Celebrating Values in Action

New award highlights commitment to equity, social justice, advocacy

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Across the Harvard Medical School community, students, trainees, faculty, and staff use the tools of research, education, service, and leadership to address the social forces that cause health disparities and unnecessary suffering and disease.

As they do so, these individuals deepen scientific understanding, improve medical education, and strengthen health care delivery systems, all while working to build a healthier, more just world for people everywhere.

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On Nov. 30, the inaugural Harvard Medical School Equity, Social Justice, and Advocacy Lecture and Award Ceremony will acknowledge the importance of diversity, respect, collaboration, and service to the School’s core community values and celebrate the work of the first eight award recipients toward advancing equity and social justice.

The online ceremony, which will be open to the public, will also feature keynote speaker Michael Curry, president and chief executive officer of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, who will discuss the intersection of racial justice and health equity.

“These awards are a testimonial to the breadth and depth of the commitment of HMS community members to improving health and well-being for all people by helping to build a more equitable, more just world,” said Joan Reede, HMS dean for diversity and community partnership.

“Our faculty, trainees, students, and staff are incorporating the values of inclusive excellence in their scholarship and their service, making a difference in our local communities, across the nation, and around the world,” she added.

The award recipients’ work addresses a wide range of challenges, including finding ways to incorporate the health risks of climate change into medical curricula, to advocate for the use of more diverse skin tones in dermatology case studies, to fight health disparities from COVID-19 in communities around Boston and among the staff at Harvard-affiliated hospitals, and to build community belonging and educational opportunities on campus and around the world.

Reede said the new award was created in response to multiple requests from across the HMS community to find a way to recognize the exceptional service of individuals at the medical and dental schools and their affiliates who make significant contributions to affirming the mission and values of the medical school by advancing equitysocial justice, and advocacy.

DeWayne Pursley, HMS associate professor of pediatrics  and chief of the Department of Neonatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Alexy Arauz Boudreau, HMS assistant professor of pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital, co-chaired the EquitySocial Justice, and Advocacy Committee, leading an inclusive process involving faculty, staff, students, and trainees to develop the concept of the award.

Starting in May 2021, the committee collected dozens of nominations, selected the award recipients, and planned the ceremony and lecture to recognize the recipients and all of the nominees for their work in this area.

Register to attend the award ceremony via Zoom.

Application guidelines are available online. Nominations for the 2022 ESJA Award will open in January 2022.

2021 Award Recipients


  • Gaurab Basu
    HMS Instructor in Medicine and Co-Director, Center for Health Equity Education & Advocacy Cambridge Health Alliance
  • Cheryl Clark
    HMS Assistant Professor of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital


  • Aljani Stanley
    Director of Administration, HMS Office for Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership


  • Bina Kassamali
    HMS MD Candidate
  • Derek Soled
    HMS MD Candidate


  • Lucy Ogbu-Nwobodo
    HMS Clinical Fellow in Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Jose Orejas
    HMS Research Fellow in Pulmonary Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital
  • Lachelle Weeks
    HMS Instructor in Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital