April 7, 2021 | Volume III, Issue 7

Chris Rokkas

College's Primary and Rural Care Education Strength Evident in U.S. News Rankings

The Larner College of Medicine was recognized for its strength in educating future physicians in primary care and rural care in the 2022 U.S. News and World Report Best Graduate Schools rankings, released March 30, 2021. The College was ranked 24th for medical education in primary care – up from 43rd in the 2021 Best Graduate Schools rankings – and tied at this rank with Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, and the University of Hawaii-Manoa Burns School of Medicine.
Larner ranked 13th (tied with University of Minnesota) for educating physicians who decide to practice in a rural environment – a new specialty training category that has not been including in rankings in recent years – a testament to the College’s commitment to providing and improving access to health care for all residents, regardless of location or socioeconomic status. 
“As the only medical school in a small rural state, we have a responsibility to educate a diverse group of individuals in providing high quality and accessible health care to all members of our community,” says Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education Christa Zehle, M.D. “Students gain valuable clinical experience from primary care providers throughout Vermont and with our out-of-state clinical partners. A strong foundation in primary care medicine prepares our graduates to achieve excellence across all disciplines of medicine in Vermont and throughout the world.”
Read the full article about the Larner College of Medicine’s U.S. News rankings.
Pictured above: In this file photo, medical students in the Class of 2019 gather in the outpatient Clinical Simulation Laboratory for a point-of-care ultrasound training with Assistant Professor of Surgery Daniel Ackil, D.O., (far right) during their emergency medicine rotation. (Photo: David Seaver) 

Dana Allison, Class of 2023 medical student

TGIR Research Slam Highlights Progress One Year into Pandemic

As the hub of infectious disease research at the Larner College of Medicine, the Translational Global Infectious Diseases Research (TGIR) Center proactively led a February 2020 research slam about “2019-nCoV” – a quickly spreading novel coronavirus originating from Wuhan, China. Fourteen months and 77 COVID-19 research projects later, UVM basic scientists and clinicians came together again on March 18, 2021 for the second edition of this gathering: “UVM Tackles COVID-19: Research Progress and Perspectives One Year into the Pandemic.”
Organized and held via Zoom by TGIR Principal Investigator Beth Kirkpatrick, M.D., chair of microbiology and molecular genetics and director of the UVM Vaccine Testing Center, and Kristen Pierce, M.D., professor of medicine and TGIR Human and Population Research Core director, the 2021 event featured an opening presentation by Vermont Commissioner of Health Mark Levine, M.D., and keynote address on “How COVID-19 Has Changed the Field of Infectious Disease Modeling” by Caroline Buckee, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology and associate director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Faculty from departments and colleges across the university concurrently delivered presentations during break-out sessions grouped into the following categories: Clinical/Translational Research (moderated by Dr. Pierce); Epidemiology and Public Health Section 1 (moderated by Dr. Kirkpatrick); Epidemiology and Public Health section 2 (moderated by Jason Bates, Ph.D., D.Sc.); Basic Science (moderated by Christopher Huston, M.D.); Modeling (moderated by Dr. Buckee); and Environment/Climate/Ecology (moderated by E. Ross Colgate, Ph.D.). (Link to the full program agenda.)
Read the full article about the event and some of the research projects presented.
Pictured above: Dev Majumdar, Ph.D., assistant professor of surgery (right), and research technician Zach Miller in the lab where they are studying the molecular basis of SARS host immune responses. (Courtesy photo)


Stein & Stein Receive $9 Million NCI Grant to Investigate Breast Cancer Epigenetics 

A team of University of Vermont scientists and physician investigators affiliated with the UVM Cancer Center and the Northern New England Clinical and Translational Research Network has received a competitive $9 million, five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to investigate the underlying causes of breast cancer.
Principal investigators Gary Stein, Ph.D., Perelman Professor and chair of biochemistry and professor of surgery, and Janet Stein, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry, are leading a collaborative team of experts from across three colleges at UVM to identify new cellular-level targets that could be treated with drugs to prevent the disease or halt its progression.
“The NCI is investing in research groups that have made major, proven contributions,” says Gary Stein. “There is a high expectation that the progress won’t be incremental but will represent a paradigm shift.” 
The research will focus on three interrelated projects to determine what goes awry when the cell division process in healthy breast tissue becomes defective and leads to the production of cancer cells. Its focus will be on epigenetics, the instructions that proteins and nucleic acids within a cell’s nucleus give to its genetic code—its DNA—that tell genes to turn on or off. 
“The goal is understanding cancer-compromised epigenetic control of genes in breast tumors,” Janet Stein says. 
In addition to Drs. Gary and Janet Stein, team members include Mark Evans, Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine; Seth Frietze, Ph.D., associate professor of medical laboratory science; Karen Glass, Ph.D., adjunct associate professor of biochemistry; Jonathan Gordon, Ph.D., assistant professor of biochemistry; Peter Kaufman, M.D., professor of medicine; Jane Lian, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry; Jason Stumpff, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular physiology and biophysics; Coralee Tye, Ph.D., assistant professor of biochemistry; Pamela Vacek, Ph.D., research associate professor, biomedical statistics research core; Jos Van der Velden, Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine; Donald Weaver, M.D., professor of pathology and laboratory medicine; Marie Wood, M.D., professor of medicine; and NCI postdoctoral fellows Andrew Fritz, Ph.D., and Kirsten Tracy, Ph.D.
Read the full article about the grant.
Pictured above: Drs. Gary (left) and Janet Stein.

The Office of Medical Communications encourages faculty and staff to join us a guest writer for the UVM Larner Med Blog.
Recent blog posts include: “Bystander or Advocate for Equity & Inclusion – Who Do You Choose to Be?,” “Celebrating 100 Years of Women in Medicine at UVM,” “#StopAsianHate: Addressing Recent Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans,” and “The Importance of Storytelling: A Medical Comics Course.”
View the blog.
Email for more information or to sign up to write a blog post. 

Accolades & Appointments

Bruce Beynnon
The Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) has named Bruce Beynnon, Ph.D., professor of orthopaedics and rehabilitation, to the 2021 ORS Fellows group. According to ORS, “ORS Fellows represent longstanding members of the ORS who have demonstrated exemplary service and leadership, substantial achievement, expert knowledge, and significant contributions to the ORS, its governance, and the field of musculoskeletal research. Fellows are thought leaders and experts in their respective disciplines.” Dr. Beynnon was recognized at the Annual ORS meeting on February 14, 2021.

Breena Holmes

Breena Holmes, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and senior faculty in the Vermont Child Health Improvement Program, received the inaugural Breena W. Holmes, M.D., School Nurse Champion Award from the Vermont State School Nurses Association (VSSNA) during an awards ceremony held March 25. “This award is established to honor the outstanding support and advocacy Breena Holmes has given Vermont School Nurses,” said VSSNA President Soph Hall, M.Ed., BSN, RN, during her remarks at the event.

Shubi Joshi
In conjunction with its 30th anniversary on April 6, Boston Cares – the largest volunteer organization in New England – is recognizing outstanding volunteers, nonprofit organizations, and corporate partners who have made a difference in the community. Class of 2024 medical student Shubhankar “Shubi” Joshi is among those recognized. He received Boston Cares’ President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2018 for completing over 100 hours of community service and again in 2019 for reaching the gold level of honor by completing 250 hours of community service in one year. Mr. Joshi volunteered for the American Red Cross Food Pantry in Dorchester, Mass., and Community Servings, a local food kitchen in Jamaica Plain, Mass., which serves and delivers meals to chronically and critically ill individuals and their families.

Patrick Mullen
Dev Majumdar, Ph.D., assistant professor of surgery in the Division of Surgery Research, has joined the Cellular, Molecular, and Biomedical Sciences program faculty. Dr. Majumdar received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles, completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at California Institute of Technology, and then became a research scientist in the Mitchell Guttman Lab at the California Institute of Technology before joining the UVM faculty in 2019.

Bruno Martorelli Di Genova
Bruno Martorelli Di Genova, Ph.D., assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, has joined the Cellular, Molecular, and Biomedical Sciences program faculty. Dr. Martorelli Di Genova received his Ph.D. from Paulista Medical School (EPM), Federal University of São Paulo in Brazil, and completed postdoctoral research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before joining the UVM faculty in 2021.

Gary Stein
Gary Stein, Ph.D., Perelman Professor in Cancer Research and chair of biochemistry, delivered his University Scholar lecture, titled “The Cancer-Compromised Gene,” on March 22 via Teams. Read more about Stein and his University Scholar appointment
Link to a video of Stein’s University Scholar lecture here.



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Published by the Office of Medical Communications
The Larner College of Medicine
at The University of Vermont
Copyright 2021