Research Centers in Minority Institutions

Research Centers in Minority Institutions

About RCMI

Research Centers in Minority Institutions

The Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) programs are NIH/NCRR funded research infrastructure programs. There are 18 RCMI programs around the country from Hawaii to Puerto Rico. The RCMI grant award is a competitive, NIH peer-reviewed grant. The mission of the RCMI program is to expand the national capacity for research in the health sciences by assisting, through grant support, institutions with predominantly minority student enrollment that offer doctorate degrees in the health professions and/or health-related sciences to strengthen their research environment. The significant growth and expansion of the research enterprise at CDU is a direct result of the infrastructure provided through the NIH/RCMI program.

In 2005, the national RCMI program celebrated its 20th anniversary.

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RCMI at CDU

In October 2000, NIH funded a $9.5 million-dollar Biomedical Research Center and a $7.6 million-dollar Clinical Research Center at Charles Drew University to address health disparities experienced by racial/ethnic minorities and the socio-economically disadvantaged. This award marked the beginning of the 14th year of RCMI funding at CDU. This is one of only six combined RCMI Biomedical Research/Clinical Research Centers in the nation and the only center west of the Mississippi.

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RCMI Program Director

Richard S. Baker, M.D.
RCMI Program Director
Assistant Dean, Office of Research
Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science
1731 East 120th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90059
Phone: (323) 563-5911
Fax: (323) 563-4889
Email: rickbaker4@aol.com, rbaker2@ucla.edu

Richard S. Baker, M.D. is a tenured, Associate Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at Charles Drew University and at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine. Dr. Baker is a fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and a member of Phi Kappa Phi Public Health Honor Society. He is an expert reviewer for multiple national agencies including the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality, the National Center for Minority Health Disparities, the National Center for Imaging and Biomedical Engineering, and the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development. Dr. Baker’s primary research interests and accomplishments are in the areas of Ophthalmology, Telemedicine, Epidemiology and the multicultural aspects of health services research and health disparities. He has been the principal investigator for multiple scientific projects and is the author of over 100 scientific abstracts, articles, book chapters and invited presentations.

Dr. Baker received his undergraduate degree in Physics from Stanford University. He received a medical doctorate degree from Harvard Medical School and from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Postdoctoral training includes a fellowship at the Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, and a National Institutes of Health fellowship in chronic disease epidemiology at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Currently, Dr. Baker serves Executive Director and co-founder of the Urban Telemedicine Centers of Excellence, the Associate Director of the Center for Eye Epidemiology at UCLA and co-founder of the Los Angeles Eye Institute.

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Health Disparities

Health status disparities experienced by racial/ethnic minorities and the socioeconomically disadvantaged continue to be a major challenge to the U.S. health care system. Disparate health outcomes observed for racial/ethnic minorities compared to other Americans were initially identified in the 1984 Secretary of Health Task Force Report on "Black and Minority Health." A disproportionately high rate of excess deaths among racial/ethnic minorities was demonstrated for cardiovascular (and related) disease, diabetes, cancer, accidents and intentional injuries, infant mortality and substance abuse. More recently, recognition of racial/ethnic health status disparities has been expanded to include a much broader spectrum of conditions. These conditions reflect differential outcomes by race/ethnicity not only for mortality but also for disease specific morbidity. Despite over a decade of research efforts and a substantial commitment of research resources, differential outcomes have persisted and in some instances these disparities have actually increased. The persistent failure to reduce the health status gap experienced by racial/ethnic minorities provides a highly compelling argument to aggressively identify and implement new and more effective prevention and intervention strategies.

CDU/RCMI itself is strategically located in South Central Los Angeles County, a prototypical urban multicultural, socio-economically disadvantaged community. This community manifests a high burden of ocular disease, limited community infrastructure, and multiple barriers to care. The official medical service area for the King/Drew Medical Center and RCMI, (the Southwest service cluster), is comprised of 248 contiguous census tracts covering 124.2 square miles and containing 1.4 million individuals. If this service area were considered an independent municipality, it would be the fifth largest city in the United States (after New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia). The KDMC service area is one of a few geographically defined medical service areas primarily served by a single delivery system but with sufficient population and diversity to permit direct comparison between major racial/ethnic groups in a single urban environment. The overall racial/ethnic composition of the communities directly served by KDMC/RCMI is 60% Hispanic, 23% African American, 12% non-Hispanic White, and 5% Asian American. In addition to the largely Hispanic and African American makeup of the service area, the adjacent communities of Gardena (30% Asian American) and Wilshire Center (32% Asian American) provide immediate access to this population as well. Nearly 32% of the population in South Central Los Angeles lives below the federal poverty level and 46% have less than a high school education. Compared to the average for Los Angeles County, South Central Los Angeles has significantly fewer physicians and hospitals per capita and exhibits a significantly higher mortality and morbidity with respect to virtually every health status indicator. Information derived from studies conducted in this service area has policy and research implications for urban underserved communities throughout the nation.

Research Centers in Minority Institutions are research infrastructure programs funded by the NIH/National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). Please click here for more information on the NIH/NCRR.