Health Disparities and Health Equity


New Strategic Plan 
In 2020, NINDS began a new planning effort focused on health disparities and health equity for neurological disorders with a Request for Information (RFI) to gather broad input. Additional updates to this plan will be made available soon.


The NINDS is committed to reducing the disproportionate burden of neurological disease borne by underserved groups of society, including racial and ethnic minority, rural, and socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, by funding a spectrum of research from basic science through clinical studies and training the next generation of health disparities investigators. In alignment with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2030 initiative HE definition, NINDS research efforts are aimed to promote health by facilitating the elimination of obstacles that create unfair and unjust access to health opportunity.

To accomplish this, NINDS carried out health equity strategic planning to develop a comprehensive plan to guide research investments to advance HE in neurological disorders over the next 5 – 10 years.


In 2010, the NINDS organized a workgroup of the National Advisory Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NANDS) Council to generate recommendations on how the institute should address disparities and inequities in neurological disorders (2011 Report of the NINDS Advisory Panel on Health Disparities Research(pdf, 369 KB)). This workgroup recommended that a transparent and systematic approach be developed to enumerate the issues and guide funding decisions. Based on these recommendations, the NINDS/Office of Global Health and Health Disparities (OGHHD) in the Division of Clinical Research (DCR) is leading a strategic planning process to guide NINDS’s research efforts in this space for the next 5-10 years. It is NINDS’s goal that this process be data-driven, standardized, and transparent, and will reflect a wide range of perspectives and stakeholders interested in the elimination of disparities and inequities in neurological care, outcomes, treatment, access and provision of services, and research.

In 2020, the NINDS Office of Global Health and Health Disparities within the Division of Clinical Research, in collaboration with the Office of Science Policy and Planning, embarked on a new strategic planning process to address health disparities and inequities in neurological disorders through research. 

Charge of the Committee

This new NANDS Working Group was charged with providing scientific guidance via NANDS Council to NINDS on how best to advance research on health disparities and health equity, with a focus on addressing biologic, socio-demographic, economic and other determinants of health.

Consistent with this charge, this NANDS-WG:

  • Reviewed and assisted in the dissemination of the request for information (RFI). The purpose of the RFI aimed to obtain community/stakeholder input regarding areas of disparity/inequity in neurological disorders, care/services and opportunities for intervention, implementation, and dissemination research.
  • Reviewed aggregate responses from the RFI, reviewed NINDS portfolio and literature analyses, giving consideration to:  (a) those conditions or groups of conditions with higher overall burden of disease, (b)  areas with clear definable, evaluable, and treatable targets, (c) unique issues related to the nature of the neurological condition (e.g. stigma), and (d) social impact.
  • Determined gaps, omissions, and ways to optimize this HD strategic planning process.
  • Summarized the “state-of-the science” and potential opportunities for disparities and inequities interventions, relevant to the research areas supported by NINDS, other NIH ICOs, and other collaborative federal/non-federal partners.  Areas for consideration include basic and clinical research, health services, policy, epidemiological interventions, and implementation/dissemination strategies.

Process, Deliverables, and Timeframe


This working group of the NANDS Council:

  • Assisted NINDS in seeking input broadly from stakeholders and other federal agencies on a 5-10 year strategic plan for HD research.
  • Produced a research framework that delineates the spectrum of basic to applied research on the social and biological determinants of neurological health.
  • Advised on and participate in the NINDS Health Disparities and Inequities in Neurological Disorders (HEADWAY) Workshop on September 22-24, 2021.
  • Assisted in documenting the strategic planning process.
  • Presented its final report of findings stemming from the above charge to the full NANDS Council.

NANDSC Working Group Members

Alexandra M. Sims, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP.
University of Cincinnati Department of Pediatrics
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Amytis Towfighi, M.D.
Los Angeles County Department of Health Services>

Bernadette Boden-Albala, Dr.PH, M.P.H.
University of California, Irvine

Binny Chokshi, M.D.
Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine
Children's National Hospital, Washington, D.C.

Bruce Ovbiagele, M.D., M.A.S.
University of California, San Francisco

Carolyn Jenkins, DrPH, MSN, MS, RN, RD, LD,FAANZ
Medical University of South Carolina

Christin Veasley, B.Sc.
Chronic Pain Research Alliance

Daniel Lackland, DrPH
Medical University of South Carolina

Darrell J. Gaskin, Ph.D., M.S.
Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

David Brody, M.D., Ph.D.
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Edwin Trevathan, M.D, M.P.H.
Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health

Derek M. Griffith, Ph.D.
Georgetown University

Geoffrey Ling, M.D., Ph.D.
On Demand Pharmaceuticals
Johns Hopkins University

Gerald Griffin, Ph.D.
Hope College

Girardin Jean-Louis, Ph.D.
NYU Langone Health

Goldie Smith-Byrd, Ph.D.
Wake Forest School of Medicine

Jennifer J. Manly, Ph.D.
Columbia University.

Karen C Johnston, M.D., M.Sc.
University of Virginia

Kofi Essel, M.D., M.P.H.
Children’s National and The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (GWUSMHS)

Leslie Skolarus, M.D.
University of Michigan

Lilyana Amezcua, M.D., M.S.
University of Southern California (USC), Keck School of Medicine

Maria Glymour,  ScD, M.S.
University of California, San Francisco

Nimish Mohile, M.D., M.S., FAAN
University of Rochester

Patrick A. Griffith, M.D., FAAN
Morehouse School of Medicine

Rachel P. Berger, M.D., M.P.H.
University of Pittsburgh, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

Rachel Anne Whitmer, Ph.D.
University of California Davis

Salvador Cruz-Flores, M.D., M.P.H.
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

Sameer Seth, M.D., Ph.D.
Baylor College of Medicine

Spero M. Manson, Ph.D.
(Pembina Chippewa), Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health

Stephanie Mohl
American Stroke Association
American Heart Association (AHA)

Steven H. Woolf, M.D., M.P.H.
Virginia Commonwealth University

Susana Ramírez, Ph.D., M.P.H.
University of California, Merced

Virginia J. Howard, Ph.D., FAHA, FSCT
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Wally R. Smith, M.D.
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)

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