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Improving diversity in medicine


What strategies will work best to make sure the biomedical workforce becomes more diverse?

That question was central to a gathering of higher education leaders from across the country who collectively make up the Clinical and Translational Science National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN), a group dedicated to increasing the presence of those under-represented in medicine.

The group met Monday in Philadelphia for a day-long planning session in conjunction with the Association of American Medical Colleges 2013 annual meeting.

The mentoring network represents a novel approach to increase the national capacity for biomedical science through the recruitment and training of the best and brightest candidates from all backgrounds. Planning awards were given by the NIH to support the development of the network through the consortium of 60 sites part of the NIH’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards or CTSA program.

Monday’s session was led by Carrie Byington, M.D., the H.A. and Edna Benning Presidential Professor of Pediatrics, vice dean for academic affairs and faculty development and vice chair for the research enterprise, Department of Pediatrics at the University of Utah as well as Karen Freund, M.D., American Cancer Society-Harry and Elsa Jiler Clinical Research Professor and associate director of research collaboration and Tufts University. Byington and Freund serve as the principal investigators of the planning award for the NRMN.

The session gave those in attendance an opportunity to discuss values, review resources and capacity, identify best practices and emerging models, conduct gap analysis and create working groups to further proposals for increasing diversity in medicine.

Byington, of Utah, noted it's an honor to participate in the consortium, and said she appreciates the chance to brainstorm new ideas with peers from around the country.

“Participation in the CTSA consortium allows Utah to address some of the most important issues in biomedical science and to collaborate with some of the best academic health centers in the U.S.,” she said.

Jasjit Ahluwalia, M.D., a professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota, echoed Byington’s sentiments about participating in the brainstorming session.

“This is a very energizing place to be,” he said. “It’s exciting that all of the CTSAs are committed to this important cause.

The NIH started the CTSA program in 2006 as a tool in the health care reform movement to provide higher quality and more affordable health care to people.  The NRMN will work together to move new diversity plans forward in coming months.

By: Melinda Rogers