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Meet Dr. Mia Rochelle Lowden, NINR's First Chief Scientific Diversity Officer

December 21, 2022
Dr. Mia Rochelle Lowden

Dr. Mia Rochelle Lowden joined NINR in August 2022 as the Institute's first Chief Scientific Diversity Officer, or CDO. The position is a crucial part of the federal government-wide response to President Biden's Executive Order on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce, and its subsequent strategic plan on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, or DEIA.

As the CDO, Dr. Lowden provides scientific leadership and direction for all diversity requirements and initiatives for the Institute. She will use her expertise to implement NINR's Racial and Ethnic Equity Plan, co-chair NINR's CHANGE civility working group, and refine the process of action planning for the path ahead, leading the Institute toward becoming a model of scientific workforce diversity.

"I am grateful that NINR had already been prioritizing DEIA and had activities underway well before my arrival," said Dr. Lowden. "My NINR colleagues have been welcoming and supportive of my leadership role. Together we will empower all NINR staff to contribute to a diverse and inclusive workforce both within NINR and throughout the field of nursing science."

Dr. Lowden chose NINR because of the commitment of NINR's leadership to advancing DEIA and health equity. She also appreciated  the unique position of nurses and their direct impact on health equity, and the opportunity to move towards a more diverse workforce to support nursing research, with a variety in perspectives, experiences, and abilities that could impact nursing practice and policy. 

With experience as a genetics researcher in academia and as a health science policy analyst at NIH, Dr. Lowden's approach to the Chief Scientific Diversity Officer role is grounded in her passion for scientific inquiry and her dedication to eradicating structural racism in biomedical research.

"In every position I've held at NIH, I have been responsible for some element related to DEIA," Dr. Lowden said. "I decided about two years ago that I wanted to focus on DEIA full-time. After I co-created an open letter to former NIH Director Dr. Francis S. Collins about structural racism at NIH, the group that I'm part of detailed implementation strategies for eight objective areas to help NIH leadership officials take action. We call that group and our work the Eight Changes for Racial Equity, or 8CRE, harkening 40 acres and a mule. I realized that I liked the experience of building a strategy to advance equity through changes in practice, policy, and culture, and I wanted to pursue a position that allowed me to continue shaping policies, processes, and practices to advance DEIA."

Prior to joining NINR, Dr. Lowden worked in the NIH Office of Research Infrastructure Programs where she managed a grant portfolio. She serves leadership roles for multiple NIH-wide groups focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion: she co-chairs the U Committee of the NIH UNITE Initiative for Ending Structural Racism, serves on the Steering Committee of the NIH Committee on Women of Color in Biomedical Careers, and is Chair-Emeritus and Steering Committee member of the Special Populations Research Forum.

Dr. Lowden received her PhD in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied genomic dynamics of cells at the early stages of cancer. After postdoctoral training in endocrinology at the University of Virginia, she completed the Science & Technology Policy Fellowships Program through the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is a proud graduate of Carleton College where she first discovered blending art and science and received a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry.