Photo description: Students from Nett Lake Elementary, located on the Bois Forte Reservation, make a special visit to the Medical School, Duluth Campus for a fun-filled day of science.
The Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus is an established partner in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion within our academic and campus communities. As a group, we are committed to respectful relationships, ethical research and service partnerships with all, including our Indigenous and rural Minnesota neighbors. We strive to maintain a culture of inclusivity for all students, faculty, staff and community partners as we conduct research, teach courses and collaborate across disciplines to support the mission of the University of Minnesota Medical School. As a department, we are committed to expanding our knowledge and understanding of how social, economic and racial disparities affect the delivery of medicine and the conduct of biomedical research. We recognize we have opportunities for growth with every new day and are working on strategies to learn and grow from each new experience. We are committed to confronting our biases and promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in our actions.
We, the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus, acknowledge that the University of Minnesota Duluth is located on the traditional, ancestral, and contemporary lands of the Ojibwe people, before them the Dakota and Northern Cheyenne people, and other Native peoples from time immemorial. Ceded by the Ojibwe/Anishinaabeg/Chippewa nation in an 1854 treaty, this land holds great historical, spiritual, and personal significance to this day. As part of a land-grant institution, it is our responsibility to affirm tribal sovereignty, acknowledge the colonialist history of our region, and hold the University of Minnesota Medical School accountable to American Indian peoples and nations, as our mission supports.
Medical School Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Member
Dr. Sarah E. Lacher (she/her/hers) is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Biomedical Sciences and serves on the Medical School's Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee. Dr. Lacher is a basic scientist and her research focuses on characterizing cell-type-specific patterns of gene regulation following exposure to various inducers of oxidative stress. She is a Queer Toxicologist with interests in the fields of diversity, equity, and inclusion. One of Dr. Lacher’s main priorities is training and inspiring youth, particularly those who come from underrepresented populations and underserved communities to seek careers in STEM. She has served as a research mentor for students participating in Dr. Benjamin Clarke’s Bridges and Pathways Programs and she has developed STEM outreach activities through Dr. Janet Fitzakerley’s Brain Awareness Program, Dr. Anna Wirta Kosobuski’s Bois Forte Innovators of the Future Summer Science Program, and the U of M Queer Science Program.
In 2019, Dr. Lacher worked to establish Out Toxicologists and Allies (OTA), a new special interest group within the Society of Toxicology. OTA promotes the philosophy that supporting diversity and inclusivity contributes to better science. In this effort, the members of OTA are working towards the professional advancement of early career and established toxicologists that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and related community members (LGBTQ+). Dr. Lacher has been elected to serve as the Secretary and Treasurer in the inaugural year of the OTA Executive Board 2020-2021.
Sarah E. Lacher, PhD
Faculty members in the Department of Biomedical Sciences have a long-standing tradition of advancing programs that facilitate education and advancement of Native American and underrepresented minorities in research or STEM careers. In addition, programs to advance the health of African Americans in the community as well as the career development of women faculty are ongoing and provide further evidence of our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Dr. Benjamin Clarke has directed Bridges programs for more than twenty years at the University of Minnesota Medical School with the program focused on Native Americans and Underrepresented minorities. The goal of the Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program is to increase the number of underrepresented minority community college students entering the biomedical science field who obtain a biomedical/biobehavioral science-related baccalaureate degree.
Dr. Anna Wirta-Kosobuski has spent more than 20 years focused on improving Native American science education in Minnesota. In her latest projects, she has teamed up with other Biomedical Sciences faculty to develop informational material for children for healthy living and COVID-19 education with translations into Somali, Hmong, and Spanish. Her long term work with Native American youth at Bois Forte is strengthening health education in the community as well.
Native American Mentoring Program
The Native American Mentoring Program aims to increase opportunities for Biomedical Sciences faculty and students to support our mission with a focus on Native American Health by increasing opportunities for research-based collaboration. This may include but is not limited to promoting science experiences for Native American graduate students. The objective is to expand the pool of current and future Native American scientists who may consider faculty or leadership positions in higher education or medical professions. This program is a viable way to demonstrate our commitment to Native communities in the state of Minnesota.
Dr. Glenn Simmons and Dr. Olihe Okoro in the College of Pharmacy are conducting research to develop community-engaged education interventions for the African American Community in the Northland. Mentorship programs are being developed to engage youth in the community and promote health education and to diversify the healthcare workforce. Healthcare workers have been recruited from across the University of Minnesota and local hospitals and clinics to mentor students with a culturally responsive focus. This will assist students throughout their career development in the healthcare professions.
The goal of the Women's Mentoring Program is to promote a supportive and positive environment for the career development of women faculty in Medical School, Duluth Campus. Regularly scheduled events over lunch address topics requested by women faculty and provide an opportunity for networking and sharing research initiatives and ideas. Programs may involve discussions with guest scientific speakers, panels, or skill development workshops and are open to all who are interested. Events also partner with the Center for Women in Medicine and Science of the University of Minnesota Medical School.