Two members of the School of Medicine faculty have been selected as fellows for the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine Program (ELAM) for 2016 - 2017. Cynthia J. Brown, MD, MSPH, and Nita A. Limdi, PharmD, MSPH, PhD,cynthia brown both met the extensive requirements to be accepted into this elite program – two of only 54 members accepted nationwide.

ELAM is a year-long, part-time fellowship for women faculty in schools of medicine, dentistry, and public health. The 2016-2017 class will be the 22nd incoming class for ELAM, which remains the only program in North America committed to preparing women for senior leadership roles in academic health science institutions. ELAM’s mission is of crucial importance when considered in light of the fact that women are substantially less likely than men to achieve the rank of full professor in academic medical institutions, and receive less compensation than men in comparable positions. The higher the rank in academic medicine, the more under-represented women are as a group – comprising roughly 16% of all deans in such institutions nationwide.

Dr. Brown and Dr. Limdi join other notable ELAM participants at UAB, including Mary T Hawn, MD, and Robin G. Lorenz, MD, PhD, who were both selected for last year’s program. Beyond UAB, roughly 1,000 ELAM alumnae fill leadership roles in institutions across the globe, including women who hold positions as department chairs, research center directors, deans, college presidents, and chief executives in health care and accrediting organizations.

Brown, who serves as the Director of UAB’s Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics and Palliative Care and the UAB Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging, completed her MD at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She served her internship and residency in the Primary Care Internal Medicine Program at Yale University School of Medicine, where she also completed a fellowship in geriatrics and clinical epidemiology. She obtained a Master’s of Science in Public Health at UAB in 2006. Limdi, who followed her PharmD from Samford with a MSPH in Clinical Research in 2005 and a PhD in Epidemiology in 2007 (both from UAB), is a professor in the department of Neurology and also serves as the interim Director of the UAB Hugh Kaul Personalized Medicine Institute.

While already boasting professional credential rich in leadership, both women saw ELAM as a means to further their professional nita limdidevelopment and cultivate new avenues for growth.

“As a relatively new division director, I recognize that I have much to learn about being a leader,” says Brown. “When I took the job as division director, I shared with my chair that being recommended for this prestigious program was on my personal wish list. The program is rich with opportunities.”

Limdi’s sentiments are similar. “I believe that participating in the ELAM experience will shape my professional goals and give me the tools, confidence, and support to achieve them,” she says. “I always say, ‘What’s next? What can I do better?’ My goals are to further advance in research and implementation, teaching and mentorship – but also to inform policy in the area of personalized or precision medicine. As clinicians and scientists, we have the expertise and responsibility to inform policy decisions pertaining to our areas of practice. You can’t just stay in your lab, or people who know less than you will be the ones forming policy. As Harry Truman said, 'Decisions are made by those who show up.' We need to show up!”

Limdi explains that she looks forward to enhancing her leadership skills. “As scientists, we tend to stay focused on the science,” she says. “But we need to develop a deeper understanding of the organizational psychology, work across disciplines and initiatives to build and challenge teams to be transformative.”

The 1-year fellowship will finish in April 2017 and include online assignments, community-building activities, and three week-long in-residence sessions.

Both Brown and Limdi have valuable advice to young women following in their footsteps. “If you have a vision, an idea, you should have the courage to follow your idea,” Limdi says. “There will be many people who step out of the woodwork to help you if you are motivated. In the words of T.S. Eliot, 'Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.'”

Brown agrees. “I think the most important thing in life is to be willing to put yourself out there,” she says. “You may not always achieve your goals but you may learn something important about yourself in the attempt.”