New York (November 29, 2018)—Dr. Said Ibrahim, an esteemed physician-scientist who investigates why health outcomes vary among demographic groups, has been appointed the inaugural senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion at Weill Cornell Medicine, effective Jan. 2. Dr. Ibrahim will lead the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s efforts to unify diversity initiatives and foster a stronger culture of equity and belonging throughout the institution.
Weill Cornell Medicine’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion is committed to nurturing faculty and students whose varied backgrounds can inspire new perspectives and approaches to improve human health. In his new role, Dr. Ibrahim will work to realize the strategic vision of Dr. Augustine M.K. Choi, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine, who has elevated diversity as an essential pillar of the institution’s mission, along with clinical care, research and education. To accomplish this, the Office For Diversity and Inclusion will promote institutional initiatives to recruit, retain and nurture minority physicians, scientists and trainees who hail from communities that are underrepresented in medicine, as well as women and those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. The office will also strive to support students, faculty and trainees at every stage of their careers, working to cultivate a diverse and inclusive environment in clinic, lab and classroom.
“Diversity is essential for the healthcare workforce, and is a core value of Weill Cornell Medicine,” Dr. Choi said. “Bringing together our academic community’s unique perspectives and abilities not only leads to innovation, but also allows us to provide the best care for a diverse population and the best education for a diverse student body. Dr. Ibrahim is the ideal person to advance this important institutional mission and ensure a rich environment of equality and inclusiveness at Weill Cornell Medicine.”
“This role and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s mission really resonate with me personally,” said Dr. Ibrahim, the inaugural chief of the Division of Healthcare Delivery Science and Innovation in the Department of Healthcare Policy and Research at Weill Cornell Medicine who emigrated from Somalia in the mid-1980s to advance his academic pursuits. “Having grown up in East Africa, I understand first-hand how inequalities in healthcare access can significantly affect people’s lives. Diversity and inclusion—things that people had fought passionately for during the civil rights movement—made it possible for someone like me to attend medical school in the United States. It’s important to me that we maintain and grow that kind of opportunity for everyone.”
Weill Cornell Medicine has long been a champion for advancing diversity in the healthcare workforce, having established several programs that expose women, minority and economically disadvantaged college students to educational and career opportunities in medicine and science. The Travelers Summer Research Fellowship Program, established in 1969, has reached more than 1,200 pre-medical students who have sought careers as doctors; as of 2015, nearly 83 percent of participants went on to gain admission to medical school. Weill Cornell Medicine’s Advancing Cornell Career Experiences for Science Students (ACCESS) and Gateways to the Laboratory Summer Program are each celebrating 25-year anniversaries this year and serve as pipelines into doctorate and joint medical-doctorate degrees. ACCESS has 216 alumni; Gateways has 309.
To build off this momentum, Dr. Choi in the past year has launched numerous initiatives to foster diversity and inclusion campus-wide. Among them is the newly established Diversity Week, an annual event to showcase cutting-edge academics and initiatives focused on enhancing diversity and reducing healthcare disparities at Weill Cornell Medicine and nationwide. Dr. Ibrahim participated in the inaugural event last April, which featured more than 25 activities, from grand rounds to workshops. Dr. Choi also established the Dean’s Diversity and Healthcare Disparity Research Awards, which provide funding to investigators whose work seeks to improve the health of women and underrepresented minorities and achieve health equity both locally and globally; and the Dean’s Diversity Scholarships, which annually award full-tuition scholarships to two medical students from groups underrepresented in medicine who have financial need.
Dr. Ibrahim and his team in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion—which includes Associate Deans of Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Linnie Golightly and Dr. Rache Simmons, and Assistant Deans of Diversity and Student Life Dr. Marcus Lambert and Dr. Elizabeth Wilson-Anstey—will strive to enhance these initiatives. They will unify other diversity programs throughout the institution to maximize their overall impact and enable continuous evaluation of their success.
These efforts will lay the groundwork for attracting and developing a new cadre of diverse faculty members who are committed to the same institutional ideals. In collaboration with the institution’s new Mentoring Academy and the Diversity Center of Excellence—which operates under the auspices of the Cornell Center for Health Equity—the office will seek to nurture minority and female talent at all career levels through mentorship and other activities. Diversity leaders will also strive to increase the representation of women faculty at higher academic ranks and in leadership positions.
Just as important is further promoting a diverse student body, whose range of perspectives is essential to fostering scientific innovation and eliminating health disparities to ensure that everyone has access to the best patient care. Nearly 20 percent of medical students at Weill Cornell Medical College hail from communities underrepresented in medicine. Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences has also strengthened diversity efforts, with an average of 25 percent of domestic doctoral students from communities underrepresented in science.
“We want our physicians, researchers and trainees to be representative of the populations we serve, so patients see us as a reflection of who they are,” said Dr. Ibrahim, who also serves as the Department of Healthcare Policy and Research’s vice chair for development and strategy. “Our diversity initiatives will help us achieve that goal and position us as a leader in the healthcare industry, while also enriching the experiences of our academic community.”
About Dr. Said Ibrahim
Dr. Ibrahim is a National Institutes of Health-funded clinician-investigator whose research focuses on unequal healthcare access and quality among minority and other underserved communities. He previously led a research program that studied racial variations in the use of surgical care and identified the lower preference for surgery among minority patients as a key reason for this disparity. His research has informed national policy and led to more than 130 peer-reviewed publications in top journals including The New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association and Annals of Internal Medicine. He has received the Harold Amos Faculty Development Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and both entry level and advanced level VA Health Services Research and Career Development Awards. Dr. Ibrahim has also served as a council member of the NIH’s National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities.
Dr. Ibrahim received his bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio. He completed his internship and residency training in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School. He later attended the Clinical Effectiveness Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where he also earned a master’s degree in public health, then received a master’s degree in business administration from MIT Sloan School of Management. He served as a faculty member at Case Western from 1996-2001 and at the University of Pittsburgh from 2001-2010, when he was appointed professor of medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and chief of medicine at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. For 20 years, Dr. Ibrahim provided primary care to American veterans who receive care in the VA Healthcare System, one of the most important safety-net systems in the nation. In 2012, Dr. Ibrahim became co-director of the Department of Veteran Affairs’ National Center of Innovation for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP), a position he retained until he was recruited to Weill Cornell Medicine in February 2018 as the inaugural chief of the Division of Healthcare Delivery Science and Innovation in the Department of Healthcare Policy and Research. As chief, Dr. Ibrahim is building a health service research team whose mission is to study how technology and care innovations can be leveraged to advance not only healthcare efficiency and quality, but also equity.
Weill Cornell Medicine
Weill Cornell Medicine is committed to excellence in patient care, scientific discovery and the education of future physicians in New York City and around the world. The doctors and scientists of Weill Cornell Medicine — faculty from Weill Cornell Medical College, Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, and Weill Cornell Physician Organization—are engaged in world-class clinical care and cutting-edge research that connect patients to the latest treatment innovations and prevention strategies. Located in the heart of the Upper East Side's scientific corridor, Weill Cornell Medicine's powerful network of collaborators extends to its parent university Cornell University; to Qatar, where Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar offers a Cornell University medical degree; and to programs in Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Weill Cornell Medicine faculty provide comprehensive patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian Queens and NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital. Weill Cornell Medicine is also affiliated with Houston Methodist. For more information, visit weill.cornell.edu.