Diversity & Representation

OMH is highlighting the lives and careers of Black men and women who have made an impact in important fields, such as behavioral health, cancer, blood and heart disease, HIV/AIDS, maternal/child health, and sickle cell disease. Racial/ethnic diversity in the health care workforce has been correlated with the delivery of quality care to minority populations. Increasing underrepresented groups within the field of health care supports the diversity of values and beliefs of the entire population and heightens cultural awareness.

Visit the OMH and U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Let’s Take Charge! campaign website to learn more about the importance of diversity in clinical trials that address health concerns disproportionately impacting racial and ethnic minority populations, like lupus.

Learn about the some of the legacies of Black men and women who have helped increase representation and shaped modern medicine.

Herbert W. Nickens, M.D. Exit Disclaimer (1947-1999) was a noted psychiatrist and the first Director of the HHS Office of Minority Health.

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Henrietta Lacks (1920-1951) died of cervical cancer in 1951, but her cells have been reproduced billions of times for medical research. HeLa cells have been used to advance biomedical research in polio, cancer, and HIV/AIDS; their continued use has sparked discussions on medical ethics and race.

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James McCune Smith, M.D. Exit Disclaimer (1813-1865) was the first Black man to earn a medical degree in 1837 and own a pharmacy. He was also the first Black male physician to publish in a medical journal.

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Patricia Bath, M.D. (1942-2019) was a prominent ophthalmologist and the first Black woman to receive a patent for a medical invention.


Julian Herman Lewis, Ph.D. Exit Disclaimer (1891-1989) wrote and published Biology of the Negro in 1942, an important text challenging racism in biology.

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W.E.B. Du Bois, Ph.D. (1868-1963) published The Philadelphia Negro and The Souls of Black Folks, recognized as paving the way for research on racism & public health.


Miles Vandarhurst Lynk, M.D. Exit Disclaimer (1871-1956) was the first Black man to publish a medical journal; founded the National Medical Association.



Federal Resources