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Woods Named Director of Maya Angelou Research Center on Minority Health

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Kristy Freeman Woods, M.D., M.P.H., has been named director of the Maya Angelou Research Center on Minority Health of Wake Forest University Health Sciences.

Woods has also been appointed a tenured professor of internal medicine (general internal medicine) at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Both appointments are effective June 1.

“We at the center are fortunate beyond the telling of it to have Dr. Kristy Woods’ dedication, intelligence and experience,” said Maya Angelou, internationally renowned writer and Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University. “I know that her being on board spells success to our general efforts.”

The Maya Angelou Research Center on Minority Health was established in recognition of widespread racial and ethnic health disparities that represent a major public health issue in the United States. The center’s primary goal is to close the gap in health, quality of life, and lifespan differences between minority populations and the general population.

The center is the only one of its kind. It represents a partnership formed by Wake Forest University, its medical school, Winston-Salem State University, and Forsyth County. It will focus on advancing research on health issues affecting minorities, developing health care approaches based on research findings, promoting medical career development among underrepresented minorities, and providing outreach programs and national symposia to promote these objectives.

Its major objectives are identification of risk factors, prevention strategies, and effective treatments for diseases that are common among minority populations, and improvement of lifelong health status and health care access for those individuals.

Woods, a nationally recognized authority on sickle cell disease, is currently professor of medicine at Meharry Medical College and professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University, both in Nashville, Tenn. At Meharry, she also serves as vice chair for research in the Department of Medicine, director of the Meharry Sickle Cell Center, and director of the Meharry Clinical Research Education and Career Development Program.

“The Maya Angelou Research Center provides an exceptional opportunity for Wake Forest University Health Sciences and the Winston-Salem community to come together to address and positively impact the important issues of minority health and health disparities," said Woods. "We have the benefit of strong support and commitment from the leadership within the institution, the center, and the community.”

She added, “This should enable us to become a national model for successful partnerships that advance our scientific understanding of minority health concerns and improve the health of the population through meaningful community-based research efforts. I am delighted to have the opportunity to serve the center and the school in this capacity."

In addition to her extensive involvement in teaching and patient care, Woods has conducted research as principal or co-investigator on numerous grants supported by the National Institutes of Health and various other federal agencies, foundations, and industry. Her previous academic experience includes faculty appointments at the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, and the Pritzker School of Medicine of the University of Chicago.

“She is the right person to lead the center toward significant achievements for our community and for the nation,” said Richard H. Dean, M.D., president and chief executive officer, Wake Forest University Health Sciences. “We look forward to working with her to make great things happen.”

Woods received her bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio. She received her medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine and a master’s degree in public health from Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Woods trained as a resident in internal medicine at the Tulane University Affiliated Programs.

From 1992 to 1994 she served as a fellow in the Health Services Research Institute for Minority Faculty of the Association of American Medical Colleges in Washington, D.C. Woods was a visiting faculty member at Moi University of Health Sciences in Eldoret, Kenya during the summer of 1996.

“Her professional background and experience as an administrator, educator, and researcher and her dedication to minority health issues will be invaluable to the school of medicine and to the success of the Maya Angelou Research Center on Minority Health in accomplishing its extraordinary mission,” said William B. Applegate, M.D., M.P.H., senior vice president, Wake Forest University Health Sciences and dean of Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

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Contact: Jim Steele jsteele@wfubmc.edu, Jonnie Rohrer jrohrer@wfubmc.edu, Karen Richardson krchrdsn@wfubmc.edu, or Barbara Hahn bhahn@wfubmc.edu, (336) 716-4587.

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