Diversity & Inclusion MattersJuly 17, 2017

Summer 2017

Vice Dean’s Message 

Guest Column: James P. Harisiades, MPH

Guest Column: Aggie McGrane

Research Spotlight: Kiarri Kershaw, PhD, MPH

Research Spotlight: Namratha Kandula, MD, MPH

Pathway to Feinberg: Matthew Pirotte, MD, ’12 GME

Recent Happenings

Recognitions and Accolades

Upcoming Events

From the Vice Dean, Diversity and Inclusion



The Northwestern Medicine Scholars Class of 2017 graduated May 8. From left, Diana Lopez (going on to the Illinois Institute of Technology and Midwestern University); Braxton Jenkins (Valparaiso University); Carlos Rodriguez (Illinois Institute of Technology); Jhadin Beaco (Northwestern University); Luis Ortiz Juarez (University of Pennsylvania); and Su Mon (Saint Louis University).

During the last few months, celebrations and acknowledgements have been a constant within the diversity and inclusion space. Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine welcomed two high-level federal officials who both stressed the tremendous value of diversity, inclusion and equity. Hannah Valantine, MD, chief officer for scientific workforce diversity and director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Laboratory of Transplantation Genomics, addressed diversity and inclusion in the transplant genomics space, while Lt. Gen. Nadja Y. West, MD, 44th U.S. Army surgeon general and commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Command, discussed her passion for ensuring soldiers’ health and well-being, the role of academic medical centers in supporting troops and her pathway to medicine.  

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Guest Column: James P. Harisiades, MPH

Citizenship as a Social Determinant of Health

Citizenship for refugees has emerged as a social determinant of health that merits attention and engagement within the medical community. The protective influence of citizenship for refugees in mitigating trauma and strengthening well-being is significant. Its relevance and impact should be recognized and integrated into medical education and practice related to their care. This is best understood in the context of their lives prior to and upon arrival to the United States.   

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Guest Column: Aggie McGrane

Accommodating Students with Disabilities

A friend of mine has a photograph from the Disability Rights Movement hanging in his office. The photograph is black and white, and it shows a person with a sign on the back of his wheelchair that reads, “To boldly go where everybody else has already gone.” In 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. The signing of the law, however, was not the “beginning” of the ADA. The ADA was the result of the work of people with disabilities who had spent years prior to 1990 fighting for access and to boldly go where everybody else has gone before.   

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Research Spotlight: Kiarri Kershaw, PhD, MPH

Kiarri Kershaw is a social epidemiologist, and her research focuses on understanding the contributions of the social environment to cardiovascular health and health disparities. She has done a lot of research to date using secondary data to examine cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of racial/ethnic residential segregation with obesity, hypertension and incident cardiovascular disease. More recently she has begun to explore the health impacts of two strategies for addressing the negative impact of segregation on health: 1) providing individuals with opportunities to move to neighborhoods with more health-promoting resources, and 2) improving access to resources in segregated neighborhoods.  

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Research Spotlight: Namratha Kandula, MD, MPH

Namratha Kandula and her team were recently awarded an R01 grant, "Community Translation of the South Asian Healthy Lifestyle Intervention (SAHELI)," from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. This grant builds on several years of work conducted by the SAHELI community-based participatory research partnership and will involve Northwestern, Skokie Health Department, Metropolitan Asian Family Services and Northshore University Health Systems. The aim of this study is to implement and evaluate an evidence-based lifestyle intervention systematically adapted to the social and cultural context of South Asians, who are the second fastest growing ethnic minority group in the United States and a group with a disparate risk for cardiovascular disease. The ultimate goal of this research is to address the unmet challenge of eliminating cardiovascular disparities in the U.S. The pilot SAHELI study paper can be found here.   

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Pathway to Feinberg: Matthew Pirotte, MD, ’12 GME

“I knew as soon as we got here and I saw you guys that everything would be OK.” It was a surreal thing to be told by the mother of a critically injured child to be sure. Here I was, a second-year emergency medicine resident working in the Emergency Department at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. It was a frigid day in the middle of the winter. My senior resident that day was Jon Van Roo, one of our fourth-year residents. One of the nurses came running by the “A-side,” as we call the trauma/critical care team, yelling, “I need docs in the trauma bay now!” Believe it or not, to have a nurse run by like that was not particularly remarkable.

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Recent Happenings

Celebrating Pride Week

Beginning a new Feinberg tradition, the LGBT Flag graced the Ward Building during Pride Week.   


Hannah Valantine Lecture

Hannah Valantine, MD, chief officer for scientific workforce diversity at the National Institutes of Health, engaged with a broad audience from the Feinberg and Northwestern Medicine community on May 16 during Medical Grand Rounds. She talked about current transplant genomics research, grounding her narrative within a diversity and inclusion frame.  


US Army Surgeon Visit

Lt. Gen. Nadja Y. West, MD (third from left), 44th surgeon general of the U.S. Army and commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Command, visited Feinberg to learn more about ongoing research studies that could have a positive impact on soldiers’ health and well-being. She also shared with internal medicine residents and fellows her path to becoming the Army’s first black surgeon general, and the highest ranking female to have graduated from the United States Military Academy. Pictured (left to right) are Aashish Didwania, MD, associate professor of Medicine; Clyde Yancy, MD, vice dean of Diversity and Inclusion; West; Khalilah Gates, MD; and Mobola Campbell-Yesufu, MD, co-chairs of the Diversity and Cultural Affairs Council in the Department of Medicine.   


Diversity and Inclusion Council Member Melissa Simon, MD National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Community Health Hero

Melissa Simon, MD, vice chair of clinical research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, George H. Gardner, MD, Professor of Clinical Gynecology and director of Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative, was recently interviewed by the National Academy of Medicine in its Community Health Heroes series. Simon stressed the importance of partnering with the community and discussed the role of leveraging culture and community to eliminate health disparities. The full interview can be found here.    


Recognition and Accolades

Jakita Baldwin, ’17 MD (center), now a neurology resident at the McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern, with her mother at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) end-of-year graduation brunch and Anita Munoz (left), of the ODI. Jakita received the National Medical Fellowships’ 2017 Dr. David Monash/Harry Lloyd and Elizabeth Pawlette Marshall Medical Student Scholarship. Funded by the Chicago Community Trust, the scholarship is awarded to residents and students committed to medically underserved populations and undertaking their clinical residences in Chicago.   


Michael Musharbash (bottom right) second-year medical student and co-president of the Queers and Allies student group, poses with his Center on Halsted coworkers. Musharbash received a Schweitzer Fellowship through which he will implement health educational services for the Center’s LGBT and homeless youth. Read the news story here     


Quentin Youmans, '15 MD, a resident in internal medicine, and Elsy Compres, a second-year medical student and president of the Latino Medical Student Association student group, received American Medical Association Excellence in Medicine awards. The awards acknowledge and honor those who exemplify volunteerism, community engagement and dedication to the care of underserved populations. Read the news story here     


In anticipation of reporting for residency at the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Jordan Robinson, '17 MD, was commissioned as an officer into the U.S. Navy during the MD Class of 2017 commencement ceremony.


On May 8, six high school students were inducted into the Northwestern Medicine Scholars Class of 2020. From left, Nicole Castro, Marissa Oliveros, De’Andre Wilborn, Juliette Aguirre, Sebastian Cortes, KyJuana Lofton. Read more about the Northwestern Medicine Scholars program, a partnership between George Westinghouse College Prep, Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Memorial Hospital, in a news story here.


Upcoming Events

Sustained Dialogue 

Saturday, August 12 and Sunday, August 13 

9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 

Gray Seminar Room 

Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center 


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.