NIH Responds to Racial Disparity in Minority Grant Numbers

NIH Struggles to Find Bias Behind Minority Grant Numbers 1

Ceasar, Howard U.

Historically black institutions like Howard U. (pictured) graduate only about 20 percent of black bachelor's-degree recipients, yet they rank as the nation’s top producers of black graduates who go on to earn Ph.D.'s in science and engineering. That pattern has affected the NIH's response to a 2011 study that found minority scientists win a disproportionately small share of its grants.

The National Institutes of Health shocked itself in 2011 with a study that found a wide race-based variance in its grant awards.

One immediate question was whether the disparity—black scientists were found to be getting less than 1 percent of the main categories of NIH grants—was due primarily to bias in the NIH's grant-review system or to the quality and quantity of grant applications from black researchers.

The nation's largest funder of university research is