NIH’s New Cluster Hiring Program Aims to Help Schools Attract Diverse Faculty

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is hoping universities will use a controversial—and largely untested—method of hiring junior faculty members to improve the diversity of the U.S. biomedical research workforce.

Last week, a top-level advisory group gave NIH officials the green light to launch a $241 million initiative called Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST). The money, over 9 years, would go to help each of roughly a dozen universities and medical schools support a cluster of 10 or more newly hired young faculty members. A growing number of institutions are using cluster hiring to accelerate their capacity to do research in an emerging area, such as computational biology or nanofabrication, and a few of them have also used it to improve faculty diversity. 

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