About NIH FIRST at Mount Sinai

The NIH Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) Cohort Cluster Hiring Initiative is a transformative undertaking at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai to promote and sustain an academic culture of inclusive excellence by recruiting, hiring, and advancing 12 dynamic and promising early-stage investigators in the biomedical sciences, particularly those who are underrepresented in science and medicine (URiSM), who are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. At Icahn Mount Sinai, we consider our diversity one of our greatest strengths—essential to accelerating scientific discovery and advancing healthcare innovation.

Our immediate goal is to hire 12 tenure-track Assistant Professors who are poised to excel as independent investigators. But our sights are set on the horizon. We will iteratively evaluate, refine, and establish policies, processes, protocols, and infrastructure to ensure that everyone feels that they belong and are optimally positioned to thrive. We are committed to ensuring our changes are effective at sustaining a culture of inclusive excellence. We will engage a multidisciplinary team of scientists, thought leaders, and innovators from across our institution in this work informed by rigorous scientific inquiry.

Research indicates that cluster hiring is an effective strategy for recruiting, hiring, and advancing faculty. The community that it fosters increases the productivity of faculty and increases the likelihood of success. We will hire three people in each of four clusters (neuroscience, health equity, cancer, and microbiology) —all housed within premier interdisciplinary research institutes with the goal of enhancing team science as well as community

"We are deeply honored to receive this generous award from the NIH. We join an impressive cohort of partner institutions who will collaborate in this urgent and important endeavor. We are mission-driven in our pursuit of diversity and inclusion in academic medicine and research, and together, we will develop evidence-based strategies that create long-lasting systemic change,
—Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean, Icahn Mount Sinai, and President for Academic Affairs, Mount Sinai Health System.

Our cluster leads are pre-eminent authorities in their fields. They will lead the way in identifying opportunities for formal and informal networking across Icahn Mount Sinai and the larger scientific community. It is paramount that our FIRST faculty be integrated within the larger community of scholars in their discipline. Each FIRST faculty member will be assigned an equitable and inclusive mentoring team, and will also receive other critical components of faculty development and support. FIRST faculty will receive leadership training and practical guidance on subjects such as grant-writing, effective research lab management, and digital communication—as well as qualitative support to foster greater sense of belonging and collaboration.

The NIH FIRST Cohort Cluster Hiring Initiative builds upon the work being done throughout Icahn Mount Sinai and the Health System as a whole to promote antiracism, health equity, and inclusive excellence. For example, the Center for Scientific Diversity was launched in 2020 to support the research and advancement of underrepresented faculty, as well as strengthening the pipeline of underrepresented trainees into the biomedical research workforce. The work of the Center is driven by rigorous research, and is contributing to a scholarly discourse around inclusive excellence.

The Mount Sinai Institute for Health Equity Research brings together a multidisciplinary team of researchers addressing the disparities in health and health care that affect communities such as nonwhite, low-income, immigrant, uninsured, LGBTQ+, and other vulnerable populations. The goal of the Institute is to engage at-risk communities, enable access to health care resources, and inform lifesaving interventions.

The Mount Sinai Biomedical Laureates Program is designed to increase the number of Black and Latinx research faculty at Icahn Mount Sinai and support their growth as investigators and as leaders.

We are also very proud of our efforts to promote antiracism across the Mount Sinai Health System and within our learning and research environment, including our strategic Road Map for Action and newly launched Center for Antiracism in Practice.

The NIH FIRST Cohort Cluster Hiring Initiative at Icahn Mount Sinai is supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number U54CA267776. This award is supported by the NIH Common Fund, through the Office of Strategic Coordination/Office of the NIH Director.