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NIMH Director’s Statement on Racism

Institute Update

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has hit African American communities particularly hard. But for hundreds of years, African Americans have also faced another deadly pandemic — racism. Right now, people across the country are currently coping with yet another episode of violence perpetrated against a person of color. I am outraged, and I condemn racism in all of its forms. We must do better.

I join NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins in denouncing the horrific acts of violence perpetrated against African Americans as well as the ongoing bias and prejudice that fuels these acts. I further join him in recognizing that we at NIH — and particularly at NIMH — have a role to play, by ensuring that we foster a culture of inclusion, equity, and respect for one another, and by ensuring that the research we support is part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

We need to do a better job of promoting diversity in research (both in those who participate in clinical research and those conducting the research), examining ways to increase access to care to people who need it, and studying and understanding the impact of bias and prejudice on health outcomes. Our work has never been more important, and we should all play a role in making this world a better place.

This is a challenging time for a number of reasons. At NIMH, we plan to meet these challenges with strength and compassion. We will take this opportunity to recommit ourselves to the goal of supporting research outcomes that will benefit all of us — a mission that can’t ignore the reality of the African American experience.

Joshua A. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D.
Director of NIMH