Olihe Okoro Named a McKnight Presidential Fellow
December 15, 2021
Dec. 15, 2021
Earlier this year, Dr. Olihe Okoro, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Pharmaceutical Sciences was named a 2021-2024 McKnight Presidential Fellow.
The McKnight Presidential Fellows Program is a three-year award given to the most promising individuals who have been granted both tenure and promotion to associate professor in an academic year. It recognizes recipients who are recommended by their college dean and chosen at the discretion of the executive vice president and provost based on excellence in research and scholarship, leadership, potential to build top-tier programs, and ability to advance University of Minnesota priorities.
Okoro is a community-engaged scholar who has developed a local, state, and national reputation. She has built strong, foundational connections with her African American and African-born immigrant community partners. She works closely with these communities to understand what their most important needs are, co-develop strategies to address these needs, and develop communication paths with the community to share what they have discovered. Specifically, she has developed a community-engaged, public health research program focused on addressing health disparities that affect health and health outcomes in Black communities. Her research focuses on investigating causes and implementing interventions to address HIV morbidity and mortality in the African immigrant population in the U.S.; chronic health conditions, health care access and quality of care in the African-American community; and cultural competency and diversity in health care professional education.
Okoro’s engaged work has empowered communities to address health-related issues such as HIV prevention and treatment, cancer detection, and COVID-19 prevention and vaccination. In health care professional education, she has focused on the longitudinal incorporation of intercultural sensitivity/humility and communication into the curriculum. Okoro pairs her research with community service, where she serves on the Board of the Rural AIDS Action Network, is a committee member of the Health & Equity committee of the NAACP, Duluth Branch, and currently collaborates with the Health Equity Northland coalition in northeastern Minnesota to develop community approaches to address COVID-19 prevention and address vaccine hesitancy. Participation in these service leadership roles has enabled her to assist community partners in formulating meaningful research initiatives that benefit their communities directly.