NINDS Request for Information (RFI) on Enhancing Diversity in Academic Research Institutions

Notice Number: NOT- NS-11-021

Update: The following update relating to this announcement has been issued:

Key Dates

Release Date: August 19, 2011
Response Date: To assure consideration, comments must be received by (New Date October 28, 2011 per NOT-NS-11-029), Original Date September 23, 2011

Issued by

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)


The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is seeking public comment on models and best practices to facilitate diversity among faculty and students within research institutions of higher education. This information will help the NINDS in designing improved strategies for the enhancement of diversity in the neuroscience and neurology research workforce. For the purposes of this RFI, NINDS is interested in expanding the pool of individuals from populations underrepresented in biomedical, behavioral, clinical and social sciences research workforce, including underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from socially, culturally, economically, or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. For a complete definition of underrepresented groups, see: PA-08-190 (Section I, Recruitment and Retention Plan to Enhance Diversity).


In issuing this RFI, the NIH and NINDS recognize a unique and compelling need to promote diversity in the biomedical, behavioral, clinical and social sciences research workforce. The NINDS expects that efforts to diversify the workforce will lead to the recruitment of the most talented researchers from all groups into research areas relevant to the mission of NINDS; to improve the quality of the educational and training environment; to balance and broaden the perspective in setting research priorities; to improve the ability to recruit subjects from diverse backgrounds into clinical research protocols that fall within the mission of NINDS; and to improve the Nation's capacity to address and eliminate health disparities relating to neurological disorders.

As the U.S. population becomes increasingly diverse, reflection of that diversity among the neurological sciences research workforce is vital to the NINDS research mission. To develop, maintain, and renew our scientific talent pool, it is imperative that we create a climate of opportunity to attract and retain the most talented individuals who can capitalize on innovation and advance scientific discovery. Research has demonstrated that a diversity of perspectives leads to better solutions to complex challenges, including healthcare research and education.

Information Requested

This RFI invites input from the neuroscience research communities on innovative strategies and practices that have proven successful in increasing the diversity of a talented pool of research faculty and students. Respondents are not expected to address all items below.

Please provide your comments on the challenges in establishing a sustainable program to increase diversity within a research institution. Responses should include innovative approaches and ideas to address the items listed below. Input on items that may be addressed are listed, but your input need not be limited to the following:

  • The role NINDS should play in assisting institutions to enhance diversity among their student and faculty populations.
  • The tools or resources NINDS should provide that would make diversifying the neurological sciences research workforce more feasible or effective.
  • Present obstacles that make it difficult for individuals from underrepresented groups (e.g., individuals from racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds) to advance within the neurosciences, and suggestions for how these obstacles can be overcome.
  • Present obstacles that make it difficult for institutions to implement programs designed to increase diversity within the neurosciences, and suggestions for how these obstacles can be overcome.
  • Examples of what constitutes success in a program aimed at increasing diversity within a neuroscience research institution. Comment specifically on the critical components necessary to drive the success of the program.
  • Indicate level(s) within the institution where diversity should be effectively facilitated (e.g., administration, faculty, graduate, post graduate).
  • Activities your institution engages in to promote diversity, and the department/office responsible for carrying out these activities (e.g., Administrative personnel, Program/Departmental leadership).
  • Examples of successful programs that are designed specifically to enhance diversity among neuroscience students and/or faculty. Comments can include how these programs are evaluated for their success.
  • Describe key factors that would be central to the development and maintenance of a successful program to enhance diversity within an institution.

To assure consideration, your responses must be received by September 23, 2011.

Responses to this RFI must be submitted electronically using the web-based format at: ( Responses to this RFI are voluntary. The comments collected will be analyzed and considered in planning and development of future initiatives. Any personal identifiers (e.g., names, addresses, email addresses, etc.) will be removed when responses are compiled. Proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should not be included in your response.

This Request for Information (RFI) is for planning purposes only and is not a solicitation for applications or an obligation on the part of the United States (U.S.) Government to provide support for any ideas identified in response to it. Please note that the U.S. Government will not pay for the preparation of any comment submitted or for its use of that comment.


For further information contact:

Courtney Ferrell Aklin, Ph.D.
Office of Special Programs in Diversity
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
6001 Executive Blvd, room 2149
Bethesda, MD 20892
Telephone: 301-496-3102