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    Items below reflect news associated with the Office of Population Health.

    Inaugural Marian Wright Edelman Distinguished Lectureship Series


    The University of Mississippi Medical Center will present the first Marian Wright Edelman Distinguished Lectureship Series hosted by Dr. James Keeton, UMMC Vice Chancellor, and Dr. Bettina M. Beech, Associate Vice Chancellor for Population Health. The Oct. 3 event is provided by the Office of Population Health, Myrlie Evers-Williams Institute for Elimination of Health Disparities and the UMMC Department of Pediatrics.

    The inaugural lecture featuring Marian Wright Edelman will be held from noon-1:30 p.m. Oct. 3 at UMMC’s Norman C. Nelson Student Union. Admission is free, but RSVP is requested. Anyone with an interest in child health and hunger is invited to attend, including UMMC faculty and staff, federal and state delegates and community-based agencies working to benefit Mississippi children.

    Mrs. Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund (, will discuss child hunger and the urgent need for expansion of child nutrition programs in underserved areas of Mississippi, particularly in the Delta region.

    For more information about the Marian Wright Edelman Lectureship, contact Michael L. Jones at or visit for updates.

    Jones named to health disparities institute post

    Michael Jones, chief community health officer, has been named deputy director of the Myrlie Evers-Williams Institute for the Elimination of Health Disparities.

    In that role, Jones will direct day-to-day operations of the institute to improve health outcomes for Mississippians. He also will direct the Mississippi Healthy Linkages Initiative, a collaboration between the Medical Center, the Mississippi State Department of Health, and 21 federally qualified health center in the state to address the various causes of health-care challenges experienced by some of Mississippi’s most vulnerable citizens.

    Jones also directs the Community Health Advocate Program that partners with the faith-based community and others to train lay people to assist individuals in their communities to adopt healthy lifestyles.

    NIH selects Beech for health promotion section

    The National Institutes of Health has selected Dr. Bettina Beech, associate vice chancellor for population health, professor of pediatrics and family medicine and executive director of the Myrlie Evers-Williams Institute for the Elimination of Health Disparities, to serve a four-year term on its Community-level Health Promotion Study Section, Center for Scientific Review.

    As a member of the study section, Beech will review grant applications submitted to the NIH, make recommendations to the appropriate NIH national advisory council or board and survey the status of research in her field of science.

    Myrlie Evers-Williams lends name to UMMC institute bolstering health equality

    Dr. Myrlie Evers-Williams addresses the audience during the dedication.
    Dr. Myrlie Evers-Williams addresses the audience during the dedication.

    Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, helped dedicate the UMMC Myrlie Evers-Williams Institute for the Elimination of Health Disparities during a ceremony today at the Jackson Medical Mall Thad Cochran Center. Read more ...

    Rural health leader receives diversity award

    March 3, 2014

    Dr. James Keeton, vice chancellor for health affairs, presents the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning Diversity Award for Excellence to Dr. Bettina Beech, associate vice chancellor for rural health and health disparities.

    Beech was among 11 award recipients from Mississippi universities who were recognized "for serving as a role model and strong advocate for the advancement of diversity" during the IHL's observance of Black History Month. 

    Renamed office to focus on population health

    Jan. 13, 2014

    The Office of Rural Health and Health Disparities has a new name - the Office of Population Health.

    According to Dr. Bettina Beech, associate vice chancellor for population health, while the treatment of individual patients continues to be paramount, UMMC must also address comprehensive care and population health management.

    Population health has been defined as "the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group."

    "Our strong partnerships and deep roots in communities across the state present an opportunity for us to intensify efforts to improve the health of all Mississippians," Beech said.

    She has developed a strategic framework for the office that encompasses all three of UMMC's academic missions: education, health care and research. Reducing health disparities, which is inherent in population health, will continue to be a major focus of the office.


    Pediatrics faculty welcome Gamble


    May 6, 2013

    Dr. Abigail Gamble, a childhood obesity investigator, has joined the Medical Center faculty as an instructor in pediatrics. She will be working in the Office of Rural Health and Health Disparities under the direction of Dr. Bettina Beech.

    After receiving a B.A. in elementary education and American studies from Rowan University in 2003, Gamble earned an M.S. in health promotion in 2007 and a Ph.D. in health and kinesiology in 2011 from the University of Mississippi. Her dissertation project was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which has since received supplemental funding from the foundation to translate the project findings to policy action aimed to increase children's in-school physical activity time and decrease childhood obesity in Mississippi.

    Gamble has served with the Mississippi State Department of Health as the evaluation lead for the Mississippi Delta Health Collaborative, an initiative to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with cardiovascular disease and stroke in the Mississippi Delta Region.

    The coauthor of more than 20 peer-reviewed national presentations, Gamble is an active member of several professional organizations, including the American Academy of Sports Medicine and the American Public Health Association.

    She has served as a manuscript reviewer for the Annals of Behavioral Medicine and the Journal of Rural Health. In January, she was named to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's 2012 Top 20 Most Influential Articles in Research list.

    New rural health, disparities leader discusses state’s childhood obesity challenge

    Personal advice from a three-time Grammy Award winner has helped Dr. Bettina M. Beech keep a healthy perspective on one of Mississippi’s most difficult challenges.

    While serving as co-director of the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity at Wake Forest University, Beech said the renowned poet and author once counseled her about preparing for success.

    “She told me, ‘Do it first, and then talk about it,’” Beech said. “If the plan is good, it will be evident by the success it is having.”

    As the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s new associate vice chancellor of rural health and health disparities tackles the increasing epidemic of childhood obesity in the state, Beech is confident that success will surely follow. Read more ...