Division Dialogue

Division Dialogue

June 2010

A Message from Vice President John A. McDonald, M.D., Ph.D.

John A. McDonald, M.D., Ph.D.

On July 1, I will become a special assistant to Provost and Executive Vice President Marc Johnson, so this is my last opportunity to contribute to the division newsletter. My principal responsibility from July 1 through September 1, 2011 will be to ensure that the space for the Sanford Center for Aging and the new Center for Healthy Aging in the Center for Molecular Medicine are ready for occupancy in the fall.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the members of the divisionstudents, staff, and faculty for their support over the past two years. Although I was identified with the School of Medicine, the Division of Health Sciences was most welcoming. I have enjoyed making new colleagues, learning more about our diverse disciplines and exploring the very different (for me) world of non-medical higher education.

Collectively, we have made significant progress as a unit. We weathered the financial downturn through loss of state funding for centers, increasing self-supporting budgets and not filling positions in the School of Community Health Sciences. The new interprofessional council, initiated by a series of division-wide assemblies is working together to create new shared programs across units. The most visible sign is of course the two new buildings rising on the health sciences campus. They will provide new research and educational opportunities, and for the first time help to bring reality to the dream of true interdisciplinary education.

While we are suffering through a historic economic downturn, these buildings will persist as a statement to the support of our leadership, colleagues, political leaders and benefactors for health sciences and biomedical research. Finally, our directors are working together to identify opportunities for collaboration, and our administrative staff is well prepared to assist with the transition to new leadership.

I will miss working with all of you, and thank you for your kind words and thoughts as I prepare to leave the university for other opportunities.

News from Division of Health Sciences Units

School of Medicine Family Medicine Center is available to faculty and staff

The Family Medicine Center is located on the University of Nevada, Reno campus and offers health care services on site. Family Medicine basically sees every health care issue. In the unusual circumstance that specialty help is needed, referrals will be taken care of. The Family Medicine Center has 26 physicians and offers care from the newborn age through geriatrics, including obstetrical care and a hospital team. The center has an on-site laboratory and radiology services.

Hours of operation are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, with call coverage on off-hours. The main office phone is (775) 784-1533. Same day appointments are possible in most situations.

School of Medicine physicians to provide medical assistance at 2010 Reno Rodeo

School of Medicine sports medicine physicians, along with volunteers from the Reno Rodeo Association, will be part of a Reno Rodeo medical team that will provide medical assistance and expertise to both competitors and spectators at the June 17-26 event.

“When you treat competitors at the rodeo, you’re treating their injuries, but also helping them prepare to go back into the arena. They are some of the most physically and mentally tough athletes we treat,” said Carol Scott, M.D., University of Nevada School of Medicine sports medicine fellowship director, who will treat rodeo athletes and spectators again this year as she has for the past several rodeos.

Sons of Italy lodges make donation to School of Medicine's Savitt Medical Library

Two local lodges from the Order of Sons of Italy in America continued their long-standing tradition of making a significant contribution to the University of Nevada School of Medicine Savitt Medical Library. The Giuseppe Verdi Lodge in Sparks and the Christopher Columbus Lodge in Reno each made a $500 donation to the library on May 4 for the purchase of birth defect research materials. The local Sons of Italy chapters have been contributing to the Savitt Medical Library since 1979.

School of Medicine named to American Academy of Family Physicians' Top 10 list

The University of Nevada School of Medicine was recently named as a top 10 allopathic medical school contributing the most to the pipeline of family physicians. This honor, awarded by the American Academy of Family Physicians, was announced during its Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Annual Conference.

The award recognizes the top 10 U.S. medical schools that, during a three-year period, graduate the greatest percentage of students who choose family medicine. The School of Medicine graduated 15.8 percent of its students who chose to enter family medicine over the last three years.

Dan Spogen, M.D., said one of his main functions as chair of family medicine in Reno is to foster student interest in the discipline.

“The fact that the AAFP has recognized us as being in the top 10 for student recruitment in our specialty is huge. It makes me very proud of our department and faculty,” he said.

Elissa Palmer, M.D., chair of the family medicine department in Las Vegas, elaborates further.

"This is not only an honor for our family medicine department, but for the entire School of Medicine and our state. We are fortunate to have support from our dean, chairs and faculty in other departments, including basic science, clinical and rural outreach community preceptors, as we encourage those students who are passionate about family medicine to pursue a career in the specialty.”

Accreditation updates

The Renown Children's Hospital/University of Nevada School of Medicine Cystic Fibrosis Center has received Cystic Fibrosis Foundation accreditation as a center of excellence. It is the only accredited center in northern Nevada.

The sports medicine fellowship offered through the Student Health Center under the direction of Carol Scott, M.D., received accreditation for five years.

Rural Health Works training to be held July 7

A Rural Health Works Training workshop will be held in Reno on Wednesday, July 7. The workshop is being hosted by the Nevada Office of Rural Health and the University of Nevada, Reno Center for Economic Development. The workshop will be held at the Sienna Hotel Spa in downtown Reno.

This Train the Trainer workshop is designed to introduce and train participants in economic impact analysis, community health engagement and planning, and budget studies for organizations and facilities considering new or expanded health care or human services.

Registration is open to professionals, researchers, staff or students interested in learning more about economic impact analysis and community engagement. Additional information on Rural Health Works can be found at National Center for Rural Health Works.

The workshop is supported from a grant from the federal Office of Rural Health Policy. The registration fee of $80 ($65 students) covers the cost of lunch, breaks and other miscellaneous expenses. Registration is limited to 20 participants.

If you have any questions about the workshop or registration, contact John Packham, Ph.D. or Tom Harris.

Our People

Dana Loomis, director of the School of Community Health Sciences and professor of environmental and occupational health is being appointed to the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Toxicology Program (NTP). The NTP is a program of the National Institutes of Health charged with evaluating substances of public health concern by applying tools of toxicology, epidemiology and molecular biology. One of its key products is the biannual Report on Carcinogens. First mandated by Congress in 1978, the report is one of the world's most authoritative sources for identifying cancer-causing substances.

Elissa J. Palmer, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine, recently completed her commitment to the national Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors. Palmer was elected to the board in 2003 and served as a member-at-large until 2007 when she was elected president-elect, serving for a year in that capacity, followed by a term as president from 2008-09, and immediate past president 2009-10.

Gail Smith, MBA, was named director of contracting for the School of Medicine following a national search. She previously managed contracting for the medical school's practice plan in Northern Nevada. This position coordinates and monitors all contracts by the school and practice plan.

Carole Anderson, director of volunteer programs at the Sanford Center for Aging, was featured on KTVN-Reno Channel 2 News regarding the activities of the retired and senior volunteer program.

Denise Montcalm, Ph.D., director of the School of Social Work, was elected treasurer of the Board of Directors for the Council on Social Work Education.

Denise Kelley joined the internal medicine department in Las Vegas as residency coordinator.

Janita Ethridge joined the Orvis School of Nursing and will work primarily with admissions and records.

Grants, Publications and Research Activities

Cheryl Hug-English, M.D., MPH, medical director of the Student Health Center, and Enid Jennings MPH, CHES, health educator, will receive a grant from the Pacific College Health Association to expand a fitness and wellness campaign developed at UNR called Expedition Nergy. They also presented a poster for the American College Health Association national meeting in Philadelphia on the “N Crowd,” a social marketing campaign designed to affect leading campus health indicators.

Doina Kulick, M.D. M.S., FACP, assistant professor of internal medicine and nutrition at the School of Medicine, had her abstract “The Methyl-CpG-Binding Domain Protein Gene (MBD2) Polymorphisms Associated With Obesity in a Small Group of Obese Adults Without Diabetes Mellitus, Hypertension, or Dyslipidemia” accepted to the 2010 National Obesity Society's annual scientific meeting. The abstract reflects the findings of a translational research pilot study, supported by the NIH grant P20 RR-016464 of the INBRE Program of the National Center for Research Resources. Collaborators on the abstract included Karen Schlauch, Ph.D., Cynthia Corley Mastick, Ph.D., and James Lau, M.D. She was also a contributing author of another abstract “User-Friendly Childhood Obesity Screening Charts” that was accepted to the meeting. The first author was George Fernandez, Ph.D.

Kate Sheppard, Ph.D., RN, APN-BC, assistant professor at the Orvis School of Nursing, gave a podium presentation to the Western Institute of Nursing entitled, “Deaf Adults and Health Care: Giving Voice to Their Stories.” She also had a paper accepted to the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing entitled, “The Lived Experience of Depression Among Culturally Deaf Adults.”

RSVP of Washoe County/Sanford Center for Aging received a notice of award for their Volunteer Care grant from the Nevada Aging and Disability Services for $50,000, which is an increased amount from last year’s award. The additional money will be used to add volunteers who make an impact with frail, elderly members of our community.

Aditi Singh, M.D. associate program director, Cynthia Herrick, M.D., associate program director, and Sandhya Wahi-Gururaj, MD/MPH, program director, Department of Internal Medicine, Las Vegas, presented on professionalism and social networking at interdisciplinary grand rounds in May.

Cynthia Herrick, M.D., will be a co-principal investigator on a project with the UNLV School of Nursing assessing acquisition of crisis resource management skills using simulated emergency codes. Faculty members Michael Nasiak, M.D., Aditi Singh, M.D., and Sandhya Wahi-Gururaj, M.D., MPH will be co-investigators on the project. Sue Witt is the co-principal investigator from the School of Nursing. This project will be funded by a competitive INBRE grant.

Colleen A. Morris M.D., chief of the genetics division and professor, department of pediatrics, School of Medicine, was guest editor for the May 16 issue of the American Journal of Medical Genetics Seminars in Medical Genetics. The issue was devoted to Williams syndrome. In that issue, four peer-reviewed articles were published by members of the genetics division. One of the papers, authored by Katrina Farwig, genetic counselor in the Department of Pediatrics, is the first study completed regarding genetic counseling in a group of individuals with intellectual disability. The references are as follows:

  • Morris CA. Introduction: Williams syndrome. Am J Med Genet C Semin Med Genet. 2010 May 15; 154C(2):203-8. PubMed PMID: 20425781.
  • Farwig K, Harmon AG, Fontana KM, Mervis CB, Morris CA. Genetic counseling of adults with Williams syndrome: a first study. Am J Med Genet C Semin Med Genet. 2010 May 15;154C(2):307-15. PubMed PMID: 20425790.
  • Morris CA, Pani AM, Mervis CB, Rios CM, Kistler DJ, Gregg RG. Alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency alleles are associated with joint dislocation and scoliosis in Williams syndrome. Am J Med Genet C Semin Med Genet. 2010 May 15;154C(2):299-306. PubMed PMID: 20425789.

Hobart HH, Rios CM, Kistler D, Pani A, Mervis CB, Kimberley KW, Gregg RG, Bray-Ward P, Morris CA (2010) Inversion of the Williams syndrome region is a common polymorphism found more frequently in parents of children with Williams syndrome. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part C: Seminars in Medical Genetics 2010 May 15;154C(2):220-8. PubMed PMID: 20425783

Student News

A new public health student organization has been formed. The Undergraduate Public Health Coalition at the University of Nevada, Reno is a new ASUN-recognized student group associated with the College of Community Health Sciences. The coalition is dedicated to fostering the knowledge of membership by promoting the profession of public health through educational leadership, service and community action. The goal of the organization is to establish, advance and maintain a cohesive link with local, state and national agencies and public health organizations which align with the mission of striving to advance the health and wellness of community health.

To join or for more information, contact June Hunter.

Relay for Life - Orvis Student Nurses Association

Orvis student nurses participated in the Relay for Life event.

Students from Orvis Student Nurses’ Association participated in two important community events during the spring 2010 semester. They attended Relay For Life, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, April 23 and 24 at the University of Nevada, Reno. This year the event raised nearly $33,000, including more than $2,800 by the students. This was the highest amount any of the participating organizations raised and donated.

The students also participated in Moms on the Run on Mother’s Day, May 9. Moms on the Run is a nonprofit organization that raises money to assist local women with breast cancer. Students had a booth at the event and provided free blood pressure screenings and instruction on self breast examinations. These two events are examples of outreach the Orvis Student Nurses’ Association, through the Orvis School of Nursing, provides to Northern Nevada.

Students also provide and prepare meals to families at the Ronald McDonald House and the Veteran’s Guest House every month. In addition, ten students and faculty went to the Food Bank of Northern Nevada warehouse in Fernley last April and helped prepare food packages for local food banks.

  • Nischala Nannapaneni, M.D., won the research competition for her project, “Physician-directed management of Hyperglycemic TPN patients is Superior to Current Ad Hoc management” at the national meeting of the American College of Physicians. Kanchan Kanel, M.D., with co-author Nannapaneni, presented “Hypodipsic Hypothalamic Diabetes Insipidus without Hemorrhage after Anterior Communicating Artery Aneurysm Repair” and Nirmal Sunkara, M.D. with co-author Nannapaneni, presented “Recurrent Cerebellar Strokes of Cryptic Etiology” at the meeting.
  • Ali Abdul Jabbar, M.D., Subodh Devabhaktuni, M.D.,and Parkash Bhaktiani, M.D. were awarded INBRE grants through a process that allows residents protected time to pursue research during residency training.
  • Samar Hafida, M.D., was a recipient of the Arnold P. Gold Teaching Excellence and Humanism Award and will be inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society.


  • Jane Yan, M.D., will train in nephrology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas next year.
  • Roja Mulamalla, M.D., who recently completed a year as chief medical resident, will train in heart failure and transplant at the University of Connecticut in July.
  • Hesham Mohammed, M.D., who recently completed a year as chief medical resident, will begin a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Yale-Norwalk Hospital.
  • Deepa Mocherla,M.D., chief medical resident, and Randy Calegari, M.D., graduate of the internal medicine program in 2008, will both begin training this July through the Nevada Cancer Institute and University of Nevada School of Medicine joint oncology fellowship program.
  • Samar Hafida, M.D., who will be chief medical resident this fall semester, was accepted to the endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism (internal medicine) fellowship at Wayne State University/Detroit Medical Center, starting next year.
  • Teena Tandon, M.D., was accepted to the nephrology fellowship program at Indiana University and will begin training next year.
  • Pichet Iampornpipopopchai, M.D., will train in a nephrology fellowship at Nassau County Medical Center next year.
  • Aisha Ahmed, M.D., was accepted to the oncology fellowship with Nevada Cancer Institute and University of Nevada School of Medicine, starting next year.
  • Parkash Bhaktiani, M.D., will train in the endocrinology and metabolism fellowship at Oregon Health Sciences University in 2011.

Class of 2010 (Residents)

  • Jefferson Yu M.D., Teena Tandon M.D., and Kartika Shetty M.D., will join the University of Nevada School of Medicine internal medicine department in Las Vegas.
  • Sathish Karmegam, M.D., will be an academic hospitalist at University of Arizona in Tucson.
  • Prashant Bharucha,M.D., Naomi Tejada, M.D., and Ahmad Noman, M.D., have accepted positions as hospitalists in Las Vegas.
  • Samar Hafida, M.D., Srinivasan Venketesan, M.D., and Aswathnarayan Manandhi, M.D., will be chief medical residents for the 2010-11 academic year.
  • Jimmy Diep,M.D., University of Nevada School of Medicine Class of 2006 graduate, will begin training as a cardiology fellow at the University of California, Irvine.
  • Archana Jayachandran, M.D., will be practicing primary care in Las Vegas.
  • Praveen Jayakumar, M.D., is now assistant director of quality for the National Guard Health Affairs in Saudi Arabia.

Copyright © 2010 Health Sciences.