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Vol. LXVII, No. 1
January 2, 2015
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NIMHD Competitive Course Seeks to Define the Science of Health Disparities

NIMHD’s translational health disparities course arms scholars with data on health disparities, its determinants and the multifactorial nature of the field. The class of 2014 recently wrapped up its 2-week session.

NIMHD’s translational health disparities course arms scholars with data on health disparities, its determinants and the multifactorial nature of the field. The class of 2014 recently wrapped up its 2-week session.

“NIMHD developed this course to help further the scholar’s understanding of health disparities that exists nationally and globally,” said Dr. Irene Dankwa-Mullan, course director and acting deputy director, NIMHD Division of Extramural Scientific Programs. “The course provides critical science and policy perspectives to help participants to systematically address this prominent issue in their institutions and communities. The dynamic lectures, interactive case studies as well as interaction with NIH IC staff, promotes a unique scholarly experience that fosters commitment and collaboration.”

A highly selective group of experts and thought leaders informed scholars on current research, practice and policy efforts including solutions to advance the science. Ninety-four out of 340 applicants were chosen to participate.

“I see NIH as a change agent in defining and advancing the field of health disparities research,” said NIMHD acting director Dr. Yvonne Maddox. “As such, NIH must be a leader in building resources and capacity supporting academic development like fostering graduate programs in the science of health disparities, building curricula based on theories and supporting the development of the scientific workforce studying health disparities.”

The course began with Dr. Paula Braveman of the University of California, San Francisco, presenting the human rights perspective on health equity.

“Human rights principles give guidance on what’s fair,” said Braveman. “The right to achieve the highest possible standard of health is fair. The notion is that the government should progressively remove obstacles to fulfillment of rights of all, especially for those with more obstacles…It’s not charity; it’s about rights.”

Consisting of 12 modules, the course covered a number of theoretical frameworks for discussing health disparities research from policy, social and behavioral science and biological and genetic perspectives. It also focused on social determinants of health within several health disparity populations: African American; Asian American; American Indian and Alaska Native; Hispanic; rural, poor and medically underserved; Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander; early life, child health and the life course; and LGBTI and other sexual minorities.

“I really thought that the course could enhance what I’ve been learning over the past couple of years and also what I’ve been putting into practice with different cultural groups,” said scholar Dr. Jenelle Walker, NINR postdoctoral fellow at the College of Nursing and Health Innovation in Phoenix. “As I’ve been in the course, I’ve really gotten a stronger understanding—like a better foundation, better routing—of what health disparities research is. I really see how I can apply it and I’m really looking forward to applying it.”

The course is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education through joint sponsorship by NIMHD and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. For more information visit www.nimhd.nih.gov.


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