Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month: NIH’s Efforts to Improve Community Outreach

Jamie Doyle, PhD, Program Director, Division of Clinical Innovation, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, NIH

Jamie Mihoko Doyle, PhD, talks about growing up as an Asian American and describes how NIH grants support outreach to minority communities.

In this third blog in a series to mark Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in May, Jamie Mihoko Doyle, PhD, talks about her experiences as a second-generation Japanese American and describes efforts of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to improve community outreach. Doyle is a Program Director in the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Branch within the NIH’s Division of Clinical Innovation (DCI) at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).

“As a second-generation Asian American growing up in the U.S., my early experiences included intense pressure to blend in with others,” says Doyle. “Differences were not viewed as strengths—rather as aspects that needed to be hidden. Asian Americans had to suppress aspects of their identities and culture to fit into mainstream U.S. society. Over the last few decades, I’ve seen a seismic shift both personally and academically. There is increasing recognition that diversity in perspectives, experience, and backgrounds are sources of strength that can both catalyze and accelerate innovation. Without increasing the representation of all racial/ethnic groups in all aspects of clinical research, and engaging diverse communities in the studies we conduct, we are not taking full advantage of the breadth and depth of our scientific potential.”

“My family’s experience as first-generation Japanese immigrants has shaped my views on culturally competent care, including the need to test the feasibility and acceptability of interventions for various populations in clinical research,” says Doyle. “For example, it’s important for trial materials for Asian subpopulations to be translated in a culturally competent way—not simply translated word-for-word. Linguistic mastery is important. However, tailoring outreach and materials to non-English speaking populations, including those related to improving medical literacy, also requires considering cultural nuances. Having a workforce that has grown up within those cultures is essential for ultimately disseminating and implementing interventions to improve health.”

“My role at NCATS is to manage a portfolio of research grants funded by the CTSA Program, which supports clinical and translational science research at more than 60 medical research institutions across the nation,” explains Doyle. “Every award must include a community engagement component, which may involve Asian Americans depending on the institution’s local population and needs. Activities can include the development of culturally competent pamphlets, informed consent materials, and determining whether a particular community would be receptive to specific interventions. Responding to needs of communities, folding in their insights, and incorporating community members as full partners in research are essential to meet the goal NCATS has of getting more treatments to all people more quickly.”

“In future, I’d like to see more Asian Americans in leadership positions,” concludes Doyle. “There have been improvements in the representation of Asian Americans among researchers receiving NIH grants, and in science, medicine, and other professions, but there’s still a ‘bamboo ceiling’ in leadership. Since it’s well documented that diversity is a catalyst for innovation, increasing the representation of all racial/ethnic groups, including Asian Americans, is essential for the vitality and long-term sustainability of the clinical and scientific workforce.”

Author: Jill Dawson