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, Tammara Watts, MD, PhD, discusses her work to address cancer disparities. We also share recent EDI-related news stories, resources, and coming events.

EDI Spotlight: Tammara Watts, MD, PhD

Frequently finding herself the only Black woman surgeon in certain spaces, Tammara Watts MD, PhD, has recognized the importance of making workplaces more inclusive for some time. However, it wasn’t until two years ago that she began working in equity, diversity, and inclusion in an official capacity.

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Both in her roles as a head and neck cancer researcher and associate director of the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for Duke Cancer Institute, Watts has made it her mission to address cancer disparities and diversify the oncology workforce. In this month’s EDI Spotlight, she shares how a nearly $2 million grant she recently received from the National Institutes of Health will help her do just that. She also gives us a glimpse into some of the work her DCI colleagues are doing to advance health equity and reveals her love of riding horses.

News and Resources

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2024 EDI Catalyst Fund Winners Announced

The Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion has announced the recipients of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Catalyst Fund. The fund provides resources for innovative projects, interventions, and programs in EDI.

BOOST Beyond Recognized for Inclusive Excellence in Graduate Education

BOOST Beyond, a program that supports high school students historically underrepresented in STEM fields, was awarded the 2024 Dean's Award for Inclusive Excellence in Graduate Education. The program is as an extension of BOOST, a multidimensional pathway program organized by the late Brenda Armstrong, MD.

Duke Schweitzer Fellows Address Health Disparities

Four students at the Duke University School of Medicine have been named to the 2023-24 class of the North Carolina Albert Schweitzer Fellowship program and will spend the next year working on projects that address social factors that impact health and health care. The Schweitzer Fellows develop and implement service projects that address the root causes of health disparities in under-resourced communities.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Celebrations

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The Duke AAPI Affinity Group is hosting several events throughout the month to celebrate the culture, history, and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Study: Disparities Seen in HPV Vaccine Uptake Among U.S. Adults

There are sociodemographic disparities in human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine uptake among 27- to 45-year-olds, according to a Duke-led study published in Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics. Researchers found that women had more than three times greater odds of receiving the vaccine versus men.

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Exploring the Urgent Need to Integrate Physical and Mental Health Care

In his new book, Damon Tweedy, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, explores how medical culture has historically separated physical and mental health and how this division harms both patients and doctors. He says putting these struggles on par with other illnesses and acknowledging that much of what we’ve been doing hasn’t worked is key to finding more effective ways to address mental illness.

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Striving to Reduce Black Maternal Death Rates

The Duke Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology recognizes the urgent need to engage community-based experts to develop strategies to reduce Black maternal death. The department has robust and expanding community engagement partnerships and a dedicated community engagement specialist.

Duke School of Nursing Leads the Charge in Advancing Health Equity

Duke University School of Nursing has launched a new resource called Fostering AI Research for Health Equity And Learning Transformation Hub (FAIR HEALTH). This first-of-its-kind initiative ultimately aims to achieve health equity through advancements in AI education and research.

Call for Applications for Program Aimed at Junior Faculty

The Programs for Inclusion and Diversity Among Individuals Engaged in Health-Related Research (PRIDE) is accepting applications for summer 2024. PRIDE is an all-expense-paid Summer Institute, research education, and mentoring initiative sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). These programs provide research education experiences for junior faculty from diverse backgrounds.

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National Chats for Change: Design for Effective Discussion

May 1 • Noon-1 p.m.

Join colleagues from Mt. Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine to explore ways to implement a discussion design that intentionally creates space for diverse viewpoints and encourages active listening.

Trinity Distinguished Lecture: Shifting Paradigms on Genetics and Race

May 1 • 3-5 p.m.

Penn Pavilion

Charmaine Royal, PhD

The Trinity College Distinguished Lecture will feature Charmaine Royal, Robert O. Keohane Professor of African & African American Studies, Biology, Global Health, and Family Medicine & Community Health at Duke. Open to the Duke community and public.

AAPI Traveling Mural Unveiling at Duke Regional

May 3 • 11:30 a.m.-Noon

Duke Regional Hospital Cafeteria


Join the Duke Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Affinity Group for an unveiling ceremony for the group’s traveling mural.

AAPI Heritage Month Celebration

May 4 • Noon-3 p.m.

DHTS Amenity Park


This family-friendly event is hosted by the Duke AAPI Affinity Group. Lunch will be provided. Register to attend.

Virtual Coffee with Catherine Liao

May 9 • 8-9 a.m.

Join the Duke AAPI Affinity Group and Duke MINDs to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month as they spotlight Duke Health Leader Catherine Liao.

Using Implementation Science and Practice to Advance Health Equity

May 13 • 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

215 Morris Street, Suite 210, Durham, NC

Join the Implementation Science Research Collaborative (INTERACT) at Duke's Department of Population Health Sciences for an in-person event dedicated to bridging the gap between implementation science and health equity.

Antisemitism 101 for Duke Faculty & Staff

May 16 • 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Freeman Center for Jewish Life

Sponsored by Jewish Life at Duke. This in-person, interactive, in-depth session explores Jewish identity and diversity as well as dives into the roots of antisemitism, how it manifests today, and what we can all do about it. Open to Duke faculty and staff.

AAPI Book Club: The Loneliest Americans

May 23 • Noon-1 p.m.


Join the AAPI Affinity Group to discuss The Loneliest Americans by Jay Caspian Kang.

Working Effectively Across Generations

June 3 • 8:30 a.m.-Noon

Great Hall, Trent Semans Center

With five distinct generations in the workplace, generational diversity has never been richer or more challenging. This interactive workshop will help participants to better understand and how to best engage each generation.

Racial Justice and Health Equity: Public Perspectives on Reparations in America

June 5 • 3 p.m.

In this webinar, learn more about the AAMC Center for Health Justice’s most recent public opinion poll on reparations. This event will provide an overview of the reparations polling data and how it impacts the work of health justice.

Save the Date: 2024 Equity Advancement Symposium

August 5

Fitzpatrick CIEMAS

The 2024 Equity Advancement Symposium will feature keynote speaker, Marcus Lambert, PhD, from SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University. Sponsored by the IDEALS Office and the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

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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