Just two weeks into his new position, newly appointed National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) director Eliseo Perez-Stable presided over his first meeting of the National Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NACMHD) on September 17. Perez-Stable was appointed by National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis S. Collins in April (See Update, May 4, 2015).
Perez-Stable shared his excitement to be at the NIH and his appreciation for the opportunity to work on a topic that he is passionate about. As a resident, he was interested in Latino health care, particularly patient-doctor communication styles, which guided him down his professional path.
Addressing the President’s Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI), Perez-Stable noted that there has been significant emphasis on biological issues but stressed that PMI also entails lifestyle information, electronic health records (EHRs), and monitoring physiological parameters. He also noted that it was the responsibility of NACMHD to ensure there is “a diverse cohort that adequately represents America in terms of lifestyle, race, ethnicity, and age.” Adding that it is a critical time to take advantage of “what has become an increasingly prevalent use of electronic health records in a way that benefits the entire population,” Perez-Stable underscored the potential for applying mobile health (mHealth) applications. According to Perez-Stable, digital technology evolution will make it easier to bring down barriers that have not been possible in the past.
He also addressed the process for the scientific visioning for health disparities research initiated by Acting NIMHD director Yvonne Maddox (see Update, June 15, 2015). He assured the Council that the Institute will create a vision for health disparities research that will affect the entire NIH and build on current opportunities with the goals and objectives of developing a framework establishing principles, developing methods and measures for analytic approaches, and identifying opportunities that can inform population health. He further shared that the Institute received 92 submissions in response to its request for information (see Update, May 4, 2015). The submissions, he reported, are being analyzed and categorized.
Finally, Perez-Stable shared his interest surrounding training and the diversity of the NIH workforce. He also noted Congressional interest in having NIMHD include within a strategic plan ways to increase underrepresented communities in clinical trials. He related his own goal of having NIMHD “be at the forefront of in making sure NIH’s investigators are diverse, a problem that has been identified NIH-wide.”