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Learn more about the NIH DEIA Prize Competition.

Together, we’re stronger.

In April 2023, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched the Institutional Excellence in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in Biomedical and Behavioral Research Prize Competition. The prize goals are to:

  1. Recognize and reward institutions whose biomedical, social, and behavioral science schools, departments, centers, or divisions have identified gaps with respect to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA); and also have designed, implemented, and evaluated interventions to address these gaps to achieve sustained improvement in DEIA within their faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and student bodies.  
  2. Identify effective practices for enhancing DEIA within faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and student bodies that are feasible and can be disseminated for adoption by other institutions.

Ideally, institutions would leverage several different strategies to address DEIA and create cultures of inclusive excellence which lead to measurable and sustained enhancements and cultural change within the institutions. NIH expects the prize competition will identify different approaches that may be scalable to other institutions across the biomedical, social, and behavioral research enterprise.

Explore this website and to learn more about eligibility and rules, submission requirements, judging criteria and more.


An extensive body of research supports the concept that scientific workforce diversity is essential to accomplish NIH’s mission of discovery and innovation to improve human health. Nevertheless, as summarized in this Notice of NIH's Interest in Diversity, the following are examples of underrepresented groups in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences: A) individuals from racial and ethnic groups that include Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders; B) individuals with disabilities; C) individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds; and D) women at the senior faculty level in most biomedical-relevant disciplines. 

The longstanding NIH investment in research training to enhance workforce diversity at the early stages of the training pathway has contributed to building a diverse pool of biomedical, behavioral, and social science doctoral recipients. While there has been a notable increase in the number of scientists from underrepresented groups who have earned doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM), disparities in the workforce remain. The problem is increasingly more pronounced at the postdoctoral training through independent faculty stages where increasing evidence demonstrates significant attrition of these talented scientists from the NIH-funded research workforce.  

To foster diversity and coalesce DEIA efforts of all its institutes and centers, NIH established the UNITE Initiative. Publicly unveiled in February 2021, UNITE aims to identify and address structural racism and discrimination where it may exist within NIH and throughout the greater scientific community. One of the focus areas of UNITE is the extramural research ecosystem which seeks to promote workforce diversity by changing policy, culture, and structure.  

In keeping with this focus, and in concert with other valuable NIH efforts such as the NIH Prize for Enhancing Faculty Gender Diversity in Biomedical and Behavioral Science and the recently released DEIA Strategic Plan, NIH is announcing the NIH Institutional Excellence in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in Biomedical and Behavioral Research Prize Competition to reward and promote inclusive excellence at academic institutions. 


Inclusive excellence refers to scientific environments that cultivate and benefit from a full range of scientific talent. The root causes for, and hence the strategies to address, the underrepresentation of different groups can be varied. For instance, structural racism is a key factor in the racial gap; lack of physical and functional access hinder individuals with disabilities; socioeconomic reasons form a critical barrier for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter and succeed in biomedical careers, and myths about inadequacy for science and lack of family-friendly policies may dominate the underrepresentation of women among many other factors. In addition, these issues are further pronounced for persons with intersectional identities. Intersectionality is the concept that multiple social identities need to be considered to understand power, privilege, and discrimination. To make strides towards eliminating all types of underrepresentation, institutions must target systemic change through institutional transformation by identifying the specific barriers in their environment and developing targeted strategies to combat these. These strategies will likely also include common approaches such as mentoring, role models, cohort-building, and special efforts to enhance inclusion and equity and instill a sense of belonging.   


This prize competition aims to recognize and reward transformative cultures, systems, projects, and processes that institutions of higher education have developed to promote inclusive excellence and create research environments that promote and value a culture of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. These elements are essential to promote equity and eliminate structural barriers to success among students, postdoctoral scholars, and faculty in the research enterprise. 

Another objective of this prize competition is to identify and disseminate effective practices for implementing institutional approaches that lead to transformative and enhanced culture change and advancement of students, postdoctoral scholars, and faculty from underrepresented groups in biomedical and behavioral disciplines in institutions of higher education. This prize competition aims to highlight practices that have resulted in measurable change and more inclusive environments and that can be feasibly adopted by other institutions. 

These approaches may represent policies, evidence-based programs, tools, and/or activities, or a mixture thereof. As this prize competition recognizes achievement through DEIA interventions that have already been applied, such interventions must have been implemented prior to the launch date of this prize competition and have a demonstrated record as an effective model. The interventions should have targeted the full range of student, postdoctoral scholars, and faculty career stages (from junior faculty to senior leadership), and combated potential sources of racial, ethnic, socioeconomic status, disability, and/or sex, gender-based, and sexual orientation inequities.  

The design and details of this prize competition have been informed by the feedback received from the scientific community in response to the previously published Request for Information. 


The NIH Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity (COSWD) is administering this prize competition along with the following institutes and centers who are co-sponsors from across NIH.

Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity (COSWD)  

Fogarty International Center (FIC)  

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)  

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)  

National Cancer Institute (NCI)  

National Eye Institute (NEI)  

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)  

National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)  

National Institute on Aging (NIA)  

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)  

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)  

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)  

National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)  

Eunice Kennedy Shiver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)  

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)  

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)  

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)  

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)  

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)  

National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)  

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)  

National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)  

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)  

National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)  

National Library of Medicine (NLM)  

UNITE acts as a think tank to promote equity, generate bold ideas, and catalyze new actions. Collectively, it identifies and addresses any structural racism that may exist within NIH and throughout the biomedical and behavioral workforce. UNITE is comprised of five interacting committees staffed by NIH volunteers from all 27 NIH institutes and centers (ICs), as well as the NIH Office of the Director (OD), from various job categories and career stages.

The UNITE initiative focuses on three primary domains—health disparities/minority health research (HD/MH), internal NIH workforce, and external biomedical and behavioral research workforce—that intersect and enable greater transparency, accountability, and communications across NIH and the biomedical and behavioral research community.

We are continually inspired by the innovative approaches and ideas that come to light through the New Arizona Prize challenges. What makes the Common Good Challenge unique is that we are asking community members to identify the problem and work together to find a solution. We believe this approach will make our communities stronger by encouraging collaborations that bridge divides and bring people together, opposing the unending pressures that seek to drive us further apart.
Steve Alexander
President & CEO, Foundation


The NIH DEIA Prize Competition seeks innovative, scalable, and proven strategies to address gaps in DEIA and build sustainable cultures of inclusive excellence within academic institutions. In winter 2023, NIH will award $100,000 each to up to 10 winners, including up to five teams from limited resource institutions. Winning teams and honorable mentions will have the opportunity to present at a virtual NIH symposium in spring 2024.

Review our FAQs, judging criteria, and timeline on this website. Details are also available at The NIH DEIA Prize Competition team will host Q&A webinars leading up to registration and submission deadlines. Information to sign up will be emailed to those who register for the prize and will be available on News & Updates.

Contact us for technical support and to get answers to eligibility, requirements, and other prize-related questions.

Let’s celebrate inclusive excellence and a diverse scientific workforce.

NIH will award $1 million to U.S. biomedical, social, and behavioral science institutions with transformative solutions that create cultures of inclusive excellence.
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