Minority Serving Institutions (MSI); underrepresented minority (URM) faculty; mentoring, NIH research funding; biomedical research workforce diversity


Public Health | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Scientists from Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) bring unique perspectives and experiences that enhance the potential for understanding factors that are associated with racial, ethnic, and social inequities in health and health status. However, inadequate research infrastructure and mentoring opportunities within MSIs limit faculty engagement in the research enterprise. Additionally, structural inequities embedded in the NIH grant funding process disproportionately disadvantage underrepresented minority (URM) faculty and faculty at MSIs. The foci of the intensive Center for Health Equity Research (CHER) Institute were to 1) increase the number of early career faculty members (with an emphasis on MSI faculty) who are better prepared to become NIH principal investigators in the field of community-based biomedical research, and 2) increase the quantity and quality of health equity research prioritizing vulnerable ethnic minority populations. Lessons learned support previous research that MSI faculty experience unique and pervasive barriers to achieving successful research careers, such as excessive demands on time, limited capacity to advance research, and a paucity of senior scientists available to serve as research mentors. After five years of CHER Institute programming, we conclude that extended mentorship beyond the intensive institute training experience would be ideal to support MSI faculty in meeting their research-related goals.