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News Update: The UNC School of Medicine has received the 2022 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine! Learn more via this link.   

The following is a partial list of our DEI efforts. Stay tuned…there is a lot more to come!

Workplace and Climate

Recent examples of UNC and Department of Medicine’s additional commitments to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion:

Keisha Gibson, MD, MPH
  • New permanent senior leadership role: Dr. Keisha Gibson, MD, MPH; Vice Chair for DEI in the UNC Department of Medicine
  • Designated senior level “Diversity Champions” in numerous UNC Departments, Divisions, and Research Centers
  • New, robust UNC DEI website with important updates and resources for faculty and staff
  • Recent “Departmental Climate” survey focused on better assessing DEI-related issues and opportunities

Recent examples of TARC/Division’s senior leaderships’ commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion:

  • A permanent member of the TARC leadership team has been dedicated to proactively assessing and addressing our policies through a DEI lens.
  • Leadership meetings now include regular updates from the designated “Diversity Champion” (Dr. Onyi Iweala).
  • The creation of a new TARC website section focused on current and upcoming DEI initiatives and resources.

Curriculum and Scholarship

The Division of Rheumatology/Allergy/Immunology presents DEI-related educational series presentations for healthcare professionals.  Recent examples include:

  • Dr. Seth Berkowitz – Income disparities and intersectionality with health disparities
  • Dr. Nina Jain – Caring for our transgender patients

Other recent publications of related research efforts have included:

  • Health Affairs: Integrating Social Services & Health
  • COVID-19 and Health Equity: Time to Think Big
  • Wiley Cancer Medicine: A system-based intervention to reduce black-white disparities
  • Latino Health During a Pandemic
  • Minorities Are Disproportionately Affected by COVID-19
  • Increasing Minority Participation in Lupus Trials

We’re excited about additional, recent efforts, which have included:

  • Robust integration of DEI-related issues during our Annual TARC Research Day: A dynamic, virtual gathering of leading TARC and affiliated clinicians and scientists, sharing the most important new insights resulting from their ongoing research. Included integration of diversity, equity and inclusion-related learning topics in every session of day-long meeting, from keynote to breakout sessions.
  • Inclusion of DEI-specific considerations into national “Lunch and Learn” topic presentations regularly hosted by the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance (OAAA).
  • Ongoing Collaboration with Movement is Life, a multi-disciplinary national coalition seeking to eliminate racial, ethnic and gender disparities in muscle and joint health by promoting physical mobility to improve quality of life among women who are African American, Hispanic/Latina or live in rural communities.
  • A significant portion of our researchers spend much of their time focused on important social issues such as health disparities, health literacy, and community-based physical activity interventions.

Access and Success

To increase our level of proactivity, and further ensure fair and equal access, a dedicated team of our faculty members are working together to focus on:

  • Active recruitment of women and faculty who are underrepresented in basic research sciences to TARC.
  • Evaluating our current recruitment and interview practices for our Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology fellowship program.

Community Engagement Efforts

The broad scope of our ongoing efforts reach across categories including the following types of research; “Basic and Translational,” “Clinical and Epidemiological,” and “Population Based.” For decades, our research-focused, and our patient-care focused efforts have maintained a clear and prominent focus on helping underserved patients and communities.

Just a few examples of our programs include:

  • Johnston Count Osteoarthritis Project: A robust, long-term (25+ years) ongoing NC-based study of osteoarthritis — its causes and impact on communities — with a particular focus on rural and/or underserved populations.
  • Johnston County Health Study: An additional, newer study, which includes an increased enrollment of younger and a broader range of participants, including additional white, African American and Hispanic individuals.
  • TARC’s ongoing efforts to encourage greater participation among underserved populations in clinical trials focused on diseases that affect them disproportionately.
  • Community engagement takes many forms. In photo on right, UNC Rheumatology fellow Rami Eltarabousi, MD, (to right of flag) was among 100 physicians and advocates who travelled to Washington, D.C. to educate law makers regarding challenges with insurance practices such as “step therapy.”
  • We also further amplify our own efforts related to community engagement via a TARConnections newsletter for our faculty, researchers, and research collaborators.