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    2018 Herbert W. Nickens Award

    Griffin P. Rodgers, MD, MACP, Director, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health

    Griffin P. Rodgers, MD, MACP, has dedicated his career to eliminating racially based health disparities while creating opportunities for underrepresented minorities within the biomedical workforce.

    A New Orleans native, Dr. Rodgers saw three close friends die of sickle cell disease, a tragedy that spurred his desire to become a physician investigator and to eventually help develop the first FDA-approved treatment for the disease.

    Today, Dr. Rodgers leads the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), where he manages a $2 billion annual budget that funds medical research, training, and educational initiatives and inspires a staff of 600 to prevent and alleviate chronic diseases, many of which disproportionately affect minorities.

    Embracing a multidisciplinary approach, Dr. Rodgers has contributed to international strides in addressing health disparities in chronic diseases such as diabetes. African Americans are 70% more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than non-Hispanic white adults, a gap that Dr. Rodgers has worked to narrow by developing a wide-reaching prevention education campaign. It includes Healthy Moments, a program that airs targeted health messages on selected radio stations across the country. The initiative, now in its 10th year, reaches more than 60 million people annually. For these efforts, Dr. Rodgers earned the NIH Director’s Award in 2012.

    In addition to educating the public, Dr. Rodgers has focused on enhancing diversity in the biomedical workforce. Under his leadership, the NIDDK established a diversity-focused partnership between the NIH and the National Medical Association (NMA) that has provided more than 650 travel awards for underrepresented medical researchers and fellows to attend the annual NMA Convention. In 2010 and 2017, the NMA awarded Dr. Rodgers its highest honor, the Scroll of Merit, for his contributions to medicine and health advocacy. The NIDDK has also prioritized diversity in its research and research training programs, including high school and undergraduate summer research training programs that have benefitted more than 1,000 promising high-risk students.

    A sought-after speaker and prolific scholar, Dr. Rodgers’ advocacy for diversity and health equity “both within NIH and more broadly has had a tangible social impact,” says M. Roy Wilson, MD, president of Wayne State University.

    Dr. Rodgers earned his medical degree from Brown University and completed his residency and chief residency in internal medicine at Barnes Hospital and the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He completed a fellowship in hematology/oncology through a joint program of the NIH with the George Washington University and the Washington Veterans Administration Center. He also earned an MBA from Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Rodgers is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Royal College of Physicians (London).