December 1, 2021 | Volume III, Issue 23

Brian Sprague, Sally Herschorn and Donald Weaver

Sprague, Herschorn & Weaver Identify Impact of Breast Cancer Screening Delays Caused by COVID-19 Pandemic


A new study conducted by U.S. Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium (BCSC) members and published in Radiology found that from March to September 2020, breast biopsies and detected cancers at BCSC facilities dropped sharply, compared with the same span a year earlier. 

Underlying this drop was the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and a subsequent recommendation from the American College of Radiology and American Society of Breast Surgeons in late March 2020 that called for medical facilities to immediately postpone all breast cancer-screening exams. Despite the Society for Breast Imaging issuing guidelines for resumption of breast cancer screening three weeks later, it was understood that facilities’ ability to offer screening would depend on many factors, including the local COVID-19 burden, the availability of personal protective equipment, and the ability of breast surgeons and oncologists to manage newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. 

Senior author Brian Sprague, Ph.D., associate professor of surgery, coauthors Sally Herschorn, M.D., professor of radiology, and Donald Weaver, M.D., professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, ant the study’s other authors found a decline of 23 percent for biopsies and 24 percent for detected cancers during the six-month timeframe. 

“The large deficit in breast cancers detected by screening during 2021 raises concern that cancers we would have hoped to detect early with screening will now present symptomatically or through delayed screening at a more advanced stage in the coming year,” said Sprague. 

Read the full article about the study. 

Pictured above: A collage of photos of Drs. Sprague, Herschorn, and Weaver are superimposed on a breast mammogram image

Vaccination Card

UVM Requires Full COVID-19 Vaccination for Employees


In a November 19, 2021 “UVM Strong” letter to faculty and staff, UVM Provost and Senior Vice President Patricia Prelock, Ph.D., and Vice President for Finance and Administration Richard Cate, announced a new vaccination requirement for all UVM faculty and staff, “in compliance with President Biden’s Executive Order 14042 regarding [COVID-19 vaccination requirements for] federal contractors.”

Per the announcement, all UVM employees are “required to have their final COVID-19 vaccine dose by January 4, 2022, and to be fully vaccinated by January 18, 2022.” At this time, the policy does not apply to booster shots. 

“We have seen the positive impact of the COVID-19 vaccine on our campus, in Vermont, and across the country,” said Prelock and Cate in their announcement. “A fully vaccinated faculty and staff community, coupled with an already fully vaccinated student population, is the best way to guard against COVID-19 infection for ourselves, our campus family, and our broader Burlington community. Vaccines are further proven to lower the risk of serious illness, hospitalization, and death.”

For more information about the vaccination requirement, how to submit a copy of your vaccine card/proof of vaccination, exemptions, and frequently asked questions, employees can visit the UVM Employee COVID-19 Vaccination webpage.

Pictured above: Duotone dark green and white image depicting a U.S. CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card laying on top of two disposable face masks.

Larner Hosts Holiday Donation Collection for COTS


Engaging with our community is part of the Larner College of Medicine's -- and the University of Vermont's -- mission. This giving season, the Dean’s Advisory Committee on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Staff Subcommittee has partnered with the LCOMCares Service Corps to host a holiday collection in support of Vermont’s Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS) and the individuals and families for whom the organization provides emergency shelter, services, and housing. The collection begins on December 1, 2021.

To participate, please purchase an item(s) described below and drop it off at the Office of Medical Communications, located in the Given Courtyard, S-100 (across from the Office of Medical Education) by December 17.

COTS Holiday Donation Collection List
(Find more wish list items on the COTS website.)

Gift Cards
(Please give cards of any amount, up to a maximum of $25 per card.)

  • Hannaford
  • Price Chopper/Market 32
  • Shaw’s 

Toiletries/Bedding (New/Unused)

  • Shampoo & Conditioner
  • Sheet sets: Twin, Full & Queen
  • Blankets: All Sizes
  • Comforters: Twin, Full & Queen
  • Pillows & Pillow Cases: Standard Size

Winter Items (New/Adult Size)

  • Coats
  • Gloves
  • Hats/Beanies
  • Socks

Financial Donations

  • Checks made payable to “COTS” or the “Committee on Temporary Shelter”

For more information, contact Liz McElhinney.

Pictured above: Graphic featuring a COMCares UVM Larner College of Medicine logo on a light blue background dotted with different-sized white snowflake icons and featuring a green bar along the bottom.

Hero of the Gut

With the return of hockey fans to the Gutterson Fieldhouse, UVM Athletics has resumed honoring “Heroes of the Gut” in-person. The goal of the program is to highlight a wide range of community heroes—including doctors, nurses, EMTs, teachers, active or retired military members, teachers, and others—at the UVM Men’s and Women’s Hockey games.

Heroes will receive tickets to their choice of a UVM Men’s or Women’s Hockey game, exclusive bench access pre-game, optional in-venue recognition and a token of appreciation from UVM Athletics.

Submit the name of a hometown hero to be a Hero of The Gut today!

Pictured above: Retired Lieutenant Colonel Michael Palaza (at far right), stands with his family at UVM’s Gutterson Fieldhouse on November 20, when he was honored as a Hero of the Gut for his 23 years of active-duty service and service to UVM as a professor of military science and ROTC recruiting operations officer.

Student Voices Banner
Matt Bresemen

The morning before my first medical school exam I woke up in immense pain...An hour later I was in the local clinic being evaluated.

The next day I missed the exam, instead undergoing a double biopsy. My test results came back inconclusive and the uncertainty of my situation was jarring. I originally chose to attend medical school to learn how to help people with their illnesses. Instead, I became sick, putting me in the role of the patient.” 

– Matt Bresemen, Class of 2024 medical student.

(Excerpted from Breseman’s recent UVM Larner Med Blog post, “The Student Becomes the Patient.”)

Read Matt Breseman’s story.

Pictured: Matt Breseman after completing the Ironman 70.3 Timberman race in Laconia, N.H., in September 2021.

Let’s celebrate!

Join Dean Page and other Larner leaders for an in-person, drop-by recognition of our College’s full eight-year LCME accreditation.

Monday, December 13, 2021, 3-4 p.m.

Hoehl Gallery, Health Science Research Facility

 Remarks at 3:10 p.m.

Green graphic that reads

Accolades & Appointments

Samantha Collins

Samantha Collins (pictured at left), clinical research coordinator in the Department of Surgery, has been selected for the Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) Scholars Program. Ms. Collins also works at the UVM Medical Center as an emergency department (ED) technician and with mentor Christian Pulcini, M.D., on the Pediatric Mental Health Qualitative Improvement Project. The EMSC Scholars Program is designed to support leadership development for early career clinicians and health systems professionals in the pediatric emergency medicine field. During the one- to two-year program, scholars will work alongside experts in the field to develop and implement a project in an area of interest. Ms. Collins will be focus on evaluating the parent perspectives of families seeking ED care for mental health concerns.

Bob Gramling
Robert Gramling, M.D. (pictured at left), Miller Chair in Palliative Medicine and professor of family medicine, is senior author of a paper in Patient Education and Counseling, titled “Epidemiology of ‘Connectional Silence’ in specialist serious illness conversations.” Coauthors on the study include Cailin Gramling, research project assistant in microbiology and molecular genetics; Laurence Clarfeld, Ph.D., postdoctoral associate in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources; Jeremy Matt, P.E., a PhD student in Complex Systems and Data Science; UVM undergraduate students Ann Wong and Joseph WillsNicholas Cheney, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer science; Margaret Eppstein, Ph.D., research professor of computer science; and Donna Rizzo, Ph.D., professor of computer science and engineering.

Mark Levine
The Vermont Pharmacists Association has selected Vermont Commissioner of Health and UVM Professor of Medicine Mark Levine, M.D., as the 2021 recipient of the Friend of Pharmacy Award. This prestigious award is given to one non-pharmacist in the state who has supported, facilitated, or advocated for pharmacists or pharmacy. The association said, “Dr. Levine has embraced pharmacists as an underutilized resource in the fight against COVID. He has been the face of healthcare in Vermont and has successfully led our state’s response based on solid clinical and scientific evidence.’’

Nate Shannon

Nathaniel Shannon, a Cellular, Molecular, and Biomedical Sciences graduate student, received one of eight annual Trainee Awards from the Society for Redox Biology and Medicine (SfRBM) for his abstract, titled “Miro1-mediated mitochondrial positioning supports subcellular redox status.” The awards—made available to students and postdoctoral fellows who wish to attend SfRBM to present their research—are conferred based on quality and the scientific merit of a submitted abstract. The 2021 recipients were awarded $500 each and were recognized during the 2021 SfRBM Virtual Conference held November 15 to 18. In addition, each awardee received a voucher for free registration to either the 2022 or 2023 conference. Mr. Shannon works in the laboratory of Brian Cunniff, Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine.

Tandoh 150x150
Margaret Tandoh, M.D. (pictured at left), Gamelli Green and Gold Professor of Surgery, along with UVM Medical Center (UVMMC) nurses Pat Delaney, R.N., Jennifer Gratton, R.N., and Toby Rockwood, R.N., hosted the Northeast Region Burn Conference, November 12 to 13 at the Hilton Burlington Lake Champlain. Over 200 physicians, nurses, and other burn team professionals attended. In addition to hosting, the Larner/UVMMC group moderated several sessions and presented a session on “Alternative Burn Care” with colleagues from the Amish community.



Khadanga S, Savage PD, Pecha A, Rengo J, Ades PA. Optimizing Training Response for Women in Cardiac Rehabilitation: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Cardiol. 2021 Nov 24. doi: 10.1001/jamacardio.2021.4822. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34817540.

Gaalema DE, Savage PD, O'Neill S, Bolívar HA, Denkmann D, Priest JS, Khadanga S, Ades PA. The Association of Patient Educational Attainment With Cardiac Rehabilitation Adherence and Health Outcomes. J Cardiopulm Rehabil Prev. 2021 Nov 24. doi: 10.1097/HCR.0000000000000646. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34840247.

Middleton WA, Savage PD, Khadanga S, Rengo JL, Ades PA, Gaalema DE. Benchmarking Depressive Symptoms in Cardiac Rehabilitation. J Cardiopulm Rehabil Prev. 2021 Nov 24. doi: 10.1097/HCR.0000000000000657. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34840245.

Sobel HG, Warrington JS, Francis-Fath S, Crocker AM, Berger CA. A Descriptive analysis of urine drug screen results in patients with opioid use disorder managed in a primary care setting. Addict Sci Clin Pract. 2021 Sep 30;16(1):59. doi: 10.1186/s13722-021-00264-4. PMID: 34593036; PMCID: PMC8482571.

Harraz OF, Jensen LJ. Vascular calcium signalling and ageing. J Physiol. 2021 Oct 27. doi: 10.1113/JP280950. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34705288.

Lee B, Kader MA, Colgate ER, Carmolli M, Dickson DM, Diehl SA, Alam M, Afreen S, Mychaleckyj JC, Nayak U, Petri WA Jr, Haque R, Kirkpatrick BD. Oral rotavirus vaccine shedding as a marker of mucosal immunity. Sci Rep. 2021 Nov 5;11(1):21760. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-01288-1. PMID: 34741103; PMCID: PMC8571310.

Bullis SSM, Grebber B, Cook S, Graham NR, Carmolli M, Dickson D, Diehl SA, Kirkpatrick BD, Lee B. SARS CoV-2 seroprevalence in a US school district during COVID-19. BMJ Paediatr Open. 2021 Oct 27;5(1):e001259. doi: 10.1136/bmjpo-2021-001259. PMID: 34725646; PMCID: PMC8551743.

Weaver DT, McElvany BD, Gopalakrishnan V, Card KJ, Crozier D, Dhawan A, Dinh MN, Dolson E, Farrokhian N, Hitomi M, Ho E, Jagdish T, King ES, Cadnum JL, Donskey CJ, Krishnan N, Kuzmin G, Li J, Maltas J, Mo J, Pelesko J, Scarborough JA, Sedor G, Tian E, An GC, Diehl SA, Scott JG. UV decontamination of personal protective equipment with idle laboratory biosafety cabinets during the COVID-19 pandemic. PLoS One. 2021 Jul 26;16(7):e0241734. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0241734. PMID: 34310599; PMCID: PMC8312969. 

Clifton J, Bonnell L, Hitt J, et al. Differences in Occupational Burnout Among Primary Care Professionals. J Am Board Fam Med. 2021;34(6):1203-1211. doi:10.3122/jabfm.2021.06.210139


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