College Welcomes Alumni & Honors Awardees at Reunion

September 26, 2022 by Jennifer Nachbur

The Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont celebrated Reunion 2022 October 13-16. Highlights included the Distinguished Graduate Alumni Award Lecture, Class of 1972 50th Reunion Medallion Ceremony, tours of the College and new Firestone Medical Research Building, Larner College of Medicine Alumni Association Awards Ceremony, Alumni Town Hall and Reunion Class Dinners.

The Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont celebrated Reunion 2022 October 13 through 16. Highlights included the Class of 1972 50th Reunion Medallion Ceremony, tours of the College and new Firestone Medical Research Building, 2022 Larner College of Medicine Alumni Association Awards Ceremony, and Alumni Town Hall and Reunion Class Dinners. Link to the full Larner College of Medicine Reunion Schedule.

Medical Reunion kicked off with two lectures on October 13 – the Distinguished Graduate Alumni Award Lecture and the Annual John J. Ouellette, M.D.'60 and Sally Ouellette Endowed Lectureship in the Vermont Lung Center.

Elizabeth J. Kovacs, Ph.D.’84, professor of surgery and director of the Burn Research and the Alcohol Research Programs at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, will deliver the Distinguished Graduate Alumni Award Lecture. Titled “Burns are more than skin deep: Aging, inflammation and the gut-lung axis,” the presentation will take place from noon to 12:00 p.m. in the Davis Auditorium at the UVM Medical Center. Kovacs, who received a Ph.D. in cell biology from UVM, specializes in research on innate immunity and inflammation, and has been studying tissue injury and repair in trauma patients and in murine models to better understand the role of leukocytes and inflammatory mediators in the blood and lungs of burn patients with inhalation injury along with smokers and drinkers. A past recipient of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Senior Scientist Award and a fellow in the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) Program for Women, she receives funding from multiple NIH institutes, the Department of Defense, the Veterans Administration, among other agencies. Kovacs has served as president of the Society for Leukocyte Biology and the Shock Society, chair of the Committee on Public Affairs for the American Association of Immunology, and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). Kovacs has trained and mentored well over 125 students and faculty to date.

The Ouellette Endowed Lectureship in the Vermont Lung Center featured two presentations. Jack Spengler, Ph.D., the Akiri Yamaguchi professor of environmental health and human habitation at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, presented on "The Air Within - Pathogens, Allergens, Pollution in Our Indoor Environment," and Stephanie Taylor, M.D., M.Arch., of Taylor Healthcare Commissioning, Inc. in Stowe, Vt., discussed "Buildings are Our Best Medicine."

The 2022 Larner College of Medicine Alumni Association Awards Ceremony took place on October 14 in the UVM Medical Center’s Davis Auditorium. Awards and respective honorees include:

  • A. Bradley Soule AwardThe A. Bradley Soule Award recognizes alums whose loyalty and dedication to the College of Medicine most emulate those qualities as found in the award's first recipient, A. Bradley Soule, M.D.’28.
    • H. David Reines, M.D.’72, Professor of Surgery, George Washington University Medical School; Clinical Professor of Surgery and Master Educator, University of Virginia School of Medicine
      In the last decade, Reines and his wife, Nina Totenberg, have been able to endow a scholarship that benefits several Larner medical students each year. His service to UVM and Larner includes membership on the UVM Foundation Leadership Council and Foundation board, chair of the Firestone Medical Research Building Fund drive, and critical involvement in medical curriculum and fundraising activities. Early in his medical career, Reines demonstrated a strong commitment to patients and the community when he co-founded “The Place” – a site where drug users could receive emergency care and where clinicians could identify dangerous contaminants in psychedelic drugs being distributed in the area – while still a med student. After medical school, he completed a surgical residency at UVM and a critical care/trauma fellowship at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Fla. While on the Medical College of South Carolina faculty, he helped organize South Carolina’s first trauma unit, chaired the state committee for trauma, and served as surgical director of the EMS system. He directed the trauma and critical care units at the Medical College of Virginia (now Virginia Commonwealth University/VCU) and served for 10 years as chair of surgery at Newton Wellesley, a Partners hospital, in Massachusetts. As vice chair of surgery at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Virginia, he established a new surgical residency and served as VCU surgery clerkship director. In addition to his positions at George Washington University Medical School and University of Virginia School of Medicine, Reines helps set policy for the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and serves as president of the Metro Chapter of the ACS and as a governor, with appointment as chair of the Governors’ Workgroup on Policy and Health Affairs. He has held many leadership roles with the ACS, the Independent Academic Medical Centers Committee for the Association of Program Directors of Surgery, and the Council on Graduate Medical Education and is an Associate Member of the ACS Master Surgeon Educators. Read more about Reines.
  • Distinguished Academic Achievement Award Presented to alumni in recognition of outstanding scientific or academic achievement, there are four Distinguished Academic Achievement Award recipients this year, including:
    • James R. Howe, M.D.’87, Professor of Surgery, Surgical Oncology and Endocrine Surgery; Director, Division of Surgical Oncology and Endocrine Surgery, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine

      After receiving his M.D., Howe trained in general surgery at Barnes Hospital/Washington University, where he contributed to the discovery of the gene responsible for Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia type 2 by positional cloning. He completed a clinical surgical oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and joined the University of Iowa faculty, where he specializes in gastrointestinal cancer and endocrine surgery, and conducts research on genetic studies of cancer. His laboratory discovered a gene that causes the inherited colorectal cancer syndrome Juvenile Polyposis in 1998, and in 2001 identified a second predisposition gene. Division director of surgical oncology and endocrine surgery since 2002, his clinical practice and research focuses on small bowel and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) and their metastases. Read more about Howe.

    • Jacqueline S. Jeruss, M.D.’97, Ph.D., Professor of Surgery, Pathology and Biomedical Engineering; Associate Dean for Regulatory Affairs; Director, Breast Care Center and Breast Surgical Oncology Fellowship; Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical Oncology

      Jeruss trained in general surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital/Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., where she also received a Ph.D. focused on mammary gland development and oncogenesis and was supported by an American College of Surgeons Resident Research Scholarship and an NIH T32 Carcinogenesis research fellowship. Her doctoral research described the mechanisms by which a TGFβ signaling protein, SMAD3, suppressed breast cancer progression. After completing a clinical fellowship in breast surgical oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center, she joined the Northwestern faculty. Later, after joining the University of Michigan faculty, Jeruss became director of the University of Michigan Breast Center, Breast Surgical Oncology Fellowship, and co-director of an NIH T32 Surgical Oncology Training Program. She currently serves as chair of the Society of Surgical Oncology Breast Fellowship Training Committee and Vice Chair of the American College of Surgeons Scientific Forum Committee. Her clinical work helped establish the field of fertility preservation for young patients with cancer and her NIH-supported research focuses on novel strategies to combat breast cancer metastasis. Read more about Jeruss.

    • Ken Sartorelli, M.D. '87, Green and Gold Professor of Pediatric Surgery, UVM Larner College of Medicine, Vice Chair for Education, Department of Surgery, Division Chief, Pediatric Surgery, UVM Children's Hospital and UVM Department of Surgery, Surgeon-in-Chief, UVM Children's Hospital

      Raised in Barre, Vt., Sartorelli earned a zoology and medical degrees from UVM. He completed a surgical residency, including a year as a surgical research fellow, at the former Medical Center Hospital of Vermont (now the UVM Medical Center), and then completed a pediatric surgical residency at Denver Children’s Hospital. After completion of his pediatric surgical training, Sartorelli returned to Vermont to join the UVM faculty. The division chief of pediatric surgery and surgeon in chief of UVM Children’s Hospital, Sartorelli specializes in pediatric and adult trauma and works to advance education activities in pediatric and adult surgery. Read more about Sartorelli.

    • Sharon Savage, M.D.’97, Chief of Clinical Genetics Branch; Clinical Director of Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG); National Cancer Institute (NCI)

      After completing a pediatrics residency at Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, D.C., and fellowship in pediatric hematology-oncology through NCI-Johns Hopkins, Hamel joined the NCI’s Clinical Genetics Branch as a tenure-track investigator in 2006. She began leading the Clinical Genetics Branch as branch chief in 2013 and in 2019, was appointed clinical director of the NCI’s DCEG. Her discoveries include numerous genetic causes of telomere biology disorders, inherited bone marrow failure syndromes, and pediatric cancer risk factors. Read more about Savage.

  • Service to Medicine and Community Award – Presented to alumni who have maintained a high standard of medical service and who have achieved an outstanding record of community service or assumed other significant responsibilities not directly related to medical practice. There are three recipients of this award in 2022 including:
    • Mary Hamel, M.D.’92, Senior Technical Officer and Team Lead for Malaria Vaccines, World Health Organization

      A medical epidemiologist with nearly 30 years’ experience in malaria and child health research and public health, Hamel has led and supervised numerous malaria-related studies, primarily in Africa, focusing on malaria in children, pregnant women, and HIV infected persons and on transmission reduction efforts. Read more about Hamel.

    • Susan Long, M.D.’92, General Surgeon, St. Joseph's Hospital, West Virginia University Medicine

      Long completed a surgical residency at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, N.C., then established a rural surgical practice in Buckhannon, W.Va. Her extensive community and global service endeavors include founding a nonprofit organization, Hands and Hearts, which conducts annual surgical missions to Central America through which the group has performed over 1500 surgical procedures in Belize and Guatemala. A member of the Buckhannon Rotary Club and a Paul Harris Fellow since 2004, she also serves on the Rural Council of the American College of Surgeons and as a clinical associate professor of surgery at West Virginia University and the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. Read more about Long.

    • Mariah McNamara, M.D.’02, M.P.H., Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Interim Assistant Dean for Students, UVM Larner College of Medicine; Attending Physician and Medical Director of Emergency Department, UVM Medical Center, Associate Chief Medical Officer for Medical Staff Affairs, UVM Medical Center

      McNamara completed a residency in emergency medicine at the Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Program at Brigham & Women's and Massachusetts General Hospitals and was a fellow in global health at Massachusetts General Hospital. She joined the UVM faculty in 2012 and has been actively in the Nuvance Health/Larner College of Medicine Global Health program, for which she currently serves as associate program director. Read more about McNamara.

  • Early Achievement Award – Presented to an alum who has graduated within the past 15 years in recognition of their outstanding community or College service, scientific, or academic achievement.
    • Molly Hubbard, M.D. ’12 (Posthumous award), Fellow, Pediatric Neurosurgery, Oregon Health Science University

      Hubbard completed a seven-year neurosurgery residency at the University of Minnesota, where she was awarded the Zhao Zi-Zhen Award, which recognized her "Inquisitiveness, Perseverance, Honesty, Frugality, Compassion." She then began a fellowship in pediatric neurosurgery at the Oregon Health Science University (OHSU) in Portland, Ore., after which she accepted an assistant professor position at the OHSU, to begin the summer of 2020. In her short time at OHSU, she became a valued team player that her department head described as "a truly superlative physician and surgeon with exceptional judgement, technical skills, and deep compassion for her patients and colleagues." An avid expert skier, Hubbard was one of three skiers killed in an avalanche at the Silver Mountain Ski resort in Kellogg, Idaho, in January 2020. Read more about Hubbard.

    • Adam Polifka, M.D. ’07, Associate Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, and Division Chief, Cerebrovascular Surgery, University of Florida
      Polifka completed a seven-year residency in neurologic surgery at the University of Maryland and a one-year fellowship in cerebrovascular surgery at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pa. He then joined the faculty at the University of Florida, where he has established a clinical practice focused on cerebrovascular disease and minimally invasive spine surgery. Polifka is also the associate program director for the neurosurgery residency and fellowship director for the endovascular surgical neuroradiology fellowship. He has received the University of Florida’s Exemplary Teacher award five out of the last seven years and is the author of more than 40 publications in scientific journals. In addition, he has lectured nationally on cerebrovascular surgery and minimally invasive spine surgery and has served as the site primary investigator for nine clinical trials. Read more about Polifka.

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