Leaders in Clinical Excellence Awards
Una Makris, M.D.
Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Population and Data Sciences
Division of Rheumatic Diseases
While completing advanced training in rheumatology, clinical epidemiology, and aging research through separate fellowships at Yale University School of Medicine more than a decade ago, Dr. Makris had the good fortune to have a mentor who not only positively impacted the course of her career but who, on a fundamental level, changed her life. Since then, she has been passionately involved in paying it forward by assuming the same role for others.
And she does it tirelessly.
In addition to her own active research at UT Southwestern and her clinical responsibilities, where she’s been a faculty member since 2011, Dr. Makris goes out of her way to assist faculty and trainees with their research questions, grant applications, and manuscripts.
Rheumatic Diseases Division Chief David Karp, M.D., Ph.D., puts it simply: “Dr. Makris lives the life of a mentor. She personally helps young clinical trainees and clinical investigators become better rheumatologists and researchers. She has been invested in this personally in her own career and has taught others to be good mentors both here at UT Southwestern and across the nation.”
At UT Southwestern, Dr. Makris developed the Rheumatology Fellowship Mentoring Program and implemented the Writing Accountability Group, an initiative that has been enormously successful in helping many clinician-scientists document, submit, and publish their research. She regularly conducts career development workshops and is a popular lecturer for rheumatology fellows, providing guidance for their careers in academic medicine or community practice.
On the national level, she helped to establish CARMA (Creating Adult Rheumatology Mentorship in Academia), a program designed to match fellows and junior faculty with mentors across institutions, acknowledging that not every institution has the expertise in mentoring that a mentee might need.
“What always amazes me is Dr. Makris’ enthusiasm for team science,” Dr. Karp says. “She understands that a group of high-performing individuals will always be more productive than a single individual, no matter how skilled they are. She has the fantastic ability to select the right team members and to blend their different styles in a way that maintains camaraderie and a sense of purpose. While she often ‘leads’ these teams, she allows others to shine, and the whole effort seems to advance organically and not by executive action.”
Dr. Makris is the recipient of numerous awards for her research on aging, particularly in the areas of chronic pain and osteoarthritis. Among other honors, she has received the American Geriatrics Society’s New Investigator Award, and in 2019, the UTSW Office of Faculty Wellness named her a Wellness Champion for the Department of Internal Medicine.
In her words: “It is a true honor to accept this Mentoring Award – as a lifelong mentee and now mentor. We are all here because of mentors, the various mentors in our lives who have guided us, inspired us, and role modeled what this looks like. Mentoring is all about relationships and trust and sharing knowledge to help a colleague progress. I am humbled and so grateful that I can be part of the process (even a small part) of what helps a colleague get to where they want or need to be in their career. We are all driven to medicine and research in order to improve outcomes for our patients, and UT Southwestern provides the ideal environment where both mentors and mentees can continue to challenge themselves in order to serve this mission. Thank you to all who invest their time, energy, and expertise into the roles of both mentee and mentor – and to this fantastic institution that values it.”