Diversity & Inclusion MattersNovember 20, 2015

Winter 2017

From the Vice Dean, Diversity and Inclusion

A Love Note to Trump Supporters and Non-Trump Supporters

Guest Column: Melissa Simon, MD, '06 GME

Spotlight: Asian American and South Asian Health

Spotlight: African American Mental Health

Pathway to Medicine: Namratha Kandula, MD, MPH

Pathway to Feinberg: Inger Burnett-Zeigler, '09 PhD

Alumni Column: Biftu Mengesha '11 MD, '15 GME

Engagement Perspectives

Honors and Awards

Events and Links

From the Vice Dean, Diversity and Inclusion


Mae Jemison, MD, the first woman of color in space, delivered the keynote address at this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration.

Today we find “Make America Great Again” a recurring refrain. Aspiration for a better America is not, however, an original concept:

"Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation.” Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929–1968

The month of January has brought attention to the foregoing statement and other timeless thoughts, ideas and convictions that represent the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. – a legacy that has remained relevant throughout generations and across cultures. In January, we at Northwestern have engaged in deliberative reflections on this legacy that couldn’t be timelier.

The highlight of our reflections was the visit of Mae Jemison, MD, the first African American female to fly in space, on our campus earlier this week. What a “wow” moment we experienced; standing room only in Hughes Auditorium and a standing ovation. Imagine if the brilliance of Dr. Jemison had never emerged from the South Side of Chicago and the Morgan Park High School? This is why diversity and inclusion matter, not to achieve a quantitative metric, but to enable talent from anywhere to be evident everywhere.

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A Love Note to Trump and Non-Trump Supporters

John E. Franklin, MD, MSc, MA

My reaction to the results of the presidential election — like many, but of course not all, voters — was shock, disbelief, lack of understanding and despair. However, as I read, talk to others, and reflect, I’m beginning to understand what happened. These insights don’t make the election results easier to swallow for me, but do illuminate a path forward for “us”. More than ever, we need meaningful dialogue between people who misunderstand and often mistrust one another. And it is our responsibility to ensure these dialogues happen at professional schools as well. Feinberg, at its best, is a bastion of intellectual acumen and an agent of clear communication and trust. Therefore, we have a moral responsibility to assist our communities with these intergroup discussions — it is crucial for our nation’s progress and health.

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Guest Column: The Glass is Half Full!

Melissa A. Simon, MD

It is a real honor to have the opportunity to write the first Diversity and Inclusion Matters guest column of 2017. The broader theme of this issue is healthcare for all — a theme very fitting for the political landscape we enter in 2017.

Like many others, I was absolutely stricken with heartburn and confusion as a result of the stunning upset in the presidential election and in Congress. But as a health equity scholar, educator and practicing obstetrician-gynecologist who supports all reproductive health rights of women, and as a mother of four — including three young girls — I need to say that the glass really is half full. If we don't see it that way, we run the risk of missing the opportunities that await us during this highly uncertain state of healthcare.

I believe we’ve been handed an opportunity.

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Spotlight: Asian American and South Asian Health

Namratha Kandula, MD, MPH, associate professor of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics and of Preventive Medicine, is a staunch advocate for the health of individuals of Asian descent. In an October 2016 Chicago Tribune article she addresses Asian-American health, chronicling how Healthy Chicago 2.0, a four-year plan designed to improve the social, economic and neighborhood conditions affecting health, was developed with no data on the city’s Asian-American population. This group includes approximately 25 subgroups and is poised to triple in size over the next 50 years. Kandula’s research shows that Asian-American subgroups have distinct health profiles, risk factors and behaviors, which speaks to the city’s difficulty in collecting data given the diverse population and the number of languages spoken. However, the heterogeneity and size of the group indicates the tremendous importance of collecting data from the population.

Kandula is also a prominent member of multidisciplinary research teams that work on a wide range of studies including the Investigating Heart Disease in the South Asian Community (MASALA) Study, which has been instrumental in providing insights surrounding a range of health issues faced by South Asians. MASALA research team members are dedicated to identifying factors that lead to heart disease in South Asians. Studies in this area are critically important as citizens of South Asian countries—India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka—have higher rates of heart attacks and strokes that are not explained by well-known risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking. Dr. Kandula’s expansive body of research and publications can be found here.

Dr. Kandula’s Pathway to Medicine is also featured in this issue. 


Spotlight: African American Mental Health

A clinical psychologist and assistant professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Feinberg, Inger Burnett-Zeigler, '09 PhD, has an extensive body of research that provides many insights regarding mental illness in the black community. She tackles this understudied public health issue both as a clinical researcher and as a public intellectual. Burnett-Zeigler’s research and clinical practice often ground mental health treatment in mindfulness. The full text of several recent research studies can be found below. Her work, targeted to the general public, promotes awareness and understanding of mental illness as means to reduce stigma and encourage treatment and has been published in Time magazine, The Chicago Tribune, and The Hill. Burnett-Zeigler is an NU Public Voices Fellow with The OpEd Project.

Burnett-Zeigler’s Pathway to Feinberg is also featured in this issue.


Pathway to Medicine: Namratha Kandula, MD, MPH

My earliest memory is of a telephone call from India carrying news of my grandfather’s sudden death. That day, my 56 year-old grandfather was walking through the green paddy, surveying the rice, when he developed chest pain. He was with his nephew and cousin, who helped him back to his house. When he arrived, my grandmother saw him sweating, still in pain, and helped him into his bed. The doctor was called to the house, but he told my grandmother that nothing could be done. Some pain medicine was administered, and my grandfather was advised to lie quietly in his bed. As his chest pain worsened, he became more short of breath. He died within a few hours, my grandmother and his youngest son at his bedside. My father, the eldest son, was not able to get back to India in time to perform my grandfather’s last rites, a regret that is familiar to many immigrants.

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Pathway to Feinberg: Inger Burnett-Zeigler, '09 PhD

My maternal grandmother, Wilodean Zeigler, migrated to Chicago from Montgomery, Alabama, in the 1950s. While in Alabama, she and my grandfather owned a restaurant and a construction company. My grandfather’s company built and repaired several historical buildings in Montgomery, including the Holt Street Baptist Church where thousands of black citizens convened in 1955 for the first day of the Montgomery bus boycott.

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Alumni Column: Biftu Mengesha, '11 MD, '15 GME

I wasn’t one of those people who knew as a kid what I wanted to be when I grew up. I started college thinking I was going to be a meteorologist. In my first semester of college, I learned that meteorology wasn’t the right path for me, and surprisingly found myself really loving my life sciences courses, which brought me to explore medicine. I volunteered on a labor and delivery unit at a local community hospital and knew right away this was what I needed to do. I wanted to be a part of helping others in a time when they may be the most vulnerable, and I was drawn to the strength and trust in the patient-physician relationship.

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Engagement Perspectives

Engagement is one of the critical components through which knowledge is modeled and transferred across the Feinberg community. In this section, the following Feinberg leaders share how they perceive, promote and support engagement: Virginia Bishop, MD, MPH, provides insights regarding Latino engagement for both faculty and student populations; Richard D’Aquila, MD, addresses the importance of engaging diversity and inclusion in the clinical space to drive new ideas and different approaches; Sandy Sanguino, '03 MD, MPH, '96, '99 GME, shares the many ways in which students are engaged in and with a wide range of Chicago communities; and Peter Sporn, MD, reflects on Feinberg leadership’s proactive engagement to identify, recruit, train, and retain talented individuals from all groups historically underrepresented in medicine and science.

Virginia Bishop, MD, MPH, on Latino Engagement
"There has been much discussion about the importance of embracing diversity and the fact that characteristics of diverse populations within medical institutions serve to strengthen the roles we play as teachers, advisors, residents, students and people who serve others."

Richard D’Aquila, MD, on Engagement in the Clinical Space
"An essential lesson I learned when I was first starting my career in the early 1980s was how intertwined social, cultural and economic factors were in health."

Sandra Sanguino, MD, MPH, on Student Engagement
"At Feinberg, we have a student body that is engaged in a wide variety of community service and advocacy activities."

Peter Sporn, MD, on Physician Workforce Engagement
"Achieving a physician workforce that truly reflects the diversity of the society we live in is necessary to correct the injustice of explicit exclusion and discrimination that existed in the past."


Honors and Awards

  

Left Photo: James Hill (right); Right photo: James Chandler (left)

Two Feinberg faculty members were honored at the National Medical Fellowships (NMF) Innovation in Healthcare Awards 70th Anniversary Celebration. James A. Hill, MD, '70 MD, '79 GME, professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, received the Distinguished Alumni Award, and James P. Chandler MD, '96 GME, vice chair and Lavin/Fates Professor of Neurological Surgery, received the Innovation in Healthcare Award. The event was held on December 6, 2016, at the Union League Club of Chicago.

John Franklin, MD, MSc, MA, professor of Psychiatry, Surgery and of Medical Education and associate dean for Diversity, Inclusion and Student Support, was elected to the Northwestern University Chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha. AOA was founded in 1902 to recognize outstanding achievement among medical students, faculty and alumni. More information about AOA is available at www.alphaomegaalpha.org.


Events and Links

The Institute for Public Health and Medicine (IPHAM) and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion present:
A Snapshot of Chicago Male Youth Violence Prevention

February 23, 2017 | noon to 1pm
Hughes Auditorium, Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center
303 E. Superior Street

Panelists:
John Wolf, program manager, University of Chicago Crime Lab
AJ Watson, director, Becoming A Man Program, Youth Guidance
Chris Mallette, executive director, Chicago Violence Reduction Strategy, John Jay College

National LGBTQ Health Conference, Bridging Research and Practice, April 28-30 | Chicago

The ChicagoCHEC Research Fellows Program is a comprehensive summer learning experience for undergraduate and postbaccalaureate students at NEIU, UIC, NU, City Colleges of Chicago and other Community/Junior Colleges in the Chicago metropolitan area. More information can be found here.

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