Quillen Magazine - Summer 2021

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Quillen MAGAZINE

SUMMER 2021

IN THIS ISSUE:

National Rankings Expanding Class Size Distinguished Researchers

REVOLUTIONIZING RURAL HEALTH


Pictured on the cover: Dr. Thomas Kincer, Associate Dean for Rural and Community Programs, gets to know some of the students who are in Quillen’s Rural Primary Care Track. 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

“The primary mission of the Quillen College of Medicine is to educate future generations of physicians and biomedical scientists, especially those with an interest in primary care, to practice in underserved rural communities. In addition, the College is committed to the contribution of knowledge and excellence in biomedical research that improves medicine and is dedicated to the improvement of health care in Northeast Tennessee and the surrounding Appalachian region.” From our founding, this mission has guided us and served us well. As the dean, I strive to make every decision grounded by our mission. Together, we endeavor to meet these objectives every day in our clinics, laboratories, classrooms, and communities. The Association of American Medical Colleges provides yearly feedback and recently reported that Quillen achieves in the 90th percentile for primary care, the 80th percentile for practicing in underserved areas, and the 75th percentile for practicing “in-state.” These results reflect the commitment of the alumni, faculty, staff, and students to the region and the patients we serve. As we work to enhance our rural and primary care focus through program expansion and support, we will continue to focus on “why.” We also continue to enhance our commitment to the second part of our mission, our excellence in biomedical research. In the past two years we have developed the office of the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education and reimagined our Department of Biomedical Sciences and the Department of Medical Education. In addition, we have added a permanent space for the Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease and Immunity to help them further advance their research. These changes are the beginning of continued growth and investment in research as a mission. Driving us forward and inspiring us to set new goals is Quillen’s vision statement and the theme of this year’s Quillen Magazine: Revolutionizing Rural Health. In this issue, you will read about many individuals who share this vision – people like Dr. Wilsie Bishop, who helped shape ETSU Health – including its academic, clinical, and research pursuits – into what it is today. Dr. Bishop, who serves as the ETSU Vice President for Academics and Interim Provost, announced that she is retiring on June 30, 2021 after 43 years of service at ETSU. I want to thank her for her commitment to interprofessional education and the health sciences. She is truly an example of one who has revolutionized rural health. The stories in this issue are just a few examples of the ways in which our students, alumni, faculty, and staff are making a difference at Quillen and in their communities. Thanks to each of you for being part of Quillen’s story. I am looking forward to watching the next chapter unfold.

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Dr. William A. Block, Jr. Vice President for Clinical Affairs Dean, Quillen College of Medicine


Revolutionizing Rural Health Quillen nationally ranked for commitment to serving the underserved Quillen College of Medicine’s commitment to revolutionize rural health is more than a phrase in the college’s strategic plan – it is a defining characteristic that attracts students and faculty with a shared commitment to rural and primary care. That commitment was recognized in U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 “Best Medical Schools” listings, which ranked Quillen high in several key categories that reflect the medical school’s mission to educate future physicians, especially those with an interest in primary care, to practice in underserved rural communities. The rankings list Quillen College of Medicine: • 3rd in the nation for “Most Graduates Practicing in Underserved Areas,” with 63.5% of its graduates serving in this capacity; • 13th in the nation in “Best Family Medicine Programs” category; • 25th in the category ranking the percent of 2012-2014 graduates practicing direct patient care in rural areas, with 9.7% of these graduates serving in this capacity; and • 64th in the nation in the “Best Medical Schools: Primary Care” category. In this category, Quillen was the highest ranked public medical school in Tennessee. • 38th for “Most Graduates Practicing in Primary Care,” with 32.8% practicing in primary care. Quillen’s focus on rural medicine is evident in its extensive offering of programs, such as the Rural Primary Care Track, the Appalachian Preceptorship, and several programs aimed at recruiting rural high school students to medical professions. “Rural and primary care are at the core of what we do, and it is very satisfying to be ranked among the top schools in the country in these categories,” said Dr. Bill Block, Vice President for Clinical Affairs and Dean of Quillen College of Medicine. “These rankings are an affirmation of Quillen College of Medicine’s continued commitment to its mission and our success in graduating physicians who accomplish this mission in outstanding ways in our region and across the country.” EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY | 1


A Champion for Rural Health Dr. Wilsie Bishop retires after 43 years Dr. Wilsie Bishop, one of East Tennessee State University’s strongest advocates for rural health and interprofessional education, is retiring after a 43-year career at the university. Bishop stepped down from her role as Senior Vice President for Academics and Interim Provost on June 30, 2021. Her retirement concludes a career at ETSU that began in 1978, also the year that Quillen College of Medicine admitted its first class of medical students. Throughout the last four decades, Bishop has served in several faculty and administrative positions at the university, playing a critical role in the creation of ETSU’s Academic Health Sciences Center and in the 2019 launch of ETSU Health, which unified the educational, clinical, and research pursuits of ETSU’s five health sciences colleges, more than 250 providers, and 35 clinical sites. “Dr. Bishop has been at the forefront of growing our Academic Health Sciences Center and developing interprofessional education at ETSU,” said Dr. Bill Block, Vice President for Clinical Affairs and Dean of Quillen College of Medicine. “She has made a tremendous impact, not just at the university and medical school, but on the health care in our region.” Bishop’s commitment to rural health began in her hometown of Appomattox, Virginia, where for many years there was just one doctor and the closest hospital was about 25 miles away. “At a young age, I really did have an understanding of the issue of access to health care, even though at that time it was the rudimentary perspective of a child living in the country,” said Bishop, who grew up on a 400-acre farm. “We had limited access to specialists, and of course you had to be able to drive quite a distance and usually take a whole day off of work to go to appointments.” During her junior year of high school, Bishop’s awareness of the importance of health care evolved into a plan to pursue it as a career. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 had just been passed, granting equal employment rights for women. However, educational opportunities still were limited since Title IX did not pass until 1972. “In Virginia, there were so many single-sex schools that the opportunities for women really were to be a teacher or to be a nurse,” Bishop said. “I talked to my guidance counselor and told him I was interested in science. He didn’t say, ‘You ought to be a doctor’ or ‘You ought to be a nuclear physicist.’ He suggested I pursue a baccalaureate degree in nursing.” Bishop followed her counselor’s advice and attended Virginia Commonwealth University, where she earned a bachelor of science in nursing. She began a nursing career that included experience working in emergency rooms, burn units, and critical care units in the United States and later in Germany, where her 2 | QUILLEN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE


husband, Paul, was stationed with the U.S. Army. While she was in Germany, Bishop completed her master’s degree in higher education from the University of Southern California through the Army Education Center. She was also among the first group of nurses to become certified in neonatal nursing by the American Nurses Association. “So while I was in a period of time when other science careers were not available to me, this guidance counselor actually put me on a pretty good path,” Bishop said. “I got the fundamental education that I needed. Nursing taught me problem-solving, empathy, and communication. I learned to triage and how to prioritize tasks in emergencies.” These skills also served Bishop well when she transitioned to a full-time career in academia after returning to the U.S. In 1978, Bishop completed a master of science in nursing and began a faculty position at ETSU’s College of Nursing. In addition to teaching, she continued her own studies, eventually earning a master of public administration and a doctor of public administration at the University of Southern California. During her time at ETSU, she earned tenure and progressed through the faculty ranks, serving in administrative roles including department chair, dean, and assistant/associate vice president prior to becoming a vice president in 2005. While serving in various administrative roles, she continued to be a classroom teacher as well as a mentor for doctoral and graduate students. Bishop has observed and been a part of many important changes at the university. From 1989 to 1994, she served as Associate Vice President for Health Affairs and the administrative “bridge” between ETSU’s main campus and Quillen College of Medicine on the VA campus. During that time, she was instrumental in the development of the Division of Health Sciences at ETSU and a series of three community partnership grants totaling almost $11 million from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. These grants facilitated the development of ETSU’s interprofessional education program. She served for 11 years as Dean of the College of Public and Allied Health, and then was appointed Vice President for

Administration and Chief Operating Officer of the university in 2005. This role took her out of the academic arena and into university operations when she assumed responsibility for Athletics, Facilities Planning, Human Resources, Information Technology, Public Safety, and Student Affairs. In 2007, she transitioned to Vice President for Health Affairs, becoming the first non-physician to hold the VPHA title. In this position, she embraced and led the university’s Interprofessional Education (IPE) and the team-based care that it embodied as the future of quality health care delivery. Through the IPE initiative, ETSU not only created opportunities for shared classroom experiences, but was able to create a building where team-based learning is the priority and students can work and study together in preparation for their future careers as health care providers. The Interprofessional Education and Research Center (Building 60) is a physical symbol of vision becoming reality and is utilized by Quillen students, along with students from ETSU’s other four health sciences colleges. In June 2021, ETSU’s Board of Trustees voted to approve the naming of Building 60 as “Bishop Hall” in her honor. “Interprofessional education leads to team-based care, and team-based care creates healthier communities,” Bishop said. In 2019, Bishop oversaw the launch of the ETSU Health brand and later that year began her final role at the university: Senior Vice President for Academics and Interim Provost. While this position expanded her focus beyond the five health sciences colleges, she has remained and will continue to be a staunch supporter of ETSU Health and its impact on rural care in the Appalachian Highlands. “While I was that girl growing up on the farm in Appomattox, I never could have imagined the opportunities I have had here at ETSU,” Bishop said. “As I leave the university, I have a real sense of confidence in the people who are in leadership positions. They treasure and share this vision and understand the importance of rural care. It was this commitment that helped get Quillen College of Medicine started and built its reputation for competence and care, and it will continue to carry ETSU Health forward.” EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY | 3


Developing a Pipeline New associate dean focuses on partnerships, opportunities A commitment to rural health is not new to Quillen College of Medicine, but a newly created leadership position will continue the college’s longstanding and innovative approach to training more physicians to serve the underserved. In February 2021, Dr. Tom Kincer returned to Quillen to become the college’s first Associate Dean for Rural and Community Programs Kincer earned his bachelor’s degree at Berea College and his M.D. at the University of Kentucky. He began his career in a rural training residency program at The University of Alabama at Birmingham and later came to Quillen in 1995 to serve as associate director of the Kingsport Family Medicine Residency Program. He left Quillen in 1997 to start the Montgomery Family Medicine Residency Program in Alabama and served as its director for 24 years.. In his new role, Kincer will focus on increasing Quillen’s involvement in communities and rural areas by developing new partnerships that will create additional educational and interprofessional opportunities

for medical students in rural communities. “It was important to elevate our mission by creating this position, which is focused on our rural and community initiatives,” said Dr. Bill Block, ETSU Vice President for Clinical Affairs and Dean of Quillen College of Medicine. “These programs have done well in the past and are a vital part of our future, so we hope to continue to increase their prominence and leadership.” People and place ignited Kincer’s interest in rural health and family medicine. “I think my passion for rural medicine started while I was growing up in the Appalachian Mountains, where health care was definitely underrepresented,” he said. “I also grew up with a father who was chronically disabled because of hemophilia, so we were always enmeshed with health care in some way. “We became friends with the doctors in Whitesburg (Kentucky), and all of those physicians were family physicians. So with the exception of

“That passion for medicine grew on me and never left the center of who I am.” — Dr. Tom Kincer, Associate Dean for Rural and Community Programs

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a few visits to specialists in Lexington and Louisville, family medicine was all I knew. They were the physicians who served our family and were always there. That passion for medicine grew on me and never left the center of who I am.” Now that he is back at Quillen, Kincer hopes to cultivate more partners so that the medical school can expand clinical rotations in more communities and increase the number of students in its Rural Primary Care Track. He is also eyeing ways to increase interprofessional educational opportunities among medical, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, and other health sciences professions in order to better serve patients in rural communities. “Developing community partners is key so that we have a pipeline for our students,” Kincer said. “We can educate the students to have a rural mindset, but if we don’t follow through so that they have a place to go and practice, then we’ve missed an opportunity to complete the cycle.”


Family Medicine Training in Rural Appalachia The HRSA grant includes funding to develop a formal curriculum to train resident physicians in the use of telehealth.

A grant awarded to the Department of Family Medicine at Quillen College of Medicine will help prepare more family medicine resident physicians to practice as primary care physicians (PCPs) in rural and underserved communities. The Health Resources and Services Administration awarded ETSU approximately $2.4 million over five years to fund a project titled “Family Medicine Training in Rural Appalachia.” “It can be hard to recruit physicians to more rural areas, so a project like this enables us to train and hopefully retain great physicians for Appalachia,” said Dr. Amanda Stoltz, Project Director. The grant-funded project will create a rural community-based preceptor development program, which will include the use of tele-education, the expansion of rural clinical resident rotations, and the development of a formal curriculum to train resident physicians in the use of telehealth. ETSU Health Family Medicine is also working on a plan to recruit and retain medical students who are from rural and/or underserved locations to its residency programs.

“The strongest predictors of future rural practice are rural background and rural training,” said Dr. Ivy Click, Co-project Director. “Quillen and ETSU Health Family Medicine are uniquely positioned for success on this project because of our focus on rural, primary care training, our history of accepting medical students from rural and underserved backgrounds, and our long-term relationships with our rural community partners.” In addition to preparing resident physicians to practice in rural and/or underserved areas, the project involves preparing residents and practicing community-based physicians to treat patients with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) using tele-education and dedicated clinical experiences for residents with PCPs who provide medication-assisted treatment in the primary care setting. “Using an interprofessional approach, the project has great potential to grow the primary care physician workforce in rural and/or underserved areas and enhance the quality of health care delivery to patients in a region with substantial health disparities, particularly OUD,” Stoltz said. EAST TENNESSEE TENNESSEE STATE STATE UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY xx 5 5 EAST


Navigating the Pandemic ETSU Health plays key role in region’s response ETSU Health has been on the front lines of testing, research, treatment, and vaccines to protect the health of the people of the Appalachian Highlands throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

Testing Initiatives

To provide PCR test results in 24 hours, the tests were processed in ETSU Clinical Labs.

Early in the pandemic, ETSU Health established the region’s first drive-through COVID-19 testing site, open from March 17-April 1, 2020. This site detected the first cases of community spread of COVID-19 in the region and was closed when the local health department opened its own drive-through testing sites in Washington and surrounding counties. Later in the year, ETSU Health marked another “first” for testing in the region. Due to surges in cases, ETSU Health leaders recognized a need for quicker turnaround on COVID-19 tests. So in October 2020, ETSU Health opened the region’s first COVID-19 Community Collection site to deliver molecular PCR tests to both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients within 24 hours. The site was spearheaded by Dr. Kevin Breuel, Professor at Quillen College of Medicine. To ensure fast results, the PCR tests were processed in-house in ETSU Clinical Labs. The COVID-19 Community Collection site first opened at the Johnson City Community Health Center, but moved to the ETSU Parking Garage to accommodate more patients. It continued to serve patients with testing into summer of 2021.

Research Opportunities As COVID-19 brought many activities across the country to a grinding halt in spring 2020, the pandemic had the opposite effect at ETSU’s Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease and Immunity (CIIDI). Their work intensified early in the pandemic as CIIDI researchers mobilized expertise and resources to focus on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. CIIDI and the James H. Quillen Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Mountain Home developed a biorepository to collect blood samples of people who recovered from COVID-19 for current and future coronavirus research. Dr. Zhi Q. Yao, Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, was the first to use the biorepository for COVID-19 research. He was awarded a $100,000 grant from the American Diabetes Association to explore the impact of diabetes on COVID-19 and the impact of COVID-19 on diabetes and related complications. The grant was ETSU’s first major funding for COVID-19-specific research. Yao was joined by co-investigator Dr. Juan Zhao, Assistant Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, for this innovative translational study. The second major grant came in fall 2020 when Dr. Jonathan Moorman, Division Chief of Infectious, Inflammatory and Immunologic diseases at ETSU Health and a member of Governor Bill Lee’s Coronavirus Task Force, received a $330,000 Biomedical Laboratory Research and Development Merit Review Award by the Department of Veterans Affairs to explore trained immune responses to COVID-19. 6 | QUILLEN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE


Policy Development A team of experts from ETSU’s health sciences colleges helped the university navigate important decisions and policies to protect the health and safety of the campus community and ETSU Health clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic. Created in response to the pandemic, the Medical Response Team met regularly to analyze disease trends, craft medical suggestions, and aid in decisions and considerations regarding the safe return to campus. The team assisted in the development of ETSU’s policy on face coverings, return to work and class protocol, and a list of frequently asked safety questions. They also facilitated COVID-19 testing at the ETSU University Health Center and ETSU Health clinical offices. The team consisted of Dr. Bill Block, Vice President for Clinical Affairs and Dean of Quillen College of Medicine; Dr. Randy Wykoff, Dean of the College of Public Health; Dr. David Linville, Executive Vice Provost for Academics and Health; Dr. Leigh Johnson, former Associate Professor at Quillen and Director of COVID-19 response for ETSU Health; Dr. Beth Anne Fox, Associate Dean and Chief of Staff at Quillen; Dr. Sheri Holmes, Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer for ETSU Health; and Dr. Roslyn Robinson, ETSU Health Chief Nursing Officer and Associate Dean of Practice and Community Partnerships, College of Nursing.

Vaccine Distribution In spring and summer 2021, ETSU Health hosted several Johnson & Johnson Janssen COVID-19 vaccination clinics at East Tennessee State University and throughout the community. The first ETSU Health vaccine clinics, held March 20 and 21, were open to members of the community who were eligible under Tennessee’s vaccine roll-out plan (at that time, persons 65+ and those in groups 1a1, 1a2, 1b, and 1c). Appointments for the first clinics filled within hours of announcing them. ETSU Health received additional vaccines and announced other clinic dates throughout the spring and summer, opening them to all persons 18 years and older. Faculty, students, and staff from ETSU Health colleges including Quillen College of Medicine, Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy, the College of Nursing, and the College of Public Health volunteered at the clinic, assisting with vaccine administration and patient intake and registration.

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Overcoming bias in health care Student develops case to train future physicians Kamyl Harvey-Bogan interfaces via virtual means with a class.

The main project in one of Kamyl Harvey-Bogan’s classes at Quillen College of Medicine transformed into an opportunity for the fourth-year medical student to raise awareness about racial disparities in health care and bring attention to ways in which future physicians can overcome them. Harvey-Bogan, who graduated from Quillen in May 2021 and is now beginning a psychiatry residency at the University of Florida College of Medicine-Jacksonville, took an elective course at Quillen in summer 2020 that taught the students how to build medical simulation cases for medical education. The students’ final assignment was to develop their own case by creating a patient, determining the patient’s background (including medical and social history), identifying the patient’s chief complaint, and determining how that complaint is presenting and how it can be treated. Then, the students used either high-fidelity manikins or simulated patients to run a pilot of their case.

“I decided I wanted to include African Americans in my case because there is a very low percentage of African Americans in this area, so I felt that some of the pathology more specific to that group might not be visible to my counterparts,” said Harvey-Bogan, who is from Memphis. “As future physicians go into urban areas and more diverse areas of the country, they might not have all of the tools in the toolbox that they need.” Harvey-Bogan decided to focus her case on sickle cell disease (SCD), a genetic condition that is prevalent among African Americans. One in 365 African Americans has SCD, and one in 13 African Americans has the trait. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, SCD is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. In someone who has SCD, the red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a “sickle.” The sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells. Also, when they travel through small blood vessels, they get stuck and clog the blood flow. SCD can cause extreme pain, organ damage, strokes, and infections. “I had two friends with this condition, and one passed away from it in high school,” Harvey-Bogan said. “It’s a serious disease and it’s important to do a full head-to-toe exam to better understand what these patients are experiencing.” Working with her instructors, Dr. Caroline Abercrombie and Dr. Patricia Amadio, as well as Andrew Berry, the manager of the Center for Experiential Learning, Harvey-Bogan developed her case to shed light on SCD’s treatment, epidemiology, and ethical considerations. Harvey-Bogan’s professors were so impressed with the case that Amadio

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asked her to present to Quillen’s second-year medical students in the “Doctoring 2” course. As part of the case, she was the voice of the simulation manikin, speaking as if she were the patient, describing the pain and emotional toll an SCD patient can experience. The medical students ran through the case interacting with the manikin, providing fluids, oxygen, morphine, emotional support, and the care that was needed. “Utilizing the high-fidelity manikin, I tried to humanize the situation and put a voice to the pain because so often we see numbers, we see statistics, but we don’t have someone to associate it with – not just with our clinical understanding, but our human understanding – in order to have compassion,” she said. Then, Harvey-Bogan led the students in a debriefing session where they discussed the pathophysiologic, clinical, and ethical considerations of the case. Harvey-Bogan also pointed out the gaps in clinical guidelines and research addressing SCD and raised issues related to treating the pain these patients might experience. “These patients can experience a profound sense of pain that is unimaginable, and they need to be treated not as those who are seeking a ‘medicinal opportunity,’ but with respect, as

those who really need pain medication,” she said. “We need to make sure we leave our biases at the door and not become jaded physicians who treat everyone as drug-seekers. We need to look at every patient as an individual and make sure we respect their specific situation.” “In this part of the state, there is a very small population of people of color in general,” said Amadio. “As far as the students’ clinical experiences, they’re going to be skewed in a way that they might not see (SCD) as much as they would in a different city or different area of the country. So that’s a big gap in their clinical exposure.” Amadio appreciated that Harvey-Bogan’s case not only taught the science, but also illuminated disparity and biases that come into play when diagnosing and treating conditions such as SCD. She plans to ask Harvey-Bogan to present to future classes to continue these important conversations. “The events of the preceding year have reminded us that to be anti-racist is everybody’s job,” Amadio said. “At Quillen College of Medicine, we feel strongly that we need to assess the extent to which bias can be part of curriculum – sometimes even a bias created by omission – and in whatever forms we identify it, we need to be proactive and intentional in addressing it.”

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Faculty & Staff Pierce named Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Dr. Deidre Pierce (’08) was named Assistant Dean of Student Affairs. In this role, she will serve as a supporter and advocate for Quillen students and has joined in the development of a comprehensive student wellness plan. While Pierce began her new role in February 2021, she is a familiar face at Quillen. After earning a master’s degree in healthcare administration from Seton Hall University and working for a large health care company, she chose to begin a second career at Quillen. She earned her M.D. and completed her residency in internal medicine at Quillen and later joined the faculty and was Program Director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program for four years. For the past three years, she has worked with Hamilton Health Care System and Medical College of Georgia. She is a Fellow with the American College of Physicians (FACP) and a Certified Physician Executive (CPE) from the American Association of Physician Leadership. “Quillen seems like home,” said Pierce, a West Virginia native. “This position was a wonderful opportunity to come back here where I had many friends and colleagues that I enjoyed working with so much. I love Appalachia, and Quillen creates an atmosphere of collegiality, quality patient care, and support that I have not found anywhere else in my working career.”

Click leading transformation of curriculum As Quillen’s newly appointed Assistant Dean for Curriculum, Dr. Ivy Click is overseeing a transformation of the medical student curriculum, which is moving from a traditional disciplinebased model in the pre-clerkship years to an integrated, systems-based model with a focus on more active learning for students. “We also want to integrate more clinical experience in the pre-clerkship phase and more basic science education in the clinical phases,” said Click, who has worked at Quillen for 15 years, most recently as the Director of Primary Care Research. Click is also the Chair of the Medical Student Education Committee, which oversees the undergraduate medical education program as a whole, and she works collaboratively with Dr. 10 | QUILLEN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE

Ken Olive, Executive Associate Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs, assuring that the curriculum meets all standards of accreditation. Click earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology and her Ed.D. in educational leadership, all from ETSU. “I am a Buccaneer through and through,” Click said. “My favorite aspect of working at Quillen College of Medicine is the people. I get to work with some talented and dedicated folks on a regular basis. I love working with students and seeing them progress through the years and graduate. And I truly believe in our mission focused on improving the physician workforce in rural and underserved communities and improving the health of our region.“


Singh, Schoborg overseeing departmental transitions

Quillen College of Medicine’s faculty and staff are in the process of transitioning the Department of Biomedical Sciences into two departments: the Department of Biomedical Sciences and the Department of Medical Education.

Graduate Student Teaching Awards. Singh’s academic career has included prestigious institutes such as McGill University (Canada), Harvard Medical School (Brigham and Women’s Hospital) and Boston University School of Medicine.

Dr. Krishna Singh, a cardiovascular scientist, is serving as Interim Chair of the reconstituted Department of Biomedical Sciences, whose primary mission will be to explore and advance scientific knowledge to understand human health and disease, and to educate the next generation of biomedical scientists.

A member of Quillen’s faculty for almost 28 years, Dr. Robert V. Schoborg is now serving as the founding Interim Chair of the newly formed Department of Medical Education.

She joined Quillen’s faculty in 2002 and has served in various roles, including administration of research projects funded by National Institutes of Health, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the American Heart Association; guidance and supervision of trainees at different levels in her cardiovascular research lab; teaching of medical and graduate students; and service on a variety of committees at the local, national, and international levels. She has also served as Research Physiologist at the James H. Quillen VA Medical Center since 2002. She has received the ETSU Distinguished Faculty Award for Research, and the Dean’s Distinguished Research, Service, Teaching, and

His initial priorities in his new role include defining the mission, internal structure, staffing, and budget for the department. During this process, the department’s most significant responsibility will be supporting Quillen’s ongoing medical curriculum transformation process and delivery of a new systems-based curriculum, which begins in fall 2022. Schoborg has been heavily involved in both medical and graduate education at Quillen. In addition to his own research program, which has been supported by organizations including the National Institutes of Health and the Swiss National Science Foundation, he has mentored Ph.D. and master’s level students and received more than 60 individual and shared teaching honors.

Dr. Beth Fox earns TNAFP award Dr. Beth Anne Fox received the 2020 John S. Derryberry M.D. Distinguished Service Award, presented by the Tennessee Academy of Family Physicians. Fox serves as Associate Dean and Chief of Staff at Quillen College of Medicine. The John S. Derryberry M.D. Distinguished Service Award is given to persons who deserve recognition of their outstanding service or contribution to the advancement of family medicine, to the Tennessee Academy of Family Physicians (TNAFP) or to the public welfare on family medicine’s behalf. The award is usually presented in person at the TNAFP Annual Assembly and Congress, but the event was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19. Instead, the award was presented to Fox at ETSU by Dr. Jim Holt, Professor and Associate Program Director at ETSU Health Family Medicine Johnson City. EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY | 11


Healthcare Heroes ETSU Health recognized for contributions during pandemic The Business Journal of Tri-Cities TN/VA presented the 2020 Healthcare Heroes “Cup of Kindness Community Service Award” to ETSU Health for the work of East Tennessee State University’s five health sciences colleges throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Each year, the Business Journal honors individuals and organizations that “go above and beyond the call of duty in the provision of healthcare in northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia.” Cup of Kindness awards are presented in five categories, and 20 individual Healthcare Hero awards are bestowed. In addition to the Cup of Kindness award, five individuals from ETSU Health were named “Healthcare Heroes.” They include Dr. Bill Block, Vice President for Clinical Affairs and Dean of Medicine; Dr. Joe Florence, who retired this year as Professor of Family Medicine and Director of Rural Programs; Dr. Sheri Holmes, Chief Medical Officer at ETSU Health and Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs at Quillen College of Medicine; Dr. Jonathan Moorman, Vice Chair of Research and Scholarship, Professor and Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases; and Dr. Blair Reece, Professor and ETSU Health Internal Medicine provider.

Photos courtesy of The Business Journal of Tri-Cities TN/VA 12 x QUILLEN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE

Dr. Sheri Holmes

Dr. Bill Block

Dr. Jonathan Moorman

Dr. Joe Florence

Dr. Blair Reece


Elgazzar earns top ETSU research award East Tennessee State University’s 2020 Distinguished Faculty Award in Research was presented to Dr. Mohamed Elgazzar, Professor in Quillen College of Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine. A member of the ETSU faculty since 2010, Elgazzar has gained national recognition for his research focusing on the molecular immunobiology of sepsis and chronic inflammation. “Dr. Elgazzar is a brilliant researcher,” said Dr. Zhi Q. Yao, Professor in ETSU’s Division of Infectious Diseases and Director of the Hepatitis (HCV/HIV) Program at the James H. Quillen VA Medical Center. “He has the ability to recognize and respond to fundamental gaps in our understanding of clinical immunology and inflammatory diseases.” In less than three years of his tenure at ETSU, Elgazzar received extramural funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including one R15 grant and one R01 grant, totaling approximately $1.7 million. He was awarded a prestigious NIH R35 grant totaling $1.85 million for his novel discovery of the role of long noncoding RNAs in the development of myeloid-derived suppressor cells in sepsis. He is also serving as co-investigator with Yao and Dr. Jonathan Moorman, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at ETSU, on other NIH-sponsored projects. In addition, he has forged additional collaboration with Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Elgazzar has actively disseminated his novel research findings through publications and presentations, with 34

original research papers and five review articles published since 2010. His work has been published in multiple prestigious journals and he also served as a reviewer for multiple high-impact journals and as an editorial board member of the International Journal of Immunology and Immunotherapy and Journal of Clinical and Cellular Immunology. Elgazzar graduated from Tanta University in Egypt in 1991 with a master’s degree in immunology. He earned a Ph.D. in molecular immunology in 2002 from Kumamoto University in Japan. He completed postdoctoral training as a research fellow from 2003 to 2007 at University of Colorado and Wake Forest University.

Quillen names Distinguished Research Fellows East Tennessee State University announced its inaugural group of nine Quillen Distinguished Research Fellows. “Quillen College of Medicine has a very strong mission of research, so we developed a new fellowship program that recognizes established researchers who have developed a long history of external funding and sustained, productive research programs,” said Dr. Greg Ordway, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education at Quillen. “The purpose is to get them together to fertilize collaborative research endeavors and to develop ways to increase research programs at ETSU through collaboration across departments and colleges and with local medical facilities.” The fellows also will provide mentorship for other researchers, scientific review of Quillen research and scholarship grants, and expert advice to Quillen administration about research-related areas.

The nine Quillen Distinguished Research Fellows are: Dr. Alok Agrawal, a world leader in C reactive protein research who is changing scientific understanding of this acute phase protein; Dr. Eric Beaumont, whose discoveries regarding autonomic control of the heart are rapidly being translated to therapy in humans; Dr. Theo Hagg, whose innovative research is revealing novel approaches to the treatment of brain trauma and stroke;

Dr. Donald Hoover, who is conducting groundbreaking research that is refining, if not redefining, the understanding of neuronal control of cardiac function; Dr. Chuanfu Li, whose groundbreaking research is changing the understanding of how factors related to immunity regulate cardiac function following a heart attack; Dr. Jonathan Moorman, who has made major strides in the understanding of HIV and hepatitis C, and who has plans with Dr. David Williams and

Dr. Zhi Yao to considerably expand COVID-19 research at ETSU; Dr. Krishna Singh, who has made important novel discoveries regarding factors that contribute to heart failure; Dr. David Williams, a national and international leader in sepsis research that is opening the door to the development of novel therapies; and Dr. Zhi Yao, who is nationally and internationally recognized for discoveries regarding immune disruption in chronic viral infections. EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY | 13


In Appreciation During 2020 and the first half of 2021, 37 Quillen College of Medicine employees have retired. Some of these individuals have worked at the college for more than 40 years, and they all have made an impact on Quillen’s programs, patients, alumni, and students. The institutional memory that Quillen has lost with each departure will be felt for years to come. Retirements are often marked by gatherings, celebrations, and in-person opportunities to wish our friends and colleagues well. However, many of these retirees packed up their offices and were not even able to say goodbye to their co-workers in person due to the remote working conditions brought on by the pandemic. So this year, we are dedicating space in Quillen Magazine to say “Thank you” to those individuals who have retired in 2020 and in the first half of 2021. In many cases, the pandemic prevented us from the farewells we imagined, but this does not diminish our appreciation for your service and your lasting contributions to Quillen College of Medicine. We wish you well! Sarah E. Brennan Operations Manager, Family Medicine

Richard A. Feit Professor, Academic Affairs

Lorena A. Burton Coordinator, Academic Affairs

Kenneth E. Ferslew Professor, Biomedical Sciences

Robert D. Collette Electrician, Building Maintenance

Joe Florence Professor, Department of Family Medicine

Pamela S. Dobbins-Eaton Patient Care Representative, Family Practice Residency, Bristol

Mary L. Hawk Coordinator, Division of Lab Animal Resources John H. Kalbfleisch Professor, Academic Affairs Jerry L. Keplinger Coordinator, Biomedical Sciences

David R. Ginn Professor, Internal Medicine

Stuart Leicht Professor, Internal Medicine

Rhesa J. Dykes Coordinator, Biomedical Sciences

Larry T. Gourley Custodian, Custodial Services

Christine H. Loveday Business Manager, Psychiatry

Elaine M. Evans Medical Library Assistant, Medical Library Administration

Luanne Grindstaff Information Research Tech 1, Medical Library Administration

Theresa F. Lura Associate Professor/Assistant Dean, Academic Affairs

14 | QUILLEN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE


Cheryl Garby Moore Research Specialist, Biomedical Sciences Amy E. Murphy Coordinator, Family Practice Residency Kingsport Pamala R. Musselwhite Patient Health Manager, Family Practice Residency Bristol Thelma J. Neal Information Research Tech 2, Biomedical Sciences Thomas R. Olmstead Associate Professor, Psychiatry Catherine A. Peeples Director, Academic Affairs Joshua Ragan Patient Care Specialist, Department of Family Medicine Mitchell E. Robinson Professor, Biomedical Sciences Debra A. Shaw Assistant Dean, Office of Graduate Medical Education Carolyn S. Sliger Rural Programs Coordinator, Academic Affairs Gary T. Stevens Plumber, Building Maintenance William L. Stone Professor, Pediatrics Alice Terrell Information Research Tech, Surgery David N. Walters Professor, Surgery Tonya R. Ward Information Research Tech 1, Biomedical Sciences Kimberly D. Waters Grants and Contracts Manager, Finance and Administration Ahmad Wattad Professor, Pediatrics Deling Yin Professor, Internal Medicine Wanda B. Young Coordinator, Psychiatry

Time Well Spent In April 2021, East Tennessee State University unveiled University Commons, a new outdoor space that begins outside the D.P. Culp Center on ETSU’s main campus and will serve as a central park area with spaces for gathering and student activities. Installed in the new space is a new post clock, located at the corner or Ross and Dossett Drive honoring the 110 current employees with the longest service to ETSU. Of those 110 names, 38 individuals are members of Quillen College of Medicine faculty or staff. Quillen’s honorees include: Robert V. Acuff, Linda G. Adams, Rajani Anand, Lisa D. Bare, Des Bharti, Kevin Breuel, William Browder, Earl J. Brown, Cindy D. Canter, John S. Culp, Anthony Delucia, Yvette Font, Chuck Foster, Donna Gage, Diana N. Gorman, Harold K. Hall, Mark Hamby, Ronald C. Hamdy, Tracy Harvey, Donald B. Hoover, Carolyn R. Hopson, David A. Johnson, Richard Kostrzewa, Thomas E. Kwasigroch, Barbara E. Love, Terri L. McFeature, Paul J. Monaco, Kenneth E. Olive, Gerald A. Philpott, Brian P. Rowe, Sissy Shipley, M. Salah Shurbaji, Sharon D. Smith, Doug Taylor, Joyce S. Taylor, Thomas E. Townsend, David L. Williams, and George A. Youngberg. EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY x 15


Congratulations, Class of 2021 Quillen College of Medicine’s 40th graduating class received their doctoral hoods and took the Hippocratic Oath as new physicians on Thursday, May 6. Dr. James Ellzy, a 1996 Quillen alumnus who now serves as Military Health System GENESIS Clinical Champion for the Defense Health Agency, was the guest speaker. Ellzy also participated in the commissioning ceremony for six members of the Class of 2021.

Tyler Ryan King walks with classmates in the graduation processional. 16 | QUILLEN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE


Kayla Watson, Erin Bailey, and Elizabeth Farrabee celebrate.

Alumnus, Dr. James Ellzy, Class of 1996, administers an oath to graduates at the military commissioning ceremony.

Drs. Bill Block, Wilsie Bishop, and Brian Noland congratulate Quillen graduates, Drs. Brooke Bartow and David Taylor, on their selection to the ETSU 1911 Society. EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY x 17


Class of 2021 Celebrates Match Day Quillen College of Medicine’s Class of 2021 enjoyed a successful match rate, with 96% of the class securing residency training positions in 14 different specialties/sub-specialties at 36 residency sites throughout the United States.

Jared Rhinehardt celebrates his match in Family Medicine at ETSU Health Bristol Family Medicine.

18 | QUILLEN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE

“Match Day is a highly anticipated occasion for all medical students, and I am extremely proud of Quillen College of Medicine’s Class of 2021,” said Dr. Bill Block, ETSU Vice President for Clinical Affairs and Dean of Quillen College of Medicine. “As a class and as individuals, these students have overcome many challenges in their final year of medical school. They have persevered through clinical rotations and residency interviews during a pandemic, and they have made us very proud throughout this process. We are excited that some of them are staying with ETSU Health for their residency, while others will go to new places. Wherever they go, they will be always be part of the Quillen family.”


Student Awards During a hooding ceremony on May 6, several members of the Class of 2021 received graduation honor awards for their work and activities conducted during their time at Quillen. Those earning recognition are:

Dr. Brian Viscomi received

the Dean’s Distinguished Student Award for demonstrating superb clinical skills and the potential for becoming an excellent physician.

Dr. Victoria Stabile 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.

Dr. Hannah Wolters Holt

received the Ann Tranum Hawkins Award for Excellence in Women’s Health for demonstrating exceptional involvement in activities promoting the health care of women. The Ronald S. McCord Rural Family Medicine Award is presented to the student(s) who exemplify commitment to rural medicine. This year’s recipients were Dr.

Christopher Welch and Dr. Collette Hoilman.

In addition, Welch received the Henry Clay Reister Award for starting his medical education later in life after having a previous career. The Excellence in Emergency Medicine Award was presented to Dr.

Grace Wholley.

Wholley also received a Glasgow-Rubin Achievement Citation Award.

Dr. Kayla Watson was the

recipient of the H. Cowan Moss Family Medicine Award, presented to the student with the highest academic rank entering the field of Family Medicine, and a Glasgow-Rubin Achievement Citation Award.

Dr. Libby Ligon earned the Tennessee Academy of Family Physicians Award, recognizing an outstanding student entering family medicine. She also received a GlasgowRubin Achievement Citation Award. Other recipients of the Glasgow-Rubin Achievement Citation Award included

Dr. Brooke Bartow and Dr. Rebecca Roberts. Dr. Leslie Stroud received the

Philip John Hinton, M.D. Career in Surgery Award for demonstrating the most promise for an outstanding surgical career.

Dr. Elizabeth Farabee earned the OB/GYN Award (Dillard M. Sholes Society Award). Dr. Landin Sorenson and Dr. Aaron Deyo 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.

The Outstanding Performance Junior Surgical Clerkship Award was presented to Dr.

John Kalada.

Dr. Whitney Pittman received the Internal Medicine Award for demonstrating strong clinical skills, an inquisitive mind, a compassionate character, and a desire to practice internal medicine. Dr. Vidiya Sathananthan

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.

Dr. Fred Lam received

the Department of Pediatrics Award.

The Cheryl L. McLemore, M.D. Memorial Pediatrics Award was presented to Dr. Isaac Weintraub 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.

Dr. Rebecca Roberts received the Kevin Swabe Memorial Award, presented to the most outstanding graduating student entering pediatrics. The Osler Award was presented to

Dr. Michael Shumaker for

demonstrating exceptional knowledge of the clinical manifestations of disease.

Dr. Alexander Hwang and Dr. Derrill Schumpert received

the Merck and Company, Incorporated Book Award based on their leadership and scholastic achievement.

EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY x 19


Interprofessional outreach Group forms to help homeless population

The Street Medicine Interest Group (SMIG), a new student organization at East Tennessee State University, is building bridges with community partners to help people who are experiencing homelessness overcome barriers to health care. The group hosted its first flu clinic in December 2020 at Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church. This event provided donations of warm clothing to many and flu shots to 12 individuals who are experiencing homelessness in the Appalachian Highlands. Building on this effort, in March 2021 the group held another vaccine clinic – this time administering doses of Janssen’s Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to persons experiencing homelessness. This outreach was done in partnership with the ETSU Health community vaccine clinic. The SMIG is an interprofessional student organization that is comprised of approximately 60 students representing ETSU’s five health sciences colleges including Quillen College of Medicine, Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy, College of Nursing, College of Public Health and College of Clinical and Rehabilitative 20 | QUILLEN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE

Health Sciences. It was organized by students who were looking for a way to make a difference in the community. “We started the Street Medicine Interest Group as a way to bring students together over a shared desire to care for those who are experiencing homelessness,” said William Miller, a third-year student at Quillen College of Medicine. “When you are in the middle of studying for weekly exams, it can be easy to forget why you wanted to come to school in the first place. “SMIG became a way for us to refocus on what is important. We hoped that as our interprofessional group began to grow, we would find ways to make a difference in the local community. Part of caring for others involves meeting people wherever they are – sometimes that is not within the walls of a hospital or clinic.” In fall 2019, the students approached Dr. Brian Cross, Director of ETSU’s Interprofessional Education and Research Center, about their idea, and he enlisted Dr. Patricia Amadio, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at Quillen College of Medicine, as the faculty sponsor.

“We have many wonderful organizations in our community who are well established and doing wonderful work to help this population,” Amadio said. “Our goal is to build trust within the community and work alongside these efforts in order to help lower the barriers to access to health care.” The group is working with organizations such as the Johnson City Downtown Day Center, which is a safe place for individuals who are experiencing homelessness to get essential services and health care, to identify ways students can help the homeless community. The Johnson City Downtown Day Center is managed by ETSU’s College of Nursing and provided invaluable support to the SMIG vaccine clinics. “We don’t want to reinvent the wheel,” said Cross. “We look at this as another way that ETSU can be a good community partner, and we’re very excited to identify other interprofessional opportunities for our students to serve this community.” The students also assisted with the Appalachian Regional Coalition on Homelessness’s Point-in-Time (PIT) count, which is a count of sheltered


Caduceus Awards Presented by students, Caduceus Awards recognize the contributions of members of the Quillen family. Each year, a designated committee organizes the awards to recognize attendings, residents, faculty, and staff members who consistently go above and beyond in medical education. Nominations are made by students spanning all four years, and the final votes are held by the entire student body. The 2021 Caduceus Award winners are: M1 Outstanding Course of the Year: Cellular and Molecular Medicine M1 Outstanding Professor of the Year: Dr. Mitchell Robinson M1 Outstanding Teaching/Support Staff of the Year: Rob Becker

Will Miller, David Taylor, and Rachelle Kromash volunteered at the Point-in-Time Count earlier this year.

and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness on a single night. SMIG co-founder and third-year medical student Jarred Millard is excited about the possibilities. “There are approximately 400 individuals experiencing homelessness in our area,” Millard said. “While there are incredible organizations within our community that serve this population, ETSU SMIG is unique in that it brings interprofessional groups of students and faculty to the streets to serve folks at their point of need, wherever that may be.”

Street Medicine Donation Drop-Off

M1/M2 Outstanding Student Tutor Award: Brad Roepke M2 Outstanding Course of the Year: Microbiology and Immunology M2 Professor of the Year: Dr. Robert Schoborg M2 Outstanding College of Medicine Staff: Dr. Jean Daniels M3 Clerkship of the Year: Family Medicine M3 Outstanding Clerkship Coordinator: Connie Clyburn M3 Outstanding Resident Awards: Surgery – Dr. Joel Oubre Pediatrics – Dr. Kacie Denton Family Medicine – Dr. Trask Printz Psychiatry – Dr. Nigel Dsouza Internal Medicine – Dr. Roscoe Hunter Bratton OB/GYN – Dr. Natalie Broadway-Robertson M3 Outstanding Attending Awards: Surgery – Dr. Bryan Helsel Pediatrics – Dr. Demetrio Macariola Family Medicine – Dr. Jason Moore Internal Medicine – Dr. Blair Reece Subspecialties – Dr. William Dodd

OB/GYN – Dr. Olga Sarkodie Psychiatry – Dr. Michael Blue

M4 Outstanding Resident: Dr. Natalie Broadway-Robertson – OB/GYN M4 Outstanding Fellow: Dr. Jojo Yorke – Pulmonary/Critical Care M4 Clinical Teaching Recognition Award: Dr. Bryan Helsel M4 Mentor of the Year: Dr. Jason Moore Outstanding College of Medicine Staff Award for the M3/M4 Classes: Dakotah Phillips Rural Primary Care Track Outstanding Preceptor/Faculty: Dr. Jose Velasco EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY | 21


The Chatmans: A Quillen Family Story Imani Chatman at the 2019 Match Day Celebration with her parents and her grandmother, Ruth C. McGriff.

Drs. David, Yolando, and Imani Chatman share a love of medicine and a love for Quillen College of Medicine. All three chose Quillen because of the warm and welcoming family feeling they got at Quillen. Now, all three are Quillen alumni and are giving back to their alma mater. From the age of 6, Yolando McGriff wanted to be a physician like her father, Dr. James E. McGriff, a general surgeon. “I spent hours with my father in his office and in the hospital and I loved hanging out with him and seeing his joy in being a physician,” she said. After completing her undergraduate degree at Spelman College in Atlanta, Yolando was accepted at Howard University and Meharry Medical College for medical school. However, after visiting Washington, D.C., and living in Atlanta while at Spelman, she decided she would like to try a smaller town and a smaller medical school. From her first visit and admissions interview, she found that Quillen was a perfect match for her. And she found her “perfect match” again in anatomy class when she met David Chatman and they became study buddies. David Chatman always loved math and science, but he became interested in a career in medicine in 10th grade when, in an anatomy/physiology course, his teacher told him he should be a surgeon because of his skill at dissection. Her words stuck with him and he decided to apply to medical school while at Vanderbilt University. He credits Dr. Dorothy Dobbins, then Associate Dean for Student Affairs, with his choice of Quillen for medical school. Dorothy and Doug Taylor, current Associate Dean for Admissions and Records, really made him feel welcome when he toured and interviewed at Quillen with his good friend, Dr. Robert Saunders. Robert currently practices in Kingsport in obstetrics/gynecology. David and Robert are now lifelong friends and Quillen Class of 1989 classmates. After a childhood visit to Palo Alto, California, with her parents, Yolando and David, Imani Chatman was determined to become a marine biologist because she loved marine animals and she wanted to go on expeditions like the 22 x QUILLEN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE


scientists she saw at the aquarium there. However, by the end of high school, she became interested in her mother’s career. “I noticed that my mom was like a celebrity wherever we went because she had delivered people’s babies,” she said. “And like my mom’s experiences with her father, I spent hours in her office and in the hospital and in labor and delivery. One day I even got to watch a C-section.” When Imani came for her interview at Quillen, she stayed with her “Uncle Rob” Saunders in Kingsport. She had a great interview with Doug Taylor and Dr. Tom Kwasigroch, Professor and Associate Dean for Student Affairs, and she enjoyed the “extended family” feeling. She knew that both her parents had received great training in medical school, so she chose Quillen for her medical education. All three Chatmans were inspired in life by their parents’ hard work and dedication and by extended family members like David’s cousin, Dr. Andrew Hazley, who was a practicing physician and role model. David said, “I chased his shadow my whole life and finally caught it.” Imani cites the example of how her parents were career-driven but also very familyoriented. Of her parents’ influence she said, “I knew Mom and Dad were making a difference in people’s lives (through their work). They encouraged me to always be my own person.” In their medical training at Quillen, all three had teachers and mentors who had a profound impact on them. For Yolando, Quillen obstetrics/gynecology clinicians Drs. Selman Welt and Stephen Fortunato helped her in her choice of OB/GYN. David and Imani were both inspired by Dr. Tom Kwasigroch’s dedication to students and his contribution to the Quillen “family” experience. “He taught me discipline and to take charge of my education,” Imani said. David’s role model in vascular surgery was then the Chair of Surgery, Dr. Paul Stanton, a vascular surgeon (and later President of ETSU). “When I told Dr. Stanton I wanted to do vascular surgery, he encouraged me by saying that he knew that I could do it.”

Dr. David Chatman and Dr. Robert Saunders.

Imani added that in the clinical years, Dr. Reid Blackwelder, Chair of Family Medicine, taught her that doctor-patient communication would make her a better physician. “I get compliments in my residency today about how well I relate and communicate with my patients. I learned that at Quillen,” she said. The Chatmans also give back to their medical school. David and Yolando, along with classmate Benny Houston, established the Quillen Class of 1989 Scholarship Endowment. They dedicated their gift to the memory of David’s mother, Lula Pearl Dalton, and Yolando’s father, Dr. James E. McGriff. Yolando and David said, “We felt that our donation would keep their memory alive and honor the contributions they made to their communities and to our lives.” The Chatmans believe in the mission of Quillen and in helping others in the same way they were helped in life. They also believe in the “family” connections that bring people together. While at Vanderbilt, David met Dr. James McGriff and noticed a picture of his three daughters on his desk. When Yolando went to orientation at Quillen, she was excited to see Robert Saunders, David’s best friend from high school, with whom she attended elementary and junior high school and who later became Imani’s “Uncle Rob.” Quillen made a significant impact on the lives of all three members of the Chatman family and they are making a difference in the lives of future Quillen students through their support for their class scholarship. “Student loan debt is a real obstacle for many medical students,” David said. “Scholarship support was crucial to my success and we want to help those students coming behind us to be successful.” To join the Chatmans in support of scholarships at Quillen, contact Quillen Advancement at 423-439-6142 or email qcomalumnisociety@etsu.edu.

Imani Chatman being hooded by her parents at her graduation. EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY x 23


Students gain COVID-19 research experience A summer research program at East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine led to an opportunity for medical students to gain COVID-19 research experience. Dr. Donald Hoover, Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, mentored two second-year medical students, Fulton Robinson and Ryan Mihealsick, during Quillen’s Medical Student Summer Research Program held last summer. The students had the opportunity to participate in the conception, planning, implementation, and publication of research focusing on cardiac morbidity and mortality related to COVID-19 infection. Their mini-review, “Role of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 and pericytes in cardiac complications of COVID-19 infection,” appeared in the American Journal of Physiology Heart and Circulatory Physiology. The review focuses primarily on “mechanisms that contribute to acute cardiac injury and dysfunction, which are common in patients with severe disease.” The paper also includes some primary data showing that the SARS-CoV-2 receptor, ACE2, is expressed by pericytes in human hearts. Pericytes have been identified recently as a major site of ACE2 expression in the heart and vasculature, and viral infection of these cells might contribute to cardiovascular injury in COVID-19. “While hands-on research was not possible due to the pandemic, Ryan, Fulton, and I took full advantage of the internet and Zoom technology to develop the topic and outline for the review, search and discuss relevant literature, and collaborate on writing and refining the manuscript,” Hoover said. “We also discussed the design of immunohistochemistry experiments done in my laboratory and reviewed stained section jointly by Zoom. Working on this project was a rewarding experience for all of us.” The ETSU Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease, and Immunity supported this research financially with the purchase of antibodies used in the study.

Dr. Donald Hoover

Fulton Robinson

Ryan Mihealsick

Kruppa awarded ETSU’s first Candida auris-related grant Dr. Michael Kruppa received a grant to study a global emerging fungal infection, Candida auris. The National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, awarded an R21 grant to Kruppa for his study “Genetic Characterization of phosphomannan biosynthesis in C. auris.” The twoyear, $407,000 award is the first grant awarded to a researcher at ETSU to study Candida auris. The incidence of Candida auris, a newly emergent species, has risen worldwide since its first recognition 10 years ago. It is primarily an infection 24 x QUILLEN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE

seen in critical care wards and in some nursing facilities. It can easily be transmitted from person to person, which is why it is a major concern to health care providers. Diagnosis and treatment of these infections can be problematic due to multiantifungal resistance. Therefore, a rapid diagnostic would be useful for identification of this species. “Recent work by our lab has determined that C. auris shares a number of similarities with other Candida species including the presence of a sugar compound on their surface called phosphomannan,” Kruppa said. “However, the

phosphomannan sugar differs enough that we can distinguish C. auris from other Candida species. This difference is what our lab is focusing our current work on to understand how this structure is made so we can develop diagnostic tests and potentially vaccines against C. auris.” The data generated will help to serve potential diagnostic and vaccine development in the future. Kruppa is Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and is a member of ETSU’s Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease and Immunity (CIIDI).


Growing Impact Quillen to increase class size

The class of 2021 celebrates the culmination of their medical education at Quillen. Beginning with the class of 2025, Quillen will welcome 79 new medical students each year.

For the first time in 10 years, Quillen College of Medicine will increase its class size, providing additional students with the opportunity to pursue their dream of a medical education at East Tennessee State University.

tours during the height of the pandemic and the transition to virtual interviews, it did not deter students’ interest. This year, the admissions committee conducted a record 364 interviews.

Beginning this summer with the matriculation of the Class of 2025, Quillen will admit 79 first-year medical students, a 9% increase over the previous class size of 72 students.

“Normally, we interview between 200 and 250 prospective students,” said Doug Taylor, Associate Dean for Admissions and Records at Quillen. “But we have a growing number of people who are interested in our school and the particular approach to medicine that we offer here.”

With the number of applicants to Quillen steadily increasing over recent years and sufficient resources to accommodate additional students, college leaders say the time is right to add to the class size. “When we looked at medical schools across the country and at our peer institutions, we are one of the smallest in class size, yet we are committed to preparing more providers to serve Tennessee, our region and other rural, underserved communities,” said Dr. Bill Block, ETSU Vice President for Clinical Affairs and Dean of Quillen College of Medicine. “Opening the door to more students allows us to better serve Tennessee and the Appalachian Highlands to accomplish this mission.” This year, Quillen had a record 3,099 applicants – up more than 650 from last year’s record of 2,433. Although COVID-19 changed many aspects of Quillen’s admissions process, such as the elimination of in-person

Taylor, who has led Quillen’s admissions office since its inaugural class of 24 students matriculated in 1978, has watched the interest in and the influence of Quillen expand throughout the past four decades. “We’ve grown incrementally throughout the years as our resources permitted,” Taylor said. “It’s been rewarding to watch our reach expand so that we can continue our mission and make a greater impact in our region.” While there will be more students, Block said the increase is small enough so that students still will experience the closeknit community that Quillen is known for and has offered since its founding. “We are at a point where we can grow, but still remain at a size where we can maintain the family feel that so many people appreciate about Quillen,” Block said. EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY x 25


Study shows NAS is preventable A study by Dr. Martin Olsen of ETSU Health OB/GYN reveals new information about the prevention of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), which occurs when infants go through withdrawal from an addictive drug they were exposed to in the womb.

This is the first report of an entirely outpatient buprenorphine-tapering program based in the United States that decreased the patient dose to zero. The results were promising for both the pregnant patients and their newborns, Olsen explained.

Olsen’s study, published in the November 2020 issue of the Southern Medical Journal, reviewed the charts of 21 pregnant patients who were enrolled in an outpatient buprenorphine medication-assisted therapy (MAT) tapering program at ETSU Health.

“Of these 21 patients who ended MAT with buprenorphine while pregnant, the NAS rate among their newborns was zero,” Olsen said. “In addition, we had 182 patients who made efforts to lower their dose of buprenorphine while pregnant, but decided not to completely end their MAT. No maternal or fetal harm was attributed to the medication tapering in this group, either.”

“Many addicted pregnant patients receiving buprenorphine MAT wish to discontinue this medication while pregnant,” said Olsen, a physician and professor at Quillen College of Medicine. “The purpose of this study was to document the effectiveness of maternal buprenorphine cessation in the reduction of NAS.”

Olsen hopes that his study helps to confirm the effectiveness of buprenorphine MAT tapering programs in preventing NAS.

Dr. Chuanfu Li awarded NIH grant The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded Dr. Chuanfu Li a $2.19 million R01 grant to research the role of lactate in sepsis-induced cardiovascular dysfunction. Li is a professor in the Department of Surgery at Quillen College of Medicine and is also a member of the ETSU Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease and Immunity (CIIDI). In 2020, he was named one of the inaugural Quillen Distinguished Research Fellows. Li and his laboratory group have made a novel discovery that high levels of lactate directly cause vascular dysfunction and cardiomyopathy in polymicrobial sepsis. The recent NIH grant will allow Li and his group to continue their novel research in this area and further explore lactate mediated cardiovascular dysfunction during sepsis. Sepsis is life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response to infection. Cardiovascular dysfunction is a major complication associated with sepsis-induced morbidity and mortality. Clinical data show that lactate levels correlate strongly and positively with severity, morbidity and mortality in sepsis. Although lactate is a well-accepted biomarker of sepsis, recent evidence indicates that lactate may play a pathophysiological role in sepsisinduced cardiovascular dysfunction. “Our findings suggest that high levels of lactate exert deleterious effects on cardiovascular function during sepsis,” said Li. 26 | QUILLEN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE


Elevating Research

While many students attend Quillen College of Medicine to become physicians, others come to earn a Ph.D. in the Biomedical Science Graduate Program, which is designed to prepare students for careers in biomedical research and teaching. Currently, 29 students are enrolled in the Biomedical Science Graduate Program, and the average incoming class ranges from seven to 10 students each year.

The Biomedical Science Program is now administered by the relatively new Office of Research and Graduate Education. In the past year, the concentrations in the Biomedical Science Graduate Program have been revised and/or updated to be consistent with major areas of medical research activity at ETSU. Effective fall 2020, these new concentrations include: • Cardiovascular Sciences;

“Graduate students engaged in research assist Quillen College of Medicine in its mission to deliver excellence in biomedical research that ultimately is expected to contribute to the improvement of health care in Northeast Tennessee and the surrounding Appalachian region,” said Dr. Gregory Ordway, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education. “Graduate student contributions to the research mission provide essential support as projects develop and expand.”

• Cellular, Molecular and Chemical Biology;

Students in this program perform research in a variety of areas ranging from basic science to investigations of human diseases. Research projects include studying mechanisms of cardiovascular and related diseases, protein structure and function, cell signaling, microbial infections, nervous system disorders and behavior, and drug delivery.

The core curriculum was also recently revised to better reflect course content and credits. These changes included revision of existing courses as well as the creation of new courses. In addition, there is now a revised Recruitment and Admissions committee for the program. Efforts are being made to increase recruitment to the program, including web advertisements and the development of a social media presence.

After graduation and post-doctoral training, some former students return to Quillen and other health science colleges to contribute to both the teaching and research missions of ETSU.

• Immunology, Inflammation and Infectious Diseases; • Neuroscience; and • Pharmaceutical Sciences. Each concentration has an in-depth program of study that provides students with specialized knowledge and research skills.

“Overall, these updates will improve student progression in the graduate program as well as career preparation,” Ordway said. EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY | 27


In Memoriam Dr. F. Forrest Lang Dr. F. Forrest Lang, age 75 of Johnson City, passed away on December 20, 2020. Dr. Lang was a pioneer of interprofessional education and a champion of Quillen College of Medicine’s mission to educate future physicians to practice in underserved rural communities. He joined the faculty of the Quillen College of Medicine’s Department of Family Medicine in 1984. For 27 years he worked as a respected physician, educator, researcher, and mentor. At the time of his retirement in 2011, Dr. Lang was Professor and Vice Chairman, Director of Medical Education. Dr. Lang’s professional accomplishments were many. Early on, in 1987, as director of the College’s Introduction to Clinical Medicine course he infused Standardized Patients into the curriculum and wrote scripts to guide instruction in doctor-patient communication. Among other innovations, Dr. Lang championed the Objective Simulated Clinical Experience that extends to all ETSU medical students and family medicine residents. He conceived of, developed, and implemented the Appalachian Preceptorship, an integrated clinical-classroom experience of rural medicine and Appalachian culture, which still brings medical students from all over the country to ETSU and nearby rural communities. Colleagues say this course has led medical students to go into family medicine or primary care in underserved areas. Especially close to his heart, Dr. Lang spearheaded the Rural Primary Care Track in the Tennessee communities of Mountain City and Rogersville. His work always was accompanied by a deep love of Appalachia – the mountains and the people especially.

Dr. James M. Turnbull Dr. James M. Turnbull, age 82, passed away on March 6, 2021. He was Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Quillen College of Medicine from 1983 through 1989. Born in wartime England on May 12, 1938, he was destined to become a citizen of three different countries (England, Canada, and USA). He earned a scholarship to attend St. Mary’s Medical School (now known as Imperial College). After graduating, he returned to British Columbia, Canada. He began training as a general/ family practitioner and later moved to open a practice in Powell River, BC. Later, he returned to Vancouver to study to become a psychiatrist. He received numerous teaching awards and served as officer in several professional associations, including the Tennessee Psychiatric Association. While completing his residency at Temple University in Pennsylvania, during a shortage of physicians serving in the Vietnam War, Dr. Turnbull (who was a foreign citizen) was drafted and served in the U.S. Army. He taught medics at Fort Sam Houston how to handle psychiatric emergencies on the battlefield. Later, he became a U.S. citizen and served in the local Army Reserve Unit. Whether he was serving as a physician, a university professor, a sought after lecturer, or medical director of a mental health organization, he was devoted to his patients, students, and co-workers.

Dr. M. Ray “Poppy” Lamb (’82) Dr. M. Ray “Poppy” Lamb, age 69, of Johnson City, passed away on May 26, 2021, at the Johnson City Medical Center. Dr. Lamb was a member of Quillen College of Medicine’s Class of 1982, the first class to graduate from the medical school. Dr. Lamb was triple board-certified in internal medicine, hematology, and medical oncology. He completed a residency in internal medicine at the Baptist Memorial Hospital from 1982-1985 in Memphis, Tennessee, as well as a fellowship in medical oncology and hematology at the University of Colorado Center of Health Sciences from 1985-1988. 28 | QUILLEN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE


Dr. John D. Sherrill ||| Dr. John Doke Sherrill III, age 71 of Piney Flats, passed away on December 27, 2020. Following the legacy of his father and grandfather, Dr. Sherrill completed three years of medical school in Juarez, Mexico, in the late 1970s and became fluent in Spanish. He returned to the United States to complete his medical degree from the University of South Alabama in 1984. He completed his family medicine residency training at Quillen College of Medicine from 19841987, serving a rural community in southwest Virginia. Dr. Sherrill established his own private practice in family medicine in Bristol, Tennessee. He enjoyed providing care to Spanish-speaking individuals and families in the Tri-Cities and to many without financial means. In 1996, Dr. Sherrill received the honorary designation as a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians. For more than 30 years, he worked tirelessly to provide passionate care to his beloved patients. Dr. Sherrill enjoyed the opportunity to educate and mentor medical students and residents, always sharing his passion for family medicine. He also served the local community with a servant’s heart providing care to inmates located in Bristol, Virginia.

Dr. Joe Irvin Hall (’93) Dr. Joe Irvin Hall, age 69 of Waynesboro, Tennessee, passed away on November 12, 2020 at Maury Regional Medical Center in Columbia, Tennessee. Dr. Hall was a member of the Quillen College of Medicine class of 1993 and was a member of multiple medical organizations including the Tennessee Medical Association. He was a seasoned family medicine physician and had a private practice, Hall Medical Clinic, serving the people of Waynesboro and surrounding communities. His clinical expertise was in emergency medicine and cardiology. Aside from his work at Hall Medical Clinic, Dr. Hall believed in giving back to his community, which he achieved through his hospital privileges at Wayne Medical Center and also as an EMT Director for Wayne County.

Ms. Alice Arlene Bennett Ms. Alice Arlene Bennett, age 64, passed away on January 4, 2021. Ms. Bennett worked for Quillen College of Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology as an office administrator from 1996 until 2019. She received a certificate as a Registered Dental Assistant from ETSU and an associate degree in secretarial science from Tri-Cities State Technical Institute. She was an active member of Calvary Baptist Church in Elizabethton, where she served in various roles on many committees. She also served on the Board of Directors for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board and the Church Revitalization Committee of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. She had served the mission field with trips to India, Malta, Brazil, Peru, Belize, Costa Rica, New York City, and locally throughout the Tri-Cities area.

Mrs. Cathy Butler Mrs. Cathy Butler, age 70, passed away on May 11, 2021. Mrs. Butler worked as an Office Coordinator at Quillen’s William L. Jenkins Forensic Center until 2012. A Kingsport native, she was an honors graduate of Dobyns-Bennett High School class of 1968. Cathy married her high school sweetheart, David, in 1969, becoming an Air Force wife, and traveled the country at his side. Professionally, Cathy worked at Bennett & Edwards Insurance, Eastman, and the Department of Veterans Affairs for many years before she landed her dream job at Quillen. She was exceptionally smart and excelled at her work and took extra care to speak with families and help them through very difficult times. EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY | 29


NONPROFIT ORG

P.O. Box 70721 Johnson City, TN 37614-1710

Save the Date 2022 Super Reunion Weekend and Gala 40th Graduation Anniversary of Quillen’s Class of 1982!

July 15 - 16, 2022 Due to two years of COVID-19 reunion postponements, the following Quillen classes will gather for a unique summer event! Classes of 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2010, 2011, and 2012