My life experiences have indelibly shaped my views on the broad value of diversity by providing me with a unique perspective on scientific workforce diversity as an opportunity for achieving research excellence that turns discovery into health for all Americans. My perspectives are derived from my formative years in The Gambia, , experiences at London University and at St. George Hospital’s Medical School, vivid memories as a resident and as a cardiology fellow, and the challenges of advancing through the academic ranks of cardiology, a male dominated field with little racial or ethnic diversity. These experiences (which I will share with you in future communications), along with my time as a professor and the Senior Associate Dean for Diversity and Leadership at the Stanford School of Medicine have allowed me an unprecedented opportunity to test my belief that diversity invites scientific innovation and is essential for creating a broad palette of solutions to the complexity of health challenges before us. However, as a scientist, simply “believing” is not enough. Efforts to enhance diversity in the scientific workforce must fully utilize the scientific method with the same level of rigor that all of us use in the conduct of research.
I invite you to join me in this exciting journey to establish NIH as the nation’s leader in scientific workforce diversity; the place to which science leaders across all sectors of biomedical research come to be informed about data-driven scientific approaches to diversity. Then imagine the outcomes we can achieve by enhancing the diversity and inclusion nationally among the thousands of teams of researchers and tapping into the unique perspectives that each can bring to bear on creating solution to improving human health. My vision is to establish innovative, science-driven thinking to transform diversity from a problem into an opportunity, which will ensure that we recruit, retain and advance the most talented scientists from the uniquely diverse intellectual capital that is emblematic of our nation.
Hannah A. Valantine, M.D.
The SWD Strategic Plan and the Working Group on Diversity and the Biomedical Research Workforce
In August 2011, the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) convened the Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce (WGDBRW) to make recommendations on ways to enhance the diversity of the biomedical research workforce. Since June 2012, when their recommendations were shared, NIH has been focused on responding to their specific calls to action. The SWD Strategic Plan addresses many of the recommendations of the Working group.