Diversity at BUMC

We present these comments as examples of how race, ethnicity, and sexual and gender identity manifest throughout our very rich and diverse community. These groups do not define the individuals making these comments. In fact, some may consider these characterizations to be a minor part of their personhood, while others may possess more than one of these qualities.

Black

“Boston University has a rich tradition of inclusion. The medical school graduated the first female African-American medical student and the first African-American psychologist in the country. Civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. also attended school at Boston University.

In keeping with this tradition, the medical school administers an Early Medical School Selection Program (EMSSP) which is based on a partnership with mostly historically black colleges and universities.

Individuals of black ancestry hold important positions within the institution and serve as excellent role models including Dr. Samantha Kaplan, assistant dean of diversity and director of the EMSSB program and Dr. Gregory Antoine, chair of the Department of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Jonathan Woodson, the previous associate dean for diversity left the institution only to become Assistant Secretary of State for Defense in the Obama administration.

Blacks of African-American, Caribbean, African and other origins are valued members of the community and can find role models and mentors of any ethnicity.”

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J.R. Larrieux, MD, MPH
Director of Urogynecology Program, BMC
Clinical Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Boston University

Hispanic

“The Hispanic population in Massachusetts has been steadily growing for the last 30 years. The faculty and medical students representing this ethnic group at BUSM have also kept up with this growth. Thus, there are many residents, students, faculty and staff of Hispanic ancestry.

Boston University is committed to the advancement of individuals of all ethnicities and cultures. Recently a Mexican, Benjamin Juarez, former Conductor of the State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra, was appointed dean of the College of Fine Arts. This tradition of inclusion can be seen on the medical campus as well.

There are Latinos in position of leadership within the institution including Dr. Carlos Kase, professor and chair of the department of neurology, Dr. Ruben Azocar, vice chair for education and residency program director in the department of anesthesiology as well as Dr. Rafael Ortega, dean of Diversity. Dr. Ortega is a committed Hispanic who maintains close ties with his native Dominican Republic and has been a representative of the Hispanic community in Boston for many years. His achievements have been recognized by Mayor Raymond Flynn with a merit award and he has thrown a first pitch at Fenway Park representing the professional Hispanic community of Boston.

In addition, many medical students and faculty, while not Hispanic, are fluent in Spanish and are familiar with the Latin culture.

Boston University School of Medicine is a wonderful place for any Latino student and faculty seeking excellent training and practicing opportunities in a culturally sensitive environment.”

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Jane Mendez, MD
General Surgery, BMC
Associate Professor of Surgery, Boston University

Asian

“Individuals from all over Asia can be included in this subgroup: Far Eastern, South Eastern, Indian Subcontinent, etc. Boston University and Boston Medical Center are fortunate to have individuals whose heritage represents all of these areas, including (but not limited to) faculty and medical students from Camodia, China, Korea, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Japan.

In fact, the prevalence of these cultures on the Boston University Medical Campus has been the basis for the formation of interest groups, such as the Asian American Medical Society and the South Asian medical Student Association, which remain active in the medical school and the South Boston Community. These organizations bring together Asians and others interested in the health issues that affect the Asian community. As such, Asians have a strong collective, public, and political voice in our institution.

There are a multitude of social, gastronomic, and talent events that feature Asian art and culture including traditional dance, music, and expositions of traditions. These events not only foster the feeling of family in the BU Asian community but exposes others to our rich history and heritage. Furthermore, Dr. Anand Deviah, an otolaryngologist, is one of the leaders of the acclaimed BUMC band – a musical ensemble dedicated to the fostering of interpersonal relationships through the enjoyment of music from every tradition.”

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Agarwal Suresh, MD
General Surgery, BMC
Associate Professor of Surgery, Boston University

Muslim

“The idea of diversity also encompasses belief systems and religions. With this in mind, Boston University Medical Campus is proud to have many Muslims in its community.

Dr. Alexander Norbash (see diversity video) is a professor and chair in the department of radiology, an assistant dean of diversity and multi-cultural affairs at the medical school and a Muslim. Muslims at BUSM hold regular prayers and have the full support of the university’s leadership. There are student organizations on campus that emphasize Islamic traditions including the Iranian Health Care Student Association.

Open meetings discussing issues pertinent to Muslims take place on the medical campus with regularity and enjoy the participation of the community at large.
Muslim students have ample opportunity to network and find mentors who might advise them in topics that range from scholarly activities to religious endeavors.”

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Scharukh Jalisi, MD, FACS
Director, Division of Head and Neck Surgical Oncology and Skullbase Surgery, BMC
Assistant Professor, Depart of Otolaryngology, Boston University

Jewish

“For many decades there has been strong Jewish representation among students and faculty at BUSM.

There is a student organization, The Maimonides Society, dedicated to welcoming and supporting students by providing them with a sense of Jewish community and culture. The group conducts periodic lunch events that are organized to discuss relevant medical ethical issues from Jewish perspectives. Topics of discussion have included Jewish medical ethics, holocaust education, health care delivery and social issues. The Maimonides Society is open to all, and receives its funding from the Boston University Hillel House and the Boston University School of Medicine Student Committee on Medical School Affairs.

The Boston University School of Medicine has maintained a continuing student
and faculty exchange program with Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem for 25 years. Students andfaculty interested in doing a rotation or collaboration should contact Dr. Warren Hershman or Dr. Ed Alexander.”

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Edward Alexander, MD
Renal Section, BMC
Professor of Medicine and Physiology, Boston Univserity

LGBT

“Diversity is much more than race and ethnicity; it also encompasses sexual orientation and gender identity. The LGBT community at Boston University Medical Campus is an open and vibrant one.

There is an active medical student LGBT group (BUSM MEDGLO) and they have the full support of the medical school’s leadership. LGBT social events are common and there is ample opportunity for LGBT individuals to find mentors and role models among both students and faculty.

This past year Boston University School of Medicine won an award for their participation in the Boston 2011 Pride Parade (see video here). LGBT health related issues are an integral component of the curriculum.

Many openly gay and lesbian individuals hold prominent positions in our medical school including the current president of the medical and dental staff, Dr. Thea James. The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Dr. Douglas H. Hughes, is also an openly gay man who was among one of the first individuals to marry when same sex marriages became legal in Massachusetts.

LGBT support is not just talk here. This support is heartfelt, wide-spread and unequivocal. We cannot think of any better environment for students, residents and faculty to prepare themselves to treat a most diverse patient population.”

Michael H. Ieong, MD
Director, Pulmonary Function Lab, BMC
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Boston University

Women

“Women at Boston University Medical Campus are well represented in all areas of education, research and leadership. The dean of the Medical School and the president of the hospital are both women. The gender distribution among medical students is equal, with women predominating in some years. While the disparities in the higher academic ranks still remain, women are making steady progress in this area.

There are women chairs of department such as Dr. Rhoda M. Alani in dermatology and Dr. Linda J. Heffner in OB GYN. Furthermore, women hold key leadership positions in education and research such as Dr. Emelia J. Benjamin who is one of the investigators of the Framingham heart study.

Career flexibility is taken seriously at BUSM and women who have masterfully balanced maternity, clinical practice and a productive clinical career are available for guidance and mentorship.”

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Marie McDonell, MD
Director, In Patient Diabetes ProgramSection of Endocrinolgy, Diabetes and Nutrition, BMC
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Boston University