Dr. Nunez-Smith is Inaugural Associate Dean for Health Equity Research; C.N.H Long Professor of Internal Medicine, Public Health, and Management; Founding Director of the Equity Research and Innovation Center (ERIC); Director of the Center for Research Engagement (CRE); Associate Cancer Center Director for Community Outreach and Engagement at Yale Cancer Center; Chief Health Equity Officer at Smilow Cancer Hospital; Deputy Director for Health Equity Research and Workforce Development at the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation; Core Faculty in the National Clinician Scholars Program; Research Faculty in the Global Health Leadership Initiative; Director of the Pozen-Commonwealth Fund Fellowship in Health Equity Leadership; and Co-Director of the Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship. Dr. Nunez-Smith’s research focuses on promoting health and healthcare equity for structurally marginalized populations with an emphasis on centering community engagement, supporting healthcare workforce diversity and development, developing patient reported measurements of healthcare quality, and identifying regional strategies to reduce the global burden of non-communicable diseases. Dr. Nunez-Smith has extensive expertise in examining the effects of social and structural determinants of health, systemic influences contributing to health disparities, health equity improvement, and community-academic partnered scholarship. In addition to primary data collection, management, and analysis, ERIC has institutional expertise in qualitative and mixed methods, population health, and medical informatics. Dr. Nunez-Smith is the principal investigator on many NIH and foundation-funded research projects, including an NIH-funded project to develop a tool to assess patient reported experiences of discrimination in healthcare. She has conducted an investigation of the promotion and retention of diversity in academic medical school faculty and has published numerous articles on the experiences of minority students and faculty. Funded by NIH/NIMHD, she established the Eastern Caribbean Health Outcomes Research Network (ECHORN), a research collaborative across four Eastern Caribbean islands, supporting several chronic disease research projects and enhancing health outcomes research and leadership capacity in the region; the flagship ECHORN Cohort Study recruited and is following a community-dwelling adult cohort (n=3000) to examine novel chronic disease risk and protective factors. She received NIH/NHLBI funding to build upon this work by recruiting children into an expanded intergenerational ECHORN cohort, inclusive of a biorepository. She is also PI on one of five NIH/NIMHD-funded Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers on Health Disparities focused on Precision Medicine which leverages the ECHORN infrastructure to conduct collaborative research on hypertension and diabetes. Most recently, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shed national attention on the health and healthcare disparities of marginalized populations, she received NIH funding to leverage ECHORN to improve the COVID-19 testing cascade in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Further, she was called upon to chair the Governor’s ReOpen CT Advisory Group Community Committee and was subsequently named co-chair of the Biden-Harris Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board. She served as Senior Advisor to the White House COVID-19 Response and Chair of the Presidential COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force at the Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Nunez-Smith has mentored dozens of trainees since completing fellowship and has received numerous awards for teaching and mentoring. An elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, Dr. Nunez-Smith is board certified in internal medicine, having completed residency training 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 Masters in Health Sciences. Originally from the US Virgin Islands, she attended Jefferson Medical College, where she was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, and she earned a BA in Biological Anthropology and Psychology at Swarthmore College.
The Office for Health Equity Research was formed in 2020 to coordinate and expand health equity research efforts across Yale. OHER is led by Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD MHS, Associate Dean for Health Equity Research.
MissionTo position Yale School of Medicine as an internationally recognized generator and catalyst of innovative and transformative health equity research.
VisionWe envision health equity research at Yale as a portfolio of activities across the translational research spectrum that moves beyond documenting group disparities in health outcomes and healthcare delivery to generating sustainable solutions through the application of novel approaches.
- Dr. Daniel F. Sarpong, trained biostatistician, is a Senior Research Scientist in the Department of General Internal Medicine and Executive Director of the Office of Health Equity Research (OHER). Dr. Sarpong’s research focuses on translational research exploring innovative approaches to mitigating biological and social determinants of health disparities in primarily chronic diseases. Before joining Yale University in the School of Medicine, He was a Tenured Professor of Biostatistics, Endowed Chair of Health Disparities, and Director of the Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities (CMHDRE) at the Xavier University of Louisiana. Additionally, he served as the Director of the Community Engagement Cores of Xavier RCMI Cancer Center and the Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science (LA CaTS) Center. During 2000 and 2010, he was Director and Co-Principal Investigator of the Jackson Heart Study Coordinating Center (JHSCC), Director of Data Management, Quality Assurance, and Information Technology, and Senior Biostatistician of the JHSCC at Jackson State University.
- Layne Gianakos joined Yale School of Medicine in April 2022 as the first program coordinator for the newly formed Office of Health Equity Research. In this role, he focuses on addressing health disparities in Greater New Haven by supporting novel research endeavors. Prior to his career at Yale, Layne worked in the nonprofit sector addressing social determinants of health, especially for LGBTQIA populations and people living with HIV. Hailing from the area, Layne has dedicated his efforts towards advancing positive health outcomes for the local community.
- Maurice Williams is the Community Engagement /Dissemination Coordinator for ERIC, where he uses his numerous personal contacts to connect and empathize with the New Haven community. Maurice has a background in civic work and has been involved in community outreach programs, including several years spent as the “Stop the Violence” Coordinator for the NAACP, followed by work in health promotion for the Yale Griffin Prevention Research Center, and YCCI. Now, Williams handles the community engagement and dissemination for ERIC at the School of Medicine through community events, forums, focus groups, street encounters and interviews.
ERIC develops and disseminates evidence-based models to narrow health and healthcare inequity gaps and provides research support infrastructure for Yale faculty and affiliated community-based organizations.