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From the NIH Director: 2017 Black History Month

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) acknowledges and celebrates Black History Month as a time to recognize the achievements that Blacks have made to the nation and the world.

The NIH Black History Month theme is "Black Women, History Makers in STEM." The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math fields continue to expand and we need highly qualified professionals to lead innovation. Recruiting women and those who are racially and ethnically diverse is essential for continued growth and creativity. Scientific advances are brought forth through the hard work and ingenuity of scientists, and Black women have been at the forefront of many of our scientific discoveries.

Our theme honors the many Black women who have made significant advancements in science—women such as Dr. Marie Maynard Daly, the first Black American woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry; Dr. Alexa Canady, who after completing her residency at the University of Minnesota became not only the first American woman but also the first Black person to become a neurosurgeon; and Dr. Roger Arliner Young, the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in Zoology and to conduct research at the prestigious Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

Let us also acknowledge our own exceptionally talented NIH scientists such as Ida S. Owens, Ph.D., Senior Investigator, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; Michele K. Evans, M.D., Deputy Scientific Director, National Institute on Aging; Kandice Tanner, Ph.D., and NIH Stadtman Investigator, National Cancer Institute Center for Cancer Research, just to name a few. These women are blazing the trails for future generations of scientists.

I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to celebrate Black History Month. Visit the NIH Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion’s Twitter and Instagram pages to find historical facts about Black Women in STEM. Also, visit to view some insightful videos of NIH Women of Color in Science.

Additionally, I recommend that you support the Black Special Emphasis Portfolio and become involved in efforts to improve the outreach, recruitment, retention, and advancement of this and other diverse populations at the NIH, For more information, please contact Victoria A. Gross, Strategist, Black Portfolio, Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at 301-451-0746 or

Sincerely yours,

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.