UCLA Ed & IS Will Help to Build Diversity in the Biomedical Science Workforce Through UCLA Campus-wide Initiative

Faculty and researchers from the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) and Social Research Methodology Division will contribute to five-year project funded by NIH.

UCLA will play a leading role for a major five-year, multi-institution initiative to boost the diversity of the nation’s biomedical workforce.

The NIH announced Oct. 22 that it has awarded nearly $31 million in fiscal year 2014 to develop new approaches to engage researchers, including those from backgrounds that are underrepresented in biomedical sciences, and prepare them to thrive in the NIH-funded workforce.

UCLA received $2.1 million of that total, which it will use to launch the NIH Diversity Program Consortium Coordination and Evaluation Center. The center will provide operations and data coordination and support, and conduct a longitudinal evaluation, in support of the two programs within the consortium: Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity, or BUILD, and the National Research Mentoring Network.

The center will be led by Dr. Keith Norris, professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and Pamela Davidson, adjunct professor of nursing at the UCLA School of Nursing and adjunct associate professor in the department of health policy and management at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

The UCLA center will draw upon the expertise of faculty and staff from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and other units across campus to gather data and enhance existing recruitment and career-development programs.

“Ensuring a diverse faculty in biomedical and other academic fields is an institutional priority for UCLA, and we are proud to receive this grant and take a leading role in partnership with the NIH as we continue our work in this important area,” Chancellor Gene Block said.

The NIH awards are part of a planned five-year effort to support more than 50 awardees and partnering institutions in establishing a national consortium to develop, implement and evaluate approaches to encourage people to start and stay in biomedical research careers. Supported by the NIH Common Fund and all 27 of the NIH’s institutes and centers, the awards are part of three initiatives of the Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce program.

“This project represents a great GSE&IS collaboration with colleagues in Schools across campus to apply our expertise on STEM education to advance new NIH diversity initiatives,” says Professor Sylvia Hurtado, director of the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI). “It relies on the data collection and evaluation expertise of Kevin Eagan, Tina Christie, and myself to monitor and identify institutional efforts that have the most promise in diversifying the biomedical workforce. The collaborative project will sustain a consortium of institutions and researchers, enabling us to have more impact on understanding practices that result in hallmarks of success along the STEM career pathway.”

For the full story by Enrique Rivero in UCLA Newsroom, click here.