November 4, 2020 | Volume II, Issue 21

Dr. Kirkpatrick stands at the podium to deliver the announcement about the COVID-19 vaccine trial at Governor Scott’s October 27, 2020 press conference

UVM Medical Center & Vaccine Testing Center Announce COVID-19 Vaccine Trial

Leaders from the University of Vermont Medical Center and Vaccine Testing Center at the Larner College of Medicine have announced their selection to take part in a Phase 3 trial for a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. Beth Kirkpatrick, M.D., director of the Vaccine Testing Center and chair of microbiology and molecular genetics, accompanied by Stephen Leffler, M.D., president and COO of UVM Medical Center and professor of surgery, delivered the announcement at Vermont Governor Phil Scott’s press conference on October 27.

The AZD1222 COVID-19 VACCINE Study is researching an investigational vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. The study will track the safety and effectiveness of the investigational vaccine. Approximately 30,000 participants from the United States will take part in this study, including at least 250 local volunteers from Vermont, Northern New York, and New Hampshire. 

“This is an exciting opportunity for our area to help develop a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 and control the ongoing pandemic,” said Dr. Kirkpatrick, who is co-leading the trial with Kristen Pierce, M.D., professor of medicine. “We have significant experience testing vaccines at the University of Vermont and are proud to take part in this national effort. Volunteers will receive high-quality care throughout their participation and will be helping the global community move beyond the threat of COVID-19 by participating.”

Read more about the study.

Pictured above: Dr. Kirkpatrick stands at the podium to deliver the announcement about the COVID-19 vaccine trial at Governor Scott’s October 27, 2020 press conference. (Screenshot of WCAX-TV news video clip)


Robert Larner, M.D. and Helen Moray Larner

Helen Moray Larner (1925-2020)

The Larner College of Medicine lost one of its most steadfast supporters with the passing of Helen Moray Larner on November 2, 2020, at her home in Woodland Hills, California. She was 94. With her husband, the late Robert Larner, M.D.'42, Helen Larner made prudent real estate investments and managed properties whose success enabled the couple to pursue their passion -- the support of medical students and the fostering of medical education here at UVM.

Over the years, the Larners helped more than 2,0000 students through the Larner Loan Fund. They also underwrote the building of the UVM Clinical simulation Laboratory, the renovation of our teaching spaces to accommodate active learning methods, and the creation of nation’s first endowed professorship in medical education. Their landmark 2016 gift led to the College's naming in honor of Dr. Larner.

"Helen Larner cared deeply about our mission to deliver a medical education second to none," said Dean Rick Page. "Her presence will be missed, but our graduates, now and in the future, are an enduring testament to her vision."

Read more about Helen Larner here.

Pictured above: Robert Larner, M.D. and Helen Moray Larner

Woman looking at computer in lab

Higgins Study Shows Lowered Nicotine Can Reduce Smoking Addictiveness in Vulnerable Populations

More than 480,000 U.S. deaths per year, as well as diseases affecting 16 million living Americans, can be attributed to cigarette smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An October 20 study in JAMA Network Open led by Stephen Higgins, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and director of UVM’s Vermont Center on Behavior and Health, with colleagues at Brown University and Johns Hopkins University, provides evidence that reducing nicotine content to low levels decreases smoking rates and nicotine dependence severity among adults with psychiatric disorders or socioeconomic disadvantage.

“Our findings in this and earlier studies suggest that lowering the nicotine content in all cigarettes to minimally addictive levels would benefit all smokers, including those most vulnerable to smoking and addiction,” said Dr. Higgins. 

Read the full article.

Pictured above: A sample package of unlabeled study cigarettes used by researchers at UVM, Brown University and Johns Hopkins University. (Courtesy of Vermont Center on Behavior and Health)

Screenshot of YouTube video with red play button.

The COVID-19 Pivot

As the COVID-19 pandemic began its march across the world in the spring of 2020, an international research movement quickly took shape. A significant number of Larner physicians and scientists rapidly adapted their investigations to the essential work of focusing on COVID-19. Read the article online and look for it in the upcoming fall issue of Vermont Medicine magazine.

Student Voices
Annelise Lapides 

Quote MarksWe can love the field of medicine while still acknowledging its flaws and striving to improve it.”

Class of 2024 medical student Anneliese Lapides

Read Ms. Lapides’ full post, “Physicians and Their Role as Advocates,” on the Larner College of Medicine blog.


Pictured, at left: Ms. Lapides


2020 thus far has been anything but ordinary—and we still have months to go. But the story so far at the University of Vermont this academic year has been extraordinary: ingenuity, compassion, grit and a willingness to make the most of it have given way to opportunities that few thought were possible this semester. View UVM’s “Snapshot: Fall 2020” photo showcase online.

Photo, at left: UVM campus shot featuring Ira Allen Chapel cupola and fall trees.


Dean’s Excellence in Research Celebration

November 4 and 5, 2020

Accolades & Appointments

Patrick Mullen and Zhaojin Li

Patrick Mullen and Zhaojin Li have been selected to receive a UVM Graduate Alumni Dissertation Fellowship Award from the Larner College of Medicine Alumni Association. This award is presented to current doctoral students who are in their final year of completing research in the laboratory of a Larner faculty member. Mr. Mullen and Ms. Li are both students in the Neuroscience Graduate Program, working with mentors Christopher Francklyn, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry, and Marilyn Cipolla, Ph.D., professor of neurological sciences, respectively.

Pictured at left: Mr. Mullen (top) and Ms. Li (bottom)

Jason Botten
Jason Botten, Ph.D., professor of medicine, has been appointed as a founding member of the Pandemic Security Initiative’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). The initiative was created for “bringing together public and private expertise and resources to identify, vet, and develop tests and medicines in preparation for future pandemics.” The board’s founding members are comprised of scientists from around the country.

Patricia King
Patricia King, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine, chaired a Federation of State Medical Boards workgroup on physician sexual misconduct. Over the last two years, the group revised guidelines for handling physician sexual misconduct. Their report, published in April, is more focused on transparency and the survivors/victims. 



The grant received by UVM Cancer Center member Neil Zakai, M.D., M.Sc., associate professor of medicine, highlighted in the October 21 issue of Larner Medicine, was incorrectly attributed as a National Institutes of Health grant. The project, titled “Understanding risk factors and burden of COVID-19 related thrombosis and bleeding complications,” is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the September 23 issue of Larner Medicine, we incorrectly attributed a $15.5 million-dollar, seven-year award to Professor of Medicine Renee Stapleton, M.D, Ph.D. The award actually went to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, with Dr. Stapleton receiving a $1.8 million-dollar subaward as part of the 20-site phase 3 randomized controlled trial of ganciclovir to prevent reactivation of cytomegalovirus (CVM) in patients with sepsis-associated acute respiratory failure.



Mughal A, Sackheim AM, Sancho M, Longden TA, Russell S, Lockette W, Nelson MT, Freeman K. Impaired capillary-to-arteriolar electrical signaling after traumatic brain injury. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2020 Oct 13:271678X20962594.doi: 10.1177/0271678X20962594. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33050826.

Graham NR, Whitaker AN, Strother CA, Miles AK, Grier D, McElvany BD, Bruce EA, Poynter ME, Pierce KK, Kirkpatrick BD, Stapleton RD, An G, van den Broek- Altenburg E, Botten JW, Crothers JW, Diehl SA. Kinetics and isotype assessment of antibodies targeting the spike protein receptor-binding domain of severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 in COVID-19 patients as a function of age, biological sex and disease severity. Clin Transl Immunology. 2020 Oct 7;9(10):e1189. doi: 10.1002/cti2.1189. PMID: 33072323; PMCID: PMC7541824.

Kazmi S, Chatterjee D, Raju D, Hauser R, Kaufman PA. Overall survival analysis in patients with metastatic breast cancer and liver or lung metastases treated with eribulin, gemcitabine, or capecitabine. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2020 Nov;184(2):559-565. doi: 10.1007/s10549-020-05867-0. Epub 2020 Aug 17. PMID: 32808239.

Plubell DL, Fenton AM, Rosario S, Bergstrom P, Wilmarth PA, Clark WM, Zakai NA, Quinn JF, Minnier J, Alkayed NJ, Fazio S, Pamir N. High-Density Lipoprotein Carries Markers That Track With Recovery From Stroke. Circ Res. 2020 Oct 23;127(10):1274-1287. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.120.316526. Epub 2020 Aug 26. PMID: 32844720; PMCID: PMC7581542.

Wasserman RC, Fiks AG. The Future(s) of Pediatric Primary Care. Acad Pediatr. 2020 Oct 28:S1876-2859(20)30572-6. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2020.10.015. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33130066.

Mascarell Maričić L, Walter H, Rosenthal A, Ripke S, Quinlan EB, Banaschewsk T, Barker GJ, Bokde ALW, Bromberg U, Büchel C, Desrivières S, Flor H, Frouin V, Garavan H, Itterman B, Martinot JL, Martinot MP, Nees F, Orfanos DP, Paus T, Poustka L, Hohmann S, Smolka MN, Fröhner JH, Whelan R, Kaminski J, Schumann G, Heinz A; IMAGEN consortium. The IMAGEN study: a decade of imaging genetics in adolescents. Mol Psychiatry. 2020 Nov;25(11):2648-2671. doi: 10.1038/s41380-020-0822-5. Epub 2020 Jun 29. PMID: 32601453; PMCID: PMC7577859.

Evans DC, Corkins MR, Malone A, Miller S, Mogensen KM, Guenter P, Jensen GL; ASPEN Malnutrition Committee. The Use of Visceral Proteins as Nutrition Markers: An ASPEN Position Paper. Nutr Clin Pract. 2020 Oct 30. doi: 10.1002/ncp.10588. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33125793.

Mouchati PR, Kloc ML, Holmes GL, White SL, Barry JM. Optogenetic "low-theta" pacing of the septohippocampal circuit is sufficient for spatial goal finding and is influenced by behavioral state and cognitive demand. Hippocampus. 2020 Nov;30(11):1167-1193. doi: 10.1002/hipo.23248. Epub 2020 Jul 25. PMID: 32710688.

Michell H, Johnston GP, Chopra P, Scriver GM, Bhave AD, Shields JT, Morris CS. Cholecystostomy as an Exclusive Access to Remove Cystic, Common Hepatic, and Common Bile Duct Stones. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2020 Nov;215(5):1252-1256. doi: 10.2214/AJR.19.22469. Epub 2020 Sep 9. PMID: 32901566.

Soll RF, Ovelman C, McGuire W. The future of Cochrane Neonatal. Early Hum Dev. 2020 Nov;150:105191. doi: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2020.105191. Epub 2020 Sep 12. PMID: 33036834.

 Kamin Mukaz D, Zakai NA, Cruz-Flores S, McCullough LD, Cushman M. Identifying Genetic and Biological Determinants of Race-Ethnic Disparities in Stroke in the United States. Stroke. 2020 Nov;51(11):3417-3424. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.120.030425. Epub 2020 Oct 26. PMID: 33104469; PMCID: PMC7594163.

Gobbi S, Weber SC, Graf G, Hinz D, Asarian L, Geary N, Leeners B, Hare TA, Tobler PN. Reduced Neural Satiety Responses in Women Affected by Obesity. Neuroscience. 2020 Nov 1;447:94-112. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2020.07.022. Epub 2020 Aug 13. PMID: 32798591.


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The Larner College of Medicine
at The University of Vermont
Copyright 2020