Medical Reunion Celebrates and Honors Alumni from Classes of 1947-2012

June 2, 2017 by Jennifer Nachbur

The Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont welcomed alumni from classes ending in “7” and “2” at Medical Reunion June 2 to 4, 2017. Highlights included an investiture ceremony for Kennith Sartorelli, M.D.’87, as the inaugural Green & Gold Professor of Pediatric Surgery; the Class of 1967 50th Reunion lunch and medallion ceremony; tours of the College and UVM Medical Center; and the Celebration of Achievements Awards and Recognition Ceremony.

The Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont welcomed alumni from classes ending in “7” and “2” at Medical Reunion June 2 to 4, 2017. Highlights included an investiture ceremony for Kennith Sartorelli, M.D.’87, as the inaugural Green & Gold Professor of Pediatric Surgery; the Class of 1967 50th Reunion lunch and medallion ceremony; tours of the College and UVM Medical Center; and the Celebration of Achievements Awards and Recognition Ceremony.

The event kicked off on Friday, June 2 at 10 a.m. with the investiture of Dr. Sartorelli. Link to the full Medical Reunion schedule of events here.

Presenters at the Celebration of Achievements, which took place on Friday, June 2, at 5:15 p.m. in the Davis Auditorium at the UVM Medical Center, included: Larner College of Medicine Dean Rick Morin, M.D.; Betsy Sussman, M.D.’81, president-elect of the UVM Medical Alumni Association; William Jeffries, Ph.D., senior associate dean for medical education; Professor of Medicine Mary Cushman, M.D.’89, member of the Medical Alumni Executive Committee & Awards Committee member; and Professor of Medicine Mark Pasanen, M.D.’92, past president of the UVM Medical Alumni Association.

The following awards were presented at this year’s Medical Alumni Association 2017 Celebration of Achievements ceremony: Robert Larner, M.D.’42 Student Award; Early Achievement Award; Service to Medicine & Community Award; Distinguished Academic Achievement Award; and the A. Bradley Soule Award. In addition, members of the Class of 1967, who celebrated their 50-Year Golden Reunion, were recognized.

The Robert Larner, M.D.’42 Student Award is presented to a current student for their outstanding leadership and loyalty to the College and embodiment of Dr. Larner’s dedication to not only supporting his medical alma mater, but to inspiring others to do so as well.

The 2017 recipient is Eric Schmidt ’18, a rising fourth-year medical student. Schmidt has received honors in four out of five of his clinical rotations. A California native, he attended UC Davis and graduated with highest honors and received the Citation for Outstanding Achievement in exercise biology. Before enrolling at the Larner College of Medicine, Schmidt worked as an emergency room scribe and volunteered at Safe Harbor Crisis House in Woodland, Calif. At the College, he has been a Larner College of Medicine Running Team captain, a member of the Admissions Committee, a Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) interviewer, and a Larner College of Medicine Student Ambassador. Schmidt is also the Larner College of Medicine Class of 2018 historian.

The Early Achievement Award is presented to an alumnus who has graduated within the past 15 years in recognition of their outstanding community or College service, scientific, or academic achievement. The 2017 recipients are:

  • Joseph Dayan, M.D.’02, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, director of the Facial Reanimation Program, and assistant professor of plastic surgery at at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center in New York City. Dayan’s work in transplanting lymph nodes represents the state of the art, and he has lead the field to refine and standardize the techniques and protocols involved. Dayan also maintains positions of leadership in numerous microsurgery societies, and founded the American Society of Lymphatic Surgery. His drive and research continue a legacy of surgical innovation stemming from the College’s students, faculty, and researchers.
  • Kristen Pierce, M.D.’02, an infectious disease specialist at the UVM Medical Center and associate professor of medicine in the division of Infectious Diseases at the Larner College of Medicine. She is the program director of the Infectious Diseases fellowship, and a principal investigator in the UVM Vaccine Testing Center (VTC) on all dengue vaccine clinical trials under the VTC’s award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Through this work, she will also be the principle investigator for Zika vaccine clinical trials at the UVM site for the NIH. She is a sought-after speaker both nationwide and internationally.
  • Mitchell Hon-Bing Tsai, M.D.’02, an anesthesiologist in the Department of Anesthesia at the UVM Medical Center and associate professor at the Larner College of Medicine. Integrating his dual interests in business and medicine, Tsai has published in numerous scientific and medical journals and has written book chapters on operating room management. His extensive knowledge in perioperative management and leadership is well sought-after. His cross-disciplinary approach has been well received and in addition to teaching locally, he has presented nationally on numerous occasions. His popular lecture, “The Jazz of OR Leadership” creatively incorporates a jazz band to illustrate the various ways that leadership works in the operating room setting. Dr. Tsai has developed, and continues to grow, a medical student reading elective, entitled “Medical Management and Leadership,” which is now available for medical students at several medical institutions.

The Service to Medicine & Community Award is 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. The 2017 recipients include:

  • Dora Anne Mills, M.D.’87, M.P.H., vice president for clinical affairs and interim vice president for research at the University of New England (UNE) in Portland, Maine, and director of UNE Center for Excellence in Health Innovation. A pediatrician, Mills focuses on implementing clinical interprofessional education, public health programs, and the nexus between public health, health care, and health professions education in her role as director of the UNE Center for Excellence and Health Innovation. She served as the State Health Officer and Director of Maine CDC for 15 years, including time spent as State Epidemiologist during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009 and 2010. Her service to Maine is extensive, and her global service includes clinical and teaching experience in Africa, Mexico, Nepal, and Alaska.
  • William O’Rourke, M.D.’57, a retired internal medicine and infectious disease physician who practiced at Rutland Regional Medical Center and the Rutland Free Clinic. After completing his first residency at UVM, he enlisted as a captain in the US Air Force, and was the chief medical officer at the Robins Air Force Hospital in Warner Robins, Georgia. He completed his second residency and an infectious disease fellowship at Georgetown University Hospital, then returned to his hometown of Rutland to practice in 1963. He has served as president of the hospital staff, the Rutland County Medical Society, and the Vermont Heart Association, and was a member of the Vermont Medical Society Council and Medical Practice Board. For 32 years he was the athletic physician at the Mt. St. Joseph Academy, and was the City of Rutland’s health officer for eight years. He now practices medicine part-time at a weekly clinic.
  • Kerry Solomon, M.D.’87, a cataract, LASIK and advanced vision correction specialist at Carolina Eyecare Physicians and director of the Carolina Eyecare Research Institute. He was a professor of ophthalmology and former chair of the Storm Eye Institute at the Medical University of South Carolina, where he practiced for 17 years. Solomon served as president of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ASCRS) in 2016 and is the co-founder of Operation Sight, an organization that provides free cataract surgery to people in need. Started in South Carolina, Operation Sight has been adopted by numerous practices and institutions nationwide.

The Distinguished Academic Achievement Award is presented to alumni in recognition of outstanding scientific or academic achievement. The 2017 recipients are:

  • Michael Cunningham, M.D.’87, Ph.D., professor of pediatrics and chief of the Division of Craniofacial Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Jean Renny Chair of Craniofacial Medicine and Medical Director of the Children’s Craniofacial Center at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Cunningham pursued subspecialty birth defects training while enrolled in graduate school in the Department of Biological Structures (Anatomy) at the University of Washington. Since 1991 his clinical practice has been limited to the diagnosis and longitudinal management of children with craniofacial malformations. He is the founder of PACT (Partners in African Cleft Training), a grass roots craniofacial training program in sub-Saharan Africa, which has trained over 100 providers and inspired the development of the Nifty cup™, a simple feeding device for infants in developing countries who cannot breastfeed. Cunningham is dedicated to the advancement of craniofacial research and the unique model of pediatric care developed at Seattle Children’s Hospital for children born with craniofacial conditions.
  • Donald Goldsmith, M.D.’67, director of the section of rheumatology at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, Penn., and a professor of pediatrics at Drexel University College of Medicine. Goldsmith’s foremost contributions to the field of pediatric rheumatology include the earliest report of post-streptococcal reactive arthritis in children, the description and labeling of a previously undefined inflammatory disorder as “neonatal onset multisystem inflammatory disease” (NOMID), now identified as one of the primary autoinflammatory disorders, and the development of the Childhood Health Assessment Questionaire (CHAQ), worldwide still the most widely used assessment tool for juvenile idiopathic arthritis. In November 2012, he was recognized as a Master of the American College of Rheumatology, one of only 16 pediatric rheumatologists so honored.
  • Davidson Hamer, M.D.’87, professor of global health and medicine at Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine and an adjunct professor of nutrition at Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. Hamer is board-certified in internal medicine and infectious diseases with particular interests in tropical infectious diseases, travel medicine, maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH), emerging diseases, and antimicrobial resistance. He has more than 25 years of field research experience on malaria, pneumonia, neonatal and child survival, maternal health, micronutrient deficiencies, and HIV/AIDS in resource-limited countries in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and South America. His MNCH research has yielded evidence used by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and Ministries of Health in Africa to change health policies, guidelines, and program implementation. In addition to his continued research on MNCH, which currently includes a focus on stunting and early childhood development, Hamer has served as the principal investigator since 2014 for GeoSentinel, a global surveillance network of 66 sites in 30 countries that uses returning travelers, immigrants, and refugees as sentinels of disease emergence and transmission patterns throughout the world.
  • Elliott Main, M.D.’77, chairman and chief of obstetrics at California Pacific Medical Center and medical director of the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative at Stanford School of Medicine. Main’s leadership of the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative indicates his position at the forefront of work focusing on outcome-based quality improvement in the fields of obstetrics and gynecology. As the former chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, he led one of the largest departments in the country, with more than 90 OB/GYNs and more than 6,000 annual births. He developed and led multiple large improvement efforts at Sutter Health’s 20 hospitals, including the First Pregnancy and Delivery initiative focusing on the care of nulliparous women.

The A. Bradley Soule Award – the Medical Alumni Association’s highest honor – is presented to an alumnus/a whose loyalty and dedication to the Larner College of Medicine most emulates those qualities as exhibited by the award’s namesake and first recipient, A. Bradley Soule, Jr., M.D.’28.

The 2017 Soule Award recipient is James Hebert, M.D.’77, a surgeon at the UVM Medical Center and the Albert G. Mackay, M.D.’32 and H. Gordon Page, M.D.’45 Professor of Surgery at the Larner College of Medicine. Hebert arrived in Burlington as a first-year medical student in 1973 and has spent his entire career at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at The University of Vermont, where he has supported the academic, teaching and clinical mission in many ways. Encouraged by his friend and mentor Richard Gamelli, M.D.’74, he stayed to do a residency in surgery and was subsequently hired as an assistant professor of surgery in 1982. He established a laboratory based on work he had done as a surgery senior major at the College, and was able to secure NIH funding as a new investigator. A true general surgeon, Hebert was described by David Pilcher, M.D., in his book Catamount Surgeons as “. . . a jack-of-all-trades and master of many. He never refused an assignment.” In 1997, he was appointed by former College of Medicine Dean John Frymoyer, M.D., to chair the Curriculum Task Force, developing the principles upon which the current Vermont Integrated Curriculum is built. He has held many leadership positions at the College including division chief for general surgery, vice chair for education in the Department of Surgery, program director for the Surgery Residency, and associate dean for Graduate Medical Education. In 2005, Hebert became the Mackay-Page Professor of Surgery and has been the recipient of several of his department’s teaching and service awards. He served as chair of the Residency Review Committee (RRC) for surgery, chair of the Committee of Review Committee Chairs, and as a member of the Board of Directors, including the Executive Committee, of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Hebert served as a director of the American Board of Surgery (ABS) and is now a senior examiner for the ABS. He served on the Board of Governors of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and is a past president of the Vermont Chapter of the ACS. He is also past president of the Association for Surgical Education and the New England Surgical Society, and is the immediate past-president of the Vermont Medical Society. Hebert has been an active member of the Medical Alumni Association as Class Agent and as a member of the Medical Alumni Executive Committee (MAEC) serving as president from 2010 to 2012. He continues his active and philanthropic support of the college and also serves on the UVM Foundation Leadership Council. In 2002, Dr. Hebert received the Distinguished Academic Achievement Award awarded, by the UVM Medical Alumni Association.

View the Reunion photo gallery here.