Jan 21: APAHC Webinar Series – Fundamental Causes: How the Social Construction of Race Impacts Health and Healthcare Disparities with John Chenault

John Chenault MA MSLS,
Associate Professor, Director of Anti-Racism Initiatives, University of Louisville School of Medicine

January 21, 2022

12:00 – 1:30pm EST

Venue: Zoom (links will be sent in advance to those who register)

Speaker Bio: John Chenault is an associate professor and the director of Anti-Racism Initiatives in the office of Undergraduate Medical Education (UME) in the School of Medicine at the University of Louisville. In this new position, Chenault leads and supports the development, implementation and evaluation of initiatives guided by the School of Medicine UME Anti-Racism Task Force to dismantle systemic racism in medical curriculum and instruction. He also provides lectures and conducts workshops for faculty and medical students related to undoing race-based medicine, including the incorrect use of race as biological construct, and coaches faculty in developing and updating teaching and exam materials. He holds graduate degrees in Pan African Studies and Library Science from the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky. A long-time UofL faculty member, Chenault had previously served as a medical librarian in the Kornhauser Health Sciences Library for 16 years and as an instructor in the Pan African Studies Department of the College of Arts & Sciences for 14 years.

Description of Programming: This webinar examines the continuing and profound impact of race on every aspect of medicine from clinical practice to biomedical research to medical education. It draws from recent research in the fields of history, sociology, and medicine to show how the concept of race was socially constructed and provides the foundation for systemic and institutionalized racism in the US. The presentation addresses the role of the US government in mandating the use of a racial classification system that has no basis in science. It examines how that mandate shapes and determines the nature of funded clinical research studies, and how those studies are published and circulated widely using flawed and outdated concepts about purported human racial differences. It then directly links the history of racism in the US to the health disparities that cost tens of thousands of lives each year in premature and excess deaths from all-causes. In closing, it offers a set of principles that can be applied to solving the critical issues of health and healthcare disparities using an anti[1]racism, social justice framework.

The webinar is based in part on an invited presentation titled Fundamental Causes: How the Covid-19 Pandemic Further Exposes Systemic Racism and its Impact on Children and Adolescents delivered at the 10th Annual Pediatric Behavioral and Mental Health Symposium, hosted by Norton Healthcare in Louisville, KY on September 24, 2021. It also incorporates materials from a virtual webinar titled The Social Construction of Race and Its Impact on Medicine and Biomedical Research, virtually hosted by the Association of Standardized Patient Educators (ASPE), October 30, 2020. The latter topic also was presented as a CE course as part of the UofL School of Medicine’s Faculty Development Program, September 2, 2020. This proposed webinar on “Fundamental Causes” is therefore being offered in this configuration for the first time. Nevertheless, it is grounded in previous sessions that have received positive evaluations from attendees indicating they plan to incorporate the information into their research, teaching, mentoring, and patient care. The webinar’s contents are based on the following current research studies by scholars working to define the problems of heath inequities and disparities and provide evidence-based solutions.

This workshop is designed for audiences at all levels—Beginner to Advanced

  1. Recognize how race and racial categories are constantly changing social concepts rather than immutable biological characteristics grounded in human evolution and genetics.
  2. Recognize how race/racism determines and explains current health and healthcare disparities.
  3. Explain how and why the use of racial categories persists in medicine and biomedical research despite the lack of scientific evidence for their support.

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