Newswise — PHILADELPHIA (April 7, 2021) – Antonia Villarruel, PhD, RN, FAAN, the Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, will Chair the second phase of the National Academy of Medicine’s (NAM) Culture of Health Program (CoHP) Advisory Committee, which engages a diverse group of experts/advisors to provide strategic guidance to ensure the CoHP meets its intended aims. Her term runs from 2021 through 2023.

The CoHP – funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – was established in 2015 to identify strategies to create and sustain conditions that support equitable good health for everyone in America. The COVID-19 pandemic has most recently illuminated the long-existing health disparities experienced by people of color, and the nation is readier than ever before to acknowledge that one of the root causes of health inequity is structural racism. The pandemic has likewise amplified unequal allocation of power and resources as another underlying cause of health inequity.

Current events in the United States present an extraordinary opportunity to advance health equity. The CoHP intends to build on the work of the past five years to strengthen and expand efforts to eliminate health disparities and achieve health equity for everyone in America.

“The Culture of Health Program is well-positioned to build and strengthen the evidence base to address structural racism. This work will be accomplished together with communities and the multiple private- and public-sectors that intersect to promote health,” said Villarruel. “I look forward to working with NAM and the new and returning committee members to advance this important initiative.”

The program focuses on four approaches that will build upon and reinforce each other:

  • Understand: building, informing, and elevating the evidence base to better understand and eliminate health inequities
  • Translate: communicating the evidence in a timely and culturally appropriate manner to bring understanding of the strongest science to those working to advance health equity
  • Engage: ensuring that key stakeholders working at every level to eliminate health inequities are provided the evidence-related tools they need to ensure their effectiveness, as well as relying on the lived experience and expertise of communities to inform our work
  • Learn: learning in real time from our activities to ensure effective and equitable evaluation and metrics of impact.

About Dean Villarruel

As a bilingual and bicultural nurse researcher, Dr. Villarruel has extensive research and practice experience with diverse Latino and Mexican populations and communities, and health promotion and health disparities research and practice both here and abroad. She incorporates a community engaged approach to her research.  Her research focuses on the development and testing of interventions to reduce sexual risk behaviors among Mexican and Latino youth. As part of this program of research, she developed an efficacious program to reduce sexual risk behavior among Latino youth – entitled Cuídate! which was disseminated nationally.

Villarruel is one of just a handful of Latina deans of nursing schools in the country, and is the only Latina dean of an Ivy League school. She was also the first – and to date – only Latina nurse to be inducted as a NAM member. She serves in national leadership roles including co-chair of the Strategic Advisory Council of the AARP/RWJ Center for Health Policy Future of Nursing Campaign for Action. She is a board member of the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation and the Aspen Health Strategy Group as well as an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. She is the recipient of the President’s Award for Health Behavior Intervention Research from the Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research; an inducted member of the Sigma Theta Tau International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame; was named one of NBC’s Latino20; and received the Global Philadelphia Association’s Globy Award for Educational Leadership.

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About the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing 

The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing is one of the world’s leading schools of nursing. For the fifth year in a row, it is ranked the #1 nursing school in the world by QS University and is consistently ranked highly in the U.S. News & World Report annual list of best graduate schools. Penn Nursing is ranked as one of the top schools of nursing in funding from the National Institutes of Health. Penn Nursing prepares nurse scientists and nurse leaders to meet the health needs of a global society through innovation in research, education, and practice. Follow Penn Nursing on: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, & Instagram.