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Dr. Vanessa Northington Gamble led the committee that secured a Presidential apology over Tuskegee Syphilis Study

Dr. Vanessa Northington Gamble

Race-based inequities in U.S. medicine and public health are the subject of the 7 p.m. Thursday, November 2 talk at The College of Saint Rose by Dr. Vanessa Northington Gamble, who led the 1997 committee that secured a Presidential apology for the treatment of black patients in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. The event, held at the Thelma P. Lally School of Education, is free and open to the public.

Forty-five years ago, shock and outrage greeted revelations that the U.S. Public Health Service deliberately allowed hundreds of impoverished black men infected with syphilis to go untreated for four decades. Yet today, African-Americans continue to experience disparities in health and health care, including higher-than-average rates of heart disease, obesity, household violence and incarceration, as well as inferior health care from providers.

“The syphilis study has become a powerful metaphor, symbolizing racism in medicine, misconduct in human research, the arrogance of physicians, and government abuse of black people,” said Gamble. For many African-Americans, the study’s legacy is an ongoing mistrust of the health care industry that fuels their reluctance to participate in clinical trials, donate organs, or even receive health care services.

While pointing out the inequities, Gamble also highlights strategies that African-Americans have developed to provide care, improve health, advance black health care professionals, and combat medical racism.

An internationally recognized expert on historical race and racism in U.S. medicine, Gamble, University Professor of Medical Humanities at George Washington University, has been featured on NPR and authored “Making A Place for Ourselves: The Black Hospital Movement 1920-1945.” She founded the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the University of Wisconsin Medical School and led the National Bioethics Center at Tuskegee University; taught at Harvard School of Public Health, Hampshire College, University of Massachusetts, and Johns Hopkins; and has worked with the Centers for Disease Control, National Institute of Medicine, National Institutes of Health and American Foundation for AIDS Research.

Who: Vanessa Northington Gamble, 2017 Vickery Speaker in Ethics and Leadership
What: Social Injustice, Health Inequities, and African-Americans – the U.S. Public Health Service Syphilis Study at Tuskegee
When: 7 p.m. Nov. 2
Where: Carl E. Touhey Forum, Thelma P. Lally School of Education, The College of Saint Rose, 1009 Madison Ave., Albany
Notes: Free and open to the public