Sexual and Gender Minority Research Working Group


In 2009, at the request of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Institute of Medicine (IOM) convened a consensus committee to conduct the first-ever comprehensive study on the state of the science on the health status of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations, resulting in the 2011 publication, The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding. One of the major conclusions of the IOM report was that too little is known about the health needs of LGBT persons in the United States, and the report issued a call to the NIH to support and conduct additional research.

In response to the report, the NIH created the NIH LGBT Research Coordinating Committee (RCC), currently named the Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) RCC.  The committee was charged with “developing and coordinating possible research and training opportunities to be undertaken at NIH as a result of recommendations from the IOM report on LGBT health issues.” The RCC conducted a portfolio analysis on LGBT health research and identified gaps and opportunities in the research areas supported by the NIH.  An initial report was released in January 2012 and the recommendations paralleled the IOM report recommendations, which then led to the development of the SGM health research strategic plan. The goals and objectives of the strategic plan encourage the advancement of basic, clinical, behavioral, population, and social sciences research to improve the health of SGM individuals. Goal 3, objective 1, asked the NIH to establish an SGM Health Research Working Group of the NIH Council of Councils, to provide subject matter expertise and strategic perspective for extramural and intramural NIH-funded SGM health research and related efforts.

To meet this objective, the NIH established the Sexual & Gender Minority Research Working Group in the summer of 2016.


The Council of Councils (Council) Sexual and Gender Minority Research Working Group (SGM RWG) will provide input to the Council on activities of the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI) that relate to sexual and gender minority research including activities of the Sexual & Gender Minority Research Office (SGMRO).

In response to the DPCPSI and SGMRO Directors, the SGM RWG will provide scientific expertise and input to the Council on:

  • Opportunities for trans-NIH research collaborations;
  • Strategies for increasing the number of SGM investigators and the number of investigators conducting SGM-relevant research;
  • Approaches for optimizing outreach to the SGM research and stakeholder communities;
  • Priorities for the most needed and promising areas of SGM-related research; and
  • Other activities requested by DPCPSI.

The SGM RWG will consist of no less than five members, selected by the Director of DPCPSI. The Co-Chairs of the SGMRWG will be the SGMRO Director and one current member of the Council. Membership of the SGM RWG may be drawn in whole or in part from the Council and include any ad hoc attendees as appropriate. Terms will be for three years; DPCPSI leadership may ask members to extend their service, should their expertise be needed for longer.

Meetings of the SGM RWG will be held at the request of the Director, DPCPSI in consultation with the Director, SGMRO. Meetings will take place no less than once per fiscal year. A quorum for the SGM RWG will be more than half of the working group members.


SGM RWG Co-Chairs:

Annesa Flentje, Ph.D.        
Associate Professor, Community Health Systems        
School of Nursing, University of California, San Francisco

Karen L. Parker, Ph.D., M.S.W.        
Director, Sexual & Gender Minority Research Office (SGMRO)        
Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI)        
Office of the Director        
National Institutes of Health

MEMBERS All terms end September 30 of the year in parenthesis.

Kellan Baker, Ph.D., M.P.H. (2025)         
Executive Director, Whitman-Walker Institute       
Washington, DC

Christopher (Kitt) Carpenter, Ph.D. (2026)         
E. Bronson Ingram University Distinguished Professor of Economics and Health Policy; Director,        
Vanderbilt LGBTQ+ Policy Lab       
Vanderbilt University       
Nashville, TN

César G. Escobar-Viera, M.D., Ph.D. (2026)      
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral and Community Health Systems and Director of the Program for Internet Delivered Interventions on LGBTQA+ Mental Health (PRIDE iM),      
Department of Psychiatry,      
University of Pittsburgh        
Pittsburgh, PA

Rob Garofalo, M.D., M.P.H. (2024)        
Division Head, Adolescent & Young Adult Medicine,         
Potocsnak Family Professor in Adolescent     
& Young Adult Medicine, Children’s Hospital of Chicago;        
Professor of Pediatrics (Adolescent Medicine) and Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine        
Chicago, IL

Monica Gandhi, M.D., M.P.H. (2026)     
Professor of Medicine, School of Medicine       
University of California, San Francisco      
San Francisco, CA

Nina T. Harawa, Ph.D., M.P.H. (2026)    
Professor of Medicine, School of Medicine,       
University of California, Los Angeles      
Los Angeles, CA

Louise (Louisa) Pyle, M.D., Ph.D. (2026)    
Assistant Professor, Children's National Hospital           
Washington, DC

Daphna Stroumsa, M.D., M.P.H. (2025)      
Assistant Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology,    
University of Michigan   
Ann Arbor, MI

Matthew Town, Ph.D. (2025)      
Assistant Professor, School of Social Work,    
Portland State University    
Portland, OR

Ex Officio        
Tara A. Schwetz, Ph.D.     
Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI)        
Office of the Director        
National Institutes of Health        
Bethesda, Maryland

Executive Secretary        
Irene Avila, Ph.D., M.A.        
Assistant Director        
Sexual & Gender Minority Research Office   
(SGMRO), DPCPSI, Office of the Director        
National Institutes of Health        
Bethesda, Maryland

Working Group Reports

Mid-Course Strategic Plan Review:
In 2015, NIH released its FY 2016-FY 2020 Strategic Plan to Advance Research on the Health and Well-being of Sexual and Gender Minorities. Objective two, goal four, states that in 2018 NIH would convene a group of SGM health experts to conduct a mid-course progress review of the Plan. In September 2018, the NIH Sexual & Gender Minority Research Working Group (SGMRWG) of the Council of Councils conducted this mid-course review and developed a report with recommendations to NIH. On January 25, 2019, the Council of Councils accepted the working group’s recommendations and provided these recommendations to the NIH. The NIH Director accepted the Council’s recommendations on February 4, 2019. The Sexual & Gender Minority Research Office leads implementation of the recommendations.

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