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NCMHD logo   National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities
Mission | Important Events | Director


The mission of the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD) is to lead, coordinate, support, and assess the NIH effort to reduce and ultimately eliminate health disparities. In this effort, NCMHD will conduct and support basic, clinical and behavioral research, emerging programs, training,and information dissemination aimed at reducing the disproportionately high incidence and prevalence of disease, burden of illness, and mortality experienced by American populations who suffer from health disparities, including racial and ethnic minorities and other groups, such as the urban and rural poor.

Important Events in NCMHD History

1990 – The Office of Research on Minority Health (ORMH) was established, with the encouragement of Congress, by the Director, National Institutes of Health (NIH).

1991 – The ORMH convened an advisory Fact-Finding Team (FFT) to conduct three regional conferences with grassroots constituencies. The FFT issued a report with 13 recommendations from the community that guided the initial efforts of the ORMH.

1992 – The Minority Health Initiative (MHI), the centerpiece of the ORMH agenda, was launched and initially funded at $45 million. This multi-year biomedical and behavioral research and research training program co-funds through its partnerships 1) interventions to improve prenatal health and reduce infant mortality; 2) studies of childhood and adolescent lead poisoning; HIV infection and AIDS; and alcohol and drug use; 3) research in adult populations focused on cancer, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, mental disorders, asthma, visual impairments, and alcohol abuse; and 4) training for faculty and for students at the precollege, undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral levels of instruction.

1992 – The ORMH initiated a study designed to present an overview of NIH extramural research training programs for minority students and to assess the feasibility of conducting a trans-NIH assessment of these programs.

1993 – Public Law 103-43, the Health Revitalization Act of 1993, established the Office of Research on Minority Health in the Office of the Director, NIH.

1994 – The National Conference on Minority Health Research and Research Training was held in Chicago.

1996 – Conferences were held in Honolulu, Hawaii; Miami, Florida; and Puerto Rico to inform ORMH constituencies of the progress made, to solicit feedback on those achievements, and to obtain information on the needs of minority populations.

1997 – The Advisory Committee on Research on Minority Health was established to provide advice to the Director, ORMH, and to the Director, NIH, regarding research and research training with respect to minority health issues.

1998 – The first meeting of the Advisory Committee on Minority Health was held.

2000 – The ORMH celebrated its 10th anniversary.

2000 – The National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities was established by the passage of the Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act of 2000, Public Law 106-525, which was signed by the President of the United States on November 22, 2000.

2001 – Dr. John Ruffin was sworn in as the first director of the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

Biographical Sketch of NCMHD Director John Ruffin, Ph.D.

Dr. John Ruffin was appointed the first Director of the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on January 9, 2001. In this role he leads a national program of biomedical research, training and dissemination of information on health conditions disproportionately affecting racial and ethnic minorities and other medically underserved populations. Dr. Ruffin is the former director of the NIH Office of Research on Minority Health, NIH. A native of New Orleans, Lousiana, Dr. Ruffin received his Baccalaureate degree from Dillard University and a Master's degree from Atlanta University. He earned a Ph.D. at Kansas State University in systematic and developmental biology and then pursued postdoctoral studies at Harvard University.

Dr. Ruffin's professional life has been devoted to improving the health status of minority populations in the United States and to developing and supporting education programs for minority researchers and health care practitioners. Prior to joining the NIH, he was Dean of the College of Arts and Science at North Carolina Central University.

Dr. Ruffin's life-long commitment to academic excellence and promotion of numerous partnerships with government, private industry, and academic institutions to support minority health research and research training have earned him much recognition. He has received the Samuel L. Kountz Award (1997) for his significant contribution to the cause of increasing access and participation in organ and tissue transplantation in minorities, the NIH Director's Award, the National Hispanic Leadership Award, the Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society Award, the National Medical Association Award of Appreciation, a Special Recognition Award by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and most recently the Presidential Merit Award.

This page was last reviewed on June 30, 2005 .

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