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NIH Awards $4.7 Million Grant for Project to Improve Minority Health, Health Disparities Research

Published: November 3, 2009

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a five-year, $4.7 million grant to CSULB for a project that will improve the university’s infrastructure and capacity for research in minority health and health disparities, including training faculty and students interested in such research.

The grant was awarded through NIH’s National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities and its Research Infrastructure in Minority Institutions (RIMI) Program, which provides resources to strengthen faculty-initiated research programs and to improve the capacity for training future research scientists. The program was created to establish and improve the scientific infrastructure of predominately minority serving academic institutions.

“Cal State Long Beach — with its diverse campus community, faculty research expertise, and academically talented students — has the potential to make noteworthy contributions to national efforts to reduce and eliminate troubling health disparities in this country,” said CSULB President F. King Alexander, who also serves as the principal investigator for the RIMI grant project. “This NIH grant will help the campus play an important role in addressing these disparities while also helping to improve the quality of life for so many.”

CSULB’s RIMI project will focus on community and public health approaches to improve health care for minority populations, who often have difficulty obtaining adequate treatment. Among the goals of the project is to create a Health Disparities Research Center that will promote and act as the hub of minority health and health disparities research and training efforts at CSULB. Faculty from at least four CSULB colleges will participate in the RIMI project.

“The reduction and elimination of health disparities is an important endeavor, not just from a scientific point of view, but from social equality and economic perspectives as well,” said Kevin Malotte, director of CSULB’s Center for Health Care Innovation and RIMI project director. “Studies show that in this country large health disparities persist despite current efforts to reduce them. With this grant, Cal State Long Beach can be part of the solution to improving the country’s health disparity situation.”

Another goal for the five-year project includes providing mentorship, training and research experience for graduate students to increase interest and readiness for doctoral-level research in health disparities and minority health topics. In this area, special efforts will be made to recruit students from underrepresented groups for these positions.

For faculty, mentorship and training will be provided to increase not only their research in health disparities and minority health topics but successful extramural funding requests for their research as well. In addition, the project will allow for release time and funding for faculty fellows to conduct pilot research projects and develop a competitive research program.

“The project calls for at least five faculty members each year to be supported by the RIMI grant to conduct health disparities pilot research projects or prepare proposals for pilot funding,” Malotte noted. “For students, we plan to create an introductory health disparities research course, featuring current epidemiologic trends and research findings, and enrolling up to 20 undergraduate and graduate students in the course each year. We’re also developing a Health Scholars Program designed to increase readiness to serve in research and professional capacities. This program will work intensively with four graduate students from underrepresented groups per year, and these students will be selected based on their demonstrated interest in the field of health disparities.”

The grant began in September will run through April 30, 2014.

–Rick Gloady