Noteworthy News

Noteworthy News

October 2014

Honors and Awards

Employee of Quarter
Vice President Thomas L. Schwenk M.D. presents the employee of the quarter award to JoAnne Hansen (left) and Melodie Harney (right)

Hansen and Harney Receive Employee of the Quarter Awards

Vice President and Dean Thomas L. Schwenk M.D., presented JoAnne Hansen in Las Vegas and Melodie Harney in Reno with the "Employee of the Quarter" awards. Hansen is a credentialing specialist in Las Vegas and was nominated by Cindy Eggleston, who stated, "JoAnne has a positive, 'can-do' attitude. She makes my job much, much easier because I have total faith in JoAnne's ability and reliability. Joanne's contribution to our department is very important and much appreciated."

Harney is a program officer for the department of pharmacology and was nominated by Iain Buxton D. Pharm. Dr. Buxton said, "Melodie Harney anticipates what is needed, gathers viewpoints and input, suggests approaches and alternatives and acts with direction. It is on her initiative that the pharmacy budgets are scrutinized and accurate. Pharmacy business success is in large measure due to Melodie's initiative. Melodie doesn't present problems without solutions. "

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

Shavon Moore
School of Medicine student Shavon Moore earned honors at the Interprofessional Health Equity Symposium

Student Wins Third Place in Poster Contest

University of Nevada School of Medicine student, Shavon Moore (MS3) received third place at the Interprofessional Health Equity Symposium research poster session held at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine. Moore's work on her poster, "Shining A Light On Implicit Bias: The Use of A Novel Assessment In Medical Education," explored implicit sociocultural biases in hopes of providing future physicians with extra tools to help them become more compassionate, culturally competent physicians.

The Interprofessional Health Equity Symposium aimed to increase collaboration, research, awareness and action in order to reduce health disparities and improve the health of all Nevadans. According to the Centers for Disease Control, health disparities are preventable barriers to equity in the burden of disease, injury, violence or opportunities to achieve optimal health experienced by socially disadvantaged populations. Populations can be defined by factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, education, income and geographic location. The symposium was a collaboration between the University of Nevada School of Medicine, Sanford Center for Aging and several schools at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, including the School of Nursing, School of Dental Medicine, School of Community and Health Sciences and William S. Boyd School of Law.

Synapse Writer Honored for Journalism

Synapse writer Anne Pershing earned third place in the Nevada Press Association's 2014 Better Newspaper Contest. Her story entitled “The Road to Medical School” in the spring 2013 issue of the School of Medicine’s Synapse magazine was honored in the “Best Explanatory Journalism” category.

A longtime, Pulitzer Prize-nominated newspaper woman in Nevada, she served as executive vice president and editor of the Lahontan Valley News and executive editor of the Fallon Star Press for more than 21 years combined. Anne is a member of the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame and served on the board of the Nevada Press Association for 16 years, including a year as president.

Savitt Medical Library Cupcake Entry

"Fifty Shades of Gray's Anatomy" gummy organs and red velvet cupcake

Savitt Library Team Wins for Creative Cupcake Entry

The Savitt Medical Library team participated in the Knowledge Center's Edible Book Fair for Banned Books Week. Savitt Library won the "Want to Eat it All" contest for it's "Fifty Shades of Gray's Anatomy" gummy organs and red velvet cupcake entry.

Grants, Presentations and Publications


  • Echezona Ezeanolue, M.D., MPH, vice-chair of pediatrics for research; associate professor, pediatrics, clinical epidemiology and obstetrics and gynecology, received a $448,664 grant for the Comparative Effectiveness of the Healthy Beginning Initiative. The grant is funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
  • Wei Yan, M.D., Ph.D., professor of physiology and cell biology, received a three-year $862,500 grant from the John Templeton Foundation for Transgenerational effects of DTT exposure on obesity and type II diabetes.
  • Heather Burkin, Ph.D., assistant professor, Pharmacology, received a $70,000 grant from the NIH Mountain West Clinical Translational Research Infrastructure Network for Pilot Project: mTOR signaling in Response to Myometrial Stretch in Preterm Labor.

PresentationsJohn Pixley, M.D.

  • John Pixley, M.D., director, division of rheumatology and immunology (pictured right), presented at the Second International Conference on Hematology and Blood Disorders in Baltimore, Maryland. Pixley's invited lecture was titled "Generation of long-term islet cells activity by induction of immune tolerance to human stem cells."
  • Andrea Gregg, executive director, High Sierra Area Health Education Center (AHEC) gave a presentation titled "Big Bird is Alive! When Public Media Becomes Your Partner" as part of High Sierra AHEC, Vegas PBS, Global Online Advances Learning (GOAL). The GOAL platform aims to provide accredited continuing education training courses and programs to meet the needs of health care professionals, especially those practicing in under-served areas.
  • Evan Klass, M.D., associate dean, Office of Statewide Initiatives, gave a presentation titled, "ECHO Talks: Sound Waves From the Field" at the first convening of the Global ECHO Community: A New Norm for Health Care, held at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center
  • Natalie Mazzullo M.Ed., assistant director, Nevada Geriatric Education Center; program specialist, Nevada AIDS Education and Training Center, gave a presentation titled, "Did we make a difference? Several approaches to program evaluation." Mazzullo's presentation was presented to the Aging and Disabilities Services Division, Mission Possible 2.0: Action Nevada.
  • Several members of the Division of Health Sciences presented at the Interprofessional Health Equity Symposium, where experts and researchers discussed reasons why health disparities exist among certain population groups, shared research, and explored solutions. Division of Health Sciences participating faculty, alumni and students included: Melissa Piasecki, M.D., senior associate dean, academic affairs, Reno; Deborah Kuhls, M.D., associate dean, academic affairs, Las Vegas; Peter Reed, Ph.D., MPH, director, Sanford Center for Aging; Thomas Hunt M.D., FAAFP, associate professor; Wei Zhong Wang, M.D., professor; Robert Langer, M.D., associate dean for clinical and translational research; Colleen Morris M.D., professor; Katrina Farwig, genetic Counselor; Rooman Ahad M.D., assistant professor; Evan Klass, M.D., associate dean, Office of Statewide Initiatives; Chris Marchand MPH, Project ECHO program coordinator; Shavon Moore (MS3), Bryan Penalsoa (MS); Brittany Galusha (MS); Joseph Neiman (MS) and Tracey Green (alumna).


  • Violeta Mutafova-Yambolieva, M.D., Ph.D., principal investigator and professor of physiology and cell biology and Leonie Durnin, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Mutafova-Yambolieva's laboratory, authored an article in Pharmacology & Therapeutics. The invited review, "The purinergic neurotransmitter revisited: A single substance of multiple players," represents a comprehensive review of literature on a very controversial topic about the identity of the purinergic neurotransmitter in mammals. It argues that multiple purine substances, some of which were discovered in the author's laboratory, mediate purinergic neurotransmission in the central and peripheral nervous systems. This review justifies re-examination of current concepts of neurotransmitter identity.
  • Echezona Ezeanolue, M.D., MPH, vice-chair of pediatrics for research; associate professor, pediatrics, clinical epidemiology and obstetrics and gynecology, authored an article titled "Socio-cultural factors influencing PMTCT in Nigeria: A qualitative review" which appeared in the July 2014 issue of Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.

Faculty and Staff

Dr. Patterson

Darryll Patterson, M.D.

Patterson Joins Internal Medicine, Reno

Darryll Patterson, M.D. has joined the School of Medicine as an associate professor of internal medicine in Reno. Dr. Patterson completed Emory's internal medicine residency program and was a faculty member at Michigan State University's medical school for more than a decade. He has been highly involved in medical student education, serving as the course director for the MSU Biostatistics and Epidemiology Course (2005-2011), the Genitourinary Systems Course Director (2006-2013), and as the Director of Medical Education for McLaren Greater Lansing Hospital (2010-2014).

Of particular note, Dr. Patterson was awarded quite a number of teaching awards. These include the Faculty Teaching Award for Ingham Regional Medical Center (in 2002, 2006), the Hospital Teaching Award for Ingham Regional Medical Center (2003 and 2004), the Distinguished Lecturer Award for Michigan State University's medical school (2008 and 2009), and he was the recipient of Michigan State University's medical school Clinical Faculty Excellence Award.

In addition to his work as a primary care physician and serving as a faculty preceptor in the resident continuity clinic, Dr. Patterson will bring his considerable experience in the education of medical students to the School of Medicine's Office of Medical Education.

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