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UHCOP Research Assistant Professor Onyebuchi Ononogbu displays her 2024 Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award with UHCOP colleague Professor Meghna Trivedi, Pharm.D., Ph.D., BCOP, who nominated Ononogbu for the honor.

Caring for All

UHCOP's Ononogbu Earns Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award from Hematology Oncology Pharmacy Association

April 8 — University of Houston College of Pharmacy Research Assistant Professor Onyebuchi Ononogbu, Pharm.D., BCOP, has been recognized with the 2024 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Award from the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA) at the 2024 HOPA Annual Conference April 3-6 in Tampa, Fla.

The HOPA award recognizes pharmacy practitioners who have demonstrated a commitment to improving DEI within HOPA, their institution, practice area or the pharmacy profession.

"Receiving a DEI award in the field of hematology and oncology holds profound significance as it acknowledges the critical need to address disparities and inequities within patient care," Ononogbu said.

Focus on Disparities

A Board Certified Hematology/Oncology Clinical Pharmacy specialist, Ononogbu is focused on researching the intersection of health disparities in hematology and oncology.

"In hematology and oncology, where patient outcomes are heavily influenced by socioeconomic factors, cultural backgrounds, and access to health care, promoting diversity, equity and inclusion becomes imperative," Ononogbu said.

In nominating Ononogbu, UHCOP Professor and Director of Clinical and Translational Research Meghna Trivedi, Pharm.D., Ph.D., BCOP, noted, "Dr. Ononogbu’s determination to improve the lives of sickle cell patients through research is both commendable and inspiring.

"Her active research studies, characterized by innovative and novel strategies, have the potential to reshape how we understand and address these disparities. Notably, her investigation into microbiome characteristics in sickle cell patients, aimed at unraveling the pathways leading to inflammation and vaso-occlusive crises, is pioneering work in a field that has long been neglected."

After witnessing the disparities that exists in the health care system, Ononogbu’s work in promoting DEI is not only focused on creating a reflective system, but also advancing research and practices to care for every patient equitably and compassionately, regardless of background.

"I would like to emphasize to my colleagues and students the paramount importance of DEI efforts in health care," Ononogbu said. "Diversity, equity, and inclusion are not merely buzzwords but fundamental principles that underpin our ability to provide high-quality and patient-centered care."

DEI Beyond the Clinic, Lab 

Ononogbu is also the co-founder of Pharmacy Initiative Leaders, Inc. (PILs), a non-profit organization dedicated to guiding pharmacy students toward post-doctoral residency or fellowship programs. To date, PILs has helped more than 200 fourth-year students secure residencies or fellowships.

As a leader in the field, Ononogbu advocates the importance of DEI in patient care. Her work highlights promoting cultural competency, improving patient-provider communication, and fostering inclusive health care environments.

"I plan to continue advocating for DEI initiatives through a multi-faceted approach," Ononogbu said. "This includes actively participating in research projects aimed at uncovering and addressing health care disparities, mentoring and supporting students and colleagues from diverse backgrounds, engaging in community outreach efforts to promote health equity, and leveraging platforms, such as podcasts and publications, to raise awareness about DEI issues within the pharmacy profession and beyond."

"Together, let us champion DEI efforts to create a more equitable, compassionate, and effective health care system for all."