Specialized Centers of Excellence on Minority Health and Health Disparities
The NIMHD Centers of Excellence program, established by Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-525), has played a vital role in realizing NIMHD’s mission to support research in minority health and health disparities, promote the training of a diverse research workforce, disseminate research findings, and foster innovative collaborations and partnerships. The NIMHD Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Framework communicates NIMHD’s conceptualization of factors relevant to the understanding and promotion of minority health and to the understanding and elimination of health disparities.
The purpose of the NIMHD Specialized Centers of Excellence program is to conduct transdisciplinary, multi-level research and to provide research opportunities for post-doctoral fellows, junior faculty, and other early stage investigators to engage in this type of research. Centers are expected to have a unifying thematic focus that address the intersection of domains of influence (biological, behavioral, physical environment, sociocultural environment, healthcare system) and levels of influence (individual, interpersonal, community, societal) in the Framework in some way and that research activities will embrace a multi-domain, multi-level perspective. The thematic focus is at a level of specificity such that it is reasonable to expect that Center activities can have a direct and demonstrable impact on addressing minority health and health disparities in that topic area. All Center activities, including research projects, pilot projects, and community dissemination activities, are designed to contribute to this impact.
The thematic focus may involve, but is not limited to, the following:
- Specific disease areas that disproportionately affect disparity populations and contribute substantially to health outcomes (e.g., cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes mellitus, asthma, HIV/AIDS, chronic lung disease, chronic liver disease/cirrhosis, accidents, depression, osteoarthritis, inflammatory arthritis, chronic kidney disease, specific cancers);
- Prevention topics that cut across health conditions and populations (e.g., physical activity, tobacco use and cessation, healthy nutrition, obtaining recommended screening tests, immunizations, pre-natal care, breast feeding, adherence to medications and behavioral recommendations);
- Life course groups that incorporate selected components from above (e.g., children, women, older adults, men);
- Understanding the etiology and mechanisms of diseases and health conditions in health disparity populations (e.g., how poverty creates and sustains health disparities, how structural racism/discrimination affects biological processes, why rural populations are disproportionately affected by opioid dependence);
- Evaluating intervention approaches to improve minority health or reduce health disparities (e.g., neighborhood-level interventions to reduce obesity in racial/ethnic minority populations, interventions to address provider bias towards sexual and gender minority patients); and/or
- Developing methodological approaches or addressing measurement issues (e.g., systems science methods to understand structural drivers of health disparities; measurement of neighborhood level effects on health disparities; methods for assessing the impact of policies on local, regional, or statewide population health).
The Center focus must revolve around one or more NIH-designated health disparity populations, which include Blacks/African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, underserved rural populations, and sexual and gender minorities. This focus may include multiple health disparity populations, a single health disparity population, or a subgroup within a health disparity population.