Tag Archives: Faculty

UMKC honors School of Medicine faculty for achievements in diversity, teaching

Tyler Smith, M.D., and Theodore Cole, Ph.D.

UMKC honored School of Medicine faculty members Tyler Smith, M.D., and Theodore Cole, Ph.D., with special awards during the annual Faculty Recognition Event on May 18 at the Student Union.

Smith, associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, received the Chancellor’s Award for Embracing Diversity. Cole, professor of biomedical sciences, received the Elmer F. Pierson Good Teaching Award.

The Chancellor’s Award is given annually to university faculty, staff and student organizations engaged in fostering an environment of multiculturalism, globalism and diversity and inclusion.

An assistant professor of pediatrics, Smith is the first physician to serve in her DEI role. She is a key strategist and supervises related to recruitment and retention of underrepresented or marginalized students, staff, and faculty. Her efforts promote a culture of inclusion and ensure that everyone’s voice is heard in a safe space. She has been recognized at Children’s Mercy with an Early Career Advocacy Achievement Award in 2019 and 2021 and with the DEI Achievement Award.

The Elmer Pierson Good Teaching Award recognizes creative and innovative teaching methods and skills, and educational leadership. Cole has been a School of Medicine faculty member for more than 24 years. He is the gross anatomy co-director for the Human Structure Function series.  Since 1998 he has taught anatomy in the HSF I, II, III courses and as course director for the HSF IV course since 2003, he directs coursework for thorax and abdomen anatomy.

In 2018, Cole received the Christopher Papasian, Ph.D., Excellence in Teaching Award from the School of Medicine. In addition to teaching medical students, he has served as course faculty in Human Gross Anatomy I for dental students since 1999.

School of Medicine celebrates 9th annual Quality Patient Safety Day

Mamta Reddy, M.D., endowed chair of patient safety (left), and Betty M. Drees, M.D., dean emerita, present a quality and patient safety lifetime achievement award to Lawrence Dall, M.D.,assistant dean of student research.

Quality care and patient safety took center stage as Julia Snodgrass and Wes Weske received the top honors from among students and Drs. Erica Wee and Jeremy Beyer earned the top resident/fellow awards with their research abstract submission at the UMKC School of Medicine’s 9th annual Vijay Babu Quality and Patient Safety Day.

Judges selected the winners from among 23 medical student and 17 resident/fellow research submissions. The four were chosen to give oral presentations of their research during the day-long event.

The annual patient safety day program provides students, residents and fellows an opportunity to display their work in quality improvement and patient safety to the entire medical school community.

Thirty students, residents and fellows also participated in a poster presentation showcase. A panel of judges selected presentations by Snodgrass and Fahad Qureshi as the top student posters, while Drs. Thomas Cochran and Rueben Joaquim Ricardo De Almedia were recognized for the top poster presentations among residents and fellows.

School of Medicine faculty members Lawrence Dall, M.D., and Rana El Feghaly, M.D., were also recognized for their contributions to quality improvement and patient safety mentorship. Dall, who a docent who also serves as assistant dean of medical student research, received the QIPS Lifetime Achievement Award. El Feghaly, associate professor of pediatrics, received the QIPS Faculty Mentor of the Year Award.

Christopher Moriates, M.D., assistant dean for Health Care Value at the Dell Medical School, University of Texas in Austin, gave a keynote address, speaking “Leading for Where You Stand.” Moriates created a Choosing Wisely STARS program that has spread throughout the United States to generate student-led initiatives in advancing health care value in medical education. He also oversaw the creation of the Del Med Discovering Value-Based Health Care online learning platform used by medical professions throughout the United States.

To view a complete list of student, resident and fellow oral and poster presentation, go online to Vijay Babu Rayudu Quality & Patient Safety Day.

Betty M. Drees, M.D., honored for efforts to advance the careers of women in medicine

Betty Drees, M.D., F.A.C.P., Dean, UMKC School of Medicine

The American College of Physicians has recognized former UMKC School of Medicine Dean Betty M. Drees, M.D., F.A.C.P., for her distinguished contributions to women in medicine.

Drees was presented the Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell Award for Outstanding Contributions to Advancing the Careers of Women in Medicine at the ACP’s national meeting in Chicago. The award recognizes an individual who has furthered the careers of women medical students, residents and/or physicians through mentoring and leadership development.

A board-certified endocrinologist with 30 years of experience in clinical practice, research, education and administration, Drees has played a major role in advancing the careers and career opportunities for women physicians.

She served as dean of the UMKC School of Medicine from 2001-2014 and established the school’s Excellence in Mentoring awards that recognize faculty members for significant contributions to enhancing and developing the careers of faculty and trainees. In 2018, she was appointed president of the Graduate School of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, a program offers education and training that leads to a doctorate in biology. She also currently serves as a professor at the UMKC School of Medicine’s Departments of Internal Medicine and Biomedical and Health Informatics and continues to teach endocrinology to medical students, residents and fellows.

Among her many leadership roles, Drees is the immediate past president of the Kansas City Medical Society. She was named one of Kansas City’s Most Accomplished and Successful Women and an icon of education by Ingram’s Magazine. She remains passionate about community well-being and diabetes prevention with a research focus on improving metabolic health and diabetes prevention.

The ACP is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with 161,000 internal medicine physicians, related subspecialists and medical student members in more than 145 countries worldwide.

School of Medicine’s Steven Go receives NBME distinguished service award

Steven Go, M.D., (right) received the received the Edithe J. Levit Distinguished Service Award from the National Board of medical Examiners.

Steven Go, M.D., professor of emergency medicine, received the Edithe J. Levit Distinguished Service Award at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) in Philadelphia. The award recognized Go for his more than 20 years of dedicated service to the NBME.

Go has been a member of the UMKC School of Medicine faculty in the emergency medicine department since 1994. An active member of the NBME since 1998, he was selected as a member of the NBME board NBME in 2014. He has served on numerous test material development, computer case simulation, interdisciplinary review, and forms review committees, task forces, and the USMLE Management Committee.

Established in 1983, the Distinguished Service Award is named in honor of former NBME president and CEO Edithe J. Levit, who served from 1977 to 1986. Recipients are selected from individuals retiring from NBME membership and others who have served the NBME exceptionally in their dedication to research related to the evaluation of health professionals.

UMKC professors study the impact of sound on operating room safety

Faculty donation leads to collaboration between professors in the School of Medicine and UMKC Conservatory to yield safer surgeries

Medicine and music aren’t an obvious pair, but in a discussion between colleagues at the UMKC Surgical Innovations Lab, experts in each field realized an interesting link between the two topics.

Gary Sutkin, M.D., professor of surgery and associate dean of women’s health at UMKC, has focused much of his research on surgical safety and mitigating errors in the operating room. Today he’s working to expand that research by teaming up with his colleague – and composer – Paul Rudy, MM, DMA, Curators’ Distinguished Professor and coordinator of composition at the UMKC Conservatory, to study the effects of sound on patient safety in the operating room.

Studies have shown that reducing hospital noise levels has a direct impact on improving patient safety, but in operating rooms, in addition to conversations among the surgical team, the equipment required for surgeries makes noise. Though some sounds are necessary ­– such as the noise of the oxygen saturation monitor, which creates the rapid high-pitched beep people may recognize from medical shows on television — the noise created by people in the room often is not.

Gary Sutkin, M.D.

Rudy and Sutkin are working together to develop training and surgical methods that reduce some of the noise and related risk.

“People have been trying to solve the problem of miscommunication in the operating room for 20 years and there hasn’t been any meaningful progress,” Sutkin says. “What I know is that we need brains other than those of researchers, surgeons and nurses to study the problem.”

Sutkin’s interest in collaborating with people who have expertise in areas outside of medicine, coupled with Rudy’s curiosity and ability to hear the operating room with fresh ears is already leading to interesting results.

By observing surgeries, Rudy recognized that surgeons’ work entails very fine motor movements and unwavering focus that requires them to keep their heads down. He also observed other members of the surgical team are focused on their own tasks and responsibilities.

“People have been trying to solve the problem of miscommunication and errors in the operating for 20 years and there hasn’t been meaningful progress. What I know is that I need other brains than only researchers, surgeons and nurses.”
 Gary Sutkin, M.D.

“No one’s looking at the surgeon’s body language to figure out what’s needed,” Rudy says. “For example, the anesthesiologist is reading a screen. Much of the communication [the team receives] is coming through sound.”

But despite the importance of verbal communication, he observed a lot of the noise people make in the operating room is not critical to the surgery.

“Everyone is doing something necessary,” Rudy says. “But sometimes someone has to unpackage something in a hurry, and they can’t throw it in the trash can, so it ends up on the floor. Or someone picks up that big wad of plastic to get it out of the way and you can’t hear anything else over the noise. This has to be done – someone could trip over it – but if the surgeon needs to communicate something important to the anesthesiologist at that moment, the noise will mask the communication.”

Because of Rudy’s background as a musician, the amount of residual noise in the operating room came as a surprise.

“In rehearsals and in performances, no one makes any extra sound anywhere for any reason,” Rudy says. “Musicians carefully turn pages of sheet music so that the binder doesn’t make any noise.”

He’s aware of the differences between the disciplines, but still notes there is room for improvement when it comes to eliminating some unnecessary noise in operating rooms. Rudy’s research has identified solutions to common disruptions that OR teams may not even notice.

“For example, in the operating room there are really heavy metal step stools,” Rudy says. “People tend to scoot them across the floor with their feet and it makes this really intense grating sound that may mask any kind of communication that is going on in the room.”

Paul Rudy, Ph.D.

Rudy understands that the medical professionals in the operating room move the stools with their feet because they need to keep their hands sterile, but he wonders if manufacturers are aware of the ramifications of production decisions.

“This research could lead to that awareness, and maybe even influence manufacturing standards.”

Observations like this that lead to opportunity for innovation and increased safety is at the heart of the mission of Surgilab and are why Sutkin wants colleagues like Rudy in the operating room.

“There’s value in having insight from brains other than researchers, surgeons and nurses. Paul brings a wealth of knowledge and creativity. And, surprisingly, to be honest, a scientific mind that contributes very well with this research.”

A gift from UMKC professor emerita, Elizabeth Noble, Ph.D., helped fund this research collaboration. Noble supports research that reaches across different fields of study because she thinks it makes the outcomes more reliable and more transferable.

“Today most researchers would agree that cross-disciplinary research is valuable,” Noble says. “It stimulates new ways of thinking about different issues, especially when we’re talking about music and medicine which are not always assumed to go together.”

“This research is exactly what I hoped would occur. I’m very happy that Dr. Rudy has had this kind of success,” she added.

Army skills come to the physician assistant program

Major David Walker announced as faculty member in the PA Program

Major David Walker has been added as a new faculty member to the Physician Assistant (PA) program at the UMKC School of Medicine. Walker’s path to UMKC was a bit unique.

Initially, Walker came to the department for an internship through the Army Career Skills Program, which sponsored his time at UMKC. The Army initiative helps veterans transition to civilian careers. During the internship, Walker worked closely with the PA faculty on day-to-day delivery of the curriculum, while he was involved in all aspects in the classroom including skills instruction and assessment.

Julie Banderas, assistant dean, Graduate Health and Professions, said it’s the first time the Physician Assistant program has worked with the Army Skills Program. “We saw this as an excellent opportunity with mutual benefits,” she said.

Walker experienced many teaching opportunities in the military, teaching areas such as biology as well as training medics and mentoring fellow troops. “As you move up the ranks in the military, you’re always looking behind you to train your subordinates and bring them up as well,” he said. “Those opportunities gave me a great deal of experience with the student-teacher and mentor-mentee dynamic.”

According to Walker, there was much to like about UMKC and its PA program. “I was drawn to the mission at UMKC, how involved they are with the community,” he said. “The program’s emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion was important as well and their focus on recruiting students with diverse backgrounds.”

Walker enlisted straight out of high school, two weeks after graduation to be exact. “With my birthday in July,” he said “I wasn’t even 18 yet at the start of basic training.”

He originally served as a military intelligence technician. According to Walker, the job sounds like a big deal but adds, “I was basically an IT guy.” An “IT guy” with top security clearance nonetheless. He worked the first couple of years for the National Security Agency, deployed in Iraq. That’s where he met his wife and after their son was born, he began looking at his future after the military.

He landed on the physician assistant program through the military, an inter-service PA program accredited through the University of Nebraska. Through the program, military members train at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, then perform clinical rotations at a military treatment facility. Through the program, he not only received his bachelor’s degree but a master’s degree and then a commissioning to officer as a first lieutenant as well.

Walker was drawn to a physician assistant career for a number reasons, in particular the challenge the position would offer. “I like putting puzzles together,” he said. “My patient is telling me their symptoms, I’m performing the physical exam. I’m finding the pieces to put together to figure out a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan with them.”

According to Eric Johnson, program director for the PA program, Walker is a great addition to the team in the PA program.

“Major Walker’s military experience, while significant, is not the only contribution he brings to the PA program,” Johnson said. “He brings racial and gender diversity to the program faculty as well as a role model to all our students, but especially to those whose background and experience may be similar. Often overlooked is David’s correctional medicine experience, which presents unique complexities that few clinicians encounter.”

The UMKC Master of Medical Science Physician Assistant Program is a seven-semester program based in the UMKC School of Medicine and has been accredited since 2014, with more than 100 alumni PAs. Walker joins a faculty team of three other full-time PA faculty members and nearly 60 current students.

School of Medicine’s Peter Koulen honored for achievements, advocacy in vision research

Koulen, Peter
Peter Koulen, Ph.D.

The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) has recognized Peter Koulen, Ph.D., director of basic research at the UMKC School of Medicine’s Vision Research Center, with a major honor, its 2021 Achievements in Eye and Vision Advocacy Award.

ARVO is the largest eye and vision research organization in the world. As part of its annual Advocacy Awards, the Achievements in Eye and Vision Advocacy Award recognizes members who have dedicated the core of their careers to advancing eye and vision research.

Koulen, a professor of ophthalmology and biomedical sciences, is the School of Medicine’s Felix and Carmen Sabates Missouri Endowed Chair in Vision Research. He is an internationally recognized expert in biophysics, biochemistry and physiology of nerve cells with more than 50 extramural grants totaling more than $15 million. His focus on the retina as part of the central nervous system has resulted in peer-reviewed publications in more than 100 prestigious journals. He has also received three patents.

Koulen said the award from ARVO is an “amazing honor” that underscores the importance of his research efforts.

“The many opportunities ARVO has afforded me during my professional career taught me early on that service and giving back are not just integral to research, but are the key ingredients to growing research programs and maximizing their impact,” he said. “The award will also serve as a constant reminder to me that the important work of advocating and providing outreach opportunities for eye and vision research is never done.”

Koulen is a review panel member for national and international funding agencies including the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Institutes of Health. While chair of ARVO’s Advocacy and Outreach Committee, Koulen participated in Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill to discuss the importance of increasing funding for the NIH and the National Eye Institute.

This is the latest major award Koulen has received for his research at UMKC. The university Board of Trustees also honored Koulen in 2020 with its Trustees’ Faculty Fellow Award given to an established faculty member for a nationally and internationally recognized record of research and creative achievements at UMKC.

SOM researcher receives NIH grant to study treatment for chronic lung disease

UMKC School of Medicine researcher Paula Monaghan Nichols, Ph.D., has received a $867,000 National Institutes of Health grant to look into a treatment that minimizes neurological side effects for a chronic lung disease that affects a significant number of premature babies.

The project is part of a multi-principle investigator initiated proposal between Monaghan Nichols, Dr. Venkatesh Sampath from Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas City, and Dr. Donald DeFranco at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania, that totals more than $3 million in NIH funding over a 5-year period.

The research will explore the use of Ciclesonide (CIC), an inhaled steroid currently used to treat asthma, as an alternate therapy for bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). BDP causes tissue damage in the tiny air sacs of the lung leading to severe respiratory distress. It is often the result premature birth and mechanical oxygen ventilation. The disease touches nearly seven of 10 infants born before 28 weeks of gestation. In the United States, that is an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 babies a year.

There is currently no cure for BPD but clinical treatments to limit inflammation and the progression of BPD include long-acting synthetic drugs such as dexamethasone. Those drugs, however, also come with a significant risk of adverse effects on a child’s systemic growth and neurodevelopment that can lead to long-lasting changes in brain structure and function.

Monaghan Nichols, associate dean for research, professor and chair of Biomedical Sciences, said infants that acquire BPD face significant mortality rates. Survivors often have recurrent hospital visits, need for respiratory therapies and persistent limitations in pulmonary function.

“Therefore, there remains a need for a pharmacotherapy for BPD in neonates that will have beneficial anti-inflammatory and lung maturation effects, but limited adverse neurological side effects,” Monaghan Nichols said.

Preliminary studies have found that Ciclesonide, even with intermittent doses, can suppress acute lung inflammation with limited neurological alterations in rat models.

“Given the established safety of CIC in very young children, the clinical translation of our proposed studies to human neonates could be expedited, particularly given the limited, safe and effective therapeutic options available for treating or preventing BPD in susceptible premature infants,” Monaghan Nichols said.

Dr. Beth Rosemergey chosen as new chair of Community and Family Medicine

The UMKC School of Medicine and University Health have announced the appointment of Beth Rosemergey, D.O., as the new chair of the Department of Community and Family Medicine. Her appointment takes effect Jan. 10, 2022.

Rosemergey, an associate professor of community and family medicine, currently serves as vice chair of the department. She is also medical director of the Bess Truman Family Medicine Center at University Health Lakewood Hospital and director of the Family Medicine residency program and will continue in those roles as well.

A 1988 graduate of the Kansas City University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine, now Kansas City University, Rosemergey completed her community and family medicine residency, including a year as chief resident, at UMKC before joining the School of Medicine faculty in 2016.

“I am honored to be appointed as chair of the Department of Community and Family Medicine and work with an amazing group of faculty, fellows and residents,” Rosemergey said. “I hope to partner with our patients, learners, healthcare system, medical school and community to develop innovative ways to serve our patients by expanding primary care access, educational endeavors and scholarship.”

Rosemergey is an active member of many committees and boards. She is on the Physician NTT Initial Academic Appointment and Promotion Committee, the Professional Development Committee, Graduate Medical Education Committee and Honor Council.  She is also a co-faculty advisor for the School of Medicine chapter of Gold Humanism Honor Society and a mentor in the Faculty Mentor Program. With University Health, she serves on the Physicians Board of Directors and Finance Committee. She is also a board member on the Kansas City and Missouri Academies of Family.

In 2020, the Independence Examiner honored Rosemergey with a Woman of Distinction Award. The award recognizes outstanding women of Eastern Jackson County, Missouri, in in the fields of business, government, education and non-profits based on their accomplishments and community involvement.

Stephen Griffith, M.D, professor and past chair of community and family medicine, has served as interim department and academic chair since April. Beginning Jan. 10, he will serve as vice chair for the department.

SOM researcher receives NIH grant to study treatment for chronic lung disease

Monaghan-Nichols, Paula
Paula Monaghan-Nichols, Ph.D.

UMKC School of Medicine researcher Paula Monaghan Nichols, Ph.D., has received a $867,000 National Institutes of Health grant to look into a treatment that minimizes neurological side effects for a chronic lung disease that affects a significant number of premature babies.

The project is part of a multi-principle investigator initiated proposal between Dr. Monaghan Nichols, Dr Venkatesh Sampath from Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas City, and Dr. Donald DeFranco at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania, that totals more than $3 million in NIH funding over a 5-year period.

The research will explore the use of Ciclesonide (CIC), an inhaled steroid currently used to treat asthma, as an alternate therapy for bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). BDP causes tissue damage in the tiny air sacs of the lung leading to severe respiratory distress. It is often the result premature birth and mechanical oxygen ventilation. The disease touches nearly seven of 10 infants born before 28 weeks of gestation. In the United States, that is an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 babies a year.

There is currently no cure for BPD but clinical treatments to limit inflammation and the progression of BPD include long-acting synthetic drugs such as dexamethasone. Those drugs, however, also come with a significant risk of adverse effects on a child’s systemic growth and neurodevelopment that can lead to long-lasting changes in brain structure and function.

Monaghan Nichols, associate dean for research, professor and chair of Biomedical Sciences, said infants that acquire BPD face significant mortality rates. Survivors often have recurrent hospital visits, need respiratory therapies and experience persistent limitations in pulmonary function.

“Therefore, there remains a need for a pharmacotherapy for BPD in neonates that will have beneficial anti-inflammatory and lung maturation effects, but limited adverse neurological side effects,” Monaghan Nichols said.

Preliminary studies have found that Ciclesonide, even with intermittent doses, can suppress acute lung inflammation with limited neurological alterations in rat models.

“Given the established safety of CIC in very young children, the clinical translation of our proposed studies to human neonates could be expedited, particularly given the limited, safe and effective therapeutic options available for treating or preventing BPD in susceptible premature infants,” Monaghan Nichols said.