The Center for Health Disparities Research at the Medical University of South Carolina is focused on eliminating racial/ethnic, socioeconomic and rural/urban disparities in health.
through excellence in all phases of our work and continually improving our programs and practices based on new knowledge.
to communities through development of health interventions that are effective and practical in the real world.
After completing my medical training in 1990, I spent three years serving a rural health clinic in Northern Nigeria in Africa. On Fridays, we drove four hours to remote areas where no health care existed, and I saw that a motivated few could make a difference.
When I moved to the United States in 1995, I was surprised to find great inequities in access to health care here as well. After residency training, I chose a research career in academic medicine to be a voice for the poor, underserved and marginalized. My research focuses on improving access and quality of care for the underserved and erasing disparities between groups.
Others interested in this pursuit have joined me in creating and developing MUSC’s Center for Health Disparities Research, which officially began in 2005. In addition, I oversaw development of a similar center at the Charleston VA that started as a small health services center in 2004 and eventually grew into the VA Health Equity and Rural Outreach Innovation Center (HEROIC). There is a great deal of collaboration and crossover between the two endeavors with more than 50 investigators seeking to understand disparities, developing solutions and empowering people to make their lives better.
We have worked with the African American community in Charleston to address the growing burden of diabetes among ethnic minorities by providing education, training and support to minority communities. We have also worked with Federally Qualified Health Centers in the Lowcountry to improve access to care and quality of care for ethnic minority populations.
We are also reaching out to indigenous populations in other parts of the world, including East Africa and Central America. In 2005, I went on a medical missions trip to Panama and was never the same. I couldn’t shake the poverty and lack of medical resources we confronted, seeing people walk 5-10 miles just to receive care from our team. Malnutrition, infant mortality, unsafe water supplies, poor living conditions and restricted access to health care services are common conditions in indigenous communities. This lack of health care contributes to the continuation of poverty and social injustice and limits the capacity and options of the community and its members. Through partnerships with indigenous communities, we seek to help develop health care capacity and empower the population in addressing their health needs.
As we look to the future and continue to push for progress, we are also developing the next generation of researchers who will carry on this dynamic work. Whether locally, nationally or internationally, we welcome your interest and invite you to join us.
Leonard Egede, MD, MS
Director, MUSC Center for Health Disparities Research (CHRD)
Director, Charleston VA Health Equity and Rural Outreach Innovation Center (HEROIC)
Learn more about Dr. Egede’s efforts with the nonprofit Indigenous Health International.