Joint Center Health Policy Institute


The "Secret" Epidemic:
Disparities in Hepatitis C Incidence, Treatment and Outcomes
Wednesday, March 16, 2011 | 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Eastern

Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies/Joint Center Health Policy Institute

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On March 16, 2011, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies held a Webinar to release a report, The "Secret" Epidemic: Disparities in Hepatitis C Incidence, Treatment and Outcomes, that summarizes research in new opportunities to tackle the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) epidemic.

What: A Webinar discussion on racial and ethnic disparities in Hepatitis C incidence and treatment that will provide recommendations for federal strategies to address the disease.

Why: In the United States, nearly 1.8 percent of the population - between 2.7 million and 3.9 million Americans - may be infected with the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), with 75 percent of those individuals unaware of their condition. This is nearly four times the prevalence of both HIV and Hepatitis B, although a significantly larger percentage of those infected with HCV are undiagnosed. Of those infected, 55 percent to 85 percent subsequently develop a chronic HCV infection. Most individuals are asymptomatic for years - or in some cases, decades - before this chronic HCV infection leads to the development of cirrhosis, liver failure, or even liver cancer. HCV disproportionately affects communities of color and other populations that face barriers to treatment. But new tools and technologies offer great promise for early detection and treatment of the disease.






    Gary A. Puckrein, PhD
    President and Chief Executive Officer
    National Minority Quality Forum
    Washington, DC

    Gary A. Puckrein, PhDGary A. Puckrein, PhD, is President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Minority Quality Forum. He also serves as Executive Director of the Alliance of Minority Medical Associations (a collaborative effort of the Asian and Pacific Physicians’ Association, the Association of American Indian Physicians, the Interamerican College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the National Medical Association). In 1989 Dr. Puckrein founded the Forum’s predecessor organization, the National Minority Health Month Foundation, to help communities and policy makers eliminate the disproportionate burden of premature death and preventable illness in special populations through the use of evidence-based, data-driven initiatives. Dr. Puckrein is responsible for congressional proclamations designating April as National Minority Health Month each year. Dr. Puckrein leads the Zip Code Analysis Project, which is building a comprehensive database that links vital statistics and other elements (including demographic, environmental, claims, prescription, laboratory, hospital, and clinic data) in a centralized warehouse, organized around zip codes. Dr. Puckrein has launched a series of atlases to measure and analyze health status in small geographic areas, evaluate the impact of specific interventions, and monitor changes in health outcomes. Dr. Puckrein has published successful magazines, American Visions and Minority Health Today. Dr. Puckrein was awarded his doctorate from Brown University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. (

    Andrew J. Muir, PhD
    Gastroenterology & Hepatology Research
    Duke Clinical Research Institute
    Associate Professor
    Department of Medicine
    Duke University School of Medicine
    Durham, NC

    Andrew J. Muir, PhDDr. Andrew Muir is a gastroenterologist whose research activities are focused on developing innovative treatments for a variety of liver diseases. His specific areas of interest include novel therapies for hepatitis C infection, hepatocellular carcinoma, and African American patient response to hepatitis therapies, as well as racial disparities and issues affecting access to care in hepatitis C treatment and liver transplantation.

    Dr. Muir attended Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas for his undergraduate education, which was followed by medical school at Duke University. After graduating from medical school in 1993, he went on to complete his residency in the Department of Medicine, where he served as chief resident. Dr. Muir also completed fellowships in gastroenterology and health services research at Duke and at the Durham Veterans Administration Medical Center, respectively. Dr. Muir joined the faculty in the Division of Gastroenterology at Duke in 2000. In 2001, he completed a Master of Health Sciences degree at Duke.

    Dr. Muir helped to create the site-based research program in gastroenterology at the DCRI, a program he now leads. As director of the DCRI’s Gastroenterology and Hepatology Research Group, he oversees research aimed at improving the treatment of patients with liver disease. He has led successful global clinical trials, including several high-profile studies evaluating new therapeutic approaches in patients with hepatitis C infection. As the Research Group’s capabilities continue to grow, Dr. Muir’s efforts are centered on integrating the group’s capabilities in developing and testing novel therapies with the overarching mission of the Duke Translational Medicine Institute, which seeks to speed cutting-edge treatments from the laboratory bench to the patient bedside and beyond to the communities and populations who can benefit most from them.

    This additional emphasis on population health reflects another key area of interest for Dr. Muir, who has a long-standing commitment to improving racial and socioeconomic disparities in health care, as evidenced by his work on health inequalities as a senior research fellow at the Duke Center for Health Policy.

    Dr. Muir has authored or co-authored more than 50 peer-reviewed publications. These articles, which have appeared in journals such as Nature, NEJM, Annals of Internal Medicine, Hepatology, and Gastroenterology, including reports evaluating genomics-based strategies for predicting therapeutic response in patients with hepatitis C.

    In addition to his achievements as a clinician and researcher, Dr. Muir has also received acclaim for his teaching at Duke, where he has received the Golden Apple Teaching Award, the Eugene A. Stead, Jr. Teaching Award, and the Joseph Greenfield, Jr., MD Mentor Award, among many others. ( (

    Charles D. Howell, MD
    Department of Medicine
    Hepatology Research
    School of Medicine
    University of Maryland

    Charles D. Howell, MDCharles D. Howell, MD, is Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, and Director of Hepatology Research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Howell received his bachelor of science degree in Biology from the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, and went on to study Biochemistry at Clemson University in South Carolina. His MD was acquired at Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, DC. Dr Howell completed his Residency in Internal Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and was a Gastroenterology Fellow at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver.

    Dr. Howell has had a long-standing interest in racial disparities in chronic hepatitis C treatment, and was an investigator in the NIDDK VIRAHEP-C study. He is currently Principal Investigator on a mid-career investigator in patient oriented research (K24) award to study of Racial Disparities in Liver Diseases a(sponsored by the NIDDK) and another study of Ribavirin Pharmacokinetics and HCV treatment outcomes. He has been a regular presenter at the National Medical Association, Digestive Disease Week and AASLD annual scientific meetings, among others. (

    Bryant C. Webb
    Student National Medical Association

    Bryant C. WebbMr. Bryant Cameron Webb was a 2010 Summer Associate with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in the Health Policy Institute. Presently, he is in his fifth year of a combined MD/JD program at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Loyola University Chicago School of Law. He completed his undergraduate studies in 2005 with an Echols Interdisciplinary Studies honors major at the University of Virginia. In addition to his studies, Webb is the 2010-2011 National President of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) and Student Trustee on the National Medical Association Board of Trustees. His is passionate about working at the interface between policy, politics and healthcare, and his current research focuses on maximizing health legislation to improve the health of minority communities. ( (


    Brian D. Smedley, PhD
    Vice President and Director
    Health Policy Institute
    Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies
    Washington, DC

    Brian D. Smedley, PhDBrian D. Smedley is Vice President and Director of the Health Policy Institute of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, DC. In this position, Dr. Smedley oversees all of the operations of the Institute, which was started in 2002 with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The Institute has a dual focus: to explore disparities in health and to generate policy recommendations on longstanding health equity concerns.

    Formerly, Smedley was Research Director and co-founder of a communications, research and policy organization, The Opportunity Agenda (, where he led the organization’s effort to center equity in state and national health reform discussions and to build the national will to expand opportunity for all. To that end, Smedley is a co-editor, along with Alan Jenkins, of a book, All Things Being Equal: Instigating Opportunity in an Inequitable Time. Prior to helping launch The Opportunity Agenda, Smedley was a Senior Program Officer in the Division of Health Sciences Policy of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), where he served as Study Director for the IOM reports, In the Nation’s Compelling Interest: Ensuring Diversity in the Health Care Workforce and Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care, among other reports on diversity in the health professions and minority health research policy. Smedley came to the IOM from the American Psychological Association, where he worked on a wide range of social, health, and education policy topics in his capacity as Director for Public Interest Policy. Prior to working at the APA, Smedley served as a Congressional Science Fellow in the office of Rep. Robert C. Scott (D-VA), sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Among his awards and distinctions, in 2004 Smedley was honored by the Rainbow/PUSH coalition as a “Health Trailblazer” award winner; in 2002 he was awarded the Congressional Black Caucus “Healthcare Hero” award; and in August, 2002, was awarded the Early Career Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest by the APA. Smedley holds an undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in psychology from UCLA. (


The following documents are PDF versions of the speakers’ presentations and are intended to be used for reference only.

The "Secret" Epidemic

Muir/A New Era in Hepatitis C

Howell/Racial Disparities
in Chronic Hepatitis C

Webb/The "Secret" Epidemic


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