Vanderbilt Launches Program to Recruit Diverse Biomedical Researchers

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Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center are investing $17 million in a new initiative to increase DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) in the biomedical research field.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Vanderbilt Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (V-FIRST) program will support underrepresented early-career investigators through hiring, promotion, and retention efforts.

Diversity among biomedical researchers has historically been low, with the most recent data from 2021 showing that only 4.8 percent of NIH-funded researchers are Hispanic, and less than 3 percent are Black.

To help address these disparities, the V-FIRST initiative will focus on strengthening recruitment and retention while also fostering a sense of belonging in the biomedical research community.

The V-FIRST team is led by Consuelo Wilkins, MD, senior vice president and senior associate dean for health equity and inclusive excellence; Alyssa Hasty, PhD, associate dean for faculty of the basic sciences; and Cybele Raver, PhD, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.

“The programming supported by this award will include activities that not only provide career development opportunities for our recruits, but intentionally weaves in opportunities for everyone in our research community to develop relationships that create a sense of belonging for all,” Hasty said in a news release.