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Efforts to address health disparities and achieve health equity are critically dependent on the development of a diverse research workforce. However, many researchers from underrepresented backgrounds face challenges in advancing their careers, securing independent funding, and finding the mentorship needed to expand their research.
Faculty from the University of Maryland at College Park and the University of Wisconsin-Madison developed and evaluated an intensive week-long research and career-development institute—the Health Equity Leadership Institute (HELI)—with the goal of increasing the number of underrepresented scholars who can sustain their ongoing commitment to health equity research.
In 2010-2016, HELI brought 145 diverse scholars (78% from an underrepresented background; 81% female) together to engage with each other and learn from supportive faculty. Overall, scholar feedback was highly positive on all survey items, with average agreement ratings of 4.45-4.84 based on a 5-point Likert scale. Eighty-five percent of scholars remain in academic positions. In the first three cohorts, 73% of HELI participants have been promoted and 23% have secured independent federal funding.
HELI includes an evidence-based curriculum to develop a diverse workforce for health equity research. For those institutions interested in implementing such an institute to develop and support underrepresented early stage investigators, a resource toolbox is provided.
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