Jamaji C. Nwanaji-Enwerem: Relating Healthcare Practices to Public Policy

| Spring 2020

Jamaji Nwanaji-Enwerem is a Belfer International and Global Affairs Student Fellow

Jamaji C. Nwanaji-Enwerem

Jamaji C. Nwanaji-Enwerem

In middle school, Jamaji Nwanaji-Enwerem knew he wanted a career in medicine. He had a deep love for science, and even then wanted to find ways to combine science and human health. Family ties took him to Nigeria, where he saw severe healthcare disparities that had a lasting impact on him.

Earning first a Bachelor in Biology from Morehouse University, he gained a rich background in molecular studies. He went on to Harvard Medical School where he took a position at the Baccarelli Lab to continue researching molecular biology through environmental factors and epidemiology. Two years later, he took a break from his medical studies and earned a PhD in Biological Sciences. 

Nwanaji-Enwerem’s dissertation idea was born from his lab work: How does long-term fine particle exposure affect the aging process? His goal was to find changes in DNA, or markers, that indicated early exposure to dangerous particles. 

Hopefully, he said, these will be “markers that move us toward prevention rather than just letting us know when someone is exposed and… already sick.” 

When writing one of his reports, he encouraged policymakers to reconsider air quality standards based on his findings. With the question of how to turn research into policy on his mind, he returned to Harvard Medical School.

“When you’re in the room speaking with someone one-on-one, you’re very locked in, but you hope those…experiences can be used or transformed in ways that advise or inform a broader public,” said Nwanaji-Enwerem. With that goal in mind, he began working toward a Master of Public Policy degree at Harvard Kennedy School – where he is today.

“A lot of issues in medicine and in science have a public policy element that…I don’t think scientists or physicians always consider,” said Nwanaji-Enwerem. “I didn’t want to miss that gap.” He wants to see a world where people receive the comprehensive healthcare that they deserve. 

“Health equity is a big thing,” he said, “and I think policy is one way that we can do that better.” 

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Carey, Brilee. "Jamaji C. Nwanaji-Enwerem: Relating Healthcare Practices to Public Policy."Belfer Center Newsletter, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School. (Spring 2020).

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