June 21, 2019
NIMHD Director Statement in Support of Diverse and Inclusive Speaking Panels
NIMHD is proud and pleased with the commitment to fairness and inclusiveness expressed by NIH Director Dr. Francis S. Collins, regarding his concern for the lack of diverse scientific leaders participating on panels. His statement underscores the importance of workforce diversity as part of the foundation of a thriving research enterprise. I am proud that Dr. Collins has taken this public position to address an urgent issue that has often been ignored.
By recognizing that the best scientific minds come from all races, ethnicities, and genders, the best way to harness this immense talent is to ensure that all are seated at the table—or, in this case, speaking on panels and fully participating in science. This focus on inclusion levels the playing field and encourages richer scientific discussions that are more relevant to all population groups.
I echo Dr. Collins’ statement that "it is time to end the tradition in science of all-male speaking panels…Too often, women and members of other groups underrepresented in science are conspicuously missing in the marquee speaking slots at scientific meetings and other high-level conferences.” I am also committed to this principle in any invitation I receive to participate on a scientific panel.
I want to emphasize the importance of racial and ethnic diversity among scientists and clinicians. The participation of diverse scientists enriches discussion, expands the research perspectives, and leads to better and more exciting science. Remember that over half of children living in our country today are from racial/ethnic minority populations. I encourage my colleagues across minority health and health disparities research fields to embrace this call to action.
NIMHD envisions an America in which all populations will have an equal opportunity to live long, healthy, and productive lives. Our vision for health equity becomes more vivid when we employ diversity and inclusivity in all facets of research.
Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D.