committees or study sections," "Include more qualified minorities in goal setting and identification of priority areas as they pertain to minorities," and "Include more minorities on review panels" were among the comments supporting this concern.
Few respondents felt that NIH was receptive to research proposals focusing on the needs of minority and medically underserved populations. One respondent noted that "they [NIH] seem not to understand minority health issues" and added that there exists a critical need for researchers to work in partnership with community groups. The following comments reflect this sentiment: "NIH appears to be receptive, but funding priorities often place these [minority-and underserved-oriented] proposals at the end of the funding chain…. [T]he funding is often inadequate. Programs are funded at a level to fail." Research on minority and medically underserved populations "appear[s] to be a low priority or not a primary concern of many institutes.'' "Depending on politics—sometimes the need [for minority and underserved research] is not well received. [The lack of research in this area] is rationalized through issues of 'no earmarks' or [poor] quality of proposals submitted." A minority of respondents, however, were more positive about NIH's receptivity to special populations research: "I think it is improving thanks to a center [sic] overseeing minority research," wrote one respondent, whereas another respondent noted that NIH is "flexible enough to be reactive [to minority health research needs] within constraints of research-based programs."
Similarly, many respondents felt that research on minority and medically underserved communities was not a high priority for NIH. Priorities are "biased toward academic institutions," wrote one respondent from a community-based group. Among the comments of other respondents: "NIH recognizes the need for research relevant to minority and medically underserved communities, but does not invest in building the appropriate mechanisms to fund such research. Investment must be in the development of research training programs for minority researchers and … in the area of community-driven research." "Some specific programs [relevant to minority and medically underserved populations] have been terrific but then are ended." Special populations research is "a very recent concern [and] not a priority of Dr. Varmus."
Respondents were more positive regarding NIH training programs for minority scientists, and the value that NIH places on these. "I believe NIH