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In the summer of 2020, the UAB School of Medicine (SOM) created the Hispanic/LATINX Faculty Association under the leadership of Selwyn Vickers, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medicine, Dean of the School of Medicine and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) lead by Mona Fouad, M.D., M.P.H., Professor and Senior Associate Dean. They asked three faculty members to co-lead it: Marcela Frazier from Ophthalmology, Marisa Marques, M.D., from Pathology and Fernando Ovalle from Medicine.
Marisa MarquesMarisa Marques, M.D., Interim Division Director, Laboratory Medicine

The group was initially called simply LATINX, which according to Oxford Languages means “a person of Latin American origin or descent (used as a gender-neutral or nonbinary alternative to Latino or Latina)”, when used as a noun, or “relating to people of Latin American origin or descent (used as a gender-neutral or nonbinary alternative to Latino or Latina)” as an adjective. According to Google, it was introduced less than 20 years ago, which may explain many (perhaps most) faculty members were not familiar with it. For this reason, a permanent name is under debate to encompass individuals either born in Mexico, Central or South America, or Southern Europe (Spain, Portugal, Italy or France) or who have ancestors that came to the United States from one of these countries.

The Mission and Vision of the Hispanic/Latinx Association is to “foster, promote, and advocate for Hispanic faculty while inspiring diversity, equity, and inclusion within the campus and healthcare community. This mission will be accomplished by 1. Encouraging communication, networking, mentoring and professional development, as well as serving as a voice for cultural and educational concerns among our faculty; 2. Serving to improve the recruitment and retention of Hispanic faculty, trainees, and medical students and promote engagement within the School of Medicine; and 3. Advocating for the Hispanic community to enhance multicultural awareness, diversity, and inclusion in healthcare” (Hispanic/Latinx Faculty Association - School of Medicine - Diversity and Inclusion | UAB)

At this time, 68 individuals with connections to 17 countries are members of the Hispanic/LATINX Faculty Association. The most represented countries in the SOM are Peru with 11, followed by Brazil with nine, and Mexico with eight faculty members.

The Department of Pathology has the third-largest number of members (following Internal Medicine and Pediatrics) with 11 Hispanic/LATINX faculty members: two from Argentina (Andrea Kahn and Silvio Litovsky), two from Brazil (Jose Lima and Marisa Marques), two from Cuba (Sixto Leal and Diana Morlote), and one each from the Dominican Republic (Manuel Gonzales), Ecuador (Frida Rosemblum), Italy (Cristina Magi-Galluzzi), Paraguay (Carlos Prieto-Granada) and Spain (Dan Atherton). In January, the ODI requested nominations for the Professional Excellence Award for one member of the Hispanic/LATINX association and one from the African-American Association, and Marisa Marques won it for her work with the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) and efforts to mentor junior faculty members and promote diversity and inclusion in our department and the SOM.