April 14, 2023

“Research Initiatives to Fortify the Health of Women in Populations with Health Disparities:” A Presentation by Dr. Webb Hooper

The National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) within the National Institutes (NIH) plays an important role in raising awareness about the prevalence and impact of health disparities and leading scientific research to improve minority health and reduce health disparities. Within its portfolio, NIMHD supports research in minority health and to understand causes and reduce disparities within specific populations, supports the training and development as part of a diverse scientific workforce, translates and disseminates research information, and fosters innovative collaborations and partnerships.

On March 8, 2023, Monica Webb Hooper, PhD, Deputy Director of NIMHD addressed members of the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) Policy Advisory Council during their quarterly meeting about NIMHD’s research framework, some of the Institute’s initiatives specifically focused on areas within women’s health, and how NIMHD is working to cultivate a diverse scientific workforce.

At the outset of her presentation, Dr. Webb Hooper reminded Council members that the NIH has identified sexual and gender minority groups as U.S. populations that experience health disparities. Speaking on women’s health, Dr. Webb Hooper noted:

“While there have been significant scientific and medical advances that have prevented and cured disease, helped change behavior, and extended longevity, not all populations of women have benefitted from these advancements.”

Further, she shared, while the list of disparities in diagnoses and health outcomes experienced by minoritized women and women with less privileged socioeconomic status is significant, the problem is fixable–and NIMHD is working in several areas where African American, Latina, American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/IN) women have poorer health, on average, than white women. These include, but are not limited to, the following areas:

In addition to NIMHD’s women’s health-focused initiatives, Dr. Webb Hooper also addressed NIMHD’s work to train the next generation of scientists and cultivate a diverse workforce that includes women at all levels. Notably, she shared that over fiscal years 2018, 2019, and 2020, within the projects where NIMHD principle investigators (PI) reported, more than 50% of NIMHD funded PIs are female.

In closing, Dr. Webb Hooper shared that “what we are focused on is baking in equity…into all of our efforts. Doing this will remove those barriers to optimal health.”

Learn more about NIMHD’s work on the NIMHD website.