Cheryl Pegus

M.D. , Chief Medical Officer
SymCare Personalized Health Solutions, West Chester, Pa.

Having journeyed from her native Trinidad and Tobago to Brooklyn, N.Y., then to Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., Cheryl Pegus, M.D., knows the benefits of traveling. ?At Brandeis, I was able to travel to Europe and experience other cultures. You get to understand how you fit into the world and that a lot of people are dealing with the same issues that you are,? she says.

Dr. Pegus graduated from Brandeis with a bachelor?s in biology and was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1984. She earned her medical degree from Cornell University Medical College in 1988, becoming the first African-American woman to complete a fellowship in cardiology at that school.

Her early clinical training was spent exploring heart disease among women and minorities, but she felt her true calling was to address health-care disparities in minority communities, especially increasing their participation in clinical drug trials.

She shifted to the corporate side of medicine to answer that call, obtaining a master?s in public health from Columbia University School of Public Health in the process.

?How do you touch a million patients a week?? she asks rhetorically. ?Work at a higher level, since resources and support exist from above,? she responds.

She worked at Pfizer, LipoScience and Aetna, and, from 2005 to 2007, chaired the American Heart Association?s health disparities task force.

In 2007, Pegus became the chief medical officer at SymCare Personalized Health Solutions, a division of Johnson & Johnson.