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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Podcast to Highlight Contracting

On Sept. 15, the Small Business Program Office (SBPO) aired the first episode of a new podcast, Equity and Inclusion. The podcast focuses on the nuances of federal contracting and is designed specifically for administrators and faculty at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs). Available for download to a computer or mobile device, the monthly series is published on Spotify (

Each episode will be hosted by Annette Owens-Scarboro, small business program manager and HBCU coordinator. She will be joined by a co-host from the agency or persons affiliated with the NIH Path to Excellence and Innovation (PEI) Initiative.

HBCUs account for less than 1 percent of the NIH’s annual acquisition award funding. PEI was created specifically to cultivate NIH’s relationships with HBCUs. The PEI 2.0 cohort concluded in May with 13 HBCUs; the next iteration will be open to additional academic institutions in fiscal year 2024.

The mission of PEI is to empower HBCUs with the knowledge, resources and skills to consistently compete for, and win, contracts from NIH. With the launch of Equity and Inclusion, SBPO will expand the reach of the initiative’s extensive acquisition training and technical assistance. It’s also an opportunity to introduce the potential for a new revenue stream to academic institutions that may not have considered partnering with NIH.

The first episode established the purpose of the podcast and provided an overview of NIH’s organizational structure. Episode 1: Who We Are and What We Do is co-hosted by Darnese Wilkerson, director of the Office of Acquisitions. Guests include Diane Frasier, head of contracting activity at NIH, and Pamela Clarke, director of research development at Howard University. Howard has participated in PEI since the inception of the pilot program in 2016. Clarke shares her experiences with NIH and the benefit to Howard University.

Subsequent episodes will air on the 15th of every month. Upcoming Equity and Inclusion episodes for the remainder of 2023 include:

  • October: Episode 2: Program Expansion and Technical Assistance
  • November: Episode 3: The Value of Business Partners and Best Practices for Teaming
  •  December: Episode 4: Frederick National Laboratory’s HBCU Engagement 
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