U-M, NIH jointly invest $79M to support, expand DEI efforts in biomedical, health sciences

June 21, 2023
Written By:
Alex Piazza, U-M Research

The University of Michigan and the National Institutes of Health will jointly invest $79 million to support and recruit 30 new faculty members to the Ann Arbor campus as part of a nationwide effort to enhance inclusion and equity across the biomedical and health sciences community.

With a five-year, $15.8 million grant awarded this week from NIH, along with a $63.7 million university investment, U-M will launch the Michigan Program for Advancing Cultural Transformation (M-PACT). The program will be led by Professors Robert Sellers and Reshma Jagsi.

M-PACT builds upon the LSA Collegiate Fellowship Program, designed in 2016 by the National Center for Institutional Diversity and led at that time by Professor Tabbye Chavous to bolster U-M’s diverse academic environment by hiring tenure-track faculty with a demonstrated commitment to equity and inclusion.

Administered by the Office of the Vice President for Research, in partnership with the Office of the Provost, M-PACT will recruit 30 new tenure-track assistant professors across 11 schools, colleges and units into three interdisciplinary research clusters: social and behavioral research, basic biomedical research and clinical-translational research.

To address persistent and significant underrepresentation of minoritized individuals and groups in the biomedical and health sciences, M-PACT will employ evidence-based recruitment processes to generate candidate pools with diverse social and disciplinary identities. Recruitment efforts will begin this fall, and all new M-PACT scholars will have primary appointments in U-M schools and colleges.

“M-PACT will serve as a model for institutions committed to inclusive excellence,” said Sellers, the Charles D. Moody Collegiate Professor of Psychology and a professor of education who served an eight-year tenure as U-M’s inaugural chief diversity officer and vice provost for equity and inclusion.

“This innovative program will demonstrate that a cohort and cluster model of faculty hiring, development and sponsorship, which intentionally targets challenges that disproportionately affect underrepresented minority scholars, can not only improve the careers of the promising researchers in that cohort, but also transform broader institutional culture.”

M-PACT will establish a faculty development core that provides systematic and comprehensive resources, mentorship and culturally aware coaching support to help early-career faculty excel as independent investigators, while fostering a sustainable scientific community at U-M that is diverse, equitable and inclusive.

A separate evaluation core will leverage multiple data sources, including administrative records, surveys and interviews, to document, assess and evaluate the recruitment and support of M-PACT scholars. Those findings will be used to promote sustainable institutional advancements at U-M and will be broadly disseminated for inclusion in biomedical and health science communities beyond Ann Arbor.

“M-PACT will contribute meaningfully to diversifying the biomedical and health sciences at U-M and beyond,” said Jagsi, adjunct professor of radiation oncology who has led national programs to promote the vitality of the biomedical research workforce.

“This program will hire and support a large cohort of diverse faculty who will be expertly prepared for success as researchers and DEI change agents within U-M and their fields of study.”

U-M received one of 15 NIH awards to U.S. colleges and universities as part of the NIH Common Fund Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) Program.

NIH developed its FIRST Program in 2020 to facilitate institutions in building a self-reinforcing community of scientists, through recruitment of a critical mass of early-career faculty who have demonstrated commitments to inclusive excellence. The program seeks to have a positive impact on faculty development, retention, progression and eventual promotion, as well as develop inclusive environments that are sustainable.

“To find and implement creative solutions that address complex problems at the frontiers of biomedical science, it is imperative for us to engage a broad diversity of thought,” said Rebecca Cunningham, vice president for research.

“This tremendous investment by the National Institutes of Health and the University of Michigan will support the future of research at U-M, while advancing knowledge that will inform higher education efforts broadly.”

M-PACT is funded by the NIH through grant number U54CA280805.