NIH Director's Awards Improvement Initiative Outcomes

Working Group Goals:

The working group was charged with the tasked with: 

  • Identifying and addressing barriers and systemic issues that have led to a lack of representation and diversity
  • Determine the philosophy are the NIH Director's Awards
  • Create a recommendation to the NIH Director for implementation in the 2023 program 


  • Reviewed current award categories for plain language, expanded definitions, and incorporate examples from across NIH. 
  • Create new award categories focused on expanding opportunity and access. 
  • Reviewed the NIH Director's Awards approval committee, created a scoring rubric and components to reduce bias
  • Created guidance for nominators, IC Awards Coordinators, and IC leadership to change the approach for nominations. 

Changes for Director's Awards Nominations for 2023

  • Better defined award categories for Mission Support and Administrative awards. 
  • Scientific/Medical divided into a research focus and clinical focus; now named Scientific/Medical Research and Scientific/Medical Clinical Care
  • Include examples of work performed at NIH that fits into each category
  • Reduction of emphasis on leadership and clarified that support staff should be included in nominations. 
  • Creation of three new awards; Customer Service AwardEmerging Leaders, Common Fund Unsung Heros Award
  • Standardize rating for NIH-level Committee through a rubric
  • Provide an implicit bias refresher for committee members to review prior to rating nominations. 
  • Ensure every IC that submits an award is represented.


Nomination Form, IC Award Coordinators, IC Guidance