The Pivot: Dana Davis
Dana Davis builds partnerships to address health inequities in the Carolinas.
What’s your role in public health?
Some might think of this as unusual, but I have the amazing opportunity to engage in public health work from within the pharmaceutical industry! Last summer, I joined Genentech, a large biotech company that focuses on applying innovation to areas of need, like multiple sclerosis, oncology and hemophilia. By making sure our clinical trials have diverse participants, and calling on other companies to do the same, we’re working within our field to address health inequities. We have recently rolled out a new customer engagement approach to improve patient experiences and outcomes, support population health and reduce costs. We’re partnering with local experts to align with the way care is delivered in communities across the United States.
Can you describe your focus area in one sentence?
I connect with local health care stakeholders to improve the health of North and South Carolinians, with a special focus on health care that is equitable.
I’m most excited about the opportunity to explore synergies with UNC Health and UNC schools — especially the Gillings School, because it has special meaning to me as an alumna. I’ve had a lot of fun learning where interesting work is occurring across the UNC community in terms of addressing disparities in care; inclusive research; and diversity, equity and inclusion.
What brought you to public health?
This may not be popular, but a long time ago I was an undergrad down the road at… you know… that OTHER school! [Editor: For non-locals, that’s Duke University!] I knew I was interested in a health career, but I didn’t know what options existed besides going to medical school. I was fortunate to stumble across a UNC pregraduate summer program for students of color. I ended up working on a project within the epidemiology department and, once I know public health school was a thing, I was hooked! I applied to UNC during my senior year and was accepted into the program in the fall. I earned a Master of Science in Public Health degree with a focus on infectious disease epidemiology.
How have you pivoted in response to the coronavirus pandemic?
I joined Genentech in the midst of the pandemic, so I’ve spent most of my time figuring out how to use the Google suite of services, learning various virtual meeting tools and getting used to a new team that I still haven’t met in person! From a business perspective, though, we have been working with our customers to understand their unique challenges caused by COVID-19. For example, telehealth has emerged as a vital tool to enable continuity of care, and we are certainly engaged in those conversations.
Who are you when you’re at home?
I’m Mom, plus a chef, avid reader and wine enthusiast. I am very close to my family and friends, so as soon as the pandemic is over, I won’t be at home — I’ll be out traveling and visiting those I love most and have missed so much since we’ve been dealing with COVID!