Centers of Excellence (COE)

Program Description

Mandated by the Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-525), the NIMHD Centers of Excellence Program creates centers within colleges and universities to address health disparities through research, research training and education, and community engagement. These centers typically become local hubs for health disparities research, addressing the biological, environmental, behavioral, and social factors that contribute to health disparities.


  • Centralize minority health and health disparities research within an institution or group of institutions into a single research enterprise
  • Establish effective partnerships between organizations and communities to conduct original and innovative research to improve minority health and eliminate health disparities
  • Strengthen existing training activities that prepare researchers from health disparity populations to conduct minority health and health disparities research
  • Enhance community engagement and outreach efforts at participating institutions

Types of Centers of Excellence

The program was launched in 2002 as the Centers of Excellence in Partnerships for Community Outreach, Research on Health Disparities, and Training (Project EXPORT). In 2007, the program evolved into separate Exploratory and Comprehensive Centers of Excellence. With the dissolution of the National Center for Research Resources and transfer of the Research Centers in Minority Institutions program to NIMHD in 2012, the NIMHD Centers of Excellence Program includes the following types of centers:


Each type of Center of Excellence initiative has distinct eligibility requirements. However, at a minimum each institution of higher education must meet the following criteria:

  • Had a significant number of members of health disparity populations enrolled as students in the institution, including individuals accepted for enrollment in the institution. Health disparity populations are defined as African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, Hispanics, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, populations with low socioeconomic status, and rural populations.
  • Had been effective in assisting students from health disparity populations to complete a program of study or training and receive the advanced degree offered.
  • Made significant efforts to recruit and enroll health disparity population students into and graduate from the institution, which may include providing means-tested scholarships and other financial assistance as appropriate.
  • Made significant recruitment efforts to increase the number of members of health disparity populations serving in full-time faculty or administrative positions at the institutions.