Request for Information: Promoting Equity in Global Health Research
This Notice is a Request for Information (RFI) on approaches NIH can take to promote greater equity in global health research, particularly research that engages scientists in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) (REF).
As a global leader in biomedical and behavioral research, NIH is committed to supporting collaborative international research that harnesses the rich diversity of the biomedical workforce to advance timely solutions to global health challenges. Therefore, NIH has a responsibility to identify and address, to the extent possible given its mission, the challenges and barriers to equitable research, which for the purposes of this RFI is defined as research collaboration that is inclusive, elevates underrepresented voices and groups, and demonstrates fairness of opportunity and fair process (REF). This interest builds on NIH’s long-standing practice of funding highly meritorious research throughout the world, both through direct awards to non-U.S. institutions and indirectly through awards to U.S. institutions that then use those awards to support collaborating foreign institutions. NIH has long encouraged international research collaborations and is interested in exploring opportunities to further encourage and facilitate research that is conducted equitably, in true partnership with collaborators and for the benefit of all participants.
In practice, equity in global research may be achieved through collaborations based on true partnership, shared leadership, joint applications and publications, and the inclusion of previously disadvantaged individuals as research partners. Through this RFI, NIH seeks ideas and specific actions that NIH may consider to encourage the expansion and quality of such global research collaborations, particularly with scientists and institutions in LMICs.
NIH welcomes the global dialogue around increased equity in global health research and seeks to respond with insights and ideas generated through this RFI. In addition to promoting an ever more collaborative research environment, NIH recognizes that equitable research processes, strengthened scientific and research administrative capacity, the inclusion and sustaining of local talent and expertise, and a focus on local health priorities will advance scientific discovery and the development of more effective, appropriate, and sustainable health interventions. This RFI is intended to improve NIH’s understanding of potential research funding, priority setting, and administrative practices and strategies that could encourage or facilitate equitable global health research.
Respondents to this RFI are invited to provide input regarding current NIH practices that might be revised or new practices that could be implemented to enhance collaborative international research equity and the generation of mutual benefits and shared leadership; and to propose practical ideas that could help NIH enhance these practices. NIH acknowledges that thought leaders in this regard are widely distributed throughout the U.S. and the international scientific, academic, and public health communities. NIH looks forward to receiving input from these communities with a special interest in input from scientists in LMICs. Some subjects that may be of particular interest include: NIH funding mechanisms and approaches, elements of equitable scientific partnerships, inclusive community research-engagement strategies, practical research capacity building approaches, mutually beneficial data and material sharing approaches, publication access, training and career development, joint leadership strategies, and research priority setting.
For the purposes of this query, global health research collaboration involving scientists and institutions in LMICs are of particular interest. Of note, it is important to recognize that, as a U.S. research funding agency, while NIH welcomes all suggestions, it may be unable to adopt some options identified as potentially beneficial to achieving more equitable global research collaboration. In addition, issues such as equal access to health interventions, the governance of intellectual property sharing, and the equitable distribution of products of research are not within the scope of this RFI.
The NIH seeks comments on any or all of the subjects listed above, and as a starting point poses the following questions:
- What are the most important elements of equitable global health research?
- How is equitable global health research conducted? What does this look like in practice?
- What are the main challenges or barriers to equitable global health research partnerships and the conduct of equitable research?
- What are the current roles and responsibilities of LMIC researchers and institutions engaged in global health research partnerships? What are the optimal roles and responsibilities of LMIC researchers and institutions engaged in global health research partnerships?
- Illustrative examples of equitable research partnerships and the way research is conducted between and across the low-, middle-, and high-income countries. What are the characteristics of these partnerships and approaches that make them exemplary?
- What are key gaps in research capacity that impede equitable global health research?
- Through the use of peer review, the NIH system is designed to identify and fund highly meritorious applications that address scientific opportunities. In this context, how can a focus on local health priorities and local talent be better integrated to promote global health research equity?
- What can NIH as a research funder do to promote equitable global health research and research partnerships? Please share any specific suggestions for solutions and strategies.
NIH seeks input from all interested stakeholders around the world and across all regions and socioeconomic designations, but especially those from LMICs. This includes members of the scientific community, trainees, academic institutions, the private sector, health professionals, professional societies, advocacy groups, as well as other interested members of the public.
How to Submit a Response
Responses to this RFI are entirely voluntary and may be submitted anonymously. If willing, you may indicate your background (e.g., academic institutions, extramural, intramural researchers, private sector, and the public) and/or country of origin. Do not include any personally identifiable information or any information that you do not wish to make public, unless you are interested in participating in a follow up interview, in which case please provide your name and email address. NIH is committed to learning from the responses to this RFI and will share a summary of the information collected to all respondents.
Responses to this RFI are voluntary. This request is for information and planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the United States Government.
Responses will be accepted through August 1, 2022. All comments must be submitted electronically on the Web Portal at: https://rfi.grants.nih.gov/?s=6282634ce27d0000e0004af2