Case Studies

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Diversity Supplement Professional Development and Networking Workshop


National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Office of Diversity and Health Disparities (ODHD)


NIDA ODHD has done groundbreaking work toward diversifying the national research workforce. These efforts include funding the recruitment and support of early-career researchers from underrepresented backgrounds through the NIDA Diversity Supplement Program, providing these scholars with training in complex NIH grant application processes, and facilitating networking activities to connect them with mentors who can help advance their careers. To disseminate best practices and amplify the impact of its efforts to recruit and retain underrepresented scholars, NIDA ODHD sought to share its approach to researcher training, networking, and mentoring with other NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices. 

How RLA Moved Science Forward

RLA planned a 2-day virtual event that enabled NIDA to engage NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices in discussion about its work to diversify the national research workforce. RLA managed 940 registrants (650 diversity supplement recipients and 290 government employees), as well as 34 speakers and 161 poster presentations, which were staged in a custom-designed and interactive Gather virtual environment. RLA facilitated meeting sessions on NIH funding opportunities, workforce diversity, mentorship, and building resilient careers in science. The virtual Gather environment that RLA built and managed allowed NIH program officers to meet and interact with potential grantees from across the country while attendees networked with potential colleagues and presented new research.  


The Inaugural NIH Diversity Supplement Professional Development and Networking Workshop enabled trans-NIH network building and knowledge exchange, serving NIH’s goal of building a more diverse research workforce. Effective planning and execution of the event resulted in high satisfaction among participants and laid the groundwork to hold similar meetings in the future, ensuring continued discussion and collaboration in support of scientific workforce diversity. In particular, the seamless virtual experience inspired federal participants to engage RLA’s support in holding similar events using the Gather platform.  


  • Custom design Gather virtual meeting spaces and event websites
  • Prepare and manage meeting registration materials
  • Manage logistics for all conference needs, including travel, meals, lodging, technical and clerical support, and meeting materials
  • Produce meeting summaries and conference materials including abstract books, workshop reports, and graphics
NIDA diversity supplement
NIDA diversity supplement 2