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2014 Herbert W. Nickens Award

Lisa Cooper, M.D., M.P.H., John Hopkins University School of Medicine

Lisa Cooper

Lisa Cooper, M.D., M.P.H., revolutionized the nation’s understanding of how race and ethnicity affect health and patient care. Through her work, she has identified precise inequities in how racial and ethnic minority patients perceive their health care providers and access the health system.  Dr. Cooper also has worked diligently to achieve health parity by partnering with these minority populations on community-tailored solutions.

“She is a people’s researcher/physician, with social justice at the forefront of all she does,” says Rev. Deborah Hickman, chief executive officer of Sisters Together and Reaching, Inc.

The Liberian-born internist’s passion for human dignity and equality began in her childhood, where she was witness to and victim of discrimination and violence. Years later, she remains a tireless and dedicated advocate for justice and human equality.

Today, Dr. Cooper is director of the Johns Hopkins Center to Eliminate Cardiovascular Health Disparities, where she and her team work with the Baltimore community to achieve the center’s namesake goal. Their efforts, funded by the National Institutes of Health, include further examination of how racial disparities manifest in cardiovascular outcomes and rigorous clinical trials to reveal proven, patient-centered solutions to alleviate the health disparities of race, particularly among African-Americans.

“Dr. Cooper’s work has changed the landscape for equality and care and social justice in medical education,” says Janice Clements, Ph.D., vice dean for faculty at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Dr. Cooper’s indelible mark on health equity efforts in the United States is further enhanced by her warm, encouraging, and welcoming demeanor, which also makes her a highly effective and sought-after educator, collaborator, and mentor. She has mentored more than 50 scholars across the health professions since joining Johns Hopkins University faculty in 1994, where she is the James F. Fries Professor of Medicine in the School of Medicine and a professor in both the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the School of Nursing.

Dr. Cooper received her B.A. from Emory University and her M.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She completed her internship and residency at the University of Maryland Hospitals and Baltimore VA Medical Center. She received her M.P.H. from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health while completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

A prolific scholar and dedicated investigator, Dr. Cooper has received numerous awards and honors for her work, including a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, the James D. Bruce Memorial Award for Distinguished Contributions to Preventive Medicine from the American College of Physicians, and membership in the Institute of Medicine. This is the second time she has been honored in the spirit of Herbert W. Nickens, having received an award in his name from the Society of General Internal Medicine in 2006.

Watch the video spotlight on Dr. Cooper here.

More about Dr. Cooper

Herbert W. Nickens Award

Named in honor of the late Herbert W. Nickens, MD, MA, founder and past vice president of the AAMC's Diversity Policy and Programs unit, the Herbert W. Nickens Memorial Fund was established by the AAMC to continue advancing Dr. Nickens' concerns about the educational, societal, and health care needs of minorities. The fund supports an annual Nickens leadership award, an annual faculty fellowship, and five annual student scholarships.