NIMHD Quarterly Newsletter: Spring 2020

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Director’s Message

Dr Eliseo Perez Stable

Through adversity, we find our strength and resilience. We learn this from our work and research on minority health and health disparities. At NIMHD, we recognize that our health disparities communities across the nation are dealing with the unprecedented crisis from the pandemic of the novel coronavirus that causes the disease known as COVID-19. We encourage you to view and broadly share the many resources on COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 website.

In this issue of our newsletter, we highlight our anniversary scientific symposium, which took place on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, on March 3. Held on the cusp of the call for social distancing, the symposium attracted more than 2,000 virtual attendees and thousands more livestream views on the NIH Twitter account. I invite you to view the NIH VideoCast to hear some of the latest developments in minority health and health disparities research. Our research presentations covered maternal health, mental health, and cancer disparities, among other topics. Our intramural scientists and extramural grantees represented a broad spectrum of science, career stages, and the diversity that NIMHD is so proud of.

We have also published a workshop report on sleep disparities in the March 10 issue of the journal Sleep. In February, we celebrated Black History Month by featuring two researchers whose career trajectories began with NIMHD-funded Loan Repayment Program grants. Shortly afterward, in March, we welcomed our new Deputy Director Monica Webb Hooper, Ph.D., marking the last day that we gathered in a small group. Our health scientist administrator, CDR Nadra Tyus, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., has been deployed to support the COVID-19 Community-Based Testing Initiative. We thank her and all public and community health responders for their service. Additionally, I want to extend thanks to all the IT professionals who are tirelessly working to keep us progressing through online channels.

We have just released a research supplement funding opportunity to study the impact of COVID-19 on minority health and health disparities. The COVID-19 pandemic has redirected our way of life in all settings––our workplaces, social settings, communities, and homes. The public health call for social distancing has reframed our daily lives. We’re holding more virtual meetings and tapping our creativity to find ways to stay mentally and physically healthy. Through these challenges, we should remember our passion for health equity, which means we are always ready to turn adversity into triumph. As scientists, public health practitioners, clinicians, advocates, and people who work to improve minority health and reduce health disparities, our focus is always on the communities that define resilience.

NIMHD's 10th Anniversary

nimhd 2020

On March 3, NIMHD held its 10th Anniversary Scientific Symposium at the NIH Main Campus. The theme of the event was "Innovations to Promote Health Equity." The symposium showcased the latest discoveries in minority health and health disparities research. Speakers shared new insights, engaged in dynamic discussions, and looked toward the future of research on minority health and health disparities. View the symposium on NIH VideoCast, and participate in social media conversations using #NIMHD2020 and #Innovate4HealthEquity. Stay tuned here for upcoming anniversary-related events, as NIMHD celebrates its 10th year as an Institute.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Updates

Information for NIH Applicants and Recipients of NIH Funding

The NIH is deeply concerned for the health and safety of people involved in NIH research, and about the effects on the biomedical enterprise in the areas affected by the HHS-declared public health emergency for COVID-19. Because of the potential exceptional impact, we want to assure our recipient community that we will be doing our part to help you continue your research.

Please visit the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Information for NIH Applicants and Recipients of NIH Funding webpage to stay abreast of new information.

Resources for American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) Communities

COVID-19 fact sheet

Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health has partnered with the Indian Health Service and tribal health departments to provide resources for AI/AN communities grappling with COVID-19. Using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, the team is creating communication materials on best practices for protection during this outbreak. Materials include fact sheets, such as What Tribal Members need to know about COVID-19.

Follow the center on Facebook and Twitter for further updates.

To support the outreach effort, give here

Webinar: “COVID-19: How AI and Health IT Innovation can help fight the pandemic?”

NHIT logo

On April 8, NIMHD Director Dr. Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable provided opening remarks for the National Health IT Collaborative for the Underserved, Inc. (NHIT) executive webinar, “COVID-19: How AI and Health IT Innovation can help fight the pandemic?" The webinar was part of a series highlighting cutting edge topics, expert insights, and new innovations for underserved populations and those who are working to transform these communities. Watch the recorded webinar and learn about upcoming webinars

Media Advisory

"Blood Sugar Rising" Premiering on PBS       #NIMHDResearch

Photo of sugar bottles on United States map

In the United States, an estimated 100 million people have diabetes or prediabetes. NIMHD-funded researcher, Dr. Valarie Blue Bird Jernigan, points to the loss of traditional cultures as a key cause of today’s high rates of diabetes among Native Americans and uses her own family as an example. Learn more about this and other stories behind the numbers of this hidden epidemic in @PBS’s “Blood Sugar Rising,” premiering April 15th, 2020 9/8c.

Less Than a Quarter of At-Risk Adolescent Boys Ever Get Tested for HIV

Photo of HIV test

Less than 1 in 4 adolescent men who have sex with men ever get tested for HIV, research funded by NIMHD has reported. The study, led by Brian Mustanski, Ph.D., of Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, was published on February 11 in the journal Pediatrics .... Learn more.

Recent Features

Fighting Cancer—and Reducing Disparities—Through Food Policy

Dr. Fang Fang Zhang

American grocery store aisles are packed with a variety of processed foods and beverages. Crafted for the busy consumer with a small budget, these foods are a way of life for many Americans. However, eating a diet that is too high in these foods can increase the risk of many diseases, including cancer.

Some everyday items such as soda are cancer risks. Drinking alcohol increases the odds of getting liver cancer. Complex ingredients of processed foods that are loaded with preservatives are risk factors for digestive system cancers.

Fang Fang Zhang, Ph.D., a nutrition cancer epidemiologist at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston, studies the role of nutrition in preventing cancer .... Read more.

NIMHD’s Conversations With Pioneers in Minority Health and Health Disparities

As NIMHD celebrated Black History Month this year, we recognized pioneer researchers in minority health and health disparities whose career trajectory has been shaped by the NIMHD-sponsored Loan Repayment Program and subsequent research program grants.

Dr. Monica Baskin

Meet Monica Baskin, Ph.D., from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine as we have a conversation with her about her research career, which focuses on reducing health disparities in residents of rural and urban communities and populations across the lifespan, and about her advice to future generations of minority researchers .... Read more.

Dr. Girardin Jean-Louis

Meet Girardin Jean-Louis, Ph.D., a professor of population health and psychiatry at New York University Langone Health in New York. His research focuses on advancing the science and practice of sleep and circadian sciences through the implementation of innovative academic research and training models .... Read more.

NIMHD Appoints Dr. Monica Webb Hooper as Deputy Director

Dr. Monica Webb Hooper

Monica Webb Hooper, Ph.D., has been selected as NIMHD Deputy Director. She began her appointment on March 15.

“I am delighted to welcome Dr. Webb Hooper to the NIMHD family! She will support the leadership in implementing the science visioning recommendations to improve minority health, reduce health disparities, and promote health equity,” said NIMHD Director Dr. Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable .... Read more.

Research Spotlights

NIMHD has a new webpage of Research Spotlights, which includes brief summaries of published science advances from NIMHD-supported research. Read recent Research Spotlights below.

For Black and Latina women, severe maternal illness is not linked to insurance type.

Pregnant woman receiving physical exam

Black and Latina women suffer more than White women from severe maternal morbidity (SMM): serious unexpected health problems, such as heart attacks or kidney failure, related to labor and delivery. Researchers looked at the differences in SMM rates among racial and ethnic groups within hospitals in New York City .... Read more.

Gender-Sexuality Alliances can promote youth empowerment and mental health.

Diverse students standing together

Many sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth face discrimination, which increases their risk of depression and anxiety—even into adulthood. School-based clubs called Gender-Sexuality Alliances (GSAs, also known as Gay-Straight Alliances) have emerged to gather youth of all sexual orientations and gender identities to address SGM concerns .... Read more

Higher minimum wage is linked to fewer suicides in people with high school education or less.

Diverse professionals gathering

Suicide is often connected to financial stress, so it makes sense that an increase in income might reduce the risk of suicide. A recent study funded by NIMHD found that every $1 increase in the minimum wage of U.S. states could reduce the suicide rate in people with high school education or less by 6% .... Read more.

Recent Activities

National Minority Health Month 2020

National Minority Health Month 2020 infocard

We are proud to support the HHS Office of Minority Health and other partners this National Minority Health Month. Together we can encourage all communities to stay Active & Healthy safely from home and advance mental and emotional wellness. For more information on what communities can do this month, please visit the OMH website#NMHM2020 #ActiveandHealthy #Emotionalwellness

NIMHD Staff Deployed to COVID-19 Community-Based Testing Initiative

CDR Tyus

We recognize the service of all firstline responders to the COVID-19 pandemic and would like to highlight the service of CDR Nadra Tyus, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., NIMHD health scientist administrator, who has been deployed to contribute to the COVID-19 Community-Based Testing Initiative. Thank you for your service!

Supplement, Precision Medicine Approaches to Health Disparities Research, in Ethnicity & Disease Journal

Ethnicity & Disease supplement cover

This special issue of Ethnicity & Disease (Vol 30, Suppl 1) is dedicated to cutting-edge research conducted by the 5 NIMHD co-funded Precision Medicine Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers at the intersection between precision medicine and health disparities. Articles in this issue will enhance knowledge in a variety of research topics from perspectives on precision medicine among different health disparity populations to methods for reducing inequities in protocols, interventions, and health information and further to efforts to promote inclusion to all populations, especially the most vulnerable. Read the supplement.

Report on Sleep Health Disparities Workshop Published in Sleep Journal

Sleep journal cover

Sleep health disparities (SHDs) are differences in sleep health that disproportionately affect certain disadvantages populations. In 2018, NIMHD, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research convened a workshop with experts in sleep, circadian rhythms, and health disparities to identify research gaps, challenges, and opportunities to better understand and advance research to address SHDs. A report on the proceedings of this collaborative workshop was recently published in the Sleep journal. Read the report.

NIMHD-Supported Study Featured in MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing

MCN journal cover January-February 2020 issue

An NIMHD-supported study, “Perinatal Anxiety and Depression in Minority Women," was featured as one of the continuing nursing education (CNE) articles in a recent issue of MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing. Read the study report

NIMHD Director’s Seminar Series Postponed

Dr. Ebony Boulware

The NIMHD Director’s Seminar Series has been postponed until further notice. Stay tuned to hear from Ebony Boulware, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of medicine and chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine at the Department of Medicine, vice dean for translational science, and associate vice chancellor for translational research at the School of Medicine at Duke University. Dr. Boulware will be presenting a talk entitled “Where Clouds Meet the Ground: Democratizing Health Data to Address Community Health Equity.” Learn more.

NIMHD-Funded Study Links Higher Maternal Blood Pressure to Placental Gene Changes

Health professional measuring woman's blood pressure

A new study published in Hypertension could provide clues to the prenatal origins of cardiovascular disease. Research funded by NIMHD, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) studied placentas from 301 women. They found that increases in blood pressure during pregnancy corresponded with epigenetic modifications to placental genes. Earlier studies linked many of these modified genes to cardiovascular functioning. The findings suggest a pathway that links exposure to high blood pressure in the womb and risk of heart disease in adulthood. Read the study report.

NIMHD-Funded Study Identifies Effects of Minimum Wage Policies on Suicide Rates

Diverse group of people huddling

This groundbreaking study, recently published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, is the first work to estimate how the unemployment rate modifies the relationship between state minimum wage policies and suicide rates in the United States. 

Researchers used difference-in-differences methods to estimate the effect of an increased minimum wage on the suicide rate among adults ages 18 to 64 during the period from 1990 to 2015. They found that increases in the minimum wage appear to reduce the suicide rate among people with a high school education or less, with the largest effects observed during periods of higher unemployment levels. Read the study report.

The Children's Inn at NIH Annual Congressional Reception 

Group photo at NIH Children's Inn

On February 11, NIH Director Francis Collins, NIH Principal Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak, and NIH Institute Directors including NIMHD Director Dr. Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, NIMHD Director, attended the annual congressional reception hosted by The Children’s Inn at NIH.

National Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities—53rd Meeting

Council members sitting at table

On February 4, the 53rd meeting of the National Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities was held. Amelie G. Ramirez, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, presented on using patient navigation to improve Latino health across the cancer continuum. Richard Hodes, M.D., director of the National Institute on Aging (NIA), spoke about NIA health disparities research. John Z. Ayanian, M.D., M.P.P., Alice Hamilton Professor of Medicine and director of the Institute of Healthcare and Innovation at the University of Michigan, discussed advancing health equity through Medicaid expansion. Watch the event on NIH Videocast.

How the Filipino Community Is Fighting Medical Invisibility

Photo of female Asian patient lying down in hospital bed and speaking with health care provider

A recent article in the HuffPost discussed improving Filipino participation in medical research. Anna María Nápoles, Ph.D., M.P.H., Scientific Director of the NIMHD Division of Intramural Research, shared important insights into existing Filipino American health disparities and cultural barriers to consider in increasing visibility of their health issues. Read the article.

Panel: Equity in Health and Healthcare: Considerations of Race/Ethnicity in Precision Medicine

Group photo of panelists

On January 23, NIMHD Program Officer Nishadi Rajapakse, Ph.D., M.H.S., chaired the inaugural workshop on health disparities and precision medicine at a recent keystone meeting, “Beyond a Million Genomes: From Discovery to Precision Health,” in Breckenridge, Colorado. Panelists included Stephanie Devaney, Ph.D., chief operating officer of the All of Us Research Program; Melinda C. Aldrich, Ph.D., M.P.H., and Digna R. Velez Edwards, Ph.D., M.S., lead investigators from Vanderbilt University Medical Center; and Stanford University School of Medicine Professor and Chair Michael P. Snyder, Ph.D. The workshop included discussions on the current and historical implementation of precision medicine (pharmacogenomics, genomics, and environmental/behavioral factors), ethical and policy considerations in utilizing race/ethnicity in clinical care, and the future direction of precision medicine. Results of the workshop included recommendations and a vision of how precision medicine can be implemented in diverse populations. The workshop was supported in part by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. View the conference program.

2020 DEBUT Challenge Is Accepting Applications

DEBUT logo

NIMHD is partnering with the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) on NIBIB's Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams (DEBUT) challenge in 2020. DEBUT is a biomedical engineering design competition open to teams of undergraduate students working on projects that develop innovative solutions to unmet health and clinical problems. The submission deadline is June 1, 2020. Learn more.

On the Blog

A Lesson From Alice and the Cheshire Cat in Health Disparities Wonderland  

Dr. Yukiko Asada

In this post, Yukiko Asada, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology and faculty of medicine at Dalhousie University, uses a conversation between Alice and the Cheshire Cat as a metaphor for the science of measurement of health disparities. Dr. Asada discusses how the volume of health indicators necessitates separate, focused analysis to ascertain key patterns and trends of health disparities.  Read the blog post.

Funding Opportunities and Notices

  • Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Competitive and Administrative Supplements for the Impact of COVID-19 Outbreak on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NOT-MD-20-019)
  • Mechanisms and Consequences of Sleep Disparities in the U.S. (R01—Clinical Trial Not Allowed) 

  • NOSI: Health Services Research on Minority Health and Health Disparities (R01—Clinical Trial Optional) (NOT-MD-20-011

  • NOSI: Competitive Revisions for Firearms Injury and Mortality Prevention Research (NOT-OD-20-089

  • Firearm Injury and Mortality Prevention Research (R61—Clinical Trial Optional) 

  • NOSI: Administrative Supplements to Support Enhancement of Software Tools for Open Science (NOT-OD-20-073)

  • Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH) (S06—Clinical Trials Optional) 

  • Mechanisms of Disparities in Chronic Liver Diseases and Cancer (R01—Clinical Trial Not Allowed / R21—Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
  • Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) (U54 Clinical Trials Optional) and to Hold a Pre-Application Technical Assistance Webinar (NOT-MD-20-012)
  • Surgical Disparities Research (R01—Clinical Trial Optional)

Recent Staff Publications

Upcoming Events

May 12, 2020: NIMHD Advisory Council meeting (1:00–4:00 p.m. ET) by NIH VideoCast only

June 1, 2020: DEBUT Challenge submission deadline (11:59 p.m. ET)

September 2020 (Day TBD): NIH 2020 Inclusion Across the Lifespan (IAL-II) workshop