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Marcella Nunez-Smith

COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force Chair

Marcella Nunez-Smith previously served as co-chair of the Biden-Harris Transition’s COVID-19 Advisory Board in November 2020. Nunez-Smith’s most recent roles include leading the Equity Research and Innovation Center and serving as associate professor of general internal medicine at the Yale School of Medicine. Nunez-Smith has devoted her career to combatting health disparities and is a fierce advocate for advancing health equity, particularly among BIPOC communities. Nunez-Smith has also signaled support for advancing other human rights, including immigrant and LGBTQ rights.

Marcella Nunez-Smith Was Appointed Chair Of The COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force Within The Office Of Minority Health On December 8, 2021

On December 8, 2021, Then President-Elect Joe Biden Announced Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith’s Appointment During A White House Press Briefing. “‘To chair it, I appoint Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith. One of the country’s foremost experts on healthcare disparities, Associate Professor of Medicine and Public Health and Management at Yale School of Medicine, founding director of Yale’s Equity Research and Innovation Center and co-chair of my COVID-19 transition advisory board. Dr. Nunez-Smith will lead our efforts to provide care to the communities most in need and most effected [sic] by the pandemic and often overlooked. She’ll ensure that fairness and equity are at the center of every part of our response.’” [C-SPAN, Biden Health-Related Nominees and Appointees, 12/8/20]

The COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force Is Housed Within The HHS Office Of Minority Health And Is Led By Nunez-Smith. “The Task Force is part of the government-wide effort to identify and eliminate health and social disparities that result in disproportionately higher rates of exposure, illness, hospitalization and death related to COVID-19…The Task Force is chaired by Marcella Nunez-Smith MD. Dr. Nunez-Smith has also asked six additional Federal agencies to be represented on the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force as federal members. This includes the United States Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, and Department of Labor.” [HHS Office of Minority Health, 3/26/21]

In A Press Release, Planned Parenthood Federation Of America Celebrated Nunez-Smith’s Appointment As Chair Of The COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. “Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America: ‘With the selection of Dr. Vivek Murthy, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Jeff Zients, and Natalie Quillian to lead the nation’s COVID-19 response, the president-elect has chosen a group of talented and experienced leaders who will finally help the country overcome this pandemic, which is wreaking its worst health and economic havoc among communities of color. As a core health care provider, Planned Parenthood stands ready to work with the Biden-Harris administration on day one.’” [Planned Parenthood Federation of America, 12/7/20

Before Nunez-Smith Was Appointed Chair Of The COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, She Served As A Co-Chair Of The Biden-Harris Transition’s COVID-19 Advisory Board In November 2020. “The advisory board that Biden announced...includes doctors and scientists who have served in previous administrations, many of them experts in public health, vaccines and infectious disease. It will be led by former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler and Yale University public health care expert Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith.” [AP News, 11/9/20


Nunez-Smith Advocated For Advancing Health Equity

Nunez-Smith Spoke About The Need To Center Health Equity And Evidence-Based Science Within The COVID-19 Pandemic Response. “‘I’m proud to go to work with leaders who are deeply committed to science and to centering equity in our response to the pandemic,’ Nunez-Smith said during an online event during which she and other key health-related nominees and appointees were introduced. ‘And not as a secondary concern, not as a box to check, but as a shared value, woven into all of the work that we do and prioritized by every member of the Biden-Harris team.’” [Yale University, 12/8/20]

Nunez-Smith Called For Centering The COVID-19 Pandemic Response On Addressing Racial Disparities And Racial Injustice. “Addressing racial disparities in the U.S. coronavirus crisis cannot be an afterthought, a top adviser to President-elect Joe Biden on the Covid-19 pandemic response said Tuesday…said Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, an expert on health care inequality at Yale University, in an interview with The Associated Press…‘We cannot get this pandemic under control if we do not address head-on the issues of inequity in our country,’ she said. ‘There is no other way.’ We’ve had a collective witnessing as a country here in 2020 around the pervasive, deep-seated challenge of racial injustice,’ she said, ‘and Covid-19 exploited that reality.’” [NBC News, 12/2/20]

Nunez-Smith Emphasized The Need To Address Structural Inequities. “Nunez-Smith, who also teaches a course on health equity and population health…explained in an interview with Yale Insights last year why she takes on so much…‘We need equitable access to high-quality healthcare—and every word in that sentence matters,’ she said. ‘[But] we need a lot outside of the healthcare sector. It’s about all the structural realities that play into the realization of inequity more broadly.’” [Yale School of Management, 2/4/21]

Nunez-Smith Advocates For Improving Health Equity For BIPOC Communities, Particularly In Health Care Settings

Nunez-Smith Has Devoted Her Career To Addressing Systemic Inequities In Health Care.


[Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith Twitter, 12/7/20]

Nunez-Smith’s Research Focuses On Reducing Bias And Improving Health Equity For BIPOC Communities. “‘People of color in hospitals and practices are often invisible and must deal with climate and culture issues all the time,’ says Nunez-Smith. ‘For example, patients might refuse to accept that a person of color is a physician, even with data they have—like seeing a stethoscope.’ She led a group…to investigate workforce diversity in health care…That qualitative research would lead to work on patient health care inequity, and, with pilot data supported through a Yale Center for Clinical Investigation (YCCI) Scholar Project Award in 2006, Nunez-Smith became principal investigator of a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded grant to develop a Patient-Reported Experiences of Discrimination in Care Tool (PreDict).” [Yale School of Medicine, accessed 3/30/21

As A Clinician, Nunez-Smith Advocated For More Inclusive Medical Education And Clinical Practice. “Dr. Nunez-Smith said that cultural competency training often gets boiled down to three-hour workshops that do not translate into necessary long-term behavior changes. People need to take the next steps in creating inclusive medical education, she said…‘When I sit across from a patient, I am not striving toward competency,’ said Dr. Nunez-Smith. ‘I am striving toward humility, toward being open. Every patient has an identity. Everybody has a culture and a lived experience that is informing their health.’ Recognizing that people have different experiences – and that patients and providers have unconscious biases – is central to the idea of diversity and inclusion. ‘When we talk about diversity, we are really talking about a diversity of perspective, a diversity of biases,’ Dr. Nunez-Smith explained.” [American Society of Hematology Clinical News, 3/1/17

Nunez-Smith Signaled Support For Immigrant Rights

As Co-Chair Of The Biden-Harris Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board, Nunez-Smith Called For Advancing Equity And Promoting Rights For Immigrant, Detained, Incarcerated, And Homeless Populations. “‘It is our societal obligation,’ she said, ‘to ensure equitable access to testing, treatments, and vaccines, equitable support for those who are hurting, and equitable pathways to opportunity as we emerge from this crisis and rebuild, including for those most marginalized communities — the undocumented, the incarcerated, the homeless.’” [Yale University, 12/8/20

In Her Current Role Leading The COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, Nunez-Smith Called For Improved COVID-19 Vaccine Access For All. “‘Vaccinations are free. We need to make them easy and convenient,’ she said. ‘And we need to make sure everyone knows that regardless of documentation, status or anything else, quite frankly, that you are eligible for a vaccination here.’” [CBS News, 3/14/21

Nunez-Smith Signaled Support For LGBTQ Rights

Nunez-Smith Is Listed As A LGBTQI+ Research Mentor As A Member Of The Dean’s Advisory Council On LGBTQI+ Affairs At The Yale School Of Medicine.


[Yale School of Medicine, Accessed 3/30/21

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