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3 Physicians Win National Honors

Dr. Cristina Gonzalez Gets New Investigator Award

Cristina Gonzalez, M.D. ’04, an associate professor of medicine at Einstein, an internist at Montefiore, and an activist in the fight against health disparities, received the 2018 New Investigator Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges in November 2019.

The award was given in recognition of the publication of a paper for which she was the lead author, “How to Make or Break Implicit Bias Instruction: Implications for Curriculum Development,” in a November 2018 online supplement to the journal Academic Medicine.

Implicit bias refers to subconscious, unintentional assumptions about other people, which can often lead to disparities in healthcare for disadvantaged populations.

Many medical schools offer their students instruction about avoiding bias, and Dr. Gonzalez has made significant contributions to such programming at Einstein. Teachers, however, have not been on the receiving end of these educational efforts, and in her paper Dr. Gonzalez explores faculty members’ personal challenges, the role of institutions, and strategies for helping educators.

Her goals are to see the topic recognized as a faculty-development priority and to change the culture around implicit bias in medical education and healthcare.

Mentor Award Goes to Dr. Michal Melamed

Michal Melamed, M.D., M.H.S., was given the Distinguished Mentor Award by the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) at its annual Kidney Week meeting in November 2019. Earlier in the year, Dr. Melamed, associate professor of medicine and of epidemiology & population health at Einstein and a nephrologist at Montefiore, also received a mentoring award from Einstein’s department of medicine. Since joining the faculty at Einstein, she has mentored multiple junior faculty members, fellows, residents, and Einstein medical students.

Several of Dr. Melamed’s colleagues nominated her for the ASN mentorship award. They lauded her reputation as a national expert in studying risk factors for chronic kidney disease progression and praised her drive, enthusiasm, patience, and advocacy for her mentees. “I try especially to mentor women and people who may be underrepresented in medicine because I think that it’s important to get more people with diverse backgrounds into research,” Dr. Melamed says. Her research interests include the epidemiology of, and ethnic and racial disparities in, chronic kidney disease, vitamin D deficiency, and the health consequences of metabolic acidosis.

Dr. Irene Blanco Named Hispanic Health Leader

Last November, the National Hispanic Health Foundation (NHHF) recognized Irene Blanco, M.D. ’04, M.S., associate dean for diversity enhancement at Einstein and a rheumatologist at Montefiore, with its Hispanic Health Leadership Award.

The NHHF is part of the National Hispanic Medical Association, a nonprofit organization that represents 50,000 licensed Hispanic physicians in the United States and is a partner organization of the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Blanco, associate professor of medicine at Einstein and director of the Lupus Clinic at Montefiore, was chosen for the honor because of her leadership in improving healthcare. She works with the American College of Rheumatology’s Lupus Initiative on information sheets distributed to Hispanic patients.  With the help of a two-year federal grant, she is recruiting more minority patients for lupus clinical trials. The disease is two to three times more prevalent among women of color, particularly Hispanics, than among Caucasian women.

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