Black scientists face discrimination in health funding


A recent study, reported in the journal Science, indicates that black, Latino and Asian scientists face discrimination in research grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health.

According to the study, Asian scientists are 3 percent less likely to receive awards. However, African-American scientists faced special discrimination and were almost 14 percent less likely to receive awards.

Dr. Tyeese Gaines writes in, "Regardless of achievement or education, black scientists are more likely to be rejected for medical research funding."

The funds, "typically in the range of $1.6 million, including overhead, for a four-year project, are the foundation of independent biomedical research."

While race and ethnicity are included in the application process, this information is not available to selection committees. The study suggested that other factors, including school attended or the applicants' surname, may be a factor.

Even when resubmitting applications to NIH, black scientists face extra hurdles. "Black investigators that do resubmit have to do so more often to receive an award," says Science.

On a positive note, the study concluded that while African Americans face far greater obstacles to high school and university graduation for those who do complete advanced degrees in biology and medical science: "Upon entering the biomedical academic career track, black and white faculty members are equally likely to be tenured at institutions that grant doctorates."

Still the researchers found, it is "troubling that the typical measures of scientific achievement - NIH training, previous grants, publications and citations - do not translate to the same level of application success across race and ethnic groups."

In addition to racial prejudice, perhaps a reason for ongoing patterns of discrimination is the influence of money and business in scientific research, at least in the opinion of one NIH scientist, Dr. Kevin Beck, a white researcher quoted by He says, "One of the things that initially attracted me to careers in the sciences was that I believed science to be a meritocracy. Those with the best work published the best papers, got the best jobs, and got the most funding. After being in science for more than a decade, I no longer hold that viewpoint as strongly. While merit is important, science, like everything else, is a business and is political."

African Americans only earn only 2 percent of PhDs in science.

Proposals to address the crisis include additional measures to mask the identities of applicants and mentoring for young scientists.

In an editorial, however, the Washington Post calls for a cultural revolution. The Post says. "...a hard truth is there must be a cultural revolution led by university deans, department chairmen, Nobel Prize winners and other scientific bigwigs. Until they become vocal advocates for enabling minority researchers to fulfill their potential - a key factor in the future of America's scientific enterprise - progress will be halting and limited."

Photo via NIH.

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  • The material development, including scientific development, brought on by Marxism-Leninism,(ultimatedly created by the working class's self development) signaled by Marx and Engel's contributions to science and materialist dialectics in Anti-Duhring, Lenin's Materialism and Empirio-criticism, Russell's and Einstein's, especially for Black scientists, Robert Hodes's work in brain activity, and the latter two's anti-racist political and academic activity in general, does much to argue for working class science with a foundation in African derived brains.
    Pauling, Einstein and W.E.B. Du Bois, along with the earth shaking work of Cheikh Anta Diop, have proven the true value and need of anti-racism in science(while the above, Dr. Kevin Beck's experience weakened faith in active, de facto, "built-in" anti-racism is valid).
    Just as Lenin's Materialism and Empirio-criticism led to the political/philosophical defeat of the Mach-Bogdanov school in revolutionary Russia, so too shall the rise of Marx/Lenin Materialism bring the defeat of racist bents, attitudes and practices toward Asian, African and Latino scientists, the peoples of color they come from, and the racist system of imperialism which supports these practices.
    The Carvers, Drews, Eslanda Goode Robesons, Julians, and the intrinsic dialectical materialist methodologies of their thought and investigations, in their respective fields, have been delineated by many, especially radical, left and progressive scientists, many of whom, like Marx himself established a clear, necessary and continuing connection between the "social" and "physical" sciences.
    The working class will never be free if our African and Asian brains are not.
    In the CPUSA today, there is a tragic trend which must be fought with sharp weapons, which wants to take the Leninism out of Marxism-an anathema. To take this out is to, as our German Comrade, Brenner has recently reminded us, remove Paul of Tarsus from Christianity. It is a move to deprive us of the anti-racism in the work of a Du Bois and a Lenin-in science, in general and in progressive human life and development.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 08/31/2011 12:51pm (4 years ago)

  • THANX FOR THIS ARTICLE THE MASTER/SLAVE MENTALITY IS THE BASIS FOR THE FAILURES IN AMERICA years ago you could not do a medical residency so that you could practice medicine if you were not WHITE and male....has anything changed?

    Posted by j, 08/25/2011 12:14pm (4 years ago)

  • This is yet another of the dozens of studies that refute claims that African Americans and other "minorities" get preferential treatment. But I think the key point in the article is that "African Americans only earn only 2 percent of PhDs in science."

    I worked for 30+ years in a leading biomedical research department at a top-level university. In that time, I do not recall seeing an African American professor in my department or any neighboring department. Of the hundreds of graduate students and post-doctoral scientists passing through my department, at most one in a hundred was African American.

    In the same city's school system, the majority of students are African American and Latino. Many express interest in becoming scientists or doctors. But that dream rarely survives the many obstacles, which now include teacher layoffs and program cutbacks.

    Posted by Art Perlo, 08/24/2011 7:57pm (4 years ago)

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