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Weill Cornell Medicine Community Celebrates Diversity at 2019 Awards Ceremony

Weill Cornell Medicine honored 17 faculty, trainees, students and staff April 22 for their outstanding service and leadership in promoting diversity at the academic medical institution.

The Diversity Awards recognize exemplary contributions—through research, clinical care, community service and advocacy—to improving the health of populations that historically have had unequal access to care. They also commend excellence in mentorship and fostering an inclusive, engaging and welcoming workplace.

“Diversity and inclusion are a very high priority for us,” said Dr. Augustine M.K. Choi, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine, during a ceremony in Griffis Faculty Club that capped the first day of the institution’s second annual Diversity Week. “These essential values are fundamental to the way in which we achieve excellence in clinical care, discovery and education. Our efforts in this area unite us and make Weill Cornell Medicine a stronger community.”

Dr. Rache Simmons, associate dean for diversity and inclusion, presented the Jessica M. and Natan Bibliowicz Award for Excellence in Mentoring Women Faculty to Dr. Geraldine McGinty, chief strategy officer of Weill Cornell Medicine’s Physician Organization and an assistant professor of clinical radiology and of clinical healthcare policy and research. The award, now in its fourth year, recognizes outstanding faculty who demonstrate a commitment to advancing the careers of women in the areas of clinical care, research or education. Dr. McGinty was honored for mentoring and sponsoring numerous female faculty, including a past winner of the award, Dr. Elizabeth Arleo.

The ceremony honored five winners of the Pioneers in Diversity Awards, which recognize members of the Weill Cornell Medicine community who have distinguished themselves as key contributors to a culture of diversity. Dr. Linnie Golightly, associate dean for diversity and inclusion, and Drs. Elizabeth Wilson-Anstey and Marcus Lambert, assistant deans for diversity and inclusion, presented the awards.

  • Weill Cornell Medical College student Joshua Adjei ’19 received the Ida Sophia Scudder, MD Award for Excellence in Public Service. The award recognizes medical, doctoral, M.D.-Ph.D. or physician assistant students who have made significant contributions in the field of community service and providing care to the underserved. Adjei was praised as a key leader of the Weill Cornell Medicine student body through his work on committees and working groups. As an educational specialist in the New York Foundling foster care center, Adjei works with high school students and foster parents to plan for graduation and college applications, as well as serves as a parent representative for foster parents unable to attend parent-teacher conferences.
  • Dr. Victor Wong, a postdoctoral scientist at Burke Neurological Institute, was recognized with the Louis Wade Sullivan, MD Award for Excellence in Public Health Advocacy. He was commended for finding improved therapeutic approaches to hearing loss and other neurologic disorders, as well as his efforts to level the playing field for those with disabilities. He is a member of a global network of deaf and hard-of-hearing scientists that promotes the inclusion of their community at all levels of biomedical research.
  • Dr. Nelson Sanchez, an associate professor of clinical medicine, and Dr. Kevin Holcomb, an associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology, were awarded the Bruce Laine Ballard, MD Award for Excellence in Mentorship. The award recognizes faculty members who have demonstrated a commitment to improving student life and fostering a nurturing and supportive environment where students are able to thrive and succeed. Dr. Sanchez spearheaded the formation of the LGBTQ Steering Committee at Weill Cornell Medicine in 2012 and has served as its leader since 2014, providing students access to LGBTQ-identified faculty members and staff. He was lauded for a plethora of initiatives aimed at promoting mentoring relationships, fostering an inclusive environment, and advancing the careers of LGBTQ students, trainees and faculty. Dr. Holcomb was recognized for mentorship activities that span all parts of the pipeline and for his particular commitment to engaging underrepresented men in the pursuit of careers in medicine. A Cornell alumnus, he has served as an advisor for the university’s Black Biomedical and Technical Association for more than 20 years. He provides mentorship as well as surgical and clinical experiences in gynecologic oncology to undergraduates in Weill Cornell Medicine’s Travelers Summer Research Program and serves as a faculty advisor for the Black and Latino Men in Medicine initiative.
  • Senior Administrative Specialist Dr. Greta Strong won the Administrative Staff Award, which recognizes staff members who embody the spirit of cultural diversity and service. Strong collaborates with multiple departments within Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian to foster community health through outreach, education and advocacy. A member of the dean’s Community Advisory Board, she has established and maintained relationships with government and community leaders of numerous civic organizations, with a focus on social justice.

Eleven Weill Cornell Medicine faculty, trainees and students were recognized with the Dean’s Diversity and Healthcare Disparity Research Awards. The awards provide four levels of one-year research funding to investigators whose work seeks to improve the health of underrepresented minorities and achieve health equity for people locally and globally. The winners, who presented posters of their research during the awards ceremony, include:

  • Faculty ($50,000 each)
    • Dr. Melissa Boneta Davis, recruited to Weill Cornell Medicine as an associate professor of cell and developmental biology research in surgery 
    • Dr. Eloise Chapman-Davis, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology
    • Dr. Jialin Mao, assistant professor of healthcare policy and research
    • Dr. Joseph Osborne, associate professor of radiology
    • Dr. Robert N. Peck, assistant professor of medicine
  • Fellows and postdoctoral associates ($25,000 each)
    • Dr. Keith Chadwick, an instructor in otolaryngology
    • Dr. Kiel Michael Telesford, a postdoctoral associate in neuroscience in the Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute
  • Residents ($10,000 each)
    • Dr. Jaime Lynn Bernstein, a resident in the Department of Surgery
    • Dr. Daniel Vanderbilt, a resident in the Department of Radiation Oncology
  • Medical/Graduate students ($5,000 each to be used for Area of Concentration scholarly project or graduate research project)
    • Samuel Taylor, a medical student from the Class of 2020
    • Daniel Wang, a medical student from the Class of 2020

More than 40 events are slated for Diversity Week, running from April 22-27. For a complete listing of events, download the program or visit the Diversity Week webpage on the Office of Diversity and Inclusion website. Download the first Weill Cornell Medicine Annual Report on Diversity and Inclusion for a comprehensive summary of activities, initiatives and accomplishments in 2018.    

“It has been a transformational year for Weill Cornell Medicine in diversity and inclusion,” said Dr. Said Ibrahim, senior associate dean of diversity and inclusion. “We’re growing and we’re really excited about the future.”

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