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Diversity in scientific meetings and conferences optimizes research innovations

Richard J. Hodes, M.D.
Director, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health
July 25, 2019

Diversity and inclusion in all areas of research, including scientific meeting and conference representation, helps bolster innovations in understanding and addressing aging-related diseases and other health concerns. On behalf of the NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA), which leads the federal effort to support and conduct research on the biological, clinical, behavioral and social aspects of aging, I resonate and stand in full support of NIH Director Francis Collins’ commitment toward greater diversity and inclusivity in the biomedical research community.

As Dr. Collins pledged, “Too often, women and members of other groups underrepresented in science are conspicuously missing in the marquee speaking slots at scientific meetings and other high-level conferences. Starting now, when I consider speaking invitations, I will expect a level playing field, where scientists of all backgrounds are evaluated fairly for speaking opportunities. If that attention to inclusiveness is not evident in the agenda, I will decline to take part.”

NIA is dedicated to expanding upon our deep tradition of strong, diverse, and balanced research programs. I agree with Dr. Collins’ concerns and will make these criteria part of my own consideration process when reviewing speaking and presentation opportunities.

A key to optimizing the crucial field of aging research is supporting the infrastructure and resources needed to promote the highest quality of science. NIA is committed to ensuring that the aging research workforce is broadly representative across gender, racial, ethnic, age, socioeconomic, geographic, and disability status.

We will all benefit when all aging research activities include diverse voices representing a broad range of backgrounds and points of view. NIA will work diligently to ensure achievement of this crucial goal.

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