News Center for Human Rights, Gender & Migration Health Equity

Collaborator SPOTLIGHT: Faculty Scholar works for equitable care for diverse patients, communities

Written by Kim Furlow, communications manager for the Institute for Public Health

Julia D. López, PhD, MPH, LCSW is an assistant professor of medicine in infectious diseases at the School of Medicine. She is an Institute for Public Health Faculty Scholar and a collaborator with the Center for Human Rights, Gender & Migration and the Center for Community Health Partnership & Research. Here, we highlight Professor López and her work in this month’s Collaborator Spotlight.

Julia López

Julia López spends a lot of her time helping plan programs and evaluation efforts to help provide equitable health care, advocacy and change for patients and their communities. Alongside community partners she has supported new strategies for better access to health care services. These include trauma-informed practices in transgender health, collaboration on health promotion interventions for PrEP and overall sexual health care, and collaboration with the Institute’s Center for Human Rights, Gender & Migration. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, López worked with the center to identify and engage in strategies for closing health care gaps in immigrant care in the St. Louis region. Read about the project.

López says early in her career, she gained experience while working amid the mental health care sector of Saint Louis. She became a licensed clinical social worker and has provided therapeutic support for Spanish-speaking patients at Casa de Salud (a nonprofit focused on immigrant health for the uninsured.) Her focus was in trauma-informed care and using the principles of anti-oppressive practices.

Today, in addition to faculty duties at WashU, López maintains a community practice that reflects her passions. She works with a diverse group of patients who seek health care from a Spanish-speaking therapist, a person of color or first generation immigrant, and/or a person within the LGBTQIA2S+ community with whom they can identify. ”I am keenly aware of how the intersectionality of my clinical experiences affords me the opportunity to stay attuned to community needs and to direct efforts through research partnerships that advance civic and community engagement,” said López.

In the future, López says she can see herself expanding her work in sexual and gender minority health, mental health and substance use in a global context. She hopes to engage in health equity interventions with these populations and learn more about how different types of trauma impacts mental health and substance use. She hopes to develop and test interventions in collaboration with community partners that focus on health equity and inform clinical practice.

To help advance their work, López encourages other researchers and students to engage with the Center for Human Rights, Gender & Migration.

There is expertise from various dimensions of health, law and policy. I appreciate the opportunity to connect with others who hold similar interests and are working towards global impact.

Julia López, assistant professor of medicine