• Press Release

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Announces New Biomedical Laureates as Part of Drive to Diversify Research

  • New York, NY
  • (December 13, 2021)

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai announced today the appointment of two new Laureates as part of its Biomedical Laureates Program, building on an institutional commitment to broadening diversity and mentorship opportunities. The announcement follows the launch of the program in June.

“Our commitment to diversity enhances our capacity to conduct academic research for the good of all people, to seek answers through the lens of different experience, and the ability to translate that research into innovative, effective therapeutic solutions to complex medical issues,” said Eric J. Nestler, MD, PhD, Nash Family Professor of Neuroscience, Director of The Friedman Brain Institute, and Dean for Academic and Scientific Affairs of Icahn Mount Sinai, and Chief Scientific Officer of the Mount Sinai Health System. “Our new appointees further that commitment and help make us a leader in achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion in our field.”

One of the new appointees, Sidney H. Hankerson, MD, MBA, will join the Mount Sinai Institute for Health Equity Research (IHER) as Director of Mental Health Equity Research. Dr. Hankerson, who will also be appointed Vice Chair for Community Engagement in the Department of Psychiatry, will join Mount Sinai in March 2022. Currently on the faculty of Columbia University, Dr. Hankerson conducts research focused on the reduction of racial and ethnic disparities in mental health treatment, with a specific focus on depression. Dr. Hankerson has received several prestigious awards, including the American Psychiatric Association’s Nancy C.A. Roeske, MD, Certificate of Recognition for Excellence in Medical Student Education, and he was chosen as a 2021 Emerging Leader in Health and Medicine by the National Academy of Medicine. 

“I am tremendously humbled and grateful to be part of the Mount Sinai Biomedical Laureates Program. This prestigious initiative provides resources needed to advance my research program and access to a renowned network of mentors and colleagues at Mount Sinai,” said Dr. Hankerson. “One of my goals is to create a model for church-affiliated mental health clinics that can be replicated in every major city nationwide. Mount Sinai’s clinical infrastructure and IHER’s expertise in engaging communities of color will be invaluable in working toward that objective.” Dr. Hankerson notes that early discussions are already under way with the HOPE Center, the mental health clinic affiliated with the historic First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem. “I think it will be a very nice fit, both clinically, because Mount Sinai serves many patients who call Harlem home, and because our churches are among the most trusted institutions in the African American community and have long been natural havens for mental health support,” says Dr. Hankerson.

“Dr. Hankerson’s groundbreaking research in addressing racial mental health inequities makes him uniquely qualified to build Mount Sinai’s research portfolio in this critically important area,” said Lynne D. Richardson, MD, FACEP, and, Co-Director of IHER, and Professor of Emergency Medicine, Population Health Science and Policy, and Artificial Intelligence and Human Health, at Icahn Mount Sinai. “We are thrilled to welcome this accomplished physician-scientist to IHER’s leadership team.”   

The second appointee, Nilsson Holguin, PhD, will join the Leni and Peter W. May Department of Orthopedics as Assistant Professor on Wednesday, June 1, 2022.  Currently on faculty at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis School of Engineering & Technology as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, Dr. Holguin is a biomedical engineer and research leader in bone-soft tissue interactions. He is the recipient of several notable awards, including the prestigious Harold M. Frost Young Investigator Award and the ORS Sun Valley Alice L. Jee Young Investigator Award. Dr. Holguin’s research is focused on therapeutic interventions for spinal diseases, which are widely known to affect intervertebral discs (IVDs) as well as vertebrae themselves.

“Being selected as a Mount Sinai Laureate is an honor not just because they are interested in my research but also because they are interested in promoting people of color,” said Dr. Holguin. “It is an exciting time not just for me but for all researchers of color in that we are gaining more recognition for the work we have been doing. I commend the leadership of Mount Sinai for starting the Biomedical Laureates Program and I hope other institutions nationwide and around the world will undertake similar initiatives.”

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Holguin join the department and we are certain his expertise will help bolster our department’s reputation as a globally recognized leader in spine research excellence,” said James C. Iatridis, PhD, Professor and Vice Chair for Research with the Leni and Peter W. May Department of Orthopedics, and Director of the Spine Research Program at Icahn Mount Sinai. “His expertise is also a great fit with Mount Sinai’s exceptional clinical spine service, which is dedicated to advancing research to improve patient care. Moreover, Dr. Holguin’s commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in his research program and professional societies will support our mission to be leaders advancing inclusivity and diversity in musculoskeletal research.”

The Biomedical Laureates Program is one of several initiatives that Icahn Mount Sinai has undertaken to advance inclusivity and diversity in biomedical science. They include a five-year, $16 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to foster inclusive excellence in biomedical sciences using evidence-based approaches. Using the grant, led by Emma K. T. Benn, DrPH, MPH, Associate Professor of Population Health Science and Policy and Associate Dean for Faculty Well-Being and Development, Icahn Mount Sinai aims to recruit and hire 12 faculty members from underrepresented groups across four research areas and institutes: The Friedman Brain Institute, the Institute for Health Equity Research, The Tisch Cancer Institute, and the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute.

“We are continuing to pursue impactful change that will bring diverse perspectives into the realm of biomedical science because we believe that will lead to breakthroughs that significantly improve the health of our patients and our community,” said Dennis S. Charney, MD, the Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of Icahn Mount Sinai, and President for Academic Affairs of the Mount Sinai Health System. “We hope our efforts encourage other health centers to explore opportunities to diversify their faculty.” 

About the Mount Sinai Health System

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with 48,000 employees working across eight hospitals, more than 400 outpatient practices, more than 600 research and clinical labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time—discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.

Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 9,000 primary and specialty care physicians and 11 free-standing joint-venture centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida. Hospitals within the System are consistently ranked by Newsweek’s® “The World’s Best Smart Hospitals, Best in State Hospitals, World Best Hospitals and Best Specialty Hospitals” and by U.S. News & World Report's® “Best Hospitals” and “Best Children’s Hospitals.” The Mount Sinai Hospital is on the U.S. News & World Report® “Best Hospitals” Honor Roll for 2024-2025.

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