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NIH Acting Director’s Message: BHM 2022

Closeup of Dr. Lawrence Tabak in a suit


As NIH observes the 46th annual Black History Month, we recognize the contributions of Black Americans to the health and well-being of our nation. The origin of Black History Month dates back to 1926 when Carter G. Woodson created Negro History Week. President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month as a national observance in 1976.

In honor of Black History Month, we are proud to be developing NIH’s first Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Strategic Plan. As one means to acknowledge and celebrate the diversity of NIH staff, the UNITE initiative recently launched The Power of an Inclusive Workplace Recognition Project, which aims to diversify portraiture both on campus and in NIH’s digital presence. The new rotating portraits are on display in Buildings 1, 10, and 31 (with exhibits in other buildings and satellite campuses to follow). We hope this project enhances the sense of belonging among underrepresented groups throughout NIH. Our work is just beginning, and we urge everyone to keep track of our progress by visiting the UNITE Co-Chairs' Corner on the NIH website.

This year’s Black History Month national theme is Black Health and Wellness. As the leading funder of biomedical research, NIH remains committed to turning discovery into health for all people and engaging underserved communities and addressing health disparities and inequities is key to achieving this goal. NIH’s investments in these areas include the recent awards made to the Transformative Research to Address Health Disparities and Advance Health Equity and the Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) initiatives. These awards are supporting a diverse pool of investigators, including several Black researchers, to focus on innovative interventions, as well as recruit and retain faculty, to address health disparities and advance health equity.

To learn more about EDI's Black History Month campaign, I encourage you to reach out to EDI's special emphasis portfolio strategists at To learn more and to participate in the conversation this month, please visit the EDI website and follow @NIH_EDI on Twitter and Instagram.

Sincerely yours,

Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Acting Director, NIH

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