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!
Genetics Research Excellence
Congratulations to Drs. Reine Protacio, Tresor Mukiza, Mari Davidson and Wayne Wahls in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The significance of their recent Genetics paper on the plasticity of meiotic recombination – a component of evolution of species – was just highlighted in the prestigious journal Nature Reviews Genetics. Their work was featured with top billing on the home page of the journal and will appear in the August print issue. The discoveries were also the topic of an invited perspective article in Frontiers in Genetics. Department Chair Dr. Kevin Raney notes that this is the tenth time that a scientific publication from Dr. Wahls’ laboratory has been discussed in a commentary, editorial, highlight or editors’ choice of top papers published during the year. As Dr. Raney said, this remarkable achievement “reflects the sustained high quality of fundamental, basic science research conducted by a group of talented UAMS scientists.” Read more here. Well done!
International Leadership in ENT
Dr. Susan Emmett, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and Director of the UAMS Center for Hearing Health Equity, delivered the keynote lecture at the recent virtual AG Bell Global Listening and Spoken Language Symposium. Attendees from over 50 countries listened to her talk, “The Road to Hearing Health Equity.” Her work also was highlighted at the World Health Organization launch of the WHO-International Telecommunications Union Global Standards for Accessibility of Telehealth Services in June. She was an invited speaker and the only academic researcher featured alongside international leaders in government and industry.
Congratulations also to Professor Dr. Gresham Richter on being voted President-Elect of the American Broncho-Esophological Association, and on the publication of his latest paper, “Characterizing Pediatric Bilateral Vocal Fold Dysfunction: Analysis with the Pediatric Health Information System Database,” in The Laryngoscope.
The Nonfatal Injury Burden of Mass Shootings
For every death in civilian public mass shootings across the nation, another 5.8 individuals are injured. Assistant Professor Dr. Amanda Young and Associate Professor Dr. Carly Eastin in the Department of Emergency Medicine are coauthors on an important multicenter study, recently published in JAMA Network Open, into the burden of non-fatal injuries in mass shootings. The study documented the substantial morbidity associated with mass shootings, including injury characteristics, outcomes and impacts on health care services. The results reveal the importance of including data on nonfatal injuries to inform public policy and help prevent and reduce the harm caused by mass shooting events.
COVID-19 & Heart Failure
Congratulations to Dr. Husam Salah, Chief Resident in the Division of General Internal Medicine, on the publication of his paper in Nature Communications on the increased risk of heart failure among individuals previously hospitalized for COVID-19. Dr. Salah was first author on “Post-recovery COVID-19 and incident heart failure in the National COVID Cohort Collaborative (N3C) study.” The work also was noted in a news article on COVID-19 in the state in today’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
National Pathology Leadership
Dr. Susanne Jeffus, Associate Professor of Pathology, has been elected to serve on the Council of the Program Directors Section of the national Association of Pathology chairs. The section provides a forum for the exchange of information and ideas and makes recommendations on governing content and management of pathology residency training programs. Dr. Jeffus served as Associate Program Director at UAMS from 2014-2019 and has been the Residency Program Director since then. Under her leadership, 100% of residents have given the program a positive evaluation on the ACGME survey for two consecutive years.
Using AI to Predict the Need for Brain Surgery
A shout-out to Assistant Professor Dr. Viktoras Palys‘ research group in the Department of Neurosurgery for their publication in Quantitative Imaging in Medicine and Surgery. Their article, with intern Dr. Thomas Harkey as first author and additional residents and students as coauthors, represents three years of neuroimaging data collection and exploration of automated volumetry software for the brain and skull. Dr. Palys’ team is striving to reduce the barrier to entry for research and clinical groups, including neurosurgeons and neuroradiologists, to incorporate these artificial intelligence tools into clinical workflow. A future extension of the group’s research is to utilize AI to prognosticate the utility of decompressive craniectomy in ischemic strokes with large vessel occlusion. In their efforts to improve outcomes in the Stroke Belt, these physicians have been awarded two grants from the Fund to Cure Stroke Grant at UAMS.
Promising AI Scholar
Catherine “Cat” Shoults, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biomedical Informatics, already has drawn international attention for her promising work in artificial intelligence. She recently was accepted into the Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden) Institute for Artificial Intelligence Summer Scholar Program. We were saddened when the prestigious program was canceled for this year due to illness of a key organizer – but Cat nonetheless deserves a shout-out. Professor Dr. Jonathan Bona, who teaches information modeling at UAMS and is a previous TU Dresden Scholar, facilitated the opportunity, along with the College of Medicine Artificial Intelligence Creativity Hub led by Distinguished Professor and Biomedical Informatics Chair Dr. Fred Prior. At UAMS, Ms. Shoults is part of the Biomedical Ontologies Arkansas group chaired by Dr. Bona and Dr. Mathias Brochhausen, Professor and Vice Chair for Academic Programs. Her dissertation work focuses on data mining adverse events in Reddit to complement FDA drug safety reporting.
Highly Cited Work
A 2019 paper by Dr. Giulia Baldini, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Dr. Kevin Phelan, Professor of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences, continues to provide obesity researchers with important insights and context. Their review article, “The melanocortin pathway and control of appetite-progress and therapeutic implications,” was one of the most highly cited articles in the Journal of Endocrinology in 2021 and is now being showcased in the journal’s Impact Factor Collection. Congratulations, Dr. Baldini and Dr. Phelan!
Residency Celebrations & Honors
A few weeks ago, I noted that celebration was in the air across the College of Medicine as our departments and residency and fellowship programs honored graduating housestaff and outstanding educators. I am pleased to share some of the lists of honorees we have received. Congratulations to the exemplary graduates and faculty in Emergency Medicine, Family and Preventive Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Orthopaedic Surgery and Pathology!
I look forward to highlighting additional year-end celebrations and awards in upcoming Accolades. Program Directors and Coordinators can share information about ceremonies and honorees using this template and sending it to COMInternalCommunications@uams.edu.