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

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

iLEAD - Transforming Knowledge into Action
Drs. Kelly Cawcutt, Jasmine Marcelin, Douglas Stoller, Shane Tsai, and Andrea Zimmer recently completed the UNMC iLEAD program (Interprofessional Leadership for Excellence and Academic Development). Help us say congratulations to them for graduating from this intensive, one-year program. To learn more about the program click here. To read about the graduates, including our own, click here.

Dr. Marcelin’s iLEAD project involved the Diversity/Equity/Inclusion taskforce which is featured in the following section.
New Department of Medicine Diversity/Equity/Inclusion Taskforce
Since January 2020, IM residency associate program director Dr. Jasmine Marcelin has been leading the “Developing an Inclusive and Varied Environment for Residents, Students, and Educators (DIVERSE)” Taskforce. The taskforce, which includes students, residents, and faculty (Donovan Allen, Freshta Baher, Dr. Justin Birge, Sagar Chapagain, Dr. Nicolas Cortes-Penfield, Dr. Luke Desilet, Dr. Steven Ebers, Justin German, Kristi Graybill, Ziomara Jurado, Dr. Radha Kanneganti, Dr. Arthur Kornitsky, Kalika Mahato, Erin Maxwell, Dr. Chelsea Navarrette, Dr. Kishan Patel, Dr. Willie Talbert, Dr. Poonam Velagapudi) has identified their mission: “To transform our residency into one that reflects the diversity of our patient population and ensure that our residency provides an inclusive environment for residents to succeed”. Despite COVID-19 hampering some of their activities, the DIVERSE Taskforce has been busy. Some of their activities include submitting AAMC innovation grants; submitting a proposal for a visiting medical student scholarship aimed at supporting visiting medical students who may be underrepresented; approval of funding for underrepresented minority recruiting activities; participating on a panel for the SHPEP program; and reviewing current residency applicant review procedures for opportunities to improve the process. Look out for a new spotlight section on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in this newsletter. As a start, listen to this Growth-Edge podcast episode where Dr. Marcelin was interviewed about Unconscious Bias and Being and Upstander. Check out the UNMC McGoogan Library page for more resources.
Fontenelle Health Center addressing health disparities
The health disparities documented among minority and underserved communities are nothing new to the physicians and staff of the Fontenelle Health Center, a Nebraska Medicine clinic located in North Omaha for more than 20 years. Read more here
Research News & Updates
Dr. Roslyn Mannon explores post-transplant drugs' effect on kidneys - Kidney transplants save lives, but, all too often, the medications necessary to prevent organ rejection injure the transplanted kidney. Roslyn "Roz" Mannon, MD, has received a four-year, $500,000 grant from the Veterans Administration to explore a new mouse model she discovered that mimics injury caused by immunosuppressant drugs cyclosporine A and tacrolimus. Read more here.
Great job to Drs. Saras Viswanathan and Cyrus Desouza for being awarded a multi-PI VA CSRD Merit for the study "TP-R: a novel mediator of obesity-linked insulin resistance in humans."
Congratulations to Thuy Koll, MD, division of geriatrics and palliative medicine, for having her NIH LRP award funded. The NIH Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs) are a set of programs established by Congress and designed to recruit and retain highly qualified health professionals into biomedical or biobehavioral research careers. To find out more program information please visit the NIH website here.
Congratulations to Drs. Todd Wyatt, Kristina Bailey, and Patrick Reid for being awarded a special 2-year VA Merit Award mechanism to study COVID-19 in relation to Veterans health. It uses the VA I-01 funding mechanism. They will look at environmental factors contributing to the exposome common in the Veterans population (advanced age, smoking, alcohol) and how these change the airway innate responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection as well as COVID-19 severity. Dr. Wyatt has another active VA grant that studies the lung surfactant (SP-D) which is the specific one that binds the spike protein. What we inhale can sometimes change the structure and function of this anti-microbial. This may be why smokers are an at-risk group for developing severe COVID-19 pathogenesis. The grant provides $342,500 is direct costs and will go through August 2022.
UNMC Today & Other News
Dr. Bhatt helps update leukemia management guidelines
Vijaya Raj Bhatt, MD, is part of an international panel that created guidelines on managing acute leukemias and myeloid neoplasms in COVID-19 times. Dr. Bhatt is an associate professor and medical director of the leukemia program in the UNMC Department of Internal Medicine Division of Hematology-Oncology. Read more here.
Education News
Zooming to success
As Zoom classes have become the norm, so has ingenuity. David O'Dell, MD, recently led the adaption of a course called Internal Medicine 722 -- IM722 - an advanced internal medicine elective course for senior medical students. Read more about the challenges and rewards here.
Each quarter the junior (M3) students get an opportunity to choose which of the residents were the best teachers and mentors during that quarter. The following were chosen by the Jan - March students as:
Best Supervisory Resident Teacher and Mentor - Drs. AJ Spanel and Dua'A Abdallah
Best Intern Resident Teacher and Mentor - Drs. Bridgette Hafner, Zachary Kwapnoski, and Beth Neilsen
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Despite women now slightly outnumbering men in US medical school matriculating classes, there are still fewer women academic faculty at associate professor, professor levels, fewer women department chairs, deans, or other leadership levels in medicine. The numbers look even worse for women of color, who are notably absent in many of these roles. Dr. Julie Silver, course director of the Career Advancement and Leadership Skills for Women in Healthcare course and leader of Promoting and Respecting Our Women Doctors (PROWD Women, of which Drs. Jasmine Marcelin and Kelly Cawcutt are participants), launched the #HerTimeIsNow campaign (co-sponsored by the American Medical Women’s Association and Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine organizations) to empower uplifting of women in medicine. Dr. Deb Romberger graciously sponsored 200 masks from this campaign commemorating Women In Medicine Month. The campaign consists of masks with the #HerTimeIsNow slogan, and a report with recommendations on how we can contribute to equitable representation of women in leadership, which is open access for sharing. This campaign is not only for women; men are encouraged to participate! Celebrate Women in Medicine month by proudly wearing a #HerTimeIsNow mask and supporting the women physicians you work with. The masks Dr. Romberger purchased will first be made available to trainees, who can obtain them on a first-come-first-serve basis from Kristi Graybill’s office until September 17, 2020. Starting September 18, any leftover masks will be available for faculty to collect from Briann Moore. Anyone interested in obtaining masks for themselves or their workgroup, can purchase from the AMWA website. Please take photos of yourself and colleagues with your new masks and email to Dr. Jasmine Marcelin and Shannon Thomsen for dissemination on the Internal Medicine Residency and Department of Internal Medicine social media accounts. On September 30, 2020, there will be a huge social media push to support underrepresented women in medicine, so be sure to participate on that day too! Thank you Dr. Romberger for this generous gift and your support!
New Faces, Promotions or Committee Involvement

Congratulations to Dr. Ted Mikuls for being named the incoming chair for the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Rheumatology Research Foundation. Behind the NIH, RRF is the largest funder of rheumatology / arthritis research in the U.S. Dr. Mikuls will start the three year role sometime this fall, in conjunction with the annual American College of Rheumatology meeting in November. 
Congratulations to Angela Peppers, Vice Chair of Finance for IM, who will serve on the AAIM Business of Medicine Initiative Task Force. The AAIM Business of Medicine 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 a “business of medicine” initiative; items for consideration include establishing the definitions and domains of the “business of medicine”; developing curricular “content tracks” for physicians and administrators in the established domains; assessing and recommending modalities of providing this content to members and non-members.
Congratulations Dr. Angela Hewlett who will assume the role of President of the national Musculoskeletal Infection Society in August 2020. Dr. Hewlett's term as President of the Musculoskeletal Infection Society (MSIS) begins in August 2020.  The MSIS is a multidisciplinary educational and scientific organization, comprised primarily of Orthopaedic surgeons, Infectious Diseases specialists and basic science researchers, with the goal of advancing knowledge in the field of musculoskeletal infection.
Congratulations to Dr. Craig Piquette for being nominated to the Outcomes Subcommittee at CHEST, American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP). Dr. Piquette's term starts this November and will end October 2021.
Dr. Adam Karevoll was selected to be a UNMC resident representative on the Nebraska ACP Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC). He joins the NE ACP Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC) for a 1-year term. During that term, representatives are asked to participate in GAC meetings and email discussions as they arise.
Congratulations to Kaleb Michaud, PhD, who is serving an additional 3-year term as a member of the research and development committee.
Dr. Chris D’Angelo joined UNMC on August 1st, 2020 focusing on Malignant and non-Malignant Hematology. He joins us from the University of Wisconsin Hematology Department where he completed his Fellowship. He graduated from the University Of Illinois College Of Medicine in Chicago and completed his residency at the University of Chicago, Department of Internal Medicine.
His research area of interest is the gut microbiome in oncologic diseases in general and multiple myeloma in particular. He plans to conduct microbiome sample collection, storage, DNA processing, sequencing, and analysis of the microbiome, which will be his main goal in developing as an independent investigator within this flourishing academic field. He intends to further develop this discipline as a resource for our division with the aim to apply and secure independent research funding within the first three years. As this program grows, he plans to extend this multi-disciplinary collaboration into the fields of metabolomics, immunology, and nutritional sciences to further enhance our position as strong competitors for external funding.
The College of Medicine has named the search committee for the associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion position. Emily McElroy, Dean of the McGoogan Library for Health Sciences, and Jasmine Marcelin, MD, assistant professor, infectious disease, will co-chair the committee. Read more here.
Welcome to the Department of Internal Medicine
Christopher D'Angelo, Assistant Professor, Oncology/Hematology
Ian Cormier, MSSB, Assistant Professor, Hospital Medicine
Arif Albulushi, M.D., Assistant Professor, Cardiovascular Services
Anum Abbaas, MBBS, Assistant Professor, Infectious Diseases
Pillalamarri Narasimha, Ph.D., Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Cardiovascular Services
Furqan Khattak, M.D., Assistant Professor, Cardiovascular Services
Wen Xue, Ph.D., Post-doctoral Research Associate, Cardiovascular Services
Peter Mannon, MD, named to Center for Scientific Review study section, will serve as a member of the Gastrointestinal Mucosal Pathobiology Study Section, Center for Scientific Review, for the term that began July 1 and will end on June 30, 2023. Read more here.
ABIM announces new specialty board and exam committee members: Cyrus Desouza, MBBS, and Whitney Goldner, MD, are among those appointed by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) to its governance structure. Read more here.
Dr. David A Kline, MD just completed his Infectious Disease fellowship at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX. For a year prior to fellowship, he was a staff internist with the San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Education Consortium at BAMC and Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center and participated in resident clinical education. He completed residency at Wright State University/Wright-Patterson Medical Center in Dayton, OH and completed both undergraduate and medical school studies at the University of Kentucky. He grew up in Winston-Salem, NC and Owensboro, KY, and now resides in Council Bluffs. He has been married to his wife, Anna-Kathryn, for nearly 12 years and has 4 children: Lisette (6), Cecilia (4), Jane-Louise (2.5), and Wolf (3 mos), and a hamster, Pipkin. He is enthused about participating in launching C-STARS Omaha's Principles of Biocontainment and getting involved in clinical education at UNMC.
Faculty Development - Dr. Shannon Boerner
Faculty welcomed one another at the recent New Faculty Orientation and Mentoring Kickoff. Thanks to members of the Faculty Development Task Force that served as facilitators - Drs. Sara May, Poonam Velagapudi, Carol Casey, and Kristina Bailey. This event offered our faculty an opportunity to build connections and network with one another, along with providing an overview of important departmental resources and contacts. Thanks to those who could join! If you are interested in a brief (10 min) e-module highlighting this event, please CLICK HERE
I have had the pleasure of helping nearly 35 faculty to establish mentoring relationships for the 2020-21 academic year. A special thanks to those serving as mentors - I appreciate your willingness to give of your time and expertise in this way. If you could use assistance in building a mentoring connection, please reach me directly at
Division Events & Other News
The Diabetes, Endocrine, and Metabolism division is holding a symposium on October 9th from 8:00-4:30 pm via Zoom. To find out more about the agenda, objectives, and to register visit their website here.
Congratulations to Poonam Velagapudi, MD, for the successful Midwest Women in Cardiology symposium held in early September. Dr. Velagapudi was not only the Chair of the programming planning committee but a speaker and moderator as well. Swethika Sundaravel, MD, cardiology fellow, was the moderator for the posters. Neha Goyal, MD, was on the panel for posters. Andy Goldsweig, MD, attended and helped start the meeting as the president of the Nebraska ACC. Debra Romberger, MD, was also a moderator of the Mentorship & Sponsorship for Women in Cardiology discussion.
Grand Rounds resumed on September 4th, hosted by the Gastroenterology and Hepatology division. The topic was "Screening for Pancreatic Cancer: Ready for Prime Time” presented by Mandeep Sawhney, MD, MS, FASGE, Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. You can view upcoming Grand Rounds topics by visiting the Grand Rounds website here. Grand Rounds are virtual until further notice. If you have any questions about Grand Rounds please reach out to Briann Moore.
Did you see the recent COM Employee of the Month? It was me (shucks). Thank you for the nomination!! Read the story here.
UNMC Department of Internal Medicine
983332 Nebraska Medical Center
Omaha, NE 68198-3332
402-559-6315 (phone)