Quillen MAGAZINE SUMMER 2020
IN THIS ISSUE:
ETSU Health COVID-19 Response White Coats for Black Lives Inaugural Quillen 100
Pictured on the cover: Located in front of the ETSU Health clinic on North State of Franklin Road, the ETSU Health drive-through COVID-19 testing site was instrumental in discovering the first cases of community spread of the virus. Cover Photo by Matthew Carroll
Quillen Magazine Dr. Brian Noland ETSU President Dr. Wilsie Bishop Senior Vice President for Academics & Interim Provost Dr. William A. Block, Jr. (’92) Vice President for Clinical Affairs Dean, Quillen College of Medicine Dr. David Linville (’00) Executive Vice Provost for Academics and Health Editors Melissa Nipper University Relations Carol Sloan University Advancement Graphic Designer Taylor Campbell Biomedical Communications Principal Photography Ron Campbell Matthew Carroll Gerry Philpott Larry Smith Charlie Warden Printed by Kingery Printing Co. Franklin, Tennessee
Box 70694 Johnson City, TN 37614 423-439-6315
ETSU is an AA/EEO employer. ETSU-QCOM-0050-19 8500
Often, we look back on challenges that we have faced in our lives, in our careers, or at our institutions, and see how they have shaped or changed us. As I write this letter, we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic. This particular challenge is not behind us yet. We are still looking forward to a vaccine and better treatments. We are still wondering when we will be able to safely return to the places and activities that we have enjoyed in the past. We are deliberating what the “new normal” will be in the coming months. While we still face many uncertainties, one thing remains clear: the mission of Quillen College of Medicine–to educate future physicians, especially those with an interest in primary care, to practice in underserved and rural communities–is more vital than it has ever been before. Our purpose has not wavered during the pandemic. In fact, it is said that a crisis can bring out the best in people and, I believe, this can be the case for an institution as well. The COVID-19 crisis has certainly accentuated and spotlighted many of the reasons Quillen College of Medicine is a special place. Over the past year, our college and ETSU Health have served the Appalachian Highlands as a beacon of expertise, leadership, and care. In this issue of our magazine, we try to capture just a few of these inspiring stories. To all those who work every day to improve the health of individuals and communities, I say, “Thank you.” To those who joined with our students at the White Coats for Black Lives demonstration to stand up for racial justice and social change in our society, I say, “Thank you.” Thank you for your research and study. Thank you for valuing the health and the lives of others. Thank you for your commitment to rural medicine. Thank you for carrying out the mission of the Quillen College of Medicine. I am reminded of a quote by the American poet Emily Dickinson. She wrote, “We never know how high we are till we are called to rise; And then, if we are true to plan, our statures touch the skies.” Thank you Quillen family for rising up to meet the challenges we have faced, just as you have been prepared to do. May our challenges bring out the best in all of us.
Dr. William A. Block, Jr. Vice President for Clinical Affairs Dean, Quillen College of Medicine
On the front lines Quillen College of Medicine has faced unprecedented challenges resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic disrupted academics, as faculty, staff, and students adjusted to a transition to all online coursework and as clinicals and board exams were interrupted. Beloved traditions and celebrations have been cancelled, postponed, or transformed into virtual events â€“ most notably a virtual Commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020. Most importantly, Quillen alumni, faculty, staff, and students who care for patients in ETSU Health clinics and in health care settings around the world have been thrust onto the front lines of a global health crisis, risking their lives to save lives. Quillen has risen to the challenge. Students have organized grassroots efforts to help fill vital needs in the community. Faculty, staff, and providers have created innovative curricula and programs. And ETSU Health has stepped up as a leader in COVID-19 testing, education, and awareness throughout the region. EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY | 1
Moorman named to Governor’s Coronavirus Task Force On March 4, Governor Bill Lee announced the formation of a Coronavirus Task Force to enhance Tennessee’s coordinated efforts to prevent, identify, and treat potential cases of COVID-19. Dr. Jonathan Moorman, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Quillen College of Medicine, was named to the task force, along with 14 other Tennesseans, including Quillen alumna Dr. Lisa Piercey (’02), Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health. The task force has developed and executed strong precautionary measures, resource allocation, and emergency response plans.
COVID-19 Testing ETSU Health establishes area’s first drive-through site
Early in the COVID-19 crisis, leaders at ETSU Health began discussing how they could help mitigate the spread of the disease in the Appalachian Highlands. “We knew that one of the best ways was to increase testing availability so that people who had a positive test would take proper quarantine measures,” said Dr. Jonathan Moorman, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Quillen College of Medicine. “We wanted to provide a testing site to serve our community by lightening the load on our health care system and the local health departments.” Moorman spoke with Dr. Bill Block (’92), Vice President for Clinical Affairs and Dean, and Dr. Sheri Holmes (’01), ETSU Health Chief Medical Officer and Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs, and suggested a testing site where members of the community who had symptoms – but perhaps no known exposure to COVID-19 – could easily be tested. They both supported the idea, and Block proposed a drive-through tent as a convenient setting to offer the testing. On March 17, just 72 hours after proposing the idea, ETSU Health opened the first drive-through testing site in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. A large, white tent was erected in front of the ETSU Health clinic on North State of Franklin Road where pre-screened patients could be tested for flu and COVID-19 without having to go into a clinic and potentially exposing other patients to the virus. In the 12 days that the site was open, ETSU Health administered more than 600 tests at the tent and in its clinics. In addition, the testing site was instrumental in detecting the first cases of community spread of COVID-19 in the region. “One of the most remarkable things about setting up this testing site was how we were able to identify an immediate need during a crisis and act quickly to meet that need,” Holmes said. “The development involved lab processes, supplies, equipment, nurses, volunteers, public safety – too many aspects to name. Everyone involved stepped up to the plate and gave 100% effort.” The planning team, consisting of Holmes, Moorman, Dr. Kevin Breuel, Beth Ann Henley and Rusty Lewis, worked to overcome challenges including procuring test kits, setting up a phone room and hotline that patients could call for screening, site preparation, and mobilizing staff to administer the tests. “The success of the site was due, in large part, to Dr. Block giving our team free rein to do what was needed – within reason – to ensure that we could provide this service,” Holmes said. ETSU Health’s drive-through testing center remained open and served the community until April 1, when the local health department opened its own drivethrough testing sites in Washington and surrounding counties. “Our goal was to slow down the spread of the coronavirus enough so that we did not overwhelm our health care community,” Moorman said. “Providing these tests empowered our community with more knowledge – and less panic.”
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Stepping Up to Serve Students mobilize volunteer efforts during pandemic
Quillen College of Medicine students mobilized themselves to serve the people of the Appalachian Highlands throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Early in the pandemic, Quillen students began collecting masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and other products that were in short supply but vitally needed by local first responders and health care workers. Those efforts eventually grew into a partnership with the Washington County Emergency Management Agency to host two nocontact, drive-through medical supply and thank you card collection drives at ETSU. By the end of the spring semester, students had distributed almost 900 masks, 150 face shields, more than 15,300 gloves, 69 gowns, 18 goggles/safety glasses, and gallons of hand soap and hand sanitizer. “All of the donations remained local to the Appalachian Highlands and directly benefited our neighbors,” said Victoria Stabile, event organizer and a fourth-year medical student. In addition, Quillen students also recognized a need for child care and pet-sitting services for essential health care workers during the COVID crisis. East TN COVIDSitters was started by a few Quillen students who were looking for a way to serve the community during the pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, they offered free child and pet care to front line health care workers who needed it. “Though sometimes it’s easy to believe our health care workers only live to serve our health care needs, the truth is that these amazing individuals have families and lives that need their care, too,” said Vidiya Sathananthan, lead coordinator of East TN COVIDSitters and a fourth-year Quillen student.
“Our front-line health care workers cannot be on the front lines without knowing that their own families are taken care of, and this is where East TN COVIDSitters can serve. Our motto is ‘caring for your families while you care for ours.’” While coordinated by Quillen students, East TN COVIDSitters is not affiliated with any one school or organization; volunteers are health care professional students from across the health sciences, such as medicine, nursing, physical therapy, audiology, and others. The clinical advisor is Dr. Karen Schetzina from Quillen’s Department of Pediatrics. “Each of us came to medical school because we are committed to serving our communities, and we recognize that sometimes that means stepping up and serving in roles outside of the ones we planned on,” Sathananthan said. In addition to the various service efforts that Quillen students initiated on their own, student volunteers were also integral to efficiently operating the ETSU Health COVID-19 testing site. There, the students interacted with those coming for testing, provided information about COVID-19, and guided patients through the testing process. “I am extremely proud of our students, especially during a particularly difficult semester due to the pandemic,” said Dr. Tom Kwasigroch, Associate Dean for Student Affairs. “Despite facing interruptions to their own lives and medical education, they sought out ways that they could serve the community. “They have been wonderful examples of Quillen’s mission, and we are extremely grateful for their dedication and service.” EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY | 3
Rising to the Challenge COVID-19 elective course prepares students for interprofessional emergency response By Kate Trabalka Reprinted with permission of the East Tennessean Photo Credits: CDC/Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS
When she realized an idea for a module to supplement thirdyear medical students’ clerkships had enough information to become a full online course, Dr. Caroline Abercrombie, Senior Director of Experiential Learning for Quillen College of Medicine, decided to collaborate with faculty from other ETSU programs to create an interprofessional graduate elective course related to COVID-19. The two-week, online course – COVID-19 Preparedness, Prevention and Management for an Interprofessional Team – was developed by faculty from the Quillen College of Medicine, Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy and the College of Public Health. Originally created for medical students, the course is now offered to both medical and pharmacy students. The first session began in late April. “This is something they need in their tool belt before they get out in the clinical environment,” Abercrombie said. The asynchronous course includes a mix of content-specific information about COVID-19, including its molecular structure, the pathophysiology of the disease, and how humans respond to it, as well as general foundational concepts that the students can apply in any situation that requires an interprofessional team. Dr. Robert Schoborg, Vice Chair of Education and Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, helped create original content for the course. The course also includes a mini-session on Federal Emergency Management Agency response that provides a certificate in emergency preparedness – an element incorporated by College of Public Health Associate Professor Dr. Megan Quinn. The students’ final project involves creating a team of at least five members, in which they pick a setting, identify each team 4 | QUILLEN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE
member’s roles and responsibilities, and try to communicate efficiently to create a response. “I want to practice family medicine in this area,” rising fourthyear medical student Jared Rhinehardt said. “And so, I have kind of geared [my final project] towards a primary care clinic and associated staff in East Tennessee.” Dr. David Wood, Professor in Quillen’s Department of Pediatrics, said as they continue to teach the course, the course will change as new information about the virus surfaces each day. “It will definitely change,” Wood said. “There are hundreds of articles coming out every day on COVID-19 and we’re learning a lot about it. It has so many different applications for all the different students in their practice, in their future practice.” College of Pharmacy Associate Professor Dr. Emily Flores said because information about the virus is continually changing, an important part of the course is providing students with access to reliable information. Students have access to regularly updated sources including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, The Lancet, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the New England Journal of Medicine, and the World Health Organization. For rising fourth-year medical student David Taylor, learning how to understand and synthesize information from different sources to realize what is accurate and what is not will help prepare him for his future role of taking care of patients Taylor said the biggest thing he has taken away from the course is the interprofessional aspect – learning how different sectors of the health care industry respond to a crisis. “One of the big things I’m taking away, is how do we respond to this as a health care team, not just as physicians,” Taylor said.
Remote Research Summer program goes online The six-week Medical Student Summer Research program, which is conducted from early May until late June, has become an integral part of the training of many Quillen College of Medicine students. The major goal of the research program is to provide opportunities and support for medical students to participate in research. Initially, when it became clear that the COVID-19 pandemic would impact ETSU and prevent students from being on campus, the research program was cancelled. Soon after that announcement, Dr. Aaron Polichnowski, a member of the Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease and Immunity (CIIDI) at Quillen, said the M1 class president contacted him asking if he could help transition the program to an online/remote format. Polichnowski, with support and assistance from Quillen faculty and leadership, was able to reformat the program so that students could continue to benefit from the experience remotely. “Although students will receive little hands-on research experience this summer, we still have the opportunity to provide students with an intellectually stimulating research experience remotely,” Polichnowski said. The summer research activities included literature reviews, journal clubs, learning about research techniques and methods via online resources, analyzing data, writing manuscripts, writing research protocols to be submitted to the Institutional Review Board or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, or other aspects of planning, conducting, and analyzing research. In all cases, students directly communicated with their mentors via Zoom, email, or other remote avenues.
Dr. Aaron Polichnowski is pictured with student presenters in 2019.
The program provides a culminating experience in August or September where students present their findings in a research symposium, which could be conducted in a virtual format if restrictions are still in place at that time. “I cannot speak highly enough of the support and dedication of all faculty members across all departments who have ensured the program continued this summer,” Polichnowski said.
ETSU Health implements telemedicine ETSU Health is bringing medical care closer to home for its patients by offering telemedicine appointments. Telemedicine is the use of electronic audio and video communication to provide remote health care services to patients. “ETSU Health has partnered with VisuWell, a telehealth company, to provide patients access to our health care team using a web-based portal,” said Dr. Timothy Canavan, Professor and Chair of the Department of OB/GYN.
While plans for the telemedicine service at ETSU Health were in place before the COVID-19 outbreak, the timing of its implementation was good for patients because it provides them the opportunity to receive medical care from their ETSU Health providers in the comfort of their own homes. “First and foremost, it gives patients choice and convenience,” Canavan said. “However, given the present concerns for travel and being in large groups, it allows patients to keep in contact with their provider without increasing their
risk for exposure to COVID-19.” Currently, the telemedicine services are best for patients having simple visits for medication. In the future, more complex exams can be added with the help of additional electronic devices that can be used to perform a simple physical exam. “This service saves patients travel time and cost, and the convenience makes compliance easier for the patient,” Canavan said. “It gives patients who live far from us access to the medical experts at ETSU Health.” EAST TENNESSEE TENNESSEE STATE STATE UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY xx 5 5 EAST
Exploring Treatments Alumni conduct COVID-19 research Quillen College of Medicine alumni are on the front lines of research and studies happening across the world to develop treatments for the COVID-19 virus. Dr. Davey Smith (’96) is leading a clinical trial that is currently underway to evaluate whether the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, given with the antibiotic azithromycin, can prevent hospitalization and death from COVID-19. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, is sponsoring the trial, which is being conducted by the NIAIDfunded AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG). Teva Pharmaceuticals is donating medications for the study. Smith currently serves at the University of California San Diego as the Head of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health, Professor and Vice Chair of faculty in the Department of Medicine, and Co-director of the San Diego Center for AIDS Research. “It will take science to get us through this pandemic,” Smith said. “This includes the testing of potential therapies in a rigorous way, like hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin.” Before coming to Quillen as a medical student in 2016, Dr. Erica Andres (’20) worked as a post-baccalaureate scientist at Vanderbilt University for two years, where she led a collaboration with Gilead in performing experiments to develop remdesivir as an antiviral against coronaviruses. She worked in the lab of Dr. Mark R. Denison, Professor of Pediatrics, Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, and Director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “Dr. Anthony Fauci of the NIH announced preliminary conclusions that remdesivir is an active and likely very useful antiviral against COVID-19,” Denison said. “Erica initiated the very first studies of remdesivir in cell culture and established ways to test it against SARS-CoV in the BSL3 lab. Her very careful and precise experiments were critical to it moving forward to testing in humans. “Based on her work she is a co-first author on the article reporting how remdesivir works against coronaviruses. It was amazing work that truly has impacted the entire world,” Denison said.
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Staying the Course Med student hikes the Appalachian Trail
Araminta Ray’s path to Quillen College of Medicine took a 2,190.9-mile detour that required some of the same tools she has used as a medical student – resilience, perspective, and community.
She started in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia and hiked more than 1,100 miles northbound to Maine, where she summited Mt. Katahdin, the northern terminus of the trail, on Sept. 3.
After graduating from Vanderbilt University, Ray was accepted to Quillen in 2018.
“Then I took about a week off to prove to my mother that I was still alive,” Ray said.
“I don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t want to become a doctor,” Ray said. “But I’ve also known I was going to hike the Appalachian Trail about as long as I’ve known I was going to be a doctor. It’s been a part of me and one of my lifelong goals for years.” Ray knew that she would not have time for a thru-hike as a medical student or resident, so she deferred her acceptance into Quillen for one year to undertake what Appalachian Trail (AT) hikers call a “flip-flop” thru-hike, meaning she would start in the middle of the trail and hike one half of the journey, then return to where she began for the second leg in the opposite direction. Ray applied to become an Appalachian Trail Chaplain, which is a ministry of the Holston Conference of The United Methodist Church. She was the first female chosen for this role, and thus began her journey as a trail chaplain on June 15, 2018.
After her short break, Ray flew back to Harpers Ferry to complete the southern (and her favorite) portion of the trail, hiking about 1,000 miles down to Springer Mountain, Georgia, the southern terminus. She finished on Nov. 10, 2018. Earning the trail name “Blueberry,” Ray became part of the close-knit AT community, which she describes as “a small country that moves 20 miles a day on a 3-foot-wide path.” Through her role as trail chaplain, she was able to connect hikers with churches along the trail for lodging, food, and rest. She also prayed with fellow hikers and provided “a safe space” when they needed to talk. The journey was rewarding, but not easy. The stretch through Virginia was especially tough for Ray, as she hiked through two hurricanes while it rained 21 out of the 28 days it took her to cross the state. She also got extremely sick from a waterborne parasite, which waylaid her journey by nine days.
“Long-distance hiking has become probably the strongest resilience framework that I will ever have,” Ray said. “It’s given me an incredible capacity to walk through adversity and to have hope when hope seems lost, and also just to make suffering more bearable.” Now, as a second-year medical student, Ray sees several parallels between her experience on the AT and medical school. “As difficult as people say medical school can be, and as hard as the trail was, it is still entirely possible to find balance and joy – even in the midst of suffering,” Ray said. At Quillen, Ray has found balance through service. She is co-president of the Family Medicine Interest Group and the Wilderness Medicine Interest Group as well as the service chair for the Student National Medical Association. She also works part-time at Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church. When she completes medical school, Ray hopes to “serve the underserved,” perhaps with a career in primary care. Someday, she also wants to complete the “Triple Crown” of hiking and add the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail to her trail résumé. “I am so grateful for what I have learned along the way.” EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY | 7
Global Impact The Quillen College of Medicine International Surgical Rotation in San Ignacio, Belize delivers free care to patients who have been delayed or declined by the only available government hospital system and have no other alternative they can afford. Since the program’s inception in 2014, 12 Quillen residents have traveled to La Loma Luz Hospital under the leadership of Dr. Dave Walters, Professor of Surgery, for a month-long rotation. Over the last six years, they have performed 179 operating room procedures. In February 2020, Walters was joined by Dr. Tim Sahawneh, surgical resident at Quillen College of Medicine; Dr. Greg Champney (’05), Quillen Medical and Surgical Residency graduate, now Chief of Surgery at James H. Quillen VA Medical Center; and Dr. Luther Ward, Quillen Surgery Residency graduate, now surgeon at the VA. This year, Matthew Carroll, Instructional Design and Technology Manager at Quillen, accompanied the group to document their journey. Here’s a glimpse of Quillen’s mission – preparing physicians to care for patients in underserved rural communities – at work in Belize.
Dr. Tim Sahawneh works alongside a Belizean surgeon and OR staff to perform surgery at La Loma Luz Hospital. Dr. Luther Ward offers guidance.
The Quillen team performs a laparoscopic gallbladder surgery while also training a local surgeon.
Part of Quillen’s rotation training in Belize is cultural immersion. Colorful downtown San Ignacio is the second largest city in Belize and located near ancient Mayan ruins and archaeological cave sites. 8 | QUILLEN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE
Dr. Dave Walters is making a new young friend in the San Ignacio community.
Residents on the International Surgical Rotation to Belize function as primary caregivers from intake to surgery through recovery.
Drs. Tim Sahawneh, Dave Walters, and Greg Champney (â€™05) are waiting for their taxi ride to La Loma Luz Hospital to begin another intake day.
La Loma Luz Hospital looking south toward the mountains. Part of the residentsâ€™ training is to learn how to deliver good surgical care in an austere environment, which can be quite different than a modern hospital in the U.S. EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY | 9
Faculty & Staff ETSU announces expanded role for Quillen Dean
Earlier this year, ETSU President Brian Noland announced that Dr. Bill Block, Dean of Quillen College of Medicine, will assume additional responsibilities as the university’s Vice President for Clinical Affairs and Dean of Quillen College of Medicine. “As the work of ETSU Health continues to expand and as we deepen our partnerships with Ballad Health, I have asked Dr. Bill Block to represent the university in a leadership capacity and provide oversight of these initiatives,” Noland said. In his role as Vice President for Clinical Affairs, Block will be ETSU’s lead liaison to Ballad Health, handle all contracts between ETSU and its health care partners, and hold clinical oversight of ETSU Health in association with the ETSU Health Advisory Board, which consists of all five deans of the colleges within the Academic Health Sciences Center at ETSU. These responsibilities are in addition to his ongoing duties as Dean of Quillen College of Medicine. Block’s title change became effective Feb. 1.
Tuell named pediatrics chair Dr. Dawn Tuell (’01) was named Chair of Quillen College of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics. Tuell received her BS in biology from Emory University followed by her MD from Quillen College of Medicine. She completed her pediatric residency at ETSU and subsequently joined the faculty in 2004. She has served the Department in many capacities including Residency Program Director, Vice-Chair for Education, and most recently as Interim Chair since January 2019. Her teaching and mentoring awards include multiple Caduceus Awards and Scarlet Sash Awards. She is a member of AOA and the Gold Humanism Society, and is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. 10 | QUILLEN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE
Ordway named Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education Dr. Greg Ordway was named the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education at Quillen College of Medicine. Ordway holds a Bachelor of Science in pharmacy and a Ph.D. in pharmacology from The Ohio State University. He has had a successful research and teaching career, becoming Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Mississippi prior to joining ETSU as the Chair of Pharmacology. He served as the initial Chair (interim) of the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Quillen prior to serving as Senior Advisor to the Dean for Research. He most recently served as the interim Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in the college. “In his new role, Dr. Ordway will help to continue the successes of our graduate programs while enhancing research collaboration among our departments and colleges at the university,” said Dr. Bill Block, Vice President for Clinical Affairs and Quillen Dean.
College receives continued full accreditation
In February 2020, ETSU President Brian Noland received a letter from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) reporting that Quillen College of Medicine received continued full accreditation for eight years. The LCME is the body approved by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit allopathic medical schools in the U.S. and Canada. “This was a highly successful outcome to a multi-year process involving many of the staff, faculty, and students of the College of Medicine,” said Dr. Ken Olive, Executive Associate Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs. The process culminated with a visit in October 2019 from a survey team representing LCME to evaluate the college’s compliance with the accreditation standards. This was a full-survey visit routinely conducted at an eight-year interval
since the last full survey visit. The team consisted of faculty members from the University of Kentucky, Boston University, Central Michigan University, The Ohio State University, and University of Nebraska. During the visit the team met with multiple faculty members, administrators, resident physicians, and medical students. “LCME accreditation is an important indication that the College of Medicine is providing a high-quality educational experience and producing physicians qualified to move to the next level of medical education – residency training,” said Dr. Bill Block, Vice President for Clinical Affairs and Dean. “I am thankful to the entire College of Medicine community for working together to achieve this important goal. The College of Medicine continually strives to improve its educational programs to produce physicians to serve the state and the region.”
Florence, Sliger honored for rural health achievements Dr. Joe Florence and Carolyn Sliger were honored for their contributions to rural health at the Rural Health Association of Tennessee’s annual conference held in November 2019. Florence, Professor of Family Medicine at Quillen, was presented with the Rural Health Professional of the Year Award. Sliger was awarded the Eloise Q. Hatmaker Distinguished Service Award. Florence has served as a family physician and director of Quillen College of Medicine’s Rural Programs for the past 17 years. During this time, he has been active with the Remote
Area Medical Clinics as the lead physician and has overseen rural health fairs in multiple sites across Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. Since 1997, Sliger has coordinated Rural Programs in ETSU’s Department of Family Medicine. As a coordinator, her responsibilities involve engaging high school, college, medical, and health professions students and medical residents. This includes the Rural Primary Care Track (RPCT), which is designed to prepare physicians for the rigors of practice using a service learning, experiential pedagogy in rural communities. EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY | 11
2020 Dean’s Distinguished Awards Quillen College of Medicine presented the 2020 Dean’s Distinguished Awards to Dr. Reid Blackwelder, Dr. Ken Ferslew, and Dr. Mark Young. Dr. Reid Blackwelder, Professor and Chair of Family Medicine, received the Dean’s Distinguished Award for Teaching. Since 2000, Blackwelder has received 37 ETSU/Quillen teaching honors and awards. Throughout his time at Quillen, he has also been frequently recognized for his strong commitment to humanism and patient-centered care in medicine and has been recognized at the local and national levels for his efforts to improve patient care by facilitating professional development of family physicians. His service roles at ETSU are many and include several that are particularly relevant to medical education such as service on the Medical Student Education Committee, the Student Promotions Committee, as well as co-chairing the Integrated Grand Rounds Implementation Committee and chairing the Medical Student Admissions Committee. “His educational acumen, combined with clinical and academic expertise, has made Dr. Blackwelder an invaluable resource for education at Quillen College of Medicine,” said Dr. Robert V. Schoborg, Professor and Vice Chair for Education in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Ken Ferslew, Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, received the Dean’s Distinguished Award for Service. From the time of his initial faculty appointment at Quillen in the 1980s, Ferslew has been devoted to the Toxicology arena and was instrumental in developing the Toxicology program. Over a short time span, his laboratory center broached the area of forensics, and as the forensics program developed over the years, he was formally designated as Director of the Toxicology Laboratory and successfully secured funding for the Center of Toxicology Building on the VA Campus. In this program, Ferslew administered a staff that provided forensics analysis for East Tennessee and was on contract with western parts of Tennessee, Virginia, and outlying regions. These and other efforts were valuable in police work, providing relevant information in many court cases. “This service activity has consumed Dr. Ferslew’s career and represents who he is,” said Dr. Richard M. Kostrzewa, Professor at Quillen College of Medicine. “He is a true professional in his service work.” Dr. Mark Young (’85), Professor and Fellowship Program Director of Gastroenterology, received the Dean’s Distinguished Award for Research. Young earned his undergraduate and medical degree at ETSU and also completed an internship and residency at Quillen’s Department of Internal Medicine. He completed a fellowship in gastroenterology at the University of Arizona. While at Quillen, Young has developed a unique fellowship program that emphasizes training that aims to enhance opportunities in academic as well as clinical medicine. He has inspired and mentored his residents and fellows to participate in clinical research, to write scientific papers, and to present research at national and international conferences. The results of his own research have been published in several peerreviewed journals. “The most notable aspect of Dr. Young’s mentoring is how he helps his residents to build their careers in academic medicine,” said Dr. Kalpit Devani, Chief Fellow in the Division of Gastroenterology at ETSU and Associate Editor of the American College of Gastroenterology Case Reports Journal. 12 | QUILLEN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE
Agrawal awarded $1.85 million NIH grant Dr. Alok Agrawal received an award for a new R01 grant proposal from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health to further develop his research on a protein that could be used to develop a treatment for pneumococcal infection. The project, “Complement-mediated anti-pneumococcal functions of C-reactive protein,” is funded until January 31, 2025, at $370,000 per year, with the total funding amounting to $1,850,000. Agrawal is a Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. He is also a member of the Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease, and Immunity (CIIDI). This research continues Agrawal’s study of the C-reactive protein (CRP), a component of the body’s inflammatory response that was discovered about a hundred years ago in the blood of patients infected with Streptococcus pneumoniae. In animal models of infection, CRP is protective against lethal infection with S. pneumoniae, indicating that CRP is essential for innate resistance to pneumococcal infection. “Successful completion of this project will reveal how the properties of CRP can be utilized to develop a treatment strategy for pneumococcal infection and, at the same time, reduce the chances of development of antibiotic resistance,” Agrawal said. “In addition, this project may also have implications in other areas of clinical medicine, such as agerelated macular degeneration and retinal inflammation.”
ETSU President Brian Noland and Dr. Virginia Foley, Faculty Trustee, present Dr. Alok Agrawal with the 2019 Distinguished Faculty Award in Research.
In 2019, ETSU recognized Agrawal for almost 35 years of research related to CRP and presented him with the 2019 Distinguished Faculty Award in Research for his achievements.
NIH funding targets schizophrenia and smoking Dr. Russell Brown, Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, received a $435,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that will help develop possible new treatments targeting smoking and the symptoms of schizophrenia. For many years, scientists have been interested in identifying treatments for tobacco smoking in the population diagnosed with schizophrenia, as well as other mental disorders. “A major issue in schizophrenia is tobacco smoking, which leads to lung cancer, poor quality of life, and negative health outcomes,” Brown said. “Approximately 80% of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia smoke cigarettes, which is about four times higher than the general population.” The overriding theory behind such heavy tobacco smoking in schizophrenia is that it is a form of self-medication for the disease,
helping with increased attentional ability, but also nicotine, the psychoactive ingredient in tobacco, is positively reinforcing. “Right now, there are smoking cessation treatments that have been used, but the problem is they could have some side effects that could produce psychosis,” Brown said. These types of side effects in patients who are already experiencing a form of psychosis make these current treatments unsuccessful and undesirable for individuals with schizophrenia.
in the brain that has been suggested as a new target for drug treatment for both tobacco smoking in individuals with schizophrenia and the treatment of psychotic symptoms in this population. This is the third NIH grant related to schizophrenia that Brown has received, and he hopes that it will lead to clinical trials for better drug treatments.
“We are trying to go about this in a different way and go after a completely different pharmacological target to see if we can actually alleviate rewarding aspects of nicotine, as well as alleviate the disease process of schizophrenia,” Brown said. Brown’s study is targeting the adenosine system, a neuromodulator EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY x 13
White Coats for Black Lives Students organize march and demonstration More than 100 individuals, including health care professionals, students, community leaders and other supporters, came together for White Coats for Black Lives, a solidarity march and demonstration against racial injustice, on June 15. The event was planned by the East Tennessee State University Student National Medical Association, the Gold Humanism Honor Society and the Organization of Student Representatives at Quillen College of Medicine. It drew students, faculty, and staff from all of the ETSU Health colleges, as well as other areas of the university and community. Organizers planned the march to help promote conversations about racism as a public health concern and encourage health care professionals and students to lead the way for social change. While those who had white
coats and scrubs were encouraged to wear them, all supporters were welcome and encouraged to participate in the event. Masks were required at the event.
small gesture, it is the beginning of an effort as learners, teachers and healers to refocus and eliminate the inequities that result in decreased health outcomes for many.”
“Health care students across the country are sharing their voice against racial injustice, and here in East Tennessee we are proud and excited to stand up together with our professors and mentors,” said Quillen College of Medicine student Lawrence S. Parawan III, who helped organize the event.
After the march along University Parkway and State of Franklin Road, student organizers spoke and participants kneeled to observe 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence – the amount of time Officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on the neck of George Floyd.
Dr. Bill Block, Vice President for Clinical Affairs and Dean of the College of Medicine, said that he was proud of the students’ efforts. “It is important for the lives of our community and the nation that the college and university lead the way for social change, which is long overdue,” said Block. “While this is a
Speakers encouraged the attendees to lead the way for social change. “As future health care professionals, it is extremely important that we come together in times like these to show our support of and solidarity with the Black community that comprises a part of our patient population,” said Quillen student Stephanie Alu, who spoke and helped lead the event.
“Health care students across the country are sharing their voice against racial injustice, and here in East Tennessee we are proud and excited to stand up together with our professors and mentors.” — Quillen College of Medicine student Lawrence S. Parawan III
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Virtual Commencement Piercey addresses Class of 2020 Screenshot of Dr. Lisa Piercey (’02) addressing the Class of 2020 during the college’s first-ever virtual commencement ceremony, which was held via Zoom.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions limiting events and gatherings, Quillen College of Medicine’s Class of 2020 has the distinction of being the first class in the college’s history to celebrate a virtual commencement ceremony.
I know we all agree that lived experience is the best teacher of all. Personally, I’ve recently learned some lessons that I believe you can apply as new physicians. I can tell you, there’s really nothing like being a public health official, thrust into a massive and unexpected crisis.
On May 8, Quillen’s 39th graduating class and their families participated in a livestream ceremony using Zoom. The ceremony included traditional elements such as the Hippocratic Oath and a hooding conducted by family and friends of each graduate.
This year’s guest speaker was 2002 Quillen alumna Dr. Lisa Piercey, the 14th Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Health. As the leader of the primary agency of state government responsible for public health, Piercey has worked at the forefront of Tennessee’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier in the year, Piercey was able to visit ETSU in person when she accompanied U.S. Rep. Phil Roe and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams for a roundtable discussion on the opioid crisis. Her commencement remarks to Quillen’s Class of 2020 included encouragement, reflection, and advice – some from her most recent experiences of leading during the pandemic.
On her time at Quillen: My time at Quillen will forever hold a very special place in my heart, both personally and professionally. During those formative years, I met and married my husband, bought my first house, and had our first child. I was also shaped professionally, as Quillen is where I developed a passion for primary care, deepened my insight into rural populations, and honed my skills of truly listening to patients and their needs.
On lifelong learning and the current COVID crisis: Another Quillen value that I know we share is the significance of lifelong learning. While the world may believe that today represents a conclusion of your education, I would submit that it’s only just begun.
First, relationships matter more than knowledge. Let me clarify. There is absolutely no substitute for competence or even mastery of one’s trade. To suggest less would be irresponsible. My urging, rather, is to rely upon the experience and expertise of trusted advisors, especially when the going gets tough. In difficult situations, the key to better outcomes is generally not your didactic knowledge, but instead the creativity, support, and diverse thought of the people in your circle. In fact, in the midst of this very crisis, I’ve relied heavily upon the sage guidance of my Quillen colleagues and mentors, and for that, I’m deeply grateful.
On humility: Secondly, humility goes a long way. It’s tempting to bask in the realization that you are amongst the intellectually elite and you have now accomplished a feat that very few will ever know. The world will assign you status and power just simply based on your title alone. When left unchecked, it is all too easy to convince yourself that you’re doing it the right way. And if you only seek out the opinions of likeminded colleagues and friends, your existence can become nothing more than a self-reinforcing cycle. Humility is paramount in defeating this closed-mindedness – particularly when faced with polarizing and partisan issues.
On seizing opportunities: Finally, life is better when you say yes… The adventure really begins when you learn to balance the comfort of contentment and the openness to opportunity… So, say yes to unexpected possibilities; say yes to novel ideas; say yes to options that you’ve never previously considered. You are destined to do great things. EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY | 15
Class of 2020 The Class of 2020 enjoyed a successful match rate, with 98.55% of the class securing residency training positions in 14 different specialties/sub-specialties at 41 residency sites throughout the United States.
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Students celebrated their hooding and commencement at home with family and friends. The virtual ceremony was aired live on Zoom so that the Class of 2020 could participate together in real time. Here are some screenshots of the virtual ceremony. EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY x 17
Student Awards During a hooding ceremony on May 8, several members of the Class of 2020 received graduation honor awards for their work and activities conducted during their time at Quillen. Those earning recognition are:
Peter Blosser received the
Dean’s Distinguished Student Award for demonstrating superb clinical skills and the potential for becoming an excellent physician. Blosser also received the Merck and Company, Incorporated Book Award based on his leadership and scholastic achievement.
Andrew Donahue received the
Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award presented by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation for compassion and empathy in patient care, professional behavior by example, cultural sensitivity, adhering to professional and ethical standards, attention and sensitivity to the patient’s psychological well-being, and concern for the general welfare of the community. In addition, Donahue received the Kevin Swabe Memorial Award, presented to the most outstanding graduating student entering pediatrics.
The Ronald S. McCord Rural Family Medicine Award is presented to the student(s) who exemplify commitment to rural medicine. The recipients were
Margaret Miller and Austin Witt. In addition, Miller
received the Tennessee Academy of Family Physicians Award, recognizing an outstanding senior entering family medicine. She was also inducted into ETSU’s The 1911 Society, honoring the university’s most distinguished graduates. Witt also received the Dr. Jay and Mina Mehta Family Award in Preventive Medicine, which is presented to a student who is planning a residency in internal medicine with a strong interest or achievement in pursuing a career in preventive medicine, epidemiology, or public health. The Excellence in Emergency Medicine Award was presented to Laura
Stamper also received the Outstanding Performance Junior Surgical Clerkship Award.
received the James Christopher Corbin Memorial Award in Psychiatry to honor the memory of James Christopher Corbin, whose brother Michael Corbin was a 1995 graduate of the Quillen College of Medicine.
Paige Winter and Erica Andres received the Glasgow-Rubin Achievement Award. Andres also received the Internal Medicine Award for demonstrating strong clinical skills, an inquisitive mind, a compassionate character, and a desire to practice internal medicine.
Hayden Alford received the Philip John Hinton, M.D. Career in Surgery Award for demonstrating the most promise for an outstanding surgical career.
Derek Lance received a Merck and Company, Incorporated Book Award.
Adam Chan and Amanda Leuthold
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received the Ann Tranum Hawkins Award for Excellence in Women’s Health for demonstrating exceptional involvement in activities promoting the health care of women. She also earned the OB/GYN Award (Dillard M. Sholes Society Award).
received the Henry Clay Reister Award for starting his medical education later in life after having a previous career.
The Cheryl L. McLemore, M.D. Memorial Pediatrics Award was presented to
Kathleen DeMars for
demonstrating a keen interest in child health and development and possessing an informed mind, a sensitivity to cultural diversity and an outstanding commitment to patient care.
Jessie Feathers received the H. Cowan Moss Family Medicine Award, presented to the student with the highest academic rank who is entering the field of Family Medicine. Sarah Tolliver received the Department of Pediatrics Award.
A Game Plan Crisis inspires Wike to pursue medicine
Hunter Wike, a second-year student at Quillen College of Medicine, has always enjoyed science. However, a family medical crisis during his junior year of high school helped him realize that he wanted to channel that interest into a career in medicine. Wike’s father suffered from a serious gastrointestinal bleed that required him to be intubated for four weeks and hospitalized for a month. Watching his father suffer and recover in the hospital and interacting with the physicians who took care of him, inspired Wike to pursue medical school. “I got to see my dad’s doctors working together and making critical decisions about what would be best for him,” said Wike. “The compassion that the health care team showed my father and my family was something that really drew me to medicine because I love working with people and helping people through hard times.” Wike, who is from Canton, North Carolina, came to East Tennessee State University as an undergraduate through the Roan Scholars Leadership Program, a premier scholarship program for students from across the
region who demonstrate the potential and desire to become exceptional leaders. As an undergrad, Wike exhibited leadership in the classroom and on the athletic field, where he was a member of the first football team at ETSU since the sport was reinstated in 2015.
After Wike graduated from ETSU in 2018, he took a gap year and served as a teaching assistant in an intensive intervention classroom for students with special needs at his former high school. Wike said that role prepared him well for future physician-patient communication.
“Being on that first team was special,” said Wike, who played wide receiver. “We had the responsibility of starting that culture in a positive way. I think we did a great job of that and we just worked hard every day to try to do the right things. I think that shows because of where the program is now; the team is doing some really good things.”
“From that experience, I really learned how important it is to not lump people into categories or let one thing define a person,” Wike said. “It was a great experience. I really loved working with those kids and just being their friend throughout the year.”
While balancing football and academics was tricky at times, Wike thrived in his science courses. He started as a biology major, but switched to chemistry with a minor in culture and health. He also found time to join Phi Beta Sigma Inc., a fraternity that emphasized the ideals of brotherhood, service, and scholarship. “I was drawn to Phi Beta Sigma because it lifted people up and shed a positive light on humanity through service,” Wike said.
It was such a positive experience that last year he volunteered as a buddy for one of his former students at Night to Shine, a prom night experience for people with special needs. As he is entering his second year at Quillen, Wike is excited to continue toward his goal – one that began in a North Carolina hospital. “I’m not sure if I’ll end up doing surgery, or something with pediatrics, or another specialty, but I know that I want to be able to do for someone what the doctors did for us when my dad was in the hospital,” Wike said. EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY x 19
2019 Reunion Weekend On July 19 and 20, 2019, the Quillen College of Medicine Alumni Society hosted reunion events for the Classes of 1984, 1989, 1999, and 2009. As a part of the celebration, the Society re-introduced its alumni awards program by honoring four outstanding alumni award winners who were profiled in the 2019 Quillen Magazine. The weekend kicked off with a family-friendly picnic on Friday evening. A tour of the College of Medicine facilities on the VA campus followed on Saturday morning. Returning classmates held informal gatherings on Saturday afternoon with the formal Alumni Reunion and Awards Dinner that evening. It was the most successful reunion weekend to date with the largest gathering ever thanks to the diligent efforts of class agents. Dr. Bill Block congratulated and welcomed the group asking that they, “Please share the story of YOUR medical school. We need your help to reach our goals and move forward.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Quillen’s 2020 reunions are postponed to summer 2021.
Class of 1984 From left to right: Bob Elder, Theresa Lura, Tony Emison, Debbie Christiansen, Allen Everett
Class of 1989 From left to right, front row: Yolando Chatman, Sherry Robbins, Barbara Foner, Ellen Wallen Back row: Dwayne Greene, David Chatman, Robert Saunders, George McAnelly, II, Joe Wallen, Benny Houston
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Class of 1999 From left to right, front row: Donna Edwards, Matthew Vance, Shawna Hamilton, Monique Casey-Bolden, Candice Wilson, Bob Larys Back row: David Richardson, LaTrina Wimberly, Jill McCarley, Nathan Floyd, Steve Loyd, Katrena Floyd, Angie Fariss Edwards, Nilesh Patel
Class of 2009 From left to right, front row: Courtney Frye, Erin Jackson, Katherine Rochelle, Sabrina Miller, Elizabeth Jenkins Dabbs, Kayla Griffith, Bethany Mayes Bessom, Becky Taliaferro Fletcher, Erin Gallagher Black Back row: Josh Combs, John Beddies, Saad Al-Khatib, Carrie Conatser Marchman, Justin Sigmon, Matt Goldman, Ryan Buckley, Rachel Jestrab Worley, Ryan Dabbs, Matt Lenhard, Michael Chambers, Lindsay McKnight, Kevin Visconti
Alumni Award Winners Dean of Medicine, Alumni Award Winners, and President of Quillen Alumni Society: Bill Block, Jr. (’92), Theresa Lura (’84), Anita Everett (’85), Marjorie Jenkins (’95), Candice Ashburn (wife of posthumous recipient David Ashburn, Jr. [’98]), Tim Powers (’88)
2019 Reunion attendees on Friday, July 19, 2019 at Blackthorn Club at The Ridges
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Salyer joins Quillen Advancement Mona Salyer was named Director of Development at Quillen College of Medicine in August 2019. She joins long-time Director of Development and Alumni Relations, Carol Sloan, and Office Coordinator, Pat Elledge, in new advancement offices located on the ground floor in Stanton-Gerber Hall. Prior to her position at Quillen, Salyer worked for over 14 years in Enrollment Management at King University, focusing on business development and expanding the recruitment footprint throughout Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee. She has been active in several regional chambers of commerce and served as a past president and vice president of the Kingsport chapter of Business Network International. Salyer currently serves on the Accountable Care Community, which is focused on collaboration across sectors for improved health in our region. Prior to higher education, she worked in banking and public schools. Salyer earned her Bachelor of Science degree in business with a major in finance from Virginia Tech. “I’m excited to be at the Quillen College of Medicine, where I’m inspired by the community of faculty, staff, residents, and students, who are working in concert to revolutionize rural health in our region and beyond,” Salyer said. “I look forward to connecting with our alumni and supporters across the country to hear their stories and to share greetings and updates from Quillen.”
Campaign for ETSU Update In April 2019, ETSU launched a comprehensive campaign to raise $120 million to transform the lives of students and change the landscape of higher education at ETSU by focusing on four areas: student support, faculty support, facility support, and program support. As a part of the campaign, Quillen is developing plans for the Center for Surgical Innovation and Training. Quillen’s planned Center for Surgical Innovation and Training (CSI&T) will promote the concept of lifelong learning and will enhance the college’s ability to provide state-of-the-art educational programming in team-based, hands-on training of medical/surgical skills. The CSI&T will include an educational surgical suite, a virtual reality lab, and a large de-brief area for delivery, observation, and review of educational sessions. The space will integrate the study of clinical anatomy and procedural training to medical students and residents, as well as students and professionals from multiple disciplines associated with ETSU Health’s more than 30 clinical enterprises. The Center will be available to practicing physicians for training in new techniques or familiarizing themselves with new medical equipment or procedures in a low-risk environment designed to easily assess themselves through video recording of sessions. CSI&T will also provide opportunities for Continuing Education events accessible to all. Sessions for physicians, nurses, and other health care providers will create opportunities for sharing knowledge, developing technology, and testing the efficacy of new equipment and medical/surgical techniques. Private support will help develop this valuable educational program for students, residents, nurses, community physicians, and other health care professionals. To find out how you can support this opportunity for interprofessional education and training, contact Quillen’s Office of Advancement at 423-439-4658.
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Thank You for Your Service Alums establish scholarship endowment for veterans The annual Army-Navy football game is a tradition that dates back to the first meeting on the field on November 29, 1890. The teams have met annually since 1930. Quillen alums Bryan and Shasta Helsel, Class of 2004, host a watch party at their home each year for Quillen classmates. The December 2019 game was won by Navy 34-14, but future Quillen medical students also won because a scholarship endowment for veterans was the result.
2020 Recipient Benjamin Welch, a member of the Quillen Class of 2022, is the first recipient of the Veterans Scholarship. Welch served in the Marine Corps for 14 years as a scout sniper and later as a logistics officer. “It is an honor to receive support from those who served before me, and this illustrates how blessed we are to be part of the Quillen family,” Welch said.
Brock Blankenship, Class of 2004, is a Tennessee native and veteran of the U.S. Air Force Pararescue. The idea for the scholarship was his, and the annual football viewing tradition was a vehicle to challenge his Quillen classmates to join him in supporting the scholarship. “One of the biggest lessons I learned during my military service is that you take care of your teammates,” said Blankenship. “I saw this scholarship as a small price to pay to help future veterans reach their goals.” Bryan Helsel, a veteran of U.S. Army Aviation, accepted the challenge and matched Brock’s gift. “I feel privileged to be in a position to help establish the scholarship and contribute to my fellow veterans,” he said. “My intent was not only to support them, but also to acknowledge their commitment to continued service in the betterment of all.” Tom Kwasigroch, Associate Dean for Student Affairs and a U.S. Army Special Forces veteran, is a frequent attendee at the Helsels’ gathering. He was happy to join Brock and Bryan to support the scholarship. “In my role as Associate Dean, I chair the financial aid and scholarship committee and I see first-hand the challenges medical students face with mounting student loan debt. By the third year of medical school, many of our medical student veterans have exhausted their VA educational benefits. This scholarship will definitely help them,” said Kwasigroch. From across the country, Vincent Ball, Class of 2005 and a U.S. Army Special Forces veteran, answered the call and matched his fellow veterans with the final gift to fully fund the endowment and an operating account to give a scholarship in time for the fall semester. “I was excited at the opportunity to give back to Quillen to help establish a scholarship,” said Ball. “ETSU has given me so many wonderful opportunities via my medical education and will always have a special place in my heart. I’m proud to be able to support my Quillen family.” Blankenship expressed the feelings of all when he says, “It is an honor to help ease the financial burden for medical students as they help us strengthen the medical community.” If you would like to make a gift to help grow the endowment, contact the Quillen advancement office at 423-439-4658 or email email@example.com. EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY x 23
Expanding Care ETSU, Ballad Health recruit two new pediatric surgeons Niswonger Children’s Hospital and East Tennessee State University announced the successful recruitment of two distinguished pediatric surgeons to the region. This marks the first time the region will benefit from as many as three pediatric surgeons, providing the capability to enhance surgical programs and trauma services for children. Michael Allshouse, DO, and Brad Feltis, M.D., Ph.D., will join the faculty at ETSU’s Quillen College of Medicine and the team at Niswonger Children’s Hospital, bringing with them impressive credentials in pediatric trauma care, pediatric general surgery, and fetal surgery. The physicians were recruited through a joint effort between ETSU and Ballad Health in an ongoing effort to attract highly qualified specialists to support and enhance current programs, as well as to provide previously unavailable pediatric surgical services to the Appalachian Highlands. They will be joining Dr. Lesli Taylor in the Division of Pediatric Surgery at ETSU. The recruitment is part of an effort to enhance the training of physicians and clinical professionals in the area of children’s health care, and it is supported in part by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s proposed budget, which was approved
by the Tennessee Legislature, to create additional faculty positions at the Quillen College of Medicine for training in pediatric surgery. Ballad Health is providing additional funding to ensure sustainability of the clinical practice of the surgeons.
in surgery at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Oakland, California, a fellowship in pediatric trauma and burn treatment at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and his residency at The Children’s Hospital, University of Colorado School of Medicine.
“Providing health care access to our children in rural communities is a priority for my administration, and it is why I’m delighted we were able to support the efforts of Ballad Health and ETSU to bring these distinguished pediatric surgeons to serve the region,” said Governor Lee. “This will enhance training of new doctors, create a more sustainable trauma program for children, and provide more continuity of care for children, whether they live in Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, or Western North Carolina.”
Brad Feltis most recently served as a pediatric surgeon and partner with Pediatric Surgical Associates in Minneapolis, as well as the Carol Ann Wells Chair in Fetal Surgery, and the director of the Midwest Fetal Care Center, Children’s Minnesota and Allina Health.
Michael Allshouse most recently served as the medical director of the pediatric surgery and trauma programs at Valley Children’s Hospital, as well as an associate clinical professor for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California San Francisco.
Prior to this role, he served as a pediatric surgeon with a private medical group. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota and his M.D. from the University of Minnesota, School of Medicine. He went on to receive his Ph.D. in Surgical Sciences from the University of Minnesota, Department of Surgery. Feltis has held a number of fellowship appointments, including fetal surgery, operative fetoscopy, and pediatric surgery.
He earned his undergraduate degree from the U.S. Naval Academy and Allegheny College and his medical degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his residency
Allshouse and Feltis began practicing at Niswonger Children’s Hospital and ETSU in July. In addition, Feltis will serve as Division Director of the ETSU Quillen College of Medicine’s Division of Pediatric Surgery.
Photo courtesy of Ballad Health 24 x QUILLEN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE
Quillen College of Medicine hosted “Girl Scouts Go to Medical School” on Saturday, Feb. 22. The event was a half day of hands-on, heart-healthy workshops to celebrate February as American Heart Month. “In addition to sharing heart-related pieces of medical education and patient care, the day was a way to inspire, mentor, and recruit our local Girl Scouts and to show them how ETSU can help with the path to becoming a doctor,” said Dr. Caroline Abercrombie, event organizer. Participants went on a treasure hunt at the Medical Museum, made buttons at the Medical Library, delved into virtual heart anatomy, and explored heart sounds and specimens. The day concluded with a panel discussion where female students, faculty, and alumni from throughout ETSU Health answered questions and engaged the Girl Scouts in discussions about career possibilities in the medical field. All of the participants received an ETSU Health heart patch, specially created to commemorate the day.
EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY x 25
Inaugural Quillen 100 Students organize family-friendly event to raise funds, awareness The inaugural Quillen 100 bicycle race held at Bristol Motor Speedway on Oct. 19, 2019, raised more than $6,000 for the Tri-Cities American Heart Association and drew cyclists to the area from as far away as Alabama, Kentucky, and Ohio. The cycling relay and community health event was organized by students at Quillen College of Medicine and was sponsored by Ballad Health, ETSU Health, Bristol Motor Speedway, and several other community partners and donors. The event included a 50-mile competitive relay (Quillen 100) and a 20-mile noncompetitive relay (Little Q). The family-friendly event also featured a festival, health fair, and youth bicycle ride around the racetrack. “This event was all-inclusive and gave people from all walks of life a chance to race at Bristol Motor Speedway,” said Ryan Serbin, a Quillen student who helped organize the event. “We had national champions competing in the Quillen 100 and people who hadn’t been on a bike in years in The Little Q. It was inspiring to see people join in and get back to a healthy lifestyle.” Sixteen teams participated in the Quillen 100 relay. More than 50 medical and undergraduate student volunteers from ETSU helped make the event possible. The second annual Quillen 100 will be August 1, 2020. Visit www.thequillen100.com for more details.
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Thank You for Leaving a Legacy
Dr. Mahmoud Sidky Afifi 1924-2018
Community physicians have played a large role in the success of the Quillen College of Medicine from its early days. Local physicians participated as faculty members, preceptors, and clinical faculty for the residency programs. One such community physician was Dr. Mahmoud Sidky Afifi, who joined the clinical faculty as an Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery in 1981. Afifi received a B.A. degree in Anatomy and Physiology from Ein Shams University in Cairo, Egypt. He moved to the United States in 1946 and continued his education at the University of Michigan receiving both an M.B. and Ph.D. in Physiology. In 1950, he married Jane Williams and returned to Egypt to finish medical school. Upon completion of medical school, he moved with his family back to the United States where he taught physiology at The Ohio State University. He completed his internship and residency at the University of Michigan.
medicine, we decided to support through his estate an endowment to benefit future surgical residents at Quillen College of Medicine.” In January 2020, Sidky-Afifi worked with Dr. Bill Browder, Chair of the Department of Surgery, and established the Dr. M. Sidky Afifi Memorial Surgical Residents Endowment in memory of her late husband and his passion to help others who love medicine attain their dreams and goals as he did his own. “My husband will always be remembered by those who knew him as a dedicated and caring physician, and now he will be known by future surgery residents as a benefactor in perpetuity through this endowment,” Sidky-Afifi said.
In 1960, the family moved to Johnson City, Tennessee, where Afifi practiced general and vascular surgery for over 35 years. He and his wife had three daughters, Sarah Patton, Ann Heath, and Randa Davenport. While practicing in Johnson City, Afifi served as Chief of Staff at the Johnson City Medical Center. Dr. Paul E. Stanton, Jr., former Dean of the Quillen College of Medicine and President Emeritus of ETSU, worked with Afifi when Stanton first arrived in Johnson City. “Dr. Afifi and I worked on a few vascular surgery cases together and I found him to be a dedicated vascular surgeon who always strived for the best outcome for his patients,” Stanton said. “I was also very impressed with his academic standards and his willingness to teach the residents. It is a compliment to him and others like him that the Department of Surgery received accreditation for the residency in 1987.” Afifi married Judy Reavis in 1978. Upon his retirement from practice, they relocated to Hilton Head, South Carolina and lived there until his death on December 18, 2018. “My husband loved practicing medicine and passing on to the residents with whom he worked how important the patient was, always saying, ‘the patient comes first,’” said Sidky-Afifi. “He was an educator and practitioner who felt it was the responsibility of practicing physicians to set an example for medical students and residents to practice the best medicine possible,” she added. “When we discussed his legacy in EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY | 27
In Memoriam Dr. Clint P. Hill
Clint P. Hill, M.D., age 49, of Paducah, Kentucky passed away on October 31, 2019. Dr. Hill, his wife Kathy, and their five children moved to Paducah in 2009 to help form the Orthopaedic Institute of Western Kentucky. He was a native of East Tennessee, growing up in the Gatlinburg area, and is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. After completing his undergraduate work at UT, he attended ETSU’s Quillen College of Medicine, where he graduated in 2001. From there, Dr. Hill completed a five-year orthopaedic surgery residency in Jackson, Mississippi at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Upon completion of his residency, Dr. Hill finished a long-term fellowship in spinal surgery under the direction of Dr. Robert McGuire. Dr. Hill then moved to the Johnson City area, where he practiced and treated a wide variety of spinal problems and traumatic injuries. Beginning in his residency and throughout his practice, Dr. Hill was heavily involved in research and product development throughout the U.S. of more efficacious spinal implants, the use of alternative bone void fillers to be used with kyphoplasty procedures, and non-surgical options for treating conditions of the spine. He was a national leader in the development and education of lateral access spine surgeries. In addition to his medical background, Dr. Hill was also a NASCAR pit crew member for four years and served in the National Guard for nine years. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, and water sports, and had countless other hobbies, and excelled at all of them. He was dedicated and devoted to his wife, Kathy, and their five children. He was constantly engaging them in new projects, all the while forming loving bonds and teaching them valuable life lessons. “He came to us with some unique qualifications, not the least of which was his background as a NASCAR cylinder head specialist – the only one of those to ever attend Quillen,” said Doug Taylor, Associate Dean for Admissions and Records. “Clint was most excellent at everything he did including fatherhood, his education, his practice of medicine, and his piloting skills. He was well liked and respected by our faculty and staff and was well loved by his classmates.”
Dr. Ben D. Hall
Ben D. Hall, M.D., MACP, passed away on April 8, 2020 at Cornerstone Village in Johnson City. He was active in organizing and supporting the development of the James H. Quillen College of Medicine at ETSU, serving as Clinical Professor of Medicine and subsequently as a member of the adjunct faculty. Born in Johnson City on September 21, 1924, Dr. Hall received his pre-medical education at East Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee. He graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in March 1947. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps at Fort Benning, Georgia and Tripler Army Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. Dr. Hall practiced Internal Medicine as a member of The Medical Group in Johnson City from 1953 until his retirement in 1992. He was certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in 1954 and was elected a Fellow in the American College of Physicians in 1960. In 1956, he established the Department of Nuclear Medicine, which at that time was the only clinical radioisotope laboratory in the area. He also served as chairman of the Department of Medicine and chairman of the medical staff of Memorial Hospital and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the hospital. Dr. Hall had a strong commitment to professional service and was active in many professional organizations at the local, state, and national levels. He was elected President of the American Society of Internal Medicine in 1978 and named President Emeritus of the American College of Physicians in 2005. 28 | QUILLEN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE
Joyce Ann Larimer Joyce Ann Range Larimer, 76, of Jonesborough, passed away on February 27, 2020 at the Johnson City Medical Center. She was a native of Johnson City and worked as an information research technician in Quillen College of Medicineâ€™s Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases. She served at Quillen for 35 years. Ms. Larimer was a member of Boones Creek Christian Church, although she attended Harrison Christian Church in her later years. She is remembered by her family, friends, coworkers, and the physicians she worked for as a very kind, helpful, and loving person.
Dr. Timothy Luman Martin Dr. Timothy Luman Martin of Sheffield, Alabama passed away on August 1, 2019 at the age of 72. Dr. Martin was a U.S. Marine veteran serving during the Vietnam War era. He was a member of First Baptist Church of Sheffield. He earned his B.S. degree at Middle Tennessee State University, an R.N. degree at Motlow Community College, and an M.D. at Quillen College of Medicine. He practiced in Town Creek, Shoals area, and Jasper for 30 years, the last nine years at Shoals Primary Care. His passions were time with family, traveling, photographing nature and flowers, hiking, geocaching, flying drones, and playing board games with family. Dr. Martin was a nurse, physician, and instructor to many people. They thought of him as a smart, compassionate, caring, listening friend and fighter, always with a smile and a joke. He fought a good fight against six cancers over two years, never giving up.
Dr. James E. Vaught, Sr. Dr. James E. Vaught, Sr., passed away on December 9, 2019, at Shannondale Health Center in Maryville, Tennessee. He was lovingly surrounded by his spouse and family. Dr. Vaught had battled Parkinsonâ€™s Disease for many years. Dr. Vaught lived a very eventful life. He graduated with a B.S. degree from Indiana State and received his D.D.S. in 1961 from Indiana University School of Dentistry. He was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy and served 10 years. He retired from the Navy with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Upon his retirement, he went to the College of Health at East Tennessee State University, where he founded the Dental Hygiene Program. Dr. Vaught then served as Assistant Dean of the School of Dentistry at Indiana University for six years. Afterwards, he served in the Hospital Dental Residency Program at the University of Tennessee. He was then hired as the Dean of the College of Public and Allied Health at East Tennessee State University. During his tenure at ETSU, he worked in various areas. Dr. Vaught was Assistant to the President, and was Vice-President for Information Resources and interim chair of the departments of Psychiatry and OB/GYN. He was awarded an honorary medical degree from the Quillen College of Medicine. Dr. Vaught was active in various community organizations. He was past Chair of the Washington County/Johnson City United Way and was on the board of the Salvation Army in Johnson City. Dr. Vaught was a committed Christian and was a member of the First Baptist Church of Maryville. In his later years, he enjoyed attending the chapel services at Shannondale Retirement Center where he was a lay chaplain in charge of visitation and prayer concerns. EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY | 29
P.O. Box 70721 Johnson City, TN 37614-1710
Improving health for all generations 30 | QUILLEN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE
Quillen College of Medicine Magazine - Summer 2020