$2M raised will help MCW doctor 'close health gaps' in Milwaukee

Closing the gap is the goal of a Medical College of Wisconsin doctor who has dedicated his career to researching and tackling health disparities in communities of color, and a big gift is helping him in that effort.

"I want to make a difference," said Dr. Leonard Egede.

Dr. Leonard Egede

Dr. Egede has spent more than two decades researching health disparities, working to close persisting health equity gaps in communities across the country.

"I refuse to believe that change cannot happen," said Dr. Egede. "If that was the case, I would not be doing what I'm doing."

The Medical College of Wisconsin professor is receiving significant support.

'It's well-known in Milwaukee we have very significant race-based health disparities, particularly with African Americans and Hispanics in our community," said Cory Nettles.

Dr. Leonard Egede

Through the ThriveOn Collaboration, area African American philanthropists helped raise $2 million to support Dr. Egede's research and commitment to address factors that impact health -- all to improve well-being in Milwaukee's underserved communities. 

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"The first and most important thing we have to do is establish trust and understanding," said Nettles.

Nettles helped lead the initiative. 

"The long-term goal is to close, identify health gaps in particular areas, whether that's diabetes, hypertension, or the like," said Nettles.

The coronavirus pandemic is shining a light on the problems. 

Dr. Leonard Egede

"Unfortunately, because of the number of people who have died who are minorities, people are recognizing you can't ignore these factors," said Dr. Egede. "My goal is that over the next five years, Milwaukee will be different because of the work that we're doing."

Dr. Egede believes his continued work can create change and reduce barriers many families continue to face.

As researchers work to come up with solutions to close disparities they plan to go out into the community to gather data and build trust.