The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Short-Term Research Experience Program for Underrepresented Persons (STEP-UP) is a component of the NIDDK Strategic Plan on Minority Health Disparities. The goals of the strategic plan are to reduce and eliminate health disparities, expand research training opportunities for underrepresented minority scientists, and provide information to racial and ethnic minority groups about treatment, prevention, and self-management of disease. The most striking disparities in the burden of disease in the United States are experienced by African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders and Asians.
In addition to these ethnic and racial minorities, health disparities exist among population groups segregated by gender, income, education, disability, geographic location and sexual orientation.
As a result, it is essential to diversify the biomedical and health care workforce with research scientists who are culturally competent and responsive to the multiple cultural and social needs of underserved minority and socio-economically deprived populations.