Progress Notes | February 2021

Finding opportunities to celebrate each other supports a culture of appreciation that is more important than ever during these difficult times. I took note recently when some of our students, who are part of the Refugee and Immigrant Medical Association (RIMA), launched an initiative to support Roanoke’s immigrant population, which numbers about 16,000 people. The group’s regular in-person Trails to Care Health Fair was not possible this year due to the pandemic, but the community’s needs were no less urgent. Over several days, the students collected and distributed food, hygiene, and household items along with health resources and information.

These efforts are emblematic of our students’ longstanding commitment to assist members of Roanoke’s low-income and marginalized populations. Our school’s partnership with the Bradley Free Clinic has been going strong for more than 10 years and continues to grow. In fact, several of our students, along with Emergency Medicine faculty members Jack Perkins and Brian Meier, recently created a Spanish-speaking night at Bradley where patients can receive the care they need without the hindrance of a language barrier. 

Through community outreach and partnerships, our students are gaining first-hand experience in several core areas of health systems science: population health, social determinants, and health care equity. They are learning how to fill gaps in the patchwork systems that define health care in the U.S., and to care for vulnerable populations with cultural sensitivity and humility. Our students have developed creative ways to remove barriers to fulfilling our community commitment during a pandemic, a commitment shared by Virginia Tech and Carilion Clinic, and by our faculty and school leadership.

With pride in my heart, I offer this note of appreciation to all of our inspiring students!

Lee A. Learman

VTCSOM alumni pictured with face coverings, details below
VTCSOM alumni who returned to Roanoke. From left to right: Andrew Moore, Robert Brown, Don Vile, Josh Eikenberg, Matt Joy, and Ashley Gerrish


  • Anita Kablinger, professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine, has been named a Fellow in the American Society of Psychopharmacology.
  • Congratulations to Aashit Shah, professor of internal medicine; Sujth Vijayan, assistant professor in the School of Neuroscience; Della Williams, neurologist at Carilion Clinic and assistant professor of internal medicine; Andre Muelanaer, professor of biomedical engineering and mechanics in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering and professor of pediatrics; and Melinda Schriver, Carilion Clinic’s director of digital health. They are part of a larger group of interdisciplinary researchers awarded pilot project grants by the integrated Translational Health Research Institute of Virginia (iTHRIV) referenced above.

Virginia Tech's Giving Day will take place from noon on February 24 to noon on February 25 and the medical school will have goals and challenges to encourage support for VTCSOM. Giving Day is the single biggest fundraising day of the year and is an opportunity for alumni, families, students, and others to support the academic programs, scholarships, and student clubs and initiatives that they care about. Watch for more in the coming weeks.

Diversity and Inclusion

  • The next #VTCUnfinished event will be held virtually on Thursday, February 4 from 6 to 7 p.m. Titled “Black Maternal Health,” this session seeks to provide space to discuss how implicit racial and gender biases can change health care outcomes, what disparities currently exist, and how to begin dismantling health injustice. By disseminating best practices to address critical issues in Black maternal health from different sectors including research, care, policy, and culture; we can frame health equity and reproductive justice for Black Women.
    The event is hosted by the VTC Chapter of the Student National Medical Association, the VTC Refugee in Medicine Association, the VTC Group on Women in Medicine and Science, and the VTC Obstetrics & Gynecology Interest Group. Registration required.
  • Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine has obtained a number of licenses for interested parties to view the documentary Black Men in White Coats on their own devices from February 23 - 25. It will also be shown in the Auditorium (M203) on February 25 at 3 p.m. A discussion will follow both live and on Zoom. Registration for online or in-person participation is required. 

Humanism Note

How do we help people from different self-identified groups and who rarely interact see each other as individuals rather than a set of stereotypes? Partnering on a task that both people value but can only achieve together speeds the path to humanism, as seen in this short (< 5 minute) film.

Take Note

Upcoming Events

Docs for Morgan score: Students 49, Doctors 46

The Last Note

Well, it was a nail biter! The Docs for Morgan Virtual Hoops game came down to the wire. After leading the first and third quarters and being tied at the half, Carilion Clinic doctors and residents lost to the VTCSOM student team 46-49 with a missed three-pointer right at the buzzer. Hopefully, next year, we’ll be back to playing the game, which benefits the Morgan Dana Harrington Memorial Scholarship, in person! 

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