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In UW news 1/7/2020: A conversation with Sheri Mizumori about inclusion in Neuroscience

Supporting diversity, inclusion in neuroscience: A conversation about the BRAINS Program with UW psychology professor Sheri Mizumori

Peter Kelley

A University of Washington-based program to support underrepresented scholars in neuroscience got its start when three faculty members responded to a call for proposals by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, or NINDS.

The resulting program is called Broadening the Representations of Academic Investigators in NeuroScience — but has a striking acronym: BRAINS. The program, designed to accelerate career advancement for postdoctoral researchers and assistant professors, offers professional development, mentoring and networking for participating scholars from underrepresented populations.

UW Notebook talked with Sheri Mizumori, UW professor of psychology and principal investigator of the BRAINS Program, which is now seeking its third five-year grant of $250,000 annually from the NINDS.

What need does the BRAINS program seek to address?

Retaining a diverse faculty and building diverse leadership are critical aims of BRAINS, Mizumori said.

“When you look across the country, there has been significant effort to increase diversity in science, and in particular neuroscience. But we are concerned because statistics show that the needle just hasn’t moved very much over time.

“It’s kind of surprising. When you look to see at what career stage we are losing people, it ends up that there’s a huge drop-off between the postdoctoral years and the early faculty years — disproportionately so for underrepresented minorities. And so we homed in on that particular career stage, thinking that that’s a career stage where the country needs focused intervention.”

She said it can be difficult being the “only” — the only person of color, of a cultural background, or with a particular ability status: “One of reasons it is difficult is that the spotlight is put more directly on you, so anything you do is amplified, with everybody watching. I’ve experienced this as well.

Read the entire article here.