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If Change is the Law of Life, What’s Been and What’s Next?

January 10, 2024


President John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

The start of a year is an opportune time to reflect on past changes and look ahead to new ones. In this spirit, I am pleased to share eight highlights from the COSWD team’s 2023 activities. 


2023 Highlights in Chronological Order


  • NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA). I was privileged to co-lead the development of the Fiscal Years 2023–2027 NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for DEIA, along with colleagues from the Office of Human Resources and the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Published in March, the DEIA Strategic Plan articulates NIH’s commitment to embracing, strengthening, and integrating DEIA across all agency activities.


  • NIH DEIA Prize Competition. April marked the launch of the first NIH DEIA Prize Competition, through which NIH will award up to 10 prizes of $100,000 each to institutions that have developed innovative strategies for enhancing DEIA in research environments. We will announce the prize recipients in late January. 


  • Distinguished Scholars Program (DSP). The DSP celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2023, and 65 NIH principal investigators have now participated. The DSP seeks to build a more inclusive community within the NIH Intramural Research Program (IRP). Data indicate that the IRP has experienced an increase in tenure-track investigators from underrepresented groups since the program began in 2018.


  • 21st Century Scholars Program. Launched in 2021, this COSWD-sponsored program builds a self-reinforcing culture of mentoring and support at NIH. Five mentors and 16 scholars participated in the program in 2023. We are accepting applications for our third cohort through January 29, and I encourage all eligible NIH program officers and scientific review officers to apply.


  • Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Administrative Supplements to Recognize Excellence in DEIA Mentorship. We were pleased to reissue this COSWD-led NOSI that will award up to $18 million in administrative supplements in fiscal year 2024, contingent upon NIH funding. The institutional awards supplement the existing awards of program directors and principal investigators who engage in outstanding DEIA mentorship. 


  • NIH Engagement and Access for Research-Active Institutions (EARA). November saw the launch of the EARA initiative, led by the COSWD team on behalf of NIH UNITE. EARA is a collaboration and communication-focused initiative designed to connect Research-Active Institutions with NIH opportunities and resources.


  • Scientific Workforce Diversity Seminar Series (SWDSS). I am delighted by the continued success of the SWDSS, now in its third season. We held three seminars in 2023, with more than 2,300 participants. I invite you to join us on March 13 for the continuation of the 2023–2024 season. In addition, please explore any seminars you missed.


On the Horizon

The COSWD team looks forward to sharing new activities in 2024. These include a redesigned COSWD website to make locating and discovering our resources easier. We also anticipate announcing the NIH DEIA Prize Competition winners in late January. Stay tuned for additional information about the EARA initiative as it evolves, or visit the EARA website for updates

I appreciate your engagement in our endeavors and wish each of you a happy and healthy 2024. A year from now, we will look back at 2024 and toward the changes ahead. After all, Kennedy also said, “We celebrate the past to awaken the future.”