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Women in Academic Medicine Group Celebrates Female Faculty

Despite improvements in equity and increases in female medical student enrollment, women faculty members still face challenges. The most recent American Association of Medical Colleges’ State of Women in Academic Medicine report shows that fewer women than men are faculty members, and that women are less likely to attain leadership positions.

Dr. Alcaide with award and two other women
(From left) Sabrina Taldone, M.D.; Maria Alcaide, M.D.; and Diana Molinares, M.D.

The Women in Academic Medicine group at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine aims to recognize these trends and catalyze change at all levels of organizational culture to support gender equity. Established in 2008 through the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement, the group amplifies diverse voices and champions career advancement for female physicians, researchers, and scientists.

One way the Women in Academic Medicine group uplifts female faculty is through their annual awards and recognition ceremony. Cardiologist Sharon Andrade-Bucknor, M.D., associate program director of the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital cardiology fellowship and vice president of the group, led the event program.

“We have a set of committees that are working on the career fulfillment of our female faculty,” said Dr. Andrade-Bucknor. “We’re not there yet, but we continue to work hard to achieve our mission.”

Recognizing Excellence

The Excellence in Leadership Award went to Maria Alcaide, M.D., professor of infectious diseases in the Departent of Medicine and director of the Miami Center for AIDS Research. Dr. Alcaide has served in numerous leadership positions at the Miller School, and her research has been featured on news outlets such as CNN, Univision, and PBS. Dr. Alcaide has also directed various mentorship programs at the student and junior faculty levels.

“Thank you to all the women here, because all of you are truly inspirational,” Dr. Alcaide said. “I look forward to promoting all of you and helping you where you want to go.”

Dr. O'Phelan with award and other female doctors
(From left) Sharon Andrade-Bucknor, M.D.; Dr. Molinares; Kristine H. O’Phelan, M.D.; and Dr. Taldone

Kristine H. O’Phelan, M.D., professor of clinical neurology and co-director of the UHealth Neurosciences Critical Care Unit, was given the Excellence in Mentorship Award. Since 2009, Dr. O’Phelan has mentored 28 medical students and residents, as well as 31 fellows. Her trainees have gone on to have exceptional careers as clinician-scientists, with many becoming directors.

“Mentorship is one of my favorite parts of my job,” said Dr. O’Phelan. “Getting to talk to the students, fellows, and young faculty, and helping them realize that you can do anything if you put your mind to it and you have a village to help you — which is all of us.”

The Trailblazer Award was given to R. Grace Zhai, Ph.D., professor of molecular and cellular pharmacology. Dr. Zhai’s lab pioneered the modeling of rare and undiagnosed neurological diseases and uncovered mechanisms of pathophysiology, and her work has been critical to understand and provide hope for children afflicted with rare neurological diseases.

Dr. Bramlett with award and three other women
(From left) Dr. Andrade-Bucknor; Dr. Molinares; Helen Bramlett, Ph.D.; and Dr. Taldone

Helen Bramlett, Ph.D., professor of neurological surgery and director of the undergraduate neuroscience program, received the Career Achievement Award for her significant contributions to research, teaching, service, and outreach programs. Throughout her career, Dr. Bramlett has published 114 peer-reviewed manuscripts. Her research focuses on several neurological disorders, with the goal of better understanding the pathophysiology of these acute injuries to develop new treatments for clinical translation.

Faculty Promotions

The program also recognized the female faculty who applied for and achieved promotion at the Miller School in 2022.

Nineteen women faculty promoted at the Miller School represented various medical disciplines, including cell biology, pediatrics, and surgery. In total, there were seven appointments this year to associate professor, five promotions to professor, and four to professor. Further appointments included one faculty member promoted to each of the following: associate professor of professional practice, associate professor, and research professor.

Residency Awards

Four female doctors and residents, one holding certificate
The local chapter of the Committee of Interns and Residents also presented annual awards.

The local chapter of the Committee of Interns and Residents, a nationwide union of residents and fellows, also presented their annual awards.

Outstanding Fellow of the Year:

  • Domenika Ortiz-Requena, M.D.
  • Paola Frattaroli, M.D.

Outstanding Resident of the Year:

  • Allison Boden, M.D.
  • Rebecca Saberi, M.D., M.S.P.H.
  • Crystal Seldon, M.D.

Diversity and Inclusion Champion Advocate:

  • Juhi Varshney, M.D.

Tags: Dr. Grace Zhai, Dr. Helen Bramlett, Dr. Kristine O'Phelan, Dr. Maria Luisa Alcaide, Dr. R. Grace Zhai, Dr. Sharon Andrade-Bucknor, Miller School of Medicine, Office of Diversity Inclusion and Community Engagement, Women in Academic Medicine