Equity in Funding

Figure 1 from Ginther et al, 2011. This illustrates the disparity whereby applications with Black PIs are at substantial disadvantage in being funded by the NIH.

The NIH Funding Disparity

In August of 2011, Donna Ginther and colleagues reported that applications submitted to the NIH with Black Principal Investigators (PIs) were at a substantial disadvantage compared with those submitted with white PIs.

Success rates for R01 applications submitted for funding in Fiscal Years 2000-2006 were 29.3% for those with white PIs and 17.1% for those with Black PIs. This represents a 1.7 fold advantage for the former or, in another way, 58% of the success rate for the latter.

In 2019, Hoppe and colleagues reported that, for R01 applications submitted for FY2011-FY2015, those with white PIs had a 17.7% success rate while those with Black PIs had a 10.7% success rate. This represented a 1.65 fold advantage for the applications with white PIs or, alternately, that those with Black PIs had only 60.5% of the chance of funding enjoyed by those with white PIs.

Hoppe and colleagues also reported that R01 applications which describe topics and approaches that are disproportionately proposed by Black PIs also are less likely to be funded, regardless of PI characteristics. This pointed to an accelerant which accounted for about 20% of the funding disparity.

In early 2021, the UCSD Center for Faculty Diversity and Inclusion asked Dr. Taffe to describe the funding disparity in a webinar. His presentation included comment on how this funding disparity applies to hiring initiatives which aim to increase the representation of African-American / Black faculty in the biomedical disciplines. It is available here on YouTube [Racial Inequity in NIH Grant Award and Implications for DEI Hiring Initiatives]

The UCSD Health N=1 podcast interviewed Dr. Taffe about the NIH funding disparity in mid 2021. The SoundCloud version is available here: Funding fairness: Racial disparities in research grant funding.

A seminar presentation at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln Rural Drug Addiction Research Center on Racial Inequities in NIH Grant Funding is available on YouTube.

Professor Taffe has authored several written commentaries which address this funding disparity.

Insight: Taffe, M.A. Funding: Blinding peer review. eLife, 2021;10:e74744 doi: 10.7554/eLife.74744 [ PubMed ] - This comments on a paper which reports on an experiment to blind the reviewers of NIH grants to the identity of the PI.

News & Views (peer reviewed): Taffe, M.A., and Gilpin, N.W. The Funding is the Science: Racial Inequity of NIH Funding for Substance Use Disorder Topics Should Be Abolished. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2021. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2021.109163 - This addresses why the College on Problems of Drug Dependence, an academic research society focused on drug abuse, should take particular interest in the funding disparity and how this might affect the funding of research on drug abuse.

Commentary (peer reviewed): Gilpin, N.W. and Taffe, M.A. Toward an anti-racist approach to biomedical and neuroscience research. Journal of Neuroscience, 2021; 41(42): 8669-8672. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1319-21.2021 [ PubMed ]

Feature Article: Taffe, M.A. and Gilpin, N.W. Racial inequity in grant funding from the US National Institutes of Health. eLife, 2021;10:e65697 doi: 10.7554/eLife.65697 [ Publisher Site ][ PubMed ]

Correspondence (peer reviewed): Taffe, M.A. NIH research funding disparities affect diversity, equity and inclusion goals of the ACNP , Neuropsychopharmacology, 2021 Jan29, doi: 10.1038/s41386-021-00969-9 [ PublisherSite ][ ReadCube (no paywall) ][ PubMed ]- This correspondence is related to self-professed diversity goals of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and the requirement of that society for NIH grant award as a criterion of initial membership.

Professor Taffe has been quoted in news articles that address the NIH funding disparity.

Kaiser, J. NIH pulls notice aimed at encouraging applications from Black scientists. Sciencemag.org, 2021, Oct 29. [ Publisher Site ]

Kaiser, J. NIH institutes try new approach to supporting Black scientists. Science, 2021, Vol 374, Issue 6563. [ Publisher Site ]

Luscombe, B. NIH Director Francis Collins Is Fighting This Coronavirus While Preparing for the Next One. TIME, 2021, Feb 4. [ Publisher Site ]