NIH invites broad range of research on LGBTI health

On February 23, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a set of three program-inviting grant applications for Research on the Health of LGBTI Populations that will be in effect for 3 years from May 5, 2012, to May 8, 2015. 

These announcements are the broadest and clearest solicitations for research on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex populations that NIH has ever issued and may be accessed at Non-APA Program Announcements, Research Grants and Scholarships.

The announcements help to satisfy a major recommendation of a 2011 report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) for NIH to develop a comprehensive research agenda to guide its future funding of research on sexual minority populations.

In contrast to previous program announcements on LGBTI topics, these announcements are sponsored by a wide range of relevant NIH institutes and offices and they support a variety of grant mechanisms, including R01 (regular grants), R03 (small grants) and R21 (exploratory/developmental grants). Significantly, the shared title of the announcements refers directly to LGBTI populations rather than using the vague term “diverse populations” of previous announcements.

Although no particular funds are associated with these program announcements (as is the case for most NIH program announcements), they represent commitments by the sponsoring institutes to seriously consider grant applications on LGBTI health topics for funding. The announcements remain active until 2015 and can be reissued.

Since the 1990s, the American Psychological Association has advocated for expanded and more reliable NIH support for LGBTI health research, both publicly and in discussions with NIH officials. APA now encourages scientists to pursue funding by submitting grant applications in response to these announcements.

Other recommendations from the IOM report are being acted upon as well. Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will begin to collect data on sexual orientation as part of its National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and that it will develop methods for collecting data on gender identity to be incorporated into the NHIS. Both CDC and NIH are agencies within HHS.

Psychologists are invited to share any concerns or questions about federal support for LGBTI research generally by contacting APA’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns Office.