Skip to main content

Building a Diverse Workforce

Credit: iStock

The NCI is committed to increasing the diversity of the cancer research workforce by building a more inclusive and equitable NCI community.  To learn more about NCI’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, visit the NCI Equity and Inclusion Program website.

The NCI established the Intramural Diversity Workforce Branch (IDWB) within the Center for Cancer Training to:

  • Attract, recruit, and foster a community of scientists from diverse backgrounds at NCI
  • Support trainees and new recruits through onboarding and mentoring
  • Develop and implement activities and programs to create a lasting culture of inclusion

The IDWB has developed opportunities to enhance recruitment and retention, increase partnerships, and generate diversity awareness:

  • Diversity Career Development Program seeks to provide NCI postdoctoral trainees with the tools necessary to develop as leaders in academic independent research careers.
  • Graduate Student Recruiting Program, recruits outstanding senior graduate students to postdoctoral positions at NCI laboratories, in Bethesda, MD and Frederick, MD.
  • Scientists in the Community is a K-12 outreach program that is designed to enhance the STEM experience at schools in the community by providing support in- and outside of the classroom. It serves as an opportunity to provide an introduction to STEM careers, as well as representation in the sciences. 
  • Black Cancer Researchers was established to build community among the three campuses and create a safe space for Black scientists within the NCI.  The group will help participants build collaboration (both scientific and professional), provide peer mentoring and grow their scientific network.  If you're interested in joining, please contact Chanelle Case Borden, PhD.
To stay up-to-date on opportunities and activities, subscribe to our listserv.

Support for NCI Trainees

The Center for Cancer Training is here to help you during your NCI fellowship.  Your Training Director serves as a valuable mentor to guide you through any challenge you may be facing.  However, there are additional NIH resources available that can assist you with work-related concerns:    

Office of the Ombudsman

The NIH Office of the Ombudsman is a neutral, independent, and confidential resource providing assistance to NIH scientists, administrators, trainees, and support staff in addressing work-related issues such as authorship and other scientific disputes, employee-supervisor conflict, racial and ethnic tensions, sexual harassment, and conflicts between peers. They are open Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm and their office is located in Building 31 2B63.  The Office of the Ombudsman can also be reached by email at ombudsman@od.nih.gov

Employee Assistance Program

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) office is located in Building 31 (Rm B2B57) on the Bethesda campus.  This program is a confidential service you can use to discuss work or life concerns that may inhibit your productivity, such as work-life balance, life transitions, and family dynamics.  EAP has an open-door policy and is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.  If you need immediate assistance, they can be reached at 301-496-3164.

The NIH Civil Program

If you become aware of a workplace situation involving uncivil behavior, such as harassment, sexual harassment, inappropriate conduct, intimidation, bullying, or other unproductive, disruptive, and/or violent behaviors, please contact The NIH Civil Program.  You can call the anti-harassment hotline on 833-224-3829 (call center) or call the main line on 301-402-4845 to reach of member of the Civil Team.

Here are a selection of resources and trainings that promote equity, inclusion and sense of community (available to both trainees and investigators):

  • 2020 Inclusion, Anti-Racism, and Wellness Resources compiled by NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education (OITE)
  • NIH OITE Bystander to Upstander Training with Terrence Winston which not only provides context to how/when harm occurs, but also provides tools and strategies to handle these situations in the future.
  • DDM Seminar Series on Unconscious Bias with Howard Ross presents the importance of recognizing and managing unconscious bias to mitigate unwanted consequences in the workplace (for NIH staff only).
  • If you are looking for a community within the NIH, there are a number of community groups (some fellow-led) that may help you feel more comfortable within the campus.
  • The Safe Zone Project is an excellent resource for articles and courses about the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) identities offered by the NIH Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.
  • A database of diverse speakers in STEM contains a list of underrepresented minority experts in STEM. Utilizing this list is an opportunity to amplify their voices, as well as add diversity of thought to your upcoming meeting.
  • Environmental Racism Collection 2021: Exposure and Health Inequities in Black Americans, this collection includes a transcript of the inaugural Olden Distinguished Lecture, presented by former NIEHS director Kenneth Olden.  In addition, a recent editorial by EHP Editor-in-Chief Joel Kaufman and guest editorialist Anjum Hajat explains how authors can appropriately incorporate the social constructs of race and ethnicity in their study design and reporting. See https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP9511 for this editorial.

NCI Training Directors

Other NCI Programs Promoting a Diverse Scientific Workforce

CRCHD Diversity Training

The Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD) Diversity Training Branch leads NCI's efforts to fund training at institutions nationwide for students and investigators from diverse populations to become the next generation of competitive researchers in cancer and cancer health disparities research.

CCR Diversity Programs

The Center for Cancer Research (CCR) is a distinctive community of scientists who integrate basic research discovery with the development of novel interventions against cancer and HIV/AIDS. The Center is committed to training the next generation of researchers and participates in several programs that help students from diverse backgrounds learn more about biomedical research and scientific careers.

Spotlight on Scientists

Andrea Apolo, M.D.

Andrea Apolo, M.D.

Dr. Andrea Apolo, physician and cancer researcher, discusses her path to medical school and advice for aspiring doctors. Dr. Apolo is a principal investigator and the head of the Bladder Cancer Section in the Genitourinary Malignancies Branch at the National Cancer Institute’s Center for Cancer Research.

  • Updated: