Minority Health and Health Disparities Research

NIH is committed to:

1. Improving minority health and reducing health disparities.

2. Removing the barriers to advancing health disparities research.

Health disparities are preventable differences in health status and outcomes that adversely affect certain populations. Research on health disparities examines the influence of environment, social determinants, and other underlying mechanisms leading to differences in health outcomes. This multidisciplinary field of science also seeks to identify evidence-based approaches to reduce the unequal burdens of morbidity and mortality among disparity populations defined as racial/ethnic minority, low socio-economic status, rural, and sexual and gender minority populations in the United States.

At NIH, every Institute and Center (IC) supports research into the causes of and potential interventions for health disparities within their mission. However, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) is the lead institute on research to improve minority health and reduce health disparities. NIH recognizes the need to increase the proportion of research on minority health and health disparities across the NIH ICs to address public health issues affecting all populations in the United States. Learn more about NIMHD’s efforts.


“Of the many factors that contribute to health disparities, structural racism lies at the center of many by perpetuating established social and health injustices.”

— Eliseo Pérez-Stable, M.D.,
Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities


To address long-standing health disparities and promote health equity, efforts under UNITE will seek to improve transparency, accountability, and sustainability in support for research on minority health and health disparities.

Concrete actions to achieve this goal include:

  • Foster NIH-wide initiatives to:
    • Support late-stage translation of multi-level, multi-factor interventions to reduce health disparities.
    • Test innovative approaches to address structural racism and eliminate health disparities.
  • Marshal adequate and measurable resources across NIH for scientific research that will produce significant reductions in health disparities and improve minority health.
  • Develop infrastructure to coordinate/track NIH-wide minority health and health disparities research 
  • Examine minority health and health disparities research portfolios with NIH-wide stakeholders to aggregate and generate summary recommendations for addressing research and funding gaps.
  • Review the scope of NIH intramural and extramural systems, methods, measures, and definitions used to track minority health and health disparity research to identify strengths and limitations of current systems and new models.
  • Conduct an analysis of current investments in minority health and health disparity research by intramural and extramural stakeholders.
  • Ensure a robust NIH enterprise-wide commitment to support the NIH Strategic Plan on Minority Health and Health Disparities focused on the effects of structural racism and discrimination on minority health and health disparities.
  • Support research on behavioral, biological, and social determinants of health and structural racism and discrimination.

This page last reviewed on August 25, 2022