Graduate School of Medical Sciences
A partnership with the Sloan Kettering Institute

Social Justice and Anti-Racism (SJAR) Task Force

The mission of the Social Justice and Anti-Racism (SJAR) Task Force is to promote the success and proportional representation of researchers and clinicians from underrepresented minorities at every level of Weill Cornell Graduate School (WCGS); to dismantle systemic racism and champion social justice at WCGS and beyond.

General Goals:

  • Create a welcoming environment for scholars of all backgrounds. 

  • Increase the representation of underrepresented scholars at all levels.

5 Target Areas:

1. Combat racism and promote social justice at WCGS

2. Increase recruitment of BIPOC scientists to WCGS

3. Support and promote the retention and inclusion of BIPOC scientists at WCGS

4. Create open discussion and safe spaces for all members of WCGS

5. Increase WCGS educational outreach and opportunities for BIPOC students in our local community

Members and Co-Chairs:

SJAR Members


Chris Bourne, IMP Student -

Monica Guzman, Pharmacology Faculty -

Björn Kafsack, BCMB Faculty -



Nohely Abreu, BCMB Student

Ifeh Akano, Pharmacology Student

Mark A. Bernard, MS - Clinical Epidemiology Student

Kathleen Bidad, MS-PA Student

John Blenis, Pharmacology Faculty

Veronica Bohorquez, Neuroscience Staff

Mary Charlson, MS - Clinical Epidemiology Faculty

Ida Chen, MS-PA Student

Maria Compte, MS-PA Faculty

Chitra Dahia, BCMB Faculty

Tanmoy "Tom" Das Lala, MD-PhD Student

Shivani Dhir, MS -  MBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership Staff

Whitney Diaz Gochez, BCMB Student

Irene Doku, MS -  MBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership Student

David Eliezer, ChemBio Faculty

Carol Fiore, MS-PA Faculty

Rachel Glenn, BCMB Student

Jesus Gomez Salinero, Postdoc

Ben Huang, Faculty

Sahar Jalal, Postdoc

Anoushka Joglekar, CompBio Student

Steven Josefowicz IMP, PBSB Faculty

Scott Keeney, BCMB Faculty

Aisha Khalid Khan, MS-PA Faculty

Thaís Klevorn, IMP Student

Scott Kulm, PBSB Student

Irina Leonardi, Postdoc

Aubrey Leukart, WCGS Staff

Chloe Lopez-Lee, Neuroscience Student

Jose Lora, PBSB Student

My Linh Nguyen-Novotny, MS - Clinical & Translational Investigation Staff

Vanessa Osman, Pharmacology Student

Jyotishman Pathak, MS- PopHealth Faculty

Lucas Repeta, ChemBio Student

Annalise Schweickart, CompBio Student

Manu Sharma, Neuroscience Faculty

Malka Svei, Psychology Staff

Joe Udeochu, Postdoc

Richard White, BCMB, PBSB Faculty

Fei Zhang, MS- PopHealth Student

Working Groups:

Social Justice

Mission: Identify the systems that perpetuate bias and racism at WCGS, and ultimately dismantle them through anti-racist education, evaluation and improvement of current efforts, and support of WCGS community members.


  • Evaluate Current reporting mechanisms for mistreatment and increase visibility for the options.

  • Evaluate data from climate surveys and generate:

  • Mechanisms for Support: Evaluate, promote and amplify efforts to report and investigate mistreatment/abuse (TLC).  Determine how grievances from postdocs and faculty are handled and areas to improve.

  • Integration: Identify and synergize with groups working on anti-racism and social justice issues across the Tri-Institutional campus and in the medical school.

  • Curriculum: Identify, implement, and evaluate anti-racism education for students and faculty.  Gather feedback on new unconscious bias training.

  • Evaluation: Coordinate with the GFC to administer anti-racism and social justice climate surveys.  Evaluate the current climate and efforts in the three areas above.

Members: Chris Bourne, Mark A. Bernard, Rachel Glenn, Dylan Murphy, Aisha K Khan, Monica Guzman


Mission: Develop new strategies to increase URM recruitment to WCGS.


  • Support ongoing recruitment of BIOPIC post-docs at WCM and MSK 
  • Help develop novel recruitment strategies that faculty members can implement when looking for a post-doc or considering creating a position for an individual

Members: Chloe Lopez-Lee, Chitra Dahia, Leona Nease, Vanessa Osman, Carol Fiore, Ida Chen, Shivani Dhir, John Blenis, Richard White, Scott Keeney

Retention and Inclusion

Mission: To improve retention and promote a sense of inclusion for WCGS community members at all levels (students, post-docs, staff, and faculty), with a focus on URM members.


  • To identify issues that limit retention (defined as remaining connected to the mission of WCGS and its partner institutions) including science, education and medicine, and inclusivity (defined as a sense of belonging and being valued) in the WCGS community, with a focus on URM members.
  • To obtain data for current levels of retention and inclusivity and to improve collection and availability of such data.
  • Develop strategies for maximizing retention and inclusion.
  • To increase a broad sense of community in WCGS across all levels.
  • To publicize our mission and promote dialogue regardingthe pertinent issues

Members: Jose Lora, Annalise Schweickart, Joe Udeochu, Manu Sharma, Jyoti Pathak, Aubrey DeCarlo, My Linh H. Nguyen-Novotny, David Eliezer

Safe Space and Open Dialogue

SOS (Safe space & Open dialogue for Social justice) Working Group

Mission: To provide safe space for sharing experiences and emotions, to create opportunities for open dialogue regarding social justice issues, and to facilitate grassroot activism within Weill Cornell and associated communities.

Members: Scott Kulm, Irene Doku, Anoushka Joglekar, Nohely Abreu, Christine Scaduto, Malka Svei, Steven Josefowicz, Hagen Tilgner, Ben Huang* (*Lead contact:


  1. Creating a Virtual Safe Space -

    • Introducing the WCM-SOS Slack - an online safe space for members of the community to express their voices and be heard, including capabilities for anonymous posting as well as interfacing with other social media platforms for amplification & ease of access. We’re aiming to foster a self-organized and self-moderated community where voices can be expressed, shared, and heard regardless of background or rank.

      2. Providing a Library of Resources to facilitate Open Dialogue and Grassroot Activism

      • The SOS Slack will also serve as a one-stop portal for various communication, including (1) Open Dialogue & Book Club events and associated discussions before & after the events, (2) a Library of Resources generated from our events and those from other similar open events, (3) dedicated channels to facilitate grassroot activism.

        3. Organizing Open Dialogue Events -

        • In general, we will be aiming to host regular open dialogue events (1-2 events per month) to keep the conversations going, in order to foster a community of trust, respect, and belonging for people of all backgrounds. We believe that, through the building of empathy and understanding, we will be able to break down barriers of racism and other discriminations.

        Additional Resources and Links:

        Reporting Mistreatment:

        Education and Materials for learning:

        Additional Resources on DEI:

        • GFC: General Faculty Council

        • EFC: Executive Faculty Council

        • FACD: Faculty Advisory Committee on Diversity

        • Post-Doc Association

        Information of grants, diversity supplements:

        Outreach and Education

        Mission: To support and expand existing WCGS science outreach programs; to identify and implement new mechanisms for supporting mentorship, science education and work opportunities for URM students outside WCGS.


        • To identify needs, coordinate efforts and provide support to institutional outreach programs

        • To establish partnerships with other educational institutions in NYC

        • To increase mentorship and research opportunities to underserved students in NYC

        Members: Mark A. Bernard, Ifeh Akano, Sahar Jalal, Maria Compte, Kat Bidad, Thaís Klevorn, Veronica Bohorquez, Björn Kafsack, Whitney Diaz, Katya Kots

        SJAR Events:

        2020 Events

        Kickoff event

        Open Dialogue on Systemic Racism in America - Wednesday, 10/07/2020, 5-6pm EDT - a critical examination of the structural racism deeply ingrained within American society. We will reflect upon the documentary film “13th” that explores the extension of slavery-era racism into the modern guises of police brutality and mass incarceration. We will also review ideas about overcoming this institutionalized racism, as discussed by social science experts at the Cornell webinar on Policing & Incarceration in September. 

        2nd event

        Open Dialogue on Anti-Racist Activism - Thursday, 10/22/2020, 5-6pm EDT - focusing on the harrowing impacts of racism on individuals and the different approaches of antiracist resistance taken by activists during the Civil Rights movement. We will reflect upon the documentary film “I Am Not Your Negro” and take an in-depth look at 4 iconic leaders - James Baldwin, Medgar Evars, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

        3rd event

        Book Club on “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison - Thursday, 11/19/2020, 6-7pm EST - Deeper thoughts and feelings are better captured and conveyed in book-length stories and expositions. In addition to film-inspired events, we will also host Book Clubs to encourage in-depth engagement with issues and stories. Our 1st book club will feature “The Bluest Eye” (1970), the first novel by Toni Morrison, a Cornell graduate (‘55) and Nobel laureate in Literature (‘93), commemorating the 50th anniversary of its publication. The book centers on issues of internalized racism and the society’s racially prejudiced definitions of beauty and identity.

        4th event

        Faculty-Trainee Open Dialogue - Wednesday, 12/10/2020, 5:30-6:30pm EST - As part of our effort to foster a community of belonging and mutual respect, we will initiate a series of Faculty-Student Dialogue events, where one faculty and one student will be featured at each event to chat openly about their backgrounds and personal journeys, to break down the barriers of understanding and build trust/camaraderie across the ranks. Open to all faculty, students, and postdocs. The SOS Faculty-Student/Postdoc Dialogue Series will continue on a monthly basis in 2021.




        Co-Chair speaks on the SJAR Task Force [01:00]

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