Beginning in Spring 2021, The BRAIN Initiative® will include a new component in most FOAs requiring that applications include a Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives (PEDP) in the proposed research. When a PEDP is required, applications submitted without such a plan will be considered incomplete and will be withdrawn prior to peer review. Evaluation of the applicant’s PEDP will be made during the peer review stages as part of the scorable criteria and during programmatic reviews, and will be used to inform funding decisions.
last updated: March 29th, 2021
To fulfill its charge of revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain through the advancement of groundbreaking neurotechnologies, the NIH BRAIN Initiative upholds that diverse teams working together and capitalizing on innovative ideas and distinct perspectives outperform homogeneous teams. There are many benefits that flow from a diverse scientific workforce, including: fostering scientific innovation, enhancing global competitiveness, contributing to robust learning environments, improving the quality of the research, advancing the likelihood that underserved populations participate in, and benefit from research, and enhancing public trust. The BRAIN Initiative® recognizes that many investigators share these values and endeavor to incorporate diverse perspectives into their projects and change the culture in science.
The BRAIN Initiative® is firmly committed to fostering diversity and inclusivity in the research community. BRAIN investigators should strive to compose teams richly diverse in perspectives, backgrounds, and academic disciplines, and provide full opportunity and participation to individuals and groups underrepresented in neuroscience (see BRAIN 2025 Report, BRAIN Initiative 2.0 Report and BRAIN Initiative and Neuroethics Report). Relatedly, the recruitment of diverse research participants and the inclusion of community perspectives ensures that research questions are informed by patient and family perspectives and that the benefits of research have wide applicability. Examples of structures that promote diverse perspectives include but are not limited to:
- Participation of investigators from diverse backgrounds, including groups traditionally underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research workforce (see NOT-OD-20-031), such as underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, those with disabilities, those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and women.
- Engagement with different types of institutions and organizations (e.g., research-intensive and research active, undergraduate-focused, minority-serving, community-based).
- Partnerships that may enhance geographic and regional diversity.
- Use of the project infrastructure (i.e., research and structure) to support career-enhancing research opportunities for diverse junior, early-, and mid-career researchers.
- Training and mentoring opportunities encouraging participation of students, postdoctoral researchers, and co-investigators from diverse backgrounds.
- Transdisciplinary collaborations that require unique expertise and/or solicit diverse perspectives to address research questions.
- Inclusion of community-based partners to ensure alignment of research goals and activities with community values.
In support of these values, with the PEDP, The BRAIN Initiative® encourages the research community to broadly consider how diverse perspectives advance the proposed specific aims and are integral to equity and inclusion in the science they perform. Through these collective efforts, we can bring about the culture change necessary to address the inequities and systemic biases in biomedical research, and advance scientific innovation and excellence through the inclusion of all voices.
See these related resources for information about diversity and inclusion efforts at The BRAIN Initiative® and around NIH:
- BRAIN Initiative Funding Opportunities
- NIH Blueprint & BRAIN Initiative diversity efforts
- David KK et al. NIH BRAIN Circuits Programs: An Experiment in Supporting Team Neuroscience. Neuron. 2020
- Ending Structural Racism: The NIH UNITE Initiative
- NIH Office of Scientific Workforce Diversity
- Diversity in NIH Extramural Programs