Curriculum and Residency Management Administrators (CARMA) Team
Shashank Kraleti, M.D., FAAFP
Dr. Kraleti is the Director of the Little Rock Family Medicine Residency Program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), where he holds the Jack W. Kennedy Chair in Family and Preventive Medicine. As Director of the newly formed Primary Care and Population Health Service Line, he provides oversight for clinical and population health initiatives for Arkansas. He serves as Medical Director for the UAMS Division of Community and Health Education, is recognized as a leader in clinical informatics, and serves on the UAMS core informatics group. He is a graduate of the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors (AFMRD) National Institute for Program Director Development and a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). Dr. Kraleti has a faculty appointment as Associate Professor with tenure in the clinical educator pathway, and he has written multiple peer-reviewed publications and has made presentations at national and international forums. His community outreach experience includes television appearances and authoring a series of newspaper columns on health issues. Among his many awards are the ACGME Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Award, the New Faculty Scholar Award from the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, the AFMRD Program Director Recognition Award, the AFMRD/AAFP Award for Scholarship, the UAMS Resident Educator Award, and the Outstanding Teacher Award. When he is away from work, Dr. Kraleti serves as the President of the Global Illumine Corporation, a non-profit organization that transforms lives by supporting the education of underserved young people. He is the Chair of the Charity Committee for the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, and the Vice-President of the Hindu Temple of Central Arkansas. On his own time, he enjoys music, movies, traveling, swimming, and spending time with his kids.
Lauren Gibson-Oliver, M.D., M.B.A.
Dr. Gibson-Oliver (she/her) joined our faculty as Associate Director of the residency program in 2020 and has a faculty appointment of Assistant Professor. While a resident in our program, she earned the distinctions of serving as chief resident, resident council secretary, resident council co-chair, and achieving the top in-training exam score among her classmates for all three years. She also won the Outstanding Resident Award and the TOP Award for professionalism. She is a graduate of the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors’ National Institute for Program Director Development. Dr. Gibson-Oliver is one of the inaugural faculty co-chairs of the UAMS Graduate Medical Education Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, which is tasked with recruiting and retaining a more diverse resident and fellow cohort and improving the clinical learning environment experience for trainees that are underrepresented in medicine across campus. Originally from Colorado, Dr. Gibson-Oliver graduated from the Caribbean Medical University in Curaçao and earned an MBA from Davenport University. Her clinical interests include lifestyle and preventive medicine, women’s and adolescent health, health equity, and healthcare for underserved and historically marginalized communities. Outside of the office, she enjoys practicing yoga, baking, sewing, and exploring the world with her family.
Wayne Bryant Jr., M.D., M.S.
Dr. Bryant joined our faculty in 2022 as Assistant Director of the residency program. His faculty appointment is as Assistant Professor, and he is co-chair/faculty sponsor for the Walk with a Doc program. While in our residency program, he served as Chief Resident and won the Outstanding Resident Award, the STAR Professionalism Award, and the 2021 National Institute of Health/National Medical Association Academic Medicine Fellow/Traveling Award. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of South Florida and completed medical school at the American University of Antigua. Dr. Bryant’s clinical interests include improving health literacy and health equity for the underserved and historically marginalized communities, along with women’s health, lifestyle medicine, and preventive medicine. When he’s not working, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching sports, traveling, and playing pool.
Diane Jarrett, Ed.D., M.A.
Dr. Jarrett is the DFPM Director of Education and Communications, and the Assistant Director of the residency program. Her duties include curriculum design, program evaluation, coordination of the noon conference series, and teaching residents on subjects such as becoming culturally competent and improving presentation skills. Dr. Jarrett also directs educational activities for the divisions of Community Health and Education and Medical Student Education and is a CME Medical Director. She serves as the department webmaster, coordinates faculty development activities, and edits the alumni newsletter. Over the years, she has made presentations at conferences everywhere from New York to Denver to Saskatchewan. She holds the rank of Assistant Professor, is the DFPM faculty liaison with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is a member of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, the American Educational Research Association, and Mensa International. Dr. Jarrett’s master’s degree is in journalism and her doctorate is in higher education administration. When she isn’t working, she enjoys writing about classic films. She has had five publications (so far!) in the international journal Films of the Golden Age — biographical essays on William Boyd, George Macready, Micky Moore, and Jack Doyle, and an analysis of the 1943 film The Seventh Victim. Her publications in Classic Images include profiles of actors Richard Todd, Ray Dixon, and Frank Albertson, along with World War I ace/actor Charles Nungesser and director Carl Theodor Dreyer.
Elizabeth “Beth” Schmit, Ph.D.
Dr. Schmit joined the faculty in 2020 as our Behavioral Scientist. From 1996 to 2019, she was in private practice in Portland, Oregon, serving individual adults and couples with a variety of mental health concerns. She has taught community-wide classes on marriage/relationships and parenting. Her areas of clinical interest are behavioral medicine, anxiety, mood disorders, trauma and resilience, couples and relationship issues, and parenting. Dr. Schmit’s doctorate and master’s degrees in clinical psychology are from Purdue University in Indiana. She also completed a predoctoral internship at Palo Alto VA Hospital and a postdoctoral fellowship in behavioral medicine at Stanford. Outside of the office, Dr. Schmit enjoys good coffee, exploring the outdoors, travel, writing, attending plays and choral concerts, and needlework and crafting. She is married and has two grown daughters, one on each coast.
Jill Hare joined our program as the Residency Coordinator in 2022. Her previous GME experience includes several years in the OB/GYN and Psychiatry departments at UAMS. Born and raised in Memphis, Jill has lived in St. Louis and Atlanta at various times — but she calls Arkansas home and is glad to be back in Little Rock. Jill enjoys traveling, serving on missions trips (local, national, and international), volunteering, CrossFit, indoor gardening, and spending time with her 11-year-old niece, Chloe.
Paige Beck, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Beck joined our faculty in 2020. Her accomplishments include completing the UAMS geriatrics fellowship, serving as chief resident in our program (the class of 2019), and earning both a medical degree and a doctorate from the UAMS College of Medicine and Graduate School. Along the way, she won multiple awards including a National Research Service Award for M.D./Ph.D. Fellows from the Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Beck has co-authored multiple peer-reviewed publications, has significant research experience, and is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Geriatrics Society.
Michael Cassat, M.D.
Dr. Cassat joined the faculty in March 2015 and brings extensive clinical experience in sports and musculoskeletal medicine. Dr. Cassat graduated from the UAMS medical school in 2002 and completed his residency at the Area Health Education Center in Fayetteville in 2005. After practicing primary care and sports medicine in Springdale, Dr. Cassat moved to Vail, Colorado. He received additional training in sports and musculoskeletal medicine at The Steadman Clinic and practiced there until his return to Arkansas, where he was most recently affiliated with Arkansas Specialty Orthopedics. Dr. Cassat sees patients of all ages for sports related injuries, as well as other musculoskeletal problems. He also maintains a primary care patient panel and supervises residents in both the Family Medical Center and the hospital. He focuses on the rapid recovery of non-surgical injuries through both imaging-guided injections as well as physical therapy.
Monica Ferrero, M.D.
Dr. Ferrero joined our faculty as an assistant professor in 2021. She practices in Little Rock, Helena, and the House Calls program. During her time in our residency program, she won the STAR Professionalism Award and the Goss Physician/Patient Relationship Award. She is a graduate of the University Libre Seccional Cali, Colombia, and is fluent in Spanish and English. During her free time, Dr. Ferrero enjoys spending time with her pets and dancing.
Jamie Howard, M.D.
Dr. Howard joined our faculty in 1981. She directs the Preventive Occupational and Environmental Medicine Division and UAMS Student and Employee Health Services. She also oversees the clinical laboratory and is a medical director of the Integrated Medical Service Line (IMSL) Quality Improvement (QI) council. In addition, Dr. Howard is a certified Epic physician builder.
Yasthil Jaganath, M.D., MPH
Dr. Yas Jaganath joined our faculty as an assistant professor in 2021 and practices in Little Rock, Helena, and the House Calls Program. He graduated from our residency program where he served as a chief resident and was awarded the STAR Professionalism Award and the STFM (Society of Teachers of Family Medicine) Resident Teacher Award. He has a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Humanitarian Health, and a Certificate in Gerontology from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. He also completed a post-doctoral fellowship in HIV and Tuberculosis with the UNAIDS Center for the AIDS program of Research in South Africa, where he worked with the pediatric population in the city he grew up in. Dr. Jaganath holds licensure in Arkansas and South Africa. He is passionate about providing personalized care to his patients. During his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends.
David M. Kelley, M.D.
Dr. Kelley joined our faculty in 2022 at the rank of Associate Professor. He has extensive teaching experience, including service as clerkship director and division head for education. His multiple teaching awards include the Stanton L. Young Master Teacher Award, the Dewayne Edwards Excellence in Teaching Award, and the Aesculapian Award. Dr. Kelley is an AAFP Fellow and has given numerous national presentations. Originally from Colorado, he graduated from the Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago and completed his training at the La Grange Family Medicine Residency. His clinical interests include women’s health, pediatric care, and preventive health across the lifespan. Outside of the office, Dr. Kelley enjoys baking, home improvement, and being active with his family.
Stephen King, M.D.
Dr. King is a hospitalist for the Family Medicine service. He graduated from UAMS in 1984 and completed his postgraduate training at Family Medicine Spokane (Washington). He was in private practice for 15 years in Spokane and later worked urgent care and emergency medicine before moving to hospital medicine. He was previously employed by UAMS in El Dorado at the AHEC (now Regional Programs) residency as interim residency director where he lead the program through successful accreditation. Through his career he has been involved in medical education at various levels, and he loves teaching. One of his most fulfilling medical endeavors was working in a refugee camp in Ethiopia during the famine of 1985. Dr. King is happily married to Beth and is the father of two beautiful girls, Mary and Lydia.
Anil Kopparapu, M.D., M.P.H
Dr. Kopparapu joined our faculty in 2016. He is a graduate of the Family Medicine residency program at the State University of New York at Buffalo and has a master of public health degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. His professional experience includes working as a hospitalist at Geisinger Medical Center in Pennsylvania and at Holston Valley Medical Center in Tennessee. Dr. Kopparapu’s outside interests include watching movies and traveling, and he enjoys tennis and cricket.
Aruna Malladi, M.D.
Dr. Malladi joined our faculty in 2020. She is a 2019 graduate of our residency program, where she was the winner of the 2018 Medical Knowledge Award and a member of the UAMS Clinical Documentation Committee. Her scholarly activities included poster presentations at the 2018 AAPI Annual Conference and the 40th Annual Family Medicine Intensive Review Course. A graduate of Gandhi Medical College in India, Dr. Malladi is particularly interested in preventive medicine. She enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with family.
David A. Nelsen, Jr., M.D., M.S.
Dr. Nelsen practiced medicine in rural Arkansas for five years and served on the faculty at the University of Minnesota before joining the Department. He completed a faculty development fellowship and a Master of Science in Family and Community Medicine at the University of Minnesota. He is an active clinician and is certified by the American Board of Family Practice. Dr. Nelsen is the Assistant Medical Director for Clinical Informatics for the UAMS campus. In this role he is the primary physician representative for informatics issues relative to inpatient and outpatient information systems.
Amber Norris, M.D.
Dr. Norris wears many hats in our department including precepting residents, serving as the Medical Director at Helena East, working with House Calls, and serving as the Family Medicine clerkship director for M4 students. From a clinical standpoint, she is passionate about opioid use disorder and medication assisted treatment. On the personal side, she is married, has 3 children, and loves board games, reading (anything fantasy), and cooking/baking. Dr. Norris was born and raised in Central Arkansas, graduated from UAMS in 2017, and completed her Family Medicine residency at John Peter Smith in Ft. Worth, TX.
Geeta Sakariya M.D., M.P.H.
Dr. Sakariya joined as faculty in 2018 and has been the Medical Director of the Family Medical Center since June 2022. She has years of experience as a family physician in addition to experience as a clinical researcher on topics such as decreasing overweight and obesity rates, the effects of smoking on pregnancy and offspring, and curriculum development on the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Her clinical interests include preventive medicine, chronic disease management, and women’s health. She has a special interest in procedures in Family Medicine and supervises the procedures clinic at the FMC. Dr. Sakariya graduated from medical school in India, then went on to earn a Master of Public Health from California State University, Long Beach. She completed her Family Medicine residency at UND, Bismarck. In her free time, she likes cooking, exercising, home improvement, spending time with her friends and family, and traveling.
Charles W. Smith, M.D.
Dr. Smith retired from full-time faculty status in 2019 after 30 years at UAMS, but he continues to precept in our clinic. He opened a direct care practice (Dr. Smith Direct Care) in 2019. He also serves as medical director for Cottages of Poplar Grove (a rehab and long-term care facility) and also for Arkansas Health and Nutrition (formerly the UAMS weight loss program).
Leslie Stone M.D., M.P.H.
Dr. Stone is the director of the DFPM Division of Medical Student Education and an experienced family physician with an interest in underserved populations and in chronic care. He completed an intensive course at the Institute for International Medicine to study public health challenges of the developing world and has worked in public health settings in Honduras and Cuba. Dr. Stone also worked at an FQHC (Federally Qualified Health Center) in East Harlem, New York, where he managed methadone maintenance therapy for patients with opiate addiction. He is a graduate of the UAMS medical school and the UAMS Northwest Family Medicine residency program. His MPH is from the State University of New York in Brooklyn.
William Ventres M.D., M.A.
Dr. Ventres joined the faculty in 2017 after working internationally for six years. Clinically, he has many years’ experience in safety-net clinics and corrections health. His other professional interests lie in global family medicine, physician-patient communication, and the use of qualitative methods in health care research. Dr. Ventres completed his undergraduate studies at Duke University, graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School, and holds master’s degrees in anthropology and in systems counseling. He is a fluent Spanish speaker.
Bala Simon, M.D., Dr.P.H., DipABOM, DipABLM, FAAFP
Dr. Bala is a board-certified family and preventive medicine physician, an epidemiologist, and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer at the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). He joined the DFPM in 2013 and currently serves as an adjunct Clinical Associate Professor and precepts residents and medical students in the FMC. He obtained his medical degree from India and completed his Family Medicine residency at our program, where he was a chief resident. He obtained his Master of Public Health with emphasis in Epidemiology from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. He further obtained his Doctorate in Public Health with emphasis in Health Policy and Epidemiology from UAMS. Dr. Bala completed a fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Preventive Medicine Residency and Fellowship Program, and became board-certified in Preventive Medicine. He is also board-certified in Obesity Medicine and Lifestyle Medicine. Besides serving as the ADH Deputy Chief Medical Officer, he is also the State Chronic Disease Director, overseeing and providing medical guidance to chronic disease programs such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, tobacco, substance use, nutrition and physical activity across the state through the ADH’s local health units. Additionally, he serves as an adjunct Associate Professor at the Department of Epidemiology in the UAMS College of Public Health. He is widely published both in national and international journals, and has obtained numerous awards for his work. These include the Director’s Science Award for his contribution to the ADH, the Chronic Disease Champion by the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, and the Physician Volunteer of the Year award for his work at the Harmony Health Clinic, which serves the uninsured and underinsured residents of central Arkansas. Dr. Bala also is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of the Arkansas Medical Society, and is currently serving as the 73rd President of the Arkansas Chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians.