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NIH names Dr. Marie A. Bernard as Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity

NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison, NIH News Media Branch, 301-496-5787,

National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., has selected Marie A. Bernard, M.D., as NIH’s next Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity (COSWD). She will lead NIH’s effort to promote diversity, inclusiveness, and equity throughout the biomedical research enterprise. Dr. Bernard has served as the acting COSWD since October 2020, after the retirement of Hannah A. Valantine, M.D., who served as NIH’s first-ever COSWD. Dr. Bernard has also served as the deputy director of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) since October 2008.head shot of Dr. Marie Bernard

“Dr. Bernard is an accomplished physician-scientist and has championed diversity and inclusion efforts over her entire career, including serving a leadership role in NIH’s most recent efforts to end structural racism in biomedical research through the UNITE initiative,” said Dr. Collins. “Her dedication and passion in creating equity and inclusion throughout the biomedical research enterprise are profound and inspiring. I am delighted that she will now be continuing in this vital leadership role for NIH on a permanent basis.”

Dr. Bernard has played key leadership roles in a broad variety of NIH activities to further diversity, including serving as a co-chair of the UNITE initiative, and leading the development of the NIA Health Disparities Research Framework, which guides NIA research in this area. She also directed and supervised the NIA Office of Special Populations, which leads health disparities research and training for scientists from diverse backgrounds within NIA.

She is a founding member of the Diversity Working Group and NIH Equity Committee, and co-chair of the NIH Inclusion Governance Committee, which oversees inclusion in clinical research by sex/gender, race/ethnicity, and age. Dr. Bernard also leads the Women of Color Committee of the Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers, which established the Women of Color Research Network. She has worked to recruit an increasing number of scientists who are women of color as potential speakers for the NIH Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series. Dr. Bernard has been recognized for her leadership with multiple awards, including the 2020 NIH Director’s Award for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

At NIA, Dr. Bernard served as its senior geriatrician and principal advisor to the NIA director. Her research is focused on nutrition and function in older populations, specifically underrepresented minority populations. She has published and lectured extensively in this area, as well as served on national committees, including as chair of the Clinical Medicine Section of the Gerontological Society of America, chair of the Department of Veterans Affairs National Research Advisory Committee, board member of the American Geriatrics Society, president of the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education, and president of the Association of Directors of Geriatric Academic Programs. Prior to joining NIH, she was the endowed professor and founding chair of the Donald W. Reynolds Department of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, Oklahoma City, and Associate Chief of Staff for Geriatrics and Extended Care at the Oklahoma City Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Dr. Bernard completed her undergraduate education at Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and received her M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. She trained in internal medicine at Temple University Hospital, Philadelphia, where she also served as chief resident. She received additional training through the Association of American Medical Colleges Health Services Research Institute, the Geriatric Education Center of Pennsylvania, and the Wharton School Executive Development program.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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