By Wendy Sarubbi | May 29, 2015 4:35 pm

Dr. Cristina Fernandez-Valle, a professor in the college’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, has been selected to the prestigious Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine® (ELAM) program for 2015-16.

Dr. Fernandez-Valle is a nationally recognized researcher in neurofibromatosis (NF), a disease that attacks Schwann cells and causes tumors on the nervous system that can lead to deafness, facial disfiguration and severe pain. She is the third College of Medicine faculty member to be selected for the ELAM fellowship in the last three years.

“I am so excited to be selected for the fellowship,” she said. “This is a great opportunity for me to stretch my comfort zone and take more of a leadership role for the College of Medicine and its Burnett School.”

ELAM is the only program in North America dedicated to preparing women for senior leadership roles in academic health science institutions. The one-year part-time fellowship includes three in-residence sessions and is designed to give outstanding women the leadership skills to affect change in their institutions.

As part of the program, each fellow completes an Institutional Action Project in collaboration with her organization’s senior leadership that is designed to address a strategic institutional priority. Dr. Fernandez-Valle said she will work with College of Medicine and university leaders to develop a pipeline program to increase the numbers of Hispanics – especially women – in the biomedical sciences. Born in Cuba and trained in Miami, Dr. Fernandez-Valle has received national and UCF recognition as a mentor of minorities in science. She said that while our nation has become more diverse, such diversity has lagged in both clinical care and scientific research.

UCF’s efforts to become a more globalized university could help in that pipeline effort, Dr. Fernandez-Valle said, by bringing in more young scientists from the Caribbean, Latin America and Spain.

ELAM is a core program of Drexel University’s International Center for Executive Leadership in Academics, housed at the Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership® at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. The Institute continues the legacy of advancing women in medicine that begin in 1850 with the founding of the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, the nation’s first women’s medical school and a predecessor of today’s Drexel University College of Medicine.

The 2014-15 ELAM class includes Dr. Jane Gibson, professor of pathology at the College of Medicine. The year before, Dr. Lori Boardman, professor of obstetrics and gynecology was chosen for the fellowship. Vice President for Medical Affairs and founding medical school Dean Dr. Deborah German is a graduate of ELAM as is Dr. Diane Davey, interim chair of clinical sciences, assistant dean for graduate medical education and professor of pathology.

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