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NIH issues new notice on diversity

December 19, 2019

NIH has taken an expanded approach in defining scientists from disadvantaged backgrounds, in an effort to encourage and enable more biomedical scientists. NIH determined that the criteria they were using in defining disadvantaged was too narrow; for example, what was considered low-income ($25,750 for a family of four) is actually considered severe poverty and represents an overly strict threshold, the reviewers found. They have issued new guidelines and will consider scientists to have come from a disadvantaged background if they meet at least two criteria from their expanded list, including no parents or legal guardians who completed a bachelor’s degree, past eligibility for the federal free and reduced lunch program for two or more years, and were or are currently eligible for federal Pell grants.

The new notice also noted that women from disadvantaged backgrounds face particular challenges at the graduate level and beyond in scientific fields and NIH encourages institutions to consider women for faculty-level, diversity-targeted programs to address faculty recruitment, appointment, retention or advancement.