Livingstone College to host leading public health expert, chair of Biden Administration’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force
STEM program will unveil new instrument during visit
By Kimberly Harrington
SALISBURY – A member of the Biden Administration whose work is dedicated to bridging racial gaps in healthcare and within the COVID-19 crisis will visit Livingstone College next week.
Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, appointed by President Biden to chair the Presidential COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, will visit the historic black college on Feb. 8. There will be a brief program at the college’s new F. George Shipman Science Annex, where STEM students will participate in scientific demonstrations during her tour of the facility.
Livingstone’s science program will also unveil a new instrument at the program that no other HBCU in North Carolina its size can boast.
“It is an honor to have one of the nation’s leading public health experts on the campus of Livingstone College, especially during the month that we celebrate the contributions of African Americans,” said Livingstone President Dr. Anthony J. Davis. “Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith is among those highly regarded in her field, coupling her passion for medicine with her commitment to social equity. Consistent with the population we serve, Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith’s insight will significantly impact our students and the greater Rowan Salisbury community.”
The Health Equity Task Force is part of the government’s efforts to identify and eliminate health and social disparities that cause disproportionately higher rates of exposure, illness, hospitalization and death related to COVID-19, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health.
Nunez-Smith was there when the first COVID-19 patient arrived at Yale New Haven Hospital at the start of the pandemic, and she has since become intricately involved in the nation’s pandemic response. Her work on the Governor’s Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group resulted in her being sought after by the Biden-Harris campaign to serve on their COVID-19 Advisory Board, which led to her chairing the task force.
At Yale University, Nunez-Smith is the inaugural associate dean for Health Equity Research; a C.N.H. Long Professor of Internal Medicine; and founding director of the Equity Research and Innovation Center among many other titles. She established the Eastern Caribbean Health Outcomes Research Network and was recently elected to the National Academy of Medicine. She has led many research projects and published numerous papers on the experiences of minority students and faculty.
Having grown up in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Nunez-Smith told the Yale News that people died too often and too young. Her own father had a stroke in his 40s and was left paralyzed. It was then that she learned the term “underserved community,” marginalized by place and race.
She observed those same inequities as a practicing physician, seeing patients whose conditions were shaped by societal inequities rather than science, and noticed them again with the COVID 19 pandemic.
Dr. Nunez-Smith is board certified in internal medicine, having completed her residency at Harvard University’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and fellowship at the Yale Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, where she also received a master’s in health sciences. She attended Jefferson Medical College and earned a Bachelor of Arts in biological anthropology and psychology at Swarthmore College.
The program is limited to invited guests but will be rebroadcast on the college’s official YouTube channel.
About Livingstone College
Livingstone College is a private historically black college that is secured by a strong commitment to quality instruction, academic excellence and student success. Through a Christian-based environment suitable for holistic learning, Livingstone provides excellent business, liberal arts, STEAM, teacher education and workforce development programs for students from all ethnic backgrounds designed to promote lifelong learning, and to develop student potential for leadership and service to a global community. For more information, visit www.livingstone.edu.