Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Medical Students Named to Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society

Earlier this year, 12 senior medical students at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine were named to the USA chapter of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.

The following students were selected: Aaron Coleman, William Cutchen, Ryan Dewitz, Brandon Finnorn, Michael Hamer, Michael “Wesley” Honeycutt, Madelyn King, Caitlin Marshall, Patrick O’Brien, Richard Pearlman, Gavin Reed and Katherine Richards.

Alpha Omega Alpha, a professional medical organization, recognizes and advocates for excellence in scholarship and the highest ideals in the profession of medicine. Members have a compelling drive to do well and to advance the medical profession and exemplify the highest standards of professionalism.

According to Dr. Kelly Roveda, assistant professor of pathology at the USA College of Medicine and USA AOA chapter councilor, election and membership in Alpha Omega Alpha signifies commitment to not only scholarship but also leadership, professionalism and service.

“The national organization recognizes leaders in medicine and bestows awards to those with best practices in medical professionalism education as well as those who excel in service learning. Additionally, AOA sponsors poetry and student essay competitions with awards and publications,” Dr. Roveda said. “Membership brings with it a lifelong commitment to excellence throughout the practice of medicine and medical education.”

The top 25 percent of a medical school class is eligible for nomination to the society, and up to 16 percent may be elected based on leadership, character, community service and professionalism.

Members may also be elected by chapters after demonstrating scholarly achievement and professional contributions and values during their careers in medicine.

The AOA motto is “Be Worthy to Serve the Suffering.” To learn more, visit

Brian Norris Named Assistant Administrator for USA Health

The University of South Alabama Health System is pleased to announce the addition of Brian Norris as an assistant administrator who will be responsible for departments including surgery, operating rooms, anesthesia, surgical clinics, as well as orthopedics and pediatric surgery clinics at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital and USA Medical Center.

Norris was most recently a regional vice president of operations at Premier Anesthesia and Jackson Healthcare in Alpharetta, Ga. He has 20 years of executive level experience in healthcare settings including a previous leadership position at Providence Hospital in Mobile.

Norris received a bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Mobile. He earned a master’s degree in ethics/bioethics from Spring Hill College.

Norris is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and the American College of Medical Practice Executives. Active in the community, he served on the Board of Directors of Montgomery Dragon Boats and Rebuilding Together Central Alabama.

He and his wife, Emily, have four children. They recently returned to Coastal Alabama and have settled in Fairhope.

Autism Researchers Seek Children Unaffected by Autism for Study Looking at Potential Factors that May Lead to Autism Diagnosis

Dr. Hanes Swingle, professor of pediatrics at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, gives patient Michael Shaw a high five during an appointment Dec. 7, 2015, at the USA Autism Diagnostic Clinic.
Researchers at the University of South Alabama Department of Pediatrics and Division of Clinical and Translational Sciences in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston have developed a clinical study examining a potential connection between human exposure to environmental toxins and the incidence of autism spectrum disorder in children.

The importance of this research is underscored by the fact that the cause of autism spectrum disorder is not well understood,” explained Dr. Swingle, who is director of the USA Autism Diagnostic Clinic with USA Physicians Group and the principal investigator for the study site in Mobile. “Most experts agree that autism is caused by several factors or develops when a combination of factors exists.”

“In this study, we will closely look at two potential links in autism - genetics and the toxins we encounter in our environment as well as their relationship with one another,” Dr. Swingle explained.

According to Dr. Swingle, the project involves two study groups – a study group of children impacted by autism spectrum disorder and a second control group of typically developing children without autism.  “We have successfully recruited our study group who have autism and now are recruiting participants who do not have autism,” Dr Swingle said.

Researchers are seeking volunteers from the Mobile area to participate in this clinical research project. Study participants must be between the ages of 2 and 8 years old and have parental consent to participate. The study involves completing a questionnaire, a physical assessment and lab tests.

“Autism spectrum disorder is a complex neurodevelopment disorder that is usually diagnosed in early childhood,” explained Dr. Swingle.  “It affects language development, communication, imagination, cognition and social interactions.”

To learn more about participating in this clinical research project, call (251) 415-8577.