Adams’ desire to understand how adults who had health insurance could have such catastrophic health outcomes eventually led her to Harvard University, where she earned a doctorate in health policy.
She has since spent two decades at academic and research institutions conducting research to inform policies that address and prevent suboptimal treatment for people with multiple chronic conditions, particularly in minority and low-income communities.
Now, Adams, who holds the inaugural Stanford Medicine Innovation Professorship, is a leader in the Stanford School of Medicine’s efforts to improve the quality of health care and outcomes for minoritized individuals and those from underserved communities.
In addition to teaching and mentoring, Adams co-directed the Stanford Medicine Commission on Justice and Equity’s working group on health equity excellence. She is also the Stanford Cancer Institute’s associate director for cancer health equity and the Department of Health Policy’s associate chair for health equity and community engagement.
Priya Singh, Stanford Medicine’s chief strategy officer and senior associate dean and a member of the Commission on Justice and Equity, recently talked with Adams about her health disparity discoveries and her vision for forging meaningful health equity advances at Stanford Medicine and beyond.
Singh: What motivated you to do the work you do today?
Adams: Growing up, I saw the devastating impact that chronic conditions like diabetes had on my own family members. Worse still, I was troubled by the acceptance that these outcomes, such as repeat amputations and blindness, were just the consequences of being a Black person with chronic illness. It sparked my interest in health policy and its potential to improve health care and address these disparities.