January 30, 2014 - By Susan Ipaktchian
The National Institutes of Health announced today that Valantine will be the organization's first chief officer for scientific workforce diversity. She will lead NIH efforts to diversify the biomedical research workforce by developing a comprehensive strategy to expand recruitment and retention, and promote inclusiveness and equity.
"Recruiting and retaining the brightest minds regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, disability and socioeconomic status is critically important not only to NIH, but to the entire U.S. scientific enterprise," NIH director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, said in a news release announcing her appointment. "Hannah possesses the experience, dedication and tenacity needed to move NIH forward on this critically important issue."
Valantine, who will begin her new role this spring, said it was difficult to leave Stanford after more than 28 years, "but in the end, the call to this particular public service was one I simply could not reject."
"The opportunity to lead diversity efforts at a national level allows me to apply all I have learned in the past few years at Stanford to make real and lasting changes nationally," she said, adding that she plans to "carry the Stanford flag" in her new position.
The fact that the NIH was specifically looking for an established researcher to fill the diversity job also appealed to her, she said. "I enthusiastically look forward to my role as a senior scientist in the NIH intramural program, which will allow me to continue my clinical and translational research in heart transplant rejection."
Valantine is a professor of cardiovascular medicine whose research has focused on improving the management of heart-transplant patients, and has served as the school's senior associate dean for diversity and leadership since 2005. Since that time, the school has increased the number of women faculty members at all ranks, exceeding national averages.
The number of faculty from under-represented minority groups has also increased, going from 34 in 2004 to 96 today. "If you look at our peer institutions, we're now pretty much ahead of the pack in terms of racial-ethnic diversity amongst our faculty," she said, but added that "their representation does not reflect that of California demographic, clearly indicating that more work needs to done."
Valantine said she is grateful to the many school leaders, search committees and staff members who worked toward the goals of improving diversity and implementing policies that give faculty members greater work/life flexibility.
Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine, praised the accomplishments of Valantine and the Office of Diversity and Leadership, which she heads. "Hannah's persistence and passionate commitment to diversity combined with her exceptional leadership skills have led to the development of innovative and impactful initiatives to enhance diversity across Stanford Medicine," he said. "While I will certainly miss her direct activity and wise counsel here, I am pleased that people and programs across all NIH initiatives will benefit from her knowledge and expertise."
Valantine is a past recipient of the NIH Director's Pathfinder Award for Diversity in the Scientific Workforce, which enabled her to explore interventions to help faculty members overcome social and psychological biases that can inhibit diversity efforts. Additionally, her office received a 2012 Alfred P. Sloan Award in recognition of its efforts to further enhance work/life flexibility options for faculty members.
The creation of the NIH position grew out of a recommendation from a working group that advises the director's office. As the chief officer for scientific workforce diversity, Valantine will work closely with the NIH institutes and centers, the grantee community and community stakeholders.
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