Tag Archives: Office of the Dean

Dean Drees announces she will step down in 2014

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

After 12 years as dean of the UMKC School of Medicine, Betty Drees, M.D., F.A.C.P., has made the decision to leave the position in 2014.

At the request of UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton, Drees will continue her leadership at the School of Medicine until a search can be conducted and a new dean appointed. Drees said that after transitioning from the dean’s position she plans to work on patient safety and health policy programs as well as teaching and community service.

“When the time comes, I will leave the deanship with tremendous pride in all that we have accomplished together since I first took on this role in 2001. But it is precisely because of our joint success that it is a good time to transition the school to new leadership,” Drees said. “In fact, Dr. Dimond’s (founder of the UMKC School of Medicine) practice of changing professionally and personally every 10 years went through my mind as I made this decision. It is healthy for the individual and the institution. Now is the perfect time to bring in fresh leadership for the School of Medicine to carry on the extraordinary work here at UMKC.”

Drees’ leadership has provided tremendous benefit for students, their families and their patients as they become physicians, said UMKC Provost Gail Hackett.

“Because of the high quality education School of Medicine graduates receive, she has made a difference in improving the health of many people in the community and across the country,” Hackett said.

UMKC School of Medicine’s accomplishments during Drees’ deanship:

  • Fiscal strength. “We’ve been able to strengthen the financial position of the school, despite holding tuition increases to a minimum. The improved finances allow us to increase scholarships, recruit faculty and upgrade facilities.” The new Skills Lab is opening in January and the docent units are beginning renovations. There are plans for new classrooms and labs for the school through a capital appropriations request of $48 million.
  • Collaboration. “We’ve strengthened our partnerships with other schools at UMKC and our clinical affiliations.” Examples include the Vision Research Center in partnership with the School of Pharmacy, the Master of Health Professions Education in partnership with the School of Education, and the Master of Bioinformatics in partnership with the Schools of Biological Sciences and Computing and Engineering.
  • Student success. “We have graduated more than 3,100 physicians since our founding, and celebrated our 40th anniversary in 2011-2012,” Drees said. “These graduates provide excellent medical care in our own community, and are also highly successful in academics and community service. The past two years, alumni from the School of Medicine were the university-wide alumni award winners, Dr. Catherine Spong and Dr. Mark Ediger.” The school sponsors more than 40 residency and fellowship programs that continue to grow and now include more than 500 physicians in post-graduate training. About half of these physicians remain in the region to practice medicine.
  • New education programs. New graduate and certificate programs in bioinformatics prepare students for clinical research, computational analytics and genomics. In order to meet health care needs, there are new master’s degree programs for students to become anesthesiologist assistants and physician assistants.
  • Research. The school is utilizing its partnerships and affiliations to build research programs based on collection, analysis and application of data —bioinformatics, an emerging specialty that will drive better patient outcomes and personalized medicine. Areas of research strength include brain and behavior, women and children’s health, chronic diseases, injury and cardiac patient outcomes. “We’ve established research centers in Vision, Lung Diseases, Shock/Trauma, Women’s Health and Health Insights. The Center for Health Insights is the newest center and will  create a strong foundation for clinical  research.”

The school has 22 endowed chairs and professorships, the most of any academic unit in the University of Missouri System. Seven of these chairs and professorships were funded during Dr. Drees’ tenure as dean. The most recently filled endowed chair is the Vijay Babu Rayudu Endowed Chair in Patient Safety.

“This chair fits well with our strength in clinical care, clinical education and clinical research,” Drees said.

Overall, the School’s faculty publications are approaching 700 manuscripts, monographs and book chapters each year.

Drees came to the UMKC School of Medicine in 1998 as associate dean for academic affairs. Previously, she was on the faculty at the University of Kansas Medical School, where she received her medical degree and trained in internal medicine and endocrinology.

Drees is a practicing physician with hospital privileges at Truman Medical Centers, Saint Luke’s Hospital and the Kansas City Veterans Affairs Medical Center. She is an endocrinologist who sees patients with bone and calcium disorders, diabetes mellitus, thyroid disease and other general hormone conditions.

At the UMKC School of Medicine, Drees has also served as a docent, a faculty mentor for students in the last four years of their medical education.

“Because of the shortage of physicians and in an effort to ease the burden of tuition costs, medical education across the country is again evaluating accelerated programs,” Drees said. “Fortunately, we’ve had 40 years of success in this innovation in training physicians for the future. The quality of our students who are accepted in the medical education program is exceptionally high. They are phenomenal people who become outstanding physicians. We also have wonderful faculty, residents, fellows and staff. We have an excellent group of leaders in our department chairs, deans and program directors who will carry the school forward.”

School of Medicine founder E. Grey Dimond dead at 94

E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Founder of the UMKC School of Medicine: 1918-2013
E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Founder of the UMKC School of Medicine: 1918-2013

E. Grey Dimond, a founder of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, died peacefully in his sleep Sunday, Nov. 3, in his home. He was 94.

Dimond was a cardiologist, teacher, author, world traveler, artist and a medical pioneer. He lived a long life by following his own prescription for good health: “stay skinny, don’t smoke.”

Dimond, a national medical education consultant and the former chair of the University of Kansas Department of Medicine, was recruited to start the UMKC School of Medicine, founded in 1971. At his insistence, UMKC refused to follow the traditional medical school format — four years of premedical education plus four years of medical training — and replaced it with an intensive six-year curriculum modeled on his own accelerated education during World War II. Students would work nearly year-round, and they would have contact with patients almost from the start.

More than 3,000 physicians have graduated from the UMKC School of Medicine.

“E. Grey Dimond was an innovator and a leader, as well as a healer,” said UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton. “A man with immense gifts of intellect, imagination and insight, he put those gifts to work to benefit his community, his university, his profession and the world at large. Many of us at UMKC feel his loss deeply and personally; all of us are the beneficiaries of his vision, and the years of intense effort he put into the realization of that vision.”

In 1971, the same year the medical school was founded, Dimond was one of a handful of physicians invited inside Communist China. It was the first of more than two dozen trips to China, a nation, people and culture that grew to become a lifetime passion.

The late international journalist, Edgar Snow, opened Dimond’s mind to China in the early 1960s. Snow, a Kansas City native, had lived in China for 14 years. Dimond’s wife, Mary Clark Dimond, who died in 1983, created a fund in honor of Snow. Now called the Edgar Snow Memorial Foundation, the organization hosts a number of opportunities to bridge relations in U.S. and China, including the Snow Symposium, held biennially in Kansas City and China. The foundation is an affiliate constituent organization of UMKC, which holds the Edgar Snow Archives.

In 1994, Dimond dedicated his modernist house on Hospital Hill to UMKC to be used for university and community events, meetings and receptions. The house at 25th and Holmes is named  Diastole, a medical term for the interim between heartbeats, when the heart muscle relaxes. It was the sort of rest-plus-invigoration role Dimond intended the home to perform.

Dimond also published 18 books including “Essays From An Unfinished Physician: Lessons From People, Patients and Life” (2000) and “Inside China Today: A Western View” (1984).

As UMKC Provost Emeritus of Health Sciences, Dimond won the Chancellor’s Medal in 2011, UMKC’s highest non-academic honor. The medal, given at the discretion of the chancellor, honors those who have shown unwavering support and volunteer service.

Dimond held the medical profession and its education dear until his death. His impact is visible throughout UMKC’s School of Medicine. The E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Program in International Medicine gives students the opportunity to develop an understanding of patient cultures and traditions in foreign countries and to gain international experience. The E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing Award honors a graduate who has excelled in medicine, academic medicine, research or community service. Take Wing is a bronze sculpture cast from a carving Dimond created in 1952 from a piece of driftwood. The sculpture stands in front of the School of Medicine.

School of Medicine taking nomination for first Excellence in Mentoring awards

logo templateMentors make significant contributions to enhance and develop the careers of faculty and trainees through generosity, listening, objectivity, and constructive feedback regarding career and professional/personal development.

In appreciation of those who have exhibited successful mentoring at the School of Medicine, the School is now taking nominations its first Excellence in Mentoring award. The award will be presented annually in two categories: Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring, for professors; and Excellence in Mentoring, for associate or assistant professors.

Nominees must be School of Medicine faculty members for a minimum of five years. Both tenure track and non tenure track faculty are eligible.

Recommendations for the award should reflect the extent to which the mentor has provided sponsorship, encouragement and support for your career and development, as well as for the career and development of other faculty, fellows, residents or students.

Nominators may name one individual for each award, must include a narrative of how the individual’s mentoring has impacted their career and those of others, include specific outcome measures, and are encouraged to seek up to four additional letters of support. Nominees will be asked to a one to two-page narrative describing their mentoring philosophy and a list of individuals mentored.

Examples of the qualities one would expect to see in a highly effective mentor include:
— Long-term commitment to mentoring
— Advisor/Guide
— Developer of talent/Coach
— Opener of doors/Sponsor
— Interpreter of organizational and/or professional rules
— Successful role model
— Protector/Shield
— Listener/Cheerleader

Awards consisting of plaques and monetary acknowledgements will be presented at the Dean’s Faculty Dinner on Jan. 29, 2014.

Submissions are due no later than Nov. 15 to Dr. Rebecca Pauly, Chair, Selection Committee, at paulyr@umkc.edu. Download the Excellence in Mentoring Award document for more information on the award and guidelines.

Denise Davis returns to SOM as Marjorie Sirridge, M.D., Outstanding Women in Medicine Lecturer

Denise Davis, M.D., '81, (left) stands with her daughter and Stuart Munro, M.D., chair of the Department of Medical Humanities and Social Sciences, after she delivered the Marjorie S. Sirridge, M.D., Outstanding Women in Medicine Lectureship on Sept. 19 at the School of Medicine.
Denise Davis, M.D., ’81, (left) stands with her daughter, Aviva, and Stuart Munro, M.D., chair of the Department of Medical Humanities and Social Sciences, after she delivered the Marjorie S. Sirridge, M.D., Outstanding Women in Medicine Lectureship on Sept. 19 at the School of Medicine.

Denise Davis, M.D., ’81, has spent the past year looking at women physicians’ lives from a unique perspective: the vantage point of their daughters. Davis presented the 2013 Marjorie S. Sirridge, M.D., Outstanding Women in Medicine Lectureship on Sept. 19 at the School of Medicine to UMKC faculty, staff and students, as well as other members of the community, about “Pride and Presence: Narratives of Women Physicians and their Daughters.

She has been working on the study, which explores the relationships and feelings between mother physicians and their daughters, for a year after being inspired by her invitation to deliver the lecture and her relationship with her own daughter.

“This lecture on the narratives of women physicians and their daughters was inspired by some of the paradoxes my daughter said she observed in me,” Davis said. “She said when she heard me on the phone with patients I displayed patience … she also tells me that sometimes in communicating with her, I come off as demanding and short-tempered. And yet, not only is my daughter surviving, she’s thriving. This peaked my curiosity.”

Davis, an internist, is an associate clinical professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco, a member of the core faculty for the Center of Excellence in Primary Care, San Francisco VA Medical Center and a member of the American Academy on Communication in Healthcare. At UCSF, she currently serves as an attending for residents, nurse practitioners and nurse practitioner fellows in ambulatory care.

Along with medical student remediation, Davis is involved in faculty development workshops and teaches topics that range from basic communication skills, including improving doctor-patient communication, obtaining informed consent, working with angry patients and negotiating cultural differences in clinical relationships, to giving effective feedback to learners and coaching learners through remediation. Davis has received the Kaiser Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching for her work with students at UCSF School of Medicine.

She consistently received awards as one of “America’s Top Doctors” and has received many Patients’ Choice Awards during her 20 years in a successful private practice. Consumer Checkbooks rated her as one of the finest physicians in the East Bay and the J magazine readers twice voted her as one of two favorite primary care physicians in the Bay Area.

Communication is a pillar on which her career has been based. Davis has been involved with the American Academy on Communication in Healthcare for 10 years. Through education, research and training, the organization helps caregivers improve the health care setting. Her love of communication led to her interviewing the sample of women physicians and their daughters for the study she presented at the Marjorie Sirridge Lecture.

“Even if this lecture had been cancelled [for any reason], it would have been worth it to me to pursue this journey of listening to other women and their daughters talk about their experiences, their strengths, their joys,” she said. “And some of the women said this interview process has led them to talk more with their daughters about the meaning of their work.”

Davis said she plans to continue interviewing and see what themes continue to emerge. “It would be great to speak with a more diverse group of women and single mothers,” she said. “I also do a lot of work with residents and would like to learn more about young women, what their thoughts are on becoming mothers and what they think would be supportive for them.”

Mary Sirridge, Ph.D., daughter of Marjorie and William Sirridge, M.D., welcomed Davis on behalf of her mother and her other family members.

“My mother has watched Dr. Davis’ career since she graduated over 30 years ago from UMKC with great fondness and great interest,” she said. “Like my mother, Dr. Davis has moved back and forth between being a skilled and caring physician to being someone who’s very involved in passing the baton to the next people in line.”

Davis mentioned her gratefulness for the mentorship she received from Marjorie Sirridge and what it meant to her to come back to the School as the Marjorie S. Sirridge, M.D., lecturer.

“It connects me with her nurturing of me and how that made a difference and continues to make a difference in my life, not only as a physician, but also as a mother and as a person.”

School of Medicine announces first Endowed Chair of Patient Safety

Peter Almenoff, M.D., Vijay Babu Rayudu Endowed Chair of Patient Safety
Peter Almenoff, M.D., Vijay Babu Rayudu Endowed Chair of Patient Safety

The School of Medicine has announced Peter Almenoff, M.D., clinical professor of biomedical and health informatics and internal medicine, as the inaugural Vijay Babu Rayudu Endowed Chair of Patient Safety, effective Sept. 1.

The new position will support efforts by the School of Medicine and Saint Luke’s Hospital to develop education and research programs in patient safety.

Almenoff joined the School of Medicine faculty in 2011. He served as Assistant Deputy Undersecretary for Health for Quality and Safety for the Department of Veterans Affairs from 2008-2012 and provided leadership to the School of Medicine’s clinical affiliate, Kansas City, VA Medical Center. He also served as the National Program Director for Pulmonary and Critical Care.

Almenoff is currently serving as Special Advisor to the Office of the Secretary, Senior Fellow, Veteran Affairs Center of Innovation, and Director of Operational Analytics and Reporting (OAR) Veterans Health Administration.

The chair of patient safety was endowed by the family of Vijay Babu Rayudu, who passed away in 2007 while a student at the School of Medicine. Rayudu’s parents are physicians near Memphis, Tenn. His sister, Parvathi, is a 2012 graduate of the UMKC School of Medicine, and his brother, Ranga, is also a physician. The family said it believes the memorial endowment provides a contribution to the practice of medicine that Vijay Rayudu will not be able to provide directly.

“We are very pleased that Dr. Almenoff has accepted the position as the Vijay Babu Rayudu Endowed Chair of Patient Safety for the School of Medicine,” said Rayudu’s father, Rao. “His credentials and work in the field will provide a solid foundation on which this new program will contribute to ongoing research efforts and education in patient safety. We trust that as a teacher and a leader, Dr. Almenoff will be taking the University into exciting territory in the near future.”

In his new role at the School of Medicine, Almenoff will advise the School in developing medical education programs and research programs that incorporate patient safety.

Almenoff will also serve an advisory role to Saint Luke’s Hospital on the development of a clinical outcomes analytic program.

SOM appoints Dr. Bernhardt chairman of orthopaedic surgery

Mark Bernhardt, M.D.
Mark Bernhardt, M.D.

The School of Medicine has announced the appointment of Mark Bernhardt, M.D., as Chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, effective July 3. He has served as Interim Chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery since July, 2012.

A member of the Dickson-Diveley Midwest Orthopaedic Clinic since 1990, Dr. Berhnardt joined the School of Medicine faculty in 1994 as a clinical associate professor and has served as a clinical professor since 2000. He earned his medical degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine and completed his residency training in orthopaedic surgery at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita/St. Francis Regional Medical Center and Affiliated Hospitals. He completed a fellowship in spine surgery at the Harvard Medical School/Beth Israel Hospital.

He has also served as director of the Spine and Deformity Clinic at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, and as associate team physician and spine consultant for the Kansas City Royals professional baseball team, assistant team physician for the Kansas City Blades professional hockey team, and associate team physician for the Kansas City Explorers professional tennis team.

 

SOM remembers Professor Emeritus William Wu

Wu
Wu

William Wu, M.D., a long-time friend of UMKC and professor emeritus at the School of Medicine died June 18, 2013. Wu was a compassionate doctor who lived an extraordinary life.

In his autobiography, “Monsoon Season,” published in 1996, Wu recounts his early childhood in a Chinese peasant village in Toisan, his later childhood in the Chinatown of Philadelphia, and his experiences as a surgeon with the 22nd Field Hospital of the U.S. Army. He was awarded a Bronze Star during the war for treating wounded soldiers. He came to Kansas City in 1950 and became the first nonwhite doctor to break the color line in the local medical society.

Knowing the struggles Chinese students face and hoping to advance friendship and understanding between the Chinese and Americans, Wu created the William Q. Wu Merit Scholarship Fund in 1990. The fund assists Chinese students studying at UMKC and UMKC students studying in China. UMKC International Academic Programs manages the scholarship fund.

Donations in Dr. Wu’s honor may be made to the William Q. Wu Merit Scholarship Fund c/o UMKC Foundation, 202 Administrative Center, 5100 Rockhill Rd., Kansas City, Mo., 64110. The scholarship was created in 1990 to promote U.S.-China student exchanges and intercultural relations. Services will be at 2 p.m. on the deceased’s birthday, Nov. 11, 2013, at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 6401 Wornall Terr., Kansas City, Mo., 64113.

UMKC SOM Dean a panelist for women in STEMM discussion

School of Medicine Dean Betty Drees, M.D. listens to a panelist during the Central Exchange's June 26 panel discussion on “The Intersection Point of Women, Science, Technology and Medicine."
School of Medicine Dean Betty Drees, M.D. listens to a panelist during the Central Exchange’s June 26 panel discussion on “The Intersection Point of Women, Science, Technology and Medicine.”

It’s been years since an advisor told School of Medicine Dean Betty Drees, M.D., to go into medicine, but she remembers the moment clearly. She shared the anecdote at the Central Exchange’s panel discussion on “The Intersection Point of Women, Science, Technology and Medicine” on June 26.

As more than 100 women listened, Drees set the scene: She was an undergraduate transfer student, sitting with an associate dean who had just reviewed her transcript.

Drees always enjoyed science, but she had never considered medical school. That was no surprise. At the time, she said, women made up just ten percent of medical school students. In fact, Drees had never even met a female doctor.

Plus, she had a family. She couldn’t become a doctor.

“Why not? Men do it all the time,” the associate dean retorted.

The crowd of women burst into appreciative laughter.

The event was part of the Central Exchange’s WiSTEMM (Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine) program. The WiSTEMM initiative was designed in 2011 to put a spotlight on Kansas City women in STEMM careers. Drees was one of three Kansas City women, along with Michelle Lewallen of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research and Michelle Brush of Cerner, to speak at the panel.

As the laughter and applause subsided, Drees said that sometimes even the smallest bit of encouragement can go a long way. After all, those two sentences changed her life.

That story rang true for Brush, who has always loved math, but only changed her major to Computer Science after meeting with an especially encouraging advisor. Several women in the crowd gave understanding nods as Brush talked about how awkward it felt to be the only woman in a class of 30 students, and how intimidated she felt by her confident classmates.

That is, until they got the results of their first test. Brush got a perfect score. Those confident classmates lagged behind.

“That’s when I realized that I was in the right place,” Brush said.

Today, Brush develops curriculum for new engineer training programs and instructs new engineers on best practices for Cerner.

Although each panelist specialized in a different area of STEMM, concerns about a lack of female role models, institutional barriers, and getting more women interested in STEMM careers seemed universal.

Each of the women shared their advice on maintaining a healthy work/life balance. The question was particularly timely for Lewallen, who is considering starting a family.

“For me, it comes down to expectation management,” Lewallen said. “You have to assign priorities.”

Drees and Brush nodded in agreement. For Brush, expectation management meant realizing and accepting the fact that she wouldn’t be the type of mother her stay-at-home mom was. Instead, she and her husband split parenting responsibilities 50/50 for their child.

Ultimately, events like the WiSTEMM panel discussion are designed to inspire women to pursue STEMM careers in the hope that over time, the STEMM fields will become more diverse and inclusive. It’s a goal Drees believes will be helpful to everyone.

“In inclusive climates, men prosper as well as women,” Drees said.

Toth receives 2013 Take Wing Award, presents lecture at SOM

Thomas Toth, M.D., '86
Thomas Toth, M.D., ’86

Thomas Toth, M.D., ’86, an expert in reproductive endocrinology, remembers his first patient in 1991. He received a phone call from a couple in Boston about a 27-year-old woman who had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. They said, she’s going to require chemotherapy, and her future fertility may be an issue.

“I told them, ‘I think we should try to do in vitro fertilization.’ This was before there was such a thing as fertility preservation,” Toth said. “We froze her embryos and 22 years later, she has battled cancer; and now at 47, we are going to be thawing and using her embryos with the help of a gestational carrier.”

Toth has been helping patients like her achieve their dreams of starting a family throughout his extraordinary career. Director and founder of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) In Vitro Fertilization Unit and the Reproductive Endocrinology/Infertility Fellowship Training Program at MGH, Toth received the School of Medicine’s 2013 E. Grey Dimond, M.D., Take Wing Award during the 26th annual Take Wing Lecture at noon on May 23 in Theater A of the SOM.

Toth is an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School. He joined MGH and the faculty of Harvard Medical School in 1992, immediately after completing his residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and MGH and a fellowship at the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine. The National Institutes of Health and philanthropy have funded much of his extensive research in the field of assisted reproduction. He has been recognized by Boston Magazine as the top doctor for women in infertility and also received the 2002 UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Achievement Award.

His Take Wing Lecture titled, “Oocytes on Ice: Angels, Doers, and Perils” focused on his work, the importance of collaborations with others and an overview of in vitro fertilization and other efforts to aid in fertility. Toth referred to the “angels” in his career as those who have not only made a positive impact on his work, but also on the field as a whole. Two “angels” that he mentioned are former deans Harry Jonas, M.D., and James Mongan, M.D.

“Dr. Jonas essentially introduced me to my future,” Toth said. “Without Dr. Jonas, none of this would be able to happen.”

When Mongan was president of MGH, Toth had the opportunity to work with him, and the two developed the first Institutional Review Board using a human egg for research. Toth said Jonas, Mongan, and the other people he has worked with throughout his career have taught him an important lesson.

“If you can find those people in your life who share a passion, it could be much bigger than you ever could be by yourself,” he said.

Toth reflected on what the Take Wing Award means, and again credited those at the medical school.

“Looking back 27 years later, I realize this quote by Antoine de Saint Exupéry summarizes what my feelings are, ‘the task is not to foresee the future, but to enable it.’ That’s what’s happening at my school. I’m just very proud. I’d like to thank Dr. Dimond and everyone else who make it all happen.”

 

SOM alumni receive top UMKC Alumni Awards

2013 UMKC Alumni Award winners: Nelson Sabates, M.D., ’86; Maj. Gen. Mark Ediger, M.D., ’78; and John Owen, M.D., ’81.
2013 UMKC Alumni Award winners: Nelson Sabates, M.D., ’86; Maj. Gen. Mark Ediger, M.D., ’78; and John Owen, M.D., ’81.

 

Maj. Gen. Mark Ediger, M.D., M.P.H., ’78, deputy surgeon general for the United States Air Force, called it an honor and privilege to be reconized as 2013 UMKC Alumnus of the Year during the 2013 Alumni Awards celebration on April 18 at Swinney Recreation Center. Ediger received the University’s top honor that is awarded annually to one who has achieved eminence in his or her professional field and made contributions to education, science, the arts or human welfare of national or international significance.

“This is an amazing honor for me, not something I would have imagined possible,” Ediger said. “I stand here today representing the contributions of all the UMKC graduates who have served and are serving in our military.”

It was the second year in a row that a School of Medicine graduate has received the University’s Alumnus of the Year award. Ediger was one of three School of Medicine alumni honored by the University.

Nelson Sabates, M.D., ’86, professor and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology, founder and director of the Vision Research Center at UMKC, president and CEO of Sabates Eye Centers and president of the Vision Research Foundation of Kansas City, received the 2013 Spotlight Award for his outstanding contributions that have brought national attention to the University.

John Owen, M.D., ’81, a practicing physician at the Liberty Clinic in Liberty, Mo., and retired brigadier general in U.S. Air National Guard, received the alumni achievement award for the School of Medicine.

The family of Michael Sweeney, M.D., ’78, received the University’s Legacy Award, with 18 familiy members who have earned 25 degrees from UMKC.

Alumnus of the Year

mark_ediger2__2_Maj. Gen. Mark Ediger, M.D., M.P.H., ’78, is Deputy Surgeon General of the U.S. Air Force at the Pentagon. Last year’s UMKC Alumna of the Year was Catherine Spong, M.D. ’91.

Ediger has made a career of serving his local and worldwide community. Four years into private practice as a rural family physician, he realized he wanted to broaden his experience. In 1985, he went on to active duty in the U.S. Air Force, where he continued to practice family medicine and move up in the ranks.

In 2012, he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the rank of Major General, making him one of only four active duty two-star generals serving in the Air Force Medical Service. In July 2012, he assumed his current position of Deputy Surgeon General for the U.S. Air Force, a role where he supports the Surgeon General in overseeing the operations of the $7.1 billion, 43,000-person integrated health care delivery system that includes the Air Force’s deployable medical capability.

Spotlight Award

sabates__nelson_photo_2Through his scholarly and clinical efforts, Nelson Sabates, M.D., ’86, has attracted world-class scholars and researchers to Kansas City and UMKC, pioneering new treatments and advancing basic and clinical studies to improve patient care. Sabates, who has taught residents and medical students for more than 20 years, is professor and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at UMKC, founder and director of the Vision Research Center at UMKC, president and CEO of Sabates Eye Centers and president of the Vision Research Foundation of Kansas City.

His work through the Vision Research Foundation and the UMKC Department of Ophthalmology recently elicited a significant grant from Research to Prevent Blindness, a prestigious voluntary health organization in support of eye research. The Vision Research Foundation’s focus on bench-to-bedside translational research – the only regional eye center to combine this research with clinical trials – seeks to improve treatment for eye diseases that affect millions. Sabates also has an international, national, regional and local presence as a leader, board member, speaker and author. The UMKC Spotlight Award recognizes a graduate whose accomplishments, leadership and public service have caused regional and national attention to be focused on the University and the metropolitan area.

School of Medicine Alumni Achievement Award

owen__john_photoBrig. Gen. John Owen, M.D., ’81, is a practicing physician who is also a decorated military leader. Owen is a practicing physician at the Liberty Clinic in Liberty, Mo. He recently retired from his post as the Air National Guard Assistant to the Command Surgeon, Air Mobility Command. Owen received the Surgeon General’s Air National Guard State Air Surgeon of the Year award in 2007 and the Harry Truman Public Service Award in 2012, which he accepted on behalf of the members of the Armed Forces during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Owen served the State of Missouri as director of the Joint Staff, Missouri Joint Force Headquarters, where he oversaw domestic operation, joint staff, special staff and the state partnership program to the nation of Panama. He has received many honors for his service, including the Legion of Merit, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.

For more information about the 2013 alumni award winners, visit umkcalumni.com.

In May, the School of Medicine will present the 2013 Take Wing Award to Thomas Toth, M.D., ’86.