Catherine Spong (B.A. ’85/M.D. ’91) honored with 2024 E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing Award

Catherine Sprong, M.D. Take Wing Recipient 2024
Take Wing Award 2024 recipient, Catherine Spong (B.A. ’85/M.D. ’91)

Students, faculty and staff gathered at the School of Medicine Friday, May 10, for the annual E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing Award lecture given by this year’s recipient, Catherine Spong (B.A. ’85/M.D. ’91). Each year, the honor is given to a graduate who has demonstrated excellence in their chosen field and exceeded expectations of peers in the practice of medicine, academic medicine or research.

Spong refers to herself as a physician-scientist with a career dedicated to advancing women’s and children’s health. A graduate of UMKC’s signature six-year B.A./M.D. program, Spong specialized in obstetrics and gynecology for her residency at UCLA before completing a maternal-fetal medicine fellowship at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Maryland.

Spong served as the deputy director for the National Institute of Health for 23 years, until she accepted a position as chief of maternal fetal medicine and vice chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UT-Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Spong has published more than 290 peer-reviewed papers and cemented herself as a leading voice in women’s health, child health and pregnancy.

“She is emblematic of the best and brightest of us,” said School of Medicine Dean Alexander Norbash (B.A./M.D. ’86), M.S., FACR.

Take Wing Lecture 2024
Take Wing Lecture 2024

Spong’s Take Wing Award lecture, titled “The Importance of Inclusion, Research and Lessons Learned,” showcased her spirit of curiosity and resilience that she brings to her work in a new era of medical research for pregnant and nursing women.

According to Spong, more than 59% of the United States population is commonly not represented in research. Children, elderly, pregnant and disabled people often receive care that is not beneficial to them.

“Are we comfortable with 59% of our population not even being studied?” Spong asked.

The mission of her career is to change that. Her goal is to lower that percentage through research that informs medical practices. For example, she performs studies that help rewrite precision care practices for marginalized groups.

Spong capped off her lecture with her top five pieces of advice to any young medical student:

  • “Find opportunities for yourself.“
  • “Communicate with intent. Explain why you’re asking a question. It’s unfair to make someone assume.”
  • “Your job is not your life, nor should it be. Anyone can do your job. Only you get to be the family, spouse, parent and friend to the people in your life.”
  • “Leverage opportunities. See what others are doing. How can you model their work to do your own?“
  • “Remember that as a leader what you talk about matters. What a leader says in a group carries ‘a different weight.’ What you say, and how you say it, is important. “

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.


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.



Med School’s Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., an honored academic leader

Editors of Ingram’s Magazine selected UMKC School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson, (M.D. ’78) as one of the region’s outstanding academic leaders, naming her to their 2023 class of Icons of Education.

Jackson has served as the ninth dean of the medical school since May 2020 and is the third woman to serve as dean in the school’s 50-plus year history. Jackson also served as interim dean for two years. She is part of a class of eight educators and administrators from Missouri and Kansas featured in the February edition of Ingram’s and honored at a formal luncheon.

A pediatric infectious diseases expert affiliated with Children’s Mercy Kansas City, Jackson is recognized internationally for her research. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, she was one of six physicians statewide who served as advisors to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson. She also continues to be a frequently sourced expert for the media and national publications.

Jackson is recognized locally, regionally and nationally as a master clinician and educator on pediatric infectious diseases. The American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Infectious Diseases Executive Committee honored her with the 2019 Award for Lifetime Contribution in Infectious Diseases Education. She has served on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Red Book Committee on Infectious Diseases and as a journal reviewer for the American Journal of Infection Control, Journal of Pediatrics, Pediatrics, Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal and JAMA Pediatrics.

Jackson has won numerous awards for her mentorship, including the Children’s Mercy Department of Pediatrics’ Excellence in Mentoring Award in 2015 and Golden Apple Mentoring Awards in 2012 and 2013. In 2012, she received the UMKC School of Medicine’s prestigious E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing Award, presented to alumni who have demonstrated excellence in their chosen field.

SOM Grad Linda Siy, M.D., Selected Texas Family Physician of the Year

UMKC School of Medicine alumna Linda Siy, (M.D. ’90) was awarded the 2022 Texas Family Physician of the Year award by the Texas Academy of Family Physicians.

She received the highest honor among Texas family doctors during TAFP’s Annual Session and Primary Care Summit in Grapevine, Texas, on Oct. 29.

Patients and physicians nominate extraordinary family physicians throughout Texas who symbolize excellence and dedication in family medicine each year. A panel of TAFP members chooses only one as the Family Physician of the Year.

“It truly is an honor to join the ranks of those who have received this distinction, and I’m very humbled to be considered with those distinguished colleagues who previously were Family Physicians of the Year,” Siy said while accepting the award.

Siy, a family physician for more than 30 years, practices at John Peter Smith Health Network at the Northeast Medical Home in Tarrant County, a practice she’s been a part of since 1995. She is also a faculty member at the University of Texas Southwestern School of Medicine, the University of North Texas Health Science Center/Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Texas Christian University Burnett School of Medicine.

Throughout her years in organized medicine, Siy has served on many committees and councils for both TAFP and the American Academy and has been president of the TAFP Foundation since 2017. She serves on the Acclaim Multispecialty Group’s Physician Board of Directors and previously served as president of the Tarrant County Medical Society and TAFP’s Tarrant County chapter.

Siy has spent her career in medicine treating her loyal and multi-generational families of patients, many of whom are underserved, suffer from housing and food insecurity and struggle with mental health and substance abuse. Many of her nominators mentioned her willingness to speak up and ask the questions others are too afraid to ask. They also pointed to her dedication to teaching the next generation of family physicians.

“I think what’s kept me in the game for so long at the place where I work now are those rewarding relationships with your patients, with your staff, with your colleagues,” Siy said. “It’s really not a job. It’s a calling.”

Alumni join School of Medicine’s anesthesiologist assistant program faculty

Three UMKC School of Medicine’s Master of Science in Anesthesia program alumni have been selected for faculty leadership roles. They all have served as preceptors for many years and bring diversity in their clinical and leadership experiences, expertise and advocacy for the anesthesiologist assistant (AA) profession.

Jonathan Chambers, a 2010 graduate, has been selected to serve as director of didactic education.

Chambers, an anesthesiologist assistant at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, has been a clinical instructor since 2011. He will be responsible for classroom teaching as well as coaching the School of Medicine’s basic medical science faculty in adapting courses to the anesthesiologist assistant profession. He also will serve as chair of the curriculum committee and ensure that the program’s curriculum meets the standards of accrediting and certifying bodies.

Adam Petersen, a 2012 graduate, is the new director of simulation education.

Petersen served as an anesthesiologist assistant at Ozark Anesthesia Associates in Springfield, then joined Saint Luke’s Hospital Kansas City in 2016. He will oversee the program’s simulation education, including “boot camp,” which involves intensive simulation training the first six weeks of the program. Students then receive a weekly curriculum of simulation and skills training throughout their first year. Petersen also will work to incorporate additional simulation training in the second year of the program.

Maggie Munn, who graduated in 2014, has been named director of clinical education.

Munn is an anesthesiologist assistant at Saint Luke’s Hospital Kansas City, and has served as a clinical instructor at the School of Medicine since 2015. As clinical coordinator, she will be responsible for scheduling all first-, second-, and third-year students at their clinical rotation sites, and will ensure students are on pace to meet their clinical requirements. She also will coach students, providing feedback and helping them set goals for each rotation. Munn is active in advocacy for the AA profession. She has served on leadership committees with the American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants since 2016 and as president and vice president of the Missouri chapter.

Many School of Medicine AA graduates and faculty are involved nationally with leadership roles within the AA profession. Matthew Pinegar, M.D., program medical director, is a member of the board of directors for the Accreditation Review Committee for Anesthesiologist Assistant. Lance Carter, program director, is a member of the exam-item writing committee for the National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants.

The School of Medicine’s AA program started in 2008 and was the first AA program located west of the Mississippi. It is now one of 15 accredited AA educational programs throughout the country.

Established to help address the shortage of providers in anesthesia care, the program accepts up to 16 new students each year for admission and boasts a 100% certification exam pass rate and employment rate for its graduates. While certified anesthesiologist assistants can practice in 19 states and in Washington, D.C., the majority of UMKC graduates are employed in Missouri, where they deliver quality anesthesia care to patients.

Prerequisites for the program are a bachelor’s degree with pre-medical sciences classes and passage of the Medical College Admission Test or Graduate Record Examination. The 27-month program begins each January, and students receive more than 2,000 hours of hands-on clinical training with patients. A highlight of the UMKC AA program is the intense skills and simulation instruction in the clinical training facility, as well as experience in the operating room that begins in the first semester.


SOM alumnus selected new internal medicine endowed chair

Clarkston, WendellThe UMKC School of Medicine announced that alumnus and former docent Wendell Clarkston, M.D., ’84, will serve as the new Arthur W. Robinson Endowed Chair in Internal Medicine.

The University of Missouri-matched position is based at Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City, where Clarkston, a professor of medicine and director of the GI fellowship program, will continue to serve as a mentor and educator, working to promote quality care and supporting the academic path for faculty.

He called the appointment a tremendous honor and thanked leaders at the School of Medicine and Saint Luke’s and the search committee.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Department of Medicine to continue to optimize patient care and medical education at Saint Luke’s Hospital and UMKC,” Clarkston said.

In addition to his roles as academic and administrative chair of internal medicine at Saint Luke’s, Clarkston is also vice chair of the Department of Medicine for Saint Luke’s programs at the School of Medicine.

He has also held many teaching and administrative roles at the School of Medicine and Saint Luke’s. In addition to serving as a School of Medicine docent, he has been both an assistant and associate dean for graduate medical education, a member of the UMKC promotions committee and chair of the credentials and professional affairs committees. As chair of the graduate medical education council, he worked with faculty, program directors and administrators at the school’s clinical partner hospitals to ensure successful Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accreditation for many of the school’s post-graduate programs in their early years. He has also been a member of the Saint Luke’s quality board.

After receiving his medical degree from the School of Medicine, Clarkston completed both an internal medicine/pediatrics residency and a gastroenterology fellowship at UMKC. A nationally recognized expert in advanced endoscopy training, transplant hepatology and care of patients with inflammatory bowel disease, Clarkston has authored more than 80 papers, book chapters and national abstract presentations. He was honored in 2008 with the UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Achievement award.

Donald Campbell, M.D., was appointed inaugural Arthur W. Robinson Endowed Chair in Internal Medicine in 2007 and has served in the role since. During his tenure, he worked on behalf of learners and trainees in the Department of Medicine to provide quality inpatient and outpatient clinical care, develop and implement enhanced quality monitors and to retain and recruit high quality faculty.

“The UMKC/Saint Luke’s endowed chair program is a truly amazing resource for both institutions,” Campbell said. “The program facilitates the recruitment and retention of thought leaders, master clinicians and researchers to both institutions.”

UMKC School of Medicine Celebrates 50 Years

Alumni and community leaders honor successful past and promising future

The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine celebrated its rich 50-year history as a leader in innovative health care education and delivery in the urban core of Kansas City, and its future potential during the school’s Golden Jubilee event on June 4.

Event chairs Rachael and Nelson Sabates, M.D., ’86, and honorary chairs Charlie Shields, president and CEO of University Health, and the Honorable Brenda Shields welcomed more than 800 alumni and community supporters to the event.

Mary Anne Jackson (MD ’78), dean of the medical school, recognized Lucky Chopra (BA,’91, MD ’92), as the recipient of the 2022 UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Award.

“Dr. Chopra’s entrepreneurial career began while he was still in his final year of radiology residency,” Jackson said. “Working out of his garage, he purchased an old milk truck and converted it to carry a ‘barely portable’ radiology X-ray machine and began contracting with local Houston nursing homes to provide imaging services without the patient having to travel. His company, Advanced Diagnostics Healthcare, was born.”

"Four thousand alumni strong, we are the backbone for health care in a multitude of communities, serving as innovators and leaders in clinical care, as educators, department chairs, section chiefs and medical school faculty, as leaders in diversity and advocacy, and national leaders in research.”
- Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., dean UMKC School of Medicine

Jackson celebrated the school’s outstanding legacy beginning with the first dean, Richardson K. Noback, M.D., who will be 99 years old this year, and the late E. Grey Dimond, M.D., who developed the accelerated curriculum and docent concept that is now a part of medical programs across the county.

Attendees look at pillars depicting photos from each decade of the medical school

Jackson acknowledged the  tight connection between the school and Kansas City.

“We are the anchor to healthcare in the urban core and beyond,” Jackson said. “Teaching students how to use information, how to approach ambiguity and uncertainty and to think critically about challenges in medicine and biomedical science, continues to be part of our DNA. Four thousand alumni strong, we are the backbone for health care in a multitude of communities, serving as innovators and leaders in clinical care, as educators, department chairs, section chiefs and medical school faculty, as leaders in diversity and advocacy, and national leaders in research.”

A group of gala attendees smile for a photo with Chancellor Mauli Agrawal

Jackson noted the significant contribution of the school’s clinical affiliates and their dedication to student education by providing opportunities for students to participate in care for diverse patient populations and to see cutting edge medical care and its affects.

“We are grateful for the strong partnerships with University Health, Children’s Mercy, St. Luke’s Health System, Research Medical Center, the Center for Behavioral Medicine, the Kansas City VA, Advent Health and Liberty Hospital.”

A woman stands to be recognized with her hand over her heart. People seated around her are applauding.

New partnerships have led to the student opportunities and advancement of health care statewide.

“In 2021 we launched our additional campus in St. Joseph, Missouri and welcomed our newest affiliate, Mosaic Life Care, to recruit, prepare and encourage these students to become part of the primary health community in rural Missouri counties,” Jackson said.

After highlighting the outstanding successes of alumni, UMKC chancellor Mauli Agrawal recognized the event chairs for their untiring leadership and support of the School of Medicine.

“This spectacular event is much more than a party,” Agrawal said. “This evening represents and celebrates generations and decades – literally five decades – of students, graduates, critical health care providers and their teachers. Just as the UMKC School of Medicine was launched with an innovative vision of healthcare education five decades ago, we move into the next fifty years with an exciting vision for the future of the school.”