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NIH awards ASU and partner universities $31 million to enhance diversity in the biomedical research workforce

Arizona State University is part of a multi-university team awarded funding today from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) devoted to encouraging students from diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in bioscience research.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the award of nearly $31 million to develop new approaches that engage researchers in biomedical sciences, particularly those from underrepresented minority groups. These awards are part of a projected five-year plan  to support more than 50 awardees and partnering institutions  in establishing a national consortium to develop, implement, and evaluate approaches to recruit and retain individuals in biomedical research.

According to Dr. Lourdes Echegoyen, Director of the Campus Office of Undergraduate Research Initiatives (COURI) at the University of Texas at El Paso, and Principal Investigator for the Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) project, the number of successful underrepresented minority (URM) biomedical scientists is not reflective of the U.S. population. While 25% of the U.S. population is Black, Hispanic or Native American, less than 13% of students enrolled in STEM graduate programs, and less than 10% of doctoral recipients in the U.S. are Black, Hispanic or Native American. Women from URM comprise about 1 in 10 of the employed scientists and engineers. By 2045, Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans will compose over 40% of the U.S. population. We must collectively address these disparities in order to improve the quality of training environments, broaden research priorities, and develop sufficient numbers of qualified scientists.

Arizona State University is one of 11 partner universities for the BUILD project, a set of experimental training awards designed to recruit and engage students from diverse backgrounds in the into the biomedical research workforce, focusing on the Southwestern region of the U.S.  These partnerships will enrich the pool of trainees and provide robust research experiences for students and faculty.

Thirty-six faculty across the College of Health Solutions in programs such as biomedical informatics, speech and hearing, nutrition, and exercise and wellness will serve as mentors for the project.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this multi-university, interdisciplinary project that will address a real need in the bioscience and health industries,” Alison C. Essary, ASU BUILD project lead, and Director of Student Affairs for the College of Health Solutions. “We look forward to offering a progressively advanced set of programs to transform the biomedical research training of underserved populations in the Southwest with the ultimate goal of improving their competitiveness for future grant opportunities.”

 “These awards represent a significant step toward ensuring that NIH’s future biomedical research workforce will reflect the unique perspectives found within the diverse composition of our society,” said Dr. Hannah Valantine, NIH chief officer for scientific workforce diversity.

Supported by the NIH Common Fund and all NIH 27 institutes and centers, 12 awards will be issued as part of three initiatives of the Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce program (Hyperlink program name to

“The Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce program aims to enable transformation across the spectrum of research training and mentoring,” said James M. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives, which oversees the NIH Common Fund. “We expect that new models for fostering careers will emerge and be widely adopted, having nationwide impact on biomedical research workforce diversity. Scientists from all backgrounds as well as science will ultimately benefit from these activities.”

BUILD institutions include:

  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • Clemson University
  • Connecticut Institute of Clinical and Translational Science at UCONN
  • El Paso Community College
  • University of Arizona
  • University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
  • UT Southwestern Medical Center
  • William Marsh Rice University

For information about the BUILD, NRMN, and CEC awardees and partners, please visit


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