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Students, Trainees and Faculty Honored for Diversity Efforts

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The Weill Cornell Medical College community recognized three of its own June 14 for exemplary leadership in promoting diversity at the Medical College.

Weill Cornell Class of 2012 M.D.-Ph.D. graduate Dr. Shelli F. Farhadian, internal medicine resident Dr. Sharayne Mark and public health professor Dr. Madelon Finkel all received Pioneers In Diversity awards from Weill Cornell's Office of Faculty Diversity in Medicine and Science and the Diversity Council for leaving an indelible mark on the culture of diversity at the Medical College. The award winners received plaques and $1,000 cash prizes.

Dr. Oliver Fein accepts the Ida Sophia Scudder, M.D. Student Award for Excellence in Public Service from Dr. Carla Boutin-Foster on behalf of Dr. Shelli Farhadian
Photo credit: Jason Green

"We are acknowledging the work of students, faculty and residents who promote diversity at Weill Cornell, and we acknowledge alumni of Weill Cornell who have contributed to the community," said Dr. Carla Boutin-Foster, director of cultural diversity in the Office of Faculty Diversity, associate professor of Medicine, associate professor of Public Health, the Nanette Laitman Clinical Scholar in Public Health/Community Health and associate professor of Complementary and Integrative Medicine at Weill Cornell.

Dr. Farhadian received the Ida Sophia Scudder, M.D. Student Award for Excellence in Public Service, named in honor of one of the first female graduates of the Medical College. Dr. Farhadian, who just started her residency in internal medicine at Yale, was honored for founding the Weill Cornell Center for Human Rights, a student run and faculty supported, clinic dedicated to providing medical, gynecologic and psychiatric evaluations and affidavits to victims of torture who seek asylum in the United States. The Center has conducted evaluations of 53 asylum applicants from 27 countries. Of the 25 cases that went to court, all received asylum.

"Shelli really deserves this award, not only for founding the Center, but also for organizing two training sessions, which have trained more than 100 medical students, residents and faculty for the asylum clinic," said Dr. Oliver Fein, professor of clinical Medicine and professor of clinical Public Health, who helped Dr. Farhadian establish the Center and accepted the award on her behalf.

Dr. Mark received the Louis Wade Sullivan, M.D. Resident/Fellow Award for Excellence in Public Health Advocacy, given to a resident or postdoctoral fellow who has been an outspoken champion for health promotion and a public health advocate, especially for medically underserved populations. Dr. Mark serves as a chair of the Minority Housestaff Committee in the Department of Medicine, which works to increase the number of underrepresented minorities at Weill Cornell through a variety of projects including outreach activities, networking events with staff and medical students, and volunteerism in the community. She is also an active volunteer in the Weill Cornell Community Clinic's Heart-to-Heart Campaign, which provides screenings for cardiovascular disease in uninsured, underserved at-risk communities.

"I was surprised," Dr. Mark said when she learned she received the award. "You never know who is watching or paying attention to the things you do, and when you get acknowledged for it, there's a nice, warm feeling that lets you know you are doing the right thing. It keeps you focused and encouraged to continue what you are doing."

From left to right, Dr. Carla Boutin-Foster, Dr. Sharayne Mark, Dr. Anne C. Beal and Dr. Madelon Finkel at the Pioneers In Diversity Award ceremony
Photo credit: Jason Green

Dr. Finkel, professor of clinical Public Health, received the Bruce Laine Ballard, M.D. Faculty Award for Excellence in Mentorship, named in honor of Dr. Bruce Ballard, former associate dean for Student Affairs and Equal Opportunity Programs at Weill Cornell. Dr. Finkel was honored for her outstanding mentorship and ability to foster excellence in everyone with whom she comes in contact.

"I'm extraordinarily honored, particularly for this award in honor of Dr. Bruce Ballard, who to me epitomized what a mentor should be," said Dr. Finkel. "I truly believe that one of the roles of a Professor is to provide to the students the best guidance, advice and counseling possible. Over my career here at Weill Cornell I have tried to do so. It's very special that Weill Cornell acknowledges the importance of mentorship."

Dr. Anne C. Beal, chief operating officer of Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, a pediatrician, public health expert and Weill Cornell alumna, gave the keynote address titled "Eliminating Disparities: Challenges and Next Steps."

America is becoming increasingly diverse, she said, and yet health care is still somewhat segregated. To eliminate disparities in care and improve the health of all Americans, physicians need to practice medicine differently.

"The vision we have of America is going to be different," she said. "The vision we have as physicians is going to be different. We all have an opportunity to address disparities by incorporating it in what we do."

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