The University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s Dr. Yen Dang was named one of the Maryland Daily Record’s Health Care Heroes in its 2023 edition of the publication.

Dang, the Director of Global Health in the School of Pharmacy of Health Professions and a pharmacy practice associate professor, was honored for her work in community outreach and research in health disparities in a rural setting.

“I think this award is very distinguished with all of these great organizations and individuals that do really good work across the state,” Dang said. “I’m very humbled to receive this.”

According to the publication’s managing editor, Suzanne E. Fischer-Huettner, the Community Outreach Hero award “honors individuals and organizations that have helped the community by providing support and education.”

Dang’s research began upon her arrival at UMES in 2013. Since then, she has secured $1.5 million in grant funding to lead chronic disease initiatives to reduce disparities on the Eastern Shore.

She also worked with local health departments during the pandemic to develop and implement programs related to diabetes, smoking cessation, obesity, and opioid awareness in the community.

“We have a very underserved population here on the Eastern Shore,” Dang said. “Sometimes people here don’t have healthcare providers, and they might have to wait a year or so just to get access to medical care.”

In addition to her efforts addressing rural health disparities, Dang has received a number of appointments to state taskforces and organizations, including the Maryland SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Taskforce, Statewide Advisory Commission on Immunization, and a vice-chair role with the Maryland Medicaid Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee.

As the Director of Global Health at UMES, Dang regularly plans service-learning programs and participates in medical missions to developing countries including Haiti, Nicaragua, and Vietnam.

She said many of the health disparities she has seen on those missions are close to the ones she sees locally, many of which were exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dang said a takeaway from her research was that when treating the health care disparities, patients’ social determinants of health should also be examined.

“It’s their education, their religious beliefs, where they live, their built environment, their neighborhood,” she said. “All of that really affects what access they have and what disparities exist. I’m also more cognizant that there has to be a network for education, jobs, religion, and community that have to exist to get them to equity.”

To see the recipients of the Community Outreach in the Health Care Heroes, click here.

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