Cultural North Star Awards

Join us for our CNS Awards Celebration

Friday, March 8, 2024

12-2 p.m. PT

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Congratulations to the 2023 Cultural North Star Awardees

The CORELAB at the Division of Cardiac Surgery at UCLA was established in 2012. This team is a volunteer group of undergraduate students, medical students, residents, fellows, and attendings, who come together with the goal of advancing academic medicine. The CORELAB is dedicated to defining clinical outcomes and improving processes of care in cardiovascular surgery. In doing so, they aim to also train the next generation of clinician-scientists who can then disseminate our mission of groundbreaking research around the world. This team takes their responsibility very seriously: at its core, it is driven not just to advance science and medicine, but to make healthcare more equitable and the world a better place.

Student members:  Sara Sakowitz, Nguyen Le, Amulya Vadlakonda, Shayan Ebrahimian, Nam Yong Cho, Troy Coaston, Joanna Curry, Shineui Kim, Kole Joachim, Shannon Nesbitt, Giselle Porter, Konmal Ali, Jeff Baliyan

Faculty Members: Peyman Benharash, Yas Sanaiha, Joseph Hadaya, Nikhil Chervu, Saad Mallick

Body Empowerment Project works to prevent eating disorders in adolescents, specifically in populations that lack access to treatment, representation, and preventive care. At UCLA, the aim of this student organization is to reduce eating disorder risk and empower adolescents/young adults to find body acceptance and self-worth by delivering a research-validated body-positive and social justice-oriented curriculum through an innovative near-peer mentorship panel. The primary goal of the organization is to reduce healthcare disparities and promote equitable access to a novel community health intervention.

Student Members: Hannah Lee, Matthew Yan, Christina Miranda - Second Year Stanford Medical Student, Body Image Task Force - UCLA Undergraduate Student Organization (BEP Collaborator and Partner) 

Faculty Members: Jason Bahk, Rebecca Dudovitz, Elaine Rosen,  Hope W. Levin, Deborah Lehman, Tracy Wallace, Theresa Thibodeaux

IMPACT is a partnership between UCLA Urology and the California Department of Health Care and is the largest prostate cancer treatment program of its kind. IMPACT partners with community providers and local health departments to provide prostate cancer treatment to California men who have little or no health insurance. The program was created in 2001 by Dr. Mark Litwin and is daily administered by an amazing team of individuals who at all times put the men they serve as a priority. The goal of this program is to empower men to become active participants in their health care. This involves incorporating teaching and skill-building in our interactions and helping their voice be heard. 

Founding Members:  Mark Litwin, Laura Baybridge, Sally Maliski, Barbara Clerkin, James Orecklin

Staff Members: William Aronson, Kristen Williams, Ericka Maldonado-Aviles, Yamilex Velgara, Molyka Seang, Priscilla Valencia, Jaqueline Gorodetsky


About the Cultural North Star Awards

The Cultural North Star Awards are open annually to discipline-specific or multi-disciplinary teams within DGSOM. Teams may be comprised of faculty, trainees, staff, and students working together. Alternatively, teams may be comprised of either all trainees, all staff members, or all students. Three teams are honored annually with awards of $5,000 each.

Teams comprised of DGSOM faculty, staff, students, or trainees are eligible for nomination based on collaborative teamwork in the areas of clinical care, research, education, or community engagement. Nominators are asked to describe how the team has exemplified Cultural North Star values in their work and inspired others to do the same.


The 2023 nomination cycle has closed. Please check back later this year for more information on the 2024 Cultural North Star Awards.

The shift in the CNS awards is part of the iterative cultural transformation we are engaged in as a community. The expansion from one award to multiple gives us an opportunity to incorporate and honor the feedback received during previous award cycles. In addition, the intentional focus on inclusive teams highlights the importance of teamwork in defining who we are and what we value. 

We are seeking inclusive teams that work together to do what’s right, be kind, and make things better. The team's work, actions and interactions should demonstrate how they've used the Cultural North Star values to advance our mission of healing humankind through leading-edge care, research, education and community engagement.  

Interdisciplinary/cross-functional teams can serve as a model of an inclusive team because they are comprised of people with different functional expertise working toward a common goal. Representation, however, is only the first step. Inclusive teams foster a culture where team members hear, share, and appreciate diverse perspectives. This is what we are working to promote within DGSOM. 

  • As members of a highly matrixed organization, we often work on inclusive teams with colleagues across the UCLA Health system, the main campus, and the greater Los Angeles community.  

  • Nominations of DGSOM-based teams that include external members are welcome, understanding that part of the evaluation criteria will be the team’s impact on the DGSOM community. 

The CNS Awards Committee strives to be an inclusive team with representation from students, faculty, staff, and trainees from across DGSOM. Committee members are affiliated with DGSOM student societies; education and research centers; research institutes; administrative departments; basic science departments; and clinical departments. Each member brings with them diverse perspectives, informed by their insights working and learning across the school. 

The 2023 Cultural North Star Awards will be presented in December of 2023. Three teams will each be awarded $5,000 in funding to support activities that enrich their team’s activities.  

Proposed activities should help the team cultivate Cultural North Star values in their work, actions, and interactions. For example, funding could cover, a team-building activity, a guest speaker, workshops, materials, or books for your team. All proposed activities must be in accordance with UCLA policy. 

Distribution will be managed through CNS in partnership with the Dean’s Office Finance team. Funds will be available for use for a full calendar no earlier than January 2023.