NASHVILLE, Tenn. As the daughter of a nurse, Sarah Bland, MBA, MPH grew up surrounded by the medical field. That, coupled with her interests in healthcare, made a career in that field almost a foregone conclusion.
“I’m a nerd,” Bland quipped. “So I was always thinking, ‘How can we do healthcare better?’”
Before joining the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR) and assisting the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance (MVA) as a Project Manager, Bland grew up in Richmond, VA. After graduating from high school, she earned a Bachelors Degree in Theology and Music from Mid-Atlantic Christian University in Elizabeth City, NC.
From there, she earned her Masters of Business Administration and Masters of Public Health from Benedictine University in Lisle, IL.
Bland’s professional career took her on a path throughout the Southeast, transferring to four different states while working for Aurora Diagnostics – North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
“I worked for 5 ½ years in a commercial pathology lab,” she recalled. “I worked primarily in quality, safety and regulatory.”
Her final stop before joining Vanderbilt was Palm Beach, FL.
Bland will assist with projects under the U54 Grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including the Precision Medicine and Health Disparities Collaborative (PMHDC). “It’s a lot of administrative duties and project management,” she explained.
Launched in 2016, the PMHDC aims to empower precision medicine research to eradicate health disparities, specifically those among African Americans and Latinos. Its objectives are broad in scope, ranging from education to advocacy.
Bland’s focus will be facilitating the Administrative Core, which is responsible for ensuring the PMHDC reaches those goals and completes the aims of its respective projects.
Bland’s service to the community extends beyond her professional work. In her free time, she volunteers with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) as a child advocate. Specifically, she works with children in the foster care system.
“I don’t want to be a parent myself, but I want to be a good influence on kids who don’t have that in their lives,” she said.
Bland has volunteered with CASA for 2 ½ years.
As she assists with the PMHDC, Bland hopes to improve her understanding of health disparities. “I’d like to help build the Collaborative into a larger network, and see the progress of precision medicine in health disparity groups that we beginning to reach,” she said.
About the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance
Founded in 1999, the Alliance bridges the institutions of Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Its mission is to enrich learning and advance clinical research in three primary areas -- community engagement, interprofessional education and research -- by developing and supporting mutually beneficial partnerships between Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the communities they serve. Through community engagement, the Alliance serves a large community of stakeholders including surrounding universities and colleges, community organizations, faith-based outlets and community health centers. Its interprofessional education enhances students' interdisciplinary understanding and improves patient outcomes through integrated care. The research conducted provides access to experienced grant writers and materials supporting the grant application process and facilitates grant-writing workshop.