Noteworthy News

Noteworthy News

July 2014

Honors and Awards

Dean Schwenk, Rebecca Rumbaugh, Suzanne Torres
Dean Thomas L. Schwenk M.D. presents "Employee of the Quarter" awards to Rebecca Rumbaugh (left) and Suzanne Torres (right)

Rumbaugh and Torres receive Employee of the Quarter awards

Vice President and Dean Thomas L. Schwenk M.D., presented Suzanne Torres in Las Vegas and Rebecca Rumbaugh in Reno with the "Employee of the Quarter" awards. Torres is a medical assistant for the Department of OB/GYN Maternal Fetal Medicine Division in Las Vegas and was nominated by Sarah Kelly, who stated, "Suzanne has a positive attitude. She is always punctual, and never has a problem staying late when necessary. I have found working with her a pleasure. She is kind, caring and considerate. She treats her rainbow colleagues and clients respectfully, like we all like to be treated."

Rumbaugh is administrative assistant IV for the Office of Institutional Advancement for Division of Health Sciences and School of Medicine and was nominated by Christina Sarman. Sarman said, "She isn't the type of employee that just comes to work and completes her assigned tasks in a silo. Rebecca has an unusually high level of understanding regarding the bigger picture of what we are trying to accomplish on a development front. She keeps abreast of the political changes and our initiatives and makes appropriate suggestions to our development work."

Submit a nomination for an outstanding employee for the second quarter awards. The award is open to all Division of Health Sciences, School of Medicine and Practice plan employees.

Robert K. Myles, M.D. (December 29, 1926 - May 24, 2014)
Robert K. Myles, M.D. (December 29, 1926 - May 24, 2014)

Robert K. Myles, M.D., leaves mark on the medical community and health care education at UNR

Long-time local physician, Dr. Robert K. Myles, died at home on Saturday, May 24, 2014. Born in Burlingame, CA, December 29, 1926, he attended Bay Area schools and served in the US Army in Europe at the end of WWII. Dr. Myles studied the art of medicine at Stanford, McGill and Duke Universities. He and his wife Jean came to Reno in 1958 where he established a practice in Internal Medicine, with a focus on cardiology, diabetes and pulmonary medicine.

Dr. Myles mentored new pulmonary and internal medical specialists in Reno between 1960 and 1984. He worked in every aspect of health care including multiple terms as a member of the Washoe County Board of Health, twice as chairman. He held offices on both Saint Mary's and Washoe Medical Center's medical staffs, and was elected to Washoe Medical Center's governing board when it was a county-wide electoral position. He was Chairman of Board during the changeover from County Hospital to a not-for-profit health care system. One goal was for Washoe Medical Center to become the teaching hospital for UNSOM, a goal that is finally becoming reality. Myles also served as medical director for respiratory care at both hospitals. He was an active member of the Washoe County Medical Society, and served as WCMS President in 1969.

Dr. Myles career was rich with contributions to his community, including Boy Scouts and other children's programs. UNR benefitted from his dedication to education. He taught Physical Diagnosis as one of the first professors of medicine at UNSOM, and also instructed students at Orvis School of Nursing. Together, Bob and Jean Myles have created a "living legacy" through their establishment of endowed scholarships at the Orvis School of Nursing and the School of Community Health Sciences. Read more about the life and career of Dr. Robert K. Myles.

Larson and DHS recognized for work on Newborn Screening Program

The Division of Health Sciences, Trudy Larson, M.D., director, School of Community Health Sciences and the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health were recognized for helping eliminate Nevada's reliance on out-of state medical service providers and improving and expanding newborn screening diagnostic and medical follow-up services with Nevada in the June 17, 2014 edition of the Silver State Spotlight from Governor Sandoval. The Silver State Spotlight recognizes exceptional achievements, successful programs and initiatives, and a standard of excellence in the work that is being done every day in state government.

Savitt Medical Library launches e-Minute news bulletin

The University of Nevada School of Medicine Savitt Medical Library has Library has officially launched its first issue of Savitt's e-Minute News Bulletin. The e-Minute News Bulletin's primary focus is to spread the word about the library's resources and services. Some resources and services may be new while others may be a refresher of what we have to offer. The e-minute News Bulletin will also serve as the library's new messaging board where any and all new happenings at the medical library will be announced.

Wei Yan, M.D., Ph.D.
Wei Yan, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Physiology and Cell Biology

Research team discovers five microRNAs that control critical developmental processes

A team of scientists led by Wei Yan, M.D., Ph.D., professor of physiology and cell biology at the School of Medicine, discovered that five microRNAs function as a group to control the proper formation of basal forebrain, ciliated epithelia in the trachea and the oviduct, as well as sperm in the testis. Ablation of these five microRNAs leads to perinatal mortality owing to feeding and breathing difficulties caused by underdeveloped forebrain, which is responsible for food-seeking ability, and a lack of cilia in the trachea, which are microscopic, finger-like projections sticking out from the surface of cells and responsible for airway cleansing. Survived mice are completely infertile, with male sterility caused by disrupted sperm production and female infertility due to cilia-less oviduct that cannot capture ovulated eggs. This work has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on June 30, 2014. Learn more about Dr. Yan and his team's microRNAs discovery.

Shapiro appointed to NSMA Commission on Public Health

Daniel S. Shapiro, M.D., professor and H. Edward Manville, Jr. Endowed Chair of Internal Medicine in Reno, who serves on the Washoe County Allied/Public Health Commission, has been appointed to the Nevada State Medical Association's Commission on Public Health. In addition, as of July 1, 2014 Dr. Shapiro will serve a two-year term as a member of the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine (AAIM) Advocacy Committee.

Social work faculty appointed to national committee posts

Maureen Rubin, Ph.D., MSW., assistant professor, School of Social Work, has been appointed as a member of the Council on Social Work Education's (CSWE) Council on Conferences and Faculty Development, effective July 1, 2014-October 31, 2017. The work of the Council is far reaching in terms of working with staff to implement the Annual Program Meeting and regional conferences, as well as setting policy guidelines for CSWE-sponsored faculty development initiatives.

Goutham M. Menon, Ph.D., director and professor at the School of Social Work, has been appointed as a member of the Council on Social Work Education's Council on External Relations for a 3-year term effective July 1, 2014-June 30, 2017. The Council External Relations is designed to work in concert with the Commission on Global Social Work Education, with specific interface with other global organizations such as the International Association of Schools of Social Work and the International Federation of Social Workers.

Publications, Grants and Presentations

  • David AuCoin, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, Reno campus was recently funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The 3-year, $2,000,000 project is a Phase II STTR award in collaboration with InBios International, a Seattle based biotech company. The goal is to optimize a rapid immunoassay for the diagnosis of melioidosis a devastating bacterial infection common to SE Asia.
  • Amanda Burnham-Marusich, Ph.D., research scientist, Department of Microbiology and Immunology. School of Medicine, Reno campus and principal scientist at DxDiscovery, Inc., a Reno-based biotechnology company, was recently awarded a Small Business Innovation Research grant by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases along with her co-principal investigator, Thomas Kozel, Ph.D., professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology and CEO of DxDiscovery, Inc. The goal of the two-year, $590,000, Phase I project is to develop a rapid, point-of-care device to diagnose early-stage whooping cough in infants and young children.
  • Gale Louise Craviso, Ph.D., professor of the Department of Pharmacology, was awarded $859,335 in grant funding from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to conduct a five-year project on the potential for using high intensity, nanosecond duration electric pulses as a new modality for modulating the activity of neural cells. The goal is the development of non-invasive electric stimulation approaches that can target deep brain structures for treating neurological and psychiatric disorders. This highly interdisciplinary project includes as Co-PIs Normand Leblanc, Ph.D., professor of the Department of Pharmacology, and Indira Chatterjee, Ph.D., professor of the Department of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering. The project also provides an additional $115,000 in funding to P. Thomas Vernier, Ph.D. at the Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA.
  • Scott Earley, Ph.D., associate professor of the Department of Pharmacology, received a $1,435,000 grant from National Institutes of Health for a four-year project entitled "TRP Channel-Dependent Regulation of Arterial Tone."
  • Dean Burkin, Ph.D., professor of the Department of Pharmacology, received a $1,603,949 grant from National Institutes of Health for a five-year project entitled "Laminin Protein Therapy for Congenital Muscular Dystrophy."
  • Christopher von Bartheld, Ph.D., professor, Department of Physiology and Cell Biology, School of Medicine, Reno campus authored a chapter on neurotrophins and neurotrophin receptors in Springer's Handbook of Neurotoxicity (published June 30, 2014). The Handbook of Neurotoxicity is an instructive and valuable guide towards understanding the role of neurotoxins/neurotoxicity in the expansive field of Neuroscience, and is an indispensable tool for laboratory investigators, neuroscientists, and clinical researchers.
  • Daniel Fred, M.S. project coordinator and Meri Shadley, Ph.D., project director of N-RAP (Nevada's Recovery and Prevention community, C.A.S.A.T., co-presented on "Belonging: The culture of recovery on College Campuses" at the Association for Recovery in Higher Education in early June in Minneapolis. At the Association of Recovery Schools in San Diego, Dr. Shadley presented "Families in Recovery" while Daniel Fred presented "Creating a Sober Bubble for College Students in Recovery."
  • Maureen Rubin, Ph.D., MSW.,assistant professor, School of Social Work, presented a paper, "Boldly Going Where we've Gone Before: Social Work Leadership in Interprofessional Education, Practice & Policy Development" ,co-authored with Jones, B., Konrad, S., Nimmagadda, J., Scheyett, A., & Browne at All Together Better Health, an international conference on interprofessional education held in Pittsburg, PA in June 2014.
  • Iain Buxton, Pharm.D., pharmacology chairman and Ruben Dagda, Ph.D., assistant professor, traveled to Las Vegas to attend the first annual meeting of the Mountain West Clinical Translational Research-Infrastructure Network (CTR-IN) meeting in June. The CTR-IN annual meeting missions are to build collaborations, explore facets of health issues unique to our region, provide opportunities for individual career growth through access to CTR-IN resource and provide a means to grow shared capacity to influence clinical and translational research. The annual meeting highlighted the wide range of research being conducted across 13 partner universities.
  • Robbyn L. Tolles, MAT, director of curriculum assessment and development for the Office of Medical Education, School of Medicine presented a poster, "Creation of an Institutional Assessment Plan that Drives Medical Education Research", co-authored with Gwen S. Shonkwiler, N. Nicole Jacobs, Ramona Houmanfar (Psychology UNR), Daniel Reimer (Psychology UNR), Timothy K. Baker, and Melissa Piasecki of the School of Medicine and also gave an oral presentation on "Qualitative Analysis of Collaborative Leadership during Curricular Restructuring at the University of Nevada School of Medicine: A Story of Faculty Engagement and Growth" co-authored with Daniel Reimer (Psychology UNR), Ramona Houmanfar (Psychology UNR), Gwen Shonkwiler, Nicole Jacobs, Robbyn Tolles, and Melissa Piasecki of the School of Medicine, at the Ottawa Conference: Transforming Healthcare through Excellence in Assessment and Evaluation.
  • Steven N. Matles MA, OHST, CHSP, CHEP, EH&S Safety Officer, School of Medicine, served on the national work group and advisory board for the recently released Hospital Incident Command System (HICS) Fifth Edition. HICS is a management structure that is used for routine, planned, or emergency events that is consistent with the National Incident Management System. This flexible management system allows hospitals to be integrated into regional and national disasters as well as daily and internal events.
  • Christine Aramburu Alegría, Ph.D., APRN, FNP-BC. associate professor, DNP Program Coordinator ,Orvis School of Nursing, taught a summer session course, Health Disparities in Diverse Populations, with the USAC program in San Ramon, Costa Rica.
  • John Pixley, M.D., associate professor, Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, Reno campus, presented "Secondary hemophagocytic syndrome (HLS) or macrophage activation syndrome (MAS) complicating presentation of systemic lupus in an elderly woman" co-authored with Bahar Sumbul-Yuksel. M.D., associate professor, and received a Poster of Merit award at the annual meeting of the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies. The presentation stressed the importance of early bone marrow evaluation to establish diagnosis and guide proper treatment.
  • Amy Ellwood, MSW, LCSW, professor of family medicine and psychiatry in Las Vegas and Wade Gall, M.D., assistant professor of family medicine have published a book review of Leadership Requires Extra Innings by Ritch Eich in the spring 2014 issue of Annals of Behavioral Science and Medical Education. Ellwood was also selected to be a participant in the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science Summer Institute at Stony Brook University in New York, June 10-13. Faculty included Alan Alda and faculty from Stony Brook University's School of Journalism and School of Medicine.

Faculty and Staff

Joe Reeder, Web Communications Specialist
Joe Reeder, Web Communications Specialist

Reeder hired for web communications specialist position

The University of Nevada School of Medicine and the Division of Health Sciences welcome Joe Reeder, B.S., to the Office of Institutional Advancement in the position of web communications specialist.

In this capacity, Reeder will be responsible for reviewing and updating content on both the division and medical school websites. A native of Fernley, Reeder earned his bachelor of science degree in marketing from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2006. While at the University, he worked as a production assistant for KRNV-TV News 4, operating studio cameras, running audio for live broadcasts and serving as video editor.

Las Vegas internal medicine department adds two new physicians

John Ryan, M.D., has joined the Department of Internal Medicine in Las Vegas. Ryan completed medical school training at the University of South Carolina and internal medicine residency training at Baystate Medical Center. Following residency, he completed a fellowship in gastroenterology and hepatology at the University of North Carolina, which included completion of an advanced hepatology fellowship. He was previously associate director of hepatology at Cedar Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. At the School of Medicine, he has been appointed as director of hepatology and will work closely with fellowship and residency training programs. He will be caring for patients at UMC and the School's Patient Care Center on West Charleston Blvd.

Jimmy Diep, M.D., has also joined the Department of Internal Medicine in Las Vegas. He attended medical school at the University of Nevada School of Medicine and completed his Internal Medicine Residency at UNSOM in Las Vegas. He completed both a fellowship in Cardiology and a fellowship in Interventional Cardiology at University of California Irvine. He is the first member of our new division of Cardiology and will be working closely with our fellowship and residency training programs. He will be caring for patients at UMC hospital and seeing patients in our Patient Care Center (702) 671-5060.

Brossman joins Office of Academic Affairs

The Office of Academic Affairs welcomes Denise Brossman, executive assistant. Brossman joins the School of Medicine after working at Microsoft and has previous experience as another high education institution. She can be reached at (775) 784-6777 or She replaces Carol Mitchell, who worked at a number of School of Medicine offices, and retired from the Office of Academic Affairs at the end of June. Thank you Carol, for your many years of service.

Josh Gabel at ACP conference
Josh Gabel, Class of 2015, presented his abstract at the spring conference of the American College of Physicians. Photo provided.

Gabel's abstract takes first place at ACP conference

Congratulations to the School of Medicine's Josh Gabel, Class of 2015, who presented his abstract, entitled "Hepatocellular Carcinoma in an HIV/HCV Co-infected Patient: A Call for Increased Surveillance in the Absence of Evident Cirrhosis" and took first place in the competition at the national American College of Physicians conference this spring. Read more about Gabel's abstract.

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