. "3 Overview of Programs of Research on Ethnic Minority and Medically Underserved Populations at the National Institutes of Health." The Unequal Burden of Cancer: An Assessment of NIH Research and Programs for Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1999.
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to the committee by ORMH does not mention the words "cancer," "neoplasms," or other related terms. Rather, this project's main focus appears to be the establishment of a community-based, comprehensive, and multidisciplinary health care center to monitor, treat, and enroll HIV-infected ethnic minority children and adolescents in HIV and AIDS Malignancy Branch clinical trials. It is unclear how many, if any, of the population enrolled in this program were treated for AIDS-related carcinomas. In addition, results of this research project may be limited; ORMH reports that the project was terminated in late FY 1998 "due to insurmountable contractual and legal issues" (National Institutes of Health, Office of Research on Minority Health, 1998a).
Assessment of ORMH Activities
ORMH serves as a focal point for the coordination of research on ethnic minority health at NIH. One of the office's major functions is to stimulate research on minority populations at relevant ICs of NIH by providing research supplements (including Minority Health Initiative funds) to "leverage" IC resources. ORMH has only recently, however, established a standing advisory panel to help guide the establishment of research priorities (this function had previously been assumed by an ad hoc panel) and does not participate in the Research Enhancement Awards Program with other specialty offices at NIH to coordinate funding proposals and priorities. Its criteria for program funding and research priorities have therefore been less open to public scrutiny. In addition, OMRH program funding appears to have supplanted, rather than leveraged, NCI resources for important research and program activities in many instances. The committee offers the following recommendation to strengthen ORMH's stated functions:
Recommendation 3-1: The Office of Research on Minority Health should more actively serve a coordinating, planning, and facilitative function regarding research relevant to cancer among ethnic minority and medically underserved populations across relevant institutes and centers of NIH. To further this goal, the Office of Research on Minority Health should:
make criteria for Minority Health Initiative project support explicit;
coordinate with other specialty offices (e.g., the Office of Research on Women's Health) by participating in NIH-wide coordination efforts such as the Research Enhancement Awards Program; and