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Developing Biomedical Research Capacity through the Diversity Program Consortium

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4 months 3 weeks
07.13.22 By Marie A. Bernard and Alison Gammie
Diversity Program Consortium


The Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce Program, also known as the Diversity Program Consortium (DPC), is an NIH initiative designed to test the effectiveness of interventions in promoting inclusivity throughout the biomedical research enterprise.

This national research collaborative is devoted to developing, implementing, assessing, and disseminating innovative and effective approaches to training and mentoring to engage a more diverse field of individuals in biomedical research careers.

Undergraduate trainees from across the 10 BUILD-funded programs engage in a variety of mentored research training activities, including conducting research in laboratory settings, participating in fieldwork, and presenting on their research at conferences.

Undergraduate trainees from across the 10 BUILD-funded programs engage in a variety of mentored research training activities, including conducting research in laboratory settings, participating in fieldwork, and presenting on their research at conferences. Credit: Diversity Program Consortium newsletter

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) manages the DPC, and the COSWD team has supported the program since it began. Dr. Gammie, Director of the Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity at NIGMS, works with a team of NIH program officers and project scientists to manage the activities. Dr. Bernard co-chairs a subgroup of the Advisory Committee to the Director Working Group on Diversity (ACD WGD) that provides oversight support to the DPC. In this post, we share some of the DPC’s resources for developing research talent at multiple career stages.

A Response to Funding Disparities

An impetus for the DPC was a 2011 study by Ginther et al. that reported significant racial disparities in funding success for NIH R01 equivalent grants, particularly for Black/African American scientists. The DPC was one of the NIH’s many responses to recommendations codified by the ACD Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce in 2012 to address these disparities.

With approximately $500 million in support from the NIH Common Fund, the DPC began in 2014 and will run through 2024. The DPC focuses on student, faculty, and institutional impact. It integrates social science research and psychosocial interventions with faculty and student training and mentoring while rigorously assessing the outcomes. Three core initiatives made up the DPC in its first five years:

  • Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) institutional programs assess interventions to enhance diversity in the biomedical research workforce at the student, faculty, and institutional levels through site-level and consortium-wide structured evaluations.
  • The National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) provides mentorship opportunities, professional development, mentor/mentee training, networking, and resources to individuals from the undergraduate to the faculty level. NRMN’s research projects focus on biomedical mentoring and networking interventions.
  • The Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC) coordinates the DPC and evaluates the outcomes of the activities. Central to these efforts is conducting a consortium-wide evaluation to assess the results and impact of the training and mentoring approaches based on hallmarks of success and logic models.

In 2019, the NIH added two new initiatives based on the lessons learned:

The NIGMS library of publications on DPC activities contains hundreds of studies from faculty pilot projects and interventions. Additional data on DPC activities are available from its Coordination and Evaluation Center. You can also subscribe to the DPC newsletter.

Looking ahead, the NIH will continue to disseminate DPC findings and act on DPC evidence. In addition, NIGMS intends to continue encouraging evaluation capacity development through funding announcements and supplements to existing training programs. Finally, NIGMS funding announcements will continue to reinforce key psychosocial factors such as a sense of belonging, science identity, and self-efficacy that evidence from the DPC and other research indicate are essential for persistence in the biomedical research workforce.

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