Request for Information (RFI): Institutional Accountability to Promote Inclusive Excellence

Notice Number: NOT-RM-19-001

Key Dates
Release Date : February 25, 2019
Response Date: May 16, 2019

Related Announcements
NOT-RM-19-006
NOT-RM-19-003

Issued by
Office of Strategic Coordination (Common Fund)

Purpose

The purpose of this Request for Information (RFI) is to solicit background information and guidance on the development of an NIH Common-Fundprogram currently in the planning stages. The NIH Office of Strategic Coordination seeks input on institutional and/or programmatic approaches to advance inclusive excellence through institutional change. Our goal is to employ a cohort model at the faculty level as a catalyst for institutions to create a route of entry and advancement for talent from diverse backgrounds, including scholars from groups underrepresented in the biomedical research enterprise. This RFI will assist NIH in identifying, developing, and implementing strategies that will work toward this goal - integral to NIH’s mission to support a diverse research workforce that invites a broad variety of perspectives to address complex scientific problems, more robust learning environments, improved global competitiveness, and enhanced public trust.

Background

Promoting inclusive excellence - that is, scientific environments that can cultivate and benefit from a full range of talent - is among the greatest opportunities and challenges in biomedical research today. Given the complexity of current health problems and the enormous opportunity of 21st century biomedicine, NIH must obtain the broadest range of perspectives to find creative, effective, and sustainable solutions. The longstanding NIH investment in research training to enhance workforce diversity at early stages of the training pathway has been effective and has contributed to building a diverse pool of highly qualified biomedical doctoral recipients. However, despite the notable increase in the number of scientists from underrepresented groups (URG, including women) who have earned doctorate degrees in biological sciences, increasing evidence demonstrates major attrition of these talented scientists from the NIH-funded research workforce from the postdoctoral training period into independent faculty positions. Diversifying the professoriate is thus the next logical, and achievable step for an NIH-funded extramural investment in workforce diversity. Because previous approaches that focus on individuals have only slowly “moved the needle,” targeting systemic change through NIH-funded institutional transformation is necessary. To that end, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences has recently launched Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC), a two-part program designed to facilitate the transition of talented postdoctoral researchers from diverse backgrounds into independent careers. The two MOSAIC components include an individual-targeted K99/R00 award and an organization-targeted UE5 award (professional societies).

The NIH Scientific Workforce Diversity office has garnered significant interest from institutions for integrated solutions to recruit and retain a diverse faculty body through inclusive excellence. Cohort models have been highly successful in enhancing diversity among trainees. NIH is now interested in understanding whether a similar approach may be applicable at the biomedical research-faculty level, mirroring a current strategy in the NIH intramural research program (IRP). The IRP Distinguished Scholars Program cohort model for tenure-track investigators involves an integrated approach using tools to address recruitment, outreach, implicit-bias education, and mentoring/career development. Its principal aim is recruitment of a critical mass of investigators with a demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion – thus building a self-sustaining community of scientists committed to inclusive excellence.

This RFI seeks to obtain feedback, comments, novel ideas, and strategies to inform NIH on plans institutions are developing toward achieving inclusive excellence by creating research environments that promote and value a culture of inclusion, diversity, equity, and mentoring: all key elements needed to ensure research excellence and career advancement for early-career faculty.

Information Requested

NIH seeks input from key extramural community stakeholders, including academic institutional leadership, biomedical faculty, and interested members of the public on strategies to collaborate with institutions on achieving inclusive excellence, scientific environments that can cultivate and benefit from the full range of talent, by catalyzing sustainable institutional accountability. Topics that could be addressed include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Institutional programs and approaches that have been successful in reducing isolation, increasing community building, and fostering career advancement for early-career faculty, including those from diverse backgrounds, such as groups underrepresented in biomedical research
  • Institutional mentoring programs that support faculty development, retention, and career success
  • Faculty-level cohort-model approaches that are institution-based or distributed across institutions
  • Data-driven strategies to assess and manage institutional equity and diversity
  • Capacity for institutional support of early-career scientists, including start-up packages, research, lab space/equipment, and salary
  • Role of partnerships between institutions toward reducing isolation, increasing community building, and fostering career advancement for early faculty
  • Any other comments or recommendations for NIH to consider with respect to programmatic efforts to collaborate with institutions on achieving inclusive excellence through a cohort-hiring/mentoring approach with an emphasis on institutional accountability
How to Submit a Response

Responses to this RFI will be accepted through May 16, 2019. All comments will be anonymous and must be submitted via email to InclusiveExcellenceRFI@nih.gov.

Responses to this RFI are voluntary.The Government is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information provided and respondents will not receive individualized feedback.This RFI is for planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the United States Government.NIH will use the information submitted in response to this RFI at its discretion. NIH does not intend to make any type of award based on responses to this RFI or to pay for either the preparation of information submitted or the United States Government's use of such information.
The information submitted will be analyzed and may be shared internally, appear in reports or be reflected in future solicitations, as appropriate and at the Government's discretion.Proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should not be included in your response. The Government reserves the right to use any non-proprietary technical information in any resultant solicitation(s) or other activities.No basis for claims against the U.S. Government shall arise as a result of a response to this request for information or from the Government's use of such information.

Inquiries

Please direct all inquiries to:

Patricia Labosky, Ph.D.
Office of Strategic Coordination
Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives
NIH Office of the Director
Email: InclusiveExcellenceRFI@nih.gov

Charlene E. Le Fauve, Ph.D.
Scientific Workforce Diversity
NIH Office of the Director
Email: InclusiveExcellenceRFI@nih.gov