Brian Harper, M.D., M.P.H., vice president for equity and inclusion and chief medical officer, received a 2021 Diversity in Business award from Long Island Business News. These awards are designed to highlight the outstanding achievements of the region’s leaders who actively support the growth of diversity and equality in the community. Harper and several other leaders from a variety of organizations across Long Island were honored at the publication’s March 2 virtual awards ceremony.
A profile of Harper, which detailed his vast public health experience, appeared in a special section of Long Island Business News featuring this year’s honorees. In addition to highlighting his involvement with New York Tech’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Task Force, the profile highlighted his career-long efforts to bridge gaps in healthcare inequality.
Among his various roles, Harper has served as a physician at the Rikers Island Medical Unit, as the first director of the Bureau of HIV Services at the Nassau County Department of Health, as president of Community Affairs at the Nassau University Medical Center, where he successfully recruited minority physicians to seven Community Health Centers, and as Suffolk County’s first African American Health Commissioner. As Suffolk County health commissioner, Harper launched the Office of Minority Health with two different African American physicians. The office, which still exists today, was founded to focus on resources to address health inequities in Suffolk County communities. Prior to arriving at New York Tech, he also served as chief operating officer and medical director of the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention, a partnership between Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and North General Hospital designed to provide quality cancer care to the residents of Harlem, N.Y., and surrounding areas, irrespective of a patient’s ability to pay.
Harper is also involved with several community organizations and professional groups, including the National Medical Association, which is the nation’s oldest and largest organization representing African American physicians and health professionals. The association’s members provide educational lectures to the community, serve as mentors to students, and focus on issues of health disparities. Harper serves as chair of the association’s local chapter, the Arthur Risbrook Medical Society.
When asked what motivates his efforts, Harper said, “I have spent roughly 30 years focused on issues pertaining to public health, including communicable diseases and health inequities. It has become more apparent than ever that a lack of health information or misinformation can literally result in both morbidity and mortality. This has motivated me to continue to educate the public on basic medical and scientific principles to help dispel myths and prevent unnecessary illness and death.”