The Need for Diversity and Inclusivity in Presenting Scientific Research

Nora Volkow

Diversity and inclusion are paramount in all sectors of society, especially in the sciences. Yet it is a well-known (and frequently lamented) fact that males continue to dominate the speaker programs at scientific conferences. My colleagues and I at NIDA, along with the leaders of other NIH Institutes and Centers, strongly support NIH Director Francis Collins’ recent call for increased fairness and diversity in biomedical research and in the presentation of that research at professional meetings.

On his blog, Dr. Collins announced that he would no longer accept invitations to speak at conferences that did not include gender-diverse speaker panels, setting an example for scientific leaders and sending a message to conference organizers that women need to be included in their programs as much as possible. The same goes for ethnic minorities underrepresented in science. We need, as Dr. Collins said, “a level playing field, where scientists of all backgrounds are evaluated fairly for speaking opportunities.”

I am proud to work in a biomedical field that boasts so many major contributions by women scientists. And the gender and ethnic diversity of the young pioneers recognized by our annual Addiction Science Awards makes me confident that tomorrow’s leaders in the study of the brain and the search for new scientific solutions to drug misuse and addiction are going to be strongly representative of all genders and ethnicities. But we cannot simply wait for a more diverse future to happen on its own.

It is important that today’s leaders across science, health, and academia have inclusivity and diversity foremost in their minds when inviting speakers to events and when planning meetings. The same goes for eradicating biases in hiring, publishing, and recognizing new research advances. We must all work together to create the level playing field Dr. Collins calls for.

Dr. Nora Volkow, Director

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 Opioid Testimony

Hello Dr. Nora, I am intrigued by the article on our Mpls Strib about you-I’m inspired to share my transformation off of years using OXyContin-codone, Vicodin, Imatrex, Ambien, Larazepan, with no relief of symptoms. Then, I was introduced to an Integrative Health Program that has given me my life back. Happy to share if you are interested. FYI, I was certified as TPD with chronic pain, PTSD, and attempted to end my life. The program-products saved my life!

 diversity in science

Diversity in all professional endeavors and society at large is critical in order to synthesize different viewpoints. This approach is vital as a means to viewing issues using a much wider lens. For example I participate on a platform called ResearchGate. Researchers and professors across the world and cultures participate. This environment is so very rich!
I support optimal diversity,

 Opioid testimony - Deborah York

She’s not interested. The DEA, FDA, NIDA are making WAY too much MONEY with their failed drug war to want to change anything. If they REALLY wanted to end this horror show they would have done so long ago. As the death toll rises so does the funding. Look at a graph of both, side to side, and you’ll see, they’re near identical.
This “epidemic” could end TODAY. But then so would the funding... So the body count rises, and instead of changing bad policies, we get PSA’s for our BILLION$.