In a statement yesterday, NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., declared that NIH stands against structural racism in biomedical research. Adding action to words, he announced a new NIH initiative called UNITE, unveiled a website on Ending Structural Racism, and issued a Request for Information (RFI) that seeks input on practical and effective approaches to address racial and health inequities.
I strongly support these efforts and join Dr. Collins in what is unquestionably a long overdue condemnation of racial inequity in biomedical science. I urge all of you to read the new materials, engage in discussions with colleagues, provide input on the RFI, and actively commit to ending structural racism in our research community.
We must work together to identify and dismantle the policies and practices that put our colleagues of color at a disadvantage. Whatever hinders or harms any of our colleagues also damages our workforce and our science. Research shows that more diverse teams that capitalize on innovative ideas and distinct perspectives outperform less diverse teams. Simply put, diversity enhances excellence, creativity, and innovation.
The challenge before us is immense. It will be hard work. It will take time. It will require a breakdown of long-established procedures, cultural practices, and thought patterns. But we can—and must—do the work. Together, we will end racial inequities across the biomedical research enterprise and build a community that is fair, equitable, welcoming, and inclusive of all.
Lindsey A. Criswell, M.D., M.P.H., D.Sc.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
National Institutes of Health