Rotunda at dusk

Social Determinants: The Key to Repairing Health Disparities

Date & Time

June 1, 2019 @ 1:45 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.


Minor Hall, Room 125
McCormick Road
Charlottesville, VA, 22903



Research shows that only 10% of our health outcomes are determined by the health care we receive. Another 10% of how healthy we are is determined by our genetic make-up. What accounts for the rest? This presentation will ask and answer this important question which is key to understanding how to live our longest, healthiest lives possible. We will explore the data that demonstrates that social determinants – the environments in which we live, work, and play – determine our health and health behaviors more than all other influences combined. This discussion will examine these “social determinants of health” from an empirical, medical, and practical perspective. We will focus our attention on the data that describe the health of populations in Virginia, but rely also on national studies that powerfully link social and economic inequity with health disparities. We will end our discussion with a survey of what can be done by citizens, health providers, and policy-makers in light of the evidence.


Dayna Bowen Matthew

William L. Matheson and Robert M. Morgenthau Distinguished Professor of Law, Professor of Public Health Sciences

Dayna Bowen Matthew, a leader in public health who focuses on racial disparities in health care, joined the Virginia faculty in 2017. She is the author of the book Just Medicine: A Cure for Racial Inequality in American Health Care.

Matthew previously served on the University of Colorado law faculty as a professor, vice dean and associate dean of academic affairs. She was a member of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities on the Anschutz Medical Campus and held a joint appointment at the Colorado School of Public Health.

Matthew graduated with an AB in economics from Harvard-Radcliffe and, after a brief stint as a commercial real estate banker, obtained a JD from the University of Virginia. While studying at Virginia, Matthew served as an editor of the Virginia Law Review, won the Law School’s William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition, and taught as a Hardy Dillard Writing Fellow. Following graduation, Matthew clerked for Justice John Charles Thomas. In 2018, Matthew received a PhD in health and behavioral sciences from the University of Colorado at Denver.

Dr. Michael Williams

Associate Professor of Surgery; Director of the UVA Center for Health Policy

Michael D. Williams, MD is the Director of the UVA Center for Health Policy, a joint program of the Batten School, the School of Medicine and the Department of Public Health Sciences. The Center for Health Policy provides comprehensive, apolitical analysis of current and proposed health policy for citizens and policymakers.

With more than 20 years of experience in health care delivery and systems design, Dr. Williams is passionate about health care equity issues. Dr. Williams joined UVA in 2012 as an Associate Professor of Surgery and Director, Emergency General Surgery in the Department of Surgery. He has also served as the Director of the UVA Summer Medical and Dental Education Program, which was established by a major grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The program aims to help under-represented minority students become more competitive candidates for medical school.

Dr. Williams is a graduate of Brown University where he studied biology.  He earned his MD from the UVA School of Medicine.