A wide gap in health disparities continues to exist in the United States, affecting countless underserved and underrepresented Americans. Despite some focus on education, assistance, and outreach, pockets of U.S. citizens are still facing healthcare challenges because of their race, socioeconomic status, location, or other disparities. Because many different factors can contribute to a person’s health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is dedicating research funding to learn more about how people’s life situations have an impact on their overall health.

“Some of these differences may be partly due to the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work and age, as well as by their differences in access to healthcare,” Jonca Bull, MD, the FDA’s assistant commissioner for minority health said. “But we also need to explore whether there is a biological basis for these differences, including how safe and effective a medical product might be in the individual. It’s another way to focus the lens on personalized medicine.”

The FDA’s funded projects include the following:

  • Research at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, on the use of diabetes medication by Asians and Pacific Islanders living in that state
  • An examination of health disparities in HIV/AIDS in minority women conducted by Meharry Medical College
  • Research on Alzheimer’s disease in African Americans and whether the disease’s biological markers have race-related differences

Concluding her remarks on the research project, Bull said, “The fight against health disparities is a major FDA focus. Helping to ensure that patients fully understand best practices for good health, and how to safely and effectively use FDA-approved medical products, is a priority.”

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