Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

Our Charge

The committee’s main charge is to foster an environment of acceptance and celebration of diversity, and to recruit and support trainees of diverse backgrounds and experiences. Focus includes life in Pittsburgh, networking, mentorship and professional support.

The committee is chaired by Dr. Naudia Jonassaint. Our members include residents and fellows from all levels of training, and attending physicians from multiple divisions within the Department of Medicine.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), the University of Pittsburgh Department of Medicine Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (UPDOM ODI), and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (UPSOM) are highly committed to enhancing and nurturing the culture of diversity and inclusion in Pittsburgh. Several large events, in addition to daily efforts, occur throughout the year, including:


MedFam is a mentorship program amongst underrepresented minority (URM) and ally medical students, residents, fellows, and attendings.

Community Day invites the whole community to participate in service projects all around Pittsburgh during the spring.

Juneteenth Celebration with C-ROC and PITT – celebrating the freedom that enslaved people achieved over 150 years ago.

Movie Night In the Park With C-ROC & PITT DOM – A community event co-hosted with the Coalition of Residents and Fellows of Color (C-ROC) in Schenley Park where we enjoy a family-friendly movie and movie theater snacks.

Diversity Book Club is a series that invites everyone University-wide to read engaging and thought-provoking books that are relevant to today’s society, and at least once a year, the author to one of our books is invited to the institution.

Welcome Celebration is a get together for medical students, residents, fellows, and School of Medicine faculty members that occurs at the beginning of the academic school year.

Rainbow Recruitment and Welcome: We aim to introduce prospective medical school students to queer spaces and support at Pitt/UPMC and highlight LGBTQ+ life in Pittsburgh. We also welcome new UPMC trainees an opportunity to connect with our queer community.

Underrepresented Minority (URM) Recruitment Brunches welcomes URM candidates that are invited for a residency interview and the brunch is followed by a tour of the beautiful city.

Celebration of Flavors is community-wide event that celebrates Latinx Heritage Month.

Salsa Date Night is community-wide event that celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month.

Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) Night Out invites our community to come out and enjoy an evening at some of Pittsburgh’s exciting attractions.

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (UPSOM)

  • Toast to Diversity: Held annually in September, Toast to Diversity is an opportunity for residents, students, and faculty from across the University, Departments, and campuses to network and celebrate.
  • Hispanic Heritage Month Dinner: Hosted by the UPSOM Chapter of the Latino Medical Student Association, this event is held annually to celebrate all Latinx cultures and honoring the contributions of Latinx physicians’ in Pittsburgh.
  • SNMA Physician Roundtable: Our chapter of SNMA annually holds a speed mentoring event for medical students. Residents and Faculty from across the medical school are invited to serve as mentors!
  • Black History Month Banquet: A high note of every February is our Black History Month Banquet, hosted by our chapter of SNMA.

Gastroenterologist and Vice Chair for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Department of Medicine, Dr. Naudia Jonassaint giving a speech at the most recent Toast to Diversity.

From left to right: Dr. Jaime Stern, Dr. Allison S. DeKosky, Dr. Eloho Ufomata, Dr. Kaleab Abebe, Dr. Jane Liebschutz, Dr. Melissa McNeil, Dr. Utibe Essien, Dr. Esa Davis, and Dr. Alda Maria Gonzaga enjoying their time at Toast to Diversity.

Local organizations which complement our committee’s charge include:

Our residents also have the opportunity to mentor medical students through our relationships with the University of Pittsburgh’s chapters of SNMA and LMSA.

The Gateway Medical Society is an organization whose mission is to promote the healthcare and general welfare of minority and socio-economically challenged populations in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Our local chapter has been working to promote that mission for the past 50 years here in Pittsburgh! Students, residents, and faculty in our program are encouraged to join and participate in this organization. For more information on the Gateway Medical Society, click here.

Pride Health is an organization, promoted by the Office of Health Diversity within the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC, whose mission is to serve students, faculty, staff, residents, fellows, and providers in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex community. They foster social and professional connections among the LGBTQI community, in addition to providing advocacy, education, and awareness among the health sciences community.

Meet some of our residents and graduates!

Ricardo Nieves, MD

Class of 2019

Ricardo's home town is Newark, Delaware. He graduated from the University of Delaware with degrees in neuroscience and Spanish literature, and then attended the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Why did Ricardo choose UPMC for residency?

"In my search for the "right" residency program I always kept coming back to UPMC. While I saw many great places and was impressed many times over, I simply felt at home at UPMC. The staff are phenomenal and the career opportunities here are endless. Additionally, having had attended the University of Pittsburgh for medical school, I have come to really enjoy living in Pittsburgh."

Patricia Ajayi-Fox, MD

Class of 2018

Patricia's home town is Lagos, Nigeria. Patricia graduated from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, before completing medical school at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University. Patricia is a member of the residency program's global health track and her scholarly project involves studying social networks and alcoholic liver disease.

"I am interested in Global health and thought the UPMC GH track was the best fit for me. I liked how this program gives residents many different tracks to pursue their varied career goals. I also liked that we were given a lot of autonomy when on general medicine floors. Lastly, I think my fellow residents are very encouraging and friendly thus creating a more fun yet professional environment to work in."

Emily Guhl, MD

Class of 2017

Emily's home town is Brookfiled, WI. Emily graduates from Washington University in St. Louis before earning her MD degree at the University of Chicago. Emily is working with Dr. Jain in the Electrophysiology Department on a few projects involving the Efficacy and Safety of Cryoballoon Pulmonary Vein Isolation for Atrial Fibrillation. She recently had a first author publication in the Journal of the American Heart Association as a result of her scholarly work.

"UPMC stood out to me on the interview trial because the program had outstanding research, clinical and educational opportunities. I was particularly attracted to the Clinical Scientist Track where I could be exposed to UPMC's extensive research infrastructure, take master-level coursework in biostatistics and clinical research methods, and participate in a longitudinal clinical research seminar series alongside the excellent clinical experience UPMC offers."

Adetola Ladejobi, MD

Class of 2017

Tola's home town is Lagos, Nigeria. He earned his MD degree from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. For his scholarly project he is studying remote ischemic conditioning and the use ICDs for secondary prevention of sudden cardiac arrest.

"I chose UPMC for 3 main reasons. (i) the camaraderie I observed between staff, faculty and residents (ii) the breadth of excellent clinical and research training opportunities (iii) the exceptional and affordable living standard in Pittsburgh."

Sherie (McDonald) Gause, MD

Class of 2016

Sherie joined us from the University of Maryland. She is currently a pulmonary and critical care fellow at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. While in residency, her scholarly project focused on nutrition and hyperglycemia affect outcomes in acute lung injury.

Sherie's best memory about training at UPMC: "bonding with my co-residents and my attendings. I feel like I made life-long connections."

Eliana Bonifacino, MD

Class of 2015

Eliana joined us from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. After completing her residency in the Women's Health track, she spent a year serving as Chief Resident of our program. She joined the Academic Clinician Educator Scholars (ACES) Program with a clinical focus in Women's health in July 2016. Her residency scholarly project was a systematic review examining the relationship between maternal hypertension and breastfeeding.
"I've been at Pitt a long time- I came to Pitt for medical school, and have stayed for residency, chief residency, and now fellowship. A really great part about training at Pitt for so long is that I've had the opportunity to go back and teach some of the same sessions that I went through as a medical student, but now as a fellow/attending."

Alcinto Steven Guirand, MD

Preliminary Track, Class of 2015

Steve joined us from the University of Pittsburgh. He is currently a UPMC Chronic Pain Medicine Fellow. While in residency Steve's scholarly project focused on neuromuscular impairment, mobility and chronic pain among older adults at risk for disability.

Steve's best memories about training at UPMC include, "UPMC has excellent physician mentorship. The faculty at Pitt are brilliant and great role models. Teaching here is well structured and makes me confident that I will have the tools to succeed in practice when I complete my training."

Mehret Birru-Talabi, MD, PhD

Class of 2014

Mehret joined us from the University of Pittsburgh. She is completing her fellowship in Rheumatology at UPMC. While in residency, her scholarly project focused on the as sociation of the HLA-DRB1 shared epitope alleles with rheumatoid arthritis and clinical outcomes in the Women's Health Initiative.

Mehret's best memories of training at UPMC include: "So many good memories. One of my favorites is handling my first team as a resident. After years of training, it felt great to help to be a decision maker, interpreter, teacher, and guide. But I still had plenty of patient interaction, which I've found is what really inspires me to do my best. It was a great month! (And I had Carla Spagnoletti as my attending, which was the best!)"

If you are interested in joining the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, then please contact Anastasia White, Diversity and Inclusion Program Coordinator at whiteaj2@upmc.edu or 412-692-2694.