Nashville, TN (TN Tribune)
Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI, a leader in health equity, diversity and inclusion at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), is the 2021 recipient of the Marion Spencer Fay Award from Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia.
The national award recognizes women physicians and/or scientists who have made “an exceptionally significant contribution to health care.” Previous recipients include the late Bernadine Healy, MD, the first female director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and pioneering breast cancer geneticist Mary-Claire King, PhD.
Wilkins is Senior Vice President for Health Equity and Inclusive Excellence at VUMC and Senior Associate Dean for Health Equity and Inclusive Excellence in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
She is being honored for her accomplishments in advancing health equity, for engaging underrepresented populations in research, and for her contributions to community-engaged research and health equity “that will positively impact health outcomes for generations,” award officials said.
“I want to congratulate Dr. Wilkins for receiving this honor from Drexel University College of Medicine in recognition of her research and advocacy for those underserved by our nation’s health care system. Consuelo is blazing a path as an innovator and leader, having already made significant contributions to the field of health equity,” said Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer for Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
The award, which includes a $10,000 honorarium, will be presented to Wilkins during a ceremony at Drexel University College of Medicine on November 4. Wilkins also will deliver the annual Marion Spencer Fay Lecture.
“I am deeply honored to receive the Marion Spencer Fay Award in recognition of tremendous work our team has done to advance health equity across research, health care delivery, and health sciences education,” Wilkins said.
“Dr. Fay was a trailblazing leader,” she added, “and I am simply elated to join the distinguished group of women who have been recipients of this award in her honor.”
Fay served as dean and president of the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania from 1946 to 1963 and promoted the recruitment, education and recognition of women physicians. Established in 1963, the award currently is administered by the Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership at Drexel University.
Previous awardees include four recipients of the Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science, which honors outstanding women physicians, scientists and mentors:
  • Nancy Andreasen, MD, PhD, pioneer in neuroimaging at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, and recipient of the National Medal of Science;
  • Nancy Andrews, MD, PhD, first female Dean of Medicine at Duke University;
  • Laurie Glimcher, MD, President and CEO, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; and
  • Huda Zoghbi, MD, expert in the genetics of neurological disorders at the Baylor College of Medicine, and recipient of the Canada Gairdner International Award.
A member of the National Academy of Medicine, Wilkins is a widely recognized thought leader in health equity who has pioneered new approaches to engaging marginalized and socioeconomically disadvantaged populations in clinical research.
She earned her bachelor’s and medical degrees from Howard University, completed residency training in internal medicine at Duke University Medical Center and a Geriatric Medicine fellowship at Washington University School of Medicine/Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and earned a Master of Science degree in Clinical Investigation from Washington University School of Medicine.
In 2012 Wilkins joined the medical faculties at Vanderbilt and Meharry Medical College, and was named director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance, a position she held until 2020. Currently professor of Medicine at VUMC, she oversees a portfolio of programs in clinical research, education and population health.
Wilkins is co-principal investigator of VUMC’s Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health, which supports the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, and of the Vanderbilt Recruitment Innovation Center, dedicated to enhancing recruitment and retention in clinical trials.
She is principal investigator of the Vanderbilt-Miami-Meharry Center of Excellence in Precision Medicine and Population Health, which focuses on decreasing ethnic disparities in precision medicine.
Wilkins also directs the Engagement Core of the All of Us Research Program (a component of the NIH Precision Medicine Initiative), and last summer convened a Racial Equity Task Force at VUMC to help identify barriers to achieving racial equity in hiring and retention, health science education and research.