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 Africa Centre
April 9, 2021
COVID-19 has had a severe and disproportionate impact on the Black community in the U.K, they are twice as likely as white people to catch the virus. Black people are also overly represented in the numbers of those working in the National Health Service (NHS). We can’t afford to ignore the worrying implications.
Shelter in Place podcast
March 25, 2021
How can we make space for concerns about the vaccine and grapple with a difficult history? Dr. Joyce Sanchez says that the most important thing she can do when addressing vaccine hesitancy is to shut up and listen. Note: mentions of non-consensual clinical trials and experimentation.
verywell health
March 12, 2021
On March 2, President Joe Biden directed every state to prioritize educators, specifically pre-K-12 and childcare workers, for COVID-19 vaccination, allowing them to go to local pharmacies to sign up for the vaccine. This directive is seen as a step in the right direction in resuming regular instruction in schools safely, with Biden emphasizing how crucial it is to get kids back inside the classrooms as soon as possible.
Las Vegas Review Journal
February 5, 2021
Minority groups have been affected by COVID-19 at disproportionately higher rates than their white counterparts in Southern Nevada and, on Friday, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced a plan intended to reverse inequities in distributing the vaccine to traditionally marginalized groups.

Articles Featuring Melva Thompson-Robinson

vice president kamala harris watches unlv student administer COVID vaccine to another local college student
Campus News | April 14, 2021
A collection of news stories highlighting health, recovery, and celebration at UNLV.
Campus News | March 11, 2021
A collection of news stories highlighting the experts and events at UNLV.
medical professional pokes syringe into top of a vial she holds in her gloved left hand
Campus News | February 4, 2021
UNLV public health researcher Melva Thompson-Robinson explains the U.S.’s history of medical trauma against people of color, its impact on the pandemic, and tips for meaningful messaging.
Claytee White seated with "We Need to Talk" on TV screen behind her
Business and Community | January 28, 2021
The series, sponsored by UNLV Libraries and the Greenspun College of Urban Affairs, will be live-streamed by UNLV TV.