by Mia Garchitorena
Martin Were, MD, MS, professor of Biomedical Informatics and Medicine, has been named as the inaugural vice chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) for the Department of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI) at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
This new position reflects DBMI’s recognition of the importance of and commitment to DEI across all of the department’s efforts. The establishment of this role is also responsive to the call to action as outlined in the VUMC Racial Equity Plan, led by Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI, Senior Vice President and Senior Associate Dean for Health Equity and Inclusive Excellence and Professor of Medicine at VUMC. Released on May 4, 2022, the plan outlines goals, actions, accountability and milestones for advancing racial equity and confronting structural racism at VUMC and VUSM.
“I look forward to working with all DBMI members and with the broader institution on service, research, advocacy and educational aspects that pertain to DEI,” says Were. “Together, we can play a role in ensuring that DBMI remains a leading and welcoming home for all.”
As part of his new role, Were will serve as a member of the DBMI’s leadership team and will be primarily responsible for overseeing and executing strategic DEI efforts across the department. He will work with faculty and staff, including and particularly with the DBMI DEI Committee. In this role, Were will also represent DBMI across VUMC’s DEI efforts, working closely with Wilkins and other leaders holding positions similar to his across VUMC through participation in VUMC-wide committees, including the Racial Equity Task Force and the VUMC Executive Diversity Council.
Throughout his career, Were has played a critical role in research, education and service in global health informatics. He has developed, implemented and evaluated a range of digital health solutions for the global settings — including mobile health applications for providers and patients, electronic health record systems and computerized decision support systems.
Notably, he devised a smartphone application called mUzima to support health care workers and EHR efforts in low-income countries. The application is now being used in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Mozambique and has gained popularity with users around the world. He helped establish the Institute of Biomedical Informatics programs at Moi University in Kenya and serves as a technical adviser for VUMC’s Friends in Global Health Program supporting Mozambique to advance its Health Information Systems for HIV Care.
“Congratulations and thank you to Dr. Were as he takes on this pivotal new leadership role,” said Peter Embí, MD, MS, professor and chair of DBMI, senior vice president for Research and Innovation and professor of Medicine. “I am excited to add his expertise and insights to our DBMI leadership team and to work with him and the DBMI DEI Committee as we continue to advance DEI efforts this year and into the future.”