Even before Ashish Jha officially became dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, he launched a bold new program to increase public health representation from historically underrepresented groups.  The Health Equity Scholars program will train leaders in public health who can make a substantial difference in reducing health disparities and addressing systemic racism.

The success of the program relies on the generosity of donors to help cover full-tuition scholarships as well as internship and mentorship funding for students of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) who are dedicated to addressing health disparities.

Enter Brown alumna Nancy E. Lemann ’78 and her husband, Mark P. Clein. Nancy, an accomplished writer and novelist, and Mark, co-founder and CEO of Precision Medicine Group, had a strong desire to support this important effort.

“This is the first program of this type that’s truly focused on building leadership in crucial areas like public health and the policy-making behind it. That’s a way of making real change,” Mark said. “There are many programs that create opportunities, but this is focused on a higher goal, which is building and changing leadership in this field.”

Nancy added, “Being from New Orleans and spending my formative years in the Gulf South region, you’re confronted on a daily basis with the historic and scandalous inequality and injustice. Ashish translated these concerns into a pragmatic structure that will affect change in a very concrete way in at least one particular realm.”

Since the program launched in June of 2020, the School of Public Health has seen a 187% increase in applicants who identify as Black or African American. The first full cohort of twelve Health Equity Scholars will arrive at Brown this fall representing seven HBCUs across the country.