Noteworthy News

Noteworthy News

December 2014

Honors and Awards

Silver Spike Award
Susan Hill, APR, director of marketing & communications; Kevin Murphy, web systems coordinator; Jean Regan, senior associate dean for finance and Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D., dean of the University of Nevada School of Medicine celebrate a Public Relations Society of America Silver Spikes win for the overhaul of the school's website this year. Photo by Anne McMillin, APR

Medical school website overhaul project earns PRSA honor

The School of Medicine's Marketing and Communications Office earned top honors at the Public Relations Society of America's annual Silver Spikes awards competition for its overhaul of the school's website at

The Sierra Nevada Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America honored the best local public relations/communications programs and tactics and recognized six outstanding northern Nevada professionals for the past year at its annual awards dinner.

Kevin Murphy, the school's web systems coordinator and architect of the website rebuild, accepted the Silver Spike award, in the category of "Media Relations: Owned Websites," on behalf of the Marketing & Communications Office.

Clark named president of national 3RNET board

Keith Clark, director of rural programs, Office of Statewide Initiatives, School of Medicine, has been named president of the Board of Directors for the 3RNET (National Rural Recruitment and Retention Network). 3RNet's mission is to improve rural and underserved communities access to quality health care through recruitment of physicians and other health care professionals, development of community based recruitment and retention activities, and national advocacy relative to rural and underserved health care workforce issues. In 2013, members collectively contributed to placing 1,619 health professionals including 978 physicians in communities across the country. The organization is a national nonprofit network of members who work to connect physicians and health professionals with rural or underserved communities across the country.

Harris to chair national program of merit committee

Susan G. Harris, Ph.D., director of the gerontology academic program, Sanford Center for Aging, has been appointed as the national chair for the Program of Merit Committee for the Association of Gerontology in Higher Education.

Bar-on elected chair of AAMC Group on Resident Affairs and receives national award

Miriam Bar-on, M.D., FAAP, will receive the American Academy of Pediatrics' Parker J. Palmer Courage to Lead Award which honors designated institutional officials who have demonstrated excellence in overseeing residency programs at their sponsoring institutions. Bar-on is a member of the Academic Pediatric Association and co-chair of the Faculty Development Special Interest Group. She also is will serve as the chair of the Group on Resident Affairs for the Association of American Medical Colleges and a volunteer Clinical Learning Environment Review site visitor for the ACGME. She is a member of the AAP Councils on Communications and Media, and Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention.

Kuhls receives Presidential Citation

Deborah A Kuhls, M.D., FCCM, assistant professor of surgery, Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, Las Vegas campus, has been selected a recipient of the Presidential Citation for her extraordinary contributions of time, energy and resources to the Society of Critical Care Medicine.

Clements-Nolle nominated for U.S. Professor of the Year Award

Kristen Clements-Nolle, associate professor, School of Community Health Sciences was nominated by President Marc Johnson for the U.S. Professors of the Year Awards Program, sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

O'Driscoll to serve on Renown Community Advisory Committee

Richelle O'Driscoll, M.A., director of public affairs, Division of Health Sciences and School of Medicine was named to the Renown Community Advisory Committee. The advisory committee provides feedback to the Renown Board of Directors regarding healthcare and quality of life in the community and helps share and advocate for the organization's missions and goals.

Publications and Presentations

Violeta Mutafova-Yamabolieva

Violeta Mutafova-Yambolieva, M.D., Ph.D.

Research team discovers a novel purine regulator in the enteric nervous system of humans

A team of scientists led by Violeta Mutafova-Yambolieva, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Physiology and Cell Biology, School of Medicine, discovered a novel purine regulator in the human intestines that is released from enteric nerves

Neurotransmitters are chemical substances that transmit information from nerves to target cells. Purine-containing neurotransmitters are responsible for rapid information processing in the nervous system in the intestines (the enteric nervous system) and are important for the normal motility of the human gastro-intestinal (GI) tract

The study discovered that a substance called uridine adenosine tetraphosphate (Up4A) that was recently identified to be released from vascular endothelium, the inner lining of blood vessels, is released from motor nerves in the human colon. We also found that Up4A is a potent activator of membrane proteins (receptors and ion channels) in cells that are targets for purine neurotransmitters in the intestines, indicating a role of Up4A for normal GI function. This work has the potential to suggest novel biomarkers to monitor the health status of the GI system as well as novel targets for therapeutic regulation of gut motility.

The present discovery follows two previous findings based on research performed in Mutafova-Yambolieva's laboratory and published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2007 and The Journal of Physiology in 2012 that demonstrated that two other purines, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide and adenosine 5'-diphosphate ribose, meet requirements for neurotransmitters in the lower GI tract better than adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP), the long-standing contender for a purine neurotransmitter in the enteric nervous system. The present study, therefore, not only identifies Up4A as a novel purine regulator in the bowel, but also demonstrates that purine neurotransmission in the GI tract is a more complex enterprise than previously thought. Understanding the mechanisms by which the network of purine neurotransmitters regulates local and systemic functions in the body will be an area of intense interest in the future.

This work has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science on October 23, 2014.

  • Amy Ellwood, MSW, LCSW, BCD, professor of family medicine & psychiatry, Department of Family Medicine, School of Medicine, Las Vegas campus recently wrote an article, "Clinical Social Workers in Family Medicine Residency Programs" that was published in the American Clinical Social Work Association newsletter.
  • Julie Hogan, Ph.D., associate professor, CASAT, received a five-year grant from the Education Development Corporation and the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention for $5,354,399 to provide substance abuse prevention training and technical assistance. She also received a grant from the National Association of State Alcohol/Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD) to fund the National Prevention Network Conference. NASADAD's basic purpose is to foster and support the development of effective alcohol and other drug abuse prevention and treatment programs throughout every State.

Several faculty from the School of Social Work attended and presented at the 60th Annual Program Meeting of the Council on Social Work held in October in Tampa, Florida. The following is the list of the presentations and respective School of Social Work faculty.

  • Goutham Menon, Ph.D., professor and director of the School of Social Work and Maureen Rubin, Ph.D., assistant professor, presented a workshop titled, "DSM 5: Implications for Curriculum Development and Implementation."
  • Maureen Rubin presented a Faculty Development Institute on, "Nuts and Bolts to Implement and Evaluate Sustainable Interprofessional Education" with co-presenters were Dr. Barbara Jones, University of Texas at Austin; Dr. Shelley Cohen Konrad, University of New England; Dr. Jayashree Nimmagadda, Rhode Island College and Dr. Anna Scheyett, University of South Carolina.
  • Mary Hylton, Ph.D., associate professor, Gloria Messick Svare, Ph.D., associate professor and Jill Manit, MSW, field education coordinator presented "Relationship Awareness Theory: Understanding the Motivations and Behaviors of Millennial Students" and also, "Gatekeeping and the Implicit Curriculum: A Model for Developing Behaviorally Specific Policies."
  • Denise Montacalm, Ph.D., associate professor and Gloria Messick Svare presented "A Model for Developing a Competency-Based Curriculum: Using an AGP Example."
  • Jennifer McClendon, Ph.D., assistant professor, presented a paper entitled, "Homelessness Research Inside and Outside the Classroom: PIT Count and HMIS" with co-author was Dr. Shannon Lane from Adelphi University.

Faculty and Staff

New Coordinator of Undergraduate Education and Outreach Programs named

The Office of Admissions and Student Affairs welcomes Ashley Sylvester as our new Coordinator of Undergraduate Education and Outreach Programs in Las Vegas. Ashley earned a Bachelor's of Science degree in education at the University of Nebraska and will graduate from UNLV in May with a Master's of Public Administration. She worked previously as the Associate Director of Recruitment at Nevada State College and brings a wealth of knowledge regarding pipeline programs in the area.

Ashley's work in Southern Nevada will complement the work of Megan Almansoori in Northern Nevada to support outreach and recruitment efforts under the direction of Ann Diggins. The partnerships and programs developed strive to educate Nevada students, teachers and community members about the process of pursuing a career in medicine, cultivate interest in the medical field and provide information about the path to medical school.

Anderson joins School of Medicine as Director of Budgeting and Hospital Accounting

Welcome to Todd Anderson, the new Director of Budgeting and Hospital Accounting for the School of Medicine. Todd holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance - Managerial Finance from the University of Nevada, Reno. He has eight years of experience as a Customer Service and Project Manager with a major credit institution and eleven years of experience within the United States Army serving in a variety roles including chief financial officer supporting US Army Alaska and has served overseas. Todd's experience includes development, analysis and monitoring of budgets; recommending appropriate funding options. He has developed and directed financial policies ensuring compliance with fiduciary responsibilities and requirements. Most recently he was stationed in Reno as US Army Cadet Commander and achieved outstanding performance serving as Assistant Professor within the ROTC program at UNR.

Todd is a great addition to Budget and Finance team and will be the primary contact person in developing the budget as well as working with Jean Regan finalizing our hospital budget for GME and clinical service lines.

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