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Whitworth University to Host Bioethics Symposium on “Achieving Health Equity”

February 14, 2022

Whitworth University’s Weyerhaeuser Center for Christian Faith & Learning is pleased to host Rachel Issaka, M.D., MAS, for a bioethics symposium on “Achieving Health Equity: This Too is Our Lane” on March 10 at 7 p.m. in Weyerhaeuser Hall’s Robinson Teaching Theatre. Issaka, assistant professor of gastroenterology and hepatology at the University of Washington, will join the audience from Seattle via Zoom for her discussion on structural racism in healthcare. 

Issaka is a gastroenterologist, assistant professor, and the Kathryn Surace-Smith Endowed Chair in Health Equity Research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) and the University of Washington. She is the director of the FHCRC/UW Medicine Population Health Colorectal Cancer Screening Program. Her research focuses on decreasing colorectal cancer mortality through increased screening in medically underserved populations. Her work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 

Issaka has contributed to national medical practice guidelines for the Centers for Disease Control, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable. In 2020, she was selected to serve on an expert panel advising the President’s Cancer Panel and the COVID-19 Prevention Network, a group formed to provide oversight for National Institutes of Health funded COVID-19 vaccine trials.

“We are very excited to host Dr. Issaka to present her pioneering work examining disparities in healthcare in the U.S., especially along racial and economic lines,” says Aaron Putzke, Whitworth professor of biology. “It is exactly this kind of work that our students and our community members need to hear about as they lean into issues of injustice when considering their life and vocation beyond Whitworth.” 

Issaka will examine the historical contexts that continue to influence health outcomes for racial and ethnic minorities and low socioeconomic groups in the U.S., and a framework that healthcare professionals can use to ensure equity for all patients. 

The event is co-funded through a Whitworth Women’s Leadership Network grant and is free and open to the public. Masks are required during the presentation and physical distancing is encouraged.

About Whitworth University:

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of more than 3,000 students, offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Trisha Coder, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or