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Gabriela K. Popescu, PhD

Gabriela K. Popescu, PhD, is set to lead the Council of Faculty and Academic Societies.

Popescu Elected to Lead Council of Faculty and Academic Societies

Published July 17, 2017

Gabriela K. Popescu, PhD, professor of biochemistry, has been elected chair of the Council of Faculty and Academic Societies (CFAS).

“It is clearly an honor that speaks of the trust my colleagues placed in me personally.”
Professor of biochemistry

Will Have Leadership Roles Through 2023

Popescu will serve as chair of the group in 2019 and 2020. CFAS is one of three leading councils — along with the Council of Deans and the Council of Teaching Hospitals and Health Systems — of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

She will also serve as one of 17 members on the AAMC’s Board of Directors, starting this fall and running through 2023.

“It is clearly an honor that speaks of the trust my colleagues placed in me personally,” Popescu says. “But I believe that by electing me, my colleagues also expressed broader appreciation for basic scientists, for women and for immigrants — all of which I am proud to count as defining identities.”

Group Recognizes, Speaks Out on Burnout

Popescu says that CFAS serves as a bidirectional communication conduit between academic faculty and the AAMC to identify critical issues facing faculty members across medical centers and to initiate activities, programs, tools and services to assist with these issues. In addition, the council convenes all representatives each spring in a professional development meeting.

“One of our first successes has been to recognize and speak up about the threat of burnout for trainees and faculty in academic medicine and about the need for resiliency training for physicians and scientists,” Popescu says. “The issue has been embraced by the AAMC, where it has become a key strategic initiative, and by other scientific and professional societies, and it is now subject of a national conversation.”

A new initiative from AAMC, Well-Being in Academic Medicine, hopes to address stress-related issues in the medical community. CFAS is supporting this effort.

“I will have the tremendous opportunity to facilitate dialogue, discussions and debates to spot and acknowledge new or ongoing threats and challenges to our professional missions,” Popescu says.

Pushing for Increased Diversity, Inclusion

Popescu will lead the Program Committee and organize together the annual meetings of the CFAS in 2018 and 2019, and she will help with programming activities of broad faculty interest at the upcoming AAMC Learn Serve Lead in 2017 and 2018 as chair-elect.

As chair, it will be her job to lead the 15-member Administrative Board from 2019 to 2021, and as immediate past-chair she will lead the Nominating Committee from 2021 to 2023.

She set three priorities for her work as chair of the group:

  • to increase public support for science and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), through stronger, more effective science communication
  • to increase diversity and inclusion in academic medicine, across the career span
  • to increase opportunities for career development and advancement for faculty in academic medicine

Leadership Positions Prepare Her for New Role

“I am acutely aware of the need for increased support for the NIH, the principal supporter of basic science in the United States, and I have firsthand experience with regulatory burdens, mandates and costs that federal research imposes on our institutions,” says Popescu, who has 10 years of experience as an independent scientist and lab director.

“As a mentor and member of admission and training programs, I see on a daily basis the needs and challenges faced by our trainees and our training programs.”

Popescu is currently serving on the school’s Faculty Council Steering Committee. She previously served for six years on the UB Faculty Senate Executive Committee.

“I became increasingly aware of the many ways in which more effective and broadly available faculty development programs can support us in carrying forth our school’s missions,” she says.