Committing to diversity, equity, and inclusion

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August 24, 2021

Committing to diversity, equity, and inclusion

Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is one of the core values of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, but what do we mean by these terms and how are we advancing them in all that we do?

Diversity includes not only recognizing the many ways in which people differ from one another, but also accepting and appreciating those differences. It’s not about making us all the same, but rather about understanding and valuing that which makes us different.

We define equity as creating a fair playing field in which every team member has equal opportunity to succeed. It’s about building equitable processes and systems and eliminating disparities within our institutions.

Finally, inclusion involves deliberately creating a community in which all members feel valued, respected, and welcome and in which we all share a sense of belonging.

We’re actively promoting these values through a wide variety of initiatives across every unit of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, which we will be highlighting each month in a new Health Sciences Update feature—DEI Highlights.

Thank you to all who are leading our DEI efforts, and to all who live our DEI values in your daily work.

Please direct questions and comments to

Jonathan S. Lewin, MD, FACR
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, Emory University
Executive Director, Woodruff Health Sciences Center
CEO and Chairman of the Board, Emory Healthcare

Nursing DEI highlights

Each month, Health Sciences Update will feature highlights of DEI initiatives from a different unit of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, beginning this month with the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing.

Over the past year, faculty within the School of Nursing have systematically and strategically embedded social determinants of health (SDOH) throughout learning experiences across curricula. Starting first with pre-licensure programs and progressing to graduate programs, developing competencies to assess and address social and structural forces that impact health and health outcomes has become a school-wide approach.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the incredible impact SDOH have on health inequities among individuals, families, and communities, disproportionately affecting racial and ethnic minority groups. Preparing nurses to engage in multifaceted efforts around health disparities is a key element of nursing education. The School of Nursing recognizes the interconnection of SDOH and racial injustice and that embedding those concepts into the curricula is critical to building capacity for a socially and racially conscious nursing workforce.

Pfizer vaccine receives FDA approval

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine received full approval by the FDA on Monday, August 23. Pfizer achieved full approval before Moderna or Johnson & Johnson because their application was submitted first, not because their vaccine is safer. The vaccines have very similar data for how well they work and how safe they are, and so we anticipate full FDA approval for Moderna in the coming weeks, with Johnson & Johnson to follow shortly thereafter.

For more information on how you can get your vaccination, please go to the following links: or

In Brief
New WHSC AVP for communications

Nikki Troxclair has joined WHSC as assistant vice president of communications. Troxclair replaces Vince Dollard who has transitioned into a part-time position as editor of Emory Health Digest magazine. Troxclair brings more than two decades of experience in marketing, public relations, crisis communications, executive communications, and branding, most recently as assistant vice president of marketing and communications at the University of Northern Colorado. Troxclair's health care communications experience includes serving as a member of the leadership team for the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine and strategic marketing and physician referral and engagement for Baptist Health Care in Pensacola, Florida.

Robotic surgery debuts at Atlanta VA

The years-long process of obtaining approval for instituting robotic surgery at the Atlanta VA Healthcare System culminated in April with the installation of the hospital's first da Vinci robotic surgical platform. Jackson Slappy (above left), associate chief of surgery, performed the first robotic procedure to be done at the facility. Established robotics practitioner and advocate Ankit Patel (above middle) advised the effort and assisted with training, and Jonathan Pollock (above right), chief of general surgery at the VA, served on the working group that planned and prepared for accommodating the new technology.

New Autism Center director

Mikle South will be join SOM and Emory Brain Health Center as director of the Emory Autism Center, effective September 1. South comes to Emory from Brigham Young University where he served as professor of psychology and neuroscience. His research has focused on better understanding the interaction of anxiety and autism in brain and behavior, including recent studies of how sleep affects autism, as well as risk factors for suicidal thoughts and behaviors in young adults.

Interim chair of Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering

Machelle Pardue has taken over as interim chair of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory. Pardue is the department’s associate chair for faculty development and has been a member of the Coulter BME faculty since 2015, when she moved her academic appointment from Emory’s Department of Ophthalmology. She takes over for Susan Margulies, who has been appointed head of the Engineering Directorate at the National Science Foundation.

Investment in skilled nursing and rehab services

Emory Healthcare has signed a collaborative agreement with ProMedica to design and build two multimillion-dollar skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers in the metro-Atlanta area. The agreement will also transfer the management of operations of Budd Terrace at Wesley Woods to ProMedica.

Winship deputy director named

Adam Marcus has been named deputy director of Winship. In this role, he will lead the integration of research, clinical, and educational components within Winship. Marcus joined the Emory faculty in 2006; his research has concentrated on cancer metastasis, drug development, and image-guided genomics.

Olatunji Alese has been named to the inaugural cohort of the Kern Fellowship in Interprofessional Leadership. Co-sponsored by the Woodruff Health Educators Academy and the Kern Foundation, the nine-month program provides leadership development for outstanding early- to mid-career health sciences educators and practitioners.

Maggie Diller has been selected as the first recipient of the Department of Surgery Pilot Research Award. The department established the pilot grant/seed funding award to support faculty as they develop a new line of research to further their academic careers.

Janice Lea, professor in the division of Renal Medicine, has been selected for the 2021 Best of Atlanta Award in the Physicians category by the Atlanta Award Program and now qualifies for the 2021 Atlanta Business Hall of Fame. This is the second year in a row that Lea has received a Best of Atlanta Award.

Merry Sebelik has been named a member of the American College of Surgeons Academy of Master Surgeon Educators™, a distinction recognizing preeminent surgeon educators who have devoted their careers to advancing the science and practice of surgical education.

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