Page 1



Global Perspective

UTHSC Chancellor Steve J. Schwab, MD Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operations Officer Kennard Brown, JD, MPA, PhD, FACHE Dean, College of Graduate Health Sciences Donald B. Thomason, PhD Associate Dean, Student Affairs Isaac O. Donkor, PhD Associate Dean, Postdoctoral Affairs Monica Jablonski, PhD Associate Dean, Academic Affairs John V. Cox, PhD Assistant Dean, Academic Affairs Larry L. Tague

Table of Contents Letter from Dean Thomason.....................................................................................2 Report from the Chancellor.......................................................................................3 Raising our Profile.......................................................................................................... 4

Assistant Dean, Graduate Programs and Services Felicia Washington, MHSA

New Doctoral Program Hones Data Skills..........................................................6

Program Coordinator Elizabeth Webb, MA

Cox Honored for Teaching Excellence..................................................................9

Program Coordinator Lyncie Crawford

PhD Candidate Writes Book to Help Kids........................................................10

Administrative Coordinator Jeddie Maxwell

Outstanding Junior and Senior Postdoc Q&A................................................ 13

Vice Chancellor for Development and Alumni Affairs Love Collins, III, MBA

Congratulations to our 2017 Graduates............................................................. 17

Associate Vice Chancellor for Development Bethany Goolsby, JD Senior Director of Development Greg Harris Assistant Vice Chancellor for Alumni Affairs Tim Lanier Senior Director of Annual Giving and Advancement Services Jada Williams

College Briefs.................................................................................................................. 18 Campus Briefs...............................................................................................................20 Postdoctoral Research Day Spotlights Accomplishments...................... 22 Three-Minute Thesis Competition Tests Communicators ....................... 24 In Memoriam................................................................................................................... 25

Senior Director, Alumni Programs Chandra Tuggle Assistant Vice Chancellor for Communications and Marketing Sally Badoud, MBA Editor Peggy Reisser

Why Make an Annual Gift to UTHSC? Donating to UTHSC every year helps us provide

Contributing Writers Peggy Reisser Amber Carter Jackie Denton

• scholarships

• laboratory equipment

• community outreach initiatives

Designer Adam Gaines

… and many other benefits that would not be available using state or tuition-provided dollars alone!

Photographers Allen Gillespie Thurman Hobson Peggy Reisser

Your gift in any amount will make a difference. Donate $100 or more and become a member of our 1911 Society! For details, go to

• travel grants

Thank you for being a partner with our campus, our colleges, and our programs.

Make your gift today! | 901.448.5516

Letter from Dean Thomason We have set ambitious goals for the College of Graduate Health Sciences, and I am happy to report that we are well on our way to meeting them. One principal goal is to increase the impact of the research done by the students and postdoctoral fellows in the college. To do this, we have established educational and research ties locally, nationally, and globally. While research collaborations are primarily administered through the Office of Research, they are very closely, and inseparably, tied to our research training mission. Two of these collaborations are with institutions in China — Harbin Medical University (HMU) and Sichuan University/West China Hospital. Investigators with UTHSC and HMU developed joint research proposals that are funded by both institutions. Our college also developed a summer student exchange and a direct entry for master’s degree graduates from HMU into PhD programs at UTHSC. These students are funded by both institutions. With Sichuan University/West China Hospital, the UTHSC research collaboration has been as a part of a new Memphis Institute of Regenerative Medicine. Around the technology employed in this collaboration, the college has developed a joint course in 3D Bioprinting. Other than increasing our profile, what is the advantage of a more global perspective? After all, we receive state funds. We attract the highest-quality trainees to participate in the most-advanced research. And, because of the stimulating atmosphere of research, perhaps some of these trainees will build their careers in Tennessee. For the state, this is an important economic contribution. In 2017, the college partnered with the University of Memphis and the Tennessee Conference of Graduate Schools to commission an economic impact study of graduate education in the state. The estimate is that the number of master’s and PhD degree holders required to meet the 2022 demand will contribute more than $8.1 billion to the state economy over their working lifetime. The College of Graduate Health Sciences is proud to be building the academic and research environment to foster this economic growth.

Donald Thomason, PhD Dean of the College of Graduate Health Sciences



“We are steadily and reliably bringing faculty, staff, and students best-in-class practice facilities” UTHSC Chancellor Steve J. Schwab, MD

UTHSC Chancellor Lauds Performance; Issues Challenge for Future The University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s academic and clinical performance in 2016-2017 was “at a national caliber level,” Chancellor Steve Schwab, MD, said during his annual State of the University Address. Revenues were the highest ever for the university, and student recruitment and performance continued an upward trajectory. “I think we’ve concluded a very strong year,” he said. The progress pushes the university steadily toward the goal he set several years ago to move into the top quartile of academic health care institutions.

Delta Dental Building planned for the Memphis campus, describing it as a glass-and-steel structure wrapping the current dental building, and offering a more attractive façade, as well as additional clinical and academic space. Impending renovation on the Historic Quadrangle will return students to the center of campus for the first time since the 1970s. Renovations to the Nash Building and Nash Annex will yield an additional 100,000 square feet of state-of-the-art research space in Memphis. “We are steadily and reliably bringing faculty, staff, and students best-in-class practice facilities,” Dr. Schwab said.

Dr. Schwab said the university has continued to expand its reach across the state with clinical programs in medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy. “We truly are a state-spanning institution,” he said.

The Center for Health Care Improvement and Patient Simulation soon to open in Memphis is a reflection of this. It will allow students from all six colleges to train together in simulation settings.

UTHSC generated $357 million in clinical revenue; $257 million in sponsored programs (non-clinical grants and contracts), the largest in the UT System; $17 million in philanthropy; $141 million in state appropriations; and $86 million in tuition.

Enrollment continues to climb to a total of 3,201 students and 1,496 residents and fellows, he said. “Our graduation rates are spectacular.” The most recent graduation rate is at 97 percent, and the first-time board pass rate is at 94 percent.

“This is the most revenue we’ve ever had, and it finds us in a very strong go-forward position to carry out our missions,” he said.

He commended the UTHSC faculty and staff for their work, and encouraged an even stronger performance in the future.

Dr. Schwab pointed to the unprecedented construction on campus as a tangible sign of progress. He cited the new UTHSC COLLEGE OF GRADUATE HEALTH SCIENCES | SPRING 2018


College of Graduate Health Sciences Raises Academic, Research Profile When the College of Graduate Health Sciences welcomed its inaugural class of eight students from Harbin Medical University (HMU) in China for the Summer Interns Program in early August, it was a major step in the college’s international outreach. “It is our good fortune to have students from Harbin Medical University spend a few weeks interning in UTHSC laboratories this summer,” Donald Thomason, PhD, dean of the college, said in welcoming the students. “This is the start of a collaboration between our universities for education and research. In education, we not only have the summer research interns, but we also welcome five PhD students from HMU entering the Integrated Biomedical Sciences (IBS) Program this fall.” The GHS Summer Interns Program was several years in the making. The college began the program so students and researchers abroad and at UTHSC could gain different perspectives in health care and research from their peers. By this summer, UTHSC hopes to offer the opportunity for students on campus to study at Harbin Medical University. It’s all part of raising the international profile of the College of Graduate Health Sciences. “We are already well-known and well-regarded by graduate students here and overseas, but these formal collaborations take our reputation to the next level,” Dr. Thomason said. He said the college is redoubling efforts to recruit a diverse and well-qualified student body. “We continue to work on enhancing the pool of students and postdocs we have,” he said. A research collaboration with Sichuan University/West China Hospital has also been established as a part of a new Memphis Institute of Regenerative Medicine on the campus. Around the technology employed in this collaboration, the college has developed a joint course in 3D Bioprinting. This course explores the theory and application of the technique of using “bioinks,” adipocytederived stem cells suspended in a medium that can be “printed” onto a substrate, similar to inkjet printing on paper.



“We are confident that the collaborations on multiple levels will be of great benefit to our institutions,” the dean said. As the college strives to increase its visibility with potential students and postdoctoral candidates, it has worked to make the outstanding research done by its trainees easier to find. The college has published students’ theses and dissertations online for the past 10 years, however, it was felt that leaving to chance the possibility of an interested person stumbling over a link to these documents was not a focused approach to telling the college’s story. In addition, maintaining web pages for the culminating work of students, as well as for the academic work of all trainees, including poster presentations at meetings, etc., did not take advantage of modern indexing tools that would provide metadata on the work. Two years ago, the college partnered with the UTHSC Library to transfer existing and future theses and dissertations to an institutional repository hosted by Digital Commons ( Moving the work to the institutional repository has dramatically expanded its visibility. In 2017, work from the college was downloaded 13,801 times by 1,539 institutions in 140 countries. “We are still in the catch-up stages, scanning previous theses and dissertations,” Dr. Thomason said. “But this is a tremendous start. For the future, we are encouraging our trainees to also submit other works for the repository.” The dean said the college will continue to position itself as a place of academic and research excellence in Tennessee and beyond. If the words of one of the interns from Harbin are an indication, the efforts are paying off. “I hope to learn many things here,” the visiting student said.



Doctoral Program Develops Advanced Data Analysis and Management Skills The era of Big Data demands an army of experts — not just data entry support, IT techs, and number crunchers, but highly skilled professionals trained to translate the mountains of data produced into the meaningful information that will shape the future of health care. The College of Graduate Health Sciences and the Department of Health Informatics and Information Management in the College of Health Professions have developed a doctoral concentration to fill this need. The new HIIM doctoral track embeds health informatics and information management into an existing GHS health policy program to help inform and influence health policy research and outcomes.



Students gain in-depth experiences with data analysis, data modeling and data mining. Courses provide an overview on clinical health care delivery systems, telehealth and mobile health, privacy and security of health information, ethical health informatics challenges and opportunities, and health care innovation. The HIIM faculty saw the need for this program, and worked with the College of Graduate Health Sciences to develop and obtain approval, said Rebecca Reynolds, EdD, RHIA, CHPS, chair and professor in the Department of Health Informatics and Information Management. It is offered through the Health Outcomes and Policy Research doctoral program in the College of Graduate Health Sciences.

The evolution of the program started in the spring of 2016 with three courses, and expanded in the fall of 2016 with five courses, when the doctoral concentration was approved.

The doctoral program has accepted its first cohort of four students. The concentration is expected to take approximately 4.5 years to complete, depending on whether a student is full time or part time.

“Not many universities have doctoral programs like this, although there is a huge demand from the industry, both from health care, as well as insurance and academic and research entities,” said Sajeesh Kumar, PhD, interim director of the Institute for Health Outcomes and Policy Research in the College of Graduate Health Sciences.

Dr. Kumar pointed out that UTHSC has a strong history with distance learning, and the program, with its online component, is well placed so its students can benefit from faculty and research being done across the university.

“Currently, the U.S. health care system is going more and more digital,” Dr. Kumar said. “This needs a high level of management.” Professionals must be highly skilled not only in data management and analysis, but in privacy and security issues as well, he said.

“Also, we have a good collaboration with the University of Memphis and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, so students have access to courses from these places, as well as research and faculty resources,” Dr. Kumar said.





Associate Dean John Cox Honored for Teaching Excellence John Cox, PhD, says he’s always excited about biological research. And in his roles as an associate professor and associate dean of Academic Affairs for the College of Graduate Health Sciences, he is even more excited about transferring that feeling to the next generation of investigators. “At this point in my career, what I realize is that I have in incredible opportunity to interact with students very early on, when they are admitted into the college,” Dr. Cox says. “They come from very different backgrounds, and through my interactions with them in a couple of different courses, hopefully I instill in them my excitement of basic research science.” Dr. Cox has been a researcher with the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Biochemistry at UTHSC for 28 years. He was honored for his teaching in the College of Graduate Health Sciences by the Student Government Association Executive Council (SGAEC) with an Excellence in Teaching Award for the 2016-2017 academic year. The organization’s annual awards are among the most prestigious a faculty member can win. “It’s certainly an honor to be acknowledged by the students,” Dr. Cox says. Most basic science research faculty do not come to the university as teachers, but find teaching is a very important part of their responsibilities. “Teaching is something you get better at and learn to appreciate and get excited about,” he says. As a researcher, Dr. Cox’s focus is on cell biology and chlamydia pathogenesis. As an instructor, he interacts with the students during their first two years of the PhD biomedical sciences program, teaching a molecular biology course and a course on cellular signaling. He also teaches first-year students in the College of Medicine.

“It’s a critical time in their lives,” he says. “They’ve made a commitment to biomedical research, and now they’re learning what’s involved with that. How they can make that work.” Making that commitment work means acquiring the fundamentals necessary to be a successful researcher, so they can transition into positions as postdoctoral researchers and ultimately into faculty positions. “What I teach hopefully builds a firm foundation that allows them to more easily go forward in their careers,” Dr. Cox says. The majority of his students come into the college with strong backgrounds. “So we can immediately jump into what is current, new, and interesting,” he says. He views it as his responsibility to teach them how to think critically and apply that critical thinking to current topics that are of high interest in the medical biosciences field. He is proud of his students who have gone on to successful careers and had significant impact on the field of molecular biology. And if he had to pinpoint why he got the award from students, he doesn’t have to ponder long to come up with an answer. “Primarily, I push them to think and evaluate,” Dr. Cox says. “I push them to use current literature as a tool to start to think broader about the fields they are going to start evaluating. I push them harder than most. They don’t appreciate it when I push, but probably they do a few years later.”



Nursing PhD Student Writes Book for Kids with Rare Endocrine Disorder Lacretia Carroll is a nurse, a researcher, and a children’s book author. Carroll, 29, who will graduate from the PhD program in Nursing Science at UTHSC in May, works as a clinical research coordinator in endocrinology at Le Bonheur Children’s Research Hospital. When she left bedside nursing to pursue her PhD in 2014, she became interested in endocrinology. Her research eventually drew her to write a book for children affected with a rare genetic endocrine disorder — congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). “I found a population that was rare and nobody was doing a lot of research, and I was like, ‘hey, there’s a need here,’ ” she said. Prior pediatric nursing work made her particularly sensitive to children diagnosed with the disorder that causes the body to make too much androgen, affecting growth, electrolyte balance, sexual characteristics, and sometimes fertility. “There was nothing for these kids and they feel out of place,” Carroll said. “There’s information about diabetes and other diseases, but there was nothing for the younger kids.” Hence, she wrote “The CAH Wonderclub,” found an illustrator, got it published, and put it on Amazon. In the book, a boy and a girl with CAH consider their diagnosis a superpower. In age-appropriate terms, the children help readers learn about the disorder, what to expect at a doctor’s visit, and that health care workers are dedicated to helping them feel better. “It lets them know that it wasn’t their fault, it’s something they’re born with,” Carroll said. “Toward the end of the book, it lets them know that just because they have this disorder, it doesn’t mean they can’t live a happy life.” Since CAH affects one in 10,000 to 15,000, you might wonder how wide the audience for her book could be. Carroll said sales have been good. The CARES Foundation, an organization that aims to improve the lives of those with CAH and to support education and research into the disease, is considering adding the book to its online store. She also sees support for the book on social media, and was thrilled when a mom shared a photo of her child with CAH reading the book.



Carroll’s dissertation, which she successfully defended in the fall, focuses on the health-related quality of life for girls diagnosed with this disorder. Her research has included trips to the CARES Foundation headquarters in New Jersey and New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center to talk with patients, family, and caregivers. Carroll intends to continue to advocate for and support those with CAH. “She is enthusiastic, focused, and highly motivated — seeking out opportunities to learn and develop as a researcher, and to contribute,” said Carolyn Graff, PhD, RN, FAAIDD, who has served as Carroll’s mentor for three and a half years. “She will make outstanding contributions as she moves forward with her research on children with congenital adrenal hyperplasia.” After graduation, Carroll hopes to continue her career at UTHSC as a faculty member in a research position. She expects to expand her research focus to include disorders of sexual development. Carroll said she is motivated “to help in a different way” as a nurse researcher. “I think we all know how nurses help at the bedside, and we get that direct patient care,” she said. “But somebody also has to be there to push for the political stuff, to do the research, so that people at the bedside can know what to do.”





Outstanding Junior Postdoc: Avtar S. Meena, PhD, Lauded for Research into Effects of Alcohol on the Gastrointestinal Tract Avtar S. Meena, PhD, was named the 2017 Outstanding Junior Postdoc in the College of Graduate Health Sciences. HOMETOWN: Bissau, Rajasthan, India UNDERGRADUATE: Bachelor of Science in biochemistry from the University of Delhi, India, 2002-2005 GRADUATE: Master of Science in biochemistry from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara, India, 2005-2007 DOCTORATE: PhD in biotechnology, National Centre for Cell Science, University of Pune, Maharashtra, India, 2008-2013 POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW: Dr. Meena is a postdoc in the laboratory of Radhakrishna Rao, PhD, at UTHSC. His research focuses on the involvement of calcium channels in alcohol-induced gut permeability, endotoxemia, and liver damage. His recent work deals with the role of the TRPV6 channel in regulation of intestinal epithelial tight junctions and gut permeability by alcohol. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE UTHSC FOR YOUR FELLOWSHIP? “UTHSC is the leading state institution for research on the causes, treatment, and prevention of diseases. It helps all researchers in proposal development services and resources to maximize competitiveness of grant application and scientific manuscripts.”

WHY ARE POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWSHIPS IMPORTANT? “Postdoctoral fellowships test the ability of highly-talented researchers, as they meet aggressive time lines. They also allow time to conduct independent research and development, gain further experience and skills, build collaboration, and obtain research-intensive employment in academia, industry and government.” WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT SO FAR? “My most memorable moment is receiving the Junior Postdoc achievement award. I want to express my sincere appreciation and thanks to the UTHSC Postdoctoral Association for recognizing me. I am truly humbled and honored to accept this award and to join past recipients, who I have long admired and respected.” WHY IS YOUR AREA OF RESEARCH SIGNIFICANT? “Our studies suggest that the calcium channel blocker may bear a therapeutic value in the treatment of alcoholinduced disruption of epithelial tight junction, barrier dysfunction, and liver damage. In summary, research activities will advance my postdoctoral training and strengthen my interest in alcohol research, so that I can embark upon a scientific career in investigating alcoholmediated tissue damage and related diseases.” WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS? “I plan to continue my research in this field and become an independent academic investigator in the field of cellular and molecular mechanisms of alcoholic tissue damage.”



Outstanding Senior Postdoc: Korah P. Kuruvilla Honored for Research and Cross-Departmental Collaboration Korah P. Kuruvilla, PhD, is the 2017 Outstanding Senior Postdoc in the College of Graduate Health Sciences. HOMETOWN: Kochi, India UNDERGRADUATE: Bachelor of Science in chemistry from Mahatma Gandhi University, India, 2007 GRADUATE: Master of Science in biotechnology from Sathyabama University, India, 2009 DOCTORAL: PhD in neuroscience from Cochin University of Science and Technology, India, 2012 POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW: Dr. Kuruvilla works under the mentorship and laboratory of Ankush Gosain, MD, PhD, FACS, FAAP, in the Children’s Foundation Research Institute located at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. His research focuses on evaluating the contributions of the enteric nervous system, gut mucosal immunity, microbiome dysbiosis (imbalance or maladaptation), and epithelial barrier dysfunction toward the development of Hirschsprung-Associated Enterocolitis (HAEC). In addition, his research focuses on determining the contribution of bowel obstruction to the development of physiologic stress during HAEC, using microsurgical pull-through surgery. HOW HAS UTHSC PREPARED YOU FOR YOUR FUTURE CAREER? “UTHSC has helped mold my career in numerous ways — from recognizing my research at multiple levels



to providing opportunities to present my research at various platforms. I am fortunate to have a great mentor and a wonderful team of researchers within my lab. The UTHSC Postdoctoral Association has helped me develop communication, networking, and leadership skills, in addition to being a venue to meet other postdoctoral fellows and mentors.” WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS? “My plan is to build a career in academic research as an independent scientist.” WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER STUDENTS? “Work hard toward achieving your career goals. There may be difficult times, but if you keep believing in your strengths, you will find a solution to every problem. Prepare yourself for success by developing your talent and leveraging your skills. Learn to master the art of patience. Be open to constructive criticism. Build a professional support network.” WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON RECEIVING THIS RECOGNITION? “I am extremely honored. Receiving recognition during postdoctoral research at the university level is an accomplishment. It has boosted my passion to work toward achieving my career goals and the research progress of my mentor, and in turn, UTHSC.”



Congratulations to Our 2017 Graduates!



SPRING COMMENCEMENT DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY Ammaar Hasan Abidi William Bodeen Neeraj Chauhan Dileep Reddy Janagam Eunhee Kim Zongtao Lin Brandon Ray Lowe Samantha H. Ransone Chetan Rathi Josiah T. Ryman Daniela Cristina Santos-Oliveira Bishwas Shrestha

Aman Preet Singh Shajila Siricilla Christopher Philip Surdock Margaret Mary Thompson Hong Wang

MASTER OF SCIENCE Cody Keith Bateman Kylie Davis Daniel Clay Hillyard Luis Martin Gomez Noam A. VanderWalde

MASTER OF DENTAL SCIENCE Tyler Reed Allen Mary Marlys Barron Celeste Anastasia Block Nathaniel David Denson Ashley Nicole Powell

WINTER COMMENCEMENT DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY Rashid John Darbandi Taren Ong Qinghui Wang Xue Yang Samuel S. McAfee Mary Cameron Ogg MASTER OF DENTAL SCIENCE Nicholas Gregory Norvell Aaron Jay Omura Paula Stepp

MASTER OF SCIENCE Julie Alyse Lowell Ben Sagot Tusita Adris Uchenna Anunobi Ladd Caballero Tracy Faith Carter David Walter Coates Elizabeth Walton Crowder Rachna Raj Dave Ashley Carol Dobb Martha Anna Halford Aaron Hollifield

John David Kee Alison R. Krenzer Eric Ly William Garnett Murphy Hallie Elizabeth Norman SaeRam Oh Mark Benedict Schneider Thomas Schroeppel Andrew Paul Schultz William Hurt Stafford Warner Thomas Jared Nicholas Woodward



College of Graduate Health Sciences Briefs Deep Appreciation The National Postdoc Appreciation Week in September offered an opportunity for networking, learning, and fun. Sponsored by the Postdoctoral Association, the week included a meet-and-greet breakfast in the Student-Alumni Center, a lunch and talent contest, a resume writing workshop, yoga and meditation classes for stress relief, and a family picnic at the Memphis Zoo. Postdocs, mentors, advisory committee members, and representatives from offices and departments on campus that provide services to postdocs were invited to attend.

High Honors Chikezie Madu, PhD, a 2012 graduate of the UTHSC College of Graduate Health Sciences, is an Advanced Placement (AP) biology teacher at White Station High School and a dualenrollment instructor at the University of Memphis. He was selected as the Tennessee finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The prestigious award is the nation’s highest honor for teachers of mathematics and science.

Graduate Research Day 2017 With the outstanding leadership of Kirsten Dickerson, PhD candidate in biomedical sciences, and the support of the Graduate Student Executive Council, 45 students presented their work to the university on Graduate Research Day. The day included poster and oral presentations, a trivia quiz based upon the oral presentations, a Three-Minute Thesis competition, and career development activities. “This is a wonderful showcase for our students,” Dean Thomason said. “Each year, I hear from the faculty that they are always impressed by the quality and variety of research performed by our students.”



Nursing Leader Catherine Pantik, a Jonas Scholar, PhD/Doctor of Nursing Practice student in the Colleges of Graduate Health Sciences and Nursing at UTHSC, is among 10 graduate nursing students from across the country chosen to serve a two-year term on the American Association of Colleges of Nursing – Graduate Nursing Student Academy (AACN-GNSA) Leadership Council. The GNSA provides programs, services, and resources to graduate nursing students enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs at AACN-member schools, as they prepare for careers as faculty members, researchers, advanced practice registered nurses, clinical nurse leaders, policy experts, and health care administrators. Pantik was elected vice chair of the Leadership Council, and will serve as chair of the council for 2018-2019. She also was on the conference program planning committee for the AACN-GNSA inaugural conference in Atlanta.

I Do At the college’s post-ceremony luncheon during spring commencement, Zongtao Lin got a PhD in medicinal chemistry and a fiancée. Dr. Lin, 29, used the time allotted to graduates to introduce guests to instead pop the question to Xian Han, 22, a student in the Integrated Biomedical Sciences Program at UTHSC. All eyes were on the couple when he knelt and asked her marry him. She said yes. Dr. Lin is now a postdoc at the University of Pennsylvania. The couple will marry in May. Dean Thomason learned about the proposal shortly before it happened. “It is wonderful to see our students embarking on their professional careers, and also on their life journeys,” he said. “It was a treat for everyone.”



Campus Briefs

UTHSC Leaders Named Health Care Heroes Two outstanding leaders from UTHSC were named 2017 Health Care Heroes by the Memphis Business Journal. The annual awards recognize the best and the brightest in Memphis’s health care community. Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operations Officer Ken Brown, JD, MPA, PhD, FACHE, received the 2017 Health Care Heroes Award for Administrative Excellence. Altha Stewart, MD, associate professor of psychiatry and founding director of the Center for Health in Justice Involved Youth, received the 2017 Health Care Heroes Award in the Health Care Provider (Physician) category. Dr. Stewart is the president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association.



Student Government Association Donates New Learning Tool Students at UTHSC have a new interactive tool to help them learn anatomy, thanks to the Student Government Association Executive Council (SGAEC). The Anatomage Table, a 3D table that displays the human anatomy, became available on campus in the university library, after the SGAEC decided the table would be an essential learning tool. The organization funded the table through its campus improvement fund. “Our hope is that this new visual dissection table will help students use class and lab sessions more efficiently,” said SGAEC President Lee Pribyl.

Smoke-Free Campus UTHSC rang in 2018 by joining the more than 1,757 campuses across the country in becoming a smoke-free campus. Effective January 1, the use of, advertising, sale, or free sampling of smoking products on university property, facilities, grounds, and controlled venues is prohibited. The policy spans the 55-acre Memphis campus, including sidewalks and parking lots adjacent to university buildings. “We understand the health consequences of smoking,” said Ken Brown, executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer at UTHSC. “We believe this decision supports our other efforts to have a healthy environment for our students, faculty, and staff at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.”



Annual Postdoctoral Research Day Displays Excellent Work Postdoctoral Research Day 2017 showcased the outstanding work being done in the College of Graduate Health Sciences. Held in the Student-Alumni Center on December 12, the event included poster presentations, oral presentations, lunch, a keynote address, and an awards presentation. Jim Bailey, MD, MPH, professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and author of the book, “The End of Healing,” spoke to the packed house. Dr. Bailey advocated for everyone to take charge of their personal health. Attendance was so high for Dr. Bailey’s presentation



that extra chairs had to be brought in. Two guests, Kafait Malik, PhD, professor of pharmacology, and Sonam Kumari, a graduate student in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, won copies of Dr. Bailey’s book. The day is designed to encourage postdocs to present their research as an essential component of their training experience. It is sponsored by the Postdoctoral Office, the Postdoctoral Association, and the College of Graduate Health Sciences. More than 30 postdoctoral fellows and faculty mentors showed their work.

THE WINNERS ORAL PRESENTATIONS First Place Purnima Singh, PhD, Department of Pharmacology, Kafait Malik, PhD, mentor Second Place Meenakshi Tiwary, PhD, Department of Pediatrics, Amali Samarasinghe, PhD, mentor Third Place Korah Kuruvilla, PhD, Department of Surgery, Ankush Gosain, MD, PhD, mentor

POSTER PRESENTATIONS First Place Raquibul Hasan, PhD, Department of Physiology, Jon Jaggar, PhD, mentor

Second Place Adriana Barba-Montoya, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kirk Hevener, PharmD, PhD, mentor Third Place Sally Elshaer, PhD, Department of Ophthalmology, Dr. Rajashekhar Gangaraju, PhD, mentor

TRAVEL AWARDS Roberto Cordero, MD, Department of Genetics, Genomics and Informatics, Claire Simpson, PhD, mentor Vivek Kumar Kashyap, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Subhash Chauhan, PhD, mentor Avtar Singh Meena, PhD, Department of Physiology, Radhakrishna Rao, PhD, mentor



First Place: Viraj Ichhapona

Second Place: Aisha Hegab

Three-Minute Thesis Competition Tests Thinking, Communication Skills Imagine doing all the work on your thesis, and then having only a few minutes to describe it to a roomful of people who are totally unfamiliar with your work.

career paths after grad school,” said Bastardo, a fifthyear graduate student in Microbiology, Immunology, and Biochemistry.

Sounds like a nightmare to most people. But to contestants in the Three-Minute Thesis Competition organized last fall by the Graduate Student Executive Council (GSEC), it was a challenge not to be refused.

“Everyone was rated on how fluent and easily they were able to describe their work and how interesting and knowledgeable they made it for the audience,” Bastardo said. A native of Venezuela, Bastardo works in the lab of Hongbo Chi, PhD, at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital studying immunometabolism.

Six intrepid contestants made their lightning presentations. They were allowed one static slide to help them make their case. Daniel Bastardo, president of the GSEC, said the competition is designed to be more than an exercise in anxiety management. “Really, the goal is to encourage them to bring down the knowledge and the complexity of their thesis to a representation that is as simple as they can make it, so that everybody can understand it by just talking to them for three minutes,” he said.

Winners received a monetary prize from the college. A People’s Choice award was selected by the audience. Awards went to, Viraj Ichhapona, first place; Aisha Hegab, second place; Praveen Kumar Potukuchi, people’s choice.

“It’s quite a challenge because a thesis is a book that will probably have hundreds of pages,” he said. “Here, you only have three minutes with one slide. It’s a great opportunity for students to really understand the deep knowledge that they have created and bring it down so the general audience can understand it.” The competition was sponsored by the UTHSC Office of Alumni Affairs and Memphis Bioworks Foundation, which donated space for the event. The presentations were evaluated by judges from Memphis Bioworks and the University of Memphis. Roughly 50 to 60 guests attended. “It was a great opportunity for them to know what we do at UTHSC, and for students to network and learn more about potential



People’s Choice Award: Praveen Kumar Potukuchi

In Memoriam

Leave Your Legacy

David Lloyd Armbruster, PhD, who served as the associate dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Graduate Health Sciences from 2000 to 2008, died at his Memphis home on December 28, 2017.

Have you thought about the legacy you will leave behind?

David Lloyd Armbruster

He was born in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and received his undergraduate degree at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, where he majored in Russian literature. He received a master’s degree and a PhD from Vanderbilt University. Dr. Armbruster joined the College of Graduate Health Sciences in 1984 as head of the section of scientific publications and an assistant professor. As the associate dean for Academic Affairs, his many accomplishments include developing and implementing a plan for transition to electronic theses and dissertations. “David was instrumental as a pacesetter for the movement to electronic theses and dissertations in the country and the world,” Dean Donald Thomason said. “He was also very influential as chair of the college’s curriculum committee to establish uniformity in learning objectives and assessment metrics among the myriad courses offered by the college.”

With a Planned Gift, you can: • Simplify your estate for your family • Reduce the tax burden applied to your assets • Benefit causes you hold dear

Legacy donors become members of the Hershel “Pat” Wall Legacy Society Dr. Wall’s 50 years of dedication as a student, faculty member, and administrator to UTHSC are unsurpassed. His legacy will live forever, as will the impact made by our donors. For more information about planned gifts to UTHSC and Legacy Society membership, contact Bethany Goolsby at 901.448.5516 or

For many years, Dr. Armbruster was head of Scientific Publications and Library Communications for the university. He also chaired the Committee on Academic Ceremonies for the university, maintaining a very structured planning and debrief process that helped the commencements run smoothly and improve each year, the dean said. Dr. Armbruster retired from UTHSC in 2013, and became a freelance scientific editor and community volunteer. “He was also a great friend,” Dean Thomason said.

All qualified applicants will receive equal consideration for employment and admissions without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, physical or mental disability, or covered veteran status. Eligibility and other terms and conditions of employment benefits at The University of Tennessee are governed by laws and regulations of the State of Tennessee, and this nondiscrimination statement is intended to be consistent with those laws and regulations. In accordance with the requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, The University of Tennessee affirmatively states that it does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, or disability in its education programs and activities, and this policy extends to employment by the University. Inquiries and charges of violation of Title VI (race, color, national origin), Title IX (sex), Section 504 (disability), ADA (disability), Age Discrimination in Employment Act (age), sexual orientation, or veteran status should be directed to the Office of Equity and Diversity (OED), 910 Madison Avenue, Suite 826, Memphis, Tennessee 38163, telephone 901-448-7382 (V/TTY available). Requests for accommodation of a disability should be directed to the ADA Coordinator at the Office of Equity and Diversity. E073101(002#181399)

Nonprofit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Memphis, TN Permit No. 4026 Office of Development and Alumni Affairs 62 S. Dunlap, Suite 500 Memphis, TN 38163 CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED

SAVE THE DATE! 2018 GOLDEN GRADUATE HOMECOMING OCTOBER 10–12, 2018 | MEMPHIS, TN Honoring graduates of 1968 from all six UTHSC colleges. Join your classmates in Memphis for your 50th reunion celebration! Please watch your mailbox for a detailed event brochure.

THIS YEAR’S EVENTS INCLUDE: • Dinner at Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous • College Open House and Center for Healthcare Improvement and Patient Simulation Center Tour

For more information, contact Kristin Attaway at or 901.448.8580.

•O  ptional Memphis city bus tour led by Jimmy Ogle •G  olden Graduate Homecoming Ceremony and Dinner at the Peabody Hotel

UTHSC College of Graduate Health Sciences Magazine - Spring 2018  
UTHSC College of Graduate Health Sciences Magazine - Spring 2018