Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship Program
Jefferson offers full scholarships to a number of students who qualify as underrepresented in the field of medicine or are disadvantaged per federal guidelines. Scholarships are based on merit and/or financial need and are renewed for a maximum of four years contingent upon the awardee success-fully progressing to the next academic level. This program is supported by college operational funds and SKMC endowments.
The faculty and alumni listed below have been named as honorees for each of these scholarships. This is in recognition of their notable contributions to medicine and society.
Marc J. Altshuler, MD
Dr. Marc Altshuler, a 2001 Jefferson graduate, is a Professor of Family and Community Medicine and Residency Program Director. In 2007, he launched and is now Director of the Jefferson Center for Refugee Health. As the largest medical provider of refugee health care in Philadelphia, the Center has cared for more than 2,500 newly arrived refugees from 30+ countries.
Dr. Altshuler was recently appointed clinical leader of the Hansjörg Wyss Wellness Center, a community health center in South Philadelphia set to serve the area’s immigrant and refugee population starting in 2020. The Center will expand Jefferson’s clinical and educational outreach offering medical care and social services regardless of health insurance or citizenship. It will also serve as a training site for SKMC students.
While in medical school, Dr. Altshuler was involved in JeffHOPE, a student-run group that helps provide services to the homeless at free clinics. He credits that experience as igniting his passion for aiding medically underserved and vulnerable populations.
Cora Le Ethel Christian, MD, MPH
In 1971, Dr. Cora Le Ethel Christian was the first African-American female to graduate from Jefferson, and the first native female from the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) to become a physician. Dr. Christian’s commitment to inclusion was present from her first day at Jefferson. She noted she was the only African American student in the entire four years when she matriculated to Jefferson after receiving her undergraduate education from Marquette University at the age of nineteen years old. Immediately, she started her activism by founding the Don’s Program, a program to recruit and enroll AA students. By her senior year, there were twelve AA students in the freshman class. She completed her residency in family medicine at Howard University Medical Center and received a Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins intentionally in preparation for her return home to serve a medically depressed area.
Dr. Christian retired from the Virgin Islands Medical Institute, the QIO of the USVI, which she founded in 1977 serving as CEO and Medical Director to address the healthcare needs of the USVI residents after 38 years of successful improvements in all areas in the health care delivery system. Simultaneously, she led many health initiatives in preventative medicine, public health and family and community medicine program during her tenure as the assistant commissioner of the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health for four administrations inclusive of founding the Frederiksted Health Center, a federally qualified health center that still continues to serve the underserved population. Part of her healthcare mission has been to provide advocacy and technical assistance to elderly Medicare patients, ensuring that they receive quality care. For twenty-one years, she worked at one of the largest oil refineries in the Western Hemisphere as its medical director.
Dr. Christian has long been involved in the political landscape of her home. Besides running for Governor, she chaired the health care transition team for three different governors while at the same time having a very vibrant private practice. She was a member of the national AARP Board of Directors, the largest volunteer organization in the USA, an officer of the American Health Quality Association and president of the AAFP Virgin Islands chapter. Dr. Christian credits Jefferson with giving her the education she needed to achieve in all aspects of the health delivery system.
Victor A. Diaz, Jr, MD
Dr. Diaz is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA. He completed his Family Practice residency at Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia, followed by a fellowship in Faculty Development at Jefferson Medical College. His past roles have included being Assistant Medical Director and head of Quality Assurance for the clinical practice, Jefferson Family Medicine Associates (JFMA).
Dr. Diaz is a Leadership Fellow with the National Hispanic Medical Association and a Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Leader at Thomas Jefferson University.
Dr. Diaz is interested in diabetes care, vaccine-related issues, men’s health and health care in the Latino population, and is appreciated by residents and students for his supportive teaching style. He has authored articles and book chapters on diverse topics such as oral health care in HIV disease, male sexual dysfunction, diseases of the eye, cultural competency, minority health and health disparities among Latinos.
Dr Diaz was a physician leader for his department in the Southeast Pennsylvania Learning Collaborative which developed statewide initiatives for the improved management of chronic disease in the Commonwealth. Under his guidance, an interdisciplinary collaborative focused on self-management support for diabetic patients was created at JFMA which led to the successful development of a diabetes group-visit program known as DISH (Diabetes and Information Support for your Health), a first of its kind in the area.
Dr Diaz serves as a Faculty Advisor for Jefferson's Latino Medical Student Association. He enjoys mentoring medical students and residents and was the recipient of the Family Medicine Residents’ Attending Teaching Award in 2006. He has also been frequently recognized as a Philadelphia Magazine “Top Doc” in Family Medicine for several years running and in 2022 was chosen as a "Top Doctor" by Al Dia, a Spanish-language newspaper based in Philadelphia. In his spare time he enjoys following Major League Baseball games and has a part-time role as a team physician for the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team.
Nathaniel R. Evans III, MD, FACS, FCCP
Dr. Nathaniel Evans is an Associate Professor and Director of the Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery Program at Jefferson. He received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University and attended medical school at Stanford University. Dr. Evans completed his surgery residency and fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital.
The majority of Dr. Evans’ practice is surgery for lung cancer and esophageal cancer, and he is leading the development of a comprehensive Lung Cancer Program across Jefferson Health. He specializes in treating lung cancer patients with a procedure known as video-assisted thoracic surgery, a minimally invasive technique to remove tumors from the lung.
Some of Dr. Evans’ research has explored racial disparity in death among patients who have undergone a particular lung cancer surgery, as well as age deviations for lung cancer diagnosis between current and former smokers.
Dr. Evans’ father is a physician, so the decision to enter medicine had always been a consideration for him growing up, but he acknowledges that there is a dearth of Black men in the field. To that end, Dr. Evans encourages any young black male who is interested in a medical career to explore their options.
In a recent profile, he stated, “There are many, many different career paths in medicine. All of them are lacking in minority representation. Find someone near you and ask about their path and their experiences. Some of the most rewarding, and yet disheartening, things about my job are the heartfelt looks of relief from black patients that seem to say ‘finally, someone who will understand and look out for me’. They are often accompanied by the statement ‘you know, you’re the first black doctor/surgeon I’ve ever seen.’ …I am saddened that these types of interactions happen so frequently.”
Andres Fernandez, MD
Dr. Fernandez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology at SKMC. He obtained his medical degree in 2004 from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana School of Medicine in Bogota, Colombia. He conducted his Internal Medicine Internship and Neurology Residency at the University of Miami School of Medicine, followed by fellowships at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and Yale University/Yale-New Haven Hospital. He subsequently completed a Masters in Medical Education at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Fernandez has been involved in multiple educational roles at SKMC, including serving as facilitator for Case-Based Learning, as Associate Director of the Scholarly Inquiry Medical Education Track, and as Director of the Neurology Clerkship. He is part of SKMC’s Admissions Committee and works closely with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, including serving as Faculty Advisor for the Latino Medical Student Association and Faculty Liaison for the SKMC-CES University exchange program in Colombia.
His research involvement has included work on critical care electroencephalography, electroencephalography education, in addition to his participation in diversity and inclusion research through a study of ethnic disparities in end-of-life care after subarachnoid hemorrhage.
Karen Glaser, PhD
Dr. Karen Glaser was a Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Jefferson and held dual appointments as Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior and Family and Community Medicine. She graduated from Cornell University and earned a master's degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971. She completed a doctoral degree in educational psychology at Penn.
Her research involved studying how doctors behaved toward their patients and whether patient perception of doctors' empathy influences clinical outcomes. She coauthored and published several papers on this topic.
Dr. Glaser was known for her passionate commitment to equity and concern for the well-being of the community. She was a trusted advisor and a compassionate listener to students in need. Dr. Glaser developed the behavioral curriculum for family medicine's residency and clerkships and served as the university's affirmative action officer from 1994 until 2013.
Ronald V. Hall, MD
Ronald V. Hall, MD is Associate Professor in Emergency Medicine at Sidney Kimmel Medical College (SKMC) and Thomas Jefferson University, serving as the Director of Simulation Education in the Department of Emergency Medicine. In addition, he is a core faculty member of the JeffMD Clinical Skills Curriculum. Dr. Hall received his Bachelor of Arts in Biological Science from the University of Delaware (1996) and his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey - New Jersey Medical School (2000). He completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in 2003.
Dr. Hall spent his early years actively teaching residents and medical students in the emergency department and the simulation center. Eventually, he served as the residency director (2010-2016) for the Department of Emergency Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University and created a residency program that implemented innovative didactic curriculum and simulation to address procedural training, patient safety, diversity, inclusion, and health equity. He has authored and assisted in developing 20 procedural training workshops and 13 peer reviewed publications. Dr. Hall has received multiple awards for his teaching excellence, including the coveted Golden Apple Award in the Department of Emergency Medicine, Dean’s Citation for Significant Contributions to the Advancement of Education, and was twice recipient of the SKMC Educational Honor Roll. He has participated in national and regional leadership positions working to promote high quality, affordable, and equitable healthcare. He served as the Development Chair for the Academy of Diversity and Inclusion in Emergency Medicine of the Society of Academics in Emergency Medicine and is President-Elect of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians.
Dr. Hall says, “Jefferson gives me the opportunity to create and share my knowledge and experiences to shape the future of medicine and improve the quality of life in our communities. Jefferson continues to adapt and cultivate excellence in healthcare, research, and leadership.”
Algernon Brashear Jackson, MD
Dr. Algernon B. Jackson was the first African American student admitted to Jefferson, earning his medical degree in 1901. Dr. Jackson attended Indiana University for his undergraduate education and completed post-graduate work at Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania.
After graduating from medical school, Dr. Jackson became the first African-American assistant surgeon at the Philadelphia Polyclinic Hospital. In 1907, he cofounded the Mercy Hospital School for Nurses and became the Surgeon-in-Chief and then the hospital’s Superintendent. He was the first African-American Fellow of the American College of Physicians. In 1921, Dr. Jackson accepted a position as Director of the School of Public Health at Howard University Medical School.
Dr. Jackson was a pioneer in the treatment of rheumatism and preventive and public health issues. He was a proponent of the National Negro Health Movement, an organization that promoted health education within the black community in the U.S., providing greater access to healthcare and encouraging an increase in the number of black professionals who entered the field of public health.
Dr. Jackson was a prolific writer whose work appeared in many newspapers including the Pittsburgh Courier, the New York Amsterdam News, the Baltimore Afro-American and the Chicago Defender. His writing dealt mostly with health advice and preventative medicine for the African American community. In addition to his notable medical achievements, Dr. Jackson was a founding member of the highly exclusive Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, the first and oldest African-American Greek-lettered organization.
Orlando C. Kirton, MD, FACS, MCCM, FCCP, MBA
Dr. Orlando C. Kirton is the Chairman of Surgery and Surgeon-in-Chief at Jefferson-Health Abington since June of 2016..
Dr. Kirton received his undergraduate degree from Brown University in Providence, RI and his medical degree, cum laude, from Harvard Medical School. He served his internship and residency in surgery at SUNY and then completed fellowships in surgical critical care and surgery of trauma at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Department of Surgery and University of Miami School of medicine in Florida. He joined the faculty at the University of Miami from 1992-1999 where he achieved the Academic Rank of Associate Professor of Surgery and served as the Director of the Trauma Intensive Care Unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital and served as the Interim Director of the Trauma Service.
From 1999-2016 Dr. Kirton was the Ludwig J. Pyrtek, MD Chair in Surgery, Chief of the Department of Surgery, Chief of the Division of General Surgery, and Associate Director of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. He also was Chief of Trauma at Hartford Hospital from 2012-2016.
Dr. Kirton’s current Academic Rank is that of Professor of Surgery and Vice-Chairman of the Department of Surgery of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University.
Dr. Kirton has served as President of the Surgical Section of the National Medical Association, the President of the Society of Black Academic Surgeons, and was also past President of the Connecticut Chapter of the American College of Surgeons. He is currently Vice President of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma and President-Elect of the Philadelphia Academy of Surgery.
Ana Maria Lopez, MD, MPH, FACP
Ana Maria López, MD, MPH, FACP received her AB in philosophy from Bryn Mawr College and MD from Jefferson. She is dedicated to translational research that improves access to care and to the reduction of health disparities. She completed residency training in Internal Medicine, served as a Chief Resident and completed fellowships in General Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology at the University of Arizona. As a Fellow in Medical Oncology, Dr. Lopez was awarded a Cancer Prevention and Etiology Fellowship from the National Institute of Health. Concurrent with her subspecialty training, she completed a MPH at the University of Arizona and was awarded the Epidemiology Award for outstanding accomplishments. She then joined the University of Arizona College of Medicine faculty and also became the Associate Dean for Outreach and Multicultural Affairs. In 1997, she was designated as the founding Medical Director of the Arizona Telemedicine Program.
With a passion for addressing issues on access to care, Dr. Lopez has embedded this priority in a majority of her studies. Studies have ranged from health research at the biological molecular level to the broader systematic health delivery level, all of which contribute to establishing optimal health care for individuals and communities. Her most recent work has focused on the promotion of patient-reported outcomes, which are intended to reflect an individual’s perspective on and participation in his or her health. This work primarily focuses on developing patient-centered technologies, which range from a patient symptom self-management program to a patient portal to monitor health and communicate with a care team, and a screening and diagnostic decision-making tool to promote the adoption of screening recommendations. These projects have focused on serving disease-specific populations, with the intention of serving a larger population in the future.
Bernard L. Lopez, MD, MS, FACEP, FAAEM
Bernard Lopez, MD, MS, is Professor and Executive Vice Chair in the Department of Emergency Medicine (EM) in the Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University. Over the years, he has had the following additional titles in the department: Director of Clinical Research, Residency Program Director and Vice Chair for Academic Affairs. In the specialty of EM, he has been involved in all of the national organizations where he has served as faculty for the American College of Emergency Physicians, the American Academy of Emergency Medicine and the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine. He is past president of the Academy for Diversity and Inclusion in Emergency Medicine. In the medical school, he serves as Senior Associate Dean of Diversity & Community Engagement and previously served as Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Career Counseling. For the university, he serves as Associate Provost of Diversity and Inclusion. In his diversity roles, he leads strategic efforts on diversity, equity and inclusion within the academic pillar and guides the recruitment and retention of students, residents, faculty, and staff from underrepresented groups.
Dr. Lopez received his MD degree, graduating from SKMC in 1986, and completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in 1989. In 2003 he received a Masters of Science degree in Pharmacology from the Jefferson College of Graduate Studies. His prior research focused on two areas: acute cardiac injury and sickle cell anemia. He has published in numerous journals.
Dr. Lopez says, “Jefferson has many, many great people throughout the organization. They are talented, highly-accomplished, friendly and collaborative. People have so many opportunities to grow and excel in whatever they choose. It is a great place to receive medical education – over the 40+ years at Jefferson, I’ve seen students become residents, residents become junior faculty and junior faculty become mid-career and senior faculty – and the quality of patient care in the course of a career is amazing. I am so fortunate to be a Jefferson ‘lifer’ as I’ve worked with great people and have accomplished so much in many areas because of the collaborative nature of our environment.”
Carl Mansfield, MD, ScD, FACR, FASTRO
Dr. Mansfield (1928 – 2018), a well-regarded pioneer in the field of radiation oncology, served as chair of that department at Thomas Jefferson University from 1983 to 1994. His research yielded innovative techniques in radiation treatment, such as the understanding of highly targeted, tissue-sparing therapy and intraoperative radiation therapy in breast cancer. He was also an early advocate for interdisciplinary care models to identify best strategies for each patient.
Dr. Mansfield did not come easily to the field of medicine. He was born in Philadelphia in 1928 to a single mother who worked as a housekeeper and raised him with the help of her parents. While this was a significant barrier to becoming a physician, Dr. Mansfield did achieve his goal. He attended the Howard University School of Medicine in the 1950s, one of the few medical schools open to African-American students at that time.
After medical school, Dr. Mansfield completed residencies in radiology and radiation therapy/nuclear medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and the Episcopal Hospital in Philadelphia. He was awarded a number of fellowships, including a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellowship in radiation therapy, the Chernicoff fellowship in pediatric radiation therapy at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, and an advanced clinical fellowship in cancer by the American Cancer Society.
Dr. Mansfiend’s obituary notes that he was known for his character, dignity, discipline, and strength. He mentored hundreds of medical students, residents, and junior faculty. His famous mottos were “the only reason we do research is to better treat the patients” and “the only reason we train residents is to better treat the patients.”
Esmond Mapp, MD
Dr. Esmond Mapp was born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad in 1928. He received his undergraduate and MD degrees from Howard University and entered the U.S. Naval Medical Corps in the 1950s. Dr. Mapp held faculty positions at Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia, Emory University School of Medicine and Temple University. He came to Jefferson in 1976 where he was a professor of radiology until his untimely death from colon cancer in 1991.
Dr. Mapp was active nationally in medical education and radiology. He was a consultant to the National Naval Medical Center, chair of the section on radiology of the National Medical Association, secretary of the Pennsylvania Radiological Society, and was active in many other organizations. He received the first annual Outstanding Educator Award of the Philadelphia Roentgen Ray Society in 1991.
According to his obituary, Dr. Mapp possessed a sly sense of humor that lurked beneath his quiet demeanor, and he was loved by virtually everyone in his department at Jefferson.
Jerry McCauley, MD, MPH, FACP
Dr. Jerry McCauley is a Professor; Medical Director of the Transplantation Services and Chief of Nephrology; and Vice Chairman, Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Jefferson. He attended Dartmouth Medical School and completed residency at the Roger Williams Medical Hospital and fellowship in Nephrology at Massachusetts General Hospital and New England Medical Center.
Dr. McCauley worked closely with the United Network for Organ Sharing Minority Affairs Committee to develop a policy that is allowing minorities to receive transplants with better odds. The policy was intended to increase equity in access to kidney transplants and promote more effective utilization of available organs, and recent findings prove it to be successful.
“About 20 years ago,” Dr. McCauley continued, “African-Americans and Hispanics donated organs at a rate somewhat lower than they represented in the U.S. population. Today the ethnic makeup of donors is essentially the same as the population. This reflects the success of outreach by many organizations and donation advocates to engage minority communities and address their specific questions and concerns about the donation process.”
William McNett, MD
Dr. William McNett completed medical school at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine. Having been on a US Navy scholarship, he completed his pediatric training at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda and was on active duty serving our country in Long Beach, CA, Okinawa, Japan, and in Philadelphia. His experience in the military (prior to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy) was an invaluable but also informed how he wanted to practice medicine and live his life honestly as a gay person and a pediatrician who was gay. Dr. McNett has been a well-loved pediatrician and educator at Jefferson for many years. He ran the Introduction to Clinical Medicine course (now called the Clinical Skills Small Group) for nine years, winning multiple teaching awards. He currently runs eight primary care practices in Southeast Pennsylvania for SKMC’s pediatric partner, Nemours in addition to staying active on campus and continues to maintain a busy pediatric practice.
Dr. McNett is the faculty advisor to student group, JeffLGBTQ. This group provides support, outreach, and networking for sexual and gender minorities including gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer students. JeffLGBTQ coordinates educational events and hosts speakers to increase awareness within the Jefferson community regarding LGBTQ life and health disparities, organizes community outreach and professional development, and fosters a social and supportive community for LGBTQ-identifying individuals and their allies. He has been in this role for almost 20 years being one of a handful of ‘out’ clinicians on campus. He has mentored many medical students, residents, and fellows since he joined SKMC faculty in 1996.
Dr. McNett’s biggest challenge but also great source of pride is teaching the young clinician how to ask clinical questions without assumptions and prejudice. We all harbor implicit bias and have been victims ourselves of implicit bias in one way or another. By being aware and striving to improve is both a huge challenge and endearing strength.
His favorite thing about Jefferson is the openness and eagerness to excel among our medical students. By being honest about who he is, the students who identify as part of the queer community can see themselves practicing medicine as who they are and not as society thinks they should be. Dr. McNett feels embraced by the Jefferson community and in turn, feels the need to give back.
Edith Peterson Mitchell, MD, MACP, FCPP
Dr. Edith Peterson Mitchell is a Clinical Professor of Medicine and Medical Oncology, Department of Medical Oncology; Director, Center to Eliminate Cancer Disparities; Associate Director, Diversity Affairs, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson; and the 116th President National Medical Association. She is the program leader of Gastrointestinal Oncology at Jefferson and serves as the director of the Center to Eliminate Cancer Disparities for the Kimmel Cancer Center. While attending the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Dr. Mitchell entered the Air Force and received a commission through the Health Professions Scholarship Program. She began active duty after completing her internship and residency in internal medicine at Meharry Medical College and a fellowship in medical oncology at Georgetown University.
Dr. Mitchell has spent her medical career helping people in medically underserved areas through patient advocacy, community outreach and volunteer initiatives. Her work addresses inequities in healthcare, and assisting underrepresented populations in accessing the latest advances in medicine and science.
As a retired brigadier general, Dr. Mitchell has been awarded more than 15 service medals and ribbons. She was the first female physician to attain this rank in the history of the U.S. Air Force, and served as the Air National Guard assistant to the command surgeon for U.S. Transportation Command and Headquarters Air Mobility Command.
Dr. Mitchell’s research in breast, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers and other GI malignancies involves new drug evaluation and chemotherapy, development of new therapeutic regimens, chemoradiation strategies for combined modality therapy, patient selection criteria and supportive care for patients with gastrointestinal cancer.
Dr. Mitchell is the recipient of numerous professional awards including a Promise Grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the American Society of Clinical Oncology Humanitarian Award.
Olugbenga T. Okusanya MD FACS
Olugbenga T. Okusanya, MD FACS, is currently an assistant professor of surgery in the Department of Surgery at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. He was born in Lagos, Nigeran and immigrated to the United States at the age of 6. He grew up in central New Jersey and eventually obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Biology with Honor in Neurobiology from Harvard College in 2005. He subsequently attended and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine where he decided on a career in academic surgery. He completed his general surgery training at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania which included a 2 year research fellowship in the Harrison Division of Research where he studied the intraoperative use of fluorescent probes for the detection of lung cancer. He was a highly decorated general surgery resident winning multiple teaching and leadership awards. He then completed his cardiothoracic fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center where he was recruited to stay on as a faculty member in 2018. Dr. Okusanya has been recognized as a leader in thoracic surgery having been selected to participate in the Society of Thoracic Surgery and the American Association of Thoracic Society leadership academies. He was recognized as the Reviewer of the Year of the Annals of Thoracic Surgery in 2021 and has published more than sixty peer-reviewed papers. He is also a nationally recognized expert on robotic thoracic surgery and the racial disparities in the utilization of surgery of thoracic malignancies. He was also selected as an inaugural participant of the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation Diversity in Clinical Trials Career Development Program. Dr. Okusanya joined Jefferson in 2020 along with his wife Dr. Marisa Moreta. They were both drawn here by the warmth and collegiality that makes Jefferson so special.
Jesse Roman, MD
Jesse Roman, MD is the Ludwig Kind Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics; Enterprise Division Chief for Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine; Respiratory Service Line Leader for Jefferson Health; Director of the Pulmonary & Critical Care Fellowship at Thomas Jefferson University; and Chief Executive Officer of the Jane & Leonard Korman Respiratory Institute – Jefferson Health and National Jewish Health in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (since February 2018). Dr. Roman received his M.D. from the University Of Puerto Rico School Of Medicine in 1983. After undergoing training in Internal Medicine at the San Juan VA Medical Center in Puerto Rico, he joined the Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine Fellowship Program at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri. In 1991, Dr. Roman joined the faculty at Emory University where he rose through the ranks to become Professor and Division Chief (2002), co-founder and Director for Research of the Emory Interstitial Lung Diseases Program (2003), and AVP and Founding Director of the Emory Center for Respiratory Health (2007). In 2009, Dr. Roman became Professor, Distinguished University Scholar, and Chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, where he remained until his move to Philadelphia. Dr. Roman remains clinically active in interstitial lung disorders and has written extensively in the areas of lung tissue remodeling and inflammation, and on the role of extracellular matrices in the control of cellular functions. His research has generated some 250 peer-reviewed publications and 30 book chapters, and Dr. Roman has served as principal investigator or collaborator on multiple federal and foundation grants attracting over 30 million dollars in direct funds. In addition, his team has engaged in more than 30 clinical trials, mostly focused in the area of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Education and mentoring is an important mission of the Roman lab having trained over 70 students, residents, fellows, and junior faculty. Dr. Roman has served on several national research study sections for the NIH, DOD and VA and is the current Editor-In-Chief of the American Journal of the Medical Sciences, the official journal of the Southern Society for Clinical Investigation. He serves as past chair of the RCMB Assembly, the Health Equality Committee and the Scientific Advisory Committee of the American Thoracic Society; past president of the Southern Society for Clinical Investigation; and past board member of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, the American Lung Association-Midland States, and the Association of Professors of Medicine.
Gregory Snyder, MD, MBA
Dr. Gregory Snyder, a 2015 SKMC graduate, is a attending hospital medicine clinician at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Partners Healthcare. He completed his Internal Medicine training at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, as well as his MBA at the Harvard Business School. He is dedicated to improving the patient experience through technology and healthcare delivery redesign. His TED talk describes his experience as a patient with spinal cord injury, and how it renovated his perspective on healthcare leadership. Dr. Snyder now focuses on new service delivery models, clinical quality improvement, and patient navigation across transitions of care. He currently works with healthcare technology startups to improve primary care. He is Affiliate Faculty at Ariadne Labs, a joint venture between the Harvard School of Public Health and the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, where he studies primary care models.
A year before graduation from Jefferson, Dr. Snyder suffered a complete spinal cord injury due to a traumatic fall while hiking with his dog. He underwent two spinal fusion surgeries and a long recovery at Magee Rehabilitation, where he learned to function with complete paraplegia.
Dr. Snyder has said that being a patient is an inescapable, conspicuous part of his life. This new experience has given him a nuanced, empathic understanding of his patients, particularly those with functional disability, mobility challenges and the elderly. He believes that there is value to be explored in the subtle difference between being a patient, learning from doctors, and being a doctor, learning from patients. In a New York Times article, Dr. Snyder stated, “I would have been this six-foot-tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian doctor, standing at the foot of the bed in a white coat,” he said. “Now I’m a guy in a wheelchair, sitting right next to my patients. They know I’ve been in that bed just like they have. And I think that means something.”
Dr. Snyder says that Jefferson represents the foundation upon which he has worked to generate his contribution to the field of medicine saying, "From the highest levels of academic leadership to the frontline clinicians with whom I worked as a student, mentorship through the Sidney Kimmel Medical College guided me through professional decisions and to the interests I now pursue. When I experienced my own setbacks as a student, Jefferson’s personalized support allowed me to face my challenge with confidence. My hope is that Jefferson students feel the level of support that I did, as they pursue their own professional paths, and that they continue to represent a diverse community of healthcare leaders that will shape the direction of healthcare delivery."
Alliric I Willis, MD
Dr. Alliric I Willis is the Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs; Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs & Faculty Development; and the Co-Director of the Thyroid and Parathyroid Center at Jefferson. He completed residency at the University of Pennsylvania and Washington University in St. Louis. His fellowship included surgical research at Yale followed by surgical oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center. He won the Dean's Award for Excellence in Education at SKMC in 2018. Dr. Willis’ surgical specialties include Breast Surgery, Endocrine Surgery, General Surgery and Surgical Oncology.
Dr. Willis’ research addresses demographic disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers of the breast, rectum, stomach and other diseases among minority patients, older patients and patients who possibly lack access to care because of their insurance.
“It’s an interesting field that is becoming increasingly appreciated as we talk about quality and outcomes,” he says. “We can’t just look at the big picture. We have to focus at the individual patient level, including those who may not be achieving great outcomes. As clinicians, we can ask the right questions, team up with good epidemiologists and biostatisticians, and do analyses to figure out what’s significant—and what we can do to make outcomes better for everyone.”
Deborah K. Witt, MD
Medical Doctor and Assistant Professor, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Inductee of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honorary Medical Society, Alpha Chapter of PA of Jefferson Medical College for achievements in scholarship, medical education, research and community service. Recognized by Governor of PA as an “Everyday Hero” for her commitment and excellent service to the communities in the Commonwealth during Black History Month 2013 also identified as one out of 684 of the city’s Best Physicians in Philadelphia in August 2013. The Philadelphia Tribune recognized Dr. Witt in 2016 as one of the years Women Achieving honorees selected by Jefferson Hospital for excellence and immense value to her organization. Recently celebrating 25 years of service at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
Dr. Witt is an avid clinician, teacher and supporter of educating our communities about health issues, and preparing residents and medical students to provide culturally sensitive, quality health care. She is actively involved locally, invited to speak at multiple conferences on topics such as, “Why Abstinence”, “Men’s Health”, “Healthy Kingdom Living”, “Taking Care of Your Temple”, Getting Old is Getting Old”, in addition to serving as servant leader for the Health and Wellness Ministry at Sharon Baptist Church, and member for past 22 years. As a leader in faith-based health care initiatives locally she broadened her service internationally. As CFO and Medical Director of Glory Unlimited International Ministries, she organizes volunteer medical teams to travel abroad and provide mobile medical services to impoverished communities, most recently in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico after the devastation from Hurricane Maria and scheduled to serve in Freeport, Grand Bahamas in December 2019 after the devastation from Hurricane Dorian. Communities of Montego Bay/Kingston, Jamaica; Kenya, Africa and Croix-des-Bouquet, Haiti, have also been impacted by teams sharing God’s love through medicine focused on the ministries global theme: “Do Something More...For the Poor”.
Dr. Witt also welcomes students from various disciplines ie, nursing/ medical/nurse practitioners and medical residents have the opportunity to take electives to obtain credits, in the realm of “service-learning” to experience the true “Art of Medicine” and the importance of their impact globally.
Dr. Witt has served on numerous boards, to name a few, Society of Teachers of Family Medicine , American Heart Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility and many more over the years. As Team Captain, for “Team SBC”, with Susan G. Komen of Philadelphia, “Race for the Cure” and and American Cancer Society, “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer”, a strong advocate against breast cancer. Tirelessly educating and advocating for our health and wellness within our communities, with special covering of God’s Love.