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June 4, 2020 | Volume II, Issue 11

A message from Deans Page, Tandoh and Zehle

In the setting of recent reminders of societal racism and examples of horrific police brutality, we share a sense of shock and outrage brought forth by these events—including the recent tragic death of George Floyd, captured on video. We recognize both the direct and indirect impact these events have on the members of our community. We understand that most of us are experiencing distress and fear for ourselves, our friends, our children and our families. We want to acknowledge the pain and grief that we, as a community, are all experiencing. 


Read the full May 30 message to the Larner community.

Dean's Awards for Professionalism

Dean Announces Faculty, Staff and Student Professionalism Awards

In conjunction with the one-year anniversary of the Larner College of Medicine’s introduction of the Statement on Professionalism, Dean Rick Page, M.D., has announced the inaugural recipients of the Dean’s Awards for Professionalism.

“These aren’t necessarily the ‘best’ or ‘most’ professional among us, but rather are chosen to acknowledge individuals, of many, who exemplify our ‘true north,’” said Dean Page in a May 29 statement to the Larner community.

The recipients are:

  • Dean’s Faculty Award for Professionalism:Jennifer Gilwee, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Internal Medicine

  • Staff Award for Professionalism: Eric Gagnon, M.Ed., M.S.S., Director, Facilities Administration and Projects

  • Dean’s Student Award for Professionalism: Isaac de La Bruere , Medical Class of 2022

    Read more about the award recipients.


Neurological Sciences Team Creates Virtual Anatomy Course

Each summer, dozens of physical therapy and Master of Medical Science graduate students from the University of Vermont and beyond come to the Larner College of Medicine for a hands-on Human Gross Anatomy course. But with in-person instruction prohibited due to COVID-19, faculty members in the Department of Neurological Sciences had to develop an alternative plan this year. 

With only six weeks to prepare, the team, led by Thayer Professor of Neurological Sciences and Director of the Anatomical Gift Program Gary Mawe, Ph.D.,  created a comprehensive online version of the class. Dr. Mawe attended an online course-design boot camp, researched educational software programs, and consulted with educators at other institutions facing the same dilemma. He and other course faculty members, including co-director and Professor Victor May, Ph.D., Assistant Professors Derek Strong, Ph.D., Nicholas D’Alberto, Ph.D., Abigail Hielscher, Ph.D., and Nathan Jebbetts, Ph.D., and Professor of Rehabilitation and Movement Sciences Emerita Sharon Henry, P.T., Ph.D., A.T.C., created a curriculum featuring a combination of pre-recorded lectures, newly-generated gross anatomy lab dissection videos, a 3D anatomy app called Complete Anatomy, and live online discussions with faculty members. 

While the group has yet to determine which virtual meeting technology they’ll use to deliver the course, the course’s structure will closely mimic its in-person format. “It’s a customized course,” says Dr. Mawe. 

Read more about the online course.

Pictured above: Screenshot from


VCBH Faculty Advise on Navigating the "New Normal"

As many COVID-19-related restrictions lift across Vermont and other states, some people may feel inclined to return to former social behaviors, despite the need for continued social distancing.  In a recent UVM Medical Center blog post, titled “Getting Used to Our ‘New Normal,’” Allison Kurti, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry, and Stephen Higgins, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and director of the Vermont Center on Behavior and Health, provide advice, based on behavioral economics principles, about how to manage the natural urge to socialize, understand reactions and feelings, and establish new, healthy routines to assist with adapting to the “new normal.”

Q: Why is it so hard to continue practicing physical distancing even though we know it’s the right thing to do?

A: In behavioral economics, we explain this conflict in terms of “delay discounting.”  Delay discounting refers to the way that rewards lose value to us the longer we have to wait before receiving them. In our current situation, one example of this is that a healthy and economically secure community is more rewarding than a potluck dinner with some friends. However, because the former scenario is more delayed, it loses value, so many people would instead choose the more immediate reward of having our friends over, even though doing so could put the future health of our community in jeopardy.

Read the full Q&A.

Photo: Getty Images



TEXT ONLY VERSION: Students’ Response to the Pandemic. 26+ different projects. 37,983 pieces of PPE collected. 151+ medical and graduate student volunteers. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the United States, more than 151 medical and graduate students from the Larner College of Medicine jumped into action. Working independently and in groups, students worked to meet the financial, social, physical, and emotional needs exacerbated and created by the pandemic. One medical student created a community mask education initiative in her East Los Angeles neighborhood. In Vermont, a graduate student volunteered as a COVID-19 screener at Central Vermont Medical Center. These are only two of the over 26 volunteer projects students participated in over the past three months.

See the Larner College of Medicine COVID-19 stories page for articles on individual projects.


Celebrating Larner Graduate Program Degree Recipients

On Sunday, May 17, University of Vermont President Suresh Garimella conferred degrees to 40 graduate students from the Larner College of Medicine. Included were two graduates from the Cellular, Molecular, and Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. program; one graduate from the Master of Medical Science program; nine from the Master of Science in Pharmacology program; and 28 from the Master of Public Health program.

Among the graduates were Audree Frey, M.P.H, outreach coordinator for the Global Health Program in the Office of Medical Student Education, who earned a Master of Public Health degree; Pheobe Kathryn Laaguiby, M.S., a lab research technician in the UVM Cancer Center Advanced Genomics Lab, who received a Master of Science degree in pharmacology; and Jennifer Tomczak, M.P.H., a senior lab research technician in the Department of Pharmacology in the Carr Lab, who earned a Master of Public Health degree. 

View the full list of graduate names.

Pictured above: Dominique Lessard, Ph.D., a 2020 Cellular, Molecular, & Biomedical Sciences doctoral program graduate.

Accolades & Appointments

The American Society of Clinical Oncology
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) held its annual meeting, virtually, May 29-31. UVM Cancer Center members (clockwise, from top left) Peter Kaufman, M.D., professor of medicine, and Marie Wood, M.D.,professor of medicine, Diego Adrianzen, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, and Alissa Thomas, M.D.,assistant professor of neurological sciences, were among those presenting their collaborative research to the national network, which represents more than 47,000 oncology professionals across 150 countries. 


A poster authored by Internal Medicine Chief Resident Elizabeth Wahlberg, M.D. (top right), titled “Making Population Health More Popular: Improving Preventive Health Through a Novel Personalized Panel Management Curriculum,” won in the Early Career Physician/Quality Improvement/Patient Safety category during the American College of Physicians 2020 Virtual ePoster Competition. Co-authors included Halle Sobel, M.D. (bottom left), associate professor of medicine, Emily Hadley Strout, M.D. (bottom right), assistant professor of medicine, and Amanda Kennedy, Pharm.D. (top left), associate professor of medicine


Jamie Deutsch, a graduate student in the Department of Biochemistry and the Cellular, Molecular and Biomedical Sciences program, successfully defended her master’s thesis on May 29. She is the mentee of Jessica Heath, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics and biochemistry and UVM Cancer Center member.

Audree Frey, M.P.H, outreach coordinator for the Global Health Program in the Office of Medical Student Education, earned a Master of Public Health degree during the University of Vermont’s Class of 2020 Celebration.  

Pheobe Kathryn Laaguiby, M.S., a lab research technician the UVM Cancer Center Advanced Genomics Lab, received a Master of Science degree in Pharmacology during the University of Vermont’s Class of 2020 Celebration. 

Jennifer Tomczak, M.P.H., a senior lab research technician in the Department of Pharmacology in the Carr Lab, earned a Master of Public Health degree during the University of Vermont’s Class of 2020 Celebration.

Andrea Villanti, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor of psychiatry and co-leader for Cancer Control and Population Health Sciences in the UVM Cancer Center, has earned an R21 award from the National Institutes of Health for her research project, titled “Perceptions and Problems with Vaping in Youth and Young Adults.”


Jan Carney, M.D., M.P.H., associate dean for public health and health policy and professor of medicine, co-authored an Invited Commentary in the May 20 issue of Academic Medicine, titled “Public Health Is Essential:COVID-19’s Learnable Moment for Medical Education.”

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Paradise CR, Galvan ML, Kubrova E, Bowden S, Liu E, Carstens MF, Thaler R, Stein GS, van Wijnen AJ, Dudakovic A. The epigenetic reader Brd4 is required for osteoblast differentiation. J Cell Physiol. 2020 Jun;235(6):5293-5304. doi: 10.1002/jcp.29415. Epub 2019 Dec 23. PMID: 31868237.

Shea MK, Barger K, Booth SL, Matuszek G, Cushman M, Benjamin EJ, Kritchevsky SB, Weiner DE. Vitamin K status, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality: a participant-level meta-analysis of 3 US cohorts. Am J Clin Nutr. 2020 Jun 1;111(6):1170-1177. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqaa082. PMID: 32359159.

Rosenow F, Brandt C, Bozorg A, Dimova S, Steiniger-Brach B, Zhang Y, Ferrò B, Holmes GL, Kälviäinen R. Lacosamide in patients with epilepsy of cerebrovascular etiology. Acta Neurol Scand. 2020 Jun;141(6):473-482. doi: 10.1111/ane.13230. Epub 2020 Mar 13. PMID: 32068241.

Farina NH, Scalia S, Adams CE, Hong D, Fritz AJ, Messier TL, Balatti V, Veneziano D, Lian JB, Croce CM, Stein GS, Stein JL. Identification of tRNA- derived small RNA (tsRNA) responsive to the tumor suppressor, RUNX1, in breast cancer. J Cell Physiol. 2020 Jun;235(6):5318-5327. doi: 10.1002/jcp.29419. Epub 2020 Jan 10. PMID: 31919859; PMCID: PMC7238950.

Lee B, Raszka WV Jr. COVID-19 Transmission and Children: The Child is Not to Blame. Pediatrics. 2020 May 26:e2020004879. doi: 10.1542/peds.2020-004879. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32457212.

Sarraf E, Mathews DM, Tsai MH, Goodwin AJ. Optimizing the use of point of care testing devices for screening patients. J Clin Monit Comput. 2020 Jun;34(3):411-419. doi: 10.1007/s10877-019-00332-w. Epub 2019 Jun 10. PMID: 31183771.

Maeshiro R, Carney JK. Public Health Is Essential: COVID-19's Learnable Moment for Medical Education. Acad Med. 2020 May 20:10.1097/ACM.0000000000003517. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003517. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32452839; PMCID: PMC7255400.

Janssen-Heininger Y, Reynaert NL, van der Vliet A, Anathy V. Endoplasmic reticulum stress and glutathione therapeutics in chronic lung diseases. Redox Biol. 2020 Jun;33:101516. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2020.101516. Epub 2020 Mar 23. PMID: 32249209; PMCID: PMC7251249.

Moena D, Merino P, Lian JB, Stein GS, Stein JL, Montecino M. Switches in histone modifications epigenetically control vitamin D3-dependent transcriptional upregulation of the CYP24A1 gene in osteoblastic cells. J Cell Physiol. 2020 Jun;235(6):5328-5339. doi: 10.1002/jcp.29420. Epub 2019 Dec 23. PMID: 31868234.

Judd N, Sauce B, Wiedenhoeft J, Tromp J, Chaarani B, Schliep A, van Noort B, Penttilä J, Grimmer Y, Insensee C, Becker A, Banaschewski T, Bokde ALW, Quinlan EB, Desrivières S, Flor H, Grigis A, Gowland P, Heinz A, Ittermann B, Martinot JL, Paillère Martinot ML, Artiges E, Nees F, Papadopoulos Orfanos D, Paus T, Poustka L, Hohmann S, Millenet S, Fröhner JH, Smolka MN, Walter H, Whelan R, Schumann G, Garavan H, Klingberg T. Cognitive and brain development is independently influenced by socioeconomic status and polygenic scores for educational attainment.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 Jun 2;117(22):12411-12418. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2001228117. Epub 2020 May 19. PMID: 32430323.

Rigoni M, Blevins LZ, Rettew DC, Kasehagen L. Symptom Level Associations Between Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and School Performance. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2020 May 22:9922820924692. doi: 10.1177/0009922820924692. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32441129.

Di Frances CD, Childs E, Fetterman JL, Villanti AC, Stanton CA, Russo AR, Hirsch GA, Solis AC, Benjamin EJ. Implementing and Evaluating a Mentor Training to Improve Support for Early-Career Scholars in Tobacco Regulatory Science. Nicotine Tob Res. 2020 May 26;22(6):1041-1045. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntz083. PMID: 31095330; PMCID: PMC7249929.

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Published by the Office of Medical Communications
The Larner College of Medicine
at The University of Vermont
Copyright 2020