News Release

Monday, July 23, 2007

Award-Winning NIH Administrator Appointed Deputy Director at National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities

Joyce A. Hunter, Ph.D., a cardiovascular physiologist and award-winning administrator at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will serve as deputy director, National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD), NIH.

“Dr. Hunter’s long experience in managing research programs at the NIH make her perfectly suited to be my deputy and to direct the day-to-day operations of the NCMHD,” said Dr. John Ruffin, Director, NCMHD, NIH, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD. “Her hire marks a crucial step in fulfilling our mission to promote minority health and to foster, coordinate, support and assess the NIH effort to ultimately eliminate health disparities.

“I believe strongly in the NCMHD mission,” said Dr. Hunter. “I plan to draw upon the almost 18 years of experience I have participating in NIH extramural programs that fund research universities and medical schools to help the NCMHD realize its vision to ensure that all populations in America will have an equal opportunity to live long, healthy and productive lives.”

Hunter is a recognized expert on NIH extramural policies and has an extensive career in program and scientific review administration. Prior to joining the NCMHD, Hunter served as deputy director in the Division of Extramural Activities at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), where she coordinated scientific program policies that governed clinical research. She began her NIH career at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute where she steadily progressed from being a program officer to chief of the Vascular Research Training and Career Development Group, a scientific review administrator, and later, section chief of the Contracts, Clinical Studies and Training Scientific Review Section.

Throughout her NIH career, Hunter has served as a member or chair of many key extramural program management committees and workgroups, including the NIH Response to the Office for Human Research Protections for Tissue Specimen Coding, the development of the NIH-Veterans Affairs Memorandum of Understanding on Tissue Banking and the Human Subjects Protection Liaison Committee. Hunter gives presentations and conducts workshops several times a year on behalf of the Office of the Director, NIH, at regional, national and international meetings. Her achievements have earned her the highest awards at the NIH for leadership and service. She has on several occasions received the NIH Director’s Award, NIH Award of Merit and the NIDDK Merit Award. In addition, Hunter has received international recognition from the Bolivian-American Medical Society, Inc., for her work contributing to the development of minority scientists.

“Dr. Hunter is a great example of how people can grow professionally within the NIH,” said Dr. Ruffin. “I hope that hiring a person who has been able to move up the ranks from a program officer to a deputy director of an Institute/Center sends a positive message to the entire staff at the NIH.”

Hunter received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Dillard University in New Orleans, LA. While attending Dillard, she participated in the National Institute of General Medical Sciences-sponsored Minority Biomedical Support Program. Hunter received her doctorate in physiology from Howard University, Washington, D.C. As a pre-doctoral trainee on a National Research Service Award Institutional Training Grant she received specialty training in Cardiovascular (Cardiac Mechanics) Physiology. She was also an American Physiological Society Porter Fellow. Her research focused on the relationship between myocardial wall stress and structure/function changes associated with left ventricular hypertrophy resulting from induced renovascular hypertension.

“Hypertension is prevalent in my family. Growing up, everybody — aunts, cousins — everybody had high blood pressure,” says Hunter. “My brother, an athlete, was diagnosed with hypertension and started medication at the age of 22. So, as a child I was fascinated with the disease and wanted to find a cure for hypertension, which is running rampant in many minority communities. These experiences have driven my career path, guiding my academic work in cardiovascular disease and my administrative work in eliminating health disparities.”

The NCMHD ( is a component of the NIH. The NCMHD promotes minority health and leads, coordinates, supports and assesses the NIH effort to eliminate health disparities. The NCMHD programs focus on expanding the nation’s ability to conduct research and to build a diverse, culturally-competent research workforce to eliminate health disparities.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®