Where Black History Meets Healthcare

Reflective thoughts from Professor Thomas Williams

While healthcare is rarely the first thing that comes to mind when most Americans think about Black History Month, Assistant Professor of Law Thomas Williams knows that the state of healthcare among Black Americans stems from a history of marginalization. His recent work considers the role entrepreneurs can play in the mitigation of health inequities and disparities.

“My research is the convergence of thinking about questions of health equity, but adding a lens of small firm entrepreneurship and the ways in which we may have failed to acknowledge the possibilities of innovative and disruptive structures that might mitigate health disparities,” he said. “Black History Month gives us this opportunity to really set ourselves and do some deep work and deep thinking about questions of health equity not only in the current moment but to reach back and to understand that they are born of complicated deep historical ties to larger forms of this discrimination and marginalization.”

In his research, Williams focuses on the integrative analysis of health law, bioethics, and entrepreneurship. He has taught courses on food and drug law, the regulation of human subjects research, contracts, entrepreneurship, and the role of film and literary narrative in the construction and popular understanding of government institutions.  

“The opportunity to do this work is a gift,” he said. “To be reflective about where we are and how we are situated deeply matters to me.”

Before joining AUWCL, Williams worked at the Duke University Initiative for Science and Society, where he was a lecturing fellow, following his service as a Law and Biosciences post-doctoral fellow and Director of the Duke Engage Washington program. Prior to serving as a professor, he was a corporate associate at several large New York law firms and served as in-house counsel at a large physician practice in upstate New York.

Williams is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a J.D. and Master’s degree in bioethics, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

~Story and video by Keith Pierce