Diversity and Scientific Excellence

As the NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices that are part of the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research and NIH BRAIN Initiative, we affirm our commitment to diversity and to positive change to eliminate racism in our community and in our organization. Research shows that diverse teams working together and capitalizing on innovative ideas and distinct perspectives outperform homogenous teams. Scientists and trainees from diverse backgrounds and life experiences bring different perspectives, creativity, and individual enterprise to address complex scientific problems. There are many benefits that flow from a diverse NIH-supported scientific workforce, including: fostering scientific innovation, enhancing global competitiveness, contributing to robust learning environments, improving the quality of the research, advancing the likelihood that underserved or health disparity populations participate in, and benefit from health research, and enhancing public trust.

Supporting Diversity and Scientific Excellence Across Career Stages

The following programs are supported by the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research and/or NIH BRAIN Initiative.

ENDURE Program (R25)

The Blueprint Enhancing Neuroscience Diversity through Undergraduate Research Education Experiences (ENDURE) program aims to raise interest and opportunities in neuroscience research for individuals who are typically underrepresented in the field. The goal is to provide such individuals with training at the undergraduate level, so that they are prepared to enter and successfully complete neuroscience Ph.D. programs.  

D-SPAN Award (F99/K00)

The purpose of the NIH Blueprint Diversity Specialized Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Advancement in Neuroscience (D-SPAN) Award is to support a defined pathway across career stages for outstanding graduate students who are from diverse backgrounds underrepresented in neuroscience research. This two-phase award will facilitate completion of the doctoral dissertation and transition of talented graduate students to strong neuroscience research postdoctoral positions, and will provide career development opportunities relevant to their long-term career goal of becoming independent neuroscience researchers.

BRAIN K99/R00 Award

The purpose of the NIH BRAIN Initiative Advanced Postdoctoral Career Transition Award to Promote Diversity program is to enhance workforce diversity in the neuroscience workforce and maintain a strong cohort of new and talented, NIH-supported, independent investigators from diverse backgrounds in BRAIN Initiative research areas. This program is designed to facilitate a timely transition of outstanding postdoctoral researchers with a research and/or clinical doctorate degree from mentored, postdoctoral research positions to independent, tenure-track or equivalent faculty positions.

BRAIN Diversity Supplements

The NIH BRAIN Initiative Research Supplements to Promote Diversity are administrative supplements to currently active BRAIN grants to support the training of underrepresented individuals and enhance the diversity of the research workforce.

Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives (PEDP)

Beginning in Spring 2021, the NIH BRAIN Initiative will include a new component in most funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) requiring that applications include a Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives (PEDP) in the proposed research. When a PEDP is required, applications submitted without such a plan will be considered incomplete and will be withdrawn prior to peer review. Evaluation of the applicant’s PEDP will be made during the peer review stages as part of the scorable criteria and during programmatic reviews and will be used to inform funding decisions.

FIRST Program (U54 and U24)

The NIH Common Fund Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) program will provide support to institutions to recruit diverse groups or “cohorts” of early-stage research faculty and prepare them to thrive as NIH-funded researchers. Progress has been made to increase participation of historically underrepresented groups in biomedical research training stages, however members of these groups are still less likely to be hired into positions as independently-funded faculty researchers, according to previous studies. These groups include underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, and women.

Individual Institute/Center Commitments to Diversity

Each NIH Institute and Center (IC) that participates in the NIH BRAIN Initiative and/or the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research is committed to diversity. Visit the NIH Diversity Offices website or any individual IC link listed below for more information.

Statements from BRAIN and Blueprint Leadership

From the BRAIN Director: Diversity as a Means of Achieving Research Excellence – May 24, 2021
John J. Ngai, NIH BRAIN Initiative Director

NINDS is committed to ending structural racism – March 4, 2021
Walter J. Koroshetz, NINDS Director

UNITE to end structural racism in biomedical research – March 1, 2021
Richard Hodes, NIA Director

Enhancing and maintaining a culture of inclusive excellence: The NIH Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) Program – February 12, 2021
Walter J. Koroshetz, NINDS Director; Joshua A. Gordon, NIMH Director; Richard Hodes, NIA Director; Nora D. Volkow, NIDA Director; Christopher P. Austin, NCATS Director; Diana W. Bianchi, NICHD Director; Michael F. Chiang, NEI Director; Rena D'Souza, NIDCR Director; George F. Koob, NIAAA Director; Helene Langevin, NCCIH Director; Director John J. Ngai, NIH BRAIN Initiative; William T. Riley, OBSSR Director; Bruce J. Tromberg, NIBIB Director; Debara L. Tucci, NIDCD Director; Rick Woychik, NIEHS Director; Shannon N. Zenk, NINR Director

A time for change: NINDS’ commitment to diversity and eliminating racial bias – June 19, 2020
Walter J. Koroshetz, NINDS Director

Racism and Mental Health Research: Steps Toward Equity – June 19, 2020
Joshua A. Gordon, NIMH Director

A Message to the BRAIN Community – June 10, 2020
John J. Ngai, NIH BRAIN Initiative Director

Addressing Disparities: Advancing Mental Health Care for All Americans – January 29, 2020
Joshua A. Gordon, NIMH Director

Related Meetings and Discussions

7th Annual BRAIN Initiative Investigators Meeting, June 15-17th, 2021

BRAIN Multi-Council Working Group Meeting, May 20th, 2021:

BRAIN Multi-Council Working Group Meeting, January 27th, 2021:

BRAIN Multi-Council Working Group Meeting, August 21st, 2020:

BRAIN Neuroethics Working Group Meeting, August 20th, 2020:

BRAIN Multi-Council Working Group Meeting, January 31st, 2020:

Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), 2019:

  • BRAIN Initiative: Scientific Advances Powered by Diverse Disciplines, Tools, and People
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BRAIN Multi-Council Working Group Meeting, February 12th, 2019:

Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), 2018

BRAIN Multi-Council Working Group Meeting, January 30th, 2018: