Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Medical Research Grants Shortchange HBCUs, but Science Bill Looks Promising

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Medical Research Grants Shortchange HBCUs, but Science Bill Looks Promising

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Historically Black colleges are getting just a small piece of the medical research pie, says Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., who is trying to see that Congress takes some action on the issue this fall.

HBCUs in 1997 received less than 1 percent of all higher education grants from the National Institutes of Health, the government's leading program to support health research, said Davis, citing information from NIH's Office of Financial Management. The HBCU share amounted to just $78 million, Davis says -- while colleges overall received $8.46 billion.

"Inclusion of minority institutions in medical research has been inadequate," says Davis, a second-term lawmaker from Chicago.

The issue spilled over in House floor debate recently on a bill to increase federal support for health care research. Several Congressional Black Caucus members used the opportunity to urge NIH and other agencies to do more to address health disparities between Whites and individuals of color.

The House approved the bill, but only after Davis successfully inserted an amendment that would encourage more HBCUs and Hispanic-serving institutions to apply for funds -- and make these institutions eligible for a greater number of NIH grants. The plan, he said, will target institutions that are "capable and able to help produce the needed researchers and professionals that this country relies so much upon."

In approving the Health Research and Quality Act, members also embraced other initiatives to help reduce racial disparities in health care. At Congressional Black Caucus urging, the House also approved creation of an Office of Special Populations at HHS' Agency for Health Research. The office would conduct research and development projects on issues affecting low-income and minority populations.

With these new amendments, the House approved the bill by a 417-to-7 vote. Further debate is likely before Congress adjourns for the year.

Meanwhile, some high-profile issues remain on the table as Congress slowly begins to wrap up its fiscal 2000 budget debate by approving some new education funds.

Among the most recent winners are historically Black colleges and universities, which will receive $10 million through a National Science Foundation program to promote undergraduate reform. …

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