NIH To Fund Seven Research Centers in Minority Institutions

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) will fund seven new awards to support the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Specialized Centers program. RCMI is designed to support institutional research capacity and foster the career development of new and early career investigators conducting minority health and health disparities research. The centers will share approximately $122 million over five years, pending available funds.

The RCMI program allows the promotion of science on minority health and health disparities, while increasing diversity among scientists, as well as supporting diversity in clinical studies. NIMHD is committed to supporting scientists at institutions that are historically committed to training populations underrepresented in science.

RCMI-funded institutions must offer doctoral degrees in the health professions or the sciences related to health, and have an historical and current commitment to educating underrepresented students. Centers must have an explicit focus on basic biomedical, behavioral, and/or clinical research.

The primary goals of the RCMI specialized centers are: to enhance institutional research capacity within the areas of basic biomedical, behavioral, and/or clinical research; enable investigators of all levels to become more successful in obtaining competitive extramural support, especially from NIH, particularly on diseases that disproportionately affect minority and other health disparity populations; foster environments conducive to career enhancement, with a special emphasis on development of new and early career investigators; enhance the quality of all scientific inquiry and promote research on minority health and health disparities; and establish sustainable relationships with community-based organizations that will partner with the RCMI institution.

“Institutions with historical commitment to diversity are essential to supporting scientific research and providing health care to underserved communities,” said NIMHD Director Dr. Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable. “These institutions are uniquely positioned to engage minority populations in research, and in the translation of research advances into culturally competent, measurable and sustained improvements in health outcomes.”

The seven RCMI grantees are:

Center for Reducing Health Disparities in Substance Abuse and HIV in South Florida
Eric F. Wagner, Ph.D.
Florida International University, Miami

The center will partner with communities in the Miami Dade region, which has a high prevalence of substance use and some of the highest HIV incidences in the country, particularly among underrepresented minorities, to develop a sustainable national clinical and behavioral research training program that addresses health inequities and disparities associated with these health problems.

RCMI Program in Health Disparities Research
Maria F. Lima, Ph.D. and James E. K. Hildreth, M.D., Ph.D.
Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee

The program will support four research projects addressing HIV/AIDS, prostate cancer, racial and ethnic differences in periodontal disease microbiomes, and adversity-driven chronic pain to advance fundamental understanding of these health disparities.

RCMI Center for Health Disparities Research
Deepak Kumar, Ph.D.
North Carolina Central University, Durham

The center will conduct three innovative basic biomedical and behavioral research projects, along with health disparities research pilot projects with robust mentoring, leveraging resources and partnerships at community-based organizations and neighboring institutions in the Research Triangle area. The center will also promote a collaborative research environment conducive to career enhancement for postdoctoral trainees and NCCU faculty at all levels.

Southwest Health Equity Research Collaborative (SHERC)
Julie A. Baldwin, Ph.D.
Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff

The center will increase research capacity in environmental and community health to address health disparities among diverse populations of the southwestern United States. Research projects will explore environmental factors and conditions that might lead to increased risk for health issues and disease transmission, as well as biological variables that may affect disease mortality in the underserved. Through community collaborations, SHERC will identify relevant strategies to enhance community assets and resilience to minimize the impacts of health disparities in the region.

Center for Biomedical Research/Research Centers at Minority Institutions
Clayton Yates, Ph.D.
Tuskegee University, Alabama

The center will enhance its research infrastructure and increase the numbers and proficiency of minority scientists engaged in advanced biomedical research focused on health disparities, including those for HIV, obesity, and prostate cancer, all of which disproportionately affect underrepresented minorities, especially African Americans residing in the “Black Belt” counties of Alabama. The center will also engage local communities to better understand and address health issues that affect them.

Jerris R. Hedges, M.D.
University of Hawaii at Manoa

The project is designed to advance “ola” (health in Hawaiian) for communities experiencing genetic, environmental, and socioeconomic disparities in health. The center will foster high-impact, team-science research addressing health disparities; strengthen and diversify the basic biomedical, behavioral and clinical research workforce and thinkforce focusing on health disparities; and enhance, consolidate and sustain core facilities and resources for health disparities research.

Center for Collaborative Research in Minority Health and Health Disparities
Emma Fernández-Repollet, Ph.D.
University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus, San Juan

The center will support translational research projects in basic biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research that will provide different and innovative approaches to promoting minority health and health disparities research among early career investigators and students, enhancing participation of Hispanic patients in genomics studies, and providing novel interventions to reduce childhood obesity within and outside Puerto Rico.

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