Dr. Russell Brewer (He/Him/His), Research Associate Professor at the University of Chicago Medicine and Director of Health Equity Research

“It seems like I was doing BIA-related activities since the beginning.” DC, New Orleans, and Now Chicago. With a long history of providing mentorship and making resources more accessible for young leaders, Dr. Russell Brewer has been there done that.

Dr. Russell Brewer (He/Him/His) currently serves as Research Associate Professor at the University of Chicago Medicine and Director of Health Equity Research at the Chicago Center for HIV Elimination. I learned a ton when I was a JUMP! Intern, I assisted on one of his research projects and now I get to work closely with him with the BIA project. Grateful he had some time to chat over zoom, excited to share what I learned about Dr. Russell Brewer and how he got here. 

“My dad used to work for the World Health Organization (WHO). I was born in Liberia and then we moved to the Seychelles – East Africa – when I was six. So my dad took this job with WHO and that’s my first exposure to public health. I remember World AIDS Day in Seychelles. Dad used to come home with tee shirts. You know, at the time, we were like, “Oh, okay. That’s cool,” right? But then I really… I wanted a profession where I could impact people’s lives on a broad level, a population health level, and that’s why I went into public health.”

Following passion, he’s had since he was six, He received his bachelor’s and Doctorate in Public Health from the University of Oklahoma. After that, he had an academic job but at the time there was an opportunity at the Robert Wood Johnson that called his name. 

“It was great because I had the opportunity to work with health departments and governmental public health agencies and look at how we can improve their performance and impact in communities all across the US.”

While working as a program associate at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, he was also working with local and state departments as a health educator and a diabetes educator. This opportunity led to Russell meeting a network of passionate minds looking to make an impact. This work in New Jersey eventually led to Russell accepting a program management position with what was then called “AED—Academy of Educational Development” (In Washington D.C) where he worked in the HIV Prevention Trials Network and started to connect his research work to HIV. He shared that he was excited about new modalities towards ending HIV. His work exists prominently at the intersections between HIV and Incarceration. Which led to a 2011 – 2017 study in Louisiana. Dr. Brewer recently began another Baton Rouge. You can Learn more about that here.

“My passion is looking at how we can address some of the social/structural barriers that impact people’s ability to access care, to stay in care, and to achieve viral suppression if they’re living with HIV.”

Russell’s work, seeped into public health sensibilities asks us to look into the underlying issues and solve them with creativity. Specific tactics might fail, but a non-negotiable for Russell is community building and mentorship. BIA was created knowing the power of a supportive network helps everyone move towards a healthier future.