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NIH Record  
Vol. LXVI, No. 12
  June 6, 2014
 Features
Link Between Genomics, Theater Shown
Bike to Work Day Gets Drenched
Clinical Trials Partipicant Helps in Search For Parkinson’s Cure
Deisseroth To Give Nirenberg Lecture, June 11 in Masur Auditorium
August To Give WALS Lecture, June 10
NINR, ONS Co-Host Roundtable on Science of Caregiving
NIEHS Reflects: Four Years After Deepwater Horizon
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Disparity Definition Needs Tightening, Braveman Says

Dr. Paula Braveman gives lecture for National Minority Health Month.
Dr. Paula Braveman gives lecture for National Minority Health Month.
If the rich people in city A have higher rates of an illness than the rich people in city B, this qualifies, under current NIH criteria, as a health disparity.

Similarly, skiers have higher rates of bone breaks and fractures than non-skiers. “Does that fill you with moral outrage?” asked Dr. Paula Braveman, professor of family and community medicine and director of the Center on Social Disparities in Health at the University of California, San Francisco.

At her recent keynote talk marking National Minority Health Month, Braveman discussed the range of values informing the field of health disparities, a term coined in the 1990s. A student for more than 25 years of the social determinants of health, she called for a fresh consideration of what constitutes a health disparity, based on international human rights principles that have been endorsed (but not necessarily fulfilled) by nearly all nations.

Disparities, she argued, are health differences that are unfair in a particular way. As the ski example shows, not all health differences are unfair. Braveman favors a definition of disparity enunciated by British social scientist Dr. Margaret Whitehead, who says we ought to focus not just on any differences in health status among any groups, but on those that are “unfair, avoidable and unjust.”


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NIH Pavilion Draws Crowd at Science & Engineering Festival

A father shares a polyomavirus model with his son at NIH’s 3-D Print Exchange booth during USASEF.
A father shares a polyomavirus model with his son at NIH’s 3-D Print Exchange booth during USASEF.

NIH recently participated in the 3rd USA Science & Engineering Festival (USASEF) in Washington, D.C., the nation’s largest biennial celebration of science, technology, engineering and math. As a testament to President Obama’s initiative to graduate 1 million STEM students over the next decade, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution this year supporting the festival and designated the last week of April as National Science Week.

“A nation gets what it celebrates! As a culture, we celebrate movie stars, rock stars and athletes and we generate a lot of them…but we don’t celebrate science and engineering,” said Larry Bock, co-founder of USASEF. He added, “Strengthening the STEM educational foundation of our nation is vital to our future economy and the health, safety and well-being of America’s families.”


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