NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

‘Partnering for Health Equity’

First Saunders-Watkins Workshop Focuses on Early-Stage Investigators

Participants gather for the workshop.
Participants gather for the NHLBI Center for Translation Research and Implementation Science’s first Saunders-Watkins Leadership Workshop on Health Inequities and Implementation Research.

Photo:  Rebecca Roper

NHLBI’s Center for Translation Research and Implementation Science recently hosted its first Saunders-Watkins Leadership Workshop on Health Inequities and Implementation Research, which focused on professional development for early-career researchers. The 2-day workshop brought together more than 50 junior faculty and postdoctoral fellows from across the United States.

The workshop’s theme, “Partnering for Health Equity,” aligned with priorities of the HHS Office of Minority Health and the 2018 theme for National Minority Health Month. Several agency partners participated, including representatives from the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Army.

Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, director, Equity Research and Innovation Center, Yale School of Medicine, chaired the workshop. In continuing efforts to stimulate the next generation of health-inequity researchers, the workshop primarily aimed to provide mentorship, share guidance and foster early-stage investigator career success in heart, lung, blood and sleep-related research.

In addition to interacting with prominent implementation research scholars, workshop participants enjoyed numerous opportunities to network with each other and NIH staff. Participants also delivered presentations, either oral or poster, highlighting their efforts in this field.

The workshop featured the 2nd annual Dr. Elijah Saunders and Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Memorial Lecture, which is named for two prominent cardiovascular specialists/visionaries who dedicated their lives to minimizing inequities in health.

Dr. Eliseo Pérez-Stable, director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, delivered the lecture. He made the point that scientific inquiry “allows researchers to understand present outcomes and reduce health disparities.”

During his welcome address, Dr. Gary Gibbons, director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, shared his commitment to excellence and reflected on the impact of the mentoring he received by both Saunders and Watkins. Additionally, he charged participants to “sow seeds into the next generation.”

The workshop also featured remarks by Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn of the FCC and NIH chief officer for scientific workforce diversity Dr. Hannah Valantine, who affirmed “diversity promotes creativity, innovation and collaboration.”

In closing, Nunez-Smith encouraged workshop attendees to honor the legacies of Saunders and Watkins and to “carry their charge, live into the legacy, strive to contribute high-quality, high-impact scholarship and achieve equity domestically and around the world.”

For more information about the workshop, email or Archived videos of previous lectures can be found at and

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