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About Us

Center Rationale

The Center for Empathy and Social Justice in Human Health (CESJHH) intends to define and inform via the lens of social justice all efforts stemming from the T. Denny Sanford Institute for Empathy and Compassion (TDSIEC). Initiatives are focused in four key areas of effort:

  • Collaborative Leadership
  • Communications and Awareness
  • Healthcare Profession Pipeline and Education
  • Research and Data

By bridging communications, resources, and research across a consortium of multi-lateral stakeholders connected to the healthcare profession pipeline, CESJHH aims to clarify and measure the utilization of empathy and compassion to address health inequities among local marginalized communities. By applying empathy and compassion to social justice work in the healthcare space, CESJHH can address key gaps in knowledge and access by facilitating assessment and communications and maintaining critical relationships on campus and off.

Engage, Listen, Inform, Activate

Priority activities and programs that fall within the four areas of effort for CESJHH will focus on the following resolutions:

  • Engage: strategically and intentionally engage with diverse stakeholders around key topics related to the intersections of empathy and compassion, social justice, and healthcare to create dynamic, inclusive, evidence-based theories and approaches to reducing health inequities.
  • Listen: create spaces for CESJHH and its partners to listen, capture, value, and amplify real life experiences and impacts from the community related to inequities and biases in healthcare.
  • Inform: establish an evaluative framework for quantifying health inequities and associated impacts, and therefor rationale and a correlative assessment framework to inform the effective application of empathy and compassion to rectify injustices.
  • Activate: leverage research, communication, and education to activate strategies, policies, and resources for improved social justice in the space of human health.

Meet the Team


Center Director: Gentry Patrick, PhD

Born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, Dr. Gentry N. Patrick’s lived experience is a testament to the power to access, mentorship, and advocacy. His personal and professional journey into Neuroscience and academia has presented him with opportunities to leverage his own experience as an underrepresented minority student in STEM to innovate and advocate for systemic change in STEM education. Committed to diversifying the STEM and healthcare profession pipeline by building networks of support and access for under-resourced communities, Dr. Patrick has made a significant impact across the San Diego community. As Center Director for CESJHH, Dr. Patrick intends to leverage the power of partnerships and storytelling to diversify STEM and healthcare professional spaces, effectively mitigate health disparities among marginalized communities, and explore how the intersection of empathy, compassion, and social justice can measure and catalyze systemic change for improved inclusivity and justice in human health.  To learn more about Dr. Patrick's work, click here. 


Center Strategist: Leigh Eck

Leigh has held leadership positions in non-profits dedicated to the arts, environmental stewardship and food justice, and education. She has worked as a committed strategist, producer, programmer, relationship manager, fundraiser, and artist, and is dedicated to creating a more sustainable and just society. Having worked alongside Dr. Patrick in the development and launch of the PATHways to STEM (PATHS) Program at UC San Diego, Leigh now facilitates the visioning and strategic planning process for the CESJHH as Center Strategist. She is currently enrolled in the 2022 cohort of the Applied Compassion Training Program at The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University. She holds a BFA in Music Theatre Performance from the Hartt School, University of Hartford and resides with her husband and two young children in La Crosse, Wisconsin.