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National Center for Research Resources (NCRR)

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Friday, October 31, 2003

Joyce McDonald, NCRR

Constance Burr, NIMH

NIH Grants Support Health Disparities Biomedical Research

The National Institutes of Health announced today the award of grants to three biomedical research institutions, totaling more than $35.9 million, to establish Comprehensive Centers on Health Disparities (CCHD). The funding will be provided over six years.

The location of the new centers and the first year's funding levels are: Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, $667,134; Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, California, $715,993; and the Puerto Rico consortium, $724,517. (The consortium consists of the three accredited medical schools in Puerto Rico: the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, the Universidad Central del Caribe School of Medicine, and the Ponce School of Medicine.)

"Our goal is to encourage innovative and effective research strategies that will ultimately reduce the burden of diseases that disproportionately affects minority populations," said Dr. Judith L. Vaitukaitis, M.D., director of NCRR. "Equally important will be the development of sustainable, effective and culturally appropriate prevention and intervention strategies for diseases that disproportionately affect the targeted minority populations."

The grants were awarded by the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), components of NIH. The grants will strengthen and augment the clinical research capabilities that are needed to define the causes of health disparities in the racial and ethnic populations served by the grantee institutions.

The objective of the CCHD initiative is to systematically address one or more of the health disparities that negatively impact racial and ethnic minority populations. The health disparities include a variety of cancers (breast, prostate and colorectal); diabetes mellitus; renal disease; infant mortality; AIDS; and cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases. NIMH research support focuses on the psychological impact of HIV/AIDS.

"A longer-term goal is for the CCHD institutions to prepare the next generation of biomedical investigators, especially from those populations that are under-represented in the biomedical sciences," said Dr. Vaitukaitis. "The intent of the funding is to support a vigorous and stimulating scholarly environment that will inspire students and research fellows to pursue careers that focus on health disparities."

Applications for the grants were sought from those institutions that participate in NCRR's Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Program, which provide support to enhance the competitive research capacity and infrastructure at minority colleges and universities that offer doctorates in the health and health-related sciences. Institutions eligible to apply for RCMI grants must have one or more under-represented minority groups that individually or collectively comprise 50 percent or greater of their student body. To be eligible to apply for a CCHD grant, the applicant institution also had to be affiliated with a medical school.

NCRR and NIMH are part of the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. NCRR is the nation's leading federal sponsor of resources that enable advances in many areas of biomedical research. NCRR support provides the scientific research community with access to a diverse array of biomedical research technologies, instrumentation, specialized basic and clinical research facilities, animal models, genetic stocks, and such biomaterials as cell lines, tissues, and organs.

The NIMH mission is to reduce the burden of mental illness and behavioral disorders through research on mind, brain, and behavior. The Institute conducts and supports research on mental disorders and the underlying basic science of brain and behavior. NIMH collects, analyzes and disseminates information on the causes, occurrence, and treatment of mental illnesses to achieve better understanding, treatment, and eventually, prevention of these disabling conditions that affect millions of Americans.

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