NIH Announcement: Sexual and Gender Minorities Formally Designated as a Health Disparity Population for Research Purposes
Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D., Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) recently announced that sexual and gender minorities (SGMs) have been formally designated as a health disparity population for NIH research. As defined in the message from Dr. Pérez-Stable, "the term SGM encompasses lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations, as well as those whose sexual orientation, gender identity and expressions, or reproductive development varies from traditional, societal, cultural, or physiological norms."
On the nih.gov website:
"The Women of Color (WOC) Committee of the NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers recognizes that women of color may face unique challenges to entering and advancing in biomedical careers...The WoCRn was created to provide women of color and supporters of their advancement in the biomedical sciences information about the NIH grants process, advice on career development, and a venue or forum for networking and sharing information."
The Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Related Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12 – United States and Selected Sites, 2015. This report can be found on the YRBS website at www.cdc.gov/yrbs.
The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) monitors six types of health-risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth and adults, including:
The February 2016 issue of ASBMB TODAY, the member magazine of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is devoted to issues concerning diversity and inclusion. The magazine contains an editorial and message from the ASBMB president. In addition, Hannah Valentine, MD, the chief officer for scientific workforce diversity at the National Institutes of Health, is interviewed. The magazine highlights viewpoints from many contributors emphasizing the need of societies and institutions to improve their efforts to increase diversity in the sciences.
The Keystone Symposia Fellows Program
The Keystone Symposia Fellows Program graduated its inaugural class in June 2009. This highly unique, research-driven, diversity-centered program educates early-career scientists regarding the inner workings of the life sciences community and provides a venue for high-level interaction with established and leading scientists nationally and globally. The Fellows Program provides context, understanding and insight regarding the development of high-powered research meetings, utilizing shadowing experiences with scientist organizers and key Keystone Symposia staff members. These experiences allow for learning how the research agenda is set, how to engage in high-level discourse on research topics and how to broaden perspectives in life science research.
The February 2016 issue of ASBMB Today, the monthly newsletter of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, has a special section devoted to: Diversity & Inclusion Matters
Topics discussed include:
From NIH Common Fund website:
"As one component of a broad, trans-NIH strategy to address the need to promote diversity in the biomedical research workforce, the Common Fund has established the “Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce” program. This program is a national collaborative through which the Diversity Program Consortium, in partnership with the NIH, will develop, implement, and evaluate innovative approaches to research training and mentoring, with the goal of engaging individuals from diverse backgrounds and helping them prepare for and succeed in biomedical research careers. It provides the opportunity for transformation of the biomedical research workforce through institution-wide and eventually nationwide implementation of successful training and mentoring strategies. The long-term goal is to enhance the NIH mission through a more diverse and robust workforce, attracting talented individuals from all population sectors."
You do the research. NIH will repay your student loans. That is the idea behind the National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs).
NIH wants to encourage outstanding health professionals to pursue careers in biomedical, behavioral, social, and clinical research. If you commit at least two years to conducting qualified research funded by a domestic nonprofit organization or U.S. federal, state, or local government entity, NIH may repay up to $35,000 of your qualified student loan debt per year, including most undergraduate, graduate, and medical school loans. Loan repayment benefits are in addition to the institutional salary you receive for your research.
If you are or will be conducting qualified research funded by a domestic nonprofit institution outside NIH, you may be eligible for one of the five extramural LRPs:
In her recent "Conversations in Equity" blog posting entitled "Water Wellness", Leandris C. Liburd, PhD, MPH, MA, Associate Director for Minority Health and Health Equity, CDC/ATSDR and the Office of Minority Health & Health Equity (OMHHE), addresses the issue of obesity, specifically some cultural perspectives on obesity. She is "intrigued by the social and cultural meanings ascribed to body size and shape. These meanings vary by race and ethnicity, social class, religion, country of birth, whether you live in the North, South or on the West coast of the U.S., and a host of other factors." Dr. Libur also adds her own observations on the variety of exercise habits seen at her local gym; the types of exercise performed seems to vary by gender, age, and body form.
She notes that the prevalence of obesity has increased among men between 1999-2002 and 2007-2010 (CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report (2013)). She cites statistics illustrating the disparity in healthy weights among different racial groups "for obesity grade 3, 12.1% of non-Hispanic blacks aged 20 years and older were in this category compared to 5.6% of non-Hispanic whites, 0.9% of non-Hispanic Asians, and 5.8% of Hispanic persons in this age range." In concluding her post, she raises several questions concerning healthy weights for male individuals:
These comments serve to highlight the need for considering population diversity (culture, race and ethnicity, social class, etc.) in developing programs to address obesity.
On the Scientific American Blog, Kenneth (Kenny) Gibbs, Jr., PhD, a Cancer Prevention Fellow at the NCI, published a commentary entitled: Diversity in STEM: What It Is and Why It Matters. In his post, he lists three features as to why diversity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is important:
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