Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, MHS, has been appointed the inaugural associate dean for health equity research at Yale School of Medicine (YSM). She brings to this role natural leadership abilities and a track record of excellence in health equity research.
During the COVID-19 pandemic the effect of health inequity has been apparent as Black and Latinx communities are disproportionately affected. Yale’s response to the pandemic highlighted the value of working collaboratively in multidisciplinary groups across boundaries to address the toughest problems. Long-standing community partnerships have helped set priorities to address health disparities and health inequities, and over the last few years YSM has invested significantly in research focused on health equity, but many of these efforts have been siloed. Today, there is an opportunity and a need to coordinate these efforts across the institution and to leverage existing resources to work more strategically.
Nunez-Smith is associate professor of medicine (general medicine) and of epidemiology (chronic diseases) and associate professor at the School of Management. She is founding director of the Equity Research and Innovation Center (ERIC), deputy director for health equity research and workforce development at the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation (YCCI), and director of the Pozen-Commonwealth Fund Fellowship in Health Equity Leadership. She was recently appointed director of the Center for Community Engagement and Health Equity at Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital. Her research focuses on promoting health and health care equity for structurally marginalized populations with an emphasis on supporting health care workforce diversity and development, developing patient reported measurements of health care quality, and identifying regional strategies to reduce the global burden of non-communicable diseases.
In her new role, Nunez-Smith will oversee the coordination and support of health equity research at YSM, facilitate partnerships in health equity research within Yale University and beyond, develop a strategic plan for the coordination and growth of health equity research, and interface with planned career development programs to enhance the retention and recruitment of investigators engaged in health equity research. She will incorporate her responsibilities as deputy director at YCCI into this broader role. In addition, she will incorporate ERIC as a center within a newly formed trans-institutional Office for Health Equity Research that aligns resources and programs focused on health equity across YSM.