Evidence supports the hypothesis that diversity positively impacts scientific discovery through improved problem-solving, innovation, prediction, evaluation, and verification. Implementing and sustaining cultures of inclusive excellence at a range of academic institutions has the potential to be transformational for the biomedical research workforce.
The FIRST program seeks to enhance and maintain cultures of inclusive excellence.
We are strengthening faculty diversity and institutional cultures.
The FIRST Cohort program aims to transform culture at two types of NIH-funded extramural institutions by building a self-reinforcing community of scientists committed to inclusive excellence, through recruitment of a diverse group of faculty who are competitive for an advertised research tenure-track or equivalent faculty position. The overall goals and specific measurable objectives that the program expects FIRST Cohort awardees to accomplish are:
Demonstrate institutional support and develop or modify a strategic plan with specific goals and strategies, interventions, and organizational policies that will be implemented to achieve significant systemic and sustainable institutional culture change over baseline toward inclusive excellence (at the faculty, department, and institution level). FIRST Cohort awardees are also expected to develop an evaluation plan to assess the impact on their institution of action taken toward FIRST program goals.
Conduct recruitment activities for new faculty, outline institutional commitment, and develop recruitment committees based on past interests and commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion. FIRST Cohort awardees are also expected to establish a supportive environment for new faculty.
Develop strategies to establish individual research and career development plans and mentorship and sponsorship plans for all new faculty hired under this award. The applicants must describe how the program will reduce isolation, increase community building, foster career development, and ensure retention of the new faculty.
The FIRST program strives to set an example for universities and health-science institutions across the county.
FIRST program development began in 2018, in part, through the Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity (COSWD) Office efforts. The FIRST program’s estimated budget is $241 million over nine years, pending the availability of funds.
FIRST is managed in collaboration with:
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
The representation gap for U.S. biomedical faculty persists due to institutional cultures that lack necessary elements of inclusion and equity, sending a message that certain groups don’t belong in science.
This program, if successful, will help foster research environments attractive to underrepresented scientists, who can leverage their diverse perspectives and create relevant research to advance knowledge and discovery in their fields and reduce health disparities. Diversity in the biomedical research workforce promotes innovation, leads to better science, and creates opportunities to make significant progress toward health equity,