Health equity champion Karey Sutton, PhD, to join MedStar Health as head of health equity research


Nicole Pasia


MedStar Health welcomes Karey Sutton, Ph.D. as the new scientific director of health equity research for the MedStar Health Research Institute. Dr. Sutton comes to MedStar Health after close to a decade with the American Association of Medical Colleges where she was instrumental in launching the AAMC Center for Health Justice, an effort dedicated to advocating for community-centered research to address health disparities in academic medicine. Her first day will be April 11, 2022.

“Throughout my career, it’s been my personal mission to center the patient’s voice in research to better understand what is needed to achieve optimal health, particularly among communities that have too often been left behind,” said Dr. Sutton. “The opportunity to integrate health equity research into an academic health system like MedStar Health, a system that serves a growing and incredibly diverse region like ours, is one that I couldn’t pass up.”

In her new role as scientific director, Dr. Sutton will be responsible for advancing the overall strategy and growth for the system’s health equity research initiatives which seek to investigate health disparities, structural inequities, and social determinants of health in patient safety, patient engagement, digital health, diagnostics, chronic disease management, and more. She will focus on building relationships with strategic research partners, partnering with the communities that we serve on behalf of our investigative work, and mentoring early-stage scientists in their research careers.

“Health equity has long been a priority for our research portfolio. Dr. Sutton brings a wealth of experience and understanding about the current landscape, and her innovative thinking will help us propel MedStar Health into the next generation of academic medicine,” said Neil J. Weissman, MD, FACC, FASE, chief scientific officer at MedStar Health and president of MedStar Health Research Institute. “I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Sutton to the Research Institute and look forward to working with her on such an important area.”

As a mother of two, Dr. Sutton is also passionate about maternal health research and hopes to continue MedStar Health’s work to create positive, sustainable change for birthing individuals and families in the District. Most importantly, Dr. Sutton’s work will continue to build the evidence base for real-world solutions for advancing health equity within MedStar Health and beyond.

“Our work across the system is focused on providing the best care to our patients. That includes identifying and dismantling institutional and structural barriers that leave some patients at a disadvantage, and strengthening our ties to all the communities we serve,” said Sandy Johnson Harris, vice president of equity, inclusion, and diversity at MedStar Health. “The work that Dr. Sutton will lead within the MedStar Health Research Institute will help us continue to cultivate a health system where everyone feels valued, understood, and a sense of belonging.”

Dr. Sutton is an advocate for tackling inequities in this country’s healthcare system and has committed her career to advancing health equity in our community and beyond. She serves on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Technical Expert Panel for the maternal morbidity electronic clinical quality measure (eCQM) and the Prince George’s County Healthcare Action Coalition. In 2020, Dr. Sutton was also named as one of the National Minority Quality Forum’s 40 Under 40 Leaders in Health, a prestigious award that recognizes thought leaders in minority health around the country whose work focuses on reducing health and health care disparities and building sustainable healthy communities.

Prior to joining AAMC, Dr. Sutton worked as a research fellow at UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine where she studied challenges and opportunities for engaging underrepresented communities in genomics research, with emphasis on minority participation in population-based biobanking.

Originally from Greensboro, N.C., Dr. Sutton received undergraduate degrees in Chemistry and Classical Civilization from Howard University and her Ph.D. in Science and Technology Policy from Virginia Tech, where she was awarded the National Human Genome Research Institute’s Ruth Kirschstein Minority Predoctoral Fellowship. She currently lives in Maryland with her family, and regularly volunteers with DC Public Schools.

Visit for more information about our work in health equity research.

This press release was provided by MedStar Health.