Inside IM
News from the Department of Internal Medicine - July 2021

Debra Romberger, MD, Chair of Internal Medicine, shares a department message with important updates for all faculty and staff.

Wigton Heritage Center Dedication
UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, said Tuesday that the Wigton Heritage Center -- a new facility designed to memorialize UNMC's unique history that also serves as a campus welcome center -- "was just a dream a few short years ago."

"Look at us now," said Emily McElroy, Dean of the Leon S. McGoogan Health Sciences Library. "Look at this magnificent space."

On Tuesday, Dr. Gold presided over the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the multilevel, 13,000-square-foot facility, which includes gallery and digital exhibit space and allows McGoogan Library staff to showcase previously hidden, prized collections to the public. UNMC Today Story continued

Robert Wigton, MD and
UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD
Robert Wigton, MD, Thomas Tape, MD, Chief General Internal Medicine and Mrs. Wigton
Tabatha Matthias, DO, takes new role in UNMC Division of Hospital Medicine
The UNMC Department of Internal Medicine Division of Hospital Medicine has named Tabatha Matthias, DO, as associate division chief for clinical operations. Chad Vokoun, MD, chief of the division, credits Dr. Matthias, who has organized and been leading clinical operations, as key to the division's growth and the great care of the inpatient population. Dr. Matthias is an assistant professor in the division.
Dr. Klassen receives Friend of VA Research Award
Lynell Klassen, MD, received the Friend of VA Research Award recently. Dr. Klassen, who retired July 1st, was the Robert L. Grissom Professor of Internal Medicine, Division of Rheumatology.
The award is given for demonstrating commitment to VA research, supporting biomedical research and disseminating information in the community to advance VA research and encouraging partnerships from those outside of VA Research Service. Read more
Research News & Updates
Karuna Rasineni, PhD, receives R01
In this new R01, Karuna Rasineni, PhD, Division of Gastroenterology, will examine a role of ghrelin, a peptide hormone, in the development of alcohol-induced fatty liver, which is a reversible early stage of alcohol-associated liver disease. Dr. Rasineni is an early-stage investigator, and work in her R01 combines her expertise with her two K01 mentors (Drs. Kusum Kharbanda and Carol Casey, both Professors in the Department of Internal Medicine), and a physician-scientist, Dr. Lorenzo Leggio, from National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA).
UNMC/VA study shows rheumatoid arthritis patients have higher risk of COVID-19, complications
A year-long study led by a University of Nebraska Medical Center and Veterans Affairs researcher answered a question that the medical community, as well as patients, have had in regards to COVID-19 and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Researchers used a national VA health care database comparing 33,886 patients with rheumatoid arthritis to 33,886 patients without it for the study. The large, national study accounted for many factors that influence COVID-19 risk, including age, sex, race, comorbidities and geography.

"RA patients are known to be predisposed to infection, but prior literature was largely for bacterial infections," said Bryant England, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the UNMC Department of Internal Medicine Division of Rheumatology & Immunology and the VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System. "During the pandemic, both providers and patients consistently have been asking whether RA may predispose patients to COVID-19 -- a viral infection -- and a more severe COVID-19 disease course."
Anupam Kotwal, MD receives DHHS Award for 2021-22
The award is from Nebraska Cancer and Smoking Disease Research Program for 1 year of support for $50,000 for research supplies and personnel.The project title is “Immune Markers for Thyroid Cancer Prognosis”. Anupam Kotwal, MD, is the PI and is collaborating with Michael Hollingsworth, PhD's laboratory to perform multiplex immunofluorescence and with Hamid Band, MD, PhD's laboratory to perform EHD protein testing in thyroid cancer samples from adult patients.
UNMC clinical trial evaluating new investigational drug for treatment of COVID-19 in non-hospitalized adults 
The University of Nebraska Medical Center is involved in a global clinical research trial to evaluate a possible treatment option for non-hospitalized adults with COVID-19. 
Diana Florescu, MD, an infectious diseases specialist at Nebraska Medicine and professor in the UNMC Department of Internal Medicine, is leading the clinical trial at UNMC. "This clinical trial is at the heart of new developments for treatment of COVID-19. We are very happy that UNMC/Nebraska Medicine was chosen as a site for this important work," Dr. Florescu said. Read more
Drs. Ted Mikuls and Austin Wheeler receive Dr. Ephraim P. Engleman Resident Research Preceptorship
The Rheumatology Research Foundation has awarded the Dr. Ephraim P. Engleman Resident Research Preceptorship to Dr. Ted Mikuls and Dr. Austin Wheeler in the Division of Rheumatology. The purpose of the Resident Research Preceptorship is to introduce residents to the specialty of rheumatology by supporting a full-time research experience, with the goal of attracting promising physician scientists to the field of rheumatology.
Research highlights from COM - Internal Medicine Spotlight
The UNMC College of Medicine received grant and funding awards representing $2,535,166 in new funding in April. The following are the Department of Internal Medicine Faculty:
  • John Dickinson, MD, PhD, internal medicine-pulmonary, received a grant of $523,542 from DHHS/NIH/NHLBIU to study whether autophagy-mediated mucin degradation is necessary for resolution of mucous metaplasia.
  • Ted Mikuls, MD, internal medicine-rheumatology, received a grant of $23,290 from the University of Alabama-Birmingham to study the functional and integrative omics of recurrent gout flares.
  • Kaleb Michaud, MD, internal medicine-rheumatology, received a grant of $15,000 from the Rheumatology Research Foundation for a resident research preceptorship.
  • Sachit Patel, MD, internal medicine-hematology/oncology, received a grant of $14,987 from the National Marrow Donor Program for a work order: Clinical transplant-related long-term outcomes of alternative donor allogeneic transplantation.
  • Vijay Shivaswamy, MBBS, internal medicine-DEM, received a grant of $9,215 from the Nebraska Educational Biomedical Research Foundation for an ICA for Payton Hurlbut.
  • Cyrus Desouza, MBBS, internal medicine-DEM, received a grant of $6,133 from the Nebraska Educational Biomedical Research Foundation for an ICA for Payton Hurlbut.
  • Donald Coulter, MD, pediatrics, received a grant of $4,972 from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for specimen baking supplements.

Industry-sponsored grants and contracts:
The following industry-sponsored contracts and foundation grants were received. Information on clinical trials enrolling patients at UNMC can be found here.

  • Ronald Zolty, MD, PhD, internal medicine-cardiovascular, received funding for a study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of oral inhalation of GB002 for the treatment of WHO group 1 pulmonary arterial hypertension.
  • Apar Ganti, MD, internal medicine-oncology/hematology, received funding for a study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of lenvatinib in combination with pembrolizumab.
  • Cyrus Desouza, MBBS, internal medicine-DEM, received funding for a trial comparing the effect and safety of once weekly insulin icodec and once daily insulin degludec, as well as to study effectiveness and safety of once weekly insulin icodec used with DoseGuide.
  • Matthew Lunning, DO, internal medicine-oncology/hematology, received funding for a study to evaluate a wearable temperature monitoring device in subjects receiving CAR-T therapy.
UNMC Today & Other News
Through Tribute to Women, the Women's Center for Advancement (WCA) has recognized and honored more than 300 amazing woman leaders, teachers, great thinkers, impact-makers and movers and shakers over the last 33 years.

Each year, they continue to shine the spotlight on deserving women whose work, dedication and commitment have grown and shaped women and girls in Omaha. Jasmine Marcelin, MD, Infectious Diseases, was one of the women selected for the annual WCA (formerly YWCA) Tribute to Women- a community event held on June 15th.
Jane Potter, MD, honored by Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging
Jane Potter, MD, Geriatrics & Palliative Medicine, has received the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging's first Spirit of Aging Award in the medical/health care category in recognition of the contributions older adults make to help build strong communities across the country. She is one of three individuals and a local church congregation nominated and selected for ENOA awards by ENOA staff members. One nominator said: "Dr. Potter is a valuable asset to ENOA both as a healthcare professional and as an advocate for older Nebraskans. Whenever possible, Dr. Potter promotes ENOA and the work we do in the community. Dr. Potter serves on the ENOA's Advisory Council, a group of local professionals who share their expertise to help guide the agency as it carries out its mission."
NSRI appoints 24 UNMC researchers as fellows
The National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) at the University of Nebraska (NU) has launched NSRI Fellows to amplify the university's research contributions to the Department of Defense (DOD) and other federal agencies with national security missions.

The inaugural group includes 74 researchers from across the NU system and 24 from UNMC, including James Lawler, MD, Infectious Diseases. Together, NSRI Fellows will contribute their expertise, talent and foresight to build multidisciplinary teams that develop solutions for complex problems across the spectrum of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats.
Nationwide interoperability focus of June 23 webinar
Donald Rucker, MD, former national coordinator for health information technology, moderated a virtual webinar featuring two UNMC panelists on June 23 from noon-1 p.m.
Dr. Rucker and the panel, which included John Windle, MD, Cardiovascular Medicine, discussed "The Evolving Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap: The Impact on Clinical & Translational Research" during the webinar, which was hosted as an internal medicine grand rounds.
Alzheimer’s was the ‘toughest challenge my family would ever face’
Alfred Fisher, MD, Chief of Geriatrics, Gerontology & Palliative Medicine provides insight for a family of caregivers and the patient suffering with Alzheimer's. Read the Omaha World-Herald story here.
UNMC study shows need to re-examine organ transplant allocation 
Multi-organ transplantation (MOT) -- simultaneously transplanting a kidney with another organ such as a liver or heart -- has increased substantially over the past two decades. The reason: a changing population of transplant candidates and modifications to organ allocation policies. 
"The transplant community continues to grapple with the increased MOT utilization and allocation policy," said Scott Westphal, MD, University of Nebraska Medical Center assistant professor of internal medicine, Division of Nephrology and first author of the article. "I am hopeful this paper will help inform the national discussion on MOT policy and help guide future policy development." Read more
A New Alzheimer’s Drug Offers More Questions Than Answers
Karina Bishop, MD, Geriatrics, Gerontology & Palliative Medicine is quoted in the New York Times regarding the use of Aduhelm (aducanumab) to treat Alzheimer's disease. Read the NYT article here
Education News
Internal Medicine Teaching Awards - Resident Banquet
Congratulations to Jasmine Marcelin, MD, who received the Sir William Osler Teaching Award. Dr. Marcelin shared that "it is indeed an honor and privilege to get to teach you all as you walk along this journey to becoming internal medicine doctors. It is humbling to learn that you all think of me as the faculty member who has contributed the most to your profession in the last year. THANK YOU for the privilege to teach you, mentor you, support you, nurture you, along this journey. I am so proud of you all and accept this award with gratitude, knowing that you see me as much as I see you."
  • Jasmine Marcelin, MD - Sir William Osler Teaching Award
  • Gerald Moore, MD - Lifetime Educator Award
  • Dennis Emuron, MBCHB (Nephrology) - Fellow of the Year Award
  • Karen Stout, MD & Peter Maloley, MD - Fellow & Resident Poster Session Winners (respectively)
  • Luke Desilet, DO - Department Resident Research Award Winner
  • AJ Spanel, MD - I2MPROVE Award
  • Beth Neilsen, MD, PhD - Preliminary Resident Award
  • Rees Adomako, DO - Rookie of the Year Award
  • Nora Kovar, MD, MPH - House Officer of the Year Award
A very fast '11 years'
When Kaitlin Brittan, MD, ends her fellowship in rheumatology, a new chapter in her medical career will begin. Her surroundings will stay the same. Read more
Wellness: A resident's story by James Spanel, MD
80/45. . .78/42. . .75/40. The bright red numbers flash across the monitor like streetlights on a stormy night. Beads of sweat stream down my face and gather on my chin underneath my N95. I use the sleeve of my gown to wipe the fog of condensation off my face shield to see the IV tower across the room. Norepinephrine, epinephrine, vasopressin, phenylephrine, all maxed out. Alarms blare like sirens. My heartbeat surges to match the frantic cadence of the telemetry monitor. My isolation gown feels like a straitjacket as I attempt to weave the ultrasound probe across my patient's chest through the tangled web of wires and tubes. Eventually I'm able to steer the probe into enough positions to assess his cardiac function, which adds to my suspicion that, in addition to severe COVID-19 pneumonia, he may now also have a pulmonary embolism. Regardless, he's too unstable to make the trip for a CT scan to confirm. I gaze back toward his face. So lifeless and cold. A phantom of the man I admitted less than 48 hours earlier.
2021 Internal Medicine Resident Banquet at Sumtur Amphitheater
Nikki Gruner, Brent Luedders, Joel Kruse, Jen Luedders
 & Joe Dougherty
Graduating Residents
Bernie Lamb, Kevin Lamb, Mackenzie Keintz, Ben Arbeiter
Megan Wilson, Kyle Wilson, Elaine Buckholtz, Jordan German and Sophia Dongili
Glenn Fletcher, Jess Rydberg ,
Nora Kovar, Sean Carlson
Award winners announced for the GME Research Symposium
"At a time when taking care of patients in itself became extremely difficult, it is admirable that these residents and fellows were able to continue their research even during these challenging times," said Chandra Are, MBBS, associate dean of graduate medical education at UNMC and vice chair of education in the UNMC Department of Surgery. "We applaud and congratulate all these residents and fellows for pursuing and presenting their research." Congratulations to Drs. Peter Maloley, Maureen Choman, and Tate Johnson.
Introducing the 2021-22 Internal Medicine Chief Residents
Resident Golf Outing 2021
Graduating yard signs
Brian Gagnon, Kali Gagnon, Bernie Lamb, Kevin Lamb
AJ Spanel, Joe Dougherty, Kyle Wilson
Heather Desilet, Luke Desilet,
Dan Van Kalsbeek
Radha Kanneganti,
Joe Wang, Dave Shin
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Section   
Prepared by DIVERSE Taskforce member Kalika Mahato (M3)  
 Community News  
- White Coats For Black Lives and UNMC Student Pride Alliance both completed report cards with the purpose of collecting and sharing information about UNMC”s efforts in diversity, equity, and inclusion and safety and support for LGBTQIA+ individuals. The Racial Justice Report Card (RJRC) assessed UNMC in various metrics evaluating the treatment of patients, students, and faculty alike. UNMC received nine out of 69 for the available metrics that were scored -- a percentage of 13.04%. UNMC received a score of B- on the 2021 LGBTQIA+ Report Card. The final RJRC is being finalized, but the LGBTQIA+ report card can be accessed here report cards are a step forward in campus-wide inclusivity and diversity initiatives. Several faculty members contributed information and students assisted in data collection. 
-The Employee Pride Alliance (EPA) will be participating in Heartland Pride on July 10th.  
Quote of the Month  
  Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” John Lewis  
The late John Lewis was a Civil Rights leader who later served as a U.S. Representative for the state of Georgia. Throughout his life, Lewis was involved in fighting for the rights of several marginalized groups. To me, this quote highlights both the myriad of issues in modern medicine today and the advancements we have made so far. In the past year, UNMC has taken initiative to challenge race-based GFR, established departments for diversity and inclusion, and increased the number and diversity of mental health providers. However, as the previously mentioned report cards demonstrate, there is much more progress to be made. As Lewis says, this is an ongoing struggle. We should not only applaud the changes that are being made but also continue to work for more. 
Social Media: 
-Dr. Rhea Boyd is a San Diego based pediatrician and public health scholar. She is the director of the California Children’s Trust and the founder of a “The Conversation,” a campaign to bring information about COVID vaccinations directly to Black and Hispanic communities. Follow her on Twitter to learn more about the intersection of racism and health! 
On June 17th, UNMC hosted a panel discussion about the new documentary Cured, moderated by Dr. Arthur Kornitsky. In 1973, homosexualty was determined to be a medical disease. This film highlights the battle to remove homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) manual of psychiatric disorders. While the screening is no longer available, watch the trailer here in anticipation of the fall 2021 broadcast on PBS.  
In addition, watch this talk by Liz Margolies, founder and executive director of the National LGBT Cancer Network discussing health disparities faced by the LGBTQIA community.  
Podcast: In this Docs With Disabilities episode, Dr. Lauren Meiss, an OB-GYN resident at Yale University, discusses her journey as a medical student and residency applicant with cystic fibrosis. She discusses seeking accommodations in school, such as opting to not work with patients with respiratory illnesses. She also discusses educating her classmates about her condition and deciding to disclose her condition in residency applications. As many people with disabilities experience, Dr. Meiss was initially told to not disclose any health conditions to program directors. Listen to learn more about her experience and her creation of the group Alliance for Trainees with Chronic Illness or Chronic Disability at Yale. 
Sign up for the 21 week racial equity newsletter, and receive weekly inbox messages with information to learn about equity in healthcare. The DIVERSE Taskforce website also has a list of prior newsletter entries beginning in March 2021. 
Faculty Education
This month on the Faculty Intranet, we are taking a look at a popular form of clinical teaching called the One-Minute Preceptor. This topic was highly requested and Dr. Trek Langenhan worked with our instructional designer, Zach Benton-Slocum, to develop a module that gives you both a brief overview section and a practical example of applying this teaching strategy. In the “Quick Look” section, we go over the 5 simple microskills associated with this teaching method. Best part? You’re probably doing most of them already! If you want to see how it can practically be used in the clinical setting, the Deeper Look section works through a scenario with a wards team and a patient presenting with hematemesis. If you have ever wondered if One-Minute Preceptors could help you deliver more impactful feedback in less time, this month's module is for you!
Remember login information is simply your UNMC credentials.   
Link to the One-Minute Preceptor module:    
Lastly, Check out the other modules and resources on our faculty intranet: 
New Faces, Promotions or
Committee Involvement
Congratulations to the following who received promotions and/or tenure!
Brian Boer, PhD promoted to Associate Professor
Kelly Cawcutt, MD promoted to Associate Professor
Marius Florescu, MD promoted to Professor
Andrew Goldsweig, MD promoted to Associate Professor
Jairam Krishnamurthy, MBBS Associate Professor
Sara May, MD promoted to Associate Professor
Kaleb Michaud, PhD promoted to Professor with Tenure
Devin Nickol, MD promoted to Professor
Natalia Osna, MD, PhD promoted to Professor
Michel Ouellette, PhD promoted to Professor
Troy Plumb, MD promoted to Professor
Fedja Rochling, MD promoted to Professor
Michael Summers, MD promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure
Saraswathi Viswanathan, PhD, awarded Tenure
New faculty - welcome to the department!!
Duaa Abdallah, MBBS, Assistant Professor - Hospital Medicine
Bhavina Sharma, M.D., Assistant Professor - Oncology
Kaitlyn Brittan, M.D., Assistant Professor - Rheumatology
Natalia E. Castillo Almeida, M.D., Assistant Professor - Infectious Disease
Steven Ebers, M.D., Assistant Professor - Hospital Medicine
Brandi Flagg, M.D., Assistant Professor - Geriatrics
Mridula Krishnan, MBBS, Assistant Professor - Oncology
Shouqiang Li, Ph.D., Post Doc Research Associate - Cardiology
Harmeet Mashiana, MBBS, Instructor - Gastroenterology
Anum Samdani, M.D., Assistant Professor - Hospital Medicine
Tushar Sharma, M.D., Assistant Professor - Hospital Medicine
Katherine Maliszewski, M.D., Assistant Professor - Geriatrics/Hospital Medicine
Zhihong Yuan, PhD, Instructor - Pulmonary
New staff - welcome to the department!!
Matthew Fitzgerald
Grace Bradford
Kacie Flaherty
Zuzana Sulcova
Catherine Hughes
Keona Boston
Jeanne M. Welte
Kathryn Moss
Melissa Billings
Sarah Matya
Taylor Johnson
Hal McGee
Greg Jones
Alberto Esposito
Infectious Disease
Hospital Med
Congratulations to Lynn Mack, MD, who has been appointed as the Vice Chair of Faculty Council and General Faculty.
Faculty Development - Dr. Shannon Boerner
The Department is excited to welcome many new faculty members this summer – please reach out to new faculty members in your divisions or across the department and extend a hello. Many will join our New Faculty Mentoring Program – this program is open to all and provides a connection for new faculty to a more experienced mentor over their first year in the department. Please watch for emailed invitations to this program as well as to the New Faculty Orientation. This session will provide an introduction to department-specific information, an opportunity for new faculty to meet each other, and a connection to our faculty development efforts. Questions? Reach Shannon Boerner, Director of Faculty Mentoring & Development,
Silver U Award Winner - July
Lena Bolivar Johnson, General Internal Medicine, has won the Chancellor’s Council Silver “U” award for July 2021!

The Silver “U” Award is part of the UNMC Reward and Recognition initiative and recognizes UNMC’s top performers whose daily contributions or special achievements help meet UNMC’s mission. Congratulations Lena for this much deserved award!
COM employee of the month
College of Medicine employees of the month are nominated by college leaders. Lisa Chudomelka was nominated by Jill Poole, MD, chief of the UNMC Division of Allergy and Immunology, who said she has "been instrumental to (both the division of allergy and immunology and the division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep) for more than 15 years for supporting all the research administration including grant submissions, manuscript submissions, animal research protocols." Read more

Melissa Zeleny and her husband Jason welcomed Hailey Zeleny on May 28th
We are thrilled to welcome our daughter, Belle Naya Peeraphatdit.
She was born on June 1, 2021 at 10:29 PM.
Weight 7 lb 7 oz (3.36 kg), length 19.5 inches and head circumference 13.5 inches.
Niyada and Belle are both healthy. Ben, our son is very excited to be promoted as a big brother.
Jenea and Cody Sweeter, along with big sister Kitiri, welcome baby Gage to their sweet family. 
Gage Michael was born Friday, May 7th at 9:22 AM at
8 lbs 3 oz and 21” long.
Austin Thompson, MD, retired on June 30th
Congratulations to Austin Thompson, MD, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine, who retired on June 30th. Deb Romberger, MD, Chair of Department of Internal Medicine shared that "Dr. Thompson has been so valuable to the development of the PCCMS division. He was instrumental in his early years in developing bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) techniques and utilizing BAL to help in the understanding of early pulmonary issues for bone marrow transplant patients. He was central to UNMC’s initial lung transplant program and then to the initiation and growth of a pulmonary hypertension program in the division. He is well-known among past residents and fellows for his efficient rounding style and his enormous fund of knowledge. We are going to miss him as the “go to” pulmonologist when there is a perplexing pulmonary function test or clinical situation for which we had all sought guidance from him through these many years. The division faculty and fellows had a wonderful time with Austin and his wife, Dorothy, celebrating his upcoming retirement back in May. We wish him all the best as they relocate to the Seattle area. He will be keeping in touch with us through zoom for some activities in the future."
UNMC Department of Internal Medicine
983332 Nebraska Medical Center
Omaha, NE 68198-3332
402-559-6315 (phone)