UR Awarded NIH Grant to Improve Diversity in the Scientific Community

October 27, 2010

The National Institutes of Health is awarding the University of Rochester and regional partners approximately $2 million to help improve diversity in the scientific workforce. The money comes from a new initiative called the NIH Director’s ARRA Funded Pathfinder Award to Promote Diversity in the Scientific Workforce, which is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The University is one of six grant recipients.

Vivian Lewis, M.D., Deputy to the President, Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity, and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is the leader of a multidisciplinary team that will study how different mentoring interventions can promote the resilience of biomedical researchers from underrepresented groups.

“Resilience is a useful quality for anyone, but it is especially important for women and underrepresented minorities in academic institutions” said Dr. Lewis. “Mentors are well-positioned to facilitate resilience among their protégés; and we will conduct a randomized, controlled study of different types of mentoring resulting in greater academic success. Ultimately, we hope to create a workforce of trained professionals who, in turn, will try to address the needs of diverse populations.”

The University’s 2006 Task Force Report on Faculty Diversity and Inclusiveness cited the need for greater mentoring of faculty. The report found that a lack of mentoring played a role in preventing faculty advancement.

“This initiative is consistent with the University’s efforts to provide a more inclusive and welcoming campus for all faculty, regardless of gender, race, and ethnicity,” said University president Joel Seligman. “The research results found at the medical center potentially can be applied to all departments at the University of Rochester and at universities nationwide.”

The team of highly-interdisciplinary researchers from the University of Rochester, as well as from Upstate Medical Center and the University of Buffalo, made it possible to secure the NIH grant.

“We have established the Upstate New York Translational Research Network (UNYTRN) as part of our Clinical and Translational Science Institute to assemble teams from up to 16 regional biomedical research institutions so we can tackle the important issues facing us in clinical research. The retention of diverse faculty members is such an issue and our ability to address this problem is made possible by this partnership with our neighboring institutions,” said Thomas A. Pearson, MD, Ph.D., Director of the Rochester Clinical and Translational Science Institute. “This partnership allowed us to succeed in a fierce nationwide competition for these funds”

The Pathfinder Award, which is administered by NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences, supports exceptionally creative scientists who propose highly innovative, and possibly transforming, approaches to scientific workforce diversity.

About the University of Rochester

The University of Rochester (www.rochester.edu) is one of the nation’s leading private universities. Located in Rochester, N.Y., the University gives students exceptional opportunities for interdisciplinary study and close collaboration with faculty through its unique cluster-based curriculum. Its College, School of Arts and Sciences, and Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are complemented by its Eastman School of Music, Simon School of Business, Warner School of Education, Laboratory for Laser Energetics, Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, and Nursing, and the Memorial Art Gallery.

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