John Ruffin thinks the National Institutes of Health's 20-year effort to ensure that affirmative action goals are carried out through minority research and training programs must have been a benefit to society. But he can't really say that for sure--because he just doesn't know. No one is keeping track. And in order to find out just how effective NIH is in moving and keeping minorities in research careers, Ruffin is heading a multiyear effort to evaluate the various programs aimed at minorities and recommend a future course of action.

"There has never been a serious assessment of these programs, so all we have ever been able to do is speak anecdotally about their value," says Ruffin, associate director for research on minority health, in the Office of the NIH Director. "Once we figure out what we have got, and how effective it is, we may adjust, modify, or eliminate. The...

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