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School of Medicine profiles

November 2015 Archives

November 10, 2015

Diane M. Biskobing, M.D.


Enrique Gerszten, M.D. Faculty Teaching Excellence Award

Diane M. Biskobing, M.D., Professor of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, and Interim Assistant Dean for Medical Education, is described over and over again as an “teacher’s teacher.” A teacher with the highest standards who consistently asks for feedback from her learners. Willing to both serve as a leader in adopting new teaching approaches and to stand beside those learning these approaches to help them succeed, as well.

Dr. Biskobing “possesses an understated but incredibly efficient teaching style, and she is universally regarded as one of the most beloved and effective members of the Division,” declares Francesco Saverio Celi, M.D., M.H.Sc., Professor and Division Chair, Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Dr. Biskobing’s understated demeanor belies her many accomplishments. A key leader in creating our new medical school curriculum, she has helped other faculty create new learning experiences, including Team-Based Learning and Process-Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) sessions and other approaches to actively engage students. As Fellowship Director, she introduced training in motivational interviewing for fellows to help them better partner with patients to support positive behavior changes. She developed an innovative Diabetes Immersion Experience with Dr. John Clore and Linda Thurby-Hay, RN, in which endocrinology fellow volunteers spend a week checking their own blood sugars, counting carbohydrates, giving saline “insulin” injections, and wearing insulin pumps or glucose sensors. “This valuable hands-on experience with current diabetes technology completely changed myperspective on what a truly patient-centered approach should involve,” says Trang N. Le, M.D., Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Dr. Biskobing has served as Endocrinology Fellowship Program Director from 2003-2015, Chair, Internal Medicine Competency Committee from 2008-2013, Assistant Dean for Preclinical Education from 2005-2008, and Course Director for the medical student Endocrine Course since 1999. She now serves as Course Master for the new integrated Glands and Guts course, integrating basic science, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and clinical problem-solving “into a comprehensive and interactive curriculum that combines endocrinology and metabolism, nutrition, gastroenterology, and human reproduction,” describes colleague Edward P. Wickham III, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism. Medical students appreciate the many hours she devotes to creating her organized, creative, thorough approach. “Students feel validated and supported by the fact that Dr. Biskobing takes their education as seriously as they do,” state Diamone Gathers, Curriculum Representative, and Michelle Wagner Merrion, Medicine 2018 students.

In 2010 Dr. Biskobing received the VCU/VCUHS Leadership in GME Fellowship Director Award. Among her teaching recognitions are over a dozen School of Medicine “Best Teacher” and “High Evaluation” teaching awards.

Dr. Biskobing has also achieved national recognition for her expertise, serving as a member of the USMLE Writing Committee since 2006 and participating in the national Association of Program Directors in Endocrinology and Metabolism to develop national training competencies in endocrinology. Dr. Biskobing has authored or co-authored 23 peer-reviewed publications, 17 abstracts, and three book chapters; her record of scholarship includes topics in both medical education and endocrinology. She completed the Executive Fellowship in Physician Leadership through the VCU Williamson Institute for Healthcare Leadership in 2008.

“Aside from her expert clinical acumen, her easy approachability and effi cient, commonsense approach to problem solving has made her an invaluable resource to learners of all kinds,” says Dr. Le. “In fact, many of her former trainees will describe that she identifi ed their talents early on – even as medical students – and helped them to develop into fullfledged physicians.”

For her outstanding contributions, including the development of the next generation of “teacher’s teachers,” we recognize Dr. Diane Biskobing today.

Rahul J. Anand, M.D.


Irby-James Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching

“Who is this man? The hospital should clone him and distribute his copies throughout the

This man is Rahul J. Anand, M.D., FACS, Associate Professor of Surgery, Division of Acute Care Surgical Services, and Program Director, Medical Student Surgery Clerkship. Dr. Anand came to VCU in August 2010 and assumed responsibility for the Surgery Clerkship in 2011. He also contributes to the M4 Surgery Elective, the trauma shadowing program, and simulation training, among other teaching activities.

“Dr. Anand ‘brings it’ every time he lectures, or scrubs in, or does anything. He simplified complicated subject matter, he added a bit of humor to a dry medical day, he always offered me encouragement – he is just a great teacher.”

“He embodies all that students look for in an educator: approachable, enthusiastic, engaging, and has high expectations.” declares Sidrah Khan, Medicine class of 2016. Dr. Anand is skilled at actively including learners at all levels in his bedside teaching, from preclinical students who are shadowing his service, to surgical housestaff.

“Excellent teacher. Constantly quizzing and teaching students. Very friendly and seeks out the students. His teaching sessions, formal or informal, are high yield. He knows a ridiculous amount of information and is fantastic at his job.”

This year, Dr. Anand was awarded “Fellow” certification in the Association of Surgical Education Academy of Clerkship Directors, one of six charter members receiving this recognition, which recognizes leadership, scholarship, and research and faculty development in surgical education.

“I saw him talk to a family for a solid half hour explaining a PEG procedure and why their loved one needed it.”

“I’ve often heard him challenge his students to think critically about their decisions and to ask if they are acting in the best interest of their patients,” recalls Susan C. Haynes, Surgical Simulation and Skills Coordinator. He is recognized for his commitment to professional behavior and for showing respect to everyone he encounters.

“He made me consider becoming a surgeon.”

Many current surgical residents look back to their surgery clerkship and experience with Dr. Anand as the time when they first began to seriously consider becoming a surgeon. “I had originally thought of surgery as a daunting and stressful career. However, working with Dr. Anand helped me appreciate the abundant joy and excitement in surgery, eventually leading me to pursue surgery as a career,” declares Hanjoo Lee, M.D., Medicine Class of 2015, now training at New York Medical Center – Westchester.

“Dr. Anand is my hero. I was struck by the obvious effort he made to learn all of our names and to talk to us each time he saw us.”

Dan W. Parrish, M.D., General Surgery Resident, states, “He continually asks the surgery residents what they liked and disliked about their own surgical clerkship and has tried to incorporate many of our ideas.”

“I want to be a physician like him.”

*all italics are quotes from medical student evaluations of Dr. Anand.

Clifton C. Lee, M.D.

Irby-James Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching

If you are a child, being in the hospital on Halloween is pretty awful. But, if you were following the pediatric hospital ward team around on Halloween last year, you would have seen Dr. Clifton Lee dressed head to toe as Darth Vader, accompanied by residents and medical students dressed as other Star Wars characters – all to the great delight of the patients and family members there that day. This understanding of the “big picture” of treating pediatric patients, and the ability to pass this perspective on to his students and trainees are two reasons why Dr. Lee receives such high praise for his teaching.

“Dr. Lee truly understands that treating the whole patient is not only about lab work and medications, but encompasses the whole person, including their spirit,” declares Emily Godbout, D.O., former Pediatric resident and currently a fellow in the division of pediatric infectious disease. “He is bright, a compassionate physician, inspiring teacher, a superb mentor, a friend, and above all…has what I like to call an ‘unshakable decency’.”

Dr. Lee graduated from medical school and completed his pediatric residency at VCU. After time working in the community, he returned to VCU in 2011 as Associate Professor and Chief of the Division of Hospital Medicine, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, helping to establish our pediatric hospitalist program. He is a core educator in the pediatric residency program and in 2003 he became Co-Clerkship Director for the Pediatric Clerkship. He acts as attending physician for over four months of the year on the inpatient pediatric service, and consistently receives outstanding evaluations from medical students and residents.

Known for his compassionate bedside manner, Dr. Lee has led the implementation of family-centered rounds as the standard of care on all pediatric units. He developed a simulation exercise so that medical students can practice presenting patients in a family-centered manner. He has been a leader in teaching residents ways to improve patient hand-offs to ensure continuity of care and patient safety.

His commitment to evidence-based medicine is a hallmark of Dr. Lee’s teaching, and it makes a profound impact on those around him. “Every morning on rounds, one can fi nd Dr. Lee with a stack of neatly printed peer-reviewed articles, waiting for just the right moment in the patient presentation to present them,” recalls Miki Nishitani, Medicine class of 2016. “Not only does this provide us with the most up-to-date data on certain diagnostic criteria, it also allows us to reevaluate our initial management plans to ensure that we are in accordance with the evidence in the fi eld.” Dr. Lee has implemented an evidence-based medicine debate at the end of each M3 rotation, challenging students to evaluate evidence and determine how it will affect their future practice.

Dr. Lee is equally committed to having his medical students and residents contribute to building evidence. He is sought after as a research project mentor, and expertly guides and supports residents in developing their own scholarly activities, including scholarly articles and presentations for national meetings. Dr. Lee has led the Hospitalist Division in starting the only Academic Pediatric Hospitalist program in Virginia.

In 2015 Dr. Lee was recognized by his peers as a Senior Fellow in the Society of Hospital Medicine, signifying his commitment to excellent clinical care and professional development.

“Dr. Lee always took the time to teach us about our patients.” What more could any of us, patient or professional, want? So – if you spot Darth Vader in the hospital in a couple of weeks, rest assured that he is using the Force for the good of our learners, patients, and their families.

Hamid I. Akbarali, Ph.D.

Distinguished Mentor Award

When students and former students discuss Hamid I. Akbarali, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology and Vice Chair and Director, Graduate Education and Post-doctoral Training Program, the stories are of course all a bit different – but similar. Over and over, you hear words such as “supportive,” “available,” “encouraging,” and “motivating.” Significant participation in RO1 grants, multiple publications and awards, exceptional learning and productivity seem to routinely characterize his students’ participation in his laboratory.

Since Dr. Akbarali came to VCU in 2005, he has had a positive and life-changing impact on the lives of many young scientists. “He makes a sincere effort towards the scientific development and long term career success of every student in the department,” states Ph.D. Candidate Sukhada Bhave. Ph.D. student Aravind Gade agrees, “He’s been exceptionally good at the way he has guided us through the hurdles we faced.”

M.D./Ph.D. student Ryan Mischel describes Dr. Akbarali as having “a superior mentorship ability that is genuinely outstanding: his passion for research is immense and outstripped only perhaps by his compassion for the budding scientist.” Many high school students, over 20 undergraduate and graduate students, and over a dozen postdoctoral fellows have benefitted from this exceptional commitment to mentorship.

Fayez Khan met Dr. Akbarali as a VCU undergraduate student, when he started a summer internship. “Through the mentorship of Dr. Akbarali, I developed a strong foundation and understanding of opioid tolerance and interactions in the gastrointestinal tract and its implications in animal behavior. Each week became a challenging yet exciting obstacle…I was expected to present my findings and my future directions every week, and as a result of those expectations, my interpersonal, critical thinking, and presentation skills benefitted greatly.”

After leaving a tenure track position at a small college in order to hone his research skills at VCU as a postdoctoral scholar, Dwight A. Williams, Ph.D. recalls joining Dr. Akbarali’s lab: “He allowed me to ask what I am sure were very dumb questions on many occasions and yet never made me feel as though it was a mistake on his part to bring me into his lab. He always found a way to see promise in your data, especially when you thought the data was worthless. This is a skill I hope to acquire and pass on to my future students.”

Joy Ngwainmbi Guedia, Ph.D., describes the supportive environment Dr. Akbarali creates. “He regarded everyone in the lab as a ‘whole’ person“…we were all excited about presenting the findings and/or difficulties we had during the week and he provided a platform where we could all grow as scientists.” Despite a serious family illness, Dr. Guedia was able to complete her Ph.D. in 3½ years with two first author and three co-authored publications, thanks to Dr. Akbarali’s support and flexibility.

“Rather than trying to shape each of his students into a cookie-cutter mold of what one might think of as a typical scientist, he encourages each student to excel in an area for which they are particularly suited,” explains Tricia Hardt Smith, Ph.D., an Instructor in the VCU Department of Biology, Trani Center for the Life Sciences. “His advice continues to be valuable and accessible even after the completion of appointment in his laboratory. I believe this is a quality of a true mentor: he remains supportive throughout early career development as we become independent and take mentees under our own wings.”

Sylvia Fitting, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology and Pharmacology, UNC-Chapel Hill, who completed a NIH K99/R00 grant during her time at VCU, speaks for many young scientists when she states, “Without Dr. Akbarali, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”

Peter A. Boling, Alan W. Dow, III, Joel D. Browning, and Christopher L. Stephens

Educational Innovation/Research Award

How do you teach hundreds of students in four professional schools the importance of working together when it is so difficult just to get them together? This is one challenge that Peter Boling, M.D., Professor and Chair of the Division of Geriatric Medicine, Alan Dow, M.D., M.S.H.A., Assistant Vice President of Health Sciences for  Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Care, Joel Browning, B.S., Director of Academic Information Systems, and Chris Stephens, M.S., Educational Applications Developer, set out to overcome. The result is the Geriatrics Interprofessional Virtual Case. Developed through collaboration across units at VCU, and supported by a $1 million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and $500,000 matching funds, this collaborative educational program allows learners to share information, defi ne their learning needs, and work together as a group to develop care plans; it has truly revolutionized how we train our students to care for older adults.

Over the past three academic years this web-based curriculum has involved over 1800 VCU students working in interprofessional teams representing medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and social work. The case system guides students in managing an older adult through four episodes of care. The program incorporates principles of team-based learning. Students in each professional school receive discipline-specifi c information and need to synthesize this information and enter it into the case system. First, students answer questions about a care plan individually. Once everyone has responded to the questions, students collaborate to answer the same questions again as a group, with the support of an electronic message board. Interestingly, active participation in the electronic message board has been associated with better student performance.

All work is completed on-line and can be accomplished wherever there is an internet connection, allowing students much-needed flexibility and overcoming the significant barrier of cross-school scheduling. Students report they are more confident with their ability to work together as a team and have learned what other professions contribute to solving complex health care issues.

While the original case program was designed around a geriatrics curriculum, the software program was designed in such a way that it can be adapted to teach a variety of content areas, and has been awarded a patent.

In additional to allowing students to collaborate, this project has provided valuable opportunities for faculty to collaborate in scholarship in preparing curriculum content as well as through poster and podium presentations and manuscripts to disseminate the results of this project. More than ten VCU faculty have given national or international presentations about the case system and reported results in professional journals. This scholarly activity, in itself, strengthens interprofessional teamwork and communication about approaches to care.

The value of this approach has attracted national attention and is being adopted at other institutions; the University of Kansas, University of Nebraska, University of North Texas, and East Carolina University are using the case system with their students.

For their creativity and skill in implementing this transformative educational program that strengthens student skills in interprofessional teamwork, use of technology and the s to care of older adults, for their commitment to rigorous scholarship to study this innovation, and for bringing our professional schools closer together in educating future practitioners, we honor this team with the 2015 Educational Innovation/Educational Research Award.

Mary Helen Hackney, M.D.

Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award

This year’s recipient of the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine award, Mary Helen Hackney, M.D., Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Massey Cancer Center, has been described as “embodying the true sense of a compassionate physician on all levels.” Dr. Hackney came to VCU in 1988 for her internal medicine residency, completed a hematology/oncology fellowship, and joined the faculty in 1992 as a clinical instructor.

Dr. Hackney worked closely with Dr. Susan Mellette, a pioneering medical oncologist at MCV, who developed a model for cancer care that was “patient-centered” before that was a commonly-cited goal. Dr. Hackney, a breast cancer specialist, quickly became involved in providing high-quality care to patients in rural areas; in 1998 she became Interim Director of the Rural Cancer Outreach Program and a year later she was appointed Director, continuing in this role until 2013. The Rural Cancer Outreach Program was designed to respond to data showing that cancer deaths were much higher than the national average in rural areas outside Richmond. Travel to Richmond for care was identified as a barrier for many patients and their families. This program allows oncologists and nurses to travel to community hospital sites to bring the highest level of care to those who need it, right in their community.

Her dedication to improving health by meeting people “where they are” is also demonstrated by Dr. Hackney’s long record of volunteer work at the CrossOver Healthcare Ministry, and dozens of presentations for community health care providers and the lay public at churches, community centers, and health care facilities. She has been recognized seven times as a Richmond “Top Doc”, and received the Sharon H. Kohlenberg Healthcare Service Award from the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation (VBCF) in 2005. Dr. Hackney was recognized with the 2013 “Best Bedside Manner Award” by Our Health magazine, and was named a Virginia Lawyer’s Media “Influential Women of Virginia” in 2014.

Dr. Hackney is recognized as an outstanding mentor, clinician, scientist, and teacher here in the School of Medicine, as well. She received the 2009 VCU Women in Science, Dentistry, and Medicine (WISDM) Organization Professional Achievement Award, the Porter Master Clinician Award in 2011, and was named a Physician Champion by VCUHS Senior Leadership and the Star Service Oversight Committee in 2013. Dr. Hackney is a champion and role model for ongoing professional development, especially that of women in medicine. Significantly, when facing a cancer diagnosis, many VCUHS faculty, staff, and their family members specifically seek out Dr. Hackney for care – the ultimate accolade and statement of trust.

As Director of Quality Improvement for the Division of Hematology, Oncology, and Palliative Care, Co-Chair, Oncology Patient Care Services Committee, and Co-Chair of a task force to develop integrative health programs, Dr. Hackney helps our health system improve interdisciplinary clinical care for our patients.

In nominating Dr. Hackney for this award, her colleague, Stephen Gudas, PT, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology, describes her this way:

She is indefatigable- working long hours. Her bedside manner is impeccable. I have seen her talking with the same family for over 2 hours discussing a new diagnosis…Certainly she is one of the most competent, kind, and totally involved physicians I have seen in my 40 years at the VCU Health System.

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation sponsors the Leonard Tow Humanism Awards for those who “best demonstrate the Foundation’s ideals of outstanding compassion in the delivery of care; respect for patients, their families, and healthcare colleagues; and clinical excellence.” Through her exceptional dedication to providing the best possible care for patients and their families at Massey Cancer Center and in our community, Dr. Mary Helen Hackney truly exemplifies these ideals and we are honored to recognize her today.

Amelia C. Grover, M.D.

Women in Science, Dentistry, and Medicine Professional Achievement “WISDM” Award

It is fitting that Dr. Amelia Grover, Associate Professor of Surgical Oncology, would be recognized this year, when the WISDM conference keynote focuses on service. How does a busy surgical oncologist have time to manage multiple leadership roles, earn excellent teaching evaluations, build an impressive CV, pioneer novel approaches to surgical care, pursue professional development – oh – and balance that with a family and interests outside medicine? For the answer, look to Dr. Grover’s example.

Dr. “Aimee” Grover came to VCU in 2005 after completing a surgical oncology fellowship at the National Cancer Institute/NIH. She was recruited to help build the endocrine surgery practice, which she has achieved while developing excellent relationships within VCU and with referring physicians. ” She has built a remarkable endocrine surgery practice…with a multidisciplinary approach with radiology, endocrinology and pathology to deliver the highest standard of care,” states Vigneshwar Kasirajan, M.D., Stuart McGuire Professor and Chair, Department of Surgery. Dr. Grover is developing a program to track patients who have incidental masses discovered as a result of CT scans ordered for other reasons, impacting approximately 400 patients a year who might otherwise not have had follow-up.

Dr. Grover has developed laparoscopic approaches to adrenal tumors and has developed a robotic program for both thyroid and adrenal tumors, among the fi rst in the country. Five completed grants and research projects, over 20 peer reviewed publications, and over 80 presentations demonstrate the wide recognition of her expertise. Dr. Grover also serves as an ad hoc reviewer for the journals Thyroid, International Journal of Breast Cancer, Journal of Graduate Medical Education, and Annals of Surgical Oncology.

A valued teacher and mentor, Dr. Grover’s knowledge and perspective are sought after by college students as well as by colleagues. Jennifer Rhodes, MD, Medical Director of the Center for Craniofacial Care, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, describes, “She reached out to me early in my career at VCU and has been a constant source of support and guidance over the ensuing years. She regularly takes time to ask about my progress and follow up on our discussion.”

Dr. Grover recognizes the importance of making time for professional development, including her role as a VCU BIRCH (Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health) Scholar from 2008-2012 and participation in the VCU Physician Leadership Institute in 2013. Her service commitments have included membership in the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, the Virginia Surgical Society, Vice President and Program Chair of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) , and President of the VA Chapter of the Association of Women Surgeons. Dr. Grover currently chairs the ACS Diversity Task Force and is active in the AAMC Group on Women in Medicine and Science (GWIMS) Steering Committee. At VCU, Dr. Grover chairs the Clinical Competency Subcommittee of the Surgical Education Oversight Committee and serves as Surgical Simulation Curriculum Co-Organizer. She has been active in WISDM throughout her time at VCU, serving as President from 2011-2013.

Honors include a VCU Hospitals Physician Champion Award (2013), a Breastfeeding Champion Award from VA Breastfeeding Advocates and the VA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (2011), and recognition in the Richmond Magazine “Top Docs” issue for many years.

Somehow, despite her busy schedule, when you meet Dr. Grover, you are very likely to have a conversation about your family, or about an interesting fabric store she has discovered. Her reputation for demonstrating a healthy work/life balance and supporting this challenging goal in others is well deserved. Dr. Grover remembers to be a person, first, with her colleagues and her patients. As colleague Brian Kaplan, MD., Professor of Surgical Oncology, states, “The things that are not reflected in her CV are her incredible bedside manner, superb communication skills, warm personality and caring nature.”

Elizabeth “Betsy” Ripley, M.D., M.S.

Women in Science, Dentistry, and Medicine Professional Achievement “WISDM” Award

Dr. Betsy Ripley has been at VCU since 1982 when she came to attend medical school, earning membership in AOA and moving to an internship and residency in Internal medicine and a fellowship in Nephrology and Clinical Pharmacology. Currently Professor of Medicine and a Nephrology Eminent Scholar, she also serves as Associate Chair for Faculty Development in Internal Medicine. In this role, “Dr. Ripley has been instrumental in the successful career trajectories of junior faculty across all ten divisions. Let me underscore her impact on the academic careers of women faculty here at VCU,” states Shin-Ping Tu, M.D., M.P.H., Professor and Chair, Division of General Internal Medicine.”

Dr. Ripley maintains board certifications in Internal Medicine, Nephrology, and Clinical Pharmacology and is a Certified Hypertension Specialist, and is an accomplished scholar. In 2004 she completed a Masters in Clinical Research and Biostatistics at VCU and her strong interest in promoting ethics in research led her to participate in an AMA Ethics Fellowship from 2004-2007. Dr. Ripley took these and other professional experiences and went to work to identify and support improvements in the research enterprise at VCU.

“Her selfless contributions have contributed immensely to the infrastructure needed to support clinical and translational research,” describes Francis L. Macrina, Ph.D., Edward Myers Professor of Dentistry and Vice President for Research and Innovation. “Bolstered by longstanding and signifi cant contributions to the research enterprise, Betsy has been a successful mentor and role model for other women faculty at VCU.”

Dr. Ripley serves as VCU’s Clinical Research Compliance Offi cer and has served on VCU’s IRB for over 10 years, currently serving as Senior Chair. To facilitate IRB training for community partners, she organized a “train the trainer” program for the CIRTIFication (Community Involvement in Research Training) program, now an accepted alternative to CITI training for community partners doing minimal risk social behavioral human subjects research. Dr. Ripley secured an American Recovery and Reinvestment Award from the NIH and led her team to develop a new model for partnering and communicating with the community regarding research, for which they were recognized with the VCU Currents of Change Award for Community Engagement. Continuing her professional development, she recently completed a Regulatory Affairs Certificate Program for Medical Devices and Pharmaceuticals through the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society. Dr. Ripley has also held multiple key roles in VCU’s Center for Clinical and Translational
Research (CCTR).

Dr. Ripley teaches on the General Medicine, Renal Dialysis and Consult services as well as in the medical school curriculum, consistently receiving high marks from her students. “She is not someone who says ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ because she models the behaviors of an outstanding physician, educator, and clinical researcher,” explains colleague Susan DiGiovanni, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean for Medical Education.

In her role as Associate Chair for Faculty Development, Dr. Ripley has developed a wide array of programs and resources for Internal Medicine faculty that she has also made available to all VCU faculty through a website: (http://www.intmed.vcu.edu/faculty/facultydevelopment.html). A writing club she developed to encourage scholarship and collaboration is frequently cited as increasing VCU’s scholarly presence through regional and national presentations and publications among faculty.

John E. Nestler, M.D., William Branch Porter Professor of Medicine, and Chair, Department of Internal Medicine, summarizes Dr. Ripley’s contributions well. “Often successful leaders and academic faculty are focused on their own growth and advancement without care for their associates or institution. Betsy has focused her career on helping others, our institution, and the community we serve to be the best that it can be.”

Harry D. Bear, M.D., Ph.D.

MCV Physicians Distinguished Clinician Award

Dr. Harry Bear is the Walter Lawrence, Jr., Distinguished Professor in Oncology, Chairman of the Division of Surgical Oncology,and Professor of Surgery and Microbiology and Immunology. He is also Chair of the Massey Cancer Center (MCC) Protocol Review and Monitoring Committee and Director of the Breast Health Center. He received both his M.D., and his Ph.D. from VCU and completed his surgical residency at what is now the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Dr. Bear returned to VCU for his Surgical Oncology Fellowship and joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor – he has been on the faculty for 31 years.

Dr. Bear is particularly known for his pioneering efforts in breast cancer, and other breast disease, care and research. He has served on the Board of Directors of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) group for more than 20 years, and has been Study Chair for two of this group’s international breast cancer trials. In 2009 he received the NSABP Foundation Distinguished Investigator Lifetime Achievement Award. He has advanced the care of women with breast cancer through the use of neoadjuvant chemotherapy allowing for more opportunities for breast conservation.

Dr. Bear has a long record of NIH/NCI funding , and is the local principal investigator for most of MCC’s current breast cancer clinical trials. He is also co-principal investigator on a Minority-Underserved NCI Community Oncology research program grant which will provide $4.4 million in funding over fi ve years to support clinical trials at VCU and community partner sites. Dr. Bear was awarded a US patent (US8741642 B2) in 2014 for Methods for Producing Autologous Immune Cells Resistant to Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells Effects. With over 160 peer reviewed articles and over 100 abstracts, his work has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of Surgial Oncology, Journal of Clinical Oncology, and other prestigious journals.

Despite this extremely productive research program, Dr. Bear is known as an enthusiastic teacher and mentor, and for promoting a colleagial and supportive environment, whether teaching medical students or leading his clinical division colleagues.

“From a clinical perspective, Dr. Bear is a caring physician who is devoted to providing the best evidence-based care for patients,” states Giao Q. Phan, M.D. FACS, Associate Professor, Division of Surgical Oncology. Colleague Brian Kaplan, M.D., Professor of Surgery, describes Dr. Bear as “one of the go-to clinicians regionally for the treatment of breast cancer. He is always referred tough, complicated cases. His decision making ability to bring perspective to seemingly unsolvable problems is uncanny.” Dr. Bear has received Richmond “Top Doc” recognition many times, as well as the “Patient’s Choice” Award twice, and was named among “America’s Most Compassionate Physicians” in 2013.

Dr. Bear is committed to the training of the next generation of physicians. Colleague Amelia Grover, M.D., FACS, Associate Professor , Division of Surgical Oncology, comments on Dr. Bear’s dedication to teaching, “He is the program director of our surgical oncology fellowship, reviewing each appllication every year since I have been here. Under his leadership we attract a strong group of applicants and are able to fi nd the best fi t for our program. He also teaches the residents and students in the operating room. He meets weekly with the M3 students on our service and provides a comfortable and welcoming environment where they can ask questions and develop a passion for the care of our surgical oncology patients.”

For his dedication to excellence in clinical care, service to VCU and his profession, and innovative research yielding discoveries that improve patient care, Dr. Harry Bear is the MCVP Physician of the Year.

Nicole W. Karjane, M.D.

VCU/VCUHS Leadership in Graduate MedicalEducation “LGME” Award – Program Director Award

This year’s winner of the Leadership in Graduate Medical Education Award, Dr Nicole Karjane, takes time out of her demanding clinical and teaching schedule to co-lead a quarterly reproductive health seminar “Girl Talk” at St. Catherine’s School. She has volunteered her time providing prenatal care in Crossover Clinic and participated in the Richmond Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. All of these activities are on top of her daily responsibilities of overseeing one of the busiest residency programs at the VCU Medical Center.

Dr Karjane completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at VCU in 2004, receiving the “Outstanding Senior Resident Teacher Award” from her department. She joined the faculty as Assistant Professor and became Board Certifi ed in 2006. In 2007, she became a Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. She also has a joint appointment in the department of Pediatrics. Now an Associate Professor, Dr Karjane took over the role of Program Director for the Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency in 2012. She has consistently been listed in Richmond Magazine’s “Top Docs” issues for the past four years.

Dr Karjane’s department Chairman, Dr David Chelmow, describes her as “absolutely superb from day one…a star program director… [and] tremendous leader [who] inspires excellence from residents and gets them to perform and learn at their highest level.”

Her current and former residents agree:
“She recognizes when our residents have emotional diffi culties in their lives and makes it a priority to aid us any way she can personally and professionally. One of the most endearing aspects of our program is the ability to safely confi de in others our own personal struggles. I believe this is in large part to the environment Dr Karjane has created.” Amy E. Brown, MD (PGY-3)

“Dr Karjane has been a role model throughout residency, always leading by example… Dr Karjane stays attuned to the social and personal aspects of her residents’ lives in order to better support and mentor her residents… She is also very aware of the requirements of residency and does her best to make sure each resident is progressing at an appropriate pace.” Adrianne Colton, MD (PGY 4)

“Dr Karjane goes above and beyond the role of a clinician and teacher by taking a genuine interest in the lives of her residents in both the personal and professional setting. When acting as attending on the gynecology service she routinely invites the resident and medical student team over to her house for a home cooked meal with her family… I truly believe that her positive energy and endearing love of our program has aided in recruitment of top-notch residents over the last few years.” Jessica Ciaburri, DO (alumni)

Dr Ellen Brock, Medical Director for the VCU Center for Human Simulation and Patient Safety sums up Dr Karjane’s merits for this year’s award, saying that her “signature contribution to the residency has been in the area of learning climate. She is simultaneously demanding and supportive of all residents in the program. She exemplifi es the application of good judgment in feedback. She maintains a consistently positive attitude and models generosity in her approach to others. She holds herself to high standards of practice, including life-long learning, evidence-based medicine and surgical excellence. I can think of no better role model for the residents.”

Jennifer Rew

Jennifer Rew
VCU/VCUHS Leadership in Graduate MedicalEducation “LGME” Award – Program Director Award

This year’s awardee, Jennifer Rew, is described by her Neurology Program Associate Director as “nothing short of fabulous.” While simultaneously raising two small children and working toward a Master’s Degree in Education, Jennifer has worked extra hours, and weekends to ensure that tasks were done properly and her programs are fully supported. As an Education Team Leader for Neurology, Jennifer coordinates all aspects of the Adult Neurology and Child Neurology Residency Programs. She also coordinates the Fellowship programs in Clinical Neurophysiology, Neuromuscular Medicine and Epilepsy.

Residency and fellowship coordinators are a special sort of infrastructure support whose presence is like a load-bearing wall. In order to have a robust structure, programs rely on that wall to bear the weight of overseeing the personal well-being of the program’s residents and fellows, attending to details like accreditation paperwork, individual evaluations, call room needs and countless other items. In addition, a coordinator must always be attuned to the needs of the program’s director. Jennifer’s undergraduate background in Computer Information Systems makes her the go-to person for updating and maintaining the department website. The letters of recommendations for Jennifer’s candidacy were fervent in their praise of her:

“Jen manages the uniqueness of the individual programs masterfully. She is able to skillfully shift between programs… She helps guide and organize the clinical competency committees and program evaluation committees for each program. I do not think people realize just how amazing this is and how effortlessly she does her job. Jennifer’s best attribute is her ability to connect with the residents. Jennifer is truly a friend and confi dant to each of them” Scott Vota, DO (Associate Professor and Interim Chair, Neurology, Neurology Residency Director)

“Instead of having to admire how she has handled the crisis. I am more impressed that crisis situations are anticipated and dealt with prior to ever coming to my attention.” Lawrence D Morton, MD (Fellowship Director, Clinical Neurophysiology, Division Chair, Child Neurology)

“She has been an instrumental part of my education as a former resident, chief resident and current fellow in the neurology program. She keeps her door open and is always willing to talk to residents regardless of whether it is work related or personal. She genuinely cares for everyone in the program and will go out of her way to make sure everyone is okay…. She is a fundamental part of our program and I cannot imagine how we would function without having her steady presence in the offi ce.” Sandeep Kahlon, MD (Neuromuscular Fellow)

“She is the cog that keeps all the parts of our department running.” Andres Ruiz, MD (Neurology, PGY2)

“Jennifer has played a pivotal role in success of our newly established neuromuscular fellowship program” Hamid Sadeghian, MD, FRCPC (Assistant Professor, Program Director, Neuromuscular Fellowship)

Hearty congratulations to this year’s winner of the LGME Award for Program Coordinator, Jennifer Rew!

Virginia Commonwealth University
VCU Medical Center
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Updated: 08/19/2008