In January, Dr. Charisee Lamar was appointed the director of the Office of Health Equity (OHE) at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).
This position presents Lamar, a Medical College of Georgia graduate, with a unique opportunity to build the Office of Health Equity from the ground up as the office is in the process of reorganization.
The Office of Health Equity works to strengthen the NICHD’s commitment to ensure the health and well-being of all children, adults, families and communities. The office is charged with diversifying research populations and informing the public about issues that may impact vulnerable populations
Lamar’s new role as OHE director will also require her to lead NICHD’s efforts across the institute, the National Institute of Health and other federal agencies to promote a more diverse biomedical workforce and to make inroads in achieving more equitable health outcomes for women, children and families. The Office of Health Equity will also help foster diversity within NICHD.
“This transition has been enlightening because of the breadth of research, training and communications strategies that the office is tasked to lead,” Lamar said. “It’s a tremendous undertaking, but I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge.”
Although it’s only been a couple months, Lamar is finding her new position both rewarding and invigorating.
“I am fortunate to have colleagues who enthusiastically share their expertise, ideas and their willingness to collaborate with the office to promote health equity in populations that are central to the institute’s mission,” she said.
Prior to her work at the office of health equity, Lamar was the program director at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases at the NIH. She was also a Cancer Prevention Fellow at the National Cancer Institute.
Lamar graduated from the Medical College of Georgia in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy. Ten years later, she graduated from MCG with her doctorate in Endocrinology. She remembers her time at Augusta University fondly.
“We were a close knit group of students, and it really felt like a family,” Lamar remembers. “MCG felt like an extension of my family. The size of the institution allowed students to feel nurtured, but the expectations were extremely high. Students supported each other, and the faculty was personally invested in their students.”
After graduation, Lamar felt prepared to enter the workforce.
“The Medical College of Georgia prepared me and my colleagues to have successful careers,” she said. “I’ve kept that with me, and now I always want to give back and help people achieve their goals.”