My work in Brazil explored how patients, non-governmental organizations, and the Brazilian government, at state and federal levels, have contributed to the discourse of SCD as a “black” disease, despite a prevailing cultural ideology of racial mixture. Drawing on ethnography and oral histories from Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Brasília, and Porto Alegre, this project charts the simultaneous constructions of race and science through the lens of SCD across Brazil. Using an interdisciplinary framework, I provide critical analyses of the embodiment of policy via genetic identities and has important implications for the development of a shared language for growing global research agendas, policy development, patient diagnosis, and health care provision.
My research and my teaching are not easily separated. My teaching focuses on global health, social movements, race, culture, citizenship and sickle cell disease. I help students think about how scientists’ backgrounds and points of view may have affected their methods and conclusions, to question whether norms are rooted in facts or in beliefs, and to notice how findings that seemed clear in a lab can look different in the real world.
Before joining the faculty at the University of Michigan and ATHN, I worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for almost a decade as a health scientist in the division of blood disorders. While there, I helped create the national program to collect information for sickle cell disease and thalassemia. This program garnered the attention of the National Institutes of Health and we received 20 million dollars to develop a surveillance system. This work allowed me to be reflexive about how policy is developed, research gets prioritized, and the ways that we involve—or don’t—involve communities in research.
I’ve dedicated my career to health equity, justice and a continuing antiracist practice. I have attained invaluable knowledge through years of research, teaching, organizing and advocacy. The world is changing and now more than ever people and organizations are looking for ways to be more racially and culturally responsible. The health and healthcare issues that plague our societies are complex and diverse and therefore require people who give meaningful attention to equity, anti-racism, and justice.