Skip to main content

For the first time, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation named two clinical scholars from the same institution to two different health provider teams in the same year: Crystal Wiley Cené, MD, MPH, and Thava Mahadevan, MS.

October 1, 2020

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation named Crystal Wiley Cené, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine and member of the UNC Center for Health Equity Research, and Thava Mahadevan, MS, clinical instructor in the UNC Department of Psychiatry and Director of Operations for the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health, as 2020 Clinical Scholars.

This marks the first time the foundation selected two fellows from the same organization for two separately funded teams and projects. Eight teams from across the country were selected for the 2020 Clinical Scholars Cohort. Clinical Scholars form interdisciplinary teams of healthcare providers who collaborate to tackle complex problems in their communities while building a culture of health nationwide.

Cené, who was recently named UNC Health’s first executive director for Health Equity, will co-lead a project called “Sistas Caring 4 Sistas: From Picnic Tables to Pioneers,” which also includes Amanda Murphy, Certified Nurse Midwife, Dolly Byrd, Nurse and Certified Nurse Midwife, and Elizabeth Buys, MD, all with the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

This team aims to reduce infant and maternal mortality in their community and across North Carolina using three approaches:

1) trained African American doulas will provide prenatal, intrapartum, and postpartum services in the community and healthcare system;

2) clinical staff will participate in racial equity training tailored to maternal/infant mortality; and

3) the team will educate their community and system of patterns that contribute to maternal/infant mortality and advocate for community and health system policies that align with the national guidelines.

Their project is based in Asheville, NC and is informed by local community-based doulas serving black birthing people concerned about the issues within and around the healthcare system.

Mahadevan is part of a team leading a project called “Wake County Familiar Faces Health Collaborative ,” along with José G Cabañas, MD, with Wake County EMS, Jason Wittes, a pharmacist Wake County Human Services Pharmacy, Keturah Beckham, a social worker with WakeMed Health and Hospitals, and Derrick Hoover, MD, with Duke University Health System.

This team, based in Wake County, NC, will work with communities and other stakeholders to develop, implement, and evaluate a service model to improve hand-offs between agencies and systems of care, to improve health outcomes, and to reduce utilization and costs of crisis services. This team plans to improve the health outcomes of their communities most vulnerable citizens who have complex health and social needs and interaction with criminal justice and correctional systems, emergency medical services, homelessness services, physical and mental health services, substance abuse detox and treatment services.

Each year, the Clinical Scholars Program solicits applications from around the country beginning in January. For more information, please check their website.