In October 2017, Mona Fouad, M.D., MPH, Senior Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, was elected as a member of the National Academy of Medicine. This exceptional honor, which  is considered one of the highest in the fields of health and medicine, recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service. Only 70 national members and 10 international members are elected each year.

On November 16, UAB leadership, as well as Fouad’s colleagues, friends, and family, gathered to celebrate her achievement in the lobby of Wallace Tumor Institute.

Acknowledging that Dr. Fouad was the first person elected to the National Academy of Medicine at UAB in two decades, Selwyn Vickers, M.D. FACS, dean of the UAB School of Medicine and senior vice president for Medicine, illustrated the significance of Fouad’s accomplishment. “This is one of the highest honors at any level given to a physician scientist in the United States,” he said in his introductory remarks. “In this process, the National Academy will receive anywhere from 800 to 1,000 nominees a year. Dr. Fouad is a nationally 11.16.17 UAB Mona Fouad Faculty Celebration 30recognized leader who had the fortune to be elected this year.”

Mona Fouad’s wide-ranging and extensive career in medicine and research boasts local, regional, national, and international achievements. A nationally recognized expert in health disparities research, she was one of the scientists who established health disparities as a valid field of scientific study. Not only did Fouad serve two terms as a member of the NIH Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities, she was among the experts tapped to assist in the establishment of the health disparities initiatives for the National institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities. Fouad is also the founding director of the Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center (MHRC), which celebrated 15 years of continuous operations in 2017.

“Mona worked tirelessly to establish the MHRC,” Vickers said, “and has been one of the founders of the field of health disparities. Her work has generated and combined research in multiple areas across cancer, behavioral disciplines, and social sciences, as well as multiple interdisciplinary programs across UAB.”

Fouad developed innovative community-based approaches to reducing racial disparities in mammography screenings in Alabama black belt counties, which are among Alabama’s poorest. As a direct result of her research projects, racial disparities in breast cancer screening in these areas were virtually eliminated, as were disparities in access to cancer care. Moreover, her groundbreaking Patient Navigator program allows marginalized and underserved patient populations to effectively engage the often labyrinthine health care system.

As the Co-PI of the Mid-South Transdisciplinary Collaborative Center for Health Disparities Research, Fouad established a research coalition with three academic institutions and 110 community partners, assisting these community partners in building capacity to serve the communities and improving health outcomes.

Her groundbreaking infrastructure developments to combat health disparities have been replicated at other institutions to implement, evaluate, and disseminate evidence-based interventions to reduce breast and cervical cancer disparities between African American women and white women. Fouad’s innovations have also been utilized on a global level: she collaborated with representatives from Stoke-on-Trent in the United Kingdom to assist British representatives in building the Centre for Health and Development (CHAD), modeled on the MHRC, which works to combat health disparities in the UK. More recently, she pioneered a training program at the University of Alexandria Faculty of Medicine in Egypt to equip 11.16.17 UAB Mona Fouad Faculty Celebration 26medical students and junior faculty to perform comprehensive screening protocols to combat colorectal cancer, which occurs at a disproportionately high rate in that region.

In addition to her work as a researcher, professor, and the Director of the MHRC, Dr. Fouad serves as the Senior Associate Dean for Diversity & Inclusion at the School of Medicine. Under her leadership, the UAB School of Medicine saw a record number of minority students admitted for the 2016-2017 academic year. Dr. Fouad as led efforts to mentor and promote minority students, researchers, and leaders through joint programs with the historically black colleges and universities of Morehouse School of Medicine and Tuskegee University. Pipeline programs, which target students beginning in high school, and follow them through in academic journey through college and medical school, have reached more than 400 minority health practitioners and researchers. These efforts include mentorship of junior faculty, many of whom Dr. Fouad personally mentors in spite of shouldering crucial administrative responsibilities.

Seth Landefeld, Chair of the Department of Medicine, followed Dean Vickers in discussing Dr. Fouad’s achievements.

“I was thinking, what could really crystallize Mona’s work?” he said. “And the thing that struck me is that it’s all about people and programs. I look around the department, around the school, around the division, and see all these people whose careers have been touched, often made, often behind the scenes, by Mona. She has brought people together, she has inspired them, she has mentored them, and she has given them opportunities to really develop in new and extraordinary ways.”

He described Fouad’s efforts in developing strategies and programs to recruit and retain minority participants in clinical trials, a crucial element in eliminating race-based health disparities. Landefeld characterized Fouad’s work in UAB’s Recruitment and Retention Shared Facility (RRSF) as “one of the jewels in our crown here at UAB.”

Fouad has received numerous awards, including the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Leadership Award in 2016, along with the prestigious Saint George National Award from the American Cancer Society, an award presented to outstanding community volunteers in recognition of their distinguished service in achieving the Society’s strategic goals. That same year, she was named by as one of the “Women who Shape the State.” She received the MOMENTUM Women’s Leadership Award in 2014, and in 2012 was awarded the Albert LoBuglio Distinguished Faculty Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Research Mission of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. In 2008, she was the recipient of the UAB President’s Diversity Faculty Award. In 2005, the American Medical Association’s Program on Health Disparities honored Dr. Fouad with the Excellence in Eliminating Health Disparities Award, and she received the Sullivan Best Practices Award in 2004.

Anita Clemon, Chair of the UAB Commission on the Status of Women, spoke after Landefeld, and acknowledged Fouad’s work in advocacy for women. “From our perspective,” she said, “a few words that describe you are: strategic, dedicated, a trailblazer, courageous, genuine, an advocate, systematic, focused, and above all, a leader. These words are 11.16.17 UAB Mona Fouad Faculty Celebration 29powerful, and you exemplify them all in what seems to be an effortless manner.”

“This is a singular honor for Dr. Fouad’s body of work,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts, M.D., “and all of us at UAB are very proud of her and this prominent recognition that she has received.”