New Vice Chair for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity

August 06, 2020

We are pleased to announce that Nicole Aqui, MD, will become our department’s inaugural Vice Chair for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, effective August 1, 2020. The Vice Chair for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity works closely with the Department Chair to oversee, promote, and facilitate excellence in diversity, inclusion, equity, and antiracism efforts across all aspects of the department. Dr. Aqui's appointment reaffirms our individual and collective commitments to justice, inclusion and equity both in health care and in the broader society by working toward the goal that our environment is truly safe and welcoming for all. The Vice Chair will be responsible for creating and maintaining a culture that embraces inclusion and ensuring that all departmental policies and practices are grounded in tenets of equity and antiracism. The Vice Chair will work in conjunction with the Chair, other Vice Chairs, Division Chiefs, UPHS Human Resources and the Office of Inclusion and Diversity at the Perelman School of Medicine. Dr. Aqui will also be working closely with our operational leadership to ensure the entire Department has an integrated strategy.

Dr. Aqui was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in the DC metro area. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Maryland, followed by her medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Dr. Aqui completed her Clinical Pathology residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, followed by a fellowship in Transfusion Medicine, also at HUP. She joined the laboratory of Dr. Carl June in 2003, where she studied T cell activation and the effects of T cell immunotherapy on immune reconstitution after transplant, before joining the faculty at Penn Medicine in 2006. She currently serves as Section Chief for Apheresis and Transfusion Services. Dr. Aqui has been heavily involved in graduate medical education, having served as the Chair of the Clinical Competency Committee for Pathology before becoming Director of the Pathology residency program in 2018. In these roles, as well as in her clinical work in Apheresis, Dr. Aqui has been a champion of diversity and inclusion.  

Dr. Aqui’s clinical practice has two areas of focus. The first is optimizing collections for hematopoietic transplantation and immune effector cell therapy. The second is improving outcomes in sickle cell patients transitioning to adult services. Dr. Aqui is a nationally recognized expert in Apheresis, having co-authored evidence-based guidelines for the use of therapeutic apheresis in clinical practice.

The appointment of this position is part of CPUP’s commitment to creating a culture at Penn Medicine where every individual is respected, heard and valued. Dr. Aqui will lead the department’s participation in the Action for Cultural Transformation to develop strategies to promote equity and mitigate bias. Dr. Aqui is a member of the Alliance of Minority Physicians and has been deeply engaged in issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Given her stature in the Department as a clinician, an educator, and an administrator, Dr. Aqui is ideally positioned to be a powerful agent for change.

Dr. Aqui is excited about this opportunity to engage the broader department in building a system that includes, supports and values diversity, and we in the Department are equally excited to move forward with her appointment to this role to help shape and to help execute our strategic plan in these critical areas.

Dr. David Roth, Chair
Dr. Mike Feldman, Vice Chair for Clinical Services
Dr. Warren Pear, Vice Chair for Research
Bob Challender, Chief Operating Officer