Winfred W. Williams, MD, has been named a deputy editor of The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). Williams, who is associate chief of the Massachusetts General Hospital Division of Nephrology, becomes the first African American to serve in that role. 

Winfred W. Williams, MD
Winfred W. Williams, MD

“I’m deeply honored to be joining one of the world’s most influential medical journals,” says Williams, who has worked at Mass General since 1990. Williams, who treats patients with kidney disease, end-stage renal disease and those undergoing kidney, liver, heart and lung transplants, is also an active clinical investigator, perhaps best known for research that led to a new national kidney allocation rule in 2015 that increased minority patient access to kidney transplants. A native of Louisiana, he received his undergraduate degree in biochemistry from Harvard and his medical degree from New York University School of Medicine. He completed his internship and residency in Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and clinical and research fellowships in nephrology there.

Williams will not only assess and shepherd manuscripts that relate to his areas of focus but will also help shape the journal’s content overall and drive crucial discussions pertaining to medicine and health policy. “In this role you write a fair number of thought pieces,” he says. “You have an important voice in influencing thought about new discoveries in medicine and their applications in medical therapeutics and health policy, not just in the United States but worldwide.”

Williams, who became the first African American member of the faculty of medicine at Mass General in 1990 and founded the hospital’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion in 1991, will also have a voice in addressing issues of social justice in medicine. “I look forward to advancing the journal’s mission to grapple with the public health crisis of racial disparities in health care,” he says.

Established more than 200 years ago by Mass General cofounders John Collins Warren and James Jackson, NEJM is the oldest continuously published medical journal in the world. “Joining the journal now is even more exciting than it might have been 10 years ago,” says Williams. “Medicine is moving quickly. Developments in precision and personalized medicine are breaking ground in ways we hadn’t anticipated a decade ago. It will be an honor to bring these stories to the medical profession and, ultimately, the public.”