The Center for Women in Medicine and Science (CWIMS) uses a Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR) approach which acknowledges community members (e.g., faculty members, staff), academic organizational representatives (e.g., Department Chairs, center directors), and administrative leaders (e.g., Deans) as equally important contributors in carrying out all aspects of gender equity work. CBPR values collaborative approaches that empower faculty, promote co-learning and co-creation of initiatives among all university partners, and build upon strengths and resources that already exist in the academic community.

Our CWIMS action groups utilize CBPR principles (e.g., co-creation and co-learning) to implement four initiatives including:

  1. Retention and Recruitment
  2. Mentoring
  3. Salary, Resource, Leadership Equity
  4. Strategic Communications and Collaborations.

Find out more about our Action Groups.

CWIMS works to:


  • Advance policies and collaborations that support the recruitment and retention of a thriving, diverse faculty community.
  • Build mentoring resources, networks, and role modeling opportunities for both new and established faculty.
  • Systematically address and ensure the equitable distribution of salary, resources, and strategic leadership opportunities across all faculty.
  • Strategically communicate and collaborate across the University system, locally, regionally and nationally to disseminate best practices regarding gender equity in academic medicine and science.
  • Support collaborative action initiatives to ensure safety, equity and dignity for all.
  • Carry out pioneering research on gender equity and women’s health issues.

CWIMS is the direct result of the University of Minnesota’s recognition of the importance for gender-equitable and diverse academic and clinical environments. It also promotes the attainment of gender equity competencies required of future physicians to be successful in our exceedingly diverse healthcare systems.


Dr. Jerica Berge

Director - Center for Women in Medicine and Science (CWIMS)

Jerica M. Berge, Ph.D., MPH, LMFT, CFLE is a Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Dr. Berge is both a behavioral medicine clinician and researcher. Dr. Berge is a licensed mental health therapist and supervisor who specializes in integrated care and community-based partnerships to address family health issues. Her NIH research agenda focuses on women’s health issues and sex-differences in weight-related health behaviors across the lifespan. She is the director of the Healthy Eating and Activity across the Lifespan (HEAL) Center and is the co-program director for the Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) study. Additionally, she is the Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.

Kait Macheledt

Administrative Associate - Center for Women in Medicine and Science (CWIMS)

Kait Macheledt BA, MPH (candidate), has a dual appointment at the Center for Women in Medicine and Science and the NIH funded UMN K12 Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) Program. Through her work as an associate administrator, she supports institutional capacities to eradicate gender-based inequities in the practice and profession of academic medicine and science. She has experience working across disciplines and institutional rank to execute fact-finding projects aimed at developing key, actionable insights. She sees sensitive, complex projects through from conception to realization. She aspires to take on increasingly complex leadership roles and to utilize her administrative skills and equity mindset within a future career as a clinician-researcher.

Sade Spencer Profile Picture

Action Group Leader - Retention and Recruitment 

Sade Spencer, PhD received her B.S. in Biology from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa where she developed a love for both college football and science. She pursued a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center studying the links between the molecular circadian clock and the mesolimbic reward pathway. She completed postdoctoral training at the Medical University of South Carolina investigating the neurobiological substrates of drug addiction and relapse using rodent models. In 2018, Dr. Spencer joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota as a member of the newly founded Medical Discovery Team on Addiction. Dr. Spencer’s research program is focused on elucidating the trajectory of neuroplasticity, neurochemistry and behavior associated with chronic drug use. These interests extend to investigating the individual differences that influence vulnerability to substance use disorders including an understanding of how sex differences may play a role. Dr. Spencer is also active in diversity, equity, and inclusion work both at the University of Minnesota level and externally. She has been involved with the Center for Women in Medicine and Science (CWIMS) since the fall of 2018 where she helped to facilitate a peer-mentoring program, and has been the Action Group Leader for the Retention and Recruitment Action Group since January 2021.


Headshot of An Church, MD

Action Group Leader - Mentoring 

An Church, MD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiology. Dr. Church has been the Action Group Leader for the Mentoring Action Group since July 2021.

Headshot of Sima Patel, MD

Action Group Leader - Salary, Resource, and Leadership Equity

Sima I. Patel, MD, is an Assistant Professor in Neurology at the University of Minnesota. Since 2012, she has been a full-time clinician focusing on complex epilepsy management with surgical interventions and pharmacological treatments at the University of Minnesota Physicians/MINCEP Epilepsy Care. She earned her undergraduate degree in community health and health administration from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and her medical degree from Rush Medical College in Chicago. She completed her neurology residency training at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and a 2-year epilepsy fellowship at Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio. She is passionate about resident education, female physician empowerment, epilepsy research pertaining to women with epilepsy, and epilepsy clinical drug trials. Dr. Patel has been the Action Group Leader for the Salary, Resource, Leadership Equity Action Group since June 2022.

Headshot for Nissrine Nakib

Action Group Leader - Strategic Communications and Collaborations

Nissrine Nakib, MD, is the Director of Pelvic Floor Medicine at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Nakib has a busy clinical practice that entails caring for patients with pelvic organ prolapse, incontinence, pelvic pain, recurrent urinary tract infections, as well as those with spinal cord injuries and neurogenic bladders. As lead of the Urology Department’s Quality Control she works hard to establish safety and quality measures in order to ensure patients get the best possible care. Additionally, she conducts clinical and translational research with focus on sacral nerve modulation and other urinary disorder treatments. Education is an integral part of her role at the University and she enjoys teaching residents and medical students about Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstruction through mentoring, didactic sessions, and anatomical training labs. Furthermore, she strives to increase public awareness and educate her patients on urological issues in women. Gender and other equity issues are an important topic to Dr. Nakib and she values her work as the Chair of The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee for the Urology Department. She is also a member of the American Urological Association North Central Section Committee for Women. Dr. Nakib has been the Action Group Leader for the Strategic Communications and Collaborations Action Group since January 2021.