Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, Delaware-Alabama, led the House Members of the Congressional Black Caucus in requesting information from the National Institutes of Health about planned actions to help reduce the disparity in certain grant funding awards.

African American researchers are less likely than their white counterparts to receive certain types of NIH grants. A recent study published in Science Advances shows that about a fifth of the gap is because African American scientists tend to propose research on disparities and patient-focused interventions, using words describing social factors affecting health. Work in these areas is less likely to be funded, even if a white researcher submits the grant application.

“The types of studies proposed by African American investigators are incredibly important for the health of the entire American population,” said Blunt Rochester. “The lack of funding for research focused on disparities and social factors affecting health does a disservice to African-American scientists, minority communities and overall American public health. In Delaware, we know that communities facing challenges, such as high unemployment or a lack of healthy food sources, are in poorer health than communities with more resources. We also know that resources alone are not the issue, as African Americans of better socioeconomic status are still disproportionately impacted and that structural racism contributes to that disparity. I am encouraged by the recognition of the funding gap and topic funding bias, and look forward to working with NIH to remedy these inequities.”

To see the full text of the letter see https://bit.ly/2PSUjVF.