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!
Kudos to our colleagues at Arkansas Children’s for stepping up to the plate in the escalating battle against COVID-19. Arkansas Children’s Hospital has begun to take certain adult trauma patients and adult critically ill transfer patients to help offset the rise in hospitalizations at UAMS. Thanks to the strong leadership at Arkansas Children’s and the dedication of outstanding faculty physicians and clinical team members, these adult patients are receiving excellent care in a very difficult time. I join with President and CEO Marcy Doderer, FACHE; Drs. Rick Barr, Greg Sharp and Todd Maxson; Chief Nursing Officer Lee Anne Eddy and Patient Care Services Vice-President Mary Salassi-Scotter in expressing gratitude to all team members.
Legacy of a Leader
Dr. Sam Smith improved the lives of countless children and their families during his 28 years of service as Chief of Pediatric General Surgery. The legacy of this retiring leader extends through the ACGME-accredited Pediatric Surgery training program and the excellent surgical research training program he founded after joining our faculty and Arkansas Children’s in 1992. Dr. Smith developed the trauma program at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Among many leadership roles, he served as Interim Chair of the Department of Surgery in 2007-2008. Dr. Smith also trained Dr. Sid Dassinger, who succeeds him as Division Chief. Read more about Dr. Smith (and Dr. Dassinger) in this tribute from Dr. Todd Maxson. Please join me in wishing Dr. Smith a joyful retirement!
Congratulations to recently invested Geriatrics colleagues Dr. Steven Barger and Dr. Denise Compton. Dr. Barger, an exceptional neuroscience and neurological disease researcher, was invested in the Louise G. Hearn Chair in Dementia and Long-Term Care. Dr. Compton, a clinical psychologist and geriatric neuropsychologist specializing in seniors and cognitive disorders, was invested in the Magalene McKinnon Ingram Endowed Professorship in Geriatric Education. These are well-earned honors for Dr. Barger and Dr. Compton, who will have an even greater impact through their endowment-supported initiatives.
In the Spotlight
A recently published paper by Executive Associate Dean for Research Dr. Richard P. Morrison, Microbiology and Immunology Research Associate Sandra G. Morrison, B.S., and colleagues at the University of Indiana School of Medicine has been highlighted in a news brief by the prestigious Nature Reviews Microbiology. “A Genital Infection-Attenuated Chlamydia Muridarum Mutant Infects the Gastrointestinal Tract and Protects Against Genital Tract Challenge” was first published in the high-impact journal mBio. The paper identifies a promising path toward a live-attenuated vaccine for Chlamydia trachomatis, the most common sexually transmitted bacterial infection.
Congratulations to the many UAMS faculty and staff who contributed to three publications in a recent issue of the Journal of Clinical and Translational Science devoted to research focused on improving rural public health. I join with Translational Research Institute Director Dr. Laura James in applauding the interdepartmental and cross-college research collaborations that led to the articles on topics including a digital health platform to support rural communities; field assessment of a safe-sleep instrument using smartphone technology; and mapping mammography access across Arkansas.
Dr. David Nagy, Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology and Director of Trauma Anesthesia at UAMS, will lend his expertise to the Editorial Committee of the Trauma Anesthesia Society. The Society works to advance the field of trauma anesthesia through education and research. Congratulations!
Dr. Sarafina Kankam, Pain Medicine fellow in the Department of Anesthesiology, did a great job in an interview with KTHV-TV last week discussing the nationally noted concerns that many Black Americans have about the emerging COVID-19 vaccines. For some, fear and mistrust of government and the medical field stems from the grave mistreatment of Black Americans in the Tuskegee trials of the 1930s and other health system failings. Dr. Kankam emphasized the extensive scientific work that has gone into ensuring the safety and efficacy of the new vaccines, and she encouraged viewers to trust their health care providers on this important issue.
COVID & the Kidneys
Dr. Jawahar L. “Jay” Mehta, Distinguished Professor of Internal Medicine and Physiology and Biophysics and the Stebbins Chair in Cardiology, Internal Medicine resident Dr. Husam Salah and Dr. John Arthur, Professor and Director of the Division of Nephrology, are the authors of an insightful editorial in the European Heart Journal, the highest-ranking cardiology journal. “Implications of renal ACE2 expression in the age of COVID-19” provides context for recent research involving angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), a receptor for the virus that causes COVID-19, and comorbidities involving the renal system.
A shout-out to Tracy Nolan, Instructor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics, who was recognized by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for her contributions as a co-author on an important paper about patients with cancer who had exceptional responses to therapy. The research, published in the journal Cell, revealed molecular changes in the tumors of these patients that may help explain their response to treatment. The team at the UAMS-housed Cancer Imaging Archive (TCIA) has been working with the NCI on the project for several years. The study was highlighted in an NCI news release.
UAMS at AAO
The Department of Ophthalmology and Jones Eye Institute were well represented at the recent American Academy of Ophthalmology virtual meeting with an incredible seven presentations. I join with Ophthalmology Chair and Jones Eye Director Dr. Paul Phillips in congratulating all who participated. Presentation leaders included residents Dr. Kinza Ahmad and Dr. Zia Siddiqui; faculty members Dr. Sami Uwaydat and Dr. Ahmed Sallam; orthoptist Kathy Fray, CO; and award-winning medical student Michelle Huynh. Well done!
Consultant of the Month
Emergency Medicine residents selected Kyle Brewer, a peer-support specialist who helps address substance-use disorders in Emergency Department patients, as the newest Consultant of the Month. Residents praised Mr. Brewer for helping patients behind the scenes, sometimes influencing life-changing decisions through his own story and heart for service. One appreciative resident said he is “making us better doctors.” Thank you for you service Kyle, and congratulations!
The Department of Surgery’s Dr. Conan Mustain recently saw a returning patient whom he realized needed to be evaluated for an unrelated and undiagnosed issue. A quick conversation with the Head and Neck Oncology Clinic’s Samantha Rose, CNP, was all it took to initiate life-saving care by Dr. Emre Vural, Ms. Rose and their team. “There was no hesitation on the part of the HONC staff to add this patient on to their already busy schedule,” Dr. Mustain told me. “It was great to see simple, in-person communication and a patient-first attitude expedite the care of this patient.”
Second-year Internal Medicine resident Dr. Ples Spradley wrote to me to share a story of heroism by a fellow UAMS resident. While driving on a major Little Rock street one recent evening, Dr. Spradley came upon a three-car pile-up that had just occurred in the opposite lanes – and he was stunned to see an injured driver collapse onto the median. He called 9-1-1 and quickly made his way back to the scene. Upon arrival, he discovered that first-year Surgery resident Dr. Megan White also had stopped to help. Dr. White was softly comforting the injured woman. When paramedics arrived, she provided a succinct summary of the patient’s condition. Dr. Spradley was amazed at Dr. White’s compassion and professionalism. I am proud of both of these selfless residents and am honored to have them training with us at UAMS.