NIMHD Quarterly Newsletter: Summer 2019

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Director’s Message

Dr Eliseo Perez Stable

All things seem possible when you have a great team, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our grantees for their continued dedication towards helping us improve minority health, reduce health disparities, and promote health equity through transforming and enriching science.

In this issue, you will read about cutting-edge research and initiatives, which contribute to the overall mission of our Institute. I am especially proud of our scientific director, Anna M. Nápoles, Ph.D., who has been steadfast in leading our Division of Intramural Research and mentoring up-and-coming scientists. 

This year, our third annual Minority Health 5K was an even bigger success than we had anticipated. Our honored guests included Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and Director of HHS’s Office of Minority Health CAPT Felicia Collins, as well as Surgeon General of the United States VADM Jerome Adams. Both brought compelling messages about staying active and healthy, which is especially important for minorities and health disparities populations. 

On May 21, I led our 51st meeting of the National Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities. The presentations by Macella Nunez Smith, M.D., Helen M. Langevin, M.D., and Matthew W. Gillman, M.D., were outstanding. View via NIH VideoCast.

On June 14, it was my esteemed honor to present at the 118th Meeting of the Advisory Committee to the Director of NIH. My talk provided future research directions and our Institute’s vision for maximizing programs, leading multi-level interventions, focusing on better patient-clinician communication and community engagement. View here

We continue to keep our audiences connected through blogs, seminar series, and social media. Please connect with us!  

Media Advisory

Medical Care Publishes “Addressing Health Disparities Through the Utilization of Health Information Technology”

Medical Care June 2019 supplement cover

Health information technology (IT) tools may serve a vital role in reducing health disparities in the clinical care setting by increasing access to care, improving quality of healthcare, and promoting better patient-clinician communication.

The Medical Care supplement “Addressing Health Disparities Through the Utilization of Health Information Technology” includes 12 original research papers and five editorials and commentaries. The research manuscripts report that health information technologies may help underserved populations by enhancing patient engagement, improving implementation of clinical guidelines, promoting patient safety, and reducing adverse outcomes. The commentaries provide expert insights on the role of health IT in promoting health equity in racial/ethnic minorities, rural and urban populations, socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, and sexual and gender minorities.

This special supplement is sponsored by the NIMHD, part of NIH, and has an introductory editorial led by Dr. Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable with NIMHD Health Scientist Administrator Beda Jean-François, Ph.D., and NIMHD Chief of Staff Courtney Ferrell Aklin, Ph.D. 

Recent Features

Health from a Trusted Source: Barbershops Bring Health Services to African American Men

Michael Brown holds a comb and has his arm around a customer who is sitting in a barber chair.

As a young kid training to be an amateur boxer, Michael Brown wanted to look good. His father grew tired of Michael asking for money for haircuts, eventually buying him a pair of scissors and clippers.

The first time did not go so well, but he just kept going and going until he got better. Now he is a barber at a shop on a busy road in Hyattsville, Maryland, with a roster of loyal customers. He is also a health advocate in the Health Advocates In-Reach and Research (HAIR) program through the University of Maryland (UMD) Center for Health Equity. Read more

From Northern Africa to Southern Maryland: One Researcher’s Path to Public Health

Headshot of Dr. Sherine El-Toukhy

Growing up in Cairo, Egypt, the daughter of scholars was nothing less than fascinating for Sherine El-Toukhy, Ph.D., M.A. “In a way, life gave me another chance at being in public health, just a longer path and one that was not obvious at first glance. So, after all the twists and turns, I am finally doing what I want to do. I am where I want to be, and there is no other place I would rather be,” said Dr. El-Toukhy, now a Stadtman tenure-track investigator in the Division of Intramural Research at NIMHD and also a 2018 NIH Distinguished Scholar. Read more

Guest Speakers Engage Crowd at Minority Health 5K

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome takes a selfie with the crowd at the third annual NIMHD 5K

“Hey Dr. Collins, I am not in your back yard. I’m in your front yard here at Building 1 with all these wonderful people celebrating Minority Health Month!” said U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams. He joined NIMHD director Dr. Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable and HHS assistant secretary for minority health Capt. Felicia Collins in welcoming walkers, runners and rollers to the recent Minority Health 5K. NIMHD hosted its third 5K to celebrate National Minority Health Month .... Read more.

Fordham Scholars Visit for Ethics Training

Fordham Scholars meeting attendees

Dr. Celia Fisher, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse-supported HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute (RETI) at Fordham University, brought four early-stage investigators to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities recently. Each of the scholars presented their bioethics research on a minority health and health disparities research topic and met individually with program officers. Several of the scholars examined their bioethical questions using NIMHD-supported research projects .... Read more.

Asthma: More Than Just Genetics

Hispanic boy holding inhaler to his mouth

Countless parents go to the pediatrician each year when their toddler starts wheezing, worried that their child has asthma. But less than half of these children actually go on to develop asthma.

Differences in people’s DNA may play a role, since certain racial/ethnic groups, such as Puerto Ricans, are much more likely to have severe asthma. However, Mexican Americans—who have an ethnic background similar to that of Puerto Ricans—have much lower rates of the condition .... Read more.

NIMHD Hosts Commonwealth Fund Fellows

Group photo of Dr. Eliseo J. Perez-Stable (center) with Commonwealth Fund Fellows

The future of minority health and health disparities relies, in part, on physician leaders who promote policies and practices to improve care for under­represented and disadvantaged populations.

The Commonwealth Fund Fellowship Program in Minority Health Policy, supported by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and the Commonwealth Fund, is helping to develop such leaders. Fellows complete a year-long intensive study in health policy, public health and management while earning a master’s in public health or public administration. They also partic­ipate in leadership forums and seminars to help advance health care delivery .... Read more.

Leadership Education Network Encourages Women in Science

Diverse, young professional women

Women are steadily empowering each other and narrowing the gender gap within the science field. By establishing reward­ing and successful careers in science, women have risen to higher positions through hard work.

Recently, a group of college students, all women, from the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN) gathered at Natcher Conference Center for a career-focused symposium, “Preparing Women to Lead: Women in Science Careers,” orga­nized by NIH’s Office of Science Policy …. Read more.

How Does Sleep Affect Health for Pregnant Women?

Pregnant African American woman

Pregnancy is often a time of sleep loss and disturbance, but few studies have looked at how sleep affects the mother’s and child’s health. Of those studies, a handful have included non-Hispanic Blacks.

Historically and still today, women of color in the United States experience a disproportionate number of health problems related to pregnancy and childbirth—an underexplored issue …. Read more.

Research Spotlight

2018-19 Medical Research Scholars Program Fellow

Asmi Panigrahi presenting

Asmi Panigrahi, M.D. candidate, came to NIH as a Medical Research Scholars Program fellow with a keen focus on domestic and global public health. Her background is mostly in environmental health and stem cell/regenerative medicine. She previously worked in a lab studying DNA damage repair and, in the field, surveying rural Native American women. Her overarching interest has always been in population and public health.

2019 Jarvik-Russell Young Investigator Award

Dr. Kelvin Choi headshot

Kelvin Choi, Ph.D., M.P.H., a Stadtman tenure-track investigator in the Social and Behavioral Group at the NIMHD, received the Jarvik-Russell Young Investigator Award from the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. Named after Murray Jarvik and Michael Russell, the award recognizes scientists early in their careers who have made extraordinary contributions to the field of nicotine and tobacco research.

Recent NIMHD Highlights

Dr. Amelie Ramirez Wins Digital Health Awards

Dr. Amelie Ramirez headshot with DIgital Health Awards logo

Amelie G. Ramirez, Dr.P.H., NIMHD Advisory Council member and grantee, and her team at Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio have won 3 Spring 2019 Digital Health Awards for promoting Latino health equity!

Digital Health Awards are given each spring and fall to recognize the world’s best digital health resources. The awards are given by the Health Information Resource Center, a national clearinghouse for professionals who work in consumer health fields. Read more.

National Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities 51st Meeting

2019 NIMHD Advisory Council meeting attendees

On May 21, the National Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities held its 51st meeting. NIMHD welcomed 3 guest speakers, including Matthew W. Gilman, M.D., program director of "Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes" (ECHO) in the NIH Office of the Director, who provided early results of the 7-year initiative. Helen Langevin, M.D, director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, shared strategic priorities of the Center, such as studying complementary health approaches in diverse populations. Marcella Nunez Smith, M.D., M.H.S, internist and director of the Equity Research and Innovation Center at Yale University, discussed precision medicine and the Eastern Caribbean Health Outcomes Research Network. NIMHD also provided updates on the Centers of Excellence program. View the NIH VideoCast.

Speaking Up About Mental Health! National Essay Contest

Animated head profile with mental health statistics

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youths aged 15 to 24, yet only about half of young adults with a mental disorder receive treatment. In an effort to address this disparity and to further conversations about mental health among high schoolers, NIH invited students ages 16 to 18 to participate in the “Speaking Up About Mental Health!” essay contest. The contest was led by the National Institute of Mental Health, in collaboration with the Calvin J. Li Memorial Foundation, and NIMHD. Winners will be announced in September.

Webinar on Work Supports for Reducing Maternal Mortality

Dr. Rada Dagher headshot

On March 29, NIMHD Program Officer Rada Dagher, Ph.D., M.P.H., gave a presentation on maternal mortality during the “Work Supports for Reducing Maternal Mortality: The Role of Paid Family and Medical Leave” webinar, presented by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and the University of California, Berkeley, Work-Family Supports and Health Research Hub, in partnership with the African American Policy Forum’s Her Dream Deferred week. Listen to Dr. Dagher’s presentation, beginning at 15:00.


Recent Issues in Ethnicity & Disease

Ethnicity and Disease Vol 29, Issue 2 cover

Ethnicity & Disease recently released the first and second issues of volume 29, including publications by NIMHD staff and grantees. The first supplement focuses on  strategic partnerships to advance health equity.

TCC supplement cover for Ethnicity and Disease issue

The second issue presents innovative and groundbreaking policy research, policy action, and health equity interventions from the Transdisciplinary Collaborative Center (TCC) for Health Disparities Research at Morehouse School of Medicine.

Congressional Briefing: Health DisparitiesA National Crisis That Impacts Us All

Dr. Perez-Stable shaking hands at the Congressional Briefing

NIMHD has engaged in various congressional activities early this year. Most recently, on April 15, Dr. Eliseo J.Pérez-Stable participated in a congressional briefing, Health Disparities—A National Crisis That Impacts Us All. The event was sponsored by the Friends of NIMHD, led by Alex J. Carlisle, Ph.D., and hosted by Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD). 

Genomics and Health Disparities Lecture Series

Dr. Minoli Perera headshot

The Genomics and Health Disparities Lecture Series is a collaborative effort focused on exploring the role of genomics in achieving health equity. On March 16, Minoli Perera, Pharm.D., Ph.D., presented “From Genomics to Multi-omics: African American Precision.” Dr. Perera is an associate professor within the Department of Pharmacology and Center for Pharmacogenomics at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Her expertise is in pharmacokinetics, clinical pharmacology, and human genetics. View the lecture.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute

Group photo at 2019 Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute

On March 14, Dr. Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable presented on the importance of diversity in clinical trials at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing leadership development programs and educational services to students and young emerging Latino leaders.

University of Cincinnati Data Day 2019

Dr. Deborah Duran headshot

On April 1, Deborah Duran, Ph.D., director of NIMHD’s Office of Science Policy, Strategic Planning, Analysis, Reporting, and Data, presented “Big Data For or Against Health Disparities” during the University of Cincinnati Data Day 2019. View her presentation, beginning at 1:26:10.

Social Determinants of Cardiometabolic Health, Disease, and Health Disparities Workshop

Dr. Nancy Breen headshot

On March 27, NIMHD Economist Nancy Breen, Ph.D., presented “Measures of Social Determinants of Health” during a 2-day workshop, Social Determinants of Cardiometabolic Health, Disease, and Health Disparities: Setting an Agenda for Research, on the NIH Main Campus. This meeting served as a kick-off to a webinar series that will follow over the next year. 

NIMHD Director’s Seminar Series

Dr. Monica Peek headshot

On March 7, Monica Peek, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc., presented “Structural Inequities and Health Disparities: Lessons for Medical Decision Making” at the NIMHD Director’s Seminar Series. Dr. Peek, an internal medicine physician and associate professor at the University of Chicago, is the associate director of the Chicago Center for Diabetes Translation Research. She is also the director of research at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics and the executive medical director of Community Health Innovation. View the NIH VideoCast.

Clinical Research Education and Career Development Program Annual Meeting

CRECD group

On March 4–5, NIMHD held its Annual Principal Investigators/Scholars Meeting on the Clinical Research Education and Career Development (CRECD) Program (R25). The meeting included program progress reports by principal investigators and Phase 1/Phase 2 presentations by scholars from across the country. Attendees also participated in a grantsmanship bootcamp and panel discussion with NIMHD program staff.

Children’s Inn 2019 Congressional Networking Reception

Group photo at the Children's Inn

On February 26, Dr. Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable participated in the Children’s Inn 2019 Congressional Networking Reception at the Rayburn House Office Building to gather with other leaders of NIH and members of Congress in support of children’s health.

On the Blog

50 Years After Stonewall, Celebrating Progress and Striving for LGBTQ Health Equity

Dr. Brian Mustanski headshot

In June 1969, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community led historic riots against discriminatory police raids of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. The Stonewall riots galvanized the LGBTQ community to come together in a nationwide movement in pursuit of equality. Growing up as a young gay man in Minnesota, I had no knowledge of Stonewall .... Read more.

Guest Blog Post: Reducing Health Disparities to Improve the Health of All Women

Dr. Janine Clayton

The Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH), on behalf of NIH, led the development and publication of The Trans-NIH Strategic Plan for Women’s Health Research, outlining NIH’s goals for advancing science for the health of women over the next 5 years. One of three guiding principles of the Strategic Plan posits that the influences on the health of women include—in addition to sex and age—race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, education, geographic location, disability status, and other factors .... Read more

Addressing Social Needs and Structural Inequities to Reduce Health Disparities: A Call to Action for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Dr. Marshall Chin headshot

When I was a kid, every Saturday my parents would pack my older sister, younger brother, and me into the family station wagon and we’d drive 40 minutes on Route 2 East from Boston’s western suburbs into Chinatown. There we gathered with aunts, uncles, and cousins in the home of my grandparents, immigrants from Toisan in southern China .... Read more.

Find Your Path to an Active and Healthy Lifestyle

U.S. Surgeon General Adams (left) and CAPT Collins (right)

It has been inspiring to experience and learn about the events and activities taking place across the nation in support of minority health during National Minority Health Month.

Each year, the Office of Minority Health (OMH) works with partners and other stakeholders to coordinate the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) observance of National Minority Health Month, which dates back more than 100 years, to a 1915 campaign by Dr. Booker T. Washington. The 2019 theme is Active & Healthy ... Read more.

Write Your Own Story: Recognizing Your Potential as a Woman or Minority in Research

Dr. Anna M. Napoles headshot

Anna María Nápoles, Ph.D., M.P.H., scientific director of NIMHD's Division of Intramural Research, recently interviewed for NIH’s Office of Equity, Diversity, and, Inclusion to help celebrate Women’s History Month. In a blog post, she recaps the interview, in which she spoke about how mentoring and networking can help diversify science, her work at NIMHD, and the importance of diversity in science. She also shares her personal experience, because it led her to the research that she does …. Read more.

National Nutrition Month: It’s Your Time to Win!

dr. patrice armstrong

Happy and healthy National Nutrition Month! Whether your journey for optimal health is progressing or needs a boost, congratulations on taking strides toward a healthier lifestyle.

Healthy eating is shaped by each person’s life, personal preferences, cultural influences, traditions, and access to food. …. Read more.

Funding Opportunities and Notices

  • Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) of Genomics Research Project Grant Program (R01)
  • Notice of Special Interest for Administrative Supplements for Research on Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) Populations (NOT-OD-19-102 Admin Supp Clinical Trial Optional)
  • Environmental Influences on Aging: Effects of Extreme Weather and Disaster Events on Aging Populations (R01 Clinical Trial Optional)
  • Administrative Supplement for Research on Bioethical Issues (Multiple Admin Supp Clinical Trial Optional)

Recent Staff Publications

Upcoming Conferences and Events

September 1, 2019: NIMHD Loan Repayment Program (LRP)—Applications open

September 19, 2019: National Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities 52nd Meeting—Join via NIH VideoCast