Drs. Mary Marfisee, Arthur Gomez, and Linda Liau

On Dec. 9, the inaugural JEDI Trailblazer Awards in partnership with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Faculty Alliance and the Black, Latinx, Native American (BLNA) Faculty Collective, will honor three members who embody leadership and excellence in advancing Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI).

Recipients are: Arthur G. Gomez, MD, FACP, professor of Clinical Medicine, UCLA, and senior associate dean of Medical Education, CDU College of Medicine; Linda M. Liau, MD, PhD, MBA, chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at UCLA; and Mary M. Marfisee, MD, MPH, assistant clinical professor in the Department of Family Medicine.

“I am thrilled and humbled by this unique award,” says Dr. Gomez. “So much of what I have accomplished has truly been possible due to the many "trailblazers" who have been my mentors and examples over my professional and personal life. It is now an amazing consideration, and possibly even a bit daunting as well, that I would be considered a trailblazer for others.”

Dr. Gomez considers the award an opportunity to give back and to make things right for future generations, particularly vulnerable communities.

Each awardee will spend about 20 minutes discussing their own story – including their journey into medicine, leadership and work in JEDI.

Dave McIntosh, PhD, vice dean of the Office of Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion says the award is meant to evoke a “different vibe” than typical leadership awards.

“Oftentimes we hear about their academic prowess, clinical excellence, or their research accolades, but we never get to hear about who is behind all of those things,” Dr. McIntosh says. “This award is designed to be inspirational and shed light on the lived experience of different folks and celebrate them and their journey.”

Dr. McIntosh says the awards were designed after The Last Lecture, a book and lecture by Randy Pausch, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, who bid farewell to his family, students and peers through a lecture, due to terminal pancreatic cancer.

“We want to do this at a time when awardees are still here so they can be honored,” Dr. McIntosh says.

The awards aim to provide insight into each person’s experiences, obstacles and takeaways.

Dr. Marfisee says she’s both honored and humbled at the award nomination, and dedicates her work and JEDI-related efforts to the next generation of students.

“This award is not about me. It’s about the honor I’ve had to provide longitudinal learning experiences to over 1,000 medical students and experiences that have kept their idealism and compassion preserved,” she says.

The JEDI Trailblazer Awards will happen 2-3 times per year. The first iteration will take place in person and on Zoom, on Dec. 9 at Geffen Hall, Iris Cantor Auditorium (Room 130), from 4:30 – 6 pm. Click here to RSVP.

Learn more about the JEDI Trailblazer Awards.

Original Article:"JEDI Trailblazers: New award seeks to inspire and celebrate culture"