NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News service) – With family, friends and notables in medicine, politics and entertainment watching at the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit Aug. 4, TSU graduate and retired Air Force Brigadier General, Dr. Edith P. Mitchell, was sworn-in as president of the National Medical Association, the nation’s oldest professional society for African-American physicians. She becomes the 116th head of the organization.
Mitchell, a renowned researcher and cancer specialist, is the director of the Center to Eliminate Cancer Disparities at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University. She was sworn-in during the 113th Annual Convention and Scientific Assembly of the NMA, a 30,000-member organization aimed at promoting equality and eliminating disparities in health care.
“I am deeply honored to be sworn-in as president of this prestigious organization,” Mitchell said. “There is still much work to be done with regards to disparities in medical treatment. I believe that we can all work together and make great strides to address barriers in helping underserved populations get better care and lead to better health care in our nation.”
In a statement from Tennessee State University, President Glenda Glover congratulated Mitchell, referring to her as “one of our very best who has committed her life and career to making sure the least of us receives the best.”
“The Tennessee State University family joins me in saluting Dr. Mitchell on this great achievement,” President Glover said. “Her outstanding leadership in the medical field and life continue to give hope to thousands of people suffering from cancer and who are not fortunate to receive the quality care they need.”
In addition to Glover’s congratulatory message, the university presented Mitchell with a TSU pin. Associate Vice President for Institutional Advancement Eloise Abernathy Alexis made the presentation and noted Mitchell’s achievement as president of the NMA as “representative of her exemplary career leadership and service” in research and medicine.
“As a retired Brigadier General, and the first female physician in the history of the United States Air Force to achieve this rank, she both inspires and challenges students and alumni toward excellence,” Alexis said. “Along with her leadership of the NMA, and her fight to end cancer disparities, Dr. Edith Mitchell is spearheading the attack on cancer and its devastating impact on underserved communities and people of color. We are proud to uplift her advocacy and scholarship as reflective of the educational experience that Tennessee State University has provided for more than a century.”
Mitchell, who received a B.S. degree “with distinction” in Biochemistry from TSU in 1969, is also the program leader of gastrointestinal oncology and associate director for Diversity Programs at Thomas Jefferson Hospital. A former senior medical Air National Guard advisor to the command surgeon and the medical liaison between the active Air Force and Air National Guard, Mitchell was the first female physician to receive the rank of Brigadier General in the Air Force.
In recognition of her advocacy for the underserved population, and her commitment to community health, Mitchell has received numerous accolades. They include the “Tree of Life Award,” the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Control Award” the National Cancer Care Physician of the Year Award, the American Society of Clinical Oncology Humanitarian Award, the Living with Cancer Foundation Looking Glass Award, and the Women in Medicine Research Award, from the NMA.
In her military career, Mitchell received 15 service medals and ribbons, including the Legion of Merit, two Meritorious Service Medals, a National Defense Service Medal, and the Humanitarian Service Medal. In addition to President Glover, industry, medical and business professionals, Dr. Mitchell received congratulatory messages from people across the nation, including several members of Congress, state lawmakers, the Mayor of Philadelphia Michael A. Nutter, and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, among others.
At the swearing-in ceremony, TSU was also represented by Kelli Sharpe, assistant vice president for Public Relations and Communications; Cassandra Griggs, director of Alumni Relations; and several TSU alumni. They joined other prominent guests such as Desiree Johnson, CEO of Johnson Publishing Company; Reverend Alvin Kibble, vice president of the Society of Adventist Communicators; music industry mogul Kenneth Gamble; Retired Brigadier General Jackson S. Davis; U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.); and Dr. Stephen Klasko, president and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health.
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With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.