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NIH to Fund Research on Social Epigenomics, Health Disparities in Minorities

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institutes of Health announced that it is seeking applications for projects involving human-based epigenomic research to identify and characterize the mechanisms by which social experiences affect gene function to influence health and disease in minority and health disparity populations.

While the health of the overall US population has improved in recent decades, racial/ethnic minority populations, socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, and rural populations continue to experience a disproportionately high rate of disease and other adverse health conditions, the NIH noted.

Such health disparities have been linked to variations in exposure to chemical and nonchemical stressors, but the how these stressors influence epigenomes and their roles in health disparities remains unknown.

To address this issue, the NIH aims to fund research efforts that advance the science of epigenomics focused on minority health and health disparities, expand approaches for understanding the epigenetic mechanisms by which social factors lead to biological changes that affect health, and promote epigenetics research to better diagnose disease risk or resiliency among disadvantaged populations. 

Research topics of interest to the NIH include, but are not limited to, the variations in the epigenome that change with exposure to adverse and nurturing early-life experiences, as well as the mechanisms that contribute to social inequalities in disease risk; the interplay between epigenetic, social/cultural, and environmental factors among health disparity populations; and novel diagnostic epigenetic biomarkers with clinical utility in assessing risk, development, and the progression of disease in health disparity populations.

The NIH is particularly interested in projects that include patient or participant biospecimens for epigenetic analysis that are representative of health disparity populations.

Additional details about the funding opportunity can be found here.