Wednesday, June 20, 2018

USA Health Hosts Appreciation Social for Providers

USA Health hosted a social event on June 14 as a way of saying "thank you" to all of its providers. One hundred fifty people attended the Low-Country Boil at Bluegill Restaurant.

"We hope this becomes an annual event as a way to reconnect with everyone outside of the office and hospital setting," said Ashton Hennig, manager of outreach and special projects for USA Health.

Check out more photos from the event on Flickr.

USA College of Medicine Welcomes Back Dr. Antonio Pacheco

Dr. Antonio Pacheco recently was appointed assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine. Dr. Pacheco is also an emergency room physician at USA Medical Center and USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital.

Dr. Pacheco received his medical degree from the University of East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, Philippines. He completed his residency at the University of Tennessee in Memphis.

During his career, Dr. Pacheco has received multiple awards including the Honored Faculty award with USA College of Medicine. He also received Resident of the Year Award and Chief Resident Award from the University of Tennessee.

USA Welcomes New Physician-Scientist

Dr. Ji Young Lee recently was appointed assistant professor of physiology and cell biology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine. She also serves as assistant professor of internal medicine at the USA College of Medicine and as a pulmonary and critical care physician with USA Health.

Dr. Lee earned her medical degree from Pusan National University in Pusan, South Korea. After completing an internship at Daedong Hospital in Pusan, South Korea, she moved to New York and finished her residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in Bronx, N.Y. Dr. Lee received her Ph.D. in molecular medicine from Elmezzi Graduate School of Molecular Medicine in Manhasset, N.Y.

She then completed her fellowship training in pulmonary and critical care medicine and completed her postdoctoral research in lung biology at USA, where she focused her research on investigating fundamental mechanisms of pulmonary endothelial cell heterogeneity.

“Being a physician-scientist motivates me to look for potential research questions at the bedside and guides me to refine my bench research for efficient translation back to bedside,” Dr. Lee said.

Dr. Lee currently is doing translational research on the effect of acidosis on pulmonary endothelial cells in the context of pathologic conditions, such as infection and hypoxia. She looks forward to facilitating collaborative research between scientific and clinical departments, and to passing down the great teaching and support from her mentors at USA to students.

Friday, June 15, 2018

USA Mobile Diagnostic Center Diabetes Education Program Merits ADA Recognition

The USA Mobile Diagnostic Center diabetes self-management education program has been awarded continued recognition from the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The program offers outstanding education services to patients living with diabetes and their families.

“Our mission is to ensure that every individual with diabetes, or at risk for diabetes, receives the best possible care,” said Phyllus Justice, diabetes resource coordinator for USA Mobile Diagnostic Center. “Our approach offers an experienced, patient-focused team of doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, dietitians and certified diabetes educators to achieve positive outcomes for our patients and the community.”

According to Justice, self-management education is an essential component of diabetes treatment. “Diabetes is a condition that is largely self-managed with approximately 99 percent of care becoming the responsibility of the patients and those involved in the daily management,” she said.

One benefit of compliance with the national standards is greater consistency in the quality and quantity of education offered to people with diabetes. The patients in an ADA-recognized program are taught self-care skills that will promote better management of his or her diabetes treatment regimen. “In the recent past, research has shown that patients who have a full diabetes care team have improved knowledge and self-care behaviors, lower A1c, lower weight, improved quality of life, reduced all-cause mortality risk, healthy coping, reduced health care costs and better outcomes,” Justice added.

All approved education programs cover the following topics as needed: diabetes overview; nutritional management; physical activity; medications; monitoring; preventing, detecting, and treating acute complications; preventing, detecting and treating chronic complications through risk reduction; goal setting and problem solving; psychological adjustment; and preconception care, management during pregnancy and gestational management.

Assuring high-quality education for patient self-care is one of the primary goals of the Education Recognition program. Through the support of the health care team and increased knowledge and awareness of diabetes, the patient can assume a major part of the responsibility for his or her diabetes management. Unnecessary hospital admissions and some of the acute and chronic complications of diabetes may be prevented through self-management education.

Justice said the target of diabetes education recently has grown to include individuals with pre-diabetes for the purpose of preventing progression to Type 2 diabetes. “Pre-diabetes is a condition of elevated glucose, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes,” she said. “It is clear that the onset of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or significantly delayed, with the most impressive results for doing so coming from lifestyle changes rather than pharmacologic intervention.”

Founded in 1986, the ADA Education Recognition effort is a voluntary process which assures that approved education programs have met the National Standard for Diabetes Self-Management Education Programs. Programs that achieve recognition status have a staff of knowledgeable health professionals who can provide state-of-the-art information about diabetes management for participants.

For more information, contact USA Mobile Diagnostic Clinic at (251) 633-8880.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

USA Welcomes Dr. Ralph Lee Irvin

Dr. Ralph Lee Irvin recently joined the University of South Alabama as a pain management physician with USA Physicians Group.

Dr. Irvin received his medical degree from the USA College of Medicine. He completed his residency training in anesthesiology with the Medical University of South Carolina and served as chief resident. Prior to his position at USA, he was in private practice in Mobile since 1983.

He is a member of the Medical Society of Mobile County, Medical Association of the State of Alabama, North American Neuromodulation Society, the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, and the Society of Pain Practice Management. He is also a diplomate with the American Board of Anesthesiology.

He was the 2018 recipient of the Samuel Buford Word Award, the highest honor given by the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, in recognition of service to humanity beyond the usual scope of medical practice.

Dr. Irvin sees patients at the Strada Patient Care Center. To make an appointment, call (251) 665-8200.

Pediatrics Hosting Grand Rounds June 15

Dr. Frederick Goldman, professor of pediatric hematology oncology and director of the Lowder & Bone Marrow Transplant Program at the University of Alabama, will present "Sickle Cell Disease: Innovative and Curative Therapies" for June's pediatric grand rounds.

The lecture is set for 8 a.m. June 15 in the conference room on the first floor of the Strada Patient Care Center.

Dr. Goldman will discuss common presentations and pathogenesis of sickle cell disease, as well as gene therapy and bone marrow transplantation as it relates to the disease.

The event is open to USA faculty, staff and students. A light breakfast, coffee and beverages will be provided.

For more information, contact Dr. Haidee Custodio at or (251) 405-5126.

USA Medical Alumni Association Hosts 2018 Reunion Weekend

The University of South Alabama Medical Alumni Association hosted its annual Alumni Reunion Weekend June 8-10, 2018, in Pensacola Beach, Fla.

The event gave USA medical alumni a chance to reconnect with classmates, colleagues and faculty, as well as the opportunity to earn Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits. This year's reunion honored the classes of 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003, 2008 and 2013.

Professor and chair of pediatrics at the USA College of Medicine, Dr. David Gremse (COM '83) received the 2018 Distinguished Medical Alumni Award.

Numerous USA alumni and faculty members presented during the weekend.

On Friday, Dr. Gordon Deen (COM '78) presented "Spine Surgery in the Year 2050: Will it be Done by Robots?"; Dr. Gremse presented "Recent Developments in Brief: Resolved Unexplained Events in Infants"; Dr. Edward Panacek (COM '78), professor and chair of emergency medicine at the USA College of Medicine, presented "Sepsis in the Time of CMS"; and Dr. John Sinnot (COM '78) presented "Art and Medicine: Diagnosing the Canvas."

On Saturday, Dr. Lisa Spiryda, professor and chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the USA College of Medicine, presented "Pap Tests, HPV and Cervical Cancer Screening: Are the Current Recommendations Being Dictated by Insurance Companies or Evidence-Based Medicine?"; Dr. Russell Goode (COM '10) presented "Hip Fractures: The Geriatric Game-changer"; and Dr. Franklin Trimm, associate dean for diversity and inclusion at the USA College of Medicine and assistant vice president for medical affairs at USA Health, presented "Why Diversity Matters in Healthcare"; Dr. Druhan Howell (COM '03) presented "Mythbusters: Allergy Edition"; and Dr. Mike Hennigan (COM '82) presented "Diabetes for the 21st Century: Technology, Medication, and Mentoring."

On Sunday, Dr. Sabrina Bessette (COM '03), assistant professor of internal medicine at the USA College of Medicine, presented "Primary Care and Chronic Kidney Disease"; and Dr. Natalie Fox, director of nursing for USA Physicians Group, presented "Implementing Team-Based Care to Achieve the Quadruple Aim - Improved Patient Care, Better Outcomes, Lower Cost and Clinician Wellness."

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Winners Announced at M3 Case Report Symposium

The USA College of Medicine class of 2019 participates in the M3 Case Report Symposium.
The University of South Alabama College of Medicine held its annual M3 Case Report Symposium June 7, 2018, at the Strada Patient Care Center.

The symposium provided rising fourth-year medical students the opportunity to present novel, rare or meaningful case studies observed during their third-year rotations to faculty, residents and peers in the form of poster presentations. The symposium also gave students the opportunity to showcase independent projects.

This year's winners were:
  • 1st place - Jonathon Whitehead and William Teachey: "Humeroulnar Gap (HUG) Sign of Pediatric Olecranon Osteochondral Flap Fracture"
  • 2nd place - William Gambla: "Bartonella henselae Neuroretinitis"
  • 3rd place - Kristen Smith: "A Case of Successful VBAC After Unknown Uterine Incision"
The case reports were judged based on originality, strength of conclusions, quality of references, overall appearance, organization and topic. Judges for the symposium were Dr. Anne-Marie Kaulfers, associate professor of endocrinology; Dr. J. Spencer Liles, assistant professor of surgery; and Dr. Charles Harmon, assistant professor of neonatology.

Medical student organizers of the event were Audrey Murphy, Matthew Robson and Kristen Smith.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Second Annual Resident and Fellow Exposition Winners Announced

Dr. Chaowapong Jarasvaraparn, a pediatric resident physician at the University of South Alabama, presents his research to Dr. Elizabeth Minto, assistant professor of neurology.
The Graduate Medical Education Committee at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine recently hosted the 2nd annual Resident and Fellow Exposition, providing an opportunity for residents and fellows to display their scholarly activities in the form of posters.

The competition, which drew 36 entries, was scored by a panel of judges including Dr. David Gremse, professor and chair of pediatrics at the USA College of Medicine and a pediatric gastroenterologist with USA Physicians Group; Christina Clark, clinical project leader for the transforming clinical practice initiative for USA Physicians Group; Dr. Mike Finan, director of USA Mitchell Cancer Institute; Dr. Mark Taylor, associate professor of physiology and cell biology at the USA College of Medicine; Dr. Suneet Dullet, assistant professor of internal medicine at the USA College of Medicine and an internal medicine physician with USA Physicians Group; Dr. Elliot Carter, professor and interim co-chair of pathology at the USA College of Medicine; and Dr. Susan LeDoux, associate dean for medical education and student affairs at the USA College of Medicine.

The panel of judges selected the top posters from two competitive categories based on the appearance of the poster, originality of the project, effective presentation of content, quality of the content and interviews with the presenters.

The goal of the scientific posters was to increase understanding of a disease, improve the diagnosis or treatment of a disease, contribute to improving processes that promote health and patient outcomes, increase patient safety, or improve utilization of resources.

Dr. Majel Purvis, a general surgery resident with USA Health, received the Clinical and Translational Research award for her project, “Overutilization of Helicopter EMS in the Central Gulf Coast Region.” Dr. Jon Simmons, associate professor of surgery at the USA College of Medicine and a trauma and critical care surgeon with USA Health, served as her mentor for the project.

The quality improvement and patient safety awards were given to family medicine residents Dr. Zachary Logan and Dr. Rebecca Sollie. Since USA Health has adopted the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle format for improvement projects, posters in the improvement category should demonstrate the use of this quality improvement tool, including the project's aim statement, the planned intervention, the metrics used in data collection during the project, the outcome analysis, and the actions implemented as a result of the project.

Dr. Ehab Molokhia, professor of family medicine and a family medicine physician with USA Physicians Group, served as the mentor for Dr. Logan’s project titled, “Improving Pediatric Asthma Classification in a Primary Care Setting” Dr. Ashleigh Butts-Wilkerson, assistant professor of family medicine and family medicine physician with USA Physicians Group, served as the mentor for Dr. Sollie’s project titled, “Decreasing Missed Opportunities for HPV Immunization.”

The expo also featured nine case-based clinical vignettes, which presented a classic example of unusual process or an unusual presentation of a common condition. These posters were displayed during the expo, but were not part of the poster competition.

View more photos of the 2nd annual Resident and Fellow Exposition here.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Family Medicine Moves to Strada Patient Care Center

The USA Family Medicine Center moved to the Strada Patient Care Center over the weekend and began seeing patients on Monday. Family medicine joins more than 100 multi-specialty services available at the Strada Patient Care Center.

"The new location will enhance our goal of building a work culture of efficiency," said Anthony Beck, director of operations for family medicine. "This includes overall clinic workflow, improving our patients' access, and elevating the total patient experience from start to finish."

Beck said the move from USA's Springhill Avenue Campus to the new location on the second floor of the Strada Patient Care Center would not have been possible without the hard work of everyone in family medicine. "The staff is still adjusting to our new space, but so far the atmosphere has been very positive," he said. "This is credit to the great group of clerks, clinicians, and providers we have -- true professionals."

Upgrades to the phone system and fax servers, as well as the ability to run phone time reports, are significant advantages of the new space, Beck said.

The appointment line remains the same. To make an appointment, call (251) 434-3475.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

USA Physicians Group Hosts First Aid Tent at 2018 Grandman Triathlon

USA Physicians Group recently provided racers with medical support at a first aid tent during the 14th annual Publix Grandman Triathlon in Fairhope, Ala.

Dr. Natalie Fox, director of nursing for USA Physicians Group – along with orthopaedic surgeons Dr. Christopher Jones, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at the USA College of Medicine; and Dr. Mark Perry, professor of orthopaedic surgery at the USA College of Medicine – volunteered at the tent. Howard Holcomb, assistant administrator for USA Physicians Group, also attended the event.

This year, more than 700 participants attended the race, which began by jumping off of Fairhope Pier and swimming one-third of a mile into Mobile Bay. Following the swim, racers biked 18.6 miles through Fairhope and completed a 3.1 mile run. “We saw injuries such as bike falls and heat exhaustion,” Dr. Fox said. “We we were able to make a meaningful impact and help several racers in need of medical assistance.”

Dr. Fox stresses the importance for both physicians and nurses to use their talents and give back to the community. “Fulfilling the mission of USA Health to help people lead longer, better lives doesn’t end after you leave the hospital or clinic,” she said. “In order to effectively live out our mission we must also be active in the community.”

In its 14th year, The Grandman has become one of Fairhope’s premier annual events, attracting individual and team racers of all ages and skill levels from around the Southeast and beyond. Learn more about the Grandman Triathlon here.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Mark Your Calendar: 3rd Annual Project TIPP Autism Conference

The University of South Alabama Regional Autism Network and USA's Project TIPP (Team-based Interprofessional Personnel Preparation) are co-sponsoring the 3rd annual Project TIPP Autism Conference. The one-day workshop is set for 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. June 8, in the USA Student Center Ballroom.

Regional experts from multiple perspectives will present evidence-based strategies for supporting individuals with autism. Dr. Stephanie Anderson, autism specialist with USA Physicians Group, will present "Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder." Dr. Donna Wooster, chair and associate professor of occupational therapy at USA, and Dr. Brenda Beverly, associate professor of speech-language pathology at USA, will present "EBP Resources Applied in Interprofessional Teams."

Participants may earn up to 6.5 continuing education hours. The registration fee is $50, and registration is available online.

For more information, contact Dr. Donna Wooster at

Stacy Wagner Named Director of Operations for Obstetrics and Gynecology

Stacy Wagner recently was appointed director of operations for obstetrics and gynecology with USA Physicians Group.

In her new position, Wagner will coordinate and direct the administrative functions of the department including the supervision of staff, developing and monitoring of department policies and procedures, and assisting in the daily operations.

As a 20-year health care veteran with proven success in revenue growth, practice management, expense reduction and new facility build-out, Wagner said she is happy join USA. “I am eager to support the department of obstetrics and gynecology and help guide them as they continue on a path of success,” she said. “I am most looking forward to helping patients prepare for childbirth, improving prenatal education, and enhancing patient engagement by developing a centering program for our patients.”

Prior to joining USA, she served as director of operations at Diagnostic and Medical Clinic – Northside in Saraland, Ala.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Class of 2020 Medical Students to Receive White Coats June 16

The University of South Alabama College of Medicine will host its annual White Coat Ceremony at 10 a.m. June 16, 2018, at the USA Mitchell Center. During the ceremony, rising third-year medical students in the Class of 2020 will be cloaked with their white coats, the traditional dress of physicians for more than 100 years.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. John V. Marymont, vice president for medical affairs and dean of the USA College of Medicine.

Select students from the class of 2020, along with residents and faculty members, will be inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society during the ceremony. Inductees are selected by outgoing third-year medical students for practicing patient-centered medical care with altruism, integrity and compassion.

Each year, the USA Medical Alumni Association sponsors this event.

USA COM Scientists Awarded Notable $9.9 Million NIH Grant

Scientists at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine are searching for new therapies to treat lung vascular disease through improved understanding of lung cellular diversity. Their efforts were recently bolstered by a $9.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The continuation of this Program Project Grant (P01) from the NIH marks one of the largest competitive research grant awards in the history of USA.

Dr. Troy Stevens, Professor and Lenoir Louise Locke Chair of Physiology and Cell Biology at the USA College of Medicine and director of the USA Center for Lung Biology, serves as lead scientist on the project.

According to Dr. Stevens, endothelial cell dysfunction is a cardinal feature of pulmonary vascular disease, and while it is clear that the endothelium represents an attractive therapeutic target, it is also evident that a pan-endothelial approach will not be effective.

“Based upon a growing appreciation of the molecular diversity among endothelial cells in the arterial, capillary and venous lung vascular segments, our research seeks to identify molecular signatures that contribute to endothelial function within discrete vascular locations and understand how these molecules influence endothelial barrier function in the context of injury and repair,” he said. “Identification of novel segment-restricted molecular signatures represents putative therapeutic targets, especially in inflammatory lung disease.”

Each of the three projects in the competitive renewal is based on previous research at USA and either examines a novel molecular signature that has been identified within the lung capillary endothelium, contributes to this cell’s unique response to inflammation, or represents a novel therapeutic target for inflammatory lung disease.

“We have a proven track record of utilizing this model to translate novel findings into clinical practice,” Dr. Stevens said. “Historically, pulmonary endothelium was considered to be functionally homogeneous throughout the circulation. Work supported by this program project grant has revised this historic perception, advancing our understanding of the basic structure and function of arterial, capillary and vein endothelium.”

Pointing to the success demonstrated by work supported in this P01, research projects associated with earlier funding cycles has led to the formation of several startup companies, testing of new therapeutic approaches, and novel technological advances in medicine.

Exscien – developed by pulmonary scientist Dr. Mark Gillespie, professor and chair of pharmacology at the USA College of Medicine – is a company that was initially founded on the discovery of new drugs to repair DNA and prevent and reverse acute lung injury. These drugs were developed and tested as part of a project in the P01, and they represent efforts to translate new therapies for treatment of acute lung injury.

During the second funding cycle, Dr. Mary Townsley, senior associate dean at the USA College of Medicine, then collaborated with GlaxoSmithKline to test the efficacy of an orally active TRPV4 blocker in preclinical models of congestive heart failure. She discovered that TRPV4 activation increases lung capillary permeability, TRPV4 channels are highly expressed in lung capillary endothelium and their activation results in endothelial sloughing. Her research with TRPV4 represented the second translation of idea P01 to clinical practice.

Together, Dr. Silus Leavesley, associate professor of chemical and biomedical engineering at USA, and Dr. Tom Rich, associate professor of pharmacology at the USA College of Medicine, developed an excitation scanning-based HIFEX imaging system for clinical imaging, designed for detection of pathology-specific changes in the structure and molecular composition of tissues. “Based upon their pilot studies, they have developed a startup company, SpectraCyte, to implement and test hyperspectral imaging technologies in clinical endoscopy and bronchoscopy,” Dr. Stevens said. “Their work represents the third transition of ideas and technologies supported by the program project grant into clinical practice.”

As they move into the fourth funding cycle of the project, Dr. Stevens said the program will continue to advance the foundations of their knowledge on endothelial and vascular biology, translating meaningful scientific discoveries for clinical utility.

“Our program project grant team has developed major innovations for this competitive renewal, and incorporated the use of these innovations into each of the projects,” Dr. Stevens said. “A novel element of our program is how we implement and utilize scientific cores.”

Each core has both service and academic value, as they are used as innovation hubs for the betterment of program investigators and the broader scientific community. “For example, Core B isolates, cultures and distributes cells and performs bacterial inoculations for investigators upon request,” Dr. Stevens said. “Core B is developing the use of acellular lung scaffolds as a means to validate endothelial cell identity; and in this funding cycle, it will address the role that lung scaffold mechanical properties play in establishing cell phenotype specification.”

He credits the level of expertise at USA for helping the USA Center for Lung Biology compete on a national level. “Program Project Grants are reviewed differently than other grants; they require an outstanding scientific score but they also have to address important NIH-established scientific priorities,” he said. “All of our projects are scored on significance of the work, the quality of the investigator, the approach, the environment and how innovative the work is. The USA Center for Lung Biology has a history of success and has put together an infrastructure that produces a rich environment to conduct research.”

Dr. Stevens said the findings from the grant will positively impact researchers, physicians in training and patients alike. "The work that we are doing here is currently being taught to clinical trainees and graduate students, and it is being implemented into the current state of knowledge in medicine," he said. “This is just the beginning, and I am excited to see what the future holds.”

Program Project Grants provide support for integrated, multi-project research projects involving a number of independent investigators who share knowledge and common resources. Learn more about P01 grants here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

USA COM Welcomes Coordinator of Clinical Education for Student Affairs

Dorothy Howard recently was appointed coordinator of clinical education in the office of student affairs at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine.

In her new position, Howard will be helping medical school students’ transition from the classroom to the clinical learning environment, working with third-year medical students moving through rotations and coordinating visits with fourth-year medical students. “I am excited to be working in clinical education,” she said.

Howard will work with Karen Braswell in the student affairs office in the Mastin Building.

Prior to her appointment, she worked as a secretary at USA Mitchell Cancer Institute.

Monday, May 28, 2018

June Med School Café – ‘Stop the Bleed’

The June Med School Café lecture will feature Dr. Sidney Brevard, professor of surgery at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and a trauma and critical care surgeon with USA Health.

His lecture, titled ‘Stop the Bleed,’ will be held on June 15, 2018, 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.

At the lecture, Dr. Brevard will discuss the National Stop the Bleed Campaign, which helps average citizens learn how to control life-threatening bleeding until paramedics arrive.

Dr. Brevard earned his medical degree from the USA College of Medicine and completed his residency at Wilford Hall Medical Center USAF in San Antonio, Texas, and Louisiana State Health Science Center in Shreveport, La. He also completed his fellowship at Louisiana State Health Science Center.

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

Med School Café is a free community lecture series sponsored by USA Physicians Group. Each month, faculty from the USA College of Medicine share their expertise on a specific medical condition, providing insight on the latest treatment available.

The USA Strada Patient Care Center is located at 1601 Center St. in Mobile.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Hughes Named Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications

Lindsay Hughes recently was named assistant director of marketing and communications for the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and USA Physicians Group.

In her new role, she will write and edit articles for the Med School Watercooler, manage production of the USA Medicine Magazine, plan events, and assist with all marketing and communications efforts.

Hughes said she considers herself a storyteller foremost, and she is eager to tell the stories of USA Health. "I always seek to find purpose in my work and ask how it contributes to the greater good. Working here makes it easy to answers those questions," she said. "We always have wonderful news to share about our medical students, faculty, physicians, patients and staff."

Hughes received a bachelor's degree in communications from USA and a master's degree in English from Spring Hill College. While a student at South, she interned in the USA College of Medicine, "so returning to USA Health really is like coming home for me," she said.

Following graduation, she started her journalism career as a features reporter at The Mississippi Press. After her tenure at the newspaper, she spent 10 years at Spring Hill College as the associate director of communications and marketing, as well as editor of the Spring Hill College Magazine. Prior to this appointment, she served two years as the web manager for Today's Homeowner Media.

Med School Café – Expert Advice for the Community

Dr. Ashley Marass, pediatric nurse practitioner with USA Physicians Group, presented the May Med School Café lecture titled “Concussion Awareness Program: Putting a CAP on Concussions.”

During the talk, she discussed the education programs, background and future endeavors surrounding concussions.

Dr. Marass earned her master of nursing from Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., and her doctorate of nursing practice degree from Georgia State University in Atlanta.

Watch May Med School Café - Concussion Awareness Program: Putting a CAP on Concussions in its entirety on YouTube or view the video below.

USA Alumnus Named President-Elect of State Medical Association

Dr. John S. Meigs, University of South Alabama College of Medicine alumnus, recently was named president-elect of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama. Dr. Meigs also serves on the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners.

“The Association welcomes Dr. Meigs’ continued service on the Board of Censors as president-elect,” Executive Director Mark Jackson said. “His medical experience, as well as his civic-mindedness and sense of compassion brings a strong perspective to the board. It is a genuine pleasure to work with such a leader in the medical community.”

Dr. Meigs received his medical degree from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and completed his internship and residency training in family medicine with the University of Alabama at Birmingham Selma Family Practice Residency Program.

He is a diplomate with the American Board of Family Medicine. He is also a past president and former board chair of the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians; a fellow, former speaker, a past president and current board chair with the American Academy of Family Physicians; and member of the American Medical Association. With the Medical Association, Dr. Meigs has served as a delegate, counselor, life counselor, speaker of the House of Delegates, and on numerous committees.

In 2014, Dr. Meigs received the high honor of being elected to the Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame, which recognized those persons, living or deceased, who have made outstanding contributions to, or rendered exemplary service for health care in the State of Alabama.

Dedicated to giving back to his community, Dr. Meigs has served as a clinical professor at The University of Alabama College of Community and Health Science and a clinical professor at University of Alabama-Birmingham School of Medicine. Additionally, he was named 2004 Bibb County Citizen of the Year by the Kiwanis Club. He has also served as president of Distinguished Young Women of Bibb County, team physician for Bibb County High School, and a member of Brent Civitan Club.

Dr. Meigs has been a member of the Bibb County Medical Society and the Medical Association since 1982.

USA Medical Student Receives ASTRO Minority Summer Fellowship Award

Zachary White II, a rising second-year student at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, recently received the 2018 ASTRO Minority Summer Fellowship Award.

The purpose of the award is to promote radiation oncology as a career choice, as the fellowship provides medical students with an experience designed to expose them to clinical, basic and translational research questions in radiation oncology.

White is one of only two students across the country selected for this year’s award. This summer, he will complete eight weeks of basic sciences research and gain clinical exposure at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center Department of Radiation Oncology.

He will conduct his research under the direction of Dr. Markus Bredel, Professor and Sharon A. Spencer Distinguished Endowed Chair in Translational Radiation Oncology at the UAB School of Medicine, and Dr. Susan Nozell, associate professor of radiation oncology at the UAB School of Medicine.

His research project titled, “Impact of ANXA7 I1 Expression on PDGFRA and MET Endosomal Trafficking in Glioblastoma Multiforme,” focuses on Glioblastoma Multiforme – the most common and malignant brain tumor that is highly resistant to both radiation and chemotherapy treatment.

According to White, the tumor suppressor annexin A7 (ANXA7) is a membrane-binding protein that is alternatively spliced and expressed as two isoforms – I1 and I2 – with only I1 being tumor suppressive. “In glioblastoma, I1 is absent or low and I2 is found in abundance,” he said. “Signaling molecules such as EGFR, PDGFRA and MET are normally activated in cases where you may have a wound and your body needs to grow new cells in order to heal. However, these molecules are over-activated in cancers such as glioblastoma, which causes the cell to grow at an uncontrollable rate. By understanding how ANXA7 I1 impacts PDGFRA and MET signaling, we hope to improve therapy for patients with glioblastoma. When restored, ANXA7 I1 has the potential to downregulate the signals of tumor growth and reduce tumorigenicity.”

White credits his mother’s battle with cancer for inspiring him to pursue the field of radiation oncology, and applying for the ASTRO award. “As an aspiring physician, the thought of losing my mother to breast cancer and being unable to help her is a concept that I find difficult to accept,” he said. “Unfortunately, when I was in the third grade, this thought became a real threat. I experienced the stress of balancing my schoolwork, visiting the hospital as often as I could, and worrying whether my mom was going to live. After surgery, she underwent radiation followed by six months of intense chemotherapy and today she is a 16-year cancer survivor.”

White said one of his favorite aspects of radiation oncology is the opportunity to give compassionate medical care to cancer patients while working with the latest state-of-the-art medical technology. “I'm really grateful to be chosen for this award because it grants me the opportunity to continue doing research in radiation oncology and be able to interact with Dr. Bredel's patients in the clinic,” he said.

ASTRO is the premier radiation oncology society in the world, providing members with the continuing medical education, health policy analysis, patient information resources and advocacy that they need to succeed in today’s ever-changing health care delivery system.

To learn more about ASTRO, click here.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

USA Physicians Group Participates in Nurses Week

USA Physicians Group clinics recently celebrated Nurses Week, a national initiative led by the American Nurses Association to honor and celebrate the work of the nation’s registered nurses — the largest of the health care professions.

“In recognition of nurses week, the management staff at Stanton Road Clinic decided to purchase T-shirts for the staff to wear each Friday during May,” said Yolanda Todd, clinical nursing specialty supervisor at USA Stanton Road Clinic. “We have a great team of individuals who work hard on a daily basis to assist their patients, their families and our medical team. This T-shirt promotes the mission we have for our patients and staff, and shows the dedication that each staff member gives every day.”

Robin Geary, clinical nursing supervisor at USA Stanton Road Clinic, said she was excited to participate in nurses week. "Nurses pour their hearts into their work, selflessly caring for others without giving it a second thought,” she said. “They play a vital role in the health care industry, and it is important to let them know that their hard work, dedication and expertise are both appreciated and noticed.”

The theme for the week was "Nurses Rock," as several USA Physicians Group administrators served ice cream to the nurses in recognition of their hard work. At the ice cream socials, nurses were also able to participate in photo booths and enter door prizes while eating with colleagues.

"We had a great turnout from both our nurses and our administrators at our nurses week celebration," said Dr. Natalie Fox, director of nursing for USA Physicians Group. “I want each and every one of our nurses to know I appreciate everything they do to make a difference in the lives of our patients.”

Learn more about nurses week here.

Dr. Mike Lin Awarded $1M NIH Research Grant

Dr. Mike Lin, assistant professor of physiology and cell biology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, recently was awarded a $1 million four-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the link between hospital-acquired pneumonia and dementia.

According to Dr. Lin, patients in intensive care units are at an increased risk for developing long-term health threats, including cognitive impairment. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that about one in 25 hospital patients has at least one infection contracted during the course of their hospital stay,” he said. “Among the infections, bacterial pneumonia is the second most prevalent and is the most direly linked to outcomes.”

Testimonials, reviews and calls-to-action are on the rise on this Post Critical Care Syndrome, Dr. Lin said the causative mechanisms that lead to abrupt cognitive impairment cannot only be ascribed to age, gender, relative brain hypoxia, anesthetics and sedatives.

His study aims to gain insight on the mechanisms leading to abrupt cognitive impairment among patients in intensive care units.  “Despite advances in medicine that have significantly prolonged life expectancy, the disease associated neurodegeneration and dementia is increasingly worrisome,” Dr. Lin said.

According to 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, Dr. Lin’s research provides a novel therapeutic target to improve patient outcomes. “In the last ten plus years, it has become recognized that one of the major problems exhibited among patients who become critically ill is impairment in cognitive function,” he said. “Dr. Lin offers a previously unappreciated mechanism of disease in critically ill patients, as previous research has not linked infection-induced amyloids to the decline in cognitive function."

Aberrant protein aggregation is a known mechanism that links to several diseases affecting cognition, memory, neuromuscular and cardiovascular function. “This research addresses a novel mechanism underlying the end organ dysfunction that is evident during and in the aftermath of critical illness,” Dr. Lin said. “We found that patients in the ICU who contract nosocomial pneumonia have high levels of ‘toxins’ in their bodily fluids, compared to critically ill patients who do not have bacterial pneumonia.

Last year, Dr. Lin was among five other USA researchers who received the 2017 College of Medicine Faculty Intramural Grants Program Research Awards, which provided seed funding to support this project.

Dr. Lin credits institutional support and input from his collaborators for helping to secure his first R01 grant, including Drs. Troy Stevens, Ron Balczon, and Xiangming Zha of the University of South Alabama, Drs. Brant Wagener and Jean-Francois Pittet of The University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Dr. Jacob Raber of Oregon Health and Science University.  “Previous studies conducted at the USA Center for Lung Biology on Pseudomonas aeruginosa – a prevalent cause of nosocomial pneumonia – and key biological specimens provided by his collaborators, all played an instrumental role”, he said.

The Research Project Grant, or R01 grant, is the original and historically oldest grant mechanism used by NIH.  R01 provides support for health-related research and development based on the mission of the NIH. This is Dr. Lin’s first R01 grant, which follows up on an early stage R00 funding, also from the NIH.

MASA Honors USA College of Medicine Alumni

Dr. Irvin, left, and Dr. Furr were honored at MASA's annual meeting.
The Medical Association of the State of Alabama (MASA) recently recognized Dr. Ralph Lee Irvin Jr., and Dr. Steven P. Furr at the association’s annual meeting.

Dr. Ralph Lee Irvin Jr. is the 2018 recipient of the Samuel Buford Word Award, the highest honor given by the Medical Association of the State of Alabama. It is presented in recognition of service to humanity beyond the usual scope of medical practice.

Dr. Irvin, a board certified physician in anesthesiology and pain medicine, has been in private practice in Mobile since 1983. When the Medical Society of Mobile County began receiving hundreds of calls from patients who were left in need after the closing of a pain clinic, Dr. Irvin was willing to be placed at the top of the list as a resource. As one of the physicians in the area who could care for patients with pain pumps, he did not shy away from what became more than an ordinary challenge.

Over the course of a year and a half, he not only cared for his own patients but also the influx of several hundred more patients with pain pumps, while also working closely with the investigators with the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners to ensure the safety and health of the patients.

Dr. Irvin received his medical degree from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in 1980. He completed his residency in anesthesiology with the Medical University of South Carolina and served as chief resident.

He is a member of the Medical Society of Mobile County, Medical Association of the State of Alabama, North American Neuromodulation Society, the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, and the Society of Pain Practice Management. He is also a diplomat with the American Board of Anesthesiology.

Dr. Steven P. Furr is the 2018 recipient of the Paul W. Burleson Award, presented to a physician in recognition of a medical career that encompasses high ethical and professional standards in patient care, as well as extraordinary service to physician organizations at the county, state and national levels.

A family medicine physician based in Jackson, Ala., Dr. Furr earned his medical degree from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in 1981. He completed his residency training at the University of Alabama in Huntsville as part of the family practice program.

Dr. Furr was appointed to the University of South Alabama Board of Trustees in 2006 and has served as chair pro tempore. He served as founding chair of the USA Children's & Women's Hospital Development Council and on the USA 50th Anniversary Annual Fund Alumni Leadership Council. He was honored by the USA National Alumni Association in 2014 with a Distinguished Alumni Award. That same year, he spearheaded the creation of the USA Board of Trustees Endowed Scholarship Fund, which provides a scholarship to each incoming freshman class’s top academic performer.

A member of the Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame, Dr. Furr has served on numerous hospital committees and as president of the Clarke County Medical Society. Additionally, he has served on the board of directors of the Alabama State Committee of Public Health and the Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners. He is the current president of the Alabama Medical Directors Association as well as a Certified Medical Director.

A past chairman of the board and president of the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians, Dr. Furr was the first USA College of Medicine graduate to serve as president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama. He continues to serve as a delegate to the American Academy of Family Physicians Congress of Delegates as well as the American Medical Association House of Delegates.

Dr. Furr is an accomplished presenter, often lecturing on issues such as medical technology, licensure, ethics, leadership and pain management.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

M3 Case Report Symposium Set for June 7

Third-year medical students at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine will host the annual M3 Case Report Symposium at 3 p.m. June 7, 2018. The symposium will take place at the Strada Patient Care Center on the first floor and all faculty, staff, residents and students are invited to attend.

The symposium gives third-year medical students the opportunity to present a novel, rare or meaningful case report to faculty, residents and peers in the form of a poster presentation, thereby gaining scholarly experience useful for development as a physician-in-training.

Throughout their third year, medical students interact with patients as a member of the health care team. Some of the patients encountered will have a lasting impact on students and potentially affect career and specialty choices as future physicians.

For additional information contact Matthew Robson at

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Medical School Graduates Participate in Honors Convocation Ceremony

The University of South Alabama held commencement ceremonies on May 5, 2018. The 2018 College of Medicine graduates were among the students participating in commencement – marking the 43rd class to earn medical degrees from USA.

The day before, the medical school graduates participated in honors convocation where they were “hooded” by an individual of their choice, signifying the awarding of a doctoral-level degree. During the honors convocation ceremony, students were also recognized for their academic achievements.

“This is the beginning of a long journey, rather than an end to one,” said Dr. John V. Marymont, vice president for medical affairs and dean of the USA College of Medicine. “As you transition from a student to alum, you will join a group of accomplished, revered and respected physicians who have dedicated themselves to the care of others. I ask that you always give your patients your very best – drawing from both the foundation of knowledge you received here and the wisdom shared with you by our outstanding faculty.”

Click here to view all photos from this year’s events and here to see the award recipients.

USA Health joins NIH All of Us Research Program to advance precision medicine

Enrollment open nationwide for historic research effort

On May 6, the National Institutes of Health opened national enrollment for the All of Us Research Program — a momentous effort to advance individualized prevention, treatment and care for people of all backgrounds — in collaboration with USA Health and other partners. People over the age of 19 and older regardless of health status, are able to enroll.

The overall aim is to enroll 1 million or more volunteers and oversample communities that have been underrepresented in research to make the program the largest, most diverse resource of its kind.

“The time is now to transform how we conduct research—with participants as partners—to shed new light on how to stay healthy and manage disease in more personalized ways. This is what we can accomplish through All of Us,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.

Precision medicine is an emerging approach to disease treatment and prevention that considers differences in people’s lifestyles, environments and biological makeup, including genes. By partnering with 1 million diverse people who share information about themselves over many years, the All of Us Research Program will enable research to more precisely prevent and treat a variety of health conditions.

“All of us are unique, but today we live mostly in an era of ‘one-size-fits-all’ medicine,” said Eric Dishman, director of the All of Us Research Program. “I’m alive today because of precision medicine and I think everyone deserves that same opportunity no matter the color of your skin, your economic status, your age or your sex or gender. In other words, it will truly take all of us.”

All of Us seeks to transform the relationship between researchers and participants, bringing them together as partners to inform the program’s directions, goals and responsible return of research information. Participants will be able to access their own health information, summary data about the entire participant community and information about studies and findings that come from All of Us. 

“All of Us is an exciting endeavor that promises to bring about major changes in how we prevent and treat disease in America, and USA Health is proud to be part of this effort,” said Dr. Errol Crook, Professor and Abraham Mitchell Chair of Internal Medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine. “The program is building a data resource that will accelerate biomedical research for all Americans. We want participants to reflect the rich diversity of the United States. It’s important that groups underrepresented in biomedical research have an opportunity to contribute to and benefit from health studies.”

Participants are asked to share different types of health and lifestyle information, including through online surveys and electronic health records (EHRs), which will continue to be collected over the course of the program. At different times over the coming months and years, some participants will be asked to visit a local partner site to provide blood and urine samples and to have basic physical measurements taken, such as height and weight. To ensure that the program gathers information from all types of people, especially those who have been underrepresented in research, not everyone will be asked to give physical measures and samples. In the future, participants may be invited to share data through wearable devices and to join follow-up research studies, including clinical trials.

Also in future phases of the program, children will be able to enroll, and the program will add more data types, such as genetic data. In addition, data from the program will be broadly accessible for research purposes. Ultimately, the All of Us Research program will be a rich and open data resource for traditional academic researchers as well as citizen scientists—and everyone in between.

NIH has funded more than 100 organizations throughout the U.S. to be partners in the program, including USA Health.

To learn more about the program and how to join, please visit

“All of Us” is a registered service mark of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).

Dr. Chip Hartin Raising Funds for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Man of the Year Competition

Dr. Charles "Chip" Hartin, associate professor of surgery at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and pediatric surgeon with USA Physicians Group, was nominated by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) of South Alabama as 2018 Man of the Year.

Man and Woman of the Year is a philanthropic competition to support blood cancer research across the United States. Candidates form fundraising teams and compete in honor of two local children who are blood cancer survivors. The man and woman who have raised the most funds during the 10-week campaign are awarded the title of Man or Woman of the Year in their community.

"We are so close to having a cure for blood cancers and have made many advancements over the last few years," Dr. Hartin said. "Unfortunately, many times drug companies invest in research for treatment drugs rather than drugs that cure. I believe that enough children have lost a parent, and parents have lost enough children to this disease, that we have to end this."

This year the South Alabama chapter of LLS is raising money in honor of Hali Temple and Keaton Krebs, both of whom are receiving treatment for leukemia at USA Children's and Women's Hospital. Keaton was diagnosed in 2017 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He remains strong and plans to study to become an oncology nurse in the future. Hali was diagnosed in 2017 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She is now in remission and is planning to pursue a career as a physician when she grows up.

"Both of these children touched my life when they required my services as their surgeon and also touched the lives of many of the staff at Children's & Women's Hospital," Dr. Hartin said.

Dr. Hartin said his goal is to bring hope to and meet the financial needs of those in the community who are fighting blood cancer. “Each of us has the power to bring hope and light to families walking through the isolating and financially draining season that cancer causes,” he said.

The goal is personal for Dr. Hartin, as he lost his mother to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma when he was 11 years old.

"Had my mother not died of leukemia when I was 11, I would not be in Mobile and would not be a doctor," he said. "Having a career where I get paid to fix children and love every minute of it, I consider myself a winner already. Expanding further on this victory, I get to work alongside the brightest, most caring, and nation's best collection of pediatric specialists, hospital staff and nurse practitioners."

If his team raises $50,000, the LLS will fund and name a research project after his mother, Robajeen Richardson Hartin. "This would be a special honor for our family and another example of something positive being born of a tragic event," he said.

To donate or find other ways to get involved, visit Dr. Hartin’s Man of the Year fundraising page.

COM Alumni to Reunite at Annual Alumni Weekend

The University of South Alabama Medical Alumni Association will host its annual Medical Alumni Weekend June 8-10, at the Pensacola Beach Hilton in Pensacola, Fla. All alumni and their family members are invited to attend.

The event is a multi-day class reunion held every summer that reunites USA medical graduates on the Gulf Coast. It offers Continuing Medical Education (CME) accredited courses and an alumni dinner sponsored by the association. The classes of 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003, 2008 and 2013 will be honored at this year’s event.

If an attendee requires special accommodations or dietary considerations, contact the USA Office of Medical Alumni Relations by May 28, 2018 by email at For additional information, contact the Medical Alumni Office at (251) 460-6805 or click here.

Monday, May 7, 2018

USA Medical Students Present Research at MASA Annual Meeting

Mariah Sankey (left) and Perrin Windham, two rising fourth-year students at the USA College of Medicine, recently participated in the Medical Association of the State of Alabama 3rd annual Research Symposium in Montgomery, Ala. At the conference, Sankey received second place and Windham received third place for their poster presentations.
Four rising fourth-year students at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine recently participated in the Medical Association of the State of Alabama (MASA) 3rd annual Research Symposium in Montgomery, Ala.

The students – Mariah Sankey, Perrin Windham, Josh Kay and Lauren Chastian – were among the 39 students and residents chosen to present their research.

At the conference, Sankey received second place for her poster presentation titled “Value of CRP Monitoring in Detecting Clozapine-Induced Myocarditis.” Her research project examined the relationship between c-reactive protein (CRP) levels and impending myocarditis – an inflammatory process of the heart – among patients being treated with clozapine.

“Although clozapine is an efficient anti-psychotic drug used to treat patients with treatment refactory schizophrenia, it is highly underutilized due to the potential side effects of low blood cell counts and myocarditis,” Sankey said.

Sankey said an encounter with patient who was prescribed clozapin during her psychiatry rotation inspired her to conduct research on clozapine-induced myocarditis. “The progress made by the patient was remarkable. He was like night and day after we prescribed clozapine,” she said. “Unfortunately, due to signs and symptoms of myocarditis we discontinued the medication due to lack of resources being immediately available.”

According to Sankey, her overarching goal is to help mental health patients who cannot help themselves. “If there is more research done to establish protocols to detect clozapine-induced myocarditis, patients will have more access to the drug and doctors would feel more comfortable administering it.”

Windham received third place for her presentation on “The Significance of PKGIB in cGMP Induced Death of Breast Cancer Cells.”

She completed his research as part of the McNair Scholars Program while earning his undergraduate degree at the University of Montevallo. “I became interested in cancer at a young age, because my father passed away from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma when I was 8,” she said. “When I was presented the opportunity to conduct research during my undergraduate career, I knew I wanted it to relate to oncology.”

Windham conducted her research on breast cancer with Dr. Heather Tinsely, associate professor of biology at the University of Montevallo. Together, they studied PKG – a specific protein in the cells – to see if it was necessary for cell death to occur. “We knew the activation of a certain pathway by high dose NSAIDs would cause cell death, especially in triple negative breast cancer cells – one of the more aggressive forms,” she said. “However, the drugs used cause many side effects, so our goal was to find a novel target for treatment with less adverse effects.”

Ultimately, their research found that PKG helped to cause death of the triple negative breast cancer cells and could be a novel target for drug therapy in the future.“Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and is the second leading cause of cancer related death in women in the United States,” she said. “Identifying proteins that play important roles in breast cancer development and progression is paramount in the quest for improving detection and preventing development.”

Kay’s research project, titled “Complex Management of Acute Gastrointestinal Bleed in the Setting of Multiple Risk Factors for Venous Thromboembolism,” focused on deep venous thrombosis – an obstructive thrombin clot most commonly located in the deep veins of the lower extremities.

Chastain presented “Access to Care in the Spanish Universal Healthcare System: Gynecology and Cardiology Appointments and Hospitalizations in the Canary Islands,” at the conference. Her project focused on affordable access to and efficient provision of cardiology and obstetric and gynecology care at the Hosptial Universitario Nuestro Señora de Candelaria on Tenerife, Spanish Canary Islands.

The Medical Association of the State of Alabama is the professional association for some 7,000 physicians of all specialties throughout Alabama. The association exists to serve, lead and unite physicians in promoting the highest quality of health care for the people of Alabama through advocacy, information and education.

To learn more about MASA, visit the website. 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Dr. Tyler Sexton to Speak at Spring Commencement Ceremony

Dr. Tyler Sexton, chair of pediatrics, wound care and hyperbaric machine at Singing River Hospital System in Pascagoula, Miss., will address USA graduates during the ceremony on May 5 at 9:30 a.m. at the USA Mitchell Center.

Dr. Sexton completed his residency training with USA Health in 2010 and now serves not only as a pediatrician, but also as a lifelong patient as he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy during early childhood.

At age 4, his mother was told he would never walk, talk or even see, and that he needed to be placed in a special school because, at the time, public schools didn’t have resources for his special needs. However, Sexton took and passed his test to receive his driver’s license. He went on to earn his medical degree from the University of Sint Eusatatius in Barbados and also pursued his passion for scuba diving — climbing the ranks of recreational scuba diving to turn that passion into his career as a hyperbaric physician.

Sexton is known for mentoring children with disabilities and working with numerous special interest groups to educate them about hyperbaric medicine and its medicinal effects in many clinical applications. He uses his knowledge to treat individuals suffering from decompression illness and other illnesses where hyperbaric clinical applications can make a difference in lives. He has volunteered his knowledge for treatment of people in the United States. He also holds numerous certifications in wound care and hyperbaric healing and is active in many professional medical organizations.

He has been the subject of interviews or stories by ABC-TV’s “20/20,” “The 700 Club,” “The God Squad,” “Hour of Power,” “The Helpline,” and “Focus on the Family.”

Sexton and his mother, Lisa Sexton, are the authors of “God Bless Those Little Legs,” which tells his personal story as well as outlining his belief system and philosophy for overcoming adversity.

Degree candidates in the morning include students in the USA College of Medicine, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Education and Professional Studies, School of Computing, and Graduate School.

The Mitchell Center will be open to the public at 8 a.m. for the morning ceremony. Following that ceremony, the building will close to the public, then re-open at noon for the afternoon ceremony.

Parking signs will be posted throughout campus, and shuttle service will be available for guests who park in these areas. The shuttle service will run from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Pick-up and drop-off points for the shuttles will be in the following parking lots: University Commons, Gamma Dorm, Humanities Building, Whiddon Administration Building, Jaguar Drive (past the HKS East Entrance and Old Shell Road) and the Computer Services Center.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Dr. Thomas Rich Receives AHA Award, Funds Undergraduate Research

Pictured from left - Dr. Thomas Rich, professor of pharmacology at the USA College of Medicine, Angela O'Neal, graduate advisor for the USA basic medical sciences graduate program, Jennifer Collins, grants administration specialist for the USA Center of Lung Biology, and Dr. Jack Shelley-Tremblay, director of the office of undergraduate research at USA, review images in the bio imaging core facility at the USA Medical Sciences Building.
Dr. Thomas Rich, professor of pharmacology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, recently received an award from the American Heart Association (AHA) to fund an undergraduate summer research program at the USA College of Medicine.

According to Dr. Rich, undergraduate research is a well-recognized vehicle for promoting student success. “The goal of this program is to provide a training environment that prepares undergraduate students for competitive graduate programs in the biomedical sciences,” he said. “The program provides research experiences to train students in laboratory skills and experimental design, as well as interactive workshops that target professional development.”

The program focuses on five multidisciplinary projects at the intersections of engineering, physiology and biochemistry. “Participating undergraduate students will conduct research under the mentorship of program faculty, explore the implication of the research with peers through both formal and informal discussion groups and present their research at an end of the program symposium,” he said. “Through this program, students will gain the experiences that they need to develop into the next generation of scientists examining cardiovascular physiology and pathophysiology.”

Dr. Rich said Dr. Jack Shelley-Tremblay, director of the office of undergraduate research at USA, was instrumental in developing the infrastructure required for effective undergraduate research programs. Jennifer Collins, grants administration specialist for the USA Center for Lung Biology, and Angie O’Neal, graduate advisor for the USA basic medical sciences Ph.D. graduate program, also played critical roles in establishing and maintaining grants. “Although this award is modest in size, it is a product of a great deal of effort by faculty and staff across USA,” he said.

Dr. Rich said he is excited to welcome the first cohort of students this May. The award supports four undergraduate students from different universities for three years. The students are selected based on academic record, research interest and performance, and potential for developing productive research careers.

Since 1949, the AHA has invested more than $4.1 billion in research to enhance our knowledge of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. To learn more about the AHA, click here.

USA Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center honors Rep. James Buskey with Distinguished Service Award

State Rep. James Buskey received the Distinguished Service Award on April 14 at the 16th annual Sickle Cell Regional Conference. Representing Alabama’s 99th District in the House of Representatives, he has been a fervent supporter of the sickle cell community throughout his 42 years in the Alabama Legislature.

One of the longest-serving legislators in Alabama history, Rep. Buskey recently announced his retirement from politics. Dr. Johnson Haynes, professor of medicine and director of the University of South Alabama Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center, said Rep. Buskey leaves his mark of excellence and integrity at the local, state and national level as a teacher, administrator, legislator and civic leader.

“Throughout the state of Alabama, the sickle cell community often refers to him as ‘Mr. Sickle Cell,’” Dr. Haynes said. “This is a title that’s well deserved for his untiring work related to improving the state of knowledge and healthcare delivery throughout Alabama.”

“Sickle cell affects a lot of people that I represent in the black community,” Rep. Buskey said. “So, whenever there was an opportunity to impact the budget for sickle cell, I did everything I could.”

Of major significance is House Bill 528, which was passed in 1982 and prohibited insurance companies from denying coverage based on the diagnosis of sickle cell anemia; House Bill 250, which led to the establishment of the Sickle Cell Oversight and Regulatory Commission (SCORC) in 1996; and SJR 144, which supported the Sickle Cell Pilot Program in the Mobile County Public School System in 2009.

Alabama is one of a few states that support the sickle cell education agenda, Dr. Haynes said. State funding, generated from the Educational Trust Fund (ETF), currently provides $1,328,728 in funding to six community-based organizations and three sickle cell centers.

“Over the years funding cuts have been common, and many agencies have been excluded from the ETF,” Dr. Haynes said. “Rep. Buskey has either sponsored or co-sponsored legislation regarding appropriations to the Sickle Cell Education Program that has led to its sustainability.”

Rep. Buskey is a founding member of Franklin Primary Health Center in Mobile, and served on the board of directors and advisory board of Franklin for 40 years. In addition, he is founder and former board member of Commonwealth National Bank.

A career educator, Rep. Buskey worked in the public school system for 33 years as a teacher, assistant principal and administrator. He received a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from Alabama State University, Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Specialist in Education degree from the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Click here to learn more about the USA Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center.

Latest Issue of CURRents Available

The latest issue of CURRents, a newsletter published by the University of South Alabama College of Medicine Division of Medical Education, is now available.

The curriculum committee newsletter aims to inform USA College of Medicine faculty, residents and students about ongoing developments and outcomes in the undergraduate medical education program.

The latest issue focuses on the USA College of Medicine’s extensive preparation for the upcoming accreditation site visit by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education in October 2018.

Click here to view the current newsletter and to subscribe.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

USA Welcomes Basic Medical Sciences Graduate Advisor

Angie O’Neal recently was named graduate advisor for the University of South Alabama College of Medicine Basic Medical Sciences Ph.D. Graduate Program.

In her new position, O’Neal said the students are her top priority as she guides them through registration, course requirements and deadlines. “I will be with our students from admissions through graduation,” she said.

O’Neal said she is most excited to provide students with the resources, advice and information to help them reach their ultimate goal – graduation. “The research that our students conduct here is amazing,” she said. “To simply be a part of their journey as they grow as scientists and researchers is very rewarding.”

She credits her previous positions within USA for giving her key experiences that she can use in her new position. Prior to this appointment, O’Neal served as a specialist for the office of institutional effectiveness at USA, where she used data to support institutional improvement and decision making that reflected the University’s mission. O’Neal has also served as a development specialist in the USA College of Engineering.

O’Neal earned a Bachelor of Arts in communication from USA.