The NIDDK conducts and supports research on many chronic and costly diseases affecting the public health. Several diseases studied by the NIDDK are among the leading causes of disability and death in the Nation; all affect seriously the quality of life of those suffering from them.
Many diseases and disorders that disproportionately impact the health of minority populations in the US receive high priority in NIDDK research areas. These include diabetes, obesity, nutrition-related disorders, hepatitis C, gallbladder disease, H. Pylori infection, sickle cell disease, kidney diseases, and complications from infection with the human immunodeficiency virus. NIDDK gives increased priority to support research and to encourage specific efforts in these areas of health disparity in order to advance the foundation of knowledge in the biomedical sciences.
To address the burden of diseases and disorders that disproportionately impact the health of minority populations, the Director of the NIDDK created the NIDDK Office of Minority Health Research Coordination (OMHRC). The OMHRC will help implement the institute’s strategic plan for health disparities and build on the strong partnership with the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities at NIH.
It is the mission of the OMHRC to develop collaboration with other NIH offices, Centers, and Institutes in developing plans and funding in areas of significant disparities of mutual interest. Among its many responsibilities and functions, the OMHRC, under the leadership of the Office Director identifies and advises the Director of the NIDDK of the disparities in disease areas of interest to the Institute. The Office Director serves as an important conduit through which the communities could provide relevant input into the program and initiative development. It is important that the Director of the Office make every attempt to gain the trust and confidence of the leaders of these communities. The Director of OMHRC, the Institute’s Division Directors, and Program Staff meet on regular bases to discuss disease areas identified with significant disparities that need to be explored, discuss options, and participate in initiative development.
Another important goal in lifting the disproportionate burden of disease is recruitment and training of minority biomedical investigators, who are currently in short supply. The OMHRC interacts with program staff in developing initiatives to train new and young investigators who are underrepresented in biomedical research. OMHRC tracks and evaluates the Institute’s progress in training underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities in biomedical research.