MESSAGE FROM THE DBEI CHAIR:
Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
September 15, 2023
As we begin a new academic year, we would like to reaffirm our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics (DBEI). We view our responsibility to these principles as paramount to the success of our faculty, staff, and students, as well as our collective mission to improve health outcomes for all by advancing the biomedical and population health sciences while addressing the systemic barriers and biases that continue to uphold health disparities today.
While recent events prompt us to acknowledge the importance of the free exchange of ideas to the mission of our university, we also unequivocally condemn discrimination in any form that is based on race, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin, religion, disability, socioeconomic status, citizenship, or cultural background.
At a departmental and societal level, we still have much work to do in addressing these pervasive challenges, but together, we are making progress. As part of our multi-pronged efforts to foster a truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture in the past year, we appointed our first Vice Chair of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – James Guevara, MD, MPH – who is working closely with leadership to improve the recruitment and retention of faculty, staff, and students from historically underrepresented groups. In parallel with this effort, our Vice Chair of Education – Aimin Chen, PhD – is working with leadership to develop an underrepresented minority (URM) postdoctoral fellowship program to support recruitment and career development for URM postdocs in the biostatistics, epidemiology, and informatics fields.
Fostering a sense of belonging is also at the heart of our department’s strategic plan. In alignment with the “Reinvest in Our People & Create a Cohesive and Integrated Social Work Environment” priority, we have established a faculty and staff led working group to create a more welcoming and inclusive departmental culture. As a part of this effort, the working group aims to roll out a new program this fall that pairs new hires with established DBEI community members.
Additionally, we are proud to be partnering with the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (Penn LDI) on “Methods Matter: Understanding Race and Racism in Health Research” later this month (Sept. 29). The conference will convene national experts across multiple disciplines to explore and critically assess the state of the field with the goal of moving the science on the links between race, racism, and health forward. We encourage the DBEI community to attend the conference and join this important conversation.
We believe that each member of the department and the University of Pennsylvania possesses valuable perspectives, talents, and ideas based on their unique lived experiences and cultural backgrounds. I am honored to be a part of such an amazing community and to continue working alongside you all toward a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive DBEI.
Enrique F. Schisterman, PhD
Chair, Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics
Perelman School of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania
OTHER RECENT MESSAGES FROM THE DBEI CHAIR: