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NIH Invests $30 Mn to Pilot a National Primary Care Research Network in the US

Written by : Nikita Saha

June 10, 2024

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CARE for Health, seeks to improve access to clinical research to inform medical care, particularly for those in communities historically underrepresented in clinical research or underserved in healthcare.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced an investment of approximately $30 million for the 2024 and 2025 fiscal years to pilot a national primary care research network that integrates clinical research with community-based primary care.

The new initiative, known as Communities Advancing Research Equity for Health (CARE for Health), aims to improve access to clinical research to inform medical care, particularly for communities historically underrepresented in clinical research or underserved in healthcare.

This initiative seeks to enhance the evidence base for improved patient outcomes, provide communities with access to the best available scientific research, and expand opportunities to participate in clinical trials and studies.

Reportedly, the new initiative known as Communities Advancing Research Equity for Health – or CARE for Health, seeks to improve access to clinical research to inform medical care, particularly for those in communities historically underrepresented in clinical research or underserved in health care.

This initiative will help to grow an evidence base that contributes to improved patient outcomes, provide communities access to the best available scientific research and expand opportunities to participate in clinical trials and studies.

Sharing her vision for CARE for Health, Monica M Bertagnolli, director, NIH, said, “Despite tremendous scientific progress, the health of important segments of the US population is getting worse, not better. Health is dependent upon many factors. We recognize that environmental and societal factors are very important, and that each community is unique. Because of this, we must adapt our research to be more inclusive and more responsive to the needs of communities currently underserved in health research.”

Vision for CARE for Health

According to her, the vision for CARE for Health is to help primary care providers and their patients contribute to knowledge generation, and to deliver evidence back to them to achieve better care

Supported through the NIH Common Fund, CARE for Health will initially leverage existing NIH-funded clinical research networks and community partners to establish the infrastructure.

Moreover, this initiative will support research at select primary care sites. Initial awards will fund organizations that serve rural communities and are expected to be made in the fall of 2024.

“Health research should be accessible to all populations. Clinical trials should reflect the diversity of Americans – because we know that delivers the best results,” HHS secretary Xavier Becerra, stated.

Participating clinical sites will have the opportunity to select research studies based on the health issues prioritized by their communities.

Further, patients can contribute their data to research, generating results that are clinically meaningful to them. Final study findings and aggregate results will be shared with research participants.

CARE for Health is set to expand NIH-funded research studies to enhance engagement with historically underrepresented or underserved communities in health care and clinical research.

This includes individuals from specific racial and ethnic groups, older adults, rural residents, and those with low socioeconomic status or educational attainment. The studies will address common health issues and focus on disease prevention.

“Community-oriented primary care not only provides essential health services, but it also engenders trust among those who lack confidence in recommended medical care or science,” said Dr Bertagnolli.

As CARE for Health expands, the program will launch new studies across the network and further establish study sites, training capabilities, data management, and increased interoperability.

By expanding collaborations to integrate research data into clinical practice and clinical data collection into research studies, the network will facilitate innovative practices and trial designs, reducing the research burden on primary care providers and patients.

“The goal is to create a learning health system in which research informs clinical practice and clinical data informs research,” said NIH Deputy Director for Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives Tara A Schwetz, Ph.D.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.


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