UNC health disparities expert selected as White House Fellow

Wizdom Powell Hammond, Ph.D., a public health researcher at UNC-Chapel Hill, has been named to the 2011-2012 class of White House Fellows.

Hammond is assistant professor of health behavior and health education in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Her community-based research examines the impact of neighborhood, health care and socioeconomic resources on racial health disparities, with an emphasis on vulnerable black males.

President Lyndon B. Johnson created the White House Fellows Program in 1964 to give promising American leaders “first hand, high-level experience with the workings of the federal government and to increase their sense of participation in national affairs.” It aims to encourage active citizenship and a lifelong commitment to service. Fellows also take part in an education program designed to broaden their knowledge of leadership, policy formulation and current affairs, and they participate in community service projects in the Washington, D.C. area.

Hammond, one of 15 new fellows, has been placed in the U.S. Department of Defense.

She also directs the UNC Men’s Health Research Lab, which includes projects to reduce cancer disparities among adult African-Americans in North Carolina. In 2009, she gave invited expert testimony to the President’s Cancer Panel about racial/ethnic minority health-care experiences. Before coming to UNC, she was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar at the University of California at San Francisco and Berkeley.

William Friday, president emeritus of the UNC system, “played a major role in establishing the White House Fellows program and served as chairman of the commission’s executive committee in its formative years,” wrote William Link, in “William Friday: Power, Purpose, and American Higher Education” (UNC Press, 1997).

Information about the fellows program is available at www.whitehouse.gov/fellows.