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Bias in Funding

Minority researchers are less likely to get their grants funded than their non-minority colleagues, Nature News reports.

Two University of California, San Francisco, researchers obtained grant-funding data from the US National Institutes of Health through a Freedom of Information Act request. Those numbers, UCSF's Esteban Burchard and Sam Oh say, show that minorities have been awarded grants at between 78 percent and 90 percent of the rate of white and mixed-race applicants for the past 30 years.

Burchard and Oh had thought that there might've been a bump in the rate of funding for minority investigators following a 1994 mandate that researchers include more women and minorities in their clinical studies. But, Nature News notes, they saw no such increase.

"It's not surprising, not new, and doesn't answer questions of how we can intervene to give every scientist the opportunity to contribute," Raynard Kington, the former deputy director of NIH and current president of Grinnell College, tells Nature News. In 2011, he and his colleagues reported that between 2000 and 2006 black NIH grant applicants were two-thirds as likely as white applicants to receive grant funding.

Hannah Valantine, the chief officer for scientific-workforce diversity at NIH, says NIH is exploring both the benefits of diversity and how to realize it.