Internship programme aims to tackle underrepresentation of Black people in STEM

Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) is launching an internship programme this summer, as part of its response to the heavy underrepresentation of Black people in the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) community.

Through partnerships with the UK Health Data Research Alliance (HDR Alliance) and the 10,000 Black Interns initiative – which is designed to transform the prospects of young Black people in the UK – HDR UK has recruited 54 interns, including over 30 women, to the programme.

The programme itself will provide paid work experience to future data scientists, with the internships to take place across 25 of HDR UK’s partner organisations.

Caroline Cake, CEO at HDR UK, said: “We are really looking forward to welcoming the 54 interns this summer to the exciting field of health data science…I hope that for many of these interns, this will be the start of a long and successful career.”

Hosting partners include the BHF Data Science Centre, Big Data Institute, National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network, prominent national charities, data science hubs housed at a number of higher education institutes, university hospitals and NHS trusts such as Guy’s and St Thomas’, The Royal Wolverhampton and Barts Health.

Placements will last for six weeks and include activities such as conducting research and developing health data analysis, learning about the latest approaches and technologies in the field, collaborating with teams and communicating results and ideas to stakeholders.

HDR UK states that through the programme it hopes to provide ‘opportunities for young Black people in the UK to flourish in their future STEM careers’.

Kundai Humphrey Danger, an intern at at Guy’s and St Thomas’, explained some of his expectations of the programme: “I have been assigned to work under Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, this an awesome environment that brings learning latest health data research approaches and technologies. My hopes and expectation is that this programme will help me to develop and refine my skills. By the time I finish, I will be able to collaborate with health care and system teams to understand organisational needs and devise possible solutions.”

Maria Johnson, an intern at HDR UK’s Hub for Respiratory Health, BREATHE, also spoke of her goals and what she hopes to gain from the internship. She said: “I have a passion for science, technology and data; with this internship I hope to gain a real insight on what a data scientist does and their responsibilities. I want to see first-hand the importance of real-world data and how AI technology allows us to analyse it. I plan to use this experience to motivate me to achieve my goals which is to have a career within health data science and a direct impact within the healthcare sector.”

The Guardian recently reported, via statistics from the Royal Society, that the UK currently has 10,560 science professors who are white – compared to 960 who are Asian, 310 mixed and “other” and 65 Black. A further breakdown of academic STEM staff working in the UK showed that of 88,750 white staff in total, 11.9% were professors, while from 1,880 Black staff in total, only 3.5% had been promoted to professors.

To find out more about the Black Internship Programme, visit the dedicated HDR UK page.