Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity - National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD

Posted: Thursday, December 10, 2020

Statement of Duties
Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity



The Office of the Director (OD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking exceptional candidates for the position of Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity (COSWD) to lead and oversee NIH efforts to improve biomedical research and the Nation's health through a more diverse scientific workforce. The COSWD will report to the NIH Director, and will manage the development and execution of initiatives designed to enhance diversity throughout the biomedical research workforce, including the extramural and intramural components of the NIH.



The NIH, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is the world's foremost medical research institution. The NIH consists of 27 separate Institutes and Centers (ICs) and is the steward of medical and behavioral research for the Nation. NIH's mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce the burdens of illness and disability. With a budget of over $41 billion, NIH is the largest source of funding for medical research in the world, supporting the research of hundreds of thousands of scientists in universities and research institutions in every state across America and around the globe. More than 80% of the NIH budget goes to more than 300,000 research personnel at over 3,000 universities and research institutions. In addition, about 6,000 scientists work in NIH's own laboratories, most of which are on the NIH main campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

The Office of the NIH Director provides overall leadership to these efforts by providing science policy, executive guidance, and decisions to the work of the NIH Institutes and Centers. In addition to providing executive leadership, senior members of the Office of the Director develop and maintain relationships with outside organizations, such as renowned research institutions, organizations representing research professionals and patient advocacy groups, congressional staff and constituents, oversight organizations, etc. These relationships are necessary to carry out research objectives of the agency, to incorporate the input of affected stakeholders into executive decisions of the agency, and to ensure that the nation has a coordinated approach toward advancing medical research and findings.


Duties and Responsibilities

The COSWD reports to the NIH Director and is a member of the NIH Director's Executive Committee. The COSWD operates with a wide degree of independence and latitude, and has authority to represent the NIH Director in initiating, coordinating, and evaluating NIH-wide scientific workforce diversity programs and activities and in dealings with external organizations and constituency groups. In this capacity, the COSWD serves as a conduit of new ideas and enhanced institutional commitment to workforce equity and diversity as a strategic asset for accomplishing NIH's biomedical research mission. The COSWD is accountable for the development of comprehensive strategies and vision to diversify scientific workforce applicant pools, expand outreach and recruitment methods, and promote inclusiveness and equity throughout the biomedical research workforce. As a member of the senior leadership team, the incumbent will advise, develop and share best practices, and generally interact with the other members of the NIH leadership on matters concerning NIH's vision of a diverse and inclusive biomedical research workforce. The COSWD provides dynamic and innovative scientific leadership in achieving and sustaining diversity as a crucial tenet of NIH's stature as a premier research institution. The COSWD will identify workforce diversity and equity issues, conduct studies, and develop policy and program recommendations for building and maintaining an inclusive scientific workforce, fostering an environment that respects the individual, and offering opportunities for candidates to develop full potential in the pursuit and support of science.


The COSWD will be responsible for ensuring the coordination of NIH scientific workforce diversity efforts including:

  • Providing resources to facilitate the recruitment of Underrepresented Minority (URM) scientists, women, persons with disabilities, and veteran candidates
  • Reviewing and evaluating barriers to career progression in biomedical research
  • Developing diversity training programs for research investigators
  • Coordinating efforts and NIH initiatives designed to enhance diversity of the NIH-funded research workforce, including both the extramural and intramural workforce
  • Overseeing a rigorous prospective evaluation of NIH programs designed to enhance workforce diversity in NIH-funded extramural and intramural research programs
  • Monitoring and evaluating the success rates of applicants for NIH research funding, and the peer review of such applications, across the applicant pool utilizing relevant criteria (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender, disability, veteran status), in an effort to ensure fairness in the process.

The COSWD will manage the development and execution of initiatives designed to enhance diversity throughout the biomedical research workforce, including the extramural and intramural components of the NIH. This effort will involve working closely with and serving as a liaison between the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management

(OEODM), Office of Human Resources (OHR), Office of Extramural Research (OER), Office of Intramural Research (OIR), Center for Scientific Review, NIH Institutes and Centers and other stakeholders such as advocacy and advisory groups.

The COSWD will also serve as the co-chair of the NIH Steering Committee on Diversity, as co-chair of the Working Group on Diversity of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director, and as co-chair of the NIH Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) programs. S/he will partner with NIGMS to implement and evaluate the full range of programs encompassed in the Common Fund-supported Diversity Program Consortium (DPC) which includes the Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Consortium, the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN), the Center for Coordination and Evaluation (CEC), the NIH Equity Committee, and the Distinguished Scholars Program.  A major focus of the COSWD in this regard is to ensure that the overarching goal of the DPC, to enhance diversity in biomedical research, is accomplished. S/he will also seek to reduce or eliminate inequitable barriers to the recruitment, inclusion, retention, career advancement, and leadership development of biomedical researchers from underrepresented groups.



It is expected that the incumbent will possess an M.D. (or equivalent) and/or Ph.D. in a scientific field related to biomedical research; expert stature in their discipline as demonstrated through their publication history and other contributions to their field; and evidence of managerial, administrative and mentoring ability. The incumbent is expected to present a clear research vision to advance cutting edge research to support the overall mission of NIH to improve the nation's health. The COSWD should have a demonstrable track record of training a diverse group of fellows, including trainees from underrepresented groups, at least some of whom have gone on to become research group leaders in academia, industry or government; therefore, showing evidence in the ability to lead by example. In addition, the incumbent is expected to maintain expert stature in their research field and will be encouraged to serve as an active Senior Investigator in the Intramural Research Program, as this is critically linked to promoting and advancing NIH workforce diversity initiatives.

This position offers a unique and exciting opportunity for a leader to develop and implement initiatives enhancing diversity and promoting equity in the biomedical research enterprise, including NIH and other health and medical research entities. This position is expected, through the development of new programs, policies and practices and through cultural change and shared responsibilities, to lead to a positive and sustainable impact on both the government and nongovernment workforces.

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