January 11, 2023 | Volume V, Issue 1
Message from the Dean
Dear Larner Community,
As we enter a new year and students return to campus, I’d like to reflect briefly on our history and the years to come.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the college’s first graduating medical class of 1823. Please see the nice summary of our history in the current issue of our alumni magazine, Vermont Medicine. In the coming months, we will highlight historical events in this newsletter and in other materials. For years the halls of Given have featured pictures from prior classes and provided a glimpse of our history. As part of the WOW (What’s On the
Walls) project, you will see an updated display that recognizes our past while celebrating the diverse and inclusive community we have become.
Our strategic plan, VISION 2025, has been updated. Rolled out with a Town Hall in December 2022, “VISION 2025:2
.0” includes new objectives that reflect our priorities of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) will be introducing a two-year strategic plan to synchronize the next cycle of ODEI and Larner College of Medicine strategic plans in 2025.
I have spent much of my adult life in clinical settings. But in November, a family illness called on me to spend almost two weeks at another academic medical center, not as a patient, dean, or doctor, but as a visitor. I watched staff, students, trainees, and physicians do their jobs, just as we do here. I also had time to reflect on the biomedical research that underpins modern medicine. Compared with 200 years ago, or even 20, what our community does is magic: new joints allow patients to walk, and even ski again; valves are placed without opening the chest; and children with leukemia can be cured and grow up to raise their own families one day.
So as we address our daily work and embrace this exciting semester and year to come, I encourage all of us to recognize the positive impact of the education, science, and health care we deliver.
Have a great semester, and thanks for all you do,
Looking Back at 2022: A Year to Remember
While pandemic safety protocols and guidelines continued to play a role in life at the Larner College of Medicine, a familiar, reassuring rhythm and return to in-person activities marked 2022. The college welcomed new students, said goodbye to those who graduated, witnessed groundbreaking research, and celebrated the opening and dedication of a new state-of-the-art medical research building. 2022 was indeed a year to remember.
Over the past few challenging years, Larner staff, faculty, medical students, graduate students, postdocs, and alumni remained dedicated to the college’s mission of providing excellence in education and research, demonstrating an ongoing commitment to the tenets of our Professionalism statement in everything we do.
Take a look back through photos featuring some of the many memorable moments that took place during 2022 on the UVM Larner Med blog.
Pictured above (clockwise, from top left): Class of 2022 alum Jose Calderon, M.D.; Shani Legore, Class of 2026 medical student; Class of 1969 alum Steve Firestone, M.D., and Dean Richard L. Page, M.D.; Yvonne Janssen-Heininger, Ph.D., UVM Distinguished Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Class of 2022 alum Matthew Hill Brandt, M.D., and family; photo of a College of Medicine medical lecture ticket from the mid- to late-1800s.
Medical Alum Helps Establish Much-Needed Vermont Child Psychiatry Access Program
While public awareness about the current mental health crisis among U.S. youth has increased during the pandemic, many lack an understanding of the challenges of accessing and delivering appropriate psychiatric care. Chief among the hurdles faced by patients and their families is access to trained child and adolescent psychiatry clinicians, due to a longstanding workforce shortage in the field.
“People were dealing with problems like poverty, food insecurity, domestic violence, poorly resourced schools before the pandemic,” says psychiatrist Greta Spottswood, M.D., M.P.H., a Larner Class of 2011 alum. “[These issues] ballooned during the pandemic, and at the same time, the workforce shrank,” she notes.
Dr. Spottswood, who joined Vermont’s Community Health Centers (CHC) in 2017, started her career in Boston, where she completed a general psychiatry residency and fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at the Cambridge Health Alliance - a health system widely recognized for its innovative approaches and dedication to providing equity and excellence.
For the first couple of years at CHC, Spottswood provided psychiatric care alongside primary care providers in the clinic, which she says she loved and where she learned a lot. She admits, however, “The current system underserves the patient. My wait list was six months for a follow-up appointment, and that’s not safe care.” She set out to identify where gaps existed both at her clinic and across the state and looked at how other states were addressing the issue, with a goal of finding a program that provided equitable access to primary care providers across the state.
Spottswood learned that Vermont was one of only a handful of states without Child Psychiatry Access Programs (CPAPs) - an innovative model to help primary care pediatricians provide more robust mental health care - so she helped launch an effort to get one established. With private funding, a Health Resources and Services Administration grant, and support from a wide range of state agencies, mental health agencies, health care organizations, and others, the VTCPAP launched in June 2022.
Image above: Graphic features an image of a young patient sitting on a couch (center), highlighted by a dark green circle with a lighter green circle around it, across from an adult holding a notepad.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Health Equity Lecture:
“Why We Can’t Wait: A Conversation About How Diversity in Medicine Will Save Lives, and How To Get There”
by Quinn Capers, IV, M.D., FACC, FSCAI, Roddy P. Cox Professor of Internal Medicine, Cardiology, and Associate Dean of Faculty Diversity, University of Texas (UT) Southwestern School of Medicine, and Vice Chair, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Department of Internal Medicine, UT Southwestern Medical Center
Wednesday, January 18, 2023
5:30 – 7:00 PM
Med Ed Center 200, Sullivan Classroom
and via Zoom at
Vaccine Testing Center Expresses Gratitude to COVID-19 Vaccine Trial Team, Volunteers
In the fall of 2020, the University of Vermont Vaccine Testing Center (VTC) began participating in the U.S.-based multicenter clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of a new COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. Led at UVM by Professors Beth Kirkpatrick, M.D., and Kristen Pierce, M.D., and researcher/analyst Mary Claire Walsh, PA, of the Departments of Medicine and Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, the study was the largest and most rapid effort ever undertaken by the VTC research team in its 20-year history.
Due to the study’s scale and importance, many tasks had to be completed in a very short period of time. A new physical clinic site had to be established and outfitted, a large team of study staff had to be hired and trained, volunteers willing to be vaccinated had to be identified, and participants had to be screened and enrolled.
In Vermont, the study’s goal was to enroll 250 participants thought to be at the highest risk of COVID-19 illness. To the VTC’s surprise, more than 3,000 individuals from Vermont and surrounding regions of New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire stepped forward to volunteer. Each volunteer had to commit significant time and effort to be educated on the risks and benefits of this trial, and needed to be willing to participate throughout the two-year length of the study.
In just four weeks, nearly 300 individuals were enrolled in the trial and dosed with the investigational vaccine or placebo. Almost 65 percent of the volunteers at UVM's site were over the age of 65 – a critically important demographic for testing efficacy and safety and a unique, local contribution to the nationwide study. Additionally, more than 12 percent of participants identified as black, indigenous, or persons of color.
Enrollment in the study at UVM was completed on December 22, 2021, with follow-up continuing until December 2022, when the study officially closed.
Read the full thank you message sent to all the individuals who helped with the trial from Dr. Kirkpatrick, VTC director, Dr. Pierce, VTC co-director, and Walsh.
Pictured above: UVM VTC AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Study Team members. Top row (left to right): Marcia Dunham; Cindy Reynolds, PA; Kristin Kahla; Dr. Kirkpatrick; Mary Claire Walsh, PA; Patti Lutton; Joan Bertolet; Jiawen Yu; Lisa Smith. Bottom row (left to right): Megan Hinton; Michele Couriveau; Cassandra Ventrone; Dr. Pierce; Dorothy Dickson, M.Sc.; Sunday Whipkey; Christine Tanna; Joanna Pierce. (Not pictured: Rose Bergeron; Sean Bullis, M.D.; Marya Carmolli; Betsy Cutler; Gina DeMilt; Janet DuPont; Jessica Faraci, M.D.; Jon Ford; Mohit Jindal, M.D.; Ethan Jones; Donna Kaynor; Kimberly Luebbers, M.S.H.S., RN, B.S.N., OCN; Caroline Lyon, M.D., M.P.H.; Timothy Mallard; Ashley Miles; Kate Peterson; Angela Pratt, CCRC; Rachel Stringer.)
The Larner College of Medicine’s Gender Equity Steering Committee is seeking nominations for the 2023 Gender Equity in Medicine and Science Awards, which honor the commitment of individual faculty, staff, and students to gender equity, as well as contributions to medicine and science by our women, transgender, and gender-diverse* community members. Nominees must be employees or students of the Larner College of Medicine, and all gender identities are eligible for nomination unless otherwise noted. Award nominees and recipients will be recognized at the 4th Annual Celebration of Gender Equity in Medicine and Science event, which will be held March 2, 2023.
Submissions must be submitted via the online form before 5:00 PM EST on January 13, 2023. Link to the online submission form, which includes selection criteria and descriptions of each award category, as well as nomination instructions.
*Gender-diverse refers to those who identify with a gender outside of the she/her, he/him binary.
Accolades & Appointments
On December 14, 2022, UVM held its annual Graduate Hooding Ceremony, which recognizes graduate students who completed their master’s and doctoral degrees in August 2022, October 2022, or January 2023. The following students graduated from the Cellular, Molecular, and Biomedical Sciences (CMB); Clinical and Translational Science (CTS); Master in Medical Science (MMS); Master in Pathology (Path); Master in Pharmacology (Pharm); Master in Public Health (MPH); or Neuroscience (NGP) programs: Alqassem Abuarqoub, Ph.D. (CMB); Brian Bachyryz, M.P.H.; Collin Blout, M.M.S.; Levi Bonnell, Ph.D. (CTS); Jeffrey Brabec, Ph.D. (NGP); Valerie Burke, M.M.S.; John Carew, M.P.H.; Alisa Cario, Ph.D. (CMB); Jaime Cotton, M.P.H.; Audrey Cussen, M.M.S.; Mychaella Devaney, M.P.H.; Emily Fleming, M.P.H.; Tyler Flores, M.P.H.; Jennifer Fofi, M.P.H.; Kaleigh Gale, M.M.S.; Jennifer Garrigan, M.P.H.; Matthew Gilwee, M.P.H.; Yainna Hall, M.P.H.; Evan Hoffman, Ph.D. (CBM); Nolan Joyce, M.P.H.; Kareem Khalid, M.P.H.; Amelia Lamberty Peterson, M.S. (Path); Theresa Legan, Ph.D. (NGP); Caelan Keenan, M.P.H.; Madeline Leopold, M.P.H.; Sally Ma, M.M.S.; Inessa Manuelyan, Ph.D. (CMB); Henry McMullen, M.M.S.; Abigail McNulty, M.M.S.; Theresa Montgomery, Ph.D. (CMB); Matthew Mullen, M.M.S.; Matthew Nutt, M.M.S.; Megan Perkins, Ph.D. (NGP); Dylan Pushee, M.P.H.; Violet Radoncic, M.M.S.; Taranvir Rattu, M.M.S.; Matthew Robson, M.M.S.; Harly Rodriguez, M.M.S.; Samantha Schneider, M.M.S.; Ryan Shields, M.S. (Path); Cassidy Slinger, M.M.S.; Julia Snyder, Ph.D. (CMB); Rachel Stadler, Ph.D. (CMB); Kendrew Stevens, M.M.S.; Nellie Stidham, M.S. (Pharm); Lila Sullivan, M.P.H.; Kathryn Svec, Ph.D. (CMB); Stephanie Tack, M.P.H.; Joseph Teague, M.S. (Path); Jonna Thomas, M.P.H.; Alex Thompson, Ph.D. (CMB); Joseph Walzer, M.P.H.; and Caitlin Wilson, M.P.H.
The Larner College of Medicine collaborates on these interdisciplinary cross-departmental programs through UVM’s Graduate College and in collaboration with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, and Professional and Continuing Education.
The Larner College of Medicine Student Council recently announced the election of medical student Jasmine Liu as the Class of 2026 representative on the Larner College of Medicine Advancement Committee. Liu joins class representatives Evan Gaston ’23, Betsy Assoumou ’24, and Caitlin Marassi ’25 on the committee. Karen George, M.D., associate dean for students, serves as the committee's faculty advisor, and Kiersten Tavares, M.Ed., student services coordinator, serves as the staff liaison. The Larner Advancement Committee’s role and processes are outlined extensively in the Medical Student Handbook.
In December, the UVM Medical Center was recognized for its ongoing work to create partnerships and programs focused on sustainability and environmental excellence in health care with the 2022 Health Care Climate Challenge Silver Award for Renewable Energy and Climate Resilience from Health Care Without Harm. An international organization focused on environmental reform, sustainability, and equity in health care, Health Care Without Harm presents annual awards based on environmental impact-related data collected in partnership with Practice Greenhealth. For 2022, they honored leading hospitals in more than 40 countries that have signed a pledge to reduce their own climate footprint, prepare for climate-related impacts and lead the way to a low-carbon future.
Albert van der Vliet, Ph.D., professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, was selected as an Invited Fellow to Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan, to participate in research in the laboratory of Takaaki Akaike, M.D., Ph.D., professor of environmental medicine and molecular toxicology. The invitational fellowship relates to a Tohoku University initiative that allows Tohoku faculty members to host invited researchers to promote collaborative research in the host lab for up to three months. The objective is to promote joint publications and expand international collaborations. Dr. van der Vliet’s visit coincided with a medley of scientific meetings and symposia collectively termed Redox Week in Sendai 2022 and held October 27-November 1, 2022. The events brought together leading scientists from around the world in the specific research fields of nitric oxide biology, polysulfur biochemistry, and biology. Van der Vliet was co-organizer and speaker at one of the symposiums, and Yvonne Janssen-Heininger, Ph.D., and Brian Cunniff, Ph.D., both professors of pathology and laboratory medicine, also participated as invited speakers. Additional Japanese federal funding supports the exchange of invited researchers, graduate students, and post-doctoral scholars to collaborate on research.
Read more about the redox research collaboration between UVM and Tohoku University.
Pictured at left (left to right): Dr. van der Vliet and Dr. Akaike at Redox Week in Sendai, Japan
Class of 2026 medical students Anika Advant, Tucker Angier, Caity Decara, Jeyna Doshi, Surya Radhakrishnan, and Julie Scholes were recently elected as new representatives on the Larner College of Medicine Medical Student Wellness Committee. The Wellness Committee is committed to comprehensively promoting the health of Larner College of Medicine students and fostering a campus-wide culture that prioritizes medical student well-being, vulnerability, and interconnection.
Pictured at left (left to right): Doshi, Decara, Angier, Advant, Scholes, and Radhakrishnan
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