Farewell conference features Institute for Health Disparities program

Nrmn 2A variety of biomedical scientists descended upon Los Angeles last month, as well as scores more participating from home, for what would be the final National Institutes of Health Diversity Program Consortium annual conference. The theme was appropriately titled “Ending Well Together: Moving the Effort of the DPC Forward.” The event both celebrated the efforts and accomplishments of its grantees and focused on next steps for the programs under the DPC umbrella.

The National Research Mentor Network – Resource Center is one such program. It was created in partnership with The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth’s Institute for Health Disparities, Vanderbilt University and UTHealth Houston.

“NRMN was born out of a need to address the diversity of the scientific workforce,” said Dr. Jamboor Vishwanatha, vice president of HSC’s Institute for Health Disparities. “Ultimately, NRMN addresses health disparities by equipping a diverse constituency of trained researchers who represent the population they serve. Through a robust online platform and strong member base, NRMN matches mentees with mentors from all 50 states and US territories, and helps facilitate those relationships, as well as provides courses and resources to support them.”

NRMN has grown to more than 27,000 members and fostered more than 7,800 connections. Its impact and mission to provide diverse researchers with evidence-based mentorship and professional development were on display at the final DPC conference. NRMN staff — including Principal Investigator Vishwanatha, Co-investigators Dr. Erika Thompson and Damaris Javier and PI of the Vanderbilt/UTHealth Houston sub-award Dr. Toufeeq Ahmed Syed — submitted three poster presentations for the conference, which focused on examining connections on the network by race and ethnicity, identifying career and education transition points via the platform and an overview of next steps for the network as a whole.

“I was amazed to see how NRMN has grown over the years, and I am excited to be a part of what’s next,” said Roda Cotanay, NRMN program manager. “Understanding that NRMN is part of a larger consortium like DPC has made it even more fulfilling. I will get to work with a group of professionals who are working to ensure that diverse people from different stages of their career have access to the resources they need to be successful.”

DPC was created in response to a 2011 study on race, ethnicity and NIH research awards, which found that Black scientists were “10 percentage points” less likely to be funded than applications from other groups. Supported by NIH Common Fund and administered by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the consortium implements programs that enhance the training and mentoring of biomedical students and faculty. Since its inception in 2014, the mentor network has played an important part in the life of the consortium.

While the DPC itself is moving on to a new phase, its work will echo throughout the field. As Dr. Alison Gammie, the director of the Division of Training, Workforce Development and Diversity at NIH, wrote in the conference’s program, “We remain optimistic that the important work of the DPC will be sustained and disseminated to the broader biomedical research enterprise.” The National Research Mentor Network stands as an important part of that legacy.

Recent News

  • Our People
|May 23, 2024

Empathy-driven leadership: Rylee Miller embarks on her journey to transform rural health care

At the age of 25, Rylee Miller is not just a Master in Health Administration student. Miller embodies the essence of a natural-born leader, driven by empathy and a relentless commitment to making a difference. Standing on the brink of a new chapter in her life, Miller is excited to leave a mark on r...
  • Our People
|May 23, 2024

Keeping Black mamas alive: TaKasha Davis Ehiogu is on a mission

TaKasha Davis Ehiogu, a 36-year-old Master in Public Health student, is on a mission to make childbirth safer for Black mothers. Her commitment stems from a deep-seated belief that birth in America should not pose any major risks for women, specifically women within a particular ethnic or socioecono...
  • Our People
|May 23, 2024

SBS grad is ready for success at the next level

When Jordan Easterling decided she wanted to go to medical school, she knew she needed excellent health and science training to help her get there. She found the Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth’s School of Biomedical ...
Ashley Gentry Headshot
  • Our People
|May 22, 2024

Faculty highlight: Ashley Gentry, Physician Assistant Studies

Ashley Gentry is an associate professor in The University of Health Science Center at Fort Worth’s Department of Physician Assistant Studies. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Dallas Baptist University and graduated from the HSC Physician Assistant Program in 2012 with a Master of P...