DEI Outreach

Data Science in Health Disparities Research Symposium

Access to therapeutics based on advanced technology and data science is not equally available and this situation raises deep ethical concerns for scientists. Professor Maureen Sartor and the DCMB’s DEI committee organized this symposium to increase awareness of such systemic health disparities.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Robert Winn, Director and Lipman Chair in Oncology, VCU Massey Cancer Center and Senior Associate Dean for cancer innovation and Professor of pulmonary disease and critical care medicine, VCU School of Medicine. In his talk titled "The Importance of Place and Space in Cancer Today," Dr. Winn led the audience through the history of health disparities and where we are today. He provided numerous compelling examples, including AI advances, that are not equitably accessible.

Invited speakers Scarlett Gomez, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco, Michael Sjoding, M.D., University of Michigan, Kristen Purrington, Ph.D., Wayne State University, and Judy Gichoya, M.D., Emory University School of Medicine, provided further examples of how data science can either exacerbate or address racial health disparities.

Leading up to this event, Cristina Mitrea, Ph.D., spearheaded a DCMB’s DEI Data Challenge in which 13 DCMB students participated. The group projects were highlighted and four winners were announced at the symposium: Olivia Alge, Catherine Barnier, Mahnoor Gondal, and Jake Schwartz.

The symposium took place in a hybrid format and was the first event offered to meet in-person since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 165 people were in attendance, mostly remotely, with a diverse mix of faculty, students and staff from DCMB, other U-M departments and beyond.

Our department supports and encourages our Bioinformatics Graduate Students and other departmental members in community outreach activities that strengthen diversity and inclusion in the STEM fields. Current outreach activities include:

  • ABRCMS – Departmental representatives attend the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students
  • DBG -  a free, after-school, academic and athletic program that serves youth (8 – 18 yrs) in Detroit, by providing tutoring and more
  • DNA Day  - an annual event where scientists from the state of Michigan visit local high schools to present interactive, hands-on lessons about genetics, genomics, and biotechnology.
  • Girls Who Code - Student-run group that encourages and supports high school women in learning how to code
  • SACNAS  - Departmental representatives attend the annual conference of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science
  • Science of Me - Middle school science outreach curriculum program
  • U-MYScI – An educational outreach program encouraging STEM education for middle school students in socio-economically underprivileged areas
Within our university and department, we are also working to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion for current and future students: