Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Anti-Racism at DBMI

Student Efforts Towards Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, and Anti-Racism

• DBMI supports student involvement in health disparities research and anti-racism initiatives, both locally and nationally. Trainees in need of funding to attend conferences focused on underrepresented groups may submit requests to Marina Bonnano.

• The student-led Justice Informatics Group explores systemic racism in research and academia. Students discuss the sociopolitical and historical context of informatics and data science research. Trainees can reach out to Adrienne Pichon or Oliver Bear Don’t Walk to learn more.  

• Students participate in volunteer opportunities, including:

  • Lang Youth Medical Program at Columbia, which matches middle school students in the Washington Heights neighborhood with CUIMC mentors
  • Teak Fellowship, which prepares NYC-based middle school students from low-income families to get into the nation’s most selective high school and colleges
  • Inwood Early College High School Career Fair. Several students from this high school participated in the DBMI Summer Research program (the in-person summer research program has been paused due to the pandemic)
  • Science Matters Research Internship, which aims to foster interest and confidence in the sciences within underrepresented and underprivileged New York City high schools students
  • AMIA High School Scholars Program, where biomedical researchers can work with high school students and teachers participating in education or research activities in biomedical informatics
  • New York Academy of Sciences Mentorship Opportunities, which recruits professionals, postgrads and grad students to act as role models and mentors to STEM-interested students and problem solvers
  • IndigiData, an Indigenous Data Science Education workshop held each summer to introduce data science and informatics skills to tribal undergraduate and graduate students
  • AMIA DEI Task Force, which will advise AMIA on specific, actionable steps to further address matters of racial diversity, equity and inclusion

• DBMI students organized and moderated a discussion on race, identity and inclusion with Ixchele Rosal, Associate Vice President for Student Life, Office of University Life. The Office of University Life sponsors racial justice grants for student programming.

Department Efforts Towards Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, and Anti-Racism

• DBMI includes concepts of ethics, fairness, and justice in DBMI core courses such as Research Methods, Symbolic Methods, and Computational Methods. Domain courses like “BINF G4008 Special Topics: Ethics and Fairness in Digital Health” have these concepts as a focus. 

• DBMI introduced a series of talks entitled “DBMI Special Seminar Series: Toward Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Informatics, Health Care, and Society” during the 2020-21 academic year. These focus on informatics research topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion and are part of the weekly DBMI Seminar

• In 2019, DBMI offered a summer research program for rising high school seniors and college undergraduates to introduce them to biomedical informatics and health data science at CUIMC. The program continues virtually this summer by offering talks on how trainees discovered informatics, the nature of their research, and advice or recommendations they would offer to younger students who are interested in the field.

• DBMI research projects connect the department to our local communities and provide opportunities for trainee engagement, including:  

  • GetHealthyHeights: an online platform for all who live and work in northern Manhattan to connect, collaborate, and participate in their health and the health of the community. 
  • COVIDWatcher: a research, advocacy, and policy platform developed by Columbia University, in collaboration with 27 community-based organizations, to help government, community organizations, and hospitals identify needs, target resources, and develop more effective policies to ensure the health, safety, and economic vitality of New York City as it rebuilds from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Precision in Symptom Self-Management (PriSSM) Center Visualization Design Studio: a studio that provides expertise and resources related to the design of culturally congruent, health literate infographics and other health communications to advance health equity. 

Columbia University Efforts Towards Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, and Anti-Racism

• Columbia provides a comprehensive set of resources towards Inclusion & Belonging at the University.

• Columbia developed a Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging, an Inclusive Public Safety Working Group, and it also offers resources for combating bias and promoting racial justice.

• Columbia’s learning management platform offers Diversity Education and Training Sessions on topics such as Identity & Oppression, Unconscious Bias, and Antiracism, for ongoing professional development.

• In 2020, the Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) established a task force on Addressing Structural Racism to focus on six areas: 1) recruitment, retention, and promotion of a diverse workforce; 2) education, training and curricular changes to promote equity (with student representation); 3) health and health care equity, disparities, and social justice research; 4) clinical practice; 5) community and public service; 6) civility and professionalism. The report, A Road Map for Anti-Racism in Health Care and the Health Services, recommends a code of values for professional behavior across the Irving Medical Center, Columbia CARES (civility, acceptance, respect, ethics, support), to foster a culture and climate of respect where everyone feels welcomed and accepted.

• CUIMC offers programs for professional development on diversity and inclusion such as leadership and management skill building, sponsorship, mentoring, inclusive curricular resources, and online resources.

• CUIMC provides a comprehensive list of staff resources on diversity and inclusion, including a Staff Diversity Council that meets quarterly with representatives from each school, Employee Resource Networks that meet monthly, training and diversity events, CopeColumbia, and community discussions to build a culture of accountability and inclusivity.  

• The Columbia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) supports diversity and inclusion. As part of the GSAS Office of Graduate Affairs’ commitment to fostering safe educational environments, GSAS trainees may report possible bias-related incidents for investigation and resolution.

• Columbia belongs to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s (NASEM) Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education which focuses on examining institutional cultures and climates, and works collaboratively to develop strategies that will improve the organizational culture and climate at member institutions.