About NIA

Health Disparities Strategic Plan: Fiscal Years 2009-2013

2.0: Areas of Emphasis in Research Capacity Building

2.1 Area of Emphasis One: Train and attract the diverse workforce of new, mid-career, and senior investigators necessary for research on aging and health disparities.

Reducing health disparities among older adults will require multiple fresh approaches including (1) increased local, regional, and national literacy in science and health, and (2) increased inclusion of minorities in the health and medical research professions. While it is clear that a researcher need not come from a minority or a disadvantaged background to contribute to the understanding and remediation of health disparities, it is reasonable to expect that such individuals as a group would possess particular motivation and persistence, as well as familiarity and insight into these problems. Therefore, effective recruiting efforts should tap into this talent pool and include a focus on bringing scientists from underrepresented groups into biomedical research (Slavkin, et al. 1999).

The availability of the infrastructure and resources needed to support present and future research, and program management, is critical to the NIA mission. NIA must provide resources to develop a skilled interdisciplinary research workforce and ensure that scientists have access to the technology and the equipment they need to perform the research. There are two objectives in this area:

2.1.1 Expand opportunities in research training and career development for, and provide research supplements to research investigators from, racial and ethnic minority and other health disparity populations.

2.1.2 Increase the number of researchers conducting health disparities research among older adults.

2.1.1 Objective One: Expand opportunities in research training and career development for, and provide research supplements to investigators from racial and ethnic minority, and other health disparity populations.

2.1.1.1 Action Plan

We will work to identify the best strategies for training and attracting a diverse workforce of new, mid-career, and senior investigators for research on aging. The Office of Special Populations, Office of the Director, coordinates initiatives aimed at increasing the quantity and quality of research on minority health as well as increasing the number of racial and ethnic group investigators involved in research on aging. This office in concert with the NIA Minority Working Group is the lead contact for numerous special population and health disparity population activities including Youth Initiatives, Professional Organizations Internship Programs, NIA Regional Meetings, Grants Technical Assistance Workshops, and outreach to minority and community organizations. For example, this Office plans, organizes, and directs NIA’s exemplary “Summer Institute on Aging Research.” This one-week training initiative is highly competitive and supports training experiences for scientists at the beginning stages of a research career in aging. Applicants from diverse backgrounds are highly recruited to participate in this initiative.

2.1.1.2 Performance Measures

  • Scientific sessions, posters and/or lectures highlighting exciting new research findings in minority health, health disparities and aging research.
  • Number of invitations to scientists from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges, and other health disparity populations to participate in NIA research training and career development opportunities.

2.1.1.3 Outcome Measures

  • Number of research supplements granted to scientists from racial/ethnic and other health disparity populations participating in aging research training and career development activities.
  • Number of posters and other scientific presentations from investigators in aging and addressing research on health disparities.
  • Quality and relevance of health disparities research resulting from NIA research and career development opportunities.

2.1.1.4 Projected Budget*

2010

$1,352,201

2011

$1,352,201

*No inflationary increases are provided for 2010 and 2011. The sum of all projected budgets will exceed the total sum expended on minority health and health disparities research and activities due to overlap among objectives.

2.1.2 Objective Two: Increase the number of researchers conducting research on health disparities among older adults.

2.1.2.1 Action Plan

NIA will investigate novel approaches for increasing representation and retention of minorities in research careers. We will continue programs to assemble a cadre of high quality researchers through flexible training mechanisms that reflect the rapidly changing needs of science and provide cross-disciplinary training. We will work to tap the talents of all groups of society by encouraging degree-granting institutions to establish and improve programs for identifying, recruiting, and training women and men – including minorities and individuals with disabilities – for careers in biomedical science.

Further, each year the availability of diversity supplement funding is announced to principal investigators. The emailed announcements total approximately 1,000 and should increase in future years.

2.1.2.2 Performance Measures

  • Quality and efficiency of novel approaches for increasing representation and retention of health disparity populations in aging research.
  • Increased numbers of announcements for diversity supplement funding.

2.1.2.3 Outcome Measures

  • Number of grants to participants from health disparity populations as an outcome of workshops and career development activities.
  • Percent increase in reported publications by racial/ethnic minority scientists and other health disparity group members participating in prior NIA training and development initiatives.
  • Number of research supplements made by NIA and the research results.

2.1.2.4 Projected Budget*

2010

$1,352,201

2011

$1,352,201

*No inflationary increases are provided for 2010 and 2011. The sum of all projected budgets will exceed the total sum expended on minority health and health disparities research and activities due to overlap among objectives.

2.2 Area of Emphasis Two: Increase the number of older adult participants in clinical studies, including trials, from racial and ethnic minority and other health disparity populations.

2.2.1 Develop strategies to increase inclusion of minorities and other health disparity populations in research.

2.2.2 Develop training programs to prepare culturally proficient service providers and researchers.

2.2.1 Objective One: Develop strategies to increase inclusion of minorities and other health disparity populations in research.

2.2.1.1 Action Plan

Over the decades, the NIA has supported resource tool development for inclusion, recruitment, and retention of participants in research while advancing basic to clinical sciences. The inclusion, recruitment, and retention of racial and ethnic minorities and other health disparity populations as research participants span the entire clinical research spectrum, from small observational studies to the larger Phase III clinical trials that enrolls thousands. Research capacity building and outreach publications provide advice on inclusion criteria, an overview of key elements in recruitment and retention, and a number of practical applications for conducting NIA funded human subjects’ research, including ethical considerations. The NIA will work with identified populations to appropriately describe research studies to include clinical trials, explain scientific designs in lay terms, and offer key facts and questions to consider about volunteering for research participation. Some of the resource tools supported by the NIA for recruitment and retention of subjects to clinical studies, and in particular, AD studies include: NIA Health Disparities (HD) Toolbox, NIA’s Health Disparities Resource Persons Network and the Alzheimer’s Disease Centers, the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study, the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center, and the Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research. Several of these resource strategies are described under other objectives in this area of emphasis.

2.2.1.2 Performance Measures

  • Number of strategies developed and tested.
  • Scientific publications that report on the progress and results of various strategies to increase inclusion.

2.2.1.3 Outcome Measures

  • Number of these strategies successfully implemented in the research community.
  • Number of new study participants added as a result of the new strategies.
  • Ascertaining that the benefits of science knowledge about healthy aging are accessible to minority and other healthy disparity populations.

2.2.1.4 Projected Budget*

2010

$1,352,201

2011

$1,352,201

*No inflationary increases are provided for 2010 and 2011. The sum of all projected budgets will exceed the total sum expended on minority health and health disparities research and activities due to overlap among objectives.

Objective Two: Develop training programs to prepare culturally proficient service providers and researchers.

2.2.2.1 Action Plan

As the United States becomes a more racially and ethnically diverse nation, health care systems and providers need to respond to patients’ varied perspectives, values, and behaviors about health and well-being. Failure to understand and manage social and cultural differences may have significant health consequences for minority and other health disparity populations in particular. The field of cultural competence has recently emerged as part of a strategy to reduce disparities in access to and quality of health care. Since this is an emerging field, efforts to define and implement the principles of cultural competence are still ongoing. The NIA will continue to work with its constituency to establish programs for minority and health disparity research leadership development and strengthening existing programs such as the Resource Centers on Minority Aging Research. The desired result is a core of research professionals who may assume influential positions in academia, government, and private industry. We will continue to hire and promote minorities and other health disparity population members in the geriatrics and gerontology workforce.

We will facilitate training of researchers in the biomedical, behavioral, and social sciences as well as service providers working with older adults to help them better understand the medical implications of the growing diversity of our population. These training programs will help prepare the next generation of our health workforce by incorporating new materials sensitive to these issues.

2.2.2.2 Performance Measures

  • Number of new training programs developed and tested.
  • Ongoing research efforts to assess changes in cultural competence of scientists in aging

2.2.2.3 Outcome Measures

  • Number of these training programs successfully implemented in the community.
  • Number of participants in the training.
  • Assessment of cultural competence in individuals working in aging research.
  • Core of culturally competent research professionals who may assume influential positions in academia, government, and private industry

2.2.2.4 Projected Budget*

2010

$1,352,201

2011

$1,352,201

*No inflationary increases are provided for 2010 and 2011. The sum of all projected budgets will exceed the total sum expended on minority health and health disparities research and activities due to overlap among objectives.