Meet This Year’s Champions of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Weill Cornell Med Diversity Champions

Dr. Andrea Card, assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, has always embraced diversity, equity and inclusion, starting in the 1990s when she was a medical student—long before it became a priority across the country. This year, Dr. Card received the Bruce Laine Ballard Award at Weill Cornell Medicine’s Celebration of Diversity, part of the institution’s sixth annual Diversity Week, held April 15 in Griffis Faculty Club.

She has used her skills as an internist, public health expert and mentor to reach communities, as she puts it, “regardless of what they look like,” and is faculty lead for Weill Cornell Medicine’s Pre-Medical Diversity Initiatives. Dr. Card and all the awardees reflect Weill Cornell Medicine’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity in academic medicine and were honored for their exemplary contributions through mentorship, research, clinical care, community service and advocacy.

“Community service is one of the most important foundational missions of academic medicine not just in education and research but in health care locally and globally,” said Dr. Robert A. Harrington, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine in opening remarks. “Weill Cornell Medicine is fostering a culture and environment of belonging where everyone feels their talents, expertise and diverse experiences are needed to solve the hard problems affecting our community—cancer, heart disease, infectious disease, mental illness.”

Dr. Stephanie Cherestal

Dr. Stephanie Cherestal (center) winner of the Marie Metoyer Award with Rev. Eric Metoyer (left) and Stephen Metoyer (right).

Dr. Stephanie Cherestal, an assistant professor of psychology in clinical psychiatry and winner of the Marie Metoyer Award, was commended for her unwavering commitment to underserved communities, including asylum seekers. Her expertise in helping those coping with grief and fear led to her participation in organizing “Supportive Spaces” for staff and faculty members dealing with emotions related to the conflict in the Middle East. “During my transition in becoming faculty in the Department of Psychiatry, which coincided with the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020,” she says, “issues of diversity and inclusion became part of my professional role.”  

Dr. Sarah Hatfield, winner of the Louis Wade Sullivan award, is a fellow in surgery who focuses on victims of gun violence. She was celebrated for her “commitment to health care for all,” and says she realized early on “how health is intimately tied to racial, social and economic factors.”  With a special focus on trauma surgery, she is working on ways to help bystanders provide first aid for bleeding injuries in areas disproportionately affected by gun violence.

Dr. Sarah Hatfield

Dr. Yazmin Carrasco (left), Dr. Sarah Hatfield (center) and Dean Robert Harrington.

Naira Abou-Ghali, a graduate student in the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences’ Pharmacology Program and a co-president of the Muslim Students Association of Weill Cornell Medicine, was celebrated for her commitment to public service and her push to raise community awareness of social justice issues in hotspots like Sudan, Congo and the Middle East. She and Weill Cornell Medical College student Chase C. Alston both received the Sophia Scudder, M.D. Award. Chase was cited for embodying service and dedication to poorly served communities. “My guiding belief is that issues of access and equity in health care should not exist,” she said.

Dr. Li Gan, the Burton P. and Judith B. Resnick Distinguished Professor in Neurodegenerative Diseases and director of the Helen and Robert Appel Alzheimer’s Disease Research Institute at Weill Cornell Medicine, received the Jessica M. And Natan Bibliowicz Award in recognition of her scientific achievements and mentorship of female faculty. As one of her mentees said, “Dr. Gan is a role model who leads with integrity, fosters collaboration and promotes excellence.”

“This award affirms the value of our collective efforts to nurture emerging scholars and promote gender equity in academia,” Dr. Gan said. “This recognition motivates me to continue fostering an inclusive environment that supports the growth and success of all our students and faculty.”

On the administrative side, Dr. Huber David Jaramillo Gil was honored for his work as program manager in Diversity, Health Equity and Inclusion in the Department of Radiology. Among his favorite projects, he says, is a paid internship program that brings medical students from marginalized communities around the country to Weill Cornell Medicine for a month of intensive training. “We immerse them in opportunities, fill any knowledge gaps and help smooth their way to residencies,” he says.

Ritu Banga Healthcare Disparities Research Awards

Ritu Banga AwardsDr. Puja Chebrolu (left) and Dr. Krithika Karthigeyan (center) each received a Ritu Banga Healthcare Disparities Research Award. Presenter: Dr. Linnie Golightly (right).

The Ritu Banga Healthcare Disparities Research awards provide one-year grants for $50,000 each to investigators whose work aims to achieve health equity for people locally and globally.

This year, Dr. Puja Chebrolu, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, received the award for studying the long-term impact of screening for gestational diabetes in minority women. Dr. Krithika Karthigeyan, postdoctoral associate in the Department of Pediatrics, received the award for her proposal to fortify breast milk with anti-cytomegalovirus (CMV) antibodies to prevent CMV infection in preterm infants.

The grantees and award winners walked off with plaques and, more importantly, a strong sense of their community’s admiration and support. The event was also a reminder of how well-knit and forward-facing that community can be, said Dr. Linnie Golightly, associate dean of diversity and inclusion at Weill Cornell Medicine.


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