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NIH acting director Dr. Ruth Kirschstein welcomed members of the Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology (CAWMSET), which held part of its Dec. 6-8 meeting on NIH's Bethesda campus. Established by Congress in October 1998, CAWMSET's charge is to research and recommend ways to improve the recruitment, retention and representation of women, minorities and persons with disabilities in science, engineering and technology education and employment.

CAWMSET Chair Elaine Mendoza (l) and NIH acting director Dr. Ruth Kirschstein open a morning session.

Noting the involvement in and financial support of the commission's work by NIH's Office of Research on Women's Health and Office of Research on Minority Health, Kirschstein said, "NIH is devoted to the activities that this commission represents." She also mentioned briefly a concern that NIH has been grappling with for several years: finding ways to address and improve health disparities among the nation's minority populations. "There is no question that the health of the minority populations is far poorer than the health of the majority population," she said. NIH is determined to help close the gaps in health status, she concluded.

Kirschstein addresses the commission as CAWMSET vice chair Dr. Kathryn Johnson looks on.

"Since day one, NIH has supported our work," remarked CAWMSET Chair Elaine Mendoza, president/CEO of Conceptual Mindworks, Inc., in San Antonio, Tex.

At the 3-day event, commissioners discussed affirmative action and diversity within the sciences, heard presentations from communications firms on strategies to reach the public as well as special populations, and developed its draft report to Congress.

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