Study Finds a Persisting Racial Gap in National Institute of Health Grant Awards

NIH_logoA new study led by Donna Ginther, a professor of economics at the University of Kansas, finds that race appears to still play a role in the awarding of grants from the National Institutes of Health but the gender of the grant applicant apparently no longer plays a significant role.

An earlier study, published in 2011, found a 10-percentage point gap in grant awards between White and Black applicants. As a result of that study the National Institutes of Health announced new procedures that aimed to reduce or eliminate the racial disparity in research awards.

But the new study finds a persisting racial gap. Applicants for NIH grants self-identify race, ethnicity and gender, but that information is not available during the peer review. However, biographical facts included in the review materials can provide clues to the identity of the applicants, according to the authors of the new study.

Professor Ginther says that “in most cases, NIH funds are the gateway to having tenure and becoming a full-fledged member of an academic faculty. Understanding who gets grants in order to promote a more diverse applicant pool will add to the diversity of the student body at colleges and universities.”

The study, “Gender, Race/Ethnicity, and National Institutes of Health R01 Research Awards: Is There Evidence of a Double Bind for Women of Color?” will be published in the August issue of the journal Academic Medicine. It may be accessed here.

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