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NCATS Director Statement in Support of Ending Structural Racism and Health Disparities

Image of a UNITE banner that reads Ending Structural Racism, when clicked the image links to

NIH established the UNITE initiative to address structural racism and promote racial equity and inclusion at NIH and within the larger biomedical research enterprise. (NIH)

March 1, 2021

NCATS, and I as its director, stands alongside the rest of NIH in its commitment to end structural racism in biomedical research and is fully engaged in the UNITE initiative. At NCATS, we have committed ourselves — in words and in actions — to support diversity, equity and inclusion and to address the scientific, operational, organizational and cultural problems that have contributed to racial inequities across the biomedical research enterprise.

NCATS has a culture of innovation and collaboration that is necessary for advancing translational science. This culture will aid us in developing strategies that holistically and effectively address this historically difficult problem.

Diversity and inclusion — in basic, preclinical, and clinical research, personalized medicine and population-level research — are also essential to addressing health equity. The choices we make regarding diseases to study, research questions to address and priorities to set will contribute to or undermine our efforts to address health equity. Issues of health care access, utilization and delivery also present opportunities to apply translational science approaches to ensure that the research we do reaches everyone who can benefit, as rapidly as possible.

In addition to our active role in UNITE, NCATS is examining our existing efforts as they relate to structural racism and health disparities. We recognize that some of our own practices and approaches may, in fact, contribute to the continued marginalization of groups and inequities in health-related research and health outcomes. We are identifying new ways to incorporate diversity, equity and inclusion into all our major activities, policies and operations.

We each have a role to play in ending structural racism. One way you can help is by responding to the NIH Request for Information seeking input from the public and stakeholder organizations. The RFI is open through April 9, 2021, and responses to the RFI will be made publicly available.