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Wilkins named Senior Vice President and Senior Associate Dean for Health Equity and Inclusive Excellence

Jun. 17, 2021, 8:22 AM

Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI

by John Howser

Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI, Vice President for Health Equity for Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Associate Dean for Health Equity for Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM) has been named Senior Vice President for Health Equity and Inclusive Excellence for VUMC and Senior Associate Dean for Health Equity and Inclusive Excellence for VUSM.

Wilkins, who is also professor of Medicine and associate director for the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, will start in these new roles on July 1.

Wilkins will lead VUMC’s initiatives in health equity, diversity and inclusion, and will oversee both the School of Medicine’s Office for Diversity Affairs and VUMC’s Office of Health Equity. The Office for Diversity Affairs focuses on the Medical School’s degree granting program activities, while the Office of Health Equity addresses the broader diversity, equity and inclusion goals and priorities of VUMC.

“We are fortunate to have Dr. Wilkins’ expertise to help guide our efforts in diversity and inclusion. Consuelo is passionate about moving our organization forward to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for members of our workforce and patients. Through her expertise in health equity, she brings an astute perspective and will help us continue to advance these objectives across our campuses and in the communities we serve. I look forward to working more closely with her as we build on these missions,” said Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of VUMC and Dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Last summer, Wilkins was called upon by Balser to convene a Racial Equity Task Force, which was co-chaired by Michael DeBaun, MD, MPH, professor of Pediatrics and Medicine and holder of the J.C. Peterson MD Chair in Pediatrics, and director of the Vanderbilt-Meharry Center of Excellence in Sickle Cell Disease, Karampreet (Peety) Kaur, MD, a recent graduate of VUSM, and Mamie Williams, MPH, MSN, FNP-BC, director of Nurse Safety and Well-being, and comprised of individuals from across the Medical Center.

The Task Force was charged with soliciting broad input to help identify barriers to achieving racial equity in a range of vital areas, including hiring and retention, recruiting and supporting learners, racial bias in health science education, and research and interpersonal discrimination.

The Task Force’s report offers key findings in eight thematic areas. A three-page public summary of the report will inform the VUMC Equity Plan to be finalized later this year.

Wilkins joined VUMC and was also appointed to the faculty of Meharry Medical College in 2012 as Executive Director for the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance. She was named Vice President for Health Equity for VUMC and Associate Dean for Health Equity for VUSM in 2019. She continues to work closely with Karen Winkfield, MD, the Alliance’s new executive director, to ensure investigators continue to have access to faculty collaborators and core resources to catalyze innovative research.

“I’m honored to be chosen for these new leadership roles and to work more closely with VUMC and VUSM leaders to expand our focus on health equity and to cultivate an inclusive environment where everyone is able to bring their best and full selves to work, learn and thrive,” said Wilkins.

In addition to holding multiple active research grants, Wilkins is currently the principal investigator of two NIH-funded centers: the Vanderbilt-Miami-Meharry Center of Excellence in Precision Medicine and Population Health, which focuses on decreasing disparities among African Americans and Latinos using precision medicine and the Vanderbilt Recruitment Innovation Center, a national center dedicated to enhancing recruitment and retention in clinical trials.

She also serves as co-principal investigator of the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, Vanderbilt’s virtual home for clinical and translational research.

She is internationally recognized for her pioneering work effectively engaging historically marginalized communities in the design and conduct of research across the translational spectrum.

As director of the Engagement Core of the All of Us Research Program (a component of the National Institutes of Health’s Precision Medicine Initiative), Wilkins oversees initiatives that engage research participants in the governance, oversight, implementation and dissemination of the program. She has pioneered methods of stakeholder engagement that involve community members and patients in all stages of biomedical and health research.

She is the recipient of numerous professional awards and distinctions. In March, she was called upon to speak to the U.S. Senate’s Health, Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee regarding the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on health equity.

She was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2020 and serves on numerous other boards and committees such as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Committee on the Return of Individual-Specific Research Results Generated in Research, AAMC Journal Oversight Committee for Academic Medicine Laboratories, Safety Net Consortium of Middle Tennessee, and the AcademyHealth Translation and Dissemination Institute Advisory Committee. She is highly sought as a speaker around the country and as a mentor to many junior faculty and health professions students.

Wilkins earned a BS in microbiology and an MD from Howard University. She completed residency training in internal medicine at Duke University Medical Center and a geriatric medicine fellowship at Washington University School of Medicine/Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Following her medical training, Wilkins earned a Master of Science in Clinical Investigation from Washington University School of Medicine. Prior to joining VUMC, she served in a variety of roles of increasing responsibility at Washington University School of Medicine where she was an associate professor of Medicine in Geriatrics and Nutritional Science, Psychiatry and Surgery.

There, she was a clinical investigator in Washington University’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and was also involved in a range of community and public health initiatives including founding the Center for Community Health and Partnerships.

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