We acknowledge the accolades of our colleagues who are committed to advancing the diversity ideals of our department.
National & International Conference Awards
Drs. Poonam Vohra, Nancy Greenland and Cornelia Ding received an inaugural award for “The best scientific paper advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) goals” for their platform presentation “Urine Cytology in Patients with Gender Confirmation Surgery and Hormone Therapy: Highlighting the Performance of Urine Cytology in an Underserved Patient Population”. This study was presented at the 21st International Congress of Cytology (ICC) held jointly with the American Society of Cytopathology (ASC) 70th Annual Scientific Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.
DEI Leadership Awards are awarded annually to one staff member and one faculty member in either the Department of Pathology or Laboratory Medicine to recognize a staff and a faculty member (colleague, team member, mentor, etc.) for excellence in DEI leadership and supporting inclusion.
DEI Leadership Award for Staff (2023)
Department Manager, Anatomic Pathology, ZSFG
Mark Weinstein has initiated a strategy in this department to have the supervisors and staff work with each other to address QC issues between the units of the Pathology Department (Cytology, Gross Room). This has reduced operational opacity between the units and prompted better understanding of the challenges and successes to each unit as well as promote an inclusive environment between supervisors as well as staff and supervisors in the various units. This approach has opened permanent lines of communication between supervisors and staff members to give important workflow feedback and eased tensions when systematic changes need to be addressed. The model of inter-unit communication has established a structure where supervisors and staff members feel supported by each other, which promotes communication and a sense of protection for staff members by the supervisors.
DEI Leadership Award for Faculty (2023)
Poonam Vohra, MD
Professor, Anatomic Pathology
Dr. Vohra has been committed to diversity since she was a fellow and subsequently as faculty at the ZSFG since 2011. As cytology director at the ZSFG, she has demonstrated a commitment to building a workplace that reflects the diversity of the ZSFG community. She is also a member of the UCSF Cancer Global Program, and she serves as a mentor to a research scholar in the Cancer Research Training Program in Tanzania). Dr. Vohra is currently working on a project titled "Correlation between HER2 overexpression and clinicopathological features of bladder carcinoma” at Muhimbili National Hospital, Tanzania. Since January 2019, Dr. Vohra has volunteered to review consult cases from Tanzania and being a part of “Partners in Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment in Africa Coalition”, which is an American Society of Clinical Pathologists for Africa telepathology initiative.
Her recent research reflects her sustained commitment to DEI: "Urine Cytology in Patients with Gender Confirmation Surgery and Hormone Therapy: Evaluation of Urine Cytology Performance in an Underserved Patient Population" was published in the Journal of the American Society of Cytopathology, July 2023 issue. She brought together a diverse group of residents, faculty and fellows to work on a unique project together. A related platform presentation at the International Congress of Cytology-American Society of Cytopathology (ICC-ASC) Scientific Meeting in Baltimore Maryland in November 2022 received the "Excellence in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Research Award" for the best scientific paper advancing DEI goals from the American Society of Cytopathology.
Through Dr. Vohra’s work in teaching the improvement process and by engaging cytology fellows with quality improvement projects, Dr. Vohra has changed the culture for our trainees with projects that have direct and immediate bearing on equitable care for patients at ZSFG and also serve as a model for staff and faculty for developing programs which are centered by DEI. These projects have included: “Local Anesthesia Administration: Improvements in Clinical Cytopathology Practice”. This project addressed documented discrepancies in patients receiving lidocaine administration for FNA biopsy. The aim of the project was to mitigate the impacts of any potential unconscious/implicit bias on the decision of whether or not to use lidocaine prior to FNA biopsy. This initiative fundamentally changed the culture for the FNA service and exemplifies the UCSF commitment to Differences Matter for the patient experience and quality of care.
DEI Leadership Award for Staff (2022)
Will Howell is demonstrating all the qualities of DEI in his daily job. We have had a wide variety of URM and diverse trainees in our lab over the last years, and Will has been, and still is, a welcoming member who takes on training and welcoming of new trainees. He acts naturally with DEI values in daily life.
DEI Leadership Award for Faculty (2022)
Ronald Balassanian, MD
Professor, Anatomic Pathology
Dr. Balassanian has been mentoring students at the college, pre-med, and medical school level including URM staff members. He helped change the culture at UCSF with regard to LGBTQ+ issues. Despite having an LGBTQ resource center, primarily for students, UCSF has never sponsored a unified or group presence at the SF Pride Parade, leaving it to individuals to join on their own. Through his position on the LGBTQ+ committee, he met with Chancellor Renee Navarro and explained the need to have representation at the parade from all the UCSF Deans and Vice Deans as well as UCSF Health administrators including the CEO. He helped develop the UCSF Heath LGBTQ+ web page which went live in 2021, providing an online resource to access UCSF LGBTQ+ providers and allies for the first time: https://www.ucsfhealth.org/about/lgbtq-care
Through serving on the ASC Diversity Equity and Inclusion committee, he developed an online summer program for high school and college students from URM and disadvantaged backgrounds to learn about career opportunities in medicine and cytology. He also developed a new DEI award for best abstract to be presented at the ASC/ICC annual meeting in 2022. The award will be presented annually going forward.
Dr. Balassanian also serves as the head of the committee for developing the Department’s Global Pathology strategic plan, and he has been involved in mentorship and collaboration for residents and faculty in low and middle income (LMIC) countries, including Tanzania, Peru, and Ethiopia.
Dr. Carolyn Sangokoya has been selected as a 2021 Watson Scholar in the UCSF School of Medicine. This award from the SOM Dean’s Diversity Fund is given to select faculty each year to support the recruitment and retention of faculty who share the university’s commitment to diversity and our belief that we have the responsibility to care for underserved and vulnerable populations. Carolyn will receive funds to support her research program in stem cell biology as well as for continuing her campus-wide advocacy and mentoring efforts as a founding member of the UCSF Women Physician-Scientist Supergroup. January 2022 Spotlight by Women of UCSF Health - link
Dr. Roberto Ruiz-Cordero, a cytopathologist and one of our DEI Committee Members, was selected as a 2020 Watson Scholar in the UCSF School of Medicine. This award from the SOM Dean’s DiversityFund is given to 8 faculty each year in support of academic pursuits to benefit underserved and vulnerable populations. Dr. Ruiz-Cordero will develop novel molecular workflows to improve cancer diagnostic disparities in Mexico in collaboration with the HDFCCC Global Cancer Program. Dr. Ruiz-Cordero’s work is a wonderful example of how pathologists can meaningfully leverage molecular tools, which one might traditionally consider cost-prohibitive in low resource settings, to address healthcare disparities.
Roberto Ruiz-Cordero, MD: 2020 Watson Scholar (YouTube)
Sarah Bowman, the digital pathology manager and one of our DEI Committee Members, was awarded a UCSF Spot Award in 2020 for leading the administrative efforts for the implementation of Digital Pathology for the department, including the rapid implementation of many of the surgical pathology clusters to grant faculty the flexibility to work from home safely during the pandemic. Sarah also received in 2017 UCSF School of Medicine STAR Achievement Award for Exemplary Achievement to the Chancellor’s Priorities and PRIDE Values. Sarah was nominated by Dr. Ron Balassanian for the award and selected by one of seven functional SOM Achievement Award Selection Committees. Sarah’s contributions help UCSF maintain its position as a leading institution of higher education.