History

In the Beginning

NMF was founded in 1946, in Chicago, by Franklin McLean, MD, PhD, an eminent physician who saw, well before others, that the lack of opportunities for  Black physicians was a problem for our nation. He understood that we needed more minority physicians to achieve basic equality of opportunity, and to ensure access to quality health care. This was true in 1946, and it is true today.

A Precursor to the Civil Rights Movement

NMF began giving scholarships to Black physicians and medical students who otherwise could not have afforded a medical education. As broad social changes swept America, NMF expanded its commitment, giving grants on a national basis to other groups chronically underrepresented in medicine. Calls for diversity, equity, and inclusion rose in 2020 and 2021, but we are now experiencing a backlash. Despite the shifting political and cultural winds, NMF has committed itself to disrupting racism in medicine.

Through its scholarship programs, NMF has been instrumental in increasing the number of physicians and researchers chronically underrepresented in medicine in the U.S. In recent years, NMF has expanded its to diversify clinical research by training Emerging Investigators to lead clinical trials as a strategy to make patient participation more representative of the overall population and to ensure resulting therapeutics are effective for all. 

Alumni Engagement

NMF alumni number more than 32,000 and are at the forefront of the fight for health equity in their practices, institutions, and communities. Understanding the incredible insight and lived experiences of NMF alumni, the organization has engaged in an intentional strategy to deepen its engagement with this cadre of health equity leaders. 

In 2011, NMF began connecting their alumni network through its first-ever alumni directory. Encouragement and a generous planning grant from Kaiser Permanente has enabled NMF to grow this work.

Today, led by our Alumni Alliance and Young Leaders Council, our alumni network mentors scholars and actively partners in our programs. Our alumni continue to be a voice for NMF in their own communities and throughout the U.S. 

NMF continues to launch new programs and expand special events to foster connections among NMF alumni and friends. NMF looks forward to a period of growth and creativity, drawing on generations of NMF alumni to support the future generations of health equity leaders who will achieve better health outcomes for all.

Nmf History