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Developing the Inaugural NIDDK Health Disparities and Health Equity Research Implementation Plan

In January 2021, the Advisory Council of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), established a Health Disparities and Health Equity Working Group in response to NIDDK’s three-part Council Forum on Underrepresented Investigators and Science.

Working Group Goal

The goal of the Working Group is to identify a range of research opportunities and actionable recommendations addressing high-priority NIDDK research needs on health disparities and health equity. In addition, the Working Group will identify opportunities for strategically implementing the recommendations with goals that NIDDK could pursue to eliminate health disparities and advance health equity research within NIDDK’s mission. The recommendations and opportunities will be compiled into an Implementation Plan to advance NIDDK health disparities and health equity research.

Background

NIDDK funds research on some of the most common conditions that disproportionately affect groups or communities that have been historically marginalized or experience contemporary forms of discrimination or oppression. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected these communities most severely, has heightened awareness of the devastating consequences of health disparities and the compelling need for more research to accelerate the elimination of disparities and promote health equity for all. Health equity and the reduction of health disparities are also important cross-cutting aspects of the NIDDK Strategic Plan for Research, published in December 2021. The Implementation Plan will complement the Strategic Plan by elaborating on specific research needs and opportunities NIDDK could pursue to enhance the Institutes’ health equity research portfolio.

Working Group Organization and Subgroup Goals

The Working Group comprises external researchers from across the country with expertise in interdisciplinary research fields related to health disparities and health equity, community members with diverse perspectives and valuable, lived experiences to inform our efforts, and NIDDK staff.

The Working Group is divided into five subgroups and each subgroup has defined goals: 

Subgroup 1. Engaging communities and building sustainable partnerships

  • Identify effective engagement strategies to enhance participation in all phases of research (from idea conception through award close) by communities that experience disproportionately worse health outcomes
  • Propose strategies to create and sustain partnerships for research
  • Identify strategies for developing community-driven research priorities

Subgroup 2. Understanding social determinants of health (SDoH) effects on the biology of health and disease

  • Identify biological factors affected by SDoH
  • Examine how these factors contribute to disease development, severity, and long-term outcomes
  • Identify biological consequences of intergenerational stressors and their long-term impact on health and risk of disease
  • Identify promising intervention targets for prevention and treatment

Subgroup 3. Identifying interventions to address SDoH effects, eliminate disparities, and improve health

  • Identify interventions that help people overcome adverse SDoH to improve health
  • Meet individuals “where they live, work, play, learn, and pray” to understand strengths, resources, and challenges in their environments
  • Examine healthcare and community-based supports that will improve equitable access to health promoting services and care

Subgroup 4. Addressing upstream causes of SDoH and health disparities from an NIDDK perspective

  • Identify ways to understand/address systemic barriers to improve a community’s social environment and advance health equity
  • Identify cross-Federal or public-private-academic partnership opportunities to test natural experiments or participate in pilot demonstration projects to inform policy and healthcare practice

Subgroup 5. Listening to community perspectives

  • Gather input from people living with and at risk of NIDDK mission diseases including
    • perspectives about health and healthcare experiences;
    • research needs, values, and priorities;
    • community strengths and living conditions that promote or hinder achieving optimal health; and
    • collaborations and partnerships needed

Working Group and Subgroup Membership

Executive leadership for the Working Group is provided by Dr. Gregory Germino, NIDDK deputy director; and Dr. Pamela Thornton, senior advisor for NIDDK workforce diversity and health equity; and Reaya Reuss, executive secretary.

A Steering Committee will provide

  • Coordination and facilitation of the Working Group’s activities and its final report to Council
  • Input toward establishing
    • a set of core values and guiding principles for NIDDK’s health equity research efforts,
    • a definition of health equity research in the context of NIDDK’s mission.

The Steering Committee includes the external co-chair and a community expert representative from each subgroup, the NIDDK staff co-chair from each subgroup, as well as NIDDK executive leadership, including the executive secretary.

Subgroup members are listed below.

  • BOLD indicates Steering Committee member
  • Asterisk (*) indicates NIDDK Advisory Council member

Chairs

Giselle Corbie, M.D., M.Sc. (external)
Robert Rivers, Ph.D., OMHRC (NIDDK)

External Members

Arleen Brown, M.D., Ph.D.
Lilia Cervantes, M.D.
Anayancys Gonzalez
Jeni Hebert-Beirne, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Charles Howell, M.D.
LaShawn McIver, M.D., M.P.H.
Stephania Miller-Hughes, Ph.D., M.S., M.S.C.I.
Gita Rampersad, J.D., M.H.A.
Lisa Reid
Dale Rogers

NIDDK Members

Sandeep Dayal, Ph.D., OSPPA
Peter J. Kozel, Ph.D., DEA/RB
Saira A. Mehmood, Ph.D., AAAS STPF Fellow, DEM
Lisa Spain, Ph.D., DEM

Chairs

John Carethers, M.D.* (external)
Jenna Norton, Ph.D., M.P.H., KUH (NIDDK)

External Members

Dawn Edwards*
Sherita Hill Golden, M.D., M.H.S.
Penny Gordon-Larsen, Ph.D.*
Venkat Narayan, M.D., M.Sc., M.B.A.
Keith Norris, M.D., Ph.D.*
Neil Powe, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A.

NIDDK Members

Miranda Broadney, M.D., DEM
John F. Connaughton, Ph.D., DEA/RB
Paul L. Kimmel, M.D., M.A.C.P., KUH
Peter Perrin, Ph.D., DDN
Julie A. Wallace, Ph.D., OSPPA
Norann Zaghloul, Ph.D., DEM

Chairs

Debra Haire-Joshu, Ph.D., R.N., M.S., M.A.* (external)
Mary Evans, Ph.D., DDN (NIDDK)

External Members

Alyce Sophia Adams, Ph.D., M.P.P.
Deidra Crews, M.D.
Michele Heisler, M.D., M.P.A.
Spero Manson, Ph.D.
Monica Ruiz, M.A.
Melissa Simon, M.D., M.P.H.

NIDDK Members

Maria E. Davila-Bloom, Ph.D., DEA/RB
Lisa Gansheroff, Ph.D., OSPPA
Frank Hamilton, M.D., M.P.H., M.A.C.G., A.G.A.F., DDN
Barbara Linder, M.D., Ph.D., DEM

Chairs

Marshall Chin, M.D., M.P.H. (external)
Shavon Artis Dickerson, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., DEM (NIDDK)

External Members

Monica Baskin, Ph.D.
Ebony Boulware, M.D.
Ashlesha Datar, Ph.D.
Karen Hacker, M.D., M.P.H.
Keith Norris, M.D., Ph.D.*
Craig Pollack, M.D., M.H.S.
Xuan Tran

NIDDK Members

Michele L. Barnard, Ph.D., DEA/RB
Raquel Greer, M.D., M.H.S., KUH
Jean M. Lawrence, Sc.D., M.P.H., M.S.S.A., DEM
B. Tibor Roberts, Ph.D., OSPPA

Chairs

Arthur Johns (external)
Stavroula “Voula” K. Osganian, M.D., Sc.D., M.P.H., DDN (NIDDK)
Katrina Serrano, Ph.D., OMHRC (NIDDK)

External Members

Angela Adkins
William Cochran
Tamara Coe
Solai Demorest
Jennifer Jones
Nikki Massie
Carelton Nash
Briannali Rivera
David Rodriguez
Susana Sanchez
Jennifer Syphrett
Tiawana Thompson
Kerry Wiley
Patricia Williams

NIDDK Members

Xiaodu Guo, M.D., Ph.D., DEA/RB
Saira A. Mehmood, Ph.D., AAAS STPF Fellow, DEM
Ivonne Schulman, M.D., KUH
Lisa Gansheroff, Ph.D., OSPPA

Timelines

The Working Group will update the NIDDK Advisory Council regularly on its progress and anticipates submitting the draft Implementation Plan, including research needs and opportunities, at the January 2023 Advisory Council meeting.

December 15, 2021 Working Group Introductory/Kick-off Meeting
February 4, 2022 First Steering Committee Meeting
March-April 2022 First Subgroup Meetings
Summer 2022 (June-July) Second Subgroup Meetings
June 30, 2022 Second Steering Committee Meeting
Summer-Fall 2022 Drafting of the Implementation Plan
Fall 2022 Working Group review of draft Implementation Plan
Fall 2022 Final Meetings of the Steering Committee and Subgroup 5
December 2022 Planned Public Comment on Draft
January 25, 2023 Present Draft Plan to Advisory Council
Spring 2023 Publish Plan

Contacts

For questions about the Health Disparities and Health Equity Working Group, please email DKHDHEImplementation@nih.gov.