Week 42: The Academy Awards

Living in LA, reminds me that we are surrounded by talent and creativity and the recent awards season has reinforced that. The same is true for our Department of Medicine (DoM).

Last weekend at the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) meeting, faculty in the DoM took center stage. Please join me in celebrating DoM faculty who were recently elected to the National Academy of Medicine, a member of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, a private, nonprofit institution chartered by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Election to the NAM represents one of the highest honors that can be achieved in academic medicine in the USA. Membership in the NAM is based upon distinguished professional achievement in the field of medicine, commitment to addressing issues of health care, disease prevention, education, or research. These individuals join more than 2,400 members who are committed to advancing the NAM’s mission. This body provides objective advice on matters of science, technology, and health that informs health care policy. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s annual NAM meeting inducted and celebrated three years of inductees.

Class of 2019

Carol M. Mangione, MD, MSPH, chief, division of general internal medicine and health services research, and Barbara A. Levey MD and Gerald S. Levey MD Endowed Chair, David Geffen School of Medicine, and professor of medicine and public health, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles. For pioneering the understanding of how system-level interventions, benefit design, and cost sharing affect quality and outcomes for low-income persons with diabetes.
Click Here.

Class of 2020

Antoni Ribas, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, surgery, and molecular and medical pharmacology, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California, Los Angeles. For defining the mechanistic basis of response and acquired resistance to immune checkpoint blockade cancer immunotherapies, and leading multicenter clinical trials that have provided transformative treatments for patients with advanced melanoma, changing it from a fatal disease to one that is often cured.
Click Here.

Class of 2021

Keith C. Norris, MD, PhD, professor and executive vice chair for equity, diversity, and inclusion, department of medicine, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); and co-director, community engagement research program, UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute. For making substantive intellectual, scientific, and policy contributions to the areas of chronic kidney disease and health disparities in under-resourced minority communities; developing transformative methods for community-partnered research; and developing and implementing innovative programs that have successfully increased diversity in the biomedical/health workforce.
Click Here.

Class of 2022

Arleen F. Brown, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and co-director, UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute, University of California, Los Angeles; and chief, division of general internal medicine and health services research, Olive-View UCLA Medical Center. For being a pioneer in understanding how community, policy, health system, and individual factors contribute to racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and stroke in multiethnic communities. Throughout the pandemic, she has applied this expertise to enhance vaccine uptake and improve recovery from COVID-19.
Click Here.

Dr’s. Mangione, Ribas, Norris and Brown, join the following DoM faculty who were previously elected to the NAM along with 30 UCLA members from various departments. Congratulations!!

E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD
Distinguished Professor of Medicine &
Chair of the Department of Medicine
Elected in 2015

José J. Escarce, MD, PhD
Professor of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research
Elected in 2008

Patricia A. Ganz, MD
Professor of Medical Oncology
Elected in 2007

Thomas Coates, PhD
Distinguished Research Professor of Medicine and Director Emeritus of the UCLA Center for World Health
Elected in 2000

Linda Rosenstock, MD, MPH
Dean Emeritus of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health,
Professor in the Departments of Medicine, Health Policy & Management, and Environmental Health Sciences
Elected in 1995

Robert Brook, MD
Professor of Medicine, Health Policy and Management
Elected in 1982

See the full list HERE of elected NAM members within UCLA.

The next celebrity is Dr. Olujimi Ajijola.

This week we were pleased to learn that Dr. Ajijola was the recipient of a prestigious Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Leadership award. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), in partnership with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), launched a new funding opportunity to recognize and further the leadership and scientific accomplishments of outstanding biomedical researchers.

Dr. Ajijola was recognized for his project “Rethinking the Physician-Scientist Training Paradigm to Enhance Diversity.” The proposal aims to enhance diversity within the national physician-scientist workforce by developing and advancing strategies that provide multiple entry points into the physician-scientist training pipeline. The leading models for training physician-scientists have one primary entry point for scientific training, typically excluding underrepresented students whose path may not fit the prototypical model. Efforts supported by this CZI award will enable Dr. Ajijola to engage national stakeholders to expand entry points into the physician-scientist training pipeline.

The Science Diversity Leadership (SDL) program supports projects led by outstanding early- to mid-career faculty at U.S. universities, medical schools, and nonprofit research institutes whose mission is to advance research and act as mentors, sponsors, and role models for underrepresented groups in biomedical science.  

The total amount of this award is $1.15 million. The award will be used to support research programs and outreach, mentoring, and teaching activities. Congratulations Olu!!

Dr. Ajijola is part of the leadership team of our STAR program and our Pro STAR physician scientist training program. Thus, the CZI award converges with the DoM’s commitment to increasing diversity in our incoming resident and fellowship classes and to strengthen the physician scientist pipeline.  I had the opportunity to participate in a couple of important recruitment events that illustrate these commitments.

Under the leadership of Dr. Keith Norris, the DoM Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion hosted two fellowship open houses. At the open houses, prospective trainees from underrepresented backgrounds in medicine learned about advanced training opportunities available at UCLA from current fellows and faculty. Faculty and fellows addressed questions that spoke to our efforts to support mentorship, work with medically underserved communities, and our plans to support diversity in our faculty, trainees, and patient population. Among the many questions were inquiries regarding programs aimed at supporting the careers of researchers from underrepresented backgrounds.

Our commitment to training physician scientists runs deep and is exemplified by programs such as the STAR (Specialty Training and Advanced Research) Program, which hosted two recruitment events recently.

At the virtual event, I delivered opening remarks, faculty and STAR alumni spoke about the program and illustrated how we combine research and clinical training that places our trainees on a trajectory towards a successful career as a physician scientist. We are increasing the number of Pro-STAR slots available this year and will continue to focus on enhancing the research opportunities for our categorical residency program.

Several of our STAR alums noted that they chose this program because of its unique structure that provides mentored training in research and clinical medicine, while providing professional development.  By providing fellows and residents with protected time to enable rigorous training, we work with trainees to identify mentors who will strengthen their research niche while allowing them to establish their own identities. The graduates of our STAR Program are equipped to transition to independent faculty positions and to compete successfully for research funding from national sources.  Our track record speaks for itself.

I would like to thank Dr. Linda Demer and Dr. Mitchell Wong for leading these STAR recruitment events in collaboration with our fellowship program and internal medicine leadership. Let me also thank all our faculty members and trainees who are actively participating in all our recruitment activities. Your efforts are critical towards ensuring that we achieve a diverse and talented incoming class that will continue to advance the field of medicine.

Continuing the theme of diversifying and strengthening our pipeline, let me bring your attention to a recent publication in the Journal Endocrine Practice, by Dr. Stephanie Smooke Praw in the division of endocrinology entitled: "An Assessment of Diversity, Inclusion, and Health Equity Training in Endocrinology Fellowship Programs in the United States." This publication highlights the development of a national health equity curriculum for endocrine fellows led by Dr. Smooke Praw and other program directors from the Association of Program Directors in Endocrine and Metabolism (APDEM).

The curriculum was developed based on a national cross-sectional survey study of endocrinology program directors and fellows aimed at understanding the demographic makeup of endocrinology programs across the country and gauge respondents exposure to/interest in a health equity curriculum. The survey showed that most faculty received EDI training at their current institutions and that fellows were most likely to have undergone training in health, equity, and social determinants of health.

However, faculty and fellows surveyed expressed great interest in learning more about health equity and how it impacts the care of their patient population. Therefore, Dr. Smooke Praw and colleagues created a curriculum that focused on addressing  key gaps in knowledge related to addressing social determinants of health, and methods to advance health equity.

The curriculum is taught in terms of three cases: diabetes, obesity, and patient complications after thyroid surgery. The cases include questions, objectives, and guidance on how to engage in discussions with patients based on the type of case. The curriculum is now part of the APDEM website and can be accessed by any program director for use in their institutional training programs.

As the program director of the endocrinology fellowship program, Dr. Smooke Praw introduced this curriculum to UCLA health by incorporating it into the endocrinology fellowship and other teaching modules across different specialties throughout the UCLA Health Graduate Medical Education Programs.

Finally, the red carpet was rolled out in Encino last week to celebrate the expansion of UCLA Health’s community practice and imaging center, which has robust representation by DOM primary care and subspecialty practices. The event was a wonderful opportunity to recognize the outstanding leadership of our physicians, clinicians, staff and administrators who have worked tirelessly since our primary care offices first opened five years ago. Community partners were also present at the event to support the expansion of the location in the Encino community.  

The community support was evident at this event as city officials recognized UCLA Health's commitment to expand into the community and celebrate this incredible milestone. Guests included: 

  • Los Angeles City Council Member Nithya Ramen
  • Blake Clayton representing Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl
  • Susie Herrera representing State Senator Henry Stern
  • Taleen Keuroghlian representing Congressman Brad Sherman
  • Sarah Martin representing State Assembly member Jesse Gabriel
  • President and CEO of the Greater San Fernando Chamber, Nancy Vanyek 

The ceremony concluded with the main event of the evening, a ribbon cutting ceremony. Waltona Manion, Encino Chamber of Commerce President brought the extra-large scissors to cut the ribbon and was joined by all the board members to officially inaugurate the expanded Encino location.

Enjoy additional photographs of this celebration HERE.



Maybe I’ll win an academy award as a celebrity chef. A friend in Maine sent this to me. The secret is out…

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