HomeWashington Letter2021 ▶ RESEARCH

ATS Submits Recommendations on Racial Equity and Diversity to NIH 

This week, the ATS submitted recommendations to the NIH to advance racial equity and diversity in response to a recent NIH RFI on these issues. The NIH has also launched the new UNITE initiative to identify and address racism within the NIH-supported and greater scientific community. The ATS letter recommended that the NIH provide a series of financial support mechanisms related to cost of living and family support and targeted mechanisms for securing extramural funding and external mentors to promote diversity in the workforce. These included:


  • Adjustment of stipends based on regional cost of living.
  • Expansion of loan repayment assistance and institutional support for trainees with families.
  • Childcare supplements for postdocs, maternity or parental leave support from university/mentor and flexibility in work hours.
  • Coordination assistance from NIH/NHLBI to ensure that diversity supplement/fellowship awardees find and maintain a relationship with a mentor other than primary investigator, mentor/coach system with additional peer mentoring.


The ATS identified the BUILD, FIRST COHORT and NIH Culture for Change programs as model programs to support training, mentoring, and career path advancement for racial and ethnic minorities and encouraged NIH to expand these programs and develop additional similar initiatives.


The ATS urged the NIH to expand health disparities and health equity research across all NIH institutes through intramural and extramural divisions, including participation of minorities in research studies and community engagement initiatives, and policies and procedures to promote engagement of racial and ethnic minority communities that have historically been excluded. Within pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine, the ATS expressed concern that pulmonary function tests and pulse oximeters have traditionally been utilized or interpreted in racially biased ways that may be contributing to health disparities. The ATS urged the NIH to fund research into the causes and solutions to racial/ethnic differences in lung function, and optimal utilization of devices such as pulse oximeters across all patient populations as the field reconsiders the use of race and ethnicity in pulmonary medicine and critical care practice.

Last Reviewed: May 2021