LCOM & Department News

Health Workers, Students Demonstrate Support at #WhiteCoatsforBlackLives Vigil

June 16, 2020 by Jennifer Nachbur

More than 250 University of Vermont Medical Center staff members, Larner College of Medicine students and leaders gathered June 5 at 1 p.m. for a silent demonstration of support for racial justice in honor of George Floyd and others who have died due to racism and police brutality.

Pictured above: UVM Medical Center and Larner College of Medicine staff and students silently take a knee outside of the hospital and medical school in support of #WhiteCoatsForBlackLives. (Credit: Ryan Mercer, UVM Medical Center)

More than 250 University of Vermont Medical Center staff members, Larner College of Medicine students and leaders gathered June 5 at 1 p.m. for a silent demonstration of support for racial justice in honor of George Floyd and others who have died due to racism and police brutality.

Wearing white coats, scrubs, uniforms, office attire and masks, participants took a knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds—the length of time that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin had his knee on Mr. Floyd's neck. Attendees spread out across the plaza between UVM's Dana Medical Library and Converse Hall, up the adjacent steps to the medical center's main entrance, and down the sidewalk to the Emergency Department.

Medical centers across the country took part in the event aligned with White Coats for Black Lives (WC4BL), a national medical student organization founded in 2014 following the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y., at the hands of police. The mission of WC4BL is to "dismantle racism in medicine and promote the health, well-being, and self-determination of people of color."

Organizers Amy Teleron, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, and Joanna Conant, M.D., assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, each learned of the nationwide vigil via female physician social media groups. Teleron quickly took steps to notify UVM Medical Center leaders and UVM diversity, equity, and inclusion leaders about the event and the two clinicians met to determine an appropriate location and format for the event on campus.

They decided on an event with no speeches to ensure "that this moment was an opportunity for each and every one of us to silently reflect and commit to standing up against racism," said Conant.

"This vigil represents our commitment to ending racism," said Teleron, a hospitalist and deputy director of the biological branch of UVM Medical Center's COVID-19 Incident Command.

“Racism is a healthcare issue; it’s a public health issue," said Conant during an interview with local CBS affiliate WCAX-TV. "We know that there’s a disproportionately higher number of African Americans who are dying from COVID-19 . . . Racial inequality is a driver of these social determinants of health and directly affects the health of our BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, People of Color] community,” she added.

Conant and Teleron believe that roughly 70 medical students took part in the vigil, along with representatives from all areas of the medical center—residents, fellows, attending physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacy staff, security staff, patient placement staff, case management/social workers. Leaders, including College of Medicine deans, department chairs, and hospital administrators, were also in attendance.

Among the dozens of physicians taking part in the vigil was Professor of Medicine Macauley Onuigbo, M.D., a nephrologist, Diversity and Inclusion Departmental Champion for the Department of Medicine, and member of the Larner Gender Equity Steering Committee.

“Hundreds of faculty, medical students, and residents all in one place . . . The outpouring of support from white Americans—it gives you all the hope in the world,” said Onuigbo in an interview with Local ABC22/Fox44 news following the event.

In summing up the event, Teleron said "it's important that we all band together, acknowledge the data, and take action to improve our healthcare system for everyone, but specifically for our black community members."

Department Highlights

Dr. Debra Leonard, M.D., Ph. D., our department chairand the Genomic Medicine Team announce the start of the Genomic Population Health Initiative. A pilot project offering Genomic DNA Testing is now underway within the University of Vermont Health Network. Read more here... (2019)

Dr. William Pendlebury, M.D., professor emeritus of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, has been selected to receive the 2019 Vermont Medical Society’s (VMS) Founders’ Award. The award recognizes Pendlebury’s leadership role and advocacy in “the fight for the diagnosis and treatment of dementia in Vermont for the past 35 years.” He will receive the award November 2 at the VMS 206th Annual Meeting in Stowe, Vt.(2019)

Yvone Janssen-Heininger, Ph.D., Jos van der Velden, Ph.D. (both Pathology & Laboratory Medicine faculty) and senior author, Charles Irvin, Ph.D. (Medicine), published "The Effect of Flavored E-cigarettes on Murine Allergic Airways Disease" in Nature Scientific Reports. The study has been cited in stories by several news outlets: U.S. News & World Report/HealthDay; American Journal of Managed Care; Medical News Bulletin; and Medical Daily. (2019)

Dr. Mark Fung, M.D, Ph.D., professor and vice chair for Population Health, was recently named to the board of directors for the Project Santa Fe Foundation, which “focuses on demonstrating the power of longitudinal clinical laboratory data to proactively augment population health in a value-based healthcare environment.” (2019)

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Dr. Bronwyn Bryant, M.D. was named a 2019 Frymoyer Scholar for her project, “Validating Entrustable Professional Activity-Based Assessment to Determine On-Call Competency in Pathology Residents”. (2019)

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Dr. Rebecca Wilcox, M.DDr. Rebecca Wilcox, M.D. was selected, by the Larner College of Medicine Class of 2019, to be the commencement keynote speaker. Read more... [Photo credit: Andy Duback 2019] (2019)

Please join Dr. Yvonne Janssen-Heininger in congratulating Allison Manuel and Evan Elko

Dr. Allison Manuel is a post-doctoral fellow in our group.  Her abstract to be presented at the American Thoracic Society conference was chosen to receive an Abstract Scholarship . The scholarship includes a full In-Training Registration to the 2019 ATS International Conference in Dallas, Texas.  

Evan Elko is a PhD student. He just received notice that his F31 NIH application entitled: “Role of peroxiredoxin-4 in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis”  will be funded.

Congratulations to Evan and Allison.

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Department alumni, Dr. Bobbi Pritt, M.D. featured in Vermont Medicine Magazine. To read her story click on the photo below.

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Dr's Leonard and HuberA Remarkable Gift from Dr. Sally Huber, Ph.D.

At the end of last week's Research Day, Dr. Leonard gave a surprise announcement: a very generous bequethment of $5 million by research faculty emerita, Dr. Sally Huber! The funds will go toward two endowed professorships for junior investigators in our department. The endowments will be named for her parents, Elmer R. Huber and Blodwen S. Huber, and will support junior research faculty for five years.(9/2018)

This amazing support will allow junior faculty time and funds to gain independence while pursuing the milestone achievement of being awarded their first R01 grant.

Heintz Awarded 2018 Distinguised Graduate Alumni Award

Dr. Nick Heintz, Ph.D. received the 2018 UVM Medical Alumni Association’s Distinguished Graduate Alumni Award​, which is presented to Larner College of Medicine (LCOM) alumni who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in basic, clinical or applied research; education; industry; public service/humanitarianism; and/or outstanding commitment to the LCOM community.

He accepted his award at the college's Celebrating Research Excellence event at the end of October. (September 2018)

Kida Received Certificate of Commendation

Dr. Kida receives award from the State of Vermont...read more here. (August 2018)

Leonard and Committee Publish Through National Academies Press

Dr. Debra Leonard, along with a committee under the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, ​published "Returning Individual Research Results to Participants: Guidance for a New Research Paradigm" through The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2018 (Committee Member). (August 2018)

Excellence in Education

The Larner College of Medicine’s second year medical students nominate and elect faculty who they want to recognize for their outstanding teaching and support over their first years of the Foundations education. (February 2018)

Pathology nominees (winners in bold):

AMWA Gender Equity Award  - Pamela Gibson; Sharon Mount; Rebecca Wilcox

Dean Warhsaw Integration Award - Rebecca Wilcox

Silver Stethoscope Award - Scott Andreson; Maureen Harmon; John Lunde

Above and Beyond Award - Ronald Bryant; Rebecca Wilcox

Foundations Course Director Award -Rebecca Wilcox

Outstanding Foundations Course Award

  • Cardiovascular, Respiratory & Renal Systems: (Ron Bryant; Kelly Butnor; and Pam Gibson are the primary pathologists in each section of the course, respectively)
  • Nutrition, Metabolism & the Gastrointestinal System: Course Director is Rebecca Wilcox

Foundations Teaching Award - Ronald Bryant; Pamela Gibson; Rebecca Wilcox; Christina Wojewoda

Dr. Yvonne Janssen-Heininger Receives Patent

Yvonne Janssen-Heinger was awarded a patent on the ​concept that strategies to inhibit GSTP has utility for the treatment of patients with pulmonary fibrosis. Congratulations, Yvonne! (January 2018)

Drs. Bronwyn Bryant and Phillip Munson inducted into the Teaching Academy

Last week Bronwyn and Phillip were inducted into University of Vermont's Teaching Academy. The Teaching Academy sustains and supports an interdisciplinary community of educators who value the scholarship of teaching and learning while facilitating educator development; improve the efficiency and quality of medical education through collaboration and scholarship; and promote an academic environment that increases the value and impact of educators locally, regionally, and nationally. (January 2018)