Welcome to Equity Matters, a monthly newsletter from the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Equity Matters is distributed to faculty, staff, and students in the Duke University School of Medicine. In this issue, medical student Sonali Biswas tells us about her work in EDI. We also share recent EDI-related news stories, resources, and coming events.

EDI Spotlight: Sonali Biswas, MPHS

Our EDI Spotlight for April 2023 shines on fourth-year medical student (and 2022 Michelle P. Winn Award recipient) Sonali Biswas, MPHS. Since coming to Duke, Biswas has helped create advocacy groups for students with disability and chronic illness, completed her master’s degree in population health sciences, and helped lead the school’s medical students’ anti-racism efforts after the murder of George Floyd.

Sonali Biswas

In her Spotlight interview, Biswas reflects on how connecting with students sharing her identities helped her overcome her imposter syndrome and feelings of isolation. She also shares highlights from her research on how transgender teenagers feel about their own physical characteristics as well as her hopes to found a center providing gender-affirming care after completing her residency in plastic surgery at the University of Michigan.

News and Resources

Vice Dean Kevin Thomas, MD, Leads Groundbreaking Study on Black Patients and Defibrillators

Black patients at risk for sudden cardiac arrest have historically been less likely to receive potentially life-saving implantable cardioverter defibrillators than white patients. The reasons for this inequity are multifactorial and include a higher rate of refusal to have the implant among Black patients. To address this reluctance, Duke researchers, led by Kevin Thomas, MD, developed and tested a video-based decision aid for Black patients.

Rethinking the Use of Race and Other Labels in Genetics Research

A national committee co-chaired by Charmaine Royal, PhD, issued a report that emphasizes the high stakes of ensuring that genetics research benefits all groups in society and mitigates harm.

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Defining Equitable and Ethical Data Science

In this first episode of Doing Good DEEDS, a show produced by Duke AI Health, host Michael Pencina, PhD, talks with Michael Cary, PhD, RN, the Elizabeth C. Clipp Term Chair of Nursing at the Duke University School of Nursing, about defining the concept of equitable and ethical health data science.

National Scholarship Renamed for Medical Center Librarian Beverly Murphy

The Medical Library Association (MLA) has renamed one of its student scholarships for Beverly Murphy, assistant director for communications and web content management and liaison to DUHS Hospital Nursing and Watts College of Nursing at the Duke Medical Center Library & Archives. The scholarship is now known as the Beverly Murphy MLA Scholarship for Underrepresented Students.

Dzirasa Elected Member of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering

Kafui Dzirasa, MD, PhD, the K. Ranga Rama Krishnan Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, has been inducted into the 2023 class of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering “for his pioneering work in understanding the electrical patterns that underlie mental health disorders and his advocacy for inclusive science.”

Erica Taylor, MD, Featured on Podcast

Erica Taylor, MD, vice chair for equity, diversity, and inclusion in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, recently discussed EDI on the Karen Hunter Show podcast.

Moments to Movement Foundations Courses Available in June

June will be the final month of the Moments to Movement Foundations and Advanced courses. Since the first course, more than 2,100 Duke Health leaders have participated in anti-racism programming — all team members are invited to join if you haven’t already. Registration closes May 19 for the final June cohorts.

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Donald T. Moore, MD, Endowed Lecture

May 3 • 7:30-9:30 a.m.


Erica Marsh, MD, MSCi

Join the Department of Ob/Gyn for the Moore Lectureship, which features nationally recognized experts on such topics as health care disparities and societal issues related to access to care. This year's speaker is Dr. Erica Marsh, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan Medical School.

National Chats for Change

Making a Case: Prioritizing Antiracist Work

May 3 • 12 p.m.

Join the Icahn School of Medicine and other colleagues for the latest National Chats for Change series, “Antiracist Practices in Action.” Open to everyone in medical education and health care communities.

AAPI Affinity Group Monthly Zoom Meeting

May 4 • 12-1 p.m.


The Duke Asian American Pacific Islander Affinity Group meets once a month over Zoom.

AAPI Heritage Month Celebration

May 6 • 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

DHTS Amenity Park, 21 Alexandria Way, Durham, NC 27709


Join the Duke Asian American Pacific Islander Affinity Group for a family-friendly event with activities and fun. Lunch will be provided by local food vendors. RSVP preferred.

National Health Equity Grand Rounds

May 9 • 2-3:30 p.m.


The National Health Equity Grand Rounds is a live virtual event series that highlights the root causes of present-day health inequities by tracing the historical and contemporary social, economic, political, geographic, and environmental forces that shape opportunities for health in the United States.

Virtual Coffee with Dr. Ed Chen (AAPI x MINDS)

May 11 • 8-9 a.m.


Coffee for 10 creates an opportunity to establish genuine connections and build meaningful relationships among 10 employees and a leader of Duke Health.

Duke Next Generation Leaders Symposium

June 7 • 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Trent Semans Center for Health Education


This event will bring together a cohort of promising postdoctoral scientists committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the biomedical sciences. The day will include research presentations with a reception to follow. Open to all in the Duke community. Register by May 24.

Equity Advancement Symposium 2023

July 27

Trent Semans Center for Health Education


Featuring Keynote Speaker: David Asai, PhD, Senior Director for Science Education, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Theater Delta Performance; and BioCore Student Poster Presentations. Hosted by Duke University School of Medicine IDEALS Office and the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Registration now open.

Visit the Duke Events Calendar for a listing of EDI events across campus


For questions or story suggestions, email the EDI Team

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