Long walkway to Duke Divinity school at sunset
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Duke University

Duke Divinity Receives Grant Supporting Efforts to Overcome Racial Inequities in Health Care

A two-year $250,000 grant from the John and Wauna Harman Foundation will support a new Duke Divinity School program aimed at reducing racial disparities in advance care planning and overcoming racial inequities in health care. 

The Advance Care Planning and Healthy Living Through Faith (ACP-HLTF) program will help strengthen the capacity of the African American Advance Care Planning/Palliative Care (AA ACP/PC) Network to develop a community of clinicians, clergy, and scholars whose joint work improves the health and health care experiences of African Americans throughout their lives, with particular attention to the end of life.

Associate Research Professor of Theological Ethics and Bioethics Patrick T. Smith, is the faculty director of the program, which continues a legacy of work led by the late Dr. Richard Payne, who was the Esther Colliflower Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Divinity at Duke Divinity School. Payne, who passed away in 2019, was an internationally known expert in the areas of pain relief, palliative care, oncology, and neurology. Since December 2015, the John and Wauna Harman Foundation has supported multiple projects originally led by Payne and his colleagues at the Center for Practical Bioethics (CPB). These projects have cultivated partnerships between health care professionals, clergy, and lay people in predominantly African American religious congregations and supported the AA ACP/PC Network, a group of advance care planning and palliative care experts led by Dr. Payne advocating for greater access and participation of African Americans and other communities of color. The ACP-HLFT at Duke Divinity School, the new institutional home for this network, will take its work in new directions under Smith's leadership.