August 17, 2022 | Volume IV, Issue 16
Message from Dean Page
Dear Larner community,
It was with great pleasure last week that I stood before the 124 members of the medical Class of 2026 to welcome them on behalf of all our College faculty, staff and students. This week, our second-year medical students arrived back from their break and new graduate students are beginning their work in our laboratories. I hope all of you have had a chance to “recharge,” and encourage you to make the best of the few summer weeks still ahead even as we embrace the new academic year.
We have much to look forward to in 2022–2023. To the south of the Given Building, workers are now putting the finishing touches on the Firestone Medical Research Building. They are pouring concrete for sidewalks and beginning to landscape what will be our new greenspace adjoining our College’s entrance. Just two years ago, we were working under the governor’s state of emergency guidelines, many of us fully remote, and building projects were on hold. I am glad we persevered, broke ground in September of 2020, and in doing so provided much-needed jobs to many Vermonters at a crucial moment. As a result, this fall, biomedical scientists and trainees will move into the facility in support of our research mission, and in doing so, serve patients today and in the future.
Even as we celebrate this investment in our future, we will also recognize a landmark in the history of our College; in May, when the Class of 2023 strides across the stage at Ira Allen Chapel, we will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of our first medical graduating class. Throughout the coming months we will acknowledge our bicentennial in many ways. All of us—faculty, staff and students—should take pride in our past accomplishments, although what lies ahead is even more exciting.
I wish you all the best in this new academic year.
Pictured above: Dean Richard L. Page (Photo: Andy Duback)
Larner Welcomes Class of 2026 Medical Students to Campus
On Monday, August 8, the college welcomed 124 new medical students in the Class of 2026 to campus, where they participated in Orientation – the first course of the Foundations level of the Vermont Integrated Curriculum.
Students in the Class of 2026 were selected from 9,340 applicants, a more than six percent increase over the previous year. Over a quarter of the new med students are Vermonters, 19 percent identify as LGBTQA+, and 61 percent of class members identify as female. In addition, 20 percent of UVM's newest medical students identify as coming from a lower socio-economic background and 23 percent identify as people underrepresented in medicine – referred to in higher education as “URiM” – and defined by the AAMC as “racial and ethnic populations that are underrepresented in the medical profession relative to their numbers in the general population...[including] African-American/Caribbean-American; Mexican-American; Native-Americans (American-Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians); Central and South Americans; and Puerto Ricans.” Read the full article about the Larner Class of 2026's Orientation week here.Each day of the week was packed with activities and exercises to help the students become familiar with the facilities, technology, faculty, staff, and classmates they'll be interacting with over the next few years. Traditionally, the first day of Orientation is also the day the students meet their “first patient,” during the “First Patient Simulation” exercise led by Chair of Pediatrics and Chief of the University of Vermont Children's Hospital Lewis First, M.D., M.S. This year, students who will be spending their clinical clerkship year at Larner's Connecticut campus also had an afternoon gathering to meet Connecticut campus Associate Dean Jonathan Rosen, M.D., and Assistant Dean for Students Ellen Kulaga, M.D., and get to know members of their cohort. On Tuesday and Thursday, students met with their Professionalism, Communication & Reflection (PCR) course groups and advisors. PCR is a year-long course that is composed of small, process-oriented discussion groups with a faculty preceptor once a week, and focuses on themes including professionalism, self-awareness, personal wellness, communication with peers, colleagues, and patients, social and economic impacts on medicine, and emotional intelligence. The students also participated in wellness activities led by medical student ambassadors in the classes of 2025, 2024, and 2023 – heading out to local mountains to hike and explore the woods of Vermont, rock climb, play tennis, practice yoga, and more.
Pictured above: Senior Associate Dean Christa Zehle, M.D., distributes Professionalism badges to members of the Class of 2026 during Orientation. (Photo: David Seaver)
UVM & Maine Partners Receive $20 Million Renewal Grant for NNE-CTR
Vermont and Maine have the oldest populations in the U.S., which, coupled with a rural environment, predisposes northern New Englanders to health challenges including cancer, substance use disorders, food insecurity, obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease.
To providing researchers in rural communities with the tools for developing and implementing innovative medical treatments for chronic diseases and improving community members' health, the Northern New England Clinical and Translational Research Network (NNE-CTR) was established five years ago with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Led by principle investigators Gary Stein, Ph.D., chair of biochemistry at the University of Vermont, and Clifford Rosen, M.D., director of the Center for Clinical and Translational Research at MaineHealth, the NNE-CTR team members have built a strong foundation for conducting clinical research. By linking primary care practice centers with academic centers, NNE-CTR fosters development of innovative approaches to conducting community-based research.
NNE-CTR recently received a $20 million-dollar renewal grant from the NIH to ensure continuation of the network's important work. Following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, this work includes supporting the NIH-funded RECOVER study of long COVID, a study of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, and the National COVID Cohort Collaborative registry that shares clinical data as a part of national COVID research.
“The NNE-CTR has exceeded expectations,” says Stein. “We are optimistic that this grant will provide the resources necessary to make chronic and life-threatening diseases preventable and curable. The program will capture immense opportunities available through the emerging power of precision/genomic medicine, and, coupled with our important partnership with the Vermont Department of Health, we are poised to meet the obligation of responding to disparities encountered by our underserved populations.” Read the full article about the NNE-CTR grant renewal.
Pictured above: Adobe stock photo of a bridge, barns, houses, and fall foliage.
Accolades & Appointments
Dean Richard L. Page, M.D., and Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs Jason Sanders, M.D., M.B.A., have announced that on October 1, 2022, Anne Dixon, MA, BM, BCh, professor of medicine, will assume the role of interim chair of the Department of Medicine while a national search is undertaken to identify the next chair. Dr. Dixon is taking over for E.L. Amidon Chair and Professor of Medicine Polly Parsons, M.D., who was named the president and CEO of the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine (AAIM) and will fully transition to her new position with AAIM on October 1, 2022.
A member of the UVM faculty since 2001, Dr. Dixon has served as director of the Vermont Lung Center since 2019, and is chief of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and an attending physician at the UVM Medical Center. A fellow of the American Thoracic Society, she has a national and international reputation for her clinical and research expertise in the areas of asthma and lung disease related to obesity and metabolic dysfunction.
Yvonne Janssen-Heininger, Ph.D., professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, received a two-year, $200,000 Lung Cancer Discovery Award from the American Lung Association (ALA). The grant will support her research project, titled “Glutaredoxin, Glutathione Metabolism and Lung Cancer.” According to the ALA, "The Lung Cancer Discovery Award is for highly meritorious research projects with the potential to significantly improve and transform diagnostic and therapeutic paradigms; foster innovation, use novel approaches; and/or accelerate progress in lung cancer research that improves patient care and helps save lives."
W. Gabe Tharp, M.D., Ph. D., assistant professor of anesthesiology, was awarded a Mentored Research Award from the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS) for a project, titled “Impaired Lung Mechanics and Intraoperative Ventilator Induced Lung Injury.” Dr. Tharp’s research seeks to improve the perioperative care of patients with obesity. This study examines the relationship between ventilator settings in the operating room, body habitus, and lung injury. The project was initially supported by a pilot grant from the UVM Health Network Medical Group, which fosters collaboration between faculty physicians, who practice at hospitals and clinics across the UVM Health Network, and community physicians, who care for patients throughout Central and Western Vermont and Northern New York. IARS Mentored Research Awards support the development of promising investigators in anesthesiology and related sciences. Up to four research projects are selected annually. The grants are intended to help create future leaders and prepare applicants to apply for independent research funding.
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Blankstein M, Haimes MA, Nelms NJ. Selecting a Press-fit Stem for Total Hip Arthroplasty: The Rationale and Evolution of the Modern Femoral Prosthesis. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2022 Aug 11. doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-D-22-00074. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35962989.
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Young LW, Ounpraseuth S, Merhar SL, Simon AE, Das A, Greenberg RG, Higgins RD, Lee J, Poindexter BB, Smith PB, Walsh M, Snowden J, Devlin LA; Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network and the NIH Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program Institutional Development Awards States Pediatric Clinical Trials Network. Eating, Sleeping, Consoling for Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal (ESC-NOW): a Function-Based Assessment and Management Approach study protocol for a multi-center, stepped-wedge randomized controlled trial. Trials. 2022 Aug 9;23(1):638. doi: 10.1186/s13063-022-06445-z. PMID: 35945598; PMCID: PMC9361241.
Abualadas HM, Xu L. Achievement of learning outcomes in non-traditional (online) versus traditional (face-to-face) Anatomy teaching in medical schools: A mixed method systematic review. Clin Anat. 2022 Aug 15. doi: 10.1002/ca.23942. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35969356.
Kumar R, Tchelebi L, Anker CJ, Sharma N, Bianchi NA, Dragovic J, Goodman KA, Herman JM, Jiang Y, Jones WE 3rd, Kennedy TJ, Lee P, Kundranda M, Russo S, Small W, Suh WW, Yee N, Jabbour SK. American Radium Society (ARS) Appropriate Use Criteria (AUC) for Locoregional Gastric Adenocarcinoma: Systematic Review and Guidelines. Am J Clin Oncol. 2022 Aug 10. doi: 10.1097/COC.0000000000000930. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35947781.
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LePine SE, Peasley-Miklus C, Farrington ML, Young WJ, Bover Manderski MT, Hrywna M, Villanti AC. Ongoing refinement and adaptation are required to address participant deception in online nicotine and tobacco research studies. Nicotine Tob Res. 2022 Aug 13:ntac194. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntac194. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35962780.
Lester-Coll NH, Skelly J, Vacek PM, Sprague BL. Trends and costs of stereotactic body radiation therapy in metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. J Thorac Dis. 2022 Jul;14(7):2579-2590. doi: 10.21037/jtd-21-1835. PMID: 35928617; PMCID: PMC9344414.
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