Greetings from the Associate Vice Chancellor

Paula K. Davis 
Associate Vice Chancellor
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Schools of the Health Sciences


It is impossible to advocate for the health of our citizens and remain silent in the face of repeated acts of gun violence. In Uvalde, Texas, 19 children and two adults died following a mass shooting at an elementary school. This incident follows the deaths of 10 in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York not two weeks prior. Robb Elementary School joins Las Vegas, El Paso, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Mother Emanuel Church…Tree of Life. I cannot create an exhaustive list of locations; the events have been far too many to recount.

Uvalde marked the 30th shooting at a K-12 school in 2022 – we’re only halfway through the year.

Two physicians, a receptionist and a former soldier who had accompanied his wife during a checkup were killed in a mass shooting inside a Tulsa, Oklahoma hospital. The Gun Violence Archive notes that 156 days into 2022, the country has now seen at least 246 mass shootings (NPR, 5 June 2022).

If, as a nation, we can act to criminalize or reduce access to substances that take lives, if we can enact laws to prevent the abuse of children and elders, it defies logic to not act to restrict the full and unfettered access to weapons of mass destruction. I have no quarrel with any American who, according to their Constitutional rights, owns a firearm. However, no one needs an arsenal. No individual whose brain has not fully matured should have access to automatic weapons or high-volume magazines. Individuals whose mental health renders them a danger to themselves or others should not have access to weapons capable of mass destruction.

I am not usually the first to urge political action – I believe we each should act according to our capacity and in the manner we choose. However, as we work in health professions spaces, each of us is tasked with some aspect of maintaining the lives and good health of our community – including the training and education of those who provide that care. Thoughts and prayers are appreciated I’m sure, but too many have died and many more may follow. Act; speak up. 19 children and two teachers went to school and will never go home. Lives were lost just this weekend in Philadelphia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Arizona. It is unconscionable to allow this condition to persist.
From the desk of the Director -

Happy PRIDE month from the Office of Health Sciences Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. We remain committed to fostering an environment free from discrimination and defending the values of treating all with dignity and respect. We celebrate the contributions of our Health Sciences LGBTQIA+ students, staff, faculty, and community partners.

A Moment in Black History:
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States ("Have a Happy," 2022). It refers to the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston, Texas on July 19th, 1865, the last place in the U.S. to learn slaves were free.


Lisa Upsher, MSOL, Director
Office of Health Sciences
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Have a proud and happy Juneteenth! (2022). Retrieved from
The Office of Health Sciences Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (OHSDEI) held its first annual Diversity Deans Retreat on May 13th at Pitt's University Club. The retreat brought together 25 University of Pittsburgh DEI faculty and staff members for the purpose of moving the mission of OHSDEI forward. During the retreat, participants provided input into the development of a new mission statement and future steps to be taken. Will Hierholzer & Chelsea Proulx of Pitt's Clinical and Translational Science Institute conducted a stakeholder mapping exercise while Dr. Randi Congleton, the University of Pittsburgh Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (OEDI) Assistant Vice Chancellor provided a presentation on the mission and goals of OEDI. The retreat concluded with a mindfulness exercise led by Dr. Bianca DeJesus, Director, First-Year Programs, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.
HS Story -
By Karla Perelstine, M.Ed.
Communications Specialist
Office of Health Sciences, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Dr. Claudia Kregg-Byers:
Know Thy Patient
As we transition from Nurses Month to Pride Month, Men’s Health Month, and Mental Health Month, we pause to reflect on the role nurses play in the provision of health care to marginalized individuals in the community setting. Nurses are often the first point of contact patients have in health care. Their communications with the patient can set the stage for mutual trust and respect. Well-thought-out interactions can put the patient at ease to talk about health issues that are otherwise emotionally, psychologically, and physically taxing, as is often found in LGBTQIA+ healthcare, men’s health, and mental health. Dr. Claudia Kregg Byers, a community health nursing instructor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing teaches her students how to utilize a cultural and social lens in the treatment of their patients. I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Kregg-Byers on May 27th to find out why treating the patient holistically is so important. Please find her story HERE.   
Perspectives on Anti-black Racism and Mitigation Strategies Among Faculty Experts at Academic Medical Centers
Konuthula, D., de Abril Cameron, F., Jonassaint, N., Ufomata, E., Torres, O., Essien, U. R., Hamm, M. E., Merlin, J., & Ragavan, M. I. (2022). Perspectives on anti-black racism and mitigation strategies among faculty experts at Academic Medical Centers. JAMA Network Open, 5(4). 
Area Deprivation Index and Oral Anticoagulation in New Onset Atrial Fibrillation
Omole, T. D., Zhu, J., Garrard, W., Thoma, F. W., Mulukutla, S., McDermott, A., Herbert, B. M., Essien, U. R., & Magnani, J. W. (2022). Area deprivation index and oral anticoagulation in new onset atrial fibrillation. American Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 10, 100346. 
Congratulations to Dr. Rory Cooper and team members, Dr. Brandon Daveler and Dr. Chang Dae Lee on winning a School of Health and Rehabilitation Science First Gear Innovation Challenge Award for developing a wheelchair and ramp designed to fit into standard vehicles. Winners of the challenge receive a monetary award of $10,000.
Dr. Rory Cooper and the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) was recently granted a $750,000 grant from the Paralyzed Veterans of America to begin developing a prototype vehicle that will increase mobility for people with disabilities.
Congratulations to Dr. Elizabeth Skidmore on receiving the 2022 Women in Rehabilitation Science Award from the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine. The award is given to acknowledge world-class rehabilitation research conducted by a female scientist in rehabilitation science.
Dr. Ramar Venkataramanan was recently recognized for his role as Hispanic in Research Capability (HIREC) Visiting Endowed Chair for 2020-2022. In this role, Dr. Venkataramanan mentored Dr. Darlene Santiago-Quinone, a faculty member at the School of Pharmacy at the University of Puerto Rico in her research career. The HiREC Advanced Clinical and Translational Research Award aims to promote minority health and health disparities research in the Hispanic population.
Congratulations to the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing for being recognized by the US News and World Report for their #1 ranked online Master's Program
Students enrolled in the Master of Rehabilitation Technology program through Pitt's Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology had the opportunity to participate in the "Deep Dive". Deep Dive's focus this year was on manual and power wheelchairs.
The White Coats Against Racism and Injustice Kneel was held on May 25th. The Kneel is an opportunity for health care workers to gather in protest against the racism experienced by Black, Brown, and Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) members in the community.
In May, Pitt's Office of the Provost sponsored the "Race @ Work Summer Retreat" designed to address challenges in the workplace faced by early career faculty from historically underrepresented racial/ethnic groups.
On May 15th, student members of Pitt's American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD) chapter provided free dental screenings to the athletes at the Allegheny County Special Olympics summer games.
Men's Health Month
National Caribbean-American Heritage Month
LGBTQ+ Pride Month "Politics in Art"

June 14 - Flag Day 

June 19 - Juneteenth

June 20 - World Refugee Day "Whoever, Wherever, Whenever: Everyone has the right to seek safety"

June 26 - July 2 - Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week
French American Heritage Month
National Minority Mental Health Month
July 4 - Independence Day 

July 18 - Nelson Mandela International Day “Do what you can, with what you have, wherever you are”

July 30 - International Day of Friendship "Sharing the human spirit through friendship”

Pitt Proud -
Swissvale Pittsburgh Pride
Join HSDEI and other campus affiliates in programmatic and enrichment activities throughout the months of June and July.

Take a part in celebrating and honoring diversity-themed months and dates:

For information on HSDEI sponsored events, please contact Karla Perelstine at
Announcing the 3rd annual Art of Diversity Showcase!

The Art of Diversity Showcase will highlight pieces that expand diversity consciousness, embrace intersectionality, and celebrate minoritized cultures and perspectives.

All members of the Pitt and regional communities are invited to submit creative work of any kind, from visual art to writing to performance. All entries are eligible for awards of up to $500.

Deadline for submissions: Friday, July 1. More information can be found HERE.
Health Sciences Diversity Scholars Program (HSDSP)
Pitt School of Medicine
The Health Sciences Diversity Scholars Program (HSDSP) is currently accepting applications for the program which extends from August 15 to September 1, 2022 (flexibility available). This program provides an opportunity for individuals who have completed an undergraduate degree and are committed to a career in biomedical, health-related research. The goal of this two-year post-baccalaureate program is to provide research-centered experience to underrepresented minority (URM) students and prepare them for graduate and/or medical school, as well as promote diversity in STEM fields. Additional information can be found HERE.
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