Committed to Diversity & Inclusion
The University of Rochester Clinical and Translational Science Institute is committed to diversity and inclusion in workforce development, community engagement, and research participant recruitment.
Research shows that more diverse workforces enjoy greater productivity and better outcomes. Diversity in the workplace fosters collaboration and cooperation among people of different backgrounds and viewpoints, allowing us to challenge our assumptions, test ideas and broaden knowledge. These interactions force us to anticipate alternative viewpoints and expect that reaching consensus will take effort, ultimately leading to creativity and innovation.
Why We Need Workforce Diversity
While the biomedical research workforce is becoming more diverse, several racial/ethnic groups, women, and people with disabilities remain underrepresented. For example, in 2010 African Americans comprised 12.6% of the U.S. population, but only accounted for 1.1% of scientists who received research project grants from the National Institutes of Health. In comparison, Caucasians made up 72.4% of the general population and 71% of the NIH-funded scientists pool. This disparity could be explained in part by a 2011 study on “Race, Ethnicity, and NIH Research Awards”, showing that African American applicants were 10% less likely to be awarded NIH research grants compared to their Caucasian peers, after controlling for background and qualifications.
On the other hand, Harvard University economists produced a study showing that papers coauthored by ethnically diverse contributors led to greater contributions to science. In addition, minority researchers are more likely to focus on health disparities and minority populations yet less likely to receive federal funding for their research. By one estimate, reducing racial and ethnic health disparities would have saved the United States over $1.2 trillion in direct and indirect medical costs between 2003 and 2006 alone.
CTSI Initiatives to Achieve Workforce Diversity
- Encourage diverse multidisciplinary teams by highlighting CTSI resources and research at university-wide events
- Collaborate with the Office for Inclusion and Culture Development and Graduate Medical Education office to increase the recruitment and retention of a diverse research workforce and to develop a mentorship program for underrepresented members of the workforce
- Promote external and internal funding programs targeting underrepresented trainees or trainees working on healthcare disparities
- Develop workshops on unconscious bias and cultural humility
- Expand processes for tracking program graduates including improved engagement with and tracking of graduates of URMC pipeline programs for underrepresented students
Researchers must respect the diversity of human cultures and conditions. In order to ensure that the body of research evidence available to medical professionals and policy makers reflects the diversity of the general population, researchers must take full account of gender, race, ethnicity, disability and age in their design, undertaking, and reporting of research.
Why We Need Research Diversity
Racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in health care and health outcomes are pervasive and persistent in the U.S. and beyond. It is well known that the incidence of disease and response to treatment varies between genders and among racial and ethnic groups, however clinical trials often fail to accurately represent these groups.
Despite racial and ethnic disparities in cancer incidence and mortality, less than 2% of cancer trials funded by the National Cancer Institute included underrepresented minorities. For example, Black/African American men are approximately twice as likely to die of prostate cancer as other men in the U.S., yet they make up less than 5% of participants in prostate cancer clinical trials.
Similarly, a 2014 analysis of randomized control trials for several cardiovascular diseases revealed that female representation was only 30%.
Overcoming Barriers to Participation in Research
Knowledge of the barriers to participation in research is important for trial design, community engagement, and subject recruitment. Underrepresented populations often have limited access to specialty care centers that serve as referral sources for clinical studies. Other barriers include, but are not limited to, fears of exploitation in medical research, low health literacy, cultural and linguistic differences, and competing demands of time.
Community-based participatory research relies on a partnership between researchers and community members. According to the Institute of Medicine, this approach increases community understanding of the issues under study and enhances researchers' ability to understand community priorities and the importance of addressing them, as well as the need for culturally sensitive communications and research approaches.
CTSI Initiatives to Address Research Diversity
- Perform an assessment of workforce education and develop and implement a "diversity and research" educational curriculum
- Engage community partners to determine barriers to research participation
- Promote the use of the principles of community-based participatory research for study design grounded in the belief that the community is the expert and should be included in early stages of intervention development and throughout the research process
- Establish an Office of Special Population Integration to implement and coordinate activities and resources to achieve the aim of integrating underrepresented populations in research studies
- Develop an electronic consent form that allows more rigorous collection of subject demographics
If you are writing a grant application and need information on resources related to diversity and inclusion in research, please download the University of Rochester diversity in research grant template.
If you have questions or would like more information about diversity initiatives at the CTSI, please contact the CTSI Director of Diversity and Inclusion, at John_Cullen@URMC.Rochester.edu.