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Vol. LIX, No. 12
June 15, 2007
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NCMHD Impresses Public Advisory Council

  NCMHD director Dr. John Ruffin (second from r) confers with members of the NIH director's Council of Public Representatives at its spring meeting.  
  NCMHD director Dr. John Ruffin (second from r) confers with members of the NIH director's Council of Public Representatives at its spring meeting.  
The National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities recently had its first encounter with COPR-the NIH director's council of public representatives. Dr. John Ruffin, director of NCMHD, led a team of center officials and grantees as they reported on research the center has fostered to improve the health of minority populations and eliminate health disparities.

COPR member James Wendorf, executive director of the National Center for Learning Disabilities, said, "You've addressed issues that are central concerns to COPR. Your issues are in many respects our issues, not just now but going forward."

"In one sense, the meeting was like talking with family," said Ruffin. Breaking from traditional practice at COPR meetings, he had investigators themselves describe their research programs instead of the NCMHD officials who oversee them.

The center brought in scientists from Pennsylvania, Montana, Iowa and Texas to report on projects that varied from the efficacy of delivering health care to men at barber shops to a multi-state intervention program that addresses the number one health burden among American Indian children-tooth decay.

Dr. Joe Coulter of the University of Iowa shocked COPR members when he reported, "While more than half of the children in the U.S. have no tooth decay in their early years, by contrast, in many Indian communities, including communities that have water system fluoridation, between one-fourth and one-half of all children have decay and must have their teeth pulled or repaired in an operating room under general anesthesia."

Ruffin told the group that the battle to close the health disparity gap has not been won, "but I tell you today that there is hope." - NIH Record Icon

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