LCOM & Department News

Impact on the Community: Class of '19 Launches Public Health Projects

September 8, 2016 by Carolyn Shapiro

When University of Vermont Class of 2019 medical student Jacob Reibel and the six other classmates in his group selected their public health project earlier this year, they wanted to get out of the classroom and into the field – literally – to talk to Vermonters about their health concerns.

Class of 2019 students (L to R) Maia Sakradse '19, Allison Greene '19, and Suven Cooper '19 visit the Burlington Lead Program table at the Public Health Projects "speed-dating" event in June 2016. (Photo: UVM COM Design & Photography)

When University of Vermont Class of 2019 medical student Jacob Reibel and the six other classmates in his group selected their public health project earlier this year, they wanted to get out of the classroom and into the field – literally – to talk to Vermonters about their health concerns.

He and his group will spend the next few months doing just that, meeting with Vermont farm workers to learn how their occupation influences the risk of developing or worsening asthma and other respiratory problems. The students’ project for the American Lung Association in Vermont will provide insight on the impact of farming on lung health.

“Our group was interested in getting out into the community and visiting some farmers and talking to some of these workers,” says Reibel. The students hope “to put a face to the patient population that we’re learning about.”

All UVM College of Medicine second-year students are required to undertake and complete a public health project. In the spring of their first year of medical school, each group of about seven or eight students reviews the project options at a “speed dating” type of event, at which 16 different agencies/organizations showcase their projects that seek to answer a question or solve a problem.

The student groups then rank their top project picks and college faculty “match” the student groups to the projects, attempting to give them their top choices.

“We get a pretty good distribution and a variety of interest among the students, so that the match works out,” says Jan Carney, M.D., M.P.H., UVM senior associate dean for public health and course director for the Public Health Projects. “Different projects resonate with different student groups.”

The Class of 2019’s topics include the Burlington Lead Program’s goal to raise public awareness about lead poisoning prevention; perceptions on health care among newly arriving Vermont refugees for the state’s Department of Health; and an evaluation of the effectiveness of Vermont CARES’ syringe exchange programs for preventing the spread of HIV.

Projects for the American Cancer Society of Vermont and the American Heart Association will focus on public policy advocacy, which is an increasing area of interest for UVM medical students, Carney says.

At her kickoff presentation in late August, Carney explained to the students that their projects are pivotal to the organizations, which use the results to make decisions and create programs that benefit not only communities in Vermont, but across the nation as well.

“The goal is to help you be better doctors,” she told members of the Class of 2019. “These are tough problems, and they need creative solutions.”

It’s a rigorous schedule. The groups have a total of four months to first choose the specific goal or question they will pursue, read literature on the topic, develop a plan of action – either a survey or other assessment tool – conduct that research and report on their findings in the form of a poster. Ten groups from the Class of 2018 will be presenting their posters at the American Public Health Association annual conference in Denver, Colo., October 29 to November 2, 2016.

Each group has a project mentor, a College of Medicine faculty member who guides the students and keeps them on track. Mark Fung, M.D., Ph.D., UVM professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, has overseen the College’s public health projects for the American Red Cross for a decade, helping students tackle many ambitious topics. In 2008, his group completed a randomized, controlled trial on the use of text messaging to remind donors to give blood. A 2010 project that looked at whether 16-year-olds should donate blood resulted in the Vermont legislature lowering the legal donation age from 17 to 16.

“So they walk away with a recipe of how to conduct a study in the future,” Fung says. “You hope they take away the need to ask the best question you can ask that you’re simultaneously interested in and capable of answering.”

Class of ’19 student Katherine Clifford’s group embraced the challenge brought by The Converse Home, an assisted living and memory care center doing its first UVM public health project, to find out whether poetry can stimulate cognition and brain activity for dementia patients the same way music can. The students will spend time with Converse Home residents as they read and write poetry and assess whether that activity improves overall wellbeing and health.

“We really liked the idea of the project in that it was a little more service-oriented,” Clifford says. “It actually involved us going to the site and working with patients.”

That interaction is a key objective of the public health projects, Carney says. “We want the students to learn by doing,” she says. “They have to get out of the building and go out into the community.”

 

Department Highlights

2020-2021 Teaching Award This award is nominated for and voted by medical resdients for idividuals going above and beyond for resident education. Nominees this year: Dr. Agnes Balla, Dr. Kelly Butnor, Dr. Rebecca Wilcox and Dr. Bronwyn Bryant. The winner this year is Dr. Agnes Balla. (06/2021)

Dr. Joanna Conant has become a member of The Teaching Academy at Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont. The Teaching Academy sustains and supports an interdisciplinary community of educators who value the scholarship of teaching and learning while facilitating educator development; improve the efficiency and quality of medical education through collaboration and scholarship; and promote an academic environment that increases the value and impact of educators locally, regionally, and nationally.Congrats to Jo on this achievement! (06/2021)

Congratulations to Dr. Arti Shukla on receiving the SAASCR 2021 Outstanding Achievement Award for her seminal contributions to the field of cancer research. Well done Arti!! (5/2021)

SAASCR award 2021

Congratulations!  To Pam Gibson, M.D. who has been awarded 2021 Gender Equity Champion Award which honors Larner College of Medicine community members (faculty, staff or students) who have demonstrated outstanding commitment and service to the advancement of women and those with underrepresented gender identities beyond the scope of their job, area of research, or training. Also, to Joanna Conant, M.D. on her nomination for 2021 The Rising Star Emerging Professional Award which honors a Larner College of Medicine woman or gender minority faculty or staff member who is in the early stage of their career, and who demonstrates excellence in contributions to students, colleagues, and/or the institution in the areas of gender equity and inclusion through service, program development, teaching, research or beyond. (02/2021)

LCOM Foundations Awards: Congratulations to Ron Bryant, M.D. on receiving the Foundations Teaching Award which recognizes the faculty member who provided the most outstanding teaching activities within the foundations curriculum. Also, congratulations to award nominees: Pam Gibson, M.D. for both the Above and Beyond Award and the AMWA Gender Equity Award; Andrew Goodwin, M.D. and Christina Wojewoda, M.D. for the Silver Stethoscope Award and Rebecca Wilcox, M.D. for the Dean Warshaw Integration Award. (01/2021)

LCOM Teaching Academy Recognition for P&LM faculty: Deborah Cook, M.D. and Anne Stowman, M.D. were inducted as Master Teachers and Rebecca Wilcox, M.D. was inducted as a Distinguished Educator. (01/2021)

Mark Fung, M.D., Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, has been elected as a new Trustee of the American Board of Pathology. His 3-year term will begin January 2021. Read about it here. (12/2020)

Sarah A. Nowak, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Larner College of Medicine was named the inaugural Blodwen S. Huber Early Career Green and Gold Professor in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. (12/2020)

David J. Seward, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Larner College of Medicine was named the inaugural Elmer R. Huber Early Career Green and Gold Professor in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. (12/2020)

Terri Messier, Research Analyst and Lab Manager of the Cunniff lab was recently awarded a Dean's Excellence in Research Award from the Larner College of Medicine. Terri has served the UVM community for over 25 years both as a scientist and steward of professionalism. Congratulations Terri!! (11/2020)

Congratulations to Dr. Yvonne Janssen-Heininger, Ph.D. on her selection as a new Fellow of the Society for Redox Biology and Medicine (SfRBM) in recognition of her outstanding contributions in the field of redox biology and to SfRBM. (09/2020)

Congratulations to Dr. Joanna Conant, M.D. on her acceptance into the Teaching Academy's Medical Education Fellowship Program. Only 8-10 faculty from across the Larner College of Medicine are selected for participation in the program. Well done, Jo! (08/2020)

Associate Professor, Dr. Laura Greene, MD, has been appointed Interim Assistant Dean for Admissions for the Larner College of Medicine. (08/2020)

Congratulations to Bei Zhang, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, the newest graduate of the Medical Education Fellowship Program. The cohort style program is for Larner College of Medicine educators who seek additional preparation for teaching across the medical education continuum. (07/2020)

UVM Health Network’s Genomic Medicine Program is highlighted in the recent issue of Vermont Medicine Magazine, read it here. (05/2020)

Department efforts in COVID-19 research & testing are ongoing at UVM LCOM and the UVM Medical Center. The Rutland Herald/Times Argus ran the following story on these efforts. Teamwork & Testing (04/2020)

DLaward

LCOM Gender Equity Awards Department Chair, Dr. Debra Leonard received the Polaris Award for Outstanding Mentorship. Additionally, Dr. Pam Gibson was nominated for the Gender Equity Champion Award; Dr. Rebecca Wilcox was nominated for the Gender Equity Outstanding Achievement in Medicine and Science Award and Dr. Christi Wojewoda was nominated for the Rising Star Emerging Professional Award. (03/2020)

Excellence in Education The department was well represented at the Class of 2022 Foundation Awards. Rebecca Wilcox, M.D. received the AWMA Gender Equity Award, the Above & Beyond Award, the Foundations Course Director Award and the Foundations Teaching Award. Well done, Dr. Wilcox. Additional department nominees were Dr. Pam Gibson and Dr. Christi Wojewoda for the AWMA Gender Equity Award and Dr. Pam Gibson and Dr. Rebecca Wilcox for the Dean Warshaw Integration Award. Congratulations to our outstanding faculty for nominations and awards! (1/2020)

Dr. Bei Zhang, Associate Professor on the Education Scholar Pathway has been inducted into the Teaching Academy at the Larner College of Medicine at the Master Teacher level. Congratulations, Dr. Zhang! (1/2020)

Dr. Debra Leonard, M.D., Ph. D., our department chairand the Genomic Medicine Team announce the start of the Genomic Population Health Initiative. A pilot project offering Genomic DNA Testing is now underway within the University of Vermont Health Network. Read more here... (2019)

Dr. William Pendlebury, M.D., professor emeritus of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, has been selected to receive the 2019 Vermont Medical Society’s (VMS) Founders’ Award. The award recognizes Pendlebury’s leadership role and advocacy in “the fight for the diagnosis and treatment of dementia in Vermont for the past 35 years.” He will receive the award November 2 at the VMS 206th Annual Meeting in Stowe, Vt.(2019)

Yvone Janssen-Heininger, Ph.D., Jos van der Velden, Ph.D. (both Pathology & Laboratory Medicine faculty) and senior author, Charles Irvin, Ph.D. (Medicine), published "The Effect of Flavored E-cigarettes on Murine Allergic Airways Disease" in Nature Scientific Reports. The study has been cited in stories by several news outlets: U.S. News & World Report/HealthDay; American Journal of Managed Care; Medical News Bulletin; and Medical Daily. (2019)

Dr. Mark Fung, M.D, Ph.D., professor and vice chair for Population Health, was recently named to the board of directors for the Project Santa Fe Foundation, which “focuses on demonstrating the power of longitudinal clinical laboratory data to proactively augment population health in a value-based healthcare environment.” (2019)

Dr. Bronwyn Bryant, M.D. was named a 2019 Frymoyer Scholar for her project, “Validating Entrustable Professional Activity-Based Assessment to Determine On-Call Competency in Pathology Residents”. (2019)

Dr. Rebecca Wilcox, M.DDr. Rebecca Wilcox, M.D. was selected, by the Larner College of Medicine Class of 2019, to be the commencement keynote speaker. Read more... [Photo credit: Andy Duback 2019] (2019)

Please join Dr. Yvonne Janssen-Heininger in congratulating Allison Manuel and Evan Elko

Dr. Allison Manuel is a post-doctoral fellow in our group.  Her abstract to be presented at the American Thoracic Society conference was chosen to receive an Abstract Scholarship . The scholarship includes a full In-Training Registration to the 2019 ATS International Conference in Dallas, Texas.  

Evan Elko is a PhD student. He just received notice that his F31 NIH application entitled: “Role of peroxiredoxin-4 in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis”  will be funded.

Congratulations to Evan and Allison.

Department alumni, Dr. Bobbi Pritt, M.D. featured in Vermont Medicine Magazine. To read her story click on the photo below.

Pritt_small


 

 

Dr's Leonard and HuberA Remarkable Gift from Dr. Sally Huber, Ph.D.

At the end of last week's Research Day, Dr. Leonard gave a surprise announcement: a very generous bequethment of $5 million by research faculty emerita, Dr. Sally Huber! The funds will go toward two endowed professorships for junior investigators in our department. The endowments will be named for her parents, Elmer R. Huber and Blodwen S. Huber, and will support junior research faculty for five years.(9/2018)

This amazing support will allow junior faculty time and funds to gain independence while pursuing the milestone achievement of being awarded their first R01 grant.

Heintz Awarded 2018 Distinguised Graduate Alumni Award

Dr. Nick Heintz, Ph.D. received the 2018 UVM Medical Alumni Association’s Distinguished Graduate Alumni Award​, which is presented to Larner College of Medicine (LCOM) alumni who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in basic, clinical or applied research; education; industry; public service/humanitarianism; and/or outstanding commitment to the LCOM community.

He accepted his award at the college's Celebrating Research Excellence event at the end of October. (September 2018)

Kida Received Certificate of Commendation

Dr. Kida receives award from the State of Vermont...read more here. (August 2018)

Leonard and Committee Publish Through National Academies Press

Dr. Debra Leonard, along with a committee under the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, ​published "Returning Individual Research Results to Participants: Guidance for a New Research Paradigm" through The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2018 (Committee Member). (August 2018)

 

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