Community Health and Population Science

In this interest area, NIMHD supports research on interpersonal, family, neighborhood, community and societal-level mechanisms and pathways that influence disease risk, resilience, morbidity, and mortality in populations experiencing health disparities.

The scientific portfolio includes extramural grants, cooperative agreements and training awards related to the following topics:


Research to identify and understand patterns of disease risk factors, incidence, morbidity, and mortality for populations or health conditions that have not yet been adequately studied and potential disparities are not yet documented.

Epidemiological Research with Understudied Populations

Research on populations or subpopulations experiencing health disparities where patterns of disease risk, incidence, morbidity, or mortality are unknown or unclear because of under, insufficient, or lack of representation in existing data sources or scientific literature.

Epidemiological Research on Population Intersectionality

Research to understand the contribution of intersecting social statuses on patterns of disease risk, incidence, morbidity, and mortality for health disparity populations (e.g. racial/ethnic minorities living in rural vs. urban areas; sexual/gender minorities of lower vs. higher socioeconomic status) or subgroups within a health disparity population (e.g., racial/ethnic minorities with disabilities; older adults living in rural areas).

Epidemiology of Emerging Health Behaviors or Health Conditions in Health Disparity Populations

Research to understand population-level patterns related to new or emerging health behaviors (e.g., use of e-cigarettes or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), use of new dietary supplements or weight loss programs) or health conditions (e.g., fentanyl overdoses, Zika incidence in US Territories).

Program Contact: Dr. Priscah Mujuru

Research on how societal and structural factors influence population-level patterns of disease risk factors, incidence, morbidity, and mortality for health disparity populations.

Pathways and Mechanisms of Macro-Level Health Determinants on Population Health

Research to understand how interactions of social, cultural, environmental, and biological risk and protective factors produce population-level health outcomes.

Program Contact: Dr. Priscah Mujuru

Population-Level Health Trajectories and Intergenerational Transmission of Risk and Resilience

Research on how societal forces influence patterns of health disparities over the life course and across generations.

Program Contact: Dr. Nancy Jones

Health Impacts of Non-Healthcare Laws, Policies, and Public Health Initiatives

Research to examine the impact of policies, laws, and governmental programs at the local, state, national, or global level on health outcomes in health disparity populations. Includes evaluation of existing laws and programs as well as simulations of potential laws or programs.

Research on how local setting, community and social/interpersonal factors influence health.

Place-Based Influences on Health

Research on the impact of the convergence among the physical, built, and social environments on health behaviors and health outcomes; as well as bidirectional relationships between local context and health.

Program Contact: Dr. Nancy Jones

Sociocultural Influences on Health

Research on the mechanisms by which families, groups, and social networks influence health behaviors and health outcomes, including transmission of cultural beliefs, practices, and behaviors; social norms; social cohesion and social support; and social standing and stratification.

Program Contact: Dr. Nathan Stinson

Organizational Influences on Health

Research on how physical/built and sociocultural environments within organizations outside the healthcare sector, including schools, the workplace, criminal justice settings, and the foster care system, impact the health of individuals within those settings and their families and communities.

Program Contact: Dr. Priscah Mujuru

Research to develop and evaluate interventions delivered in community settings outside of the healthcare sector to improve the health of individuals, families, communities, and populations.

Community-Derived Interventions

Research on novel interventions that are developed by community-based organizations or service providers. Includes studies to develop and evaluate new interventions as well as research to evaluate interventions that have already been implemented in community settings.

Program Contact: Dr. Nathan Stinson

Multi-Level/Community-Wide Interventions

Research to develop and evaluate community-based interventions that target determinants at two or more levels (individual, family/interpersonal, community, societal) and/or that involve interventions delivered to entire communities.

Community-Based Intervention Adaptation Research

Research to develop and evaluate novel adaptations of evidence-based interventions (EBIs) for use with populations, settings, or health conditions beyond those for which the EBI has been developed and tested.

Community-Based Dissemination and Implementation Research

Research to understand barriers and facilitators to the adoption and implementation of evidence-based interventions (EBIs) in community settings, and to test different strategies to enhance successful implementation, feasibility, and sustainability of EBIs. Research can include observational or intervention research.

Page updated March 10, 2023