Welcome to “A Longitudinal Mentoring Approach to Increase Diversity among Researchers of Neurological Disorders”, a National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) funded R25 program. The genesis of this idea stemmed from a series of workshops conducted by NINDS to provide insight into ways to increase diversity among researchers in the neurosciences. Highlighted in these workshops was something obvious to us all, a lack of diversity within the neuroscience community. In addition to being Directors of this program, we have over a decade of experience overseeing summer undergraduate research programs, where there is a rich talent pool of undergraduates from marginalized and disadvantaged backgrounds who go on to graduate and professional schools. However, historical data indicate increased inclusion in graduate school has been insufficient to enhance diversity at more advanced career stages. Far too many graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from underrepresented backgrounds do not emerge as principal investigators of independent research programs. We firmly believe that we all have an inherent right to access opportunities to be successful. Historically, that right has been taken away from many, which is an inequity we are working to overcome.
The goal of this program is to provide diverse individuals interested in neuroscience research with the professional tools needed to be successful, so these individuals become the future leaders in the neuroscience field. To achieve this goal, participants at the graduate, postdoctoral, and early-investigator stages of their careers will be trained to develop leadership skills, will be mentored, and provided a support network to guide them to not only “have a seat at the table”, but to have ownership in their neuroscience research endeavor.