Utibe R. Essien, MD, MPH

  • Assistant Professor of Medicine
  • Core Investigator, Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System

Utibe R. Essien, MD, MPH is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and a Core Investigator in the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion. Dr. Essien is also a board-certified internist, providing clinical care at VA Pittsburgh. Dr. Essien joined the Center for Research on Health Care in September 2018 as a health services researcher, studying racial and ethnic disparities in the use of novel therapeutics in the management of chronic cardiovascular diseases such as atrial fibrillation. Recently, Dr. Essien has applied his disparities research framework to the COVID-19 pandemic, becoming a national expert in examining the disproportionate toll that COVID-19 is taking on minority communities in the U.S.

Dr. Essien's expertise in the field has resulted in publications in leading medical journals including JAMA and the NEJM. During the COVID-19 pandemic he has been interviewed by several local and national news media outlets including National Public Radio, the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and NBC News. Dr. Essien's leadership in advancing health equity led him to be named as Director of the Institute for Clinical Research Education’s Career Education and Enhancement for Healthcare Research Diversity (CEED 2) program for medical students. Dr. Essien is a 2019 National Minority Quality Forum 40 under 40 Leaders in Minority Health awardee.

Along with clinical care and research, Dr. Essien enjoys traveling around the country, trying new restaurants in hunt of the perfect burgers, and quoting and singing “Hamilton” song lyrics at any opportunity available.

Education & Training

  • BA (Psychology), New York University, 2007
  • MD, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 2013
  • Internal Medicine Residency (Primary Care), Massachusetts General Hospital, 2016
  • General Internal Medicine / Primary Care Research Fellowship, Massachusetts General Hospital / Harvard Medical School, 2018
  • MPH (Clinical Effectiveness), T.H. Chan Harvard School of Public Health, 2018

Representative Publications

Essien UR, He W, Ray A, Chang Y, Abraham JR, Singer DE, Atlas SJ. Disparities in quality of primary care by resident and staff physicians: is there a conflict between training and equity?  Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2019.

Study found that resident patients were less likely to achieve chronic disease and preventive cancer screening outcomes compared to staff patients and called for further efforts to address ambulatory trainee education and primary care quality along with novel approaches to the management of the disproportionately disadvantaged resident patient panels

Essien UR, Holmes DN, Jackson LR 2nd, Fonarow GC, Mahaffey KW, Steinberg BA, Allen LA, Chan PS, Freeman JV, Blanco RG, Pieper KS, Piccini JP, Peterson ED, Singer DE. Association of race/ethnicity with oral anticoagulant use in patients with atrial fibrillation: findings from the outcomes registry for better informed treatment of atrial fibrillation II. JAMA Cardiology. 2018.

Study found that black individuals with AFib were less likely than white individuals with AFib to receive direct-acting oral anticoagulants (DOACs) for atrial fibrillation, with no difference between white and Hispanic groups, and then called for the identification of modifiable causes of these disparities in quality of care.

Shulman E, Chudow JJ, Essien UR, Shanbhag A, Kargoli F, Romero J, Di Biase L, Fisher J, Krumerman A. Relative contribution of modifiable risk factors for incident atrial fibrillation in Hispanics, African Americans and non-Hispanic Whites. International Journal of Cardiology. 2018.

Study found that modifiable risk factors such as elevated systolic blood pressure and heart failure play an important role in the risk of incident atrial fibrillation, while observing a higher population attributable risk of modifiable factors in African Americans and Hispanics.

Essien UR, Shahid NN, Berkowitz SA. Food insecurity and diabetes in developed societies. Current Diabetes Reports. 2016;16(9):79.

As a review of the current literature surrounding the phenomenon of food insecurity and type 2 diabetes, this piece describes the association between food insecurity and diabetes management, as well as revealing possible mechanisms and pathophysiologic pathways for diabetic outcomes and complications.

Click here for a more complete bibliography of Dr. Essien's works.

Research Interests

  • Health Equity
  • Chronic disease management
  • Social determinants of health
  • Workforce diversity