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Friday, August 19, 2011

RACIAL DISCRIMINATION: Blacks less likely than whites to get NIH grants, study finds!


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By Rob Stein, / washingtonpost.com / Published: August 18.

The researchers found a 10 percentage point gap in research funding--even after taking into consideration demographics, education and training, employer characteristics, NIH experience and research productivity. For example, for every 100 grants submitted to NIH, 30 grants from white applicants were funded, compared to 20 grants for black applicants.
The researchers found a 10 percentage point gap in research funding--even after taking into consideration demographics, education and training, employer characteristics, NIH experience and research productivity. For example, for every 100 grants submitted to NIH, 30 grants from white applicants were funded, compared to 20 grants for black applicants.

Black scientists are significantly less likely than white researchers to win grants from the National Institutes of Health, according to an audit released Thursday that confirmed disturbing suspicions inside the agency about a lingering bias against African Americans.

The analysis of data from more than 40,000 researchers who submitted more than 80,000 grant applications to NIH between 2000 and 2006 found that only about 16 percent of those from black applicants were approved, compared with about 29 percent of those from white scientists.

Even after the researchers accounted for other factors that could help explain the discrepancy, such as differences in scientists’ education and training, black applicants were still about 10 percentage points less likely than whites to get NIH funding, the researchers reported. About 27 percent of white applicants’ requests were successful, compared with only about 17 percent of blacks’.

Asians applying for money appeared to be slightly less likely than whites to get grants, but that gap disappeared when the researchers matched equally qualified white and Asian U.S. citizens. Hispanics were about as successful as whites.
The findings are troubling because they indicate that race remains a significant factor in who gets funding for research into diabetes, cancer, heart disease and other health problems from the premier funder of biomedical research, the researchers said.

“We have a very serious issue,” said Donna K. Ginther, director of the University of Kansas Center of Science, Technology and Economic Policy, who led the study published in the journal Science. “Science needs to reflect the diversity and power and potential of the population.”
NIH’s internal auditing had indicated that there might be a problem with bias in its scientific review process. The agency initiated and helped fund the study to investigate those concerns. Officials agreed the new findings were alarming and outlined steps the $31 billion agency will take to try to address the problem.

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