Emily Wang

Primary Care Physician and Researcher Class of 2022
Portrait of Emily Wang

Partnering with people recently released from prison to address their needs and the ways that incarceration influences chronic health conditions.

About Emily’s Work

Emily Wang is a physician investigating the health-harming effects of incarceration and improving health outcomes for people exiting prison. In her clinical practice and research, Wang partners closely with justice-involved populations to develop effective clinical services and to deepen understanding of the structural barriers to healthcare access that they face.

Individuals receive healthcare of highly variable quality while in prison. Upon release, their medical providers from correctional facilities cannot continue treatment. The lack of transitional care for a population with high burdens of disease is a major driver of poor health outcomes and significantly exacerbates existing health disparities. While a medical resident at the University of California, San Francisco, Wang witnessed high rates of preventable hospitalizations and acute, yet poorly controlled, health conditions among patients who were reentering their communities after prison. In response, she co-founded the Transitions Clinic program to provide primary care and other support services to this highly vulnerable population. Among the program’s core components is a focus on recruiting, training, and employing people with lived experience of incarceration to work alongside medical staff as community health workers. These vital members of a primary care team connect new patients with appropriate services, build essential relationships of trust, and provide chronic disease self-management support. Wang has conducted randomized control trials demonstrating the effectiveness of Transitions Clinic services and now directs research for the initiative, which has expanded into the Transitions Clinic Network (TCN), a consortium of 48 clinics in 14 states and Puerto Rico. TCN serves as a model for other health systems working to address their own gaps in care. In her work at the Health Justice Lab at Yale School of Medicine, Wang extends her commitment to engaging people with histories of incarceration as key partners in research. The Lab’s major projects have addressed such subjects as primary care strategies to help people remain in treatment for opioid use disorders after release from jail; the impact of incarceration on disparities in cancer detection, treatment, and survival; and the epidemiology of cardiovascular disease risk factors among justice-involved individuals.

In 2020, Wang became the inaugural director of the SEICHE Center for Health and Justice, a collaboration between Yale School of Medicine and Yale Law School. The center bridges the disparate domains of health, law, and criminal justice to study how specific policies and interventions affect the well-being of individuals and communities impacted by mass incarceration. One current SEICHE project considers the ethical concerns and potential solutions for COVID-19 testing and prevention measures in correctional facilities. Another explores community-led strategies for reducing incidences of gun violence. Through the dignified, direct care she provides and the rigorous research she leads, Wang is shining a light on complex health needs and inequities that are largely obscured from public view.


Emily Wang received an AB (1997) from Harvard University, an MD (2003) from Duke University School of Medicine, and an MAS (2008) from the University of California at San Francisco. She is the co-founder, with executive director Shira Shavit, MD, of the Transitions Clinic Network. Since 2008 she has been affiliated with the Yale School of Medicine, where she currently serves as a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine. She holds an additional appointment in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Yale School of Public Health and is the director of the SEICHE Center for Health and Justice. Her work has been published in The Lancet, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health, among other scientific journals.

Published on September 26, 2022

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