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Diversity Catalysts


In Winter 2014, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins and SWD Chief Officer Dr. Hannah Valantine invited NIH senior leadership to nominate representatives from their respective ICs to serve as NIH Diversity Catalysts. This group of 62 individuals met for the first time in February 2015. The Diversity Catalysts:

  • Provide rapid and effective input at early stages of strategy development
  • Provide assistance in tailoring initiatives to specific IC culture
  • Facilitate implementation and evaluation of strategies within and across ICs

As the name implies, these individuals are charged with convening thought on scientific workforce diversity, and then transforming that thought into action. NIH enlisted the help of the San Mateo, California firm Jump Associates, which employs systems thinking that leverages social science and business models. This hybrid approach serves as a novel means to invite innovative, action-oriented thinking within the Diversity Catalysts.

Selected pilots under way include creating a centralized, national recruiting tool of IRP tenure-track applicants linked to an NIH “ambassador” program that connects highly competitive candidates with NIH; 1- to 2-week “sabbaticals” for IRP principal investigators to recruit candidates at minority-serving institutions; and a trans-NIH intervention study on implicit attitudes regarding science and identity. The results of successful strategies will be evaluated rigorously and applied more broadly across NIH.


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