A need for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within the grant funding process has been increasingly recognized. In response, many grantmaking organizations have expressed their commitment to DEI through enhanced funding priorities, as well as considering a grant proposal’s attention to DEI when making funding decisions (e.g., the makeup of the research team, involvement of community organizations, and consideration of health inequities within the research strategy). While encouraging, many researchers lack clarity on how DEI components are evaluated within review sessions and the best strategies for embedding a DEI focus within a grant application. The purpose of this professional development event will be to hear from grant makers regarding their organizations’ specific priorities related to DEI and how DEI content is being evaluated within the grant review process.

Members can watch a recording of the event here

Shared Resources 


Speaker Bios 

Dr. Cheryse Sankar: As a Program Director in the Office of Global Health and Health Disparities, Dr. Sankar has a diverse research portfolio covering topics related to advancing health equity in pain management and health disparities in neurological disorders and stroke. Prior to her current role, Dr. Sankar was in the NINDS Office of Pain Policy and Planning as a senior science policy analyst where she organized the annual NIH Pain Consortium Symposium, served as a program officer on the Acute to Chronic Pain Signatures Common Fund Program, initiated and co-led a Disparities and Diversity in pain research workgroup and ongoing efforts related to health equity in pain management through the NIH HEAL Initiative.  Dr. Sankar was an AAAS Science & Technology Policy fellow in 2011-2012 at the National Cancer Institute in the Division of Cancer Control & Population Science's Behavioral Research Program. She first joined NIH as a NINDS IRTA (intramural research training associate) then received a PRAT (Pharmacology Research Associate) fellowship in the NINDS Molecular Pharmacology Section where she published work on functional properties of the D3 dopamine receptor antagonists. Prior to joining NIH, Dr. Sankar received her bachelors' degrees in Chemistry and Biology from UC Irvine and her PhD in Pharmacology at the University of Michigan where she focused on mechanisms of the dopamine reward pathway. 


Dr. Vivian L. Towe is a Senior Program Officer at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and is trained as a social epidemiologist. She has a background in program evaluation, community-partnered research, social determinants of health, and health equity. At PCORI, she oversees a portfolio with a range of studies in topical areas representing Achieve Health Equity, one of PCORI's National Priorities for Health. She is currently leading a health equity-focused funding announcement seeking comparative effectiveness research addressing health systems factors and social determinants of maternal health and conducted through shared leadership between communities and researchers. Prior to coming to PCORI, she was a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, where she worked on a range of topic areas, including HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, disaster recovery, homelessness, and care coordination.  


Dr. Crystal Henderson is a Scientific Program Manager (SPM) for the Department of Veterans Affairs Central Office in Washington D.C. She manages the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Rural Health, and Complimentary/Integrative Health portfolios within Health Services Research & Development (HSRD). Dr. Henderson’s research background includes working as a research program manager with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VHA) for nearly two decades. Since 2005, Dr. Henderson has participated in countless federal research studies and program evaluations that cover a myriad of topics within the VHA system. In addition to her passion for research, she has served as a professor at several colleges and universities. Dr. Henderson completed her EdD in Higher Education Administration from The University of Alabama where her expertise lies in diversity, equity, and inclusion within organizations. Her hobbies include traveling, reading, watching movies, listening to music, and watching sports (especially her beloved Alabama Crimson Tide)! Dr. Henderson currently resides in Baton Rouge, LA with her husband and one year old son.