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Investigator Development Core

The HEALTH Center for Addictions Research and Cancer Prevention is pursuing a bold research agenda to address the public health crises that health disparities inflict on our most vulnerable communities. With support from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), this national center (Research Centers in Minority Institutions, RCMI) serves as an exemplar for community-engaged research. This research aims to accelerate discovery of novel prevention, early detection, diagnosis, and intervention strategies that can be disseminated and implemented directly into underserved communities. Moreover, mentorship and professional development activities are structured to develop the next generation of health-equity scientists capable of advancing data-driven and culturally-responsive breakthroughs in alcohol, tobacco, and other drug (ATOD) research and cancer prevention.

This short-term (1-year) funding opportunity will support 3-5 innovative pilot grants ($30,000 to $50,000) per year through 2 calls for applications (1 in the fall, 1 in the spring). Successful applications will propose to break new ground in health-equity science while successfully leveraging the data to transition into a developmentally appropriate NIH funding mechanism (e.g., K- and R-series).  

Important dates associated with the upcoming Request for Applications (RFA):

Letter of Intent (LOI) Due: January 5, 2024, at 5:00 pm

Complete Application Due: February 2, 2024, at 5:00 pm

Scientific Merit Review: Tentatively scheduled for March 22, 2024

Funding Decisions and NIMHD Approval: Between April–May 2024 

Earliest Anticipated Award Start Date: June 3, 2024

Download: RFA Guidelines

Download: Cover Page 

Download: LOI Template

Please watch our 15-minute webinar to receive some background information regarding the HEALTH-RCMI’s Pilot Grant Program.

All questions regarding this RFA may be directed to Dr. Ezemenari M. Obasi (RCMI, PI), Dr. Stacey Gorniak (IDC Director), or HEALTH-RCMI Staff.


Improving the Design of Immunotherapies for Underrepresented Minorities


Dinler Amaral Antunes Ph.D., Principal Investigator

Project Team:

  • Preethi Gunaratne Ph.D., Co-Investigator

  • Martiela Vaz de Freitas Ph.D., Other

Human Model for Early Detection of Postpartum Breast Cancer in At-Risk Minorities


Samaneh Karami Ph.D., Principal Investigator


Project Team:

  • Tasneem Bawa-Khalfe Ph.D., Co-Investigator

  • Fatima Merchant Ph.D., Consultant


Development of Ultrasensitive Smart Bioelectronic Sensors for Colorectal Cancer Prevention and Health Disparities Reducing among Black Americans

Zhengwei Li, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

Identifying Opportunities for Interventions to Prevent Overdose Deaths Associated with Homelessness

Benjamin King, Ph.D., Principal Investigator


Transcriptome-wide association study to identify the impact of health disparities in immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy among the African American and white population with triple negative breast cancer.

Dr. Kumaraswamy Chitrala, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

Project Team:

  • Fatima Merchant, Ph.D., Faculty Mentor

  • Venkatesh Balan, Ph.D., Faculty Mentor


A mobile intervention for Cannabis-related disparities among Black Cannabis Users: A pilot study 

Dr. Lorra Garey, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

Project Team: 

  • Brooke Kauffman, Ph.D., Co-Investigator

  • Michael J. Zvolensky, Ph.D., Co-Investigator

  • Michael Businelle, Ph.D., Co-Investigator

  • Julia Bucker, Ph.D., Co-Investigator


Proof of concept and feasibility in podcasting cervical cancer prevention for African American women

Dr. Chakema Carmack, Ph.D., Principal Investigator


Interventions to improve adherence to oral endocrine therapies for prevention of new or recurrent breast cancer in African American women of low socioeconomic status


Dr. Meghana Trivedi, Ph.D., Pharm.D., Multiple Principal Investigator

Dr. Onyebuchi J. Ononogbu, Pharm.D., Multiple Principal Investigator

Dr. Susan Abughosh, Ph.D., Multiple Principal Investigator

Dr. Robert Shimko, Ph.D., Multiple Principal Investigator

Project Team:

  • Keith Houk, MFA, Co-Investigator


Examining Health Disparities and Promoting Breast Cancer Awareness and Prevention in Syrian Refugee Women in the United States


Samina Salim, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

Project Team:

  • Johanna Bick, Ph.D., Co-Investigator

  • Mohan Chandra, Ph.D., Collaborator

  • Meghana Trivedi, Ph.D., Collaborator

  • Sausaun Abouharb, M.D., Collaborator

Learn more about Dr. Salim's research and her community outreach efforts. 

Exploring the provider and organization level barriers to Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) treatment for Black Americans


Lauren R. Gilbert, Ph.D., Principal Investigator


Project Team:

  • Steven Starks, M.D., Co-Investigator

Learn more about Dr. Gilbert's research.

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