DHHS, NIH News  
National Center on Minority Health
and Health Disparities

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sibyl Bowie Page

Veteran Journalist Appointed Communications Director at National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities

Award-winning journalist George A. Strait, Jr., will be the new director of communications at the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD), National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Bethesda, Maryland.

“This appointment comes at a critical time in the continued development and growth of the NCMHD”, according to Dr. John Ruffin, NCMHD Director. “Mr. Strait brings a multitude of broadcasting, strategic communications and administrative experiences to the NCMHD that will serve the Center and the NIH well. I am pleased that someone with such outstanding credentials has joined our staff.”

Upon being appointed Strait said, “In many ways I feel my entire career has led me to this post.” Strait will serve as the director for communications at the NCMHD. “Dr Ruffin and I agree that for the NCMHD to fulfill its mission, communications must be an integral part of every aspect of the Center’s research and outreach operations”, said Strait.

Strait has an extensive and diverse career in communications. He has served as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs at the University of California, Berkley, where he oversaw University Communications, Media Relations, Government Affairs, Cal Parents and Visitor Services. Prior to joining UC Berkley, Strait was Chairman of the Board at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a private philanthropic foundation dedicated to improving the health and life chances of the disadvantaged. At the Dr. Spock Company, an Internet resource for parenting and childcare, he served as Vice President of Content and Media.

Most of Strait’s career has been spent in broadcast news. For 22 years he was a Correspondent at ABC News where he was assigned various beats, from the White House to the peaceful transition to democracy in South Africa. In 1983, he became the first medical and health reporter in network television news history. In January 1993, Strait was named correspondent in charge of directing ABC’s coverage of the national health care reform debate. He was Chief Medical Correspondent at ABC until he left the network in 1999.

Strait has also been in demand over the years as a media consultant and taught science reporting and broadcast journalism at Columbia, Rutgers and Wesleyan universities. In 1975, he helped found the National Association of Black Journalists.

Throughout his career, Strait excelled at reporting challenging stories. He co-anchored, wrote, and produced the critically acclaimed “Black in White America,” a documentary on race. In addition, Strait investigated the syphilis experiments on African-American men in Tuskegee, Ala., producing “The Deadly Deception” which aired on the PBS broadcast NOVA.

His achievements have earned him the highest honors in journalism, including the Overseas Press Club’s Edward R. Murrow Award for a 10-part series on health care in the Soviet Union; two Alfred I. DuPont Awards: a ground-breaking series on women’s health and the first look at HIV among African Americans; a Gold Medal Award from the National Association of Black Journalists; and a Blakesley Award from the American Heart Association.

A native of Boston, Mass., Strait graduated from Boston University with a B.A. degree in biology, and completed an M.S. program in Biochemical Genetics at Atlanta University. He is married and has two sons.

The NCMHD (http://www.ncmhd.nih.gov) is a component of the NIH. The NCMHD promotes minority health and leads, coordinates, supports and assesses the NIH effort to eliminate health disparities. The NCMHD programs focus on expanding the nation’s ability to conduct research and to build a diverse, culturally-competent research workforce to eliminate health disparities.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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