Skip to main content

Office of Special Populations update: Online disparities research framework and other news

Carl V. Hill
Carl V. HILL,
Director, Office of Special Populations,
Office of the Director (OD)
.

The NIA recently created an online version of our Health Disparities Research Framework to showcase priorities and investments in this important aging research area. We hope that this site will serve as a resource for scientists interested in investigating health disparities related to aging. Please visit the page and take a look at the Framework’s interactive format.

The Framework outlines four key domains related to disparities research—environmental, sociocultural, behavioral, and biological—with priority focus areas in each domain. As we continue to address the issue of disparities among older minority populations, the Framework will serve to help us assess which areas are most in need of additional research resources.

Recent Awards in Disparities Research

In 2015, the NIA used the Framework to guide the development of a funding opportunity announcement (FOA), “RFA-AG-16-022: Aging Research on Stress and Resilience to Address Health Disparities in the United States (R01).” This FOA was designed to stimulate interdisciplinary research on health disparities with a focus on stress and resilience along the life course. You can see a list of awards for studies in response to the FOA on NIH’s RePORTER site. Go to “Project Details,” and enter the number of the FOA in the “FOA” box on the right-hand side of the page. Funded projects included an analysis of stress and the cardiovascular system, an assessment of health disparities in osteoarthritis, and the role of stress in longevity for African American families.

Colleagues in NIA’s Division of Neuroscience used the Framework to develop “PAR-15-349: Health Disparities and Alzheimer’s Disease (R01)” and “PAR-15-350: Emerging Directions for Addressing Health Disparities in Alzheimer’s Disease (R03),” which were released last fall. Both FOAs invited research applications addressing the full spectrum of Alzheimer’s in diverse communities—from increasing study enrollment of underrepresented populations, to clinical manifestations and trajectories of cognitive decline, to the challenges faced by informal and family caregivers from diverse racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. In 2016, NIA made eight awards. Funded awards included an analysis of how geography and environment influence Alzheimer’s disease, a longitudinal analysis of Alzheimer’s among African Americans in midlife, and an assessment of health disparities among caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s.

The next application due date for the R01 Alzheimer’s opportunity is February 5, 2017; Applications for the R03 Alzheimer’s opportunity are due on February 16, 2017. If you’re interested, start writing now!

NIA also continued its administrative supplement program, “PA-16-225: Aging Research to Address Health Disparities,” which seeks research applications that link to an existing NIA parent grant. In 2016, we made four awards, which can be found, again, on the RePORTER site. These ranged from research to examine the role of social relations and networks on aging to an investigation of medication literacy among older adults with asthma.

Recent and Upcoming Meetings

Meetings and workshops also highlight priorities and projects in research on health disparities and special populations. Earlier this month, senior NIA staff visited Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta to speak with aging researchers from academic institutions throughout the southeast region. Just this week, we highlighted activities of our Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research (RCMAR) scholars during the 2016 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting. Four RCMAR researchers presented their work during an illuminating panel session.

Looking ahead, if you’re planning to attend the 2016 Gerontological Society of America’s Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans later this month, I invite you to stop by an important session. We hope you’ll attend “Health Disparities Research with the NIA,” on Thursday, November 17, from 8:30–10:00 a.m. The session will include representatives from each of our program divisions to discuss health disparities research opportunities. I hope you’ll join us to hear about NIA research and training opportunities!

Diversity Funding Opportunities