Media contact: Kathryn Marguy,
September 23, 2021


Lisa Cooper, MD, MPH, a pioneering public health disparities researcher, general internist, and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine and Nursing, has been appointed to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) by President Joe Biden. The White House announced the appointment on September 22, 2021.

One of the most prominent White House advisory panels, PCAST counsels the President on developments related to science, innovation, and technology, including those related to health and medicine. In his Executive Order rechartering the Council earlier this year, President Biden highlighted the group’s role in providing pivotal scientific and technological data-driven expertise to inform his Administration’s evidence-based decision making. This represents a renewal of the Council’s convening following a four-year absence.
Cooper is a professor in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Distinguished Professor. She is also the James F. Fries Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Cooper is the founder and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity, a transdisciplinary research center working to fortify healthcare institutions, communities, and health policies with a goal of ending health disparities at the local, national, and international level. Cooper joined the Johns Hopkins University faculty in 1994.

“Inequities in access to education, health care and economic opportunities are among the most serious problems we face in the U.S. and around the world,” says Cooper. “I’m honored to serve as a member of President Biden’s President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. I hope to use this opportunity to translate my own and other scientists’ research findings and practices to help ensure that Americans of all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds are engaged in and benefit from the creation and rewards of science and technology.”

Dr. Cooper is also the author of the narrative work Why Are Health Disparities Everyone’s Problem? which was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in June in print as well as an e-book and Open Access volume. Marc Morial, President and CEO of The National Urban League, calls the book “...not only an essential read, but a central question for our time.” Dr. Garth Graham, Global Head of Public Health for Google, Inc., praised it as a “commanding narrative.”

“Dr. Cooper’s appointment to PCAST will ensure that her extraordinary work and unique perspectives around one of the most important issues of our time--health equity—contribute to policies that improve lives worldwide,” said JHUP publisher and director Barbara Kline Pope. “We’re honored to have her as an inaugural author in our Johns Hopkins Wavelengths book series. The stories she shares about her life and research, and the vital information she presents about the roots of health inequities in America and what must still be done to reverse its injustices, create a captivating account.”

Julie Messersmith, Johns Hopkins University’s Executive Director for Research, shares in the celebration of this honor. “Dr. Cooper was named a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in 2017 in recognition of her world-class interdisciplinary research and the far-reaching impact of her work. She has been actively mentoring the next generation of scholars in health equity and scaling interventions to save lives. With her appointment to PCAST, her interdisciplinary and practical perspective can influence the future of science and technology policy for the betterment of all peoples.”

Born in Liberia, Dr. Cooper credits her early experiences witnessing social inequality with fueling her passion for health equity, and she has dedicated her career to leading health disparities research. Her work has provided some of the earliest evidence of disparities in the relationship quality between doctors and patients from marginalized backgrounds. Cooper has created a range of interventions to foster patient-physician communication and curb disparities in the healthcare system. Cooper is a 2007 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award for exploring disparities in the quality of patient care and interventions to promote effective patient-physician communication and is a member of the National Academy of Medicine. She has served as a mentor to dozens of current and aspiring medical, public health, and nursing professionals.

PCAST was first established in 1933 as the Science Advisory Board under President Franklin Roosevelt. With its new members, PCAST is now the most diverse Council to date, with regard to race, ethnicity, gender, and scientific disciplines. Approximately two-thirds of the Council members hold academic roles, while one-third come from the private sector.

In classrooms, field stations, and laboratories in Baltimore and around the world, the Bloomberg Distinguished Professors of Johns Hopkins University are opening the boundaries of our understanding on many of the world’s most complex challenges. The Johns Hopkins Wavelengths series brings readers inside their stories, presenting the pioneering discoveries and innovations that benefit people in their neighborhoods and across the globe in artificial intelligence, cancer research, food systems, health equity, science diplomacy, and other critical areas of study. Through these compelling narratives, their insights will spark conversations from dorm rooms to dining rooms to boardrooms.

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