HOP Faculty to Serve on ADA’s National Health Disparities Committee

ashby-walker-headshotAshby Walker, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Health Outcomes & Policy and the Institute for Child Health Policy, was nominated to serve a two-year term on the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) National Health Disparities Committee beginning in 2017.

The committee, comprised of 14 leading health equity and community health experts, serves as an advisory and steering committee for the Association’s work around reducing inequities facing populations disparately affected by diabetes. Walker was selected by the committee after nomination from Desmond Schatz, M.D., based on her expertise in Type 1 diabetes health disparities. Schatz is a professor and associate chair of the UF Department of Pediatrics, medical director of the UF Diabetes Institute and president of Medicine and Science for the American Diabetes Association.

Walker’s research focuses on medical sociology and health disparities, with an emphasis on pediatric Type 1 diabetes and the role of social capital in determining health outcomes. In a 2015 study, Walker and her team discovered tremendous disparities in the types of social support systems that youth with Type 1 diabetes have based on socioeconomic status. In 2016, Walker and Schatz received a one-year $45,000 pilot study grant from the T1D Exchange Clinic Network to start an outreach program in which college students with Type 1 diabetes mentor low-income children and youth with Type 1 diabetes in the clinics at UF.  Michael Haller, M.D., professor and chief of endocrinology in the Department of Pediatrics, is also part of the research team.  Read more about the T1D Exchange pilot grant and mentoring program here.

Walker, who also holds courtesy appointments in the Department of Pediatrics at UF and the Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies Research, said she is eager to begin working with the ADA’s National Health Disparities Committee in January.  She also currently serves on a national working group for the Type 1 Diabetes Exchange that is working to better understand and reduce racial disparities in Type 1 diabetes.

“It is an absolute honor to serve on this committee alongside national leaders in the field and I am grateful for the opportunity,” Walker said.  “My research trajectory and efforts in advocacy are all aimed at promoting health equity in pediatric Type 1 diabetes – I see it as my career calling.”