Erin N. Kobetz, PhD, MPH
Erin N. Kobetz, PhD, MPH, has been named Senior Associate Dean for Health Disparity at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. In this role Kobetz will be responsible for elevating the awareness of current regional health disparities while developing a culture in which UHealth – University of Miami Health System and the Miller School can achieve health equity for patients through research, clinical and educational endeavors.
“The Miller School has a unique opportunity to advance the science of health disparity. Our multicultural context and geographic location give our school an unparalleled advantage for examining the etiology of disparity and generating interdisciplinary solutions to address it,” said Kobetz, who is an associate professor of medicine, public health sciences and obstetrics/gynecology.
“The creation of this position shows that the Miller School’s leadership recognizes this opportunity and seeks to further formalize our institutional commitment to health equity. It is my hope that this role will further enable efforts to achieve NCI designation at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, as well as renew UM’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute. Both applications require significant attention to disparity and how it plays out within our catchment area. That will be my initial focus.”
This newly created position is the first of its kind for the Miller School of Medicine. Pascal J. Goldschmidt, MD, Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean, and CEO of UHealth, determined that Kobetz’s work and the University’s geographic location called for stronger representation for this growing issue. By creating this position, the Dean not only recognized the significance of health disparities, but also positioned the Miller School to tackle an issue that is growing regionally and nationally.
“The work that Erin does is not only first class academically, with critical impact on major research programs at the Miller School, it is also providing a unique service to the less privileged members of our communities,” Goldschmidt said. “The model that Erin is creating here in South Florida will be relevant for the entire United States, especially as demographics continue to evolve, and for other countries as well, as global health is growing as a priority.”
Kobetz said, “I think it’s tremendous that the Miller School of Medicine is giving such priority to health disparity by creating a leadership role to organize our institutional response to this public health concern. By doing so, we are poised to meet the emerging needs of our local community, which is increasingly global.”
Kobetz, who received her PhD from the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and her M.P.H. from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, was a natural choice to become the Senior Associate Dean for Health Disparity. For the past 10 years Kobetz has been working in this field, and for the past two has led Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center’s efforts to develop interdisciplinary research and outreach initiatives addressing cancer disparity. In her role as the Associate Director for Disparities and Community Outreach at Sylvester and the Director of the Center’s Jay Weiss Institute for Health Equity, Kobetz leads Sylvester’s outreach efforts throughout South Florida, ensuring that medically underserved communities get access to evidence-based practice for cancer prevention and control.
In collaboration with community partners, Kobetz has developed innovative interventions to increase breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screenings among the medically underserved. This work has been recognized for transcending cultural and structural barriers to disease prevention, demonstrating that community-driven approaches to health care delivery can bring about social change. Kobetz has also engaged diverse UM centers, institutes and departments in translational research to address health disparity.
“If you told me 10 years ago that I would one day be the Senior Associate Dean for Health Disparity, I wouldn’t have believed you. I never anticipated that my work would have this kind of institutional impact,” Kobetz said. “I’m beyond honored and also excited. Together, we will make important strides toward health equity.”