Division Dialogue

Division Dialogue

May 2010

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

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

May is typically a very exciting time for transitions. For some, it is the completion of formal education and the beginning of new journeys into the workforce, for others it may the end of their chosen careers. And, for some it just might be the time to explore and move into new projects and opportunities.

This past year and particularly these past few months have been difficult for our university community as we have had to grapple with decisions on how we can sustain our core mission and maintain the many fine programs that have served our students. With these decisions, we face the reality that some of our programs and even colleagues will be transitioning into new journeys.

It is appropriate that each of us take the time to acknowledge the contributions and thank many of these individuals who have given to the university and more importantly to the students of this institution. Whether they are retiring, accepting new positions, or exploring new work opportunities, we want you to know that your work has made a difference. We wish all of our students, faculty and staff the very best in the next phase of your life journey.

News from Division of Health Sciences Units

Division of Health Sciences units contribute to high rankings in U.S. News and World Report

The University of Nevada, Reno has achieved its strongest showing ever in the annual rankings of the best graduate programs by U.S. News and World Report. The College of Engineering and School of Medicine are ranked among the best “schools.” Twelve additional University graduate programs are ranked, with five placing in the top 100 of their field.

“These rankings reflect the quality of faculty and the caliber of their teaching and research, and our peers across the country are taking notice,” said Marc Johnson, University provost.

The University of Nevada School of Medicine was ranked number 89 in the list of “best medical schools - research.” Among the public university medical schools listed, the School of Medicine ranked number 54.

In addition to these two showings in the “best schools” categories, the University was ranked in several program and specialty lists, including the following top-100 rankings:

  • Number 43 for clinical psychology
  • Number 61 for environmental engineering
  • Number 63 for earth sciences
  • Number 65 for civil engineering
  • Number 72 for speech pathology

The University also achieved top-225 rankings in the categories of biological sciences, chemistry, mechanical engineering, physics, psychology, part-time MBA and nursing programs.

School of Medicine earns achievement award from American Academy of Family Physicians

The University of Nevada School of Medicine has earned an Achievement Award from the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). This award recognizes your school’s efforts to foster student interest in family medicine and produce graduates who enter the specialty. Based on a three-year average, for the period ending October 2009, 15.8% of your school’s graduates have entered an ACGME-accredited family medicine residency program. This classifies the University of Nevada School of Medicine as one of the Top 10 medical schools in the nation for producing Family Medicine physicians.

Ayres recognized with Living the Legacy Award from Sanford Center for Aging

Janice Ayres and John A. McDonald, M.D., Ph.D.Janice Ayres, far left, executive director of the Nevada Rural Counties Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) since 1979, has been recognized with the Living the Legacy Award from the University of Nevada, Reno’s Sanford Center for Aging. The award recognizes long-time commitment to improving the lives of Nevada elders. It was given to her at the center’s annual Celebration of Scholars in Aging ceremony April 26 on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. Ayres becomes just the fifth person in the 17-year history of the center to receive the award.

Under Ayres’s direction, the Nevada Rural Counties RSVP has expanded from five to 15 of the 17 counties of Nevada, becoming one of the largest RSVPs in the country. In 2001, RSVP was named the Outstanding Non-Profit Organization in Nevada by Governor Kenny Guinn’s “Points of Light” program. Subsequently, Ayres was voted “Outstanding Older Nevada Worker for the State of Nevada” and honored in Washington D.C. by the Senate and House of Representatives for her outstanding contributions to Nevada.

Approximately 120 students, family members, faculty and others guests attended the annual Celebration of Scholars in Aging. The ceremony recognized six graduates of the Gerontology Academic Program, five fellows of the Division of Geriatric Medicine, nine faculty Scholars in Health Literacy and Aging, and 13 scholarship winners (six graduate, seven undergraduate).

Also recognized were Betty Dodson, Ph.D., who is retiring as director of the Gerontology Academic Program, and John McDonald, M.D., Ph.D., right, vice president of health sciences, who has been director of the Sanford center since 2009.

HIV Telemedicine Report completed by School of Medicine faculty

Patty Charles, DrPH, Jennifer Bennett, MPH, Gerald Ackerman, MS, Trudy Larson, M.D., and Barb Scott, RD, MPH, School of Medicine, completed a study and prepared a report for the State of Nevada, Department of Health and Human Services, Health Division, Ryan White CARE Act Program entitled, Offering HIV Clinical Visits via Telemedicine: a Cost Benefit Review. The study investigated the cost of attending quarterly clinical visits the federal standard of care for patients with HIV. Patients who live more than 30 miles from the midtown Reno HIV specialty clinic (HOPES) encounter many difficulties in having to travel for quarterly appointments.

The study concludes that providing the option for attending routine HIV clinical visits using telemedicine services will improve access to clinical care, support services, and education for patients with HIV, and will increase the opportunity for timely intervention by health care providers. In conjunction with the study the team is currently collecting data from patients re their travel costs and interest in the possibility of attending some appointments via telemedicine. The State Health Division is considering a proposal to develop a pilot HIV telemedicine service between Elko and the HOPES clinic in Reno in late 2010.

High Sierra Area Health Education Center to sponsor community health fair on May 15

The High Sierra Area Health Education Center will be sponsoring Project Prevent, a free community health fair, on May 15, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the West Street Market in downtown Reno. Free sports physicals and dental screenings, along with free immunizations for 11-18 year olds will be offered. In addition there will be hands on CPR instruction, oral health education, nutrition guidance, bike give-a-ways and raffle prizes.

“Linking Drug Abuse Public Health Research to Neuroscience” is topic of Grand Rounds speakers series on May 19

Wilson M. Compton, M.D. M.P.E., director, division of epidemiology, services and prevention research, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health,will speak on “Uncertainty and Discovery in Linking Drug Abuse Public Health Research to Neuroscience” on May 19 at 4 p.m. at the Pennington Medical Building, Room 16 in Reno.

Parking permits will be available in Room 16 of the Pennington Bldg. at the time of the Grand Rounds. Designated parking will be in the Green zone at the back of the Pennington Bldg. The Grand Rounds can be seen via Pic-Tel in Las Vegas at the Simulation Center, 1001 Shadow Lane.

NGEC offers free presentation on exercise and maintaining function on May 20

The Nevada Geriatric Education Center’s upcoming Health Literacy Faculty Training Series will present Exercise and Maintaining Function, Health Literacy, and Aging to various rural sites via Interactive Video on Thursday, May 20, 2010; 12:00pm-1:00pm. The presenter will be Denise J. Readence, LPT with the Balance Center of Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Please see the attached announcement for all healthcare professionals interested in attending this presentation. The presentation is free and 1.0 hours of continuing education credit for nurses and physicians has been approved by the University of Nevada School of Medicine. This presentation for 1.0 hours of continuing education credit has been submitted to the State of Nevada Board of Examiners for Social Workers, The State of Nevada Board of Examiners for Long Term Care Administrators, the State of Nevada Board of Examiners for Marriage and Family Therapists, and the State of Nevada Board of Examiners for Audiology and Speech Pathology.

Monthly lecture series addresses autism

A monthly series of free lectures promoting education on the varying components of autism spectrum disorders are being held the second Tuesday of each month from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Mack Auditorium at Renown Health in Reno. Upcoming dates and topics include: May 11, Individualized Education Plans; June 8, Medical Components of Autism Spectrum disorders; and July 12, Playing and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

These lectures, which are open to parents and professionals, are jointly sponsored by the School of Medicine’s University Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment team, the Lili Claire Foundation and Renown Health. Prior registration is required by contacting Kari Horn at (775) 682-7025.

Our People

Bernadette Longo, Ph.D., RN, assistant professor of the Orvis School of Nursing was featured on CNN International and USA Today for expert opinion on the potential health effects and the need for public health interventions from the recent eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano in Iceland.

Jay Coates, D.O., assistant professor, department of surgery, School of Medicine, has been elected to the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma (AAST) and will be initiated at the annual meeting in fall. He has also been granted Fellowship into the American College of Surgeons (FACS). He is the first DO in history of the state on Nevada to have been selected for this honor.

Alice Running, Ph.D., R.N., A.P.N., professor, Orvis School of Nursing has been elected to be the new faculty senate representative for the Division of Health Sciences (not including the School of Medicine). She will serve a three year term. She has been a faculty member in the Orvis School of Nursing for 15 years and has served in the roles of Nurse Practitioner Coordinator, Graduate Committee coordinator, and faculty in the undergraduate and graduate programs. She has been involved on several university committees. She has conducted research during that time (recently funded by NIH), and has also practiced clinically to maintain her certification as a nurse practitioner. Professor Running has also successfully progressed through the tenure and promotion process. If you have any issues or concerns that you would like to put forth to the Faculty Senate, please feel free to contact her at running@unr.edu.

Evelen Soliman, M.D., an obstetrics and gynecology resident at the School of Medicine, has been elected the new Nevada section Junior Fellow Vice Chair for District VIII of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. This position will provide leadership training along with the opportunity to coordinate with junior fellows across District VIII and initiate section activities.

Elissa Palmer, M.D., chair of family medicine in Las Vegas, has been honored with the 2010 Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Advocate Award. The society has a membership of more than 5,000 teachers of family medicine including medical school professors, preceptors, residency program faculty, residency program directors and others involved in family medicine education. She was presented this award at the annual meeting in April in Vancouver, B.C.

Charles “Randy” St. Hill, M.D., chief surgery resident at the School of Medicine, finished in first place in a laparoscopic skills competition, against a field of 55 surgeons and surgery residents from the throughout the country. The event, sponsored by the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons, took place in Washington, D.C. this past week.

Linda Haigh, 2009 RSVP Volunteer of the year, has been chosen as the 2010 State of Nevada Service Award, Senior Corps Division winner. She was presented her commendation on May 10 by Craig Warner, State of Nevada Director for the Corporation for National & Community Service.

Grants, Publications and Research Activities

John Pixley,M.D., associate professor, division of Rheumatology/immunology, department of medicine, School of Medicine recently co-authored a research article entitled, “Persistent circulating human insulin in sheep transplanted in utero with human mesenchymal stem cells.” This was published in the Experimental Hematology 2010;38;311-320.

Kathleen Keef, Ph.D., professor of physiology and cell biology, has been awarded a four-year, $1.2 million grant from the National Institute of Health to study the control of motility in the internal anal sphincter.

Amy Ellwood, MSW, LCSW, professor of Family Medicine and Psychiatry in Las Vegas, has published an article, “Walk a Mile in My Moccasins” at the New York University School of Medicine Medical Humanities website. NYU’s Department of Medical Humanities website is a resource for scholars, educators, students and patients interested in the interdisciplinary field of medical humanities and features a repository of resources that can be downloaded and used in medical education.

Several faculty members from various departments made presentations at the Association of American Medical Colleges Group on Student Affairs national meeting in April.

Peggy Dupey, Ph.D., associate dean for student affairs presented “Student Mistreatment: Policies and Practices for Developing a Positive Learning Environment.”

Other presentations were made at the Western Regional Group of Educational Affairs and Group on Student Affairs Conference. The first, “Six Easy Steps to Effective Feedback: A Guide for Addressing Professionalism Lapses” was presented by Negar Nicole Jacobs, Ph.D.; Melissa Piasecki, M.D.; Dupey, Cheryl Hug English, M.D., MPH; Deborah Kuhls, M.D., Marin Gillis, Ph.D.; Huy Truong, M.D., all of the University of Nevada School of Medicine. The second presentation was a poster entitled “Perceptions of Professionalism: A Survey at UNSOM” with the same faculty mentioned above.

Debra Vigil, Ph.D., associate professor in speech pathology and audiology and Erika Ryst, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, both faculty members on the University Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment assessment team made presentations along with other team members, at several meetings and conferences over the last few months.

A presentation entitled, “A transdisciplinary team process for diagnosis for Autism Spectrum Disorders” was given at the National Association of School Psychologists. A paper entitled “Neuro-developmental disorders with psychiatric co-morbidity: Diagnostic dilemmas, school challenges, and opportunities for collaborative treatment,” was presented at the American Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Annual Conference and a poster, “The University Center for Autism & Neurodevelopment Assessment Team: A transdisciplinary process for diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder” was presented Association of University Centers on Disabilities Annual Conference.

Student News

The University of Nevada, Reno Chapter of the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NSSLHA) has selected Andrea Sullivan to receive NSSLHA Student Honors for 2010. She is a senior undergraduate student of the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology and will graduate in May.

“She demonstrates exemplary scholastic achievement, department service, professional conduct and NSSHLA service worthy of this award,” according to Leslie Goldberg, M.S., assistant professor, speech pathology and audiology, “and will pursuing a graduate degree in Speech-Language Pathology this fall.”

Ashley Naughton, senior, School of Community Health Sciences was honored as the Senior Scholar for the Division of Health Sciences, achieving the highest GPA for all undergraduate students in the Division Her faculty mentor was Mel Minarik, Ph. D., director of graduate programs for the School of Community Health Sciences.

Aliya Buttar, was selected as the MPH Student of the Year by the School of Community Health Sciences.

Angel Stachnik and Joe Medillin received honorable mentions for the award.

Sells, Dimple, Walkr, Premo
Left to right, Priscilla Sells, Ashley Dimple, Barrett Walker and Jackie Premo volunteered their services a community health fair.

Orvis School of Nursing students, Jackie Premo, Barrett Walker, Michael Wright, Ashley Dimple, Tatsiana Furman, Priscilla Sells and Krystina Hashimoto, recently participated in the Sun Valley Health And Safety Fair, part of the Give Kids a Boost Week in northern Nevada. The nursing students helped immunize more than 200 children with free vaccinations. Lorraine Bonaldi-Moore, M.S.N.,MBA, R.N., assistant professor, School of Nursing, also volunteered at this event by supervising the students as they administered the vaccinations in tandem with the Washoe County Health Department.

Thirteen graduate and undergraduate students will receive $11,550 in scholarships from the Sanford Center for Aging to support their studies in the field of aging. The 2010-11 recipients are Claire Rummel, James Dugan, Judie Henderson, Jeffrey Koch, Alexis Medlock, Tatiana Pollard, Donepudi Sreekanth, Rori Lee, Ann McCracken, Claudia Drossel, Jodi Jones, Samantha Moore and Amanda Smith.


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