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Wistar Kicks off Diversity in Science Seminar Series with NIH’s Dr. Marie A. Bernard

December 19, 2022

Zoomers gathered virtually for the launch of Wistar’s new Diversity in Science seminar series. A leading biomedical research institution of global reputation, Wistar is committed to advancing equity within the biomedical research community. The goal of the Diversity in Science Seminar series is to champion diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and harness the breadth and width of talent within the biomedical research workforce. 

Guest speaker Marie A. Bernard, M.D. is the Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She leads NIH’s efforts to promote scientific workforce diversity throughout the biomedical research enterprise. 

Bernard started her lecture with one question: “Why focus on diversity?” She explained the need for diverse perspectives in science is because diversity results in more productive research collaborations and facilitates scientific advancement. She also highlighted the lack of utilization of the full talent pool of researchers, and how underrepresented populations diminish in more advanced positions along the biomedical research path. She underlined that promoting inclusivity requires intervention at both the individual and institutional level to ensure research environments are supportive and sustainable. 

Bernard summarized NIH initiatives to address these DEI challenges, including a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) strategic plan, various projects of the Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity, and the NIH UNITE initiative. 

“DEIA is an issue of doing good science. If you want to be innovative and creative in research, you need to have a big table with a lot of different people present. You need those other perspectives. If you don’t have those diverse minds at the table, you’re missing out on a lot of talent,” she emphasized at the close of the event.

Bernard earned her M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and completed further medical training at Temple University. Before joining NIH, she was an endowed professor and founder of the Donald W. Reynolds Department of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine in Oklahoma City.

The next Diversity in Science seminar will take place April 27, 2023, and feature speaker Dr. Maria Elena Botazzi, Associate Dean, National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.