Volume 2, Number 2 • May 2015
Meharry Medical College Celebrates Its
140th Commencement Exercises
Meharry Medical College’s 140th Commencement, held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center on Saturday, May 16, 2015, was full to capacity as students from the Schools of Medicine, Dentistry and Graduate Studies and Research marched in along with those who were receiving their certificate in health policy from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College. The Honorable David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute, 16th U.S. Surgeon General and eighth president of Meharry Medical College, was the keynote speaker for the ceremony.
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Congratulations to the 2015 Henry A. Moses, Ph.D. Senior Transition Award Recipients
Recognizing the financial hardships students may incur as they relocate to other cities for residency and post-doctoral programs, Henry A. Moses, Ph.D., executive director of the Meharry National Alumni Association, Inc., professor emeritus of biochemistry and a Guardian of Our Legacy, began the Dr. Henry A. Moses Discretionary Fund for graduating medical, dental or graduate school students with the sole purpose of assisting them with their moving expenses as they leave Meharry Medical College to engage in their further training.
Dr. Moses began the fund by putting $1 million of his own money into an investment account of the Meharry National Alumni Association, Inc. From the earnings generated from the investment account each year, funds are distributed to senior students who are going into residency training or doing post-doctoral research studies. The stipend program has been in existence since 2008. Graduating seniors are chosen by the scholarship committee. All monies are distributed the Monday after graduation as the recipients have officially become alumni of the College.
Thank you, Dr. Moses!
Click here for the complete list of the 2015 recipients.
SOD Dean Cherae Farmer-Dixon, D.D.S. ’90, MSPH ’94 Named One of DentaQuest’s 2015 Health Equity Heroes
Congratulations to Cherae Farmer-Dixon, D.D.S. ’90, MSPH ’94, dean of the School of Dentistry, on being named one of DentaQuest’s 2015 Health Equity Heroes earlier this month. Farmer-Dixon is one of seven individuals to join DentaQuest’s inaugural group of Health Equity Heroes and was selected for making significant contributions and strides in removing barriers to achieving optimal oral health. “Dr. Cherae Farmer-Dixon is known and beloved for her work in preparing and mentoring dental care professionals who are both highly competent and committed to ensuring that more people have access to preventive education and the dental treatments that are critical to long-term overall health, wellbeing and economic opportunity,” said Steve Pollock, president and CEO of DentaQuest. “Students at Meharry Medical College are fortunate to have [Dr. Farmer-Dixon] as a mentor and as an oral health ally.” A highly-respected public health dentist, Dr. Farmer-Dixon has been training dentists who aim to serve in high-need urban and rural communities for the past 25 years. She also leads research on oral health disparities, dental disease in low-income children and inter-professional community outreach and interventions. She is both a role model and leading advocate for public health dentistry in Tennessee. The selection of the 2015 Health Equity Heroes is in recognition of National Minority Health Month, an effort led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Minority Health to advance health equity for racial and ethnic minorities.
SOGSR Ph.D. Students Meet With NIH Director Collins
Left to right: Emuejevoke Olokpa, Ph.D. student in the Biochemistry and Cancer Biology program; Dean Maria de Fatima Lima, Ph.D., dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research; Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health; Keisha Smith, Ph.D. student in the Neuroscience Program and Dominique Dotson, Ph.D. student in the Microbiology and Immunology program.
Three Ph.D. students from the School of Graduate Studies and Research had the opportunity of meeting and speaking with Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) who was in Nashville, Tennessee to deliver a special Discovery Lecture at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center on May 28th. His lecture was titled “Exceptional Opportunities in Biomedical Research.”
The students who attended Dr. Collins’ talk are: Emuejevoke Olokpa, in the Biochemistry and Cancer Biology Program; Keisha Smith, in the Neuroscience Program and Dominique Dotson, in the Microbiology and Immunology Program.
The lecture examined recent advances in fundamental knowledge about biology and the ways discoveries are being utilized to improve human health. Topics included groundbreaking brain research through the Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative and the recently announced Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI), a bold new enterprise that will build the scientific evidence base needed to move the concept of precision medicine into everyday clinical practice.
Dr. Collins discussed why PMI is now within reach because of recent scientific and technological innovations, along with the public’s growing desire to be active partners in medical research. The discussion covered NIH’s plans for leading PMI’s two main components—a near-term component that will focus on cancer and a longer-term component that will generate knowledge which is applicable to the whole range of health and disease. To achieve PMI’s longer-term objectives, NIH will launch a national research cohort of one million or more volunteers who will play an active role in how their genetic, environmental and medical information is used for the prevention of illness and management of a wide array of chronic diseases.
The lecture also focused on shared challenges and exciting possibilities for the future of science. These extraordinary opportunities include the training of the next generation of researchers and how everyone can work together to improve the biomedical research enterprise.
In his role as NIH director, Dr. Collins oversees the work of the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world, spanning the spectrum from basic to clinical research.
Trip of a Lifetime to Kenya Leaves Strong Impact on Meharrians
Drs. Quarterman and Harris demonstrate proper oral hygiene for the children from the Cheery Children Education Centre with help from Dino the Dinosaur.
In March 2015, Meharry alumni, Christina Quarterman, D.D.S. ’14 and Christiana Harris, D.D.S., ’13, had the opportunity to travel to Nairobi, Kenya to embark on a trip of a lifetime. Little did they know the impact it would have on their lives.
Quarterman, a 2005 graduate of Florida State University (FSU), was originally contacted by one of her former FSU classmates about the Kenya trip. “Christiana and I were invited to Nairobi, as dentists, to help the children of the Cheery Children Education Centre with their dental needs,” said Quarterman. “The Centre is in the Kibera slum of Kenya and is one of the neediest schools in Africa.” Drs. Quarterman and Harris did not hesitate to offer their help. There was no way they were going to visit the Motherland and not fulfill the mission of Meharry Medical College!
The two dentists were asked to bring oral hygiene items including toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss and small tokens for about 100 grade school children ages 6- to 9-years-old.
Through the website, gofundme.com, $6,000 was raised in donations for the African children. And, a total of 200 educational children’s books were purchased on amazon.com for the school’s library with the name of the Cheery Children Education Centre written inside as a keepsake.
Before they left the U.S., 60 other professionals, the majority being from Florida A&M University, were on board to help the children in Kibera. They included nurses, physicians, architects, Zumba instructors and a legion of people with varied occupations. With everything in place, they all headed to Nairobi.
On the second day of the trip, the group journeyed into the Kibera slum to meet the children from the Centre. Kibera is the largest slum on the African continent and houses approximately 2.5 million people in roughly 200 settlements. This tiny slum represents about 60 percent of the Kenyan population, but only takes up six percent of the land. Not quite as large as New York City’s Central Park, it is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.
The Kibera scene was devastating with living conditions beyond poor. But, once everyone reached the small courtyard of the Cheery Education Centre, the cheering and laughter of innocent children filled the air and touched everyone’s heart. The children greeted their guests by singing the Kenyan National Anthem. Expressions of “hope through education” were clearly evident on their smiling faces. The children knew these unfamiliar faces were at their school to help make their lives better. Both Quarterman and Harris agreed it was refreshing to see these young minds so full of ambition and triumph despite their apparent hardships.
The group also provided a fun-filled day of activities that included Zumba, Kinderjam (an early childhood program that combines movement with learning), an interactive reading lesson and an oral hygiene presentation by Drs. Quarterman and Harris, starring Dino the Dinosaur.
The day was well spent and the Meharry “docs” definitely consider this opportunity with the children as the highlight of their trip. Much work is still needed in the Kibera area. Young professionals of every vocation are encouraged to serve in any capacity they can in locations such as the Kibera slum.
On reflecting about their Kenya experience, Quarterman and Harris are indeed grateful for the training they received at Meharry Medical College and the motto that is rooted in their heart and being applied every day: “Worship of God Through Service to Mankind.”
Third-year medical student, Oluwatoni Aluko, M.P.H., is published in Health Promotion Practice
Third-year medical student, Oluwatoni (Toni) Aluko, M.P.H., recently served as the lead author of “Medical students’ beliefs about screening for intimate partner violence: A qualitative study,” a paper published in the Society for Public Health Education’s peer reviewed journal, Health Promotion Practice.
Using semi-structured qualitative interviews, Aluko examined medical students’ attitudes, subjective norms, perceived self-efficacy and perceived control beliefs about screening female patients for Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in clinical settings. She also assessed medical students’ intention to screen for IPV using a behavioral intention scale she developed for the research study.
Statistics indicate that one in three women has experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in her lifetime. Women experiencing any of these events have poorer health outcomes compared to their counterparts. However, many physicians do not ask their patients about IPV. Furthermore, medical students may be uncomfortable broaching the topic of IPV with their patients. Both present as missed opportunities for identification of patients who are experiencing IPV and can be a significant cause of delay in intervention.
Aluko graduated from the University of Maryland (UMD) School of Public Health in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiological sciences and minors in community health and Spanish. She earned her Master of Public Health degree in community health education in 2012, also from the UMD School of Public Health. Aluko plans to pursue a medical career in family medicine and is interested in global health and maternal and child health.
30th Annual Pre-Alumni Spring Gala Celebrates Accomplishments
Meharry’s Pre-Alumni Association celebrated its 30th Annual Pre-Alumni Spring Gala – Dîner en Blanc, the culminating event of Friends and Family Week. The theme for the week was “La Belle Époque” meaning "Beautiful Era." The event was held Saturday, April 18th in the ballroom of The Cal Turner Family Center for Student Education. Click here for photos from the evening.
Third-year medical student and president of the Pre-Alumni Association, Eddie L. Hackler III, said the occasion is celebrated each year to recognize the many accomplishments of the student body, faculty and staff who are “the heartbeat of Meharry who demonstrate commitment, dedication and loyalty to our wonderful institution.” Hackler thanked Dr. Henry A. Moses and the Meharry National Alumni Association, Inc.; President and Chief Executive Officer, A. Cherrie Epps along with the Office of the President and the Department of Student Services for their support and assistance to the students of Meharry. He also acknowledged his own family, friends and classmates (the School of Medicine, Class of 2016) for their sustained encouragement.
Linda F. Dakaud, administrative vice president of the Pre-Alumni Association and also a third-year School of Medicine student, stated that “from fundraising for oppressed school children in Ghana, to praising with the spiritual leaders of our community in a Gospel Extravaganza, we have demonstrated precisely what it means to Worship God Though Service to Mankind.” Dakaud thanked her fellow executive board members, friends, the Family Weekend Committee, the Office of Student Life, Dr. Anna Cherrie Epps, the Office of the President and Dr. Henry A. Moses and the Office of Alumni Affairs for making the event possible.
Below are the recipients of awards which were given during the 30th Annual Pre-Alumni Spring Gala:
SOGSR Faculty Member of the Year Award
Mohammed Tabatabai, Ph.D.
SOD Faculty Member of the Year Award
Julie Gray, D.D.S. ’99
SOM Faculty Member of the Year Award
Anita Austin, Ph.D. ’04
Staff Member of the Year Award
A Dexter Samuels, Ph.D.
Special Appreciation Award
Ms. Mitzy Johnson, MSHE
Stroll- Off Competition Winners
Ladies of Fortitude – Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority, Incorporated
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated
2015 Intramural Basketball Champions
2015 Intramural Co-ed Softball Champions
Student Organization of the Year
American Medical Association – Medical Student Section
The Cal Turner Family
Dr. M'Koma Publishes Cover Story in World Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Congratulations, to Amosy M’Koma, M.D., M.S., Ph.D. who's article was published in the World Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery. His article is titled “Diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease: Potential role of molecular biometrics.”
Dr. M’Koma is an affiliated scientific investigator with The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS) and serves on the ASCRS Membership Committee. The Membership Committee, responsible for the retention and recruitment activities of the Society, is a very well-known and prestigious committee that is well respected globally. Their functionality is to recommend member categories and criteria to the executive council, address benefits of membership and promote ASCRS membership and the surgical specialty worldwide.
The ASCRS is the premier society for colon and rectal surgeons and other surgeons dedicated to advancing and promoting the science and practice of the treatment of patients with diseases and disorders affecting the colon, rectum and anus. More than 1,000 of the Society's 3,100 members are certified by the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery.
The Society believes in patient centered, high quality, high value health care and achieves this care through professionalism, unique knowledge and skills and the fellowship of Society members. To read Dr. M'Koma's article, click here.
Dr. M'Koma was also recently featured on the cover of the March 2015 issue of World Journal of Surgical Procedures. See cover page here.
MVA's Alaina Boyer, Ph.D., Presents at Translational Science 2015 Conference in Washington, D.C.
Alaina Boyer, Ph.D., a research associate for the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance, presented her research at the annual Translational Science 2015 conference hosted by the Association for Clinical and Translational Science and the American Federation for Medical Research in Washington, D.C. last month.
Dr. Boyer presented her findings on the development of methods to measure stakeholder engagement in research in her poster titled “A Tool to Assess Changes in Research Due to Stakeholder Engagement." This research is funded by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research and Meharry Clinical and Translational Research Center.
The conference included a tour of the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, advocating for research funding at Capitol Hill, an opening plenary session by Frances Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health and mock study sections to train predoctoral and postdoctoral scholars. Most attendees were physician scientists at all levels in their career searching for their niche in translational science and sharing their experiences in carving out their paths in translational research.
Dr. Boyer earned her doctorate in cancer biology at Wayne State University and continued her graduate career as a post-doctoral student at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine where she contributed to the advancement of breast cancer research. She is a published scientist with a strong interest in community engaged research and advocating for improved health care through building partnerships and understanding between health care providers and the community. As a research associate at MVA, she will oversee research projects and conduct specialized studies as well as provide supervision for data collection, analysis and interpretation. Her role also includes the translation of research results into reports easily understood and relevant to the community.
Kelly Harris, M.S. and SOGSR Ph.D. Candidate, Featured in UT Martin's, Campus Scene
Kelly Harris, M.S. and a Doctor of Philosophy candidate from the School of Graduate Studies and Research (SOGSR), will be featured in the upcoming Campus Scene magazine, the magazine of Harris’ undergraduate university, The University of Tennessee at Martin.
Harris, who works with the Biochemistry and Cancer Program in the SOGSR, has done extensive research on colorectal cancer, the third leading cause of new cancer cases. She chose this area of study due to the fact that colorectal cancer disproportionately affects minority populations. She is a strong believer of Meharry’s mission and will continue to contribute to the elimination of health disparities after graduation.
A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Harris graduated from the University of Tennessee at Martin in 2004 with a bachelor’s in biology.
Click here to read the story.
Meharry Association of Office Personnel Celebrates 46th Anniversary
MAOP members, emeritus members and special guests attending the 46th Annual Awards Luncheon—Front row left to right: Connie Denell, Jewel Jackson, Therma Rooks, Genora Flagg, Edna Earle Burney and De Lores Boatright. Second row left to right: Teresa Young, Theresa Miller, Sherrie Holt, LaJuanna Jefferson, Darlene Dixon, Demeka Fritts, Princess Washington, Cynthia McNeil, Dorothy Murphy and keynote speaker and special guest, Reginald Torian Sr. Top row left to right: Helen Settles, LaTosha Jackson-Warfield, Sante' Williams, Barbara Grissom, LaToya Harris, Theresa Perkins.
Left to right: LaTosha Jackson-Warfield, Toya Covington and April Lee are entertained by Reginald Torian, lead singer for the R&B group The Impressions.
The Meharry Association of Office Personnel (MAOP) celebrated their 46th anniversary week of activities April 20-24 with the theme “The Power of Team Work – Success Through Professionalism and Excellence." Activities during the week included the Emeritus and Founding Members Fellowship Luncheon, the Professional Career Development Seminar and Vendors/Exhibitors Day.
The week-long celebration culminated on Friday, April 24 with the 46th Annual Awards Luncheon held in the ballroom of The Cal Turner Family Center for Student Education. MAOP’s special guest and keynote speaker was Reginald E. Torian Sr., award winning stage actor, motivational speaker and lead singer of the R&B group, the Impressions. Torian gave an inspirational speech on the power of team work. He then mesmerized the luncheon attendees with a soulful performance of songs made famous by the world renowned Impressions, including “Get On Up," "People Get Ready" and "I’m So Proud.” The mistress of ceremonies for the afternoon was Nashville’s own “Gospel Diva” Connie Denell, host of 92Q-FM Sunday morning’s “Gospel Inspirations.”
During the luncheon, MAOP awards of excellence were presented to deserving Meharry employees.
Employee of the Year—Ms. Bobbie Harris, senior PBX operator, Office of Information Technology
Professional Image —Mrs. Dora Moore, senior associate vice president for finance and controller, Division of Finance
Supervisor of the Year—Mrs. Roxie Johnson, director, student financial services, Division of Finance
Trailblazer—Mrs. Theresa Perkins, director, medical records, Meharry Medical Group
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Research Into Policy and Practice Lecture
Vanderbilt’s School of Medicine’s Department of Health Policy and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College sponsored the “Policy and Politics: Can They Live Together?” lecture held earlier this year on the campus of Vanderbilt University.
The panel, comprised of Tennessee health care professionals including Philip Bredesen Jr., the 48th governor of Tennessee, discussed the role of health policy research and its impact on the health care of Americans.
Governor Bredesen, also former mayor of Nashville, Tennessee and a health care executive, spoke of humility, persuasion and a good sense of timing as key solutions for improving the health of Americans.
Other participants were, panelist Jeffrey D. Selberg, MHA, executive director of the Peterson Center on Healthcare; moderator, Melina B. Buntin, Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Health Policy, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and A. Dexter Samuels, Ph.D., senior vice president of the Division of Student & Faculty Affairs and executive director of the Robert Wood Johnson Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College, who led the Q & A session.
Click here to read more.
The Department of Campus Safety and Security Wants You to Be Safe This Summer
Summer is an exciting time because of commencement exercises throughout the United States and abroad. Students are graduating from high school, college and graduate and professional schools everywhere. But, safety is always important. The Department of Campus Safety and Security asks that all Meharrians continue to be vigilant and make safety a priority!
Click here to learn more.
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