Tag Archives: Awards and Recognition

InDOCtrination ceremony welcomes first-year students to School of Medicine

The UMKC School of Medicine recognized a new class of 103 first-year medical students during the school’s annual InDOCtrination ceremony on Aug. 20 at the UMKC White Recital Hall.

The ceremony has been a long-standing tradition for the School of Medicine. Brenda Rogers, M.D., associate dean for student affairs, told students and their families that this was a special day to remember. 

This ceremony affirms for each of you that you are entering the challenging and exciting world of medicine – a world that will demand a lot from you, but will reward you greatly for your efforts, Rogers said. 

Demi Elrod was announced as this year’s Richard Garcia Memorial Award recipient. The honor is presented annually to a student entering the Year 2 class who best exemplifies the qualities of compassion, concern and academic excellence. The recipient is selected by classmates. 

Speaking to the Year 1 class, Elrod said, “In a few days you will start one of the most difficult journeys of your life. I know it may seem daunting, but I can promise you it’s worth it.” 

Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine, also spoke to the class, describing how it is entering the field of medicine at unique time as the world continues to battle the COVID pandemic. She said the responsibility of medical professionals is a duty of care with an ethical duty to place patient’s health first. She encouraged the students to be role models in helping families and loved ones emerge from the pandemic. 

Each student was recognized individually as they were introduced as members of their Year 1 docent teams.  

School of Medicine begins new tradition of White Coat Ceremony on two campuses

Students at the UMKC School of Medicine Mosaic Life Care campus in St. Joseph were recognized during the White Coat Ceremony on Aug. 8.

UMKC School of Medicine recognized students at the school’s two campuses in a rite of passage that marks the next step along their journey to becoming physicians.

An inaugural class of 16 students from the school’s new Mosaic Life Care in St. Joseph, Missouri, campus participated in that campus’ first White Coat Ceremony on Aug. 8. The event, sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, emphasizes the importance of compassionate care for patients and proficiency in both the art and the science of medicine.

UMKC School of Medicine students at the Kansas City campus participated in the annual White Coat Ceremony at the university’s White Recital Hall.

In Kansas City, the School of Medicine welcomed 125 new third-year students during the annual White Coat Ceremony one day earlier at the UMKC White Recital Hall.

The White Coat Ceremony has been a tradition at the School of Medicine since 2003. For UMKC medical students, it marks a transition in training from an emphasis on classwork to the final four years of more intensive clinical training.

UMKC opened its medical school campus at Mosaic in January with a focus on rural primary care medicine. Davin Turner, M.D., chief medical officer for Mosaic and associate dean for the St. Joseph campus, addressed the students, faculty and guests and spoke about the need for physicians in rural areas.

School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., and Steven Waldman, St. Joseph campus dean, also spoke about becoming a physician and the significance of the physician’s white coat, symbolizing professionalism, caring and the trust between physicians and their patients.

Jessica Halla, a medical student at Mosaic, also announced the Dr. Kanga Friends of UMKC School of Medicine Outstanding Community Engagement Award, which was presented to Missouri state Rep. Brenda Shields, who played an integral role in obtaining the grants to open the school’s St. Joseph campus.

On the Kansas City campus, third-year medical student Audrey Otwell also honored William Ritter, M.D., a staff cardiologist at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, with this year’s Outstanding Years 1 and 2 Docent Award. Each third-year class nominates a Year 1-2 docent for the award based on their pursuit of teaching excellence in medicine.

Students at both campus ceremonies were read a compilation of their class reflections on the Philosophy of Medicine and were each individually recognized and presented their white coats by their docents.

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.”

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]

UMKC Trustees honor SOM’s Peter Koulen for distinguished work in research

Koulen, PeterThe UMKC Board of Trustees has selected UMKC School of Medicine’s vision and neuroscience researcher Peter Koulen, Ph.D., as the recipient of the 2020 UMKC Trustees’ Faculty Fellow Award.

Dr . Koulen is the school’s Felix and Carmen Sabates/Missouri Endowed Chair in Vision Research and serves as director of basic research at the Vision Research Center. Under his guidance, the research center and the UMKC Department of Ophthalmology have secured millions of dollars in grants from the National Institutes of Health and other recognized sources for their groundbreaking work in developing technology and therapies to recognize and treat chronic diseases of the eye and brain.

He has been awarded more than 50 extramural grants totaling over $15 million, and he recently was the recipient of two R01 NIH/NEI awards totaling over $4 million. With a focus on the retina as part of the central nervous system, he has peer-reviewed publications in more than 100 prestigious journals including International Journal Molecular Science, Journal of Cell Science, Cellular Molecular Neurobiology, and Neuroscience. He also has been awarded three patents.

A member of an NIH study section committee, and active reviewer for prestigious scientific journals, he has been the recipient of more than 20 awards and honors since joining our School of Medicine, including recognition as the NT Veatch Award for Research and Creativity in 2013. Dr. Koulen’s work has been acknowledged worldwide. The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, a global organization of researchers, honored Koulen as a member of its 2018 Fellows Class.

He also serves as a mentor and sponsor for students involved in research and he has effectively launched the careers of the next generation of physician scientists. His mentorship has placed graduates in highly competitive research environments such as NIH, FDA, Harvard Medical School, Alcon Laboratories, Fresenius and numerous others.

“I am impressed that Dr. Koulen contributes with passion, grace and enthusiasm and that he truly represents what a faculty scholar should exemplify,” said School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D.. “It is my pleasure to call him a colleague and to work with him at our University.”

Each year, UMKC’s Board of Trustees selects an established faculty member for the Faculty Fellow Award to honor a nationally and internationally recognized record of research and creative achievements at UMKC.

Yusheng Liu, Ph.D., vice chancellor for research in the Office of Research and Economic Development, said the award helps the university enhance and pursue its goal to be a major urban research university with excellence, creativity, and scholarship across all disciplines.



UMKC Honors Top Class of 2020 Graduates

Dean of Students Honors Recipients

Each year as the semester begins to wind down and seniors prepare for commencement, one of the biggest moments of their lives, academic and administrative units host breakfasts and ceremonies honoring the academic accomplishments of their graduates.

This year, however, things are very different, because of the novel coronavirus and related social distancing and stay-at-home orders. Still, UMKC faculty and staff are finding other ways to virtually recognize honors seniors through social and multi-media.

Fourteen School of Medicine students are among those nominated as Dean of Students Honors Recipients by faculty and staff for their commitment to academic success while actively participating in leadership and service to the community and our university outside of the classroom. Nominators and students recorded videos reflecting on this semester’s honors. See what they had to say:

“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 Interim Dean of Students Chris Brown.

* – School of Medicine recipients

Afaq Alabbasi – School Pharmacy [watch the video] Nominated by Cameron Lindsey, interim chair of the Division of Pharmacy and Practicum [watch the video]

* Priyesha Bijlani – School Medicine [watch the video] Nominated by Betsy Hendrick, academic advisor, School of Medicine [watch the video]

Hannah-Kaye Carter – School of Biological & Chemical Sciences and Honors College [watch the video] Nominated by Carla Mebane, director of the UMKC High School/College Dual Credit Partnership [watch the video]

Austin Dada – School of Biological & Chemical Sciences [watch the video] Nominated by Ryan Mohen, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology [watch the video]

* Morgan Dresvyannikov – School of Medicine [watch the video] Nominated by Brent McCoy, senior academic advisor, School of Medicine [watch the video]

Sierra Duncan-Sonich – School of Biological & Chemical Sciences and Honors College [watch the video] Nominated by Tammy Welchert, director of Student Affairs and Undergraduate Enrollment, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences [watch the video]

Jorden Erskin – School of Nursing & Health Studies [watch the video] Nominated by Corinna Beck, academic advisor, School of Nursing and Health Studies [watch the video]

* Elsa George – School of Medicine [watch the video] Nominated by Brent McCoy [watch the video]

* Thomas Haferkamp – School of Medicine [watch the video] Nominated by Krisana West, academic advisor, School of Medicine [watch the video]

* Chizitam Ibezim – School of Medicine [watch the video] Nominated by Krisana West [watch the video]

Alyssa Jones – School of Biological & Chemical Sciences and Honors College [watch the video] Nominated by Susana Chavez-Bueno, associate professor of pediatrics [watch the video]

* Anusha Kodidhi – School of Medicine [watch the video] Nominated by Krisana West [watch the video]

* Christopher Kurian – School of Medicine
Nominated by Betsy Hendrick [watch the video]

Nuvia Lemus-Diaz – School of Dentistry [watch the video] Nominated by Richie Bigham, assistant dean for student programs, School of Dentistry [watch the video]

* Rmaah Memon – School of Medicine [watch the video] Nominated by Krisana West [watch the video]

Pooja Menon – School of Biological and Chemical Sciences [watch the video] Nominated by Lawrence Dreyfus, associate vice provost of faculty development and research [watch the video]

Emily Oliver – School of Pharmacy [watch the video] Nominated by Roger Sommi, associate dean and professor, School of Pharmacy [watch the video]

* Anthony Oyekan – School of Medicine [watch the video] Nominated by Betsy Hendrick [watch the video]

Jayanth Rao – School of Biological and Chemical Sciences [watch the video] Nominated by Tara Allen, teaching professor, School of Biology [watch the video]

* Nicole Rogers – School of Medicine [watch the video] Nominated by Brent McCoy [watch the video]

* Subhjit Sekhon – School of Medicine [watch the video] Nominated by Betsy Hendrick [watch the video]

* Mehr-Zahra Shah – School of Medicine [watch the video] Nominated by Betsy Hendrick [watch the video]

* Saumya Singh – School of Medicine [watch the video] Nominated by Krisana West [watch the video]

* Garima Thakkar – School of Medicine [watch the video] Nominated by Brent McCoy [watch the video]

Sarah Towakoli – College of Arts & Sciences and Honors College [watch the video] Nominated by Ken Novak, professor, criminal justice [watch the video]

Rachel Zender – School of Law [watch the video] Nominated by Molly Wilensky, director, Professional and Career Development Center [watch the video]

Undergraduate Research Fellows

Eleven May graduates earned the Undergraduate Research Fellow honorary transcript designation by demonstrating deep involvement in research process–formulating a research question, identifying an appropriate method to investigate the question, carrying out the project, and publication or presentation of the results beyond the classroom or research group.

Jerrah Biggerstaff – B.S. Physics/Astronomy, College of Arts and Sciences

Jaime Crouse – B.S. Biology; double minor in physics/astronomy and chemistry

Austin Dada – B.S. Biology

Lauren Higgins – B.S. Physics/Astronomy

Brandon Landaverry – B.S. Environmental Sciences

Andy Leon – B.S. Biology

Pedro Morales-Sosa – B.S. Biology

Minh Nguyen – B.S. Biology

Bwaar Omer – B.S. Biology

Annie Spencer – B.A. English and History

Sarah Towakoli — B.A. Criminal Justice & Criminology and Political Science


Making the ranks of medical schools

For the first time ever, the UMKC School of Medicine joined the U.S. News & World Report rankings of medical schools and other graduate programs.

The  school placed 75th for primary care medical schools and 88th for research medical schoolsU.S. News said its rankings covered 122 accredited medical and osteopathic medical schools that participated in the rankings, out of 189 that were asked.

UMKC, whose innovative six-year program takes most of its students right out of high school, did not participate in past surveys because its program is so different from others in the United States. Interim Dean Mary Anne Jackson, a 1978 graduate of the program, said she thought it was time to join the survey.

“Our school is known for excellent clinical training and great success in residency matching, throughout the Midwest and at Mayo and other top institutions,” Jackson said. “We also offer expanding research opportunities and have placed students in the top National Institutes of Health student research program for several years in a row.”

The medical school rankings were based on a weighted average of indicators, seven for the primary care rankings and eight for research. Some indicators were quality assessments by academic peers and residency directors. But most were objective data submitted by the schools, such as research activity, student test scores and acceptance rate. The UMKC school rated in the top one-third, for example, in faculty-student ratio, on a par with Stanford, the No. 4 school overall, and ahead of 78 other schools. It also did well in the percentage of its graduates going into primary care.

Dean Jackson said it took a “yeoman’s effort” to compile and submit the required data for the first time, and she thanked the school’s leadership team including Vice Deans Steven Waldman, M.D. ’77, J.D., and Paul Cuddy, Pharm.D., M.B.A., for their efforts.

School of Medicine recognizes December grads, honors recipients

The School of Medicine recognized four December graduates at UMKC Mid-Year Commencement Ceremony on Dec. 14 at Swinney Recreation Center.

Students who participated in the ceremony and received their M.D. degrees were Logan Christine Hemme, Sultan Ibrahim Khan, Jude-Patrick Nnamdi Okafor and Landon James Rohowetz.

They were among 21 students anticipated to graduate in December with either a Doctor of Medicine, a master’s degree or a graduate certificate in clinical research from the School of Medicine.

Five of the December M.D. graduates were also recognized as 2019 Dean of Students Honor Recipients. Faculty and staff nominate students who have maintained high scholastic performance while actively participating in university and community leadership and service activities outside of the classroom.

Those honorees and their nominating faculty or staff member include: Shelby Chesbro, nominated by Jignesh Shah, M.B.B.S./M.P.H., and Betsy Hendrick; Jordann Dhuse, nominated by Stefanie Ellison, M.D.; Zach Randall, nominated by Stefanie Ellison, M.D.; Marcella Riley, nominated by Nurry Pirani, M.D.; and Rohowetz, nominated by Peter Koulen, Ph.D., and Betsy Hendrick.

School of Medicine Students anticipated to graduate in December included:

Doctor of Medicine graduates
Timothy Brotherton, Shelby Chesbro, Jordann Dhuse, Abygail Dulle, Logan Hemme, Haley Kertz, Taylor Lind, Zachary Randall, Marcella Riley, Landon Rohowetz, Louis Sand, Keton Schroeder, Gurpreet Seehra, Brandon Trandai and Mesgana Yimer

Graduate Certificate Clinical Research
Ishaan Jakhar

Master of Science in Bioinformatics

Emily Deutch, Benjamin Matta, M.D., and Jason Wilson

Master of Health Professions Education

Christa Balanoff and Emily Hillman, M.D.

The School of Medicine’s spring graduation ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m. on May 18, 2019, at the Kauffman Center.

School of Medicine attracted sisters in Legacy Award winning family


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.