CHICAGO - A study commissioned by the government found medical researchers who are black are about one-third less likely than their white colleagues to win grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health
The findings will be published in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.
“It is striking and very disconcerting,” said Donna K. Ginther, a professor of economics at the University of Kansas who led the study. “It was very unexpected to find this big of a gap that couldn’t be explained.”
NIH officials said they would follow up to figure out the causes of the disparity and take steps to fix it.
“This situation is not acceptable,” said Dr. Francis S. Collins, the director of the institutes. “This is not one of those reports that we will look at and then put aside.”
The researchers said they did not know whether the panels that review the grant applications were discriminating against black applicants, whether applications from black researchers were somehow weaker or whether a combination of factors was at play.