BTI Speaker Series
Speaker: Karen Lincoln PhD, MSW, MA, FGSA Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health and Director of the Center for Environmental Health Disparities Research in the Program of Public Health at UCI
Dr. Lincoln’s work highlights societal and social factors that contribute to health disparities. In her presentation to the ICTS Steering Committee, Dr. Lincoln shared a personal story that demonstrated the challenges that arise when the individuals who are tasked with creating a diverse and inclusive community are members of the historical majority. Dr. Lincoln also described her approach to conducting research with careful attention to recruiting participants from groups that have not historically participated in research. She advanced the argument that these individuals can be successfully included in research when they are offered an experience that interests and benefits them and meets them where they are.
Speaker: Monica R. McLemore PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN, Professor, Child, Family, and Population Health Department, Interim Director for the Center for Anti-Racism in Nursing, University of Washington School of Nursing
Dr. Monica McLemore is a preeminent scholar of antiracist birth equity research, community-informed methods, and policy translation. She retired from clinical work in 2019; however, currently provides flu and COVID19 vaccines. Her research is focused on reproductive justice. Her peer reviewed articles, OpEds and commentaries have been cited in five amicus briefs to the Supreme Court of the United States and three NASEM reports. She became Editor in Chief of Health Equity in 2022. Dr. McLemore discussed the concept of equity tourism and emphasized the critical importance of defining our vocabulary around equity, diversity, disparities and social justice. She also encourages health scientists to engage in equity-oriented work by partnering with individuals who have lived experience and by collaborating with researchers across a wide spectrum of expertise. In the discussion with ICTS Steering Committee members, she affirmed the need for research to move beyond confirming the existence of inequities we already know exist and identify solutions by way of intervention.
Speaker: L. Ebony Boulware, MD, MPH, Dean of Wake Forest University School of Medicine; Vice Chief Academic officer and Chief Science Officer of Atrium Health; Eleanor Easley Distinguished Professor of Medicine
Dr. Boulware is a general internist, physician-scientist and clinical epidemiologist and is an international thought leader focused on improving health and health equity for individuals and communities affected by chronic health conditions such as kidney disease. Previously, Dr. Boulware directed the Duke Clinical and Translational Science Institute in Durham, North Carolina, as Vice Dean for Translational Science and Associate Vice Chancellor for Translational Research at Duke University. Dr. Boulware was also a distinguished professor of medicine, and served as Chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine in the Department of Medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine.
Dr. Boulware’s presentation focused on the important distinction between health equity and diversity, equity and inclusion. They are linked concepts but not synonymous. Health equity should be emphasized from basic science through population health research. It is important for CTSAs to not only focus on addressing health disparities, but to also to ensure that CTSA hubs are diverse and representative of the communities they serve and to also cultivate an environment where everyone feels nurtured and welcome.
Speaker: Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI, Senior Vice President and Senior Associate Dean for Health Equity and Inclusive Excellence; Associate Director, Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Science; Professor of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine
Dr. Wilkins is Senior Vice President and Senior Associate Dean for Health Equity and Inclusive Excellence and Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. In her presentation, she makes a distinction between the focus on health equity and the focus on diversity of the workforce. Health equity is directed toward making changes in health outcomes; assuring that everyone has fair and just opportunities for optimal health. Diversity and Inclusion is directed toward recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce and student body. Dr. Wilkins is of the opinion that precision medicine is unlikely to have a major role in resolving health inequities. To solve these issues, we need to address root causes such as poverty, education, affordable housing. Whereas precision medicine is centered around genetics and genomics, to address health equity we need to be person-centered. For example, we need to understand the difference between race and ancestry. This will require bringing social determinants of health into our studies of health disparities. Dr. Wilkins described one effort to do this in conjunction with the All of Us research program, by conducting Community Engagement Studios across many communities, which led to a very diverse study sample, with fewer than 50% European White. She then addressed work she has done to identify institutional strategies for diversifying the workforce, which has led to a set of recommendations.
Speaker: Jennifer C. Danek, MD, Clinical Instructor, Medicine, University of Washington
Dr. Danek shared some data and resources related to increasing the diversity of the biomedical workforce by making changes in the way that institutions evaluate applicants and also by cultivating an inclusive climate that engenders a sense of belonging and a growth mindset. As one example, she described the shift in graduate schools away from using the GRE as a screening tool, and the evidence supporting this shift. Asked to provide advice for first steps toward increasing diversity, Dr. Danek recommended making a commitment to evidence-based practices in admissions and moving toward holistic evaluation of applicants. She also shared a number of available resources to support faculty in their efforts to create an inclusive academic environment.
Speaker: Dr. Keith C. Norris, UCLA, Professor of Medicine and Co-Director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute Community Engagement Research Program.
Dr. Norris has received numerous honors and awards from students, peers, community, and professional organizations. As PI or Program Director he has been awarded of $250 million in federal grant funding. He has co-authored over 450 articles in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters, and over 350 scientific abstracts. He serves as the Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of the international journal Ethnicity and Disease, a multidisciplinary journal focusing on minority ethnic population differences in health promotion and disease prevention, including research in the areas of epidemiology, genetics, health services, social biology, and medical anthropology. He also serves as a member of the editorial board for the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology and the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
Dr. Norris spoke to the ICTS Steering Committee about the use of race/ethnicity to inform clinical decision-making. The evidence shows that although there may be certain genetic variations that are more likely to occur in some race/ethnic groups than others, such patterns provide little useful information when applied to any individual patient. Genetic variability across subgroups within a racial or ethnic group can be greater than genetic variability between racial/ethnic groups. Thus, it is misleading to include race/ethnicity as a component of algorithms used to inform risk assessments at the individual patient level. Clinical researchers need to reassess their historical use of race/ethnicity as a biological construct.