Marilyn McGuyre, loved across four decades by the students she served at the School of Medicine, died Jan. 9 in Kansas City at the age of 73.
McGuyre was an early pillar of the school, joining the administration in June 1971, two months before the first class of students arrived. Before she retired in 2010, she served as the school’s assistant director, then as director of student affairs and finally as career counselor. McGuyre was deeply committed to the nearly 2,800 students who graduated as physicians during her tenure, and she stayed in touch with many alumni after she helped them graduate and match with their residencies.
McGuyre also was known for her wit and keen interest in current events, making her a favorite with colleagues as well.
McGuyre was born Jan. 18, 1946, in Kansas City and graduated from St. Teresa’s Academy high school. At UMKC, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a master’s degree in public administration.
Plans are being made for an appropriate celebration of her life. Details should be available soon.
In 1994, to recognize her service and advocacy of the school, the Marilyn McGuyre Scholarship Fund was established by the school’s Alumni Board. For several years, an annual bowling tournament, in which teams of students and their docents competed, contributed to the fund. Now, in her memory, contributions can be made to the fund, payable to the UMKC Foundation, 5115 Oak St., Administration Center Room 2020, KCMO 64108. Or contribute online here.
Ralph Wuebker, M.D. ’94, is the new president of the School of Medicine’s Alumni Association, a post he will hold for the next two years. He was elected Oct. 16 at a meeting of the National Board of Alumni and Partners.
“I have a great network of friends and lots of good memories thanks to UMKC, so I look forward to the opportunity to give back and support the school,” said Wuebker, the chief medical officer at Slalom Consulting St. Louis. “I’ve been on the alumni board for a couple of years, and I would love to get more alumni my age and younger involved.”
At the October meeting, the board also welcomed three new members: Monica Farley, M.D. ’80, Joe Goldenberg, M.D. ’80, and Mangesh Oza, M.D. ’96. The outgoing president, Tracy Stevens, M.D. ’90, presided.
Wuebker said he hoped to bring a unique perspective to the association. He practiced pediatrics for 20 years and now is a health-care executive. Wuebker earned an M.B.A. from Washington University in 2003 and for several years was chief medical officer for Optum 360. In May, he joined Slalom St. Louis, which helps clients utilize technology, data analytics and artificial intelligence.
Wuebker’s UMKC associations also include family. His wife, Heather Walton Wuebker, M.D. ’98, and his sister, Maria Wuebker Gove, M.D. ’01, are both alumni. Heather Wuebker is an obstetrician-gynecologist, and they have a 9-year-old son.
Ralph Wuebker said: “The Alumni Association and our events are a good opportunity to network, staying connected to each other and to the school. I hope to engage more alumni as we advance UMKC School of Medicine.”
David John, M.D. ’77, has been appointed associate dean of alumni and community engagement. He continues in his role as assistant professor of medicine and Gold One docent.
John is active in clinical teaching in internal medicine and rheumatology and is also very involved with the Humanities Department, addressing the art of medicine and the humanities approach to patient care.
In making the appointment, interim Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. ’78, said: “As a 1977 alumnus of the first class of B.A./M.D. students at the UMKC School of Medicine, Dr. John has knowledge of the history, mission and culture of the School of Medicine that will allow him to focus on engaging our students, faculty and alumni who are invested in the future initiatives of our School of Medicine, particularly as we approach our 50th anniversary celebration in 2021.
“Dr. John’s role will allow him to advance alumni connection and participation as well as to enhance involvement and support from the community at large. I am delighted to welcome Dr. John to this new role.”
John said he was planning to develop good lines of communications with alumni so they would know what’s going on at the school and feel more connected. He also hopes to educate many organizations about the value the School of Medicine brings to the Kansas City area and the state of Missouri.
John’s history with the school and current work as a docent were highlighted in a 2018 article in UMKC Medicine about the docent system. You can read it here.
More than 130 UMKC School of Medicine celebrated receiving their doctor of medicine and graduate degrees at the 2019 commencement ceremony on May 20 at Kansas City’ Kauffman Center for the Preforming Arts.
This year’s class included 95 doctor of medicine graduates and 41 students who earned their master’s degrees in the anesthesia assistant, bioinformatics, health professions education and physician assistant programs.
Reminded that they have become part of a rich legacy and long-standing tradition of outstanding alumni of the School of Medicine, the graduates heard from two of those alumni.
Interim Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., a 1978 graduate, told the graduates to view what they do in patient care as both an honor and a privilege.
“Be passionate and persistent,” she said. “And work for the greater good of your patients.”
Arif Kamal, M.D., ’05, MBA, MHS, winner of the 2019 E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing Award, encouraged the graduates that more than care providers they will also be clinicians, healers and compassionate.
The quality and outcomes officer for the Duke Cancer Institute in Durham, North Carolina, Kamal gave the graduates one final charge.
“Stop asking people what’s the matter with them,” Kamal said. “And start asking what matters to them.”
2019 Senior Awards
Master of Science in Anesthesia Kayla Hickey – Student Ambassador Award Hector Sierra Escobedo – Student Ambassador Award
Master of Science Bioinformatics Frances Grimstad, M.D. – Dean of Students Honor Recipient Award
Doctor of Medicine Naman Agrawal – Friends of UMKC School of Medicine Basic Science Award Joseph Bennett – UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Award Association Outstanding Senior Partner Deven Bhatia – Richardson K. Noback Founders’ Award for Clinical Excellence; Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Award Lauren Bulgarelli – Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation Taylor Carter – Dean of Students Honor Recipient Award Ahmed Elbermawy – Merck Manual for Outstanding Achievement in Medical Education Ella Glaser – Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation; Malhotra Family Scholarship for Academic and Clinical Excellence Jonah Graves – Missouri State Medical Association Honors Graduate Luke He – Missouri State Medical Association Honors Graduate; Richardson K. Noback Founders’ Award for Clinical Excellence Cindy Jiang – Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation Christian Lamb – Merck Manual for Outstanding Achievement in Medical Education Megan Lilley – James F. Stanford, M.D. Patient Advocate Scholarship John Logan – Malhotra Family Scholarship for Academic and Clinical Excellence Haley Mayenkar – Missouri State Medical Association Honors Graduate Niraj Madhani – Bette Hamilton, M.D. Memorial Award for Excellence in Immunology; Thomas R. Hamilton, M.D. Award for Excellence in Pathology Raksha Madhavan – Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation Rebecca Maltsev – J. Michael de Ungria, M.D. Humanitarian Award Imran Nizamuddin – Lee Langley Award; Thomas R. Hamilton, M.D. Award for Excellence in Microbiology; ACP Senior Student Book Award; Dean of Students Honor Recipient Award Carlee Oakley – Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation; UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Association Award for Excellence in Medical Education; Friends of UMKC School of Medicine Award for Research Sarah Pourakbar – Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation Grace Rector – Friends of UMKC Harry S. Jonas, M.D. Award; Laura L. Backus, M.D. Award for Excellence in Pediatrics Mitchell Solano – Pat. D. Do, M.D., Matching Scholarship in Orthopaedics
For Arif Kamal, M.D., ’05, physician quality and outcomes officer for the Duke Cancer Institute in Durham, North Carolina, research is as much about solving a problem as it is discovery.
“Sometimes we face a problem and have no idea how to solve it,” said Kamal, winner of the 2019 E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing Award. “We have to discover the solution, and that may require performing foundational basic science research, or conducting a big clinical drug trial. Or we may discover that we have a solution, but it hasn’t been implemented because of cost or other barriers, so we have to innovate and collaborate to make the solution accessible and affordable.”
Kamal received the School of Medicine’s prestigious alumni award on May 20 at the annual Take Wing lectureship and award ceremony. The honor is given to a graduate who has demonstrated excellence in his or her chosen field and exceeded the expectations of peers in the practice of medicine, academic medicine or research.
After giving the noon lecture and accepting the award, he also spoke to faculty, students and their families at the 2019 graduation ceremony at the Kauffman Center.
Kamal describes his approach on conducting health services research as being “agnostic at the outset toward what’s needed to solve any particular problem.”
Kamal’s desire to broaden his skills and the ways he can approach a problem led him to earn a master’s in health science in clinical research in 2015 and a master’s in business administration in 2016. Besides his Cancer Center post at Duke, Kamal is an associate professor of medicine, business administration and population health science.
Kamal distinguished himself in palliative care, developing innovative ways to find out and provide what’s really important to patients at the end of their life. His desire to research and improve palliative care stemmed from his own mother’s battle with breast cancer, when he saw very personally how her care could have been better.
He started Duke’s outpatient palliative care program for cancer patients seven years ago, and the Cancer Center’s “total pain approach” has helped develop and administer therapies for long-term relief of distress that affects patients with a serious illness. The focus is on identifying and addressing physical and emotional drivers of distress well before the end of life, when people historically have thought of palliative care.
Now, Kamal’s team is working on smartphone apps to engage patients with serious illnesses and their caregivers in their own care, day to day. One such app would monitor opioid use.
“We fundamentally believe that patients don’t want to be addicted, that they want to responsibly use opioids and that clinicians want to responsibly prescribe them,” Kamal said. “But there’s not actually a way, for example, to monitor what people are doing at home. So, we’re creating an app to record how and what they’re using and how that corresponds with pain scores, to make sure they’re getting the right amount, and not too much or too little.”
And to put that app into people’s hands takes a team.
“We’re working with some commercial payers and several parts of the university, from data science to graphics and programming, to our addiction and pain management experts, to palliative care and patients and caregivers, to identify what the right characteristics for the app will be.”
Kamal, originally from Warrensburg, Missouri, said his appreciation for teamwork was fostered by the UMKC School of Medicine’s docent system and frequent clinical exposure to the many types of medical practice.
“And I got my start in research there,” he said. “My first published paper was with Dr. Agostino Molteni,” in Nutrition Research in 2004.
Kamal and his wife, Jennifer Maguire, M.D. ’07, have two small children, and Kamal said they enjoy returning to the Kansas City area frequently. That included a return to receive the Take Wing Award.
While the award recognizes career excellence, individual achievement and public service, in Kamal’s case, it also honors a vision for future innovations to reduce suffering and bring healing.
“I think what we’re fundamentally seeing is a reimagination of what it means to be a researcher in medicine,” he said. “Certainly that’s the path I’ve taken.”
State Rep. Jon Patterson, M.D., recognized Charles Van Way, M.D., on the floor of the Missouri House.
State Rep. Jon Patterson, who completed his general surgery program in 2011 at the UMKC School of Medicine and Truman Medical Center, on Wednesday recognized the former chairman of the TMC surgery department, Dr. Charles Van Way, on the floor of the Missouri House of Representatives.
Van Way travelled from his home in Kansas City to serve as the physician of the day at the Missouri State Capitol. Before the start of session, Patterson recognized Van Way’s contributions to medicine and the United States.
“Dr. Van Way was a leading surgeon in his field and chair of surgery at Truman Medical Center. I also thank him for his service to our country as he served in the U.S. Army Reserves and is a colonel in the Medical Corps.,” said Patterson, a Lee’s Summit Republican.
Colleagues who knew Larry Piebenga, MD, speak of him with true regard as both a mentor and role model for medical research, education and patient care. A legendary ophthalmologist and teacher at UMKC, Piebenga was a pioneer for developing cornea and cataract therapies.
“Many of the ophthalmology techniques used today were first developed and implemented in clinics by Dr. Piebenga,” says Peter Koulen, PhD, UMKC professor and the Felix and Carmen Sabates Missouri Endowed Chair in Vision Research. “Our faculty members still try to emulate him.”
“Dr. Piebenga was my mentor during my residency at UMKC,” says Timothy Walline, MD, assistant professor in UMKC’s Department of Ophthalmology. “His calm, caring manner inspired me then, and not a week goes by that I don’t fondly recall something he taught me. His sincere approach to each and every patient has been my guidepost in 25 years of practice and academic endeavors.”
“He always did the right thing no matter what the work involved was and cared for every patient no matter who they were,” says Abraham Poulose MD, FACS, associate professor in UMKC’s Department of Ophthalmology. “I have aspired to live my life, both personally and professionally, to the example that he set.”
In memory of Piebenga, his family has made a contribution to the UMKC Foundation to support a research study on corneal calcification, led by Koulen. The basic science study hopes to find ways of more precisely assessing corneal calcification and determining how changes that occur from the condition affect the ability to accurately diagnose eye diseases.
“This is potentially a high-impact study that affects the outcome of many patients,” says Koulen. “By properly diagnosing their condition, we can work to develop new therapies for eye diseases that affect patients’ vision.”
Koulen said he is excited that Piebenga’s family is making this gift to honor his legacy and hopes it inspires others to honor their loved ones with similar tributes.
“Dr. Piebenga was a true advocate of research funding and he put that commitment into action,” says Koulen. “As an avid philanthropist, he supported vision research at the UMKC Foundation, and the family’s gift showcases the mindset of Dr. Piebenga – that research is essential to our mission.”
He says their contribution also fills a critical gap for research funding as public funds are very competitive and are dwindling. “Donor gifts for small, initial studies such as this can lead to major funding for larger studies down the road,” he says.
“Research hinges on new discoveries, and philanthropy is a critical key in this process.”
Two sisters who eventually became ophthalmologists were drawn to UMKC by its innovative School of Medicine. Now, the 2019 UMKC Legacy Family Alumni Award recognizes their decades of service to their communities, and their distinguished second-generation graduate.
School of Medicine alumni Mary Pat (Strickland) Lange, M.D. ’85, and Kathryn Ann (Strickland) Hembree, M.D. ’86, anchor the Strickland-Hembree family. The second generation member is Hembree’s daughter, Kathryn Hembree Night, who received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and philosophy in 2009 and is a graduate of the UMKC Honors College. She works in finance in New York.
Lange has served the Lawrence, Kansas, community for more than 25 years and is a senior partner at Lawrence Eye Care Associates. Hembree founded Northland Eye Specialists in the Kansas City area, focused on providing comprehensive family eye care.
“I was aware from a young age that I wanted to be a physician,” Lange said. “My oldest brother was in his orthopedic residency when I was in high school. The six-year program offered by UMKC appealed to me as the most direct way to pursue this career path.”
The six-year program allows someone right out of high school to earn B.A. and M.D. degrees, and it matches each younger student with an older “senior partner.” Lange said her senior partner’s keen interest in ophthalmology got her interested in that specialty, and when she saw a patient’s vision dramatically improve after laser surgery, she was hooked.
In the meantime, her older sister, Hembree, already had a degree in chemistry and biology, along with a job as a medical technologist. But she, too, had always wanted to be a physician. Spurred by Lange’s great experience at UMKC, Hembree followed her and entered the School of Medicine’s four-year track for students who already had a bachelor’s degree.
Hembree also “caught” her sister’s interest in ophthalmology, saying she was drawn by “being able to see all ages of patients, assist in medical diagnosis of many systemic diseases and, most wonderful of all, helping restore vision!”
Both sisters credited the school’s extensive clinical experience with fully preparing them to practice and pursue their careers in ophthalmology.
Night, Hembree’s daughter, said she started at UMKC interested in medicine but then found philosophy, law and other pursuits interesting. She credited the Honors College with helping her follow her interests and, along with summer internships and hard work, eventually land a job in finance in New York.
Social media can play a crucial role in mentoring and sponsoring young radiologists, Amy Patel, M.D. ’11, recently told the 2018 convention of the Radiological Society of North America.
Patel was one of only five radiologists worldwide chosen to make a 5-minute “Fast 5 Session” presentation at the radiologists’ Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting in Chicago. The convention, billed as the largest meeting of radiologists in the world, this year drew 60,000 people.
Patel is medical director of women’s imaging at Liberty Hospital and a clinical assistant professor at the UMKC School of Medicine. She told the gathering that Twitter and other social media made it possible to connect medical students, residents and fellows to practicing physicians. The hashtags #RADxx (for female radiologists) and #RADxy (for male radiologists) make it easier to connect on Twitter, she said, and as a result she is now mentoring or sponsoring many radiology trainees across the country who have sought her out.
“Social media has the opportunity to become the great equalizer,” Patel said.
The Fast 5 Session presented five radiologists each addressing a non-clinical topic. Competition for the speaking spots was heavy, and Patel said it was an honor to be chosen.
The full 2018 Fast 5 Session can be viewed here. Patel is the last of the five speakers and is introduced at the 22:50 mark. Her presentation begins at 23:45.