Baltimore – Dr. Lisa Cooper, a Liberian-Born doctor whose research has focused on the physician-patient relationship and how gender, ethnicity, and race factor into patient care has been named Director of the Urban Health Institute at Johns Hopkins.
“I believe the renewed vision of the Urban Health Institute can deliver real value for Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Medicine, and for the health of the people of Baltimore with a focus on the city’s most vulnerable groups. I am especially pleased that Dr. Cooper is willing and able to take on this vital responsibility. She is uniquely prepared for this important role.”Sunil Kumar, Provost, Johns Hopkins
The university’s news serve, the Hub reports that In her new position, Dr. Cooper will execute a new vision for the institute’s future as a vital partner in the health of Baltimore City.
Provost Sunil Kumar said Monday that under Cooper, a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in the university’s schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health, the 20-year-old institute will reframe its purpose to advance health and health equity in Baltimore—a timely mission given the current threat of the novel coronavirus to our city, said.
“I believe the renewed vision of the Urban Health Institute can deliver real value for Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Medicine, and for the health of the people of Baltimore with a focus on the city’s most vulnerable groups,” Kumar said. “I am especially pleased that Dr. Cooper is willing and able to take on this vital responsibility. She is uniquely prepared for this important role,” Kumar said.
Dr. Cooper was born in Liberia, to a mother who was a reference librarian, and a physician father.
She attended an international school in Liberia until tenth grade, and an international boarding school in Geneva, Switzerland, for her last two years of high school before moving to the United States to attend university.
She graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in chemistry in 1984 and from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine with an M.D., in 1988.
She became board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in 1991 and attended Johns Hopkins University, where she obtained an M.P.H. in 1993. There, she completed a general internal medicine fellowship the following year before joining the university faculty.
In 2011, Governor Martin O’Malley created the Maryland Health Care Quality and Costs Council through an executive order, and Cooper was appointed as co-chair of its Cultural Competency Workgroup. In 2019, Cooper testified at the Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on “Investing in America’s Health Care” in support of reauthorizing the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.
Dr. Cooper’s work focuses on patient-centered strategies to overcome racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare. She has pioneered approaches for reducing healthcare disparities among minority populations through culturally tailored education programs and patient-centered communication training. Her most impactful paper was a 1999 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that analyzed the role ethnicity plays in the patient-physician relationship.
The study demonstrated that minority patients found that their physicians did not involve them in the decision-making process, whereas non-minorities found that their physicians did include them in their medical decisions, and that patients seeing physicians of their own race also rated the decision-making process as more participatory.
The first of its kind, this study revealed that differences in the relationship between the patient and physician may be a key factor underlying the already established unequal quality on health care based on a person’s race and ethnicity. Further, Cooper has found that including patients in treatment decisions leads to higher success rates of health care interventions.
Dr. Cooper is the recipient of several awards including the Election to the American Society of Clinical Investigation(2005; MacArthur Fellows Program(2007); Election to the National Academy of Medicine(2008); American College of Physicians(2009); Herbert W. Nickens Award by the Association of American Medical Colleges(AAMC) and the Helen Rodriguez-Trias’ Social Justice Award by the American Public Health Association.
Dr. Cooper has devoted her career to addressing health disparities through her research and practice.
According to the Hub, Dr. Cooper, prior to taking on her new role, which became effective April 15, she worked with Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice in the Bloomberg School of Public Health; Amy Gawad, the institute’s executive director; a steering committee; and others across the institution and the city to set out a new vision for the Urban Health Institute. “I am delighted by this opportunity,” Cooper said. “It is an honor to have my work addressing health disparities validated in such a significant way. My appointment to this position affirms for me the importance that we are collectively placing on the pursuit of health equity in the city of Baltimore.”