Thursday, August 3, 2017

USA’s Family Medicine Interest Group Recognized for Excellence

From left: Dr. Marirose Trimmier, Kirasten Brasfield, Alexandra Van Haneghan, Lauren Smith, Kaitlyn Littleton, Connor Kimbrell, Yasmine Strickland, James Burke, Elisabeth Potts, Dr. Ehab Molokhia, Jazmin Scott, C.C. Linder, William Crittenden, Amy Traylor.
The University of South Alabama College of Medicine Family Medicine Interest Group (FMIG) recently received the 2017 Program of Excellence Award from the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) at the AAFP National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students in Kansas City.

This year, the AAFP presented 17 medical schools with FMIG Program of Excellence Awards in recognition of their outstanding activities in generating interest in family medicine. The USA College of Medicine FMIG received a categorical award for their excellence in collaboration.

“The interest group has done a great job staying active and increasing awareness about family medicine. This award is a reflection of their hard work and dedication,” said Dr. Carol Motley, associate professor of family medicine at the USA College of Medicine and a family medicine physician with USA Health.

According to Charlotte Linder, a third-year student at the USA College of Medicine and last year’s president of FMIG, the interest group has hosted workshops, participated in competitions and enforced outreach programs to educate medical students about the vast career options available in family medicine.

Linder, who also serves as president of the student chapter of the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians, said the interest group’s collaboration with the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine played a huge part in winning the program of excellence award.

Linder said the USA College of Medicine opened the FMIG to 60 osteopathic students in Mobile. “The outreach initiative to include local osteopathic students in our FMIG came about because I wanted to help encourage all students who had an interest in family medicine,” she said. “Osteopathic schools typically have a high number of students who go into family medicine and primary care. Unfortunately, FMIGs are not as popular at osteopathic schools, and students often miss out on a lot of opportunities.”

The group also collaborated with other interest groups to help sponsor the annual Gumbo Chili Showdown. The event is in honor of Regan Robinson Young, a student at the USA College of Medicine who passed away a few months before graduation.

“Regan hoped to become a family physician and was even accepted into the USA family medicine residency program, so we thought this was the perfect event to participate in,” Linder said. “Connor Kimbrell, a third-year medical student at the USA College of Medicine, was instrumental in helping FMIG participate in such a meaningful contest. This event goes toward a good cause while also providing a casual environment for FMIG members to interact with other students, interest groups, and the faculty advisor.”

Elisabeth Potts, a second-year student at the USA College of Medicine, recently was appointed president of FMIG. “I was honored to be a part of the group representing the USA College of Medicine’s FMIG at this year’s national conference,” she said. “Last year’s FMIG officers were passionate about family medicine, and their hard work has earned our group this distinction.”

Potts said she is excited to fulfill her role as president. “I am proud of the accomplishments our FMIG has achieved over the past year, and I am excited to work with this year’s FMIG officers to continue the precedent that has been set,” she said.

FMIGs are medical-school sponsored, student- and faculty-run organizations that give medical students a chance to learn more about family medicine through regular meetings, workshops, leadership development opportunities, and community and clinical experiences.

The mission of the USA College of Medicine FMIG is to provide students with a complete knowledge of family medicine and encourage it as career path while providing opportunities to enhance student’s technical skills and contact with patients.

To join FMIG, contact Charlotte C.C. Linder at or to learn more about the FMIG at the USA College of Medicine, click here.

44th Research Day Features Keynote Speaker, Medical Student Presentations

Malik McMullin explains his research to Dr. Steve Lim during the University of South Alabama College of Medicine 44th Summer Medical Student Research Day.
The University of South Alabama College of Medicine’s 44th annual Medical Student Research Day took place July 28, 2017, in the Medical Sciences Building.

The event featured Dr. Betty Diamond, investigator and head of the Autoimmune and Musculoskeletal Disease Center at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y. Dr. Diamond presented the keynote lecture titled “Antibodies and The Brain: An Expanding Universe.”

The USA College of Medicine’s Summer Research Program is a nine-week program that pairs medical students with faculty mentors. At this year’s Research Day, there were eight oral presentations and 55 poster presentations.

Through the research program, medical students develop an appreciation of how research contributes to the knowledge and practice of medicine. Accepted entering students or rising second-year students in the USA College of Medicine are eligible. The summer experience includes hands-on research related to basic science and/or clinical medicine; a seminar program that focuses on various scientific and clinical topics; and student presentations at Research Day.

Winners of the Clyde G. ‘Sid’ Huggins Medical Student Research Awards, honoring the memory of Dr. Huggins, will be announced in the upcoming weeks.

Click here to view the students' research abstracts. More photos from the event can be found here.

USA Medicine Magazine Mailing Now

Check your mailbox for the Summer 2017 issue of USA MEDICINE magazine, which features articles relating to the University of South Alabama College of Medicine.

This issue includes stories of the character and kindness of medical students, the success of alumni, and the commitment faculty members have made to medical excellence.

The magazine can be viewed online here. To request more copies of the magazine, email

Dr. Michael Francis Awarded NIH Research Grant

University of South Alabama College of Medicine alum Dr. Michael Francis recently was appointed assistant professor of physiology and cell biology at the USA College of Medicine and was awarded a five-year $797,740 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the function of blood vessels.

“Michael brings expertise in mathematics, biophysics and modeling of physiological processes to our faculty,” said Dr. Troy Stevens, director of the USA Center for Lung Biology and Lenoir Louise Locke Chair of Physiology and Cell Biology at the USA College of Medicine. “He is recently funded by the NIH to study how vascular remodeling in the lung circulation impacts blood flow pattering, and beyond his own work, Michael is a terrific collaborator for the College of Medicine faculty.”

The NIH Mentored Quantitative Research Career Development Award, or K25 grant, provides support to investigators with quantitative scientific or engineering backgrounds who have made a commitment to focus their research endeavors on behavioral and biomedical research.

“The recent K25 grant has enabled me to investigate the progression of the rare and deadly vascular disease, pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), with the aim of understanding how critical determinants of the disease interact with blood flow,” Dr. Francis said.

Dr. Francis’s research aims to explain the link between TRPC4-dependent endothelial calcium signaling and survival in PAH, which is characterized by chronically elevated pulmonary arterial pressure.

According to Dr. Francis, there is currently no cure for PAH and the high morbidity and mortality rate provides an impetus to determine the mechanisms that underlie the disease’s progression. His work has aided in the discovery that rodent models genetically lacking TRPC-4, a calcium-permeable channel, exhibit a survival benefit in PAH.

“This work will lead to new diagnostic and therapeutic protocols for PAH, which will be integrated into our current clinical knowledge,” Dr. Francis said. “Additionally, this grant will fund the development of new computational tools for the analysis of biological data that are unique to the USA College of Medicine.”

Dr. Francis said the grant is important because it will fund a collaborative investigation into PAH for the next five years, which will answer key questions about the molecular drivers for the disease and could lead to new therapeutic breakthroughs. “It also enables my lab to develop new computational technologies for cell signal analysis, vascular imaging, mathematical modeling and genomics analysis,” he said.

According to Dr. Stevens, Dr. Francis completed his specialty postdoctoral training in the USA Center for Lung Biology before earning his independent funding from the NIH. “Michael has extensive mentoring experience with high school, undergraduate, medical and graduate students, and he loves to teach,” he said. “He will be a great addition to our expanding academic programs.”

Dr. Francis earned his Ph.D. and completed his postdoctoral training at the USA College of Medicine.

Monday, July 31, 2017

August Med School Café - Chest Wall Deformities

The August Med School Café lecture will feature Dr. Charles Hartin, associate professor of surgery at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and a pediatric surgeon with USA Physicians Group.

His lecture, titled “Pigeon Chest and Caved-in Chest," will be held on Aug. 11, 2017, at the USA Strada Patient Care Center Conference Room on the first floor. Lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m., and the presentation begins at noon.

Dr. Hartin will discuss the diagnosis, complications and treatment of pectus excavatum, a congenital chest wall deformity in which several ribs and the sternum grow abnormally, causing the appearance of a caved in-chest, and pectus carinatum, a deformity of the chest characterized by a protrusion of the sternum and ribs.

Dr. Hartin earned his medical degree from USA. He completed internship training in general surgery at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine in Roanoke, Va., and completed residency training in general surgery at the Baylor School of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Dr. Hartin completed research fellowship training in pediatric surgery at Women & Children’s Hospital Buffalo in Buffalo, N.Y., and fellowship training in pediatric surgery at the Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. Hartin is a member of the American College of Surgeons, American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Pediatric Surgical Association.

The Med School Café lecture and lunch are provided free of charge, but reservations are required. For more information or to make reservations, call Kim Partridge at (251) 460-7770 or e-mail