Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Announces Recipients of Nation’s First Gender Equity Grants

Contact: Kathryn Ullman
Mount Sinai Press Office
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Kathryn.ullman@mountsinai.org

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Announces Recipients of Nation’s First Gender Equity Grants

Annual Distinguished Scholar Award Aims to Break Down Barriers to Equity in Medical Research

New York, NY (January 23, 2019) – The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai—an international leader in medical and scientific training, biomedical research, and patient care—today announced the recipients of the first-of-its-kind Distinguished Scholar Award, a new annual grant sponsored by the Office of Gender Equity in Science and Medicine. The awards aim to mitigate gender gaps in medical research by supporting researchers with additional project resources while they serve as family caretakers.

“Far too often, promising researchers and scientists miss professional opportunities due to caregiving responsibilities. This new series of grants, selected through an NIH-style review, will empower recipients to continue their groundbreaking work while they integrate caregiving into their lives,” said Carol Horowitz, MD, MPH, Dean for Gender Equity at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “We look forward to the exciting work our recipients will be able to undertake with this support in the new year.”  

Although women make up half of all medical school graduates in the field, studies show that men hold the rank of full professor at a five-to-one ratio compared to women. One cause of this disparity is that many scientists simultaneously become primary caregivers as they begin careers in research—something that disproportionately affects women.

The Distinguished Scholar Award, open to all genders, is designed to reduce gender-based disparities by delivering financial support to junior investigators just as they work to integrate family caretaking into their careers. Dr. Horowitz—the first dean of gender equity in the nation at a medical school—and Sandra K. Masur, PhD, Director of the Office for Women’s Careers at Mount Sinai, conceived and distributed these highly competitive one-year $50,000 grants.

“No one should have to choose between caring for a family member and advancing professionally, and no one should be hindered in their research because they welcome a child into the world. Equity and excellence go hand in hand, and this series of grants is an important step in tackling the systemic inequities that exist across medicine. At the Icahn School of Medicine, we are unwavering in our commitment to advancing equity and helping all of our employees to reach their highest potential,” said Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

The Awardees will provide four Assistant Professors, each extremely talented with unique research projects, a boost in funding that will allow them to maintain productivity while they face the significant demands of being a caregiver. Beyond the monetary award, grantees will be given access to career development resources, including programs through the Office for Women’s Careers and the Office of Gender Equity.

Here are the recipients of the Distinguished Scholar Award and their research projects:

  • Denise Cai, PhD, Neuroscience: “Brain optimization of capacity and efficiency for memory storage”
  • Zhongwei Cao, PhD, Medicine (Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine): “Tumor vascular niche recruits IGF1 receptor to induce aggressive lymphoma”
  • Sarah Stanley, MD, PhD, Medicine (Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone Disease): “The role of CNS glucose-inhibited neurons in glucose regulation”
  • Talia Swartz, MD, PhD, Medicine (Infectious Diseases): “Understanding purinergic receptors to reduce HIV infection and inflammation in human lymphoid tissue”

This past fall, the Office of Gender Equity in Science and Medicine invited Assistant Professors with independent research programs to apply for internal funding as they balance their responsibilities as caregivers. A diverse committee carefully reviewed the 29 outstanding applications received, and selected the top four for funding. Applicants were required to have active extramural support (including salary support) for their research program from a career development award or other research grant, be on a clear trajectory to a successful independent research career, show evidence of strong research training and productivity, and demonstrate a compelling case for why the funds will help them to maintain productivity while they are facing significant demands as a caregiver (most typically for child care).

The Distinguished Scholars Award builds upon the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and gender equity, which includes the creation of the nation’s first Dean for Gender Equity last year. A member of Time’s Up Healthcare, Mount Sinai earned the No. 1 Ranking in Diversity and Inclusion in the “Top 12 Hospitals and Health Systems” list by DiversityInc in 2017 and 2018. The Diversity Innovation Hub (DIH) at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai was launched in fall 2019 to address the lack of women and people of color in innovation and technology, to foster ideas and solutions that address social and structural inequalities, and to accelerate efforts to advance diversity and inclusion in medicine and science. It received a Diversity and Inclusion Award and was named among the Top 50 in Digital Health for 2020.

About the Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City’s largest integrated delivery system, encompassing eight hospitals, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai’s vision is to produce the safest care, the highest quality, the highest satisfaction, the best access and the best value of any health system in the nation. The Health System includes approximately 7,480 primary and specialty care physicians; 11 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 410 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. The Icahn School of Medicine is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Medical Schools”, aligned with a U.S. News & World Report’s “Honor Roll” Hospital, No. 12 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding, and among the top 10 most innovative research institutions as ranked by the journal Nature in its Nature Innovation Index. This reflects a special level of excellence in education, clinical practice, and research. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 14 on U.S. News & World Report’s “Honor Roll” of top U.S. hospitals; it is one of the nation’s top 20 hospitals in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Gynecology, Nephrology, Neurology/Neurosurgery, and Orthopedics in the 2019-2020 “Best Hospitals” issue. Mount Sinai’s Kravis Children’s Hospital also is ranked nationally in five out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked 12th nationally for Ophthalmology, Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai West are ranked 23rd nationally for Nephrology and 25th for Diabetes/Endocrinology, and Mount Sinai South Nassau is ranked 35th nationally for Urology. Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke’s, Mount Sinai West, and Mount Sinai South Nassau are ranked regionally.

For more information, visit http://www.mountsinai.org/, or find Mount Sinai on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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