Medical and scientific advances have introduced new opportunities for the continued improvement of health for all Americans. However, in spite of notable improvements gained as a result of the treatment and technological advancement, there continues to be an alarming disproportionate burden of illness among minority and other health disparity populations. Overcoming persistent disparities in healthcare access and health outcomes remains a foremost challenge.
As one of 27 Institutes and Centers at NIH, NIMHD supports research partnerships across NIH and externally with a goal to create synergistic research approaches to improve public health for health disparity populations, including racial and ethnic minorities and socioeconomically disadvantaged and geographically underserved populations.
Partnerships conducted and supported by the NIMHD have created innovative studies into how to promote screening for breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancers; eliminate barriers to clinical trial recruitment; deliver mental health services; and much more. Some newer initiatives support research on precision medicine, child health studies examining environmental influences and cognitive brain development, and scientific workforce diversity.
Learn about some of these NIMHD collaborations here.
The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study will enroll 10,000+ healthy children and follow them from ages 9 to 10 into early adulthood to understand how children’s experiences affect brain development.
This program will build a diverse group of one million U.S. research participants for the study of precision medicine, an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account the differences in genetics, environment, and lifestyle of individual patients when choosing treatments or developing interventions.
Reach is a national initiative that establishes community-based programs and culturally-tailored interventions to eliminate health disparities among African Americans, American Indians, Hispanics/Latinos, Asian Americans, Alaska Natives, and Pacific Islanders. REACH partners use community-based, participatory approaches to identify, develop, and disseminate effective strategies for addressing health disparities across a wide range of health priority areas such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, breast and cervical cancer, infant mortality, asthma, immunization, and obesity.
This study is the first to estimate the economic burden of health disparities for 5 racial and ethnic minority groups and 3 education groups (i.e., adults without a 4-year college degree) at the national level and for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Providing estimates of the economic burden of health disparities could help inform national and state policymakers of where policies and programs are most needed to address and reduce health disparities.
The study was funded by NIMHD and is a collaboration by researchers from NIMHD, Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Uniformed Services University, TALV Corp, and National Urban League.
This program encourages and supports students from minority and underrepresented populations in pursuing biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social science careers.
This program will support research using existing study populations to investigate the effects of environmental exposures — including physical, chemical, biological, social, behavioral, natural and built environments — on child health and development, focusing on respiratory health, obesity, neurodevelopment, and pre-, peri-, and postnatal outcomes.
This longitudinal study of a nationally representative sample of adolescents in grades 7-12 in the US during the 1994-95 school year has followed the cohort into young adulthood with four in-home interviews, the most recent in 2008, when the sample was aged 24-32. The study combines longitudinal survey data on respondents’ social, economic, psychological and physical well-being with contextual data on the family, neighborhood, community, school, friendships, peer groups, and romantic relationships, providing unique opportunities to study how social environments and behaviors in adolescence are linked to health and achievement outcomes in young adulthood.
FIRST is an NIH Common Fund program to foster sustainable institutional culture change and inclusive excellence. FIRST will establish a faculty cohort model for hiring, multi-level mentoring and professional development paired with systems to address bias, faculty equity and work/life issues. The FIRST Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC) will evaluate impact at faculty and institutional levels; departmental and institutional culture change; and establish initiative-wide metrics of faculty success, recruitment and professional development at pre-tenure career stages.
This longitudinal study will recruit a large, diverse cohort of pregnant women to enhance our understanding of prenatal and early brain development from infancy through childhood, focusing on normal, healthy development and the effects of exposure to opioids or other adverse environmental exposures (e.g., stress, SARS-CoV-2).
HCHS/SOL is a long-term, multicenter study of Hispanic/Latino health and diseases in the United States. The study aims to determine the number of people with heart and lung diseases in various Latino heritage groups and identify risk and protective factors within these groups.
The Jackson Heart Study (JHS) study is the largest investigation of causes of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in an African-American population, involving 5,300 men and women in Jackson, MS. It is uniquely positioned to investigate CVD risk factors, especially manifestations related to hypertension such as coronary artery disease, heart failure, stroke, peripheral arterial disease, and renal disease.
This research program aims to understand the sources of persistent health disparities in overall longevity, cardiovascular disease, and cerebrovascular disease. By posing fundamental questions about differences in rates and risks for pathological conditions associated with aging, researchers hope to disentangle the relationship between race, socioeconomic status, and health outcomes. Using mobile medical research vehicles, which serve as community-based platforms for clinical research, researchers are creating effective methods for recruiting and retaining non-traditional research participants into age-related clinical research.
The Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research mission is to decrease health disparities by: increasing the number of researchers who focus on the health of minority elders; enhancing the diversity in the professional workforce by mentoring minority academic researchers for careers in minority elders health research; improving recruitment and retention methods used to enlist minority elders in research studies; creating culturally sensitive health measures that assess the health status of minority elders with greater precision; and increasing the effectiveness of interventions designed to improve their health and well-being.
The Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI) is a multicenter, longitudinal, prospective observational study of knee osteoarthritis (OA). This Initiative is a public-private partnership between the NIH and private industry that seeks to improve diagnosis and monitoring of OA and foster development of new treatments. The overall aim of the OAI is to develop a public-domain research resource to facilitate the scientific evaluation of biomarkers for osteoarthritis as potential surrogate endpoints for disease onset and progression.
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research’s Centers for Research to Reduce Disparities in Oral Health
This research program aims to understand and eventually eliminate health disparities in dental caries and oral/pharyngeal cancer through collaborations among teams of investigators from diverse disciplines and background in partnership with communities. The Centers for Research to Reduce Disparities in Oral Health are located at Boston University, the University of California, San Francisco, University of Colorado at Denver, the University of Florida, and the University of Washington.
The Sister Study examines the environmental and genetic risk factors for breast cancer and other health issues in women, as well as factors that influence quality of life and outcomes after breast cancer diagnosis. From 2004 to 2009, more than 50,000 women across the US and Puerto Rico, who were between ages 35–74 and whose sister had breast cancer, joined this landmark research effort to find causes of breast cancer. Because of their shared environment, genes, and experiences, studying sisters provides a greater chance of identifying risk factors that may help us find ways to prevent breast cancer.
Research training programs that aim to increase the number of community college/ master’s degree students from underrepresented groups and/or health disparity populations who transfer and complete the baccalaureate/PhD degree, respectively, in biomedical and behavioral sciences.
National Institutes of Health - American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics Fellowship in Genomic Medicine Program Management
The goal of this fellowship is to increase the pool of physicians trained in managing research and implementation programs in 'genomic medicine' (i.e., the use of genomic information as part of an individual patient's clinical care).
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in partnership with the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) are seeking qualified physicians interested in acquiring credentials and experience to lead genomic medicine research and implementation programs at the NIH, major medical centers, and other organizations.
This program is a collaborative effort between NIMHD, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and the Rwandan Ministry of Health to help build an NIH-trained research workforce in Rwanda. The fellows are physicians who spend a year at NIH and then return home as clinician scientists to conduct research and help improve health of Rwandans.
This collection contains the addition of 19 protocols for social determinants of health (SDOH), which expands upon the previous SDOH collection to help measure upstream factors that shape health behaviors and health outcomes. This open-access resource provides standard SDOH measures to better understand causes of health inequities and enable effective interventions to reduce disparities.
The project will explore physical and emotional aspects of pregnancy, labor and delivery and will identify distinct challenges faced by subgroups of women, such as those with physical disabilities. By offering a more comprehensive picture of the pregnancy experience—from normal pregnancies to those complicated by disease or other factors—PregSource promises to inform strategies for improving maternal care in the United States.
NIHMD plays a leadership role in RADx–UP, a community-engaged initiative to quickly respond to excess morbidity and mortality impacting population groups disproportionately affected by COVID-19. RADx–UP is part of NIH's multifaceted and agency-wide innovative technology efforts to make more rapid COVID-19 tests available, accessible, and easier to use for all Americans.
The Research on Prostate Cancer in Men of African Ancestry: Defining the Roles of Genetics, Tumor Markers, and Social Stress (RESPOND) is the largest coordinated research effort to study biological and non-biological factors associated with aggressive prostate cancer in African-American men. RESPOND is supported by the National Cancer Institute, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and the Prostate Cancer Foundation. More Information
This study aimed to produce detailed estimates on U.S. life expectancy by race and ethnicity for population groups most impacted by health disparities. Disaggregating data at the county level will uncover health disparities that are not visible using national- or state-level data. This will facilitate a more tailored approach to address the root causes of health disparities, reduce health disparities, and improve the health of all Americans. The study was funded and led by NIMHD and NIH in collaboration with researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine.
Page updated July 14, 2023