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Diabetes Health Disparities: Biology, Race, or Racism

Wednesday, September 29, 2021 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm


Sherita Hill Golden, M.D.
Hugh P. McCormick Family Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism
Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer
John Hopkins Medicine

Dr. Golden has had a successful career as a physician-scientist focused on diabetes epidemiology, health services research and disparities. She is the Hugh P. McCormick Family Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism and holds a joint appointment in the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research. She is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians. In 2017, she was co-recipient of the Walter Reed Distinguished Achievement Award from the Medical Alumni Association and Medical School Foundation at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, which recognizes professional accomplishment, outstanding innovation and exemplary leadership in the field of medicine. She also received the 2019 University of Virginia Distinguished Alumna Award not only for her work in the field of medicine and science, but also for her community engagement work following Baltimore’s civil unrest surrounding the 2015 death of Freddie Gray.


As a specialty, endocrinology has focused on biological contributors to disparities in diabetes, obesity and other endocrine disorders. Less attention has been paid, however, to the institutional racism inherent in our healthcare systems and social policies that lead to those biological risk factors. A history of unconsented medical and research experimentation on vulnerable groups and perpetuation of eugenics theory in the early 20th century have resulted in residual health care provider biases toward minority patients and patient distrust of medical systems, leading to poor quality of care. Historical discriminatory housing and lending policies resulted in racial residential segregation and neighborhoods with inadequate housing, healthy food access, and educational resources, setting the foundation for the social determinants of health (SDOH) contributing to present-day disparities. Reduction in health disparities can be achieved through health system, public health, and policy-level interventions to address the structural and institutional racism embedded in our medical and social systems. 


  • To articulate race/ethnic disparities in diabetes and endocrine disorders
  • To articulate multi-level contributors to race/ethnic disparities
  • To articulate interventions to reduce race/ethnic health and healthcare disparities and achieve health equity 

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