Diversity & Inclusion MattersOctober 24, 2016

Fall 2016

Vice Dean's Message


Clyde W. Yancy, MD, greets medical students from the class of 2020 at the Diversity and Inclusion Welcome Event on September 1, 2016.

This newsletter marks the second year of our new Diversity and Inclusion initiatives at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. As we set out on this path, we defined three strategies that would facilitate our goal of cultural change: raise awareness, expand engagement and promote discovery, i.e., the science of diversity and inclusion. Many efforts have been initiated; for the many of you who have supported the activities of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and/or those who have already benefitted from positive changes in our environment, thank you. Our efforts are meaningless without your involvement. Whereas the emphasis in year one was on awareness, we now enter this second year with a strong focus on engagement.

I was recently introduced to an aphorism that has stuck with me: “show up differently.” As individuals who live and work within the Feinberg environment, our presence anywhere should be characterized by the influences that emanate from excellent education, outstanding clinical exposure, innovative science and strong collegiality. One way that we can show up differently is to impart a spirit of inclusiveness for those we call peers, those we meet, those we teach, those for whom we provide care and for the many scientific and cultural issues that define the work on this campus.

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Guest Column: James P. Harisiades, MPH

Transitioning Youth with Special Healthcare Needs into Adult Systems of Care — An Imperative for Diversity and Inclusion

I have been privileged to serve as an advocate for children, youth and families throughout my 35-year public health career. In the United States, agencies to protect animals literally preceded the establishment of those to protect children. In 1874, the removal of a severely maltreated young girl named Mary Ellen Wilson from her home was successfully adjudicated under the auspices of the American Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals, affirming that the child was as a member of the animal kingdom. At that time, child rearing practices were considered to be the prerogative of the parent, with no recourse for protective intervention.

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Research Spotlight

Asian Americans Missing from Healthy Chicago 2.0 
Last spring, Namratha Kandula, MD, gave a lecture to Feinberg’s Asian American students about Chicago’s Asian Americans. Not only was presenting the lecture empowering, it reminded her of the power of her voice to bring attention to pressing public health issues. Her Chicago Tribune op-ed, Asian-Americans are missing from Healthy Chicago 2.0, brings attention to how Asian Americans have been left out of an initiative designed to move toward a healthier Chicago.

Frank Penedo Receives Grant
Frank Penedo, PhD, received a $3 million grant to study symptom burden management in Hispanic men treated for localized prostate cancer. The intervention is in Spanish and tests a standard intervention vs. a culturally adapted intervention to determine whether the cultural adaptation has incremental efficacy over standard treatment.

Accelerating Precision Medicine for African American Patients
Minoli Perera, PharmD, PhD, associate professor of Pharmacology, is working to eliminate health disparities in African American populations by predicting their responses to medications using their genomes.

The Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative Celebrates First Year of Operation
Funded by the National Institutes of Health across the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Northeastern Illinois University, the Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative (Chicago CHEC) celebrated its first year and met its goal of establishing the infrastructure that allows them to help reduce the burden of cancer in low-income, racial/ethnic minority and underserved communities. CHEC showcased its success at the inaugural Keeping Cancer in CHEC symposium, held September 29, at the Malcom X College downtown location. CHEC made inroads in community engagement, research, training and education, and policy and advocacy. Diversity and Inclusion Council member Melissa A. Simon, MD, is spearheading the Northwestern efforts of this important collaborative. Review the Chicago CHEC Community Report for more details.


Pathway to Medicine

Linda Suleiman, MD

My mother and father grew up in Mogadishu, Somalia, and immigrated to North America at the height of the civil war. My mother was an anesthesiologist and my father worked for the Port Authority. They had never imagined leaving their home in the middle of their thirties and starting anew with three children under the age of ten and my teenage cousin. I was only a child when we left, but I always knew I wanted to practice medicine, just like my mother. She was from a low-income family where her mother never learned to read or write. The importance of education was evident during our childhood because of the opportunity it gave her to help others. During the civil unrest, my mother was one of the only physicians who still remained in Mogadishu. In the war-torn country of Somalia, there was literally nothing onto which people could hold, including one’s own family.

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Pathway to Feinberg

Quentin Youmans, MD

When I was growing up, I was fascinated with animals. I can remember playing with roly polies in my backyard in South Carolina, and catching fireflies in glass mason jars. I loved watching them illuminate, dim and light up again, as dusk would set in on late summer nights. When my parents would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, for the longest time my answer was a veterinarian. I was innately, I think, interested in the inner workings of organisms and, more specifically, how to make those inner workings function better when they had gone awry. As I grew older, my interest shifted from the furry and four-legged to the more familiar creature in the kingdom Animalia: the human. With medicine, I could try to fix what might be ailing the patient physically, but also have that personal connection with the patient — that relationship of trust and camaraderie — as we worked as a team toward healing.

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Northwestern Chicago Out Network


Left to right: Alexandra Patera, Sergeant Haydee Martinez, Linda Ernst, MD, and Jennifer Riechek, MD, pause to have their picture taken during the fall Northwestern Chicago OutNetwork event. 

Like almost everyone, Eric Boberg, PhD, is a fan of happy hour, but unlike most others, he has found a way to transform his time spent with friends informally after work into a formal Northwestern tradition. Almost immediately, the gatherings he organized became a social networking group for the support and encouragement of LGBT faculty, staff, students, fellows and residents on the Chicago campus. That was more than a dozen years ago. As the group became larger, Boberg sought to make things more official. As a result, during the past eight years, the Northwestern Chicago Out Network has operated as a formal organization with participation coming from the medical school, law school, graduate school, affiliated hospitals and clinics.

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Alumni Column

Juan Bautista, '11 MD

Having two children during medical school was truly a blessing. To this day, I often am asked how I was able to balance both school and home life. I always answer with the same response, saying I don’t know how people get through it without kids. My oldest son, Juan Andreas, is now in eighth grade, my middle son, Titus, is a fifth grader, and a new addition, Benicio, “Benny” for short, just celebrated his first birthday. The same lessons that helped us grow as a family while at Feinberg hold true in this new chapter of our lives. I can honestly say that my medical education was the second most important thing learned at Feinberg. Becoming a father was by far the most precious contribution to my education, and being a parent is helping me now as a physician in ways beyond measure.

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Pictorial Year in Review

Take a look back at our many accomplishments from the past year as the Office of Diversity and Inclusion worked to shine a spotlight on existing diversity and inclusion efforts.

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Honors and Awards

Clyde Yancy, MD

Clyde Yancy, MD, inaugural vice dean for Diversity and Inclusion, Magerstadt Professor and chief of Cardiology in the Department of Medicine, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine. One of the highest honors in medicine, this award recognizes and honors those who achieve monumental professional achievement, while remaining steadfastly committed to service. Read the full news story.


Melissa A. Simon, MD

Melissa A. Simon, MD, has been promoted to the rank of professor with tenure in the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Preventive Medicine on the Investigator/Physician-Scientist career track. Dr. Simon has authored more than 170 publications, including 145 that were peer-reviewed, and participated in 12 National Academy of Medicine reports and discussion panels.


Events and ODI Links

Please Join Us for the Diversity and Inclusion Lyceum Speaker Series, featuring:

Antonia Novello, MD 
First woman and first Hispanic Surgeon General of the United States (1990–1993)

Friday, November 4, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Hughes Auditorium
Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Building
303 E. Superior St.
Chicago, Illinois

For more details, and to RSVP, click here

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Have an idea for the newsletter or a comment on this issue? Would you like your research to be featured? Are you an alumnus who would like to share your experience?

Contact Teresa Mastin at teresa.mastin@northwestern.edu.