How Sure Are You That DEI Is Necessary?

How Sure Are You That DEI Is Necessary?


Leonard Zwelling

Do you still get mail?

We do and although a lot of it is either junk or bills, sometimes something comes that really changes the way you think.

We returned from a wedding in Atlanta on May 21 and I was going through the stack of mail and found what I would call a brochure entitled UT Health Houston Neurosciences Journal. It’s a free publication extolling the academic and clinical achievements of the neurosciences program at the UT Health Sciences Center in Houston.

Now normally I would recycle the throw-away, but for some reason I did not and leafed through it. On page 22 were 19 portraits of new faculty hired by the neurosciences program at UT. I was immediately struck with what I saw. A few years ago, it would have been 19 white, male faces—none with beards. Today it was 12 males and 7 females, everyone with an MD degree and some with additional academic accomplishments. None was a white male. In fact, none was a white female either. Six of the men had beards.

Seeing this I had to run through the thumbnail sketches provided with the pictures. This is what I found.

Paunel Agyei, MD is a Houston native who trained in Texas. She specializes in multiple sclerosis and other neuroinflammatory diseases.

Ching-Jen Jared Chen, MD is a triple fellowship trained neurosurgeon. He was trained at UVa and in Auckland as well as at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

Hina Dave, MD works in epilepsy. She also trained in the U.S. in Louisiana and Philadelphia as well as Vanderbilt and Baylor.

Kyrillos Eskander MD was born in New Jersey and trained in Grenada, Dartmouth, and Gainesville.

Salman Farooq, MD is from Pakistan originally but trained in Wisconsin and UCLA.

Jay R. Gavvala, MD trained in Galveston, Northwestern, and serves as the director of the Adult Magnetoencephalography Laboratory at Memorial Hermann.

Chigozirim Izeogu, MD trained at the University of Alabama, Harvard and NYU.

Ashu Kaushal, MD specializes in neurovascular disease and trained at Wayne State, Brown and UCSF.

Kamayani Khare, trained at Berkeley and McGovern here in Houston.

Daniel H. Kim, MD is the director of the neurovascular surgery program and has a distinguished career. He has just returned from a sabbatical.

Sunil Krishnan, MD started his career in India, but moved to Penn State, the Mayo Clinic, and MD Anderson. He’s a radiation therapist who is joining UT Health from MD Anderson.

Jia Lin, MD trained in Colorado for medicine and public health. She specializes in MS.

Ashutosh Mahapatra, MD trained in the combined BA-MD program at the University of Missouri and went on to continue his work at the University of Miami, Washington University and the Cleveland Clinic.

Narges Moghimi, MD trained originally in Iran and then in Toronto. She continued to train at Yale and Case Western Reserve as well as finishing up in Galveston.

Michael I. Nahhas, MD started his training in Damascus and then went to Boston University, Augusta, Georgia, the Medical College of South Carolina and completed his training at the McGovern School.

Maria Parekh, MD was born in Pakistan but completed her training at Baylor and at McGovern.

Sri S. Sesta comes originally from India, but then went to the University of Illinois in Peoria. He has had fellowships at Mayo Clinic and Duke.

Shitiz Sriwastava, MD is from Nepal originally but went on to train at West Virginia and Wayne State.

Andy Tran, DO was born in Vietnam, but moved to Houston when he was two. He went to UT Austin, AT Still University and McGovern.

I listed the details because the story is in the details. The stories of these recruits suggest that either the Neurosciences Program has the best DEI initiative in history or that the people who are to be the next generation of leaders in American medicine, may have their origins off-shore in some cases, but seem to be doing the hard work to make them excellent academic physicians. Hmm. That used to be me, a second-generation American.

But I was left with a question or two.

First, do we really need programs in DEI when it seems that the issue is moot given who is training in health care today?

Second, isn’t this amazing? The melting pot remains on fire. This is medicine today and it’s a good thing.

The traditional applicants for faculty jobs might have looked like me thirty years ago. They don’t now. This is academic medicine in 2023. Don’t long for 1973. It’s gone. And that’s OK.

As this blog has said repeatedly, we care about excellence and these new faculty members seem to embody academic excellence. I will make it a point to note the progress they make in their careers in research, education, and patient care, but above all, it appears to me that academic medicine may well be in good hands. It least it looks like that.

Write me if you agree or disagree. or leave a comment on the web site.

Dr. Zwelling’s new novel, Conflict of Interest: Money Drives Medicine and People Die is available at:,

on amazon if you search using the title and subtitle 


directly from the publisher Dorrance at:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *