Progress Notes | October 2022

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine works to promote a culture within our school in which our curriculum and other activities not only explore health disparities but also strive to provide solutions for the disparities observed in our community. Increasing the diversity of students and faculty is an important goal in our strategic plan.

One of the steps that we have taken towards this goal is establishing the Aequitas Health Honor Society of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. This group aims to promote equity in health care to all members of society free from discrimination. We are so proud of our four inaugural fellows who were inducted this year: Luma Abunimer, Macy Marcucci, Satya Vedula, and Sarah Yosief, all of whom are current fourth-year students. These students have shown significant dedication to health care equity and are currently working on a research project looking into interpreter service usage in clinicians and in patients with limited English proficiency.

In September, we honored 13 inaugural recipients of the Dean’s Diversity Champion Awards. These awards recognize the significant achievements of students, faculty and staff toward developing a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community. The individuals who were honored have clearly demonstrated their commitment to our school and our community, and their work is making a real difference.

As a school, it is vital that we highlight, encourage, and provide resources for research and other efforts that promote health equity in our community. It is crucial that we recognize those currently doing the work so that others will be inspired to do so in the future. We aim to build a community of people in which the work of health equity is a shared goal in word and in deed.

Lee A. Learman


  • Congratulations to project manager Dani Backus, the first recipient of the Dr. Daniel P. Harrington Award for Administrative Excellence.
  • LB Canary, class of 2024, and Raymond Uymatiao, class of 2025, have been awarded National Health Service Corps scholarships for the remainder of their medical school. These are VTCSOM’s first NHSC recipients.
  • Congratulations to Helena Carvalho, faculty member in basic science education, for winning the latest quarterly TEACH Perks Award, which is presented to the TEACH member(s) who attend the most OCPD and/or TEACH sessions.
  • Brook Mitchell, class of 2024, gave two presentations at the 2022 Virginia Vascular annual meeting last month: “Use of Gore Excluder Endoprostheses in the Treatment of Complex Central Venous Occlusion: A Report of Two Cases” and “Trans-Carotid Access for Complex Fenestrated Endovascular Aortic Repair: A Case Report.”
  • Congratulations to Karyna Nevarez, inclusion coordinator, who was presented a Certificate of Special Recognition by Senator Tim Kaine for exceptional commitment and contributions to Virginia's Latinx community.
  • Jaclyn Nunziato, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, joined  WDBJ-7 to discuss do's and don'ts for pregnant women.
  • Molly O'Dell, assistant professor of family and community medicine, is the new poetry editor for The Journal of Medical Humanities, published by Penn State Department of Humanities in Penn State College of Medicine.
  • Kim Simcox, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, joined WDBJ-7 to discuss postpartum depression and what is being done to address maternal health in our community.
  • Katelyn Stebbins, a student in the MD/PhD program, was awarded a Trainee Professional Development Award from the Society for Neuroscience.
  • Robert Trestman, professor and chair of psychiatry and behavioral medicine, joined WDBJ-7 to discuss students’ mental health impacted by school threats.   
  • Angelica Witcher, assistant dean for student vitality and assistant professor of health systems and implementation science, was appointed to the national board of the National Association of Medical Minority Educators.


headshot of joesephine clarke

A warm welcome to Joesephine Clarke, library specialist, who joined the VTCSOM family in September.


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

  • Basic Science Education: Edgar Weaver
  • Family and Community Medicine: Carver Haines
  • Internal Medicine: Jared Branin, Joseph Mock, and Rebecca Schapira
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology: Ryan Bradley
  • Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine: Linda Galicki, Margaret Rukstalis, and Keri Stevenson
  • Surgery: Michael Collins and Kristin McCoy

Diversity and Inclusion Notes

  • The October Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging event disAbilities at Work: Thriving in an Abled World will take place at 5:30 p.m. on October 11 and will feature speakers David Hartman, Carrie Knopf, and Mark Nichols. Hartman is associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral medicine and psychiatrist with Carilion Clinic. Knopf is student affairs coordinator and liaison for services for students with disabilities. Nichols is the senior director of universal design and accessible technologies at Virginia Tech.
  • Holidays and observances in the month of October:
    • Sept. 15 to Oct. 15: Hispanic Heritage Month
    • National Disability Employment Awareness Month
    • LGBTQ+ History Month
    • Global Diversity Awareness Month
    • 1: Native American Women’s Equal Pay Day
    • 4: St. Francis Day, feast day for St. Francis of Assisi
    • 4–5 (sundown to sundown): Yom Kippur
    • 5: Dasara, Dussehra, or Vijayadashami, marking the end of Durga Puja
    • 7–8: Mawlid Al-Nabi, observance of the birthday of the prophet Muhammad
    • 9: Eid Milad un-Nabi, Islamic holiday commemorating the birthday of the prophet Muhammad
    • 9–16: Sukkot
    • 10: Canadian Thanksgiving
    • 10: World Mental Health Day
    • 11: National Coming Out Day (United States)
    • 11:  National Indigenous Peoples Day
    • 16–18 (sundown to sundown): Shemini Atzeret
    • 17–18 (sundown to sundown): Simchat Torah
    • 20: Sikh Holy Day, in celebration of Sri Guru Granth Sahib
    • 20: International Pronouns Day
    • 24: Diwali
    • 25–26 (sundown to sundown): Birth of Báb, Bahá’í holiday celebrating the birth of the prophet Báb
    • 26–27 (sundown to sundown): The birth of Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í religion
    • 29: Latina Equal Pay Day
    • 31: All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween)
    • 31–November 1 (sundown to sundown): Samhain, a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter
Group photo at the Roanoke Refugee Run
Roanoke Welcoming Week’s Run for Refugees participants. Pictured from left are: Raymond Uymatiao, Paul Varghese, Tyler Shick, Lincoln Karchner, Varun Mishra (race winner), Grace Rovenolt, Paula Lewis, Lili Ladner, and Nancy Wu.

Community Corner

  • Several of our medical students (pictured above) competed (and placed) in the Roanoke Welcoming Week’s Run for Refugees. Uymatiao, Varghese, Shick, Rovenolt, Lewis, Ladner, and Wu are members of the class of 2025. Karchner and Mishra are members of the class of 2026.
  • Also, as a part of Welcoming Week, our students and staff were part of a multi-lingual video for social media.
  • Students Tyler Shick and Gemma Porras Nielsen (both class of 2025), and Caroline Beakes (class of 2026) attended the Visit Virginia Blue Ridge Annual Meeting and met Olympic medal winning cyclist Kristin Armstrong.
  • Students enjoyed a day of sharing information about the school and making healthy lifestyle choices at the Henry Street Festival and the first annual Health Fair at the Melrose Seventh Day Adventist Church.
  • A wonderful time was had by all at the artists’ reception on September 20.
Kelly Ingram

Spotlight on Giving

Born and raised in Mount Airy, North Carolina, third-year student Kelly Ingram’s life experiences differ greatly from many of her classmates who hail from more urban settings. “I have always believed that talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not. There are few places more emblematic of this than rural America,” she says. Ingram was the recipient of the Dr. Sidney C. and Mrs. Lucy O. Smith Scholarship that supports VTCSOM students demonstrating a financial need. Read more about Kelly's story.

Humanism Notes

Consider the last time you were able to share your concerns deeply with another person and how it felt to be heard without judgment. Being able to elicit and understand perspectives of others is an essential humanistic skill for physicians and other health professionals. In the public square, being able to engage in constructive dialogue is an essential skill for community collaboration and connection. The Roanoke Collaboration Project has created a pledge for those who believe a commitment to constructive dialogue will make us a better community. A commentary and editorial in the Roanoke Times explains how more about this grassroots and nonpartisan group and the goals of the project.

Take Note

Take Note

Upcoming Events

Food Truck Schedule

  • Oct. 7 – Ken and Jayne’s Burgers and Dogs
  • Oct. 14 – Avocado Food Truck
  • Oct. 21 – Empanada Nirvana
  • Oct. 28 – Ken and Jayne’s Burgers and Dogs
  • Nov. 4 – Avocado Food Truck
  • Dec. 2 – Empanada Nirvana
Dean Lee Learman reading a card to Dan Harrington

The Last Note

Dean Lee Learman hosted an evening celebrating vice dean Dan Harrington ahead of his retirement on September 30, 2022. Friends and colleagues gathered to honor VTCSOM's "living legacy" for his unwavering contributions to our school. Dr. Harrington, you will be greatly missed!

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