CAREERS BLOG

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Research and policy jobs to address health disparities

4/26/2019 3:23:17 PM

During the month of April, the NIH’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities sponsors National Minority Health Month to raise awareness of the health disparities that affect racial and ethnic minority populations. The theme for this year’s health observance is on promoting an active and healthy lifestyle. But, as ASBMB’s communications director, Angela Hopp, points out in her commentary, this is easier said than done for a number of sociopolitical and economic reasons. Thus, community leaders, policymakers and healthcare providers have a responsibility to work together to create the foundation for healthy communities where everyone can thrive.   

The research community also has an obligation to promote health equity by ensuring adequate representation of minority groups in clinical trials and research samples, advancing research on biomedical conditions that disparately affect specific populations, and fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce. There are many ways for early-career scientists to get involved in addressing health disparities, from basic and clinical research to health policy and outreach. This week, we provide a quick overview of training resources available through the NIMHD and a roundup of other job opportunities in this area. 

NIMHD training resources and job opportunities  

  • The NIMHD provides funding for a number of career-development and training programs with the goal of developing a “diverse and well-trained research workforce”. These include mentored career-development awards for senior-level postdocs and junior faculty and individual fellowship grants for graduate students and postdoctoral scientists. See the webpages and linked RFAs for more details and application deadlines.  
  • Additionally, the NIMHD funds Minority Health Research Training Programs (T37 Minority International Research Training Grants) at selected academic institutions. The programs are open to underrepresented groups in the sciences and at varying career stages. Participants conduct short-term research projects that address health disparities in the U.S. or low- and middle-income countries. A full list of MHRT programs can be found via a search of the NIH RePORTER database with the following parameters: “agency/institute/center = NIMHD” and “activity code = training grants (Ts)”. You will need to research these programs further to determine eligibility and selection criteria.   
  • The newly established Digital Health and Health Disparities Research Lab at the NIMHD (Bethesda, Md.) currently is hiring a postdoctoral fellow. The fellow will work on health information-technology projects that promote healthy living and disease prevention among minority populations. Minimum qualifications include a Ph.D. in a behavioral or social science or a related field and expertise in quantitative research methods. No application deadline is provided. (Note: A contact is listed in the job posting, so I suggest reaching out to check that this position is still open.)  
  • As mentioned in a previous careers blog post on bridging the gap in health disparities, the NIMHD also financially supports a number of research centers that include academic research centers of excellence and minority-serving institutions to conduct health-disparity and minority-health related research. This information provides a good starting point to find institutions that may have training programs and job openings in this field. The complete lists of funded centers can be found on the NIMHD website.  

Other training and job opportunities  

  • A number of other government agencies (e.g., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration) have health-disparity program foci and offer internship or fellowship opportunities. Oak Ridge Associated Universities administers the application process for a number of these programs. You can search ORAU’s Zintellect database for the keyword “disparities” to find related opportunities. Results include openings at the CDC for an applied research and evaluation fellowship (post-bachelor’s/post-master’s level) and a summer public-health analysis fellowship (undergraduate level). The application deadlines are May 3 and 6, respectively. (Note: There are additional fellowship programs listed in the database results but no application deadlines are provided. You can reach out to the contact listed to check on the status.)  
  • Another need in health-disparity studies is for research coordinators who can manage the daily operations of research and clinical studies, ensure regulatory compliance and analyze datasets. Especially in demand are applicants who may already be embedded in the local community and fluently speak the language of the population under study. Through a quick job search, we found research coordinator jobs open at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, University of Miami and University of Washington. Check out the job postings for more details.  
  • Another area where you can have a major impact on promoting health equity is in health policy and advocacy. There are many sectors that hire policy analysts to include healthcare providers and insurers, medical centers and nonprofit organizations. Here are a few openings that we ran across to give you an idea of where policy researchers are employed and more details on job descriptions and qualifications.     

Donna Kridelbaugh is a contributor to the ASBMB Careers Blog. She holds an advanced degree in microbiology and is a former lab manager.   

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