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For Immediate Release: Friday, January 14, 2011

NIMHD names first African-American scientific director at NIH

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) announced today the appointment of William G. Coleman, Jr., Ph.D., as the NIMHD’s first permanent scientific director and the first African-American scientific director in the history of the NIH Intramural Research Program. The appointment follows an extensive national search. Dr. Coleman is one of 23 scientific directors at the NIH.

Dr. Coleman has had a long career as a scientist in the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Intramural Research Program and has held a number of positions within NIDDK including research microbiologist, staff fellow and senior investigator. Dr. Coleman’s research spans the realms of basic research and health disparities. His recent research emphasis has been on H pylori pathogenesis. H pylori infection is associated with several clinical pathologies including gastritis, ulcers and gastric cancers. About 10 percent of the U.S. population develops peptic ulcer disease during their lifetime, of which 90 percent of cases are related to H pylori infection. In the U.S. population, infection is much more common among Mexican Americans (62 percent) and non-Hispanic blacks (53 percent) than non-Hispanic whites (26 percent). Non Hispanic blacks are also more likely to be infected with virulent H pylori strains.

"Dr. Coleman brings a wealth of knowledge and notable scientific contributions to meet the challenges of an evolving health disparities environment. His extensive research repertoire and reputation within the science community will make him a great addition to the NIMHD team. Dr. Coleman’s appointment exemplifies one of the major objectives that we seek to achieve through the NIMHD intramural research program, and that is to add to the diversity of individuals and research disciplines in the NIH intramural program," said John Ruffin, Ph.D., NIMHD director.

As scientific director, Dr. Coleman will direct the overall portfolio of trans-disciplinary research conducted by the NIMHD through its newly established Health Disparities Intramural Research Program. The goals of the intramural program are to:

  • Conduct state-of-the-art research focusing on the linkage between biological and non-biological determinants of health in health disparity populations
  • Create training and mentorship opportunities to increase the number of intramural researchers focusing on health disparities research including those from health disparity populations
  • Contribute to a pool of early stage and experienced investigators that would enhance the diversity of the NIH Intramural Research Program in terms of scientists and research disciplines
  • Utilize its successful Centers of Excellence and Community Based Participatory Research Program models to expand health disparities intramural research into urban and rural health disparities communities in order to respond to urgent public health needs, examine high-risk/high impact research opportunities, and establish collaborations for long-term complex research efforts

Prior to joining NIH, Dr. Coleman served as a lecturer at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind. and biology teacher in Atlanta. He brings over 45 years of experience to NIMHD. Dr. Coleman received his doctorate from Purdue University. He holds a master’s degree from Atlanta University and a bachelor’s degree from Talladega College in Talladega, Ala. He has written nearly 30 journals and publications. In 2005, Dr. Coleman received the Dr. Philip J. Browning Scientific Pioneer Award.

NIMHD is a part of the NIH that promotes minority health, conducts and supports research, training, research infrastructure, fosters emerging programs, disseminates information, and reaches out to minority and other health disparity communities. For more information on the NIMHD, see http://www.nimhd.nih.gov.

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 www.nih.gov.

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This page last reviewed on December 4, 2013

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