MSM's “Danforth Dialogues” features National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Director Gary Gibbons

MSM President and CEO Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice and Dr. Gibbons discuss the state of health equity in communities of color and his approach to leadership.

Danforth Dialogues

ATLANTA, GA – MARCH 4, 2024 – Morehouse School of Medicine  (MSM) today published the March edition of its 2024 "Danforth Dialogues" podcast, with a conversation between MSM’s President and CEO Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Director Dr. Gary Gibbons on the state of health equity in communities of color and his approach to leadership over his long, distinguished career.

Raised in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, Dr. Gibbons graduated from Princeton University and received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School. Dr Gibbons, who has headed NHLBI since 2012, served on the faculties of Stanford University and Harvard Medical School. In 1999, he joined Morehouse School of Medicine and founded its Cardiovascular Research Institute, which has become a leader in conducting research on the cardiovascular health of minorities.

“The Morehouse School of Medicine has become a bit renowned for the people who have been affiliated with the institution and gone on to have major leadership roles in the federal government including our founder and former U.S. Secretary of Health Dr. Louis W. Sullivan,” said Dr Valerie Montgomery Rice. “So, we were especially honored to have another member of the MSM family and federal public health leader, NHLBI Director Dr. Gibbons, join us on Danforth Dialogues.”

In their conversation, Dr. Gibbons noted that his research at Harvard was “grounded in a question that I had posed to my mentor at that time concerning why hypertension was more prevalent in African American communities…and that's probably why I was inclined to a career in cardiology. I always loved cardiology because literally you could take someone who was close to death, if not dead, and resuscitate and restore them in a short time frame…I couldn't think of anything better to do as a physician.”

But, he noted, his time at Morehouse School of Medicine also gave him a whole new perspective on health care. “I was recruited to (Morehouse School of Medicine) as a magnet investigator,” Dr. Gibbons said. “The notion was leveraging the training and experience I had that as a founding director, I could create something that would bring others to the school.”

“It was quite the opposite. I learned far more here than I imparted by coming here because of the mission here of serving the underserved that really gave me that different lens of equity and perhaps a pathway to address it. Morehouse School of Medicine had that tradition of engaging communities in co-creating solutions that were meaningful to those communities that had some of the greatest disparities, as a means of ameliorating them, if not eliminating them.”

One other thing Dr. Gibbons said he learned at Morehouse School of Medicine was the “audacious humility” of its leaders including Dr. Sullivan as well as former MSM President Dr. David Satcher, the only person to serve as both United States Surgeon General and head of the Centers for Disease Control. “That gave them that audacity to think big, to have a vision that's so far beyond what actually exists or that they actually have the resources to fulfill, but that self-confidence, self-belief that nevertheless it can be done,” he said. “I think that can be infectious, but it's approached with the humility because it's not about their personal ego, but it's what it can do for others.”

Launched in 2022, “Danforth Dialogues” focuses on the leadership lessons from the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and their broader implication for society. Named after the historic Danforth Chapel on the Morehouse College campus, the podcast series features a cross-section of guests and topics.

To hear this edition of the podcast, click here.

For more information about the Danforth Dialogues leadership series, click here.

To listen and subscribe to the Danforth Dialogues podcast, click here.

For more information about Morehouse School of Medicine, please visit                                                                                       

About Morehouse School of Medicine

Founded in 1975, Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) is among the nation's leading educators of primary care physicians, biomedical scientists, and public health professionals. An independent and private historically-Black medical school, MSM was recognized by the Annals of Internal Medicine as the nation's number one medical school in fulfilling a social mission—the creation and advancement of health equity. Morehouse School of Medicine's faculty and alumni are noted for excellence in teaching, research, and public policy, as well as exceptional patient care. MSM is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award doctoral and master's degrees. To learn more about programs and donate today, please visit or call 404-752-1500.


Jamille Bradfield
Morehouse School of Medicine