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Celebrating Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month

Monday, May 1, 2023

May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

This May, UI Health is celebrating recent advances made at UIC and in the state of Illinois, as well as highlighting prominent AAPI individuals in healthcare.

In 2010, UIC became the first funded Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI) in the Midwest. The AANAPISI Program, established by the federal government in 2007, provides grants and related assistance to enable designated institutions to improve and expand their capacity to serve Asian Americans and Native American Pacific Islanders and low-income individuals. UIC is one of 28 currently funded institutions in the nation.

Illinois became the first US state to require all public schools to make Asian American history part of the curriculum when the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) Act was signed into law in July 2021. With the passage of the TEAACH Act, K-12 schools will begin teaching about the contributions of Asian Americans to the economic, cultural, social, and political development of the United States. The changes began with the 2022-2023 school year. 

Dr. Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, served as the United States' 19th Surgeon General and is currently serving as the nation’s 21st Surgeon General. Dr. Murthy is the first US Surgeon General of Indian descent. He is also the Vice Admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, commanding over 6,000 public health officers in the US and abroad. In addition to his public sector duties, he also co-founded VISIONS, a global HIV/AIDS education organization; the Swasthya Project, a rural health partnership that trained women in South India to become community health workers and educators; TrialNetworks, a technology company dedicated to improving collaboration and efficiency in clinical trials; and Doctors for America, a nonprofit mobilizing physicians and medical students to improve access to affordable care.

Another noteworthy physician is Dr. Leana Wen, MD, MSc, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University. Dr. Wen received the 2022 Walter C. Alvarez Award from the American Medical Writers Association. This award recognizes excellence in communicating health care developments and concepts to the public. Dr. Wen communicated to the public often as the nation navigated the COVID-19 pandemic, appearing on CNN, writing a weekly column for the Washington Post, and testifying to the US House of Representatives on COVID-19 4 times. An advocate for patients and patient-centered care even while a medical student, Dr. Wen also served as the national president of the American Medical Student Association.

Visit Celebrate.UIHealth.Care to learn more about AAPI Heritage Month and to read employee spotlights.