All posts by Kelly Edwards

Faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends receive discount on Hospital Hill Run registration

UMKC will be part of a grand tradition on June 3 when Kansas City celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Hospital Hill Run.

The UMKC School of Medicine, UMKC Health Sciences District, and University Health all serve as co-sponsors Kansas City’s oldest road race. With the sponsorship, UMKC faculty, staff, students, alumni can receive a 20 percent discount when they REGISTER using this code: UMKCSOM23. For younger participants, K-12 registration is offered as well.

Today, the Hospital Hill Run is one of region’s premiere running events and includes a 5K Run, a 10K run and a half marathon. More than 170,000 runners of all levels, from Olympic athletes to weekend warriors, and from throughout the world have participated in the event that takes place each June.

The UMKC School of Medicine was only few years old when the school’s founder, E. Grey Dimond, M.D., launched a running event in 1974 to coincide with a postgraduate course dealing with health and physical fitness. That event would become the Hospital Hill Run.

During those early years, the 13-mile half marathon route took runners by many of the hospitals affiliated with the School of Medicine: Truman Medical Center, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Menorah Medical Center, Research Medical Center, Baptist Medical Center, Saint Luke’s Hospital, Trinity Lutheran Hospital, Trinity Lutheran, and St. Mary’s Medical Center.

As it did then, the race still begins and ends in front of Kansas City’s Crown Center.

In his biography, “Take Wing! Interesting Things that Happened on My Way to School,” Dimond wrote that, “Near the beginning of their route, the runners came up a long slope, immediately by Diastole. For many years, it gave me a surge of happiness to stand on the southwest corner of 25th and Holmes and see the thousands of men and women go by, many calling out a greeting.”

Visit the Hospital Hill Run website for more details.

Class of 2023 urged to ‘change the world’ in School of Medicine hooding ceremony

School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson (M.D. ’78) encouraged the graduates of the Class of 2023 to be grateful, remain humble and have courage in the next step of their journey as health care professionals. Jackson spoke to more than 180 students participating in school’s annual hooding ceremony.

The May 12 ceremony at Swinney Center recognized 110 doctor of medicine graduates, as well as those earning their master’s and doctorate degrees and graduate certificates in the anesthesia assistant, bioinformatics, health professions education and physician assistant programs.

Jackson congratulated the graduates and told them that their experience at the School of Medicine has prepared them well to care for the patients they will see in the future.

“More than ever, the world needs you. Go out and change the world,” Jackson said. “We are so proud of you, Class of 2023.”

Graduates and their family and friends in attendance also heard from Richard Barohn (M.D. `80), the school’s 2023 E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing Award recipient. Barohn currently serves as the executive vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Missouri and dean of the University of Missouri School of Medicine.

“I have learned that each time you get elevated to the next level of training or a new career trajectory, it will seem that the next year will be the most difficult work year of your life,” Barohn said. “It’s hard work, but it will be the most fulfilling work that you will do. You will be able to go to work every day knowing that you can make the world a better place because of your skill, your knowledge and your compassion.”

The School of Medicine also recognized 30 students with the school’s annual senior awards. Students and their awards include:

  • Sumaiya Alam | Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation
  • Harinee Arunachalam | Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation
  • Anissa C. Bernardez | Thomas R. Hamilton, M.D., Memorial Award for Excellence in Microbiology; J. Michael De Ungria, M.D., Humanitarian Award
  • Noah Paul Brown | UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Association Endowment Fund: Outstanding Senior Partner
  • Jordan J. Frankow | Merck Manual
  • Erin Kathleen Galakatos | Dean of Students Honor Recipient
  • Jordan I. Grimmett | Dean of Students Honor Recipient
  • Sydney M. Habert | Malhotra Family Scholarship for Academic and Clinical Excellence
  • Roxanna Hamidpour | Merck Manual; Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation
  • Siddhanth Sudhir Hegde | Friends of UMKC School of Medicine Basic Science Award
  • Jordan Henry Held | Ratilal S. Shah Medical Scholarship Fund; Dean of Students Honor Recipient
  • Faith Marie Kapp | Dean of Students Honor Recipient
  • Sahithi Katragadda | Malhotra Family Scholarship for Academic and Clinical Excellence
  • Yen T. Luu | Lee Langley Award for Academic Excellence; Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation; Friends of UMKC School of Medicine Award for Research Mahnoor
  • Farhan Malik | Dean of Students Honor Recipient
  • Camryn Joan Maloney | Bette W. Hamilton Memorial Award for Excellence in Immunology
  • Madhavi C. Murali | Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation
  • Francesca Moisson | Laura L Backus Award for Excellence in Pediatrics; Dean of Students Honor Recipient
  • Christy N. Nwankwo | Dean of Students Honor Recipient
  • Joseph O’Brien | Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Award
  • Molly Pasque | Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation
  • Shaan Prakash Patel | Dean of Students Honor Recipient
  • Alyssa Nicole Rivera | M.S. Anesthesia Student Ambassador Award
  • Carston Roach | Thomas R. Hamilton, M.D., Memorial Award for Excellence in Pathology
  • Tariq Said | Pat D. Do, M.D., Matching Scholarship in Orthopaedics
  • Neal D. Shah | ACP Senior Student Book Award; Richardson K. Noback Founders’ Award for Clinical Excellence
  • Turquoise N. Templeton | Dean of Students Honor Recipient
  • Sophi A. Thurman | James F. Stanford, M.D., Patient Advocate Scholarship
  • Kevin J. Varghese | UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Association Endowment Fund: Excellence in Medical Education
  • Carolyn Lucy Yoakum | Friends of UMKC School of Medicine Harry S. Jonas, M.D., Award


School of Medicine honors 2023 Take Wing Award recipient, Richard Barohn, M.D.

School of Medicine honors 2023 Take Wing Award recipient, Richard Barohn, M.D.

Richard Barohn (M.D. `80) was a 17-year-old high school senior when he was accepted to the UMKC School of Medicine, still in its infancy at the time.

“I really do believe that being accepted into the UMKC School of Medicine is like winning the lottery,” Barohn said. “And I believe I won the lottery very early in life. Then it was up to me come through and take advantage of that opportunity.”

His time at the School of Medicine has served the 2023 E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing Award honoree well, leading to a 20-year military career serving in the U.S. Air Force and becoming a recognized leader and research scientist in neurology and neuromuscular research. Following a stop at the University of Texas Southwestern, where he dove deep into his research interest, he spent another 20 years at the University of Kansas Medical Center, leading the neurology department as well as a team that developed Frontiers, a clinical and translational science institute that includes UMKC as one of its partners.

Today, he serves as the executive vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Missouri and dean of the University of Missouri School of Medicine, with oversight of the university’s entire health care and medical education system.

In his May 12 Take Wing address to students, faculty, friends and colleagues, Barohn discussed his own career path and provided advice for younger physicians, outlining the career paths available to them.

“So now you’ve finished medical school, you’ve finished your residency, you’ve finished your fellowship, what the heck do you do next?” he said.

Barohn offered an outline of career options, from clinical practice to teaching, research and academic administration. Each have been a part of his career, and Barohn said the foundation for that career was laid during his time at the School of Medicine.

“Perhaps I have used my lottery ticket to become a successful physician and, in my case, a successful academic leader, teacher and researcher and more recently an academic administrator,” he said.

Lt. Cmd. Catherine Olguin of the U.S. Public Health Service presents 2023 School of Medicine graduate Jada Ohene-Agyei with an Excellence in Public Health Award.

Just prior to the Take Wing presentation, Jada Ohene-Agyei, a fifth-year student, received the 2023 Excellence in Public Health Award from the U.S. Public Health Service Physician Professional Advisory Committee.

The national award, presented to Ohene-Agyei by Lt. Cmd. Catherine Olguin of the U.S. Public Health Service, recognizes medical students who help address public health issues in their community and protect, promote and advance the health and safety of our nation.

Ohene-Agyi has been active in many volunteer programs and organizations, serving as a leader with the student chapter of the American Medical Association and as president of the local Student National Medical Association chapter. Last summer, she led a team of nearly 70 student and faculty volunteers from UMKC’s health sciences schools in a one-day community health and wellness fair at the Kansas City Health Department.

Sophie Bernstein, a fifth-year medical student, received the award in 2022.


Commitment to quality of care and patient safety takes the spotlight

Mamta Reddy, Vijay Babu Rayudu Endowed Chair of Patient Safety, with some of the 2022-23 QIPS Faculty Scholars Kevin O’Rourke, Valerica Mateescu, Kevin Gray, Majdi Hamarshi, Alicia Daggett and Geetha Kamath.

Betty Drees, M.D., was just a few years into her term as dean of the UMKC School of Medicine in 2007 when Vijay Babu Rayudu, one of her medical students, died unexpectedly.

“This was very much a life-changing event for many people,” Drees said, during the school’s 10th annual Vijay Babu Rayudu Quality and Patient Safety Day on May 5.

Today, the event Drees was instrumental in establishing highlights the school’s commitment to improving the quality of care and patient safety. Each year, medical students, residents and fellows present research conducted throughout the year focused on the topic of quality and patient safety.

During a morning session of the event, 49 poster presentations were made to a panels of judges that selected the top two student posters and the top two resident/fellow posters. Medical students Paige Eichhoff and Sydney Edson, resident Ramy Ghaly, M.D., and fellow Anna Nelson, M.D, received the top poster awards.

A record 58 abstracts were submitted on various topics related to the quality and patient safety, 36 of those from medical students. A panel of 30 judges also selected the top two student and top two resident/fellow presentations that were given as oral presentations during the afternoon session of the event. Medical students Madeline Glodowski and Mallika Joshi, resident Fouad Jaber, MD and fellow Edward Lyon, DO, received the top abstract awards.

Julie Banderas, right, receives the Faculty Mentor award from Betty Drees.

In addition, Julie Banderas, Pharm.D., assistant dean for graduate studies and allied health, was presented with a Faculty Mentor of the Year Award. Drees also received special recognition with a Quality and Patient Safety Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sanjay Saint, M.D., MPH, chief of medicine at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and the George Dock Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Saint, gave the day’s keynote address focused on implementing change to enhance patient safety.

“When I was in training, we would just tolerate those things that we couldn’t change,” he said. “Now, I think we’ve got an army of people out there who are going to change the things we can no longer tolerate.”

Patient safety, implementation science, and medical decision-making make up a large part of Saint’s research efforts. He has written nearly 350 peer-reviewed papers, more than 110 of those appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, The Lancet or the Annals of Internal Medicine. He is also a special correspondent to the New England Journal of Medicine and an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) and the Association of American Physicians (AAP).

In 2011, members of the Rayudu family gave a gift of $500,000 to establish a Vijay Babu Rayudu Endowed Chair of Patient Safety. Mamta Reddy, M.D., currently serves the school in that role. Two years later, the School of Medicine conducted its first Vijay Babu Rayudu Quality and Patient Safety Day.

“To see what’s going on today makes me feel really proud to be here at UMKC,” Drees said.

To see a list of all the presentations given at this year’s event, go to the school’s Quality Improvement/Patient Safety page.

Alpha Omega Alpha honor society welcomes 2023 inductees

The School of Medicine welcomed 21 students and one medical resident as new members of its Missouri Delta Chapter of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society on May 10 during a celebration at Diastole.

Members are selected based on character and values such as honesty, honorable conduct, morality, virtue, unselfishness, ethical ideals, dedication to serving others, and leadership. Selection to AOA memberships is an honor that recognizes one’s excellence in academic scholarship and the highest ideals of professionalism in medicine.

Last fall, 15 senior members, those graduating this year, were selected for induction to the honor society. They include Sumalya Alam, Anissa Bernardez, Noah Brown, Patricia Carey, Annahita Fotouhi, Jordan Frankow, Herschel Gupta, Siddhanth Hegde, Jordan Held, Sahithi Katragadda, Camryn Maloney, Asha Nanda, Molly Pasque, Shil Shah and Arjun Rao.

Four junior members and two more senior members were chosen this spring for induction. Junior class inductees include Victoria Cegielski, Karishma Kondapalli, Nabeel Rasheed and Victoria Shi. Jourdan Brandon and Emily Gharabegi were the senior class inductees.

Reuben de Almeida, M.D., an internal medicine physician, was the resident inductee.

This year’s AOA student officers were Neal Shah, president, Joe Bean, vice-president, Kevin Varghese, secretary, and Sid Ramesh, treasurer.

Catherine Spong, M.D., ’91, delivered the annual AOA lecture on May 11. Spong serves as professor and the Paul C. MacDonald Distinguished Chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. She began her career with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institutes of Health, serving in numerous roles including director of extramural research.

Speaking to students and faculty, Spong talked about how to leverage one’s research opportunities.

“What I want you to do is think about the big questions, the untouched areas and the clinical questions that you face,” Spong said.

Ultimately, she encouraged each one to have a passion and love for what they do.

“Bring passion to what you do because it makes it so fun,” she said. “It makes it easier to be creative. It makes you more motivated and also makes everyone around you more creative.”

More than 4,000 students, residents/fellows, faculty and medical school alumni are elected to the AOA each year with nearly 200,000 members elected to the society since it began in 1902.

School of Medicine recognizes physician assistant students with White Coat Ceremony

The School of Medicine recognized 20 members of its physician assistant program as they transition to their next stage of training during the ninth-annual Physician Assistant White Coat Ceremony.

Physician assistant students receive their white coats as they begin their fifth semester of the seven-semester program. The ceremony signifies their transition from the didactic phase of training to their clinical rotations.

School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., served as keynote speaker, acknowledging and celebrating class members for their achievements and encouraging them as they go forward in their final year of training.

The school conducted its first Physician Assistant White Ceremony with its inaugural class in 2015. Since that time 168 students have participated in the event.

There are currently 59 students in different phases of the program, including 19 students who will graduate with their Master of Medical Science Physician Assistant degrees. The UMKC program is the only physician assistant program in Missouri housed inside a medical school.

UMKC students put research efforts on display at Health Sciences Research Summit

Sayra Nieto Gomez, fifth-year medical student, presents her poster at the annual UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit.

The idea of seeking out a mentor and embarking on a research project was a somewhat frightening experience for Sayra Nieto Gomez when she got started.

But with the support of a program for students underrepresented in the health professions and a willing faculty mentor, the fifth-year UMKC School of Medicine student was one of nearly 70 students who presented a research project at the 2023 UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit.

The event took place on March 22 at the Children’s Mercy Kansas City Research Institute, returning the summit UMKC’s Health Sciences Campus after being held at the Student Union on the UMKC Volker Campus for the past several years.

The annual summit provides an avenue for health sciences students to display their research, while also fostering collaborations across disciplines and schools that will provide  economic, health, education and quality-of-life benefits for the community.

Students from the schools of medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, education, computing and engineering and psychological sciences presented posters that displayed a vast array of research on medical science topics to community health programs.

Faculty members from the health sciences schools judged and scored the presentations based on overall quality and aspects of the presentations, including the research hypothesis, background, methodology and conclusions. The top three scores were announced in three categories: overall, graduate students (residents, post-doc, fellows), and undergraduate students.

Nieto Gomez’s presentation placed second in the overall division. She worked with her mentor, Karl Kador, Ph.D., a scientist at the School of Medicine who focuses on retinal research, to produce an abstract that looked at how early stage retinal ganglion cells are formed.

“Hopefully we can take this information and one day apply it to find cures for blindness,” she said.

Medical student Josephine Nwankwo gave the top-scoring poster presentation at the UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit.

School of Medicine student Josephine Nwankwo had the top-scoring presentation in the overall division, while medical student Keerti Ivaturi had the top poster presentation in the undergraduate division and pharmacy resident Rachel Askew earned the top score in the graduate division.

Nieto Gomez is member of STAHR (Student Training in Academia, Health, and Research), a collaborative of the UMKC schools of medicine, dentistry and pharmacy designed to increase the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds entering health care programs and better prepare them for success academically and professionally.

She said participating in the STAHR program and meeting with other underrepresented minority students provided her with the encouragement she needed to embark on a research project.

“The conversations we had in the STAHR program with other students, and hearing about how they were doing research and how they got involved helped,” she said. “It made me feel that if I can see other students in the program doing research, then I can do it.”

UMKC pharmacy resident Kristen Mize gives her poster presentation.

Kristen Mize, Pharm.D., a UMKC pharmacy resident who works with ambulatory care patients at a KC CARE Health Center clinic, was another student who presented a poster at the Research Summit. Hers described her efforts to provide early, preventive eye exams for patients with diabetes.

Mize explained how she is trained to perform simple eye exams using a retina imaging machine to look for early signs of diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of adult blindness and vision loss. It occurs when a diabetic’s blood sugar level rises too high, causing small blood vessels in the retina to break and leak blood or fluid into the eye, damaging the retina.

The project also looked at the effect her service has had on patients keeping current on eye exams.

“The purpose is to catch things early before the patient knows they have that issue,” Mize said of the exam.

Mize also planned to present her poster at a pharmacy conference later in the week with a broader message for pharmacists and other health care providers.

“For pharmacists, I want to show that we can do this,” she said. “I got trained on this machine and I’m the only person at KC CARE offering the exam right now. Next month I’m going to be training nurse practitioners, and they’ll be able to do it. Our message to those who aren’t ophthalmologists is, you can make a difference in this, too.”

2023 UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit
Top Scoring Posters and Presentations

  • 1st Place – Josephine Nwankwo, School of Medicine: Relationship between SES and Utilization of a Hospital Based Food Pantry
  • 2nd Place – Sayra Nieto Gomez, School of Medicine: Early Stage Retinal Ganglion Cells Have Increased Axon Growth
    Mentor: Dr. Karl Kador
  • 3rd Place – Vijay Dimri, Shruti Mishra, Mauli Patel, School of Medicine: Posterior Reversible Encephalopathy Syndrome in a Trauma Patient with Multiple Gunshot Wounds
    Mentor: Dr. Binod Wagle

Undergraduate Posters

  • 1st Place – Keerti Ivaturi, School of Medicine: Effects of Placenta Glucocorticoid Receptor Knockout on Gene Expression and Fetal Survival
    Mentor: Dr. Dave Bridges
  • 2nd Place – Samuel Brown, School of Medicine: Pericyte Recruitment and von Willebrand Factor Expression are Associated with Blood-Brain Barrier Tight Junction Formation During Embryonic Development in Mice
    Mentor: Dr. Nihar Nayak
  • 3rd Place – Paris Yates, School of Medicine: Is Ciclesonide a safer glucocorticoid alternative  in the developing brain for  preterm birth?
    Mentor: Dr. Paula Monaghan-Nichols

Graduate Posters

  • 1st Place – Rachel Askew, School of Pharmacy: Impact of pharmacist-led intervention of dispensing naloxone to an at risk of overdose patient population
    Mentor: Dr. Yifei Liu
  • 2nd Place – Dr. Soumya Rao, School of Dentistry:  Loss of Function Mutations in SF3B2, A Regulator of mRNA Splicing, as a Cause of Oculo-Auriculo-Vertebral Spectrum
    Mentor: Dr. Timothy Cox
  • 3rd Place – Roland Klar, School of Dentistry: 3D printed multi-gradient microsphere scaffolds for guided osteochondral tissue engineering
    Mentor: Dr. Stefan Lohfeld

UMKC Medical Students Celebrate Match Day

Stories of an untraditional medical student and two siblings who fulfilled their dream
UMKC medical students and siblings Sumiya and Mozammil Alam celebrated MatchDay with family and friends.

Tears flowed down his cheeks as UMKC medical student Keith Loftin embraced his wife on Match Day inside the UMKC Student Union, holding a letter in his hands that spelled out the next four years of their lives. His misty-eyed parents looked on as well as he read the news.

Loftin had matched in a residency position at Samaritan Health Services in Corvallis, Oregon, where he will enter his preferred specialty of psychiatry.

Match Day 2023 Results

“It’s amazing to be here with all these people who have supported me, all the people who care about me,” Loftin said. “It’s all kind of surreal right now.”

Loftin was one of the 112 members of the UMKC School of Medicine class of 2023 that participated this year’s National Resident Matching Program. Like many in the class, he was elated at receiving his first choice of residency positions.

“I found psychiatry and realized how much I connected with it and how much I loved working with my patients and decided this is where I need to be,” Loftin said. “It felt like this is where I belonged.”

His journey to becoming a physician, however, took a different path than the rest of his classmates, most of whom are half his age.

Keith Loftin and his family
UMKC medical student Keith Loftin celebrated his match in psychiatry with his wife and children.

Prior to moving with his wife and two children to Kansas City and entering medical school, Loftin was a high school science teacher in Jefferson City, Missouri. Before that, he spent nearly seven years in the Army working on Chinook helicopters, then returned to school to earn a master’s degree in education. All the while, Loftin, who earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and science at the University of Missouri before joining the Army, said he harbored a hidden desire to become a doctor.

“I was teaching a class for high school students who wanted to enter health care and they kept asking me why I hadn’t gone to medical school,” he said. “After about the 100th conversation my wife and I had about it, she finally said you know what you need to do and that started the ball rolling.”

With the backing of his wife, and while still teaching his high school classes, Loftin began the tedious process of studying for the MCAT exam and preparing to become a full-time student again for the first time in nearly 17 years.

“Medical school was a challenge, but doable,” he said. “I faced a lot of personal challenges.”

During his time as a medical student, Loftin underwent multiple surgeries for back injuries from his time in the Army and helped his wife through the loss of her mother. His efforts paid off on Friday. Loftin applied for residency positions in psychiatry at hospitals across the country from Oregon to Florida, knowing the day would come when he would have to move his wife, a 17-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son again.

“It’s a little tough,” he said. “It’s not so bad for me. I moved six times to different duty stations when I was in the Army. It’s going to have its challenges, moving my family, but I know my son is excited about it.”

Brother and sister

While Loftin celebrated with his family, Mozammil and Sumaiya Alam were enjoying the day with family and friends as well. The brother and sister from Kansas City, Missouri, had the unique experience of going through Match together.

Mozammil received his desired match in neurology and will be headed to the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix. Sumaiya matched in internal medicine at Emory University School of Medicine.

“I’m going to Atlanta,” Sumaiya screamed. “ I started crying before I even opened my envelope. This is what I was dreaming.”

Mozammil was sharing a similar excitement.

“There is so much joy right now,” he said. “We both got the matches we wanted.”

While the two were able to lean on each other for support throughout medical school, they were also able to turn for advice about the residency process to their brother, Mobashshir Alam, a 2018 graduate of the UMKC School of Medicine and now a gastroenterology fellow at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.

“He was really helpful in guiding us through the match process,” Sumaiya said.

Mozammil said having his sister by his side helped as they have gone through the same highs and lows of medical school together.

“We definitely have relied on each other for multiple things,” he said. “During the interview season we were always there to support each other.”

Nearly half of the UMKC students who matched will be entering residency programs in one of the primary care specialties. Internal medicine drew the largest number of students with 19, followed by family medicine with 11 and pediatrics with nine. A growing number of graduates will also be going into psychiatry, which had 11 matches.

Twenty students will remain in Kansas City to do their residencies at UMKC School of Medicine-sponsored programs. Overall, 33 UMKC grads – about a third – will stay in Missouri for their residency programs.

See the full list of UMKC School of Medicine students who matched in programs across the United States from Honolulu, Hawaii, to New York.

School of Medicine Dean Mary Ann Jackson, M.D., congratulated the class, calling Match Day a defining moment in their journeys.

“The lessons you learned here will carry you through your career,” Jackson said.

Leading advocate for cancer patients selected as School of Medicine Alumni Award recipient

Dr. Arif Kamal

Arif Kamal, (M.D. ’05) was recognized as the 2023 UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Award winner during the university’s Alumni Awards ceremony on March 10 at the Plexpod Westport Commons in Kansas City.

The American Cancer Society hired Kamal, the school’s 2019 E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing Award winner, as its first chief patient officer last December to implement the society’s patient support vision and strategic plan to improve the lives of cancer patients and their families.

Kamal oversees the organization’s cancer support, patient navigation, educational programs, patient lodging solutions, transportation services, contact center and digital patient support offerings. He also handles all aspects of organizational functions that touch cancer patients across 5,000 communities around the globe.

Prior to joining the American Cancer Society, Kamal served for more than 12 years as an oncologist, researcher and innovative leader at Duke University and the Duke Cancer Institute. He is an associate professor of Medicine and Population Health at the Duke University School of Medicine, and recently served as physician quality and outcomes officer at the Duke Cancer Institute.

Kamal is a nationally recognized expert in oncology quality assessment and palliative care. He co-founded Prepped Health, a company that develops innovative technology solutions to educate and engage patients facing a serious illness, such as cancer, and their caregivers. He has several leadership positions within prestigious national professional organizations, has won numerous awards and is a prolific author.

After receiving his medical degree from the UMKC’s six-year combined B.A./M.D. program, he completed his residency and a fellowship at the Mayo Clinic and Duke University. He holds a master’s degree in health science in clinical research from Duke University and a master’s in business administration from the University of Massachusetts–Amherst.

Kamal lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with his wife and two young children.

The UMKC Alumni Awards ceremony is one of the university’s largest events to support student scholarships. In the last decade, the Alumni Awards event has garnered more than $1 million in scholarships and immediate aid for UMKC students.



Leader in medical ethics commends School of Medicine

The UMKC School of Medicine has long been a leader in instilling professionalism and ethics throughout its teaching environment.

Medical schools that excel in teaching professionalism are the exception, not the rule, said David Doukas, M.D., Tulane School of Medicine chair of humanities and ethics in medicine and director of the school’s program in medical ethics and human values.

Doukas delivered the annual William and Marjorie Sirridge Lecture on March 1 during which he applauded the school’s program of medical humanities and bioethics.

“We have to have a curriculum that teaches medical learners how to integrate what their role is as a scientist with the application of medical ethics and humanities to promote patient welfare,” Doukas said.

William Sirridge, M.D., and his wife Marjorie Sirridge, M.D., two of the school’s founding docents, established the Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities in 1992. It offered what was recognized as a unique program among medical schools in its approach to providing medical students classes that tie together medical arts, bioethics and humanities. Renamed the Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities and Bioethics in 2008, the program instills medical humanities and bioethics throughout its six-year curriculum.

“Both of the Sirridges had the passion and vision for weaving the medical humanities into clinical medicine, into medical education, and they were both trailblazers and advocates,” School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., said. “Their vision allowed them to be mentors and serve as role models for all of us. They were the heart of the School of Medicine in our early days and they had a lasting legacy that will never be forgotten.”

Doukas said medical schools need leaders to implement curriculums that teach medical students and residents to integrate their role as a scientist with the application of medical ethics and humanities in a way that promotes patient welfare.

He commended the School of Medicine for having such a program.

“You have a large palette of medical humanities courses, you have experiences and role modeling that oversees the professional identity formation for all of your learners,” Doukas said. “You are to be applauded.”