Director’s Messages

Striving Towards Health Equity: Understanding the Impact of Discrimination on LGBTQ+ Communities

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UPDATED June 27, 2022

By Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D.
Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

NIMHD Director, Dr. Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable

Sexual and gender minority (SGM) populations, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ+)1, experience health disparities and face barriers to accessing health care.  SGM populations have higher burdens of certain diseases, such as depression, certain cancers, and tobacco-related conditions. But the extent and causes of health disparities are not fully known, mechanisms remain unclear, and more research on how to close these gaps is needed.

Stigmatization, hate-related violence, and discrimination are still major barriers to the health and well-being of SGM populations. SGM individuals who are also from racial, ethnic, and/or immigrant minority communities may be even more vulnerable because they face similar barriers, discrimination, and health challenges that are unique to those experienced by all minority populations.

Continue reading “Striving Towards Health Equity: Understanding the Impact of Discrimination on LGBTQ+ Communities”

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Boost Your Community: NIMHD’s Role in Increasing COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake and Community Interventions

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By Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D.
Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

Photo of Dr. Eliseo J. Perez-Stable, NIMHD Director

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April is National Minority Health Month (NMHM), and this year we are joining the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health to highlight the key role individuals and organizations can play in helping to reduce health disparities and improve the health of people who are disadvantaged by social and economic conditions, geographic location, or the environment in which they live.

This year’s theme, “Give Your Community a Boost!,” focuses on the continued importance of COVID-19 vaccination, including COVID-19 boosters, and sharing credible information as important tools to end the COVID-19 pandemic that has disproportionately affected communities already dealing with long-standing social and health inequities. Ongoing vaccination against COVID-19 is the single most important way to blunt the effects of severe disease, the consequences of stress on the health care system, and excess deaths of the most vulnerable people.

Continue reading “Boost Your Community: NIMHD’s Role in Increasing COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake and Community Interventions”

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NIH FIRST: Strengthening Inclusive Excellence in Biomedical Research

NIH FIRST: Strengthening Inclusive Excellence in Biomedical Research

Photo of Drs. Norman E. Sharpless and Eliseo J. Perez-Stable

Co-authored by
Norman E. Sharpless, M.D., Director, National Cancer Institute
Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D., Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

Year after year, the number of students from historically underrepresented groups that participate in biomedical research training has slowly increased. Yet today, individuals from underrepresented groups still remain much less likely to be hired as independently funded faculty researchers. This gap is untenable if science is to thrive in the future. NIH is committed to supporting institutions and programs to change this trajectory.

In September 2021, NIH announced the initial set of awards in the Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST) program. FIRST funds and supports institutions to recruit diverse cohorts of new faculty and implement and sustain cultures of inclusive excellence where these faculty can thrive, excel, and become independently funded investigators. NIH expects to announce a second set of FIRST awards this summer.

FIRST has a target budget of $241 million over 9 years, subject to the availability of funds. The NIH Common Fund leads in managing this NIH-wide program, but there is also robust engagement by others across NIH. The NIH Scientific Workforce Diversity Office, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke all collaborate in managing FIRST. Continue reading “NIH FIRST: Strengthening Inclusive Excellence in Biomedical Research”

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Images Are Important: An Apology

Images are Important: An Apology from NIMHD's Director
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By Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D.
Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

On November 10, NIMHD shared an image through our online channels that was intended to reflect the results of a recent study, which found that police killings are dramatically underreported. Mortality from police violence is more than two times greater than what is reported in the U.S. National Vital Statistics System—and the under-reporting is particularly marked for African American individuals. I was one of the co-authors of this research paper and I am profoundly saddened that so many people die during encounters with police every year.

The picture chosen was intended to reflect the unfortunate reality that occurs all too often. However, the image was insensitive and deeply disheartening. Our thoughtful research community has made it clear to us that by sharing this image, NIMHD unintentionally retraumatized people who experience the indignities, dangers, violence, and stress of racism every day. We sincerely apologize. We have removed the image and will do better in future postings.

Improving the health of racial and ethnic minority groups is the everyday work of this Institute. NIMHD is committed to continuing to lead the scientific efforts to develop, implement, and evaluate interventions to manage, reduce, and eliminate structural racism and discrimination.

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NIMHD Lauds New Awards on Innovative Health Disparities and Health Equity Research

NIMHD Lauds New Awards on Innovative Health Disparities and Health Equity Research
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By Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D.
Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

Photo of Dr. Eliseo J. Perez-Stable, NIMHD DirectorWe at the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities are excited and proud to be a part of the Transformative Research to Address Health Disparities and Advance Health Equity initiative, a new effort coordinated by the NIH Common Fund. This new set of 11 grants provides roughly $58 million over five years to support innovative, creative translational health disparities research projects across the country. This new initiative speaks directly to NIMHD’s mission to improve minority health, reduce health disparities, and promote health equity, and encourages bold new solutions to solve enduring problems.

Despite scientific and technological discoveries that have improved the health of the U.S. population overall, racial, and ethnic minority populations, socioeconomically disadvantaged groups, underserved rural populations, and sexual and gender minorities in the U.S. share an unfair burden of diseases such as diabetes, heart and respiratory diseases, HIV, and obesity. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has further underscored how disease can disproportionately affect vulnerable populations the hardest.

In our work, characterizing the drivers of health inequities demands a better understanding of social determinants of health, complex underlying causes of health disparities, and effective interventions specifically designed to reduce disparities in these populations. Continue reading “NIMHD Lauds New Awards on Innovative Health Disparities and Health Equity Research”

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Heartfelt Thanks to the NIMHD Scientific Community in the Time of COVID-19

NIMHD leadership say thank you
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Co-authored by
Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D.
Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

Monica Webb Hooper, Ph.D.
Deputy Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

NIMHD leadership say thank you

As leaders of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), we want to express our sincerest thanks to the NIMHD scientific community and staff for their efforts as we continue to experience the most challenging public health crisis in over a century. Your rapid-response efforts to document, understand, and address the undue burden of COVID-19 among populations with health disparities—the very groups already dealing with longstanding disparities in life expectancy and overall well-being—have not gone unnoticed. We deeply appreciate your unwavering commitment to research designed to uncover the causes of health disparities, develop interventions to address them, and promote health equity.

Since March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has radically affected us in our daily lives—as individuals, families, and as members of the biomedical research workforce. We have all had to manage unfathomable adjustments and elevated stress both personally and professionally. The pandemic has disproportionately affected the lives and livelihoods of populations that experience health disparities in even more pronounced ways. And these groups—racial and ethnic minority communities, socioeconomically disadvantaged persons, people who live in rural underserved areas and sexual and gender minority persons—are prioritized by NIMHD. Continue reading “Heartfelt Thanks to the NIMHD Scientific Community in the Time of COVID-19”

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NIH’s Minority Health and Health Disparities Strategic Plan 2021-2025: A Path to the Future

Stock images representing a variety of races, ethnicities, gender, and ages
NIH’s Minority Health and Health Disparities Strategic Plan

By Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D.
Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

Photo of Dr. Eliseo J. Perez-Stable, NIMHD DirectorThe COVID-19 pandemic has brought minority health and health disparities new attention on the national stage. COVID-19 has disproportionately affected African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, and Latinos and Latinas.

This is a microcosm of the health equity challenge that plagues the U.S.

As in most conditions with health disparities, the causes are complex. People from some of these groups are less likely to have health insurance than Whites. Inequities in access to quality education and limited economic opportunities for many, mean that many minority groups are disproportionately represented among the ranks of essential workers, such as those who work in farms, grocery stores, and support staff in health care settings and long-term care facilities, and less able to avoid the virus at work than people who work in office jobs. Continue reading “NIH’s Minority Health and Health Disparities Strategic Plan 2021-2025: A Path to the Future”

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NIMHD Director Statement in Support of NIH Efforts to Address Structural Racism

NIH Ending Structural Racism initiative
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By Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D.
Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

NIH Ending Structural Racism initiativeOn March 1, NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., announced the launch of UNITE, a new NIH initiative aimed at bringing an end to structural racism in biomedical research. In his statement, Dr. Collins recalled the agency’s longstanding support of programs to expand the diversity of the scientific workforce, but he acknowledged shortfalls in NIH’s efforts to bring “…diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and skillsets to complex scientific problems.” As the Director of NIMHD, I enthusiastically endorse this newly stated goal for NIH to address, manage and eliminate systemic racism and discrimination embedded in policies and practices in the biomedical research enterprise. Since its beginnings as an Office more than three decades ago, NIMHD has promoted and supported the recruitment and training of a diverse workforce as part of its mission in research and training. We will continue that work while contributing our knowledge, experience, training programs, and tools to our collective goal of ending structural racism and discrimination, by building a biomedical workforce that reflects the populations we serve at all levels of authority within NIH and in our grantee institutions.

Continue reading “NIMHD Director Statement in Support of NIH Efforts to Address Structural Racism”

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NIMHD 10: A Year in Review and a Path Forward

Photo of Dr. Eliseo J. Perez-Stable, NIMHD Director
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By Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D.
Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

Photo of Dr. Eliseo J. Perez-Stable, NIMHD DirectorIn 2020, we celebrated NIMHD’s 10th anniversary as an institute at the National Institutes of Health. As the year began, we could not have foreseen the disruptions and devastation that a global pandemic would cause. Although many would say we could have predicted the exacerbation of health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities and all working people with the onset of COVID-19, its impact has revealed so much about the inequities within the fabric of our nation. While the nation (and the world) grappled with how best to deal with our new public health crisis, NIMHD pressed ahead to be a part of the solutions. We expanded the breadth and depth of our work with new collaborations, research programs and resources in support of our mission to improve minority health and reduce health disparities.

Before the pandemic shut the nation down, we were fortunate to hold NIMHD’s first scientific symposium, marking our milestone year, hosting over 2,000 in-person and virtual attendees. Focusing on themes of partnership, innovation, and the role of social and health determinants in health disparities, we created a path for further exploration and research initiatives. Continue reading “NIMHD 10: A Year in Review and a Path Forward”

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The Power of Trust and Truth

CEAL OpEd Social Card_English 11.20.2020

Getting and sharing the facts about COVID-19, trusting science can help turn tide for pandemic-strapped communities of color

NOTE: This post originally appeared as an Op-Ed on BlackDoctor.org and in La Vision Newspaper

Co-authored by
Gary H. Gibbons, M.D., Director National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute
Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D., Director National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

COVID-19 has killed more than 230,000 people in the U.S., and the death toll continues to rise at a rate of about 1,000 per day [see recent data at CDC]. We know, however, that families and communities don’t count their losses in thousands or hundreds; they count them one-by-one – a father, a teacher, a sister, a friend, a nurse, a son, a Tribal elder, a church member. And these losses hurt. Continue reading “The Power of Trust and Truth”

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