Consensus Panels

The Expert Consensus Panels represent a current, active community of scholars who have been brought together by The Cobb Institute to exchange ideas and to continually contribute to a furthering of the health disparities discourse. Rather than participating in a one-time event, these Experts continue the work of the Consensus Panel at their home institutions and in other venues, reconvening as necessary to collaboratively explore new advancements in the evidence base around their specific issue areas. 



Chair, Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D.

Chief Executive Officer, Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science  
Van Dusen Endowed Chair in Orthopedic Surgery, 
University of Connecticut Health Center



Chair, Cedric Bright, M.D., FACP
Associate Dean for Admissions 
East Carolina University, Brody School of Medicine

The initial CP, titled "The Cobb Institute Panel on the Pipeline in Medical Education," was held at Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, FL on February 5, 2016. Despite many programs designed to increase minority enrollment in schools of medicine, the percentage of underrepresented minorities (URMs) in medical education has never reached the level of representation (12%) in the United States population. In fact, Black men are increasingly underrepresented in medical schools and in the medical profession. The purpose of this panel was to discuss and identify effective programs and strategies used to increase admissions of URMs in general, and black males in particular, into medical school.



Chair, Edith Mitchell, M.D., FACP, FCPP 
Clinical Professor of Medicine and Medical Oncology, Department of Medical Oncology Director, Center to Eliminate Cancer Disparities 
Associate Director, Diversity Affairs 
Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson 
116th President, National Medical Association 

The Initial CP was held at UConn on October 31, 2016. The basis for this Panel was the observed widening mortality disparity from breast cancer for African American women even as their breast cancer incidence converges with the highest incidence population in the U.S., white American women, which is seen in numbers from The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program of the National Cancer Institute. A follow up 2017 Symposia was held in Philadelphia, “Precision Medicine Impact on Breast Cancer in African American Women: Future of Cancer Research in Addressing Cancer Disparities,” which facilitated our current partnership with the NIH All of Us Research Program. This Symposium was informed by leadership from NIH and AACR as well as physician oncologists who are involved with research and policymaking. CP findings and recommendations were also featured.  The CP on Breast Cancer Disparities is currently completing a manuscript.




Chair, Camara Jones, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.
Past President, American Public Health Association
Senior Fellow, Satcher Health Leadership Institute
Senior Fellow, Cardiovascular Research Institute
Morehouse School of Medicine

The Initial CP, “Racism and Health: Creating a Canon for Discourse and Action,” was held at UConn October 6-7, 2017, created an initial dialogue and framework for confronting racism as a requirement for health equity. Dr. Jones defines racism as a system (consisting of structures, policies, practices, and norms) of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of physical features or appearance (“race”), that unfairly disadvantages some individuals and communities, unfairly advantages other individuals and communities, and saps the strength of our whole society through the waste of human resources. The measurement of racism and its impacts on health as well as potential clinical, legal and critical race interventions were explored, and strategies and recommendations were developed for the Connecticut Legislative Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, researchers, antiracism activists, and the community at large. Dr. Jones presented a report on findings from this CP at the 2017 American Public Health Association Annual Convention. She is currently completing a manuscript on this CP.





Dr. Gail Wyatt
, Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA and Co-Director of the AIDS Institute at UCLA 
Dr. Wilbert Jordan of Charles R. Drew Medical School of Medicine
Dr. Virginia Caine, Associate Professor of Medicine at Indiana University

Over 34 million people in the world are Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) positive and, of that number, roughly 1.2 million live in the United States. Estimates suggest that approximately 14.0 percent of this population may be undiagnosed. More alarming is the fact that while Black Americans account for 41.0 percent of the HIV/AIDS cases and only 12.0 percent of the US population. HIV testing and early diagnosis is critical to identifying those who are infected and linking them to HIV medical care. 

The Initial CP was held at UCLA Geffen School of Medicine on November 30, 2015, which focused on clinical and health services information to reduce HIV- related mortality and morbidity health disparities among African Americans, particularly Black men who have sex with men (BMSM). A follow up 2016 symposia in Los Angeles featured a panel of multi-disciplinary health and healthcare disparities experts who offered diverse perspectives on research, treatment and challenges for Americans, in general, and African Americans. The CP is currently completing a manuscript.