Progress Notes September 2023

In the 2022-2023 medical school application cycle, more than 55,000 individuals applied to an average of 18 medical schools each. Forty-two percent of applicants were accepted to at least one school. Preparing for and applying to medical school can feel like a gauntlet of challenging classes, patient care adventures, and hurdles designed to stymie even the halest competitors. But successful schools are not simply looking for academic Olympians or padded resumes; the future of medicine lies with dedicated, innovative, humble practitioners who seek to serve and lead in this exciting world of medicine.

Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine prides itself on a learning community filled with well-prepared students who contribute to diversity of thought and experience. We are committed to not only selecting each class of future leaders, but also to creating opportunities for undergraduate students who dream of serving the health needs of others. The Early Identification Program (EIP) is one unique example of VTC supporting its mission.

Created in 2015, the EIP is a partnership between our school and undergraduate institutions to provide comprehensive preparation and counseling to undergraduate students who hope to attend medical school. Initially intended to create opportunities for students who demographically identified as a race or ethnicity underrepresented in medicine (URM), the EIP began with partnerships with historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Rapidly, however, the program evolved into one that can provide focused medical school preparation experiences to a variety of undergraduates who may bring unique contributions to the world of medicine. The current partners are Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, James Madison University, and Old Dominion University. The College of William and Mary will begin sending applicants this year.

Sophomores and juniors may apply for the EIP’s two summers of programming. The first consists of 10 weeks of full-time hypothesis-driven research in connection with the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF). Applicants are welcomed into the lab communities of some of the FBRI’s most prolific researchers to hone skills and learn new techniques. Their work is presented at the Fralin Biomedical Research Symposium, where they learn to professionally communicate their work to the research and lay communities.

This summer, first-year participant, Hezekiah Emmanuel won second place for his investigation of the role of a specific protein-receptor connection in the circadian remodeling of colorectal cancer cells with Dr. Carla Finkelstein. Hezekiah is a first-generation rising junior at James Madison University. Similarly, participant Jana Adams (rising junior at Virginia Tech) worked with Dr. Sarah Parker to identify and characterize criteria for creating and implementing successful testbeds for health care systems technologies and processes, and Nicole Acosta (first-generation rising junior at Virginia Tech) spent this summer using artificial intelligence (AI) to evaluate the neuronal effects of mitochondrial calcium transporter deletions with Dr. Shannon Farris. Jana and Nicole will continue their research in these laboratories when they return to Virginia Tech this month, as will Kali Holsinger, a first-generation participant hosted in Dr. Konark Mukherjee’s laboratory this summer. Kali, who investigated the results of stress on retinal ganglion cells, has supported her undergraduate education by working as a Certified Medical Assistant and has applied to medical school this cycle. The first year of programming also included advising about the medical school application process, access to MCAT preparation materials, and engagement with community and educational leadership on campus. Admissions is extremely proud of what our participants achieved this summer, and immensely appreciative of the mentorship, teaching and coaching they received at the FBRI. 

The second summer of the EIP is six weeks of exposure to various medical specialties. Participants rotate through six different fields with a combination of inpatient, outpatient, and procedural or operative experiences. This summer, Carilion’s medical departments provided Deborah Thomas and Sydnee Harrison (rising seniors at Virginia Tech) with an in-depth look at the breadth of patient care that takes place in pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, orthopedic surgery, family medicine, general surgery, and psychiatry. Deborah and Sydnee also received MCAT preparation with live tutoring sessions and practice tests and individualized advising about the medical school application process. These women repeatedly voiced excitement and appreciation for the opportunities to learn alongside our Carilion physicians, and Admissions very much echoes their sentiments. 

Generous support from VTC allows the EIP to provide all participants with housing each summer at the Patrick Henry Hotel. Additionally, the scholars receive a $3,000 stipend each summer to support their deep dives into research and medical care. Perennially, participants also remark about how much they enjoy meeting our current medical students and shadowing them in the second summer. 

Seven of the 14 EIP participants who completed the program before this year succeeded in advancing their careers in health sciences:  five matriculated into medical school, one completed his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree, and two became Ph.D. biomedical researchers. Thank you to all the researchers, staff, mentors, physicians, students, and community leaders who have welcomed our EIP scholars. We genuinely appreciate the leadership, teaching, coaching and friendship you have bestowed upon our participants. They give us another reason to be hopeful and eagerly anticipate the future of medicine.

Melanie Prusakowski, M.D.

Associate Dean for Admissions

Upcoming Events


News Around Campus

student center opening

Social Media


  • Carilion Clinic has been named to Forbes fifth annual list of America’s Best Employers By State. According to its website, Forbes worked with a market research firm to survey workers at 70,000 companies with at least 500 workers in all 50 states, asking participants to assess their employers. If you’d like to read more about the recognition and a full list of employers, click here
  • Andrew Barr, Class of 2019 and current Neonatology fellow at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, was selected by the Cincinnati Children's GME Committee to be the recipient of the Reginald Tsang Award in Neonatology recognizing excellence in clinical care, research, leadership, and teaching.
  • There’s been a flurry of baby activity this summer! Welcome to our newest VTCSOM babies. Clara Bassett arrived July 22. Congratulations to Caitlin (assessment and evaluation manager) and Drew BassettGeorge Henry May, son of Brittany (director of alumni relations) and Chris May, was born July 31. Grayson Vincent Greco arrived on August 5, gracing his parents Hannah (assistant director of admissions) and Frank GrecoViolet Grace Flowers was born to Jessica (research domain manager) and Matthew Flowers on August 14. Congratulations to everyone.
  • Robert Trestman, VTCSOM professor and chair of psychiatry and behavioral medicine, was quoted in the New York Times and Time Magazine recently. The citations are: "America Has Reached Peak Therapy. Why Is Our Mental Health Getting Worse?" and "Mental Health Spending Surged During Pandemic"


Welcome to New Staff

new hire
  • Jeannine Simon - Clinical Science Manager Years 1 & 2
  • Kris Teaford – Library Specialist

Welcome to New Faculty

Welcome to all the new faculty who joined us recently:

  • Internal Medicine – Susan Dorsey, Luke Ennis, Cheryl Neal
  • Surgery – Christopher Bayne, Robert Swanson, Kristopher Williams


Diverstiy and Inclusion Notes

Hispanic Heritage Month (observed from September 15 to October 15)

Celebrations and Observances in September:

4  Labor Day

5-6:  Krishna Janmashtami

Second Week in September: National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week

11:  Paryushana Parvarambha

11:  Ethiopian New Year

14:  Elevation of the Life Giving Cross (Holy Cross)

15-17 (sundown to sundown):  Rosh Hashanah

18:  Ganesh Chaturthi

18:  International Equal Pay Day

21: Mabon, first day of fall and celebration of the vernal equinox

22:  U.S. Native American Day

24-25 (sundown to sundown):  Yom Kippur

26-27:  Mawlid Al-Nabi

27:  Meskel (Ethiopian Orthodox and Eritrean Orthodox)

28: Eid Milad un-Nabi

29:  Michaelmas, or the Feast of Michael and All Angels

29–October 6:  Sukkot

Community Corner

Big Kahuna golfers and swimmers
  • The Big Kahuna event last month raised approximately $50,000 for Tudor House and the Louis Tudor Memorial Scholarship. The two-day event included 64 golfers and 158 swimmers. VTCSOM was one of the Gold Level sponsors, and we had a golf foursome and a swim team made up of M2 students.
  • The annual Star Trek, a Welcome-to-Roanoke event sponsored by Radford University Carilion (RUC) brought together incoming students from RUC, VTCSOM, the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute, and the Translational Biology, Biology, Medicine, and Health program. 
  • Refugee Oral Health Day –Thank you to Bradley Free Clinic to prepare for the supplements, food, paperwork, check-in patients, and arranging follow-up treatments. Commonwealth Catholic Charities set up the checkup station, and arranged advertisement, transportation, and interpretation services. Even without asking, four dental care providers from Carilion Clinic Dental Care joined the event to see patients and mentor our medical students, who played an important role in the oral health exams.


Alumni Notes

Hokies in Healthcare logo

Our Hokies in Health Care initiative is heading to Richmond and Charlottesville. We are working to connect our VTCSOM alums with VT undergraduate alums who work in health care fields. It's an opportunity to network with other Hokies and Hokie friends as well as hear from VTCSOM Dean Lee Learman who will provide an overview of the medical school and where we're headed.

Join us for a casual evening of dinner and drinks. Register using the links below. And feel free to invite other Hokies!

Wednesday, September 27
5:30pm - 8pm
Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurants
Register Here

Thursday, September 28
6pm - 8pm
The Local
Register Here

Spotlight On Giving

GWIMS Zoom meeting

The leadership of VTCSOM's Group on Women in Medicine and Science (GWIMS) took time to chat recently with Dolores Stolte, the benefactor of the Cecil William Stolte and Dolores Ann Reith Stolte Fund for Women in Medicine and Science. This generous gift was made in 2019 and works to provide funding for GWIMS programming. Mrs. Stolte lives in Kansas City, KS, and stays connected with the group's work through email and zoom. Students including Uma Kelavkar, president; Hannah Karp, chair of academic programming; Rishitha Anumola, chair of community outreach; and Juliet Suen, chair of interprofessionalism and networking. They spent time talking about their backgrounds, their medical school career, and how GWIMS impacts their experience. Rebecca Pauly, vice dean, and Tarin Schmidt-Dalton, associate dean for clinical science and skills, years 1 and 2, advised the group and joined with Alicia Besenyei, assistant dean for advancement, in thanking Mrs. Stolte.

Humanism Notes

Divisions in our society are not new, and over the years they have inspired authors to suggest solutions. Nixon Waterman was a newspaper writer, poet and Chautauqua lecturer who rose to prominence in the late 19th century. As true today as it was over a century ago, this poem speaks about building bridges to understand the “why” of things as a key to opening our hearts.

Take Note

Family Picnic

It's that time of year to shine a spotlight on excellence and dedication with the Dr. Daniel P. Harrington Award for Administrative Excellence. As we pay tribute to Dr. Harrington’s legacy of leadership at the school, please help us honor one of our current outstanding individuals. Your nominations are vital in identifying an employee who consistently goes above and beyond their job duties, supporting our school, our students and embodying the spirit of VTCSOM.

Dani Backus, Senior Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Accreditation, was the inaugural recipient of the Harrington Award last year. Nominations are open until September 15, 2023.

Mark your calendars for the VTCSOM Fall Employee Picnic on September 30, 2023, where the award will be presented. Your participation is key to making this celebration of excellence truly special.

Nomination Form

The Last Note

Roger Luong Smiling

Who says medical students are too serious? Obviously, something tickled the funny bone of second-year student Roger Luong during a recent photo shoot. Keep smiling Roger. We’re all smiling with you!