Division Dialogue

Division Dialogue

May 2011

Message from Interim Dean of Health Sciences, Denise Montcalm, Ph.D.


Denise Montcalm, Ph.D.

May brings us a time of renewal and change as our students graduate and transition into a new phase of their life journeys. Like new seeds scattered by spring winds, we wish them the very best as they find opportunities to plant themselves and grow well.

May is also a time to recognize and thank our colleagues who have contributed greatly to the university and are now transitioning into retirement or new work opportunities.

This May our university community is transitioning into new leadership that will continue the work that our late president, Milt Glick, undertook in building a strong and vibrant university.

As we move into summer, we look forward with great anticipation and excitement to Dr. Tom Schwenk assuming the leadership of the Division of Health Sciences and the School of Medicine.

During this year of many transitions, I want you to know that it has been an honor and privilege to serve as the interim dean of health sciences. As I transition out of this role, I want to thank the students, faculty, and staff for your ongoing support and the phenomenal resilience you have shown in dealing with the uncertainties and challenges confronting our university.

In the words of Karen Kiser Clark, "Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely." I am so proud to be part of a group that-in embracing change-has continued to grow.


News from Division of Health Sciences Units

School of Community Health Science students participate in emergency preparedness exercise

Ninety undergraduate students from the CH 101 Introduction to Community Health Sciences course, recently participated in an emergency preparedness exercise in conjunction with the Washoe County Health District as part of a community health field project.

The simulated exercise required the students to play the role of patients and medical staff in the distribution of the mass medication to help the county plan for a potential bioterrorism attack. The students also provided much needed support by representing members of the general public in the exercise.

"In order to minimize the impact on human health and life, planning is critical so that we are prepared to respond to a natural or human-made disaster such as an earthquake or bioterrorist attack," said Jeff Whitesides, Washoe County Health District Public Health Preparedness Program manager.

"We were able to distribute over 800 doses of antibiotics (Skittles) in slightly under two hours with the help of the students."

Department of Psychiatry receives accreditation

The School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry in Reno, received a five-year accreditation for the general psychiatry residency program from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. With this recent addition, the psychiatry program in Las Vegas, the child psychiatry fellowship and the Reno residency all have maximum length accreditation status.

Division of Endocrinology, Nutrition and Metabolism accepting new patients

As part of the University of Nevada School of Medicine, the endocrinology, nutrition and metabolism division (ENM) continues to provide comprehensive nutrition, diabetes and weight management services.

The interdisciplinary staff of ENM, board-certified endocrinologists, registered dietitians (certified in pediatric and adult weight management by the American Dietetic Association), and a registered clinical exercise physiologist, utilize state-of-the-art metabolic testing and body composition equipment to deliver high quality care and assist clients with meeting their health and weight management goals.

ENM offers medically supervised programs, including the following: Energy BALANCE (Behavior And Lifestyle Assessment with Nutrition Centered Education) weight loss program; cardiac wellness program (Advanced Lipid and Metabolic Testing for the Prevention of Heart Attack and Stroke); and HMR health management resources meal replacement weight loss program.

Located on the UNR campus, second floor of the Redfield Building, contact ENM for information or to make an appointment. PEBP and HHP patients have covered benefits for services.

Highison selected as Division of Health Sciences Teaching Award Winner

Gregory Highison, Ph.D.Gregory Highison, Ph.D., professor of physiology and cell biology, School of Medicine, was selected as the 2010 Division of Health Sciences Teaching Award winner.

With the honor, he was put forth as the nominee from the division to compete for the Donald Tibbitts Distinguished Professor Award Committee at the university level.

Members of the Division of Health Sciences Teaching Award committee observed classroom teaching of all nominees and evaluated teaching portfolio's as well.

Buxton named Research of the Year by Board of Regents

Iain Buxton, Pharm.D., received the Board of Regents Researcher of the Year Award. This award is given annually to one Nevada System of Higher Education faculty member at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the University of Nevada, Reno, or the Desert Research Institute with a distinguished record in research.

Dr. Buxton joined the University of Nevada, Reno in 1985. During his 26 years at UNR, he has served many roles and is currently a professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Buxton's research has led to discoveries that were breakthroughs against the prevailing scientific thought in his field and have far-reaching applications.

Such discoveries related the behavior of uterine smooth muscle and pre-term labor. His research has garnered national attention and given rise to some 85 peer-reviewed articles.

Pelter receives national award for Blackboard course

Michele Pelter, Ph.D., RN, assistant professor, Orvis School of Nursing, has been recognized as a 2011 "Blackboard Exemplary Course Designer" for her course NURS 735 Knowledge Development and Scientific Inquiry course, which is taught in the Orvis School of Nursing Master of Science in Nursing Program.

She joins a select group of instructors and course designers from the around the world whose courses have earned the Exemplary Course designation. Michele has been invited to Blackboard's annual user conference, "BbWorld," in July where she will be honored and will showcase her course.

Keef selected as foundation professor

Kathleen Keef, Ph.D., professor, physiology and cell biology, School of Medicine ,was selected as a Foundation Professor in recognition of her outstanding research and teaching achievements consistently demonstrated throughout her career.

Dr. Keef earned her doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1980 and has been a member of the medical school faculty for about 24 years. Dr. Keef is a stellar and accomplished educator whose expertise includes renal physiology, fluid and electrolyte balance and acid-base balance. She has published more than 60 scholarly manuscripts in some of the best peer-reviewed journals in her scientific area and was recognized as the School of Medicine's Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 1997.

Pennington appointed to national committee

James Pennington, RDMS, lead perinatal sonographer and clinical instructor of obstetric ultrasound, for Department of OB/GYN, Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, School of Medicine- Las Vegas,

has been appointed to the committee for the Endowment of Education and Research in the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM).

He also sits as chairman of the Committee for the Practice of Sonography with the AIUM. He lectures nationally at various conferences across the country during the year and at the International Yearly Conference of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine. The AIUM Endowment of Education and Research committee awards grants to the top research projects in medical ultrasound in the United States.

"Citizen Ambassador" Award honors Boutte

Marie Boutte,Ph.D., associate professor, School of Community Health Sciences, received the honor of "Citizen Ambassador" presented by the International Women's Day Committee of Northern Nevada. Dr. Boutte was recognized for her contribution to the International Community through her work in the Azores Island of Portugal.

She was one of 30 women so honored at the annual International Women's Day Scholarship Fundraiser Dinner held at the Atlantis Grand Ballroom on March 8th.

Neyland appointed assistant dean of admissions

Beverly Neyland, M.D., has been appointed to serve as the assistant dean of admissions for the School of Medicine. This position will become effective July 1, 2011. Dr. Beverly Neyland is a pediatrics professor and associate program director in the School of Medicine's Las Vegas Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Neyland is infinitely qualified to lead the admissions committee, having served on the committee since 1984.

Dr. Neyland obtained her medical degree from Meharry Medical College, completed her internship at Long Beach Memorial Children's Hospital and residency at UCLA Harbor General Hospital. She practiced pediatrics in Las Vegas for 20 years before joining the faculty.

Richardson receives teaching award

Cory Richardson, M.D., general surgery resident with the Department of Surgery, was awarded the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Award at the 2nd Annual Las Vegas Faculty Development Day awards in April.

Royal College of Surgeons of Thailand confers honorary fellowship to Kuhls

Deborah Kuhls, M.D., will be conferred an Honorary Fellowship by the Royal College of Surgeons of Thailand this summer. She is one of only five distinguished surgeons from outside Thailand to be given the honor this year for their significant contributions to the practice of surgery in that country.

Dr. Kuhls has been involved with the international collaboration between the School of Medicine and several Thai medical colleges for the past seven years. She has made several trips to Thailand to speak on trauma, one of the leading causes of death in the country.


  • Jenna L. Sexton, M.A., information technology analyst, School of Medicine, will receive her Ph.D. in Information Technology in Education from the University of Nevada, College of Education.
  • Maureen Molini-Blandford, MPH, RD, CSSD, clinical dietitian, Division of Endocrinology, Nutrition and Metabolism and UNR Student Health Center, School of Medicine has achieved Board Certification as a Specialist in Sports Dietetics from the Commission of Dietetic Registration of the American Dietetic Association.

Grants, Publications and Research Activities

  • Kate Martin, M.D., assistant professor, Department of Family Medicine-Las Vegas, School of Medicine was invited by The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), to the AAFP Live! national diabetes program in Phoenix (March 2011), to present "Assessment and Diagnosis of Diabetes" and "Cardiometabolic Risk in Diabetes."
  • Elissa J Palmer, M.D., professor and chair, Department of Family Medicine-Las Vegas, School of Medicine, was also invited by the AAFP to present "Diabetes Treatment and Interventions" and "Other Populations, Special Situations, and Complications" in Phoenix, Chicago (April 2011) and Denver (May 2011).
  • Tom Kozel, Ph.D., and his research team in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology received a five-year $3.5 million award from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of the National Institutes of Health. The award will be used to develop an anthrax diagnosis test.
  • Iain Buxton, Pharm.D., pharmacology professor, earned a prestigious $100,000 Gates Foundation rand Challenges Explorations grant, the first in Nevada, to develop an effective treatment for preterm labor allowing a fetus to remain in the mother's womb until term.
  • Bernadette Longo, Ph.D., RN, assistant professor of the Orvis School of Nursing, received a Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing Small Research Grant for the "CARE-Vog Study: Cardiorespiratory Assessment of Residents Exposed to Vog." Field work is planned at Kilauea for this summer. She will also be participating in the upcoming "50 States United for Healthy Air" congressional lobby event in Washington D.C. on May 2-4th sponsored by Earthjustice, the American Nurses Association, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.
  • Several internal medicine Las Vegas residents submitted abstracts to the national American College of Physicians meeting this spring:
    • Ranjit Makar, M.D.: "Orthostatic Headache: Lumbar Puncture not always the culprit " has been selected by the Abstract Review Board for presentation as a poster finalist and will be judged on-site at internal medicine 2011 in San Diego.
    • Srinath Sunderarajan, M.D.: "Non Islet Cell Tumor Related Hypoglycemia";
    • Mahendran Jayaraj, M.D. and Janame Kottey, M.D.: "Lipemic Serum and Elevated Lipase
  • Three pediatrics residents gave oral presentations of their research at the Western Society for Pediatric Research in Carmel, California. All of the presenters are interns in the pediatrics program.
    • Jennifer Adair, M.D., Prevalence of pediatric inflammatory bowel disease among Hispanics in an urban academic center in the southwest US;
    • Shilpa Shahani, M.D., The educational intervention change perception of pregnant women towards cord blood banking. The project investigator for the study is Echezona Ezeanolue, M.D. with co-authors Marsha Kirgan, M.D., Wilfredo Torres, M.D., and Sherif Elsadat;
    • Ineada Jack, M.D., Effectiveness of routine methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) screening

Student News

Mojave Mental Health recognizes students

Mojave Mental Health, a clinical practice of the School of Medicine, is celebrating many graduations this year including employees, interns and fellows.

Amanda Lux and Rebecca Hamlin, day treatment counselors at Mojave, will be awarded masters in social work this May.

Amanda, employed at Mojave since 2007, earned her bachelor's in social work from the University of Nevada, Reno and completed her final field work internship at the state of Nevada Adolescent Treatment Center.

Rebecca completed her field work at West Hills Hospital and received her bachelor's from the University of Kansas. Rebecca has been a day treatment counselor at Mojave since 2009.

Maggie England, a support staff employee since 2007, will be awarded her bachelor's in journalism. This past year she completed her public relations internship at Mojave, organizing a social media campaign that created mental health awareness, as well as raised money in order for clients to participate in a holiday meal.

Mojave also provides field experience to students in both the social work and psychiatric fields.

Christin Ucelli completed her final field practice at Mojave, organizing a continuing education unit examining chronic pain and associated psychological co-morbidity. She will receive her masters in social work.

Sarah Wilson and Cassandra Pierson both completed undergraduate internships at Mojave and will be graduating with bachelor's degrees in social work.

Raps Named Division of Health Sciences Senior Scholar

Even Raps, 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.

His faculty mentor was Amy Fitch, MPH, lecturer for the School of Community Health Sciences. He will be attending the University of Nevada School of Medicine in the fall.

Esp selected as Graduate Student of Year by School of Community Health Sciences

Andrea Esp, MPHAndrea Esp, MPH, graduate student, was selected as the Graduate Student of the Year by the faculty of the School of Community Health Sciences.

Esp has achieved a strong scholarly and research record, with her participation in and co-authorship of a variety of academic projects and presentations related to HIV, hepatitis-C and colon screening.

She also has been involved in service and extracurricular activities with the Public Health Club, SCHS Graduate Committee and has served as a community volunteer for HIV Research, Solace Tree, Northern Nevada Outreach Team.

She is member of the American Public Health Association and is active in the Nevada Public Health Association. She will graduate in May.

Student Outreach Clinic receives generous donation from Redfield Foundation

The University of Nevada School of Medicine Student Outreach Clinic received a $61,350 gift from the Nell J. Redfield Foundation to help with clinic operations. Read more

Students honored by CASAT

The CASAT Spring 2011 ceremony of completion will be held at UNR's JCSU Theatre and Great Room on May 11 from 2-4 p.m.

CASAT's academic program offers an undergraduate minor and a certificate program, as well as a graduate certificate and a master's specialization through human development and family studies. This year a record-breaking 115 students will be honored at the completion ceremony: two masters, four advanced certificates, 24 undergraduate certificates (minor with internship) and 85 minor students.

At the ceremony, CASAT will recognize the two masters graduates, Gary Smith and Chris Gentine, and spotlight one undergraduate student, Martina Dayton, a songwriter and performer who will be showcasing her song, "Another Get High."

CASAT recognizes alum, Christine Eckles, with the Gary Fisher "Scholarship to Service" Award. Eckles (nee Christine Flores) completed her CASAT undergraduate certificate in 1997, received a B.S.W. degree in 1998 and Masters in Justice Management (UNR) in 2010. The Gary Fisher "Scholarship to Service" Award is given annually to a CASAT alumnus who now serves the local community and is an inspiration for their commitment to the addiction and/or prevention field.

Eckles developed and implemented a prevention program targeted for high school students, TAI - Talk About It, while serving as an intern with CASAT in the late 1990s. The program focused on having open communication with high school age students about drug and alcohol use, diversity, and media messages was implemented at McQueen and Reed High schools. She works at the Washoe County Department of Juvenile Services and also coaches girls basketball at Spanish Springs High School.

School of Medicine students' art featured at Sierra Arts Gallery

School of Medicine students, Kacey Cox, Class of 2011 and Alia Moore, Class of 2012, will have their artwork on display at the Sierra Arts Gallery, 17 South Virginia Street, Suite 120 in Reno starting May 2 and running through May 13 as part of the "Artists in Healing" exhibit.

An artists' reception will be held Thursday, May 12 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the gallery.

Copyright © 2011 Health Sciences.