Melissa A. Harrington

Jul 14, 2021
Journal of Neuroscience Research
The events of 2020, including the pandemic which highlighted the extent of health disparities in the United States, combined with the Black Lives Matter protests, have focused public attention on the systemic inequities that continue to afflict our nation. Publicly available data from the National Center for Education Statistics show that our discipline of neuroscience shows the same types of disparities, particularly for African‐American students. I have drawn on data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Survey of United States colleges and universities to show that while the number of graduates from neuroscience undergraduate and graduate degree programs has grown dramatically in this century, only a small percentage of those graduates are African American, and the numbers are growing very slowly. I also present data on the neuroscience PhD program at my institution, Delaware State University, the only Historically Black University in the United States to offer a PhD in neuroscience. Because a high percentage of our students and graduates are African American, our small, young program has the potential for great impact in diversifying our discipline of neuroscience. While elite colleges and research‐intensive universities have been engaged for decades in efforts to increase diversity in their academic programs, change is slow, and large inequities remain. With Delaware State University"s neuroscience PhD program as an example, I hope to convince readers that it is time for our nation to recognize the institutions that are best positioned to serve students from communities of color, and direct resources to support their growth and success.
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