Father’s Struggle Leads to Daughters Success

Tamica Lige’s father overcame poverty and discrimination to provide his daughter an avenue to success

What about your father’s accomplishments inspired you?

My dad, Henry Edward, Lige Jr., was one of six kids who grew up in the projects of Montgomery, Alabama, in extremely impoverished and segregated conditions. He was 11 years old at the time that Martin Luther King Jr. led the Selma to Montgomery march. Dad lived through the civil rights movement, experienced the rampant racism of the Deep South and watched his parents struggle to gain equal rights.

Like so many young black men who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and underperforming schools, my dad saw sports as the ticket that would give him a chance at a better life. He played football in high school and was recruited to play collegiate football at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.

“Dad lived through the civil rights movement, experienced the rampant racism of the Deep South and watched his parents struggle to gain equal rights.”-Tamica Lige

I can only imagine the culture shock he faced with upon arrival to the predominately white town we called home. While in Manhattan, my dad met my mom, a white woman from Shawnee, Kansas, and began his family with her.

My parents came from two completely different worlds. My dad’s family was disgusted with him for dating a white woman, and my mom’s ridiculed her for dating a black man. It was commonplace for my dad and us kids to be addressed with racial slurs by our own family members.

The constant microaggressions, blatant acts of racism and mistreatment could have broken my dad’s spirit, but instead, he used it as fuel to be a better man. He was one of the most kind, caring and accepting people I have ever known. He embraced any and every one he encountered and made a conscious effort to have genuine exchanges of experience with people who were different than him.

My dad overcame so much adversity in the 54 years he walked on this earth that I can’t help but be inspired by him. His soul smiled so bright despite all of the terrible things he had gone through. He was my biggest cheerleader. He was always right there on the sidelines to tell me I could and would be able to do whatever my heart desired.

Welcoming our newest students

The new class of “M.D. only” students.

Though students in the 6-year B.A./M.D. program are the school’s largest contingent, students pursuing other degrees are an important part of the School of Medicine. Some of their programs also start in January, rather than in the fall, which gave us a chance to welcome our newest groups of students in January.

Our “M.D. only” students have already earned a bachelor’s degree and join second-year B.A./M.D. students for much of their clinical training and other course work.

The new Master of Science in Anesthesiology class.

The Master of Science in Anesthesia program was started in 2008 to address a shortage of anesthesia care providers in Missouri and several other states. The program is known for its outstanding placement rate and rate of success on the profession’s certifying exam. Graduates typically earn starting salaries of $90,000 to $120,000.

The Master of Medical Science Physician Assistant Program’s new class.

The Master of Medical Science Physician Assistant Program also is known for its outstanding certification-test and job placement rates.

The School of Medicine welcomes its newest students and looks forward to their becoming another integral part of providing top-quality health care to residents of Missouri and elsewhere in the Midwest and other states.

A letter to fellow alumni

13 January, 2020

Dear UMKC School of Medicine Alumnus,

Hello.  For those of you who don’t know me, my name is David John, M.D.  I am a 1977 graduate of the UMKC School of Medicine and have returned to the School of Medicine after practicing rheumatology in Honolulu since finishing my fellowship.  While I continue to serve as the Gold One Docent (I was Green One under William Sirridge as a student), I have recently taken on the position as the Associate Dean of Alumni and Community Engagement.  Today is my first day in the new position and I wanted my first task to be reaching out to my fellow UMKC School of Medicine alums.

The first thing I want to tell you is that our School of Medicine is alive and well under the leadership of another fellow alum, Dean Mary Anne Jackson (Class of 1978, Blue One Docent unit).  Many exciting things are happening:

  • Our 50th Anniversary is rapidly approaching; save the date of September 25th, 2021, for the Anniversary dinner.
  • A student-centric major remodeling project beginning with the front SOM courtyard, the lobby, the humanities classroom and the canteen area
  • A rapidly expanding research initiative to support our student and resident needs
  • A reinvigoration of and recommitment to our Docent concept, the backbone of the UMKC School of Medicine Academic Plan
  • Our recent full 8-year reaccreditation by the LCME
  • “Hospital Hill” is passé; we are now part of the Health Sciences District.

I want to take the opportunity to emphasize that our School of Medicine is very special.  The Junior-Senior partnership concept still works.  Do-Ro still gives our graduates a more solid grasp of medicine than most schools.  Our graduates go on to have impressive careers and do astounding things.

For a 17-year-old guy who envisioned a career as a small college literature professor (with an eventual Nobel), the life that the UMKC School of Medicine gave me has been amazing.  I cannot imagine a more worthwhile purpose than ours as physicians.  I am honored.  I am grateful.  I am confident that you feel the same way!

If you ever want to talk about the School, hear about our plans to enhance the facility and the students’ experience, get a tour, air a concern, please contact me.  You can expect a warm welcome.

My cell number is 808-382-1307.  I look forward to speaking with you individually.  And, look forward to regular updates.

Have a grand 2020!




David John, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Associate Dean of Alumni and Community Engagement
University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine

AOA nominations sought

Jan. 7, 2020

Dear Alumni Member:

In accordance with the national constitution, the UMKC Delta chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha (National Honor Medical Society) is inviting interested alumni members to apply for consideration for AOA membership. To be eligible, UMKC-SOM alumni must have graduated at least 10 years ago.

Criteria considered in the selection process include scholastic excellence, integrity, leadership, research, compassion, and fairness.

If you wish to be considered, please send electronically or mail me a copy of your CV as well as one letter of recommendation. If you prefer to nominate someone else please submit their name with a letter of recommendation and we will get in touch with them directly for a CV.

Please submit materials to:

John Foxworth, PharmD
UMKC School of Medicine
2411 Holmes St.
Kansas City, MO 64108-2792

All materials must be received by March 1 for the candidate to be considered. Material received after that date will not be considered. Decisions will be made in the spring of 2020.

If you need any additional information, reach me at 816-235-1925 or my email above. You can view information at the National AOA website at alphaomegaalpha.org.

Thank you for your participation in this nomination process.


John Foxworth, PharmD
Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology, & Biomedical and Health Informatics
Associate Dean, Academic Enrichment, School of Medicine
Associate Program Director & Director of Research, Internal Medicine Residency Program
Fellow, American College of Clinical Pharmacology
Member, American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Clinical Pharmacology Section,
Department of Medicine, Truman Medical Center-Hospital Hill
and University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine


The gift of relaxation

Niloofar Shahmohammadi, wellness program coordinator, showed off the new Wellness Wing when it opened.

Students at the School of Medicine keep up a fast pace, but when they do get a break they have the perfect place to go: the fifth-floor Wellness Wing.

The large room, once the curriculum office, was remodeled with financial help from the school’s Alumni Association and stocked with sports equipment, an electric massage chair and other amenities with help from the Friends group. Since it opened in May 2018, the Wellness Wing has offered everything from a massage chair, soothing music and free herbal tea to books and magazines on taking care of yourself, and tables loaded with puzzles, coloring books and arts and crafts supplies.

Niloofar Shahmohammadi, the school’s wellness program coordinator who brought the Wellness Wing to life, said, “This is our official wellness place where you can take a break, step away and then get back to what you need to do.”

Besides being a good place to decompress informally, the wing has offered yoga classes and will again this semester. That schedule hasn’t been set yet, but Shahmohammadi said the class again will be taught by a trained instructor from the Swinney Center on UMKC’s Volker Campus.

The wing also has sports equipment, donated by the Friends, that can be checked out when the weather is good for soccer, Frisbee or tossing around a football.

“This is a little oasis where you can step away in the middle of your day, maybe during your lunch break, maybe in a break between classes, step in here and get rejuvenated,” Shahmohammadi said.


Researcher Working to Prevent Age-Related Vision Loss

AMD is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss and blindness among older adults. As many as 11 million people in the United States have some form of age-related macular degeneration.

“AMD affects a significant and increasing portion of the U.S. population, with age being a predisposing factor,” said Koulen, director of basic research at UMKC’s Vision Research Center. “This research will contribute to improving health care and the prevention of blindness.”

His project, funded by the NIH National Eye Institute, will focus on the preclinical development of novel antioxidants that have the potential to be both preventative and therapeutic in nature. The compounds could prevent the deterioration and death of retina nerve cells and supporting cells. The retina cannot regenerate these cells, therefore, their loss as a result of AMD leads to irreversible damage to one’s vision.

If successful, these new antioxidants being developed by Koulen’s research would be effective in both preventing the disease from progressing and treating already existing damage.

The research focuses on dry AMD, a form of the disease that affects the majority of patients. Effective therapies are lacking for this form of the disease, in which cells are gradually lost over time resulting in blindness.

Medications developed as a result of the study could also complement existing treatment designs for the wet form of AMD that is more aggressive and affects a smaller number of patients.