Joshua Barocas Wins AAMC Award to Advance Health Equity

Joshua Barocas, MD, assistant professor of medicine, has been honored with the Herbert W. Nickens Faculty Fellowship, an annual award by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) for a junior faculty member demonstrating leadership in addressing disparities in medical education and health care. Selected from a nationwide pool of applicants, Barocas, an infectious diseases specialist at Boston Medical Center, will be recognized at the AAMC’s Learn Serve Lead annual meeting in November.

A component of the fellowship is a financial award of $25,000 to conduct a project to support underserved minorities. Toward this, Dr. Barocas will investigate the downstream consequences of opioid overdose interventions. “Treatment and prevention efforts are often designed to focus on communities with the highest current rates of overdoses,” Dr. Barocas says. “Yet the illicit drug market can adapt to these interventions and often moves to communities just beyond the periphery of targeted populations.”

Dr. Barocas hypothesizes that some large-scale interventions to combat the opioid overdose epidemic in one community may directly result in the emergence of the epidemic in another. To study this, he will examine data from Massachusetts to estimate changes in opioid overdose and health care utilization for opioid use disorder in communities adjacent to ones that received expanded treatment and prevention services.

“The Nickens Faculty Fellowship,” says David Coleman, MD, John Wade Professor and Chair of Medicine, “will enable Dr. Barocas to advance the understanding of structural and institutional barriers leading to health disparities, inform public health policy and promote an equitable culture of health. We are proud that he is being recognized by the AAMC for this prestigious national award.”

The Herbert W. Nickens Faculty Fellowship was established by the AAMC in 2000. The award recognizes an outstanding junior faculty member who has demonstrated leadership in the United States in addressing inequities in medical education and health care; demonstrated efforts in addressing educational, societal and health care needs of minorities and is committed to a career in academic medicine.