February 10, 2021 | Volume III, Issue 3
Rokkas Invested as Inaugural Frank P. Ittleman Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery
Chris Rokkas, M.D., Ph.D., an international expert in adult aortic surgery and professor of surgery at the Larner College of Medicine, was invested as the inaugural Frank P. Ittleman Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery at the College in an investiture ceremony held remotely on February 2, 2021 with guests watching from across the United States and around the world.
During the investiture, Dean Richard L. Page, M.D., UVM President Suresh Garimella, and Mitchell Norotsky, M.D., associate professor and Stanley S. Fieber, M.D.’48 Chair in Surgery, praised Dr. Rokkas for being an outstanding surgeon, impactful researcher, and dedicated teacher. He was also celebrated for his deep commitment to providing thoughtful and ethical care to his patients.
The Ittleman Chair was established in recognition of Frank Ittleman, M.D., and his long history of outstanding surgical care and medical teaching as a cardiothoracic surgeon and UVM professor of surgery.
Reflecting on what it means to be invested as the Ittleman Chair, Dr. Rokkas acknowledged the many donors and how they wished to continue—and build on—the contributions that Ittleman has made. “I’m really grateful to them for their generosity, and for giving back to the community,” he says. “These are people who act without any selfishness whatsoever—they have the good of the community in mind. I thank them for their tremendous generosity to establish this chair that will be of service for generations, and I hope to make them proud of their donations.”
Pictured above: Dr. Rokkas wearing his investiture medallion.
Celebrating Lawrence McCrorey's Legacy
A seat at the tables on the first floor of Howe Library has long been a prime UVM study spot. Along the walls of this student hub, in the form of the H. Lawrence McCrorey Gallery of Multicultural Art, the spirit of one of the university’s most respected and beloved professors continues to exert a quiet influence. Established at his retirement in 1995, it’s a fitting memorial for a champion of social justice and a true renaissance man, an accomplished jazz saxophonist who began performing with bands in Camden, N.J., at age 13.
When Dr. McCrorey joined the UVM College of Medicine’s Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics in 1966, he was one of just two Black faculty on campus. He had come to UVM from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago, following his graduate school mentor–the late Norman Alpert, Ph.D., chair of molecular physiology and biophysics from 1966 to 1995–who recruited Dr. McCrorey to help him build a strong teaching program. In addition to winning numerous university teaching awards, Dr. McCrorey made a wide impact on the University and Vermont communities through his forthright calling out and work to combat racism.
Today, his daughter and UVM alum Leslie McCrorey Wells reflects, “The University meant a great deal to my father and he truly wanted it to be the best institution of higher learning that it could be. He believed that since racism was learned, it could be un-learned or never learned in the first place. He was convinced, at least for most of his time in Vermont, that he could make a difference and, of course, he did.”
Pictured above: Dr. McCrorey (right) shakes hands with former Vermont Governor Thomas Salmon, who served as UVM’s president from 1993-1998, at the opening of the McCrorey Gallery in 1995. (UVM file photo)
Class of 2023 Honor Faculty, Staff, and Students at Virtual Foundations Celebration
The Class of 2023 Foundations Celebration event on January 28 provided medical students, leaders, faculty, and staff with an opportunity to gather virtually to celebrate the students’ achievements and recognize faculty and staff who supported them during the first level of the Vermont Integrated Curriculum.
The event webpage features videotaped remarks from Dean Richard L. Page, M.D., Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education Christa Zehle, M.D., Interim Associate Dean of Students Lee Rosen, Ph.D., Foundations Director Karen Lounsbury, Ph.D., and Level Director for the Core Clinical Clerkship Elise Everett, M.D., as well as a speech from Class of 2023 Medical Student Council representative Vinh Le, and award presentations to faculty, staff, and students.
Mr. Le and Class of 2023 Student Council representatives Lud Habtu, Alex Jenkins, Kyle Kellett, and Cyrus Thomas-Walker presented awards from the Class of 2023 to the following faculty members: A. Evan Eyler, M.D., M.P.H., William Raszka, M.D., Nicholas D’Alberto, Ph.D., Andrew Hale, M.D., Ronald Bryant, M.D., and Jesse Moore, M.D. The students also presented awards to staff members Julie Chiappinelli and Nicole D’Elisa and an award to fellow medical student, Sean Meagher, a fourth-year student who served as a teaching assistant during the Cardiovascular, Respiratory & Renal Systems level of the curriculum.
Pictured above: Mr. Le addresses his classmates, faculty, and staff via a YouTube video for the annual Foundations Celebration (screenshot).
There are four mindsets that helped me overcome my incredibly difficult first year and led to my obtaining 15 residency interview invitations and co-founding Healthcare by Design, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing people back into the care with design-thinking.”
– Class of 2021 medical student Jhaimy Fernandez
Ms. Fernandez recently hosted an all-day takeover of the Larner College of Medicine’s Instagram account, which provided an interactive way to share her story and some of the lessons she’s learned over the past four years with aspiring and current medical students.
View the Instagram Takeover in the highlights of the @UVMMedicine Instagram profile and read Ms. Fernandez’s full blog post, “Designing Your Best Medical School Experience,” on the Larner College of Medicine blog.
Pictured, at left: Ms. Fernandez
Accolades & Appointments
Amreen Mughal, Ph.D., a postdoctoral associate working with mentor Mark Nelson, Ph.D., UVM Distinguished Professor and chair of pharmacology, won first place in the Cardiovascular Research Institute’s second annual Viridis Montis Early Career Investigator Challenge in Cardiovascular Disease for her project, titled “PIP2 supplementation improves cerebral blood flow in the 5xFAD mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.”
The virtual event, which took place February 3, is a merit-based scientific abstract competition designed to highlight the best cardiovascular research conducted by early career scientists at UVM and the UVM Health Network.
Other finalists included: Samuel Short, a Class of 2023 medical student working with mentor Neil Zakai, M.D., associate professor of medicine, who received second place for his presentation, titled “D-Dimer and death in critically ill patients with coronavirus disease 2019;” Zhaojin “Scarlett” Li, M.S., a doctoral student working with mentor Marilyn Cipolla, Ph.D., professor of neurological sciences and obstetrics, gynecology & reproductive sciences and pharmacology, who received third place for her presentation, titled “Flow-induced shear stress causes endothelium-dependent vasodilation of leptomeningeal anastomoses from normotensive rats;” Abbie Johnson, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurological sciences; and Nicholas Klug, Ph.D., postdoctoral associate in pharmacology. Serving as guest judges were faculty members Joseph Brayden, Ph.D., Jan Carney, M.D., M.P.H., Martin LeWinter, M.D., Nels Olson, Ph.D., and Alisa Wolberg, Ph.D.Pictured above, at left: (Clockwise, from top right) Ms. Li; Mr. Short; and Dr. Mughal.
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