Dr. Kathie-Ann Joseph, who was born in at the Spanish Town hospital in St. Catherine, Jamaica, in 1970, has made history by becoming the first Black woman to be appointed professor of surgery at New York University’s Langone Grossman School of Medicine. She will also serve as professor of population health and has been named the vice-chair of the new Diversity and Health Equity (DEI) for the Transplant Institute.
In a statement issued by NYU Langone, the university announced Joseph’s appointment with a “great sense of pride,” emphasizing that the designation of vice-chair indicates that the institution realizes the great importance of DEI in its culture so that it may achieve “the highest levels of excellence across our mission areas.” The university also noted that having a diverse workforce at all of its organizational levels will bring the institution “greater success and innovation.”
Kathie-Ann Ramsay was born in Spanish Town to Jamaican parents Royes and Thelma Ramsay in 1970. Her parents migrated to the United States in 1967, but her mother wanted all of her children to be born in Jamaica, so she returned to Spanish Town to give birth to her daughter. Ramsay married Dr. David Joseph in 1995 in New York, where she still lives with her husband and their two sons.
Joseph said that she had always been interested in medicine and as a child she was “always playing doctor by trying to listen to the heartbeat” of her friends. As the child of immigrants, she noted that education was a central focus of her life. She received a BA in sociology in 1991 from Harvard University. After her graduation from Harvard, she attended Columbia University, continuing her education at the Columbia College University of Physicians & Surgeons and earning a joint MD-MPH degree at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
Joseph was the first Black woman to be appointed to the faculty in the Department of Surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. She has made presentations to the President’s Cancer Panel, which is an advisory board of the President of the United States. She has also advised New York State’s Cancer Consortium on the development of its cancer control plant. She was included among the “25 Most Influential African Americans” by Essence magazine in 2009.
Joseph believes that is it important for healthcare workers to be aware of the socio-economic factors impacting their patients, including race and gender. Her experience doing research at Harlem Hospital was her inspiration for combining medicine and public health. She defines her mandate as working to provide greater equity among the faculty, staff, trainees, and patients at NYU’s Langone hospital.