Leading voice in innovation urges collaboration in closing racial funding gap

Written by
Scott Lyon
Feb. 11, 2022

Scientific collaborations between Princeton faculty and faculty from historically Black colleges and universities could help close a well-documented racial funding gap, according to an editorial from Rodney Priestley, the Pomeroy and Betty Perry Smith Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

Writing in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Priestley cited recent studies showing a persistent disparity in funding from the National Institutes of Health, in which African American researchers received significantly less grant money than their similarly positioned white peers.

“Failure to obtain federal grants may reduce opportunities to obtain tenure-track positions, earn tenure, and advance to full professor and can lead individuals to exit academia altogether,” wrote Priestley, who is Princeton’s Vice Dean for Innovation.

Priestley pointed to a new initiative launched by the Office of the Dean for Research that will fund such collaborations, aiming to expand research, spur innovation and embolden talented scientists to address big problems.

“By strengthening connections across institutions, we hope to enable impactful research that might otherwise go unfunded,” he wrote.

The editorial calls on other well-resourced research institutions to follow Princeton’s example and see collaborations as an opportunity to address racial disparities that have been widely acknowledged but not yet resolved.