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Sarahn M. Wheeler, MD., Appointed Director of Diversity & Inclusion

Friday, September 15, 2017

Announcement from Matthew D. Barber, MD, MHS, Chair, Department of Ob/Gyn

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Sarahn M. Wheeler, MD, as Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In this new role, Dr. Wheeler will be instrumental in enhancing and implementing the department’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan and leading an advisory committee charged with promoting diversity and inclusion within our department.

Since becoming Chair of our Department on May 1, 2017, I have had the the privilege of interacting with colleagues that exemplify how we value diversity as a pillar upon which Duke Ob/Gyn proudly stands.

As I have expressed previously, our department is dedicated to providing the best care to our patients, and a rewarding career to our faculty, trainees and staff. In working toward this goal, we place great value on diversity and inclusion. Duke Ob/Gyn is among the m­­­­ost diverse departments and training programs universitywide. This was achieved under the leadership of our previous three Chairs, Drs. F. Bayard Carter, Roy T. Parker and Haywood Brown. They ensured that our department welcomed the first female and minority faculty and residents, and that historical milestones were achieved. A culture of diversity and inclusion continues to be an invaluable aspect of who we are, and of which I am extremely proud to build upon as Chair.

My appointment of Dr. Wheeler to her newest role at Duke Ob/Gyn will allow us to grow initiatives in this area even further.

Dr. Wheeler graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with a B.A. in psychology. Her educational focus included coursework in organizational psychology. After graduating, she was recruited to work as a Human Resources Specialist for an International Fortune 500 Company. In that role, she was responsible for ethical and equitable hiring and employee relations. She completed medical school at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine. Dr. Wheeler went on to residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. She completed her maternal-fetal medicine sub-specialty training at Duke University in June of 2016.

Dr. Wheeler will continue to serve as Assistant Professor in the Duke University School of Medicine. She is both a practicing clinician and research faculty member and has published several peer-reviewed articles on topics ranging from fetal brain injury to vaccination during pregnancy. Dr. Wheeler’s current research focus is on race disparities in preterm birth, along with studies examining the impact of psychosocial stress in preterm birth.

One of the initial items on her agenda will be recruiting volunteers for our new Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and those who are interested are encouraged to reach out to her. Appointing Dr. Wheeler to this new role will enable us to strategically build our momentum in this important area, and continue our focus on diversity throughout all aspects of our Department.

In closing, I would like to note that it has always been our vision to surpass expectations, and to be at the forefront of leadership and innovation. Time recently quoted Duke University alumna and renowned philanthropist Melinda Gates as follows, “Now we have statistics that show that teams and corporations are better if you have diverse points of view.” We will continue on this path, and we welcome Dr. Wheeler as a leader in this endeavor.