Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS Core Team

Photography by Marcia E. Wilson.

Dr. Emma K. T. Benn, Founding Director, Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS
Emma K. T. Benn, DrPH, MPH
Founding Director, Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS

Dr. Benn is an Associate Professor in the Center for Biostatistics and Department of Population Health Science and Policy at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS). She is also the Associate Dean of Faculty Wellbeing and Development and serves as a member of the Faculty Diversity Council and Anti-racism Task Force at ISMMS. She has also served as co-Director of the Master of Science in Biostatistics Program and Director of Academic Programs for the Center for Biostatistics at ISMMS. Dr. Benn has collaborated on a variety of health disparities-related research projects over the course of her career and also teaches a graduate-level course, Race and Causal Inference, aimed at increasing the methodologic rigor by which we investigate health disparities with a goal of finding effective causal targets for intervention. Dr. Benn is committed to increasing diversity, inclusion, and equitable advancement in (bio)statistics and STEM fields, more broadly, as well as reducing racial/ethnic disparities in faculty promotion in academic medicine. Dr. Benn is the co-founder of the NHLBI-funded Biostatistics Epidemiology Summer Training (BEST) Diversity Program and a former co-Chair of the ENAR Fostering Diversity in Biostatistics Workshop. She also serves as a mentor for the JSM Diversity Workshop and Mentoring Program and the Math Alliance. Dr. Benn was co-PI of the NIGMS-funded Applied Statistics in Biological Systems (ASIBS) Short Course aimed at increasing the statistical competency and research capacity of early stage researchers nationwide. She currently is co-PI of the NHGRI-funded Clinical Research Education in Genome Science (CREiGS) Short Course aimed at exposing doctoral students, postdocs, and clinical and research faculty to computational tools in genome science in addition to effective strategies for engaging underserved communities in genomics research. Dr. Benn’s contributions to diversity and inclusion in statistics and STEM have been celebrated by various organizations including Mathematically Gifted and Black and the American Statistical Association.

 

Dr. Uraina Clark, Director of Research Development, Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS
Uraina Clark, PhD
Director of Research Development, Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS

Dr. Clark completed her PhD in Psychology at Boston University and her postdoctoral training in Clinical Neuropsychology and Neuroimaging at Brown University. In 2013, she joined the faculty at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai where she directs the Neuropsychology and Neuroimaging Laboratory. In her research, Dr. Clark utilizes structural and functional neuroimaging techniques, as well as neuropsychological assessments, to examine the effects of stress (e.g., social discrimination, early-life stress) on neural structure and function. Dr. Clark’s innovative work includes conducting one of the first fMRI studies to examine the relation between “everyday” discrimination and neural function (Clark et al., 2018, BP:CNNI). Dr. Clark has received several awards for her research, including a fellowship from the American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship Program, early-career awards from the NIH (e.g., F31, K23), a Suffrage Science Award from the Medical Research Council in the United Kingdom, and a Rising Star award from the National Institute on Aging/American Geriatrics Society. Dr. Clark has a longstanding commitment to fostering diverse, inclusive, equitable, and healthy training/workplace environments, building on a foundation of social justice work (e.g., NAACP Executive Committee Board and Third Vice President, Providence, RI). Dr. Clark serves on the Dean’s Faculty Diversity Council and chairs the Neurology Department Diversity Committee. In her role at the Center for Scientific Diversity, Dr. Clark seeks to expand the research capacity of BIPOC investigators and enhance the research environment for all biomedical professionals.

 

Dr. Nihal Mohamed, Director of Education and Training, Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS
Nihal Mohamed, PhD
Director of Education and Training, Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS

Dr. Mohamed is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of Patient Education and Behavioral Research in the Department of Urology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and a member of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program of the Tisch Cancer Institute. Dr. Mohamed has a broad background in Educational and Health Psychology with specific expertise in key research areas of the field such as patient education, illness and risk perception, patient-provider communication, health-related quality of life and emotional adjustment following cancer diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Mohamed’s previous research has focused primarily on exploring social, cognitive, cultural and affective factors influencing patients’ coping with and adjustment to cancer diagnosis and treatment. Guided by a self-regulation theoretical framework, the focus of her research is twofold: the assessment of cognitive and affective factors influencing treatment decision making and the development of applied psychosocial interventions to enhance treatment decision making, quality of life, and post-treatment healthcare among cancer patients and their family caregivers. Most recently Dr. Mohamed’s research has focused on understanding drivers of health disparities in underserved cancer patient populations. Dr. Mohamed’s research is supported by grants from the American Cancer Society (ACS), Department of Defense (DOD), National Institutes of Nursing Research (NINR), and National Cancer Institute (NCI). Additionally, she has served as the Chair of the European Health Psychology-UNDP Sub-committee and currently serves as a Co-Chair of the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN)-Survivorship Working Group. Dr. Mohamed’s commitment to mentoring and teaching over the past 10 years has resulted in her significant contribution to several undergraduate and postgraduate courses, student training, and workshops focusing on improving students’ skills and knowledge in different areas including patient centered reported outcomes, biobehavioral science, global mental health, and qualitative approach to data analyses, survey development and analyses.

 

Dr. Kirk Campbell, Director of Recruitment, Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS
Kirk Campbell, MD
Director of Recruitment, Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS

Dr. Campbell is an Associate Professor of Medicine, Vice Chair for Diversity and Inclusion and Director of the Nephrology Fellowship Program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He received his medical degree from the University of Connecticut and completed a residency in internal medicine at Yale University. He then completed a clinical and research fellowship in Nephrology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. In addition to treating patients, Dr. Campbell leads an NIH-funded research program focused on understanding the mechanisms underlying kidney disease progression. He actively participates in clinical trials testing novel agents for primary glomerular disease. He is the Past-President of the New York Society of Nephrology, a member of the Board of Directors of the Nephcure Foundation and a member of the Medical Advisory Board of the National Kidney Foundation of Greater New York.

 

Dr. Jamilia Sly, Director of Anti-Racist Community Research and Outreach, Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS
Jamilia Sly, PhD
Director of Anti-Racist Research and Community Outreach, Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS

Dr. Sly is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Health Science and Policy in the Center for Behavioral Oncology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She is also Director of the ISMMS Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP), co-Director of the Program on Antiracism and Equity in the Department of Population Health Science and Policy, and an Associate member of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program of the Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai. Dr. Sly’s background and training in community psychology underscores her passion for working with underserved populations as well as her commitment to developing interventions to improve health disparities. Her research is focused on understanding how psychological and social barriers may be understood in the context of developing clinical and community-based interventions to reduce and ultimately eliminate health disparities, particularly in cancer mortality. Her research and community engagement is guided by the CONnect framework (Integrating Context, Fostering a Norm of Inclusion, Ensuring Equitable Diffusion of Innovations, Harnessing Communication Technology, Prioritizing Specialized Training) that she helped develop and publish which provides actionable recommendations for implementing behavioral interventions to help achieve health equity. Dr. Sly is experienced in collaborating with community-based organizations in New York City on research and educational outreach efforts and is an active member of the East Harlem Community Advisory Board and the Witness Project of Harlem (as Training Director). She is currently funded by the National Cancer Institute (Mentored Research Scientist Development Award to Promote Diversity; K01), the National Institute of Minority Health Disparities (Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Award; R21), and the New York State Department of Health (Patricia S. Brown Cancer Risk Reduction Education Research Project). She has also served as Chair of the Health Equity Special Interest Group for the Society of Behavioral Medicine.

 

Dr. Sarah J. Miller, Director of Faculty Diversity and Inclusion, Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS
Sarah J. Miller, PsyD
Director of Faculty Diversity and Inclusion, Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS

Dr. Miller is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Health Science and Policy and a member of the Center for Behavioral Oncology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She is also a co-Director of the Program on Antiracism and Equity in the Department of Population Health Science and Policy and an Associate Member of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program of the Tisch Cancer Institute. She is actively involved in the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s Health Policy Committee and is committed to proposing and supporting policy changes that promote health equity. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and a health equity researcher. Her research focuses on identifying policy, provider, and patient barriers to cancer screening uptake and identifying interventions to overcome those barriers. She is currently spearheading research initiatives that are centered on developing and testing digital health solutions designed to increase cancer screening uptake among medically underserved and socioeconomically disadvantaged patient populations. Her research has been supported by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Aging, and the American Cancer Society. She is co-leading the Department of Population Health Science and Policy’s anti-racist initiatives. She is deeply committed to promoting diversity, inclusion and equity in academic and clinical research.

 

Dr. Tracy Layne, Director of Mentorship Development, Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS
Tracy Layne, PhD, MPH
Director of Mentorship Development, Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS

Dr. Layne is an Assistant Professor in the Blavatnik Family Women’s Health Research Institute in the Department of Population Health Science and Policy and the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science, which she joined in 2018. She is a cancer epidemiologist targeting risk factors relevant to racial/ethnic disparities in risk, morbidity, and mortality in gynecologic malignancies such as ovarian and endometrial cancers. Her work aims to better understand the relationship between well established (e.g., obesity and diabetes), less explored (e.g., vitamin D status), and social/structural (e.g., socioeconomic status) risk factors and gynecologic cancers among women of African descent. She completed her postdoctoral training in nutrition and cancer at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and received her doctoral degree through the Yale University-NCI Cooperative Training Program in cancer epidemiology, and her master’s degree from the Boston University School of Public Health. As a member of the Center for Scientific Diversity, Dr. Layne is interested in research identifying key components of mentorship that contributes to the sustained growth and success of underrepresented minority researchers.

 

Holden Kata, Senior Program Manager, Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS
Holden Kata
Senior Program Manager, Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS

Holden Kata is a Clinical Research Coordinator in the Department of Urology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) and the Program Coordinator for the Center for Scientific Diversity. In his role at the Center for Scientific Diversity, he will provide support for all research activities, including assistance with federal grant applications and submissions to the IRB at ISMMS. His research interests include geospatial analysis and mapping, social and spatial epidemiology, social and geographic determinants of health, and the application of these fields to health disparities research.

 

Yvette Hutson, Program Manager, Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS
Yvette Hutson, MS
Program Manager, Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS

Yvette Hutson, MS works in the Center for Biostatistics and Department of Population Health Science and Policy at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She received her BA in Business Administration in 2014 from Empire State College. She subsequently received her MS in Human Services in 2019 from Walden University. She is passionate about helping those in underserved communities. Yvette also volunteers her time helping others with the Sexual Assault and Intervention Program at Mount Sinai (SAVI) providing crisis intervention to meet the needs of rape, sexual assault and domestic violence survivors.

 

Varuna Astha, Senior Biostatistician, Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS
Varuna Astha, MPH, M. Tech.
Senior Biostatistician, Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS

Varuna Astha joined Mount Sinai on 2nd March 2020 as Biostatistician-II in the Center for Biostatistics and Department of Population Health Science and Policy at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS). In these few months, she has provided statistical analysis expertise on various Covid-19 related research studies and currently collaborating in the Disparities Analytics Project with Dr. Emma Benn and Dr. Andrew Kasarskis. Ms. Astha possesses a diverse background in Public Health, involving 5+ years of work experience in Data Analysis, Reporting and Environmental, Health, & Safety Design Engineering. She holds an MPH degree in Biostatistics, an M. Tech in Environmental Health & Safety and a B. Tech in Computer Science. She is very interested in complex statistical analysis including mixed modelling, survival analysis and Bayesian data analysis. She wants to contribute to statistical science to answer questions regarding human health, disease and mortality, with the ultimate goal of advancing the public’s health. Outside her workspace, Varuna enjoys music, company of family & friends, and PLANTS. She is a plant mom of 25+ indoor plants.

 

Steven Lawrence, Graduate Research Assistant in Statistics and Data Science, Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS
Steven Lawrence
Graduate Research Assistant in Statistics and Data Science, Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS

Steven Lawrence is a graduate of CUNY Medgar Evers College with a bachelors in Biology and minor in Mathematics.  He is currently a second year Masters student in the Biostatistics program at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. He will be starting his PhD in Biostatistics at NYU in Fall 2021. Being introduced to disparities analytics while volunteering at Mount Sinai, Steven has developed a passion for working with time series data, visualizations and consulting. He represents students in a committee of academics at Columbia formed to analyzed the departmental climate on racial discrimination. As part of the Center for Scientific Diversity Steven functions as a graduate research assistant. His goal is to continue to make strides as a biostatistician and to contribute to diversity by helping to educate the next generation of underrepresented minorities in STEM.

Center for Scientific Diversity at ISMMS Consultants

Sima Rabinowitz, MA
Freelance Writer and Editor

Sima Rabinowitz is a writer and editor based in the Bronx, NY. She has 20 years’ experience writing and editing materials and publications to support the work of research and educational institutions and nonprofit organizations, including federal grants to support biomedical research. She collaborates with scientists across many disciplines and areas of specialization on grant applications, publications, website copy, and other forms of science research communications. She earned a BA with a double major in French and Spanish from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton and an MA in Latin American Literature from the University of Maryland, College Park. She is committed to addressing the inequities and resulting disparities that impact health and wellbeing for diverse communities and to healthcare as a human right.

Marcia E. Wilson, Photographer
Marcia E. Wilson
Photographer

Born in London, England, raised by Jamaican parents, photographer Marcia Wilson, moved to New York with her parents and two siblings in 1980. Her life in America began in Westbury, in Long Island, New York, where she attended high school. Soon after, she enrolled into Southern Connecticut State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Communications. After finishing college, she moved to Brooklyn, where she took the opportunity to pursue the arts, by taking classes at the Arts Student League, Cooper Union, and F.I.T. Her brother gifted her with a camera, and photographing the arts, culture, and the politics of communities of the African diaspora became a part of her life. Since the mid 90’s Marcia photographed for black literary magazines, namely QBR and Mosaic Literary Magazine, focusing primarily on writers of the African diaspora. This led her to have a wealth of images of writers which led her to develop the Dripping Ink series. In 2016 and 2018 Marcia received the Brooklyn Arts Council grant to curate the Provocateur Series, a photography group exhibit, which was in conjunction with the National Black Writers Conference at Medgar Evers College. Marcia’s images have appeared in numerous print and electronic media, books and film, which includes, The Village Voice, The Boston Globe, Bust Magazine; MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora; Misty Copeland film documentary “A Ballerina Tale” and CBS Morning Show. Exhibits includes solo shows at Medgar Evers College @ CUNY, New Haven Public Library, Flatbush Linden Blvd. Public Library, Joloff Gallery, AALBC Gallery. Group shows includes the Skylight Gallery at the Restoration Art Plaza, Brooklyn Arts Fellowship Gallery, BRIC Gallery.