VCU School of Medicine Faculty Elected to Institute of Medicine

PonJola Coney, M.D., director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Health Disparities and professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the VCU School of Medicine, on Monday was elected to the Institute of Medicine, one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.

Coney, who also is senior associate dean for faculty affairs, was among 70 new members and 10 foreign associates to be elected to the prestigious institute, which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service. She is VCU’s fifth member of the Institute of Medicine.

“Dr. Coney is a shining star at VCU and a great colleague who is committed to the academic excellence we strive for as one of the nation’s premier research universities,” said VCU President Michael Rao. “One of the measures of a top research university is faculty membership in the academies, and Dr. Coney’s election to this prestigious institute is helping VCU move the needle. I am also extraordinarily pleased for her because she is so deserving of this honor."

Jerome F. Strauss, III., M.D., dean of the VCU School of Medicine and himself a member of the Institute of Medicine, said that “as director of VCU's Center on Health Disparity, Dr. Coney has built an impressive pipeline program for minority students in the health sciences and has fostered a robust federally funded program that addresses major issues in disease burden in African Americans and other minority populations.

“Dr. Coney's expertise in women's health and health disparities will be invaluable to the IOM as it pursues its mission as health adviser to Congress and the nation,” Strauss said.

Coney came to VCU from Meharry Medical College, the nation's largest historically black medical school, where she was senior vice president for health affairs, dean of the School of Medicine and professor of obstetrics and gynecology from 2002 to 2006.
Prior to that, she was professor and chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. She also has held faculty positions at the University of Oklahoma, the University of Nebraska and the University of Arizona.
Coney received a bachelor's degree in medical technology from Xavier University and a medical degree from the University of Mississippi. She completed an obstetrics and gynecology residency at the University of North Carolina and a reproductive endocrinology and infertility fellowship at Pennsylvania Hospital.
“It is with a profound sense of pride and humility that I accept the honor of membership into the Institute of Medicine,” Coney said. “This is truly a capstone experience for me: this recognition and opportunity to contribute my efforts, and skills and to integrate knowledge and experiences of a career in collaborative work and learning that will bring true value to the lives of people.”
In addition to Coney and Strauss, VCU’s other members of the Institute of Medicine are  Kenneth Kendler, M.D., professor of psychiatry, and human and molecular genetics; Steven Woolf, M.D., professor in the Department of Family Medicine and director of the VCU Center on Human Needs; and Joseph Ornato, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine. Also, VCU’s new dean of the School of Engineering, renowned researcher and entrepreneur Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D., is a member of the prestigious National Academy of Engineers.
Established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine has become recognized as a national resource for independent, scientifically informed analysis and recommendations on health issues. With their election, members make a commitment to volunteer their service on IOM committees, boards and other activities.

Projects during the past year include studies of environmental factors in breast cancer, health IT and patient safety, nutrition rating systems and graphics on food packaging, the scientific necessity of chimpanzees in research, establishing crisis standards of care during catastrophic disasters, improving care for epilepsy and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

About VCU and VCU Medical Center

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see

PonJola Coney, M.D.
PonJola Coney, M.D.