NIH establishes new Diversity Centers for Genome Research
Centers will support innovative genomics studies, providing training for students and tackling important genomics research questions for underserved populations.
The National Institutes of Health has awarded $6.4 million in first-year funding to establish Diversity Centers for Genome Research at three institutions. These centers aim to support cutting-edge genomics projects and expand the research capabilities of these institutions with the goal of building a more diverse genomics workforce.
The program is designed to fund research at colleges and universities that have not recently received significant funding from NIH and that have a documented record or mission of recruiting, educating and graduating students from backgrounds historically underrepresented in the scientific workforce. These centers will increase the genomics research capacity of these institutions so that more students will have access to genomic technologies and be encouraged to explore careers in the field.
“We are excited about this program as it is the first of its kind focused on developing genomics centers at institutions with a record of educating underrepresented populations in biomedical research,” said Ebony Madden, Ph.D., Program Director at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of NIH.
The first cohort of centers will be established at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, a Hispanic-serving institution; Meharry Medical College, a historically Black medical school; and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, which serves Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander students.
The projects carried out at these new centers will focus on enhancing diversity among participants in genomics research and addressing scientific questions related to health disparities that affect the communities these institutions serve. The centers also include community engagement cores to ensure that the research activities benefit their broader communities.
We are excited about this program as it is the first of its kind focused on developing genomics centers at institutions with a record of educating underrepresented populations in biomedical research.
“The significance of these centers stems from the unique and crucial opportunity they create for growing genomics research capacity across the United States,” said Vence Bonham, Jr., J.D., NHGRI’s Acting Deputy Director. “NHGRI is committed to providing research funding opportunities for institutions with a record of serving underrepresented groups and striving to expand the diversity of the genomics workforce.”
This award is part of NHGRI’s commitment to the principles outlined in the institute’s "Building a Diverse Genomic Workforce" Action Agenda, which describes NHGRI’s aims in supporting diversity in the genomics workforce. Inclusion of diverse perspectives will enhance creativity and innovation in the field, leading to beneficial scientific discoveries.
The awards — $32.7 million in total, which will be distributed over the next five to seven years, pending the availability of funds — are jointly funded by NHGRI and the National Institute for Minority Health and Disparities (NIMHD). Additionally, the three funded Diversity Centers for Genome Research represent only the first cohort, and applications are currently being solicited from other eligible institutions to establish additional centers.
Diversity Centers for Genome Research and Principal Investigators
Meharry Medical College — Nashville, TN
- Anil Shanker, Ph.D.
- LaMonica Stewart, Ph.D.
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley — Edinburg, TX
- Sarah Williams-Blangero, Ph.D.
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa — Honolulu, HI
- Lang Wu, Ph.D.
- Youping Deng, Ph.D.
Last updated: December 7, 2023