The Dr. William ‘Bill’ Jenkins Health Equity Lecture

2022 Bill Jenkins Lecture Banner

In memory of Dr. William ‘Bill’ Jenkins

The Dr. William (Bill) Jenkins Health Equity Lecture honors Bill Jenkins PhD, MPH, MS (1945 – 2019) and recognizes his outstanding legacy of innovative public health action, dedication to the elimination of health disparities, and efforts to promote the highest ethical standards in public health practice during his CDC tenure and in academia. Lecture topics focus on initiatives to improve health for communities of color, and efforts to promote public health ethics, social justice, and health equity. Speakers are selected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP) Office of Health Equity (OHE) in collaboration with Dr. Jenkins’ wife, Dr. Diane Rowley.

Event Details

June 23, 2022, from 10:00 AM until 11:30 AM

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The 2022 Dr. William ‘Bill’ Jenkins Health Equity Lecturer

Helene D. Gayle

Photo: Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH

Dr. Gayle has been president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, one of the nation’s oldest and largest community foundations, since October 2017. Under her leadership, the Trust adopted a new strategic focus on closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap in the Chicago region. At the end of June 2022, Dr. Gayle will leave the Trust to become the 11th president of Spelman College.

For almost a decade, Dr. Gayle was president and CEO of CARE, a leading international humanitarian organization. A public health physician with expertise in economic  development, humanitarian, and health issues, she spent 20 years with the Centers for Disease Control, working primarily on HIV/AIDS. She worked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, directing programs on HIV/AIDS and other global health issues.

Dr. Gayle was born and raised in Buffalo, N.Y. She earned a B.A. in psychology at Barnard College, an M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania and an M.P.H. at Johns Hopkins University. She has received 18 honorary degrees and holds faculty appointments at the University of Washington and Emory University.

She serves on public company and nonprofit boards, including The Coca-Cola Company, Organon, Palo Alto Networks, Brookings Institution, Center for Strategic and International Studies, New America, ONE Campaign, and Economic Club of Chicago. She chairs the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Council on Foreign Relations, American Public Health Association, National Academy of Medicine, National Medical Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics. She has authored numerous articles on global and domestic public health issues, poverty alleviation, gender equality, and wealth inequity.

Title of Lecture:

Advancing Health Equity through Policy, Programs, and Economic Development

Lecture Description:

Achieving health equity requires us to confront and address the root causes of health disparities and the various social contexts that impact health. In this intimate conversation, Dr. Helene Gayle will discuss the social determinants of health and the importance of addressing the racial and ethnic wealth gap to advance health equity. The conversation will also focus on lessons learned during Dr. Gayle’s time at the CDC and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for reducing disparities in HIV and other STIs in the context of policy, programs, and economic development.


Schedule of speakers and activities by time and description for the 2022 Dr. William Jenkins lecture

Schedule of speakers and activities by time and description for the 2020 Dr. William Jenkins lecture
Time Description
10:00-10:01 AM Welcome – Dr. Donna Hubbard McCree (Associate Director for Health Equity, NCHHSTP)
10:02-10:06 AM Occasion – Mr. Greg Bautista, Heath Scientist for Office of Health Equity, NCHHSTP)
10:07-10:17 AM Reflections on the work and legacy of Dr. Jenkins – Dr. Diane Rowley  (Professor Emerita, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health)
10:18-10:30 AM An Introduction to Dr. Helene Gayle – Interview by IMHOTEP Alumni, Ms. Ati Paziraei Chamanzad
10:31-11:25 AM A Conversation with Dr. Helene Gayle and Dr. Jonathan Mermin (Director, NCHHSTP) – “Advancing Health Equity through Policy, Programs, and Economic Development
–Dr. Donna Hubbard McCree, Moderator
11:26-11:30 AM Closing Remarks and Call to Action: Dr. Deron Burton (Deputy Director, NCHHSTP)

Speakers and Panelists biographies

The Life and Career of Dr. William 'Bill' Jenkins
Dr. William (Bill) Jenkins

Photo: Jenkins in the 1970s

Dr. William (Bill) Jenkins was born on July 26, 1945, in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics (1967) at Morehouse College and a Master of Science in biostatistics (1974) at Georgetown University. He received a Master of Public Health (1977) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and went on to earn a doctorate in epidemiology (1983) at UNC. In 1967, the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps recruited Dr. Jenkins as a statistician to work in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Early in his career, Dr. Jenkins became active in the area of public health and biomedical research ethics as he and others worked to bring a stop to the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male, 1932-1972, in which Black men in Alabama were unethically denied available treatment for their syphilis infections in order to document the natural history of untreated syphilis. From 1995 to 2003, Dr. Jenkins ran the Tuskegee Health Benefits Program, in which the government provides medical services to the survivors and affected family members. Dr. Jenkins organized the Syphilis Study Legacy Committee, a group of historians, bioethicists, and health professionals who issued a report in 1996 urging President Clinton to apologize for the emotional, medical, and psychological damage of the study. On May 16, 1997, at a White House ceremony, President Clinton delivered a formal apology for the study on behalf of the country. In 2002, Dr. Jenkins produced a documentary titled, “Voices of the Tuskegee Study” in partnership with the Tuskegee Human & Civil Rights Multicultural Center using a grant from CDC.

Dr. William (Bill) Jenkins

Photo: Jenkins at Corporate Square

While Dr. Jenkins started his career at NCHS in 1967 (leaving in 1975 for school), upon his return, he spent the majority of his CDC career (1980 to 2003) in what is now NCHHSTP (National Center HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB prevention). In 1980, Dr. Jenkins joined the Division of Sexually Transmitted Diseases Prevention as a mathematical statistician in the National Center for Prevention Services (NCPS – the forerunner of NCHHSTP). During his 23 years in NCHHSTP, Dr. Jenkins served in multiple roles of increasing leadership, including as a section chief, a supervisory epidemiologist, and as Manager of the Minority Health Activities Office. Also, while at CDC, Dr. Jenkins founded several organizations and programs focused on improving African American health outcomes and eliminating health disparities. In 1982, with CDC support, Dr. Jenkins founded Project IMHOTEP, an eleven-week summer internship program designed to increase the knowledge and skills of underrepresented minority students in biostatistics, epidemiology, and occupational safety and health. In 2001, Dr. Jenkins led the development of the center’s Minority Health Strategic Plan that prompted the creation of the center Office for Health Disparities (now Health Equity).

Dr. William (Bill) Jenkins

Photo: Jenkins in Charleston, SC

Outside of CDC, Dr. Jenkins expanded the capacity of the public health workforce to address health disparities. In 1988, he founded Morehouse College’s Public Health Sciences Institute to better prepare underrepresented minority students for entry into graduate schools of public health, with special emphasis on the quantitative sciences of biostatistics, epidemiology, and occupational safety and health. In 1991, he founded the Society for the Analysis of African American Public Health Issues (SAAPHI), an affiliate of the American Public Health Association (APHA). SAAPHI is a nonprofit organization comprised of health professionals dedicated to improving the health of African Americans. In 1995, Dr. Jenkins founded the Master of Public Health Program at Morehouse School of Medicine and consulted on the development of public health programs at other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Additionally, he led the creation of a CDC cooperative agreement that supported the development of graduate level public health programs at HBCUs. Following his retirement from CDC, Dr. Jenkins remained active in the pursuit of health equity and the promotion of public health ethics as professor of public health sciences at Morehouse College and associate director of Morehouse’s Research Center on Health Disparities. Dr. Jenkins moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with his wife when she became a professor at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health where he served as adjunct professor of epidemiology. He remained an actively engaged mentor, lecturer, and champion for health equity and social justice until his passing on February 17, 2019.

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Page last reviewed: July 14, 2022