CHRI, pediatrics antiracism committee promotes diversity in research

by Chuck Koster, Children's Hospital & Medical Center | May 17, 2022

Image with caption: From left, Ann Anderson Berry, MD, PhD, and Geetanjali Rathore, MD

From left, Ann Anderson Berry, MD, PhD, and Geetanjali Rathore, MD

The Child Health Research Institute (CHRI) and the UNMC Department of Pediatrics Antiracism Committee are leading efforts to spotlight the importance of diversity in research. Diversity in research is the 2022 organization-wide emphasis of CHRI, which is committed to establishing a strong foundation for diversity equity and inclusion in all its operations, as it advances vital research in vulnerable populations.

"There has never been a better time to examine our practices, beliefs and values as investigators and as an institution," said Ann Anderson Berry, MD, PhD, CHRI executive director. "CHRI's staff has wholeheartedly embraced this initiative and the support from Jennifer Larsen, MD, UNMC vice chancellor of research, Shirley Delair, MD, UNMC associate dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and Sherrita Strong, MD, UNMC assistant vice chancellor of inclusion, as well as CHRI's sponsoring institutions and our internal advisory board, makes it possible to begin this journey of DEI with strong footing. While this is a 2022 initiative, the lessons learned in the coming year must set the tone for constant work and self-examination of practices to perform just and scientifically sound child health research.

"Lack of knowledge of the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion research concepts in child health results in incomplete understanding of disease processes, the full impact of interventions and population outcomes," Dr. Anderson Berry said. "Outcomes are impacted by poor study designs, unrepresentative subject recruitment and a myriad of other factors that confound results if research is implemented without a DEI lens."   

In an effort to promote and incentivize the issues of diversity in research, CHRI is hosting a "DEI in research" monthly  journal club beginning in June 2022 and has issued an Request for Applications (RFA) for two competitive $50,000 Health Equity grants available to faculty members of CHRI. A CHRI membership application can be accessed here. Beyond the RFA program, CHRI will continue to evaluate all internal funding proposals from a DEI lens and will work closely with the office of the vice chancellor for research on campuswide DEI initiatives, including consenting, subject recruitment, staff hiring and pipeline development.

The UNMC Department of Pediatrics Antiracism Committee has selected diversity in research as the theme of its second annual DEI Conference on May 27, from 8 a.m. to noon. The event will take place virtually over Zoom and is co-sponsored by CHRI. Tukufu Zuberi, PhD, the Lasry Family Professor of Race Relations and professor of sociology and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania, will deliver the keynote presentation. Dr. Zuberi is the co-editor of the book "White Logic, White Methods: Racism and Methodology." Sign up to receive Zoom information here.

Antiracism committee co-chair Geetanjali Rathore, MD, associate professor of pediatric neurology and the event’s moderator, believes a discussion on diversity in research is long overdue,

"The choice to focus on the role of DEI in research was nearly unanimous among our committee members," Dr. Rathore said. "It's a pressing issue that all research institutions need to address with system-wide review, reflection and strategic planning. We couldn't be more excited to bring in an expert on the topic in Dr. Zuberi."

Comments
Dr. Sheritta Strong
May 17, 2022 at 8:18 AM

This is a wonderful initiative, Drs. Rathore and Anderson-Berry.