ASBMB supports the HBCU Research, Innovation, Security, and Excellence Act

April 18, 2022

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology endorses the HBCU Research, Innovation, Security, and Excellence (RISE) Act, introduced in the U.S. Senate on April 6, 2022, by Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Sen. Tom Tillis, R-N.C. If passed, the bill would direct the secretary of defense to establish a pilot program to increase capacity at “high research activity status” (R2) HBCUs so that they can reach “very high research activity status” (R1).

There are no historically Black colleges and universities that are classified as R1 by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher education.

The HBCU RISE Act direct U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III to award grants for strategic areas of scientific research to HBCUs with  competitive applications detailing plans for increasing sustaining and evaluations their research programs.  In addition, the grants may be used by institutions for faculty professional development; stipends for undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral scholars; laboratory equipment and instrumentation; recruitment and retention of faculty and graduate students; and construction and modernization of research facilities.
While comprising only 3% of the nation’s institutions of higher education, HBCUs are leaders in producing Black college graduates who go on to earn doctorates in science, technology, engineering and math fields. Of the top 50 such institutions, 21 were HBCUs in 2013. To put that into perspective, all but four of the other 29 primarily white institutions on the list were R1 institutions. Clearly, HBCUs are punching above their weight when it comes to STEM workforce development.
Growing research capacity at HBCUs is a good use of U.S. taxpayer dollars. R1 status will increase the visibility of cutting-edge research already being conducted at HBCUs, open new doors for collaboration, diversify the STEM workforce and fuel the American economy.
The ASBMB supports this bill as it will increase funding opportunities for our biochemist and molecular biologist members at HBCUs and help diversify the American STEM enterprise. We urge Congress to pass this vital legislation.