CHICAGO — The American Medical Association Foundation (AMAF) today announced that John D. Evans, telecommunications pioneer, internationally-recognized business executive and philanthropist, will lead a unique and innovative initiative designed to dramatically shape the future of LGBTQ health. The new initiative will create a cadre of LGBTQ health specialists through the AMA Foundation LGBTQ Fellowship Program – a national fellowship program to promote best practices and shared outcomes, while exponentially improving the quality of LGBTQ health care across the nation.

John D. Evans will serve as chairman of the AMA Foundation Fellowship Commission for LGBTQ Health. The commission will consist of 13-15 LGBTQ thought leaders, educational specialists, physicians, and philanthropists who will be appointed by the AMA Foundation Board of Directors, under Evans’s leadership and direction. The AMAF LGBTQ Fellowship Commission will guide the fellowship program inception to ensure the health needs of the LGBTQ community are optimally considered. The Commission will provide guidance on ways to enhance the fellowship request for proposal and its framework, including, but not limited to, funding, program structure and other design elements with the approval of the AMAF Board of Directors.

“It is critical we eliminate health care disparities facing the LGBTQ community,” Evans said. “Intersectional issues of discrimination, stigma, access to and quality of care are experienced at a higher rate by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, and we believe this new initiative will improve the health of LGBTQ people across the country. The AMA has proven its commitment to improving the health of the nation, and It is indeed a privilege to serve as chairman of this commission. Working with the AMAF, we will create a pipeline of LGBTQ health specialists who are able to serve the health care needs of the LGBTQ community while growing the pool of competent instructors able to pay it forward by passing on their knowledge to the next generation of LGBTQ providers.”

“We are honored Mr. Evans will lead our LGBTQ Fellowship Commission, that will help address and alleviate the health disparities that members of the LGBTQ community face,” said AMAF President, Sarah A. Sanders, PharmD. “Through his vast networks in business and academia, he will bring a tremendous amount of leadership, knowledge, and experience to the Fellowship Commission, which will also further elevate the status of this crucially important and timely initiative to transform health care for the LGBTQ community.”

“A key social determinant of health affecting sexual and gender minorities is a shortage of health care providers who are knowledgeable and culturally competent in LGBTQ health. This shortage underscores the immediate need for the AMA Foundation’s LGBTQ Fellowship Program which will train physicians to become LGBTQ Health Specialists,” said former AMAF president and founding donor of its LGBTQ endowment fund, Joshua M. Cohen, MD, MPH, FAHS. Moreover, policies that permit the denial of services to LGBTQ people are linked to a 46 percent increase in the proportion of gay, lesbian, and bisexual adults who report mental distress and gay men account for more than two thirds of all people diagnosed with HIV each year in the United States, despite comprising only 2 percent of the general population.

Establishing a national network of LGBTQ health specialist physicians who are formally trained to serve sexual and gender minorities will have a dramatic and positive impact on this community. The LGBTQ Fellowship cohort provides a transformative opportunity to:

  • Decrease LGBTQ health disparities
  • Increase cultural and clinical competence amongst physicians in LGBTQ health
  • Build capacity of LGBTQ health services sector to better identify and address the unique health needs of the LGBTQ community, such as the effects of anesthesia on transgender patients undergoing gender affirming surgery due to medications
  • Improve basic quality of life (health and well-being) of LGBTQ communities
  • Understand and address social determinants of health faced by this community through the promotion of research and supporting the dissemination of research findings across mediums such as medical journals
  • Provide safe entry point to link individuals to broader health and wellness services

The new initiative builds on the work of the AMA Accelerating Change in Medical Education initiative launched in 2013 to create the medical schools of the future. The goal of the effort is to address the growing gap between how physicians are being trained and the skills they’ll need to practice in modern health systems. The AMA will continue its efforts to drive the future of medicine by reimagining medical education, training and lifelong learning—ensuring physicians are better equipped to provide care in the rapidly-evolving health care environment. Additionally, the launch of the LGBTQ Fellowship Program follows last year’s hiring of the AMA’s first chief health equity officer and subsequent launch of the AMA Center for Health Equity.

Inducted into the Cable Television’s Industry’s Hall of Fame in 2016, Evans is best known as one of the co-founders of C-SPAN in 1977 and continues to serve on the C-SPAN Board. From 2002-2013, he served on the board of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative; served on the University of Michigan’s Global Health Initiative Advisory Board and currently co-chairs the Advisory Board for Dr. Robert Gallo’s (co-discoverer of the HIV Virus) Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland. From 2011-2018 representing industry, he served on the board of Internet2, a consortium of 321 universities operating one of the most advanced fiber optic networks for medical, educational and life sciences research.

Since 1950, the AMA Foundation has been a leader in health care philanthropy with programs that advance public health and medical education. As the philanthropic arm of the world’s largest physician organization, the AMAF has awarded more than $121 million in grants and scholarships, demonstrating nationwide programmatic excellence.

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