TABLE 5-1 Racial and Ethnic Distribution of Selected Populations, 1997 (percent)

 

African American

Hispanic

Native American

Asian

White

U.S. population a

12.1

10.9

0.7

3.6

72.7

Ph.D. recipients in the basic biomedical sciences b

2.7

3.4

0.2

18.2

72.9

Ph.D. recipients in the behavioral and social sciences b

5.0

4.7

0.7

4.7

78.7

Ph.D. recipients in the clinical sciences

5.1

3.0

0.6

9.7

80.3

NRSA trainees and fellows b

6.2

5.1

0.6

17.1

70.9

M.D.-Ph.D. graduates

3.6

4.0

0.6

18.5

72.8

Medical school graduates

7.3

5.9

0.6

15.9

68.1

Dental school graduates

5.4

5.5

0.2

18.2

70.2

a The resident population of the mainland United States, estimated from the 1990 census.

b U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

SOURCES: Data on Ph.D.s, NRSA trainees and fellows, and M.D.-Ph.D.sare from the Survey of Earned Doctorates, the NIH IMPAC System, andthe Association of American Medical Colleges, respectively. Dataon the U.S. population are from the U.S. Census Bureau, PopulationEstimated Program. Data on medical school graduates are from theAssociation of American Medical Colleges, AAMC Data Books 1999. Data on dental school graduates are from the American DentalAssociation, Survey Center, 1997-1998 Survey of Predoctoral Dental Educational Institutions.

however, studied the combined effects of all NIH programs and was hampered by limited data, which led to recommendations for improved data collection and separate evaluations of each of the agency's major programs. Since then the NIH has completed a follow-up study of undergraduates who participated in the Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) program, an NRSA initiative and the NIH's largest program devoted to building the diversity of the research workforce. 3

Still, like the agency-wide assessment before it, the MARC program evaluation found little change in the number of science Ph.D.s earned by graduates of colleges that received MARC training grants. Nearly half the MARC participants since the program began in 1977 went on to advanced study, but twice as many earned medical or dental degrees as Ph.D.s.

Other NIH programs aimed at increasing the diversity of the research workforce include bridge grants, which link major research universities to colleges with significant minority enrollments 4 and research supplements for investigators who recruit minority students and fellows to work as research assistants on their projects. 5 Both initiatives are less than a decade old, however, and their effectiveness has yet to be assessed.

Without information on the relative success of federal programs for increasing the diversity of the research workforce, it is impossible to advocate one approach over another or to determine which program characteristics are the most significant. Nonetheless, several points merit further attention. First, since MARC participants have shown a greater inclination to earn a medical or dental degree than a Ph.D., 6 the program's effectiveness might be heightened by further increasing its emphasis on research careers. In addition, because some colleges and universities (the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, for example) 7 are particularly successful at encouraging minority students to pursue research careers, it would be

3  

National Institutes of Health. National Institute of General Medical Sciences. A Study of the Minority Access to Research Careers Honors Undergraduate Research Training Program. Bethesda, Md.: NIH, 1995.

4  

“Initiatives for Minority Students: Bridges to the Future,” NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, 24 January 1992. Available: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/index/html .

5  

“Research Supplements for Underrepresented Minorities,” NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, 24 January 1992. Available: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/index.html .

6  

National Institutes of Health. National Institute of General Medical Sciences. A Study of the Minority Access to Research Careers Honors Undergraduate Research Training Program. Bethesda, Md.: NIH, 1995.

7  

Maton, Kenneth I., Freeman A. Hrabowski III, and Carol L. Schmitt. “African-American College Students Excelling in the Sciences: College and Post-College Outcomes in the Meyerhoff Scholars Program.” Journal of Research in Science Teaching, in press.



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