A photo of a woman from the chest up. She is smiling and resting her right hand on the side of her face.
Mignonne Guy, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of African American Studies, is the recipient of the 2024 Pebbles Fagan Award. (Contributed photo)

VCU’s Mignonne C. Guy receives award for outstanding contributions through health-equity research

Society for Research on Nicotine & Tobacco honors her commitment to public health.

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The Society for Research on Nicotine & Tobacco has named Mignonne C. Guy, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of African American Studies in the College of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University, the recipient of the 2024 Pebbles Fagan Award, which honors those who have made outstanding contributions to public health and minoritized communities through health equity research.

“I am genuinely shocked to receive this prestigious award, in part because my position as a researcher is notably unconventional and distinctive,” said Guy, who is director of the Health Equity Across the Lifespan in Virginia Lab (HEAL-VA Lab) at VCU. “In contrast to traditional extractive models, I leverage both my own research and that of my colleagues to proactively deconstruct the systems contributing to health disparities faced by Black and other historically marginalized communities. This award is not just a personal achievement but a reflection of the collaborative spirit and shared fight for health justice within my circle of collaborators. I feel immensely honored.”

Guy studies social, structural and behavioral determinants that contribute to health inequities among minoritized populations and other marginalized groups. She uses critical race, epistemic oppression and ecosocial lenses to examine the complex interplay among multilevel factors that influence health and how they shape the health behaviors and outcomes in people of African descent. Guy’s research also examines how systemic racism is reproduced in academia and in biomedical settings, perpetuating health inequities.

She is the principal investigator of the project “Eliminating Systemic Racism in Commercial Tobacco Control Research,” funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She leads a transdisciplinary team to engage stakeholders nationwide from communities, academic institutions, policymakers, funding agencies and publishing entities to interrogate the role of research in reproducing tobacco-related health inequities and to develop and disseminate an anti-racist, equity-centered road map focused on eliminating them among Black tobacco users.

Guy is also an MPI, co-project director of the Investigator Development Core and director of social justice integration in the NIH/NIMHD-funded Center for Research, Health and Social Justice. She leads the development and training of scientists and community members in anti-racist methods to conduct cancer prevention and control and cardiovascular disease research in Black and/or rural communities, and she assesses implementation of the core elements of social justice in health research.

For over eight years, she has been a co-investigator and site lead investigator in the FDA/NIDA-funded VCU Center for the Study of Tobacco Products, where she develops methods to monitor emerging tobacco products on the market and uses these data to inform tobacco regulation.

Guy is a member of the Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center Cancer Prevention and Control Group at VCU. She also holds several national advisory positions, including as a member of the FDA Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee; member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health; former co-chair and member of the Racial and Equity Task Force of the Society for Research on Nicotine & Tobacco; advisory board member for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Building Capacity to Reduce Tobacco Inequities in the South and Midwest Initiative; and past Mid-Atlantic regional lead for the Intercultural Cancer Council.