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Creating Diversity and Leadership in the Next Generation of Mental Health Researchers

NAMHC Concept Clearance

Presenter

Pamela Y. Collins, M.D., M.P.H.
Director, Office for Research on Disparities & Global Mental Health (ORDGMH)
Director, Office of Rural Mental Health Research

Goal

This initiative aims to support the career development and training of outstanding early career mental health researchers from diverse backgrounds who are currently underrepresented in neuroscience, biomedical, and behavioral sciences.

Rationale

Recent research continues to underscore the lack of diversity among the scientists who are engaged in biomedical and behavioral research in the United States (National Research Council, 2000 ) and provides evidence for a national need to develop and maintain a strong and diverse 21st century scientific workforce. As part of its continuing effort to promote diversity in the scientific workforce, NIH and NIMH actively support programs aimed at increasing the number of scientists who are members of groups underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences (see data at the National Science Foundation (NSF) website ), persons with disabilities, and economic and certain social disadvantage. Although NIH currently provides multiple opportunities to develop research careers and improve the participation for individuals from groups with low representation in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, reports from NSF and others provide strong evidence that diversity remains a significant problem that the entire research enterprise should actively address.

The goal of the initiative is to leverage existing infrastructures to create new training opportunities in neuroscience and mental health research, thereby increasing the diversity of the mental health research workforce. ORDGMH expects this initiative to increase the number of highly trained investigators from diverse backgrounds whose basic and clinical research interests are grounded in the advanced methods and experimental approaches needed to solve tough mental health problems.

Anticipated outcomes include:

  • Increase in the number of faculty from diverse backgrounds who are committed to academic careers in mental health and neuroscience research, clinical investigation, or mental health services research, and who will encourage and foster the development of succeeding classes of such scholars;
  • Development of a cadre of mental health researchers, from neuroscientists to services researchers, able to investigate the effects of contextual factors on behavior and biology to increase the array of population-wide mental health interventions;
  • Enhancement of innovative translational research in mental health that is based on evidence drawn from diverse sample populations, and that is conducted by investigators with broad perspectives; and
  • Increase in the number of researchers from diverse groups who receive research grant support from NIMH.

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