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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Video Series - Part 2

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In the second part of our Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute "Paying It Forward" series, members of our research community answer the question, ‘How does diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) contribute to strengthening CHOP Research Institute’s connection to patients, families, and its community’? Hear from Sarai Sales, an undergraduate intern at CHOP; Stephanie Bowles, PhD, postdoctoral fellow and member of the DEI Council; Cody-Aaron Gathers, MD, physician fellow and member of the DEI Council; and Lamia Barakat, PhD, faculty member at CHOP and DEI Council Co-Chair.


Lamia Barakat, PhD, Faculty, Research Institute DEI Council Co-Chair:

Given my training, I also believe we need to cast a wider net and create more programmatic changes and/or systematic changes to impact the health and well-being of the children we serve.

How dose DEI contribute to strengthening CHOP Research Institute's connection to patients, families, and its community?

Cody-Aaron Gathers, MD, physician fellow and member of the DEI Council:

I think it's a really important role to play within the local community. By having that strong foundation within DEI you can develop equitable solutions in research and outward-reaching into the community as well. And really creating that bench to bedside to community that we really need to see in medical institutions, and especially the CHOP institute as well.

Sarai Sales, undergraduate intern:

Diverse talent recruitment is something I've been able to see at CHOP especially with my involvement in the CRISSP program. So, I think it starts from the top. It's a top-down approach. So, seeing that senior leadership you have such diverse leaders in that regard, you have postdoctoral fellows, associates working for research admin, high school students, undergraduate students, so really having that top-down approach really makes it so powerful and shows how DEI culture is so embedded at the Research Institute. Specifically, being in CRISSP I was surrounded by so many students of so many different backgrounds and nationalities, even when it came down to different types of schools, majors, aspirations. That really emboldened me and empowered me to be a leader not only in child health but in STEM in general and research.

Stephanie Bowles, PhD, postdoctoral fellow and member of the DEI Council:

CHOP is at the forefront of so many groundbreaking discoveries and we foster some of the top talent in all areas. And I think if you prioritize DEI, that's a good way to maintain, retain that talent, but also have a reach and enhance your scope of where you look to gain new talent as we begin to grow. They're constantly pushing the conversation that's uncomfortable but is much needed to have a very strong organization.

Dr. Barakat:

I believe our research is stronger when we have diverse voices seated at the table. And that includes the voices of our patients and their families. By doing that we better inform the questions we're asking in our research, the approaches we're using to answer those questions, our understanding of what the findings mean, and doing that important step of taking what we learned to develop programs to affect change.

DEI is a work in progress, but I believe we need to strive every minute of every day to meet the goals related to DEI.