Director: Patricia Jones, DrPH, MPH, MS, MBA
Scientific research on understanding and reducing health disparities and inequities is essential. NIA continues to play a crucial role in supporting research that establishes the science base to advance knowledge in redressing differences and inequities by gaining better understanding of the social determinants of health and how they affect outcomes. The Office of Special Populations, within the Office of the Director, works across NIA Divisions and the Intramural Research Program to support and strengthen our mission in understanding and redressing health disparities for older women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in aging research. In partnership with NIA Divisions and NIH Offices, the Office of Special Populations administers an array of programs and activities to support career development and training for the biomedical workforce of the future, including the prestigious Butler-Williams Scholars Program (formerly the Summer Institute on Aging Research) and annual Technical Assistance Workshops dedicated to introducing new investigators to the grants process. OSP also takes part in the NIA Director’s Regional Meetings to further promote training and career development funding opportunities in underserved areas of the country.
The NIA Health Disparities Research Framework outlines four key levels of analysis related to disparities research–environmental, sociocultural, behavioral, and biological—with priority focus areas in each level. As we continue to address the issue of disparities among older minority populations, the Framework will help assess which areas are most in need of additional research resources.
NIA strongly supports UNITE, NIH’s initiative to end structural racism and racial inequalities in biomedical and behavioral research. NIA has long focused on health disparities and the systems such as structural racism that perpetuate them, and in training a diverse scientific workforce to address these issues as part of overall efforts in advancing aging research.