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This initiative is intended to stimulate a partnership of ideas and technologies between small business concerns (SBCs) and non-profit research institutes to commercialization of innovative technologies for improving minority health and reducing or eliminating health disparities. The NIH defines health disparities as differences in the incidence, prevalence, morbidity, and burden of diseases and other adverse health outcomes that exist among special population groups. These population groups

include racial and ethnic minorities (African Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Hawaiians, and other U.S. Pacific Islanders, subpopulations of all of these racial/ethnic groups), socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals, and medically

underserved individuals residing in rural and urban areas. Appropriate technologies must be effective, affordable, culturally acceptable, and easily accessible to those who need them. This announcement is expected to reduce health disparities within and across the priority areas of cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, infant mortality, mental health, and obesity, as well as lung, liver, and kidney diseases, psoriasis, scleroderma, and other diseases, illness, and conditions of public health importance.


Over the years, medical and scientific advances have fostered continued improvement in the health of all Americans. However, despite notable improvements resulting from technological advancement, minority and other health disparity populations continue to bear an alarmingly disproportionate burden of illness. Overcoming persistent disparities in healthcare access and health outcomes remains a foremost challenge. To meet this challenge, the NIMHD is committed to support a wide range of research, aimed at the development of innovative diagnostics, treatments, and preventative strategies to reduce, and eventually eliminate health disparities.

Research Objectives and Scope

Technologies to be developed may be new and innovative or they may arise from existing technologies that have been redesigned based on the needs of one or more health disparity populations.

Appropriate technologies are defined as effective, affordable, culturally acceptable, and deliverable to those who need them. To be effective, a technology must provide an improvement over current quality of care for a health disparity population by overcoming one or more of the barriers. These include:

  • Physical Barriers - factors such as proximity to healthcare facilities and transportation may limit access to healthcare.
  • Knowledge Barriers - health literacy and language barriers can inhibit healthcare delivery, as well as a lack of patient information for the healthcare provider.
  • Infrastructure Barriers - rural hospitals and community health centers may not have the same resources and expertise of large hospitals, and may not be able to afford advanced medical technologies.
  • Economic Barriers - lack of insurance coverage or financial resources may also contribute to disparities in healthcare access.
  • Cultural Barriers - religious beliefs and social customs often deter certain populations from seeking healthcare.

The technology must also be affordable to the local hospital, community health center, primary care physician, or individual patient in need. The development of a technology must be amenable to the population's cultural beliefs and social customs. This is critical to the successful delivery of quality healthcare.

  • Technologies that might achieve the objectives of this initiative include but are not limited to:                
     Innovative products or services that facilitate or enhance care coordination between primary care providers, hospital emergency department staff, specialty physicians, nurse practitioners, providers of mental health and behavioral health services, patient navigators, etc., in medically underserved communities and regions.
  • Culturally attuned behavioral interventions or low-cost tools and technologies (e.g. software apps for mobile devices) that promote health-seeking behaviors (diet choice, exercise/physical activity, oral hygiene, medication adherence, child immunizations, etc.) and reduce risky behaviors (smoking, alcohol/drug misuse, unprotected sex, etc.)
  • Tools technologies and methods detection, measurement, and assessment of a broad array of environmental exposures (pollutants, allergens, noise, crime, etc.). To characterize exposomes for individuals and communities, and to link this information to physiological responses and health indicators at the individual and population levels; this could include efforts to improve data collection and data integration across disparate data sources, including clinical patient data, public health data, census data, housing data, employment data, crime statistics, etc.
  • Products or services that expand access to utilization of high-quality prenatal care and reduce the frequency of high-risk pregnancies in health disparities populations.
  • Products or services that enhance quality of life and reduce health disparities among people with disabilities.
  • Culturally appropriate survey instruments, tools, modules and databases to promote community-based research engaging racial/ethnic minorities, rural and other medically underserved communities.
  • Culturally appropriate, evidence-based health promotion and disease prevention/intervention educational media such as software, informational videos, printed materials for health disparities populations and disadvantaged communities.
  • Innovative software, tools and technology for Science and Health Education such as curriculum materials, interactive teaching aids, models for classroom instruction for K-12 and undergraduate students and general public.
  • Mobile health (mHealth) and telehealth/telemedicine technologies and apps for communication, diagnosis, monitoring, evaluation, medical management, tracking and treatment in underserved community settings and rural and remote locations.

Applications with foreign components that propose work to be conducted in foreign sites must state how this activity will improve minority health or health disparities in the U.S.  Applications that do not include this information will be considered non-responsive to this FOA.

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