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Meet Yale Internal Medicine: Renata Belfort de Aguiar, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine (Endocrinology); Vice Chief, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (Endocrinology)

August 09, 2021
by Saphia Suarez

As part of our “Meet Yale Internal Medicine” series, today’s feature is on Renata Belfort de Aguiar, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine (endocrinology); vice chief, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (Endocrinology)

In the spring of 2021, Renata Belfort de Aguiar, MD, PhD, was appointed as the vice chief of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the Section of Endocrinology,

Belfort de Aguiar’s previous work included serving as Status of Women in Medicine (SWIM) liaison for the Section of Endocrinology. “Our goal was to improve gender equity, bring women into more leadership positions, close salary gaps, and the like,” said Belfort de Aguiar. “My membership as a liaison was for two years, so I completed that and then thought the role of vice chair of DEI work would be a nice way to continue my dedication to equity and making medicine more just.”

In this new role, she is seeing her diabetes and obesity work come full circle.

“Since diabetes and obesity are prevalent in underrepresented communities, one goal we have on the (Endocrinology Section) task force as we begin our work together is to improve community outreach regarding diabetes and obesity medicine,” said Belfort de Aguiar, associate professor of medicine (endocrinology). “That is something I have always been very passionate about, so I appreciate the opportunity to do that work in this role.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Belfort de Aguiar developed a quality improvement project for continuous glucose monitoring in the inpatient hospital. “When you have diabetes, you need to prick your finger to check your sugars. Some patients who were getting insulin in the hospital, they needed to be checked four times a day, especially if they are being administered steroids to combat COVID, which can increase patients’ blood sugar. And sometimes, those are patients that had mild diabetes as an outpatient so they are not used to doing that so often.”

Continuous glucose monitoring also limited patient-physician contact, which was crucial during the pandemic. “Care teams didn't need to enter patient rooms as often, and were able to save protection equipment and PPEs,” said Belfort de Aguiar. “And the patients also liked that they didn't need to stick their fingers so many times. So we are trying to move this project into other areas and specialties besides COVID medicine.”

Belfort de Aguiar is already generating program ideas and beginning development conversations. “I would like to invite high school students from underrepresented minorities into our labs,” said Belfort de Aguiar. “Perhaps they can work in the lab, observe the research that we do, and attend lectures given by physicians.”

Yale’s Section of Endocrinology & Metabolism works to improve the health of individuals with endocrine and metabolic diseases by advancing scientific knowledge; applying new information to patient care; and training the next generation of physicians and scientists to become leaders in the field. To learn more about their work, visit Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Submitted by Julie Parry on August 05, 2021