Vanderbilt University and its Medical Center recently received a $17 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for a new program to increase diversity in its biomedical research staff, according to The Nashville Post.
The money will go toward Vanderbilt’s Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation Program to strengthen hiring, promotion, and retention of minority biomedical researchers.
Consuelo Wilkins, senior associate dean for health equity and inclusive excellence, who leads the program, said in a statement, “Vanderbilt is foundationally committed to inclusive excellence, and the V-FIRST Program puts us on a fast-track to being an example of how to evolve into a diverse, self-sustaining research community.”
It is unclear exactly how the money will be used. It is difficult to imagine how hiring, promoting, and retaining employees would cost $17 million, but Vanderbilt will doubtless find a way.
Especially in the medical and research fields, hiring should be on merit, not a pre-determined set of race, gender, or sexual orientation criteria.
The NIH funds many grant programs to further diversity and equity in medical fields. Many of them are worth millions, and do not require any clinical trials to be performed to prove the efficacy or reliability of their research or initiatives.
The NIH has a core mission to use tax dollars to further medical research, and it must remain vigilant to ensure its spending them in a way that maximizes scientific advancement.
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