Achieving our institutional research goals at Cincinnati Children’s depends upon increasing representation and advancing the career development of individuals who are historically underrepresented or marginalized in biomedical research.

Below are some of the initiatives we accelerated in the past year to build a more diverse research community and a more inclusive, collaborative culture in which all researchers feel safe, valued, connected, and respected.

Optimizing Recruitment, Development, Advancement, and Retention

We have developed a comprehensive plan to hire and train diverse, multidisciplinary pediatric faculty researchers. This plan includes enhancing and sustaining an inclusive culture and building a self-reinforcing community of pediatric researchers committed to diversity and inclusive excellence. To achieve this goal, we have responded to a National Institutes of Health funding opportunity announcement with a grant application entitled, “Pediatric origins of disease and health: the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center FIRST cohort.” Several actions outlined in the application are already being implemented.

Careers in Pediatric Research

The Office of Academic Affairs and Career Development (OAACD), directed by Jamilah Hackworth, EdD, and Jessica Kahn, MD, MPH, facilitates multiple pathway programs to promote careers in pediatric research including middle and high school science symposia, the Biomedical Research Internship for Minority Students, the Schmidlapp Young Women’s Scholars program (a part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program), and the Schmidlapp STEM Scholars program. More than 250 students participate each year in these programs.

A photo of Jamilah Hackworth, EdD. A photo of Jessica Kahn, MD, MPH.
Jamilah Hackworth, EdD Jessica Kahn, MD, MPH

Coalition for Pediatric Medical Research

We are convening two Coalition for Pediatric Medical Research events funded by the Burroughs-Wellcome Fund, one held virtually in February 2022 and the second to be held in Washington, DC, in May 2022. The goals include identifying and implementing at scale best practice programs and policies to develop early-career researchers who are underrepresented in pediatric research. Conrad Cole, MD, MPH, MSc, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, has led the planning efforts, and LaQuita Jones, DO, Division of Oncology, served on a panel of junior investigators during the virtual session. Her research focuses on acute myelocytic leukemia.

An image of Conrad R. Cole, MD, MPH, MSc. An image of LaQuita Jones, DO.
Conrad Cole, MD, MPH,
LaQuita Jones, DO

Recruitment Pathway

We have established a recruitment pathway for diverse junior research faculty. Recent hires include Patricia Vega-Fernandez, MD, MSc, RhMSUS, Division of Rheumatology, who studies the use of ultrasound to diagnose pediatric rheumatologic conditions; Alexandra Sims, MD, MPH, Division of General and Community Pediatrics, a KL2 Scholar whose research focuses on sickle cell disease; and Chidiogo Anyigbo, MD, MPH, Division of General and Community Pediatrics, whose research focuses on mitigating adverse childhood experiences.

A photo of Patricia Vega Fernandez, MD, MSc. A photo of A photo of Alexandra Sims, MD, MPH. A photo Chidiogo Anyigbo, MD, MPH.
Patricia Vega-Fernandez,
Alexandra Sims, MD, MPH Chidiogo Anyigbo, MD,

Promotion Metrics

To facilitate promotion of faculty whose efforts focus on DEI, the Department of Pediatrics also has developed a set of promotion metrics that support faculty demonstrating achievements in these areas.

Developing Infrastructure and Resources

To implement the faculty DEI strategic plan, we have named two directors: Jareen Meinzen-Derr, PhD, MPH, Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, and Lori Crosby, PsyD, Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology.

A photo of Jareen Meinzen-Derr, PhD. A photo of Lori E. Crosby, PsyD.
Jareen Meinzen-Derr,
Lori Crosby, PsyD

We also named eight liaisons, including Cole, Sims, Rama Ayyala, MD, Eniolami Dosunmu, MD, Christine Heubi, MD, Yemisi Jones, MD, and Erica Lin, MD. They are working to implement a set of strategies to promote an inclusive research environment where faculty thrive.

A photo of Rama Ayyala, MD. An image of A photo of Eniolami Dosunmu, MD. A photo of Christine Heubi, MD.
Rama Ayyala, MD Eniolami Dosunmu,
Christine Heubi, MD
A photo of Yemisi Jones, MD. A photo of Erica Lin, MD.
Yemisi Jones, MD Erica Lin, MD

Diversity and Health Disparities Award

Our Diversity and Health Disparities Award provides a $150,000, two-year grant to support researchers who are underrepresented or are conducting health disparities research. Recent awardees include Vega-Fernandez, Sarah Orkin, MD, Nana-Hawa Yayah Jones, MD, Carley Riley, MD, MPP, MHS, and Tesfaye Mersha, PhD.

A photo of Sarah Orkin, MD. A photo of Nana-Hawa Yayah Jones, MD. A photo of Carley L. Riley, MD. An image of Tesfaye Mersha, PhD.
Sarah Orkin, MD Nana-Hawa Yayah Jones,
Carley Riley, MD, MPP,
Tesfaye Mersha, PhD

Faculty Leaders Who Inspire Program (FLIP)

The OAACD has launched the Faculty Leaders Who Inspire Program (FLIP), a longitudinal leadership development program based on research findings from a previous Core Leadership Program. The program has been redesigned to better address the specific needs of women and underrepresented faculty.

Building An Equitable and Inclusive Culture

The OAACD sponsors networking groups for underrepresented individuals, including the Black Faculty and Staff Alliance, which provides faculty and staff physicians and psychologists with opportunities to network, share resources, and participate in professional development activities.

Underrepresented and Women Speakers

We are increasing the number of underrepresented and women speakers in research venues. For example, we have increased the proportion of female speakers from 33% to 72% and underrepresented minority speakers from 27% to 33% in the Center for Clinical and Translational Research and Training (CCTST) Grand Rounds. In addition, the proportion of topics focused on health equity or racism increased from 40% to 50%.

Race and Ethnicity in Research Studies

The Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design core of the CCTST, in collaboration with the Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, launched a research seminar speaker series focused on the use of race and ethnicity in research studies in December 2021. To date, 70% of scheduled speakers are women and 80% are people of color.

Health Equity Day

The theme of the 4th Annual Health Equity Day on April 5, 2022, was “Moving Upstream to Achieve Health Equity.” This program was led by Community and Population Health and the OAACD. Sessions focused on equity-oriented initiatives occurring in partnership with our local community.

Focusing on Achieving More Equitable Health Outcomes for Children

Health equity goals and initiatives are embedded throughout our Pursuing our Potential Together strategic plan.

Health Equity Network

We have launched the Health Equity Network, which extends a well-established partnership with the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati beyond our general pediatric clinics into more of our subspecialty services. Clinical teams work to improve equity in health care delivery and to connect with community partners that address hardships, such as toxic housing and food insecurity.

Michael Fisher Center for Child Health Equity

We also announced the new Michael Fisher Center for Child Health Equity to align and accelerate health equity initiatives and research at Cincinnati Children’s and create a more welcoming space for community partners to join us in these efforts.

Health Equity Research

Experts in health equity research including Riley, Robert Kahn, MD, MPH, and Andrew Beck, MD, MPH, are mentoring diverse junior faculty researchers as they pursue equity-oriented health research, including support for grant applications.

A photo of Robert Kahn, MD, MPH. A photo of Andrew Beck, MD, MPH.
Robert Kahn, MD, MPH Andrew Beck, MD, MPH