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2017 Herbert W. Nickens Award

George C. Hill, PhD, Vanderbilt University

Hill

In his last four decades in academia, George C. Hill, PhD, devoted his career to encouraging diversity, inclusion, and equity in the biomedical workforce and beyond.

His efforts made a demonstrable difference at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM), where he was recruited from Meharry Medical College to serve as VUSM’s first associate dean for diversity in medical education from 2002 until 2011. With the support of then Dean Steven Gabbe, MD, he developed and led the implementation of a strategic plan that revised VUSM’s admissions process and enhanced faculty recruitment.

“Dr. Hill’s contribution in expanding the diversity of the medical  students  at  Vanderbilt  has  been  transformative for both the school and the university. Vanderbilt is a  better place because of George’s many accomplishments in recruiting, mentoring, and retaining the best and brightest underrepresented minority students,” says Jeffrey Balser,MD, dean of the medical school.

An accomplished biochemical microbiologist, Dr. Hill demonstrated an interest in diversifying the biomedical research workforce early in his career. In the decades that have followed, he has mentored dozens of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and was selected in 1997 as a “Giant in Science” by the Quality Education for Minorities Network.

Dr. Hill’s research has furthered understanding of African trypanosomes, parasites prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa that cause sleeping sickness in humans. His discoveries have earned him many accolades: he was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Nairobi, and he received the Seymour Hunter Prize for Research from the Society of Protozoologists. He has been elected an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) fellow, a National Academy of Microbiology fellow, and a member of the National Academy of Medicine.

In 2015, Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos recruited Dr. Hill out of retirement to serve on his leadership team as the first vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion and chief diversity officer at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Hill retiredas vice chancellor in July 2017.

“George Hill is a giant in two fields, molecular biology and fostering diversity. He has a deep understanding both of the opportunities that we have as a top research and teaching university and the challenges we must overcome until every single member of our community is fully and equally included,” says Mr. Zeppos.

Dr. Hill completed his bachelor’s degree at Rutgers University– Camden, his master’s degree at Howard University, and his PhD in biochemistry at New York University. He completed his postdoctoral education at the University of Kentucky and the University of Cambridge in England. Dr. Hill has held faculty positions at Vanderbilt, Colorado State University, and Meharry Medical College. He was instrumental in establishing the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance in 1999, which continues to advance interinstitutional collaborations in research, learning, and community engagement.

Press Contacts
John Howser
615-322-4747
john.howser@vanderbilt.edu
John Buarotti
202-828-0632
jbuarotti@aamc.org

More About Dr. Hill

Quality Education for Minorities Network

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance


Herbert W. Nickens Award

Named in honor of the late Herbert W. Nickens, M.D., M.A., 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.