Bridging the gap in health disparities

2/14/2018 3:31:24 PM

In honor of Black History Month, the February issue of the ASBMB Today features a number of engaging articles spotlighting work conducted by black scientists in the biomedical sciences and resources to increase participation of minorities in STEM fields. One article that particularly caught my eye is that written by John Arnst on addressing the tangled roots of health disparities. As Arnst defines it, a health disparity “includes any condition disproportionately affecting one racial, ethnic or gender group.” 

This has been an emerging field over the past few decades as researchers and clinicians increasingly recognize that diseases disproportionately affect different populations and a holistic analysis of disease-risk factors (e.g., genetics, stress, income) must be considered. Additionally, research participants and samples need to be representative. Thus, scientists are needed to address health disparities across the science-to-policy pipeline. These roles include coordinating clinical-research projects and analyzing data to identify disparity trends to community outreach and policy development that addresses systematic health inequities. 

Arnst does a magnificent job highlighting the impactful research ongoing at a number of academic research centers of excellence and minority-serving institutions funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. (BTW, you also can check out a recorded interview with Arnst about the article on the ASBMB Pipette and Politics podcast.) 

For this week’s post, I researched a subset of the NIMHD-funded centers listed in the press releases (linked to above) to see if there are any current job openings. Here are a few potential opportunities to check out further. And you can continue researching jobs using the full list of research centers on the NIMHD website.

  • The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity at Johns Hopkins University is hiring for several research positions, including research assistants and a program manager, to be located at the East Baltimore Campus. These positions will work on a study focused on reducing disparities and improving outcomes for patients with hypertension. See the job postings for details on qualifications. No application deadlines are provided.  
  • The New York University’s Center for the Study of Asian American Health is seeking a research coordinator to oversee research training, activities and outreach for several initiatives. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in a healthcare-related field (also preferred is a clinical research coordinator certification) and two years of relevant experience. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The Center for Health Disparities Research at North Carolina Central University has several positions listed on the human resources website, including a program manager and research scientist. See the job postings for details on qualifications. No application deadlines are provided. These positions have been posted since last year, so I highly suggest contacting the center director to check on the hiring status.  
  • The Center for Health Equity Research at Northern Arizona University recently established the Southwest Health Equity Research Collaborative and will be funding faculty mentors to host postdoctoral researchers. Thus, keep an eye on the center’s and NAU’s human resources websites for upcoming postdoc positions. FYI, there is a posting on the HR site for a postdoctoral scholar to work in CHER but it is quite outdated, so it may be worth an inquiry to check on the status of postdoc hires.  

Weekly jobs roundup. I also did a general search to see what other types of training and career opportunities are out there right now and listed a few interesting ones below. A number of these positions were found via searches on generic job boards and Twitter using keyword combinations of “health and disparity/disparities or equity.” Other keywords to try out may include “minority and/or community health.”   

  • The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is recruiting fellows for a number of interdisciplinary leadership programs to build a culture of health across all communities in the U.S. These include the Health Policy Research Scholars program that funds second-year doctoral students from underrepresented populations and/or disadvantaged backgrounds and across a range of academic disciplines who are interested in promoting health equity. Scholars receive up to four years of stipend support and unique training and mentoring opportunities. The application deadline is March 14.  
  • The Insight Health Data Fellows Program currently is accepting applications from M.D. or Ph.D. graduates from any background who are interested in a career in health data science. Fellows participate in a seven-week postdoctoral training program that is project-based and collaborative. Upon completion of the program, fellows interview with a select set of employers and receive job offers. Fellowship sites are either in Boston or Silicon Valley. The application deadline is March 26.  
  • The global health services company Cigna is looking for a senior healthcare data scientist specializing in health disparities to join its Information Management and Analytics team in Raleigh, N.C. The data scientist will collect and analyze data that will be used to improve health outcomes and increase access to health services for at-risk populations. Preferred qualifications include an advanced degree in statistics, math, biostatistics or epidemiology and five years of data-analytics experience. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle is recruiting multiple researchers in model-based geostatistics to work on geospatial analyses that visually identify disparities in health outcomes at the local level. Minimum qualifications include a master’s in computer science, statistics, epidemiology, mathematics or related field (Ph.D. preferred) and relevant programming experience. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The DanaFarber Cancer Institute in Boston is hiring a research scientist to coordinate research efforts and operations within the Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention and the joint DanaFarber/Harvard Cancer Center’s Cancer Risk and Disparities Program. Minimum qualifications include a master’s degree in biostatistics, epidemiology, public health or medical science (Ph.D. or M.D. preferred) and five years of related experience. No application deadline is provided. (Note: Check out the previous careers post on cancer-research careers for more related resources.)  
  • The Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health within the Department of Medicine at the University of California–San Diego is hiring both a statistician and research project coordinator to assist research in public health and epidemiology, with a focus on HIV, substance abuse and gender-based violence among vulnerable populations. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field (master’s preferred). The application deadline is Feb. 21 for both positions.  
  • The public-health nonprofit NASTAD in Washington, D.C., is recruiting for a senior manager of health equity. This role involves improving the organization’s capacity to assist health departments with implementation of HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis programs and to further advance its work in social justice and equitable health. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree and five to seven years of relevant work experience. No application deadline is provided.  

Bonus posting. And if you’re interested in a career in science policy, such as designing health policies that promote equitable healthcare access and funding, then consider joining in on the annual ASBMB Capitol Hill Day. The application deadline is Feb. 26. (You also can check out this past blog post on resolving to a career in science policy for other resources.)

Donna Kridelbaugh is the ASBMB careers blogger. Connect with her on Twitter (@science_mentor) or at her website (