Diversity & Inclusion MattersOctober 17, 2017

Fall 2017

Vice Dean's Message

Director of Diversity and Inclusion Message

Sustained Dialogue

Alumni Column: William Weber, ’13 MD, ’17 MPH

Research Spotlight: Rosalind Ramsey-Goldman, MD

Research Spotlight: Minoli Perera, PharmD, PhD

Pathway to Medicine: Ike Okwuosa, MD, '13 GME

Pathway to Feinberg: Ehimare Akhabue, MD, '17 GME

Recent Happenings

Upcoming Events

From the Vice Dean, Diversity and Inclusion


Members of the Class of 2021 pose during Diversity and Inclusion welcome event festivities.  

We now embark upon our fourth year concentrating on issues of Diversity and Inclusion here at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Our journey has been steady and our progress noteworthy. I can sense, and hopefully you can too, the enhancements to our campus environment and our culture that have evolved over these past several years.

Our rebooted Office of Diversity and Inclusion is now the geographical epicenter of Diversity and Inclusion, particularly for our students. Feinberg’s Diversity and Inclusion Council serves as the nexus for most of our programming and the overarching Diversity Operations Committee makes certain that efforts across the campus are well coordinated. We have a robust calendar of engagement events and considerable efforts are well underway to strengthen, nurture and grow a pipeline of diverse talent to join Feinberg’s family as students, investigators, staff, residents, fellows and faculty. We are a better, more aware and more culturally sensitive campus now with tangible growth in our diversity. To all that have supported these efforts directly or indirectly, please accept our deepest sense of gratitude.

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Director of Diversity and Inclusion Message

The energy and excitement synonymous with the arrival of a new incoming class of medical students is always palpable, but I experienced it more intensely this year. You can literally feel the engagement and excitement of the Class of 2021 members in the photograph above (check out more photos from our welcome event here). At the beginning of each academic year, Feinberg's Diversity and Inclusion Council hosts a welcome event for the incoming class. It's an opportunity for us to send an unmistakable message that diversity and inclusion are important cultural elements throughout the Feinberg community.

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Feinberg Launches Inaugural Sustained Dialogue Program

Feinberg students now have access to a resource to aid their efforts to engage in dialogue about difficult topics. Feinberg is the first academic medical center to pilot sustained dialogue (SD).

Hal Saunders, PhD, founder of the Sustained Dialogue Institute defined dialogue as a process of genuine interaction through which human beings listen to each other deeply enough to be changed by what they learn. Each makes a serious effort to take the other's concerns into their own picture, even when disagreements persist. No participants give up their identity, but each recognizes enough of the other's valid human claims so that they will act differently toward the other.

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Alumni Column: William Weber, ’13 MD, ‘17 MPH

The 80-year-old woman came to my ER with lower abdominal pain. I started thinking through my differential: diverticulitis, urinary tract infection, maybe appendicitis. Her labs came back showing nothing. During a second round of questions, she mentioned a “new boyfriend” at the nursing home. It turned out that my frisky octogenarian had a case of chlamydia.

We categorize people in medicine all the time. Young, old, black, white, female, male, this, that. Every demographic survey has a slew of boxes that tries to compartmentalize us as people. These boxes and I have a bipolar relationship. I find boxes complicated because they are frustratingly inexact and reductionist but still point out significant societal trends to address.

The analytical side of me contests the boxes. What should be an orderly and intuitive grouping generally ends up a messy hodgepodge of categories forming an impossible Venn diagram. 

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Research Spotlight: Rosalind Ramsey-Goldman, MD

Rosalind Ramsey-Goldman is leading a new project funded by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. The funding will initiate the Lupus Conversations project to develop and test successful culturally-competent lupus education interventions that mitigate poor outcomes for health professionals, paraprofessionals and community stakeholders and to replicate these interventions at national and local levels. The collaborative academic and community partnerships will leverage the adaptation of the Popular Opinion Model, a successful application of a behavioral evidence-based model from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with the innovative Lupus Conversations videos to address greater social and emotional support issues voiced by African-American female participants and reduce lupus health disparities outcomes at the community level. 

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Research Spotlight: Minoli Perera, PharmD, PhD

Through her research, Minoli Perera, PharmD, PhD, works to bring pharmacogenomics to African-American populations. Pharmacogenomics, part of the precision medicine movement, involves using a patient’s genetic information to predict drug response, such as whether a medication will be effective or if it might lead to adverse effects. Discovery and translation in this field has accelerated with President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative. However, African-Americans remain under-represented in these studies. The lab focuses on a class of drugs used for thrombotic conditions because 1) these drugs are dangerous and must be used within a tight therapeutic window, and 2) African-Americans suffer from thrombotic diseases at a higher rate than other populations.

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Pathway To Medicine: Ike Okwuosa, MD, ’13 GME

The saying, "All roads lead to Rome," can be applied to medicine when we consider the diverse backgrounds that comprise the field. I am honored to share the unique road I took on this journey to medicine. My interest in medicine was born out of tragedy, when I acquired a disability that left me reliant on crutches. But as a kid at the age of three, all I was exposed to were smart people in white coats, who came together with a goal to help me. These were real-life heroes, and I knew I wanted to be one of them some day.

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Pathway to Feinberg: Ehimare Akhabue, MD, ’17 GME

Create your own path.

When I was in grade school, I remember my mother asking me what I wanted to do when I grew up. I told her that I was going to play professional basketball. As a black male in my hometown at the time, basketball seemed to be the way to go.

In sixth grade, I stumbled upon a flyer for a scholarship opportunity to a small school in a nearby town. Something made me bring it home to show my mother and fill out the application. I ended up enrolling there for junior high. I quickly learned in this new school that I was actually behind; I had not learned skills that my new classmates had acquired earlier in their schooling. New pathways had been opened for me. Even then, I wondered to myself how resources could be so different in places a short drive from each other.

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Recent Happenings

Diversity and Inclusion Council Meeting

Feinberg's Diversity and Inclusion Council met on August 31st before their annual welcome for the incoming class (more photos from our welcome event here).


SNMA and LMSA Student Groups Welcome New Students

Continuing a tradition of personally welcoming incoming students to the fold, a group of M2 students who are members of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) and the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) sponsored a gathering for incoming medical students.

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Upcoming Events

Latino Health Symposium: Reducing Cancer Care Disparities in Latinos
November 11 | 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center
836 West Wellington Avenue, Olson Auditorium, Chicago

Melissa Simon, MD, George H. Gardner, MD, Professor of Clinical Gynecology, will delineate health equity principles and discuss how to integrate them into presenting options for clinical care of patients with respect to cancer screening and treatment. This symposium is presented by the Medical Organization for Latino Advancement. More information here. (And read about a recent award Simon received for her contributions to women's health, health equity and national health policy here.)

Feinberg Diversity and Inclusion Fall 2017 Lyceum Series
November 29 | 11:00 a.m.
Rubloff Building 375 East, Thorne Auditorium

NU Provost Jonathan Holloway will discuss "The Disruptive Power of Presence: Reflections on Diversity, Inclusion, and Being In the Room."

Martin Luther King Jr., Celebration Events
January 18 | 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Location TBD

A screening of the documentary 70 Acres: Cabrini Green. Keynote Speaker and other events will be announced via the Office of Diversity and Inclusion website.


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.