NIH IMPROVE Initiative Maternal Health Research Centers of Excellence

NIH conducted a virtual Tribal Consultation and Urban Confer on the IMPROVE Initiative Maternal Health Research Centers of Excellence on June 30, 2022. Prior to the Tribal Consultation, Diana W. Bianchi, M.D., director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), presented about the upcoming Consultation at the NIH Tribal Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting on June 22, 2022.

During the Tribal Consultation, Dr. Bianchi presented on the IMPROVE initiative with a focus on the Maternal Health Research Centers of Excellence. NIH sought guidance on (1) how the goals and objectives of the Centers of Excellence can be inclusive of the needs of Tribal communities; (2) research priorities to be included to specifically address the needs of expectant mothers and their families in Tribal communities; (3) how to facilitate and encourage research partnerships with Tribal communities on maternal health topics; (4) what special considerations for Tribes should be in place as funding opportunities are developed; and (5) how to establish the data hub for the Centers of Excellence to recognize Tribal sovereignty and take appropriate steps for data collection, storage, and release.

Key Points

  • The Maternal Health Research Centers of Excellence funding opportunity will encourage an integrated approach encompassing structural, social, and biobehavioral research strategies to address the multiple contributing factors that lead to adverse maternal health outcomes and health disparities, including nutrition, mental health, and substance use.
  • Research projects undertaken by Maternal Health Research Centers of Excellence must include an emphasis on developing new and improved approaches to address the biological, behavioral, environmental, sociocultural, and/or structural factors that affect maternal health and well-being and promote health equity.
  • NIH will require equitable partnerships with communities as well as culturally competent interventions, which could include use of Native languages, Tribal maternal health programs, or non-traditional models of care.
  • Equitable community partnerships will be a primary focus of the Maternal Health Research Centers of Excellence and the proposed Data Innovation and Coordinating Hub/Resource Center.
  • The Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) will emphasize training and building research capacity within local communities, including Tribal communities.
  • Incorporating many of the recommendations from Tribal Consultation, NIH released three companion FOAs for the Maternal Health Research Centers of Excellence, which aim to generate innovative approaches to address maternal morbidity and mortality and promote maternal health equity.
    • RFA-HD-23-035 invites applications to participate as a Research Center as part of the Maternal Health Research Centers of Excellence initiative.
    • RFA-HD-23-036 seeks applications for the Data Innovation and Coordinating Hub/Resource Center for the Maternal Health Research Centers of Excellence initiative.
    • RFA-HD-23-037 seeks applications for the Implementation Science Hub/Resource Center for the Maternal Health Research Centers of Excellence initiative.

Read the Tribal Consultation Report.

This page last reviewed on October 14, 2022