Ritu Banga Healthcare Disparities Research Awards (Formerly the Dean's Diversity and Healthcare Disparity Research Awards)

Ajay and Ritu Banga

We are pleased to announce the seventh round of funding for the Ritu Banga Healthcare Disparities Research Awards. The awards will support excellence in research to improve the health of women and underrepresented minorities and/or to reduce health disparities in healthcare systems and in clinical settings, either locally or globally. Research into improving the diversity and gender balance of the biomedical workforce will also be supported, as lack of a representative workforce can be linked to health disparities, and we must move the needle and better confront inequality.

The Ritu Banga Healthcare Disparities Research Awards are designed to further Weill Cornell Medicine’s goal of becoming a national leader in advancing diversity, inclusion, and gender equity within academic medicine. We seek proposals for basic, translational, clinical, informatics, or outcomes research that addresses health disparity areas including, but not limited to: race and ethnicity, gender and gender identity, socioeconomic status, access to healthcare, differing standards of healthcare, insurance status, age, geography, sexual orientation, and cultural beliefs. Projects that enhance the diversity pipeline either through research or the inclusion of diverse personnel are encouraged.

We have a particular interest in proposals that have the potential for short term impact in the target population (within 5 years), collaborative projects that pair fundamental science and clinical investigators on a disease or condition that directly impacts underrepresented or marginalized groups, and projects with potential for direct clinical impact.

The Ritu Banga Healthcare Disparities Research Awards will provide funding for one year and will be available at two levels:

  • Faculty - $50,000 each
  • Fellows and Postdoctoral Associates - $50,000 each

Favor will be given to applicants where departmental commitment to retention/promotion is given. Pairing with more senior faculty members to provide mentorship/guidance will be permitted; however, the grant must be to the junior member and a clear indication of how the project will enhance the development of an independent career for the more junior member will be required. A salary cap will be imposed on all project budgets; the funds allocated to the PI’s salary and fringe benefits may not exceed 25 percent of the total budget.

Applications Closed.  If you have additional questions, please email ritubangaquestions@med.cornell.edu.


List of Prior Awardees and Projects      

2018 Dean's Diversity and Healthcare Disparities Award Recipients 

Medical & Graduate Students 
Yoshiko Toyoda 
Third-year MD 
"Effect of Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expansion on Mastectomy and Breast Reconstruction Rates" 
Rachel Umans  
Third-year MD 
"Community Perspectives in Medicine: Evaluating Course Impact on First Year Medical Students" 
Lauren Kelly, MD  
Internal medicine resident  
"Disparities in end-of-life (EOL) outcomes in Latino immigrant vs. US-born Latino patients: Results from two sequential multi-institutional, longitudinal cohort studies" 
Robert White, MD  
Anesthesiology resident  
"Antiemetic prophylaxis as an anesthesia quality marker and its association with race in the Multicenter Perioperative Outcomes Group" 
Peter Kennel, MD  
Internal medicine resident  
"Does Polypharmacy Contribute to Socioeconomic Disparities in Heart Failure?” 
Fellows/Postdoctoral Students 
Mavee Witherspoon, Ph.D. 
Research Associate in Medicine 
"Delineating Genetic Predisposition for Multiple Myeloma in African Americans" 
Elizabeth Luth, Ph.D. 
Postdoctoral Associate in Medicine 
"Racial Disparities in End-of-Life Care for Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementia Patients" 
Fontasha Powell, Ph.D.  
Postdoctoral fellow in quantitative connectomics in computational neuroscience  
"A machine learning approach to prediction of disease conversion and clinical impairment in Multiple Sclerosis in African Americans compared to Caucasians" 
Jessica Ancker, Ph.D. 
Associate Professor of Healthcare Policy and Research 
"Combining Social Determinants of Health Data with Electronic Health Record Data for Predictive Modeling" 
Laura C. Pinheiro, Ph.D. 
Assistant Professor of Health Services Research in Medicine 
"Evaluating a Model to Improve Comorbidity Management for Minority Cancer Patient"  
Erica Phillips, MD, MS 
Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine 
"Reducing Breast Cancer Recurrence Among Black Women: The Breast cancer Weight Loss for Life Study (BWELL)" 
Jennifer Downs, MD, Ph.D. 
Assistant Professor of Medicine in Microbiology and Immunology 
Friedman Family Research Scholar in Pediatric Infectious Diseases 
"Reducing Disparities in Family Planning Access and Uptake in Tanzania" 


2019 Dean's Diversity and Healthcare Disparities Award Recipients 

Medical & Graduate Students 
Samuel Taylor, MD  
Third-year MD 
"Characterizing the Effects of Fructose on Colorectal Cancer Growth and Metabolism" 
Daniel Wang, MD  
Third-year MD 
"Social determinants of heart failure readmissions and mortality: A systematic review and meta-analysis" 
Jaime Berstein, MD  
Plastic Surgery  
"Engineering Permanent Nipple Projection" 
Daniel Vanderbilt, MD  
Radiation Oncology 
"Feasibility of pulmonary nodules screening at standard Computerized Tomography simulation (CTsim) for breast cancer radiotherapy" 
Fellows/Postdoctoral Students 
Kiel Telesford, Ph.D. 
Postdoctoral Associate in Neuroscience 
"Determining ethnicity-based differential B cell inflammation in multiple sclerosis" 
Keith Chadwick, MD 
Instructor in Otolaryngology 
"Novel delivery method of transgender voice therapy using a mobile application" 
Eloise Chapman-Davis, MD 
Donna Redel Clinical Scholar 
Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology 
"Utilization of a web-based platform (Patient Activated Learning System- PALS) to improve knowledge and follow-up among women with abnormal cervical cancer screening" 
Melissa Davis, Ph.D. 
Assistant Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology Research in Surgery (Interim) 
"Identification of Ancestry-Specific Drug targets using CRISPR Screening of Patient-Derived African Breast Cancer 3-D Organoid models" 
Jialin Mao, MS 
Assistant Professor of Healthcare Policy and Research 
"Racial Disparity in Device-based Surgical Treatment for Prostate Cancer: Examining Surgeons’ Role" 
Joseph Osborne, MD, Ph.D. 
Professor of Radiology 
"WCM catchment Prostate Cancer Health Impact Program (pCHIP)" 
Robert Peck, MD, MS 
Associate Professor of Medicine 
"Reducing Post-hospitalization Mortality in Impoverished Adults with Hypertensive Emergency: a Pilot Study in Tanzania" 


2020 Dean's Diversity and Healthcare Disparities Award Recipients 

Medical & Graduate Students 
Ishani Premaratne  
Third-year MD 
"Impact of an Academic Relative Value Unit System on Gender-Based Differences in Surgical Faculty Compensation and Academic Productivity" 
Nabeel Wahid, MD  
Resident in the Department of Medicine 
"Impact of Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expansion on Disparities in Liver Transplant Listings" 
Fellow/Postdoctoral Students 
John Keefe, Ph.D. 
Fellow of Psychology in Psychiatry 
"Trauma-focused psychodynamic therapy for underserved LGBT patients with post- traumatic stress disorder" 
John Vaughn, MD  
Fellow in the Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology 
"Understanding Racial and Ethnic Differences in Utilization of Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation for Hematologic Malignancies" 
Arnab Kumar Ghosh, M.B.B.S. 
Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine 
"Effect of value-based payment models on racial and socioeconomic disparities in hospitalized medicine patients" 
Caitlin Hoffman, MD 
Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery 
"PrIMES: A Targeted, Data-Driven, Longitudinal Approach to Closing the Healthcare Education Diversity Gap" 
Bella Mehta, M.B.B.S. 
Assistant Professor of Medicine 
"Pregnancy-related Outcomes in Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: Impact  of Social Determinants of Health" 
Ayana Morales, MD 
Instructor in Medicine 
"Wilms’ Tumor 1 as an Immunotherapeutic Target in Kaposi sarcoma" 
Juan Miguel Mosquera, MD 
Associate Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine 
"Detection of Homologous Recombination Deficiency in Cancers of African American Patients through a Whole- Genome Sequencing-based Cell Free DNA Assay" 


2021 Dean's Diversity and Healthcare Disparities Award Recipients 

Jonathan Villena-Vargas, MD 
Assistant professor of clinical cardiothoracic surgery 
"Differences in the genomic, transcriptomic and immune landscape of lung adenocarcinoma in Hispanics" 
Sri lekha Tummalapalli, MD 
Assistant professor of population health sciences 
"Disparities in COVID-19 Vaccine Willingness and Uptake Among Patients on Dialysis: Testing the Feasibility of a Technology Enabled Intervention" 
William Schpero, MD 
Assistant professor of population health sciences 
"Association Between State Medicaid Policies and Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Cancer Clinical Trial Enrollment" 
Vivian Bea, MD 
Assistant professor of surgery 
"Predictors of breast cancer screening and incidence in New York City using INSIGHT/CRN" 
Solange Bayard, MD 
Fellow in surgery 
"Distinct Genetic Profiles of Non-screen Detected Triple Negative Breast Cancer as a Guide to Alternative Screening Guidelines for High Risk Populations" 
Jamuna Krishnan, MD 
Instructor in medicine 
"Cardiovascular Disease Risk Reduction Among Black Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease" 


2022 Ritu Banga Healthcare Disparities Research Award 

Desai, Pinkal, MD 
Assistant Professor of Medicine Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology 
"Understanding Racial and Ethnic Disparities in premalignant states in myeloid malignancies Dean's Diversity and Healthcare Disparities" 
Reif, Lindsey, MD 
Instructor of Clinical Epidemiology in Medicine Medicine, Clinical Epidemiology 
"MAISHA-Youth!: Gender Equity and Empowerment to Prevent Violence among Adolescents and Young Adults in Tanzania" 
Sawinski, Deirdre, MD 
Associate Professor of Medicine (interim) Medicine, Nephrology and Hypertension 
"Sex and race-based disparities in transplant access among dialysis patients in NYC" 
Yan, Lily, MD 
Global Health Research Fellow Medicine 
"Reducing Disparities in Hypertension Treatment and Control among Impoverished Adults in Haiti"  

2023 Ritu Banga Healthcare Disparities Research Award

Melissa Frey, M.D., M.S.
Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
“Mobile Health Platform for Hereditary Cancer Genetic Risk Assessment in an Underserved Population”
Kevin H. Kensler, Sc.D.
Assistant Professor of Population Health Sciences
“Impact of Individual Stressors And Neighborhood Context On Cancer Screening Disparities By Race And Ethnicity” 
Andrea Temkin-Yu, Psy.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry
“Increasing Access to Perinatal Mental Health Support: Pilot Trial of Cognitive Behavioral-Skills Mobile App for Pregnant and Postpartum Women” 


Maria Revuelta, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Associate
“Epigenetic Reprogramming of the Microenvironment in the Biology and Clinical Outcomes of African-Ancestry Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma Patients”

2024 Ritu Banga Healthcare Disparities Research Award


Puja Chebrolu, MD

Assistant Professor

Department of Medicine

"Long-term outcomes and cost-effectiveness associated with gestational diabetes (GDM) screening methods in minority women: a prospective longitudinal cohort study"


PostDoc / Fellow

Krithika Karthigeyan, PhD

Postdoctoral Associate

Department of Pediatrics

"Breast milk fortification with anti-CMV antibodies to prevent a disease of disparities: postnatal CMV infection in preterm infants"


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