MUSC Hollings Cancer Center

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Honors Dr. Debbie Bryant



Charleston, S.C. (Oct. 17, 2012) – Debbie Bryant, DNP, RN, assistant director of Cancer Prevention and Control and Outreach at the Hollings Cancer Center, has been named a recipient of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's 2012 Community Health Leaders Award. 

The award honors exceptional men and women who have overcome significant obstacles to tackle some of the most challenging health and health care problems facing their communities. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has honored more than 200 community health leaders since 1993. Bryant was one of only ten recipents chosen from hundreds of nominees.

Janice Ford Griffin, national program director for Community Health Leaders, said the selection committee honored Bryant for her perseverance in creating and executing strategies that treat patients as active participants in realistic and practical steps to improve their health.

"Dr. Bryant provides a crucial link in assuring residents’ access to information about clinical trials and other sophisticated medical concepts, while at the same time actively mentoring nursing and medical students with advice and support as they pursue their careers," Griffith added.

Hollings Cancer Center Director Andrew S. Kraft, MD, said Bryant's leadership is crucial to the center's mission of providing care to all South Carolinians regardless of where they live.

"In her role at Hollings, Bryant provides crucial and effective leadership to a team tasked with one of our most important missions – helping as many people as possible in rural and undeserved communities obtain access to screening, cancer care, and information about cancer. From the Mobile Heath Unit to the Compass Project and community training programs, Dr. Bryant’s team is achieving great results and changing the health outlook for many of our citizens. We are so proud she is on the Hollings team," Hollings Cancer Center Director Dr. Andrew Kraft said.

Leonard Davis, DDS, vice chair of Hollings' Cancer Disparities Advisory Board praised Bryant for building a team and providing leadership on initiatives with significant public health impact.

"It’s wonderful to have a person in our Hollings family who has given so much to the community at all levels, particularly those who are less advantaged," Dr. Davis said. "She is most deserving of this award. I think we can look forward to great things to come out of the work Debbie is doing in our community."

As a child growing up in South Carolina during the end of segregation, Bryant was the only African American in the classroom and said was often ignored by teachers. It was her family who helped her to believe in herself. Nursing is Bryant’s second career, and she says she never would have completed graduate school and her doctorate without her family’s encouragement. She also believes that family is the key to promoting healthy behaviors.

"We are at our best - and can accomplish the most - when we take care of one another," Bryant said. "I am honored by this award and by the opportunities I have every day to do work that might change the lives of others in meaningful ways."

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The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable, and timely change. For 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter or Facebook

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation established the Community Health Leaders Award to recognize individuals who overcome daunting obstacles to improve health and health care in their communities. Today, there are more than 200 outstanding Community Health Leaders from nearly all states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. For more information, visit


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