NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

FAPAC Celebrates AANHPI Heritage Month

Screenshot of online grid with 6 individuals, one per box.
Screenshot from the virtual panel discussion on leadership

In observance of 2021 Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month, the NIH chapter of the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) and partners from other federal agencies at the Department of Health and Human Services organized two events in May. The national theme was “Advancing Leaders Through Purpose-Driven Service.”

Virtual Panel on Leadership 

The first event, “Conversations with AANHPI Leaders at NIH: Tips on Leadership and Empowering the Next Generation,” was a panel discussion featuring Dr. Noni Byrnes, director of the Center for Scientific Review; Dr. Michael Chiang, director of the National Eye Institute; and Dr. Rena D’Souza, director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. 

The event recognized AANHPI leaders who have made significant contributions to public health and provided insights about leadership and vision for the future. 

The three institute/center directors shared their personal journeys, particularly cultural impact on their decisions, encounters with discrimination and how they overcame and persevered. Their work and leadership have focused on empowering the emerging generation of leaders.

NIH principal deputy director Dr. Lawrence Tabak gave opening remarks, highlighting the UNITE initiative to increase inclusivity and diversity in biomedical science. Dr. Christina Liu, chief of the Biomedical Technology Branch at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, served as moderator. NIH’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion co-organized the virtual event that attracted more than 870 attendees. 

The leadership discussion has been archived and can be viewed at

Screenshot of Dzau, Murthy and Webb Hooper during online discussion
Dr. Victor Dzau (l) and Dr. Vivek Murthy have a virtual conversation, moderated by Dr. Monica Webb Hooper.

Inaugural Murthy Lecture Series

The inaugural Dr. Vivek H. Murthy Distinguished Lecture Series for Public Health Leadership occurred on May 27. 

This was the first in a series of fireside chats and lectures in honor of Murthy, the 19th and 21st U.S. surgeon general. The goal of the series is to recognize a public health leader whose enduring efforts have made a significant impact on advancing public health. 

At the first lecture, Murthy recognized internationally renowned cardiologist and global health expert Dr. Victor Dzau, president of the National Academy of Medicine and former chancellor for health affairs at Duke University, for his public health efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic.

After opening remarks by NIMHD director Dr. Eliseo Pérez-Stable, NIMHD deputy director Dr. Monica Webb Hooper moderated a conversation between Murthy and Dzau. They shared their personal experiences as immigrants from India and China, respectively, their encounters with discrimination and how they persevered. Their stories covered themes of managing doubt and taking risks (both personal and professional), holding onto personal values and developing one’s own destination. 

Murthy and Dzau also reflected on the unprecedented challenges during the pandemic and discussed the root causes of health disparities. They noted the importance of the country coming together to recognize our shared values.  

They discussed the underrepresentation of AANHPI individuals in leadership positions and how cultural differences in leadership styles may be a potential cause. Cultural factors were also touched upon when discussing mental health issues, which have increased during pandemic times. 

Murthy offered helpful strategies for those experiencing emotional distress: spend 15 minutes a day reaching out to your loved ones, offer quality time over quantity and serve others. Finally, in addressing how public health leaders can build trust within our country and the world, Dzau said that they need to rely on science, recognize when they may not have the answer, communicate clearly and consistently and prioritize the welfare of others above their own. 

Along with NIH’s FAPAC, NIMHD organized the event in partnership with the USPHS Asian Pacific American officers committee, FAPAC’s FDA and Parklawn chapters, AAPI groups at CDC and HRSA and NIH’s EDI. 

The conversation can be viewed at  

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

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