Statement of NMA President, Dr. Rahn K. Bailey, on NIH's Gaps in Biomedical Research

National Institutes of Health Addresses Gaps in Diversity in Biomedical Research Workforce
 
 
Dr. Rahn K. Bailey NMA President
Dr. Rahn K. Bailey NMA President
 
Dec. 10, 2012 - PRLog -- Silver Spring, MD-This past summer, the National Institutes of Health (NIH)Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce reported on a severe disparity in the number of biomedical researchers from ethnic or minority groups – especially African Americans - who were awarded grant funding from the NIH. At that time, NIH Director, Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., announced that there would be an official NIH response to the working group’s recommendations in December. On Thursday, December 6, 2012, Dr. Collins and his principal deputy, Dr. Lawrence Tabak, unveiled a robust set of proposals to increase the number of biomedical researchers of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

“When we met with Dr. Collins, Dr. Tabak, and several of our colleagues at the NIH in October of this year, we heard a commitment to approach this problem with the seriousness it deserves. Last Thursday’s announcement made good on that commitment,” said Dr. Rahn K. Bailey, president of the National Medical Association (NMA), the nation’s premier membership organization of African American physicians.

“Leadership matters. The Director of the National Institutes of Health was blunt. He said – “We are going to start this program. We are going to start in FY ’13.” The fact that he is willing to stake this much capital in addressing this problem, in the middle of wondering what sequestration will do to the overall budget of the NIH tells us all we need to know about whether he’s in it for the long haul. The NMA will support him as he seeks to marshal all the goodwill necessary to make this happen,” continued Dr. Bailey.

NIH has committed to increasing the quality of the pipeline, by developing young researchers of color beginning at that critical phase when they transition from undergrad to graduate work. They will also increase the number of mentors, and increase the interaction between them. They will also appoint a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO).

“We think the NIH would benefit from having a CDO, especially if the CDO’s job is supported by all the institute and center directors. Hopefully the reporting and accountability framework for this role will be integrated with all the other efforts to increase the number of minority researchers,” concluded Dr. Bailey.

The Working Group included several members of the NMA, including Drs. Renee Jenkins, Cato Laurencin, Reed Tuckson, and Clyde Yancy.

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About the National Medical Association (NMA) –The NMAis the largest and oldest national organization representing African American physicians and their patients in the United States. The NMA is a 501 (c) (3) national professional and scientific organization representing the interests of more than 30,000 African American physicians and the patients they serve, with nearly 112 affiliated societies throughout the nation and U.S. territories. The National Medical Association has been firmly established in a leadership role in medicine. The NMA is committed to improving the quality of health among minorities and disadvantaged people through its membership, professional development, community health education, advocacy, research and partnerships with federal and private agencies. Throughout its history the National Medical Association has focused primarily on health issues related to African American and medically underserved populations; however, its principles, goals, initiatives and philosophy encompass all ethnic groups.
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