Dr. Vela is Professor of Medicine within the Department of General Internal Medicine. A 1993 graduate of the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, she completed her residency training at the University of Chicago. She has established herself as a leader in scholarship and education related to health care disparities and diversity in medicine. In 2006, Dr. Vela piloted and implemented an innovative new curriculum in health care disparities which has become an important feature of the curriculum at the Pritzker School of Medicine. This work has been presented nationally, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine and has gained broad attention as it is one of the few required courses on health care disparities among American medical schools. It is one of the few courses published that has demonstrated an impact on both diversity and diversity climate at a medical school.
Dr. Vela serves as the Associate Vice Chair for Diversity within the Department of Medicine and Associate Dean for Multicultural Affairs at the Pritzker School of Medicine. She serves to recruit, support and mentor diverse students and promote a culture of inclusion. In 2010, she received the Mentor of the Year Award from the National Latino Medical Student Association. In 2011, she was awarded the AAMC Arnold P. Gold Humanism in Medicine at the Pritzker School of Medicine and has been granted a Pritzker Favorite Faculty of the Year for three years because of her student mentorship activities. In 2012, she won the American College of Physician’s National Award for Diversity and Access to Care.