White scientists are significantly more likely to get research grants from the National Institute of Health than black scientists. Researchers analyzed 80,000 grant applications to NIH between 2000 and 2006 and found that only 16 percent from black applicants were approved compared with 29 percent from whites, The Washington Post reported
“We have a very serious issue,” Donna Ginther, director of the University of Kansas Center of Science, Technology and Economic Policy, said according to the Post. “Science needs to reflect the diversity and power and potential of the population.” Ginter led the study published in the journal Science.
NIH Director Francis Collins told reporters, “This situation is not acceptable. This data is deeply troubling.”
Researchers speculated that the discrepancy could be explained by black scientists not being as connected to professional networks as whites or that blacks work at institutions that offer less support.
“I don’t think it’s overt racism. I’m not thinking someone is going through the applications and saying: ‘Black, do not fund,’ ” Ginther said according to the Post. “But it could be a matter of networks — that these investigators are not as well connected as others. Or it could be the resources of their home institutions in preparing the applications.”
Collins said he has asked the NIH Diversity Task Force and the Diversity in Biomedical Research Working Group to look into the matter, the Post reported, and the agency will look into whether NIH reviewers are biased against blacks.
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