Racial Equity and Inclusion in Biomedical Research—and the NIH UNITE Program

This past March, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched the UNITE initiative to address structural racism at NIH, NIH-supported institutions, and anywhere NIH research activities take place. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Director George F. Koob, Ph.D., announced his enthusiastic support of UNITE and his commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion at NIAAA and in the alcohol research enterprise.

The UNITE program aligns with the efforts that NIAAA has made—and continues to make—to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion. For example, NIAAA recently established an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Steering Committee to inform its efforts. To make the foundational changes that are needed, NIAAA will focus on the following domains: improving the NIAAA intramural and extramural workplace and culture, increasing diversity and equity in the scientific and administrative workforce, and enhancing the NIAAA intramural and extramural scientific research portfolio.

Looking ahead, NIAAA is dedicated to expanding career opportunities for researchers, clinicians, and administrators from diverse and underserved communities. “Because our alcohol research community is so focused and we know that diversity enriches our efforts in every way, we can dedicate ourselves to engaging diversity to sustain our field. As such, I believe we have a unique opportunity to expand opportunities for future alcohol researchers and administrators. Let’s remember, a focus on equity does not apply solely to those who work on our purely scientific endeavors, but to all of us who support this critical biomedical enterprise dedicated to the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of alcohol misuse,” says Dr. Koob.