIH-funded institutions across the U.S., progress in accomplishing this goal has been seen mostly with trainee populations, leaving biomedical research faculty diversity as an ongoing, recalcitrant challenge (Gibbs et al., 2016). Starkly, extrapolation of current trends suggests that without new and effective strategies, it will take nearly 50 years for women to reach parity among full professors (Valantine et al., 2014; National Science Foundation, 2019) and centuries for underrepresented racial/ethnic groups to reach parity among medical school faculty with the current recruitment pool (U.S. Medical School Faculty Trends: Percentages). This representation gap is driven in large part by institutional cultures lacking necessary elements of inclusion and equity and sending a message to certain groups that they do not belong in science (Price EG et al., 2009; Pololi LH et al., 2013). Because U.S. biomedical research is largely driven by NIH-funded faculty in academic institutions, there is an urgency for NIH to encourage institutions to develop and implement broadly effective strategies to cultivate institutional culture change (Krupat E et al., 2013), with the goal of enhancing scientific workforce diversity at the faculty level. The ultimate goal of the FIRST program is to employ a faculty cohort model to foster cultures of inclusive excellence (scientific environments that can cultivate and benefit from a full range of talents) at NIH-funded institutions with a sustained commitment to diversity and inclusion in biomedical research.
The program will test the primary hypothesis that a cohort model of faculty hiring, sponsorship, continual mentoring, and support for professional development, embedded within an institution implementing evidence-based practices to create academic cultures of inclusive excellence, will achieve significant improvements in metrics of institutional culture and scientific workforce diversity. Evidence supports that diversity positively impacts scientific discovery through improved problem-solving, innovation, prediction, evaluation, verification, and strategization (Page SE, 2017; Page SE, 2007). Implementing and sustaining cultures of inclusive excellence within the program has the potential to be transformational for biomedical research at the awardee institutions and beyond. In addition, the program will test the impact of the cohort on institutional culture change. Implementing and sustaining cultures of inclusive excellence at a range of academic institutions has the potential to be transformational for the biomedical research workforce.
Letter of intent due date: 30 days prior to application due date
Application due date: March 1, 2021
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Filed Under: Funding Opportunities