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  • Washington Highlights

    AAMC Submits Letter to NIMHD on Interdisciplinary Training in Health Disparities Science

    Philip Alberti, Senior Director, Health Equity Research and Policy
    Jodi (Lubetsky) Yellin, PhD, Director of Research Workforce, Training, and Science Policy

    AAMC submitted an Aug. 24 letter to the National Institutes on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) to help guide the development of predoctoral and postdoctoral interdisciplinary training and mentoring programs in health disparities science. The request for information was published on July 14, 2015.

    In its letter, the AAMC encourages the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and NIMHD to consider transdisciplinary approaches to health disparities science training whereby trainees develop a common conceptual framework that spans discipline-specific theories and methods. AAMC also recommends NIMHD work with training directors to determine the appropriate set of research skills and concepts that will be useful for future scholars.

    Health equity research benefits from a diverse biomedical research workforce. AAMC applauds NIH for creating initiatives with the intended goal of increasing the number of underrepresented minorities pursuing careers in the biomedical sciences. Initiatives such as National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN), Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD), and Coordinating and Evaluation Center (CEC) are aimed at encouraging individuals from diverse backgrounds to enter careers in biomedical research.

    The AAMC commends the NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education for creating programs that provide valuable resources and expand biomedical research opportunities for students of all ages. However, AAMC recommends NIH expand the eligibility of their current training programs to include social sciences and other areas of study in order to produce scholars from diverse backgrounds prepared to address health and health care inequities.

    Health disparities science is an interdisciplinary field that requires an understanding of the relationships between health, the environment, genetics, individual behavior, socioeconomic status, and legislative policies. Focused health equity research training programs are a critical part of addressing these complex, multi-system relationships, and to moving our nation further along the path toward health and health care equity. AAMC commends NIMHD’s efforts to develop programs that will produce the next generation of health disparities researchers.

    The comment response date has been extended to Sept. 8.