SOM Dean's Letter

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May 2019

Class Speaker Marta Bean

On May 13, a remarkably temperate spring day, the Class of 2019 medical graduates gathered under the shade of the towering oaks on the lawn of Glenn Memorial, lining up for the processional while drinking water and Cokes from iced buckets.

The SOM class had 129 MD graduates, including 31 dual-degree recipients. Also receiving degrees from the SOM Allied Health Programs were 69 doctor of physical therapy graduates, 12 medical imaging graduates, and 8 genetic counseling graduates.

"Welcome back," said the Rev. Amy Greene, clinical assistant professor of spirituality and medicine at Case Western Reserve and mother of medical graduate Nathaniel Greene Reuter, who gave the invocation. "We met here four years ago, as strangers, and this time we are back together as a community." 

Dean Vikas Sukhatme introduced the Corpus Cordis Aureum, or Golden Corps of the Heart, members, who were from the SOM classes of 1969 and earlier. He told current graduates they "are joining 6,000 previous SOM grads spread throughout the world." Sukhatme advised the new doctors to stay HIP—humble, honest healers leading with heart and humor; full of imagination and intellectual curiosity leading to innovation and impact; with "passion and compassion—a powerful duo." 

Valedictory speaker Fadlo Khuri, president of the American University of Beirut and former professor and chair of the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Emory, said, "Welcome to one of the most noble professions. I hope you are leaving this 165-year-old medical school convinced you can change the world for the better."

One of his most formative experiences as a doctor, says Khuri, was "learning to cope with a limited therapeutic arsenal" while tending to critically ill patients; caring for people with AIDS in the midst of the epidemic before antiretrovirals or any other effective medicines existed.

"Try to remember that the physician-patient bond flows both ways," he said. "You gain from the patient every bit as much as they gain from you. … Let mercy be your guide. Go in peace, my younger brothers and sisters."

The Evangeline T. Papageorge Distinguished Faculty Award was presented to Maura George (medicine). The Provost’s Office Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence in Graduate and Professional Education went to Lisa Bernstein (medicine). Earlier that morning, the University presented the Exemplary Teacher award to Mary Jo Lechowicz (hematology and medical oncology). Class speaker was Marta Bean. As is traditional, the graduates together recited the Oath of Hippocrates, and then were off to their residencies, at Emory and elsewhere.

Directly following the graduation, at the School of Medicine reception for graduates and their friends and families, the military MD promotion ceremony recognized Captain Elizabeth Carpenter, U.S. Air Force; Captain Lindsay Clough, U.S. Army; Lieutenant Eileen Dilks, U.S. Navy; and Lieutenant Jeff Lanier Jr., U.S. Navy.

View the 2019 SOM commencement photos

Staff Service Awards

From IT to facilities, administration to campus services, HR to research coordinators—staff members make up the backbone of the School of Medicine. Our more than 2,300 staff make critical contributions to every aspect of our missions—enabling high-quality patient care, supporting research and helping to shape the education of our next generation of health professionals. In April, those with 25+ years of service were invited to a lunch celebration with President Sterk.

One honoree, reflecting on her years of service, said "I appreciate the school’s vision, their dedication to staff, and championing diversity, flexibility, and growth. I also appreciate the University’s mission of community involvement, sustainability, and always striving to make Emory a better place to work." Another noted, "I’ve had the opportunity to work with second generation residents. Their mother or father came through the program, and now here they are...What a privilege!"

We are proud to recognize the list of faculty members with 25 or more years of service below. On behalf of the patients, students and colleagues whose lives have been improved by your dedication and service, we thank you.  

40 years of service

  • Stacy Kae Johnson
  • Judy H. Rabern
  • Cora Jeanette Zahler

35 years of service

  • Jane Moss Caudle
  • Phyllis J. Vaughn

30 years of service

  • Sharon Monique Ashley
  • Jacqueline Trinite Balthazar
  • Betty E. Boecler
  • Theresa M. Hicks
  • Theresa Templer Sanders
  • Tammie Renay Starks
  • Vertis B. Walker

25 years of service

Pearlie S. Beavers, Melissa A. Boone, Bonnie Chappell, Jill Lynn Cuestas, Terry Ann Fleming-Ray, Keir P. Gray, Robin Gross, Laquanda R. Jackson, Margaret E. Jenkins, Cathy C. Keeler, Audrey A. Kelly, Pamela Lankford-Turner, Xia Liu, Beverly M. Medley, Monica Ann Nunn, Susan D. Price, Qi Carrie Sun, Dahnide Marie Taylor, Toni E. Thomas, Jean B. Walker, Karen S. Woods, Zhaobin Zhang, Debra Sarah Zingarelli

Photo caption: L to R, Edmund Waller, Chunhui Xu, Carlos Moreno, Thota Ganesh, Ray Dingledine, Mark Goodman, Vikas Sukhatme

I3 Venture Research Awards announced during Emory Biomedical Catalyst event

The Imagine, Innovate, and Impact Awards – or I3 – were launched in 2018 to encourage connections between disciplines and accelerate the pace of discovery. A total of $595,000 was awarded during the first round to fund projects in both research and education.

On February 1, a new category of I3 awards was launched—the Venture Research Awards—with the intention of identifying promising early-stage concepts with commercial potential that do not yet qualify for funding from external sources. Twelve proposals from 11 departments were submitted and more than 15 faculty, staff and partners with specialized expertise in innovation and entrepreneurship participated in the review process. A total of $100,000 will be awarded to teams led by the following investigators:

  • Ray Dingledine (pharmacology and chemical biology): New efficacy studies with novel EP2 receptor antagonists
  • Mark Goodman (radiology and imaging sciences): Novel PET imaging agent for the detection of bacterial infections
  • Carlos Moreno (pathology and laboratory medicine): ResonanceDx creatinine POC test
  • Edmund Waller (hematology and medical oncology):  Enhancing responsiveness of pancreatic cancer to immunotherapy
  • Chunhui Xu (pediatrics): High-throughput screening for antiarrhythmic drugs using cardiomyocytes derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells

The winners were announced during a May 14 event hosted by the Emory Biomedical Catalyst, during which faculty members with an interest in entrepreneurship and venture development came together to build new connections. If you have an interest in venture development and would like to join future events, contact

Genetic Counseling training program ranked no. 3 in the U.S.

Emory’s Genetic Counseling Training Program has been named number 3 in the U.S. by the Healthcare Management Degree Guide. The only genetic counseling training program in Georgia, it is recognized for its innovative and rigorous curriculum. Programs were ranked by affordability, student-to-faculty ratio and overall graduation rate, as determined by College Navigator

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Lewin honored for distinguished service

Jonathan S. Lewin (radiology) received the 2019 Gold Medal Award from the Association of University Radiologists on April 24. The award is presented in recognition of unusually distinguished service or contributions to the organization, academic radiology, and the radiology field. He also received the 2019 Gold Medal for Distinguished Service to Radiology from the American Roentgen Ray Society, radiology’s oldest professional society, on May 4. The Gold Medal is this Society’s highest honor, awarded for outstanding service and leadership to the field.

By any measure, our work in the School of Medicine is making an impact. In case you missed it: read a few of the stories behind the numbers in Emory’s 2018 Impact Report.

BME faculty honored by National Academy of Engineering

Paul Benkeser, Joseph Le Doux and Wendy Newstetter (biomedical engineering) were awarded the 2019 Bernard M. Gordon Prize medal for innovation in engineering and technology education by the National Academy of Engineering. They were recognized "for fusing problem-driven engineering education with learning-science principles to create a pioneering program that develops leaders in biomedical engineering." The $500,000 annual award recognizes new methods and concepts in education aimed at developing engineering leaders.

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Mahlon DeLong (neurology) was awarded the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Health Care Heroes Lifetime Achievement Award for his nearly 50 years of research and clinical care in movement disorders, including pioneering discoveries about the organization and function of related brain structures, leading to major breakthroughs in patient care for Parkinson’s and other diseases. 

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Tiffany Hailstorks (gynecology and obstetrics) received the Berky Dolores Abreu Spirit Award during the 2019 Emory Women of Excellence awards. Named for the former Academic Department Administrator for Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, the award recognizes a woman in the greater Emory community whose presence has fostered the personal and academic growth of students, faculty, staff, and/or departments. 

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Ziad Kazzi (emergency medicine) was nominated to serve on the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP). The NCRP seeks to formulate and widely disseminate information, guidance and recommendations on radiation protection and measurements which represent the consensus of leading scientific thinking.

David Koch (pathology) is the 2019 recipient of the Professor Alvin Dubin Award for Outstanding Contributions to the profession and to the American Association of Clinical Chemistry (AACC) Academy. The AACC is a global scientific and medical professional organization dedicated to better health through laboratory medicine.  

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Melissa Kottke (gynecology and obstetrics) received the Unsung Heroine award during the Emory Women of Excellence awards. This award is presented to a woman who has demonstrated extraordinary dedication to issues that affect women at Emory or in the larger community, but whose efforts have not received publicity or formal recognition.

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Charles Moore (otolaryngology) won the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Health Care Heroes Community Outreach award for his work improving access to health care in underserved Atlanta communities. Moore is CEO and founder of the Healing Community Center and co-director of the Urban Health Initiative, which provides health disparities education and advocacy, builds collaborative partnerships and develops best practice models with underserved communities to advance equity in health and well-being. 

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Wilbur Lam (pediatrics, biomedical engineering) was named a finalist for the Atlanta Business Chronicle's Health Care Heroes Researcher/Innovator award for his "basement-to-bench-to-bedside approach to inventing new research tools and diagnostic technologies that translate into better care for patients with disorders of the blood and bone marrow."

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Yuko Nakajima (emergency medicine) was named the Region III EMS Medical Director of the Year. The EMS Medical Director Award is awarded to a physician who has provided meritorious service in the science and art of EMS clinical and administrative leadership. The physician must have provided exemplary and exceptional service that benefits the patients they are treating and the EMS professionals they are supporting.  

Nancy Newman (ophthalmology, neurology) received the 2019 Thomas Carlow Distinguished Service Award—the highest honor conferred by the North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society. The award is given to those "who have provided a sustained and substantial service to NANOS."

Ogul Uner, M3, was awarded the 2019 AΩA Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship, a national award that includes $5,000 to support Uner during his research project. 

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