University of Chicago – Pritzker School of Medicine


Leadership and Faculty

 

Sonia Oyola, MD

Co-Director of Culinary Medicine, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, Director of Family Medicine Clerkship at the Pritzker School of Medicine.  

Dr. Sonia Oyola is an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Chicago whose areas of expertise lie in integrative medicine, chronic pain management, mind-body medicine, trauma-informed care, domestic violence, and mental healthcare. Dr. Oyola is deeply involved in medical education at the University of Chicago, serving as both Director of the Culinary Medicine program and Director of the Family Medicine Clerkship. She teaches medical students about Integrative Medicine, Mind-Body Medicine, Nutrition: Culinary Medicine, Domestic Violence and Stress Management. In 2019, she was recognized for her excellence in advancing the practice of holistic Integrative Medicine through the Health & Medicine Policy Research Group’s (HMPRG) Award.  

Dr. Oyola is also a champion of trauma-informed care and has taught students, colleagues, and survivors of violence how to practice meditation and yoga as forms of healing. With this expertise, she serves as a Domestic Violence Service Learning Concentration Leader at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

She graduated from the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago, completed her residency training at Stroger Hospital of Cook County, and earned fellowships from both University of Chicago Medicine and the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine. Since completing her medical training, Dr. Oyola has served the west and south-side neighborhoods of Chicago, including many of Chicago’s most underserved communities.  Dr. Oyola says her life mission is “assisting the people she meets to achieve optimum joy and assist in the alleviation of suffering.”

Co-Director of Culinary Medicine, Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago, Director, Integrative Nutrition and Advocacy, NorthShore University Health System, Director, Food is Power Course, Montessori School of Englewood

Dr. Maker-Clark holds a BA in English Literature from Northwestern University and received her MD from Rush Medical College in Chicago, IL, She has spent the past two decades studying integrative medicine, nutritional science, botanical medicine, and natural childbirth and has worked in grassroots health clinics all over the world, from rural Brazil and India to Standing Rock, ND. She is fellowship trained in obstetrics and maternal child health, and a graduate of the University of Arizona 2 year Fellowship in Integrative Medicine, under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Weil. Dr. Maker-Clark started the Food is Power program on the South Side of Chicago to empower middle schoolers with the knowledge and expertise around making great food choices, within a curriculum focused on decolonizing food and nutrition education. She is also the founder of the Food is Medicine CME symposium that draws over 250 people annually to Chicago to learn the latest in nutritional science as well as food education innovation. Dr. Maker-Clark was selected as one of twelve food justice activists to the inaugural class of the Castanea Fellowship.

Dr. Maker-Clark sees patients in Evanston and Glenview, IL and focuses her work and activism on food insecurity, food justice, food as medicine and decolonizing ancient wisdom traditions in Chicago and beyond.

Shawanna Kennedy traces her path to teaching culinary arts and nutrition education back to her grandmother’s kitchen. She studied psychology at Southern Illinois University and began working in the mental health field, but found her way to Common Threads after meeting co-founder Chef Art Smith.

In addition to working as a senior chef instructor for Common Threads in Chicago, Kennedy is a wife, mother of two and a culinary instructor with UChicago Medicine where she helps teach nutrition to medical students.


Supporting Faculty  

Assistant Professor of Gastroenterology, Associate Director of Adult Clinical Nutrition

Dr. McDonald is a board-certified gastroenterologist who teaches the GI module of the Culinary Medicine elective. He works with patients with small bowel diseases, obesity, and other digestive diseases. His areas of expertise include nutrition, health care disparities, celiac disease, obesity treatment, colon cancer prevention, inflammatory bowel disease, and endoscopic bariatric therapies for weight reduction. Dr. McDonald’s mission is to improve the health of individuals and communities through nutrition education. He is the founder of “The Doc’s Kitchen,” an free, online collection of healthy recipes, healthy eating resources, and evidence-based nutrition information for everyday people.

Dr. McDonald graduated from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, completed residency at Northwestern Medicine, and completed fellowship training between University of Chicago Medicine and Rush University Medical Center. He also earned a certificate in professional cookery from Kendall College School of Culinary Arts in 2021.

Mindy Schwartz, MD

Professor of Medicine, Internal Medicine, Primary Care

Dr. Schwartz is an internal medicine physician who teaches the hypertension module of the Culinary Medicine elective. She is involved in teaching a Nutrition in Health and Disease course to both medical students and residents. An esteemed educator, Dr. Schwartz was elected as a Master of the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine Academy of Distinguished Medical Educators and has received the Faculty Physician Peer Role Model Award. Her areas of expertise include general internal medicine, history of medicine, and nutrition education. 

Dr. Schwartz graduated from Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine and completed her residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan.

 


Culinary Medicine Programming

Medical Student Programming

Since its early inception in 2015, the Culinary Medicine program at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine has implemented Culinary Medicine instruction at several stages of medical education. The Culinary Medicine course was initially offered as an extracurricular activity comprised of eight modules over four weeks. In 2019, the team began offering formal Culinary Medicine instruction to first year medical students at a local kitchen through an eight-week elective. Culinary Medicine instruction is also integrated into the Family Medicine clerkship for all third-year medical students. The elective is directed by Dr. Oyola, Dr. Maker-Clark, and Chef-Dietician Shawanna Kennedy. Faculty from various departments, including Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, and Endocrinology, unite to teach individual Culinary Medicine modules in their respective area of expertise.

Residency Programming

None as of yet.

Fellowship Programming

None as of yet.


Community Programming

In partnership with Chicago Public Schools, the Pritzker Culinary Medicine team created the “Food is Power” program, a hands-on course offered to seventh grade students at a Montessori middle school in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago’s South Side. The program brings culinary medicine concepts to students who live in neighborhoods historically impacted by food insecurity, structural inequalities, and high levels of pediatric obesity. The course empowers students with knowledge of food as medicine to help make personal decisions that foster health and well-being.

The team also leads community classes for patients with diabetes alongside Endocrinology faculty.


Media Coverage

University of Chicago Medical Students Sharpen New Skills

A group of medical students at the University of Chicago will soon be starting a Food as Medicine workshop series led by local chefs and its founder Dr. Geeta Maker-Clark, an integrative family physician.

UChicago Med School Students Mix Clinical With Culinary at Kendall College

If the partnership between University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine and Kendall College were a recipe, it would call for two years of prep time.

That’s how long it took a PhD student at University of Illinois-Chicago, two holistic-minded physicians at University of Chicago, and a chef/registered dietician at Kendall College to gather the ingredients to launch the pilot program teaching future doctors culinary medicine.

Cooking up change in American medical schools

The course is Culinary Medicine, which explores the intersection of food, science, medicine and nutrition. The idea is to learn how to help prevent and control some of our most pervasive chronic health conditions.

‘Food as Medicine’ Must Be a Pillar of our Medical Care, Dr. Geeta Maker-Clark

 


Successes

First-year medical students consistently report the Culinary Medicine elective as one of their favorite electives. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the Culinary Medicine team was able to transition teaching activities quickly and successfully to the virtual learning environment through a two-week online elective during the Family Medicine clerkship.


Funding

Women’s Board at the University of Chicago (awarded in 2016 and 2018)

Culinary Medicine instruction for third-year medical students in their Family Medicine clerkship is supported by the Department of Family Medicine


Challenges

When the pandemic hit, the curriculum changed completely. For third-year medical students to complete clerkships and graduate on time, Pritzker had to shorten all clerkships, including Family Medicine which typically offers Culinary Medicine education. As such, the Culinary Medicine course pivoted from being an integral feature of the Family Medicine clerkship to an optional, virtual Family Medicine Elective for the 2020-2021 academic year.