Diversifying the Research Workforce as a Programmatic Priority for a Career Development Award Program at Duke University.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has prioritized efforts to increase diversity in the biomedical research workforce. NIH-funded institutional career development awards may serve as one mechanism to facilitate these efforts. In 2013, the Duke University KL2 program, an internal career development program funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, set a goal to increase the number of investigators from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups (UREGs) to ≥ 50% of KL2 awardees. From 2013 to 2019, 133 KL2 applications were received, 38% from UREG investigators. Of the 21 scholars selected, 10 (47.6%) were UREG investigators; all were Black/African American. This represents a threefold increase in the proportion of UREG applications and a sixfold increase in the proportion of UREG KL2 scholars compared with Duke's previous KL2 cycles (2003-2012), during which only 13% of applicants and 8.3% of funded scholars were UREGs. Of the 12 KL2 scholars (7 UREG) who completed the program, 5 have received NIH funding as principal investigators of an external K award or R01, and 4 of them are UREG investigators; this constitutes a post-KL2 NIH funding success rate of 57% (4/7) for UREG scholars. Achieving this programmatic priority was facilitated by institutional support, clear communication of goals to increase the proportion of UREG KL2 awardees, and intentional strategies to identify and support applicants. Strategies included targeted outreach to UREG investigators, partnerships with other institutional entities, structured assistance for investigators with preparing their applications, and a KL2 program structure addressing common barriers to success for UREG investigators, such as lack of consistent mentorship, protected research time, and peer support. The authors' experience suggests that KL2 and other internal career development programs may represent a scalable, national strategy to increase diversity in the biomedical research workforce.
Johnson, KS; Gbadegesin, R; McMillan, AE; Molner, S; Boulware, LE; Svetkey, LP
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)