Changes in NIH Funding for Early- and Mid-Career Investigators

On June 8, 2017, the NIH Director released a statement titled “Launching the Next Generation Researchers Initiative to Strengthen the Biomedical Research Enterprise” describing the commitments NIH is making to encourage early- and mid-career investigators in the biomedical research enterprise. The following excerpt discussing the new initiative comes from an NIH Open Mike blog article published on June 16, 2017,  by Mike Lauer.

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As described in a June 8 NIH Director’s statement, and in recognition of the call for such action in the 21st Century Cures Act, we are naming this effort the Next Generation Researchers Initiative. We will take a multi-pronged approach to increase the number of NIH-funded early-stage and mid-career investigators and stabilize the career trajectory of scientists. We describe these approaches on a new web page that we will continue to update. Our activities address both research workforce stability, and evaluation of our investments in research. In brief, NIH will:

  • commit substantial funds from NIH’s base budget, beginning this year with about $210 million, and ramping to approximately $1.1 billion per year after five years (pending availability of funds) to support additional meritorious early-stage investigators and mid-career investigators
  • create a central inventory and track the impact of NIH institute and center funding decisions for early- and mid-career investigators with fundable scores to ensure this new strategy is effectively implemented in all areas of research
  • place greater emphasis on current NIH funding mechanisms aimed at early- and mid-career investigators
  • aim to fund most early-career investigators with R01 equivalent applications that score in the top 25th percentile
  • encourage multiple approaches to develop and test metrics that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of our research portfolio, and assess the impact of NIH grant support on scientific progress, to ensure the best return on investment

Applicants do not need to do anything special to be eligible for this funding consideration. Beginning this fiscal year, the NIH institute or center (IC) who would fund the grant will give your application special consideration for support if you are:

  • an early-stage investigator (within 10 years of completing your terminal research degree or medical residency and have not previously received a substantial independent NIH research award) and receive a score in the top 25th percentile (or an impact score of 35 if the application is not percentiled)
  • a mid-career investigator (within 10 years of receiving your first NIH R01 equivalent award) who scores in the 25th percentile, and either:
    • are at risk of losing all support, or,
    • are a particularly promising investigator currently supported by a single ongoing award (i.e, NIH will prioritize funding an additional concurrent research project grant award)

 

To learn more:

See the full article on the Open Mike blog.
Read the NIH Director’s statement.
Visit the  Next Generation Researchers Initiative web page.

Housing Assistance and Improved Health Care Access

The following comes from an article published  June 5, 2017 on EurekAlert!.

A new study examining the impact that access to affordable housing has on health showed that people receiving subsidized housing assistance were more likely to have medical insurance and less likely to have unmet medical need than other low income people who were on a US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) wait list for the housing assistance benefit. Approximately 31 percent of the recipients of housing assistance were uninsured, as compared to about 37 percent of the future recipients.

Led by University of Maryland School of Public Health researcher Dr. Andrew Fenelon, the study analyzed data on adults ages 18-64 from the National Health Interview Survey that were linked to HUD data for the eight years from 2004-2012. The findings are published in Health Affairs, June 2017.

“We found that the benefits of giving people subsidized housing go beyond simply having access to affordable housing. Housing is good in and of itself, but even better is that with improved access to housing, you get improvements in access to health care, and ultimately better health outcomes,” said Dr. Fenelon, who is an assistant professor in the UMD SPH Department of Health Services Administration. He conducted the study in collaboration with researchers from HUD, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the National Center for Health Statistics.

Housing assistance programs funded by HUD provide low-income people with access to safe and affordable housing. People receiving public housing subsidies are often in poor health, with increased need for mental health and chronic disease care. Access to health care has been shown to improve health, and housing instability is correlated with poor access to health care. Still, there are few studies that have explored whether housing assistance programs may lead to improvements in health.

Read the full article.

STARS and STRIPES 2017 Session Kick-Off

The 2017 STARS and STRIPES program launched on June 12th with an orientation session introducing students and parents to program instructors and staff. Ms. Mary Williams, Center for Healthy Communities (CHC) community outreach coordinator, opened the event and provided an overview of what all participants could expect over the summer and introduced the instructors and program assistants for the 2017 session.

crook pipeline opening
Dr. Crook speaking at STARS and STRIPES orientation session.

In welcoming the students, Dr.Errol Crook, Director and Principal Investigator for the CHC, encouraged the young people to take advantage of the opportunities ahead of them and support each other through the program and future challenges as they move on to college and into careers in the medical sciences. He stressed that the CHC focuses on health disparities and sees education and knowledge building as a key component of helping communities to develop their own capacity to advocate for equity and improvement.

Drawing on her experiences as an immigrant to the United States, Dr. Martha Arrieta, Director of Research Core, continued the theme of encouraging the STARS and STRIPES participants to take their futures into their own hands and to make the most of their participation in the program. She also challenged the group to remain curious; explaining that curiosity is the foundational principle of research. In asking the questions — specifically what, when, where, who, and why — researchers move forward in identifying problems and finding solutions.

 

mary pipeline opening
Mary Williams welcoming the STARS and STRIPES students.

 

After the greetings, Ms. Williams introduced the program assistants and instructors who intern explained the program of study for the summer:

  • Library Research
  • Biology, Anatomy, and Physiology
  • Computer Science
  • English
  • Algebra and Trigonometry
  • Health Disparity Studies and Terminology

Learn more about the STARS and STRIPES program.

Read previous articles about the program.

HDRG Recap: “From Charity to Justice: Optimizing the Impact of Service Learning and Community Service”

The final Health Disparities Research Group (HDRG) meeting for the 2016-2017 academic year was held Friday, May 19th. Dr. Erik Goldschmidt, the Director of the Foley Community Service Center at Spring Hill College (Foley Center) was the presenter. Dr. Goldschmidt described the integral role community service plays in the mission of Spring Hill College and the ways in which the Foley Center advances community service efforts by supporting the volunteer work of nearly 50% of the student body each year.

The Foley Center administers service learning courses for many of the departments at Springhill. Service learning classes must provide students with opportunities for authentic interaction with community groups and the individuals they serve. Springhill strives to ensure that these authentic interactions result in student experiences that are characterized by substantial and sustained onsite service to local non-profit, direct-service organizations. This interaction focuses on building relationships which then become the vehicle for student development of self-knowledge, awareness of others, and systems thinking.

In addition, Dr. Goldschmidt discussed the Foley Center’s plans for future growth. A core principle driving the next phase of development is the goal of facilitating systemic engagement that advances beyond charitable work to justice oriented action. The College intends to support students as they work alongside partners to solve real-world problems. Ultimately the expectation is that there will be a “reciprocal learning process” that will improve the community while supporting students in their academic and spiritual journey.

The Foley Center is also exploring ways to bring community members on to the Spring Hill College campus for authentic interactions. One approach is “college exposure” days for students from area middle and high schools. More than a campus tour, the exposure day is designed for two way interaction between the 25 visiting students and approximately 70 faculty, staff and students involved with the group throughout the day. The day also provides for cooperative learning activities in the classes.

Another approach to bringing the community into the campus is a semester focus on one community partner. The partner organization’s leadership and staff can visit the campus, interact with students, and speak in various classes. The interaction includes asking, “what more could we be doing with you.”

Throughout his presentation, Dr. Goldschmidt stressed the potential for personal development of students of service learning, while reinforcing the need to authentically engage with partners with respect and humility.

 

Useful Resource: Find Summer Meals in Your Community

Find Summer Meals in Your Community is an interactive mapping tool to help families locate nutritious free meals for children and teens around the country. The resource, developed by the Department of Agriculture, works on tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices without the need to download. Users can enter an address, city, state, or zip code to find up to 50 nearby locations. Information provided includes site addresses, hours of operation, contact information, and directions.

Visit Find Summer Meals in Your Community.

 

Next HDRG Meeting

The Health Disparities Research Group (HDRG) is a multidisciplinary assembly of faculty, students, staff, and community representatives with a vision “to become an integral facilitator in eliminating health disparities through partnerships with our community.” Held the 3rd Friday of each month throughout the academic year, the meetings provide an opportunity to share research and cultivate a positive atmosphere for community-engagement in addressing health disparities.

The next meeting is May 19 at 1:00 pm in Bio-medical Library Room 222-A.  Dr. Erik Goldschmidt,  Director of the Foley Community Service Center at Springhill College, will share about their work in his presentation “From Charity to Justice: Optimizing the Impact of Service-Learning & Community Service”.

Please join us for the final HDRG meeting of this academic year.

 

“Erase the Stigma by Breaking the Silence”

The following blog piece was written by Dr. Bobbi Holt-Ragler. She is a Community Health Advocate (CHA) with the Center for Healthy Communities-Center of Excellence for Health Disparities. She uses her skills as an educator and nurse to raise awareness about health issues that plague her community. Her contributions to the Center and her community are always appreciated.


Recently, we have been saturated with media coverage of acts of assault and vicious acts of violence committed on innocent people. Also, live streaming of suicide has become a common trend.  One may draw the conclusion that such actions by some of these individuals committing the crime may have been the result of a mental health issue. While we may not be certain of this fact; however, it raises many questions. Such as, were there any red flags or warning signs that were missed by family members and loved ones?  Also, were there any attempts made to obtain professional help; was professional help offered or made available to them?  Some of these questions may never be answered and will forever remain a mystery.

As a responsible citizen, we can no longer keep silent to the issues of mental health, but we must take action to raise the awareness of the problem.

Our nation has been in crisis for quite some time regarding mental health.  According to the 2017 Mental Health Report, there are over 40 million people that are struggling with a mental health problem; however, only half of these individuals receive the needed treatment.  In addition, the number of mental health professionals has decreased, and the number of teen suicide rate has increased.

Why is this so?  We can conclude that the stigmas regarding mental illness still exist.  Also, less attention has been given to the problem and there is a lack of available resources. Can we continue in silence? The answer is no.  If mental health is openly discussed as other health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, perhaps more attention will be given to management and treatment of the problem. We advocate the importance of saving lives and the need to know CPR for heart attack, know your numbers for your blood pressure, and how to recognize a stroke with F.A.S.T.  So, why can’t we advocate for more education on mental health and encourage more community education on the recognition of signs and symptoms of a mental health crisis?  This approach may help to erase the stigma and offer an opportunity to learn more about how to access community resources.  

The media has drawn attention to the need for open dialog on mental health.  What we are witnessing daily on social media will require each of us to step out of the silence mode and talk more to heighten the awareness of the fact that there is more work to be done with our mental health system.

The Center for Healthy Communities Thanks Dr. Hattie Myles

On Friday, March 31, 2017, Dr. Hattie Myles is retiring from her role as the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Educational Enrichment at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine.  Over her long tenure with the University, Dr. Myles has led many critical initiatives. The Center for Healthy Communities (CHC) is particularly thankful to Dr. Myles for her service as Co-Core Director of the Community Outreach Core for the Center for Healthy Communities’ Center of Excellence in Health Disparities. For over 10 years Dr. Myles has spearheaded the CHC’s Pipeline Program which has encouraged, supported, trained, and mentored high school and undergraduate students from health disparate communities as they have pursued college preparation, undergraduate and graduate education, and career paths in the biomedical professions. She has made a tremendous impact on the lives of countless students. We are proud of all she has accomplished and wish her the best in her well-deserved retirement.

The College of Medicine is hosting a retirement reception for Dr. Myles on Friday, March 31, 2017, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Terrace on the second floor of the USA Student Center.

To learn more about the many ways Dr. Myles contributed to the USA community read the article posted by the Med School Watercooler on March 23.

CHA’s Go Red

CHA eventHeart Disease is the leading cause of death for women nationwide and it is often linked to other chronic diseases such as diabetes. Go Red for Women  is an annual month-long advocacy campaign developed by the American Heart Association with the goal of “encouraging awareness of the issue of women and heart disease” and “challenge women to know their risk for heart disease and take action to reduce their personal risk.” Continuing an annual tradition as part of 2017 Go Red for Women, Community Health Advocates (CHA) have worked with partners to sponsor events around the topic of women and heart disease.

On February 4th, CHA Barbara Hodnett hosted the hosted the Annual Go Red for Women Tea with the Good Samaritan Health Ministry at Bethel A.M.E. church. Kierra Giles, a student at UMS-Wright, spoke to the group about the importance of taking a proactive stance on heart disease.

CHA Ernestine Pritchett hosted a Go Red event at St. Joseph Missionary Baptist Church on February 11th. Speakers included Dr. Bobbi Holt-Raggler, Shelia Ross, and Reginald Andrews. They covered the topics of

  • Hypertension and hypotension
  • Stroke and stroke prevention
  • Living with a battery operated heart

An event hosted by CHA Gloria Carter on February 12th at Revelation Missionary Baptist Church featured Dr. Barbara Mitchell speaking with participants about heart disease. Health screenings were provided after the event.

The Annual Go Red Heart Disease program at the Greater Allenville A.O.H. Church was hosted by Yolanda Anderson, Sharon Pugh, and Dr. Bobbi Holt-Raggler on February 16th.  Dr. Brenda Rigsby with ABClinic Family Cares, Inc. spoke on heart disease prevention and management, and Dr. Jackie Smith gave a presentation on how to manage stress.

See our website for more information on the CHA program.

CHA Interview with Gloria Carter, RN

chaheartThe Community Health Advocate (CHA) program invites community members to actively cooperate with the Center for Healthy Communities (CHC)  in identifying health priorities and developing strategies for addressing those priorities to individuals living within health disparate zip codes of Mobile County, AL. Recently, long serving CHA, Ms. Gloria Carter, shared a little about her experience in the program.

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

        I am a proud graduate of Lillie B. Williamson High School, class of 1968. I completed my LPN studies at Southwest State Technical Institute (now Bishop State Southwest Campus) in 1970. I completed my Registered Nursing Degree at the Providence School of Nursing in 1974. Additionally, I completed my Bachelors in Science degree in Health, Arts, and Education from the College of St. Francis in 1988. My work history includes Pediatric Intensive Care, Cardiac Care, Medical Surgical Nursing, and Dialysis. Combined, I have over 36 years of experience in Nursing and the Health Care Field.

        I am the proud mother of 2 beautiful daughters, Kimberly Carter and Shameka (Micheal Jr.) Crusoe. I am also the proud grandmother of 4 grandchildren (3 boys and1 girl).

        I am very active in my Christian Faith as I am a lifelong member of Revelation Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of Pastor David Frazier. I have serve (d) in the following capacities: Health Ministry President, Matrons Auxillary, Senior Mission, Church School, and Youth Counselor.

  1. How did you become involved as a CHA?

I became involved with the organization around 15 years ago after having a group meeting with Dr. Harvey White.

  1. Why did you decide to join the CHA’s?

I decided to become a CHA as my beliefs aligned with Center for Health Communities and their mission of bridging health disparities within the faith based community and the entire community as a whole.

  1. Can you tell us about projects that you have been involved in.

        I have participated in quarterly health seminars, health screenings once a month, community health fairs, and many other volunteer service projects as requested by various organizations.

  1. What has been your greatest experience as a CHA?

        My greatest experience has been being able to network and partner with other health entities in spreading health education and wellness in my community.

  1. What are community needs that you are concerned about?

        I believe that one of the greatest needs is making the community aware and accessible to resources in order that we might decrease obesity, diabetes, strokes, and other health concerns in children as well as adults.

  1. How do you see the CHA program addressing these issues in the community?

        The CHA Program can continue to address these issues in this community by allowing the CHA’s to continuing to network, partner, and present under the leadership of Dr. Crook, Dr. Hanks, Dr. Myles, and Ms. Patterson. Additionally, the CHA Program can continue the opportunity to attend educational programs in order to present this information to the community that we serve to keep them abreast of new information.