Johnson receives NIH award to fund Center of Excellence on Minority Health and Health Disparities

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Kimberly Johnson, MD, associate professor of medicine (Geriatrics) and senior fellow in the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, has received one of 12 NIH awards to fund a specialized research center designed to conduct multidisciplinary research, research training and community engagement activities focused on improving minority health and reducing health disparities.

The 12 centers, to be funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), will share approximately $82 million over five years, pending the availability of funds.

Dr. Johnson will lead the Duke Center for REsearch to AdvanCe Healthcare Equity (REACH), where researchers will study the effect of a clinician communication coaching intervention—teaching empathic skills and eliciting participatory behaviors—on the quality of communication in cardiology encounters with African American patients; test the use of a mobile app for African American patients receiving palliative care in the ICU and their families to self-report needs, obtain information about patient/family needs, and access decisional support; and develop and pilot test an implicit bias training intervention for providers.

"This is exciting news. Dr. Johnson is a recognized expert in health disparities research and is passionately committed to improving minority health and reducing health disparities. This new center at Duke will create a collaborative environment in which Dr. Johnson and a team of very talented investigators can continue their formative work to improve the health of minority populations in our own community and globally,” said Mary E. Klotman, MD, Dean, Duke University School of Medicine.

The Centers of Excellence (COE)’s program fosters collaborative research in minority health and health disparities that will identify critical biological, behavioral, environmental, sociocultural and health systems factors to aid in developing optimal interventions that will reduce targeted health disparities.

The Centers of Excellence (COEs) program will help:

  • Support innovative multi- and transdisciplinary research to promote minority health and reduce health disparities
  • Strengthen exemplary research training and education activities to support the development of well-trained researchers, including those from minority and health disparity populations
  • Increase the number of individuals from minority and other health disparity populations participating in research activities
  • Provide support for engaging minority and other health disparity communities in effective and sustainable activities aimed at improving the health of their communities

Earlier this year, Johnson received funding from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to study the barriers and facilitators of advance-care planning for different racial groups. The project budget is of $5,824,874 over five years. Her project is Reducing Disparities in the Quality of Palliative Care for Older African Americans through Improved Advance Care Planning (EQUAL ACP). 

Johnson is also among the first class of Duke Health Scholars from the Department of Medicine.

Read an interview with Johnson on health disparities research.

Read more about Duke Center for REsearch to AdvanCe Healthcare Equity (REACH) on