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Funding for Studies of Underserved Populations

Posted on November 23, 2011

Jasjit S. Ahluwalia (bio) examines the changes over time in the amount of funding available for studying underserved populations.


So funding over the past 20 years has gone through ups and downs just in general, NIH being, of course, the largest funder in this country, or actually the world, the largest funder in the world, their budget now being $30 billion.

When I started working in the area of underserved populations, specifically ethnic minorities, and within that category African Americans, in the early 90s, there were far fewer people working in that area -- that is, ethnic minority populations. That has changed dramatically and I think it's been sort of the carrot/stick; both there's been greater interest in that area but also it's, "Where there's money, people go," so as they also say, "Go where the money is," and so both have fed well off of each other.

So particular in smoking in African-Americans, I was essentially the only one doing work in that area -- possibly two other people in the country -- in 1994. Today there are probably close to 90 or 100 people -- scientists, post-doctoral fellows -- working on African Americans and smoking alone.

And so I think the answer to this issue of is there funding for populations... to study underserved populations, I would argue there's quite a bit of funding in that area and there should be. The population in this country is changing dramatically. It's becoming very diverse. It's now one out of four Americans being either African American or Latino, and of course, by the year 2050 one out of two Americans in this country will be non-white.

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Excerpted from an interview with the researcher conducted at the 2011 NHSN Conference held in Miami, FL.


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