College of Medicine Accolades banner

Accolades is a weekly roundup of some of the honors and accomplishments of College of Medicine faculty, staff, residents and fellows by Christopher T. Westfall, M.D., Executive Vice Chancellor of UAMS and Dean of the College of Medicine.  


November 6, 2019

In the Spotlight
Dr. Steven Barger
, Professor of Geriatrics, has been in the national spotlight for his groundbreaking research into the connections between Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and the metabolic processes that deliver glucose to fuel mental processes in the brain. The work was featured during a news conference hosted by the Society for Neuroscience at its annual meeting in Chicago. Dr. Barger’s abstract was one of only about 50 to be highlighted, out of more than 14,000 submitted, and the research was subsequently featured in Forbes, the American Association for the Advancement of Science EurekAlert!, and other outlets such as dLife.

His team’s research into Alzheimer’s pathology shows how a defect in the glucose delivery system can mimic diabetes. The findings could lead to effective treatments for patients even after the appearance of the hallmark amyloid plaque in the brain. Hats off to Dr. Barger and his colleagues, including Dr. Antiño Allen in the College of Pharmacy; Drs. Gwen Childs and Angela Odle in Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences; graduate student Jakeira Davis; and former Neurobiology graduate student Dr. Rachel Hendrix.


Resident and Scholar
Fourth-year general surgery resident Dr. John Pagteilan excels as a surgeon and has been recognized by medical students as an exceptional educator. Dr. Pagteilan has also found time for impressive scholarly work. Chief Resident Dr. Nick Tingquist wrote to let me know that Dr. Pagteilan has done three oral presentations this year alone at national and regional meetings including the IASLC North American Conference on Lung Cancer, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and the Southern Thoracic Surgical Association. Great job, Dr. Pagteilan, and thanks as well to Dr. Matthew Steliga, Division Head of Thoracic Surgery, and Dr. Jason Muesse, for providing a strong mentoring foundation for residents.


The Dominators
UAMS Pathology and Dermatopathology trainees and medical students “dominated” at the recent American Society of Dermatopathology annual meeting in San Diego, in the words of one of their faculty mentors. Dr. Katelynn Campbell, a dermatopathology fellow, and Dr. Miki Lindsey, a first-year pathology resident, gave oral presentations. Second-year pathology residents Dr. Kellen Dawson, Dr. Amrit Singh and Dr. Richard Dunn, and medical students Michael Franzetti and Jeremy Light all presented posters. They were cheered on by their “super proud” mentors, Associate Professors Dr. Sara Shalin and Dr. Jerad Gardner, who also had their plates full with numerous presentations, sessions and invited talks.


Select Publication
Congratulations to the research team at the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center, on the inclusion of one of their recent papers in the American Physiological Society’s APSselect. The monthly roundup spotlights some of the most exceptional original research articles gleaned from the 10 APS research journals. The selected paper, “Exercise plasma metabolomics and xenometabolomics in obese, sedentary, insulin-resistant women: impact of a fitness and weight loss intervention,” was the result of multi-institutional research led by ACNC Director Dr. Sean Adams, Professor and Section Chief of Developmental Nutrition in the Department of Pediatrics. The team examined how an acute exercise bout in women changes hundreds of blood metabolites (the metabolome), generating a surprising finding that exercise triggers a rise in gut bacteria- and food-derived molecules in circulation. This raises the possibility that exercise leads to increased bioavailability of “non-self” molecules that could have important effects on health and function.


Editorial Published
A shout-out to Dr. Terry Harville, Professor of Pathology and Internal Medicine, on his latest publication, an editorial in the November issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. His commentary on a review article in the journal along with earlier findings is titled “‘Testing’ for antibody deficiencies: Is it ‘practical’ for the clinician?” and can be read here.


Global Partnership
Dr. Kimo Stine
, Professor of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, and his team have been approved for a Hematology Treatment Center Twinning Partnership with Pristina, Kosovo, by the World Federation of Hemophilia. The collaborative partnership between Arkansas Children’s and the hemophilia program in Kosovo will help improve the diagnosis, care and treatment for patients with hemophilia and other inherited blood diseases in Kosovo. Kudos to Dr. Stine and this team for their compassion and care for children around the world as well as here in Arkansas.


Summertime Reminiscences
We may be well into autumn, but students haven’t forgotten their summer learning experiences with faculty members. The second-year students I had breakfast with this week applauded the summer in Surgery program, especially Dr. Deidre Wyrick and Dr. Todd Maxson; along with summer preceptorships in Emergency Medicine as well as Family Medicine through UAMS Regional Programs. They also said they received excellent guidance about choosing summer programs such as Honors in Research, and they expressed special appreciation for Dr. Bobby McGehee. Meanwhile, students are enjoying their experiences this fall in the Practice of Medicine 2 clinical preceptorship. They cited Dr. Michael Angtuaco in Pediatrics as a particularly outstanding preceptor. Well done everyone!



October 30, 2019

Great News from the LCME
In 2015, the COM received full, eight-year accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), with follow-up reporting requested on only two issues. One of those was fully resolved last year, and on Friday, we received a superb report from the LCME and the great news that no additional monitoring is needed on the final element, which related to student educational debt and measures to provide our students with appropriate financial aid services including debt management counseling.

A lot of hard work went into ensuring continued compliance and successful monitoring of this accreditation component, and to enhancing financial aid services for our students. Dr. James Graham, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education, did an outstanding job leading this effort, which included extensive surveys with students and strong team work with UAMS Student Financial Services, the Provost’s Office and more. We want to thank all of our colleagues in Student Financial Services, including Gloria Kemp, Candace Lane and Janice Nottenkamper.


Honoring Service to UAMS
This week, UAMS pays tribute to those who make our institution so special: YOU! This year’s longest-serving UAMS team members include two on our faculty, Dr. Linda McGhee, Associate Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine and a faculty member and former Program Director of the UAMS Northwest Family Medicine Residency Program; and Dr. James Suen, Distinguished Professor and former Chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. Both have served at UAMS for 45 years! Read more about Dr. Suen and Dr. McGhee here.

Two COM team members have served for 40 years: Gwenn Higginbotham, Administrative Specialist III in the Department of Neurology; and Dr. John Shock, Distinguished Professor and former Chair of Ophthalmology, who was also Founding Director of the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute.

UAMS staff and faculty with 20-plus years of service were recognized at the Employee Service Awards Ceremony on Tuesday. Those with 5, 10 and 15 years of service will be recognized at a reception at 1:00 p.m. this Thursday on the 12th floor of the Stephens Spine and Neurosciences Institute. Click here for the full list of everyone who is being honored this year. Congratulations to all of you – and thank you!


VA Innovation
Dr. Sara Landes, an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and psychologist and implementation scientist for the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, was a standout at the Veterans Health Administration Innovation Experience in Washington, D.C., last week. Dr. Landes received the VHA iEX Best Demo in Innovative Research Award for her presentation on “Caring Contacts” for suicide prevention among veterans. You can catch Dr. Landes’ presentation in this video (starting at the 14:00 mark). Her demo and presentations by other CAVHS team members also were highlighted in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.  Congratulations Dr. Landes!


National Appointment
Congratulations to Dr. Hoda Hagrass, Assistant Professor of Pathology, on her appointment to the American Association of Clinical Chemistry (AACC) Publications Core Committee, which oversees the organization’s publications activities in laboratory medicine and sets direction for the AACC publications program in accordance with the strategic vision of the board of directors. Dr. Hagrass serves as Medical Director of Clinical Chemistry and Immunology Laboratories at UAMS and as Medical Director of Clinical Chemistry and Metabolic Diseases Laboratories at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.



Innovative Collaboration
Dr. Mark Smeltzer
, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, is a Co-Investigator on a $5.6 million grant awarded to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to advance a groundbreaking bone regeneration technology that could help wounded soldiers, trauma victims and patients with bone disease. The team includes UA Little Rock’s Dr. Alex Biris, Principal Investigator, and Dr. David Anderson of the University of Tennessee Knoxville, in addition to Dr. Smeltzer and colleagues at UAMS. Read about this extraordinary project in the UA Little Rock Newsroom.


Conference Bound
A shout-out to the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology faculty and residents and COM student who have had their research accepted for the Council on Resident Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology/Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics (CREOG/APGO) Annual Meeting next February. Assistant Professor Dr. Lindsey Sward, resident Dr. Zach Pettis and COM senior Joseph Levy will lead a break-out session on “Keeping Men in OB/Gyn: Addressing Gender Disparities in the Ob/Gyn Clerkship.” Also heading to Orlando are resident Dr. Meredith McKinney and Assistant Professor Dr. Luann Racher, whose project, “Obstetrical Anal Sphincter Repair Using a Porcine Model,” has been accepted for the conference film festival.


Best Poster, – the Sequel
Drs. Karina Clemmons, Sara Tariq, Jason Mizell, James Graham and Puru Thapa, along with COM junior Annlee-Taylor Glass, took home a first-place poster award from the Learning Communities Institute national meeting – for the second year in a row. This year’s poster, “Learning Community Advising may Improve Residency Match Rates,” won in the learner category at the recent meeting in Kansas City. Last year the team aced the competition in the research poster category. Way to go!



October 23, 2019

 Research Truly Matters
Dr. Erin Mannen
, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, has been in the national news for her groundbreaking research that, simply put, will save the lives of countless babies in the future. As a leading baby biomechanics expert, Dr. Mannen led a team of UAMS researchers in a study into infant inclined sleepers at the behest of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The commission is considering regulations changes for the products following the tragic deaths of dozens of babies who suffocated in the inclined sleepers.

Dr. Mannen’s team of experts from the departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Pediatrics concluded that none of the infant inclined sleep products they evaluated as part of the study were safe. The team included Dr. John Carroll, pediatric pulmonologist, Dr. David Bumpass, pediatric spine surgeon, Dr. Brien Rabenhorst, pediatric orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Brandi Whitaker, pediatric psychologist, and biomechanics researchers Dr. Junsig Wang and Dr. Safeer F. Siddicky.

You can learn more about the team’s crucially important research in this UAMS news story. The study was also featured in multiple news outlets, including the CBS Evening News and the Washington Post. We are incredibly proud – and grateful – for Dr. Mannen and her colleagues and their many contributions to infant safety, health and wellbeing.


Nationally Certified, World Class
A shout-out to Dr. Aravindhan Veerapandiyan, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Comprehensive Neuromuscular Program at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and his team for their outstanding work to become a Certified Duchenne Care Center (CDCC) by the Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD) organization. Major kudos also to Dr. Vikki Stefans, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, who began building the team at ACH over 30 years ago. Families of children with Duchenne muscular dystrophy drive as long as six hours, from surrounding states, for the world-class care this team provides. Read more in the ACH Newsroom.


Insights into Step 1 Prep
Congratulations to Dr. Jasna Vuk, Associate Professor in the UAMS Student Success Center and the COM medical students and staff who collaborated on a newly published paper sharing insights about the student-led Step 1 exam prep program at UAMS. The authors include COM seniors Santiago Gonzalez and Basilia Gonzalez, who are the founding leaders of the prep program, and Raj Singh, certified research specialist in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Their paper was published in MedEdPublish, a journal of the Association for Medical Education. Great job!


October 16

A Month for Celebrations            

Endowed chairs have been among the highest academic honors bestowed by universities on members of their faculty for centuries. This month we celebrate the investitures of four College of Medicine faculty members! Congratulations to each of these exemplary colleagues:

Dr. Randy Shinn, Assistant Professor of Geriatrics, became the inaugural holder of the Pat Walker Distinguished Chair in Senior Health on Oct. 3. Dr. Shinn, Medical Director for the Washington Regional Senior Clinic at the UAMS Schmieding Center for Senior Health and Education in Springdale, has provided instrumental leadership to ensure the very best care for seniors in Northwest Arkansas for over two decades. He has served in many other leadership roles in clinical care, education and outreach.

Dr. J.D. Day, Professor and Chair of Neurosurgery, was invested in the Robert Watson, M.D., Chair in Neurological Surgery on Oct. 10. Dr. Day has propelled the Department of Neurosurgery and the Neurosciences Service Line to new heights since joining our faculty in 2010. He is also an internationally recognized leader in skull base surgery and specialist in Gamma Knife surgery and vascular disorders of the brain. We are grateful for his ongoing leadership and dedication to excellence on behalf of those we serve.

Dr. Arabinda Choudhary, Professor and Chair of Radiology, became the Ernest J. Ferris, M.D., Endowed Chair in Diagnostic Radiology on Oct. 14. Dr. Choudhary joined us in August, bringing extensive clinical, academic and executive experience from previous posts at top tier hospitals. He is internationally recognized for his work in pediatric neuroimaging and imaging related to pediatric abusive head trauma. We look forward to a bright, bold future in Radiology under Dr. Choudhary’s leadership.

This month will end on a high note with the Oct. 28 investiture of Dr. Mark Smeltzer, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and Orthopaedic Surgery, in the Chair in Sciences Basic to Medicine. Dr. Smeltzer is one of the most highly funded microbiology researchers in the nation with multiple NIH and DOD grants. In addition to his own research into staphylococcal pathogenesis, he serves as Director of the Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Host Inflammatory Responses, which has garnered $21.2 million to date from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and supports projects and training for junior researchers. Dr. Smeltzer has received many awards for his research, teaching and mentorship.


At the Top
Dr. Jerad Gardner, Associate Professor of Pathology and Dermatology, is ranked No. 1 on The Pathologist magazine’s 2019 Power List. The annual list features the top 100 trailblazers in pathology and laboratory medicine. Dr. Gardner was recognized for championing the use of social media to advance education, research and patient outreach in pathology. He has lectured internationally on the topic and has tens of thousands of subscribers and followers on platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Congratulations Dr. Gardner!


Hip Society
Congratulations to Dr. Simon Mears, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, on his election to the prestigious national Hip Society. Dr. Mears is only the third Arkansan to receive this honor, following the late Dr. Carl Nelson and current Professor and Chair of Orthopaedic Surgery Dr. Lowry Barnes. Dr. Mears will be a great asset to the society and represent UAMS very well.


Impactful Research
The innovative, collaborative work of the UAMS and VA Center for Musculoskeletal Disease Research and colleagues in Orthopaedic Surgery, Endocrinology and Metabolism, and Biomedical Informatics is in the national spotlight this month. A paper by Dr. Jinhu Xiong and first-author Dr. Xuehua Li, with coauthors including UAMS’ Drs. Li Han, Intawat Nookaew, Erin Mannen and Maria Almeida, was published in eLIFE. Their article, “Stimulation of Piezo1 by mechanical signals promotes bone anabolism” was also highlighted in an eLIFE “Insight” article focusing on how the skeleton senses and adapts to changes in the mechanical load it carries. The UAMS team was one of two independent groups to confirm and report on the role of Piezo 1, a protein embedded in the cell membrane.


October 9, 2019

Pediatric Otolaryngology Champion
Congratulations to Dr. Chuck Bower, Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, who will receive the 2019 Pediatric Otolaryngology Advocacy Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Section on Otolaryngology. Dr. Bower has championed pediatric otolaryngology care for children throughout his career. He is being recognized for his service as an Executive Committee member, Section Chair and mainstay of the Otoscopy Workshop, and for his outstanding work to educate pediatricians through AAP policy statements, the AAP National Conference and other activities. Dr. Bower will receive the award during the section’s program at the AAP National Conference in New Orleans on Oct. 28.


Team Effort
A shout-out to Professor and Chair Dr. Lowry Barnes and the entire Orthopaedic Surgery team for their incredible effort behind the more than six-fold increase in adult cases over the past five years. With 6,066 adult cases at UAMS Medical Center and 1,323 cases at Conway during the previous year, their clinical caseload today dwarfs the 1,100 adult orthopaedic cases of five years ago. While working to build a clinical presence that serves the entire state, the faculty has also vastly increased its scholarly work and publications.


Serving the Community
Hats off to the two dozen student volunteers from the College of Medicine, College of Pharmacy and College of Health Professions, who participated in the UAMS LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) Health Fair at St. Edward’s Catholic Church on Sunday. COM sophomore Becca Moreira serves as President of the UAMS LULAC chapter. Faculty Preceptors are Dr. Billy Thomas, Professor of Pediatrics, and Dr. Leslie Stone, Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.


Invited Speaker
Dr. Eylem Öcal
, Associate Professor of Neurosurgery, has been invited to speak on the topic of pediatric cranial abnormalities and hydrocephalus at the American Academy of Pediatrics Annual Meeting in New Orleans this month. Her presentation, “Heads Up: When to Refer for Abnormal Head Size and Shape,” will be made on behalf of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons/Congress of Neurological Surgeons Section on Pediatric Neurological Surgery. Dr. Öcal, who practices at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, is dedicated to neurosurgical education and is particularly interested in international education. She has been invited to teach pediatric neurosurgical topics at four international courses and meetings this year. Well done Dr. Öcal!


Easing GME Scholarly Work
Congratulations to Graduate Medical Education team members Jennifer White and Jennie Kirby and UAMS Clinical Services Librarian Lindsay Blake, the lead author, on their new article in the Journal of Hospital Librarianship. The article, “Building an Online Framework to Guide Residents through ACGME Required Scholarly Activities,” highlights the Research and Scholarly Activities Guide introduced to UAMS residents in 2018. The guide has helped to streamline scholarly work for our residents by bringing together disparate resources and reducing the time needed for steps such as finding statisticians and publication venues.


Pediatric Hem/Onc Presenters
Faculty members in the Hematology Section of the Department of Pediatrics will have a number of key roles at the 2020 American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (ASPHO) Conference in Fort Worth next May. Dr. Shelley Crary, Associate Professor, has been selected to present a talk on “Coagulation Issues with Vascular Malformation” and was the senior author on a recent related article in Pediatric Blood & Cancer. Dr. Crary is a member of the ASPHO planning committee and will moderate another talk at the conference. Dr. Amir Mian, Associate Professor, will facilitate a workshop on “Financial Toxicity – a critical gap in care for survivors of childhood cancer.” Great work, Dr. Crary and Dr. Mian!


October 2, 2019

A Year of Celebrating YOU
This week marks the first anniversary of Accolades. Many of you have told me that you enjoy reading about accomplishments and honors of fellow College of Medicine team members. I want to take a moment to say a special thanks to those who have taken the time to lift up deserving colleagues. Thank you for embracing the culture of thoughtfulness and appreciation that we seek to foster in our college. That’s what Accolades is all about!


ACGME Appointment
Congratulations to Dr. Jill Mhyre, the Dola S. Thompson Professor and Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology, on her appointment to the ACGME Review Committee for Anesthesiology. In addition to being a well-earned national honor, Dr. Mhyre’s work on behalf of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education will yield insights for our own anesthesiology training programs.


Transforming Health Care
Hats off to Dr. Feliciano “Pele” Yu Jr., Professor in the departments of Pediatrics and Biomedical Informatics and College of Public Health, for his excellent work to obtain initial accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) for a Clinical Informatics Fellowship Program. We will be one of the pioneering programs in the country accredited by the ACGME to train physicians in this new information and communication systems-focused subspecialty that will transform health care across all medical specialties. The two-year fellowship will be administered by the Department of Biomedical Informatics and will train adult and pediatric fellows at UAMS and Arkansas Children’s Hospital.


ACP Abernathy Honoree
Dr. Omar Atiq, Professor of Internal Medicine and Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, received the Robert Shields Abernathy Award during the American College of Physicians (ACP) Arkansas Chapter’s 2019 Scientific Meeting last month. The award is an ACP Laureate Award, recognizing Fellows or Masters of the ACP who have a long history of excellence and peer approval in internal medicine and who have served their chapter and community with distinction. That certainly describes Dr. Atiq, who also currently serves as Chair of the national ACP Board of Governors. Congratulations Dr. Atiq!


Compassionate Service
Dr. Sara Tariq, Professor of Internal Medicine and Associate Dean for Student Affairs, will receive the Anna M. Cox Compassionate Service Award at the annual Compassion Works Luncheon in Little Rock on October 29. The award is a top honor from Compassion Works for All, an organization dedicated to serving the disenfranchised and thousands of men and women incarcerated in jails and prisons in Arkansas with limited access to programs or opportunities for healing and personal growth. Dr. Tariq, thank you for your dedication to serving others.


Health Data Leader
Congratulations to Dr. Joe Thompson, Professor of Pediatrics and President and CEO of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI), on being selected to receive the 2019 Elliot M. Stone Award of Excellence in Health Data Leadership. The award from the National Association of Health Data Organizations will be presented at the organization’s annual Healthcare Data Summit, which will be held in Little Rock this November. Dr. Thompson is being recognized for his leadership nationally and in Arkansas in the use of health care and public health data to improve health and facilitate understanding of health care delivery system performance.


Exceptional Educators
Here’s the take-away message from the second-year students I met with over breakfast this week: the time you spend with them really matters. They praised faculty members who let students shadow them on clinical services, especially Dr. Lindsey Sward in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Also mentioned as being among the best of the best were Dr. Charles Matthew Quick and Dr. Jerad Gardner in Pathology, Dr. Alan Diekman in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dr. Sung Rhee in Pharmacology and Toxicology, and Dr. Jason Chang in Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences. The summer preceptorships in Emergency Medicine and Anesthesiology drew raves, as did the M1 and M2 courses Brain and Behavior, Hematology, Musculoskeletal/Skin and Cardiovascular. Research opportunities, particularly those in Orthopaedic Surgery, also were applauded. Thank you all!


September 25, 2019

Exceptional Educators
I had a great time at the first Breakfast with the Dean of the academic year last Friday. The second-year students we met with shared insights about their experiences so far in medical school – and unsurprisingly, they had fantastic things to say about faculty members. Several students noted their preceptorship in the Practice of Medicine 2 course, including their experiences working with many Emergency Medicine faculty members; Dr. Alexis White in Obstetrics and Gynecology; and Dr. John Bracey in Orthopaedic Surgery. Students also praised a summer preceptorship in the Department of Pathology and the overall teaching, approachability and helpfulness of Pathology faculty members including Drs. Charles Matthew Quick, Jerad Gardner, Steve Post and Eric Rosenbaum, along with resident Dr. Steve Hemberger. Thank you all!


FDA Appointment
Congratulations to Dr. Gloria Richard-Davis, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Fertility, on her appointment to a four-year term on the FDA Bone, Reproductive and Urologic Drugs Advisory Committee. The committee evaluates data on the safety and effectiveness of investigational and marketed drugs used in the practice of osteoporosis and metabolic bone disease, obstetrics and gynecology, urology and related specialties and makes recommendations to the Commissioner of Food and Drugs.


International Honor
Congratulations to Dr. Jay Mehta, Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Physiology and Biophysics and Stebbins Chair in Cardiology, on his latest international honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences. He received the award Sept. 14 in Serbia, during the academy’s joint meeting for Europe and North America. Also this month, Dr. Mehta and international colleagues published an insightful review article on “Epigenetic Modification in Coronary Atherosclerosis” in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the world’s premier cardiology journal. The authors discuss major epigenetic changes that contribute to coronary artery disease (CAD) and the latest findings on environmental influences on epigenetic profiles in development of the disease.


Wave of the Future
Dr. Spyridoula Maraka
, Assistant Professor in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, was part of an international team that has been in the spotlight for successfully delivering life-saving insulin to a remote island via a specially designed, autonomous drone. The first-ever accomplishment, and Dr. Maraka’s innovative contributions, were featured in multiple national and statewide news reports, including this from ABC News and this report from KARK in Little Rock. Great job Dr. Maraka!


Dedicated to Dr. Tad Fiser
The fourth edition of the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization’s ECMO Specialist Training Manual is dedicated to the late Dr. Tad Fiser, who served in the Department of Pediatrics from 2000 until his death in 2017. The dedication recognizes his commitment to expanding the safe and appropriate use of ECMO technology. Dr. Fiser was a national leader in the field, and in addition to growing the Arkansas Children’s Hospital-based team, he trained many providers around the country through workshops in Arkansas. An endowed lecture was established in Dr. Fiser’s memory, and this year’s lecture is scheduled for Tuesday, November 12, 12:00 noon, in Chairman’s Hall. The Visiting Professor will be Dr. Thomas Brogan, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington, who is senior editor for the latest edition of the manual.


ACP Jeopardy!
If the answer is “Los Angeles,” then in true “Jeopardy!” gameshow fashion, the question must be: “Where is a team of UAMS Internal Medicine residents headed following their state round victory in the American College of Physicians (ACP) “Jeopardy!” quiz?” I am pleased to report that third-year residents Dr. Akshay Goel, Dr. Lovepreet Singh and Dr. Anna Witt will represent UAMS and Arkansas in a medical “Jeopardy!” competition at the ACP national meeting in Los Angeles next April. We know they will continue to make us proud.


Elected to AOA
Dr. Benjamin Davis, Assistant Professor in the Division of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha at the national medical honor society’s Fall Meeting on Sept. 4. AOA membership is a lifelong honor signifying dedication to the ideals of professionalism, leadership, scholarship, research and community service. Elected faculty members must have demonstrated a strong commitment to scholarly excellence and medical education. Congratulations to Dr. Davis on this well-deserved honor!


Addressing Orthopaedic Barriers
A shout-out to fourth-year Orthopaedic Surgery resident Dr. Asa Shnaekel and the wonderful team in the UAMS Center for Health Literacy for their collaboration to address barriers that African American patients with osteoarthritis face when considering total knee arthroplasty. Dr. Shnaekel received a grant from the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation for the work, which will focus on educational interventions to address racial disparities relating to total knee arthroplasty.



September 18, 2019

 Bright Future for Cancer Research & Care
Last week’s announcement of the recruitment of Dr. Michael Birrer, an internationally recognized medical oncologist, as the next Director of the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute is wonderful news for UAMS and Arkansas. The Cancer Institute has been in great hand under the leadership of Interim Director Dr. Laura Hutchins, Professor of Internal Medicine, who has devoted her career to fighting cancer on behalf of Arkansans.

Dr. Hutchins will be honored as this year’s Distinguished Faculty Scholar, so mark your calendar for her lecture on Tuesday, December 3, 4:00 p.m., in Pauly Auditorium (Rahn G 219). Thank you for ongoing, extraordinary service, Dr. Hutchins!

Sincere thanks as well to Dr. Steppe Mette, for leading the search committee for the new Cancer Institute Director, along with committee members Drs. Stephanie Gardner, Jennifer Hunt, Donald Johann, Jonathan Laryea, Mayumi Nakagawa, Joseph Su, Alan Tackett, Frits van Rhee, Kent Westbrook, Linda Worley and Fen Xia, and Cancer Institute Foundation board members Stuart Cobb and Ray Dillon.


Autism Discovery
Dr. Terry Harville, Professor of Pathology and Internal Medicine, is the lead author on a major article, published this month in Frontiers in Psychiatry, discussing how inheritance of HLA-Cw7 expression is associated with autism spectrum disorder. Dr. Harville’s colleagues include faculty and staff from the departments of Pathology (Dr. Bobbie Rhodes-Clark) and Pediatrics/Arkansas Children’s Research Institute (Sirish C. Bennuri, Marie Tippett, Dr. Shannon Rose, Dr. Stephen Kahler) as well as the UAMS College of Public Health, the National Center for Toxicological Research and other institutions around the country. The group identified that HLA-Cw7 expression may be resulting in chronic immune system activation in a subset of patients with autism who exhibit immune system-related findings. Moreover, this chronic immune system activation may actually be resulting in the autism. Congratulations on this outstanding work!


Met on Facebook
An article co-authored by Dr. Jerad Gardner, Associate Professor of Pathology and Dermatology, and published in JAMA Network Open, demonstrates the power of using international Facebook patient support groups in medicine and research. The study is believed to be the largest-ever survey of patients with dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP), an extremely rare soft tissue sarcoma. Dr. Gardner was featured on KARK-TV last night, and you can also read more in the COM Newsroom. Congratulations also on the publication of Dr. Gardner’s new textbook, Survival Guide to Dermatopathology.


Ready to Serve Rural Arkansans
This year’s $20,000 Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield Primary Care Scholarships have been awarded to third-year medical student Olivia Brasher of North Little Rock and senior Drake Cullum of Bono. Both of these outstanding students understand the health challenges of rural Arkansans and want to help ensure they can receive high-quality primary care close to home. We are thankful for Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s investment in these scholarships, which have been awarded to COM students since 2012. Congratulations Olivia and Drake!


Students Pay it Forward
A shout out to third-year students Jordan Spencer and Amy Scott for collaborating and putting together the fourth annual Women’s Pelvic Exam Workshop at the 12th Street Health and Wellness Center last week. Dr. Elizabeth Gath, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Medical Director at 12th Street, notes that with the gracious help of the UAMS Centers for Simulation Education, 72 first- and second-year students had the opportunity to learn how to do a proper pelvic exam.


September 11, 2019

Celebrating Diversity
Congratulations to this year’s nominees and winners of the Dr. Edith Irby Jones Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Awards, which were presented at a celebration last Friday to kick off UAMS Diversity Month. The faculty award went to Dr. Gregory Robinson of the College of Health Professions. The College of Pharmacy’s Danviona King received the student award. The UAMS Library Historical Research Center’s April Hughes received the staff award. Other nominees from throughout campus included: Dr. Antiño Allen, Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman, Dr. Aubrey Hough, Kate Liebmann, Dr. Alex Marshall, Dr. Pearl McElfish, Dr. Erick Messias, Rebecca Moreira, Dr. Mildred Randolph, Dr. Sara Tariq and Dr. Billy Thomas. Thank you all for your commitment to a diverse, equitable, inclusive and vibrant community at UAMS!


National Board Appointment
A shout-out to Dr. John Dornhoffer, Professor and Chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, for being selected to serve on the eight-member national O&N Board of Directors. O&N is the joint board of the American Neurotology Society (ANS) and the American Otological Society (AOS), with directors selected by the respective Executive Councils. Dr. Dornhoffer is serving as an ANS Director through 2022.


Family Physicians Leader
Congratulations to UAMS Southwest’s Dr. Matthew Nix, Associate Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine, on his appointment as President of the Arkansas Chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). Dr. Nix is Medical Director of the UAMS Family Medical Center in Texarkana and Associate Program Director for the UAMS Family Medicine Residency Program at the UAMS Southwest Regional Campus. He has served our state in numerous leadership and advocacy positions and will be an outstanding leader for the Arkansas AAFP, the state’s largest medical specialty organization.


Textbook Published
Congratulations to Dr. Matthew Lindberg, Associate Professor of Pathology, on the recent release of the third edition of his textbook, Diagnostic Pathology: Soft Tissue Tumors, published by Elsevier. Dr. Lindberg also authored the previous edition of the book, issued in 2015. Co-authors on the new edition include Associate Professors Dr. Charles Matthew Quick and Dr. Jerad Gardner, and Assistant Professor Dr. Kandi Stallings-Archer.


Focus on Quality
Patients in UAMS’ Myeloma and Rheumatology clinics will benefit from a new quality improvement project to improve pneumococcal vaccine protection for high-risk, immunocompromised adults. Collaborators Lea Mabry, M.Ed., UAMS Director of Continuing Education, Dr. Robert Hopkins, Professor and Director of the Division of General Internal Medicine, and Dr. Mary Burgess, Assistant Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases, received a $100,000 grant from Pfizer to fund the project. The team aims to increase vaccination rates by 25% in six months for the highest-risk patients through systems improvements relating to assessment of need, educational sessions for health care team members, and more. Thank you for your innovative work and dedication to quality improvement for our patients!


AAPI Pilot Award
Congratulations to Dr. George Vilanilam, a first-year Radiology resident, on winning the Pilot Grant Award from the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) Arkansas. The award, presented at the AAPI’s annual meeting on Aug. 24, reflects the promising clinical and research career ahead for this outstanding College of Medicine trainee!


(Ultra) Sound Victory
And finally this week, bravo to the third-year COM students who aced the competition at the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) South Central Regional Conference Sonogames/Simwars at UT Southwestern/Parkland in Dallas on Saturday. Putting their ultrasound skills to the test were first-place team members Paige Plumley, Joel McGowan, Blake Wiggins, Jace Bradshaw, Anjali Patel and Allison Schneider; and second-place team members Lane Gay, Cameron Parsley, Karam Sra, Caitlin Hirsh, and Dustin Brown. Hats off as well to all of the faculty members who helped spur our students to victory, including Department of Emergency Medicine Assistant Professors Dr. Zachary Lewis and Dr. Jason Arthur, who also helped organize and conduct the Sonogames competition.


September 4, 2019

AAMC Leadership Award
I was delighted to hear about the latest prestigious national honor for Dr. Jennifer Hunt, Professor and Chair of Pathology. Dr. Hunt will receive the 2019 Group on Women in Medicine and Science Emerging Leadership Award for an Individual during the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Annual Meeting in Phoenix in November. She was nominated by Dr. Roberta Gebhard, President of the American Medical Women’s Association, and our own Dr. Jennifer Laudadio, Associate Professor of Pathology. This is the first year that the award recognizes an emerging faculty leader for their contributions to advancing women leaders in academic medicine and science. Congratulations Dr. Hunt!


Tops in Clinical Trial
Congratulations to Dr. Erika Petersen, Associate Professor of Neurosurgery, on being named the lead Principal Investigator for a major national clinical trial exploring a unique type of spinal cord stimulation for treatment of painful diabetic neuropathy. Nevro Corp., which is conducting the SENZA-PDN study, lauded Dr. Petersen for her leadership of the study at UAMS, which, despite being one of the last centers to open for enrollment, achieved a randomization rate more than three-fold higher than the overall study average and will finish among the top-ranked sites.

The company also applauded the outstanding contributions of sub-investigators Dr. Heejung Choi, Dr. Chris Paul and Dr. Johnathan Goree of the Department of Anesthesiology; neuropsychological assessments by Dr. Jennifer Kleiner and Dr. Jennifer Gess of the Department of Psychiatry; and research support services provided by the Translational Research Institute. As the lead PI, Dr. Petersen will be the first author of the primary endpoint analysis report and will represent investigators at many conference presentations of the study data.


Slaying It
Latunja Sockwell, Program Manager in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, has truly earned a place in the spotlight. Her dedication to HIV/AIDS research and education shines in this KARK Health Matters story, while this Daily Record feature tells the personal story behind her life’s work to “slay” a figurative dragon. Ms. Sockwell has just received a $2.5 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for Project HEAL, a partnership between UAMS and the Better Community Development organization. The program will expand and enhance treatment and recovery support services for African American adults who are involved in the criminal justice system, have a substance abuse disorder or co-occurring mental illness, and are at high risk for HIV/Viral Hepatitis infection or transmission.


Organization Honors
Congratulations to our faculty members who were honored at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) Arkansas on Aug. 24. Dr. G. Richard “Rick” Smith, Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, received the Outstanding Arkansan Award for his decades of leadership in psychiatry and academic medicine. AAPI Arkansas presented Academic Excellence Awards to Dr. Shashank Kraleti, Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, and Associate Professors of Geriatrics Dr. Priya Mendiratta and Dr. Kalpana Padala. Dr. Suman Peela, a third-year family medicine resident, picked up a first place prize as the lead author on a poster. I had a great time at this event and appreciate the AAPI’s commitment to professional excellence, quality patient care, charitable activities and cultural integrity.


ACGME Appointment
Congratulations to Ashley Sanders, Manager of Operations for the Department of Pathology and Pathology fellowship programs, on her appointment to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) Milestones 2.0 Work Group for Dermatopathology. The work group includes pathology experts within graduate medical education, faculty, staff, trainees and others from across the country. The group will review and revise current GME Milestones and develop a specially tailored set to be used by all dermatopathology programs. Thank you for doing an outstanding job here at UAMS and for sharing your expertise at the national level!


Health Disparities Research
A shout-out to Dr. Eva Woodward, a psychologist and Assistant Professor in the Center for Health Services Research in the Department of Psychiatry, who was selected to attend the competitive Health Disparities Research Institute hosted at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, Aug. 12-16. The institute supports career development of promising health disparities research scientists and stimulates relevant research across disciplines.


Published in Pediatrics
Congratulations to Dr. Jose Romero, Professor of Pediatrics, on his latest high-profile article, “Invasive Pneumococcal Disease in Children’s Hospitals: 2014-2017,” published this month in Pediatrics. Dr. Romero, the Horace C. Cabe Professor and Director of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Section, coordinated data collection for the study at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, one of eight contributing sites across the country.


Drawing Attention
Dr. Spyridoula Maraka
, Assistant Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine Division of Endocrinology, continues to draw national attention for her research into the treatment of subclinical hypothyroidism in pregnancy. Most recently, her article “Practice variation in the care of subclinical hypothyroidism during pregnancy – A national survey of physicians in the U.S.,” published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society, was featured in the Aug. 20 Endocrine Daily Briefing, and received media attention in Endocrine Today, which interviewed Dr. Maraka.


Twice Awarded
Receiving a national award from an organization in your field of study is uncommon for a physician in training. Receiving two in the same week is almost unheard of. But I’m happy to report that is what happened to Dr. Musa Yilanli, a second-year fellow in the Department of Psychiatry’s Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. On August 21 he received word from the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry that he had received a travel award to attend the AAAP annual meeting and scientific symposium in San Diego, where he will present a poster, in December. The next day Dr. Yilanli learned that he had also been awarded a travel grant from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry to attend the annual AACAP meeting in Chicago in October. Way to go Dr. Yilanli!


Primary Care for Rural Arkansas           add link when news release posts Wed 9-4
Finally this week, I want to express my gratitude for the hard work of the team that helped UAMS secure a $4.6 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to expand our efforts to train and retain much-needed primary care physicians for rural and underserved areas of Arkansas. Arkansas Medical Education Primary Care Partnerships is a collaboration of the College of Medicine, including our Department of Family and Preventive Medicine (DFPM), and UAMS Regional Campuses.

As Program Director, I am incredibly thankful for Co-Directors Dr. Marcia Byers, Director of Clinical Innovation for UAMS Regional Campuses, Dr. Daniel Knight, DFPM Chair, and Dr. Leslie Stone, Director of Medical Student Education for DFPM. Many thanks to Regional Campuses’ Robin Howell, the primary writer on the grant proposal, along with Amber Marshall Fluharty and Jessica Bursk. Key contributors in DPFM also included Dr. Diane Jarrett, who will serve as the project evaluator, as well as Dr. Bill Ventres. You are a great team, and I look forward to working with you to improve access to high-quality health care for all Arkansans.


August 21, 2019

Community Champion
Congratulations to Dr. Jia Liu, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, on a very special honor – being named the Community Champion of the Year by the Arkansas Ovarian Coalition. Dr. Liu will be honored at Teal Light Night, the organization’s annual fundraiser, on September 27. We are all proud of Dr. Liu’s dedication to engaging the community as part of her research into engineering virus-based therapies to improve ovarian cancer patient outcomes and survival. If you are interested in attending the fundraiser in support of the organization and Dr. Liu, click here for more information.


100% Awesome
Hats off to our Diagnostic Radiology Class of 2020 on their 100% first-time pass rate on the American Board of Radiology Core Exam. We are extremely proud of our senior residents: Drs. Shivang Desai, Joshua Eichhorn, Blake Jacks, Memoona Mian, Shobhit Sharma, James Sorensen, Harika Tirumani and Vibhor Wadhwa. Nationally this year there was a record 16% failure rate on this exam, making our residents’ accomplishment even more significant. We continue the trend of 100% first-time pass rate for the past three years!


Textbook Published
Congratulations to Dr. Charles Matthew Quick, Associate Professor of Pathology, and his UAMS and international colleagues on the recent publication of their two-volume textbook, Gynecologic and Obstetric Pathology. Dr. Quick was an editor as well as chapter author of the comprehensive reference book, published by Springer, for practicing pathologists, pathology residents, gynecologic pathology and oncology fellows, clinicians and biomedical researchers. Chapter authors from UAMS include Associate Professors of Pathology Dr. Sara Shalin and Dr. Susanne Jeffus, Dermatopathology Fellow Dr. Katelynn Campbell, and Dr. Rosalia C.M. Simmen, Professor of Physiology and Biophysics.


Serving Arkansans in Crisis
A shout-out to Dr. Lisa Evans, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Medical Director of the Pulaski County Regional Crisis Stabilization Unit, along with the program’s multidisciplinary team, for becoming the state’s first nationally accredited unit of its kind. The accreditation signals the very high standard of care at the 16-bed unit, which has had some 500 admissions since opening one year ago. It is one of four units authorized for development by the Arkansas Legislature to help address the mental health crisis. Read more in the UAMS Newsroom.


Spine Service Recognized
Kudos to Dr. David Bumpass, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, and Dr. Noojan Kazemi, Associate Professor of Neurosurgery, for leading the successful collaborative effort to obtain national Blue Distinction Specialty Care Plus designation from Blue Cross/Blue Shield for the Neuro and Ortho Spine Service. The program recognizes providers that demonstrate expertise in delivering high quality, affordable health care and meeting consumers’ specialty care needs safely, effectively and cost-efficiently. Participating surgeons from the Department of Neurosurgery are Dr. J.D. Day, Professor and Chair; Dr. T. Glenn Pait, Professor; Dr. Erika Petersen, Associate Professor; and Dr. Thomas Morris, Dr. Viktoras Palys and Dr. Analiz Rodriguez, Assistant Professors. Participating surgeons from Orthopaedic Surgery are Dr. Richard McCarthy, Professor, and Dr. Samuel Overley, Assistant Professor. Thanks also to M.J. Orellano, P.T., M.B.A., Neurosciences Service Line Administrative Director. Great job everyone!


August 14, 2019

Inspiring Students in NWA
I had the pleasure of visiting with third-year students based at UAMS-Northwest over lunch recently. As I’ve done with M1s and M2s at breakfasts in the past, I asked these students what has been their highlight of medical school so far. The impact of our faculty members in Northwest Arkansas, as well as those in Little Rock, was clear. They mentioned several dedicated faculty members and local physician preceptors by name, including Dr. Bonnie Baker (Internal Medicine/Cardiology), Dr. Stephen Johnson (Internal Medicine), Dr. Glenda Patterson (Internal Medicine/Pulmonary), Dr. Wayne Hudec (Surgery), and Dr. Elijah Bolin (Pediatrics/Cardiology).


National Panel Leader
Dr. Jennifer Laudadio, Associate Professor of Pathology, will lend her expertise and leadership as the Chair of a new Technical Expert Panel for the College of American Pathologists. The panel of pathologists from around the country and a variety of practice settings will provide feedback and perspective on the identification, development, specification, testing, reevaluation and implementation of quality measures for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Quality Payment Program.


Hope for Stroke Patients
Congratulations to Dr. Bill Culp, Professor of Radiology, Surgery and Neurology, and colleagues on the publication of a seminal article on the first human stroke trial of dodecafluoropentane emulsion (DDFPe) in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology. The article is the culmination of a Phase Ib/II clinical trial and many years of work by collaborators in several departments. The study demonstrated the safety of DDFPe for carrying oxygen to hypoxic brain tissue during acute stroke and showed significant signs of efficacy as well. Co-authors are Dr. Sanjeeva Onteddu (Neurology), Dr. Aliza Brown (Radiology/Neurology), Dr. Krishna Nalleballe (Neurology), Dr. Rohan Sharma (Neurology), Dr. Robert Skinner (Neurobiology/Developmental Sciences), Dr. Taylor Witt (Radiology), Dr. Paula Roberson (Biostatistics), and Dr. James Marsh (Internal Medicine).


Genetics Leader
A shout-out to Dr. Yuri Zarate, Associate Professor in the Genetics and Metabolism Section of the Department of Pediatrics, for his nationally recognized work relating to SATB2-Associated Syndrome (SAS). SAS is a rare multisystem disorder characterized by significant neurodevelopmental compromise with limited or absent speech, behavioral issues, craniofacial anomalies and other symptoms. Dr. Zarate and genetics counselor Katie Bosanko, M.S., CGC, organized the only SAS clinic of its kind, bringing children and families from around the country to Arkansas Children’s for multidisciplinary care on July 25-26. Meanwhile, the American Journal of Medical Genetics selected Dr. Zarate for the 2019 John M. Opitz Young Investigator Award for his article, “Natural history and genotype-phenotype correlations in 72 individuals with SATB2-associated syndrome.”


Tracing the Mumps Outbreak
Duah Alkam
, a UAMS graduate student, is the first author on a paper just published in the journal Infection, Genetics and Evolution. In collaboration with the Arkansas Department of Health, a team from the Department of Biomedical Informatics sequenced a large set of viral genomes from the 2016 mumps outbreak in Arkansas. Based on the evolutionary history of the whole genome, it appears that the Arkansas outbreak was related to earlier outbreaks in Massachusetts and Washington. Arkansas outbreak strains showed a different set of predicted B-cell epitopes than the commonly used vaccine strains, which might help explain the outbreak within a vaccinated population. The project was funded with a grant to Dr. Se-Ran Jun, an Assistant Professor in Biomedical Informatics, from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.


Study Spotlighted
A novel study by Dr. Spyridoula Maraka, Assistant Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine Division of Endocrinology, was reviewed in the August issue of Clinical Thyroidology, the highly valued abstract and commentary publication of the American Thyroid Association. Dr. Maraka’s article, “Variation in treatment practices for subclinical hypothyroidism in pregnancy: US national assessment,” was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrincology and Metabolism on April 24.


Nutrition Data Expertise

Congratulations to Dr. Brian Piccolo, Assistant Professor in the Developmental Nutrition Section of the Department of Pediatrics, on his appointment to the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) Statistical Review Board (SRB). As the world’s premier nutrition science society, the ASN publishes a number of high-impact journals. The society recently selected 18 leading experts in statistics and Big Data analysis to form the first-ever SRB for ASN journals.


Boost for ECG Teaching
All of our senior medical students will learn to read ECGs systematically thanks to the ingenuity and hard work of Dr. Hakan Paydak, Professor of Internal Medicine and Director of the Electrophysiology (EP) Program and the EP Fellowship, and Dr. Fuad Habash, a cardiology fellow. Dr. Paydak has been awarded a $2,955 grant from the Arkansas Medical Society’s Medical Education Foundation for Arkansas (MEFFA) to expand the EKG video library. Previously this teaching was limited to students who took Dr. Paydak’s excellent one-month ECG course. The library expansion will also enable ECG instruction for senior medical students around the United States and the world, bringing recognition to UAMS. Dr. Paydak said Dr. Habash’s technological skills and innovative input were a key to obtaining the grant. Great work!


IBD Leader
Congratulations to Dr. Travis Ayers, Assistant Professor in the Pediatric Gastroenterology Section of the Department of Pediatrics, on his recent appointment to a three-year term on the Inflammatory Bowl Disease (IBD) Committee of the North American Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. The organization is the only national society devoted to advancing knowledge of diseases and function of the gastrointestinal tract, liver and pancreas and of normal and abnormal nutrition in infants, children and adolescents.


Above and Beyond
A Florida family’s gratitude for the long-distance insights and help of Dr. Terry Harville, Professor of Pathology, is featured in the current issue of IG Living, a magazine for the immune globulin community. In 2014, the mother of a 17-year-old boy who was diagnosed with Epstein Bar Virus (EBV), and subsequently with common variable immunodeficiency (CVID), contacted Dr. Harville after reading an article he had written for the magazine. The teen wasn’t Dr. Harville’s patient, but he took the time to help the family understand their son’s diagnosis and to put them in touch with specialists closer to their small town. Five years later, the young man is thriving. Thanks Dr. Harville.



July 31, 2019

Best of the Best
Hats off to Team UAMS for helping UAMS Medical Center earn recognition as the Best Hospital in Arkansas by U.S. News & World Report – and more! Our ear, nose and throat (ENT) program, led by Dr. John Dornhoffer, was ranked 42nd in the nation. Other clinical programs were noted as “high performing,” with national recognition for cancer services in the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute and regional recognition for colon cancer surgery, heart failure, hip replacement, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery. U.S. News evaluated more than 4,500 medical centers in nine procedures and conditions for the report. Sincere thanks to the many leaders, clinicians and staff who made this possible.


National Recognition
Congratulations to Dr. Erika Petersen, Associate Professor of Neurosurgery, on receiving the inaugural Clinical Excellence Award from the American Society of Pain and Neuroscience (ASPN) at the society’s annual meeting in Miami last weekend. The award was created to recognize clinicians with exceptional achievements in clinical practice, research and advocacy. Way to go on this well-earned honor Dr. Petersen!


KL2 Scholars
Congratulations to Dr. Tara Johnson, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, and Dr. Isabelle Racine Miousse, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, on their KL2 Mentored Research Career Development Program Scholar Awards, which were just announced by the UAMS Translational Research Institute. Dr. Johnson’s KL2 project is “Implementation and Quantification of the General Movement Assessment for Early Detection of Neurodevelopmental Disabilities in Infants.” Dr. Racine Miousse’s project is “Decreasing Methionine Intake to Improve Survival in Patients with Metastatic Melanoma.” Read more about the KL2 program here.


Orthodontic Expertise
Congratulations to Dr. Kirt Simmons, Professor in the Department of Pediatric and Special Needs Dentistry, on two recent national appointments. He was reappointed to the Facial Identification Subcommittee of the Organization of Scientific Committees in the U.S. Department of Justice. Dr. Simmons also was selected as the orthodontic reviewer for program accreditation for the American Cleft Lip and Palate Association. Thank you for your outstanding work here and at the national level Dr. Simmons!


Nationally Certified
A shout-out to Dr. Priya Mendiratta, Associate Professor of Geriatrics, who just became a Certified Medical Director by the American Board of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. Dr. Mendiratta is the Medical Director for Presbyterian Village and Premier Health and Rehabilitation Center, which are teaching facilities for medical students, residents and fellows. She directs the Geriatrics Clerkship and is active in resident education, leading a telemedicine initiative for training residents at the university’s regional campuses.


Social Rounds
Dr. Jerad Gardner
, Associate Professor of Pathology and Dermatology, is known by pathologists, trainees and students around the world through his expert use of social media for teaching and learning, networking, patient advocacy, research and communication. The Pathology Department at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia invited Dr. Gardner to present a Grand Rounds on “Social Media and the Pathologist” earlier this month, along with a microscopic slide seminar on rare soft tissue and skin tumors. See what the buzz is all about in his PPT presentation. Dr. Gardner’s national exposure continued last week, when he was featured on the West Wind Podcast.


It Takes a Village
I will close this week on a serious note. Imagine a mother with five small children, homeless, sleeping on the sidewalk for several nights. The team at Arkansas Children’s showed extraordinary compassion for one such family just last week. Dr. Rick Barr, Professor and Chair of Pediatrics, wrote about it in his newsletter, The Beat with Dr. Barr.

After police discovered the family, a virtual “village” at ACH responded, including Clinical Operations Manager Kelley Means, BSN, RN, CPN, and Dr. Karen Young in the General Pediatric Clinic. The children received expert evaluation, compassionate clinical care and support, and much more, including clothing, toys and essentials to take with them as they were placed in a safe and stable home. As Dr. Barr noted, this situation wasn’t unique. It was just the latest example of how this team puts their heart into everything they do. I am profoundly grateful.


July 24, 2019

100% Amazing
Congratulations to our 14 Clinical Anesthesia 2 (CA-2) residents on their 100% pass rate on the American Board of Anesthesiology Basic Exam – and to the many faculty and staff members whose dedication to resident education made this possible. These outstanding residents are Drs. Kevin Barkley, Daniel Bingham, Elizabeth Blankenship, Stephanie Kierstead, Paul Lee, Wan Lovichit, Will McSpadden, Azhar Merchant, Matt Palascak, Banks Peterson, Blake Plyler, Renee Tolly, Benjamin Woodle and Andrew Wright. Special thanks to Dr. Jill Mhyre, Professor and Chair of Anesthesiology; Program Director Dr. Charles Napolitano; Associate Program Directors Drs. Shannon Dare, Riley Lide and Jill Ramsey; Drs. Donald Crabtree and Kristen Lienhart; staff members Mary Beth Gresham, Ashley Gregory and Alex Vandiver; along with many CRNAs, senior residents and APRNS.


Mentoring Insights
A shout-out to Northwest Arkansas-based College of Medicine senior Jessica Bettis, who was the lead author on an article that has been accepted for publication in the American Journal of Surgery. She completed research for “What Makes Them Different? An Exploration of Mentoring for Female Faculty, Residents, and Medical Students Pursuing a Career in Surgery” for her honors research thesis. Congratulations as well to co-authors Dr. Krista Stephenson, a PGY3 surgery resident; Drs. Mary Katherine Kimbrough, Rachel Slotcavage and Carol Thrush of the Department of Surgery; and Dr. Erika Petersen of the Department of Neurosurgery.


Young Investigators
Congratulations to Ph.D. student Keisha Cawley and M.D./Ph.D. student Ryan MacLeod on their recent honors from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR). Both students work with Dr. Charles O’Brien, Professor of Endocrinology and Director of the Center for Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Diseases. Keisha received the Young Investigator Award, and Ryan received a Young Investigator Travel Grant. Both students will be presenting at the annual ASBMR meeting in Orlando, Florida in September, and Keisha will be honored for her abstract during the President’s Dessert Reception.


Senior Author
Dr. Linda L.M. Worley
, Professor of Psychiatry and Obstetrics and Gynecology and Associate Regional Dean for the College of Medicine at the UAMS Northwest campus, is the senior author on an American Psychiatric Association Consultation Liaison Council (APA C-L) Resource Document on the all-too-common problem of “boarding” patients in need of psychiatric care in Emergency Departments. The newly published article in the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine was a collaboration with lead author Dr. Kimberly Nordstrom of the University of Colorado School of Medicine and APA C-L Council colleagues from the Medical College of Wisconsin, Columbia University, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The authors discussed the need for both Emergency Department-focused and system-wide approaches to help solve the problem. Thank you for lending your expertise to this important work, Dr. Worley.


Tireless Champion
Dr. Whit Hall
, a Professor in the Neonatology Section of the Department of Pediatrics, received well-earned kudos from the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas (RMHCA) this month for his 25 years of ongoing service on the organization’s Board of Directors. In addition to serving on the RMHCA’s capital campaign committee, Dr. Hall was integrally involved in raising funds to build a new Ronald McDonald House in 2016. And thanks to Dr. Hall, fellow board members and many generous donors, the Ronald McDonald House Family Room at UAMS will open this December, providing families who have babies in the NICU a place to stay without worrying about the cost or logistical burden of having a child hospitalized far from home. Thank you for your tireless work on behalf of critically ill babies and their families, Dr. Hall.


Invited Speakers
UAMS was well represented at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Science Research Conference on “the Growth Hormone and Prolactin Family in Biology and Disease” in West Palm Beach, Florida, earlier this month, with three team members giving invited talks. Dr. Gwen Childs, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, presented “Post-transcriptional Pathways Regulated by Leptin in the Control of Somatotrope Function.” Dr. Melody Allensworth-James, a postdoctoral fellow, gave a short talk: “Ablation of Musashi in Somatotropes Causes Retention of Progenitor Markers and Disrupts Metabolic and Reproductive Functions.” And Ph.D. candidate Tiffany Miles gave a poster introduction presentation: “Somatotrope Responses to Acute and Prolonged Loss of Leptin Signaling.”


Dr. Indranil “Neil” Chakraborty, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Director of the Division of Neuroanesthesiology, gave an invited lecture on “Neuroanesthesiology: Brain Surgery and Beyond” last Friday at the National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson, Arkansas, the only FDA Research Center outside of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Thank you for sharing your expertise and insights, Dr. Chakraborty.



July 17, 2019

Head Start with Heart
Congratulations to Dr. Eddie Ochoa, Associate Professor and Chief of Community Pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics and Executive Director of UAMS Head Start, on securing a five-year renewal of the federal grant for the crucial program, with annual funding of $8.3 million. Head Start promotes school readiness of young children from low-income families and supports the mental, social and emotional development of children from three weeks to age five. Its myriad, high-quality services include health and nutrition programs as well as educational outreach and assistance for pregnant women and families.

In addition to Dr. Ochoa’s leadership, the renewal was made possible by the wonderful team at Head Start including Tyra Larkin, Director, Rashonda Williams, Financial Manager, and Patricia Price, Early Childhood Education Consultant. The Department of Pediatrics has served as the Head Start and Early Head Start provider in Pulaski County for over 20 years. Its need is abundantly clear, with an annual waiting list of 300-400 children for 224 slots in the Early Head Start program and an expected enrollment of 500 children for Head Start this fall.


Top Quality
The UAMS Trauma Team, led by Dr. Ron Robertson, Professor and Chair of Surgery, continues to draw national recognition through the Trauma Quality Improvement Project (TQIP). The American College of Surgeons has invited Dr. Robertson to share UAMS’ experiences and best outcomes at the “TQIP Academy” session of the Annual TQIP Conference in Dallas in September. UAMS is recognized as a national leader in quality improvement in the Severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)/Pneumonia cohort. You may recall the news last fall that UAMS was in the top 10-20% of all Level 1 trauma centers in the country, and first placed in the top 1% for positive data relating to ventilator associated pneumonia. Great job!


A+ Abstract
Dr. Jinhu Xiong, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, received the 2019 Most Outstanding Basic Abstract Award from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR). The award goes to the lead investigator of the highest ranking abstract submitted to a basic category for presentation at the ASBMR Annual Meeting. Dr. Xiong will be honored for his abstract, “Stimulation of Piezo1 by Mechanical Loading Promotes Bone Anabolism,” during the President’s Dessert Reception at the September meeting in Orlando, Florida. Way to go Dr. Xiong!


Mentor Extraordinaire
Congratulations to Dr. Amy Scurlock, Associate Professor in Pediatric Allergy & Immunology, who recently received the Department of Pediatrics 2019 Joan Cranmer Mentor of the Year Award. Also recognized for their excellence in mentoring were nominees Dr. Elisabet Borsheim, Dr. Astryd Menendez, Dr. José Romero and Dr. Steve Schexnayder. The award is part of the department’s highly successful, nationally recognized Faculty Mentoring Program, which has been in place at ACH for over 25 years. In 2018, an overview of the program’s faculty mentoring model by Dr. Cranmer, Dr. Scurlock and other colleagues was published in Pediatrics.


Geriatrics Excellence
The dedicated team in the Arkansas Geriatric Education Collaborative (AGEC), led by Dr. Robin McAtee of the Department of Geriatrics, continues to excel in its multifaceted work to provide training for community members, health care professionals and many others who provide care and services for older Arkansans. Congratulations to Dr. McAtee and the AGEC on their new five-year, $3.74 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration. Thank you for doing such a wonderful job!


Novel Study
A shout-out to Dr. Shannon Rose, Dr. Eugenia Carvalho, Dr. Elisabet Borsheim and their colleagues in the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute, Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center and the departments of Pediatrics and Geriatics for their excellent collaborative work on “A Comparative Study of Mitochondrial Respiration in Circulating Blood Cells and Skeletal Muscle Fibers in Women.” Their novel study, published recently in the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism, indicated that most mitochondrial phenotypes in blood cells will not inform on muscle mitochondrial function. However, preliminary data also suggested that blood measures might be quite useful after all, for monitoring how mitochondria are impacted by changes in metabolic health including insulin sensitivity.


And Finally this Week …
You might not think of COM faculty as being recognized as film scholars, but Dr. Diane Jarrett, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, has had eight national publications on film history topics. Dr. Jarrett specializes in writing about actors who are somewhat obscure, or who had elements of their careers that were largely unexplored. As part of her research, she has interviewed performers such as actor Leslie Nielsen, singer Don McLean, and many others. Her latest publication is in the July issue of Classic Images, and it focuses on the personal life of actor George Macready, whose most famous film role was as the husband of Rita Hayworth in Gilda (1946).


July 10, 2019

Accolades is back following a two-week hiatus, but your accomplishments have been non-stop!

Bravo TRI
Congratulations – and profound thanks – to Dr. Laura James and the entire team at the Translational Research Institute (TRI) for their hard work and success on UAMS’ new Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA). As announced last week, the $24.2 million in funding from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health will help TRI’s colleagues across campus and their partners across the state advance research that targets some of Arkansas’ greatest health-related challenges. Dr. James, Professor of Pediatrics and TRI Director, is Principal Investigator on the primary grant for the prestigious, highly competitive award. Dr. Mary Aitken (Professor, Pediatrics) and Dr. Brooks Gentry (Professor, Anesthesiology), lead the Institutional Career Development Core grant. Dr. Nancy Rusch (Professor and Chair, Pharmacology and Toxicology) and Dr. Curtis Lowery (Director, Institute for Digital Health & Innovation, Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology) lead the National Research Service Award Training Core. Kudos also to U.S. Sen. John Boozman and Arkansas’ congressional delegation for championing UAMS’ CTSA application.


High Ranking
The latest rankings of the nation’s best children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report are further evidence of the exceptional, high-caliber care provided by faculty physicians and their team members at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Five specialty areas were ranked in the 2019-20 “Best Children’s Hospitals” report. These areas, along with their section chiefs, are: Cardiology and Heart Surgery (Drs. Paul Seib and Brian Reemtsen); Neurology and Neurosurgery (Drs. Debopam Samanta and Greg Albert); Nephrology (Dr. Richard Blaszak); Orthopaedics (Dr. Brant Sachleben); and Pulmonology (Dr. John Carroll). My thanks to Arkansas Children’s President and CEO Marcy Doderer, FACHE, and all of our colleagues at ACH for your dedication to the children of Arkansas. Read more in the Arkansas Children’s Newsroom.


Thank You, Dr. Young
I’d like to express my gratitude to Dr. Kevin Young for his 10 years of service in the College of Medicine, including the past two years as Chair of Microbiology and Immunology. He has been an outstanding leader as well as an accomplished scientist. I look forward to seeing many of you at Dr. Young’s retirement celebration this afternoon, 2:30-4:30 in the Helen Guinn Adams Atrium on the second floor of the Biomed I building. Dr. Young, it has been a pleasure having you as a colleague. Happy Retirement!


Tour with Meaning
A big shout-out to Dr. Becca Perin, Assistant Professor and an Associate Director of the Pediatrics Residency, for her thoughtful and inspiring work to organize and lead a bus tour for incoming interns to introduce them to Little Rock and the history and factors affecting the lives of some of their patients. Dr. Perin’s tour focused on things that could affect their ability to care for these patients, including health disparities, what it means to live in a “food desert” and much more. The interns also visited the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center and the Central High School Visitors Center.


Visiting Professor
Dr. Indranil “Neil” Chakraborty, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Director of the Division of Neuroanesthesiology, recently returned from New Orleans, where he was invited to deliver the Mack A. Thomas Visiting Professor Lecture in Anesthesiology at Louisiana State University. He shared his expertise in awake craniotomy as well as cardiac standstill using adenosine during clipping of complex giant cerebral aneurysms. Congratulations Dr. Chakraborty.


Promising Scientist
Congratulations to Dr. Tiffany Weinkopff, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, on her recent Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award. Sponsored by Oak Ridge Associated Universities, a national consortium, the award recognizes and supports the development of promising young scientists. Dr. Weinkopff’s research focuses on leishmaniasis, a parasite-spread infection found in tropical and subtropical regions. Neglected tropical diseases such as leishmaniasis affect one-sixth of the world’s population, and research into these disease processes could have bearing on other types of infections, autoimmune diseases and even cancer.


Book Published
Congratulations to Dr. Edgar Garcia-Rill, Professor of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences and Director of the UAMS Center for Translational Neuroscience, on the publication of his latest book, “Arousal in Neurological and Psychiatric Diseases.” The book focuses on the dysregulation of arousal that is found in many neurological and psychiatric disorders. And in case you missed it, Dr. Garcia-Rill’s legacy as the leader of UAMS’ first Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) for the past 15 years was spotlighted in a UAMS Showcase of Medical Discoveries in May.


Early Career Award
Dr. Samidha Tripathi, an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, recently received an Early Career Development Award from the Association for Academic Psychiatry (AAP). The program enables new educators to learn and share teaching techniques, skills and innovations and to network with experienced educators in the AAP along with other early-career psychiatry faculty members from across the country. Dr. Tripathi will be recognized at the organization’s annual meeting Sept. 4-7 in Boston.


Honor & Opportunity
Dr. Sean H. Adams
, Chief the Developmental Nutrition Section in the Department of Pediatrics and Director of the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center, has been appointed to the External Advisory Committee for the Division of Nutritional Sciences graduate program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). UIUC is among the upper tier of nutrition science training programs in the world. Serving on this committee will give Dr. Adams the opportunity to collaborate, network and better learn strategies for recruiting top student talent into M.S., Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D. tracks. In addition to lending his own expertise, Dr. Adams will learn more about factors that have contributed to UIUC’s track record of securing training grants in the nutrition and obesity arenas, as well as hear how others create campus-wide interest to form a cohesive and comprehensive nutrition science program.


Prolific Presenters
The hard-working colleagues of the Department of Geriatrics and Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging (RIOA) presented 15 abstract presentations at the annual scientific meeting of the American Geriatrics Society – more than any other institution at the recent event in Portland, Oregon. My thanks to Professor, Geriatrics Chair and RIOA Director Dr. Jeanne Wei and colleagues from multiple UAMS departments, the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, University of Arkansas Little Rock, Baptist Health Heart Institute and other affiliates for their excellent work.


In the Spotlight
Dr. Jason Mizell
, Associate Professor of Surgery, was the featured guest recently on Doctors Unbound, a national podcast, to discuss his successful Business of Medicine course and its evolvement into a four-year honors track for College of Medicine students. The podcast was his third, following appearances on Doctor Money Matters and the White Coat Investor last year. Dr. Mizell’s award-winning educational initiatives are helping our medical students and residents gain much-needed personal and professional business acumen – and his national appearances and publications are shining the spotlight on his innovative work at UAMS. Well done Dr. Mizell!



June 19, 2019

Safety in the Spotlight
In last week’s Accolades I shared the good news about UAMS Medical Center surpassing the 90% compliance handwashing goal for the first time, thanks to the leadership of Dr. Thea Rosenbaum, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and UAMS Associate Chief Quality Officer for Safety, and the diligence of the entire clinical team. I am delighted to report that this work to transform our culture and support sustainable, long-term patient safety improvements was featured in Becker’s Hospital Review. Check it out. And thanks again, everyone, for your ongoing work to ensure patient safety at UAMS.


Pediatric Psychology Leader

Congratulations to Dr. Wendy Ward, Professor in the Department of Pediatrics Psychology Section, on her election as President of the Society of Pediatric Psychology (SPP). What a great honor to serve in this leadership position within the SPP and the American Psychological Association! This speaks volumes about Dr. Ward’s accomplishments and reputation among her national peers.


Serving Children
A shout-out to Dr. Priya Gupta, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, on her appointment to the Board of Trustees for the Arkansas School for the Blind and Arkansas School for the Deaf by Governor Asa Hutchinson. Thank you so much for your service to children with special needs as well as for all you do here at UAMS.


Happy Retirement!
Kudos to Dr. Parimal “Perry” Chowdhury, Professor of Physiology and Biophysics, for his four decades of service to our college – and for sharing his passion for science with students of all ages. Dr. Chowdhury has earned international recognition for his research as well as his longtime service to organizations such as the International Society for the Prevention of Tobacco Induced Diseases, which awarded him a Lifetime Achievement Award last fall, and the American Physiological Society, which awarded him Fellow status earlier this month. I hope you can join us at Dr. Chowdhury’s retirement celebration this Thursday, 2:00 p.m., in the second floor atrium of Biomed I. Congratulations on your retirement, Perry!


Back in July
I hope everyone’s summer is off to a wonderful start. Accolades is taking the next few weeks off and will return in July. You can continue to send your ideas for future editions to COM Internal Communications!


June 12, 2019

7-Year Streak
A shout-out to Dr. Shashank Kraleti, Residency Program Director in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, along with fellow faculty members and residents, for the great strides they’ve made. We recently learned that Dr. Kraleti’s residents achieved a 100% pass rate on the board exam for the seventh consecutive year. This is unrivaled in Arkansas for this exam and possibly in the entire nation. As you may recall, Dr. Kraleti received the Residency Educator Award in April. He has introduced numerous initiatives to enhance the program, including a procedure clinic to provide more hands-on training, and substantially increasing residents’ experiences with pediatric patients.

The residency and entire department’s research was on display at the second Family Medicine Poster Day on May 28. Organized by Dr. Kraleti and Dr. Diane Jarrett, Assistant Residency Director and Director of Education and Communications, the event showcased 35 posters, including 20 projects by residents. You can also learn more about the department’s accomplishments here. Great job everyone!


Safety Milestone
Few things are more important to the safety and quality of the care we provide for our patients than the simple act of handwashing. Congratulations to Dr. Thea Rosenbaum, Associate Chief Quality Officer for Safety, for leading a year-long initiative to surpass the 90% compliance handwashing goal for the first time, and my thanks to UAMS’ entire clinical team for achieving this milestone. This really matters for our patients and families. Let’s keep up the great work!


Time for Fishing!

Hats off to Dr. Bob Burns, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, for his 50-plus years of service to UAMS and Arkansas through his research, teaching, leadership of the Partners in Health Sciences Program and many other contributions. I know I speak for all of us in the College of Medicine in wishing Bob the very best in his retirement, which I hope includes plenty of fishing and other outdoor pursuits. I look forward to seeing many of you at Dr. Burns’ retirement celebration at 3:00 this afternoon in the Hamlen Board Room, 12th Floor of the Jackson T. Stephens Spine and Neurosciences Institute. Congratulations Dr. Burns!


High-Profile Publication
Congratulations to Dr. Marwan Saad, a fellow in the Cardiovascular Division of the Department of Internal Medicine, and Dr. J.L. Mehta, Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Physiology and Biophysics and Stebbins Chair in Cardiology, and their colleagues on the upcoming publication of their article, “Aspirin for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Events,” in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the premier cardiology journal. Dr. Saad was a joint first author with Dr. Hesham K. Abdelaziz of the Lancashire Cardiac Center in the United Kingdom and Ain Shams University in Cairo. Dr. Mehta is the senior and corresponding author, and Dr. Naga Venkata K. Pothineni, Assistant Professor in the Division of Cardiology, is among the co-authors. The article, which will be published June 18, has been selected for CME credit and audio commentary by the journal’s editor-in-chief.


Hypertension: Immune Disorder?
One in every three adults in the United States has high blood pressure – the leading cause of heart disease and stroke. Despite the abundance of blood pressure medications on the market, less than half of patients are able to control their high blood pressure. That’s why the outstanding work of Dr. Shengyu Mu, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, and his colleagues is so crucial. Dr. Mu recently received $1.89 million from the NIH to continue his investigation into evidence that salt-sensitive hypertension is an immune disorder. Read more here.


In the Spotlight
An innovative and important new paper by Department of Pathology faculty members Dr. Steven Post and Dr. Zhiqiang Qin and postdoctoral fellow Dr. Lu Dai, who served as first author, has earned editorial commentary in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. The article is “Kaposi Sarcoma–Associated Herpesvirus and Staphylococcus aureus Coinfection in Oral Cavities of HIV-Positive Patients: A Unique Niche for Oncogenic Virus Lytic Reactivation.” The team found that S. aureus, one of common pathogens causing infection in HIV-positive patients, can effectively induce KSHV lytic reactivation from infected oral cells. This investigation provides further clinical evidence about the relevance of coinfection due to these two pathogens in the oral cavities of HIV-positive patients, potentially promoting virus-associated cancer development.


Continued Momentum
Kudos to the fantastic collaborative group in the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center (ACNC) for their continuing insights into issues such as developmental variations in the infant brain and neurodevelopmental outcomes over time. Dr. Xiawei Ou of the departments of Radiology and Pediatrics led a team that included Drs. Aline Andres, Jane Bellando (both in Pediatrics), and other colleagues on a paper, “Diffusion Tensor of MRI of White Matter of Healthy Full-term Newborns: Relationship to Neurodevelopmental Outcomes,” which was published last week in Radiology. The work was part of the ACNC’s ongoing “Glowing” clinical study. The team found that differences in brain activities and anatomy, measured with MRI in babies, associate with neurodevelopmental milestones later in life.


June 5, 2019

Carrying on the Legacy
Congratulations to UAMS Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson on his investiture Monday in the Harry P. Ward Chancellor’s Distinguished Chair. As Chancellor from 1979 to 2000, Dr. Ward led UAMS’ transformation into a true academic health center and research leader. Today, Dr. Patterson is leading UAMS’ growth and evolution as a statewide system for improved health care, health education and biomedical research. Thank you, Dr. Patterson, for bringing your vision, energy and strong leadership to UAMS and Arkansas.


FDA Committee Appointment
Dr. Jeannette Lee, Professor of Biostatistics and Co-PI of the Data Coordinating and Operations Center for the Idea States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network, has been appointed to a four-year term on the FDA Cellular Tissue and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee. The committee evaluates data relating to the safety, effectiveness and appropriate use of human cells and tissues, gene transfer therapies and xenotransplantation products that are intended for transplantation, implantation, infusion and transfer in the prevention and treatment of a broad range of human diseases and on the reconstruction, repair or replacement of tissues for various conditions. Congratulations Dr. Lee, and thank you for your service at the national level as well as here at UAMS.


Liver Center of Excellence
A shout-out to Dr. Lyle Burdine, Assistant Professor of Surgery and Surgical Director for the Solid Organ Transplant Program at UAMS, along with the entire liver transplant team, on their successful work to achieve Optum Center of Excellence for Adult Liver Transplant status for UAMS. The Clinical Sciences Institute at Optum evaluates transplant programs throughout the United States, accepting select programs into its Center of Excellence Network based on strict criteria to ensure the highest standards of care. Great job, team!


Gold and Red
Let’s have another round of applause for the fabulous faculty members honored by our medical students for their teaching and mentoring this year! Check out this year’s Golden Apple winners, Gold and Red Sash recipients, and other faculty members who were honored at Honors Convocation or Commencement here. I am grateful to all of you for your hard work and dedication to our students.


Distinguished Fellow
Congratulations to Dr. Raymond Molden, Assistant Director of the Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship, who was honored as a Distinguished Fellow at the American Psychiatric Association (APA) annual meeting in San Francisco on May 20. Dr. Molden was recognized for his dedication to the work of the APA and the field of psychiatry. He also just completed his second term as President of the Arkansas Psychiatric Society (APS), the state branch of the APA. Dr. Molden’s hard work this past year included a screening of the documentary “Killing Pain,” which Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson attended, and achieving record attendance at the annual APS conference in April. Congratulations as well to Dr. Lindsey Wilbanks, who just began her term as APS President.


Internationally Social
Dr. Jerad Gardner, Associate Professor of Pathology, shared his expertise in the use of social media in clinical pathology practice at the 32nd Congresso Brasileiro de Patologia, the official meeting of the Brazilian Pathology Society last month. He delivered four lectures on topics such as the role of pathologists in Facebook patient support groups and the “histology” of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And that wasn’t Dr. Gardner’s only international speaking event in May. He also presented a talk on cutaneous soft tissue pathology at the first McKee Derm Conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, hosted by the renowned dermatopathologist and textbook author Dr. Phillip McKee, whom Dr. Gardner interviewed for his YouTube channel, drawing 1,000 views in the first 24 hours. Great work, Dr. Gardner!


JEI vs. M1s
And finally this week, congratulations to Dr. Joe “the Commish” Chacko, Professor of Ophthalmology, and his ace softball team in the Jones Eye Institute for *almost* beating the first-year medical students on the softball field. Read about the game here!


May 29, 2019

Level 1 Children’s Surgery
I am very pleased to share the news, announced by Dr. Sid Dassinger, Medical Director of Surgical Quality at Arkansas Children’s, and Kim Rhodes, Children’s Surgery Program Manager, that Arkansas Children’s Hospital has been verified as a Level I Children’s Surgery Center by the American College of Surgeons Children’s Surgery Verification Quality Improvement Program. ACH is one of only 16 children’s hospitals in the United States to receive this highest level of designation.

The program was developed to improve the quality of children’s surgical care by creating a system that allows for a prospective match of every child’s individual surgical needs with a care environment that has optimal pediatric resources. ACH met all defined standards, to ensure that children facing surgery receive care under a multidisciplinary program with quality improvement and safety processes, surgeon-led performance improvement, data collection and appropriate patient resources. Drs. Aru Reddy, Sam Smith, Ashley Ross, Ron Sanders and Todd Maxson were critical to the verification process and were recognized by the surveyor team. Hats off to this phenomenal team from Surgery, Pediatrics and Anesthesiology along with our partners at ACH!


UAMS in the Spotlight
UAMS was represented along with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in a recent interview posted on the Cancer Network, the home of the journal Oncology. Dr. Donald Johann, Associate Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Internal Medicine, was interviewed about the promise of liquid biopsies in the management of lung cancer. Thanks to Dr. Johann for representing UAMS so well.


Terrific Teachers
Congratulations to the Department of Pediatrics Educators of the Year: Drs. Debra Becton, Sowmya Patil and Emily Smith in General Pediatrics; Dr. Rebecca Cantu in Hospital Medicine; and Dr. Brandi Whitaker in Psychology. Thank you for your dedication to the children of Arkansas and your work to teach and inspire the next generation of pediatric specialists and other physicians.


Congratulations to Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman, Professor of Surgery and Chief of Breast Oncology, who will be honored as a “Changemaker” by her medical school alma mater, UC San Diego, this Saturday during the school’s Alumni Celebration Weekend. She is being recognized for her clinical work and leadership and her longstanding efforts to better understand and reduce cancer disparities in underserved populations. So proud to have this changemaker as a colleague!


International Imaging
A shout-out to Dr. Sanjaya Viswamitra, an Associate Professor in the Nuclear Medicine Division of the Department of Radiology, for his international professional leadership activities. Dr. Viswamitra was recently elected to the Executive Committee of the Asian Society of Cardiac Imaging. He has served as President of the Indian Association of Cardiac Imaging for the past three years.


Graduates Recognized

Two members of the Class of 2019 received national awards for excellence from professional organizations in their chosen specialty, emergency medicine. Dr. Daniel Escobar received the Medical Student Excellence in Emergency Medicine Award from the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine. He will complete his residency at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. Dr. Brendan Moore received the Medical Student Professionalism and Service Award from the American College of Emergency Physicians. He will complete his residency in Emergency Medicine here at UAMS. Congratulations to both of these outstanding graduates.


May 22, 2019

These Teachers are Tops
A shout-out to all of the COM faculty members who were recognized during Honors Convocation and Commencement for their work with students. These outstanding educators include Dr. Matthew Quick (Pathology), who was chosen by graduating seniors to deliver the Faculty Address to the Class at Convocation; Dr. Sung Rhee (Pharmacology/Toxicology), who received both the senior and sophomore Golden Apple awards; Dr. Lindsey Sward (OB/GYN), who was awarded the junior Golden Apple; and Dr. Alan Diekman (Biochemistry/Molecular Biology), who received the freshman Golden Apple. Dr. David Davies and Dr. Kevin Phelan (Neurobiology/Developmental Sciences) received the Chancellor’s Excellence in Education Award at the COM ceremony.

At the UAMS Commencement ceremony, Dr. Kristie Hadden (Medical Humanities; UAMS Center for Health Literacy) received the Chancellor’s Award for Society and Health Education Excellence, and Dr. John Spollen (Psychiatry) was the recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence. Watch for more about Honors Convocation and other faculty honorees in this month’s COMmunication and on the COM website.


Presidential Citation
Congratulations to Dr. James Suen, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, who recently received a Presidential Citation from the American Head and Neck Society in recognition of his decades of contributions to the specialty and to medicine. Dr. Suen’s 45 years of leadership and service here at UAMS has had immeasurable impact, not only for Arkansans but also for his patients and colleagues around the world. This latest honor for Dr. Suen is very well earned.


Otolaryngology All-Stars
In other good news from our colleagues in Otolaryngology, Dr. Brendan Stack Jr., a Professor, and Dr. Blake Hollowoa, a first-year otolaryngology resident, won the best poster award at the American Head and Neck Society annual conference for “Normocalcemic Primary Hyperparathyroidism: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis on Laboratory Values.” Dr. Gresham Richter, Professor and Chief of Pediatric Otolaryngology, was recently nominated to serve as Treasurer for the Council of the American Broncho-Esophagological Association. And congratulations to Dr. Austin DeHart, a pediatric otolaryngology fellow, who was the second place co-winner of the Charles Ferguson Award for the best clinical research manuscript at the recent American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology conference. Her paper was titled “Bone Conduction Treatment Options in Pediatric Unilateral Hearing Loss: A Comparison of Quality of Life and Audiologic Outcomes.”


Legacy & Leadership
Congratulations to Dr. Bob Saylors, a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics Division of Hematology, who received the Legacy Leadership Award from the Arkansas Division of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society at the organization’s annual fundraiser in Little Rock earlier this month. The event raises funds to support patients with leukemia and lymphoma and to help fund ongoing research.


Cancer Crusader
Hats off to Dr. Matthew Steliga, Associate Professor and Chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery, for his decade of leadership in addressing lung cancer and tobacco addiction in Arkansas. Dr. Steliga was applauded last week as the 2019 Distinguished Honoree by the volunteer auxiliary of the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. Read more here.


International Speaker
Dr. Spyridoula Maraka
, Assistant Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine Division of Endocrinology, delivered the plenary talk at the fourth International Forum of Thyroid Experts. Dr. Maraka was invited by the Mexican Society of Nutrition and Endocrinology, the equivalent of the Endocrine Society in the United States, because of her extensive work and publications in high-impact journals on the subject of hypothyroidism and pregnancy. She discussed clinical and subclinical hypothyroidism in pregnancy. Great job Dr. Maraka!


AAMC GME Leadership
Congratulations to Dr. Molly Gathright, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Assistant Dean for Graduate Medical Education, on completing the AAMC Graduate Medical Education Leadership Development Certificate Program. Dr. Gathright wrapped up her work for the course with a poster presentation on “GME Action Learning: Rethink, Redesign, Restructure: Building a Robust Resident Association” at the recent AAMC Group on Resident Affairs meeting in Portland, Oregon. Thank you for your leadership in GME here at UAMS and nationally, Dr. Gathright!


Congratulations to Dr. Brian Russ, a third-year Emergency Medicine resident who will join the faculty in July, on receiving the Resident Education Award from the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) Academy of Emergency Ultrasound (AEUS). AEUS recognized Dr. Russ for his leadership and teaching in numerous initiatives relating to point-of-care ultrasound, which is changing clinical care nationwide – and especially in emergency medicine. One of his projects was the development of last fall’s successful Ultrafest, a regional symposium to provide medical students with additional hands-on experiences with ultrasound.  And speaking of Ultrafest, I was also delighted to hear that third-year medical student John Martindale, President of the Emergency Medicine Interest Group, recently received a grant from SAEM to conduct emergency medicine outreach at the second annual event this fall.


On the Fast Track in NWA
And finally this week, congratulations to Dr. Mikaila Calcagni, a resident in the UAMS Northwest Arkansas Internal Medicine Residency Program, on her recent selection as one of Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s “Fast 15” honorees. The award recognizes 15 up-and-coming young professionals who are on the “fast track” to success. Dr. Calcagni has excelled academically and clinically and is an avid volunteer who works extensively with current medical students. I applaud her ultimate career goal: to someday serve as Dean of the College of Medicine! Read more here about why Dr. Calcagni will be an asset for Northwest Arkansas and our state for years to come.



May 15, 2019

It’s GME Wellness Week!
Hats off to Dr. Molly Gathright, Assistant Dean for Graduate Medical Education, Dr. Vicki Flynn, Chief Resident in Psychiatry, and GME Education Coordinator Jennifer White for coordinating the first annual college-wide GME Wellness Week. Activities began on Monday and continue through Friday, with many faculty members contributing talks, guided meditation sessions and much more for our residents and fellows. Today’s noon “Lunch and Learn” talk with Dr. Puru Thapa is “Are we human beings or human doings?” On Thursday, Dr. Jerad Gardner presents “The Positive Side of Social Media.” On Friday, Dr. Erick Messias presents “The Science of Happiness.” Learn more and see the full schedule here.


Three Good Things
Speaking of wellness, kudos to Drs. Amanda Young and Rachael Freeze-Ramsey in the Department of Emergency Medicine for raising awareness of the power of positive psychology and how simply taking note of “three good things” each day can help colleagues build resilience in their professional and personal lives. Dr. Young, an Assistant Professor, recently discussed the concept in an article, “Three Good Things,” published in the newsletter of the Academy for Women in Academic Emergency Medicine. Inspired by Dr. Young, Dr. Freeze-Ramsey, Associate Professor and Associate Director of the Emergency Medicine Residency, created a “three good things” challenge for residents to celebrate Emergency Medicine GME Wellness Week in mid-April. She handed out small notebooks and encouraged residents to record positive things in their daily lives, and to share them with the group. My thanks to Drs. Young and Freeze-Ramsey, and also to Dr. Sarah Greenberger for sharing this uplifting story!


AAMC Fellowship
I am delighted to announce that Dr. Jennifer Hunt, Professor and Chair of the Department of Pathology, has been selected for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Council of Deans Fellowship Program. The year-long development program is designed for senior faculty members who are interested in becoming top academic leaders in the future. Dr. Hunt is one of only five fellows selected for the upcoming year. As we know here at UAMS, she is an exceptional leader with much to contribute to academic medicine. Congratulations Dr. Hunt!


Immunization Champion
Congratulations to Dr. Eddie Ochoa, Associate Professor and Chief of the Community Pediatrics Section of the Department of Pediatrics, on being named the 2019 Childhood Immunization Champion for Arkansas by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Association for Immunization Managers. Dr. Ochoa has been a strong advocate for vaccines for at least two decades, working with organizations including the National Network of Immunization Information to provide up-to-date, science-based information to health care professionals, the media, policymakers and the public. He has worked extensively to expand access to vaccinations in Arkansas through legislative advocacy, school and community clinics, teaching and other initiatives.


COBRE Graduates
The Center for Childhood Obesity Prevention, led by Dr. Judith Weber of the Department of Pediatrics, recently hosted five successful “graduates” of COBREs at UAMS in a COBRE Junior Investigator Success Showcase at the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute. The graduates are junior faculty members who, as result of support they received as project leaders through the COBRE mechanism, have been awarded NIH RO1 grants as independent investigators. The graduates shared their success stories and tips with current junior investigators. Congratulations and thanks to the graduates – Dr. Elena Ambrogini of the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology; Dr. Michael Mancino of the Department of Psychiatry; and Drs. Karl Boehme, Jia Liu and Jason Stumhofer of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. These five represented three COBRE programs at UAMS – the Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Host Inflammatory Responses (led by Dr. Mark Smeltzer), the Center for Translational Neuroscience (led by Dr. Edgar Garcia-Rill), and the Center for Musculoskeletal Disease Research (led by Dr. Charles O’Brien).


Top-Notch TBLs
A shout-out to Drs. Stanley Ellis, Matthew Quick and James Graham on the publication of their article, “Faculty Peer Review as a Strategy to Assure Quality in a New Team-Based Learning Curriculum – a Single Institution Experience,” in Medical Science Educator. The article by Dr. Ellis, Assistant Professor and Director of Education in the Institute for Digital Health & Innovation, Dr. Quick, Associate Professor of Pathology, and Dr. Graham, Professor and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education, describes the College of Medicine’s successful shift from a lecture-focused curriculum to the TBL model and how a faculty peer-review program ensures high-quality TBL experiences that have likely contributed to improved student exam scores.


Young Investigator Awards
Congratulations to Assistant Professors Dr. Ha-neui Kim of the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, and Dr. Jinhu Xiong of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, who both received Harold M. Frost Young Investigator Awards from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. They will attend the 48th annual International Musculoskeletal Biology Workshop in Sun Valley, Idaho, in July. We can be very proud that two of only nine such national awards went to investigators in the UAMS Center for Musculoskeletal Disease Research. This speaks volumes about the future of the center, which is directed by Dr. Charles O’Brien, a Professor in the Division of Endocrinology, and funded by a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.


Conference Leader
Congratulations to Dr. Feliciano “Pele” Yu on the great success of the recent American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) Clinical Informatics Conference. Dr. Yu, a Professor of Pediatrics and Biomedical Informatics and Chief Medical Information Officer at Arkansas Children’s, co-chaired the event – the fastest growing national conference in clinical informatics. Dr. Yu was also featured in a Q&A for “Faces of AMIA” on the organization’s website.


Thank You, Sharanda
As the academic year winds down, I want to share a note of gratitude I received about Sharanda Williams, Director of Academic Affairs for the College of Medicine. “Sharanda goes an extra mile to help with medical students, faculty, coordinators or anyone else who needs her help,” wrote Dr. Priya Mendiratta, Associate Professor of Geriatrics and Director of the Geriatric Clerkship. “She is absolutely amazing. I have always found her calm, very helpful and kind – no matter how difficult a situation may be.” I know many other COM team members agree. Sharanda, thank you for all that you do!


Breakfast of Champions
I have greatly enjoyed my weekly breakfasts with M1s and M2s, and the final breakfast of the academic year last Friday was no exception. The freshmen echoed many others from previous weeks in their appreciation of faculty members and learning experiences. They noted the newly renovated anatomy laboratory facilities along with additional technology such as iPads at each table and the Sectra 3D virtual dissection table. They also once again praised Dr. Alan Diekman (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) for his leadership and teaching of the Molecules to Cells Course.

Nearly 50 faculty members, as well as a number of staff, have been specifically mentioned at these breakfasts since last November – and some, like Dr. Diekman, have been cited as many as a dozen times!  Thank you to all of our dedicated, inspiring faculty members.


May 8, 2019

Pediatrics Leadership
Congratulations to Dr. Steve Schexnayder on his appointment to the newly created post of Executive Vice-Chair of the Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Schexnayder will assist Pediatrics Chair Dr. Rick Barr in key departmental functions, with a major focus on refining and implementing a new faculty evaluation process. He will continue to serve in his role as Chief of the Critical Care Section. I join with Dr. Barr in thanking Dr. Schexnayder for agreeing to serve in this new post as well as for his many years of ongoing service to the department, our college and the children of Arkansas.


Accolades from Students
For the second week in a row, first-year students who joined me for breakfast last Friday said the Practice of Medicine (POM1) course was one of their best experiences so far in medical school. One of the highlights of the course was the neurology clinic session in which they were able to examine patients with various neurologic conditions. Hats off to POM1 Co-Directors Dr. Angie Scott (Pediatrics, Medical Humanities) and Dr. Rachael Freeze-Ramsey (Emergency Medicine).


AOA Student Fellowship

Congratulations to junior medical student Christopher Flud, who has been awarded a $5,000 Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship from Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA). The stipend will support his project, “Real-time volume status in the volume-volatile patient: New technology to bridge the gap between paracentesis and fluid resuscitation.” Dr. Kevin Sexton, Assistant Professor of Surgery, is a mentor on the project. Dr. Molly Gathright, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Assistant Dean for Graduate Medical Education, and Councilor for the local AOA chapter, worked with Christopher as he applied for the fellowship. Well done!


Neurosurgery Student Fellowship
COM freshman Jeffrey “Curran” Henson is one of fewer than 30 medical students nationwide to receive a prestigious Neurosurgery Research and Education Foundation 2019 Medical Student Summer Research Fellowship. He will be mentored by Dr. Analiz Rodriguez, Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery and Director of Neurosurgical Oncology at UAMS. Congratulations Curran!


Rising Star
Speaking of Dr. Analiz Rodriguez, I am delighted to point out that she will be honored as one of Arkansas’ “rising stars” at Arkansas Business’ annual “40 Under 40” awards luncheon on June 19. Dr. Rodriguez is gaining well-earned recognition for her work as a physician-scientist, educator and mentor. Last month she shared information about cutting-edge treatments for brain cancer as part of the Friends of Medicine Seminar Series co-sponsored by UAMS and UA Little Rock’s STEM Education Center.


Space Symposium
A shout-out to Dr. Parimal Chowdhury, Professor of Physiology and Biophysics, and Dr. Robert Griffin, Professor of Radiation Oncology, who with collaborators from other UAMS colleges, the University of Central Arkansas and the University of Arkansas-Little Rock presented five papers at the 27th Annual Arkansas Space Grant Consortium Symposium held at Winthrop Rockefeller Institute in Morrilton. Faculty and students presented oral presentations and posters at the NASA-funded event in April.


Lending Expertise

Dr. Brendan Stack, Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, was an invited lecturer for two well-attended sessions on “Calcium Conundrums” at the recent 28th meeting of the American Academy of Clinical Endocrinology/American College of Endocrinology in Los Angeles. He was also a featured speaker in a debate with an endocrine surgeon from Johns Hopkins University on the topic of observing certain thyroid cancers. Great work Dr. Stack!


Award-Winning Research
A multidisciplinary team of UAMS researchers recently published a paper about a set of 48 vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium genomes from clinical isolates from cancer patients with bacteremia and urinary tract infections. The lead author is Dr. Zulema Udaondo, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI). More good news arrived a couple of weeks ago, when the senior and last author on the report, DBMI Assistant Professor Dr. Se-Ran Jun, won the best poster award after presenting the project at the Human Genome Meeting in Seoul, South Korea.



I couldn’t be prouder of the hard work and creativity of our medical students who recently received grants from the Pulaski County Medical Society for their research, education and community projects. Accolades are also in order for their faculty mentors. Congratulations to the following teams:

Rebecca Moreira (M1) and Santiago Gonzalez (M3); Dr. Carol Thrush (Surgery/COM GME), adviser – to support continued teaching of the UAMS League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) student-led medical Spanish and cultural competency course for future health care providers.

John Musser (M2); Dr. Paul Drew (Neurobiology/Developmental Sciences) and Dr. Sue Griffin (Geriatrics), advisers – to expand sampling for an ongoing study of medical student stress, performance and personality.

Caroline Barham and Kesley Brown (both M1s); Dr. Alice Alexander (Internal Medicine), adviser – to support the community garden for patients at the Harmony Health Clinic.

Anusha Majagi (M1), Tyler Thompson (M2), Jordan Fielding (M3) and Christine Rutlen (M4); Dr. Antonio Howard (Physical Medicine/Rehabilitation), adviser – to establish a “Walk with a Future Doc” chapter to connect UAMS physicians and medical students with the community and promote better health through physical activity.


May 1, 2019

National ACP Leader
Congratulations to Dr. Omar Atiq, Professor of Medicine and Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, on his appointment as Chair of the Board of Governors of the American College of Physicians, the largest medical specialty organization in the United States. Dr. Atiq has served our college and our state through many leadership roles, including a previous term as President of the Arkansas Medical Society. Thank you for your ongoing service and outstanding leadership Dr. Atiq!


Healthcare Heroes
We are so proud of the COM faculty members who were honored recently at the annual Healthcare Heroes awards luncheon sponsored by Arkansas Business Publishing Group: Physician of the Year Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman (Surgery); Workplace Wellness Hero Dr. Puru Thapa (Psychiatry); Healthcare Administrator of the Year Dr. Lowry Barnes (Orthopaedic Surgery); and finalists Dr. J.D. Day (Neurosurgery); Dr. Gloria Richard-Davis (Obstetrics/Gynecology); and Dr. Hari Eswaran (Obstetrics/Gynecology). You’ve always been heroes in our book!


Lifesaving Teamwork
An Arkansas State Police Officer who was critically injured in a vehicle accident in January is alive today because of the care and teamwork of many dedicated folks at UAMS. The State Police and the officer’s wife were at UAMS recently to thank team members in Neurology, Vascular Surgery, Orthopaedic Surgery, Trauma ICU, Neurosurgery and Advanced Practice Nursing. It is an honor to serve with colleagues like these.


Grateful Colleagues
It’s heartwarming to hear so many stories about teams from multiple departments and programs pulling together on behalf of our patients. Another recent example: Dr. Sami Uwaydat, Interim Chair of Ophthalmology, recently wrote to thank Dr. Jill Mhrye, Chair of Anesthesiology, and her team for going the extra mile on a number of after-hours surgical eye emergencies. Dr. Mhyre also thanked the Anesthesiology faculty contributing to these cases, including Dr. Kristen Lienhart, Dr. Heidi Prince and Dennis Armstrong, M.S.N., CRNA, along with Dr. Theresa McClung, who stepped up to the plate to cross-cover other areas.


ACH Endowed Chair
Congratulations to Dr. Larry Hartzell, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, on his investiture last week in the Benjamin and Milton Waner, M.D., Endowed Chair in Pediatric Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Dr. Hartzell provides world-class, compassionate care as Director of the cleft lip and palate team and the velopharyngeal insufficiency clinic at ACH. This endowed chair is a well-earned honor for Dr. Hartzell.


Beall Awards
Congratulations to our COM colleagues who were honored at Arkansas Children’s annual Ruth Olive Beall Awards on April 25. Dr. Ashley Ross, Chief of the Neonatology Section in the Department of Pediatrics, received the Ruth Olive Beall Award for exemplifying Arkansas Children’s core values of safety, teamwork, compassion and excellence. Dr. Richard Kurten, Professor of Physiology and Biophysics and Co-Director of the Lung Cell Biology Laboratory in the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute, received the Dr. Robert H. Fiser, Jr. Research Achievement Award. The teams in the ACH Emergency Department (led by Interim Chief Dr. Rhonda Dick last year and Section Chief Dr. Larry Quang since January) and ACH Allergy and Immunology Clinic (led by Dr. Stacie Jones) received the Drs. Joanna J. and Robert W. Seibert Award for teamwork.


Combating the Opioid Crisis
Kudos to the Arkansas Geriatric Education Collaborative and many COM team members for their outstanding work on the recent conference “Combating the Opioid Crisis and Chronic Pain,” which was co-sponsored by the Clinton School of Public Service. Collaborative Director Dr. Robin McAtee was joined by her Geriatrics colleagues Dr. Masil George, Sajni Kumpuris, B.A., and Laura Spradley, M.S.; Drs. Heejung Choi and Johnathan Goree of the Department of Anesthesiology; Dr. Kristin Garner of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine; Drs. Teresa Hudson and Michael Mancino of  the Department of Psychiatry; and Leah Tobey, PT, DPT.


A shout-out to the COM faculty and physician informaticists at Arkansas Children’s who recently completed the year-long Harvard Medical School global certificate program on Safety, Quality, Informatics and Leadership (SQIL). Drs. Ashley Antipolo, Jared Beavers, Jimmy Magee and Feliciano “Pele” Yu (Pediatrics) and Dr. Kandi Stallings-Archer (Pathology/Pediatric Pathology) participated in the program, which was funded through an ACH training grant to develop physician leadership in the informatics of quality and patient safety. Congratulations, colleagues.


Accolades from Students
My breakfast with first-year students last week was enjoyable as always, and they continued to have wonderful things to say about faculty members. The Practice of Medicine (POM1) course drew raves, in part because of the real-patient clinics conducted in the Clinical Skills Center. “It allows us to better understand the diseases we are studying,” said one student. Students appreciate POM1 Co-Directors Dr. Angie Scott (Pediatrics, Medical Humanities) for “helping keep everything in perspective,” and Dr. Rachael Freeze-Ramsey (Emergency Medicine) for “bringing concepts from the classroom to the bedside.”

Students also mentioned the Hematology course and outstanding teaching of Dr. Shelley Crary (Pediatrics), and the Disease and Defense course, directed by Dr. Martin Cannon (Microbiology/Immunology). Dr. Jason Chang (Neurobiology/Developmental Sciences) received his fifth mention this year, and so we will “retire his jersey” in Accolades for this year!

Congratulations to all of these skilled, dedicated educators.


Extra Mile
We’ve received a number of lovely notes from students lately about the support they’ve received from Dr. Priya Mendiratta, Associate Professor of Geriatrics. Graduating senior Jacquelyn Bailey thanked Dr. Mendiratta for her teaching and her support during the residency application process, which culminated in Jacquelyn’s match to St. Louis University School of Medicine, where she will train in family medicine. “I wanted her to get credit for the hard work and investment she puts into our learning for the geriatrics rotation and going the extra mile for me in improving my residency application,” Jacquelyn wrote. Great job, Dr. Mendiratta!


Bravo Departments!
We have continued to post highlights of scholarly work across the COM on our 2018 Department Accomplishments intranet page as reports come in. I encourage you to visit the page if you haven’t already, and check back occasionally to see what’s new. This week I would like to highlight the achievements of the faculty and staff of the following departments, whose reports are currently featured at the top of the page:

Anesthesiology, chaired by Dr. Jill Mhyre
Ophthalmology, led by Interim Chair Dr. Sami Uwaydat
Pediatrics, chaired by Dr. Rick Barr

Thank you all for your dedication and hard work!


April 17, 2019

Quality & Safety

Congratulations to the UAMS Integrated Clinical Enterprise for achieving an astounding 99-plus percent completion rate on the Healthcare Performance Improvement (HPI) Error Prevention course – something no other organization working with HPI has done! Nearly 6,000 ICE staff, College of Medicine faculty members and residents completed this training. Special thanks to Dr. Thea Rosenbaum, Associate Chief Quality Officer for Safety, for leading the charge on this initiative, to Robyn Horn, Administrative Director for the Department of Patient Safety and Relations, for her leadership, and to the 60 instructors who devoted countless hours to teaching error prevention techniques. This speaks volumes about the dedication to quality and safety of everyone in ICE. Thank you so much!


On the Hill
Dr. William “Sam” Greenfield
and Dr. Renee McGraw, Associate Professors in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, along with OBGYN residents Dr. Kala Burgener (PGY-3) and Dr. Zachery Pettis (PGY-2), recently attended the 2019 American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Congressional Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. The group had very successful meetings with U.S. Sen. John Boozman, U.S. Rep. French Hill, and a legislative aide for U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton to discuss issues relating to women’s health care including improved access to care and the need to decrease maternal mortality. Thank you all for working to advance these important issues.


Most Downloaded
Congratulations to Dr. Ryan Dare, Assistant Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, whose article “Effect of Statin Coadministration on the Risk of Daptomycin-Associated Myopathy” was among the top 10 percent of most downloaded articles from the past two years in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. Way to go Dr. Dare!


Dedicated to Residents
I am delighted to share a message of gratitude that I received this week about Dr. Tracy Haselow, an Instructor and Psychiatrist at the North Little Rock VA Mental Health Clinic. “While Dr. Haselow gives excellent care to her patients, I admire her most for the attention she gives our residents,” wrote Dr. Lindsey Wilbanks, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry. “I hear nothing but good things from the residents, primarily because she gives them a quality education while they rotate through her clinic, nurtures their growth as they become budding psychiatrists, and lends an ear to validate their concerns. It is obvious that Dr. Haselow is invested in resident and student education. I feel privileged to be her colleague and friend so that I can learn from her example.”


Grateful Patients & Families
I received a note from a COM team member the other day about the wonderful care her daughter received recently in the Family Medical Center. She was especially appreciative of Dr. Greg Sketas, a third-year Family Medicine resident. “I want to commend him for his excellent bedside manners, his clinical knowledge and skills, and the patient education he provided,” the note said. “This was an amazing experience, so thank you very much!” Thank you for exemplifying what we’re all about, Dr. Sketas!


Accolades from Students
Almost 50 faculty members have been specifically mentioned and commended by our first- and second-year students during my weekly breakfasts since late November. Those receiving shout-outs this week included Dr. Mark Smeltzer of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Drs. Noor Akhter and Jason Chang in Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences. Thank you for your outstanding work with our students.

A number of our faculty members have been recognized by students at least five times: Dr. Alan Diekman in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Drs. David Davies and Kevin Phelan in Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, Dr. Matt Quick in Pathology, and Dr. Sung Rhee in Pharmacology and Toxicology. We will “retire the jerseys” of these faculty members in Accolades for this year. Congratulations to each of you!


Kudos from Clerkships
Here’s another sample of some of the hundreds of positive comments from students on recent clerkship evaluations. Great job everyone!

Emergency Medicine

“Personal attention and education by great faculty.”

Family Medicine | UAMS South, Magnolia
“I was able to see so much medicine in just a month … Dr. Fred Murphy is a great attending to learn and receive feedback from.”

Internal Medicine
Dr. Nick Gowen’s lectures are an incredible asset to the clerkship. He teaches great clinical and practical knowledge, and I feel like I am a better medical student because of his lectures.”

Internal Medicine | UAMS Northwest, Fayetteville
Dr. John Henley and the residents were outstanding and made the experience an incredibly valuable one.”

Otolaryngology-Head/Neck Surgery
“Everyone on this rotation made sure to involve the medical students. Faculty and residents alike were able to provide great teaching experiences.”


April 10, 2019

15 Years of Success
Congratulations to Dr. Edgar Garcia-Rill, Professor of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences and Director of the Center for Translational Neuroscience – UAMS’ first Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) – on the outstanding final report that the CTN received from its External Advisory Committee. After 15 years, the NIH-funded CTN has been awarded over $21.6 million for investigator support and research infrastructure, and the 36 UAMS researchers who have been supported by the COBRE have reaped an astounding $120 million in external funding. Read more about the remarkable successes of Dr. Garcia-Rill and colleagues from across the COM – and what’s next – in the UAMS Newsroom.


Grateful Patients and Families
I recently received a heartfelt message from a COM team member about the excellent and compassionate care provided by Dr. Yasthil Jaganath, a first-year resident in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, and Dr. Sarah Cobb, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics Division of Neurology.  “If I could give ‘Dr. Yas’ and Dr. Cobb everything in the world, I would,” the message said. Thank you for exemplifying what we’re all about Dr. Cobb and Dr. Jaganath!”


Accolades from Students
One takeaway from my breakfast with M1s last week was how much students value your efforts to build supportive relationships with them. “My favorite part of medical school is the outside-of-class faculty relationships we have,” said one student. “It is clear that every instructor in Anatomy works for our benefit; they really want us to succeed.” Another said, “Interactions with my preceptors and the Academic House Advisers has been the best experience so far because I am reminded that there is another side to medicine.”

Drs. Mary Burgess (Internal Medicine) and Matt Quick (Pathology), both on the stellar Ish House team, were among those mentioned. Also noted were Dr. Avi Bhavaraju (Surgery), for the trauma surgery shadowing experience he provides, and Dr. Elizabeth Gath (Internal Medicine), for her work with students at the 12th Street Health and Wellness Center. Drs. Alan Diekman (Biochemistry/Molecular Biology) and Kevin Phelan (Neurobiology/Developmental Sciences) continue to be greatly appreciated by students. I am grateful for all of our faculty and staff who are involved in undergraduate medical education!


Kudos from Clerkships
Here are just a few of the hundreds of positive comments we’ve received from students on recent clerkship evaluations. Great work everyone!

Family Medicine | Fort Smith Regional Center

“Most valuable characteristics of this clerkship: The kindness and accessibility of the faculty and residents. I am putting this first because their demeanor with me and with each other made every day SO enjoyable.”

Orthopaedic Surgery

“The residents and attendings are all eager to involve students in their specialty, which makes for an interesting, busy and greatly enjoyable two weeks!”


“I really appreciated having Dr. Janina Bonwich run the weekly bullpen sessions. She is brilliant and was able to answer questions we had, but also really encouraged us to think and work through each case. And she was hilarious and provided some much-needed humor during those sessions.”


“I felt that all of the faculty and residents were very intentional about including me and teaching actively throughout my time on the rotation.”


Bravo Departments!
We continue to post highlights of scholarly work across the COM on our 2018 Department Accomplishments intranet page as these reports come in. I encourage you to visit the page if you haven’t already, and check back occasionally to see what’s new. This week I would like to highlight the great work being done by the faculty and staff of the following departments, whose reports are currently featured at the top of the page:

Pathology, chaired by Dr. Jennifer Hunt
Psychiatry, chaired by Dr. Rick Smith
Radiology, chaired by Dr. James McDonald


April 3, 2019

For Healthier Children
Dr. Eddie Ochoa, Associate Professor and Chief of Community Pediatrics, has dedicated his career to improving children’s health and reducing health disparities. In March he testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services. As a Principal Investigator with Children’s HealthWatch and member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Ochoa testified on behalf of efforts to restart the 2010 Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act. Thank you for working tirelessly on behalf of children, Dr. Ochoa!


Also on Capitol Hill
Dr. Gwen Childs, Professor and Chair of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, also shared her expertise in Washington, D.C., in March as part of the annual “day on the hill” for the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), which seeks to increase funding for the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Representing the American Association of Anatomists, Dr. Childs and a delegate from Oklahoma met with congressional staff from Arkansas and Oklahoma and visited directly with Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas. Thank you for championing support for science and science education, Dr. Childs!


Distinguished Lecturer
Congratulations to Dr. James Y. Suen, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, who was recently honored as the Helmuth Goepfert Distinguished Visiting Professor lecturer at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. For his keynote, Dr. Suen lectured on “Arteriovenous Malformations – a New Head and Neck Tumor.” He presented an additional lecture on “Cytophone – a New Medical Device for Melanoma Diagnosis and Treatment.” Dr. Suen was MD Anderson’s very first Head and Neck Fellow, and he was on the faculty there before his recruitment to his medical school alma mater, UAMS. He was also honored by MD Anderson as its Distinguished Alumnus for 1994-1995.


Conference Standouts
A shout-out to Dr. Neil Masangkay, Assistant Professor and Director of the Neurology Clerkship, for completing the year-long Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) program. Dr. Masangkay was recognized at the AAMC Southern Group on Educational Affairs conference in Orlando, Florida, last week.

Other COM folks were in the spotlight at the conference as well. First-year Otolaryngology resident Dr. Erin Creighton picked up a Best Poster award that she won last year with co-authors Drs. Jasna Vuk, Karina Clemmons and James Graham. Senior medical student Andrea McMahon presented a workshop on memorization techniques, an uncommon accomplishment for a medical student. Junior medical student Santiago Gonzalez, who is mentored by Dr. Vuk in the Student Success Center, presented a poster. Great job everyone!


Dermatology Consortium
Congratulations to third-year Dermatology resident Dr. Kayla Mohr, who placed first at the Southern Dermatology Research Consortium last weekend for her presentation on the treatment of Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis with BRAF inhibitors. The Department of Dermatology hosted the fourth annual event, bringing faculty, residents, fellows and students from throughout the region to UAMS. A shout-out to Professor and Chair Dr. Henry Wong, Tony DeJarnatt, Kim Richardson and everyone who made the consortium a great success!


Thirteen COM team members were honored as 2019 UAMS Phenomenal Women during the annual National Women’s History Month celebration. The event celebrated the diverse contributions of the honorees and all of the women who make up more than 70 percent of the UAMS workforce. Our own Dr. Laura James and Dr. Jan Shorey presented awards. COM honorees included Dr. Lorraine McKelvey in Family and Preventive Medicine; Dr. Denise Compton in Geriatrics; Andrea Easom, M.N.Sc., APRN, in Internal Medicine; Drs. Laura Hollenbach, Gloria Richard-Davis and Lindsey Sward in Obstetrics and Gynecology; Drs. Erin Mannen and Theresa Wyrick-Glover in Orthopaedic Surgery; Drs. Elisabet Borsheim and Suzanne Saccente in Pediatrics; Dr. Samidha Tripathi in Psychiatry; and Drs. Gwendolyn Bryant-Smith and Linda Deloney in Radiology. Congratulations to all!


OBGYN Leader
Congratulations to Dr. William “Sam” Greenfield, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, who recently completed the Robert C. Cefalo National Leadership Institute. Dr. Greenfield was selected to participate by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ District VII leadership. The institute provides high-potential OB-GYNs with tools to accomplish the goal of “Leading Transformation in the 21st Century for Women’s Healthcare.” The program includes a series of workshops with highly recognized physicians, leadership experts, negotiations and communications specialists and others.


Lipotoxicity’s Impact
Congratulations to Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center Director Dr. Sean Adams and colleagues Dr. Kikumi D. Ono-Moore and Michael Blackburn on the publication of their article, “Blood cytokine patterns suggest a modest inflammation phenotype in subjects with long-chain fatty acid oxidation disorders,” in Physiological Reports. Dr. Adams, Professor and Chief of the Developmental Nutrition Section of the Department of Pediatrics, and his multi-institution collaborators are contributing substantially to the understanding of lipotoxicity and the possible mechanisms that could explain symptoms in persons with inborn errors of fat metabolism. Great work!


Accolades from Students
After a pause for Spring Break I had the pleasure of talking with COM freshmen over breakfast last Friday. As always, they had wonderful things to say about faculty members, including Drs. Noor Akhter, David Davies, Kevin Phelan, Mohsin Syed and the entire faculty in Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences. The anatomy faculty “really care and want us to succeed,” explained one student. Dr. Alan Diekman (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) was also noted again for his outstanding teaching and well-run course. Dr. Shelley Crary (Pediatrics) and Dr. Jerry Ware (Physiology and Biophysics) were praised for their work in the Hematology-Oncology module. Dr. Ryan Dare (Internal Medicine) and Dr. Matt Quick (Pathology) also earned compliments. The 12th Street Health and Wellness Center, Human Anatomy Lab, Sight Savers Clinic and team-based learning sessions all yielded some of the best experiences so far for these students.


Kudos from Clerkships
This week I am pleased to share some of the many positive comments from recent clerkship evaluations that relate specifically to our outstanding residents!

“I really enjoyed working with the residents. They were all really helpful and great teachers.”

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
“The residents were all very compassionate about their field and made sure to include the medical students in what they were doing.”

“The residents are excellent teachers and examples of caring physicians. They explain things well, are patient, and worked with us to make sure we learned a lot from our experience on the psychiatry clerkship.”

And last but not least …

Obstetrics and Gynecology

“The residents made it special. They were exhausted from working their tails off; yet you could see how much they loved their work. In particular, Dr. Amy Gonzales, Dr. Kelsey Shnaekel and Dr. Kyle Spencer were wonderful and willing teachers. Please give them raises, more vacation days and unlimited free coffee.”


Bravo Departments!
Have you checked out our new 2018 Department Accomplishments intranet page yet? We’re posting reports, which we gathered during the budget process, to highlight some of your scholarly accomplishments. This week I would like to call your attention to the fantastic work being done by the faculty and staff of the following departments, whose reports are currently featured at the top of the page:

Internal Medicine, chaired by Dr. James Marsh
Obstetrics/Gynecology, led by Dr. Curtis Lowery in 2018 and now by Interim Chair Dr. Lowry Barnes
Orthopaedic Surgery, chaired by Dr. Lowry Barnes
Otolaryngology-Head/Neck Surgery, chaired by Dr. John Dornhoffer



March 27, 2019

Insights in JAMA
Dr. John Dornhoffer, Professor and Chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, shares his insights as an otologist with a cochlear implant in an article published last week in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. Patients, students, residents and colleagues at UAMS and around the world have long benefited from Dr. Dornhoffer’s empathetic understanding of severe hearing loss and his willingness to share his personal experiences. The article includes observations on the brain’s neuroplasticity, or ability to adjust, after a cochlear implant. Congratulations, Dr. Dornhoffer, and thank you. Read more in the UAMS Newsroom.


Outstanding Reviewer
The peer review process is essential to the quality of the most highly regarded scientific publications. The journal Experimental Biology and Medicine (EBM) demonstrated its appreciation for the expertise and thoughtful review of cancer- and precision medicine-related manuscripts that Dr. Donald J. Johann, Associate Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Internal Medicine, provides as member of the journal’s Editorial Board by presenting him with the EBM Outstanding Reviewer Award. The honor goes to reviewers who receive the best scores from EBM editors and associate editors for the quality and timeliness of their reviews. Congratulations Dr. Johann!


Interdisciplinary teamwork makes all the difference when time is critical to a patient’s care. Dr. Benjamin Schurhamer, a Urology resident, told us about a patient who was recently transferred from another hospital with a condition that quickly could have resulted in loss of an organ. The Urology team was paged to the Emergency Department and Dr. Nathan Green, another resident working with Urology Chair Dr. Rodney Davis, quickly confirmed the findings. The OR was notified, and within five minutes Anesthesiology resident Dr. Ryan Stuckey was in the ED to obtain the patient’s consent. Within 45 minutes, the OR was prepped and the Anesthesiology attending, Associate Professor Dr. Gregory Mehaffey, along with Dr. Stuckey and fellow resident Dr. Matthew Palascak, had the patient asleep. “This resulted in an excellent result for this patient, facilitated by the fast and thorough response from Anesthesiology and the OR team,” Dr. Schurhamer said. Thank you all for your great work!


First Author
Visanu Wanchai
, a Ph.D. student mentored by Dr. David Ussery in the Department of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI), is the first author on a paper that used a combination of genomics and transcriptomics (exome analysis) to better estimate risk factors for Barrett’s esophagus/esophageal adenocarcinoma. The work was done in Dr. Mohammed Orloff’s group in the College of Public Health, as a rotation project in the DBMI graduate program. The paper was one of 12 accepted for publication from the Midsouth Computational Biology and Informatics Society conference proceedings. Congratulations to Visanu and his mentors.


Bravo, Departments!
Over the past couple of months I’ve sent several “special editions” of Accolades to the faculty to spotlight the 2018 scholarly accomplishments of individual departments. As I’ve said in these special editions, learning more about your fantastic work has been a highlight of the budget process.

I am pleased to announce that in the interest of sharing this information from across the COM in a timely manner, we have created an intranet page with links to the department highlights that I’ve received. The page will also serve as a repository for these reports.

Each week here in Accolades I will applaud the work of a handful of departments whose 2018 highlights will be featured at the top of the intranet page. This week I want to thank the faculty and staff of the following departments for their hard work and dedication to our mission:

Dermatology, chaired by Dr. Henry Wong
Family and Preventive Medicine, chaired by Dr. Daniel Knight
Geriatrics, chaired by Dr. Jeanne Wei
Neurosurgery, chaired by Dr. J.D. Day

I invite you to read about the excellent work being done in these departments and throughout our college on the new 2018 Department Accomplishments intranet page.


Kudos from Clerkships

Here are some of the many positive comments about individual faculty and staff members that students shared on recent clerkship evaluations. Great work everyone!

 Anesthesiology | Dr. Matt Spond
“An introduction to the basics of anesthesia and the review of life threatening situations with Dr. Spond were excellent.”

Geriatrics | Patty Summons, Education Coordinator
“I thought Ms. Summons was well-organized and I really appreciate the calendars she sent us. It was helpful in helping me keep track of where I needed to be. She always sent out emails when there was a change in our schedule.”

Internal Medicine | Dr. Toby Vancil
“I thought Dr. Vancil’s review sessions were particularly helpful for preparing for our NBME.”

Pediatrics, NW Campus | Dr. Julie Tate
“My clerkship was spent at Living Tree Pediatrics in Bentonville with Dr. Tate. I believe that I got the best clerkship experience possible having her as my attending.”

Surgery | Drs. Jason Mizell and Rachel Slotcavage
“Dr. Mizell and Dr. Slotcavage made tremendous efforts to actively improve the clerkship experience and provide us with effective learning tools throughout the course.”


March 20, 2019

Above and Beyond
I am delighted to share a story about the exceptional dedication of second-year Dermatology resident Dr. Hugh Nymeyer. A patient recently came to the Emergency Department with a significant skin condition after having been seen at several other hospitals. It’s rare to need a dermatology consultation in the ED, and Dr. Nymeyer quickly drove from home to see the patient. When some of information that ordinarily comes from other hospitals via EPIC could not be located for this patient, Dr. Nymeyer drove to another local hospital to find the information. He returned to UAMS to talk with the patient and provide his recommendations in person. As Dr. Rachael Freeze-Ramsey, the Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine who shared this with me, noted, “This is well above and beyond what is expected and shows true commitment to the UAMS core values.” I couldn’t agree more!


National EM Honor
Congratulations to Dr. Meryll Pampolina, a third-year Emergency Medicine resident, on her latest national recognition: receiving the Academy for Women in Academic Emergency Medicine Resident Award and Travel Grant. She was one of only three women to receive the award for having shown promise for significant career achievements in emergency medicine through activities such as research, education, service, administration and working to promote the role of women in academic emergency medicine. Kudos also to Associate Professor Dr. Sarah Greenberger for nominating Dr. Pampolina and to Dr. Rachael Freeze-Ramsey for passing this along.


12th Street’s a Standout
A shout-out to the COM students who joined Dr. Elizabeth Gath, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Medical Director of the 12th Street Health and Wellness Center, along with student peers and faculty from across campus, at the national convention of the Society of Student Run Free Clinics in Kansas City recently. COM senior Sara Beth Theriot and juniors Santiago Gonzalez, Moriah Hollaway and John Pennington all presented posters at the interprofessional event. The UAMS center stood out at the convention as a model for others seeking to start or improve student-led services for the uninsured and underinsured. My thanks to Dr. Gath, these students and all of the participants from UAMS.


Positively PM&R
The Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation recently had a fantastic showing at the Association of Academic Physiatrists (AAP) annual meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Five residents presented posters – PGY4s Dr. Ahren Geilenfeldt and Dr. Brett Lile, PGY3s Dr. Lauren Poindexter and Dr. Tory Hunton, and PGY2 Dr. Jason Kaushik. Second-year medical student Tyler Estes also presented a poster as part of the AAP medical student summer clinical externship he completed last summer with Associate Professor and Residency Program Director Dr. Rani Lindberg. Faculty and staff participants in the annual meeting included Dr. Lindberg, Professor and Department Chair Dr. Kevin Means, and Residency Program Coordinator Leigh Austin.


Marathon Caregivers
Hats off to the UAMS faculty members, resident physicians and students who joined with cardiology staff from St. Vincent Infirmary’s Heart Clinic to provide volunteer medical services at the Little Rock Marathon on March 3. Volunteers withstanding up to nine hours of cold wind, rain and hail to care for the 6,000+ runners included Dr. Zachary Lewis, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine; Dr. Antonio Howard, Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation; PM&R residents Dr. Lauren Poindexter, Dr. Barbara Lacy and Dr. Casey Sevy; and medical students Ru Massey, Bobie Jo Cooper, Daniel Trinh and Jordan Fielding.


Kudos from Clerkships
Here are some of the many positive comments shared by students on recent clerkship evaluations. Great job everyone!

“The residents and attendings in Pathology are among the most enthusiastic I have worked with. They made my experience invaluable.”

Emergency Medicine
“The residents I got to work with were excellent at providing me with a great educational experience.”

Family Medicine
“Everyone I worked with was excellent. We were treated with respect, taught with enthusiasm, and had wonderful role models in our faculty and residents.”

“The residents and faculty on this rotation made every effort to make students feel welcome and helpful. They created opportunities for us to learn the most that we possibly could from this rotation. They truly care about the patients and educating students.”


March 13, 2019

New Perspective
If you’re ever in doubt about the importance of the work we do at UAMS and in the College of Medicine, here’s a story you’ll want to read. Third-year medical student Corbin Norton graciously talks about being diagnosed with testicular cancer last year and the outstanding care he received from Dr. Mohamed Kamel, Associate Professor of Urology, and Rashmi Verma, Assistant Professor in the Internal Medicine Medical Oncology Division, and others. An Atlanta native, Corbin also explains why he was so confident about coming to UAMS for medical school: the excellent training his brother received as a resident in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. Read this compelling story here.


International Study
Speaking of the stellar work being done in Otolaryngology, a study led by Dr. Brendan Stack, a Professor, has shown the potential to alter neck dissection in about 21 percent of head and neck cancer patients. The international study examined the effectiveness of PET/CT scans to determine whether cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, and the results were published this month in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Read more in the UAMS newsroom. Also this month, Dr. Stack was named a Top Head and Neck Surgeon in the Nation and a Top Doctor in Arkansas by the technology company and virtual care platform, HealthTap.


Granted, Philanthropically
A shout-out to the innovative UAMS programs that received a combined $425,000 in philanthropically funded Chancellor’s Circle grants at a ceremony on March 5. Spanning the state as well as many service areas, the programs reflect UAMS’ crucial work in Arkansas and a strong commitment to wellness. Kudos to the College of Medicine folks who accepted grants on behalf of these programs: Drs. Mark Jansen, Curtis Lowery, Nirvana Manning, Gloria Richard-Davis, Sheldon Riklon, Jan Shorey and Puru Thapa; and senior medical student Sarah Beth Theriot.


Big Heart
Congratulations to Dr. Brian Eble, Associate Professor in Pediatric Cardiology Section of the Department of Pediatrics, on receiving the well-earned 2019 Worthen-Cornett Award from the American Heart Association (AHA) at the Central Arkansas Heart Ball on March 2. Named in memory of the philanthropy and dedication shown by the late George Worthen and the late Dr. James K. Cornett, the award is presented each year for excellence in volunteerism and outstanding commitment to the AHA’s mission to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. There’s no doubt Dr. Eble, who has been active with the AHA for many years, has a big heart!


NCI Fellowship
Congratulations to Brian Koss, a member of Dr. Alan Tackett’s lab team in the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute and third-year student in the UAMS Graduate Program in Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences, on receiving a prestigious fellowship from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The three-year award will support his research into the protection of tumor-infiltrating immune cells in melanoma patients. It also positions him for becoming a nationally competitive cancer researcher in the future. Read more here.


Headed for Rome
Aaron Kemp, a graduate student mentored by Dr. Mathias Brochhausen, Associate Professor of Biomedical Informatics, and Dr. Linda Larson-Prior, Professor of Psychiatry, is headed for Rome this summer thanks to a travel fellowship from the Center for Reproducible Neuroimaging Computation and International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility. Aaron will help to teach a course on reproducible research in neuroimaging and give a presentation on research he has been doing with Dr. Brochhausen, Dr. Larson-Prior and other colleagues. Congratulations on this well-earned honor!



Endocrine Fellowship
Dr. Rosalia C.M. Simmen, Professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics and Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, will serve as the mentor for Iad Alhallak, a UAMS Master of Public Health in Biostatistics student who has received a prestigious 2019 Summer Research Fellowship Award from the Endocrine Society. He will evaluate breast adipose tissue from pre-menopausal non-obese and obese women for production of estrogens and adipokines, which are predisposing factors for breast cancer. The award typically only goes to 15 graduate and/or medical students from around the world each year. Dr. Keith Wolter, Assistant Professor of Surgery, and Dr. Frank Simmen, Professor of Physiology and Biophysics, are collaborators on the translational research project. Congratulations!


Accolades from Students
A shout-out to the superb educators mentioned by the M1 students who joined me for breakfast last Friday. They included Dr. Alan Diekman (Biochemistry/Molecular Biology), for being exceptionally helpful and organized; Dr. Kevin Phelan (Neurobiology/Developmental Sciences), for providing great individual advice that enhanced learning; Dr. Matt Quick (Pathology), for being engaging and funny as he brings clarity to complex topics; and Dr.  Lindsey Sward (OB/GYN), for providing an outstanding shadowing experience. Students said all of our anatomy faculty members have been dedicated and accessible. They noted our collegial environment and were particularly happy with team-based learning and other small-group sessions along with hands-on experiences such as ultrasound and suturing.


Mentor Extraordinaire
Students aren’t the only ones who appreciate Dr. Lindsey Sward. The Assistant Professor just received a 2019 Mentor Award from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). The award is given to an ACOG Fellow who has actively mentored an ACOG Young Physician or Junior Fellow. Dr. Sward was nominated by UAMS OB/GYN residents. Congratulations!


Kudos from Clerkships
Here are some of the many positive comments shared by students on recent clerkship evaluations. Thank you all for your dedication to education!

Internal Medicine
Dr. [Konstantinos] Arnaoutakis would ask the students after rounds if we had questions, and he was always happy to answer them or stay longer to help explain difficult concepts. I learned so much during rounds with the faculty, and I appreciated the time they invested to teach me more about internal medicine.”

“The residents were very friendly and happy to teach. Students, no matter which specialty they choose, will leave this clerkship with a better understanding and ability to read images of all types.”

“The residents were very friendly and happy to teach. Students, no matter which specialty they choose, will leave this clerkship with a better understanding and ability to read images of all types.”

“Every Neurology resident and attending was kind, approachable and very willing to teach. The Neurology staff at UAMS is absolutely excellent.”

Pine Bluff Regional Center (Family Medicine)
“Pine Bluff had several residents available to work with the medical students and who enjoyed teaching. They did a wonderful job of orienting us to their system and then allowing us to practice seeing patients independently.”


March 6, 2019

A shout-out to Dr. Stacie Jones, Professor and Chief of the Allergy and Immunology Section in the Department of Pediatrics, for her most recent high-profile publication. An article with collaborators on the PEPTITES Randomized Clinical Trial was published in the Feb. 22 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The group reported on the effect of epicutaneous immunotherapy – a “peanut patch” – on children with a life-threatening allergy to peanuts. You can read the JAMA article here.


Best of 2018
Congratulations to Dr.  Rosemary Nabaweesi, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics Center for Research and Evaluation, who received a “Best of 2018” award from the Journal of the American College of Radiology. She was honored in the Practice Management category for her January 2018 article, “Injured Children Receive Twice the Radiation Dose at Nonpediatric Centers Compared with Pediatric Trauma Centers.” You can read the JACR article here.


Women in Science
Dr. Sara Shalin, Associate Professor of Pathology and Director of the College of Medicine M.D./Ph.D. Program, will serve on a panel focusing on women in science at the annual meeting of the American Physician Scientists Association in Chicago next month. The panel will discuss challenges that women physician-scientists face throughout their careers and how mentors and mentees of all genders can overcome these obstacles. I was especially pleased to hear that Dr. Shalin was nominated to serve on the panel by one of our M.D/Ph.D. students, Francesca Lobianco, who is currently completing her second year of medical school. Way to go Francesca, and congratulations Dr. Shalin!


Critical Acclaim
Several members of the Critical Care Section of the Department of Pediatrics contributed to and were recognized recently at the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) Annual Congress in San Diego. Dr. Ron Sanders, a Professor, was inducted as a Fellow in the American College of Critical Care Medicine, an honor reserved for practitioners, researchers, educators and administrators who have made outstanding contributions to the collaborative field. Dr. Michele Moss, also a Professor, serves on the 23-member SCCM Council, which leads the international organization. Drs. Arden Conway and Amanda Marshall, both current Fellows, and Drs. Jen Pham and Sonia Matehuala, former Fellows, all presented oral research abstracts at the meeting. Congratulations to all!


Student Presents
Here’s more good news out of the Critical Care Medicine Section. Professor and Section Chief Dr. Steve Schexnayder mentored senior medical student Ryan Steele on a project that Ryan presented at the Pediatric Clinical Case Symposium during the Southern Society for Pediatric Research meeting in New Orleans. Ryan was the only medical student selected to present an abstract at the pediatric clinical case symposium, and he won third place for “The Spice of Death: A Case of Cardiac Arrest after Synthetic Cannabinoid Use.” Way to go Ryan!


First Author
Taylor Wadley, a Ph.D. student mentored by Dr. Intawat Nookaew in the Department of Biomedical Informatics, is the first author on a paper describing the complete genome sequence for the type strain of E. coli (ATCC 11775), published by the American Society for Microbiology in the Microbiology Resource Announcements journal. Taylor is a student in the UAMS Graduate Program in Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences (GPIBS). Congratulations!


Serving and Learning
Hats off to the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and everyone who volunteered for the recent Gynecologic Health Night at the 12th Street Health and Wellness Center. The interdisciplinary team provided free gynecologic screenings, and free mammograms were available in the UAMS MammoVan. Faculty participants included Dr. Chad B. Taylor, Dr. Alexis White and Dr. Lindsey Sward, along with residents Dr. Azka Ashraf and Dr. Ann Marie Mercier. They were joined by 10 medical students, several students from other colleges, Spanish interpreters and others. The event was a wonderful learning opportunity in addition to helping women in the community.


Accolades from Students
My breakfasts with first- and second-year students continue to be a joy. Last week I heard great things about: Dr. Alan Diekman in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Dr. Manisha Singh and Dr. K. David Straub in Internal Medicine; Dr. Kevin Phelan in Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences; Dr. Courtney Edgar-Zarate in Pediatrics; Dr. Sung Rhee in Pharmacology and Toxicology; and Dr. Jerry Ware in Physiology and Biophysics.


 Kudos from Clerkships
Here are some of the many positive comments shared by students on recent clerkship evaluations. Great job, everyone!

Palliative Care | Dr. Heather Moore
“Enjoyed my time working with Dr. Moore; wish I could work with her longer.”

Pediatrics | Dr. Chris Edwards
“Dr. Edwards was the best attending I have had. He taught me more about pediatrics than any book could have.”

Urology | Dr. Bruno Machado
“I learned a lot in Dr. Machado’s clinic.”

OB/GYN | Dr. Amy Phillips and Dr. Lindsey Sward
“Really loved Benign Gyn with Dr. Sward and Dr. Phillips. I thought I learned the most on that service and got more opportunities to learn and participate.”

UAMS Southwest | Faculty and Residents
“The residents and attending in Texarkana were incredibly good colleagues and teachers that helped me get my confidence and knowledge up.”

Orthopaedic Surgery | Faculty and Residents
“I thoroughly enjoyed working with all faculty and residents I encountered. I also learned a lot about patient care from the great examples I saw on this rotation.”


February 27, 2019

Bioethics Leadership
Congratulations to Leah Eisenberg, J.D., M.A., HEC-C, on becoming one of the first bioethics experts in the United States to be certified by the Healthcare Ethics Consultant Certification Committee (HCEC) of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. Ms. Eisenberg is an Assistant Professor of Medical Humanities and Bioethics and participates in the Clinical Ethics Consultation Service for UAMS and Arkansas Children’s. The certification is the first of its kind in the world, and with her expertise Ms. Eisenberg helped in the development of the HCEC certification exam. Certification helps set UAMS/ACH ethics consultation services apart from many in the country. I encourage faculty who would like help working through ethical concerns in their practice to page our stellar consulting team at 501-405-8134 for timely, expert guidance.


Fine Fellow
Examples of genuine compassion can turn up in unexpected places. Chancellor Cam Patterson was at the UAMS Fitness Center recently when Dr. Gabe Randall, a Hospice and Palliative Care fellow, came in after a night on call. No sooner had Dr. Randall stepped on an elliptical when his phone rang, and it was clear to Dr. Patterson that the call was from a family seeking support. “I’ll be there in 15 minutes,” Dr. Randall said as he left for the locker room.

As Dr. Patterson reported afterward, someone in Dr. Randall’s shoes might have decided to finish his workout. Instead, he put our patients first. Dr. Sarah Beth Harrington, Associate Professor and Director of the Division of Palliative Medicine, isn’t surprised. “Dr. Randall goes above and beyond in his care for families, especially those experiencing distress during difficult situations,” she explained. I join with Dr. Patterson in commending Dr. Randall and expressing our gratitude as well to Dr. Harrington and her colleagues for providing superb training.


Primary Care
I’d like to share some heartfelt words of appreciation I received for Letrese’ Burton-Leonard, BSN, RN, Clinical Services Manager for the UAMS Neighborhood Clinics. Dr. Jennifer Dukes-Casey, Assistant Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine and Medical Director for the UAMS Distributive Clinics, wrote to let me know what a difference Ms. Burton-Leonard makes in the daily operations, staffing and management of the primary care clinics at Capitol Mall, Maumelle and Rahling Road. “She has worked tirelessly to ensure open communications between the leadership team at UAMS and the primary care providers located off campus,” Dr. Dukes-Casey wrote. “Thank you, Letrese’, for making a difference for our physicians, staff and patients. Your hard work, professionalism and responsiveness to the needs of the clinics are admirable.”


Invited Speaker
Dr. Parimal “Perry” Chowdhury, a Professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, has a full slate as an invited speaker this spring with two presentations at the 2019 Experimental Biology meeting in Orlando, Florida, in April and a poster presentation at the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) annual meeting in San Diego in May. Being selected to present at the AGA meeting is an honor, with an acceptance rate of just 20-25 percent. Read about Dr. Chowdhury’s presentations and the contributing authors here. Great work Dr. Chowdhury!


Memorize It
Congratulations to senior medical student Andrea McMahon, who was one of only two students to receive a travel scholarship from the Association of American Medical Colleges Southern Group on Educational Affairs (SGEA) and will present her innovative educational work at the SGEA conference in Orlando, Florida, in late March. Her abstract, “Making Memorization Fun: Instruction on Creating Memory Palaces for Medical Education,” discusses the use of visual and spatial memory to store and recall large volumes of information – which, of course, is perfect for medical students. Andrea has tutored medical students and collaborated with her mentor, Associate Professor Dr. Jasna Vuk, the College of Medicine’s Student Learning Specialist in the UAMS Student Success Center, for two years. She has presented information on memorization and learning techniques for students during pre-orientation, in academic houses, and at the Teach the Teacher Symposium in January.


Thesis in Three

Hats off to the 32 COM students who presented information about their projects for the Honors in Research Program at the 3-Minute Thesis semifinals last Friday – and congratulations to the winners! First place went to M3 Raymond Quilao, who is mentored by Dr. Brendan Stack (Otolaryngology) and Dr. Melody Penning (Biomedical Informatics). Coming in second was M4 Natasha Sra, who is mentored by Dr. Jerry Ware (Physiology and Biophysics). The People’s Choice Award went to M2 Olivia Sims, who is mentored by Dr. Murat Gokden (Pathology). Raymond, Natasha and Olivia will represent the COM at the “3MT” Finals at Student Research Day on March 12. Shout-outs also are in order for the two People’s Choice runners-up, both M2s: Barnes Bloom, who is mentored by Drs. Simon Mears and Jeff Stambough (Orthopaedic Surgery), and Alex Rivas, who is mentored by Dr. Matlock Jeffries of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.


Kudos from Clerkships
I am delighted to introduce a new regular feature of Accolades, a sample of some of the many positive comments shared by students on recent clerkship evaluations!

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation | Drs. Antonio Howard, Rani Lindberg and Lucas Bider
“These faculty members made my time on the PM&R rotation an enjoyable and valuable experience; all were approachable and included me as part of the team.”

Surgery | Dr. Jonathan Laryea
“Hands down, best part of the clerkship was working with Dr. Laryea.”

Geriatrics | Dr. Priya Mendiratta
“Dr. Mendiratta is an amazing teacher and clinician.”

Psychiatry | Dr. Samidha Tripathi
“I was actively involved in patient care with Dr. Tripathi, great experience.”

Anesthesia Faculty
“The residents and faculty are easily some of the easiest to work with in the entire university.”

Family Medicine Faculty
“I felt the faculty and residents were extremely passionate about my learning experience and actively engaged me in every component of their day-to-day life as a physician.”


Thank You, Admissions Committee
Last but not least this week I would like to thank the 15 members of the College of Medicine Admissions Committee, who recently met to select the 2019 entering freshman class after devoting countless hours to reviewing applicant files. As you know, our students are the lifeblood of our college, and this committee of faculty members and Arkansas physicians is charged with the difficult task of identifying the most deserving applicants.

I especially want to thank the four members who will be rotating off of the committee this year, Drs. Vern Ann Shotts, Abeer Washington, Curtis Hedberg and Dr. Eddie Ochoa, who has served as Chair for several years. Thank you as well to continuing members Drs. Laura Hutchins, Kevin Means, Richard Morrison, Daniela Ochoa, Romona Davis, Mark Brown, Amy Scurlock, Stephen Johnson, David Jacks, John Lytle and Mark Thomas.

I also want to thank our Admissions staff for their hard work: Dr. Jeanne McLachlin, Director of Admissions and Recruitment, Tammy Henson, Admissions/Administrator for Rural Practice Programs, and Tom South, Assistant Dean for Medical Student Admissions.


February 20, 2019

Drive that Saves Lives
Hats off to the second-year medical students who recently carried on the tradition of hosting a bone marrow registry drive for freshmen at the end of the final M1 hematology/oncology team-based learning session – and to all of the freshmen who signed up during the third annual drive. Bryce Woods led the event with help from classmates Mary Allison Andrews-Sizemore, Zoey Crystal, Bri LaFerney, Jake Linna, Francesca LoBianco, Lillie Pitts, Brittany Roses, Eli Smith and Katie Stahler. Fellow M2s Micah Clay and Chris Quesada helped the M1s understand the importance of volunteer donors by sharing their own stories of how they matched with patients and were able to donate life-saving bone marrow after participating in previous drives. Well done!


Breakfast of Champions
Speaking of our M2s, I had another enjoyable breakfast with a group of sophomores last week, and they had fantastic things to say about their courses and other learning and service experiences. They applauded the Summer in Surgery Program led by Dr. Katie Kimbrough, Assistant Professor of Surgery; the 12th Street Clinic and Medical Director Dr. Liz Gath, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine; the Honors in Finance track led by Dr. Jason Mizell, Associate Professor of Surgery; and the MD/MPH dual-degree program, which allows students to explore the integration of population health and individual health.

Students also praised the preceptorship in the Practice of Medicine 2 course led by Dr. Sowmya Patil, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, and Dr. Courtney Edgar-Zarate, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, and coordinated by Marcie Johnson, and the team based learning (TBL) sessions that are now integral to our curriculum. Likewise, they appreciate the hands-on, point-of-care ultrasound curriculum led by Dr. Kevin Phelan, Professor of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, and Dr. Greg Snead, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine.

And, not surprisingly, students once again cited Dr. Phelan, Dr. Laura Stanley, Assistant Professor of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, and Dr. Sung Rhee, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, as truly outstanding teachers.

I also want to share a comment from a senior medical student I met with this afternoon. He raved about Dr. Hakan Paydak, Professor of Internal Medicine and Director of the EKG Elective, saying Dr. Paydak has inspired him to pursue internal medicine and potentially cardiology as a specialty.

Thank you all for your dedication to our students!


Poxvirus Study Awarded
Congratulations to Dr. Jia Liu, Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, on her new $1.86 million, five-year grant from the NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to continue her innovative work with poxviruses and host immune responses. The project is titled “Studies in Poxvirus Evasion of SAMD9 Pathway.” As Dr. Liu notes on her lab website, viral pathogens can be excellent probing tools for the discovery and understanding of the host defense mechanism at the molecular level. Pox viruses can also have valuable therapeutic applications as oncolytic agents and for immune-virotherapy. Great job, Dr. Liu!


Transforming Cancer Medicine
Congratulations to Dr. Donald J. Johann, Associate Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Internal Medicine, on receiving $1.47 million from the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research to continue an important lung cancer clinical trial. The project, “Scientific and methodological advancements in liquid biopsies to further the development of lung cancer-based precision medicine,” has a primary aim concerning the development of blood-based molecular diagnostics (liquid biopsies) for solid tumors. Aspects of the solid tumor liquid biopsy science are in collaboration with Memorial Sloan Kettering (prostate cancer), the University of Southern California (breast cancer) and the University of Pennsylvania (pediatric cancers). Additional aims for the funding involve advanced model systems for lung cancer and innovative bioinformatics.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, and the incidence in Arkansas has been higher than the national average for the past 20 years. This UAMS effort is positioned to contribute to these state and national issues – as well as NCI Cancer Center designation.


Newsworthy Research
Dr. Yuanjie Mao, M.D., Ph.D., a Fellow in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, will have a high profile at ENDO 2019, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society. Dr. Mao’s research on the impact of using a CPAP machine for those who have obstructive sleep apnea and are on intensive calorie restriction weight loss programs has been identified as “particularly newsworthy.” It will be one of the abstracts singled out for special media attention and Presidential Award competition during the March 23-26 conference in New Orleans. Dr. Mao’s research demonstrates the importance of sleep quality to weight loss in obese patients. Drs. Peter Goulden, Elena Ambrogini and Irina Lendel also contributed to this study. Well done Dr. Mao and colleagues!


Great Work in Nephrology
A shout-out to Dr. Manisha Singh, Assistant Professor in the Division of Nephrology, whose national recognition is growing through her service as an elected member of the Executive Council for the Women in Nephrology through 2020 and as a community leader for the American Society of Nephrology’s online communities. Here at UAMS Dr. Singh is doing a wonderful job as Director of the Home Dialysis Program for UAMS and the VA and as Co-Director of the M2 Renal Module.

Dr. Singh’s fantastic team includes Andrea Easom, M.N.Sc., APRN, whose innovative work is raising awareness of chronic kidney disease in the state. Andrea will also be one of the honorees at the Great 100 Nurses of Arkansas Celebration in Little Rock in April. Way to go!


Her Mission is to Help
Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman, Professor of Surgery and Chief of Breast Oncology, has garnered national acclaim for her many clinical, research and leadership contributions. On Sunday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette featured Dr. Henry-Tillman on its “High Profile” section cover. The article tells about Dr. Henry-Tillman’s determination and hard work on the long road to becoming a surgeon and showcases her mission to help countless Arkansans through her work here at UAMS. Thank you so much for everything you do, and for inspiring us, Dr. Henry-Tillman.


To Snooze or Not to Snooze?
Dr. Edgar Garcia-Rill, Professor of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences and Director of the Center for Translational Neuroscience, lent his expertise to an informative and entertaining report on THV-11 recently about sleep and whether hitting the snooze alarm in the morning is a bad idea. As an expert in sleep-wake regulation, sleep disorders and other disorders of the reticular activating system, Dr. Garcia-Rill was an outstanding resource for the report. His advice? Waking up as gently as possible – such as to soothing sounds – is more important to health than how many times you hit snooze after the alarm goes off.  You can watch the report here.


February 13, 2019

This week’s Accolades highlight recent grants received by faculty members. The quality of research across our college is remarkable, with programs and projects that will improve the health and life of Arkansans of all ages. My sincere thanks to all of these researchers and their teams for their dedication to advancing knowledge in crucial areas and for the hard work that goes into grant proposals.

External Grants

Congratulations to the College of Medicine faculty members who received new extramural grants in January. This list, courtesy of the Office of the Executive Associate Dean for Research, excludes industry trials and awards under $10,000.

Merideth Addicott, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry, Neural correlates of distress tolerance in tobacco addiction, NIH/Nat. Inst. on Drug Abuse (02/01/2019 – 01/31/2021), $428,121.

Craig Forrest, Ph.D., Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Defining the efficacy of replication-dead viruses as gammaherpesvirus vaccines,  NIH/Nat. Inst. of Allergy & Infectious Diseases (01/15/2019 – 12/31/2020), $439,626.

Teresa Hudson, Pharm.D., Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry, Public Health Crisis Response, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (01/18/2019 – 09/30/2019), $393,616. Pass through from Arkansas Department of Health.

Michael Mancino, M.D., Department of Psychiatry, State Opioid Response, Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, (02/01/2019 – 09/28/2019), $106,546. Pass through from Arkansas Department of Human Services.

Roy Morello, Ph.D., Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Primary lung defects in mouse models of osteogenesis imperfecta,  NIH/Nat. Inst. of Child Health & Human Development (01/11/2019 – 12/31/2020), $150,750.

Taren Swindle, Ph.D., Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, De-Implementation of Detrimental Feeding Practices in Childcare, NIH/Nat. Inst. of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (01/03/2019 – 12/31/2020), $228,473.

Jeanne Wei, MD., Ph.D., Department of Geriatrics, State Opioid Response Grant – UAMS subaward, Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, (02/01/2019 – 09/29/2020), $406,798. Pass through from Arkansas Department of Human Services.


Child Health Pilot Grants

Congratulations to the faculty members who received Research Scholar Pilot Grant Awards in Child Health from the College of Medicine in January. The $50,000 awards are for two years.

Eugenia Carvalho, Ph.D., Department of Geriatrics, MicroRNAs as markers of disturbed adipose tissue function and inflammation – a potential mechanism for diabetes development in obesity.

Roy Morello, Ph.D., Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Respiratory Function in Animal Models of Skeletal Dysplasias.

Wendy Nembhard, Ph.D., M.P.H., Department of Pediatrics, Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Children with Congenital Heart Defects.

Yuri Zarate, M.D., Department of Pediatrics, Induced pluripotent stem cell generation for precision medicine in SATB2-associated syndrome (SAS).


Seeds of Science
Congratulations to Drs. Samantha Kendrick, Alicia Byrd, Stephanie Byrum and Robert Eoff of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology along with Dr. Zhiqiang Qin of the Department of Pathology on their recent “Seeds of Science” grants from Arkansas volunteer groups for diverse projects in cancer research.

Dr. Kendrick was a co-recipient with the College of Pharmacy’s Dr. Brendan Frett on a $50,000 grant funded by proceeds from the annual Village Walk for Cancer Research in Hot Springs Village. Dr. Byrd and Dr. Byrum were co-recipients of a $15,000 pilot award funded by proceeds from the annual RockStar Lounge fundraiser hosted by the Envoys. Dr. Eoff and Dr. Qin each received separate pilot awards of $15,000, also made possible by the RockStar Lounge. Read about the innovative research these grants will support here.


February 6, 2019

The Best Prize
Congratulations to Arkansas SAVES founder Dr. Curtis Lowery, Medical Director Dr. Sanjeeva Onteddu, Operations Director Renee Joiner, RN, BSN, and the entire team behind UAMS’ telemedicine stroke program, on being named one of three finalists for the 2019 Hearst Health Prize for Excellence in Population Health. The winner will be announced in March. AR SAVES (Arkansas Stroke Assistance through Virtual Emergency Support) links patients and clinicians in rural emergency rooms to remote, specially trained neurologists for timely diagnosis and treatment of stroke. Arkansas’ stroke mortality rate has improved dramatically under AR SAVES, and 99 percent of Arkansans now live within a 60-minute drive of an AR SAVES site.

As Dr. Lowery, Director of the UAMS Institute for Digital Health and Healthcare Innovation beautifully said, being a finalist for the national award comes “second only to the honor of seeing patients who received AR SAVES care going on to live fulfilling, rich lives after their strokes.” Read more here.


Dr. Kevin Phelan and UAMS’ NIH-funded ArkanSONO program were featured in GE Healthcare’s online news journal, The Pulse, last week, just as the team was getting ready for its 50th visit to Little Rock high schools to pique 9th graders’ interest in STEM with the same ultrasound technology that is giving our medical students an edge. ArkanSONO received a $1.27 million, five-year Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences last fall for the outreach program.

Dr. Phelan, a Professor, is joined by his Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences colleagues Dr. Noor Akhter and Dr. Mohsin Syed, both Assistant Professors, on the visits. Other colleagues on the grant are Dr. Greg Snead, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, and Dr. Billy Thomas, Professor of Pediatrics and Vice Chancellor for Diversity Affairs, along with Dr. Karen Yanowitz of Arkansas State University. The COM ultrasound curriculum is co-directed by Dr. Phelan, Dr. Snead and Dr. Gitanjali Bajaj, Assistant Professor of Radiology. This team is doing a super job with our medical students – and with teenagers who just might be inspired to become physicians one day!


Surgical Oncology Honor
So happy to hear that Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman, a Professor of Surgery and Chief of Breast Oncology, has been elected to serve on the Complex General Surgical Oncology Board of the American Board of Surgery. Her six-year term will start in July. As most of you know, Dr. Henry-Tillman is nationally known for her superb clinical care and dedication to her patients as well as for her research into MRI and breast cancer staging, laser treatment of breast cancer, cancer health disparities and other work. Congratulations on this latest, well-earned national honor Dr. Henry-Tillman!


Our GME Team Rocks!
We recently received notification of continued accreditation as a Graduate Medical Education (GME) Sponsoring Institution, and it couldn’t have happened without the leadership of Dr. Jim Clardy, Associate Dean for GME, Dr. Molly Gathright, Assistant Dean, and their exceptional and hardworking team in the Dean’s Office: Dr. Timothy Atkinson, Berva Bentley, Jennifer Hankins, Jennie Kirby, Sarah Sharp, Dr. Carol Thrush and Jennifer White. Thank you all.

I also had the pleasure of visiting with our GME Program Directors at an appreciation event last week, and I want to take a moment to say again how important they are to our college. Program Directors have a broad range of responsibilities, ranging from ensuring regulatory compliance to educational support and administrative coaching. The success of every one of our residencies and fellowships depends on the working relationships that these dedicated directors build with their faculty members, department and service line leaders, Program Coordinators and nursing staff.  You rock!


Thank You, Women Physicians
Sunday, Feb. 3, was National Women Physicians Day, and I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude to the 381 female physicians who serve on our faculty. The day celebrates the birthday of Elizabeth Blackwell, who in 1849 became the first woman to receive a medical degree from a U.S. medical school. Dr. Blackwell faced many obstacles in her time, but she tirelessly advocated for women in the profession. We’ve come a long way since then but recognize that we must work continually and diligently to ensure equality and professional fulfillment for all of our faculty colleagues. My sincere thanks to all of you for your dedication to our patients, students and all those we serve. Thank you for being a vital part of the College of Medicine.


Accolades from Students
What’s the best thing about our College of Medicine? When I asked students at my breakfast with freshmen last week, several said it is the collegiality – the spirit of helping one another. They felt that this extended not only to fellow students but also to faculty and staff who go out of their way to help them. One student said: “I expected medical school to be cutthroat – but it actually hasn’t been. Everyone here is supportive and collegial. There is a real spirit of teamwork here.” I agree, and it is especially gratifying to hear this from students!

As always, I also heard praise for specific faculty members, including Drs. Noor Akhtar, David Davies and Kevin Phelan in Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences and Dr. Alan Diekman in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Students also mentioned how important hands-on activities are to them as they began medical school. They noted suturing sessions led by Dr. Avi Bhavaraju in Surgery and Dr. Larry Hartzell in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery; ultrasound training led by Dr. Phelan along with Dr. Greg Snead in Emergency Medicine; procedures on lightly embalmed cadavers led by Dr. Phelan; and clinical skills sessions and blood draw lab led by Practice of Medicine Course Directors Dr. Angela Scott in Pediatrics and Dr. Rachael Freeze-Ramsey in Emergency Medicine. Students also said they had great experiences at the 12th Street Clinic, led by Dr. Liz Gath in Internal Medicine, and at the Sight Savers free clinic, led by Dr. Thomas Cannon in Ophthalmology. Thank you all for your stellar work with our students.


Going Viral
Postdoctoral fellow Dr. Thidathip “Tip” Wongsurawat and her colleagues in Biomedical Informatics are gaining well-earned national attention for their development of a new method to sequence multiple RNA viral genomes. The work is crucial, because infectious disease epidemics are primarily driven by RNA viruses and thus are likely agents of future pandemics. A talk by Dr. Wongsurawat on the third-generation sequencing was selected as one of the top three entries of the Spotlight Session Competition at the 2018 Nanopore Community Meeting in San Francisco in November. She also has an article accepted for publication in Frontiers of Microbiology.  View her talk here, and read the abstract here. Well done Dr. Wongsurawat!


January 30, 2019

Happy 10th, Teach the Teacher!
Under the wonderful leadership of Dr. Sara Tariq, Professor of Medicine and Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Clinical Education, UAMS’ Teach the Teacher Symposium celebrated its 10th anniversary last Friday. The symposium provides valuable information for UAMS faculty members year after year on wide-ranging topics such as changing educational technologies, student advising and the structured learning communities (Academic Houses) that the COM established in 2016.

This year’s event drew almost 80 participants and featured a keynote talk on the “professional identity formation journey” by Dr. David Hatem of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. A wealth of other workshops by outstanding educators also drew rave reviews. Many thanks to Dr. Tariq, 2019 Co-Chair Dr. Karina Clemmons, Associate Professor of Medical Humanities and Bioethics, and Instructional Development Specialist Jennifer VanEcko for their excellent work on this important annual symposium.


Accolades from Students
Several faculty physicians were lauded by the second-year students I had breakfast with last week. Thank you for your outstanding work as Practice of Medicine preceptors, Dr. Marc Phan and Dr. Travis Eastin of the Department of Emergency Medicine and Dr. Pooja Motwani of the Department of Internal Medicine. And kudos to Drs. James Suen, Gresham Richter and Ozlem Tulunay-Ugur, for your wonderful work with students in the Summer Otolaryngology Preceptorship.

Also earning praise last week was the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology’s Dr. Sung Rhee, whom students repeatedly cite as one of the very best. I also heard good things about students’ experiences in the 12th Street Clinic, the Clinical Skills Center, the Simulation Center and in the Regional Programs Summer Preceptorship.


Super Doc v. Superbug
Many patients have benefited from the expertise and compassionate care of Dr. Ryan Dare, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases, and possibly no one more so than Tomika Capone of Jonesboro. Ms. Capone’s devastating experience with an antibiotic-resistant “superbug” following bariatric surgery in Mexico – and the expert care she has received from Dr. Dare since returning to Arkansas – were highlighted in the Washington Post last week. She is fortunate to have Dr. Dare in her corner, and we’re proud to call him our colleague! Read the story here.


Pathology Board Advisor
Dr. Jennifer Laudadio, an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology, has been reappointed to two Test Development and Advisory Committees (TDACs) for the American Board of Pathology. Dr. Laudadio has served on the TDAC for Molecular Genetic Pathology since 2015 and on the Clinical Pathology CertLink TDAC since 2017. Reappointments are made annually for up to six years. American Board of Pathology leaders emphasize that physicians on the 14 TDAC committees are among the most highly regarded in their respective disciplines and have a critical role in the development of the board exams and maintaining the integrity of the board-certified designation. Congratulations Dr. Laudadio!


Partner in MS Care
Congratulations to Dr. Erin Willis, an Associate Professor in the Neurology Section of the Department of Pediatrics, on being selected by the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society as a Partner in MS Care. Dr. Willis, who directs the Child Neurology Residency Program, is only the second Arkansas physician to achieve this honor, along with Dr. R. Lee Archer, Chair of the Department of Neurology. Partners in MS Care is a national network that facilitates connections among MS clinicians and the MS Society, for streamlined access to programs, services and resources for practices and their patients.


Global Call for Open Data
Dr. David Ussery, a Professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics, is among the research leaders from around the globe making the call for more open access to genomic data in an article in the current issue of the prestigious journal Science. Dr. Ussery explains in a UAMS web story why this issue is so important. The Science article is available here. Congratulations Dr. Ussery, and thank you for your contributions in this area.


January 23, 2019

Students Say …
I am happy to note that in addition to citing top-notch faculty members, the students I had breakfast with last week praised the dedication and work of two of our education coordinators: Malinda Sandlin, who coordinates the M1 courses; and M2 Coordinator Marie Barron. Thank you both for doing such an outstanding job!

Students also lauded the following faculty members: Drs. Jason Chang and Kevin Phelan in Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences; Dr. Matt Quick in Pathology; Dr. Becky Latch in Pediatrics; and Dr. Sung Rhee in Pharmacology and Toxicology.


Gaining Steam
The Endocrine Society is taking notice of Dr. Angela Odle, an Instructor in the Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences. Dr. Odle first wowed the society last March with her communication skills during the Knockout Rounds, an opportunity for early-career professionals to present information on the impact of their research. She won first prize from both the judges and audience and was featured in a newsletter. Now Dr. Odle has been selected to serve on the Early Career Reviewer Board for Endocrinology. She will be mentored during the review process and will also write a mini-review. Dr. Odle is funded by the UAMS Center for Translational Neurosciences and serves as a Co-Investigator on an R01 grant. Congratulations!


Lifetime Award
Congratulations to Dr. R. Lee Archer, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology, on his recent and greatly deserved honor from the Pulaski County Medical Society. Dr. Archer was presented the President’s Award for Lifetime of Service to the Practice of Medicine. I think it’s fair to say that Dr. Archer’s contributions to his patients and their families, students and trainees, and to our college and campus could fill two lifetimes of most folks!


ACGME Accreditation
It takes a lot of hard work for a subspecialty program to become accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). I want to congratulate Dr. Larry Hartzell, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, on receiving initial accreditation this month for the Pediatric Otolaryngology Fellowship. Since we didn’t have Accolades last spring, let me also take a moment to express my appreciation for Dr. Katie Kimbrough, Assistant Professor of Surgery, for her leadership on the successful accreditation of the Surgical Critical Care Fellowship. Thank you both for your many contributions to education.


National Training Award
Congratulations to Dr. Srinivasa Gokarakonda, a Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry’s Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, on being selected as the 2018-2019 recipient of the National Institute on Drug Abuse-American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) Resident Training Award in Substance Use Disorders. The award supports development of expertise in substance use disorders and treatment strategies and includes a mentored experience and project, systematic literature review, attendance at conferences and workshops and interaction with leading experts in the field. Dr. Gokarakonda will also be recognized at the AACAP’s annual meeting in Chicago next October.


Heeere’s to Dr. Pait
As a measure of appreciation, a listener of Dr. T. Glenn Pait, Professor of Neurosurgery and the voice of UAMS’ “Here’s to Your Health” daily broadcast on KUAR, recently donated $5,000 to the National Public Radio affiliate at UA Little Rock. You can catch up on recent episodes, covering topics as diverse as cervical cancer, rosacea, hyperthermia and domestic violence, on the “Here’s to Your Health” page on the UAMS website.


Gift of Vision
Many thanks to the generous volunteers and contributors who spent the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday helping the Jones Eye Institute and Shepherd’s Hope Free Clinic provide free eye exams for about 70 local children who had failed school vision screenings. Special thanks to Dr. Sue Griffin, Professor of Geriatrics, who purchased frames for every child who needed glasses! Dr. Tim Norton, the owner of Contact Lens Express, donated the lenses. Dr. Katie Brown, Assistant Professor, did a fantastic job leading the project along with second-year medical student John Musser, who founded the nonprofit organization ROOTS (Rural Ophthalmology Optometry Treatment and Screening). Many faculty members, staff, students and campus organizations such as the Center for Diversity Affairs, along with community optometrists, helped out. KARK Channel 4 did a very nice report on the event.

Among the volunteers were Dr. Richard Brown, Dr. Grant Gebhard, Dr. Florin Grigorian, Dr. Paula Grigorian, Dr. Ahmed Sallam, Dr. Russell Simmons, Dr. Sami Uwaydat, Dr. Celina Watson, Alicia Baird, Jordon Ball, Kim Glaze, Breanna Harris, Marlie Kling, Ava Rumph and Sadrina Shaw.  More than 50 students from all UAMS colleges and Graduate School participated, including Alicia Bratten, Cornesha Day, Will Henry, Daya Jafar, Shawanda McCoy, Ryan Oliver, and Zia Siddique.


January 16, 2019

Shout-outs from Students
I always leave my weekly breakfasts with students cheerful thanks to the wonderful things they have to say about faculty members and other aspects of medical school. Several of you were lauded last week as enthusiastic, wonderful teachers, including Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Clinical Education Dr. Sara Tariq (Internal Medicine); Dr. Alan Diekman (Biochemistry/Molecular Biology); Drs. David Davies, Kevin Phelan and Laura Stanley (all in Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences); and Dr. Jerad Gardner (Pathology).

The sophomores also gave shout-outs to Dr. Jasna Vuk and the Student Success Center for her support, encouragement and assistance; and to three Surgery faculty members: Dr. Esther Teo, for setting a great example of compassionate patient care; Dr. Jason Mizell, for his Finance Interest Group and helping students understand the business side of medicine; and Dr. Katie Kimbrough, for her strong mentorship.

Students also expressed how much they valued their experiences in the Summer Surgery Program and volunteering at the 12th Street Clinic and Harmony Health Clinic. My sincere thanks to the wonderful educators and staff who make programs like these possible.


Visionary Leadership for Digital Health
Chancellor Cam Patterson shared exciting news last Friday about the creation of the UAMS Institute for Digital Health and Healthcare Innovation, which will be directed by Dr. Curtis Lowery, Professor and Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology. As a nationally recognized pioneer in distance health, founder of the UAMS Center for Distance Health and a driving force behind ANGELS, AR Saves and other programs that are transforming health care in Arkansas, Dr. Lowery will bring his vision, expertise and energy to the new institute – for the benefit of patients throughout our state. Congratulations Dr. Lowery!


New Leadership Roles
Kudos to Amanda George, CPA, MHSA, Jake Stover, MHSA, Christina Clark, MBA, and Amy Wenger, MHSA, on their new UAMS leadership roles. All four have made countless contributions to the COM and UAMS through the years in multiple administrative and finance leadership positions. As Dr. Patterson announced, Amanda is the new Vice Chancellor for Finance and Chief Financial Officer of UAMS. We’ll miss having Jake in the Dean’s Office but wish him all the best as the new Chief Administrative Officer and Associate Vice Chancellor for Clinical Finance with the Integrated Clinical Enterprise. Christina is now Vice Chancellor for Institutional Support Services and Chief Operating Officer. Amy is moving from her role as Administrator of the Women and Infant Health Service Line to assume Christina’s previous post as Dr. Patterson’s Chief of Staff. Thank you all for your outstanding service and leadership.


Nano Bravo!     
A big shout-out to Dr. Michael Borrelli, Professor of Radiology, Physiology and Biophysics and Neurology in the COM and Pharmaceutical Sciences in the College of Pharmacy, for his leadership and hard work once again on the 2018 Nanotechnology for Health Care Conference held last month. Colleagues praised Dr. Borrelli’s ongoing work as Chair of the Scientific Planning and Organizing Committee for the highly successful three-day conference hosted by the UA Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, UAMS, UA Fayetteville, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the National Center for Toxicological Research. Dr. Robert Griffin, Professor of Radiation Oncology, contributed significantly to helping organize the meeting as a member of the Planning and Program Committees. UAMS speakers included Dr. Lowry Barnes, Professor and Chair of Orthopaedic Surgery, Dr. Martin Radvany, Professor and Chief of Interventional Neuroradiology, and Dr. Graham Strub, Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology, along with experts in nanotechnology and health care from other Arkansas universities and around the country.


Day One Doc
Dr. Lawrence O’Malley served as Doctor of the Day at the opening of the Arkansas General Assembly on Monday – and he and his colleagues in the Department of Orthpaedic Surgery drew praise from Senate President Pro Tempore Jim Hendren, a recent patient of Dr. O’Malley. Dr. O’Malley, an Assistant Professor and sports medicine specialist, was joined on the floor of the Senate by Chancellor Cam Patterson and physical therapist Caitlin Mallinger, who also provided care for Sen. Hendren. As I mentioned in Accolades a few months ago, UAMS will be well represented during the session. All 24 physicians in Orthopaedic Surgery along with faculty from other departments including Anesthesiology, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and Surgery have signed up to volunteer at the Capitol for a day.


Glowing Results
Congratulations to Dr. Eva Carolina Diaz and colleagues in the Department of Pediatrics and Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center on their recent paper published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. The article, “Pre-pregnancy Fat Free Mass and Associations to Glucose Metabolism Before and During Pregnancy,” is part of the USDA-ARS funded Glowing trial at ACNC and led by Associate Professor Dr. Aline Andres. The team is addressing questions such as what can be done to mitigate risks associated with maternal obesity and how the pre-pregnancy period affects outcomes. Great work!


Recent Intramural Grants
Congratulations to COM faculty researchers who recently received intramural grants. The awards included the College of Medicine-administered Barton Foundation Pilot Grants and Sturgis Foundation Grants for diabetes-related research. Six additional faculty members received pilot awards from the UAMS Office of Vice Chancellor for Research and UAMS Translational Research Institute for opioid addiction and pain management studies.


Barton Foundation Pilot Grants
($25,000; 1-1-2019-12-31-2019)

Jon Blevins, Ph.D., Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Studying the roles of dinucleotide second messenger molecules in the pathogenesis of the tick-borne relapsing fever spirochete, Borrelia turicatae.

Robert Griffin, Ph.D., Department of Radiation Oncology, Localized treatment of tumors with radiation triggered liposomes.

Jia Liu, Ph.D., Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Studies on the Intrinsic Cellular Barrier Against Poxvirus Infection

Isabella Racine-Miousse, Ph.D., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Methionine and autophagy in metastatic melanoma.


Sturgis Foundation Grants

Britni Ayers, Ph.D., Department of Internal Medicine, An Exploratory Study of Gestational Weight Gain and Gestational Diabetes Mellitus, $72,500.

Eugenia Carvalho, Ph.D., Department of Geriatrics, Role of Regulatory T-cells in Obesity-Linked Insulin Resistance and Diabetes, $26,826.

Pearl McElfish, Ph.D., Department of Internal Medicine, Evaluation of the feasibility and effectiveness of Family DSMES in RMI, $72,500.


Opioid Addiction/Pain Management Pilot Awards
(up to $25,000; 1-1-2019-12-31-2019)

Read more about the following awards in the UAMS Newsroom and/or click the links below for a video summary of each project.

Johnathan Goree, M.D., Department of Anesthesiology, Video-based, Patient-Focused Opioid Education in the Perioperative Period: A Feasibility Study;

Corey Hayes, Pharm.D., M.P.H., Department of Psychiatry, Linking the Arkansas Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Data with the Arkansas All-Payer Claims Database;

Linda Larson-Prior, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry, Impact of Buprenorphine-Assisted Treatment on Sleep, Mood and Cognition among Opioid Use Disorder Patients;

Issam Makhoul, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine, The Development and Implementation of a Standardized Pain Management Protocol for Adult Sickle Cell Patients;

Clare Nesmith, M.D., Department of Pediatrics, Quantitation of Opioids in Neonates with Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal;

Alison Oliveto, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry, Gamified Intervention to Prevent Adolescent Opioid Misuse;


January 9, 2019

Histochemical Honor
Most of us at UAMS best know Dr. Gwen Childs for her excellent leadership as Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences and her department’s phenomenal work in medical and graduate student education and multiple areas of research. Dr. Childs will be honored by the Histochemical Society in April for her own seminal work in the development of immunohistochemistry. She will be presented the society’s most prestigious honor, the Gomori Award, and will deliver a talk at the Histochemical Society Symposium at the interdisciplinary Experimental Biology 2019 meeting in Orlando, Florida. Dr. Childs began her research in the immunohistochemistry field as a graduate student in the early 1970s and continued this focus through the 1990s. Way to go Dr. Childs!


Guest of Honor
Congratulations to Dr. James Y. Suen, Distinguished Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, who was the Guest of Honor at the 3rd Congress of Asia-Pacific Society of Thyroid Surgery in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, last month. Long recognized as an international leader in head and neck surgery, Dr. Suen presented two talks: “What’s New in the Treatment of Thyroid Cancer” and “Management of Hypocalcemia after Total Thyroidectomy.”


It’s His Nature
It’s safe to say that Chase Ransom, an M.D./Ph.D. program student now in his third year of medical school, rarely slows down. Prolific during his graduate school years, his latest publishing feat was a first-author article in Nature. The article, which has broad implications for future stem cell therapeutics and technologies, was written while he was a pre-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Michael T. Longaker at Stanford University. Great job, Chase! This is just one example of the caliber of students in our M.D./Ph.D. program, which is superbly directed by Dr. Sara Shalin, Associate Professor of Pathology. I’ll also note that M.D./Ph.D. student Bradley Shields altruistically shared this shout-out about his classmate. Thank you!


Geriatrics-Focused Student Scholar
Congratulations to third-year COM student Taylor Bennett on her selection for the Arkansas Geriatric Education Collaborative (AGEC) Student Scholars Program. With funding from a Health Resources and Services (HRSA) grant, the Department of Geriatrics program is dedicated to increasing UAMS students’ interest and knowledge about older adults and the specialized care they need. Taylor and three students from other colleges will work together with the AGEC Director, Assistant Professor Dr. Robin McAtee. The students will participate in academic and community geriatrics-related activities this semester as well as develop and deliver a presentation about a current geriatric issue and how an interprofessional team is best equipped to address it. Taylor is on her way to becoming an outstanding and compassionate physician, and Dr. Sara Tariq and I were proud to support her AGEC application.


Helping the Most Vulnerable
Dr. Lorraine McKelvey, Associate Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine, has earned national praise for her research into the effects of adverse childhood experiences on child development. Her work has focused on two-generation family supports such as home visiting and quality early childhood education. Most recently, Dr. McKelvey was honored with the Best Abstract Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Child Abuse and Neglect for “Interrelatedness of Adverse Childhood Experiences: Exploring Patterns of Exposure and Impacts on Development in Infancy and Toddlerhood.” Congratulations Dr. McKelvey, and thank you for your dedication to helping these children.

Hip Research Honored
Dr. Jeffrey Stambough
, Assistant Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, recently returned from the Current Concepts in Joint Replacement (CCJR) Winter Meeting in Orlando, Florida, where he delivered a talk and was honored as the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF)/CCJR Clinical Practice Award winner. Dr. Stambough discussed research into the long-term outcomes for patients younger than 50 who underwent total hip arthroplasty with either conventional polyethylene or highly cross-linked polyethylene bearings, the latter of which were found to be an effective solution. His work will be published in Orthopaedics Today in February. Dr. Stambough discusses the findings in this video, and you can read more, from an associated study, here. Great job Dr. Stambough!


Immunization Champion
Congratulations to Dr. Robert Hopkins, Professor and Director of the Division of General Internal Medicine, on his latest honor – receiving the 2018 Outstanding Adult Immunization Champion award from ImmunizeAR, a non-profit organization working to improve vaccination rates for Arkansans. Read more here.


National Appointment
Congratulations to Dr. Spyridoula Maraka, Assistant Professor in the Division of Endocrinology, on her appointment to the Hormone Health Network Committee of the Endocrine Society, the largest organization of endocrinology professionals. During her three-year term, Dr. Maraka’s activities will include identifying priority areas for patient/public education about hormones and health as well as endocrine-related diseases.

In Case You Missed It
If you’re looking for a lift, read some of the recent stories about the outstanding care available uniquely at UAMS and the patients whose lives were changed for the better thanks to College of Medicine faculty and their clinical teammates. Here are just a few:

The UAMS Level 1 Trauma Center, led by Professor and Trauma Medical Director Dr. Ron Robertson, was featured in the Democrat-Gazette on Dec. 31. As Trauma Program Director Terry Collins says in the story, “It’s a calling, not a job.” You can read the story here (PDF).

Here’s a UAMS web story about how, after years of hearing “no” to her plight elsewhere, a teen with arteriovenous malformation found hope and transformative care from Dr. James Suen. Her family was referred to Dr. Suen and UAMS by doctors at Harvard.

And finally, this UAMS feature tells how Dr. David Warner, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, saved the vision of Dr. Whit Hall, Professor of Neonatology, allowing him to continue his outstanding and compassionate work in the UAMS NICU.


December 19, 2018

An Accolade for You
Each week, Accolades shares the names of a handful of colleagues who have earned the spotlight for their recent honors and/or going above and beyond for those we serve through our education, research and clinical programs. However, my first accolade this week goes out to all of you. Thank you for your hard work throughout the year. Thank you for sharing your expertise, insights and energy. Thank you for being a part of the College of Medicine.

I wish you and your family the very best of holidays and look forward to working with you in 2019!


Shout-outs from Students
I continue to ask students about their best experiences in medical school so far during my weekly breakfasts with first- and second-year students. One of the nicest things I heard this week was that our educators care about how students are doing and check their understanding of the material. What else do students appreciate? When faculty members are “engaging,” “relatable,” “kind” and make it a point to remember each student’s name.  Students notice when lectures in basic science modules are “clinically relevant,” and they appreciate accessible faculty with regular office hours.

The following faculty members were noted by M2s during at least one of the past two breakfasts: Drs. Jason Chang, David Davies, Kevin Phelan, Laura Stanley and Mohsin Syed in Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences; Drs. Ryan Dare, Robert Hopkins and Issam Makhoul in Internal Medicine; Drs. Murat Gokden and Matt Quick in Pathology; Drs. Elijah Bolin and Joshua Kennedy in Pediatrics; Dr. Alan Diekman in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Dr. Neil Masangkay in Neurology; Dr. Sung Rhee in Pharmacology and Toxicology; and Dr. Gerardo Tamayo-Enriquez in Surgery.


Giving Matters
Dr. Mike Jennings, Professor and Chair of Physiology and Biophysics, is widely known for his award-winning teaching and dedication to medical education. I would like to thank Dr. Jennings and his wife, Paula, for also supporting our students through their recent extremely generous gift for a new endowed scholarship. Scholarships are a vital tool for helping us recruit the most promising students. And by reducing the burden of educational debt, they enable deserving students to focus on what they came here to do. Thank you so much for your generosity, Mike and Paula.



Congratulations to Dr. Gregory Sharp, Professor and Chief of Pediatric Neurology, on his appointment as Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Dr. Sharp has been a pillar in child neurology in Arkansas since he first joined our faculty and ACH in 1990. He brings an incredible amount of experience to his new role and will be an outstanding asset to the Arkansas Children’s executive leadership team as well as a great colleague for all of us on the College of Medicine faculty. Read more about Dr. Sharp here. I would also thank Dr. Jay Deshpande, whom Dr. Sharp is succeeding, for his wonderful service to ACH, our college and the children of our state. Thanks also to Dr. Rick Barr, who has served as Interim CMO since September.


ARA Fellow
Dr. Clint Kilts, Professor of Psychiatry and founding Director of the Brain Imaging Research Center, received the well-earned honor of being named an Arkansas Research Alliance (ARA) Fellow last week. As Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson said at the news conference at the State Capitol, Dr. Kilts is taking cutting-edge technology into the community to address real-world problems such as drug abuse and prevention and much more. Read more here.


NIH Grant
Congratulations to Dr. Daniel Voth, Associate Professor of Microbiology/Immunology, on his new grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for “A Novel Human Lung Infection Platform to Define Staphylococcus Aureus Virulence Determinants” (9/1/18-8/31/2020, $220,278).


Regional Research
I’m pleased to share that Dr. Hakan Paydak, Professor of Internal Medicine, has been elected as a member of the Southern Society of Clinical Investigation. Dr. Paydak will be recognized at the SSCI’s Southern Regional Meeting in New Orleans in February. The SSCI is dedicated to advancing medically related research, with a major focus both on encouraging students and post-graduate trainees to enter academic medicine and to support junior faculty success in clinical investigation.


Collaborations Pay Off
COM faculty members are engaged in impressive and productive research with collaborators around the state, around the country and around the world. Here are just a few recent examples.

Congratulations to Dr. Kelly Mercer, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Hepatic Physiology Lab in the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center, along with Associate Professor Dr. Laxmi Yeruva and postdoctoral fellow Dr. Haixia Lin, on their paper in the journal Nutrients. The team collaborated with coauthors at the University of Manitoba, Massey University in New Zealand and Enzymotec Ltd. in Israel on “Modulating Sterol Concentrations in Infant Formula Influences Cholesterol Absorption and Synthesis in the Neonatal Piglet.”

Congratulations also to Dr. Joseph Sanford, Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology, on the publication of his article, with collaborators at Stanford University, in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Read the article, “Incidence and Risk Factors for Postoperative Hyperthermia After Orthopaedic Surgery” here.

And way to go Dr. Jeffrey Wolchok on your recent $428,100 NIH grant to the University of Arkansas for research into an injectable gel to treat rotator cuff injuries in conjunction with surgery. Dr. Wolchok serves as an adjunct faculty member in our Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in addition to his post as Associate Professor in the UA Department of Biomedical Engineering. Dr. Wolchok’s collaborators include the COM’s Dr. Shahryar Ahmadi, Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery. Read more about this innovative collaboration here.


On the Mayor’s Team
Last but certainly not least this week, a big congratulations to Dr. Sara Tariq, Professor of Internal Medicine and Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Clinical Education, on being named to the Board of Directors for the transition team of Little Rock Mayor-elect Frank Scott Jr. Dr. Tariq, who also serves as President of the Harmony Health Clinic, is one of 11 community leaders who will lead Mayor Scott’s “people-powered transition process.” As we know in the COM, the Mayor’s team and citizens of Little Rock are very fortunate to have Dr. Tariq onboard!


December 12, 2018

What a Party!
I hope everyone enjoyed the first annual UAMS-wide holiday celebration last week as much as I did. It would be difficult if not impossible to thank everyone who played a role by name, but I do want to commend Dr. Cam Patterson and Christina Clark of the Chancellor’s Office, Tonya Johnson of Nutrition Services, the House of Delegates and the Holiday Celebration Committee for doing such a wonderful job. We all know this was not easy to orchestrate or pull off. I also want to express my appreciation to all of you who volunteered your time as organizers, facilitators, servers, joyful carolers and more. Thank you!


JAMA Viewpoint
Congratulations to Dr. Billy Thomas, Professor of Pediatrics and UAMS Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion, on having a Viewpoint article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that explores the hoped-for impacts of the emerging medical school free-tuition programs. The thoughtful opinion piece, published online last week, is even more significant since JAMA rarely focuses on educational issues outside of its annual supplement. Dr. Thomas suggests that pre-matriculation “pipeline” strategies and changes in medical school admissions processes may have a greater, more expedient impact on efforts to produce more primary care physicians and address disparities in health care and the physician workforce.


Breakfast of Champions
Last week I noted a few faculty members who had received shout-outs from students during a recent weekly breakfast with M1s and M2s. I always ask students about their best experience so far in medical school, and they frequently name specific faculty members. At the most recent breakfast, Dr. Sung Rhee, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, earned praise for being “engaged and going above and beyond.” Dr. Alan Diekman, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, was described as “organized, available, and dedicated to making sure his students succeed.” Dr. Jason Chang, Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, was cited for his for his “passion for teaching.” And once again, students were unanimous in their acclaim for Dr. Sara Tariq, Professor of Medicine and Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Clinical Education. You are all champions in education!


She’s Got Fans
Speaking of raves from students, M3s on the OB/GYN rotation have wonderful things to say about Clerkship Coordinator Denise Thomas. Students described the clerkship as very organized, well-structured and well-run. They also say Ms. Thomas is accessible and easy to talk with. Thank you for doing such a great job Denise!


State Leader
Congratulations to pediatric psychologist Dr. Amy Seay, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, on her upcoming term as President of the Arkansas Psychological Association (APA). Dr. Seay is housed both at Arkansas Children’s Northwest, where she provides behavioral health consultations and interprofessional care in the outpatient specialty clinics, and at the Schmieding Developmental Center, where she provides ongoing therapy for children with chronic health conditions and medical problems in addition to emotional and/or behavioral difficulties. Dr. Seay has been active in the APA for a number of years as a board member, legislative committee member and as President-Elect this past year.


Leadership Development Grads
Congratulations to the graduating class of the Physician Leadership Development Program at Arkansas Children’s. The year-long educational program provides young and mid-career physicians the tools, skills and confidence to become effective leaders, focusing on topics such as leadership, teamwork, communication, quality and more. The 2018 class includes physicians from numerous COM departments, divisions and ACH services, including: Drs. Amit Agarwal (Pediatrics/Pulmonology); Richard Blaszak (Pediatrics/Nephrology); Tamara Thomas Bradford (Pediatrics/CV Transplant); Sid Dassinger (Surgery/Gen. Pediatric); Gina Drobena (Pathology); Larry Hartzell (Otolaryngology); Matt Malone (Pediatrics/Critical Care); Jon Oden (Pediatrics/Endocrinology); Amy Rowell (Radiology); Laura Sisterhen (Pediatrics/Hospitalist); Esther Teo (Surgery/Burn Surgery); and Rob Williams (Chief Medical Officer, Arkansas Children’s Northwest).


Traveling Fellow
Dr. Paul Edwards, Assistant Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, has been selected as one of only four surgeons to serve as next year’s Insall Traveling Fellows, a program of the Knee Society that takes surgeons from around the world to specially selected institutions for lectures, observation of cases and other educational activities. The news comes on the heels of the department having the honor in October of hosting this year’s Insall Fellows. Congratulations Dr. Edwards!


December 5, 2018

Best of the Best – When it Really Counts
I know all of you join me in feeling a profound sense of gratitude for the many faculty physicians, residents and clinical staff and leaders at Arkansas Children’s and UAMS who cared for the children and adults injured in the tragic bus accident near Benton early Monday morning. As you probably have heard, one child was killed and at least 45 people were injured in the early morning crash of a charter bus that was returning to Memphis from a football tournament in Dallas. Twenty-six children were taken to ACH; four remained there in stable condition as of Tuesday. One adult patient remained at UAMS as of yesterday. I have heard wonderful reports of residents, faculty and other team members. Many thanks to everyone who participated in this outstanding care.


Marvelous Year for Musculoskeletal
Congratulations to Dr. Charles O’Brien and the interdisciplinary team of the NIH COBRE-funded Center for Musculoskeletal Disease Research (CMDR) on the fantastic External Advisory Committee (EAC) Report the center recently received. The EAC praised the program for making “substantial progress” in its first year of operation under the leadership of Dr. O’Brien, a Professor in the departments of Medicine and Orthopaedic Surgery. As the EAC’s letter to UAMS stated, the CMDR is “an exciting program, supported by both the institution and a cadre of experienced investigators who can mentor the new investigators in the development of their careers. The CMDR is off to an outstanding start.” Well done!


Kudos, Faculty
I am greatly enjoying my regular breakfasts with first- and second-year medical students, and one of the delightful aspects is the great things they have to say about our faculty members. So many of you leave an indelible impression during the four years that our students spend with us. Just last Friday, for instance, when I asked the students about their best experience in medical school so far, a number of names popped up, including Drs. Sara Tariq, David Davies and Puru Thapa. This speaks volumes about your dedication to student education and wellbeing. I want to thank all faculty members for putting students first.


Impact and Inspiration
The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI) had a lot to celebrate as it marked its 20th anniversary on Monday evening with awards, a welcome by Gov. Asa Hutchinson and a discussion of health care in Arkansas with Former Governors Mike Beebe and Mike Huckabee. UAMS is one of four core sponsors of ACHI, with many faculty members serving in advisory capacities and Chancellor Cam Patterson serving on the Administrative Committee. As many of you know, Dr. G. Richard Smith, Professor and Chair of Psychiatry and former COM Dean, was the Founding Director in 1998. Dr. Joe Thompson, a Professor of Pediatrics, also has been involved since ACHI’s beginning and has provided outstanding leadership as President and CEO since 2003.


Dr. Kent Westbrook, a Distinguished Professor of Surgery, was one of two Arkansans receiving the 2018 Dr. Tom Bruce Arkansas Health Impact Award during the ACHI celebration. Dr. Westbrook was recognized for his work to found the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, now the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, and for his career-long dedication to ensuring excellent cancer care for Arkansans. Congratulations Dr. Westbrook!


From East to West
The Department of Biomedical Informatics continues to keep UAMS well represented at major conferences focusing on cutting edge biotechnology across the country. Last week, Dr. Dave Ussery, a Professor in the department, presented a talk on “Big Data in Clinical Genomics” at the 2018 meeting of the Association of Academic Health Centers (AAC) in Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, Dr. Piroon Jenjaroenpun and Dr. Thidathip Wongsurawat, both postdocs, presented talks on third-generation sequencing at the annual Nanopore Conference in San Francisco.


The Power of Teamwork
A Morrilton toddler named Wesley Stacy is living a far better life thanks to the UAMS Living Donor Program, skilled transplant surgeons and Assistant Professors Dr. Gerardo Tamayo-Enriquez and Dr. Lyle Burdine, and the partnership of UAMS and Arkansas Children’s. Wesley needed a kidney transplant due to a congenital condition, posterior urethral valves. His mom, Stacy, was happy to donate one of her kidneys, and Dr. Tamayo was her surgeon at UAMS. Dr. Burdine performed the transplant on Wesley at ACH. You can read more about Wesley’s case here. This is a wonderful example of teamwork by many compassionate individuals.


Distinguished Lecturer
Dr. John Dornhoffer, Professor and Chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, was this year’s speaker for the Ben Harlan Senturia Lecture Series at Washington University in St. Louis. He presented talks on ossicular chain reconstruction and his personal experiences with a cochlear implant. It’s not surprising that Dr. Dornhoffer, who is internationally known in the field, was selected for this prestigious honor. Here at UAMS, countless patients, students, residents and fellows have benefited from his surgical expertise, compassionate, empathetic care and dedication to teaching.


Pod Doc
Dr. Jason Mizell’s popular Business of Medicine course for COM students continues to draw national exposure for UAMS. A second national podcast by Dr. Mizell is slated to be released tomorrow (Dec. 6) on the White Coat Investor, where podcasts average 14,000 downloads each. In June, a podcast by Dr. Mizell, an Associate Professor of Surgery, was featured on Doctor Money Matters. Dr. Mizell’s second publication showing the educational benefits of the course will be published in January in the Journal of Medical Practice Management. Most physicians across the country enter practice with surprisingly little understanding of financial management. Thanks to Dr. Mizell’s award-winning educational initiatives, our students can get their careers off to a sounder financial start.


High-Impact Research
The Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center, located at Arkansas Children’s, consistently generates a remarkable amount of high-impact research. Dr. Terry Pivik of the Department of Pediatrics and colleagues recently found that infant diet practices and a baby’s sex interact to help shape brain function and neuroplasticity very early, as measured longitudinally by EEG over the first 6 months of life. This could help explain why breast feeding is believed to improve cognitive function. Dr. Pivik’s article was published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology. In a different study, Dr. Xiang-Yang (George) Lou of the Department of Pediatrics presented a new statistical method for detecting interactions underlying complex ordinal phenotype traits – with findings that could facilitate development of more effective strategies for coronary heart disease. Dr. Lou’s article was published in Genetic Epidemiology. Dr. Xiawei Ou (Pediatrics and Radiology) and his collaborators explored through MRI how cesarean delivery impacts newborn brain development, finding that C-section significantly delays select white matter development in infants and toddlers. Dr. Ou’s paper was published in the American Journal of Neuroradiology. Thank you all for your impeccable work.


November 28, 2018

Setting the Foundation
The freshman Human Structure Module sets the foundation for everything to follow in medical school. Evaluations from students who just completed the course reflect the dedication and outstanding work  of Module Director Dr. David Davies, Clinical Co-Director Dr. Sharp Malak and all of the module’s faculty members. More than 94% of the 160 students who completed evaluations agreed or strongly agreed that the course was “outstanding.” In each of the six areas of the evaluation – organization, clarity about goals, testing, materials, content and overall assessment – the score exceeded 4.5 on the 5-point Likert scale. Many thanks to the faculty members and departments involved in this module, including integral participants from Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, Pathology and Radiology.


Foundational Achievement
Speaking of a strong foundation, first-year student Jake Allison was recently selected to receive the Lawrence E. Scheving Award by the folks in Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences for obtaining the highest numerical grade in the Human Structure Module. As many of you know, the award is named after the late Dr. Scheving to honor his research career and 20 years of service to UAMS as the first Rebsamen Professor of Anatomical Sciences and Director of Gross Anatomy for 15 years until his retirement in 1990. Congratulations Jake!


Quality First
Congratulations and profound thanks are in order for Dr. Ron Robertson, Professor and Chief of the Division of Trauma, Critical Care and Acute Care Surgery, and the entire UAMS Trauma Team. The team recently received Total Quality Improvement Program (TQIP) data that places UAMS in the top 10-20% of all Level 1 trauma centers in the country. We are in the top 1% for positive data relating to ventilator-associated pneumonia. Dr. Robertson and his colleagues are exceptionally focused on quality improvement and ensuring the very best trauma care for Arkansans – and this latest data proves it. Very well done!


No Small Peanuts
The phenomenal work of Pediatrics Professor Dr. Stacie Jones into a promising experimental treatment for children with a life-threatening allergy to peanuts is drawing national and statewide media attention. Dr. Jones is a coauthor of a study published in the Nov. 22 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Check out this CNN story about the study and how it provides new hope for patients like 10-year-old Arkansan Ellis Glover. Dr. Jones was also featured in a page 1 Thanksgiving Day story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Great job Dr. Jones!


Ensuring Clarity
Christopher Trudeau, J.D., an Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Humanities and Bioethics and the UAMS Center for Health Literacy, will bring his nationally recognized advocacy for plain language in law, health care, government and business communications to his new role on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Risk Communication Advisory Committee. Clear, effective communication about the risks and benefits of FDA-regulated products is essential, and Dr. Trudeau will be a strong asset on this panel, as he is here at UAMS. You can read more about his appointment here.


Putting us on the Map
Dr. Vladimir Lupashin, a Professor of Physiology and Biophysics, joined two Nobel Prize winners, several National Academy of Sciences members and faculty from some of the world’s most prestigious universities when giving an invited presentation in Italy recently. His talk at the Federation of European Biochemical Societies 2018 Golgi Meeting: Membrane Trafficking in Cell Organization and Homeostasis reflects Dr. Lupashin’s stature in the field and helps to put UAMS on the map. Congratulations Dr. Lupashin!


Inspiring Girls
Forty girls from high schools around Arkansas were the latest to benefit from the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery’s longstanding dedication to the national nonprofit Perry Initiative. The annual hands-on workshop inspires young women to pursue careers in orthopaedic surgery and engineering by letting them try techniques such as suturing and setting fractures – and introducing them to outstanding female orthopaedists, residents and other team members. Leading the way on Nov. 2-3 were Dr. Theresa Wyrick and Dr. Ruth Thomas; resident Drs. Maggie Wilson, Kasa Cooper and Sophie Hollenberg; postdoctoral fellow Dr. Anna Severin and UAMS scrub tech Andrea Rhea. Way to go!


What PhUn!
Almost three dozen Little Rock Central High School students were on campus recently for PhUn Day, an outreach program of the American Physiological Society that is hosted locally by the UAMS Center for Diversity Affairs and the Department of Physiology and Biophysics. Dr. Parimal Chowdhury, a Professor in the department, has organized the UAMS event for many years, helping students understand real-world applications of scientific concepts they’ve learned about in school. Thank you, Dr. Chowdhury and all of the faculty members who made this program possible.


Clear Vision
Second-year medical student John Musser knows that many children “fall through the cracks” and don’t receive treatment even after severe vision problems have been revealed through school screenings. He is focused on helping as many people as possible through Rural Ophthalmology Optometry Treatment and Screening, or ROOTS, the non-profit organization he founded to provide outreach and vision care in partnership with many others. John recently received the Community Partner Student Award at the UAMS Translational Research Institute’s Community Partner Celebration. Here’s a March 2018 UAMS web story about how ROOTs got off the ground with the help of mentors including the Department of Ophthalmology’s Dr. Katie Brown and Dr. Sami Uwaydat. Congratulations on this well-earned honor, John!


Harvard Lecture
Dr. Brendan C. Stack Jr.
, a Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, was an invited lecturer and panelist at the Harvard Medical School continuing medical education course, “Surgery for the Thyroid and Parathyroid Glands,” the preeminent international course in the field, in Boston earlier this month. He presented “A Review of the AHNS/BAETS Revision Parathyroid Guidelines,” which was published in the journal Head and Neck in August with Dr. Stack as the lead author.


Stepping Up
I want to thank three colleagues who’ve done so much for the College of Medicine, Integrated Clinical Enterprise and Chancellor’s Office, for now agreeing to serve as Interim Senior Vice Chancellors with the retirement of Bill Bowes in December. As many of you read in Chancellor Cam Patterson’s Nov. 16 announcement, Jake Stover, Associate Dean for Finance and CFO for the College of Medicine, and Amanda George, Associate Vice Chancellor for Clinical Finance and CFO for ICE, will serve as Interim Senior Vice Chancellors for Finance. Christina Clark, Dr. Patterson’s Chief of Staff, will serve as Interim Senior Vice Chancellor for Campus Operations and Information Technology. These are vital positions for our campus, and UAMS is in great hands with these finance and administrative leaders.


November 14, 2018

Translation Sensation
Dr. Aime Franco, an Associate Professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, served as an invited faculty member at an American Association of Cancer Research workshop held in Boston last week for basic scientists pursuing training in order to transition into translational cancer research. Dr. Franco served on a panel discussion, “From Bench to Bedside: How to Translate Basic Science Study to the Clinic.” She also held “office hours” for participants, providing scientific and career development mentoring, and worked with small groups of trainees to help them design novel approaches for moving their basic science research to translational studies.


Helping the Heartland
A recent summit to find creative solutions to some of the biggest problems facing the nation’s central states, including the opioid epidemic, benefited from the expertise of Dr. Teresa Hudson, Associate Professor and Director of the Department of Psychiatry’s Division of Health Services Research. The Oct. 18-21 Heartland Summit in Bentonville, sponsored by the Walton Family Foundation, brought together some of the country’s business and academic leaders and other top minds. Read more in the COM Newsroom.


Community Research Matters
Two exemplary, award-winning COM staff members recently received federally funded grants that will help them continue their community outreach and research. Beverly Miller, Associate Director of the Injury Prevention Center in the Department of Pediatrics, received the Staff Excellence Award in Research at Dean’s Honor Day in 2016 for her work to substantially reduce deaths in children from unintentional injuries. LaTunja Sockwell earned the same award in 2017 for her work in HIV/Aids education and research in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine’s Division of Research and Evaluation, where she is the Research and Data Coordinator and administrative lead. Their new grants are:

Beverly Miller, M.Ed.
Child Passenger Safety Education, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (10/01/2018 – 09/30/2019), $342,844. Pass through from Arkansas State Police.
AR Drive Smart Challenge/Battle of the Belt, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (10/01/2018 – 09/30/2019), $171,038. Pass through from Arkansas State Police.

LaTunja Sockwell, B.A.
HIV Intervention Services, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, (10/01/2018 – 12/31/2019), $40,000.


November 7, 2018

Champion for Children
Dr. Eddie Ochoa
, Associate Professor and Chief of the Community Pediatrics Section in the Department of Pediatrics, was honored by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families last week for his dedication to making Arkansas a better place to be a child. Dr. Ochoa was recognized at the Friends of Children Award luncheon for his impact on child health, reach into Spanish-speaking communities, work to address child health disparities and much more. Thank you for making a difference for so many children and for inspiring all of us Dr. Ochoa!


Advancing Family Medicine
Congratulations to Dr. Scott Dickson, Assistant Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine and Residency Program Director at the UAMS Northeast Regional Campus in Jonesboro, on being named President of the Arkansas Chapter of the American Academy of Physicians. Dr. Dickson’s installation is featured in the fall issue of the Arkansas Family Physician. Thank you for your dedication and ongoing service to Arkansas as well as UAMS, Dr. Dickson!


When Every Hour Counts
A presentation by Dr. Ryan Dare, Associate Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases, at the recent IDWeek Conference in San Francisco shined the spotlight on UAMS’ success in shortening laboratory turnaround times and improving clinical outcomes in patients with life-threatening bloodstream infections. His presentation was featured in Contagion. UAMS became one of the first in the world to implement the FDA-approved Accelerate Pheno™ blood culture detection system last year, under the leadership of Dr. Eric Rosenbaum, an Associate Professor of Pathology and Medical Director of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory. Kudos to everyone involved in this world-class advance at UAMS.


Thyroid Leaders
We can be proud that two College of Medicine faculty members from different disciplines will serve on a task force convened by the American Thyroid Association (ATA) to select the next Editor-in-Chief of Thyroid, which has the highest impact score of any endocrine journal, 7.55. Dr. Brendan Stack Jr., a Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, chairs the ATA’s Publications Committee and the 13-member task force. The ATA also invited Dr. Spyridoula Maraka, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine Division of Endocrinology, to serve on the panel. The organization will be well served by these thyroid experts from UAMS.


Heart Smart
Congratulations to Dr. Jay Mehta, a Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Physiology and Biophysics, and Dr. Hakan Paydak, a Professor of Medicine, who were honored at the XinAn Cardiovascular International Conference organized by Anhui University in Hefei, China. Dr. Mehta was awarded a Distinguished Professorship at the Oct. 26-28 conference and presented a lecture on the future of cardiovascular medicine. Dr. Paydak was awarded the title of Visiting Professor and presented a lecture on atrial fibrillation and heart failure.


Global Education
Education is a powerful way to bring people from around the world together. I am always impressed with the educational work that takes our faculty around the globe and brings learners from faraway lands to our campus.

I recently heard about a trip that Orthopaedic Surgery Chair Dr. Lowry Barnes made with Assistant Professor Dr. Rob Garrison, Chief Resident Dr. Chelsea Mathews, and Physician Assistant Sara Foster to Kigali, Rwanda, in August. The trip, organized through the Global Health Initiatives of Centura, helped Dr. Barnes and his team understand the challenges of providing orthopaedic care and education in the east-central African country. UAMS could eventually host an away rotation for Rwandan orthopaedic residents. The department is currently hosting an international research fellow from Japan. Dr. Ryota Katsumi, Physician-in-Chief in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Niigata Medical Center, will focus on research into lower extremity alignment and advanced imaging technology during his 18 months at UAMS. Welcome to Arkansas Dr. Katsumi!

Meanwhile, Dr. Stavros Manolagas, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism and Director of the UAMS/VA Center for Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Diseases, just returned from Naples, Italy, where he delivered two invited lectures at the annual meeting of the Italian Society for Osteoporosis, Mineral Metabolism, and Diseases of the Skeleton. While there, he also served as one of three representatives of the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research to advise Italian clinical and basic research fellows, to enhance the depth and relevance of their work.

These are just a few examples of how UAMS is well represented in global medical and biomedical sciences education!


Captive Audiences
Speaking of global education, tomorrow is International Day of Radiology. Have you heard about the imaginative “escape room” created by Radiology Residency Director Dr. Kedar Jambhekar, fifth-year resident Dr. Rachel Pahls and Medical Education Director Dr. Linda Deloney? The educational game for radiology residents has drawn national attention, and Dr. Jambhekar and Dr. Pahls are gearing up to present their escape room at the Radiology Society of North America meeting in Chicago later this month. Every spot in the Chicago sessions was booked within 16 hours, and the team has been asked to present the escape room again at the Association of University Radiologists next spring. Click here to read more about this wickedly creative educational initiative.


Call it a Win
Hooray for the Arkansas Aquaporins, the team of second-year UAMS Nephrology residents who truly gave it their all in the recent “Fit Bowl,” a Jeopardy-like quiz competition at the American Society of Nephrology meeting in San Diego. UAMS won the tournament in 2016, the last year the program competed, but this year’s field of competitors was larger and tougher. Fellowship Director Dr. Nithin Karakala proudly reports that Drs. Mohamed Ahmed, Nadia Alqurini, Praveen Errabelli and Ramakrishna Thotakura held nothing back in their rapid-fire answering of questions. The Aquaporins soundly defeated Baylor in the first round and clinched victory over Yale in the semifinals. In the final battle, UAMS swapped the lead with a team from Boston Mass General and Brigham and Women’s – one of the nation’s top nephrology programs – a number of times. Boston came out on top in the end – but as Dr. Karakala said, what these four fellows accomplished was extraordinary.


Giving Matters
Finally this week, I want to thank everyone who contributed to College of Medicine scholarships and other initiatives during the second annual Day of Giving last month. With your help, we raised $181,000 – and earned a $5,000 bonus for scholarships for having the largest number of gifts among all UAMS colleges and other units! We raised more than twice as much as we did last year. I want you to know how much I appreciate your generosity, and all that you do day in and day out for the College of Medicine.


October 31, 2018

Affirmative Insights
Some of you may have had the opportunity to read the invited commentary by Dr. Billy Thomas, Professor of Pediatrics and UAMS Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion, and Nancy Dockter, M.P.H., who retired from the Center for Health Literacy last year and was previously with the College of Public Health, in the prestigious journal Academic Medicine. Their article, “Affirmative Action and Holistic Review in Medical School Admissions: Where We Have Been and Where We are Going,” was highlighted at the top of Academic Medicines AM Express last week. Here is a link to their insightful commentary.


Lifetime Achievement
Dr. Parimal Chowdhury, a Professor of Physiology and Biophysics, received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Society for the Prevention of Tobacco Induced Diseases’ annual conference in Izmir, Turkey, earlier this month. Dr. Chowdhury served as the organization’s President in 2006-2008 and is currently the American Regional Director as well as an Associate Editor of the journal Tobacco Induced Diseases. Thank you for career-long dedication to the prevention and control of tobacco use, Dr. Chowdhury!


Pathology Powerhouses
Congratulations to Drs. Jerad Gardner and Jennifer Laudadio, Associate Professors in the Department of Pathology, who received honors at the annual meeting of the College of American Pathologists (CAP) in Chicago on Oct. 21. Dr. Laudadio was presented the Pathology Advancement Award for her national work in pathology education, extensive service to CAP and other organizations, and her work in pathology and education at UAMS. Dr. Gardner received the Outstanding Communicator Award for his groundbreaking use of social media in medical education. Dr. Gardner was also recently named to The Pathologist Power List 2018, which highlights “100 of the best, brightest and most powerful advocates of pathology.” He has made the list each year since its inception in 2015.


Capitol Docs
UAMS will be well represented at the Arkansas Legislature during the 2019 session thanks to COM faculty members. Dr. Lowry Barnes and all 24 physicians of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery have already signed up for the Arkansas Medical Society’s “Doctor of the Day” program, as have several faculty members from other departments including Family Medicine, Internal Medicine and Surgery. The program is a great opportunity to connect with legislators while volunteering in the Capitol Infirmary for a day during the session, which runs from January to mid-April. Physicians are able to attend legislative committee meetings and enjoy floor privileges in the House and Senate. It would be wonderful to have even more of you participate if you can! Learn more here.


Author Author!
Dr. Brendan Stack Jr., a Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, was a co-author on one of the 20 most downloaded articles published between July 2016 and June 2018 in Head & Neck: Journal of the Sciences and Specialties of the Head and the Neck. The article, “Indications and extent of central neck dissection for papillary thyroid cancer: an American Head and Neck Society Consensus Statement,” is available here. I’d also like to congratulate Dr. Stack and Otolaryngology colleague Dr. Mauricio Moreno on the publication of their new book, “Neck Dissection,” which debuted last week at the American Academy of Otolaryngology annual meeting and expo in Atlanta.


OB-served Internationally
An article by Dr. Everett “Pat” Magann, a Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, was recently recognized by an international journal as one of its most downloaded articles published between 2016-2017. Dr. Magann’s article, “Use of antenatal corticosteroids in special circumstances: a comprehensive review,” in the journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, was one of the journal’s 20 most downloaded papers. You can read it here. Congratulations Dr. Magann!


Service Heroes
Last but not least, a very special thank you to the College of Medicine faculty and staff being honored this week for their many years of service to UAMS. Dr. Robert Burns, a Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, researcher and renowned educator, has been here the longest among this year’s honorees, an astounding 50 years!

Dr. Robert Arrington, a Professor of Pediatrics and longtime leader in neonatology in Arkansas, comes in at 45 years. UAMS has had the good fortune for the past 40 years to have Rebecca Bryant, the Student Clerkship Coordinator in the Department of Surgery, and Dr. Edgar Garcia-Rill, a Professor of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences and founding Director of the high-impact Center for Translational Neurosciences.

UAMS employees with 20-plus years of service were honored at a celebration yesterday (Oct. 30) and employees who have reached 5, 10 or 15 years of service will be honored tomorrow (Nov. 1). Click here to learn more about these dedicated UAMS team members and see who else has reached milestones of service. Congratulations to all of you!

October 24, 2018

Great Job, Academic Affairs Team
We received excellent news from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) last week, and I want to thank our Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education, Dr. James Graham, who spearheads our LCME efforts, along with the entire Academic Affairs Team.

You may recall that our last LCME site visit resulted in full, eight-year accreditation in 2015 with follow-up reporting required on only a couple of issues pertaining to one of the 12 standards. We have now satisfied the LCME’s concern relating to one of those issues, our ability to ensure that any physician who provides clinical care for a student is not involved in that student’s academic assessment. We also learned that we remain in compliance, although continued monitoring is needed, on measures relating to student educational debt and providing our students with appropriate financial aid services including debt management counseling. We will continue to work in this area and to survey our students about their satisfaction with these services, for an interim report to the LCME next August.

When Executive Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Dr. Richard Wheeler shared this good news with me, he emphasized Dr. Graham’s dedication and meticulous attention to every aspect of LCME reporting. And he noted that it does indeed “take a village” to ensure successful LCME accreditation. Thank you all.


Raising the Bar
The UAMS stroke team and Emergency Medicine Department set the bar for door to-needle (DTN) time in July by achieving DTN times of less than 45 minutes for all patients – and that was just the beginning. The accomplishment surpassed the new, more aggressive guidelines released this year by the American Heart Association, which established a primary goal of achieving DTN times within 60 minutes in 75 percent or more of acute ischemic stroke patients who are treated with IV tPA, and a secondary goal of DTN times within 45 minutes for 50 percent or more of acute ischemic stroke patients treated with IV tPA. The most recent data shows that UAMS did even better in August, with an average DTN time of 32.8 minutes.

This is more than impressive data. It means saving lives and improving the post-stroke quality of life for Arkansans. Great job!


It’s Chemistry
Shout-out to Dr. Grover Miller, a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, for his vision, creativity and hard work in planning “the Natural State of Chemistry,” the 74th Southwest Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). The meeting will be held in Little Rock Nov. 7-12 with a comprehensive technical program highlighting the collaborative and creative nature of chemical research in the region. Dr. Miller will chair the first regional session of the ACS Division of Chemical Toxicology.


Way to Go, Oto
It’s wonderful to hear about the national recognition that the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery continues to receive. Two presentations by Department Chair Dr. John Dornhoffer at the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery’s annual meeting this month were selected as “Top Picks” from among more than 500 sessions to be captured as an Annual Meeting Webcast – CME Session. Dr. James Suen’s new book, Diagnosis and Management of Head and Face Pain – A Practical Approach, has just been published by Springer. And Dr. Alissa Kanaan has been appointed to a three-year term on the American Rhinologic Society’s International Committee.


Global Tech
Dr. Saeedah Asaf, an Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology, invested her own money and worked with programmers to develop a low-cost technology solution for capturing Lancet Commission for Global Surgery goals for surgical volume and outcomes. Her “Anesthesia log app” can be downloaded for free from the android Play Store. This month, she won third place at the American Society of Anesthesiologists Scientific/Educational Exhibit in San Francisco for “Use your Cell Phone: Collect and Analyze Perioperative Data in a Resource Poor Setting.” Congratulations Dr. Asaf!


Three and Counting
For the third consecutive year, Dr. Lowry Barnes and the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery hosted the Insall Traveling Fellowship, a program of the Knee Society that brings orthopaedic surgeons from around the world to specially selected programs. The four visitors observed surgical cases performed by Drs. Barnes, Paul Edwards, Simon Mears and Jeffrey Stambough in addition to lecturing and participating in an educational conference during their Oct. 13-17 visit. Host institutions are chosen based on evaluations by past fellows – which is a real testament to the high caliber of Dr. Barnes and his team.


Eye Spy a Winner!
A 30-member team of runners, walkers and virtual runners from the Department of Ophthalmology and Jones Eye Institute was the top fundraiser at the Angel One 5K/10K last Saturday at Two Rivers Park. Team Ophthalmology, headed by Dr. Joe Chacko, raised $1,700 for Arkansas Children’s Hospital’s flight team. In addition to transporting more than 2,000 children to Arkansas Children’s for life-saving care each year, the Angel One helicopter crew raises funds for gas cards and other necessities for the families they serve. This was the third year for Dr. Chacko’s team to run in the event. Hats off to all of the UAMS and ACH teams and participants of events that are held for great causes!


October 17, 2018

Stroke of Innovation
The Department of Neurology and its partners are getting well-earned attention for the remarkable innovations of the UAMS Center for Distance Health’s telestroke program, Arkansas Stroke Assistance through Virtual Emergency Support (AR SAVES). The program links 55 rural emergency departments with UAMS vascular neurologists to provide life-saving treatments for stroke patients. Now, AR SAVES has launched a pilot study with an ambulance service in El Dorado to put telemedicine equipment in an ambulance to provide expert care even more quickly. AR SAVES Medical Director Dr. Sanjeeva Reddy Onteddu and AR SAVES Director C. Renee Joiner, RN, BSN, did an outstanding job in this THV 11 story. You can also read about the program in the UAMS Newsroom.


App for That
Stroke researcher and AR SAVES Program Evaluator Dr. Aliza Brown also deserves a shout-out for her work, most recently, to develop two free smartphone apps designed to improve the care that stroke patients receive from 911 responders. The ‘WeTrain911’ educational app focuses on 911 dispatcher training, and ‘iClick911’ is for consumers, to improve emergency response to their physical location. Dr. Brown credits support from the Center for Translational Neurosciences, an IDeA program NIH grant and mentors Dr. Edgar Garcia-Rill and Dr. Whit Hall. Read more about Dr. Brown’s work and the apps on her CTN lab page.


Impressive Informatics
Congratulations to Dr. Fred Prior, Chair of Biomedical Informatics, on several recent accomplishments, including the five-year renewal of the contract, with Dr. Prior as Principal Investigator, for extension and maintenance of the NIH-supported Cancer Imaging Archive (Leidos Biomedical Research, Contract 16X011 for NCI, current year budget $1,486,987). Dr. Prior is also PI of a new grant (NCI 3U24CA215109-02S1, Informatics Platform for Cancer-Related Cognitive Impairment and Dementia Research, $375,000 Total Award, 08/01/2018 – 07/31/2019). He also just returned from France, where he presented the keynote address at the International Cancer Imaging Society’s Annual Teaching Course.


Kudos to Student Applicant Interview Volunteers!
Almost 50 faculty members, a few residents and many medical students will be on campus this Saturday for the first applicant interviews session of the year. Some 120 applicants for our next freshman class will be interviewed on Saturday, and volunteers are critical. I want to personally thank all of you who have signed up, along with our dedicated Admissions team: Tom South, Dr. Jeanne McLachlin, and Tammy Henson. I also want to encourage faculty and house staff to volunteer for the remaining interview days, November 17 and January 12. You really are needed! Please contact Tom for more information.


Exemplary Service
You’ve probably heard that three of our Chairs have decided to retire or step down from their department leadership posts by the end of 2019. It isn’t time to say “farewell” yet, thankfully, but I do want to take a moment to express my gratitude for the exemplary service of Dr. Michael Jennings, Dr. James McDonald and Dr. Kevin Young. Here are a few notes about the careers of these leaders, from the announcement that Chancellor Patterson and I sent to all of you last Friday:

Dr. McDonald, Chair of the Department of Radiology, plans to retire August 31, 2019. James holds the Ernest J. Ferris, M.D., Chair in Diagnostic Radiology. He joined UAMS fulltime in 2010 after spending 28 years in private practice and has served as chair since 2016. He has directed the Nuclear Medicine Residency Program since 2012 and serves as both director and medical director of the Imaging Service Line.

Dr. Jennings, Chair of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, plans to step down as Department Chair but will continue to be Course Director of the M2 Pulmonary Module as well as teach several graduate courses. Mike has earned accolades as a faculty leader, widely recognized researcher into the mechanisms of ion transport, and award-winning educator since joining the faculty as Professor and Chair of the department in 1995. He served as our college’s inaugural Executive Associate Dean for Basic Sciences from 2014-2016 until the position was eliminated. He helps departments advance their research and education programs and find opportunities for collaboration.

Dr. Young, Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, plans to retire July 31, 2019. Kevin has served as a Professor in the department since 2009. He has received more than $6.4 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health for his innovative research into bacterial cell walls, which could lead to new classes of antibiotics. Over the course of his career both at UAMS and before, his total research funding has totaled more than $12 million.


October 10, 2018

Good Shot at Prevention
Dr. Jose Romero, Chief of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Section in the Department of Pediatrics, has been named to a three-year term as Chair of the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) to the Centers for Disease Control. The ACIP is a federally chartered committee charged with making immunization recommendations for every man, woman and child in the United States.


New Hope for Castleman patients
Dr. Frits van Rhee, an internationally recognized expert on Castleman disease, was the lead author on a paper that for the first time establishes treatment guidelines for patients with a severe form of the disease, idiopathic multicentric Castleman disease. Dr. van Rhee’s paper was published online in the Sept. 4 issue of Blood, the journal of the American Society of Hematology.


Taking Brain Surgery to New Heights
Dr. J.D. Day, Chair of Neurosurgery, and Dr. Indranil “Neil” Chakraborty, Director of Neuroanesthesiology, have teamed up for awake craniotomies since 2015, with a 100 percent success rate.  In what may have been a first nationwide, they recently performed brain surgery on a patient who talked with his family via Facetime during the procedure, providing his loved ones with comfort and reassurance that all was going well. What an extraordinary example of enhancing patient- and family-centered care with technology and innovation!


Work-Life Insights
Professional and personal development go hand in hand in academic medicine, and Dr. Spyridoula Maraka of the Division of Endocrinology recently lent her insights on a national panel. Dr. Maraka was one of three invited panelists for the American Thyroid Association (ATA) Women in Thyroidology program, “Transitions – Making Critical Work and Life Decisions,” during the ATA’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 4.


On the Forefront
Congratulations to Drs. Robert Griffin and José Peñagarícano of the Department of Radiation Oncology, who were among the national experts invited to speak at a recent workshop, co-hosted by the National Cancer Institute and the Radiosurgery Society, on innovative techniques for improving outcomes in locally advanced tumors. The Aug. 21 workshop at the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, focused on techniques such as high-dose, ultra-dose-rate and spatial fractionated radiotherapy.


Advancing Telehealth
Dr. Curtis Lowery, Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology and founder of the UAMS Center for Distance Health, has been appointed to the Association of American Medical Colleges’ newly established Advisory Committee on Telehealth. The panel is AAMC’s inaugural sustained effort at engaging in telehealth in academic medicine. Dr. Lowery, long recognized as a national leader in telehealth, will serve a two-year term.


 Rocked it at Table Rock
Third-year ophthalmology resident Dr. John Chancellor brought home first-place honors from the Table Rock Regional Roundup, the culmination of a four-state regional contest for ophthalmology resident research. Dr. Chancellor was one of five finalists at the event in Ridgedale, Missouri. He presented his study, “Comparison of the Cytotoxicity, Bacteriostatic Effects and Ability to Seal Corneal Wounds among Several Different Tissue Adhesives.”


Thank you, Dr. Beneš
Best wishes to Dr. Helen Beneš in her retirement after 32 years of service to the Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, UAMS and Arkansas. As a highly respected researcher and Associate Director for the Arkansas INBRE program, Dr. Beneš has led many initiatives to promote biomedical research across the state and to develop mentored research opportunities for students from Arkansas’ undergraduate institutions. (Everyone is welcome to join in a reception for Dr. Beneš next Tuesday, Oct. 16, 3:30-5:00 in the Hamlen Board Room, 12th floor, Stephens Spine Institute. Please RSVP to


Way to Go Ortho
We’re hearing lots of good news from the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery lately. Dr. David Bumpass was selected to the inaugural “20 under 40” class of up and coming surgeons by SpineLine, the publication of the North American Spine Society.  Dr. Bumpass and Dr. Steven Cherney received both of the annual funded traveling fellowships awarded by the Mid-America Orthopaedic Association (MAOA). Dr. Cherney is headed for Case Western and the University of Missouri, and Dr. Bumpass will travel to the Mayo Clinic and other centers. Department Chair Dr. Lowry Barnes just completed his term as President of the MAOA and remains on the Board of Directors. Dr. Erin Mannen continues to receive diverse internal and external grants for her work in infant biomechanics (including one below listed among recent grants).


Research Matters

Congratulations to College of Medicine faculty and staff who recently received new extramural grants. The breadth of research by our colleagues and the impact it will have on Arkansans and patients beyond our state is phenomenal. Projects are targeting disease and significant health challenges across the age spectrum, including obesity in the Delta and across the state, fetal alcohol syndrome, neurodegeneration and aging, and much more.

The following list, courtesy of the Office of Executive Associate Dean for Research, includes new extramural grants with award start dates in September (excluding industry trials and awards under $10,000).

Karen Abbott, Ph.D., Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Novel platform linking cancer-specific glycosylation with cell signaling outcomes, NIH/Nat. Cancer Institute (09/12/2018 – 08/31/2021), $604,208.

Paul Drew, Ph.D., Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, Neuroinflammation: Role in FASD Cognitive Deficits, NIH/Nat. Inst. on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism (09/01/2018 – 08/31/2023), $1,906,001.

Alysia Dubriske, M.Ed., CHES, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, Mission Expedition: University of Arkansas for Medical Science’s State Physical Activity and Nutrition and Project, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (09/30/2018 – 09/29/2023), $3,290,835.

Larry Johnson, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine, Cystic Fibrosis Care Center Mental Health Coordinator, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (09/01/2018 – 08/31/2021), $161,637.

Angus MacNicol, Ph.D., Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, Control of pituitary cell plasticity through regulated mRNA translation, NIH/Nat. Inst. of Child Health & Human Development (09/01/2018 – 06/30/2023), $3,152,134.

Cynthia Kane, Ph.D., Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, Dynamic neuroimmune interactions in the onset and progression of FASD, NIH/Nat. Inst. on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism (09/01/2018 – 06/30/2023), $2,264,825.

Erin Mannen, Ph.D., Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Biomechanical Evaluation of Infants in Inclined Sleep Products, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (09/18/2018 – 09/17/2019), $248,432.

Robert Reis, Ph.D., Department of Geriatrics, Inference of Common Pathways Underlying Neurodegeneration & Other Age-Progressive Diseases, NIH/Nat. Inst. on Aging (09/30/2018 – 05/31/2023), $1,867,446.

Storrie, Brian, Ph.D., Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Structure/Function Determinants of Platelet Granule Secretion, NIH/Nat. Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (09/15/2018 – 08/31/2019), $508,114.


October 3, 2018

Poster Perfection
Congratulations to Drs. Jason Mizell, Karina Clemmons, Sara Tariq, James Graham, and Puru Thapa, and COM sophomore Anlee-Taylor Glass, for receiving the Research Poster Award at the Learning Communities Institute’s annual conference last weekend.


Presentation Sensation
Way to go first-year ENT resident Dr. Erin Creighton, for earning the Medical Education Scholarship Award for her presentation at the Southern Group on Educational Affairs (SGEA) conference. Congratulations also to co-authors Drs. Jasna Vuk, Karina Clemmons and James Graham.


Resident Rocks It
Let’s have a round of applause for third-year Emergency Medicine resident Dr. Meryll Pampolina, who just received the Resident Rocks It! Award from the American Association of Women Emergency Physicians.


Congratulations to the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine’s Dr. Appathurai Balamurugan, who was presented the Excellence in Community Service Award by Governor Asa Hutchinson at the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin Arkansas Chapter’s recent annual event.


Made the Cover
Internal Medicine
faculty member and Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson continues to help Arkansans understand UAMS’ crucial role in Arkansas through multimedia appearances. You’ll find him on the cover of this week’s Arkansas Business and the September-October issue of the Healthcare Journal of Little Rock.


Best for Babies
Congratulations to Dr. Laxmi Yeruva and her colleagues in the Department of Pediatrics, Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center and Arkansas Children’s Research Institute on their recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition. The study lays the groundwork for future research into the role of infant diet on microbiota and immune function, for better understanding of the benefits of breastfeeding infants. (John J Miklavcic, Thomas M Badger, Anne K Bowlin, Katelin S Matazel, Mario A Cleves, Tanya LeRoith, Manish K Saraf, Sree V Chintapalli, Brian D Piccolo, Kartik Shankar, Laxmi Yeruva; Human Breast-Milk Feeding Enhances the Humoral and Cell-Mediated Immune Response in Neonatal Piglets, The Journal of Nutrition, nxy170,


Worth Repeating
Last but not least, I want to say thank you again to everyone who helped with the successful negotiations of our Affiliation Agreement with Arkansas Children’s, the Child Health Collaborative charter, and the Collaborative Research Agreement with Arkansas Children’s Research Institute.

As I said in my announcement last Friday, these documents lay the foundation for our continued partnership and future success in clinical care, research and teaching on behalf of the children of Arkansas.

Very special thanks to the negotiating team: Rick Barr, M.D.; Chanda Chacon, M.P.H.; Robin Dreisigacker, J.D.; Greg Kearns, Pharm.D., Ph.D.; Todd Maxson, M.D.; Rick Morrison, Ph.D.; Val Segalla; and Rob Steele, M.D., for their hard work and commitment. Our institutional leadership has been extremely supportive, and I would also like to reiterate my appreciation for Marcy Doderer, FACHE; and Cam Patterson, M.D.