Enhancing Diversity in the Neuroscience Workforce: Insights from NIH Director Dr. Marguerite Matthews

February 9, 2023
Marguerite Matthews Headshot

The Network for Women in Science (NWiS), based at Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI), welcomed Dr. Marguerite Matthews of the National Institute of Health (NIH) for a talk and discussion on topics and best practices related to “Enhancing Diversity in the Neuroscience Workforce” on Friday, February 3rd, 2023.

Dr. Matthews is Program Director for the Office of Programs to Enhance Workforce Neuroscience Diversity at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) of the NIH.

Dr. Matthews visited the Jupiter neuroscience hub to connect with Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU’s) U-RISE Program, along with NWiS, whose representatives include faculty and trainees from MPFI, FAU and FAU’s Stiles-Nicolson Brain Institute, UF/Scripps Biomedical Institute and Nova Southeastern University.

Faculty, researchers, administrators and trainees met with Dr. Matthews to discuss diversity efforts including fellowship and research awards to support diversity in biomedical research. Dr. Matthews spoke of best practices and shared experiences in guiding diversity efforts at NINDS, creating inclusive environments, and building supportive programming and communities that enable every person, including underrepresented minorities and women in research, to feel welcome and to thrive.

Thoughts from the Attendees

Participants enjoyed a talk and presentation regarding NIH funding opportunities, mentoring, and research training support, as well as an informal coffee hour and discussion. Attendees commented:

  • “NIH’s initiatives to promote diversity are expanding. These investments may take years to be fruitful, but we can each contribute in some way to promote DEI.”
  • “Self-assessment is a critical first step…toward Implementing DEIB…self-assessment tools for our units to determine where we rank and identify where we want to go collectively…(are necessary).”
  • “Marguerite was a wealth of knowledge, I learned a lot about the NIH and what we can all do better to improve diversity in research.”

Some asked for follow up “creating more open space in research for people of all backgrounds.”

About the Network for Women in Science

The Network for Women in Science (NWiS) is a community at MPFI dedicated to raising awareness and promoting change related to issues pertinent to female under-representation in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)-related careers. NWiS welcomes all genders, and aims to build a community of support to foster the careers of scientists through community outreach, career workshops, and bias education.

About the FAU U-RISE Program

The FAU U-RISE Program (Undergraduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement) is funded by the National Institute of Health to promote diversity in biomedical science by engaging students in a customized research-intensive undergraduate experience.

FAU’s U-RISE students participate in a three-year curriculum including laboratory research, workshops, a summer internship, and specialized courses in critical thinking, research approaches, and scientific communications.

Students are paired with an Academic Mentor, a Research Mentor and a Near-Peer Mentor (graduate student). The U-RISE program covers partial tuition costs based on the yearly U-RISE budget, support for research and travel, and a monthly stipend.

For more information, contact nwis-admin@mpfi.org.