Faculty Spotlight: James R. Gavin III, MD, PhD

In recognition of Black History and Women’s History Months in February and March 2023, Cardiometabolic Health Congress (CMHC) hosted a one-hour virtual experience to address cardiometabolic considerations – pearls and pitfalls – in both of these populations. In this Q&A-style webinar, experts discuss where the industry is at in addressing and overcoming gaps in care and outcomes in women and Black patients, and where we can expect to be at this time next year.

Diversity and inclusion advocate James R. Gavin, III, MD, PhD joined fellow expert faculty Drs. Rachel M. Bond and Keith C. Ferdinand, to address the importance of diversity and inclusion in cardiometabolic health during this special webinar.

Meet Dr. Gavin: Expert, Activist, Clinician, and Leader

Dr. Gavin is a clinical professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and clinical professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine. He currently serves as chief executive officer and chief medical officer of Healing Our Village, Inc. He is a widely respected academic and entrepreneur in the medical community who brings a deep knowledge of childhood obesity-related illnesses and the policy and environmental influences that contribute to childhood obesity.

As a young investigator, his research contributions to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) significantly increased the community’s understanding of insulin receptor binding and function, mechanisms of insulin resistance, and the role hyperinsulinemia plays in obesity and type 2 diabetes. Today, these pathophysiologic conditions are hallmarks of both obesity and type 2 diabetes, a link elucidated by Dr. Gavin’s early investigations.

Historical Leadership in Medicine

After being named the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Clinician of the Year in 1991, Dr. Gavin served as the first African American president of the ADA from 1993 to 1994 and received the Banting Medal for Distinguished Service. During his ADA presidency, he focused on disseminating the findings of the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial, expanding research opportunities for investigators interested in diabetes research, funding minority outreach programs, and developing targeted diabetes awareness and education programs in minority communities.

From 2002-2005, Dr. Gavin was president of Morehouse School of Medicine, one of three historically black medical schools in the U.S. In that role, he made unparalleled contributions to endocrinology by pioneering research in diabetes, leadership, and advocacy. His dedication to advancing the careers of students, trainees, and physician-scientists (both early career and established) through mentorship.

Expert Witness in the Case of Kapche v. Holder

Dr. Gavin played a critical role as medical expert in the 2009 case of Kapche v. Holder, which involved a challenge to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) hiring policies for people with diabetes. Plaintiff Jeff Kapche was denied a job as an FBI Special Agent because he used injectable insulin rather than an insulin pump to manage his diabetes. Dr. Gavin’s testimony as a medical expert for the prosecution helped lawyers establish that Kapche’s diabetes was a disability under federal law, and the jury ruled in favor of Mr. Kapache. In 2010, Dr. Gavin, along with the rest of the Kapche Litigation Team, received the ADA’s Public Policy Leadership Award for his work in defending the right of people with diabetes to live free of discrimination.

Read the transcript of Dr. Gavin’s testimony:

Public Health Policy Alongside Michelle Obama

As chairman of the board of directors for the Partnership for a Healthier America, led by honorary chair and former First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Gavin is devoted to solving the nation’s obesity crisis in youth by making healthier choices and physical activity more affordable and accessible to families and children across the country. In this role, Dr. Gavin is ensuring the cardiometabolic health of future generations, especially those who will come from historically underserved communities.

Mentorship Creates Pathways to Success

Dr. Gavin has served as direct mentor to more than 50 early stage physician-scientists and has touched the careers of countless others through his leadership of both the Howard Hughes Medical Institute-National Institutes of Health (NIH) Medical Research Scholars Program and the RWJF AMFDP. During his more than 35-year involvement with the RWJF AMFDP, both as a National Advisory Committee member (1983-present) and national program director (1993- 2013), he has contributed to the career development of over 300 minority physician-scientists.

Throughout his career, his tireless dedication to increasing the number of medical school faculty from underrepresented minority groups has made an indelible mark on the diversity of leaders in endocrinology at the highest level.

“Be always mindful that over the course of your career, it will be just as important or even more important who you work with as what you work on! Strong mentorship and committed colleagues provide the surest pathway to career success.”

2021 Endocrine Society’s Laureate Award Recipient

Established in 1944, the Endocrine Society’s Laureate Awards recognize the highest achievements in the endocrinology field, including groundbreaking research, mentorship, and innovations in clinical care. The Endocrine Society announced that Dr. Gavin was the recipient of its 2021 Outstanding Mentor Award, recognizing a “commitment to mentoring and a significant positive impact on mentees’ education and career.” The society noted that Dr. Gavin had contributed to the career development of 300+ minority physician-scientists over the course of his remarkable career.


"Dr. Gavin's noteworthy contribution to the advancement of medicine fills a much-needed vacuum in the world of health care."

The Endocrine Society is committed to advancing endocrine science through its worldwide support for researchers, practitioners and educators. 

A Humble and Remarkable Trailblazer, Scientist, Advocate, Mentor, and Educator for Diabetes

In June 2015, Diabetes Care published a profile focused on Dr. Gavin, introducing him as a “quintessential scientist, educator, trailblazer, and type of leader most people aspire to become.” The profile commends the breadth and depth of his contributions to the scientific and medical community and his passion for furthering equity and reducing disparities in medicine.

Watch The February 2023 CMHC Webinar Recording

  • https://diabetesjournals.org/care/article/38/6/963/37374/James-R-Gavin-III-MD-PhD-A-Humble-and-Remarkable
  • https://www.thehistorymakers.org/biography/dr-james-gavin-iii
  •  https://endocrinenews.endocrine.org/meet-the-2021-laureates-james-r-gavin-iii-md-phd/
  •  https://amazingblackhistory.com/2022/02/21/diabetes-dr-james-r-gavin-iii/
  •  https://diabetesjournals.org/care/article/38/6/963/37374/James-R-Gavin-III-MD-PhD-A-Humble-and-Remarkable 
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