Image source. Edited by We Rep STEM.

On Monday, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins publicly apologized for systemic racism embedded in the NIH federal funding process for biomedical research. Disparities were first reported in 2011 and then again in 2019, coming to light once more in January 2021 with the publication of a report by Michael A Taffe and Nicholas W Gilpin.

Analysis finds white scientists are 1.7 times more likely to receive federal research grants than Black scientists, “even when controlling for a long list of potential mediating variables,”  Dr. Gilpin said.

In a statement, Dr. Collins acknowledged NIH’s efforts to increase diversity “have not been sufficient.”

“To those individuals in the biomedical research enterprise who have endured disadvantages due to structural racism, I am truly sorry,” he continued.


Dr. Collins announced a new initiative called UNITE, tasked with identifying “short-term and long-term actions”:

The UNITE initiative’s efforts are being informed by five committees with experts across all 27 NIH institutes and centers who are passionate about racial diversity, equity, and inclusion. NIH also is seeking advice and guidance from outside of the agency through the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD), informed by the ACD Working Group on Diversity, and through a Request for Information (RFI) issued today seeking input from the public and stakeholder organizations. 


The organization has also launched a homepage documenting the initiative’s progress.

Support we rep stem

Like this report? Support We Rep STEM and help us create more rad content.