June 30, 2023, Alexandria, VA., USA – The American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research (AADOCR) is deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down affirmative action programs at the University of North Carolina and Harvard University. For generations of deserving students who had been systematically excluded from America’s key institutions, affirmative action provided an opportunity to access respected institutions and addressed their sense of belonging. AADOCR’s concern is that rolling back protections for people in marginalized communities across this country will have devastating impacts on the diversity of the biomedical research workforce. A workforce that already struggles to be diverse and faces deep challenges with inclusivity and access, despite studies demonstrating that diversity enhances scientific collaboration and creativity1,2 .
The consequences of this decision will be felt immediately and across the country, as students of color will now face fewer opportunities to attend the same colleges and universities than their peers and others before them. These negative consequences could continue for generations, as the historic harms of exclusion and discrimination in education and society are exacerbated. As a research association with an inclusive yet diverse membership, we are firmly committed to the principles and practices that honor the value of diversity and promote inclusion within our organization and for the research community we serve. AADOCR will continue to take measurable steps to enhance our accountability on diversity issues, which include:
- Paying tribute to AADOCR members of diverse backgrounds through the Faces of Dental Research project, which not only highlights the diversity of the dental, oral and craniofacial research workforce but also brings visibility to the contributions of researchers from underrepresented groups.
- Serving as the institutional home for the AADOCR/Procter & Gamble Underrepresented Faculty Research Fellowship, which is aimed at increasing representation of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups at the early stages of their scientific careers, who are advancing science as research-able faculty in academia.
- Supporting diversity within the scientific pipeline by collaborating with federal research partners, such as the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). AADOCR provided input on what is now NIDCR’s Mentoring Networks for Underrepresented Postdoctoral and Early-Career Investigators. The networks facilitate interactions between experienced investigators/mentors and early career-stage investigators. These interactions provide structured and unstructured activities to enhance development of professional skills and abilities for individuals pursuing dental, oral, and craniofacial research careers.
- Promoting diversity in the NIH-funded biomedical, behavioral, clinical and social sciences workforce through AADOCR MIND the Future. Supported by a five-year cooperative research grant from the NIDCR, the primary goal of MIND the Future is to establish a mentoring network that supports a diverse pool of early career investigators, including individuals from diverse backgrounds, in developing independent research careers dedicated to improving dental, oral and craniofacial health.
- Supporting undergraduate, dental, and graduate students within underrepresented populations to build peer networks across institutions and establish novel mentoring relationships through our Diversity Matters: Advancing Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research Leaders program. The mentorship gained through this program facilitates growth and career development while supporting skillset development, knowledge acquisition, confidence building and cultural competence.
In addition to these initiatives within our organization, AADOCR also supports broader endeavors — through our government affairs portfolio — to end inequality and inequity in health care.
1AlShebli, B.K., Rahwan, T. & Woon, W.L. The preeminence of ethnic diversity in scientific collaboration. Nat Commun 9, 5163 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-07634-8
2Pier Vittorio Mannucci and Christina E. Shalley, Embracing multicultural tensions: How team members’ multicultural paradox mindsets foster team information elaboration and creativity, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 173, 2022, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.obhdp.2022.104191.
About the American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research (AADOCR)
The American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research (AADOCR) is the leading professional community for multidisciplinary scientists who advance dental, oral, and craniofacial research. The AADOCR is the largest Division of the International Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research (IADR). The AADOCR also manages the activities of the Friends of NIDCR. To learn more, visit www.aadocr.org.