New Initiative from Penn researchers Aims to Advance Anti-racist Healthcare Models


Eight Penn healthcare researchers, including PISC Senior Scholar Eugenia South, MD, MSHP and PISC Internal Advisory Board Member, Rachel Werner, MD, MSHP, created a new initiative, Bold Solutions: Dismantle Racism. Advance Health. This new initiative aims to aimed at finding solutions to the problems of institutional, structural, and interpersonal racism that impact health, including throughout the U.S. health care system.


Dr. South highlights that the COVID–19 pandemic is only the latest example of healthcare disparity between the treatment of Black and White patients. The initiative was created in response to police brutality against Black people as well as the COVID–19 pandemic's disproportionate effect on the Black community, Eugenia South, Bold Solutions researcher and director of the Penn Urban Health Lab, said.


“There is still a notion out there that race is a biologic construct and that there are biologic differences between Black people and White people,” South said. “We learn that Black people are at higher risk for hypertension, whereas the truth of the matter is that it is exposure to racism that Black people face over time that has created the circumstances and situation that make Black people have higher rates of hypertension.”

Other founders of the Bold Solutions: Dismantle Racism. Advance Health. initiative include Director of the Penn Medicine Center for Digital Health, Raina Merchant, MD, MSHP; Executive Director of the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation, David Asch, MD, MBA; Director of Engagement at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, Alison Buttenheim, PhD, MBA; Director of Research at the Penn Center for Public Health Initiatives, Carolyn Cannuscio, ScD; Director of the Penn Opportunity for Health Lab, Atheendar Venkataramani, PhD, MD; and Director of the Penn Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics, Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD.

The group is asking the Penn community to submit proposals by Nov. 9 for projects it could undertake related to health care and racism.

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