Distinguished SOM professor and alum Michael Weaver, M.D., announces retirement

Michael L. Weaver, M.D., FACEP, CDM, clinical professor in emergency medicine and early graduate of the medical school, has announced his retirement as of July 1. Weaver was the first African-American to complete the school’s full six-year curriculum, graduating in 1977.

During his years as a physician, Weaver has championed the School of Medicine’s efforts in diversity and inclusion while earning a national reputation as a leader in emergency medicine and an advocate for victims of abuse.

In addition to his teaching role at the School of Medicine through Saint Luke’s Hospital, Weaver served in many capacities at the school. These included being a member of the Selection Council, the Diversity Council, and chair of the alumni Minority Faculty Recruitment Committee and the Alumni Retention Committee. He established a minority scholarship at the school in 2004, and was the first African- American to hold the title of clinical professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine. He has provided education to the School of Medicine through Grand Rounds and noon conferences, and has provided mentorship within the Summer Scholars Program.

Weaver is the 1997 winner of the school’s E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing award and is also an E. Grey Dimond Fellow.

He served as medical director of Saint Luke’s Kansas City Hospital’s Level I trauma emergency services for 17 years and was the founding chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine. He has provided emergency medicine oversight for MAST and Life Flight Ambulance systems for more than 15 years and was appointed by Missouri Governors Carnahan and Ashcroft to chair EMS for Missouri.

Since 1980, he has been the medical director of Saint Luke’s Health System’s Clinical Forensic Program, providing care for victims of elderly/child abuse, sexual assault, interpersonal violence and trauma. In this role, Weaver has also been a consultant for the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice and the White House. He has authored numerous articles, edited books/journals and lectured internationally.

For the past 15 years, Weaver has led the Critical Mass Gathering event, a mentoring program for underrepresented minority medical students at UMKC, University of Kansas and Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. To continue that work, Weaver founded Mission Vision Project KC, a nonprofit that aims to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in the Kansas City health care workforce.

Weaver says, “It’s hard to be it, if you can’t see it!” He plans to create age-appropriate mentorship opportunities for K-12 to show underrepresented minorities that they can see and aspire to be doctors or dentists, pharmacists, nurses, paramedics, biomedical engineers, etc. He will continue working with health care organizations, educational institutions, and community partners to raise funds to support these goals.

With retirement, Weaver plans to spend more time with his family and continue his work with Mission Vision Project KC.

UMKC Med School’s New St. Joe Campus Recognized for Vaccine Efforts

Students at the new UMKC School of Medicine St. Joseph campus take part in an orientation session.

It didn’t take long for the inaugural class at the UMKC School of Medicine’s new St. Joseph campus to make an impact on rural medicine.

Emma Smith, a medical student at UMKC School of Medicine’s St. Joseph campus, gives a COVID vaccination to fellow student Wes Stark.

In January, as the COVID vaccines were ramping up, the entire class of 20 UMKC medicine students at Mosaic Life Care in St. Joseph took up the charge to become fully vaccinated vaccinators themselves. For their efforts, the Patterson Family Foundation, a Kansas City family-led foundation promoting rural health care, awarded the school and Mosaic a $15,000 gift to use in recognition and support of their rural medicine vaccination efforts.

“A lot of individuals as well as the medical centers they work for really put a lot of resources, time and energy into getting the (rural) population vaccinated,” said Steve Waldman, M.D., dean of the school’s St. Joseph campus. “This is a very gracious gesture from the Patterson Family Foundation in recognition of the Mosaic-UMKC School of Medicine partnership and our efforts working in tandem to get the rural community vaccinated.”

The School of Medicine opened the St. Joseph campus in January in an effort to address the need for more rural physicians. Waldman said nobody realized just how quickly the effort would begin paying dividends.

UMKC students at Mosaic were only weeks into their medical school training when they became certified to administer vaccines and joined the volunteer effort to reach rural patients. They even administered shots to members of the school’s faculty as part of their vaccine training.

“The vision of the St. Joseph campus to increase additional rural health care providers was achieved and it occurred just a few weeks into the start of classes,” Waldman said. “In partnership with Mosaic Life Care, 100 percent of our students were trained as vaccinators and 100 percent of them volunteered to administer COVID vaccines. We didn’t have to wait four years for our students to start giving back. It happened immediately.”

Davin Turner, D.O., chief medical officer at Mosaic Life Care, said: “The students from UMKC School of Medicine were an amazing resource for Mosaic and their contribution was invaluable. We were honored to work side by side with the students as they assisted with our vaccination efforts. We could not have administered the more than 47,000 first and second doses without their tireless efforts. To have them part of our Mosaic community has been an immediate benefit, and we can’t thank them enough. We are grateful others such as the Patterson Family Foundation recognized their efforts as well.”

The gift from the Patterson Foundation will be used to reward and recognize those who gave their time and in some cases took the risk early on to volunteer before being fully vaccinated.

Waldman said part of the funds would also go to training additional vaccinators.

“Hopefully they’ll never be needed, but we’re excited about being a lot more prepared,” he said.

Medicine students make strong showing in annual Health Sciences Student Research Summit

Health Sciences Student Research SummitThe UMKC School of Medicine made a strong showing with 10 students among the winners in the 10th annual UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit. For the second year in a row, the event that takes place each May was held in a week-long virtual, online format.

Students from the schools of medicine, pharmacy and biological and chemical sciences shared their research with 20 PowerPoint and oral presentations and 31 poster presentation during the week. More than 50 students participated in this year’s event.

Caroline Olson won first place with her oral PowerPoint presentation in the graduate division for fifth- and sixth-year medical students, master’s degree and Pharm.D. students and medical residents. Sejla Turnadzic and Karina Shah tied for third place for poster presentations.

In the undergraduate division for first-year through fourth-year medicine and biological and chemical sciences students, Parth Patel and Rohan Ahuja tied for first place in poster presentations. Siddarth Balaji was the first-place winner for oral PowerPoint presentation. Anika Mittal place second and Ahuja was third in poster presentations. Josephine Nwanka and Anthony Le tied for second and Fahad Qureshi was third in oral PowerPoint presentations.

The summit promotes collaborations across disciplines and schools to produce economic, health, education and quality of life benefits for the Kansas City community in a forum that brings the UMKC health sciences community together to highlight student research.

A panel of judges from the School of Medicine, School of Pharmacy and Children’s Mercy Kansas City hospital selected the top three in each category.

2021 Health Sciences Student Research Summit

Graduate Clinical Poster Presentations

(BA/MD and MD Years 5 and 6 medical students, master’s students, Pharm.D. students and medical residents)

1st Place: Nitish R. Mishra, School of Pharmacy. Method Development of Stable Isotope-Labeled Marfey’s Reagent Derivatized Physiological Amino Acids Stereoisomers Using LCMS 9030 Q-ToF. Authors: Nitish R. Mishra, Amar Deep Sharma and William G. Gutheil. Mentor: William G. Gutheil

2nd Place: Jordan Frangello, School of Pharmacy. Impact of a Pharmacist-led Preventative Screening Intervention During Comprehensive Medication Reviews. Authors: Jordan Frangello, Yifei Liu and Chad Cadwell. Mentor: Yifei Liu

3rd Place Tie: Sejla Turnadzic, School of Medicine. Influence of Racial Disparities on Length of Stay in Hospital in Patients with Cerebral Venous Thrombosis. Authors: Leslie Shang, Sadhika Jagannathan, Sejla Turnadzic, Divya Jain, Monica Gaddis, Jean-Baptiste Le Pichon. Mentor: Jean-Baptiste Le Pichon

3rd Place Tie: Karina Shah, School of Medicine. The Impact of COVID-19 on the Clinical Component of the Surgical Clerkship. Authors: Karina Shah, Donya Jahandar, Christopher Veit, Jennifer Quaintance and Michael Moncure. Mentor: Michael Moncure

Graduate Oral PowerPoint Presentations

(BA/MD and MD Years 5 and 6 medical students, master’s students, Pharm.D. students and medical residents)

1st Place: Caroline Olson, School of Medicine. Systemic Fat Embolism-Induced Accumulation of Fat Droplets in the Rat Retina. Authors: Caroline G. Olson, Landon Rohowetz, M.D., and Peter Koulen, Ph.D. Mentor: Peter Koulen

2nd Place: Shelby Brown, School of Biological and Computer Sciences. Phase separation of both a plant virus movement protein and cellular factors support virus-host interactions. Authors: Shelby Brown and Jared May. Mentor: Jared May

3rd Place: Nitish R. Mishra, School of Pharmacy. Application of LCMS 9030 Q-ToF in Biomarkers Analysis for Pre-term vs. Term Delivery Patients. Authors: Nitish R. Mishra, Donald DeFranco, Paula Monaghan-Nichols and William G. Gutheil. Mentor: William G. Gutheil

Undergraduate Poster Presentations

(BA/MD and MD Years 1 to 4 medical students, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences students)

1st Place Tie: Parth Patel, School of Medicine. Predicting Recurrent Coarctation of the Aorta in Infants with Single Ventricle Heart Disease Using Home Monitoring Data. Authors: Parth S. Patel, Shil Shah, Keith Feldman, Lori A. Erickson, Amy Ricketts, Hayley Hancock and Ryan A. Romans. Mentor: Ryan Romans

1st Place Tie: Rohan Ahuja, School of Medicine. Intracellular calcium changes in intact mouse heart mediated by Fibroblast Growth Factor 23 – implications for chronic kidney disease. Authors: Rohan Ahuja, Shaan Patel, Nabeel Rasheed, Derek Wang, Julian A. Vallejo and Michael J. Wacker. Mentor: Michael Wacker

2nd Place: Anika Mittal, School of Medicine. Vascular Inflammation in the Brain Following Fat Emboli. Authors: Anika Mittal, Fahad Qureshi, Suban Burale, Neerupma Silswal, Alan Poisner, Agostino Molteni and Paula Monaghan Nichols. Mentor: Paula Monaghan Nichols

3rd Place: Rohan Ahuja, School of Medicine. Absence of Cardiac Immune Pathology in a Rat Model of Fat Embolism Syndrome. Authors: VanDillen A, VanDillen M, Hamidpour S, MateescuV, SilswalN, Wacker M, Patel S, Vallejo J, Ahuja R, Monaghan Nichols AP, SalzmanG, Poisner A, Molteni A. Mentor: Michael Wacker

Undergraduate Oral PowerPoint Presentations

(BA/MD and MD Years 1 to 4 Medical students, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences students)

1st Place: Siddharth Balaji, School of Medicine. Comparing Usage of FDA 510(k) and Premarket Approval Pathways within Orthopaedics to Other Specialties. Authors: Siddharth Balaji and Jonathan Dubin. Author: Jonathan Dubin

2nd Place Tie: Josephine Nwankwo, School of Medicine. Increasing Representation of Black Women in Orthopedics Starts with Medical Students. Authors: Josephine Nwankwo and Ali Khan. Mentor: Dr. Ali Khan

2nd Place Tie: Anthony Le, School of Medicine. Patient Perception of Paralysis-Inducing Spinal Cord Injury Through Twitter and Instagram. Avi Gajjar, Anthony Huy Dinh Le, Rachel C Jacobs and Nitin Agarwal. Mentor: Avi Gajjar

3rd Place: Fahad Qureshi, School of Medicine. Social Determinants for Explaining Disparities in COVID-19 Rates: A Population Analysis From 10 Large Metropolitan Areas. Authors: Aarya Ramprasad, Fahad Qureshi, Bridgette L. Jones and Brian R. Lee. Mentor: Bridgette Jones

SOM event puts focus on Quality and Patient Safety

Click on the image to watch the 2021 Quality Patient Safety Day event.

More than 50 students, residents and fellows participated in the 8th annual Vijay Babu Rayudu Quality and Patient Safety Day with poster and oral presentations on May 21 at the School of Medicine.

The event provides an opportunity to present research and learn from experts in the field of patient safety.

Mallika Joshi, MS 3, and Kayla Reifel, MS3, captured the top student honors for their abstracts, while Megan Hamner, M.D., and Cree Kachelski, M.D., received the top awards for residents and fellows. The four were selected to give oral presentations of their research.

Joshi presented on “Improving the Sleep Quality of UMKC Medical Students: A Quality Improvement Project.” Reifel presented a project titled “Improving Breast Cancer Related Lymphedema Detection – Creating a Standard Practice for Preoperative Arm Measurements.”

In the resident/fellows category, Hamner, a second-year pediatric infectious disease fellow, gave an oral prestation on her winning abstract, “Improving Skin and Soft Tissue Infection Antibiotic Duration Concordance with National Guidelines in Pediatric Urgent Care Clinics.” Kachelski, a second-year pediatric emergency medicine fellow, presented “Improving time to antibiotics in open fractures in the Children’s Mercy Emergency Department.”

Three students, Parth Patel, MS3, Lakshmi Pryiya, MS5, and Aarya Ramprasad, MS3, and three residents/fellows, Bemjamin Hoag, M.D., Raed Qarajeh, M.D., and Ray Segebrecht, M.D., received honorable mention  for their poster presentations.

A complete list of student and resident/fellows oral and poster presentations and videos of the oral presentations are available on the School of Medicine research web site.

Jennifer S. Myers, M.D., professor of clinical medicine and the director of Quality and Safety Education for the Department of Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, gave a keynote address. She is the Director of Penn’s Center for Healthcare Improvement and Patient Safety (CHIPS) fellowship program and oversees all aspects of quality and safety education for the Department of Medicine.

Myers talked about the history of the quality improvement and patient safety movement and its influence on medical education. She also discussed health and health care equity as a cornerstone of quality health care.

She said the health care delivery system has several goals for providing quality care in that it be safe, timely, effective, efficient, equitable and patient centered. However, she said that “equity has been the forgotten name of health care quality until very recently.”

“I do think academic medicine is evolving to embrace clinical quality and safety, but I think we still have work to do,” Myers said. “Achieving health equity and health care equity are integral to this work.”

School of Medicine recognizes graduates, Senior Award winners

Graduates of the School of Medicine participated in a unique, two-day commencement ceremony at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium.

A combined ceremony on the afternoon of May 15 brought together graduates of the schools of School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Health Studies, and Pharmacy. The following afternoon, UMKC held a ceremony to celebrate May 2020 and December graduates.

The School of Medicine recognized students with its annual senior awards. Five SOM students were also selected by the university as Dean of Student Honors recipients.

Mario Castro, M.D., ’88, who received the School’s 2021 E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing Award, addressed the graduation classes on Saturday afternoon, saying they would remember this time like no other in their careers.

He shared three particular thoughts. Castro told the graduates to have faith in their training and themselves. He reminded them to be inquisitive and maintain the curiosity that got interested in medicine to begin with. And, he encouraged them to pursue their passions as a physician or health care provider.

“Class of 2021, have faith, question and pursue. Take Wing,” he said.

2021 Dean of Students Honor Recipients

Saniya “Sunny” Ablatt
Charles Burke
Varsha Muthukumar
Isabella Nair
Ginikachukwu Osude

2021 UMKC School of Medicine Senior Awards

Anesthesiologist Assistant Program

Master of Science in Anesthesia Student Ambassador Award
Taylor Brundage
Alex Sextro

Physician Assistant Program

Pi Alpha Honor Society
Nicholas Farace
Chandra Grimes

M.D. Awards

ACP Senior Student Book Award
Varsha Muthukumar

Bette W. Hamilton Memorial Award for Excellence in Immunology
Varsha Muthukumar

Friends of UMKC School of Medicine Award for Research
Yicheng Bao

Friends of UMKC School of Medicine Basic Science Award
Kavelin Rumalla

Friends of UMKC School of Medicine Harry S. Jonas, M.D., Award
Charlie Burke

J. Michael de Ungria, M.D., Humanitarian Award
Tom Mathews

James F. Stanford, M.D., Patient Advocate Scholarship
Claire Wolber

Laura L. Backus, M.D., Award for Excellence in Pediatrics
Maggie Urschler

Lee Langley Award
Brandon Wesche

Malhotra Family Scholarship for Academic and Clinical Excellence
Sarah Jacob
Jacob Perera

Merck Manual for Outstanding Achievement in Medical Education
Brandon Wesche
Vishnu Harikumar

Richardson K. Noback Founders’ Award for Clinical Excellence
Brandon Wesche

Ratilal S. Shah Medical Scholarship Fund
Yicheng Bao

Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Award
Vishal Mittal

Thomas R. Hamilton, M.D., Award for Excellence in Microbiology
Sarah Jacob

Thomas R. Hamilton, M.D., Award for Excellence in Pathology
Prarthana Patel

UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Association Award for Excellence in Medical Education
Vishnu Harikumar

UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Award Association Outstanding Senior Partner
Anna Curtis

Women in Medicine Scholarship Achievement Citation
Sarah Jacob
Prarthana Patel
Rashmi Thimmapuram
Komal Kumar
Koral Shah
Alisha Shah

 

Giving back is part of 2021 Take Wing winner’s blood

Mario Castro, M.D., ’88, is the School of Medicine’s 2021 E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing Award recipient.

Mario Castro, M.D., a specialist in pulmonary care and 1988 graduate of the UMKC School of Medicine, received the school’s prestigious E. Grey Dimond Take Wing Award and delivered the annual Take Wing lectureship on May 17.

After congratulating and offering encouraging words to School of Medicine graduates two days earlier during a commencement ceremony at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium, Castro spoke on the care of patients with severe asthma, a major focus of his research career.

He also discussed respiratory health in the developing work and his work to battle COVID-19 on a global level. Castro serves as principal investigator and director of Frontiers, a clinical and translational research institute at the University of Kansas. The organization collaborates with leaders of health care institutions throughout the region including the UMKC School of Medicine.

While much of the country anxiously awaited the first vaccines to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, Castro was leading a group of researchers in the Kansas City area with a much broader focus.

The goal was a global vaccine that could be taken to the farthest reaches of the world. Vaccines that were being produced for distribution in the United States required deep freezing, said Castro, whose team studied the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“If you’re in the middle of Africa, that won’t work very well,” Castro said. “We needed a vaccine like the AstraZeneca that just requires simple refrigeration, that you can take in a cooler and you can take it anywhere with you.”

Working with partners throughout Kansas City, the collaborative embarked on one of the largest vaccine studies in the country. The study enrolled more than 500 participants in Kansas City who were part of an effort that has since developed the COVID vaccine most used world-wide.

The vaccine has been approved for use in more than 30 countries. More than 200 million doses have been applied. It is also part of the World Health Organization’s plan to reach those world’s lower socioeconomic countries.

Castro has already launched three additional National Institutes of Health-funded studies to combat COVID infection.

“It’s really been an honor to participate in and lead that effort in the midst of this pandemic,” Castro said. “It’s definitely been a help on a world-wide basis to get a vaccine that will be easy to transport and be more readily available around the world.”

Castro joined the KU School of Medicine in 2019 as chief of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine and vice chair for clinical and translational research. Before that, he spent 25 years in St. Louis at the Washington University School of Medicine where he oversaw the asthma and airway translational research unit that conducted as many as 30 clinical trials at a time.

A renowned leader in his specialty, he has received numerous honors for his work including two awards from the American Lung Association of Eastern Missouri and the CHEST Foundation’s Humanitarian Recognition Award.

“What UMKC always taught me well was how to take care of a patient and how to listen to a patient,” Castro said.

That training also paved the way for Castro to create the International Medical Assistance Foundation, an organization that has been reaching the underserved in Honduras.

He oversees a board that regularly sends volunteer teams of ENT, orthopedics, cardiology, neurology and other specialists to remote areas of Honduras. Twelve years ago, the Honduran government provided $3 million and Castro’s foundation raised another $3 million through church donations and fundraisers to build and supply a 100-bed hospital and clinic, Hospital Hermano Pedro, in Catacamas, Honduras.

Just prior to the onset of the COVID pandemic, Castro and his team saw and treated 1,300 pulmonary patients in less than a week at the hospital.

“I immigrated to this country in 1965,” said Castro, who was born in Matanzas, Cuba. “It’s been part of my blood to give back to those who are disadvantaged. We want to give back to those who are less fortunate and certainly it helps us appreciate what we have here in this country.”

School of Medicine recognizes first I-Ph.D. graduate

Jeremy Provance was always interested in both health care and computers but wasn’t sure how to fit them together. The UMKC School of Medicine provided his answer.

As graduates of the School of Medicine took part in a commencement ceremony at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium on May 15 and 16, Provance became the first Ph.D. graduate from the medical school earning an interdisciplinary doctorate in biomedical and health informatics.

He describes the field as taking the enormous amount of health data that is generated every day and “making sense of all of those data points and telling the story about what is happening with our health.”

Provance didn’t know bioinformatics and data science existed until he found them as part of UMKC’s interdisciplinary Ph.D. program. The program allows students to work across disciplines to develop an individual academic plan geared to their specific interest.

Through collaboration with UMKC’s School of Graduate Studies, the School of Medicine started offering bioinformatics as a co-discipline in 2014 and as a primary discipline in 2017. Studying this emphasis, students like Provance primarily focus on biomedical data and knowledge, using that information in problem solving and decision making to develop technology and processes that will shape the future of health care.

Provance earned his master’s degree in bioinformatics at the School of Medicine in 2017.  He then continued in the I-Ph.D. program where he found several appealing factors during his studies, including the school’s quality of faculty, research opportunities and interdisciplinary aspect.

“My mentors were so critical to my success, and the faculty were such excellent people both in and out of the classroom. And bioinformatics is a such broad discipline – you can specialize in many different areas.”
– Jeremy Provance

“My mentors were so critical to my success, and the faculty were such excellent people both in and out of the classroom,” he said. “And bioinformatics is a such broad discipline – you can specialize in many different areas.” Provance’s studies focused primarily on cardiovascular outcomes research through the Mid America Heart Institute at Saint Luke’s Hospital.

Fostering collaborations with area institutions and corporations and across disciplinary boundaries are the program’s strengths, according to Jenifer Allsworth, Ph.D., and the bioinformatics department vice chair. “Through these partnerships, our students work with and alongside people from different organizations and backgrounds. We are training students to have the skills to best contribute in a rapidly evolving field.”

Provance says his overall goal is to understand “what we do well as individuals, doctors and health systems, and to encourage those practices and to identify areas for improvement to change them for the better.” Soon, he’ll be doing just that at the Yale School of Medicine, where he’s accepted a research position with its Vascular Medicine Outcomes Group.

“I would not have been successful without the guidance of my research advisor, Dr. Kim Smolderen, and my dissertation chair, Dr. John Spertus. And certainly there are so many others – brilliant researchers, administrators, clinicians, fellow students and more – that helped me find my way through this program,” he said.

Though he was familiar with bioinformatics through his master’s degree, Provance says it’s hard to anticipate doctoral work until you are going through it. His advice to others considering the I-Ph.D. program? Find a strong mentor and understand the importance of collaboration and networking. “It makes all the difference when you are identifying the path forward,” he said.

And though it was four years of hard work, overall, Provance says he’d do it all again. “But I’m glad I don’t have to!”

Seven inducted to SOM chapter of AOA honor society

The School of Medicine chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha welcomed seven new members into the medical honor society as the Class of 2021 inductees.

This year’s inductees are juniors Kartik Depala, Yen Luu, Madhavi Murali and Andrew Peterson, and seniors Charles Burke, Jacob Gowan and Sara Wells.

Selection to AOA membership is  an honor recognizing one’s dedication to the profession and art of healing. It is based on character and values such as honesty, honorable conduct, morality, virtue, unselfishness, ethical ideals, dedication to serving others and leadership. Membership also recognizes excellence in academic scholarship.

 

Five from School of Medicine among 2021 Dean of Student Honor Recipients

Five students from the School of Medicine have been recognized for their scholastic performance, community leadership and service as recipients of 2021 Dean of Students Honor Recipients.

The five 2021 graduating students – Saniya “Sunny” Ablatt, Charles Burke, Varsha Muthukumar, Isabella Nair and Ginikachukwu Osude – were honored for excelling in both academic achievement ans service.

“Every semester, it is our pleasure to host a breakfast in celebration of the accomplishments of the Dean of Students Honor Recipients.  While this semester has been a bit different, we wanted to continue this tradition by virtually celebrating your achievements,” shared Co-Interim Dean of Students Keichanda Dees-Burnett. [watch the video]

This program recognizes the exceptional students who maintain high scholastic performance while actively participating in University and community leadership and service activities outside of the classroom.

“You are an exceptional group of people.  Despite the demands of family, work and studies, you made time to give back to the community.  When you saw a need, you worked to fill it.  You are humanitarians, leaders and philanthropists and you should rightfully be proud of yourselves,” said Co-Interim Dean of Students Todd Wells. [watch the video]

Saniya “Sunny” Ablatt – School of Medicine [watch the video]

Charles Burke – School of Medicine

Varsha Muthukumar – School of Medicine [watch the video]

Isabella Nair – School of Medicine [watch the video]

Ginikachukwu Osude – School of Medicine [watch the video]

SOM’s Dr. Bridgette Jones receives Gold Award for Humanistic Care

Bridgette L. Jones, M.D., M.S.C.R., associate professor of pediatrics and assistant academic dean in the medical school’s Office of Student Affairs, is one of three UMKC health care community members recognized by the University as 2021 Gold Foundation Champions of Humanistic Care.

She will be among those from across the country honored at a virtual gala June 10, where three national honorees, including Anthony Fauci, M.D., will also be recognized.

The three winners were all nominated by the UMKC School of Medicine and its dean, Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. Joining Jones, an allergy, asthma and immunology specialist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, as award winners are Obie Austin, F.N.P., M.S.N., UMKC Student Health and Wellness director and UMKC School of Nursing alum, and Pam Bean, R.N., B.S.N., M.H.S.A., M.B.A., Truman Medical Centers/University Health vice president for practice management and ambulatory care.

Sharing vital information

Jones was commended for working to ensure humanistic care for patients, providing COVID-19 education along with other trusted messengers and sharing her voice to eliminate health inequities for those most affected by the pandemic.

Her activities included working with a medical student leader to distribute masks to medical centers and communities in need, and collaborating with a faculty colleague to launch a fund-raising campaign to support Children’s Mercy employees who had unexpected financial need during the pandemic. She also discussed COVID-19 with community teenagers to answer their questions and was the host and moderator of a panel discussion with other trusted physicians and faculty focused on COVID-19 disease and vaccination in the Black community of Kansas City.

“Over the past year the pandemic has brought so much grief, sorrow, loss and pain to so many individuals, communities and our entire world,” Jones said. “I have been blessed to have my calling and purpose as a physician and as a human being to be a helper. I am blessed and privileged to be able to use my knowledge, skills and my voice to advocate and speak up for those who are most often thought of last or not thought of at all.”

Caring and collaborating

Austin, the longtime director of student health services for the university, was praised as “one of our true heroes over the past year” for his leadership in fostering a culture of care and service. He was commended for quickly learning about COVID-19 and continuing to say up on the latest information so he could be a trusted source for the broader UMKC community and as a member of the university’s Coronavirus Planning Team.

“Providing care never takes the back seat,” Austin said. “I learned that from so many beautiful souls that poured into me as a student here at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s School of Nursing and Health Studies, and it has been an honor to give back to the community educators making a difference in the Kansas City community.”

Austin, a commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves, reflected on the past year.

“This war on COVID has tested our resiliency, fueled our compassion for others and most definitely our ability to see each other in an equal light fighting together as one people to save our humanity,” he said.

Rapid response throughout pandemic

Bean was praised for her efforts that kept Truman Medical Centers, a vital member of the UMKC Health Sciences District and a key affiliate for the School of Medicine, on top of the pandemic. Her nomination for the award said Bean “could not have been replaced in the early, uncertain days of the pandemic.” She helped design the protocols that enabled TMC to initially provide more than 100,000 COVID-19 vaccines, and her quick work allowed TMC to be the first medical center in the metro area to vaccinate its staff.

“Providers worked quickly, and with compassion, to match the cruel reality of patients dying without family by their bedside,” Bean said. “Patients turned to providers for emotional support, and I am proud of my team for answering that need while offering high-quality, comprehensive care.”

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation is dedicated to the proposition that health care will be dramatically improved by placing the interests, values and dignity of all people at the core of teaching and practice. In addition to Fauci, this year’s national Gold Awards will honor Wayne Riley, M.D., president of SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University and head of the Board of Trustees of the New York Academy of Medicine, and Eric Topol, M.D., founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute and professor of molecular medicine at the Scripps Research Institute.