Highlights From the 2023 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Science Summit

A shortage and lack of diversity in the rheumatology workforce affect marginalized populations facing ongoing care disparities. Get the highlights from the Arthritis Foundation DEI Science Summit and awards that help to address these issues.

On October 20, the Arthritis Foundation hosted the 2023 DEI Science Summit. The event featured the winners of the 2022 DEI awards for their work in rheumatology education or health equity research.

A pressing concern in rheumatology is the ever-widening gap between the demand for care and the supply of specialists required to treat patients. This shortage and the lack of diversity in the rheumatology workforce affect historically marginalized populations facing ongoing care disparities. The Arthritis Foundation Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) awards help to address disparities in patient care and build a diverse rheumatology workforce.

After opening remarks at the 2023 DEI Science Summit from Maria Vassileva, PhD, Arthritis Foundation senior vice president of scientific strategy, and Steven Taylor, Arthritis Foundation president and CEO, the awardees presented a short talk on their DEI-funded work.

To create a more diverse rheumatology workforce, Eugene Kissin, MD, of Boston University Medical Center, spoke about his team’s innovative curriculum to attract underrepresented residents and medical students. The instructors have structured an intensive month-long rheumatology elective featuring virtually delivered training in complementary imaging modalities, including ultrasound and X-rays.

In her talk, Angela Chun, MD, of Lurie Children’s Hospital with Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University (practicing at the time of the award at Texas Children’s Hospital with Baylor College of Medicine) presented her DEI-focused initiative to reduce health care disparities in rheumatology. Dr. Chun's interactive online modules, meant for practitioners all over the U.S., focus on the appearance of rheumatic rashes in children with different skin pigmentation. She will also use the Foundation’s grant to train under-represented residents and medical students by offering them either an in-person clinical or a research rotation with the pediatric rheumatology department at Texas Children’s.

Candace Feldman, MD, MPH, ScD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Siobhan Case, MD, MHS, of Boston Children’s Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, spoke about their rotating resident program to expose individuals from historically underrepresented groups to rheumatology. The curriculum the doctors have developed incorporates rheumatology-relevant health equity topics in clinical rotations.

Three speakers discussed their research on the social determinants of health. Sheetal Vora, MD, of Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital, will divert her award to understand the care-seeking journeys of children with rheumatic disease living in Charlotte, North Carolina, and its surrounding areas. Daphne Lew, PhD, MPH, instructor in biostatistics and Alfred Kim, MD, PhD, of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, will continue investigating the social and economic barriers people with lupus experience in accessing care. Maureen Dubreuil, MD, of Boston University Medical Campus, will use her award to identify if race and ethnicity influence the time between getting the first back pain symptoms and an ankylosing spondylitis diagnosis.

The DEI Science Summit concluded with a short discussion on “call to action” for their programs and potential ideas to scale up the existing DEI program. As a possible direction, Dr. Vora suggested supporting the use of artificial intelligence in the visual diagnosis of rheumatic diseases, which she said is particularly useful in places where a rheumatologist is not easily available.

This virtual event was sponsored by Bristol Myers Squibb.

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