The Monday after President-elect, Joe Biden won the 2020 elections, he got to work right away with his selection of 13 health experts to lead the COVID-19 Transition Advisory Board. The US is quickly approaching 200,000 cases reported per day and 10 million cases nationwide. This pandemic has not slowed down and with the winter months coming and flu season starting, President Biden has no time to waste in attacking his first 100 days in office.
His approach to tackling the COVID-19 crisis is to 'follow the science', and what a relief it is to rely on facts and science. The board reflects that very thought, by having a mixture of healthcare professionals to create a plan to lead us out of this mess.
So far, what is known about the board is it is co-chaired by three experts: former FDA Commissioner, Dr. David Kessler, former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, and Associate Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Yale. With varying backgrounds and professional careers, Biden has assured that he has picked the right people to help him get a safe vaccination out to the public as infections soar.
As with his selection for Vice President, Kamala Harris, Biden has chosen three people of color to serve on the board and one of those selections is a woman: Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith. Biden and his administration are bringing diversity back to the White House and being a true leader of the free world. With the undeniable presence of not only women but Black women in the White House, we are seeing the beginnings of a cultural shift in the way we think about American politics.
Dr. Nunez-Smith's appointment is nothing short of what we will see in the coming days of the Biden/Harris administration.
Dr. Maracella Nunez-Smith being chosen to co-chair the advisory board is enormously instrumental for several reasons. Her educational background screams black girl magic, and she is not only accomplished but her work is focused around communities that are not always equally represented in healthcare.
Here’s what we know about Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith:
- Originally, Dr. Nunez-Smith was born in the US Virgin Islands and attended Jefferson Medical College.
- She earned a BA in Biological Anthropology and Psychology at Swarthmore College.
- She is the Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Public Health, and Management at Yale University.
- She is also the Associate Dean for Health and Equity Research at Yale's medical school and it specializes in healthcare for marginalized populations.
- Her research focuses on promoting health and healthcare equity for structurally marginalized populations with an emphasis on 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 was the principal investigator for several NIH research projects that developed a tool to assess patient-reported experiences of discrimination in healthcare.
- Dr. Nunez-Smith serves as the advisor to Connecticut's state response to COVID-19.
Dr. Nunez-Smith has investigated the inequities that plague marginalized communities, from being patients to being healthcare students to being healthcare professionals. This often gets overlooked and the stories of these people get lost. Someone like her will understand the need for representation of our data while also doing so with care and honor. Her career goals and objectives scream 'for the culture' and it's just what we need in times like these.
Since COVID-19 has affected communities of color disproportionately, their survival depends on the safety and efficacy of a vaccine. Biden's pick of Dr. Nunez-Smith was very smart in that regard.
There are two other picks for the COVID-19 Transition Advisory Board that are people of color: Ms. Loyce Pace, MPH, Executive Director and President of the Global Health Council, and Dr. Eric Goosby, infectious disease expert, and Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. Both of which have extensive careers in healthcare and keen knowledge of marginalized communities.
Many of us are asking the question if we should take a vaccine and how will it affect our community. These appointments say, to me at least, that is a consideration and a nod to certain communities to create trust between this administration and people of color.
Only time will tell but until then, we love to see Black women in the room and at the table.
For more, please read Dr. Nunez-Smith's official bio provided by Yale.
Featured image by Yale