Ruqaiijah A. Yearby, J.D., M.P.H., is a Professor of Law and member of the Center for Health Law Studies at SLU LAW. Among other things, Yearby is a co-founder and executive director of the Institute for Healing Justice and Equity, an initiative being planned through Saint Louis University's Big Ideas competition.
Yearby is a specialist in racial disparities in health care, the political economy of health care, and social justice in medical research. She has dedicated her career to improving the lives of vulnerable populations by addressing the lack of equal access to quality health care. She is a co-principal investigator for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant entitled, “Are Cities and Counties Ready to Use Racial Equity Tools to Influence Policy?”
While earning her Bachelors of Science in Honors Biology from the University of Michigan, Yearby wrote a thesis on plant biotechnology and served as a research assistant at the University of Natal in South Africa. In 2000, she earned her Master of Public Health in Health Policy and Management from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center, where she was on the dean's list. After law school, she worked at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as an assistant regional counsel and served as a law clerk for the Honorable Ann Claire Williams of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
Through her research and work with community groups, Yearby advocates for equal access to quality health care and fair wages for racial and ethnic minorities, women, and the poor. Using empirical data, her research explores the ways in which inequities in society and the health care delivery system prevent minorities, women, and the economically disadvantaged from attaining equal access to quality health care, resulting in increased morbidity and mortality. She serves as a research consultant and board member for the Investigating Conceptions of Health Equity and Barriers to Making Health a Shared Value, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant and was a Steering committee member for the Healthy Improvement Partnership for Cuyahoga County Health Department in Ohio.
Yearby joined Saint Louis University School of Law in 2018 as a full professor, member of the School’s Center for Health Law Studies, and co-founder of SLU’s Center for Healing Justice and Equity. Previously, she was the David L. Brennan Chaired Professor and associate dean of institutional diversity and inclusiveness at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. As associate dean, she created and implemented a number of innovative programs, including but not limited to, a diversity pipeline plan for faculty and staff hiring, an annual review evaluation form, an Employee of the Month Award, and the Diversity and Inclusion Scholars Program, which provided a small diverse group of 1L students with academic and career support. Yearby has been a visiting professor at Connecticut Law School and a professor at Loyola University Chicago and Buffalo Law School.
Her work has been cited in The Oxford Handbook of Bioethics (2007), Implicit Racial Bias Across the Law (Cambridge Univ. Press 2012), Lawless Capitalism: The Subprime Crisis and the Case for an Economic Rule of Law (NYU Press 2014), The New Eugenics: Selective Breeding in an Era of Reproductive Technologies (Yale Univ Press 2017), The Oxford Handbook of Public Health Ethics (2019) and the United States Code Annotated. Due to her expertise in justice and medical research, she presented her article, Missing the “Target”: Preventing the Unjust Inclusion of Vulnerable Children for Medical Research Studies, 42 Am. J. of L. & Med 797-833 (2016) (cited in Mark Hall, et al, Health Care Law and Ethics, 9th ed 2018), at the Oxford Global Health and Bioethics International Conference in Oxford, England.
She has served as a book proposal reviewer for Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press, as well as a grant reviewer for the Wellcome Trust (the United Kingdom's largest non-governmental source of funds for biomedical research). Her scholarship has also been used in law and social science classes at schools such as NYU, Fordham and University of California, Berkeley.