Enhancing Diversity and Promoting Health Equity in Medicine: UPMC Department of Medicine Launches Conrad Smith Leadership Council

August 2, 2021

Earlier in 2021, the UPMC and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Department of Medicine, under the current leadership of the Jack D. Myers Distinguished Professor and Chair, Mark T. Gladwin, MD, established an endowed fund to support the creation of, and ongoing support for, the Conrad Smith Leadership Council (CSLC). The council is named in honor of long-time UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute and Department of Medicine faculty member Anson Conrad Smith, MD.

The goal of the CSLC is to provide internal medicine residents who have an interest, desire, and passion for studying and promoting equity and diversity in health care with the resources and support they need to pursue their academic, clinical, and community engagement interests.

Resident applicants selected for the CSLC will receive support for the duration of their residency training in the form of tuition support to train at the Institute for Clinical Research and Education or the Katz School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh, travel assistance for attending academic meetings and conferences, and personalized mentoring and executive coaching.

Overseeing the CSLC are Naudia Jonassaint, MD, MHS, Vice Chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Department of Medicine and Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs, Associate Professor of Medicine and Surgery, and Anastasia White, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Program Coordinator in the Department of Medicine.

“We want to attract and train a diverse population of medical professionals because we know this makes for a better educational program for all, but more importantly, we know that a diverse field of medical professionals providing patient care and conducting research directly improves patient health and outcomes,” says Dr. Jonassaint. “The research on this subject is unequivocal. Patient health improves when the diversity of medical provides increases. The necessity to ensure it happens is imperative.”

“I’m honored to have the endowed fund and Leadership Council bear my name,” says Dr. Smith. “The challenges in the United States and regionally that we have with respect to health care equity among minority populations are great and they are complex. It’s a public health issue, it’s a medical care issue, and it’s a social and community issue. The same can be said for closing the gap in underrepresented minorities in medicine and science.”

Meet The 2021 Inaugural Members

Because of the strength of the initial round of applicants for the Conrad Smith Leadership Council, the Department of Medicine expanded the number of available openings from four to seven. 

“The initial round of applicants was stellar, so much so that we had a really difficult time only selecting four. The talent inherent in this group of young students was simply too good to pass up so we expanded our class,” says Dr. Jonassaint. “Seeing their future progress and accomplishments will be exciting for our Department and Divisions, and I hope inspiring for future students.”

  • Hassan “Adam” Alhassan, MD
  • Brittany Bromfield, MD
  • Ato Howard, MD
  • Nicole Luche, MD
  • Harnoor Mann, MD
  • Raisa Silva, MD
  • Tarryn Tertulien, MD

More About Dr. Smith

Anson Conrad Smith, MD, is an Associate Professor of Medicine, Associate Chief of Cardiology for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Director of the cardiac catheterization laboratory at UPMC Presbyterian. A long-time clinician with the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute, Dr. Smith's clinical practice has focused on interventional cardiology, with an emphasis on mitral valve stenosis and the use of mitral valvuloplasty to correct the deterioration of the valve. Dr. Smith oversees the development of the cardiac catheterization laboratory database system for research and evaluation of interventional cardiology procedures. Together with UPMC HVI colleague Dennis McNamara, MD, Dr. Smith has developed a database of coronary intervention patients for evaluating the potential genetic causes of cardiac disease.

Dr. Smith's longstanding advocacy and research for improvements in health care disparities and health equity make him a frequent presenter on the subject at conferences and events. He currently serves as Governor of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the American College of Cardiology. Dr. Smith earned his medical degree from the University of California San Francisco, and then completed his residency, fellowship training in cardiology, and interventional cardiology fellowship, all at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard University School of Medicine.

Learn More About the CSLC

To learn more about the Conrad Smith Leadership Council and other programs and activities related to diversity, inclusion, and equity in health care, visit diversity.dom.pitt.edu and residency.dom.pitt.edu.