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Introducing the Inaugural NIH 21st Century Scholars Program Cohort

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04.15.22 By Marie A. Bernard
NIH COSWD 21st Century Scholars Blog

Today, I am pleased to introduce the inaugural cohort of the NIH 21st Century Scholars Program—a new COSWD-sponsored initiative to promote awareness of the science of scientific workforce diversity. Six mentors and 13 cohort engagement participants were selected from the NIH scientific staff who support extramural research portfolios. Together, they will build a vibrant, self-reinforcing culture of mentoring and support with a focus on diversity at the NIH.

The program mentors are established NIH scientific staff who administer the extramural research portfolio. Mentors will empower the cohort engagement participants through mentoring sessions and intellectual exchanges that develop professional skills and explore scientific workforce diversity challenges during the six-month program.

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The cohort engagement participants are talented scientists recently hired into the NIH extramural program. The 21st Century Scholars Program’s support structures and professional development focus, including a Journal Club and team activities such as developing a workshop or a potential funding opportunity announcement, are designed to promote their success as extramural program staff advocates for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA).

Mentors and cohort engagement participants will receive financial support to attend meetings or enhance their personal development, in addition to recognition throughout the NIH for their commitment to scientific workforce diversity.

NIH 21st Century Scholars Program Mentors and Participants


  • Wilson Compton, NIDA (Super Mentor )
  • Jovier Evans, NIMH
  • Todd Haim, NIA
  • Lucia Hindorff, NHGRI
  • Lu Wang, NIDCR
  • Krista Zanetti, NCI


  • Stephanie Davis, NHLBI
  • Samson Gebreab, NCI
  • Christian Gomez, NHLBI
  • Raquel Greer, NIDDK
  • Thomas Houze, NIAID
  • Shailesh Kumar, NIAAA
  • Holly Moore, NIDA
  • Maggie Morris Fears, NIAID
  • Jagpreet Nanda, NICHD
  • Deborah Philp, NCATS
  • Lumy Sawaki-Adams, NIGMS
  • Melissa Smarr, NIEHS
  • Lisa Wigfall, CSR

Cohort Models to Enhance Inclusive Excellence

The 21st Century Scholars Program uses the emerging practice of engaging cohort models to foster an inclusive workplace climate among NIH employees in the NIH extramural research program. Evidence suggests this approach can improve recruitment and retention of individuals from underrepresented groups in science, in part, by promoting connection and collaboration among cohort members.

The program enhances and maintains the NIH’s commitment to implementing evidence-based interventions that promote scientific workforce diversity. It is modeled after the Distinguished Scholars Program, which builds a more inclusive community within the NIH Intramural Research Program.

The COSWD Office received a robust response to the call for applicants, and I am excited by this enthusiasm for mentorship and advancing DEIA in the biomedical workforce. It is an honor to welcome the inaugural cohort, and I look forward to updating you on their achievements as the program progresses.


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