Health equity and disparities

Urban learning. Global impact.

From prenatal to end-of-life care, Wayne State is a national leaderĀ in health disparities research and advocacy, with a mission to achieve health equity across diverse populations. Wayne State students work alongside renowned faculty experts to address health disparities ailing Detroit's population such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Through interdisciplinary research, programmatic pathways and collaborative partnerships, Wayne State students are making a measurable impact in communities at home and around the world.

Health Disparities Research - Wayne State University's Perspectives

President Wilson shares details about Wayne State's efforts to combat health disparities in Detroit and across the globe.


Abbass Berjaoui

“Everyone should be able to live a healthy life, and I want to help ensure that.”

A refugee of the 2006 Lebanon War, Abbass is channeling his difficult experiences to address health disparities in Detroit. Before fleeing the country, Abbass and his family relied on foreign aid for basic necessities and a free clinic for medical care. When he came to Detroit and noticed many communities facing similar problems, Abbass founded MedEq: Medical Equity at Wayne State, a nonprofit student organization focused on reducing health disparities and promoting equity in the health care system. He is now looking for ways to expand the organization to other universities and, after graduation, he plans to establish free clinics throughout Detroit.

Wanda Gibson-Scipio

An assistant professor (clinical) in the College of Nursing and co-director of the Michigan Area Health Education Center. Her research on technology use is proving vital in helping youth gain disease self-management, medication adherence, and self-advocacy skills as they transition from pediatric to adult care. 

Gibson-Scipio was a principal investigator on research funded by the Detroit Medical Center Faculty Scholar Award to describe the unmet health care needs of young adults with asthma. She was also funded by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation to explore the recommendations of African American youth with asthma for the development of an asthma transition readiness mobile application and is currently a co-investigator on a study to evaluate the use of multicomponent technology-based interventions using motivational interviewing to support asthma controller medication adherence. 

Jannel Lee-Allen

"I came to Wayne State to meet the needs of the urban underserved."

Jannel followed a master’s in urban planning with a medical degree because of her passion for people and science. In the classroom, this devoted wife and mother has developed the skills to serve her community. Outside, she's assisted students and Detroit residents through various student associations, scholarship boards and service organizations.

Sylvie Naar-King

Award-winning researcher focused on minimizing the health disparities affecting adolescents in the Detroit area. Recipient of numerous grants for research related to HIV treatment and prevention, with a focus on pediatric and adolescent HIV. Member of the Population Studies and Prevention Program at Karmanos Cancer Institute. Recipient of the Helppie Endowed Professorship of Urban Health Research. Professional consultant and media expert on the subject of child health and development. Member of the editorial advisory board for AIDS Patient Care and STDs. Author of numerous scholarly articles published in professional journals.

Hayley Thompson

Program leader of population studies and disparities research at Karmanos Cancer Institute. Director of the PCORI-funded Detroit HealthLink for Equity in Cancer Care to increase community engagement in cancer research. Principal investigator of an AHRQ-funded study of technology use among cancer survivors. Member of the NIH Societal and Ethical Issues in Research study section and grant review panel. Former chair, Michigan Cancer Consortium’s Health Disparities Workgroup. Respected mentor. Invited guest speaker on the topics of health disparities and cancer, nationally and locally. Author and reviewer of numerous scholarly publications.

Paul Kilgore

Co-leader of the WSU Flint Area Community Health and Environment Partnership. Former medical epidemiologist for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Long-term Service Award, International Vaccine Institute. Achievement Medal, U.S. Public Health Service. Member, Michigan State Medical Society Committee on Public Health and Infectious Disease Society of America. Faculty member in the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. 

Dazmonique Carr

Dazmonique "Daz" Carr came to WSU from Lawnside, New Jersey, to join the track and field program’s first official class. She mentors students on fitness, nutrition and transitioning to high school. She’s also a volunteer coordinator for NutriWayne, a student ambassador, a volunteer at Detroit Children’s Center and a dedicated contributor to the College of Education’s community outreach initiatives. This all-region student athlete’s next step is to graduate and qualify for the 2020 Olympic trials. After that, she plans to build a career teaching inner-city youth how to lead healthy lives. 

Dawn Misra

Expert on infant mortality among African American women. Principal investigator of more than $8 million in research funding on perinatal health. Co-chair of a working group for the U.S. Surgeon General’s Conference on Preterm Birth, chair of the Committee for the Mayor’s Summit on Health Equity in Detroit 2016 and member of the Michigan Maternal Mortality Surveillance Injury Committee. Creator of a perinatal health-life course model adopted by the Institute of Medicine Report on Preterm Birth, and cited more than 150 times worldwide.

Ariana Shane

Ariana was born and raised in Detroit. After graduating from the University of Michigan, she worked as a medical scribe at Troy Beaumont Hospital and developed a passion for emergency medicine. Ariana volunteers at health fairs coordinated by DMC Sinai-Grace, the hospital she was born in. She’s also co-president of LGBT People in Medicine, co-coordinator of the Warrior M.D. Ambassadors and a volunteer with the Code Blue Organization, teaching young students about science and medicine. After graduation, she hopes to become a U.S. Army physician to honor her late grandfather. 

Andrew Darmahkasih

"A lot of places say they're committed to the community, but Wayne State truly lives out that mission."

When the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami devastated his home country of Indonesia, Andrew was inspired to pursue a medical career with a humanitarian mission. This third-year M.D. students is communications director for Street Medicine Detroit and a member of the Aesculapians Honor Society, Ultrasounds a cappella group, and Christian Medical Association. Driven by his experiences at WSU, he's working to become a pediatrician and serve the underprivileged in the inner city.

Featured experts

  • Why is elder abuse on the rise in urban communities

    Elder abuse, particularly through financial exploitation, is a growing problem in the United States. The National Center on Elder Abuse reveals that 2 to 5 million older Americans are abused each year — roughly one out of 20.

  • WSU doctor addressing risk for Legionnaires’ disease in Flint

    Dr. Paul Kilgore from Wayne State’s Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is leading effforts to provide technical assistance in epidemiologic surveillance for Legionnaires’ disease in Flint. 

  • Expert on substance abuse and addiction

    Jamey Lister is an assistant professor in the School of Social Work as well as an adjunct assistant professor in the School of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences. He is an expert on opioid addiction, particularly heroin abuse in Detroit.

  • WSU’s Center For Health And Community Impact leads Healthy Kids Clubs

    Nate McCaughtry's areas of scholarly expertise include: elementary and secondary physical education, socio-cultural issues in physical education and related fields, qualitative research methodology, cultural competence in education and health settings, and urban education.

  • Wayne State leads preterm birth research

    Sonia Hassan, M.D., is director of the Center for Advanced Obstetrical Care and Research at the Perinatology Research Branch of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health. 

  • Sustainable food systems highlight urban planning at WSU

    Kami Pothukuchi is associate professor and interim chair of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at Wayne State University. She is the founding director of SEED Wayne, a campus-community collaborative dedicated to building sustainable food systems at WSU and in Detroit neighborhoods

  • Health equity researcher investigates racial divide in preterm birth rates

    Dawn P. Misra, Ph.D., was recently tabbed as the chair of the committee for the Mayor’s Summit on Health Equity in Detroit. Misra is professor and associate chair for research in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences at the Wayne State University School of Medicine. She is leading research in Deroit that examines why preterm birth rates rates among black women remain much higher than for whites.

  • WSU head trauma expert available to comment on new film Concussion

    WSU biomedical engineering professor Zhifeng Kou is available to comment on the new film Concussion. He has developed cutting edge MRI techniques to improve the detection of brain concussion and worked with NFL committee to detect the small bleeds in the retired NFL players’ brain. 

Health equity at Wayne State University