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Special Public Health Grand Rounds: Historical Trauma and the Health Disparities that Perpetuate in American Indian/Alaska Native Communities

Friday, November 19, 2021

Dean Seneca, MPH, MCURP, CEO and founder of Seneca Scientific Solutions +, will present at a special Public Health Grand Rounds event on December 2, 2021 on Zoom. This presentation will cover leading health inequities, causes of death, health workforce and other challenges while working in Tribal communities. In addition, the discussion will include tribal life experiences, cultural issues, barriers, and how to successfully build tribal relationships. This lecture is presented in partnership with the URMC Office of Equity and Inclusion, Department of Public Health Sciences, and Center for Community Health & Prevention with additional funding from the UR Clinical and Translational Science Institute. This event will feature a traditional introduction - Ohen:ton Kariwatehkwen "the Words that Come Before All Else” by Rohsennase Dalton LaBarge (Kanienkehaka, Bear Clan) URSMD '23.
Pre-registration for this session is required.

UR Researcher Awarded Selective National Grant to Study Health Disparities in Puerto Rico

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Jose G. Perez-RamosJosé G. Pérez-Ramos, MPH, Ph.D., research assistant professor in the Departments of OB/GYN, Pediatrics, and Public Health Sciences, is one of fifteen scholars from across the U.S. selected to receive a competitive grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The RWJF Health Equity Scholars for Action program focuses on the support of underrepresented researchers who conduct health equity research providing opportunities to grow and excel in academia.

As part of Dr. Pérez-Ramos’ global health, information and communications technology development and implementation, and community-driven research, this work focuses on the integration of telehealth services and the deployment of community health workers to increase access to health care and improve health, particularly in rural areas of Puerto Rico with a high prevalence of chronic disease. The proposed study would be conducted on the island of Culebra, an isolated municipality of Puerto Rico with approximately 1,700 inhabitants. Although known for its rugged beauty and strong community pride, its social and structural determinants of health have resulted in it having some of the worst health outcomes across the Puerto Rican archipelago.  

Adrienne Morgan, Ph.D., vice president for Equity and Inclusion at the University of Rochester Medical Center and senior associate dean for Equity and Inclusion at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, says “We’re so proud of Dr. Pérez-Ramos’ achievements. This grant will ensure he can continue this necessary research to make a critical difference in the lives of people on Culebra but elsewhere, too.” “His work to reduce health disparities is right on time,“ she adds. 

“Dr. Pérez-Ramos is an exceptional talent and his insight and expertise is a valuable force for good for this university and beyond,” says Michael Rotondo, M.D., Professor of Surgery, CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Faculty Group and senior vice president of the University of Rochester Medical Center. “This prestigious award is an affirmation of his considerable contributions thus far and his ongoing promise for the future.”

The grant will support three aspects of career development: research, mentorship, and connection with a community of support.

Dr. Pérez-Ramos says, “I owe a lot to my country and we, as part of the Puerto Rican diaspora, have a responsibility to use our privileges and opportunities to collaborate with existing structures and community leaders to reduce social and health disparities there. This funding opportunity will allow us to expand our existing collaborative community research work in Culebra and improve access to specialized health care using innovative and evidence-based tools. I feel a sense of duty to this effort.” 

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supports research to identify and address the root causes of health inequities in the United States that are strongly linked to structural and systemic racism and other forms of oppression. 

The Health Equity Scholars for Action program begins December 1, 2021 and continues for two years. 

URMC Equity and Anti-Racism Action Plan: A Year of Progress and Plans for the Future

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

It has been more than a year since the five-year Equity and Anti-Racism Action Plan (EARAP) was announced. Brought to life after impassioned calls for change by medical students, trainees, faculty members, staff, community, and affinity groups across the Medical Center, the plan promises to build, recruit, nurture, exemplify, and engage in the work of being anti-racist. 

URMC CEO and School of Medicine and Dentistry Dean Mark Taubman, M.D., says, “The work done in the plan’s first year has illuminated the full scope of what it takes to be a national model for equity and anti-racism in education, employment, and health care delivery. The journey has just begun, but I am heartened by the creativity and enthusiasm with which our learners, faculty, staff and board members are embracing this challenge. Together, we are demonstrating the will and the ability to make real change.”

Adrienne Morgan, Ph.D., vice president for Equity and Inclusion at the University of Rochester Medical Center and senior associate dean for Equity and Inclusion at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, recalls the energy surrounding the work at the start. It’s what motivates her now. “Our learners’ voices are in that plan and they hold us accountable,” she says. “The goals in this plan don’t exist independently. They’re interconnected and depend on the success of each objective to move forward. If we don’t succeed in any one of these goals, we won’t succeed overall.”


The first goal of the EARAP is to build an anti-racist infrastructure. While the first year focused on building the infrastructure necessary to accomplish the work, there was also a major emphasis on training leaders about what “inclusive excellence” means and why it’s so critical.

Proof of that could be found in the six-month virtual learning series, Enlightened Leadership in Challenging Times with Jeff Ring, Ph.D., an LA-based health psychologist, leadership coach and educator. More than 100 Medical Center leaders participated in cohorts that met once a month. Ring, who considers himself a “racism dismantler,” says, “We designed the program intentionally to begin by exploring enlightened leadership globally and then move to the often-crispy challenge of leading in diversity, health equity, inclusion, and justice. Conversations about race and medicine are often fraught with discomfort because racism as a system would prefer we not talk about these issues.” 

Ring emphasized the relationship-centered nature of the training and how building trust is central to the work. Each leader designed an innovative capstone project with tangible implications for institutional change toward diversity, equity, and inclusion. The goal is to expand learning and sharing opportunities between cohorts and facilitate efforts to operationalize the projects.  

The URSMD Office of Equity and Inclusion added two Equity and Inclusion learning specialists to develop workshops and training using Theatre for Healthcare Equity techniques and offering bias trainings. The specialists are currently developing a core equity and inclusion curriculum for URMC employees that allows employees to examine their own biases and positionality in the world. This curriculum will pilot in January and become widely available next year.


One of the goals of the EARAP is to diversify the pool of candidates for open faculty positions. A major accomplishment is the development of the Faculty Recruitment Toolkit this summer. The toolkit provides best practices for recruiting outstanding diverse candidates. 

Robert Dirksen, Ph.D., chair of the Department of the Pharmacology and Physiology, who, along with Collen Fogarty, M.D., chair of the Department of Family Medicine, headed up the taskforce that recommended the toolkit, says, “I think a lot of departments have needed the resources in the toolkit that have never been distributed before, things like rubrics, example questions to use, and questions to avoid…I think departments have been needing this guidance and I think it was the Wild West until this was put out there.” He adds, “In the basic sciences we are dismally behind the national averages and we’re not very much better on the clinical side, so we really need to be able to see real quantifiable results from this. I think this will build and snowball because, as you bring in more diverse faculty, others will be more comfortable coming here.”

Already more than 300 people, including those on search committees and in HR, have been trained how to maximize the usefulness of the toolkit. The toolkit will eventually be expanded to include staff recruitment. Additionally, a Career Pipeline and Pathways Program policy and associated funding devoted to the most difficult-to-recruit positions took effect July 1, 2021. 

“We want our employees and others to see a future for themselves at our institution. The Equity and Anti-Racism Action Plan is committed to facilitating opportunities for learning and advancement through partnerships within our community, “ says Kathleen Gallucci, University of Rochester vice president and chief human resources officer.


The goal is to nurture a respectful learning and work environment. In order to reinforce the EARAP’s commitment to language equity and minoritized languages, the central budget for deaf professional services was brought under the URSMD Office of Equity and Inclusion this summer. Brick Advantage, a Deaf-led consultant group, has made recommendations about this change based on the results of listening sessions with stakeholder groups. A town-hall style meeting will be held November 3, 2021 to allow for questions and answers. 

Exemplify Inclusion in Places and Digital Spaces

This year an historic office space at the School of Medicine and Dentistry underwent a major transformation. The former Whipple Room and Museum, named after George Hoyt Whipple, M.D., was transformed into the Dr. Gina Cuyler Wellness Room. The gathering space represents the University of Rochester Medical Center’s revitalized commitment to embracing diversity and inclusion. 

Cuyler, who earned her medical degree and completed her residency here at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, says, “It really impressed upon me how far a little advocacy, a little kindness, and a little love can go for people who may not have otherwise felt that.” The inaugural president and co-founder of the Black Physicians Network of Greater Rochester says, “This is a small thing on paper but in gesture it’s magnanimous.”

Engage and Partner with the Community to Achieve Racial Justice by Promoting Equity in Health and Well-being

Each of the goals of the EARAP support one another. This interdependence is seen most profoundly in the fifth goal of the plan. The Health Equity Steering Committee, led by Telva Olivares, M.D., and in concert with other internal taskforces and community partners, actively identifies ways to expand access to care, increase health-disparities research and strengthen equity as a health provider. Initial efforts include growing accessible new clinical service locations in Rochester, improving collection of demographic and social determinants of health data in patient records, and using the data to link patients to community services that can help improve their health.

Michael Rotondo, M.D., Professor of Surgery, CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Faculty Group and senior vice president of the University of Rochester Medical Center says, “Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. We’ve made great strides in one year but there is more work to be done. We intend to continue to build on existing community partnerships, build new relationships and work collaboratively to find the most effective ways to serve the needs of patients. This is a long-term commitment.”

Focus on the Future

From building an infrastructure to building on the momentum of the last year, work on priorities for the second year began before summer. Among those goals planned for 2022: cluster hiring to increase the diversity of faculty, measuring and improving climate through engagement surveys, continuing to build pipelines and pathways programs, and an increased focus on using data to measure Human Resources and URSMD Office of Equity and Inclusion progress. 

The Equity and Anti-Racism Plan has been referred to as a blueprint, a roadmap, and a living document. While it may undergo edits or additions, its unshakable core is the promise to allow people to be their best selves no matter their identity or ability. 

New Grand Rounds Series Offers a Look at Race, Gender, and Disability through a Health Humanities and Equity Lens

Thursday, September 30, 2021

The URSMD Office of Equity and Inclusion in partnership with the Division of Medical Humanities & Bioethics and the Paul M. Schyve, MD Center for Bioethics will launch a new virtual series on diversity in medicine. The series will take a Biopsychosocial (BPS) approach to understand how race, gender, and disability are culturally and socially constructed identities and categories with profound impacts on the health of populations and individuals over generations.

This virtual series aims to:

  • Contextualize the social and cultural history of race, gender, and disability
  • Explore their impacts on the health of individuals and communities
  • Recognize researchers, clinicians and community organizations that are making measurable change within healthcare systems and within Rochester communities
  • Empower attendees to commit to an actionable change they can make to improve health in their community

Pre-registration is required.

*CME/CNE credits available

October 14 - 12:00-1:00 p.m. - Session 1: “Race and Medicine: Historical and Cultural Context.” Guest lecturer and award-winning author Dorothy Roberts, JD will join us virtually to discuss her book, “Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century.” Roberts, also an activist and scholar, documents the rise of “a new racial politics that relies on re-inventing the political system of race as a biological category written in our genes”.

November 18 - 12:00-1:00 p.m. - Session 2: “Race and Medicine: Rochester Impact.” We’ll explore the impact on local healthcare, treatment, research for practitioners, and patient experiences using personal narratives.

December 16 - 12:00-1:00 p.m. - Session 3: “Race and Medicine: Call to Action.” Hear examples of concrete solutions that are currently underway in Rochester and how attendees can get involved.

Three PhD Students Honored with SMD Equity and Inclusion Award

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

URMC Diversity Award winners - 2021
From left to right: Raven Osborn, PhD candidate in Translational Biomedical Sciences, Katherine Andersh, PhD candidate in Neuroscience, and Briaunna Minor, PhD candidate in Microbiology,  received the 2021 Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Equity and Inclusion during SMD Opening Convocation on Sept. 20.

The School of Medicine and Dentistry (SMD) welcomed students, honored excellence, and marked the official start of a new academic year with Opening Convocation held on Sept. 20.

Read More: Three PhD Students Honored with SMD Equity and Inclusion Award

How to Lead a Diverse Search for Faculty: Best Practices Toolkit Now Online

Saturday, September 11, 2021

A faculty recruitment best practices toolkit is now available online to help search committees consider DEI in the candidate recruitment process. The toolkit, which was a major focus of a Diversity in Faculty Recruitment Task Force led by Robert Dirksen, PhD, Colleen Fogarty, MD, MSc, Adrienne Morgan, PhD, and Katy Stevenson, offers advice on writing a job posting, advertising and networking, establishing a diverse search committee, and much more. There is also guidance on DEI statements, which are now required of all faculty candidates. The toolkit best practices will help department leaders develop the broadest, highest quality candidate pools as they recruit the newest additions to the faculty in the School of Medicine & Dentistry and in the School of Nursing.

The toolkit is one of many resources now available on the SMD Office of Academic Affairs website that align closely with the Medical Center’s Equity and Anti-Racism Action Plan (EARAP) and its five goals to build, recruit, engage, exemplify and engage in the work of being an anti-racist. Also available on the office’s website, under a recently added “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” section, is guidance for faculty on displaying personal pronouns on their URMC web profiles via the eCV platform, describing DEI accomplishments or goals during their annual reviews,  and highlighting their DEI activities for consideration during the promotions process.

“We’ve worked diligently to embed the values of the EARAP in our work,” says Jeffrey M. Lyness, M.D., senior associate dean for Academic Affairs. “We’re proud to support efforts to diversify our faculty, support faculty in pursuit of inclusive excellence, and give them the tools they need to achieve it.” 

The Office of Equity and Inclusion and the Office of Human Resources have worked closely with Academic Affairs throughout this process.  Adrienne Morgan, PhD, vice president of Equity and Inclusion at the University of Rochester Medical Center and senior associate dean for Equity & Inclusion, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry says, “The Office of Academic Affairs has been a great partner in helping us advance the work of making the Medical Center a place where people feel they can bring their whole selves and do their best work.”

Mark Taubman, MD, CEO of the Medical Center and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry says these updates send a powerful message across the institution. “We’re giving faculty the supports they need to make meaningful change.” He adds, “It’s almost been a year since we put the EARAP into place. We’re proud of these accomplishments and it motivates us to achieve even more.”

Adoption of the faculty recruitment toolkit by departments will be facilitated by a new URMC faculty recruitment office in collaboration with the Office of Human Resources.  A search for the faculty recruitment office's first director is now in progress.

2021 URSMD Diversity Awards Announced

Monday, August 23, 2021

The School of Medicine and Dentistry Office of Equity and Inclusion is pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 Faculty and Trainee Diversity Awards.

Paula Cupertino, PhD, was selected as the 2021 URSMD Faculty Diversity Award recipient. Cupertino, a University of Rochester Medical Center professor of Public Health Sciences and Oncology and Wilmot Cancer Institute’s first associate director of Community Outreach, Engagement and Disparities was lauded for her research on health disparities in underserved and minority communities, primarily among Latinos and immigrants. Much of her work has been in tobacco control, improving smoking cessation and access to cessation treatments using a community-based approach.

The winner of the 2021 URSMD Trainee Diversity Award is the Rochester Chapter of the Alliance for Diversity in Science and Engineering. The mission of the national ADSE, which was founded in 2014, is to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in academia, industry, and government through graduate student organizations that reach out to students and scientists of all ages and backgrounds.

“This year’s nominees come from different backgrounds but they have a shared vision of the Medical Center as a place where people feel welcomed and valued,” says Adrienne Morgan, PhD, vice president for Equity and Inclusion at the University of Rochester Medical Center and senior associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. “We consider Dr. Cupertino and the ADSE our partners in achieving inclusive excellence.”

Each year one faculty member and one trainee is recognized for exceptional efforts to foster a diverse and inclusive SMD community. Recipients will demonstrate their commitment through leadership in teaching, mentoring, programming, cultural competency and humility, community outreach activities, and/or other initiatives.

Forbes Ranks the University of Rochester Medical Center for Diversity

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The University of Rochester Medical Center is included in Forbes' annual list of "America's Best Employers for Diversity." The list highlights 500 employers most identified by employees as being dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Those on the list have the most diverse boards, as well as the most proactive diversity and inclusion initiatives.

"This is an honor and a sign that, although there is much work to do, we're moving toward a more inclusive future," says Mark Taubman, MD, CEO, University of Rochester Medical Center and Dean, School of Medicine and Dentistry. Taubman adds, "The Equity and Anti-Racism Action Plan is our blueprint for making this institution the employer and healthcare provider of choice."

The magazine notes that more employers are promoting diversity on their websites. In fact, Forbes says 60 percent of those on the list address their initiatives online compared to 46 percent from last year at this time.

Read More: Forbes Ranks the University of Rochester Medical Center for Diversity

Blumoff Greenberg Named Interim Associate Dean

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Katherine Blumoff Greenberg, M.D.Katherine Blumoff Greenberg, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology and vice chair for diversity and development in the Department of Pediatrics in the University of Rochester Medical Center has been named interim associate dean for equity, diversity & inclusion for the Office of Equity & Inclusion at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

In her new role, Greenberg will be responsible for growing awareness and improving students, staff, and faculty capacities to address equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) issues and align strategic initiatives with the University's Office of Equity and Inclusion. Greenberg will report to Adrienne Morgan, associate vice president for equity and inclusion and senior associate dean for equity and inclusion at the School of Medicine and Dentistry (SMD).

"Dr. Greenberg has a heart for service and will be such an asset to the SMD Office of Equity and Inclusion," says Morgan. "She understands the critical role of diversity and inclusion in delivering the very best healthcare."

Greenberg will also be responsible for collaborating with University and Medical Center stakeholders to develop and carry out EDI initiatives that contribute to the institutional priorities laid out by Mercedes Ramírez Fernández, the University's Richard Feldman Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and chief diversity officer. Many of those initiatives will be informed by the Medical Center's Equity and Anti-racism Action Plan, including efforts to recruit and retain diverse faculty, postdoctoral fellows, staff, and learners.

"I am deeply honored to fill this leadership position. I have always been drawn to medical education, and to supporting trainees and junior faculty; positively impacting the earliest parts of trainees' careers can have lifelong implications," Greenberg says.

Greenberg is a graduate of The Johns Hopkins University and earned her medical degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.