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Students/Faculty News Kevin Storr September 25, 2015

Jessica Williams PhDJessica Williams, Ph.D.Jessica Williams, PhD, an assistant professor in the UAB Department of Health Services Administration, received a $100,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Connections program. The grant will allow Williams to look at factors that influence perceptions of discrimination in health care settings, the management of hypertension in African-Americans, and how these perceptions influence medication adherence.

“The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is deeply committed to improving health for all communities so I am honored to receive this grant and this incredible opportunity that will establish me as an independent investigator and move me toward my research vision of communities where health care outcomes are independent of race and class,” said Williams. “I believe that the only way we can begin to improve the quality of healthcare encounters is to understand patient perceptions and in many ways, I feel this is a missing piece to the disparities puzzle.”

New Connections is a national program designed to introduce new scholars to RWJF and expand the diversity of perspectives that inform the Foundation’s programming.  New Connections seeks early-to mid-career scholars who are historically underrepresented ethnic or racial minorities, first-generation college graduates, or individuals from low-income communities.

“Jessica Williams is doing important work that has the potential to influence practice and improve access to care and this award will provide important funding for this emerging scholar,” said Christy Harris Lemak, PhD, chair of the UAB School of Health Professions Department of Health Services Administration. “We are proud of her and look forward to supporting her research and learning from this important work.”

The grant also includes a mentorship component. Williams’ mentors on this project include Andrea Cherrington, MD, associate professor in the UAB Division of Preventive Medicine and a researcher with the UAB Nutrition Obesity Research Center, and Robert Weech-Maldonado, PhD, professor and L.R. Jordan Chair of the HSA department who is a national authority in health disparities.

“We are so excited to welcome Jessica Williams into the ninth cohort of New Connections grantees,” said Catherine Malone, DBA, MBA, and program officer at RWJF. “The program connects first-time grantees to the Foundation, and the new perspectives they bring are essential to solving the critical, complex issues affecting our nation’s health.”

Williams’ grant began on September 1. She hopes to publish the results of her findings in the summer of 2017.

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