March 8, 2023 | Volume V, Issue 5

Group shot of participants in the 2023 Gender Equity Celebration

Gender Equity Celebration Features Talk on Dismantling Dominant Culture, Awards Ceremony

The Larner College of Medicine is making strides in achieving greater gender equity and is committed to continuing to address this important issue. At the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’s fourth annual Celebration of Gender Equity in Medicine and Science on March 2, the college community honored the work of many of the individuals whose contributions are making a difference.

“Women now make up the majority of the college’s senior leadership positions,” reported Director of Gender Equity Anne Dougherty, M.D., M.A., in her introductory remarks at the event. Dr. Dougherty noted that the work toward equity goes beyond gender, and includes colleagues of color, members of the LBGTQIA+ community, and persons with disabilities.

Keynote speaker Diana Lautenberger, M.A., director of gender equity initiatives for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), discussed “The Next Chapter of Gender Equity: Addressing Myths, Power, and Dominant Culture.”  She emphasized the need to identify the intentional dominant forces responsible for perpetuating oppression in order to break down barriers and create a culture of inclusion and belonging.

The 2023 awards and respective recipients recognized at the event include:

  • Gender Equity Champion Award – Bridget Marroquin, M.D., Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, and Nina Feinberg, Class of 2023 medical student 
  • Gender Equity Outstanding Achievement in Medicine and Science Award – Stacey Sigmon, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry
  • The Polaris Award for Outstanding Mentorship – Frances Carr, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology 
  • The Rising Star Emerging Professional Award – Sherrie Khadanga, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine 

Read the full article about the event, including award descriptions and nominees.

Pictured above (left to right): Dean Richard L. Page, M.D., Dr. Carr, Dr. Sigmon, Lautenberger, Dr. Dougherty, Dr. Marroquin, Feinberg, Dr. Khadanga

1926 photo of 5 early women UVM medical students

Celebrating ‘The First Women’ at UVM’s College of Medicine

In the 1920s, a few pioneers overcame obstacles built by tradition, bureaucracy, and their fellow students. The doors to academia had been slowly nudging open for women — then called the “gentler sex” — and in 1924, the first female medical student com­pleted her studies at the University of Vermont’s College of Medicine.

In recognition of Women’s History Month, learn about UVM’s first female medical students in The First Women, from the Fall 2022 Bicentennial Issue of Vermont Medicine magazine.

Pictured above: a 1926 photo of five members of Alpha Gamma Sigma, a medical society for women founded in 1924, the same year the College of Medicine’s first female medical student — Dorothy Lang, M.D., who graduated cum laude — completed her studies. Back row (left to right): Bertha ChaseEstelle Foote. Front row (left to right): Eloise BaileyNaomi LanouDorothy Sitwell.

Jars of CBD powder

CBD in a Capsule: New Possibilities in Medicine

Over the past several years, Kalev Freeman, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of emergency medicine and pharmacology, noticed that his physician colleagues were increasingly interested in the potential therapeutic benefits of CBD for treating their patients’ chronic pain, anxiety, or insomnia. CBD — short for cannabidiol — is a compound found in the cannabis plant.

“Many of us were intrigued by reports of patients reducing or completely quitting their long-standing opioid use with the help of CBD,” he said. Yet, prescribing CBD is unchartered territory.

A hospital pharmacist doesn’t “have a way to put that into a pill or a capsule,” Dr. Freeman said. “There are ways to get isolated THC or CBD in a pill … but we were interested in getting the beneficial components of whole plant extract into a capsule form that could be used as an investigational new drug for clinical trials.”

Freeman began working with Mingruo Guo, Ph.D., professor of nutrition and food sciences, to use whey-protein microencapsulation technology to make a capsule containing the key components of any type of cannabis plant, with a focus on plants high in CBD.

“The main advantage of this method is that it can efficiently encapsulate the whole cannabinoid plant extract. The microencapsulation keeps these ingredients stable in a standardized process,” Freeman said.

Making a stable and consistent capsule is critical in getting approval to conduct clinical trials with patients, which Drs. Freeman and Guo are working toward as they seek investigational new drug approval (IND) from the FDA.

(Adapted from a UVM OutReach blog post on UVM Cannabis Research by Laura Hardie)

Link to the full article about UVM cannabis research on the UVM OutReach blog.

Pictured above: Several jars of emulsified CBD powder and a CBD supplement bottle line the edge of a bookshelf in Guo's office in the Functional Foods Lab in UVM's Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences in the Marsh Life Science Carrigan Wing. (Photo: Daniel Schechner Photography) 

Student Voices below
Jeremy Altman

Quote MarksEver since I started at the Larner College of Medicine, I have met and worked with so many fascinating students who have taken non-traditional paths into medicine. I realized there are no wrong answers when choosing a path to medicine.”

— Jeremy Altman, Class of 2024 medical student, in a UVM Larner Med blog post titled “Mind the Gap?”

callout graphic: Nominate Now!
Dean’s Awards for Professionalism
Nominations Due March 17 by 12 Noon

As part of the Larner College of Medicine’s upcoming annual Professionalism Week, which takes place May 1-5, Dean Richard L. Page, M.D., invites and encourages all Larner community members to submit the names of staff, faculty, medical students, and/or graduate students who demonstrate the tenets of our Professionalism Statement in their daily work and personal lives.
Nominees must be employees or students of UVM’s Larner College of Medicine. Nominate your colleague(s) today using this online form. Nominations will be accepted until 12:00 p.m. EDT on March 17, 2023.

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Accolades & Appointments

5 EPI/Lifestyle 2023 presenters

Several Larner College of Medicine faculty and students presented research at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle, and Cardiometabolic Health (EPI/Lifestyle) Scientific Sessions 2023 in Boston February 28-March 3.

EPI/Lifestyle 2023 presenters included:

  • Debora Kamin Mukaz, Ph.D. (pictured at left, top), a postdoctoral fellow in medicine mentored by Mary Cushman, M.D., M.Sc., professor of medicine, presented posters on “Residential Segregation and Hypertension Risk in Black and White Americans” and “Long-Term Mortality and Causes of Death After Venous Thromboembolism: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study.” Her research is supported by grants from the AHA and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
  • Maggie King (at left, second from top), a master of science in pathology degree student mentored by J. Peter Durda, Ph.D., faculty scientist in pathology and laboratory medicine, presented on “Complete Blood Count Analysis in the Risk Underlying Rural Areas Longitudinal (RURAL) Cohort Study with a Point of Care Instrument.” Her research is supported by NHLBI.
  • Brittney Palermo (at left, third from top), a second-year medical student and 2022 Dean’s Summer Research Fellow mentored by Dr. Cushman, presented on “Interleukin-6, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome in a Biracial Cohort: The Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS).”
  • Eric Stoutenburg (at left, second from bottom), a second-year medical student and 2022 Cardiovascular Research Institute (CVRI) Summer Research Fellow mentored by Timothy Plante, M.D., M.H.S., assistant professor of medicine, presented a poster on “Factor VIII and Incident Hypertension in Black and White Adults: The Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Cohort Study.”
  • Megan Zhou (at left, bottom), a second-year medical student and 2022 CVRI Summer Research Fellow mentored by Nels Olson, Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, presented on “Coagulation Factor IX and Incident Diabetes Risk: The Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Study.”

In addition, the following Larner faculty members were coauthors on presentations delivered at the meeting: Margaret Doyle, Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine; Russell Tracy, Ph.D., University Distinguished Professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, and biochemistry; and Neil Zakai, M.D., M.Sc., professor of medicine.

Headshot of Katelynn Briere
Katelynn Briere, a Larner second-year medical student, has been appointed to serve on the UVM Board of Trustees for a two-year term. Educated at Saint Michael’s College, Briere serves as a mentor through Larner’s Big Sib peer support program. As a recent recipient of a Larner College of Medicine Summer Research Fellowship grant, she conducted public health research regarding opioid use disorder. Briere succeeds Larner Class of 2023 medical student Kisha Kalra and joins Class of 2025 classmate Kenny Nguyen on the board. 

William Raszka, M.D.
The UVM Health Network Medical Group Board of Directors elected William Raszka, M.D., professor of pediatrics and director of pediatric infectious diseases services at UVM Medical Center/UVM Children's Hospital, as chair of the board on January 26, 2023.

Headshot of Betsy Sussman, M.D.

Betsy Sussman, M.D., professor of radiology emerita, is one of four new trustees recently appointed to the 15-member UVM Medical Center Board of Trustees. With more than 41 years of experience in the medical field, 30 years of which she served as an attending radiologist specializing in Women’s Imaging at UVM Medical Center, Dr. Sussman brings significant knowledge about clinical and organizational insight to the board’s efforts to address health care challenges impacting communities across the region. Sussman is a fellow of the American College of Radiology and a recipient of the A. Bradley Soule Award, the top annual award given by the Larner College of Medicine Alumni Association. An active member of the Larner Alumni Association, she has contributed to clinical research projects in Imaging the World based in Africa and has also worked with UVM Medical Center oncology on breast density projects. She has been involved on a national level with authoring several Women’s Imaging topics for ACR Appropriateness Criteria®, evidence-based guidelines to assist referring physicians and other providers in making the most appropriate imaging or treatment decision for a specific clinical condition. Employing these guidelines helps providers enhance quality of care and contribute to the most efficacious use of radiology.

Headshot of Leslie Young, M.D.

Leslie Young, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics, has been recognized with a Trailblazer Honorable Mention as part of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative® Director’s Awards. These awards recognize researchers for excellence in research, mentorship, interdisciplinary collaboration, and community partnership. Researchers in the early to middle stages of their careers are recognized with a Trailblazer Award or honorable mention. Rebecca Baker, Ph.D., director of the NIH HEAL Initiative, presented the inaugural Director’s Awards at the fourth annual NIH HEAL Initiative® Investigator Meeting held February 21-22 in Bethesda, Maryland.

Dr. Young is on the leadership team and serves as a principal investigator for the Advancing Clinical Trials in Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal (ACT NOW) study funded by the NIH HEAL Initiative®.

About the NIH HEAL Initiative®: The Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative is an aggressive, trans-NIH effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis. Launched in April 2018, the initiative is focused on improving prevention and treatment strategies for opioid misuse and addiction, and enhancing pain management. For more information, visit: https://heal.nih.gov

Read a recent article about Young’s work: https://heal.nih.gov/news/stories/ACTing-Now.

Larner community members participating in the "Penguin Plunge"

Despite an abrupt switch from an in-person Burlington waterfront event to a virtual event due to subzero temperatures in early February, the Arctic Suns team continued its participation streak in the Vermont Special Olympics’ Penguin Plunge. According to Daniel Weiss, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine and a pulmonary and critical care specialist, the team’s name is in honor of a cooling blanket setup used in the Intensive Care Unit, where many of the team members work or have worked. One portion of the group did their plunge on February 18 at Burlington’s Red Rocks Park beach, while others selected alternative dates and beach locations. Dr. Weiss estimates the Arctic Suns team has been fundraising and plunging for about 14 years.

Pictured at left (left to right): Maria Burnett, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of medicine; Naomi Hodde, M.D., assistant professor of medicine; Colleen Boyd, RN, UVM Medical Center operating room travel nurse; Kristen Prim, UVM Medical Center medical assistant, pulmonary and critical care; Weiss; Sandra Michaud, RN, retired Medical Intensive Care Unit nurse.

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