Healthcare News & Insights

Report: Why is it twice as hard for blacks to get NIH grants?

A new report shows black researchers are only about half as likely to get grants from the National Institutes of Health as white researchers. The question left is: Why? The report looked at more than 80,000 grant applications submitted by approximately 40,000 researchers between 2000 and 2006. About 29% of applications by white scientists received grants — but only 16% of those from black applicants were approved.

Even after adjusting for factors such as differences in applicants’ training, there was a discrepancy: About 27% of white applicants’ requests were approved, but only 17% of blacks. Asian and Hispanic researchers’ requests were approved at roughly the same percentages as whites.

NIH said its internal auditing shows there may be inherent bias in the scientific review process — such as scientists with fewer resources or weaker peer networks having a harder time getting their applications approved. Regardless of the reason, the agency considers the lower rates of funding for black researchers ” not acceptable.”

NIH said it’s investigating the issue and actively searching for ways to minimize the problem.

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