Melva Thompson-Robinson

Professor of Social Behavioral Health
Executive Director, Center for Health Disparities Research
Expertise: Health Disparities, Sexual Health, Health of African Americans, HIV Prevention


Melva Thompson-Robinson teaches courses and mentors students in the area of social behavioral health and health disparities. Thompson-Robinson serves as the executive director of the Center for Health Disparities Research in the school of community health sciences, where she provides community leadership to address health disparities that exist in Southern Nevada as well as statewide, regionally, and nationally.  She is co-editor of the Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice, a nationally known peer reviewed publication. 

Thompson-Robinson has done extensive work in the area of sexual health and health disparities, particularly HIV prevention with African-Americans and communities of color. She is currently the project director for the Southern Nevada Teen Pregnancy Prevention Project, which is funded by the Office of Adolescent Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The goal of this project is to improve the sexual and reproductive health of African-American youth ages 14-19 through the implementation of an evidence-based intervention through African-American faith-based organizations in Clark County. 

Thompson-Robinson is the co-chair and member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region IX Health Equity Council and chaired a subcommittee responsible for preparing an environmental scan documenting the diversity of the entire region. She is one of three representatives from Nevada on the council. She was a speaker on health disparities and reproductive health at the Urban Initiative on Reproductive Health—Western Regional. The results of her work in sexual health and experiences in capacity building will be very applicable in working with faith-based organizations to implement evidence-based interventions. 

In addition, Thompson-Robinson has experience in leading and working with various organizations as well as conducting evaluations for projects. For over 10 years, Thompson-Robinson has served as the associate executive director and a co-director for the CDC/ASPH Institute for HIV Prevention Leadership, a national capacity-building program for HIV prevention program managers. In this role, she has worked with the lead agency, other project partners and the funder, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She also worked with a variety of other organizations and individuals to recruit and secure faculty to conduct the trainings for the program as well as worked with staff from all of the project partners in order to ensure that program participants were mentored in a consistent and fair manner that has fidelity to the core elements, beliefs, and values of the Institute. 



  • PhD, Health Promotion and Education, University of South Carolina
  • M.S.P.E., Sports Physiology and Adult Fitness, Ohio University
  • B.S. Kinesiology, University of Michigan

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Melva Thompson-Robinson In The News

The Sacramento Observer
May 12, 2020
Two weeks ago, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp drew sharp criticisms from African Americans across the country. Black politicians, social media commenters, and others blasted the governor, saying his decision to lift his state’s month-long stay-at-home order by first opening businesses like barbershops, nail salons, sneaker stores, tattoo parlors, gyms, and bowling alleys put the lives of Blacks at risk. Those are businesses African Americans frequent, his critics pointed out.
The Washington Informer
May 12, 2020
Dr. Melva Thompson-Robinson knows the data on the disparate impact of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 on African Americans and other minorities. Her key concern is how racism and unconscious bias continue to act as an accelerant of the pandemic.
Las Vegas Sun
May 6, 2020
As manager of the Southern Nevada Health District’s Office of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Maria Azzarelli works with local governments and community partners to prevent chronic disease — something that impacts and kills some demographic groups more than others.
April 27, 2020
The updates have become as commonplace as checking the weather app on your phone each morning.

Articles Featuring Melva Thompson-Robinson

Closeup of an African American woman putting a mask on her face.
ResearchApril 27, 2020
Public health researcher Dr. Melva Thompson-Robinson on why the coronavirus crisis disproportionately affects communities of color.
Campus NewsDecember 3, 2015
From law to health to advocacy to science, UNLV professors tackle HIV prevention, education and treatment both domestically and abroad.