Today, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), in partnership with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), launched a new funding opportunity that aims to recognize and further the leadership and scientific accomplishments of excellent biomedical researchers who—through their outreach, mentoring, and teaching—have a record of promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in their scientific fields.
The Science Diversity Leadership (SDL) program will support projects led by outstanding early- to mid-career faculty at U.S. universities, medical schools, and nonprofit research institutes who advance research and act as mentors, sponsors, and role models for underrepresented groups in biomedical science.
“Through this new partnership with the National Academies, we hope to increase visibility and support for faculty of color in biomedicine, including Black, Latina/o/x, and Indigenous faculty, so they can continue to do some of the best science and mentor tomorrow’s leaders,” said CZI Co-Founders & Co-CEOs Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg. “Put simply—supporting Black, Latina/o/x, and Indigenous researchers advances biomedicine and broadens the perspectives of the field, grows the credibility of science within impacted communities, and builds a solid bench of role models for the next generation of researchers.”
Each grant recipient will be awarded a total of $1.15 million over five years, with the first two cohorts of grantees selected in 2022 and 2023. Investigators leading the grantees’ projects will use funds to support research programs and outreach, mentoring, and teaching activities. In addition, CZI will connect project leads with national and international scientific leaders through convenings. Dr. Ivory Dean, who recently joined CZI as the Science Program Manager, Diversity in Science, will oversee this new program. The National Academies will collaborate with CZI to administer the application process and convene experts to review the applications.
“To increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the biomedical sciences, we must do everything possible to attract, retain, and nurture top talent at our colleges and universities,” said National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt. “We are pleased to partner with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative on this effort, which will recognize and encourage faculty who make mentorship and stewardship a top priority in their academic programs.”
Biomedical science is rife with systemic disparities, inequities, and injustices that are especially experienced by Black, Latina/o/x, and Indigenous communities—and research funding awards are no exception. According to the Pew Research Center, Black and Latina/o/x professionals remain significantly underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce. Black professionals comprise only 9 percent of those in STEM occupations, while Latina/o/x professionals comprise just 8 percent of all STEM workers. In particular, only 8.9 percent of all individuals in science and engineering academic doctoral positions identify as Black or African American, Hispanic or Latina/o/x, or American Indian or Alaska Native, according to the National Science Foundation.
Moreover, there are the additional obligations that Black, Latina/o/x, and Indigenous faculty are asked to perform that further stretches resources thin. “Too often, people of color employed as science faculty face additional burdens and expectations, including serving on committees unrelated to their scientific endeavors and performing extensive mentoring of Black and Brown students and trainees without compensation. This ‘diversity tax’ limits their time to focus on doing great science, yet these scientists are essential to advancing their fields and as role models and mentors,” said Dr. Hannah Valantine, a leading cardiologist, former NIH Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity, and CZI Senior Science Advisor. “The STEM career path is an excellent avenue to opportunity, but entry requires mentoring that starts in pre-college education and continues into professional life.”
Through the SDL program, faculty will contribute to growing the STEM workforce while advancing biomedical research and serving as an inspiration for the next generation of scientific leaders. By providing research funding and additional project funding that celebrates and rewards mentoring, the SDL program will support faculty in conducting important biomedical research that advances science and their careers, as they continue their mentoring and service activities that are essential for growing the next generation of scientists.
The SDL program will accept applications from January 26 through May 19, 2022 at 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. For more information and application instructions, please visit the SDL program website.
In December 2020, CZI announced a $500 million investment over the next five years to support organizations leading the way to advance racial equity, diversity, and inclusion, with new grants announced in 2021. Additional CZI funds also support Black, Latina/o/x, and Indigenous students who are pursuing STEM degrees at the University of California, San Diego and UC Berkeley, as the two campuses implement aspects of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s successful Meyerhoff Scholars Program. Learn about three Meyerhoff students who are hoping to change the world.
About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was founded in 2015 to help solve some of society’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease and improving education, to addressing the needs of our local communities. Our mission is to build a more inclusive, just, and healthy future for everyone. For more information, please visit chanzuckerberg.com.