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About Drexel FIRST

About the Program

In 2021, Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health (DSPH) and the College of Nursing and Health Professions (CNHP) received a 5-year NIH FIRST award. This award is part of a national effort to increase diversity in biomedical and behavioral science research.

The FIRST acronym stands for Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation.

Supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s Common Fund, Drexel University is proud to be selected as one of six inaugural NIH FIRST sites.

FIRST sites are charged with the following:

  • Building self-reinforcing communities of diverse scientists,
  • Developing efforts to improve faculty development, retention, progression, and eventual promotion, and
  • Fostering inclusive environments that can be sustained over time.

The Drexel FIRST program has a special focus on inclusive excellence in health disparities research. The program supports and promotes the career advancement of a cohort of diverse early career scientists who conduct clinical and policy-relevant research on health disparities.

Most importantly, Drexel FIRST aims to catalyze institutional changes throughout Drexel University that:

  • Promote and sustain diversity and inclusion
  • Promote a culture of inclusive excellence

More in this section:

What is Inclusive Excellence?

As defined by NIH, inclusive excellence is multi-faceted and refers to “cultures that establish and sustain scientific environments that cultivate and benefit from a full range of talent.” Inclusive excellence engages individuals from diverse races and ethnicities, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientations, gender identities, and others.

Drexel FIRST supports a multi-pronged approach to achieving and sustaining inclusive excellence that spans:

  • Maximizing faculty diversity
  • Sustaining a climate of inclusion that welcomes and supports all
  • Ensuring that evaluation processes are fair and unbiased, and
  • Ensuring that all practices and policies are antiracist.

We view achieving inclusive excellence as fundamental to rigorous science and to accomplishing our mission as a University.

Program Goals

Drexel First focuses on three inter-related goals:

Recruiting and supporting the career advancement of 12 diverse early career scientists focused on health disparities research

Creating and supporting sustainable institutional changes necessary to promote inclusive excellence across Drexel University

Evaluating the outcomes of the program at multiple levels including the advancement of FIRST faculty, changes to institutional culture and practices, and scientific impact

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