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History of NHGRI's Minority/Diversity Action Plan

The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) is committed to increasing the number of individuals from underrepresented minority groups who have the training to pursue careers in genome and ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) research. Genome research offers tremendous challenges and opportunities for improving human health and ELSI research offers the chance to explore some of the most profound ethical, legal and social issues of our time. NHGRI wants the best minds to participate in this work. There are extraordinary career opportunities in genome and ELSI research that all should share in.

The very nature of genome and ELSI research demands including a diversity of points of view and scientific interests. A major emphasis of this research will be to investigate how DNA sequence variation affects phenotypic differences, especially differences in susceptibility to disease among various groups. The significant societal ramifications of this research will also need to be addressed. It is clearly desirable to have individuals involved who bring diverse perspectives to this research, including an interest in understanding diseases that disproportionately affect some populations. Genome research will affect all populations and thus all groups need to participate in setting the research agenda and examining the broader issues raised by it.

On April 16 - 17, 2001, the NHGRI convened a meeting to explore new and innovative ideas and models to increase the number of underrepresented minorities pursuing research careers in genomics and related sciences.

Growing out of this meeting and developing into mature programs in their own right have been a series of efforts at various academic and for-profit institutes across the country, all of which are geared to increasing the enrollment of unerderrepresented minorities in the life-sciences. Many of these programs offer exciting, state-of-the-art research opportunities for graduate students, undergraduates and pre-college students as well. These programs have produced valuable educational resources for pre-college teachers interested in teaching genomics and cell biology to younger students. There are also summer exchange programs designed to give students of all levels research experience at any of the different participating institutes.

The MAP Portal includes useful tools for program coordinators, descriptions of participating programs and programs that list possible research opportunities for interested students.

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Last Updated: July 25, 2016