NIDDK Director's Update Winter 2020

Director's Note

screenshot from JAMA interview
NIDDK Director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers discusses results of his and NHLBI Director Dr. Garry H. Gibbons’ editorial with JAMA editor-in-chief

Among the many reminders 2020 brought is the critical need for inclusiveness and representation in medicine – both among the people we serve and people in the biomedical workforce.

Over the last nine months, we’ve seen how the COVID-19 pandemic has touched every community, striking minority and underrepresented groups particularly hard. These communities are also disproportionately affected by the some of the conditions in our mission, including chronic kidney disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

To improve the lives of everyone living with chronic conditions, and those affected by COVID-19, NIDDK continues to build on its long-standing priority to achieve health equity through diversifying representation in research studies, clinical trials, and the medical workforce.

You’ll see facets of our efforts throughout this issue.

For example, the NIDDK-supported Research in Academic Pediatrics Initiative in Diversity (RAPID) program, implemented by the Academic Pediatric Association, serves as a model to enhance career development among underrepresented minorities entering medicine. And Dr. Stephanie Chung from our Division of Intramural Research discusses her work as a physician researcher working with children and families and how to best support them as they learn to manage diabetes.

I recently spoke to members of Congress about NIDDK’s four-pillared approach to promoting health equity and the need to eliminate the disproportionate burden of chronic disease through research that addresses the causes of health disparities. You can read more about this in a recent review article, summarized in this issue, on how social determinants of health heavily affect diabetes outcomes, co-authored by NIDDK’s Dr. Pamela Thornton.

As we enter a new phase of the pandemic, with promising vaccines and treatments, it is critical to face the hard lessons we’ve learned about health disparities. Through our collective efforts to empower and embrace representation in research and health care, we can help create a healthier America for all.

In good health,

Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., M.A.C.P.
Director, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
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