2007-08 Health, Education & Human Services (HEHS) Felllow at the National Institutes of Health
Renaisa Anthony was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, where she witnessed the disproportionate burdens of disease in minority and low income communities. She chose a career in medicine with the aim of improving health outcomes for these vulnerable populations. Following her medical degree, she was an intern in obstetrics and gynecology, and then earned a master’s degree in public health. As a resident physician, Renaisa observed significant racial and ethnic disparities, including higher rates of unplanned pregnancies, preterm birth, and HIV and other sexually transmitted infections among low income and minority women. What led her to a AAAS Fellowship was the opportunity to explore alternatives to treating patients in the hospital after they have contracted a disease. An assignment at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), gave her the chance to merge medicine, public health, and policy specifically related to women’s health. Her primary project working with the office of the Surgeon General was an “opportunity of a lifetime that was both an amazing experience and an honor,” she says.
Renaisa helped coordinate responses to the PREE MIE Act (Prematurity Research Expansion and Education for Mothers who Deliver Infants Early) passed by Congress, which mandated the surgeon General to convene a conference to address the growing epidemic of preterm birth. The event was held in June 2008. Renaisa is proud of the final product: a proposed national agenda to prevent preterm birth that prioritizes eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities. Her contribution to the effort was recognized by the Surgeon General at a ceremony in July 2008. Renaisa also assisted in developing a girls’ health initiative at the Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health. She says her AAAS Fellowship was “a priceless experience,” showing her that there are many ways to be a doctor making meaningful contributions to the lives of patients.
She is now on the faculty at the George Washington University School of Public Health in the Department of Prevention and Community Health, working on a study of pregnancy outcomes among African American women. Renaisa continues to work as a consultant to NIH and HHS, and is intent on ensuring that women’s health becomes a national priority.