The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School Health Care Management (HCM) Department and Meharry Medical College will launch a joined MD/PhD program in 2021.

The Wharton HCM Department is the oldest one of its kind in the country, providing comprehensive education in all areas of health care management. Launched in 1985, its doctoral program is famed for producing health care management and economics alumni who have become scholars of international renown.

Guy David, Wharton HCM
James Hildreth Sr., Meharry

Meharry Medical College, located in Nashville, Tenn., was the country’s first medical school for African Americans. One hundred and forty-four years later, it remains the largest historically black institution dedicated to the education of health care professionals and scientists.

Advances Mission

“This marks the first time a Wharton program has joined forces with a historically black medical school to create a path for its students to earn a joined MD/PhD degree,” said Guy David, PhD, Director of the Wharton HCM PhD program. “This effort advances our overall mission to increase the participation of underrepresented minorities in thought leadership as experts in both medical and health care policy research. We are all very committed to increasing diversity and know that the graduates of this program will become great leaders who will transform our world.”

Meharry President James E.K. Hildreth Sr., PhD, MD, said the program is one more way the College can advance its heritage of service to minority communities through furthering diversity among health policy leaders.

Legacies of Service

“It is an honor for Meharry to team up with such a renowned institution as the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Health Care Management,” Hildreth said. “This is an opportunity for both institutions to continue our legacies of service by expanding the voices of those involved in health care and health policy throughout minority communities—something Meharry has been doing since our founding in 1876.” Meharry students selected for the MD/PhD program will receive their medical degrees at Meharry and their PhD degree at the Wharton.

The new Wharton/Meharry initiative builds on long-existing ties between Wharton, the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI) and Meharry. 

Change of Landscape

Dexter Samuels, Meharry

“Fostering a more diverse health care arena has always been the goal of Meharry Medical College since its founding, and through this alliance with Wharton, we will expand the purview of minority influence in health care,” said A. Dexter Samuels, PhD, MHA, Senior Vice President for Student Affairs and Executive Director of the Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College. “Meharry is proud of the collaboration we have maintained with LDI over the years through our Center for Health Policy, and this agreement with Wharton is another example of our efforts to change the landscape of the health care workforce.”

LDI Executive Director Rachel Werner, MD, PhD, is a member of the National Advisory Board of the Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College. Wharton faculty members, like David, have taught health economics classes there. 

Diversity and Inclusion

“LDI has a long-standing commitment to advance diversity and inclusion and to work to increase participation in health services research from people who have historically been underrepresented,” said Werner. “This joined degree program marks an important and valuable step toward that goal.”

Rachel M. Werner, Penn LDI

Since 2012, Meharry’s leadership team has participated in LDI’s annual Summer Undergraduate Minority Research (SUMR) program that offers undergrads from underrepresented minorities the opportunity to spend a summer immersed in a health services research curriculum and mentorships with Penn scientists in that field. This long standing relationship was instrumental in building this joined MD/PhD program.

Physician scientists
“This new program greatly simplifies the opportunity for Meharry Medical College students to become health economists and diversify the field, and it also enhances SUMR’s ability to attain one of its goals — to develop Physician Social Scientists,” said Joanne Levy, MBA, who is both the Associate Director of the HCM PhD program and the Founding Director of the SUMR program.

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About Meharry Medical College

Meharry Medical College, founded in 1876, is the nation’s largest private, independent historically black academic health sciences center dedicated to educating minority and other health professionals. True to its heritage, it is a United Methodist Church related institution. The college is particularly well known for its uniquely nurturing, highly effective educational programs; emerging preeminence in health disparities research; culturally sensitive, evidence-based health services and significant contribution to the diversity of the nation’s health professions workforce. Meharry is a leading national educator of African Americans with MD and DDS degrees and PhD degrees in the biomedical sciences.