Commentary in Cell with lead author Kelly Stevens, assistant professor of bioengineering and pathology:


Our nationwide network of BME women faculty collectively argue that racial funding disparity by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) remains the most insidious barrier to success of Black faculty in our profession. We thus refocus attention on this critical barrier and suggest solutions on how it can be dismantled.

Cell, January 26, 2021 DOI:

Kelly R. Stevens, Kristyn S. Masters, P.I. Imoukhuede, Karmella A. Haynes, Lori A. Setton, Elizabeth Cosgriff-Hernandez, Muyinatu A. Lediju Bell, Padmini Rangamani, Shelly E. Sakiyama-Elbert, Stacey D. Finley, Rebecca K. Willits, Abigail N. Koppes, Naomi C. Chesler, Karen L. Christman, Josephine B. Allen, Joyce Y. Wong, Hana El-Samad, Tejal A. Desai, Omolola Eniola-Adefeso
Figure 1 Caption: NIH R01 racial funding disparity

(A) For R01 applications from 2014 to 2016, the award rate was 10.2% for Black PIs and 18.5% for white PIs ().

(B) Metaphoric illustration depicting current NIH funding procedures, which destroy innovation (left) versus those that incorporate a broad NIH equity policy (red ladder) and/or in which individual anti-racist reviewers (red) advance applications of Black PIs, to create innovation (right).

(C) Circle areas proportionally represent the amount of funding in the NIH annual budget (gray, $41.68 billion in 2020) versus that needed to achieve racial funding equity (red, $32 million). Our ?$32 million estimate is derived as follows: The NIH deputy director for extramural research reported 35,085 R01-equivalent applications were submitted in 2019 and average award size of funded applications was $548,390. Of the awards submitted, previous studies have shown that ?2% of applicants were Black (Erosheva et al., 2020). 10.2% (Black) versus 18.5% (white) award rates (Erosheva et al., 2020) would yield 72 and 130 funded applications, respectively, which is a difference of only 58 funded applications. This R01-equivalent racial funding disparity amounts to ?2 applications per institute and ?$32 million in research funding.