First UNITE Progress Report Published
Earlier this month, NIH UNITE published information about the initiative’s initial impact on health disparities and minority health research, the external biomedical and behavioral workforce and NIH staff. The UNITE Progress Report for Fiscal Years 2021–2022 describes NIH’s actions to identify and address structural racism that may exist within NIH and in the biomedical research enterprise. The report focuses on progress toward these goals:
Elevate HD/MH research across institutes and centers
Promote equity in the NIH-supported biomedical research ecosystem and in NIH’s internal workforce
Improve accuracy and transparency of racial and ethnic equity data
UNITE was formed amid stark health inequities highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the horrific surge of racially motivated violence in 2020 and 2021.
“At NIH, these events led us to see the reality of racial inequities in biomedical and behavioral science with fresh eyes,” noted Dr. Marie Bernard, NIH chief officer for scientific workforce diversity and UNITE co-chair. “We were dismayed by the inestimable loss of talent, creativity and innovation due to long-standing cultures of exclusion. And we recognized that it was time to unite and enact a seismic shift in NIH systems, policies, and cultures.”
Readers can explore this inaugural progress report—developed in collaboration with UNITE co-chairs, committees and allies—to learn about its accomplishments and its next steps, including: enhancing its understanding of NIH investments in HD/MH research; releasing new priority programs and policies to enhance workforce diversity, equity, inclusion; bolstering NIH’s culture of inclusive excellence and supporting diverse and equitable hiring practices; and creating opportunities to listen to the needs and experiences of the workforce.
“While we take pride in UNITE’s achievements and future direction, we recognize that the significant, lasting change UNITE seeks to achieve is a long-term endeavor,” Bernard said. “We remain committed to growing UNITE’s efforts. Accountability and transparency are cornerstones of UNITE, and we will continue to share UNITE’s progress in catalyzing change to foster equity for all.”