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!
On the Forefront
College of Medicine faculty are on the forefront of the historic efforts to test, evaluate and roll out promising new vaccines for COVID-19. They are lending their expertise at the national level to ensure approval and prudent distribution of safe and effective vaccines, while also championing science and preventive practices in news interviews and other venues.
Dr. Robert Hopkins is providing superb leadership as Chair of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in addition to serving on the frontlines at UAMS and educating Arkansans about the virus. Dr. Jose Romero serves as Chair of the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, while also leading COVID efforts in Arkansas as Secretary of Health. Dr. Jeannette Lee is serving on the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, which approved emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine last week and will consider the Moderna vaccine this week.
Meanwhile, as the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrive, vital vaccine research continues, including the launch of the UAMS test site for Janssen’s vaccine candidate under the leadership of Dr. Kristine Patterson and with coordination by the Translational Research Institute. These efforts and many others by UAMS colleagues provide hope, and we are grateful.
Thanks to teams across UAMS, the UAMS Regional Campus clinics are now “live” on the Epic electronic health records system. I join with the project leader, Dr. David Nelsen, in thanking everyone who contributed to this massive undertaking. Kudos to team members in IT, especially project management, ambulatory, lab, radiology and interface teams. In addition, thanks go out to UAMS Clinical Informatics, Instructional Designers (trainers), UAMS Executive Project Leadership and operational leadership from nursing, billing and scheduling. As Dr. Nelsen notes, “The real superstars of this project, however, were the UAMS Regional Programs clinics in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Helena, Jonesboro, Magnolia, Pine Bluff, Springdale and Texarkana.” This is great news for patients across the state.
Students & Mentors
College of Medicine students are doing excellent scholarly work with the support of the Division of Surgical Research and faculty mentors from several departments. Juniors Helena Drolshagen and Dillon Wade gave virtual presentations on their original research at the Americas Hernia Society annual meeting this fall. Sophomore Hunter Rose presented his research at the International Geriatric Fracture Society meeting last week. John House, Joey VanScoy, Zain Alfanek, Tommy Christensen, Hayden Hairston and Liza Hill were the first authors on six abstracts accepted for presentation at the 2021 Academic Surgical Congress.
Their faculty mentors include Surgery’s Drs. Hanna Jensen, Kevin Sexton, Kyle Kalkwarf, Katie Kimbrough, Avi Bhavaraju and Lyle Burdine; Dr. Simon Mears (Orthopaedic Surgery); Dr. Martin Radvany (Radiology); Dr. Tina Ipe (Pathology); and Dr. Saleema Karim (College of Public Health). Many others have contributed to the prolific output in clinical and basic research supported by the Surgical Research team, including Drs. Marie Burdine, Sacha McBain (Psychiatry); and Rebecca Reif, Judy Bennett, Monica Kimbrell and Kim Gates, along with Dr. Manos Giorgakis and Surgery Chair Dr. Ron Robertson. My thanks to all for your great work with our students!
As one of the world’s leading experts in thyroid dysfunction during pregnancy, Dr. Spyridoula Maraka, Assistant Professor in the Division of Endocrinology, was invited to present on maternal hypothyroxinemia this week during the 16th International Thyroid Congress, a conference held only every five years. In more good news, the VA Health Services Research and Development Service just awarded Dr. Maraka a $163,670 pilot grant for the first randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial evaluating the feasibility, acceptability, safety and effects on quality of life of discontinuing levothyroxine therapy (thyroid hormone replacement) in patients with subclinical hypothyroidism.
Dr. Surjith Vattoth, Associate Professor in the Division of Neuroradiology, is a cover author on the recently published fourth edition of “Diagnostic Imaging: Brain” along with world-renown authors including neuroradiology legend Dr. Anne Osborn. Dr. Vattoth authored or coauthored 104 chapters in this highly prestigious textbook published by Elsevier, which is also available online in STATdx. Congratulations!
As UAMS began offering weekly antigen COVID-19 testing for employees who work directly with patients this week, several Department of Pathology faculty and residents volunteered to be trained and perform the testing in the initial days until a stable workforce could be put in place. Kudos to Dr. Ericka Olgaard, who oversaw the effort, along with faculty volunteers Drs. Nicole Massoll, Daisy Alapat, Kandi Stallings-Archer and Hoda Hagrass. Thanks also to redeployed residents including Drs. Alyssa Higgins, Anna Tart, Richard Dunn, Ivette Perez, Brannon Broadfoot and Azin Mashayekhi.
Up & Coming
Congratulations to Dr. Gregory Snead, Professor and Chief of Emergency Medicine Ultrasound, on being selected for the 2021 Association of Academic Chairs in Emergency Medicine (AACEM) Chair Development Program. Emergency Medicine Chair Dr. Tony Seupaul notes that the highly selective program is known for developing future leaders in academic emergency medicine, and Dr. Snead will represent UAMS exceptionally well.
Speaking of Dr. Seupaul, a colleague points out that he did a great job as the guest for a recent episode of the Residency and Medical Student Section of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine’s “Ask-a-Chair” podcast. Dr. Seupaul, who also serves as Chief Clinical Officer for UAMS Medical Center, discusses the challenges of holding a senior leadership role in an academic medical institution, his longtime interest in evidence-based medicine, and tips for medical students and residents as they transition to new roles through their academic career.
MVPs Make a Difference
And finally, let’s have a round of applause for the 10 stellar College of Medicine team members who were named our Most Valuable Players – MVPs – this fall! I had the great pleasure of paying tribute to each of them in Zoom celebrations over the past few weeks. As Sara Windsor, COM Director of Strategic Initiatives and Engagement, explains: “MVPs love what they do and love helping others find their own strengths. MVPs exemplify the qualities of a great teammate.”
I couldn’t agree more. I would also like to give a shout-out to the colleagues who took the time to nominate these MVPs. They wrote eloquently about what makes these team members so special. Please visit our new MVP Webpage to read about the honorees. Meanwhile, very special congratulations to our newest MVPs:
Michael Blackburn, B.S.
Joana Mack, M.D.
Renee McGraw, M.D.
Priya Mendiratta, M.D., M.P.H.
Tamara Perry, M.D.
Roopa Ram, M.D.
Denise Thomas, B.S.
Misty Virmani, M.D.
Keyur Vyas, M.D.
Internal Medicine/Infectious Diseases
Jennifer White, B.S.N.
COM Graduate Medical Education