Tag: Harvard School of Public Health

Michelle A. Williams to Head Harvard’s School of Public Health, Becomes University’s 1st Black Faculty Dean

Michelle Williams
Michelle Williams (photo via Harvard Gazette)

article by Courtney Connley via blackenterprise.com

Harvard University announced Friday that Michelle A. Williams will become dean of its School of Public Health, making her the first black person to head a faculty at the university and the first female dean of the school.

Currently an epidemiologist and professor in the School of Public Health, Williams will start her new position in July, following David A. Hunter who has served as interim dean for the past six months after Julio Frenk stepped down to become president at the University of Miami.

“She is a skilled builder of bridges—between the theoretical and the practical, the domestic and the international, the different disciplines that drive the School’s academic endeavors, and the different communities that shape its identity and aspirations,” University President Drew G. Faust said in a statement. “I know she will approach her new role with the intelligence, dedication, integrity, and humane spirit that she brings to all she does.”

Williams’s appointment comes at a time when Harvard students have been more outspoken about the lack of diversity in leadership at the institution. Recently, students from the university’s medical school delivered a petition to Massachusetts Hall, calling on Faust to prioritize the school’s need for more diversity as they search for their own new dean.

“As an alumna and faculty member, I have witnessed the transformative impact that this institution can have in education, research, and discovery related to the health of communities in need,” Williams said. “We have an imperative to lead and to serve, and I am looking forward to working even more closely with the School’s faculty, students, staff, and alumni to build on the school’s achievements.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a master’s from Tufts University, Williams attended Harvard’s School of Public Health before joining the faculty at the University of Washington. In 2011, she came back to the Harvard family as chair of the epidemiology department in the School of Public Health. That same year, she was also presented the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring by President Barack Obama.

To read more, go to: http://www.blackenterprise.com/education/michelle-williams-harvard-first-black-faculty-dean/

Physician Darrell Gray Works to Use Telecommunications to Extend Care to Underserved Neighborhoods

Darrell M. Gray, II MD
Darrell M. Gray, II MD

The man came into the emergency room of St. Louis’ Barnes-Jewish Hospital complaining of abdominal pain. Having no insurance, he had avoided medical care as long as he could, but the pain had finally become too intense.

The gastroenterologist called in to consult that day was Darrell Gray, a young physician from Baltimore doing a fellowship at the hospital, which is affiliated with Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.  The patient, in his late 40s or early 50s, had blood in his stool and a mass in his stomach.

“It didn’t take much more diagnostic work to understand that, feeling the mass and seeing that his history of passing blood, this was likely a cancer,” Gray recalls. “Here’s a young guy who comes in with what was later found to be metastatic cancer. At that point I really couldn’t do much for him.”

That experience, and others like it, prompted Gray to continue his already extensive training, which included the fellowship, a residency at Duke, and medical school at Howard University. To top that off, he spent the last year at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).

Gray got a taste of public health work during his fellowship. While in St. Louis, he designed a bridge program to connect disadvantaged populations with the health care system. His target population was African-American men, who have a higher incidence of colorectal cancers than the general population, a reality that, in poorer neighborhoods, is compounded by other barriers to health care, such as a lack of insurance, a lack of knowledge about preventive measures, and chronic unemployment.

To reach these men, Gray contacted area churches, gave short educational presentations during the community announcement portion of Sunday services, and followed up with those who contacted him, connecting them with screening services and primary-care physicians. The experience was satisfying, but also made him realize how much he didn’t know.

“I realized from that program that there were some areas I needed strengthening in: health policy, public health, population health,” Gray said. “While I enjoy seeing a patient in the office, I want to be able to impact populations.”

Gray, who graduates this spring with a master’s in public health, said he has benefited greatly from his year at HSPH. In addition to his academic work, he shook hands with the prime minister of Namibia, met with the former health minister of Kenya, met senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, and met with Jonathan Woodson, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs.

“I had high expectations coming in, but it has exceeded my expectations,” said Gray, who is at HSPH on a Mongan Commonwealth Fund Fellowship in Minority Health Policy.

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