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Advancing Cardiovascular Health Equity Through Opportunistic Screening 

Jelani Grant’s Journey from Trinidad and Tobago to Johns Hopkins 


Jelani K. Grant, MD, began his journey to a medical career in Cumuto, a small, rural village in Trinidad and Tobago, where he witnessed the devastating impact of preventable diseases on his community. Fueled by his personal experiences, Grant pursued a career in medicine with a focus on cardiovascular health, one of the leading health concerns in his community. 

“My life experiences have made me committed to research, academia, and policy change,” he says. 

Now a Cardiovascular Disease Fellow in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and trainee at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity, Grant works alongside leading cardiology experts to conduct research to combat cariological health disparities. After earning his medical degree from The University of the West Indies, and residency at the University of Miami, Grant began a fellowship at the Johns Hopkins Heart and Vascular Institute, where he found mentorship and support from experts in the field, including Chiadi Ndumele, MD, PhD, MHS, Seth Martin, MD, MHS, Thorsten Leucker, MD, PhD, and Roger Blumenthal, MD. In 2023, Grant won first place in the fellows’ category of the prestigious Northwestern Cardiovascular Young Investigators’ Forum in recognition of his research presentation “From Quality Improvement to Deep Learning Implementation: Coronary Calcium Reporting on Non-contrast Chest CT Scans."

“My life experiences have made me committed to research, academia, and policy change.” 
                                                                                                                                                           - Jelani K. Grant, MD

Building on prior successes in enhancing incidental coronary artery calcium (CAC) reporting, Grant’s current work focuses on identifying subclinical atherosclerosis in underrepresented minority patients. Subclinical atherosclerosis is “the presence of cholesterol plaque in the heart arteries before there are any signs, symptoms, or events attributable to that plaque such as chest pain or heart attacks."

“This work is important as these patients are less likely to undergo screening, so identifying incidental CAC may help identify these higher-risk patients who have less contact with the health care system,” Grant says.  

By leveraging the data already available from routine patient tests conducted during hospital visits, Grant aims to address healthcare disparities and improve outcomes in populations with limited access to preventive care. Grant underscores the importance of tailored interventions and policies to address the root causes of health disparities. In so doing, Grant seeks to empower communities and promote equitable access to healthcare resources. 

 “I hope to highlight that one size does not fit all,” he says. “Underrepresented minority patients suffer worse cardiovascular outcomes, and the roots of these disparities are complex, multidimensional, and involve numerous interconnected socioenvironmental factors. I believe my unique experiences, background, and heritage provide me with a unique perspective to ensure research and policies are directed at bridging healthcare disparities.” 


Keywords: cardiovascular health equity, opportunistic screening, health disparities, social determinants of health, preventive care, underrepresented minority patients.