NIH Health Disparities Interest Group

The NIH Health Disparities Interest Group (HDIG) fosters connection, dialogue and information exchange to advance biological, clinical, behavioral, social, and population sciences research to further understanding of health disparities and illuminate interventions to reduce and eliminate health disparities. Learn more about the NIH HDIG and health disparities.

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NIH HDIG Workshop 2023

NIH HDIG Workshop: Integrating Social Determinants and Structural Influence Measures in Biomedical Research
Inaugural workshop conducted Sept. 26, 2022


With NIMHD DIR, the NIH HDIG invites nationally renowned speakers to present foundational as well as cutting-edge research related to health disparities. The seminars are held three to four times a year.

Photo of Dr. Dr. Benjamin Lê Cook

Tuesday, August 13, 2024
10:30 – 11:30 a.m. ET

Benjamin Lê Cook, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Professor, Department of Psychiatry,
Harvard Medical School
Director, Health Equity Research Lab,
Cambridge Health Alliance

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Dr. Benjamin Lê Cook is Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School and Director of the Health Equity Research Lab at Cambridge Health Alliance. He holds a Ph.D. in Health Policy from Harvard University and an M.P.H. in Health Behavior and Health Education from UNC Chapel Hill. Dr. Cook is a health services researcher focused on improving quality of life, and access and quality of treatment for individuals living with mental illness and substance use disorder. His work tracks health care disparities in the U.S. and the impacts of health reform on disparities, seeks to understand the impact of systemic and interpersonal discrimination on the health and healthcare of community members, and evaluates the impact of hospital-based interventions on health equity.

He is PI of the NIMH P50 Alacrity Center for Early Screening and Treatment of at-Risk Youth (the eSToRY Center). His other NIH, AHRQ- and foundation-funded research tracks health care disparities in the U.S., the impacts of provider payment reform on disparities, and evaluates the impact of health care system-based interventions on health equity. As Director of the Health Equity Research Lab, he mentors trainees in health disparities and health system evaluation, and oversees research on criminal justice and mental health, transgender health, opioid use treatment evaluation, integrated behavioral health care, and the promotion of community-engaged research partnerships.

For lecture questions, email Dami Kim.

Individuals who need reasonable accommodation to participate should contact Dami Kim (phone: 301-402-1366) at least five business days before the event.

NIH HDIG/NIMHD DIR Seminar Library

Photo of Dr. Greta Bauer

Bringing Intersectionality into Sex, Gender and Health Research

Greta Bauer, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Eli Coleman Institute for Sexual and Gender Health
University of Minnesota Medical School

Seminar conducted June 11, 2024 (1 hour)

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Dr. Greta Bauer is a Professor and Director of the Eli Coleman Institute for Sexual and Gender Health in the University of Minnesota Medical School. She holds the endowed academic chair in sexual health. Prior to 2022, Dr. Bauer was a Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University in London, Canada, where she held a Sex and Gender Science Chair through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Dr. Bauer has authored more than 150 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters, and technical reports related to health equity. As an epidemiologist, her focus on sexual and gender health has been both substantive and methodological, with a focus on the impacts of social marginalization. She is a leader in transgender and non-binary health, and in incorporating intersectionality into quantitative research methods.

Dr. Elizabeth Chen

Advancing Health Equity Research Through Rapid Prototyping

Elizabeth Chen, Ph.D., M.P.H.
University of North Carolina,
Gillings School of Global Public Health

Seminar conducted May 14, 2024 (1 hour)

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Dr. Liz Chen is an associate professor and Health Behavior M.P.H. Concentration Lead in the Department of Health Behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. She is also the Design Thinking Lead for Innovate Carolina, the unit on campus dedicated to innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic development. Dr. Chen obtained her B.A. in Anthropology from Princeton University and her M.P.H. and Ph.D. in Health Behavior from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Building on community-based participatory research and implementation science approaches, she focuses on integrating human-centered design (HCD) (i.e. design thinking) methodologies into public health research, teaching, and practice. As a methodologist, she has applied HCD methods to health disparities research related to nutrition, food waste, pregnancy prevention, and developmental disabilities.

Dr. Chen was inducted into the 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 class for Social Entrepreneurship for her award-winning Real Talk mobile app for teens and recently published a new book titled The Experimentation Field Book through Columbia Business School.

Her future research will concentrate on the intersection of HCD and implementation science and the potential for HCD methods like rapid prototyping to transform health disparities research and center real people’s wants and needs from start to finish.

Photo of Dr. James Collins Jr.

The Black Women's Birth Outcome Disadvantage: A Populations-Based Research Update

James Collins Jr., M.D., M.P.H.
Zeisler Family Neonatology Leadership Professor
Professor of Pediatrics (Neonatology)
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Seminar conducted Dec. 12, 2023 (1 hour)

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Dr. James Collins Jr. earned his B.S. and M.D. degrees from the University of Michigan and his M.P.H. from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He’s a professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He’s the Zeisler family neonatology leadership professor, medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit, and the associate director of the pediatric residency program at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.

Dr. Collins has authored numerous research articles and is a frequent lecturer on issues related to racial and ethnic group disparities in adverse birth outcomes. Dr. Collins has received several awards for his research, teaching, and leadership in maternal and infant health, including the March of Dimes Jonas Salk Health Leadership Award, Research Honoree and the Duane Alexander Award for Academic Leadership in Perinatal Medicine from the National Institute of Child Health and Development. He’s also a member of several advisory groups addressing the social determinants of infant outcome.

Dr. Lilia Cervantes

Dialyzing the Undocumented: Driving Policy with Data

Lilia Cervantes, M.D.
Director of Immigrant Health
Associate Professor
Department of Medicine
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Seminar conducted Oct. 10, 2023 (1 hour)

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Dr. Lilia Cervantes is recognized for spearheading an innovative change to a Medicaid payment rule in Colorado to give undocumented patients with kidney failure access to life-saving hemodialysis. Through strategic documentation and dissection of the enormous human and economic costs of the status quo, Dr. Cervantes conducted research, developed a coalition of allies, and a policy remedy. The efforts have garnered national attention and partnerships, leading in turn, to endeavors to enable routine dialysis for undocumented patients in several other states.

Following this defining experience, Dr. Cervantes’ work has focused on eliminating structural racism by engaging in state health policy change as well as through her kidney health disparities research using community-engaged interventions. She has received over 15 awards for her service to her community and is a member of 10 civic and community activity boards.

Dr. Yukiko Asada

(Un)equal Opportunity for Health Among Older Adults in the United States: Analysis of the Health and Retirement Study

Yukiko Asada, Ph.D.
Department of Bioethics
National Institutes of Health

Seminar conducted Aug. 8, 2023 (1 hour)

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Dr. Yukiko Asada joined the Department of Bioethics in the fall of 2022 as a faculty member and a tenure-track investigator in the NIH intramural research program with a focus on health disparities/inequalities and ethics. She is a 2023 NIH Distinguished Scholar. Dr. Asada’s research contributes to establishing sound foundations of fairness in health systems and the health of populations locally, nationally, and globally.

Dr. Asada is a quantitatively trained population health researcher focusing on ethical issues in population health. Her research seeks to make explicit the implicit assumptions underlying quantitative methods used in population health research. Her work is broadly situated within the emerging field of population-level bioethics. Her program of research articulates the concept of health inequity, advances the measurement of health inequity, and promotes public dialogues on health inequity.

Dr. Shiriki Kumanyika

The "Getting-to-Equity in Obesity Prevention Framework (GTE)": Early Experience and Potential Next Steps

Shiriki Kumanyika, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Professor Emerita of Epidemiology
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

Seminar conducted July 11, 2023 (1 hour)

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Dr. Shiriki Kumanyika is a Research Professor in the Department of Community Health and Prevention at the Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health and Professor Emerita of Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. She earned a master’s degree in Social Work from Columbia University, a Ph.D. in Human Nutrition from Cornell University, and a Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Kumanyika has led and collaborated on research to identify and address diet-related chronic disease risks and health disparities, over more than four decades. Her early research focus was on sodium intake and hypertension. The majority of her research has addressed obesity prevention and treatment, particularly in Black Americans, including the racialized marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages as an adverse influence on Black Americans’ food environments.

Dr. Katie Schultz

Strengths, Community, and Frameworks to Advance American Indian and Alaska Native Health Equity

Katie Schultz, Ph.D., M.S.W.
Associate Professor of Social Work
University of Michigan

Seminar conducted March 14, 2023 (1.5 hours)

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Dr. Katie Schultz (she/her) is a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and an Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan with a research focus on health equity among American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations.

Drawing on community-based participatory research approaches, she focuses primarily on responding to violence and understanding community and cultural connectedness in AI/AN communities. She is interested in innovative conceptual and methodological approaches to research with tribal communities and health promotion rooted in Indigenous knowledges and sustainable solutions by and for Native peoples.

Dr. Claire E. Margerison

Pregnancy: A Window to Address Health Inequities Across the Lifecourse

Claire E. Margerison, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics
Michigan State University

Seminar conducted December 13, 2022 (1 hour)

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Dr. Claire E. Margerison is a population health scientist whose research focuses on understanding the determinants of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic inequities in women’s health, particularly before, during, and after pregnancy. Her work seeks to identify and assess policy changes and preventative strategies to eliminate such inequities.

Dr. Margerison’s current research has two major areas of focus. First, she is assessing the impacts of health and social policies, particularly the Affordable Care Act, on women’s preconception health, reproductive health behaviors, pregnancy outcomes, and postpartum health. This work is funded through R01HD095951 and R01HD095951, Policy Change and Women’s Health. Second, she is working to produce some of the first empirical evidence documenting the incidence of and disparities in pregnancy-associated mortality and morbidity due to drug use, self-harm, and violence in the U.S., funded by R01HD102319.

Dr. Tamarra James-Todd

Environmental Reproductive Justice: a Solution-Based Approach to Women’s Health Disparities

Tamarra James-Todd, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Mark and Catherine Winkler Associate Professor of Environmental Reproductive Epidemiology
Director, Environmental Reproductive Justice Lab
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University

Seminar conducted September 13, 2022 (1 hour)

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Dr. Tamarra James-Todd is an environmental reproductive epidemiologist researching the role of environmental chemicals on women’s health across the reproductive life course. She directs the Environmental Reproductive Justice (ERJ) Lab, which seeks to investigate and improve adverse environmental exposure and reproductive health disparities. Dr. James-Todd’s work specifically focuses on the importance of pregnancy as a sensitive window of consumer product and environmental chemical exposures.

Dr. James-Todd is also the Director of the Organics Core for the Harvard Chan NIEHS Center, where she launched the Environmental Justice Bootcamp in collaboration with two other NIEHS-funded P30 Centers. She is the principal investigator of multiple NIEHS funded R01 grants including the ERGO study and Project Viva, and is the principal investigator for the Community Engagement Core of the Metals and Metal Mixtures: Cognitive Aging, Remediation, and Exposure Sources (MEMCARE) P42 Superfund Research Center. In addition, Dr. James-Todd is running interventions to improve environmental health literacy both in the lay community, as well as among health care professionals.

Janet M. Stovall

Insights on Inclusion: Erase, Engage, Enact

Janet M. Stovall, M.P.S.
Global Head of DEI
NeuroLeadership Institute

Seminar conducted June 14, 2022 (1.5 hours)

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A global speaker, facilitator, writer and consultant, Janet M. Stovall helps business do what she believes only business can: dismantle systemic inequity, especially where it intersects with race.

She works with leaders to uncover the true value of diversity for their organizations, and offers straightforward, objective solutions to unlock that value. Collectively, her three TED talks challenging business to get serious about inclusion have 2.5 million views. Ragan Communications named her one of the Top Women in Communications and a Diversity Champion.

Dr. Margarita Alegría

The Role for Feasible and Sustainable Interventions in Reducing Health Disparities

Margarita Alegría, Ph.D.
Chief, Disparities Research Unit
Massachusetts General Hospital
Professor, Departments of Medicine and Psychiatry Harvard Medical School

Virtual seminar conducted October 12, 2021 (1 hour)

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Margarita Alegría, Ph.D., has spent most of her career working on how to reduce health disparities for populations of color, immigrants, and linguistic minorities. Her research focuses on the improvement of health care services delivery for diverse racial and ethnic populations, conceptual and methodological issues with multicultural populations, and ways to bring the community’s perspective into the design and implementation of health services.

Dr. Alegría is currently the principal investigator of four NIH-funded research studies and has published more than 300 papers, editorials, intervention training manuals, and several book chapters. Prior to her work at Harvard, she was the director of the Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research at Cambridge Health Alliance and was previously the director of the Center for Evaluation and Sociomedical Research at the University of Puerto Rico.

Dr. Alegría was elected as a member of the National Academy of Medicine in acknowledgement of her scientific contributions to her field and has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards. She obtained her B.A. in Psychology from Georgetown University and her Ph.D. from Temple University.

Dr. Gilbert Gee

Structural Racism: The Roots & Relations of Inequality

Gilbert Gee, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences
Fielding School of Public Health
University of California, Los Angeles

Virtual seminar conducted July 13, 2021 (1.5 hours)

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Gilbert C. Gee, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA. He received his bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from Oberlin College, his doctorate in Health Policy and Management from the Johns Hopkins University, and post-doctoral training in sociology from Indiana University.

His research focuses on the social determinants of health inequities of racial, ethnic and immigrant minority populations using a multi-level and life course perspective. A primary line of his research focuses on understanding how racism affects health across multiple levels and across the life course.

He has been recognized with distinctions such as a group Merit Award from the National Institutes of Health, Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Delta Omega Award for Innovative Public Health Curriculum, and the Paul Cornely Award from the Health Activist Dinner. Dr. Gee has served on several panels for the National Academy of Sciences and was also the former Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

Dr. Sherman A. James

To Race with the World: John Henryism and the Health of Black Americans

Sherman A. James, Ph.D.
Duke University

Virtual seminar conducted February 9, 2021 (1 hour)

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Sherman A. James, Ph.D., has held professorships in sociology, community and family medicine, and African and African American studies at Duke University. Prior to Duke, he taught in the epidemiology departments at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill (1973-1989) and at the University of Michigan (1989-2003). At Michigan, he was the John P. Kirscht Collegiate Professor of Public Health; the founding director of the Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture and Health; chair of the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education; and a senior research scientist in the Survey Research Center at the Institute for Social Research. James was elected to the National Academy of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2000.

He is a fellow of the American Epidemiological Society, the American College of Epidemiology, the American Heart Association, and the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. In 2016, he was inducted into the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences as the Mahatma Gandhi Fellow. In 2007-2008, he served as president of the Society for Epidemiologic Research (SER). James received his Ph.D. (psychology) from Washington University in St. Louis (1973).

About the NIH HDIG

The NIH Health Disparities Interest Group (HDIG), founded in 2014, aims to advance biological, clinical, behavioral, social, and population sciences research to further understanding of health disparities and illuminate interventions to reduce and eliminate health disparities. The NIH HDIG:

  • Fosters the exchange of ideas between intramural and extramural health disparities researchers through its joint seminars with the NIMHD Division of Intramural Research.
  • Provides a platform for health disparities scientific dialogue through its mailing list. To subscribe, please visit the NIH HDIG Listserv homepage and click “Subscribe or Unsubscribe” in the right sidebar.
  • Engages with NIH partners to promote health disparities training for trainees.

About Health Disparities

Health disparities are health differences in one or more health outcomes that adversely affect disadvantaged populations. These health outcomes include overall rate of disease incidence, prevalence, morbidity, mortality, and survival.

Disadvantaged populations refer to racial/ethnic minorities, socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, underserved rural populations, and sexual and gender minorities.

Eliminating health disparities and achieving health equity is one of the overarching goals of Healthy People 2030.

Page updated July 5, 2024