Inside IM
News from the Department of Internal Medicine - March 2022

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

Internationally recognized physician-scientist to lead pancreas cancer program
Sunil Hingorani, MD, PhD, a highly accomplished and internationally recognized pancreas cancer researcher and clinician, has been named the inaugural recipient of the Nancy Armitage Pancreas Cancer Clinical Research Presidential Chair and the first director of the Pancreatic Cancer Center of Excellence at UNMC and Nebraska Medicine.

Dr. Hingorani, currently a professor and endowed research chair at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, will begin at UNMC and Nebraska Medicine on May 1. Read more
Impact in Education Awards
Congratulations to our Department of Internal Medicine faculty that were honored during the Impact in Education Awards ceremony. The virtual ceremony was held on March 3rd. The UNMC Impact in Education Awards, sponsored by the Office of Academic Affairs, are the highest education-related awards conferred by UNMC and come with professional development funds. The awards selection process and ceremony are facilitated by the Interprofessional Academy of Educators.

Jasmine Marcelin, MD - Emerging Educator Award - UNMC Today
Nada Fadul, MD - Interprofessional Education Scholar - UNMC Today
iExcel Innovation Awards
Congratulations to Jill Zabih, MD, who was nominated and selected as a worthy recipient of an Honorable Mention of the prestigious iEXCEL Academic Award!

Dr. Zabih was nominated based on her innovative approach to the residency prep course, including procedure simulation, professional development, delivering difficult news, rapid response team (RRT) training and organizational skills. The small awards ceremony was held on March 7th.

The iEXCEL Innovation Awards are provided through philanthropic donations recognizing faculty, students and staff who create and implement “new ideas” that foster innovation in teaching, research and scholarship using the wonderful assets of iEXCEL and Davis Global Center.
Research News & Updates
Study: Gout patients more commonly undergo lower extremity amputations
A study published in early January found that patients with gout more commonly undergo lower extremity amputation.

The study, published in the JAMA Open Network, was funded internally by the UNMC Division of Rheumatology and the Nebraska Arthritis Outcomes Research Center.

UNMC researchers, as well as researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine and Horizon Therapeutics, analyzed a database of 5,924,918 patients, with and without gout, who used U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs services from January 1, 2000 to July 31, 2015. In analyses limited to patients with gout, attributes of serum urate control and treatment with urate-lowering therapy were examined as factors associated with lower extremity amputation. Read more
UNMC evaluating if heart drug can prevent dementia
UNMC is one of 100 institutions nationwide studying if statins – a commonly used drug to prevent heart attack and stroke – can prevent dementia.

Statins protect blood vessels and reduce inflammation throughout the body. It is estimated that one-third of individuals over the age of 75 currently take statins.

The purpose of the five-year PREVENTABLE study – which stands for Pragmatic Evaluation of Events and Benefits of Lipid-lowering in Older Adults – is to learn if taking a statin can help prevent dementia and maintain health.

Led by Alfred Fisher, MD, chief of the UNMC Division of Geriatrics, Gerontology and Palliative Medicine, the study is open to Nebraska Medicine primary care patients, including patients at the Grand Island Health Center and Bellevue Health Center clinics. Additionally, the Omaha Veterans Affairs Medical Center is a site, and the study is open to VA Nebraska-Western Iowa patients. Read more
Pancreas cancer funding aims to accelerate treatments
UNMC and Nebraska Medicine physicians and scientists are among the world’s leaders in developing and testing treatments for pancreatic cancer, a deadly disease that kills 200 Nebraskans annually.

Unfortunately, current funding supports only about 20% of that team’s best ideas for developing new diagnostic tests and therapies to fight the disease, said Kelsey Klute, MD, a medical oncologist at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center.

“In other words, four out of five of our best ideas for how to better diagnose and treat pancreatic cancer are delayed or not investigated because of insufficient funding,” Dr. Klute said Thursday during testimony before the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee. “So I will ask you to consider LB 766 as a means to overcome the roadblocks we encounter in funding sources so that we can accelerate progress in pancreatic cancer.” Read more
Fellow status awarded in the American College of Physicians
Congratulations to the Nebraska Chapter's newest Fellows. Fellowship in the College is an honor. Being an FACP® is a distinction earned from colleagues who recognize your accomplishments and achievements over and above the practice of medicine. The most important considerations for ACP Fellowship are excellence and contributions made to both medicine and to the broader community in which the internist lives and practices. 
  • Nicolas W Cortes-Penfield, MD FACP, Division of Infectious Diseases
  • Ryan P Mullane, DO FACP, Division of Nephrology
  • Stephanie Hartman, MD FACP, Division of General Internal Medicine
  • Daniel J Jeffrey, MD FACP, Division of General Internal Medicine
  • Srinivas Vunnam, MBBS FACP, Division of General Internal Medicine
  • Noah A Wiedel, MD FACP, Division of Hospital Medicine
Research highlights from COM - Internal Medicine Spotlight
Congratulations to the following for receiving grant or funding awards:

Andrew Vasey, MD, internal medicine-general medicine, received a grant of $821,490 from West Virginia University for the RECOVER initiative adult cohort.

Susan Swindells, MBBS, internal medicine-infectious diseases, received a grant of $110,820 from Boys Town National Research Hospital for multimodal Imaging of neuroHIV dynamics (MIND): An Omaha-Pittsburgh consortium.

Roslyn Mannon, MD, internal medicine-nephrology, received a grant of $58,652 from the University of California-San Francisco for a study on applying precision medicine to optimize desensitization with novel biologics or cellular therapies in highly sensitized kidney transplant patients.

Tate Johnson, MD, internal medicine-rheumatology, received a grant of $50,000 from the Rheumatology Research Foundation for a study of immune and inflammatory mediators of heart failure incidence and severity in rheumatoid arthritis.

Industry-sponsored grants and contracts:

The following industry-sponsored contracts and foundation grants were received.

Diana Florescu, MD, internal medicine-infectious diseases, received funding for a study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of anti-spike SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies as pre-exposure phrophylaxis to prevent COVID-19 in immunocompromised participants as well as funding for a study of the safety, tolerability and effectiveness of adoptively transferred Viralym-M multivirus-specific T-cells in kidney transplant.

Matthew Lunning, DO, internal medicine-oncology/hematology, received funding to evaluate the safety and efficacy of genetically engineered autologous cells expressing anti-CD20 and anti-CD19 specific chimeric antigen receptor.

Alissa Marr, MD, internal medicine-oncology/hematology, received funding to evaluate enfortumab vedotin in subjects with previously related locally advanced or metastatic malignant solid tumors.

Nicole Shonka, MD, internal medicine-oncology/hematology, received funding for a study of the efficacy, safety, and pharmacokinetics of intravenously infused berubicin in adult patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme.

Jill Poole, MD, internal medicine-allergy/immunology, received funding for a study assessing exacerbation rate, additional measures of asthma control and safety in adult and adolescent severe asthmatic participants.
UNMC Today & Other News
Remembering Helen Harman, who lived to 100
Helen Harman, wife of the late Denham Harman, MD, PhD, died February 26 at Josie Harper Hospice House at the age of 100. Her story was featured in UNMC Today when she celebrated her 100th birthday on August 23, 2021.

A public relations professional, Helen Harman was active in several UNMC and community organizations, including the medical auxiliary, the faculty wives group, the Henry Doorly Zoo Guild, the Art Guild and Planned Parenthood. She and her late husband, Denham Harman, MD, were married for 71 years.
Startup targets COPD flare-up with new technology
A startup company built on an innovative collaboration between UNO's world-renowned biomechanics department and UNMC's Stephen Rennard, MD, recently closed a seed investment round worth 3 million Israeli shekels, equal to about $965,000.

Led by Israeli investment group eHealth Ventures, the seed round will finance additional development and clinical trials for the startup RespirAI Medical.

"The funds will help us to achieve some key development and clinical milestones," RespirAI CEO Nimrod Bin-Nun said. "The main one is a multi-sites clinical trial that will get us ready for a regulatory trial." Read more
On Demand Learning - Diabetes Updates
The 2021 Diabetes Update, that took place in October 2021, is now easily accessible via on-demand learning modules. These enduring material modules are intended for physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, dietitians, and other health care professionals who care for diabetes patients but were NOT able to participate in the 2021 Diabetes Update symposium held October 15, 2021. Click here for more information.
COM - Employee of the month
Name: Carolyn Nussrallah
Title: Administrator, UNMC Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Allergy and Immunology
Hometown: Omaha 

Talk about your job and what you like best about it: I appreciate the culture and atmosphere of working in Internal Medicine and UNMC -- where learning is highly valued, so everyone is willing to teach. We always like to complain about constant change, but it is what keeps things interesting! Learn more here
COM - Featured Video
Did you catch Andrew Vasey, MD's, video response to the question: What is better, the antigen home test or the PCR test? No? Click here to find out the answer.
Education News
LeeRoy Meyer Outstanding Student Award
Every year Education has the pleasure of voting on and rewarding one M4 graduating student pursuing Internal Medicine the prestigious Leeroy Meyer Outstanding Student Award. This award “is given in recognition of superior achievement in Internal Medicine.” Michael Eller had many accomplishments and accolades both in the classroom, and outside, and was chosen as the recipient for this year. 
Congratulations Michael! He will be recognized and acknowledged for this award at the Honors Convocation and Hooding Ceremony at his graduation ceremony. 
Welcome to Stephanie Hooten, IM Educational Programs Administrator
Erin Snow began her GME Director position on March 21st. We are excited to welcome Stephanie Hooten on April 4th as the new Internal Medicine Educational Programs Administrator. She comes to us with over seven years of GME experience from both the program and GME office perspectives. Throughout her GME experience, she has partnered with Program Directors to start new fellowship programs, developed and implemented best practices, and gained a greater understanding of accreditation. Stephanie enjoys working with residents, fellows, and faculty. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, baking, and being outdoors. She has two cats – Oscar and Garra – and a husband, Josh, who keeps her young at heart. 
Welcome to the 2022-23 Primary Care Residency Program's Sub-Interns
COM - Program Director of the Month
Name: Marco Olivera-Martinez, MD
Medical school attended: Universidad La Salle (La Salle University) Mexico City, 1982-1987
What made you chose to become the program director? The opportunity to train the future experts in the field, the challenge of reaching and maintaining accreditation by ACGME and the chance of learning from each one of our trainees. We recruit fellows from the USA and around the world and the diversity of their background is a great opportunity to learn about science and about ourselves.

Find out more about Dr. Olivera-Martinez here.
Each quarter the junior (M3) students get an opportunity to choose which of the residents were the best teachers and mentors during the recent quarter. The following were chosen by the students for:
Best Intern Resident Teacher and Mentor - Drs. Connor Houlihan & Nicholas Yeutter
Best Supervisory Resident Teacher and Mentor - Drs. Jake Johnson & Raquel Lamarche
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Community Events:
The DIVERSE IM outreach committee organized a food and monetary donation drive for the local shelter, Siena Francis. They raised a total of $500 and filled several food donation boxes with contributions from faculty and residents in the Internal Medicine department. “We chose Siena Francis because it's one of the biggest local shelters in Omaha that offers housing for patients experiencing homelessness discharged from UNMC. We hope to have similar drives in the future.” The photo features Dr. Sempokuya(GI fellow), staff from Siena Francis[MR1] , and Dr. Adomako (Internal Medicine PGY-2)
Student Doctors Donovon Allen, M4 and Mark Carter M3, in collaboration with Dr. Jennifer Liu, Family Medicine, are in the process of developing a QR Code Walking Tour titled “Combating Racism in Medicine.” This project will provide information related to racism in medicine and health disparities through QR codes related to different medical specialties - IM, FM, Derm, Peds, Surgery, OB/Gyn, Emergency Med, etc. “It is our hope that by sharing these QR Codes we will create an enduring impact on our community and campus that would help address healthcare barriers and bring awareness to the historical and current practices that have played a role in creating those barriers.” Look out for these QR codes for the walking tour all around the IM department offices and clinics!
Amplifying Black Women in the Sciences with Drs. Rae Wynn-Grant and Sheritta Strong, MD - YouTube Dr. Sheritta Strong, Assistance Vice-Chancellor of Inclusion at UNMC, interviews Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant about the importance of representation of Black Women in the sciences. Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant works to protect and restore iconic wildlife populations, including North American black and grizzly bears. She is one of three black female carnivore ecologists and is featured with the National Geographic Society’s Last Wild Places initiatives in the Voices AMPLIFIED! Series.

March is Women’s History Month. UNMC’s Office of inclusion has coordinated several engaging activities to celebrate Women’s History Month including: a cinema series sponsored by the AABA, empowering discussions including “Pioneering Female Health Professionals at UNMC,” and several more events provided in the link above!
Faculty Education
What is the role of faculty in supporting residents and fellows to manage learner fatigue to optimize learning, autonomy, wellness, and patient care? We know that residents and fellows work long hours and fatigue management is a skill they will use their whole career. Our instructional designer, Zach Benton-Slocum, collaborated with Drs. Kelly Caverzagie, Trek Langenhan, Bill Lyons, Cory Rohlfsen, and Andrea Zimmer to build a module that takes a practical look at how faculty can help develop these skills, ideas for environmental adjustments, and finally practical tips for learners to manage fatigue. 
Remember login information is simply your UNMC credentials.     
Link to the Building a Better Clinical Classroom module:      
New Faces, Promotions or
Committee Involvement
Welcome to the following new faculty
Christina Dunbar Matos, DO, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
Congratulations on your new position!!
Angela Gleason
Jennifer Harmon
Michaela Savine
Molly Ferris
Nubia Quiros
Kate Porto
Tamara Braley
Lovonda Knight
Matthew Palmer
Shannon Thomsen
Paul Wurtz
Mary Katherine Anderson Rachel Vetter
Michel Veit
Jill Daley
Infectious Diseases Geriatrics
Pulm, CC & Sleep Med FPBCC
Infectious Diseases
Infectious Diseases Infectious Diseases Infectious Diseases Infectious Diseases
Pulm, CC & Sleep Med Diabetes
Welcome Kate Porto, Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Med new Division Administrator
We are excited that Kate Porto has joined us! Get to know a little more about her:
Name:  Katherine “Kate” Porto
Hometown:  Gibbon, NE
Formal Education:  BSBA with a Communication Minor MBA with a Concentration in Collaboration Sciences

Fun Facts: 
(1) Life goal is to be Miss Daisy where I have a designated driver for all things
(2) I have been banned (Yes, banned) from cooking in my house. I am only permitted to bake (not mad about it).
(3) Once upon a life, I ran collegiate track
Congratulations on your new family additions
Dr. Kristin Olson and her husband, Joe Yun, welcomed their baby girl, Evelyn Melissa Yun, into this world earlier than expected on December 8th, 2021. She was born at 29 weeks gestational age. She has been doing well in the NICU and is receiving excellent care.
Dr. Tim McElroy and his wife welcomed Declan James McElroy to their family. Congratulations!

Birthday: Feb. 13, 2022
Time: 10:37 a.m.
Weight: 8 lbs
Length: 20 inches
Notable Furbabies of the Newsletter
Meet Raisinette! Raisinette is owned by Megan Frisbie, Division Administrator for Nephrology, and her family. Megan reports that she loves her warm coats and long walks in the forest.

Send your furbaby pictures to if you would like yours to be considered for the next Newsletter's furbaby spotlight no later than April 30th.
UNMC Department of Internal Medicine
983332 Nebraska Medical Center
Omaha, NE 68198-3332
402-559-6315 (phone)