RWJF Health & Society Scholar:
Medicine, Public Health, Medical Anthropology
Area(s) of Expertise:
HIV Prevention, Violence Prevention, New Media
Dr. Mehret Mandefro is an interdisciplinary scholar and producer who draws from her background as a medical anthropologist and public health physician to craft textured narrative that explore the social determinants of health. Her research uses clinical medicine, public health, anthropology, and film to examine the health outcomes of vulnerable populations and create what she calls “visual medicine”. She has led innovative research collaborations between academic, government, and relevant stakeholder organizations on an array of domestic and international health policy issues. Dr. Mandefro began her career as a physician and public health practitioner working extensively with HIV infected and affected communities in Botswana, South Africa, Ethiopia, and New York on issues of prevention and treatment. She subsequently joined the research faculty of the Division of General Internal Medicine at the University Pennsylvania as a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar where she received a pilot grant to create the nonprofit production company Truth Aid. Her HIV research is the subject of a full feature documentary called All of Us that premiered on Showtime Networks 2008-2010. Appointed by President Obama as 2009-2010 White House Fellow, Dr. Mandefro worked on behavioral health policy issues for returning Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan War and co-chaired the health systems and life experiences sub-committee of the Federal Inter-agency Health Equity Team, which was responsible for developing the nation’s first public health strategy to eliminate health disparities. Upon completion of her fellowship, she joined the Obama administration and served as a health policy advisor in the Office of the Secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs. She is currently Chief Medical Officer of Amida Tech and on faculty in the Department of Health Policy at the George Washington School of Public Health and Health Services. Dr. Mandefro also serves on the Board of Directors of the international reproductive health organization EngenderHealth as the Chair of Public Affairs and Development. She received her BA in Anthropology and her MD from Harvard University, and a Masters of Science in the Public Health of Developing Countries at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as a Fulbright Scholar. She completed her internal medicine primary care residency at Montefiore Medical Center.