BRAIN issues notice of new requirement for applications to include diverse perspectives in proposed research

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The BRAIN Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives encourages the research community to broadly consider how diverse perspectives advance the proposed specific aims and are integral to equity and inclusion in their science. 

This Notice informs applicants about the Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives (PEDP)—a new requirement in the Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative grant application structure, content, and process. In BRAIN Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) that specify, applicants will need to include a PEDP. When a PEDP is required, applications submitted without such a plan will be considered incomplete and withdrawn prior to review.

What does the PEDP mean for the BRAIN Initiative?  To support the best science, the NIH BRAIN Initiative recognizes that diverse teams working together and capitalizing on innovative ideas and distinct perspectives outperform homogenous teams. When researchers with varied backgrounds and experiences, from different geographies, career stages, and scientific expertise are included, the scientific talent pool prospers. These diverse perspectives are vital for brain research—fostering scientific innovation, enhancing global competitiveness, contributing to robust learning environments, and improving the quality of research for the most complex organ in the human body. For more on BRAIN’s commitment to diversity, please see a recent message from BRAIN Director Dr. John Ngai.   

What does that mean if you’re a BRAIN applicant? The development of a PEDP—as part of the grant application process—provides applicants with a proactive opportunity to create or expand upon strategies that bring together diverse perspectives and foster inclusivity in collaborative science. Within the Research Strategy section, applicants are expected to integrate approaches that advance inclusivity and impact the significance, investigator(s), innovation, approach, and/or environment.

What types of plans will address a PEDP requirement? Broadly, diverse perspectives refer to the people who do the research, the places where research is done, as well as the people who participate in the research as part of the study population. Some ways in which a PEDP can be developed that responds to the requirement include, but are not limited to: designing research teams that are comprised of investigators from a variety of  diverse backgrounds; developing activities to enhance recruitment of research participants from diverse groups, including those from under-represented backgrounds and ensure research cohorts reflect the patient population; and engaging community-based partners to make sure research goals align with community values. For more examples, please view PEDP Key Elements and Examples.

How is a PEDP submitted? A PEDP summary is required as an “Other Attachment” and allows applicants to provide an integrated view of how enhancing diverse perspectives is supported throughout the application. Applicants should review the instructions of each BRAIN FOA to determine if a PEDP is required. Evaluation of the application's PEDP will be a component of review and will be part of the scorable review criteria.

For further information and for guidance on developing a PEDP, visit the BRAIN Initiative PEDP webpage and view the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). You can also email BRAINInitiative_PEDP@nih.gov or the Program official listed in the FOA.