Medical Student Will Address Hypertension in African American Men Through Innovative Barbershop Program

Philadelphia – (Nicholas) Kenji Taylor, a first-year year student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, has been named one of 15 Philadelphia Schweitzer Fellows for 2011-2012. Schweitzer Fellows partner with community-based organizations to develop and implement yearlong, mentored service projects that sustainably address the social determinants of health—all on top of their regular graduate school responsibilities.

Taylor will address hypertension in African American males by coordinating, expanding, and providing blood pressure screenings in African American barbershops of West Philadelphia through the “Cut Hypertension Program.”  A pilot of the “Cut Hypertension Program” was conducted last year through the Penn Med chapter of the Student National Medical Association, initially spearheaded by a now second-year medical student, Sheriff Akinleye. Taylor aims to identify hypertensive African American males, educate them on the dangers associated with high blood pressure, provide preventive lifestyle coaching, and facilitate connections with local primary care providers. Karen Hamilton, PhD, assistant dean for the Office for Diversity and Community Outreach in Undergraduate Medical Education at Penn, will continue to provide faculty support and mentorship for the program.

Upon completion of his initial year, Taylor will become a Schweitzer Fellow for Life and join a vibrant network of over 2,000 Schweitzer alumni who are skilled in, and committed to, addressing the health needs of underserved people throughout their careers as professionals.

“I’m thrilled to find such tremendous support to address health disparities in our West Philadelphia community, and equally excited to join a larger cohort of professionals who are passionate about service to the community,” Taylor said.

Since the Greater Philadelphia Schweitzer Fellows Program’s founding in 2006, Schweitzer Fellows have delivered more than 7,000 hours of direct service to vulnerable people in the Philadelphia area.



Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $4 billion enterprise. 

Penn’s School of Medicine is currently ranked #2 in U.S. News & World Report‘s survey of research-oriented medical schools and among the top 10 schools for primary care. The School is consistently among the nation’s top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $507.6 million awarded in the 2010 fiscal year. 

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania – recognized as one of the nation’s top 10 hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; and Pennsylvania Hospital – the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Penn Medicine also includes additional patient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2010, Penn Medicine provided $788 million to benefit our community.