Culture of Inclusion Seminars Advance Healthcare for Underserved Populations

Achievement date: 

The NSF-funded Precise Advanced Technologies and Health Systems for Underserved Populations (PATHS-UP) Engineering Research Center (ERC), which is headquartered at Texas A&M University (TAMU), is working to change the paradigm for the health of underserved populations. An essential element in its success is understanding societal issues related to the people PATHS-UP seeks to help. To this end, the Center convened a seminar series on equity, diversity, and inclusion for staff at TAMU and PATHS-UP partners, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), Rice University, and Florida International University (FIU).


PATHS-UP is committed to enriching and maintaining a culture of inclusive (COI) excellence by acknowledging, educating, appreciating, and nurturing diversity, uniqueness, and belongingness to minimize bias and maximize the effectiveness of the PATHS-UP enterprise. In 2020, the Center hosted a virtual seminar series on equity, diversity, and inclusion (formerly called implicit bias seminars) led by certified implicit bias trainer Dr. Valencia Walker, Associate Division Chief for Health Equity and Inclusion at The Ohio State University and originally Associate Clinical Professor within the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Sessions were held on December 12, 2019, and May 19, 2020, and included not only the PATHS-UP institutional members but participants from several other ERCs, as they were open and advertised to the entire ERC-wide community. The series was assessed with surveys administered to gauge the effectiveness of the series.


PATHS-UP “walks the talk” of diversity and inclusion in all aspects of its mission. Underserved communities in every U.S. state have a higher prevalence of disease and less access to equitable healthcare services. Thus, many people in these communities go undiagnosed or are diagnosed late, leading to severe consequences. To address this challenge, PATHS-UP is focused initially on developing advanced technologies to prevent, delay the onset, and manage diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This requires both the development of transformational health technologies and systems and a paradigm shift in how these technologies are integrated into communities.

Developing and integrating these transformational systems into communities requires a multidisciplinary team, including engineers, medical doctors, public health experts, industry professionals, and community health leaders. The team will garner input from all stakeholders and use participatory design and community engagement to prevent PATHS-UP from merely throwing