The Friends of NIDDK hosted a briefing on Oct. 5 to educate congressional staff on the racial and ethnic disparities that exist in chronic diseases under NIDDK’s purview and how the Institute is working with stakeholders to combat these disparities. The panelists highlighted various programs and research initiatives in progress between stakeholders and the Institute to strengthen the leadership, diversity, and career trajectory for early-career investigators.
Fola P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil, MPH, presented on behalf of AGA and provided attendees with an overview of how GI diseases are closely linked with social determinants of health and often lead to multifactorial disparities in downstream health outcomes. Dr. May also urged for a national focus on health equity. To address disparities in incidence and outcomes, we must:
- Increase funding for and encourage research in racial and ethnic disparities.
- Increase the number of and support for underrepresented minority researchers in gastrointestinal diseases.
- Acknowledge the roles of conscious and unconscious bias in medical care delivery.
Dr. May also shared a brief background on AGA’s FORWARD program and the proactive and critical work being done through this NIH/NIDDK-funded program to ensure early career researchers have the skills, network and opportunities to succeed and strengthen the future workforce of U.S. researchers. As a FORWARD program scholar, Dr. May stressed the value of the program as her cohort has seen a significant uptick in career successes and advancement.
The session, moderated by Deidra C. Crews, MD, MS, FASN, associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, also included opening remarks from Rep. Donald Payne Jr., D-NJ, a current kidney disease patient.
- Griffin P. Rodgers, MD, MACP, director, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease
- E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD, chair of internal medicine, University of Iowa
- Fola P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil, MPH, assistant professor of medicine, University of California – Los Angeles
The Friends of the NIDDK is a coalition supporting the mission, funding, and research conducted by the NIDDK. AGA will continue to work the Friends of NIDDK to educate congressional offices on the value of NIDDK’s research efforts with the goal of receiving continued and sustainable funding.