Vanderbilt University’s New Program Aims to Boost Diversity in Biomedical Research

Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Vanderbilt University are launching a $17 million multiyear program with support from the National Institutes of Health to accelerate diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the biomedical research community. The institutions will build on prior successes in recruitment to strengthen hiring, promotion, and retention efforts for diverse, early-career investigators as a foundational element of the Vanderbilt Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation Program (V-FIRST).

The V-FIRST principal investigators are Consuelo H. Wilkins, professor of medicine and senior vice president and senior associate dean for health equity and inclusive excellence, Alyssa Hasty, the Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, and associate dean for faculty of the basic sciences, and Cybele Raver, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.

V-FIRST will build upon recent strategies such as toolkits for inclusive faculty searches, a discovery lecture series for national late-stage postdoctoral fellows from minoritized groups, and innovative institutional policy changes regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“Vanderbilt is foundationally committed to inclusive excellence, and the V-FIRST program puts us on a fast track to being an example of how to evolve into a diverse, self-sustaining research community. I am proud the leadership of both institutions are united on this goal that secures Vanderbilt’s future among the leading research institutions. Faculty from marginalized and historically excluded groups face many obstacles, and it is gratifying for the NIH to recognize and support solutions to overcoming these challenges,” said Dr. Wilkins.

“This funding will allow us to recruit, mentor, promote, and retain exceptionally talented new faculty members. The programming supported by this award will include activities that not only provide career development opportunities for our recruits but intentionally weaves in opportunities for everyone in our research community to develop relationships that create a sense of belonging for all,” added Dr. Hasty.

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