unique within NIH and has allowed approximately 20 institutions to create or expand their health disparities research and training opportunities in biomedical research. One outcome of the research endowment program is the creation of endowed chair programs in areas such as HIV/AIDS and cardiovascular disease at institutions serving minority populations.
NCMHD also initiated a community-based participatory research (CBPR) program that has brought the community into the research process as equal partners working with scientists and has introduced CBPR to the scientific community as a viable strategy to address health disparities. Ruffin noted that one common complaint from communities is that researchers conduct studies within the community until the funding runs out. When the funding ends, the researchers then leave the community and the community reaps little or no benefit from the research.
The CBPR program offers 11 years of sustainable funding through three phases. First is a 3-year planning phase, during which partnerships are created and a community needs assessment is conducted. Second is a 5-year research intervention phase; this is followed by a 3-year information dissemination phase. This final phase of funding includes research translation, information dissemination, and community outreach efforts. The ultimate goal of the program is to bring scientific research results back into the community.
One unique aspect of the CBPR program is that community-based organizations can now apply directly to NIH for funding. The United States currently has 40 CBPR programs, and 11 of those are led by community-based organizations rather than academic institutions.
Ruffin described NCMHD’s minority health and health disparities international research training program. By exposing students to hands-on research experience at sites in 50 countries, a talented pool of undergraduate and graduate students is trained to study health disparities in their careers. The international program is administered through 24 academic institutions.
Other new initiatives that Ruffin implemented include an investigator-initiated research grant program for research investigating the social determinants of health. Another recent initiative focused on dealing with faith-based issues. The element common to these new initiatives is that they arise from issues that the community believes need to be addressed by NIH.
The scientific potential for the reduction of health disparities exists, Ruffin said, and it is NIH’s responsibility to continue to increase support for intramural and extramural research programs focusing on the reduction of health disparities. For example, the NCMHD intramural program will focus on the linkage between the biological and non-biological determinants of health in populations in which health disparities exist. This will