Progress Notes | September 2021

Although the summer temperatures are still with us here in Roanoke, there are certainly signs of fall around the VTCSOM campus, as we have a full house once again.

Before we get too far into this busy time of year, I’d like to reflect on some notable student research accomplishments over the summer.

In collaboration with Virginia Tech’s Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health (TBMH) program, Oscar Alcoreza became our first M.D./Ph.D. student to be awarded his Ph.D. in May. Oscar is now enjoying clinical rotations as a third-year student and is on track to graduate with the Class of 2023.

The second of our medical students to follow this path, Kenneth Young, officially entered the TBMH program and expects to earn his Ph.D. in 2023 before returning to medical school. We are grateful to the TBMH faculty for their mentorship and sponsorship of our students during their Ph.D. studies.

Alex Miner, a third-year student, has spent the summer working under a prestigious Gold Foundation Student Summer Fellowship to follow her passions at the intersection of neuroscience and international health. Her research examined specific variables contributing to mental health inequities to develop interventions for patients with limited-English proficiency at the Bradley Free Clinic.

In addition, we celebrated the awarding of our first research grants under an endowment set up by Dr. Charles Schleupner. The five second-year student awardees were: Devra Asah, Kasen Hutchings, Caroline Kim, Katelynn Stebbins, and Benjamin Tintera.

Look for more expanded stories about all of these in the near future, and please join me in congratulating these students on their commitment to research excellence!

Lee A. Learman

Virginia Tech President Tim Sands and Dr. Linsey Marr, one of fewer than 12 worldwide experts in aerosol transmission



Adam Bailey

Welcome to New Staff

Welcome to Adam Bailey, senior assistant director of scholarships and financial aid, who joined us in August.


Welcome to New Faculty

Welcome to all the new faculty who joined us in August:

  • Emergency Medicine: Alan Denekas
  • Family and Community Medicine: Oluyemisi Solomon
  • Internal Medicine: Gurlal Baidwan, Padma Chitnavis, Suhail Dar, Obafemi Ifelowo, Shyam Odeti, Gurleen Pahal, Elspeth Springsted, and Alfredo Vallesteros
  • Surgery: Justin Hickman
a single white rose on a dark background

In Memoriam

The Carilion and VTCSOM communities continue to grieve the passing of Dario Sorrentino, gastroenterologist and professor of medicine, who died last month from injuries he sustained in an accident while vacationing in his native Italy. Dr. Sorrentino was a widely respected and beloved colleague who was dedicated to research and mentoring those interested in research careers. He led several acclaimed research studies focusing on the treatment of Crohn’s disease.

Diversity and Inclusion Notes

  • Did you know that you can find events related to diversity, equity, and inclusion at VTCSOM all in one place? Events are continuously being added to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion calendar, which can be found on our website.
  • The 2021 VA Pride Scholarship is now accepting applications. Light up your future with this amazing opportunity. VTCSOM medical students are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Applications will be evaluated on how the applicant says they will apply their education to advancing LGBTQ equality. Deadline to apply is September 10, 2021
  • Virginia Tech hosts Inclusive VT Week Speaker Series:
    • September 7: Dr. Lisa Nunn will present Fostering College Belonging: Practical strategies for fostering student success by strengthening students’ sense of belonging, with a focus on first-generation college students.
    • September 9: Presentation by Dr. Fred Bonner II, author of Square Pegs and Round Holes: Alternative Approaches to Diverse College Student Development Theory.
    • September 10: Dr. Margaret Price will present Creating an Inclusive and Accessible Campus.
  • Holidays and celebrations in the month of September:
    • Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 to October 15
    • 4-11: Paryushana Parva
    • 6: Labor Day
    • 6-8: (sundown to sundown): Rosh Hashanah
    • 10: Ganesh Chaturthi
    • 11: Ethiopian New Year
    • 15-16: (sundown to sundown): Yom Kippur
    • 18: International Equal Pay Day
    • 20-27: Sukkot
    • 22: Ostara Mabon
    • 24: Native American Day
    • 27: Elevation of the Life-Giving Cross (Holy Cross)
    • 27: Meskel
    • 27-29: (sundown to sundown): Shemini Atzeret
    • 28-29: (sundown to sundown): Simchat Torah
    • 29: Michaelmas
Amy Chen
Class of 2022 student Amy Chen 

Spotlight on Giving

In 2019, then first-year student Amy Chen was a recipient of the James R. Smith Scholarship at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. “Receiving the scholarship has been freeing for me because it has allowed me to pursue activities that I otherwise might not have,” Chen said. Chen is now a fourth-year student, busy with rotations and electives.

Humanism Notes

Creating a deep well of humanism requires a full tank of self-awareness and wellness. The concept of “wellness” has been elaborated into eight distinct dimensions of holistic health: emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, environmental, financial, occupational, and social. Learn more about the eight dimensions (and watch the “Wheel of Life” video) to identify where you have untapped potential for increased wellness here.


All Virginia Tech employees are required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine unless they qualify for medical or religious excemption. Additionally, all employees, including full-time and part-time faculty, staff, and wage, are required to provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccination once they are fully vaccinated in the COVID-19 Vaccination Status Self-Reporting form after receiving their final dose. Contact the HR Service Center at for help.

Take Note

Take Note

  • Feel like you know your way around the school pretty well? Great! Help us show off our beautiful facility by signing up to be a tour guide. For more info, contact Catherine Doss.
  • MedDOCs is a new student-run after school pipeline program for Roanoke area high school students from backgrounds under-represented in medicine with the goal of exciting them about pursuing education/careers in science and medicine. Interested in getting involved? Contact Alex Miner.
  • Past issues of Progress Notes are available on the website.

Upcoming Events

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The Last Note

The Refugee and Immigrant Medical Association, collected 17 bags of school supplies to help ease the burden for 20 refugee and asylum-seeking families here in Roanoke. Kudos to Atreyi Saha, Ilona Jileaeva, Vemmy Metsutnan, and Devra Asah (pictured above) for leading this effort. 

Add Your Own Note

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