Virtual Town Hall for Social Justice: Health Care Disparities: The COVID 19 Pandemic, Wednesday, July 29, 3 pm EDT
Please use this form to submit questions to our panelists. Panelist information and area of expertise is listed below.

Dr. Héctor E. Alcalá, Assistant Professor, Department of Family, Population and Preventive Medicine

Expertise: Dr. Alcalá's research examines racial and ethnic health disparities, the impact of discrimination on health, and the impact of early life adversity on health. He has examined the impact of discrimination in health care on access and utilization of health care. Additionally he has examined racial and ethnic health disparities in the US, and studied the health of Latinx and Middle Eastern populations.

Dr. Ken Kaushansky, Dean, School of Medicine and Senior Vice President of Health Sciences

I am in a position to witness the unfortunate effects of healthcare disparities throughout Suffolk County; and how students, residents, and faculty of color continue to experience the impact of the structural racism that has become so apparent with the callous and racist murders of people of color throughout this country. We in the healthcare profession have an opportunity to influence these aspects of modern society by reducing disparities and improving diversity through research, education, mentoring, communication, and outreach to our communities with improved, culturally sensitive clinical care.

Dr. Benjamin Locklair, Attorney and Forensic Psychologist, Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services

Since 2012 I have worked with the Philadelphia city government in various capacities to improve outcomes for people at the intersection of the behavioral health and criminal justice systems. In early 2020, Philadelphia undertook a massive effort to reduce its jail census in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I provided support for efforts to create treatment and follow-up plans for incarcerated people with serious mental health conditions so that judges would approve their release from incarceration. While this effort was successful in moving more than a thousand people back into the community and out immediate danger from the dense living quarters of our jails, we found in retrospect both that people of color and people with serious mental health conditions did not benefit from this effort as much as other people did. In many ways, the COVID-19 response recapitulated all the same problems of racial inequity that we have seen in other parts of the criminal justice system despite our best efforts. With the passing of the first stage of this crisis we are now coming together with other stakeholders in the system to determine how the we all must change the way we do things to stop perpetuating racial injustice, and then to make those changes.


Dr. Jennie Williams, Associate Professor, Department of Family, Population and Preventive Medicine

Dr. Jennie Williams’ academic interests include Cancer Chemoprevention and Racial/Ethnic Health Disparity. Currently, she is addressing the underlying genetic/regulatory causes associated with cancer racial health disparity; a major health concern in this nation. As such, Dr. Williams’ group is assessing the dysregulation of miRNAs (which represent emerging major regulators of gene expression) and aberrant DNA methylation as factors influencing racial health disparity in the incidence and mortality rates of colorectal cancer.

Dr. Ting Liu, Associate Professor, Department of Economics

Dr. Liu’s fields of research include applied theory, Industrial Organization, and Health Economics. Her research in Health Economics studies contracting arrangements between insurers and healthcare providers and how the nature of the contract affects healthcare outcomes. She also investigates corruption in the health care system in developing countries.
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