Policy ForumSociology

Weaving a Richer Tapestry in Biomedical Science

Science  19 Aug 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6045, pp. 940-941
DOI: 10.1126/science.1211704

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As much as the U.S. scientific community may wish to view itself as a single garment of many diverse and colorful threads, an unflinching consideration of actual data reminds us that our nation's biomedical research workforce remains nowhere near as rich as it could be. An analysis, performed by a team of researchers primarily supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and published in this issue of Science, reveals that from 2000 to 2006, black (1) grant applicants were significantly less likely to receive NIH research funding than were white applicants. The gap in success rates amounted to 10 percentage points, even after controlling for education, country of origin, training, employer characteristics, previous research awards, and publication record (2). Their analysis also showed a gap of 4.2 percentage points for Asians; however, the differences between Asian and white award probabilities were explained by exclusion of noncitizens from the analysis.