NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni was the keynote speaker Apr. 4 for the first lecture in the 2007 NIH Diversity Seminar Series, which is sponsored by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity
Stand, don’t grandstand, Zerhouni said, issuing a challenge to NIH’ers. He suggested that there are two camps, one where organizations make speeches about diversity—grandstanding—
and another where organizations take action and implement
strategies to build on diversity’s strength. Diversity doesn’t happen overnight, he said, but forums that bring individuals
together to discuss diversity in order to change the culture
of organizations are important.
The greatest challenge for NIH is transforming medicine from a curative to a pre-emptive medicine paradigm, declared Zerhouni.
Much of the disparity in health lies in chronic diseases. A diverse cadre of researchers, physicians and other medical professionals is needed to address these gaps. Diversity must be present in all phases of the process, from scientists to clinicians
to those served.
Equal opportunity and affirmative action are tools we use, but they are not enough, he concluded. We must identify best practices. Zerhouni said the best approach to finding solutions
may be to gather a diverse group of individuals who are independent thinkers, outspoken and not beholden to a group-think agenda, as postulated by author James Surowiecki
in The Wisdom of Crowds.
For more information on the seminar series, call Sherrie Davis at (301) 451-0745.