Progress Notes | November 2022

This month we focus on our collaborative research goal in our Strategic Plan.

Our students carry out a longitudinal research project that spans their entire four years in the program, with the mentorship of an accomplished faculty member. The students identify a faculty mentor and project that results in a meaningful, truly collaborative partnership where both the student and faculty member engage deeply and contribute to the intellectual conceptualization and implementation of the project. The project also immerses students in an interprofessional learning environment that may include graduate students and co-investigators from diverse disciplinary backgrounds.

The student-mentor partnership often has strong bidirectional impact on the student’s specific project as well as the faculty member’s overall research program. As the student goes deeper into the research project, it is not unusual for them to encounter previously unanticipated insights or challenges that require additional collaboration with the faculty mentor and, sometimes, the input of other faculty collaborators with specific skill sets or experience. Such encounters can necessitate conceptual, technological and/or analytical changes in approach that produce a more meaningful study and outcome.

The dynamic nature of the student-mentor research collaboration not only produces good science based on the original hypothesis to be tested, but improved and sometimes totally unexpected outcomes that are the very essence of discovery and innovation. The benefits of this approach are multi-factorial, contribute new information that can ultimately improve health or health care, and strengthen the research program of the faculty member going forward. Thus, each student’s research project provides a scaffold for launching their own future in the community of medical scholarship and also a legacy that lives on in the school through the ongoing work of the faculty mentor, who builds on that work. It is a virtuous cycle that produces enduring value.

We salute all of our faculty research mentors who have who have played such a vital role in the research scholarship of our students.

Lee A. Learman


  • Nancy Howell Agee, Carilion Clinic CEO and VTCSOM faculty member, headlined the inaugural Women Impact Virginia Summit in Richmond last month.
  • Azziza ‘Kemi’ Bankole, VTCSOM professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine, and Alexandra Hanlon, professor of statistics and director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Biostatistics and Health Data Science, have received one of three Discovery Fund grants this year for their project utilizing sensors to detect agitation in people with dementia.
  • Congratulations to LB Canary, class of 2024, and Danny Clawson who were married last month.
  • Congratulations to basic science faculty members Jennifer Cleveland, Renée LeClair, and Kris Rau for running the Hokie Half Marathon on October 1.
  • Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC and senior dean for research at VTCSOM, was appointed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin to Virginia's Rare Disease Council.
  • Dan Harrington will assume the role of interim Chief Medical Office at Carilion Clinic on November 14. Welcome back, Dr. Harrington!
  • Alexander In and Areej Ennasr, both in the class of 2025, were awarded the Young Investigator Award at the 8th International Symposium on Focused Ultrasound from the Focused Ultrasound Foundation.
  • Lili Ladner, class of 2025, was one of 20 students nationwide awarded a Medical Student Research Scholarship from the American Academy of Neurology.
  • Andre Muelenaer, professor of pediatrics, was appointed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin to the Virginia Foundation of Healthy Youth Board of Trustees
  • Sarah Parker, chair of Health Systems and Implementation Science, received the Professional Achievement Award from Wittenberg University, given to alumni who have achieved outstanding distinction in their professional field.
  • VTCSOM alum Brian Saway, class of 2020, and Alex Miner, class of 2024, met up at the annual Congress of Neurological Surgeons conference in San Francisco. We are proud of all the work our students have accomplished in neurosurgery.
  • Paul Skolnik and X.J. Meng, both professors of internal medicine, are part of a larger group from Virginia Tech that has received a $1 million National Science Foundation grant to tackle challenges in the prediction and prevention of infectious disease pandemics. Meng is also a University Distinguished Professor of Molecular Virology at Virginia Tech’s veterinary school.
  • Two poster submissions by VTCSOM faculty and staff were accepted to the 2022 Group on Women in Medicine and Science (GWIMS) meeting in Nashville. The first poster titled, Women as Change Agents: Creating & Connecting Health Systems Science Curricula Across the Continuum was authored by Sarah Harendt, Shari Whicker, Mariah Rudd, Joalenn Tabor, and Natalie Karp. Harendt, Rudd, and Whicker are with TEACH, and Karp and Tabor are with HSSIP. Karp is a faculty member in ob-gyn.
  • The second submission, titled Virtually Implementing a Novel Structured Team-based Mentorship Program: Lessons Learned, was authored by Sarah Harendt, Shari Whicker, Mariah Rudd, Paul Skolnik, and Rebecca Pauly. Harendt, Rudd, and Whicker are with TEACH. Skolnik and Pauly are faculty members in internal medicine.
  • Renée LeClair and Andrew Binks, associate professors in basic science education, presented The initial impact of changing Step 1 grading to Pass/Fail on Medical Student Anxiety, Curiosity and Learning Behaviors, co-authored by colleagues C. Gambala, J. Brenner, and J. Willey, at TEACH education day.
  • Congratulations to everyone who presented their posters during TEACH Education Day. View the posters on the TEACH website.


  • Shyam Bhatt, class of 2023, and Thomas Kodankandath, faculty member in the Department of Internal Medicine, published Subpial Hemorrhage in an Adult Male in Cureus.
  • Charles E. (Bud) Conklin co-authored and Mariah Rudd was acknowledged for program management support on a project titled Integrating Oral Health into Health Professions School Curricula in Medical Education Online. Conklin is associate professor of surgery and thread director for oral health and oral medicine. Rudd is director of the Office of Continuing Professional Development for Carilion Clinic.
Tracy Jones

A warm welcome to Tracy Jones, enrollment management coordinator, who joined the VTCSOM family in October. 


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

  • Family and Community Medicine: Molly O'Malley
  • Health Systems and Implementation Science: Mary Wesley
  • Internal Medicine: Carlos Mora and Yamini Sterrett
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology: Lauren Nelson and Megan Whitham

Diversity and Inclusion Notes

  • The Robert A. Winn Diversity in Clinical Trials Award Program is seeking applicants for its program created to increase diversity in clinical trials and transform the clinical research landscape. Sponsored by Virginia Commonwealth University through a grant from the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, the program is seeking URM students and early career physicians who are African American or Black/Hispanic or Latino/American Indian or Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander/Southeast Asian (Bhutanese, Cambodian, Cham, Hmong, Indonesian, Lao, Malaysian, Mien, Myanma, Thai, and Vietnamese).
  • The diversity, inclusion, and belonging event hosted by Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine titled disAbilities at Work: Thriving in an Abled World with speakers Mark Nichols, David Hartman, and Carrie Knopf was posted to our website, complete with transcript and resources for each of our speakers, linked below.
    • Mark Nichols: “My parents instilled in me that diversity and inclusion is beautiful.”
    • David Hartman: “The obstacle was not what I could or could not do as a blind person, it was society's low expectations of what I, as a blind person, could do.”
    • Carrie Knopf: “The economic and educational difference that it can have on someone's life to have equal access to education through accommodations and technology is just really profound.”
  • Holidays and observances in the month of November:
    • National Native American Heritage Month
    • National Family Caregivers Month
    • 1:  All Saints’ Day 
    • 1-2: Dia de los Muertos
    • 2: All Souls’ Day
    • 8: Election Day
    • 11:  Veterans Day
    • 13–19: Transgender Awareness Week
    • 19:  International Men’s Day 
    • 20:  Transgender Day of Remembrance
    • 20:  Feast of Christ the King
    • 24:  Thanksgiving Day
    • 25:  Native American Heritage Day
    • November 28–January 6:  Nativity Fast 
    • November 27–December 24:  Advent
    • 30:  St. Andrew’s Day
ARTiculation - Creativity in Medicine

Preparations for our 2022-2023 issue of ARTiculation, VTCSOM's online creative journal, have begun. For this issue, we are opening submissions to all VTCSOM and FBRI students and faculty. In addition, we are seeking reviewers interested in providing feedback to submitting creators. Please note the deadlines for submissions and reviewer applications below:

  • November 28, 2022: Deadline for reviewer applications.
  • December 19, 2022: Submission window open to VTC and FBRI students, faculty, and staff.
  • December 27, 2022-January 9, 2023: Submissions sent to reviewers for review and feedback.
  • January 10, 2023: Submissions sent back to creators for revision.
  • January 23, 2023: Deadline for final project submission and acceptance.

Please send questions, reviewer inquiries, and submissions to Cyndy Unwin at

LB Canary and Dean Learman pictured with fellow students at the MSV awards

Community Corner

  • LB Canary (center with trophy), class of 2025, is joined by Dean Lee Learman and fellow classmates at last month’s Medical Society of Virginia meeting after receiving the 2022 ‘Salute to Service’ award for her service to those less fortunate. Canary’s service activities exemplify the heart of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).
  • Erika Coleman, class of 2024, and Jason Kuno, clinical science manager, participated in a fundraising event for Barbells and Boobs, a charity that supports breast cancer survivors.
  • It’s that time again! That’s right, the annual Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign, has kicked off and is ready for our support. Each year, Virginia Tech employees help to fund hundreds of non-profits throughout the Roanoke and New River Valleys. These organizations depend on our generosity and commitment to reach so many in the area that are struggling right now.
    In the next few weeks, Courtney Powell, VTCSOM campaign coordinator, will be sharing stories about local Roanoke Valley groups and the important work that they do. Please consider making a gift this year. With payroll deductions, credit cards on line, and direct giving there is an easy and convenient donation option for everyone; and there are so many organizations to choose from!
    Thanks to everyone in advance for your generosity.
Connor Madalo

Spotlight on Giving

“I want to be a DOKDER.” Even at age 6, Connor Madalo, class of 2025, knew what his calling was and expressed it with all the conviction of a first grader, writing his goal for his teacher and classmates. His childhood conviction deepened years later when Madalo lost a family member to a heart attack. Madalo is the recipient of VTCSOM’s Charter Class Scholarship. I am tremendously grateful, he said. “The scholarship allows me to look into the future.” Read more about Connor's story.

Humanism Notes

One component of our personal wellbeing is having a support system that can cheer us on when times are tough. Zac and Vincent, two little boys with the wisdom of sages, are an example that we all get by with a little help from our friends. Disclaimer: Have a tissue handy.

Take Note

Take Note

  • Looking for ways to engage? Already have an engagement event or project in the works and want to get the word out? Current projects, past projects, VTCSOM Engage information, that very handy link to register an activity or event - it's all at The Hub! (requires VT login credentials to access)  
  • Virginia Tech is recruiting Strengths Consultants for next year! Applications are open now, and will close on Wednesday, November 30. Strengths Consultants are students, staff, and faculty who have been equipped to advance Strengths-based learning at Virginia Tech. Learn more about the role, responsibilities, and application requirements of a VT Strengths Consultant.
  • Interested in reserving a room in the HS&T campus Center for Inclusion? Follow these simple steps:
    • Login to your personal Google calendar
    • Click create button, add event (choosing date, time, and title)
    • Paste the following email address into the "add guests" line, then save and send.
  • Past issues of Progress Notes are available on the website.

Upcoming Events

  • November 11Annual Paint Night 
  • December 2 – Empanada Nirvana Food Truck
  • December 17 at 9 a.m. – Hooding Ceremony
  • January 5 – Annual Delta Dental Lecture 
A collage of four images with students and faculty dressed up for Halloween

The Last Note

The HS&T Wellness Team did a spooktacular job of organizing Halloween festivities! Everyone brought their A-game to the annual pumpkin carving and costume competitions. A bootiful time was had by all.

Add Your Own Note

Have something noteworthy to share in Progress Notes? Do you have feedback about this newsletter? We'd love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts with us.