August 3, 2022 | Volume IV, Issue 15

Althoff Headshot

Althoff Named Chair and Health Care Leader of Psychiatry

On August 1, 2022, Dean Richard L. Page, M.D., and Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs Jason Sanders, M.D., announced that Robert Althoff, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry, had been appointed chair and Health Care Service Leader for of the Department of Psychiatry, effective immediately. Dr. Althoff had served as interim chair of the department since October 1, 2021, succeeding Robert Pierattini, M.D.

“We wish to thank all the members of the search committee, chaired skillfully by Dr. Pamela Gibson and Dr. Gregory Holmes, for conducting a national search that saw four outstanding finalists invited to our campus for interviews and town halls,” Page and Sanders said in a joint statement to the Larner community. “After this extensive search process, it became clear that Dr. Althoff is the leader to advance this important department across all missions,” they added.

Dr. Althoff has been a member of the UVM faculty and UVM Health Network Medical Group since 2006, and since 2017 has served as medical director for psychiatry at Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital (CVPH), and division chief, Adirondack Division, in the Department of Psychiatry. In addition to his work at CVPH, he has been involved in clinical care across the UVM Health Network. He is a recognized national leader in child and adolescent psychiatry.

Read more about Dr. Althoff’s appointment.

Emergency Department External Image

The Evolution of UVM’s Emergency Department

Emergency medicine is relatively new; it began to take shape in the mid- to late-1960s, when the American Medical Association established an emergency medicine committee and the American College of Emergency Physicians was founded. However, it wasn’t until 1979 that the American Board of Medical Specialties finally recognized the field as a specialty. Soon thereafter, in 1981, the University of Vermont’s College of Medicine established a Division of Emergency Medicine within the Department of Surgery, with Professor of Surgery Emerita Ruth Uphold, M.D. – the first board-certified emergency medicine physician in Vermont – serving as its inaugural chief.

Over the decades since its founding, UVM's Division of Emergency Medicine saw many milestones, ushered in by Dr. Uphold and the chiefs who followed her: verification as a Level One Trauma Center; telemedicine utilization; early electronic health record adoption; required emergency medicine curriculum for medical students; a robust research program; use of point-of-care-ultrasound; implementation of a global health program; and more recently, a hard-earned and long-awaited accredited residency program. But the most important milestone of all was the official establishment of the new Department of Emergency Medicine on July 1, 2022, with Ramsey Herrington, M.D., the most-recent division chief, serving as the department's inaugural chair.

Stephen Leffler, M.D., president and COO of the UVM Medical Center and a former chief of emergency medicine, says, “Over the 29 years I have been at UVM Medical Center, there has been tremendous growth of our Emergency Department. When I started in 1993, we saw about 30,000 patients a year and had six attendings [physicians]. Now more than 50 providers care for more than 60,000 patients a year. We have specialists in ultrasound, pediatric emergency medicine, EMS, critical care and global heath. This greatly improves the care and expertise the patients in our region receive through the UVMMC ED.”

Read the full article about UVM’s Emergency Department.

Pictured above: The UVM Medical Center Emergency Department. (Photo courtesy of UVM Health Network Communications & Engagement Strategies) 

MRI Machine

Dartmouth, UVM & VTAAC Launch Public Education Program Promoting Early Detection of Lung Cancer

Unlike breast, prostate, and colon cancer screenings, which have long been routine procedures, lung cancer screening for asymptomatic patients is relatively new. And it was only in 2013 that lung cancer screening for at-risk patients became a standard recommendation, after research showed it saved lives, but it is still much less utilized than other cancer screening.

The discrepancy comes at a high price. Absent a regular screening protocol, lung cancer is often detected late, after it has spread, and is the number one cause of cancer death in Vermont and the country. Lung cancer kills more Vermonters, and more Americans, than breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers combined, yet only 14.5 percent of at-risk Vermonters are screened for the disease.

A new community education program, spearheaded by the Dartmouth Cancer Center and the University of Vermont Cancer Center, in partnership with Vermont’s state cancer coalition - Vermonters Taking Action Against Cancer (VTAAC) - aims to make lung cancer screening for eligible patients. Those include individuals over 50 who have smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 or more years, including those who quit no more than 15 years ago—much more prevalent in Vermont. The project is funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Read the full article about this new lung cancer screening program.

Pictured above: A computed tomography or CT scan machine, which offers quick, non-invasive, low-dose radiation imaging for lung cancer and other screenings. (Photo: Liz West)

Ehret Investiture

Ehret Invested as Inaugural Asfaw Yemiru Green and Gold Professor in Global Health

Associate Professor of Pediatrics and neonatologist Danielle Ehret, M.D., M.P.H., was invested as the inaugural Asfaw Yemiru Green and Gold Professor in Global Health in a formal ceremony held at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine on July 28.

This endowed professorship was established by the Vermont Oxford Network (VON) in honor of Asfaw Yemiru, who spent his lifetime serving those in need by educating, providing social support, opportunity and inspiration to over 120,000 children and families at the Asra Hawariat School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which he founded. VON is a nonprofit, collaborative association of over 1,200 neonatal intensive care units in 38 countries whose data-driven quality improvement work has led progress in the quality, safety, and value of care for newborns and their families for more than 35 years.

Dr. Ehret, who joined the UVM faculty in 2015, was introduced to Yemiru by Jeffrey Horbar, M.D., Jerold F. Lucey Professor of Neonatal Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics and chief executive and scientific officer of VON, and became inspired by his life’s work. She serves as director of global health at VON and has conducted extensive research on global health issues relating to high-risk newborns in lower- and middle-income countries around the world, receiving consistent support from extramural funding institutions, including multiple awards from the Gates Foundation.

This professorship will strengthen UVM’s partnership with VON by supporting global health research and service by a Larner College of Medicine pediatrics faculty member who is concurrently engaged in VON’s global health programs.

Read the full article about Dr. Ehret's investiture.

Pictured above (from left to right): Monica Delisa, UVM Foundation President and CEO; Patty Prelock Ph.D., UVM Provost and Senior Vice President; Dr. Horbar; Dr. Ehret; Lewis First, M.D., Chair of Pediatrics; and Larner College of Medicine Dean Richard L. Page, M.D.

Register Today! Button

Register for the Women's Heath and Cancer Conference

Hosted by the UVM Cancer Center, this free annual community event is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year! The hybrid event takes place on September 30, 2022 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and features a Keynote Luncheon with Associate Professor of Medicine Kim Dittus, M.D., Ph.D., on “Moving from treating cancer to treating the whole person,” sponsored by the Eleanor B. Daniels Fund.

Learn more and register for this event.

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Accolades & Appointments

Jason Botton headshot

In June, Jason Botten, Ph.D., professor of medicine and associate director of the Vermont Biomedical Research Network, participated in the University of Vermont's annual SPARK-VT competition, where faculty pitch their science-based commercialization ideas to a panel of experts who challenge them with questions, then deliberate in private before announcing the winning teams, who each receive a $45,000 award. Dr. Botten’s proposal was awarded funding for his work to develop broad-spectrum antiviral therapeutics by targeting the human protein ERGIC-53 with small molecules. This work will be done in collaboration with Atomwise Inc., which will use their world-leading artificial intelligence AtomNet® technology to identify the compounds for the antiviral drug screen. The SPARK-VT award will help fund the Botten lab to screen the compounds identified by Atomwise. Botten previously received SPARK-VT awards in 2017 and 2018 to develop potent neutralizing antibody therapies against Sin Nombre and Andes viruses, both of which cause hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS) in the Americas. During the past year, Dr. Botten was granted three patents and several grants for inventions related to his research on viruses and vaccines. Read more about Botten's patents and SPARK-VT project.

Montana Kay Lara headshot
Montana Kay Lara, a Ph.D. candidate in the Neuroscience Graduate Program, has been selected to receive a UVM Graduate Alumni Dissertation Fellowship Award. According to Christopher Berger, Ph.D., associate dean for Undergraduate and Graduate Student Education & Postdoctoral Training at the Larner College of Medicine, this award is presented to a current doctoral student who is in their final year of completing research in the laboratory of a Larner faculty member who has demonstrated quality progress through their program by peer-reviewed publications, presentations at national/international meetings, and other recognitions of scholarly contributions. 

Naomi Kelley headshot

Naomi Kelley, a Class of 2023 medical student at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, was the first award recipient of the Visiting Student Elective Scholarship Program (VSESP), which is sponsored by the Larner College of Medicine's Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. As a VSESP awardee, she came to Vermont for a four-week Advanced Integration rotation with the UVM Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, which she completed on June 24. As a competitive alpine ski racer, she has long been interested in sports medicine and prior to medical school, served as a professional ski patrol and a sports medicine medical assistant. The founder and president of the CUSOM Sports Medicine Interest Group, she is currently engaged in orthopedic trauma research at Denver Health Medical Center. Learn more about the VSESP.

Theresa Legan

Neuroscience Graduate Program doctoral student Theresa Legan, Ph.D., successfully defended her dissertation, titled "Tryptophan-Synthesizing Bacteria Engance intestinal Serotonin Signaling and Motility," on July 20. Her advisor is Gary Mawe, Ph.D., professor of neurological sciences. 

New Teaching Academy Members green button

Kathryn Huggett, Ph.D., director of The Teaching Academy and assistant dean for medical education, and the Spring 2022 Portfolio Review Committee announced that the following faculty members were recently accepted into the Teaching Academy as members:

Master Teacher:
  • Robert Althoff, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor and Interim Chair of Psychiatry 
  • Maura (Molly) Barry, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine 
  • Matthew Geeslin, M.D., Assistant Professor of Radiology
  • Jennifer Hall, D.O., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
  • Christina Wojewoda, M.D., Associate Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
  • Katherine Anderson, M.D., Assistant Professor of Pediatrics 
  • Jennifer Covino, M.D., Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
  • Gordon Powers, M.D., Assistant Professor of Family Medicine           
  • Chantal Roy-Hewitson, M.D., Assistant Professor of Neurological Sciences
  • Jennifer Todd, M.D., Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
  • James Wolf, M.D., Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology
The next membership enrollment opportunity will open October 1, 2022.  All 2022 new members will be honored at an Induction and Award Ceremony in January 2023. Learn more about the Teaching Academy.

Paola Pena-Garcia
Paola Pena-Garcia, a student in UVM’s Cellular, Molecular and Biomedical Sciences doctoral program, was elected president of the UVM chapter of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics/Native Americans in Science for the 2022-2023 academic year and has already begun officially serving in this role. 



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