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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 viewpoints and scientific interests. A major emphasis of this research is 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.

In April 2002, 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.  The Minority Action Plan was approved by NHGRI's National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research in May 2002; its name was subsequently changed to the Diversity Action Plan (DAP). The goal has been to increase the number of scientists from underrepresented minority (URM) groups that are trained to pursue research in the fields of genomics and/or ELSI research.  Certain NHGRI large grant classes were mandated to have DAP training activities (Centers of Excellence in Genomic Science (CEGS), large-scale sequencing centers and databases).  T32 training programs were encouraged to have training activities for URM undergraduate and graduate students.   Tracking of individuals who participated in the program in order to measure progress was a requirement of the initiative, and a Data Analysis and Coordinating Center was funded in 2008.  

In 2014, NHGRI restructured the DAP program PDF file in several ways, and removed the mandatory requirement, making DAP participation for certain NHGRI grant classes optional.  In 2016, the DAP program shifted from closed competition to open-competition with the re-issue of the DAP Funding  Opportunity Announcement, thus expanding the number and types of grants that could apply for DAP support.  While no longer limited to association with certain NHGRI programs, proposals must fit within the scientific mission of NHGRI.  Applicants should provide evidence that during the duration of the grant the institution will have a significant number of NIH peer-reviewed research projects in one or more of the following areas:  genome sciences, genomic medicine and genomics and society, in order to provide participants with a variety of experiences.  The research and educational experiences should focus on these genomic areas and not focus on particular disease(s) or health conditions.

A Research Training Advisory Committee provides guidance to the overall training program and includes one or more members of NHGRI Council.


Last Updated: August 3, 2017