Black Scientists Receive Less Funding Than Whites


Even with equal training and research records, black scientists still may have a tougher time getting grants from the National Institutes of Health, according to a new study.  This is despite the fact that hospitals and medical schools are ostensibly trying to correct the dearth of minorities among doctors and scientific researchers.

According to ABC,  ”the study found a 10 percentage point gap between black and white researchers in winning the most common type of NIH grant — even though all held doctorate degrees and had similar research experience. Between 2000 and 2006, about 27 percent of white applicants won funding compared with about 17 percent of blacks.”  The study also found differences among Asian and Hispanic researchers, but not the same degree.

That’s a pretty shocking disparity, given that the researchers had the same qualifications.  NIH director Francis Collins said that the data was “deeply troubling.”  But it may be more difficult to determine why black researchers seem to be receiving less funding.

“That’s the frustrating thing about this paper—in most cases, you can come up with a reasonable explanation looking at the observable characteristics, and we haven’t been able to,” explained Donna Ginther, an economics professor at the University of Kansas, Lawrence and the lead researcher.

Collins seems dedicated to trying a variety of solutions.  They will test to see if outcomes change if officials make a deliberate effort to purge applications of all hints of the applicant’s race.  There will also be new efforts to train review panelists to overcome racial bias.

In his comments about the study, Collins seemed genuinely chagrined.  Black scientists represent only 1.2% of the lab heads funded by the NIH.  ”These data suggest we are failing even the ones who do make it,” said Collins.

One possible factor is researchers’ likelihood to resubmit their applications.  When their applications were rejected, black researchers were less likely to try again.  This means that mentoring could be a potential solution.

Disparities like these are often due to large systemic issues that can be extremely difficult to tackle.  It’s a serious challenge, but at least Collins seems ready to conduct a rigorous investigation of just why black researchers receive less funding.

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Racism Goes Mainstream on Campus

Photo from Urcomunicacion via flickr.


Terry V.
Terry V5 years ago


Grace Adams
Grace Adams6 years ago

Anybody who lacks self-confidence is likely to lose out to those who have self-confidence in every field. This makes past discrimination keep gnawing at everybody's spirits.

K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Jean W.
Jean Wall6 years ago

Rebecca Lynn M. -
I'm not a racist and I am not Effing stupid. I'm some one who has had it up to the teeth with seeing capable, intelligent accomplished, talented people short changed while lesser talents, or lesser minds are afforded advantages and status just because they are physically attractive ,or just because they belong to a specific social caste or race. Yeah, I know , life is unfair, but when you get to my age and youv've been screwed on a day to day basis , you stop feeling obliged to be all nicey-nice about it, you occaisionally come out with a Parkerism. Too bad you missed the joke...or can't take one.

ana p.
ana p6 years ago


Zuzana Dratovnikova

I do not believe one word of this biased nonsense. Just another lie with a purpose to divide.

Laurie D.
Laurie D6 years ago

Mmm. Usually grants are submitted on paper -- the people reading them have no way to know what race or religion or whatever the writer is. Perhaps those who feel discriminated against should look at HOW to write a grant proposal and WHAT to write it to study. Those are also possibilities as to the rejection they suffered. I seriously doubt racism had much to do with the outcome...

Patrick F.
Patrick f6 years ago

I think this should be investigated further to make sure this is not just propaganda and take it from there.

Will W. YOUR comment is about as racist as it gets. Why don't you let us all know where you get your nonsense from? I am sure they are from the KKK....

Will W.
Will Will6 years ago

Before we automatically assume that racism is at work, consider the fact that blacks have a considerably lower average IQ, which by itself would explain the shortage of black scientists and blacks in almost all intellectually demanding professions. Academically blacks do much worse than whites, which is even more evident at the top levels including researcher.

Our politically correct society always wants to assume that racism is rearing its ugly head every time different ethnic groups perform differently. How about the idea that maybe groups are on average different?

This will probably lead to more affirmative action (aka institutionalized racism) where we try to force a square block into a round hole. Blacks have to earn what they get, like everyone else. The alternative is just discrimination and an artificially forced situation.

Hugh W.
.6 years ago

I am not totally convinced in regards to this article. I usually require more facts and information to form a conclusion.

Though, I have always belived that Racism is wrong wherever it occurs. We are all equal, there are no exceptions, so start treating others as you treat others you love and respect.