Inside IM
News from the Department of Internal Medicine
Message from the Chair

Debra Romberger, MD shares a department message with important updates for the last few months with all faculty and staff.

James O'Dell, MD, Awarded the ACR President Gold Medal
James O'Dell, MD, will receive the American College of Rheumatology's (ACR) highest award -- the Presidential Gold Medal -- in November during its annual meeting.
The award is bestowed in recognition of outstanding achievements in rheumatology over an entire career. Established by the past presidents of the ACR, candidates have made important contributions in multiple areas such as clinical medicine, research, education, or administration. Funding support for the award of distinction is provided by the Rheumatology Research Foundation. Click to see the ceremony Read More
The Division of Rheumatology also surprised Dr. O'Dell with a yard sign congratulating him on this prestigious award.
UNMC Creates Division of Hospital Medicine
Debra Romberger, MD, Henry J. Lehnhoff Professor and chair of the department of internal medicine, announced a new division of hospital medicine, effective immediately, within the UNMC Department of Internal Medicine. Chad Vokoun, MD, is the inaugural Chair.

"Our hospital medicine section within General Internal Medicine (GIM) has grown substantially in recent years and now has 51 out of 92 GIM faculty," Dr. Romberger said. "The time is right to allow the two groups to be separate divisions and better focus on their individual goals. General Internal Medicine is largely outpatient focused and hospital medicine is inpatient focused." Read More
M. Salman Ashraf, MBBS, to head the Nursing Home ECHO Program
M. Salman Ashraf, MBBS, recently was chosen to head up the Nursing Home ECHO program (Extension for Community Health Outcomes). The overarching plan is that Infectious Disease will offer education to the nursing homes in Nebraska related to the COVID pandemic.

Project ECHO is a national network of more than 250 partners operating 600 ECHO programs across the U.S. that provide training, technical assistance, and mentorship to healthcare providers, so that they can provide high-quality, best-practice healthcare to their patients. The ECHO Institute at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (UNMHSC) will leverage this robust national ECHO network to rapidly deploy ECHO programs to train and support nursing home staff on best practices for protecting patients, staff, and visitors from deadly coronavirus infection and spread.
UNMC researchers to study lung cancer brain metastases - Apar Ganti
UNMC researchers have received a four-year, $710,000 grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs to study why some patients with lung cancer develop brain metastases.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality in the world, accounting for about 24% of cancer-related deaths in both women and men. The predicted five-year survival rate of one type of lung cancer -- non-small-cell lung cancer -- is 21%, said Apar Ganti, MD, principal investigator of the study and oncologist specializing in lung cancer at UNMC and the Nebraska Western Iowa VA Medical Center in Omaha. Read more
Dr. Caverzagie selected to ACGME board of directors
Kelly Caverzagie, MD, associate professor in the UNMC Department of Internal Medicine, recently was selected to the Accreditation Council for Medical Education Board of Directors. His three-year term began Sept. 30 for the national organization.
Dr. Caverzagie is the third UNMC leader consecutively to serve in a board role. UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, recently completed his three-year term as chair of the ACGME board and prior to Dr. Gold, Rowen Zetterman, MD, was the chair of the board. Read more
Dr. Marcelin joins national infectious disease board
The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) announced on Oct. 8 its four newly elected board members, which includes Jasmine Marcelin, MD, assistant professor in the UNMC Department of Internal Medicine and an infectious disease physician with Nebraska Medicine. Dr. Marcelin is not only a new member, she also is the youngest board member in IDSA history. Read more
Dr. Yiannis Chatzizisis receives one of the inaugural iEXCEL innovation awards
The ceremony will recognize individuals who have helped create and implement new ideas for teaching, research and scholarship using simulation technologies and the capabilities of the Davis Global Center.In celebration of the opening of the Dr. Edwin G. & Dorothy Balbach Davis Global Center, iEXCEL will host a ceremony to recognize the novel accomplishments of UNMC and Nebraska Medicine faculty and staff. Yiannis Chatzizisis, MD, PhD, professor, internal medicine. Dr. Chatzizisis is creating a virtual cath lab application that features VR simulation of C-Arm operations, stent placement and stent dynamics. Read more
Geriatric Medicine now offers inpatient consults
A new consult service is now available for inpatients at Nebraska Medical Center. The geriatric medicine service team is offering consults for older adults to help address new or pre-existing functional or cognitive problems that may have contributed to or are complicating a hospital admission. Read more
Research News & Updates
Great Plains IDeA-CTR pilot project grants announced
The Great Plains IDeA-CTR Network is has announced the awardees for its 2020 Pilot Projects Program grants.
The program is administered through a National Institutes of Health/National Institute of General Medical Sciences grant, which is a collaborative effort between nine institutions in Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota and Kansas. The effort is designed to reach medically underserved populations and transform health delivery and outcomes in the Great Plains region. Read more

Internal Medicine award recipients:
Douglas Franz, MD, assistant professor, Division of Nephrology
Andrew Goldsweig, MD, assistant professor, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
Saraswathi Viswanathan, PhD, associate professor, Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism
Congratulations to Bryant England, MD, Division of Rheumatology for recently being funded with the VA Career Development Award. When asked how this award will be used Dr. England shared, "Through this award we will be investigating prognostic biomarkers for a progressive disease course in rheumatoid arthritis-associated interstitial lung disease (RA-ILD) as well as the comparative effectiveness and safety of immunomodulatory therapies in RA-ILD. We will build a multicenter prospective cohort of RA-ILD patients to study prognostic biomarkers. Meanwhile, we will leverage national Veterans Health Administration data to perform real-world pharmacoepidemiologic analyses of immunomodulatory therapies. Career development training as part of this award will focus on acquiring pharmacoepidemiologic research skills."
UNMC VA study finds contaminants may increase risk of rheumatoid arthritis

It's well known that cigarette smoking can increase one's risk of getting rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Researchers now are learning other environmental contaminants also may increase the risk.
University of Nebraska Medical Center researchers, including Drs. Bryant England, Ted Mikuls, Geoffrey Thiele, and Jill Poole, set out to determine the association between inhalant exposures with rheumatoid arthritis-related autoantibodies and severity in U.S. veterans. The results were recently published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology. Read more
Congratulations to Nozima Aripova, for winning the best poster (out of 70!) at the MDPhD National Student conference in September! Ms. Aripova's presented her poster "Fibrinogen Modified with Malondialdehyde-Acetaldehyde (MAA) and/or Citrulline (CIT) Induce Pro-inflammatory and Pro-fibrotic Responses" via Zoom to one doctor and several other MDPhD students. Ms. Aripova is enrolled in the MD/PhD Scholars program and is mentored by Dr. Geoffrey Thiele.
Azria Health in Gretna is the site of a new robot which was obtained through a Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program grant with UNMC. The robot is the first of three in Metro area facilities and is helping geriatrics see folks at the nursing home without the risk of bringing COVID with them shared Al Fisher, MD. Gretna Breeze Story
Congratulations to John Dickinson, MD, from our Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine Division just got a very nice score on a large NIH grant that will undoubtedly be funded. More information coming once it is funded!!
Internal Medicine Notable Publications reported with ADIS and Scopus for the 3rd Quarter of 2020. Publication of the Quarter has been awarded to Bin Duan, PhD and the Honorable Mention to Susan Swindells, MBBS. Please email Shannon Thomsen to obtain the full list pulled from SCOPUS and ADIS.

View the latest Internal Medicine faculty publications (in descending order by publication year and title) on Research Nebraska.
Congratulations to Allison Ashford, MD, for being published on Kevin MD, a social media blog for physicians. The articles are: We are making sacrifices for you. Please make a sacrifice for us and Is it safe to see family over Thanksgiving? And other holiday pandemic tips.
UNMC Today & Other News
Kelly Cawcutt, MD, Inducted in ACC CHEST 2020 Hall of Heroes
Wonderful news was received that Kelly Cawcutt, MD, Division of Infectious Disease, has been inducted into the American College of Chest Physicians CHEST 2020 Hall of Heroes. Jasmine Marcelin, MD, put it best in words on why Dr. Cawcutt definitely deserved being inducted: "She is truly what one would consider "pluripotent", and I am honored to be her colleague. Kelly is the only person I know in our institution whose response to the pandemic has spanned multiple facets including policy development and implementation, ICU frontline critical care, general ID frontline care, COVID ID consultation, outpatient ID care, Infection Prevention & Control, clinical trial involvement, clinical education, patient/community education, and media representation." Click here to learn more about the Hall of Heroes.
Dr. Rupp speaks at IDWeek
UNMC's Mark Rupp, MD, past president of The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), delivered the 2020 SHEA Lectureship on preparing for future outbreaks. Dr. Rupp's virtual presentation titled, "When This is Over, and We are Back to Normal. . .It Won't be Normal," was given Friday, Oct. 23 during IDWeek 2020.
Dr. Rupp, chief of the UNMC Division of Infectious Diseases, discussed 12 lessons learned so far from the SARS CoV-2/COVID-19 pandemic including the societal inequities that have resulted in excess suffering and death in minority populations, the COVID-19 infodemic and the dangers of the rush to publication. He also discussed the pros and cons of social media, the need for better personal protective equipment and the politicization of public health. He shared practical advice for professionals involved with infection prevention and infectious diseases, and how society can be better prepared for the next pandemic. Read More
UNMC team, rural collaborators receive award for innovation
A UNMC team recently received an Excellence In Pathways Award for its Pathway to Cure project -- an innovative program for young women with breast cancer and rural physicians who care for them.
The award, presented by the editorial staff and board members of the Journal of Clinical Pathways, recognizes professionals who have demonstrated significant clinical improvements in care, patient experience, care outcomes and also encourage person-centered care with supports beyond clinical treatment.
Recipients are Elizabeth Reed, MD, Robin M Lally, PhD, and Roksana Zak, PhD, of UNMC; Allison Coates, a Nebraska Medicine nurse; and Ryan Ramaekers, MD, CHI Grand Island. Brenda Ram and Ashok Mudgapalli, PhD, also were recognized for their contributions to the project. Read more
The UNMC Alumni Association announced its 2020 award recipients. Congratulations to Daniel Hershberger, MD, (Class of 2010), Early Career Achievement Award. Dr. Hershberger is from Milford.
This year, the association and its college-specific alumni councils are finding new ways to recognize the award recipients virtually in lieu of in-person gatherings, which were postponed due to the pandemic. A website that features photos, biographies and video acceptance remarks has been created to honor the recipients. 
Education News
Madison Wolfe, second year medical student in the Enhanced Medical Education Track (EMET) Autoimmunity at UNMC, was awarded the Student Achievement Award by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR). She presented her research findings during the ACR meeting earlier in November. Her research found that repeated airborne biohazard (endotoxin) exposure greatly potentiated autoimmune arthritis and arthritis-associated lung disease in mice suggesting the persons regularly exposed high pollutant environments such as those in agriculture settings, military, or various occupations should take extra respiratory protection precautions. Her research was primarily mentored and conducted in Dr. Jill Poole’s lab with co-mentorship by Drs. Geoffrey Thiele and Ted Mikuls.
Trek Langenhan, MD, has been invited to serve on the AAIM Faculty Development Initiative Task Force. The AAIM Faculty Development Initiative Task Force is a one year effort that will prepare a recommendation for the AAIM Board of Directors for an 18 to 36 month plan to develop, deploy, and assess initiatives to support faculty development; items for consideration include examining the landscape of how various programs undertake professional and personal development of its faculty, identifying common challenges, and sharing best practices on how UME and GME institutions engage and develop faculty to improve performance.
AAMC 2020 data/graduation questionnaire results
Nate Anderson, MD, shared the positive AAMC 2020 data/graduation questionnaire survey results.  

Dr. Anderson noted that we were far above national average for the question “rate the quality of your educational experience” 81 % rated us as ‘excellent with a national mean of 63%. Family Med was also above national average with peds, OB, psych, surgery were below.
Other questions that were highlighted were: 
“Faculty provided effective teaching during the clerkship” 79% said they ‘strongly agree’ with a 64% national average"
“Residents provided effective teaching during the clerkship” 77% said they ‘strongly agree’ compared to 70% national average.”  
Many thanks to those with leadership roles in the medical school curriculum. In the 2019-2020 academic year, the following faculty were block leaders:
Drs. Sara Bares, Amy Cannella, Elizabeth Harlow, Danny Hershberger, Ryan Mullane, Amy Neumeister, Troy Plumb, Fedja Rochling, Geoff Thiele, Samer Sayyed.
Drs. Kelly Caverzagie and Devin Nickol served as COIL leaders.
Drs. David O’Dell and Regan Taylor serve Phase III leaders.
Congratulations to Joseph Lamar MD, who was the COM - Resident of month for October. Story
Congrats to Annie Heenan and Joe Pachunka, MD, for their fantastic showing and Evan Symons for being a model educator in assisting Michael Eller, a student winner, in the ACP competition!
The finalists who competed at the Chapter's Scientific Meeting on October 24th were:
Residents: Dr. Annie Heenan and Dr. Joseph Pachunka
Student: Michael Eller
Education Faculty Development
Internal Medicine Education is excited to announce the launch of our faculty intranet. We hope this will become a place that faculty can turn to for educational resources. For our first post, Zachary P. Benton-Slocum, our Instructional Designer, worked with Daniel Hershberger, MD and focused on giving effective feedback. The main site and a direct link to the effective feedback post are below. Enter your UNMC credentials when the intranet asks for your username and password..
  • If you put “ at the end of the username, it will not let you login.
  • If you are off campus and trying to access the intranet, you will be asked to login twice.
  • Each login is the same.
A special thank you to Dr. Hershberger for providing his experience and insight for the post. 
Main site:
Effective Feedback:
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Prepared by DIVERSE Taskforce members Kalika Mahato (M2) and Justin German (M4)

Campus DEI Updates:
Shirley Delair, MD was recently appointed as UNMC’s first associate dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Dr. Delair will work with leaders throughout the College of Medicine, UNMC, and its Office of inclusion directed by Dr. Sheritta Strong. The DIVERSE Taskforce looks forward to working with her!

The UNMC IM Residency DIVERSE Taskforce has a new website! Check it frequently for updates on our activities.

The UNMC Office of Inclusion has a new twitter account: Follow them at @UNMCInclusion!

A new LGBTQ+ student mentoring group has formed on campus. We reached out to IM faculty mentor Dr. Arthur Kornitsky for a few words: “A survey created by Stanford in 2015 revealed that 30 percent of sexual minority students hide or don’t reveal their sexual and gender identity because they fear discrimination. Several hospital systems have “out lists” that have been successful in creating LGBTQ+ role models within medical education and have helped foster a sense of belonging. The purpose of this group is to create a sense of community and inclusion for our LGBTQ+ medical students.”

DEI Research
An article by Chastain et. al highlights the racial disproportionality in Covid-19 clinical trials. Despite the virus overwhelmingly affecting minoritized populations within the United States, these groups are not represented well in the clinical trials, impacting the generalizability of these trials.

Diversity from Within
Leaders across the world are beginning to work toward and prioritize environments that promote diversity, and the focus has been to create inclusive spaces for others. However, we may not stop to understand and develop diversity within ourselves. Explore this TEDx talk by Wendy Knight Agard who discusses how to become conscious of diversity from the inside out and how we can best embrace it.
Quote of The Month:
The physician should not treat the disease but the patient who is suffering from it
― Moses Maimonides

Our take: Sometimes a person can become tunnel-visioned and can miss important details with this narrow focus. This quote serves to remind us that behind the medical diagnoses are people that are scared, hurting, and looking to us for guidance. As physicians, we should not rely simply on medication, tests, or surgeries to help our patients, but rather look beyond medical history and incorporate patients' social, cultural, geographical history, and more.
New Faces, Promotions or Committee Involvement
Congratulations to Andy Goldsweig, MD, who was selected as an Assistant Editor for Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions.
Welcome to the following faculty to the Department of Internal Medicine
Furgan Khattak, MD, Assistant Professor, Cardiovascular Medicine
Anita Sivaramam, MD, Assistant Professor, Gastroenterology & Hematology
Cassandra Wehling, MD, Assistant Professor, Geriatrics/Hospital Medicine
Raymond Bergan, MD, Professor, Oncology
Thuytien Nguyen, MD, Assistant Professor, Hospital Medicine
Elizabeth Peter, DO, Assistant Professor, Hospital Medicine
UNMC Today Faculty Spotlights on New Faculty
Shahbaz Ali Malik, MD - Division of Cardiovascular Medicine -article
Brandon Miller, MD - Division of General Internal Medicine - article
Thoetchai (Bee) Peeraphatdit, MD - Division of Gastroenterology & Hematology - article
Christopher D'Angelo, MD - Division of Oncology & Hematology - article
Kelly Robertson is the GME Coordinator for both the Pulmonary CC and Sleep Medicine fellowship programs.
Chelsea Hug is PCCM's new Office Associate located on the 5th floor of DRC II. Being new to campus, she is working on getting an introduction to all things UNMC/Nebraska Medicine. Chelsea will provide primary support to Drs. Dickinson, Harrington, Krutsinger, LeVan, Murphy, Rennard, Small, Strah, Summers, Thi, and Thompson.
Faculty Development - Dr. Shannon Boerner
On Tuesday October 27th, the department and the Faculty Development Task Force hosted a panel discussion for all faculty, “Navigating the Promotion Process.” Our thanks to panelists Drs. Bin Duan, Amy Cannella, Sarah Richards, Liz Harlow, and Jill Poole for an engaging and thoughtful conversation. 
Faculty are underway with participation in a follow up survey from the AAMC, titled the StandPoint survey. The department is following up, having taken this expansive and detailed survey in 2017, and we anticipate gaining additional insights to further our understanding of faculty’s needs and goals. Watch for these results in early 2021.
Division Events & Other News
Thanksgiving during COVID - Be safe
In this article, Mark Rupp, MD, chief of the UNMC Division of Infectious Diseases, shares guidelines on how to handle the holidays.
"This year, having gatherings with extended family from different regions is too risky," Dr. Rupp said. "If we don't pay attention to the current situation, we're going to have even more transmission and more people dying than would otherwise."
In the past week, we've seen a record number of COVID-19 patients in Nebraska hospitals. This year, you can meet virtually to protect people at higher risk. Read more
The EngAge Wellness building has a building Employee Engagement Committee that tries to come up with ways to implement the Be Extraordinary Together concepts and provide both educational and social opportunities for the staff at our building. On September 9 they offered:
“During the pandemic, the Great Plains Black History Museum is doing lunch time virtual tours for groups. Participants join virtually, and someone will give a tour of the museum’s current exhibits. In our current times of racial unrest, the HICSA Employee Engagement Committee wanted to offer something that may be of interest to HICSA employees. The purpose of the museum is to document American history from the lens of African Americans in the Midwest.”
Open and free to schedule virtual tours - contact Eric Ewing at (402) 932-7077.
UNMC Department of Internal Medicine
983332 Nebraska Medical Center
Omaha, NE 68198-3332
402-559-6315 (phone)