The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology released a statement on January 31, approving a recent report detailing actions the National Institutes of Health should take to support scientists with disabilities.
The ASBMB advocacy team said they were encouraged by the efforts NIH is making to support scientists with disabilities. But the ASBMB’s director of public affairs, Sarina Neote, said all federal agencies should follow her NIH precedent.
“The NIH has taken an important first step and I hope they will serve as a role model for all federal agencies to support the often overlooked disability community,” she said.
In addition to calling for immediate implementation of the subgroup’s recommendations, the Society urged NIH to:
Following the subgroup’s recommendations, the ASBMB stressed the need to update NIH’s mission statement to eliminate disability language.
The association wrote: However, their representativeness in science remains low. The National Science Foundation found that in 2019, 9% of his academic scientists self-reported their disability. By contrast, only 1.2% of NIH-funded principal investigators reported having a disability. ”
Most laboratory setups and equipment are configured for healthy subjects, which presents a systemic challenge for disabled people interested in STEM and assists principal investigators in designing accessible laboratories. There are very few resources.
According to the NIH, many scientists with disabilities are unable to participate in professional development activities such as networking events. This is because they are often designed with only healthy participants in mind. This inaccessibility is only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Scientists with disabilities are an important part of the scientific workforce providing a unique scientific perspective to the community,” the association wrote. Medicine will continue to lag behind in the promise of progress and equity in disability-related research.”
Neote said the ASBMB is encouraged by the NIH’s leadership in this area and her team looks forward to working with the NIH to implement these important provisions.