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NIH/SNMA Health Awareness Fair Draws Hundreds

Photos by Bill Branson and S. DeVonish

A health awareness fair hosted jointly by NIH and the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) drew more than 500 to NIH's campus on June 3. The fair capped a weekend of activities that represented the first outreach events in connection with NIH's effort to eliminate racial and ethnic health gaps. "Addressing Health Disparities: The NIH Program of Action," the agency's comprehensive and ambitious plan that was announced earlier this year, has six main goals — to recruit and train minority investigators; to advance community outreach activities; to form new and enhance current partnerships with minority and other organizations that have similar goals to close health gaps; to define, code, track, analyze and evaluate progress in ethnic and minority health research more uniformly across the agency; to enhance public awareness of health differences among populations; and the program's centerpiece, to develop a 5-year strategic research agenda.

On June 2, NIH welcomed more than 40 medical and dental school students to the Stone House for an all-day symposium that ended with lab tours and a visit by former Congressman Louis Stokes. The students heard presentations on the importance of minority participation in clinical and basic research and about recruitment tools such as the NIH loan repayment program.

On June 3, middle and high school minority students and their families from Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia were invited to the Natcher Conference Center, where health and fitness experts gave interactive presentations on a number of topics including fitness development and maintenance, youth violence prevention, substance abuse prevention programs as well as NIH-sponsored research and research training opportunities. This 2-day event was supported and planned by a committee with representation from each IC.

NIH acting director Dr. Ruth Kirschstein gives opening remarks at the fair, as the more than 40 medical and dental students from the SNMA line the stage.

NIAMS's Dr. Joan McGowan gives a sports medicine workshop.

Family Affair: Several entire families took part in the day-long fair that featured interactive workshops and exhibits.

Former Rep. Louis Stokes, who while in Congress pushed early and often for more funding for health disparities research, addresses the student symposium at the the Stone House.

Bradley Carthon, a Harvard medical student, and Patrick Hines, an M.D.-Ph.D. student at University of North Carolina, absorb symposium presentations.

NCI deputy director Dr. Alan Rabson greets Paul Berry, a student from Washington University School of Medicine, at a pre-event reception.

Planning Committee Chair Kay Johnson Graham (l), NIDCD/NINR EEO officer, confers with SNMA Chair Nia Banks, a medical student at Johns Hopkins, during the fair.

Dr. Arlyn Garcia-Perez, assistant director of NIH's Office of Intramural Research, leads a tour of NHLBI's Laboratory of Kidney and Electrolyte Metabolism.

An undisputed highlight of the fair for the youngsters was the chance to meet and get autographs from Adimu and Fran of cable TV station BET's Teen Summit. An episode of the show, featuring health topics such as smoking, nutrition and substance abuse, was taped to cap the day's activities.

Julie Nelson (l), director of the NIH Fitness Center, gives a kickboxing demonstration to several enthusiastic participants.

All the talk about physicial fitness, exercise and stretching inspires some participants to strike a pose.

Above and below, youngsters of all ages browse the multitude of health and health career information available at the fair.

Young people step up to the scale at the nutrition/healthy eating exhibit.

Patrick Hines (l) and Bradley Carthon, who helped organize the weekend's events, discuss their medical school careers.

Fair participants include (from l) Walter Jones, CC deputy director for management; Dr. Javette Orgain, National Medical Association president; Dr. Yvonne Maddox, NIH acting deputy director; Dr. Beverly Gaines, a pediatrician at the University of Kentucky; and Dr. David Levine, a pediatrician at Morehouse.

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