Anatomy Now Weekly

December 9, 2020

Full issue

Professional Development Program for Minorities to Launch in 2021

In alignment with the Board’s renewed commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), it unanimously approved a proposal by the DEI Committee to develop the Anatomy Scholars Program (‘the Program’). As noted in the committee’s proposal, numerous studies in the US and Canada document the outsized rate at which underrepresented minority (URM) STEM faculty leave academia early in their careers due to lack of mentoring and absence of peers. Investing $100,000/year for three years to develop, launch, and evaluate the Program marks a first step toward reversing this trend by establishing a cohort of early-career URM peers in anatomy and providing a structured professional development program supported by mentoring.

“Following the events of this year and our June 1 statement against racism, the Board agreed it was imperative that we take meaningful action to help minority faculty find camaraderie and success in science and in our Association,” said President Rick Sumner. “The DEI Committee put forth a thoughtful, data-driven proposal that ensures underrepresented faculty do not have to forge their way in academia alone.”

You didn't come this far to only come this far

For most of this year, a task force of the DEI Committee worked to design the Program’s structure, determine eligibility criteria, and detail potential learning and networking opportunities, even taking into account the lingering effects of the pandemic. DEI Committee Chair Loydie Jerome-Majewska first proposed the concept for the Program at the Board’s spring meeting, then worked with the task force, the full DEI Committee, and staff to build out the proposal and incorporate feedback from the Board.

“Membership in the AAA provides URMs a welcoming home and a structure for support. My hope is that this Program will reduce the isolation and hurdles that URMs have to overcome to succeed in academia,” said Jerome-Majewska. “This Program is a start at fulfilling our commitment to increase the diversity and inclusion of the AAA.”

Accepted applicants will participate in two years of localized and AAA mentoring, a specialized and culturally relevant curriculum, along with formal and informal networking. Over the next several months, the DEI Committee will work with staff to build out the Program, which is expected to launch in late 2021 with 10 early-career Scholars from URMs.

“All are welcome here,” added Sumner. “In approving this Program, we wanted to make that very clear, while providing the funding and infrastructure to make staying here – in anatomy and in academia – possible.”

With thanks to the Anatomy Scholars Program Task Force:

Loydie Jerome-Majewska, McGill University
Malli Barremkala, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine
Allison Nesbitt, University of Missouri - Columbia
Kimberly Topp, University of California, San Francisco
Abhishek Yadav, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine