2023 Association of American Physicians Elected Member: Arleen Brown, MD, PhD
Arleen Brown, MD, PhD, is a professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and health services research (GIM and HSR) at the University of California, Los Angeles. She serves as Chief of GIM and HSR at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center.
Dr. Brown’s research focuses on improving health outcomes, enhancing health care quality, and reducing disparities for adults with chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke, particularly those with complex medical and social needs. Her research has included studies to improve diabetes care for older adults and minority patients and studies to understand clinical, socioeconomic, and health system influences on chronic disease management in under-resourced communities. Dr. Brown currently co-directs the NCATS-funded UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) and the CTSI’s Community Engagement and Research Program (CERP). Dr. Brown leads the NHLBI-funded multi-site program, the UCLA-UCI END DISPARITIES Center, whose goal is to reduce cardiometabolic disparities in Latino, Black, Asian, and American Indian Communities in LA County and Orange County. She also serves as PI on an NHLBI-funded study to reduce racial ethnic blood pressure disparities among multi-ethnic patients in the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services safety net using community engagement strategies and behavioral economics. Dr. Brown also leads the NHLBI-funded “Share, Trust, Organize, Partner: the COVID-19 California Alliance” (STOP COVID-19 CA), a coalition of 11 academic institutions and their networks of community partners across California. She is a Principal Investigator on the Healing Our Hearts, Minds, and Bodies (HHMB) study, to address clinic and patient-level readiness to address cardiovascular risk in African American and Latino patients with HIV/AIDS.
Dr. Brown received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University, her MD from the University of California San Francisco, and a PhD from the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA. She completed the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at UCLA.
The Road to the The Association of American Physicians… In Conversation with Dr. Arleen Brown
Dr. Brown shares the experiences which have influenced her career in research and medicine, as well advice for the future leaders in medicine.
What events in your life led you to pursue a career and/or research in medicine?
I was born in Jamaica and came to live in Los Angeles at the age of 5 years. As immigrants to the US, my parents relied on safety net hospitals and clinics for health care. Although they felt fortunate to have access to this resource, they often had difficulty navigating the complex and at times confusing US health care system. One impetus for my decision to study medicine was to help others navigate this system to get the care they needed. My interest in community-partnered research also stems from the recognition that health care alone is inadequate to achieve physical and emotional health and well-being and that social factors are critically important to health status, quality of life, and life expectancy.
Which achievement or contribution are you most proud of?
Partnering with community organizations across Los Angeles County and the Central Valley on the Get Out the Vaccine program to help over 150,000 people register for the COVID-19 vaccine. The program was both incredibly rewarding and humbling – much of the day-to-day work was led by amazing community based organizations who have a deep understanding of, and respect for, the communities they serve, and by dedicated staff at UCLA and in the state government who worked diligently to rapidly implement the program.
What inspires you to do the work that you do?
- My patients – I feel like I learn something new in every clinic session.
- Community partners, who are working to make a difference in the physical and social spaces.
- My parents and family, who have faced their challenges with dignity and grace and never stop encouraging me.
- My colleagues – skilled and compassionate clinician, researchers, and teachers – who inspire and challenge daily
What would you want others reading this to know?
That listening is just as important as action. We can all learn so much when we listen to those people and communities whose stories either don’t get told or whose stories don’t routinely get heard.