Congratulations to Kafui Dzirasa, MD, PhD, K. Ranga Rama Krishnan Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, on winning a Duke Presidential Award, and to our department members who are part of LATIN-19, which won a team Presidential Award:
- Gabriela Nagy, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and nursing, LATIN-19 executive team member
- Miriam Feliu, PsyD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences
- Theresa Flores, LCSWA
- Katherine Ramos, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences
- Melissa Santiago, MS (clinical psychology intern)
Kafui Dzirasa, MD, PhD, who was the first African-American student to receive a PhD in neurobiology at Duke, has since gone on to an extraordinary career as a researcher, earning numerous awards from the National Institutes of Health. One colleague called him a “force of nature, a rock star who has broken the mold of physician scientists.” Perhaps his greatest contribution to the campus community has been through his mentorship and advocacy for minority populations in science, providing direct support to dozens of students and colleagues, designing and implementing core values for his lab, and advocating for policies that address systemic racism across the academy in both scientific journals and national and international media outlets.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Duke faculty convened the LATIN-19 (Latinx Advocacy Team & Interdisciplinary Network for COVID-19) to identify disparities in care and critical needs for the Latinx community in North Carolina. Over the past year, the team has brought the concerns of the Latinx populations to the attention of key stakeholders in government and healthcare, has supported the efforts of local and regional taskforces, and has advocated for inclusive policies at Duke Health. Their efforts are credited in part for a significant decline in COVID-19 cases among Latinx residents of Durham.
The Presidential Awards Ceremony was held on Wednesday, April 14. Check out the Duke Presidential Awards website, which highlights all of the winners and includes the recorded ceremony.
We’re profoundly grateful to each of these department members for their steadfast dedication to their work and their extraordinary contributions!