Here are this week’s Accolades, a roundup of some of the honors and accomplishments of College of Medicine and UAMS faculty, staff, residents, fellows and students I’ve heard about recently!
Thank You, Dr. Romero
Dr. José Romero has provided superb leadership and service for UAMS, our state and the nation as a member of our faculty since 2008. And for nearly two years, he has expertly guided Arkansas through the COVID-19 pandemic as Arkansas Secretary of Health. Congratulations to Dr. Romero on his new position as Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, where he will start on June 5. As Dr. Romero winds down his time in Arkansas, I want to thank him for his outstanding service as Professor and Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases for 12 years prior to assuming leadership of the Arkansas Department of Health. Arkansas has been exceptionally fortunate to have Dr. Romero’s leadership during the pandemic, and that leadership extended to the national level through many roles including a term as Chair of the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Thank you and very best wishes, Dr. Romero!
This is national Psychology Week, and I want to take a moment to thank our dedicated psychologists and neuropsychologists in the departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics for their many contributions to society and improving the lives of Arkansans. They provide services across UAMS and Arkansas Children’s campuses in Little Rock and Northwest Arkansas to support patients across the lifespan. These providers are embedded in numerous programs, including the Child Study Center, Dennis Developmental Center, Schmieding Developmental Center, Internal Medicine, Trauma, Transplant, the Psychiatric Research Institute, Arkansas Children’s and the Pulaski County Regional Crisis Stabilization Unit. Our psychologists also lead initiatives with community partners to support patients and families, such as Arkansas Building Effective Services for Trauma (ARBEST) and Community-Based Autism and Treatment (CoBALT). Many are also engaged in cutting-edge research and in education. Many serve as leaders at the state and national level. Thank you all for your commitment to excellence!
A shout-out to Dr. Grover Miller, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, on being named as an Associate Editor for the Drug Metabolism and Transport section of Frontiers in Pharmacology. The specialty section covers regulation of drug metabolizing enzymes and transporters, genetic variability and polymorphisms, design of innovative tools for determining drug metabolism and transport, in vitro to in vivo extrapolations, and effective drug design.
Transforming Cancer Medicine
Congratulations to Dr. Donald Johann, Associate Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Internal Medicine, who is an author on a paper in the high-impact journal Nature Scientific Data on the analytic validity of liquid biopsies. The use of routine blood draws to diagnose and monitor the status of cancer patients, rather than tissue biopsies, is revolutionizing the practice of clinical oncology and how drugs are designed. Dr. Johann has been at the forefront of research such as this to understand the analytical validity (performance) and technical limitations of this technology. The study generated the most comprehensive public-facing dataset of its kind, providing valuable insights into ultra-deep circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA, or liquid biopsy) sequencing technology.
Improving Stroke Care
Dr. Aliza Brown, Associate Professor of Neurology, has devoted her career to improving care for stroke patients – which is crucial in a state that consistently ranks high for acute stroke death and risk factors. Most recently, Dr. Brown was integral to the Arkansas Department of Health’s successful application for an estimated $1.8 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention’s Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Registry. The grant will be used to decrease disparities in access and improve the quality of care for high-risk populations. Dr. Brown is serving in this initiative through the Department of Neurology and the UAMS Institute for Digital Health and Innovation’s Stroke Program. Other partners with ADH include hospitals in the stroke registry, emergency medical services, the American Heart Association, the Arkansas Acute Stroke Care Task Force, and the Arkansas Minority Health Commission.
Gynecology Conference Contributors
UAMS and Arkansas Children’s were well represented at the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology’s recent Annual Clinical and Research Meeting in Chicago. The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s Dr. Laura Hollenbach and Dr. Kathryn Stambough hosted three workshop sessions alongside Dr. Laura Hobart-Porter (Pediatrics/Physical Medicine & Rehab), Dr. Joana Mack (Pediatrics/Hematology), and Dr. Spencer Lewis (Radiology/Pediatric Interventional Radiology), showcasing our outstanding Spina Bifida and Vascular Anomalies programs at ACH. Also presented were two abstracts co-authored by Dr. Kevin Wong (Radiology/Pediatric Interventional Radiology) with medical student Ryan Hui and OB/GYN resident Dr. Tucker Doiron.
Finally this week, I want to share a couple of appreciative notes I recently received from team members who are thankful for their colleagues.
The first was from Dr. Omar Atiq, Professor of Internal Medicine and Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. Dr. Atiq wrote to four chairs – Surgery’s Dr. Ron Robertson, Otolaryngology’s Dr. John Dornhoffer, Orthopaedic Surgery’s Dr. Lowry Barnes, and Dermatology’s Dr. Sara Shalin – to express his gratitude for the oncologic surgeons on their teams.
“As a practicing medical oncologist, I wish to acknowledge the satisfaction and joy your oncologic surgeons bring to the rest of us in the Cancer Service Line,” Dr. Atiq wrote. “They are dependable, competent, available and a pleasure to work with. Their excellence and professionalism reflects well on their leaders – all of you.”
The second note was from Carla Williams, Student Clerkship Coordinator for the Department of Surgery. “I would like to thank my coworker, Tondra Thomas, Assistant Department Administrator,” Carla wrote. “I am new to the Student Clerkship Coordinator position, and Tondra is very helpful. She helps me with spreadsheets. Our positions are totally different, but she has always helped make my job much easier. She is very hardworking and dependable. She goes the extra mile and is always willing to help others.”
Kudos to all of these wonderful COM team members!