January 27, 2021 | Volume III, Issue 2

Elizabeth Bonney

A Champion for Women's Health, Diversity & Science

For Professor Elizabeth Bonney, M.D., M.P.H., juggling the roles of scientist, clinician, mentor, and advocate has been the norm for decades. So, it’s no surprise that in a year turned upside-down by the COVID-19 pandemic, the delayed reckoning with racial injustice in America, and political turmoil, she has forged ahead with her science, delivered care on the front lines, and used this pivotal moment in history to raise issues of critical importance not only to science, but society.

The director of reproductive science research in the University of Vermont Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Dr. Bonney specializes in the changes that occur in the immune system during pregnancy and related impacts on both mothers and babies, including preterm birth, which occurs at much higher rates in Black and Indigenous women.

A leader in her field, Dr. Bonney has served on the Board of Scientific Counselors for the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Division of Intramural Research since 2017 and in 2020 was named to the 2020-2021 class of fellows participating in the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine® (ELAM) Program at Drexel University College of Medicine – the nation’s only in-depth program focused on preparing senior women faculty at schools of medicine, dentistry and public health for institutional leadership positions, where they can effect positive change.

Effecting change is something Dr. Bonney has been committed to for her entire career, particularly regarding diversity in science and medicine. 

This month, she published a Letter to the Editor of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology on “Diversity is essential for good science and reproductive science is no different,” in which she and colleagues highlight a stark fact revealed during the pandemic.

“The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has revealed an inconvenient truth we have recognized in women’s health for decades: not all women have benefited equally from these advancements,” she and her coauthors write. “Over the last 30 years, our progress in the critical arenas of maternal mortality and birth outcomes has been largely incremental. If we are going to continue to advance science and medicine, we must recognize and acknowledge the profound toll that societal and structural racism has had on not just the output of science and medicine but on those who are the future of science and medicine.”

Read the full article about Dr. Bonney’s work.

Pictured above: Dr. Bonney

Two women wearing masks walk outside together, maintaining distance between each other

Study Shows Mask-Wearing Without Education is Risky

A unique study published in JMIR Public Health and Surveillance and conducted by a team of Larner health economists and public health experts, in partnership with Vermont public health officials, suggests that the current face-covering mandate to prevent spread of COVID-19 should come with a caveat. The team concludes that if not accompanied by proper public education, the practice could lead to more infections.

The study, led by Eline van den Broek-Altenburg, Ph.D., assistant professor and vice chair for Population Health Science in the Department of Radiology, combines survey data gathered from adults living in northwestern Vermont with test results that showed whether a subset of them had contracted COVID-19, a dual research approach that few COVID studies have employed. By correlating the two data sets, researchers were able to determine what behaviors and circumstances increased respondents' risk of becoming sick.

The key risk factor driving transmission of the disease, the study found, was the number of daily contacts participants had with other adults and seniors. That had relevance for two other findings: Those who wore masks had more of these daily contacts compared with those who didn't, and a higher proportion contracted the virus as a result.

Read the full story about the study.

Pictured above: Two women wearing masks walk outside together, maintaining distance between each other. (Stock photo) 

A UVM Medical Center staff member holds a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in a gloved-hand

VCBH Team Examines Use of Incentives for COVID-19 Vaccine Adherence 

Although experts estimate that at least 70 to 90 percent of the population must be inoculated to achieve herd immunity from COVID-19, ensuring citizens will voluntarily receive a vaccine presents a challenge.

Both approved vaccines require two injections. Pfizer-BioNTech’s second dose must be given 21 days after the first and Moderna’s second dose must be administered 28 days after the first. While public health and infectious disease experts have discussed strategies to enhance adherence, including the potential use of financial incentives, an examination of the scientific evidence on incentivizing vaccine adherence has not been discussed.

A new commentary in Preventive Medicine by Stephen Higgins, Ph.D., director of the Vermont Center on Behavior and Health (VCBH) and professor of psychiatry, Elias Klemperer, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry, and Sulamunn Coleman, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow in psychiatry, describes results from several controlled trials that support the efficacy of incentivizing vaccine adherence to address that gap. Their literature reviews found strong support for the use of incentives, including a 2019 meta-analysis of the literature showing that modest financial incentives resulted in a seven-fold increase in adherence compared to no incentives.

Read more about the VCBH team’s recent Commentary.

Pictured above: A UVM Medical Center staff member holds a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in a gloved-hand. (Photo: Ryan Mercer, UVM Medical Center)

Graphic with text reading “Class of 2023 Foundations Celebration.”

Join the Class of 2023 Foundations Celebration online on Thursday, January 28, at 3:30 p.m., when the event website will be live.

Pictured above: Graphic with text reading “Class of 2023 Foundations Celebration.”

Accolades & Appointments

Teaching academy logo

The Larner College of Medicine’s Teaching Academy recognized its 2020 inductees at an Induction and Awards Ceremony held January 13 (see full article for details). The following members, listed according to membership category, were recognized:

Distinguished Educator - Karen Lounsbury, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology; Halle Sobel, M.D.,Associate Professor of Medicine; Rebecca Wilcox, M.D., Associate Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

Master Teacher - Dmitriy Akselrod, M.D., Assistant Professor of Radiology; Deborah Cook, M.D.,Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Thomas Delaney, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Pediatrics; Clara Keegan, M.D., Associate Professor of Family Medicine; Anne Stowman, M.D., Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Jaspinder Sra, M.D., Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology;

Member - Wasef Abu-Jaish, M.D., Associate Professor of Surgery; Daniel Ackil, D.O., Assistant Professor of Surgery; Whittney Barkhuff, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Pediatrics; Michelle Cangiano, M.D., Assistant Professor of Family Medicine; Benjamin Clements, M.D., Assistant Professor of Family Medicine; Navid Esfandiari, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Reproductive Sciences; Tabitha Ford, M.D., Clinical Instructor in Surgery; Matthew Geeslin, M.D., M.S., Assistant Professor of Radiology; Matthew Gilbert, D.O., M.P.H., Associate Professor of Medicine; Heather Herrington, M.D., Associate. Professor of Surgery; Alicia Jacobs, M.D., Associate Professor of Family Medicine; F. Louis Kirk III, M.D., Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology; George Kurien, M.D.,Assistant Professor of Surgery; Skyler Lentz, M.D., Assistant Professor of Surgery; Mark Lach, M.D.,Assistant Professor of Radiology; Shea Lambirth, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine; Katherine Mariani, M.D., M.P.H., Assistant Professor of Family Medicine; Rachel McEntee, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine; Carolyn Orgain, M.D., Assistant Professor of Surgery; Christian Pulcini, M.D., M.P.H., Assistant Professor of Surgery; Lindsay Reardon, M.D., Assistant Professor of Surgery; Tamara Rimash, M.D., Assistant Professor of Surgery; Matthew Siket, M.D., Associate Professor of Surgery; John Steele Taylor, M.D., Assistant Professor of Neurological Sciences;

Protégé - Autumn Sacklow, M.D., Clinical Instructor in Surgery.

Drs Everse, Rideout, Hale, Burke, and Rubin

The following faculty members received awards at the Larner College of Medicine’s Teaching AcademyInduction and Awards Ceremony held January 13:

  • Stephen Everse, Ph.D. (pictured at left, top right), associate professor of biochemistry and course director, Foundations of Clinical Science, received the Frederick C. Morin III, MD Educational Leadership Award, which recognizes an individual who has demonstrated an exemplary and sustained record of service in educational leadership, committee service, and/or administration. 
  • Molly Rideout, M.D. (pictured at left, middle left), professor of pediatrics, received the 2021 Innovation in Curriculum Development or Pedagogy Award, which recognizes an individual or team who developed an approach to teaching and learning that is innovative, intellectually rigorous, and engaging. 
  • Andrew Hale, M.D (pictured at left, middle right), assistant professor of medicine, received the Educational Scholarship Award, which recognizes an individual who has demonstrated a record of quality, quantity, and engagement in medical education scholarship. 
  • Leah Burke, M.D. (pictured at left, bottom left), professor of pediatrics, received the Outstanding Contribution Award, which recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to medical education either for a specific, short-term initiative, or sustained contribution.
  • Alan Rubin, M.D. (pictured at left, bottom right), associate professor of family medicine and psychiatry, who is retiring, received a special Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his integral role in the education of medical students through doctoring skills training in several courses over his 46 years of service as a faculty member.

Drs Berns, Sprague, Bounds, and Ford

The following faculty members received UVM Health Network Medical Group education awards at the Larner College of Medicine’s Teaching Academy Induction and Awards Ceremony held January 13:

  • Stephen Berns, M.D. (pictured at left, top left), associate professor of family medicine and course director for Professionalism, Communication & Reflection, received the Continuing Medical Education Educator of the Year award.
  • Julian Sprague, M.D., Ph.D. (pictured at left, bottom left), associate professor of medicine, received the Graduate Medical Education Educator of the Year award.
  • A team led by principal investigator Richard Bounds, M.D. (pictured at left, top right), associate professor of surgery and emergency medicine program director and fellowship director, with co-investigator Tabitha Ford, M.D. (pictured at left, bottom right), clinical instructor in surgery and a medical education fellow in emergency medicine, received the UVM Health Network Medical Group Education Grant for their project, titled “Fostering gender equity to improve the clinical learning environment for medical learners at the University of Vermont.”



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