Strategic Plan Categories
Scientific research encompasses the continuum of research activities, from basic through applied research. Research is systematic study directed toward advancing scientific knowledge and/or gaining understanding of etiology and interventions to improve minority health and/or to reduce health disparities. This section also focuses on the need to strengthen and promote analytic methods that will enable a better understanding of the indicators and underlying causes of health disparities and facilitate ongoing monitoring.
Beyond conducting research, NIH also promotes the strengthening and expansion of structures that support research throughout the scientific process. NIH supports a variety of training programs, including those that work to promote diversity of the national biomedical workforce and those that work to increase the number of scientists studying minority health and health disparities. NIH also supports strengthening the national research capacity for minority health and health disparities research, capacity building for institutions that offer doctoral degrees in the health professions or the sciences related to health and have a historical and current commitment to educating underrepresented students, as well as programs to facilitate their inclusion in biomedical research. These activities are essential components of NIH’s minority health and health disparities research-sustaining activities.
- Biomedical Workforce Diversity
The overall composition of the biomedical workforce—not just individuals’ skills—plays a role in its effectiveness. The Notice of NIH’s Interest in Diversity (NOT-OD-20-031) states, “Research shows that diverse teams working together and capitalizing on innovative ideas and distinct perspectives outperform homogenous teams. Scientists and trainees from diverse backgrounds and life experiences bring different perspectives, creativity, and individual enterprise to address complex scientific problems. There are many benefits that flow from a diverse NIH-supported scientific workforce, including: fostering scientific innovation, enhancing global competitiveness, contributing to robust learning environments, improving the quality of the research, advancing the likelihood that underserved or health disparity populations participate in and benefit from health research, and enhancing public trust.”
- Minority Health and Health Disparities Scientific Workforce
As the sciences of minority health and health disparities become more complex, the need for scientists with expertise in minority health and health disparities issues and for collaboration in a multidisciplinary team must be addressed. Recruitment, training, and retention of investigators with state-of-the-art skill sets in minority health and health disparities science are essential, throughout all stages of career development.
- Research Capacity Building The fields of minority health and health disparities research are growing, requiring greater academic infrastructure. NIH continues to strengthen programs and initiatives aimed at building scientific infrastructure and capacity at academic institutions and other organizations to support research in minority health and health disparities. These activities will help to develop vibrant communities of researchers to move both fields forward.
Including Racial and Ethnic Minorities and SGM Populations in Clinical Research Involving Human
NIH is committed to ensuring that individuals who identify as racial and ethnic minorities, SGMs, and women are included in clinical research. This plan suggests additional actions intended to ensure that appropriate and meaningful representation occurs in NIH-funded research.
Identifying and addressing the barriers to inclusion of minorities (i.e., racial and ethnic and other HD populations, such as SGMs) in clinical research and developing tools to help researchers enhance minority recruitment should facilitate efforts to promote minority health and reduce health disparities. Furthermore, NIH-funded investigators need to be held accountable for proposed recruitment targets when launching research studies with human participants. Including minority populations in clinical studies and data sets is critical to ensure that people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds and other HD populations share in the benefits of new scientific discoveries.
Outreach, Collaboration, and Dissemination
NIH supports outreach, collaboration, and dissemination efforts that are needed to ensure that key MH and HD research findings are shared with the people and communities that need them. This plan focuses on expanding community outreach and enhancing dissemination efforts, as well as building community to enhance networks of MH and HD researchers and stakeholders across the nation and within NIH.
- Outreach and Dissemination
Promoting the capacity to translate research findings into recommendations to be implemented in clinical and public health practice is essential for reducing health disparities. NIH can support appropriate stewardship by considering factors related to dissemination of MH and HD research at every stage of the research process. These efforts are needed to ensure that evidence-based interventions become part of established, everyday practice and integrated into the public health process.
Community Engagement and Building
As part of the outreach and dissemination process, broadening and strengthening the community of minority health and health disparities stakeholders—including health disparity communities, researchers, clinicians, advocacy groups, government employees, and policy makers—expands the potential avenues for collaboration and progress toward evidence-based practice and policy. This plan offers strategies for engaging and enhancing MH and other HD communities at multiple levels to help support the research of both fields.
Leap Forward Research Challenge
Leap Forward priority areas are expected to have a significant impact on advancing the field of minority health and health disparities research over the next 10 to 15 years. NIH challenged itself and the research community to be bold and strive for transformational progress across the continuum of research in minority health and health disparities. Leap Forward priority areas represent aspirational activities that NIH hopes to embark upon to improve minority health or to reduce a health disparity in scientific research and in research-sustaining activities.
Page updated March 31, 2021