21 August 2011

New Study Affirms Alarming Disparities in U.S. Health Research Funding


Press Release

U.S. Congressional TriCaucus Members Call for a Renewed Investment in the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Health Disparities

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) released the results of a study entitled, “Race, Ethnicity and NIH Research Awards.”  The study found that despite its current programs to increase the racial and ethnic diversity among its intramural and extramural biomedical and health services research workforce and grantee pool, there are serious and persistent racial and ethnic disparities in the manner in which NIH funding is awarded.

“The findings from this study – which are extremely alarming – raise serious questions about various NIH processes and review panels that should be objective and fair, in both intent and in outcome,” noted Congresswoman Donna Christensen, a physician and the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Health Braintrust.   “They also underscore the immediate need for the leadership at NIH to more demonstratively support, expand the authority of and increase funding allocated to the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) to lead, evaluate, and coordinate racial and ethnic minority and health disparity research and training.”

“Today’s report underscores the need for NIH to act quickly and with determination to strengthen the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities to aggressively address the inequities detailed in this important study,” added Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Chair of the HealthCare Task Force for the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and member of the House Committee on Appropriations.  

There are a number of preliminary action items that the Congressional TriCaucus, whose members have long championed health disparity elimination as a national priority, will be recommending to Dr. Francis Collins.  These recommended steps will address the clear racial and ethnic inequities in the granting of awards and the award process highlighted in the study.  The TriCaucus will also suggest ways to utilize NIMHD to strengthen NIH’s commitment to health disparities research and to targeted recruiting, mentoring, and training of racial and ethnic minority researchers in all NIH fields.

“We sincerely applaud NIH Director Collins for his leadership in requesting the study and his commitment to fixing this problem," added Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, Chair of the Hispanic Caucus Task on Health. “We now have an important benchmark on which to judge NIH’s progress in addressing the disparities reflected in this report.  The research that comes out of NIH is among the best in the world and we look forward to working with Dr. Collins to ensure that diversity also becomes a cornerstone of NIH’s work.”

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