Drs. Martin and PereiraRecently, Department of Surgery Associate Professors Colin Martin, M.D., FACS, and Sara Pereira, M.D., FACS, were named associate vice chairs for diversity, equity and inclusion.

As part of their first efforts in the role, Martin and Pereira have established a Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). The mission of the committee is to understand, promote and respect diversity of background, culture, attitudes and experiences within the department to drive excellence in clinical care, research, and surgical education. On June 1, the committee was formally announced in a department message that reiterated the department’s commitment to rejecting hatred and confronting racism.

Department of Surgery Chair, Herbert Chen, M.D., FACS, is looking forward to Martin and Pereira advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the department.

“Through the formation of this committee, we are taking an active role in combating hatred, unconscious biases and systematic racism,” said Chen. “Our department is filled with inclusive leaders, and Drs. Martin and Pereira are no exception. I am confident that the department will continue to be at the forefront of diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Some of the first goals of the committee address policies, curriculum and needs of underrepresented faculty and staff. Although preliminary and will be finalized in initial committee meetings, these goals include: assessing departmental diversity; developing a diversity policy for faculty recruitment; creating an onboarding DEI curriculum for new faculty hires, administrators and residents; and building a diverse pipeline of potential trainees.

Although deeply saddened by the events of the past week, Pereira is hopeful in the actionable step of the committee formation.

“Not only does this committee send the message that there is no room for discrimination or inequality in the department, but it gives diversity, equity and inclusion a prominent voice in all of the future events, plans and policies of the department,” said Pereira. “I think that many of us in the department are very proud of the way that our leadership has responded to recent events.”

Martin sees and acknowledges the pain felt by black medical students, residents, faculty and staff of the department, as well as the black community nationwide.

“The death of Mr. George Floyd is a painful reminder for our country, and many are looking for ways to actively denouncing racism and other forms of hatred,” said Martin. “This committee is a step in the right direction of ensuring that we create a platform of expression for not only members of the black community, but all underrepresented individuals in the field of medicine.”

In addition to associate professorships, Martin and Pereira serve as program co-directors for the department program Pre-College Research Internship for Students from Minority Backgrounds (PRISM). Martin is the Surgical Director for the UAB and Children's of Alabama Center for Advanced Intestinal Rehabilitation and leads a laboratory focused on research for neonates. Pereira is also research-driven, directing monthly cardiac simulation labs for the thoracic surgery residents, researching quality improvement and clinical outcomes in adult cardiac surgery, and assisting in admissions selection for the UAB School of Medicine.

To learn more about the committee and how you can get involved, please visit the Department of Surgery Diversity, Equity and Inclusion website.