Center for Healthcare History and Policy

The Center for Healthcare History and Policy (CHHAP) aims to establish and sustain a hub of collaboration, dissemination and community building across Emory University and Healthcare for scholarly research, education, and service at the intersection of history and healthcare policy.

Our mission is to expand and integrate knowledge about the historical, structural and social factors affecting health care, analyzing the ways that disparities are created, perpetuated, and experienced. The aims of the Center are to advance scholarship, education, and innovation that helps educators and leaders move health care systems towards justice.

  • The Center will provide a forum for the dissemination of new knowledge, foster collaboration, and support existing projects across Emory University and Healthcare. The Center will have three activity streams: Research, Education and Service, and will serve multiple groups across Emory and the broader Atlanta community.


Dr. Kylie Smith
Founding Director - Dr. Kylie Smith

Dr. Smith is an internationally recognized historian of psychiatry and nursing and has made contributions to both historical and nursing scholarship. She obtained her PhD in History from the University of Wollongong in Australia and undertook postdoctoral research at the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. Her book “Talking Therapy: Knowledge and Power in American Psychiatric Nursing” (Rutgers University Press, 2020) received the 2020 Lavinia L. Dock award from the American Association for the History of Nursing and First Place, History and Policy from the American Journal of Nursing Book Awards. Her new book, Jim Crow in the Asylum: Psychiatry and Civil Rights in the American South, is under contract with UNC Press and supported by the G13 Award from the National Library of Medicine (NIH). Dr. Smith’s work has been supported by grants from the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, the Rockefeller Foundation, the American Association for the History of Nursing, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Emory University Research Council.

At Emory Dr. Smith teaches classes on the history of race in US health care, the history of psychiatry, and on the theory and philosophy of nursing science. She frequently guest lectures on the history of race and racism in health care, the theory and history of psychiatric nursing, and the history of medical civil rights. She has been an invited guest speaker at the National Library of Medicine, the University of Minnesota, the University of Pennsylvania, and Johns Hopkins University, and delivered Grand Rounds at Weill Cornell Medical College, New York Presbyterian Hospital at White Plains, and Emory Psychiatry.

For information about the Center or to enquire about membership please contact Dr. Kylie Smith at

Gaea Daniels - CHHAP

Dr. Gaea Daniel Ph.D., R.N, is a Faculty Associate with the Center, and Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing. Her program of research focuses on sociocultural and environmental influences on sexual health behaviors and outcomes. She is particularly interested in sexual health outcomes of Black women that present as race-based disparities, from intravaginal practices to sexually transmitted infections. Dr. Daniel is a Gilead Sciences Research Scholar, an Emory BIRCWH Scholar, and co-editor of Taking Action: Top 10 Priorities to Promote Health Equity and Well-Being in Nursing


Sara Febres-Cordero, RN, PhD is a doctorally prepared registered nurse trained in community health work and public health nursing. She is an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing, and a faculty associate of the Center. Her work in harm reduction focuses on implementation science and is portrayed in a graphic medicine novel addressing opioid-involved overdose identification and naloxone administration by laypeople HOOKED: When Want Becomes Need.


Octavia Vogel, RN, MPH is a third year PhD student in the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and Graduate Assistant with the Center. Her research focuses on experiences of anti-Blackness (racism, prejudice, and discrimination) at the level of the healthcare encounter and how it operates differently based on nativity, ethnicity, and body size among Black women.

Marissa Nichols

Dr. Marissa Nichols is theCenter’s inaugural postdoctoral fellow. She earned her PhD in Latin American history from Emory University in 2023. Her research puts nursing history into dialogue with ethnohistory (Indigenous history). Based on her dissertation, her first book project traces how rural nurses and Indigenous communities shaped the expansion of rural healthcare in mid-twentieth-century Oaxaca, Mexico. Her research has been generously supported by a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship (U.S. Department of Education) and H-31 Pre-Doctoral Grant (American Association for the History of Nursing), among other sources. As part of the Center, Dr. Nichols is working on continuing her research, teaches classes on the history of race and health care, and supports the Las Voces Oral History Project.

Udodiri R. Okwandu, Doctoral Candidate
Udodiri R.

Udodiri R. Okwandu isa Doctoral Candidate in the History of Science Department and PresidentialScholar at Harvard University.  Broadly, herresearch explores the intersection of race, gender, and medicine and culturalunderstandings of health and disease. Her dissertation, "TransgressiveMotherhood: Maternal Mental Illness, Diagnostic Privilege, and Race in AmericanPsychiatry, 1890 - 1970," investigates how racial science and racializedconstructions of motherhood have informed the evolving classification,diagnosis, and treatment of maternal mental illnesses (i.e., mental disorders associated with pregnancy,childbirth, and the postpartum period) in the United States from the latenineteenth to mid-twentieth century. Udodiri'swork has been supported by numerous fellowships, including the American Association for University Women, theInstitute for Citizens and Scholars, the Charles Warren Center for Studiesin American History, and the Consortium for History of Science, Technology.Outside of her graduate studies, Udodiri also worked as a RacialDiversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Science Education (RDEISE) Research Fellowat LabXchange from 2021 to 2023. In this role,she designed curriculum on the historical formation of race, scientific racism,and evidence-based strategies that educators can use to promote the success ofBlack, Hispanic, Indigenous, and low-income students.

Steering Committee

Claire Sterk, PhD, President Emerita, Charles Howard Candler Professor, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University

Kimberly Jacob Arriola, PhD, Dean, Laney Graduate School, Emory University

Joseph Crespino, PhD, Jimmy Carter Professor of History, Department of History, Emory University

Hughes Evans, MD, PhD, Emory University School of Medicine

Julie Fairman, PhD, Nightingale Professor in Honor of Nursing Veterans, Emeritas; Director Emeritas, Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania.

Jeremy Greene, MD, PhD, Director, Institute for the History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University.

Dominique Tobell, PhD, Centennial Distinguished Professor of Nursing and director of the Eleanor Crowder Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry at the University of Virginia.

Deborah Levine, PhD, Associate Dean, Department of Health Sciences, Providence College, Rhode Island.

Daniel Goldberg, JD, PhD, Director of Education, Center for Bioethics and Humanities, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Denver, Colorado.

Fayron Epps, PhD, Associate Professor , Director of Community Engagement & Research, Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University

Jasmine Clark, PhD, Senior Instructor, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University, Georgia State Representative – House District 108

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Current Projects:

  • The development of resources and modules for the integration of history into nursing and health care curricula in collaboration with the SON Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • An examination of the history of segregation and Civil rights in psychiatric hospitals across the South
  • An analysis of community mental health policy and the overlay with policing in Atlanta
  • A Public History seminar series on the legacy of Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, Georgia
  • Documenting the experiences of young people with disability in juvenile detention
  • The history of drug use and implications for policy in Little Five Points, Atlanta
  • Analyzing the history of approaches to Black women’s health from the transatlantic slave trade to current disparities


Book Talk!
Dr. Christopher Willoughby joined us on February 1, 2023 to talk about his new book "Masters of Health: Racial Science and Slavery in US Medical Schools." You can watch his lecture and the Q&A below!

You can also buy Chris' book from the University of North Carolina Press here.

Book Talk!

Dr. Dominique Tobell, Centennial Distinguished Professor and Director of the Eleanor Crowder Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry at the University of Virginia presented her book "Dr. Nurse: Science, Politics, and the Transformation of American Nursing" on Feburary 26, 2024.

Watch her talk here:

You can buy her book from the University of Chicago here.


The HIP Lab

The HIP Lab helps train and develop health professionals as adovactes and policy makers.

It creates History Informed Policy projects that can inform policy makers, researchers, and community groups.

Check out our evolving website here

Frequently Asked Questions

Emory News

Emory School of Nursing launches Center for Healthcare History and Policy

Ask Kylie Smith why the humanities are important to health care, and she will tell you that the answer is in the word itself. “To administer effective health care, you have to be able to understand humans and their complexities,” says Smith, an associate professor at the Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. “Many health care problems we are trying to fix are caused by historical or policy issues, so you really can’t get the whole picture if you are not thinking about how it got this way.”
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