|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 9, 2001
First Director of New NIH Center Sworn-in Today;
"National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities" Was Established by U.S. Congress
- To assist in the development of an integrated national health research agenda, across disciplines, that reflects the current and emerging health needs of racial and ethnic minorities and other health disparity groups.
- To promote and facilitate the creation of a robust minority health research environment with sustained funding for a wide breadth of studies basic, clinical, and population research; studies on the influences of health processes; and research on the societal, cultural, and environmental dimensions of health all aimed at identifying potential risk factors for disparate health outcomes.
- To promote, assist, and support research capacity building activities in the minority and medically-underserved communities, focusing on research infrastructure development, faculty career development, and increasing the number of underrepresented minority students and students from health disparity groups with an interest in careers in biomedical and bio-behavioral research.
About Dr. Ruffin
Dr. John Ruffin has over 25 years of experience in developing and administering innovative programs designed to train the next generation of minority scientists and improve the health of minority populations. Throughout his career, he has been committed to creating new learning opportunities for minority students and faculty and developing research programs to improve minority health.
In 1990, Dr. Ruffin was appointed as the first Associate Director for Research on Minority Health at the NIH. In this role, he has been successful in planning and bringing to fruition the largest program in the country promoting minority biomedical training and health research. Soon after assuming this position, he convened an advisory Minority Fact-Finding Team to help NIH identify specific minority health concerns and current gaps in minority training. Working in collaboration with the 53-member Fact-Finding Team, he organized three large national meetings involving nearly 1,000 members of minority communities. Their recommendations served as guidelines for the Minority Health Initiative, a set of programs aimed at improving minority health throughout the lifespan and increasing the participation of underrepresented minorities in all phases of biomedical research. The Minority Health Initiative received strong support from Congress and was initially funded for $45 million in 1992. Support has increased each year to a current funding level of over $86 million.
Dr. Ruffin has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Presidential Meritorious Rank Award (1998) for his exceptional leadership in developing the largest program in the country promoting minority health research and biomedical training; the Samuel L. Kountz Award for his significant contributions to the cause of increasing access and participation in organ and tissue transplantation in minorities; the NIH Director's Award; National Hispanic Health Leadership Award; Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society Award; National Medical Association Award of Appreciation; and a Special Recognition Award by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
A native of New Orleans, La, Dr. Ruffin received his Baccalaureate Degree from Dillard University (New Orleans) and Master's Degree from Atlanta University. He earned a Ph.D. at Kansas State University (Manhattan) in Systematic and Developmental Biology, followed by Postdoctoral Studies at Harvard University.