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Black Researchers Get Fewer Research Grants in the US

African Americans

A new study has found that black researchers in the US are much less likely to get research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) compared to white applicants. The director of NIH has promised to address this bias and rectify it. This study was recently published in Science journal. It found that black researchers were 10% less likely to get research funding for their projects compared to white researchers who had similar credentials.

NIH Troubled by Revelation
NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins called this situation unacceptable. He added this bias indicates a failure to recruit the brightest minds and give unbiased funding to researchers, irrespective of race. Black people make up 10.2% of the total US citizens, but only 1.2% of biomedical researchers.

10% Gap in Funding
The research found that 30% of applications by white applicants were funded, but only 20% of applications from black researchers received funding. They opine that a possible cause for this gap could be inherent bias in the NIH’s grant review methodology. NIH gives grants based on the research project’s significance and also considers the researcher’s credentials and qualifications.

NIH to Rectify Bias
Though a researcher’s gender, ethnicity and race are removed from proposals before review, Collins thinks this information could be guessed by reviewers from the names of the researchers and where they received training. The NIH says it will take appropriate steps to rectify this issue. It will set up advisory groups to get advice about the actions it can take. Mentoring efforts will also be increased at various research institutions.

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