Fady Hannah-Shmouni, MD, DABIM, AHSCP, FRCPC
Director of Graduate Medical Education, NICHD DIR
Women and ethnic minorities remain underrepresented in science and in leadership positions across scientific organizations. Representation of women of color is even lower across the industry, academia, and federal workforces. Examining the views and experiences of those impacted and developing strategies to overcome this gap is a crucial step for any organization.
The NICHD Office of Education is committed to supporting underrepresented groups in STEM through diversity initiatives, including the NICHD Developing Talent Scholars Program and the NICHD Fellows Recruitment Incentive Award. But we need to consider minority representation within clinical studies too. Last month in this column, Esther Kwarteng wrote about the importance of diversity in clinical trials. The NICHD clinical training programs are committed to making progress on this front.
To give one specific example: staff clinician and former clinical fellow Dr. Crystal Kamilaris is leading a protocol to study genes that may cause primary aldosteronism in individuals who are Black, African American, or of Caribbean decent. This research stems from findings that African Americans have increased susceptibility to aldosterone excess; they are more likely to have congestive heart failure, end-stage renal disease, and atherosclerotic events than age-matched Caucasians. Clearly, representation in clinical trials is important for the development of diagnostics/treatments for minority populations—who may have unique risk factors present.
As you continue your research and clinical careers, please commit to joining us in supporting and advocating for equality, inclusion, and diversity across the sciences and within clinical studies.