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!
Best Children’s Hospitals
Congratulations to our colleagues at Arkansas Children’s on their national rankings in U.S. News & World Report’s 2021-2022 Best Children’s Hospitals. Arkansas Children’s ranked nationally in four specialties: Cardiology & Heart Surgery, Nephrology, Pulmonology & Lung Surgery, and Urology. Arkansas Children’s is also ranked within the Southeast Region along with pediatric hospitals in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. As President and CEO Marcy Doderer, FACHE, noted in her message to the Arkansas Children’s Team yesterday, this important national recognition reflects the incredible work of the team and the strong commitment to provide the very best care for the children of Arkansas. Thank you all.
Serving Arkansas Physicians
Congratulations to Dr. Danny Wilkerson, Professor of Anesthesiology and Obstetrics and Gynecology, on his inauguration as the 2021-2022 President of the Arkansas Medical Society. As AMS President, Dr. Wilkerson plans to continue the organization’s work to address health care disparities in Arkansas, address scope-of-practice issues and reduce the stigma of substance use disorders. He also will lead AMS’ ongoing vaccine advocacy and other work related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The role is one of many examples of Dr. Wilkerson’s service and leadership in Arkansas and beyond, in addition to his outstanding work on our faculty since 2000. He was also recently reelected by his colleagues in the Arkansas Society of Anesthesiologists to serve as the Arkansas Director on the American Society of Anesthesiologists Board of Directors.
Genetic Sequencing Policy Update
Dr. Kent McKelvey, Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Genetics, contributed to a major new article in Nature, Genetics in Medicine that is receiving international attention. Dr. McKelvey serves on the American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG) Secondary Findings Committee, which reviews genes for inclusion or exclusion on clinical exomes and substantially impacts what molecular data labs report out when exome sequencing – sequencing of the small fraction of the genome that contains all of the protein coding genes – is performed. “ACMG SF v3.0 list for reporting of secondary findings in clinical exome and genome sequencing: a policy statement of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG)” can be read here. Thank you, Dr. McKelvey, for serving in this important national role in the field of genetics.
Outstanding in Orthopaedics
Congratulations to the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery on a slate of recent accomplishments, including receiving the Joint Replacement Excellence Award from Healthgrades. The award recognizes UAMS as among the top 10% in the nation for quality and safety relating to joint replacement surgery. It was presented last week to Dr. Steppe Mette, senior vice chancellor for UAMS Health and CEO of UAMS Medical Center, Orthopaedic Surgery Chair Dr. Lowry Barnes, and orthopaedic surgeons Dr. Simon Mears, Dr. Jeffrey Stambough and Dr. Ben Stronach. Read more here.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jeffrey Stambough has been named Chair of the Young Physicians Committee (YPC) of the American Joint Replacement Registry (AJRR). He will lend his expertise, passion for mentoring young physicians, and fervent involvement in research through the AJJR to the YPC as it works to shape the growth and strength of the registry. AJJR operates under the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and is the preeminent registry of its kind, capturing the details and outcomes of more than 40% of all total hip and knee replacements in the country.
A shout-out also to Dr. Ramon Ylanan, who was a co-winner of the Southeastern Conference’s Michael L. Slive Distinguished Service Award for his work as a University of Arkansas team physician serving on the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force. Dr. Ylanan and physicians for other SEC teams were honored for developing policies and protocols to support a healthy and safe return to intercollegiate athletics competition during the pandemic.
National Service in Pathology
Department of Pathology faculty members are doing a great job in national service roles as well as in their work here in Arkansas. Most recently, Dr. Eric Rosenbaum, Director of Clinical Microbiology at both UAMS and Arkansas Children’s Hospital, assembled and led a laboratory inspection peer-review team for the College of American Pathologists (CAP) accreditation program, the gold standard for clinical laboratories. The team, which also included UAMS Cytopathology fellow Dr. Ryan Campbell, earned an excellent evaluation for their inspection of a laboratory in Texas.
Kudos as well to Dr. Tina Ipe, Director of the UAMS Blood Bank and Transfusion Division, for her contributions as a member of the American Society for Apheresis Public Affairs and Advocacy Committee on a guidebook to help peer therapeutic apheresis programs around the country ensure accurate billing and appropriate reimbursement for the important services they provide to patients.
Cancer Testing Innovation
Congratulations to Dr. Donald Johann, Associate Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Internal Medicine, who is among the national leaders from academia, industry, the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration to co-author an important new paper in the high-impact journal Genome Biology. The paper concerns the establishment of a new genomic reference sample to be used in creating advanced Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) assays for small to large oncopanels and liquid biopsies. Studies focusing on this aspect of translational science don’t tend to grab headlines, but they are foundational to valid testing and the future benefit of cancer patients. UAMS is involved in national efforts to bring liquid biopsy and other types of advanced NGS assays to the clinic for our patients – and this work is important in our efforts to achieve National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation.
Hundreds of College of Medicine students have benefited over the decades from the generosity of the late Dorothy Snider Surles, a Manila, Arkansas, native who later lived in Memphis. This year, we reached a milestone with more than $2.5 million in cumulative scholarship funding from the Dorothy Snider Foundation. Combined with matching funds from the college, these scholarships have now surpassed $5 million. Assistant Dean for Admissions Tom South has expertly shepherded this process since joining UAMS in 1984, working with the Dorothy Snider Foundation, our scholarships selection committee, and UAMS Institutional Advancement to ensure the continuity of this important funding and that outstanding students receive the scholarships. I join with Executive Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Dr. James Graham in expressing gratitude to the Dorothy Snider Foundation and to Tom, his team, and all at UAMS who have made this possible.
Dr. Hannah Baer Wilkins, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Section of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Pharmacology and Toxicology, and Dr. Lindsay Arthur, a graduating Pediatric Cardiology fellow and upcoming inaugural Pediatric Advanced Cardiac Imaging fellow, did a great job on in important multicenter study. They are among the authors of “Rheumatic Heart Disease in the United States: Forgotten But not Gone-Results of a 10-Year Multicenter Review,” which has been accepted for publication in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
2020 UAMS graduate Dr. Scarlett Acklin is on a trajectory for great success as a radiation oncologist. After wrapping up her internship at UAMS, she begins her radiation oncology residency at Duke University next month. And she has just been awarded the Basic/Translational Science Abstract Award in the Radiation and Cancer Biology category from the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO). Her abstract was one of only 30 selected from more than 2,000 submitted. She is also invited for an oral presentation of her research, “SIRT2 promotes murine melanoma progression through natural killer cell inhibition,” at the ASTRO annual meeting in October. Dr. Acklin started her adventure of cancer research in Radiation Oncology Chair Dr. Fen Xia’s laboratory when she was a first-year medical student. She went on to win a research award, have four invited oral presentations at national and international cancer research meetings, and produce four papers including one in the Journal of Clinical Investigation and two as first author. I join with Dr. Xia and her team in congratulating Dr. Acklin!
Above & Beyond
A recent patient in the Medical Intensive Care Unit experienced the very best of UAMS, thanks to the MICU team, Neurology colleagues and others who helped to get to the bottom of a condition that is often misdiagnosed. Just as noteworthy was the kindness of first-year Internal Medicine resident Dr. Tanya Savenka. Second-year resident Dr. Lana Abusalem told us about the case, saying it reminded her of why she wanted to go into medicine. Dr. Savenka had gone out of her way to obtain a great history, establish rapport with the patient’s mother and check back on the patient after she had been transferred to another service. She even gave the mother a book about another patient’s experience with the same disease, to let her know her daughter was not alone.
“I was very impressed by how caring, thoughtful and compassionate Dr. Savenka is,” said Dr. Abusalem. “I was reminded of how vulnerable our patients and their families feel when they are sick and alone in the hospital, and that small gestures like this can go a long way to make them feel seen.”