Study Finds No Racial Bias in Research Grants by the National Institutes of Health

NIH_logoA 2011 paper published in Science found that Asian Americans were more likely than Whites to receive investigator research funds from the National Institutes of Health. African American researchers were 13 percentage points less likely than Whites to be approved for such grants. The paper went on to conclude that racial bias plays a role because when factors such as educational background, publication record, training and other factors were factored into the equation, African Americans were still significantly less likely to be approved for research grants.

But a study by researchers at Virginia Tech and China Medical University, published on the website of the Journal of Informatics, finds that when the total dollar value of the grants and the total number of programs funded are compared, there is no evidence of racial bias. The author wrote, “When the total grant amounts and the number of funded projects were racial-group-wise normalized, the NIH review process does not appear biased against Black faculty members. When the totals and numbers were normalized by the productivity measure in terms of the journals’ reputations index, the ratios between Black and White faculty members neared parity.”

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