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Tufts Public Health

School of Medicine Launches Faculty Mentorship Program

Joyce Sackey (lower left), dean for multicultural affairs and global health, will lead the program along with faculty members (clockwise from upper left) Maria Blanco, Jamie Maguire, Claire Moore, and Damian Archer. Photo illustration: Momo Shinzawa
Thursday, February 25, 2021

A new early-career mentoring program starting at Tufts University School of Medicine this summer will aim to enhance workforce diversity, faculty retention, and advancement in academia, healthcare, and biomedical research.

The Leadership, Education, Advancement and Diversity (LEAD) Scholars Program will offer structured professional development in the form of mentoring, training, and research support for postdoctoral scholars and early and mid-career faculty—including those from underrepresented or underserved communities—who are promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in the health sciences at Tufts and in historically underserved communities. Applications for the two-year program will open in April.

Research has shown that increasing workforce diversity in medicine and the biomedical sciences is paramount for addressing disparities in health and healthcare. Building on that, Tufts School of Medicine recognizes that the recruitment, retention, and advancement of a diverse health science faculty is essential to addressing the needs of underserved communities.

“Diversity among clinicians and biomedical scientists is important to recruiting and retaining faculty from underrepresented groups, inspiring students, and enhancing quality care and education,” says Peter W. Bates, dean ad interim of the School of Medicine. “A culturally and ethnically diverse workforce that represents the patient population ensures better understanding of the barriers to care that need to be addressed. By supporting early-career clinicians and scientists committed to these goals, a program like LEAD can nurture many.”

LEAD will be structured around four pillars: leadership, scholarship, mentoring, and structural competence. Each of the six scholars in the program’s inaugural cohort will participate in workshops, seminars, and one-on-one sessions focused on career planning; leadership skills; and ways to promote diversity, equity, inclusion and justice in the workplace. Each scholar will also undertake a two-year research project—centered on a challenge in health or healthcare disparities—that promotes equity in research, practice, or teaching. Scholars will receive funds for research, professional development, and conference travel.

Scholars will be paired with two mentors from School of Medicine senior faculty: a research project mentor and a career coach. Scholars will also be encouraged to serve as peer mentors within their cohort.

LEAD, which will be the first structured faculty mentorship program at the school, extends the work the School of Medicine and Tufts Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences have done building strong mentoring programs for students, including the schools’ pipeline programs for students from groups underrepresented in medicine and science.

“We are very excited to add support for clinicians, educators, and researchers to the programs we offer to increase diversity, inclusion, and belonging in science and medicine,” says Joyce Sackey, dean for multicultural affairs and global health at the School of Medicine and associate provost and chief diversity officer for Tufts’ health sciences schools. “We know mentorship is critical to developing the next generation of students in science and medicine and it’s equally important to the career advancement of our faculty who are starting in academia. Providing focused institutional support and professional enrichment opportunities will give our faculty the tools they need to work towards reducing inequities in healthcare and biomedical science research.”

Sackey, who is also the Dr. Jane Murphy Gaughan Professor at the School of Medicine, will lead the program along with a team of faculty from the school: Damian Archer, assistant dean for multicultural affairs; Maria Blanco, associate dean for faculty development; Claire Moore, the Natalie V. Zucker Professor of Developmental, Molecular & Chemical Biology; and Jamie Maguire, a Kenneth and JoAnn G. Wellner Professor and associate professor in neuroscience.

LEAD will be funded initially by a grant from Genentech.