Thu | Dec 7, 2023

Dr Bryan Smith a credit to Jamaican heritage

Cardiologist named among 2023-2024 White House Fellows

Published:Friday | September 29, 2023 | 12:09 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer
Dr Bryan A Smith, cardiologist of Jamaican parentage who has been named a 2023-2024 White House Fellow.
Dr Bryan A Smith, cardiologist of Jamaican parentage who has been named a 2023-2024 White House Fellow.

Cardiologist Dr Bryan A. Smith has been appointed a Presidential Fellow for 2023- 2024 in the United States.

Dr Smith, who is of Jamaican descent, follows in the footsteps of Dr Garth Walker, who was named a White House Fellow in 2021-2022, and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former secretary of state, the late General Colin Powell.

In a social media post, Smith said he was honoured to be named a White House Fellow.

“I am thrilled to be named a 2023-2024 White House Fellow. So grateful to be among so many courageous, thoughtful, and compassionate leaders, and I am honoured to be included with this inspiring group,” he posted.

Founded in 1964 by Lyndon B. Johnson, the White House Fellows program is one of America’s most prestigious programmes for leadership and public service. White House Fellowships offer exceptional emerging leaders first-hand experience working at the highest levels of the federal government.

Dr Smith told The Gleaner that he credited his Jamaican upbringing for the progress he has made in life.

His mother, Beverley Beckford, who was born in Kingston, is a past student of Alpha Academy and The University of the West Indies, while his father, Paul Smith, is brother to musician Ernie Smith and was born in St Ann.

The third of four children, Dr Smith’s oldest sister, Charmaine Wright, is also a medical doctor. His other sisters are Kristen Smith, an attorney, and Rebecca Fensemaker. Fensemaker participated in the 2006 GraceKennedy Birthright fellowship.

Dr Smith said that, although he was not born in Jamaica, he visits the country every opportunity he gets. He noted that he was last on the island with his wife in May of this year.

“I credit my Jamaica heritage for being the person I am,” he said.

Dr Smith said he got into medicine because of his love for science, as well as his desire to be of service to others, especially those in underserved communities.

“Over the past 10 years, I have treated hundreds of patients for heart problems, the cause of death in the United States, especially among African-Americans. I want to have an impact, especially on the national level,” he said.


He noted that, as a heart failure cardiologist, he specialises in treating heart transplant patients and managing their care.

Dr Smith will be posted to the Social Security Administration for the duration of his fellowship.

Dr Smith, who lives in Mundelein, Illinois, operates from the University of Chicago and is a health equity expert whose work focuses on health disparities in cardiovascular disease.

He serves on the Chicago board of the American Heart Association, where he is co-chair of its Health Equity Advisory Committee, and, as a spokesperson, he provides trusted medical information through television, radio, and print media. He founded the University of Chicago Heart and Vascular Center Mentorship Program for minority high-school students interested in medicine, and he is an associate program director for the Internal Medicine Residency, focused on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) efforts. He has authored numerous publications, and his research addresses racial disparities in the management of heart failure. He received an MD from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and a BA in biology from Harvard University.

Describing Walker, the 2021-22 White House Fellow, as a mentor, Dr Smith said they are great friends.

“I am honoured to follow in his and General Powell’s footsteps by being named a White House Fellow,” he said.

He credited his Jamaican heritage for his leadership qualities and his devotion to service to others.

“Inequalities are ingrained in our society but we have the tools to do better,” he said.