Helene Gayle, MD, president of Spelman College to give Jacobs School’s Harrington Lecture

Helene Gayle, MD.

Helene Gayle, MD, who grew up in Buffalo, is an internationally recognized expert on health and humanitarian issues.

Release Date: May 25, 2023

“Dr. Gayle has focused her life work on bringing care to underserved populations around the world. We are eager to hear her story. ”
Allison Brashear, MD, Vice president for health sciences and dean
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

BUFFALO, N.Y. – One of Buffalo’s most prominent native daughters, Helene Gayle, MD, an internationally recognized expert on health and humanitarian issues, will give the 2023 Harrington Lecture on June 3 at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo.

Free and open to the public, the talk is part of UB Alumni Weekend. Registration is required and available here.

When and where: Gayle will speak from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 3, in the M&T Lecture Hall in the Jacobs School, 955 Main St., Buffalo. Tours of the medical school will follow.

Who: Gayle will be introduced by UB President Satish K. Tripathi and Allison Brashear, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School.

“Any medical school would be extremely honored to have Dr. Gayle lecture at their institution,” said Brashear. “We are especially proud to be able to host her here at the Jacobs School in her hometown of Buffalo. As a young girl growing up in our community, Dr. Gayle was raised in a family that strongly emphasized the importance of contributing towards a better future. Dr. Gayle has focused her life work on bringing care to underserved populations around the world. We are eager to hear her story.”

Speaking of family ties, Gayle’s cousin, Kenneth L. Gayles, MD, local cardiologist and a Jacobs School alumnus (Class of 1973), will be with her all weekend, attending her talk and also celebrating with classmates at his 50th medical school reunion.

This will be Gayle’s second trip to Buffalo in as many months; she participated in the “Beyond Hate” panel held at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo earlier this month.

Her Jacobs School talk, “Reflections on a Career at the Intersection of Health Equity and Social Justice,” will reveal the tremendous breadth of her career that took the Bennett High School graduate to Barnard College, then the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned her MD and then to Johns Hopkins University, where she earned a master’s in public health.

Gayle has spent her career championing the right to access health care, tackling barriers to health equity and focusing on global health issues, with a particular focus on HIV/AIDS and reproductive health.

In 1999 she was sworn in as an assistant surgeon general and rear admiral in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service.

At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she worked to develop a program addressing childhood malnutrition in the U.S. and Africa. As director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, she expanded community-based HIV prevention activities, especially in underserved communities; she also helped launch a new global HIV/AIDS initiative as well as efforts to eliminate syphilis and tuberculosis.

Gayle has held leadership positions in some of the world’s top organizations addressing poverty and barriers to health equity. She has served as president and CEO of CARE, one of the world’s most impactful humanitarian organizations; she also was director of programs for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gayle also chaired the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS during the Obama administration.

More recently, she led the Chicago Community Trust, one of the nation’s oldest and largest community foundations, adopting a focus on closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap in the Chicago region.

She has been a health consultant to the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank and UNAIDS. In 2012, she was awarded the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Humanitarian Award.

Gayle sits on the Advisory Council of the STEMM Opportunity Alliance, which aims to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, math and medicine) fields.

In July 2022, she took office as president of Spelman College, the top women’s HBCU (historically black college and university).

The event is made possible by the D.W. Harrington Lecture Endowment. The Harrington is UB’s longest-running lecture series, established in 1896.

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