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Pediatrician addresses inequities in health care for minorities

Sacramento, Calif.-ย— Elizabeth Miller, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the UC Davis School of Medicine, has been awarded the 2009 Herbert W. Nickens Faculty Fellowship by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the nation’s leading medical education organization. Miller will receive the award during the AAMC’s annual meeting Nov. 6 through 11 in Boston.

The fellowship recognizes an outstanding junior faculty member who has demonstrated leadership in the United States in addressing inequities in medical education and health care; demonstrated efforts in addressing the educational, societal and health-care needs of minorities; and is committed to a career in academic medicine. The recipient receives a $15,000 award to support academic and professional activities.

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Miller was nominated for the fellowship by Claire Pomeroy, vice chancellor for human health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine at UC Davis.

‘Dr. Miller is a truly exceptional and deeply committed physician who has a strong track record of caring for underserved communities, educating future health-care professionals about social determinants of health and demonstrating the critical importance of community-engaged research,’ said Pomeroy. ‘She is internationally known for her work on adolescent dating violence and marginalized youth, including gang members and pregnant and parenting teens in communities of color. I offer her my deepest, heart-felt congratulations.’

Miller describes herself as a ‘physician-advocate and community-partnered intervention researcher’ whose work is focused on addressing issues of gender-based violence and innovative health-care delivery ย— including violence prevention and mental-health services ย— for underserved youth and young adults.

“Receiving this award is an intensely humbling experience, as it is more honestly a reflection of the community partners who have taught me so much about building on the strengths in underserved communities,’ Miller said. ‘I also am immensely grateful to UC Davis’ leadership and my colleagues who have created such a rich, supportive community of scholars who share a similar vision.’

Miller has a long history of promoting equity in health care for underserved, marginalized youth, reaching back to her education at Harvard University, where she obtained a combined medical doctorate and doctorate in anthropology. She wrote her dissertation on the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and gender-based violence, with a focus on sex trafficking in Japan.

After completing her medical education at Harvard and an internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, she returned to her home town in Japan, where she continued her work in gender-based violence. There she trained Japanese health-care providers to screen for domestic violence, obtained a Japanese medical license, and practiced medicine at a community hospital. She then returned to Harvard, where she taught students in community-based medicine, directed a community-based teen clinic and school-based health center and began her research on adolescent dating violence among low-income girls.

Miller joined the faculty at UC Davis in 2006, and since that time has devoted herself to research and clinical practice in adolescent health and trauma among marginalized and vulnerable youth of color. These activities include a project on mental-health services for gang-involved youth; a personal health-information record for homeless and foster-care youth; research on intimate-partner violence intervention in family-planning clinics; and work on a behavioral-health-services program in rural schools using telemedicine.

Miller plans to use the Nickens Fellowship funds to help develop an innovative personalized health record for homeless youth, which aims to address the fragmented care that many youth receive and to ensure that they are connected to a medical home.
The Association of American Medical Colleges is a not-for-profit association representing all 131 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, including 68 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and nearly 90 academic and scientific societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC represents 128,000 faculty members, 75,000 medical students, and 110,000 resident physicians.

UC Davis School of Medicine is among the nation’s leading medical schools, recognized for its specialty- and primary-care programs.The school offers combined medical and master’s degree programs in public health, business administration, and rural health, as well as a combined medical and doctoral degree for physician scientists interested in addressing specific scientific, social, ethical and political challenges of health care. Along with being a leader in health-care research, the school is known for its commitment to people from underserved communities and a passion for clinical care. For more information, visit UC Davis School of Medicine.

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