When John Ruffin, former head of the National Institutes of Health's Office of Research on Minority Health (ORMH) was sworn in as the director of the new NIH National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD) on January 9, the ceremony took place against a background of support from unlikely political corners.

The problem of health disparities between ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic groups in the United States has been discussed by NIH for several years.1 But the issue came to a head in early 1999 with the release of the Institute of Medicine report, The Unequal Burden of Cancer,2 which pointed out the preponderance of some types of cancers--and poorer survival rates--in some ethnic minorities. That summer, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), introduced a bill in Congress for the establishment of a Center for Minority Health at NIH. Gilbert Friedell, director emeritus of the Markey...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?