School of Medicine’s 2020 humanities magazine available online

The 2020 issue the UMKC School of Medicine publication, Human Factor, is now available online. Human Factor celebrates the connection between art, humanities and the practice of medicine.

The publication showcases the creativity, imagination and talent of our students, alumni, residents, faculty and staff. All of the printed words and images featured in this publication make the important link between an appreciation of art and compassionate patient care — illustrating the significant role of medical humanities.

This year’s issue features poetry, short stories, photos, drawings and and other original artwork including the cover image created by fifth-year medical student Rachana Kombathula.

Watch for a call for submissions to the 2021 edition of the Human Factor early next next fall.

Vision researcher awarded $1.16 million grant to battle glaucoma

UMKC School of Medicine vision researcher Peter Koulen, Ph.D., has received a $1.16 million grant for a study to battle vision loss and blindness.

Backed by the National Institutes of Health National Eye Institute, his research will investigate how a mechanism that allows nerve cells to communicate effectively could lead to the development of new treatments for glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a major cause of irreversible vision loss and blindness in the United States and worldwide. The disease causes degeneration in the retina and optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. Preventing the death of these cells is currently the only feasible way to prevent vision loss due to glaucoma.

In the past year, Koulen has won two other major NIH research grants. His current study of new chemical compounds to treat and prevent age-related macular degeneration received a $1.16 million grant. He is also part of an innovative $1.5 million project exploring a novel tissue-preservation method that could help meet far-reaching clinical needs in ophthalmology and other fields of medicine

This new glaucoma research will focus on alternative strategies directly targeting the damaging effects of the disease on the retina and optic nerve.

“Just like elevated blood pressure predisposes patients to stroke, high pressure inside the eye is a predisposing factor for glaucoma,” said Koulen, professor of ophthalmology and director of basic research at the Vision Research Center. “There are currently several therapies available to patients to reduce abnormally high eye pressure, but when these therapies fail or cease to be effective, glaucoma and the accompanying vision loss continue to progress.”

Koulen’s project will determine how to boost the cell-to-cell communication that retinal nerve cells use to defend themselves from disease and injury. The hope is this will protect these cells from the damaging effects of glaucoma.

If successful, Koulen’s research will result in new drug candidates that would contribute to “neuroprotection” as a strategy to treat and prevent glaucoma.

New therapies could potentially act in concert with current eye pressure lowering drugs. Other areas of medicine, such as cancer treatment, have effectively employed the concept of using complementary drug action in combination therapies.

Students, residents and faculty invited to arts and medicine salon

Students and faculty take part in a salon on art and medicine led by School of Medicine faculty member Stuart Munro, M.D.

Students, residents and faculty from the UMKC and University of Kansas schools of medicine are invited to the final event in a series of salons on arts and medicine.

The event will take place from 4-6 p.m. on March 4 at Unity Temple on the Plaza. Led by Paul Rudy, DMA, the session, “Listen! Yes, Really Listen,” offers an experience of the impact sound and vibration has on our ability to really listen to each other.

For reservations, contact Jean Wolf at

The series of salons are a collaborative effort spearheaded by UMKC faculty members Stuart Munro, M.D., and Jennifer Martin, Ph.D., and Bradley Barth, M.D., at the KU medical school. It is funded by a grant from “Frontiers of Arts and Medicine.”

The overarching theme is “What If: The Healing of Art and Medical Humanities.” The events are open to art and medicine students, residents and faculty from both institutions to foster dialogue between disciplines.

The first salon was a new play at The Living Room Theatre called “DNR” that explored the implications of “Do Not Resuscitate.” The second featured an evening of films, hors d’oeuvres and a lively discussion of how medicine has impacted art in films. Others included “Sharing Your Stories,” led by poet laureate of Kansas Huscar Medina, and “Music in Medicine: How Music Adds Meaning to your Lives,” led by Dr. Stuart Munro and Dr. Jennifer Martin.

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.

Surgical dermatologist Dr. Meena Singh to give 2020 Shannon Lecture

Meena Singh, a board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon, will present the UMKC School of Medicine’s 2020 Dr. Reaner and Mr. Henry Shannon Lecture in Minority Health on Feb. 28. A specialist in treating all types of cosmetic and medical hair loss, Singh currently serves as medical director of the KMC Hair Center in Shawnee, Kansas.

She received her medical degree from Harvard Medical School and completed her residency training at the Mayo Clinic. She subsequently completed a surgical fellowship in Mohs Micrographic Surgery, recognized as the most effective technique for treating common skin cancer. Singh also completed a fellowship with the International Society for Hair Restoration Surgery under world-renowned surgeon Dr. Marc Avram. She has trained in all areas of hair transplantation techniques.

With a special interest in treating ethnic skin/skin of color, Singh has conducted clinical trials for laser hair stimulation. She has also studied hair transplants for both scarring and non-scarring hair loss, skin cancer in transplant patients and tissue engineering. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed dermatology journals, book chapters, as well as the New England Journal of Medicine. She recently co-authored a hair transplant textbook. Her blog articles have been published in online periodicals and she has also been featured on the cover of New York Times.

She currently serves as vice president of the Greater Kansas City chapter of the National Medical Association (NMA) and the Secretary/Treasurer of NMA Dermatology.

UMKC School of Medicine students show patients how much they care on Valentine’s Day

More than a dozen UMKC School of Medicine students displayed the humanistic side of medicine on Valentine’s Day. The students, members of the school’s Gold Humanism Honor Society, delivered more than 200 roses and hand-made Valentine’s cards to their patients at Truman Medical Center Health Sciences District during their lunch hour.

“This reinforces the idea that our patients are not just patients, they’re also human beings,” said sixth-year student Rmaah Memon.

The fifth- and sixth-year students and their Gold Humanism Honor Society faculty sponsor, Carol Stanford, M.D., have been handing out roses to their patients for Valentine’s Day as part of the organization’s Solidarity Week for Compassionate Patient Care since 2011.

A few years ago, the students began inviting their classmates to join in on the Solidarity Week campaign by getting together during the week to create hundreds of their own hand-made Valentine’s cards to pass out with the roses.

“A lot of these patients are here on Valentine’s Day all alone,” said Athira Jayan, a sixth-year student. “You’re handing them a rose, but you’re also getting a chance to just visit with them, give them some company. A lot of patients here, that’s something that they value, the ability for someone to comfort them and give them someone to talk to.”

Elsa George, another sixth-year student, said this is an opportunity for the students to show their patients that someone cares.

“Sometimes, when we come into their room and just talk to them briefly about their medical conditions, patients think we don’t really care about how they feel as a person,” George said.

Two years ago, the School of Medicine received the Gold Humanism Honor Society’s Distinguished Chapter of the Year. That honor recognized the chapter’s impact, leadership, service activities and humanistic learning environment.

The organization has nearly 180 chapters in medical schools and residency programs throughout the United States.

School of Medicine announces upcoming faculty appointments

Dr. Nayak

The UMKC School of Medicine has announced that it will welcome Nihar Nayak, M.D., as a tenured professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology to lead the UMKC Perinatal Institute beginning April 1, 2020.

Nayak is currently a tenured professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and director of the Reproductive Sciences Graduate Program at the Wayne State University School of Medicine. Prior to joining WSU, he was an associate professor and director of translational research in maternal fetal medicine for nine years in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Stanford University. Additionally, he served as a tenured assistant professor for nine years in a school of veterinary medicine in India and as a research faculty at the Oregon Health and Science University.

A translational researcher in the field of pregnancy and women’s health, he has received national and international recognition. His research addresses the understanding of the defects in implantation and early placental development that result in pregnancy complications, mostly manifested in later stages of pregnancy.

It is expected that his research will provide specific guidance for the development of diagnostics and targeted therapies for a range of pregnancy disorders.

Dr. Queen

In another upcoming leadership transition, Michael Artman, M.D., noted pediatric cardiologist, professor, and Joyce C. Hall Endowed Chair in Pediatrics and chair, Department of Pediatrics, has announced his retirement effective, April 2020. The School of Medicine announced that it will welcome Mary Ann Queen, M.D., as the interim Chair.

Queen currently serves as division director of pediatric hospital medicine, one of the first and largest hospitalist programs in the country. She completed her pediatrics residency and a chief resident year at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and has been a faculty member there her entire career. A professor of pediatrics, she will continue in her role as the division director and as the associate chair of Inpatient Services & Faculty Engagement for the Department of Pediatrics.

“Dr. Queen is a well-respected clinician and educator and we look forward to welcoming her as academic chair in pediatrics,” said School of Medicine Interim Dean Mary Ann Jackson, M.D.



School of Medicine teams with Nestle to create unique student experience

Brandon Trandai, Madeline Harris and Valerie Hummel were the first to participate in a new UMKC School of Medicine elective, the Infant and Toddler Nutrition Experience.

Three sixth-year medical students from the School of Medicine this past fall were the first to participate in a unique elective experience bringing together the medical school and a leading baby food manufacturer.

The Infant and Toddler Nutrition Experience is a collaboration between UMKC and Nestle Nutrition North America, which produces Gerber baby foods and formulas.

Joel Lim, M.D., and Brandon Trandai

Emily Haury, M.D., docent and chair of the School of Medicine Docent Council, is one of the faculty members overseeing the course elective. She said one goal of the program is to expose students to the corporate world of health care. It also offers a glimpse of how corporations work with the medical field to produce the best products for their customers.

“In addition to gaining clinical knowledge and studying evidence-based guidelines, the students also gained practical knowledge and resources that they can use to counsel families about nutrition as they continue their training in pediatrics,” Haury said.

Madeline Harris, Valerie Hummel and Brandon Trandai began the class with reading assignments and participating in small group discussions on basic and clinical sciences related to infant and toddler nutrition.

After completing the preliminary work, the students spent 10 days at the Nestle facilities in Michigan and the company’s headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. Their travel took in tours of a baby food factory, a farm and a consumer testing center. They also attended sessions with marketing, human resources and regulatory staff to learn about the business side of the industry.

“It was unique and a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Trandai said. “I was able to see another facet of pediatrics. We don’t typically focus on nutrition as much as treating illnesses and disease.”

Trandai said the experience enlightened the students about the amount of research done at Gerber and the innovation taking place to promote infant and toddler nutrition.

Hummel said, “This rotation was incredibly rewarding. I would highly recommend it for any students interested in learning more about nutrition and the intricate world of the business industry surrounding nutrition.”

The elective is overseen by Haury, Darla McCarthy, Ph.D., assistant dean for curriculum, and Joel Lim, M.D., adjunct professor pediatrics, who now serves as vice president of the Medical and Scientific Regulatory Unit at Nestle Nutrition North America. Funding for the students’ travel and lodging was provided by Nestle.

Haury said the elective will be offered again during several blocks in the 2020-21 academic year, providing students unique learning opportunity that they can share at their residency interviews.

School of Medicine’s Gold Humanism Honor Society welcomes 2020 class

The School of Medicine chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society welcomed the 2020 class of students and faculty during a ceremony at Diastole.

The School of Medicine’s chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) inducted 21 new members on January 25 during a ceremony at Diastole.

This year’s GHHS induction class includes 19 students and two faculty physicians. Each was chosen for their exemplary care of patients and their humanistic approach to clinical practice. Students and faculty make nominations each year based on the individual’s excellence in clinical care, leadership, compassion and dedication to service.

Carol Stanford, M.D., Gold 5 docent and GHHS faculty sponsor, welcomed the new members and presented each with a certificate of induction during the program.

The GHHS began in the late 1990s. It now has more than 160 medical school and residency program chapters across the United States. The program is supported in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Berry Foundation.

Medical students:
Suma Ancha
Charlie Burke
Anna Curtis
Sarthak Garg
Jacob Gowan
Sharika Kaula
Raga Kilaru
Connor King
Rachana Kombathula
Rebecca Kruian
Saja Necibi
Jacob Perera
Rawan Rajab
Karishma Raju
Koral Shah
Elizabeth Theng
Kabir Torres
Maggie Urschler
Sarah Wells


Paramdeep Baweja, M.D.
Jignesh Shah, M.D.

Beloved administrator Marilyn McGuyre remembered

This cutout of Marilyn McGuyre promoted the bowling tournament that raised money for the scholarship fund started in her honor.

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.

Marilyn McGuyre

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.