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Faculty and Staff Recognitions

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Photo of Beth DrydenIt is with sadness that we share that Beth Dryden, the lead admin for Gastroenterology, passed away in February after courageously battling cancer. Beth was with GI for the past two years before retiring in August due to complications from her illness. She worked for UMass for 16 years. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Beth’s family, friends, and co-workers.  

View the obituary.

Photo of trash collectedOver the February school vacation week, Melanie Trombly, PhD, assistant professor of medicine, and Maritza Vazquez-Byrnes, both of the Department of Medicine, volunteered along with other members of the UMass Chan community at City View Elementary School in Worcester.  

As part of UMass Chan’s partnership with the Worcester Public Schools through its North Quadrant Support Initiative, volunteers helped clean out the library in preparation for the school’s new STEM lab, organized the food pantry, and helped sort various school materials. 

We thank them for their service to our local community!

Photo of Jeffrey Rade, MDJeffrey Rade, MD, medical director of the Heart and Vascular Interventional Laboratory and professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, was the recipient of the 2024 Heart of Gold Award - Heart & Vascular Professional at this year’s Central Massachusetts Heart and Stroke Ball.  

Dr. Rade was honored for his vital role in running the STEMI PCI service at UMass Memorial Medical Center. This service provides support to over 250 patients every year presenting with acute heart attacks, with lifesaving procedures. His leadership of this critical service has been invaluable in improving outcomes for cardiovascular patients in Central Massachusetts and the surrounding areas. 

Congratulations, Dr. Rade!

Photo of Savant Mehta, MDSavant Mehta, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology, has been named a fellow by both the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE). Both fellowships are awarded to members whose accomplishments and contributions have significantly advanced the field of endoscopy and gastroenterology. 

We congratulate Dr. Mehta on these prestigious honors. 

Photo of Safdar Medina, MDIn February, Safdar Medina, MD, assistant professor of medicine and director of Pediatrics at Tri-River Family Health Center, spoke with NPR about the ongoing challenges of drug addiction in the pediatric population and the use of medically assisted treatment to help these patients. Dr. Medina is one of the many pediatricians who works with the adolescent population in fighting addiction, and notes it is one of the most rewarding things he does. “If we can take care of it, we have produced an adult that will no longer have a lifetime of these challenges to worry about,” said Dr. Medina. 

We also congratulate Dr. Medina for being nominated for the Massachusetts School Nurse Organization (MSNO) Friend of School Nursing Award. Dr. Medina serves as the school physician for the Northborough-Southborough school district and frequently gives his time talking to parents and students about substance abuse, mental health, and diversity. Additionally, he serves as the medical consultant for the School Health Unit at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The award will be presented at the MSNO spring conference in March. 

Listen to the full interview.

Photo of the book cover, OnwardDr. James Fanale’s career has been devoted to healing and caring for patients. A former physician and chief of Geriatric Medicine at UMass Chan Medical School/UMass Memorial Health and later CEO of Care New England in Rhode Island, Dr. Fanale’s life took an unexpected turn when he was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in March 2022 and abruptly thrust into the role of patient. Despite this diagnosis nearly two years ago, his call to care for others did not end. “Jim has been open about his diagnosis and journey, and what he has learned through his experience,” said Sarah McGee, MD, clinical chief and professor of medicine in the Division of Geriatric Medicine. His book, Onward: A Teaching, and a Love Story – for Physicians, and Everyone, and featured in a Special Article in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, was published this past September and tells of his experience of being both a doctor and the patient.  

With myriad professional accomplishments and accolades, Dr. Fanale has indeed made a lasting impact through his leadership roles at hospitals in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, as well as a past president of the American Geriatrics Society. He has also given generously to developing the next generation of geriatricians through his support of programs like the Geriatric Interprofessional Immersion Program for UMass Chan Medical School residents. “Jim pioneered the specialty of geriatric medicine in central Massachusetts,” said Jerry Gurwitz, MD, division chief and professor of medicine in the Division of Geriatric Medicine. “His leadership of the American Geriatrics Society, along with his philanthropic efforts have had an amazing impact on the field of geriatrics at UMass and nationally.” In January, Dr. Fanale was awarded the Stephen J. Hagerty Memorial Award at the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association’s Annual Meeting, and most recently, the reopening of the Acute Care for Elders (ACE) Unit at Kent Hospital in Rhode Island was dedicated in honor of his groundbreaking work developing ACE units which are now in hospitals all across the country.  

Through his personal narrative in Onward, Dr. Fanale continues on his path of service by pulling back the curtain on his own experience as a patient, adding further depth to his many contributions and legacy. 

Onward: A Teaching, and a Love Story – for Physicians, and Everyone is available for purchase on Amazon.  

Read the feature in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Photo of Nancy Skehan, MDNancy Skehan, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine, and Clerkship Director for Internal Medicine, has been hard at work in collaboration with UMass Chan faculty members in developing a new medical student curriculum for the Vista program. The new curriculum goes beyond the biomedical and pathophysiological components of patient care and focuses on understanding patient environments and exploring socioeconomic pressures to keep patients healthy following their time in the hospital.

“A lot of the training that we provide in medical education is inpatient-based and allows us to consolidate a lot of experience in a short period of time,” said Dr. Skehan. “The reality of the care that’s actually delivered to our patients is vastly in the outpatient setting." 

Read the full story.

Photo of Mary Callery O’Brien, MDPhysician-educator, Mary Callery O’Brien, MD, is passionate about medical education. Since she completed her chief residency at UMass Chan Medical School in the mid-1990s, Dr. O’Brien has developed and led innovative curricula for medical students in the T.H. Chan School of Medicine.

Dr. O’Brien finds the work that she does in the medical school profoundly rewarding and encourages her physician colleagues to consider teaching. “Education in the Department of Medicine and at UMass Chan has always been considered important and that's why I have stayed because there are a lot of opportunities, even for community practitioners,” she said.

Read the full story.

Photo of Dr. Taki MichaelidisLike many hospitals, UMass Memorial Medical Center is in the midst of an ongoing capacity crisis which has been particularly burdensome in the intensive care unit (ICU). While the UMass Memorial Health (UMMH) Hospital at Home (HAH) Program, started in August 2021, has periodically cared for patients coming from the ICU, their teams see the potential for greater collaboration.

HAH and Critical Care launched a closer partnership in January which is already showing strong outcomes. “It is still early but we'll continue to work together to build this relationship,” said Taki Michaelidis, MD, MBA, MS, medical director for the UMMH HAH Program.

Read the full story.

Photo of Jeremy Soonhyouk Kwon, MDIn this month’s Resident Spotlight, we highlight Jeremy Soonhyouk Kwon, MD, a third-year Internal Medicine resident. Here, Dr. Kwon describes his clinical interests, what makes UMass Chan a great place for residency, and his favorite thing to do in the Worcester area. 

"Dr. Kopec and my co-residents make what should be a tough job into a fun job!"

Read the full spotlight.

Photo of Fizzah Iqbal, MBBSIn this month’s Fellow Spotlight, we highlight Fizzah Iqbal, MBBS, an Endocrinology fellow. Here, Dr. Iqbal describes her clinical and research interests, why she chose UMass Chan for her fellowship, and her favorite place to travel. 

"I have been fortunate to work with a diverse and experienced team that emphasizes independent thinking and encourages constant learning."

Read the full spotlight.

Photo of Abbas Rupawala, MDIn this month’s Chair’s Spotlight, we highlight Abbas Rupawala, MD, director of the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Center and assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology. In February, we spoke with Dr. Rupawala to gain insights into what inspires him, and learn about his work, as well as ongoing studies for patients with inflammatory bowel disease. 

"Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are debilitating illnesses, but if we can treat them in time and lead our patients’ care appropriately, we can impact their quality of life, so working with these patients is very gratifying.”

Read the full spotlight.

Jennifer GermainThe DoM Clinical Research Core would like to thank Jennifer Germain who will be leaving UMass Chan at the end of this month. Jennifer served as the Director of Clinical Operations for the Clinical Research Core since its inception. She has been crucial in supporting clinical trial development, staffing, and regulatory guidance, and has served as a tremendous leader and mentor for the clinical research coordinators throughout the department.

The Core team wishes Jennifer all the best in her future position with Beth Israel Lahey Health Network. 

David Smelson, PsyD, professor of medicine in the Division of Health Systems Science, has been awarded a 2024 National Institutes of Health HEAL Initiative Award for Mentorship. The NIH HEAL Award for Mentorship recognizes HEAL-funded researchers who demonstrate exceptional commitment to the development and mentorship of early career scientists in the pain and addiction research fields. Dr. Smelson was awarded this honor for his commitment to creating a supportive environment, demonstrating integrity, and commitment to inclusion and diversity to help prepare researchers to become mentors in the future.  

We congratulate Dr. Smelson on this honor.

Learn more.

In an Opinion article, published in Trends in Immunology earlier this month, Stefania Gallucci, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Innate Immunity and faculty in the Program in Innate Immunity, proposes that extracellular DNA (eDNA), a crucial component of the matrix of most biofilms, is a universal ID (identity card) that the immune system uses to recognize biofilms.  

Most bacteria can form biofilms which are complex fortresses against a hostile environment. Recurrent and chronic infections are associated with forming biofilms that are resistant to antibiotics and pose a major challenge in treating recalcitrant bacterial infections.  

Understanding whether and how the immune system recognizes the presence of biofilms is important so that we can improve therapeutic approaches to biofilm-carrying infections.  

Read the full publication.

Fiachra Humphries, PhDFiachra Humphries, PhD, recently had his study titled, “ECSIT Facilitates Memory CD8+ T Cell Development by Mediating Fumarate Synthesis During Viral Infection and Tumorigenesis,” published in Nature Cell Biology. The study focuses on how certain immune cells, called memory CD8+ T cells, help the body fight against tumors. Dr. Humphries and his team discovered a protein called ECSIT that is crucial for the formation of memory CD8+ T cells and helps produce a substance called fumarate inside T cells, which activates a specific gene program controlled by a protein called TCF-1.  

Dr. Humphries and his team also found that higher levels of ECSIT in T cells are associated with a particular type of memory CD8+ T cells and cancer patients with higher levels of ECSIT tend to have better survival rates. When the team restored the levels of fumarate in T cells that lacked ECSIT using fumarate-based therapeutics, the T cells regained their ability to fight tumors effectively. This finding suggests that fumarate-based treatments could be used to enhance the function of CD8+ T cells in the tumor environment and improve the effectiveness of checkpoint immunotherapy, a type of cancer treatment. 

Read the full publication.

Jay-Hyuck Shim, PhDJay-Hyuck Shim, PhD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, along with his co-PI, Julia Alterman, PhD of RNA Therapeutics, has received a Pilot Project Program award from the UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science for their project titled, “Development of a Novel RNA Interference as a Therapeutic Agent for Rheumatoid Arthritis.”

For their project, they aim to develop a novel siRNA-based therapy that suppresses inflammation in Rheumatoid Arthritis while promoting the healing of inflammation-induced bone loss. Specifically, Dr. Shim’s work will focus on the development of a bone-anabolic siRNA that targets endogenous bone-forming suppressor Schnurri-3 and an anti-inflammatory siRNA that targets interleukin-1 signaling. 

Lara Kovell, MDLara Kovell, MD, recently received a K23 award from the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to study the development of a mobile health intervention for blood pressure management in pregnancy. Dr. Kovell aims to develop the digital health approach, “Moms@Home”, to support home blood pressure monitoring for women with hypertension during pregnancy. Using this approach, Dr. Kovell will work to improve the quality and cultural relevance of hypertension care by examining the effects of Moms@Home on home blood pressure monitoring in a diverse population of pregnant women with hypertension. 

Dr. Kovell will be joined by experienced mentors on the study including David McManus, MD, ScM, the Richard M. Haidack Professor of Medicine, chair, and professor of medicine in the Department of Medicine, and other faculty at UMass Chan.  

Fiachra Humphries, PhDFiachra Humphries, PhD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Innate Immunity and faculty in the Program in Innate Immunity, Rigel Chan, MD of Neurology, and Elaine Lim, PhD of Genomics & Computational Biology, have received pilot funding from the PolyBio Research Foundation.

The study team plans to investigate the potential connection and impact of long COVID on neurodegenerative disease. Specifically, the team will work to determine the relationship between the herpes virus and Alzheimer’s Disease to identify new strategies for limiting viral replication and developing treatments for severe COVID-19.

Learn more.

Roberto Caricchio, MDRoberto Caricchio, MD, the Myles J. McDonough Chair in Rheumatology, chief of the Division of Rheumatology, co-director of the Lupus Center, and professor of medicine, recently received a $1.2 million award from the Lupus Research Alliance to support the development of a biorepository and registry at the Lupus Center at UMass Chan. The Lupus Landmark Study and research biorepository, Lupus Nexus, was launched by the Lupus Research Alliance and its clinical research affiliate Lupus Therapeutics, with UMass Chan being one of the first seven to participate. As a contributor to the design of the repository, Dr. Caricchio aims to enroll enough patients to provide sufficient materials for scientists and clinical investigators to pursue projects that will result in a better understanding of the disease.

"Lupus is a very diverse disease from a clinical point of view and from a human point of view. Unfortunately, many lupus patients don't respond to approved medications. We need to take care of those patients and understand why they're not responding to treatment. That's why these biorepositories are so important," said Dr. Caricchio.

Read the full article.

Irina RaduThis month, we feature Irina Radu, MD, MHA, as our Postdoc Spotlight. Dr. Radu is a postdoctoral research fellow in the lab of Dr. Khanh-Van Tran in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and co-president of the UMass Chan Postdoctoral Association.

"To me, UMass Chan has proven to be the ideal environment for growth—a place where you can find support for your innovative ideas and where you can transform dreams into reality."

Read the full spotlight.

Mingqi DongThis month in our Graduate Student Spotlight, we feature Mingqi Dong, a student in the Fitzgerald lab and the Immunology and Microbiology Program at UMass Chan. 

"I’m currently studying the cellular and molecular landscape changes in the brain when a fundamental antiviral pathway in microglia goes rogue. Hopefully, in the future, I can contribute to the therapeutic development for patients with neurological diseases by applying the skills and knowledge I gained at UMass."

Read the full spotlight.

Lara KovellIn this month’s Researcher Spotlight, we highlight physician-scientist, Lara Kovell, MD, an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. Dr. Kovell’s work focuses on implementing evidence-based interventions, grounded in culturally relevant practices, to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease in women. Specifically, the long-term goal of her research is to improve care and outcomes for pregnant women with hypertension. Dr. Kovell also serves as the director of the Internal Medicine Residency Research Track and is the inaugural director of the Women’s Pregnancy and Heart Disease Clinic.  

"We have worked with many incredible women in the Worcester community, who have been willing to share their own stories about their own devastating complications related to hypertension and preeclampsia. Their selfless dedication to support others impacted by hypertension and our research inspires and fuels me to continue this work to improve the care of hypertension in pregnancy."

Read the full spotlight.

Pulmonary Care at UMass Memorial Health has been ranked as one of the best in their specialty area in a new ranking out last week from Healthgrades. Healthgrades ranked hospitals in 32 states in 18 specialties to determine the Specialty State Rankings. Congratulations to the Pulmonary team! 

Read the full article.

Christopher Marshall, MD, clinical chief, and assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology, was featured in an article by Everyday Health titled, “What Should I Cook if I Have Heartburn?” In the article, Dr. Marshall and other contributors discuss ways to adjust eating habits to lower the risk of heartburn. He explains that an important first step to minimize heartburn is identifying individual triggers, as different foods can trigger heartburn for different people. He adds that one common cause of heartburn is fatty foods, as the fat can coax stomach acid into the esophagus, causing discomfort.  


“If someone says they eat a big greasy meal and they get heartburn, the first thing they can do is not do that,” said Dr. Marshall. 

Read the full article.

Samir Malkani, MD, clinical chief and professor of medicine, and Amin Sabet, MD, assistant professor of medicine, of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, were featured in yesterday’s Boston 25 News report, “Weight-Loss Wonder Drugs: Mass. Doctors Explain Who Should be Really Taking Them.”  

Drs. Malkani and Sabet discussed the growing popularity of medications such as Ozempic, originally introduced for diabetes, but later proven to assist with weight loss. They explained that although taking these drugs can lead to significant weight loss, all of the medications have risks and potential side effects that need to be discussed with patients.  

“I don’t have a hesitation of prescribing it as long as the person really understands what it’s all about and what the effects could be,” said Dr. Sabat. “It’s a very exciting field. People who didn’t have a lot of great options before, we’re seeing great options for them.”

Watch the report.

The Division of Health Systems Science is pleased to announce that as of January 1, 2024, Mitch Gitkind, MD, professor of medicine and surgery, and assistant dean for GME quality and patient safety education, will be serving in the role of Interim Advisor for Health Systems Science Education and Quality Scholarship.Through this role, Dr. Gitkind will assist in expanding Health Systems Science education-related opportunities at the undergraduate, graduate, and faculty levels at UMass Chan. Dr. Gitkind received his medical degree from UMass Chan Medical School and completed his internship and residency at the Memorial Campus of UMass Memorial Medical Center (UMMMC) (formerly known as Worcester Memorial Hospital). He completed a fellowship in gastroenterology through Tufts University School of Medicine. His current clinical focus is obesity medicine and bariatric surgery.  

He has held multiple positions in hospital administration at UMMMC, including associate chief quality officer and associate chief medical officer. He is an experienced educator, having mentored over 100 quality improvement projects for faculty and trainees, and has developed and delivered curriculum on QI, patient safety, conflict resolution, and clinical topics. In 2017, Dr. Gitkind became an assistant dean, and assumed responsibility for the development and support of QI, patient safety, and health care disparities curriculum for the school’s more than 600 residents and fellows in ACGME-approved programs. From 2019 through 2023, he was part of the leadership team that oversaw the creation of “Vista,” a new three-pillar undergraduate medical education curriculum that added health systems science to the T.H. Chan School of Medicine’s MD programs.  

Congratulations Dr. Gitkind on this new role!

Sunita Puri, MD, MS, associate professor of medicine and program director of the hospice and palliative medicine fellowship, and Stacy E. Potts, MD, MEd, professor of family medicine and community health and senior associate dean for graduate medical education and clinical affairs, will be leading a new pilot training program where residents and fellows can build competence and confidence in discussions of apology and disclosure, to improve patient safety. The new training program is one of the six recipients of the 2024 Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation Catalyst Award for Transformation in Graduate Medical Education and is expected to start in May 2024. 

Read the full article.

Each year the Primary Care Track of the Internal Medicine Residency holds an off-campus retreat for residents to learn about and discuss a topic of particular importance and relevance to their training. This full-day event is a unique opportunity for them to step outside the clinical setting to engage in meaningful dialogue together and with invited speakers. This year’s retreat, to be held in March, will focus on gender-affirming care. 

Elizabeth Murphy, MD, program director of the Primary Care Track and associate professor of medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine, is organizing the retreat and chose this topic for a variety of reasons. “I've had residents in the past who have told me that [a patient] opened up to them in a visit and said, ‘I want to live my life as a different gender,’ and they were afraid or didn't know what to say or do,” said Dr. Murphy. “We want to make sure that our residents, if presented with this situation, can provide care that is supportive and warm—and even if they don't have all the answers, they know where to go to find them. That’s my main goal.”  

This year’s retreat will feature Stephen Dunn, DO, a graduate of the Internal Medicine Residency at UMass Chan, primary care physician, and director of medical education at Fenway Health in Boston, who will speak about primary care for  LGBTQI patients including health screening for transgender patients and prescribing hormones to transgender patients. Speakers will also include patients and family members, Joy Lee, PhD, a researcher from PQHS, and Nadine Smith, a speech and language pathologist who cares for transgender patients. Dr. Murphy is currently working to finalize additional guest speakers including physicians, researchers, and other members of the UMass Chan/UMMH community. 

As she plans this day, Dr. Murphy is grateful for the support she has received from leadership in the Department of Medicine, in particular, Deborah Blazey-Martin, MD, MPH, vice chair for ambulatory affairs in the Department of Medicine, chief of General Internal Medicine, and associate professor of medicine. “Dr. Blazey-Martin has been incredibly supportive as we build this program into the track,” said Dr. Murphy. 

Dr. Murphy is passionate about gender-affirming care in her roles as a physician, educator, and advocate but, most importantly, in her role as an aunt. “One of the reasons that I'm so interested in this is that I have a transgender niece, and before I experienced her transition, this was extremely foreign to me,” said Dr. Murphy. “I watched my niece be so sad as the little boy that she was born as and always knowing that she was a girl… and [now that she has transitioned] is a spectacularly beautiful person in all aspects. For me, that was the most transformative thing. If I can help other providers who have not experienced the positive impact when someone can safely and effectively transition, then that is an important goal for me.” 

In late 2023, Geriatric Medicine welcomed its first ambulatory physician lead (APL), Linsey Barker, DO, to help guide the geriatric clinic as its team continues to grow. Dr. Barker, a clinician and assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Geriatric Medicine, enthusiastically took on this new role, and aims to help strengthen processes by thinking creatively and working collaboratively with all members of the clinic.  

“[The geriatrics clinic] is very much a team-based model. We recognize that when we are caring for older adult patients who may have more medical complexity and other things that need to be taken into consideration, we need to take a team-based approach,” said Dr. Barker. “Having just started recently at UMass, I am still figuring out processes, but I am excited. I work [in the clinic] regularly and get to see what works well and maybe areas where we could continue to improve upon, especially as our group is growing.” 

Dr. Barker also recognizes and is appreciative of the wealth of knowledge and experience that surrounds her as she establishes herself in her practice and as the clinic’s first APL. “A lot of my colleagues have been here for a while and really know what's worked before and what hasn't, so it is great to be able to have conversations with them and get their feedback.”  

Dr. Barker’s passion for her work as a geriatrician and team-based care was seeded early in her medical training and flourished during her internal medicine residency at UMass Chan. Although her intention was always to pursue a career in geriatric medicine, Dr. Barker’s interests grew while rotating with the geriatrics group. In the clinic, she spent time learning from and working with Dr. Erika Zimmons. She was also able to work with Dr. Jerry Gurwitz on various research projects. “[Dr. Gurwitz] was a great mentor and strongly advocated for me to pursue a career in geriatrics,” said Dr. Barker.  

After Dr. Barker completed her chief residency, she chose to pursue her fellowship training at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston so that she could experience how geriatric medicine was practiced in an environment with a different patient population. Her training there enriched her learning and broadened her perspectives, which she hopes to incorporate as she establishes her practice in Worcester. As Dr. Barker embarks upon her career and new role as APL, she is excited for what the future holds. “I'm always trying to think about ways that we could think differently or get creative, so I’m very excited to be in this role.” 

Dr. Barker earned her medical degree at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed her internal medicine residency and chief residency in internal medicine at UMass Chan Medical School and her fellowship in geriatric medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Dr. Barker joined the faculty at UMass Chan/UMass Memorial Health in August 2023.  

In this month’s Resident Spotlight, we highlight Anna Gubala, MD, a third-year Internal Medicine resident on the research track. Here, Dr. Gubala describes her research interests, her involvement with different groups and activities at UMass Chan, and her favorite activities in the Worcester area. 

"UMass Chan is a great place to train for residency because of the supportive and wonderful community of residents and physicians, as well as the high clinical volume and sick patients."

Read Dr. Gubala's full spotlight.

In this month’s Fellowship Spotlight, we highlight Qadija Qadri, MD, an Infectious Diseases and Immunology fellow. Here, Dr. Qadri describes her clinical and research interests, why she chose UMass for her fellowship, and why New England is her favorite vacation spot!  

"UMass is a leading institution providing fellows with an opportunity for outstanding experiences. Training at the medical center offers exposure to a diverse patient population and helps build a solid foundation in knowledge and clinical expertise."

Read Dr. Qadri's full spotlight.

Brigid Carlson, MD, is a clinician and assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine who sees inpatient and outpatient populations in the UMass Memorial Health system. Her inpatient work focuses on cardiac critical care, and in her outpatient cardiology clinics, she sees a full spectrum of patients on the University campus and at Shrewsbury Internal Medicine. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Carlson, learn more about her work as a cardiologist, and, in alignment with February’s American Heart Health Month, pick up some important tips for improving heart health for ourselves and our families. 

“I think that a lot of times with diet and healthy food choices, [physicians] talk about things to avoid. I tell my patients to try to have five fruits or vegetables in a day, so rather than thinking, ‘I can't have that’ which can be discouraging and hard to maintain, I ask them to make sure that they’ve prioritized healthy foods first.” 

Read Dr. Carlson's full spotlight.

Congratulations to Jeffrey Stoff, MD, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Medicine and chief of Renal Medicine, on his retirement! Friends, family, and colleagues gathered to celebrate and show their gratitude to Dr. Stoff on Thursday, February 1. We wish him the very best in his future endeavors!

Happy New Year from the DoM Clinical Research Core. If you are interested in learning more about the services that are offered through the Core or would like to submit a request for assistance, please visit our website.

We look forward to working with you in 2024!  

Apurv Soni, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Health Systems Science, Clinical Informatics Section, and a co-director in the Program in Digital Medicine, was recently featured in Scientific American. In the article titled, “Do Fainter Lines on Home COVID Tests Mean You’re Getting Better?”, Dr. Soni and other contributors discuss COVID-19 tests and their ability to indicate the severity of the infection. They explain that the darker the lines appear on a COVID test, the more infection is present. However, tests that show fainter lines are said to contain fewer antigens, meaning the virus is less present in the body. Dr. Soni notes that human error is an important part of how much we can learn by looking at the intensity of tests. He further explains that carefully swabbing for a sample would collect more antigens, therefore producing a clearer result. From there, the patient can interpret whether their infection is more or less severe. 

Learn more.

Timothy P. Fitzgibbons, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, was interviewed in a Boston Globe article titled, “Two People Have Died After Drinking Panera’s ‘Charged’ Beverages. Is Marketing to Blame?”. The article describes Panera’s newest caffeinated drinks and the dangers they pose to customers with preexisting health conditions. Two customers died after consuming the drinks, both with preexisting health conditions. "I’m almost certain they didn’t realize how much caffeine was in the beverage,” stated Dr. Fitzgibbons. He continued that the amount of caffeine in the “charged” beverages is too much, even for a person without any underlying health conditions.

Learn more.

During January and February, the Annals of Internal Medicine is highlighting a list of the most influential articles published in 2023. Included, is the July 2023 article, “Performance of Rapid Antigen Tests to Detect Symptomatic and Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infection – A Prospective Cohort Study,” by investigators in the Department of Medicine and the Program in Digital Medicine, colleagues from the Departments of Emergency Medicine, Microbiology and Physiological Systems, and Population and Quantitative Health Sciences at UMass Chan, the UMass Center for Clinical & Translational Science, and collaborators from Northwestern University, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, as well as government and industry.


The study evaluated the performance of rapid antigen tests for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in symptomatic and asymptomatic participants and included over 7,000 participants from throughout the United States. Investigators found that the performance of rapid antigen tests were optimized when asymptomatic participants tested three times and when symptomatic participants tested two times, both at 48-hour intervals.

Authors from the Department of Medicine and/or Program in Digital Medicine included Apurv Soni, MD, PhD, Honghuang Lin, PhD, Biqi Wang, PhD, David D. McManus, MD, ScM, Laura Gibson, MD, Nisha Fahey, DO, ScM, and Laurel O’Connor, MD.

“…COVID-19 seemed to settle into its endemic period, no longer dominating the news or our pages but still inspiring science to move forward with better understanding of treatments, long-term effects of infection, and mitigation strategies,” said Christine Laine, MD, MPH, editor and chief of Annals of Internal Medicine. 

Congratulations to all who were involved in this study! 

Learn more.

Harris Feldman, MD, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Program in Digital Medicine under the mentorship of Apurv Soni, MD, PhD, has been selected as the 2024 TL1 Postdoctoral Trainee for his project titled, “Characterization of Inflammatory Bowel Disease Flares using Electronic Medical Record and Home-based Collection of Data and Identifying Multimodal Predictors of Flares.”

This award, issued by the UMass Center for Clinical & Translational Science, will assist Dr. Feldman as he furthers his training in digital medicine and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Learn more about the TL1 training award.

Stefania Gallucci, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Innate Immunity, recently received R21 funding from the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for her project titled, “Reprogramming of the Innate Immunometabolism by Bacterial Biofilms.” 

In this project, Dr. Gallucci will explore the innate immune response against bacterial biofilms through the characterization of the transcriptional and metabolic changes occurring in dendritic cells (DC) upon recognition of bacterial amyloids. She hopes to reveal new metabolic pathways as novel therapeutic candidates, starting with the purine pathway, an understudied pathway in DC biology, to strengthen innate responses against biofilm-driven infections.

Lisa Cavacini, PhD, professor of medicine in the Division of Innate Immunity, was recently awarded funding from the Department of Defense, for her project, “Preclinical Development of an Oral Nanobody Prophylactic to Prevent Diarrheal Disease.” Her project focuses on Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC), the leading bacterial cause of diarrhea-associated illness in developing countries. Those most at risk for ETEC infection are infants and young children, as well as travelers to endemic countries, including military personnel. It is estimated by the World Health Organization that yearly ETEC causes about 220 million episodes of diarrhea globally. Infection occurs when the bacteria colonizes the host small intestine and then produces toxins that stimulate the lining of the small intestine to secrete excessive fluid, leading to watery diarrhea. According to Dr. Cavacini, recent studies suggest that effective protection against ETEC may be achieved by inducing immunity to bacterial fimbrial adhesins, which are proteins that facilitate adhesion of the bacteria to the intestinal lining. Dr. Cavacini additionally notes that the major difficulty in creating an adhesin-based vaccine is the diversity of ETEC strains and despite years of effort by the military, there still is no licensed vaccine against any pathogenic ETEC strains.

With this grant, Dr. Cavacini and her team propose an alternative, and complementary, approach in oral, pre-exposure prophylaxis with novel IgA antibodies that are active against all major pathogenic ETEC strains. The team has established the proof of concept in nonhuman primates with a strain specific secretory IgA antibody. More recently, she and her team have discovered a panel of unique nanobodies or VHH antibodies that have significant cross-protective activity. The goal of the project is to develop these nanobodies as IgA proteins which are stable, long-lasting, and administered orally to prevent ETEC infection. Additionally, the project will address an unprecedented medical need of ETEC prophylactic measures and potentially impact thousands of people worldwide, while contributing to the decreasing rates of morbidity and mortality caused by ETEC each year. 

David McManus, MD, ScM, the Richard M. Haidack Professor of Medicine and chair in the Department of Medicine, recently received T32 funding from the NIH's National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute for his project titled, “CardiOvascular Digital hEalth Research (CODER) Training Program.” The CODER T32 training program aims to develop postdoctoral investigators with expertise in cardiovascular digital health by bringing together highly skilled and collaborative training faculty from multiple disciplines, with the ultimate goal of developing and equitably implementing novel digital health solutions that improve the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disorders. 

CODER is a collaboration between the Departments of Medicine and Population and Quantitative Health Sciences, and leverages the diverse and progressive environment at UMass Chan Medical School to provide a dynamic transdisciplinary, translational research training infrastructure for postdoctoral fellows who aspire to be independent investigators and team scientists in digital health research, specifically for implementing novel solutions that will improve cardiovascular health in an equitable manner. The program supports collaboration among trainees at MD and PhD levels, bringing patient-oriented digital health researchers, community, population, and data scientists, together with bioinformatics experts and industry, to enhance and expedite advances in cardiovascular research.

Dr. McManus will co-direct this T32 training program with Dr. Ben Gerber, division chief of Health Informatics and Implementation Science in the Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences.

In this month’s Researcher Spotlight, we feature the work of Mayuko Ito Fukunaga, MD, MSc, a physician and assistant professor of medicine in the Divisions of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine and Health Systems Science, and co-chair of the Cancer Screening Researcher Subcommittee at UMass Chan Medical School. Dr. Ito Fukunaga also serves as a task group member at the National Lung Cancer Roundtable.  

"My research is about healthcare delivery of lung cancer screening and involves primary care, radiology, pulmonary, population health and clinical informatics. I appreciate everyone’s support and mentoring across departments and disciplines. I particularly appreciate [the] primary care teams and lung cancer screening program for letting me do this type of research in real-world clinical settings."

Read Dr. Ito Fukunaga's full spotlight.

Trainees in the Internal Medicine Residency recently received their fellowship match results. Twelve of our 22 graduating Internal Medicine categorical residents elected to stay at UMass for fellowships including in Cardiovascular Medicine, Gastroenterology, Pulmonary and Critical Care, and Hematology/Oncology. We congratulate all the residents and wish them the very best in the next step of their training.

View the full list of matches.

In this month’s Fellowship Spotlight, we highlight Hima Doppalapudi, MD, a Renal Medicine fellow. Here, Dr. Doppalapudi describes her clinical interests, why she chose UMass for her fellowship, and her favorite vacation spot and activities.  

"During my fellowship interview, I felt right at home and knew this was where I wanted to complete my training. My attendings are approachable and the environment is perfect to develop our skills with ample autonomy with sufficient supervision."

Read Dr. Doppalapudi's full spotlight.

In this month’s Resident Spotlight, we highlight Joseph Daniel, DO, a second-year Internal Medicine resident on the Primary Care and Medical Education tracks. Here, Dr. Daniel describes his clinical and research interests, what makes UMass Chan a great place for residency, and his favorite spot to eat in Worcester. 

"UMass Chan is a great place to train for residency. The complexity and diversity of the patient population along with the education and mentorship available makes this residency special."

Read Dr. Daniel's full spotlight.

In this month’s Chair’s Spotlight, we highlight Shaoguang Li, MD, PhD, a scientist and professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology. Last month we sat down with Dr. Li to learn more about his work and how he is studying artificial intelligence and its applications in other specialties to develop new, cutting-edge therapies for blood cancers.

"When you’re young and you experience your friends and your relatives getting cancer…you know you want to make an impact. It makes you feel like, ‘This is the field I want to be in.’ That is the real reason why I [chose to pursue a career in cancer research]."

Read Dr. Li's full spotlight.

The DoM Clinical Research Core would like to congratulate Kenneth Ralto, MD, clinical chief and assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Renal Medicine, and his study team for successfully enrolling its first subject in the VISIONARY clinical study. VISIONARY is a Phase III clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of VIS649, an inhibitor of cytokine A PRoliferation Inducing Ligand (APRIL), for the treatment of IgA nephropathy (IgAN). The second subject is already scheduled to be screened in the upcoming weeks.  

If you would like to learn more about working with the DoM Clinical Research Core, please complete the intake form found at our website.

Raquel Binder, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, was recently named a 2023 Mentored Career Development Training Program (KL2) scholar.

Under the mentorship of Ann Moormann, PhD, MPH, professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Timothy Kowalik, PhD and Ana Maldonado-Contreras, PhD, of Microbiology and Physiological Systems, and Andres Colubri, MFA, PhD, of Genomics and Computational Biology, Dr. Binder’s project will focus on “Unraveling Respiratory Virus Transmission Dynamics among Latinx and Black Communities in MA.” 

Kristy Chiang, a PhD candidate in the labs of Drs. Kate Fitzgerald and Ann Marshak-Rothstein, and Kaiyuan Hao, a PhD candidate in the labs of Drs. Ann Rothstein and Michelle Kelliher, recently received awards for their research posters at the New England Immunology Conference earlier this month. Kristy’s poster titled, “Autoimmune interstitial lung disease is initiated by STING gain-of-function radioresistant cells,” and Kaiyuan’s poster titled, “TLR9 is required for the development of DNaseII deficiency-induced liver inflammation,” both received recognition at the annual conference. 

Kaiyuan Hao not pictured.

Read Pukkila-Worley, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology and a faculty member in the Program in Innate Immunity, has been elected as a 2024 member of The American Society of Clinical Investigation. Dr. Pukkila-Worley is one of 100 Active and International Members to receive this honor. He will be officially inducted into the Society at the ASCI Dinner and New Member Induction Ceremony on April 5, 2024, as part of the AAP/ASCI/APSA Joint Meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

We congratulate Dr. Pukkila-Worley on this exciting honor and recognition of his contributions as a physician-scientist.

Learn more.

Shyam Patel, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology, recently had his work, “Prognostic Heterogeneity and Clonal Dynamics Within Distinct Subgroups of Myelodysplastic Syndrome and Acute Myeloid Leukemia with TP53 Disruptions” published in the eJHaem journal. Under the leadership of Jonathan Gerber, MD, Dr. Patel and his team explored the prognostic heterogeneity within various subsets of TP53-mutant myelodysplastic neoplasms (MDS) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and showed the impact of specific co-variates on clinical outcomes. Additionally, the team found that the actual disease label (“MDS” vs. “AML”) might not be as important for TP53-mutant myeloid neoplasms. “What is more important is the allelic state of TP53,” explained Dr. Patel. “We mapped clonal dynamics as a function of therapeutic intervention within multiple subgroups, which has implications for rational therapeutic design against TP53-mutant MDS/AML.” The findings of this study clarify the impact of specific covariates on outcomes of TP53-aderrant myeloid neoplasms, regardless of the diagnosis of MDS versus AML, and may influence hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT) decisions. 

Learn more.

Allan Walkey Co-Chairs Updates to the American Thoracic Society Guidelines on the Management of Adult Patients with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome 

“An Update on Management of Adult Patients with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome: An Official American Thoracic Society Clinical Practice Guideline” was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine in early November 2023. Co-chaired by Allan Walkey, MD, chief and professor of medicine in the Division of Health Systems Science, the updated guidelines incorporate new evidence addressing the use of corticosteroids, venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, neuromuscular blocking agents, and positive end-expiratory pressure for the management of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).

Learn more.

Ze Zhang, PhD, a postdoctoral student in the lab of Dr. Kate Fitzgerald, was recently awarded an Irvington Postdoctoral Fellowship award through the Cancer Research Institute. The fellowship acknowledges the significance of Dr. Zhang’s previous onco-neuroimmunology research and provides support for his upcoming work in innate immunity research. 

“I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to ongoing efforts in basic biology, particularly innate immunity, and am excited about the potential impact of this fellowship. I want to express my sincere thanks to my doctoral supervisor, Professor Xiaodong Wang, my postdoctoral supervisor, Professor Kate Fitzgerald, and the other referees for their recommendations and support,” stated Dr. Zhang. 

With funding from the fellowship, Dr. Zhang will utilize skills in biochemistry genetic biology, molecular biology, and immunology to address important immunology challenges, particularly related to NLRP1, including NLRP1 inhibitors and agonists. These endeavors will deepen the understanding of immune regulation and provide valuable compounds for dissecting biology and its roles in disease, with the ultimate objective of developing therapeutic drugs aimed at curing specific immune-related diseases. 

Researchers at UMass Chan School of Medicine received funding from the Reagan Udall Foundation for the FDA to develop a novel tool and test the reliability, validity, and feasibility of algorithms using real world data to support regulatory decisions. Led by Sonal Singh, MD, MPH, FACP, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Health Systems Science, the focus of this project will be on outcomes in pregnancy. "Real world data is increasingly being used to evaluate the safety of drugs in pregnancy as pregnant women may be underrepresented in clinical trials,” said Dr. Singh. “We anticipate that the tool developed from this study can be used to evaluate the reliability and validity of algorithms on important maternal and fetal outcomes.” He added, “This tool may support a flexible and transparent approach to regulatory decisions around the benefits and risks of drugs used during pregnancy."  

The new tool will build on Dr. Sonal’s previous collaboration on the development of the Algorithm Certainty Tool (ACE-IT) tool to evaluate real world algorithms for cardiovascular outcomes.  

The co-investigator on this study is Carla Rodriguez-Watson, PhD, MPH from the Reagan Udall Foundation for the FDA.  

Faculty and trainees from the Department of Medicine gave talks and presented their research at the UMass Chan Medical School's 28th Annual Research Retreat which was held earlier this fall at UMass Amherst. Douglas Golenbock, MD, the Neil and Margery Blacklow Chair in Infectious Diseases and Immunology Professor and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, the recipient of this year’s Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Scholarship, gave a Keynote Address titled, “Interferon Epsilon: An Estrogen-Dependent Type I Interferon That is Uniquely Exploited by Neisseria gonorrhoeae”. Additionally, faculty from the Divisions of Hematology and Oncology and Health Systems Science - Clinical Informatics Section discussed their research, and faculty and trainees from the Department of Medicine presented their posters which included several interdepartmental and multi-institutional collaborative projects. Kate Fitzgerald, PhD, the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research Chair III, professor of medicine, associate vice provost for basic science research, vice chair for research in the Department of Medicine, chief of the Division of Innate Immunity, and director of the Program in Innate Immunity, served as the moderator for one of this year’s sessions.

Click here to view the list of this year's presentations and posters.

Apurv Soni, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Health Systems Science, Clinical Informatics Section, and a co-director of the Program in Digital Medicine, is the principal investigator on a recent study to expand free-at-home COVID-19 and influenza testing nationwide. With Dr. Soni and UMass Chan scientists serving as research partners, the team recently engaged in a pilot study in Berks County, Pennsylvania, where they focused on engaging community partners such as local health departments to reach underserved populations. In doing so, they worked to expand the Home Test to Treat program, a collaborative effort of the National Institutes of Health, the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the digital health technology firm, eMed. The program offers free at-home COVID and flu tests for those who are uninsured or underinsured, or are enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, VA Health Care, or Indian Health Services and includes the LUCIRA by Pfizer COVID-19 test and Flu (A/B) Test. Dr. Soni and his team worked to analyze the data from the pilot study and collaborated with eMed to make improvements to the program. 

Learn more.

Jonathan Gerber, MD, the Eleanor Eustis Farrington Chair in Cancer Research, director of the UMass Cancer Center, and chief and professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology, co-authored a study that showed vaccination against COVID-19 was linked to reduced inflammation in response to SARS-CoV-2 infection. The study was published in The Lancet Microbe and included an analysis of 21 biomarkers measured in blood samples of study participants with COVID-19. Blood samples were taken from 882 patients who were enrolled in 23 outpatient sites in late June 2020 and late September 2021. Concentrations of inflammation biomarkers were found to be lower among the fully vaccinated group of participants as opposed to the unvaccinated group. Because many of the complications of COVID-19 are the inflammatory response that the body has to the virus, Dr. Gerber explains that if the infection in the body is controlled quickly, there is little need for an immune response, meaning damage to the body is less likely. The study provides further insight as to why unvaccinated people are more likely to be sicker from COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated. 

Learn more.

This month, we feature Ze Zhang, PhD, as our Postdoc Spotlight. Dr. Zhang is a postdoc in the lab of Dr. Kate Fitzgerald in the Division of Innate Immunity. 

"My research focuses on innate immunity and cell death, with specific emphasis on inflammasome and cGAS-STING, as well as novel programmed cell death. Drawing from my experience in Professor Xiaodong Wang’s Lab, where I engaged in the study of two independent projects—onco-neuroimmunology and cell death, I delved into the intricacies of innate immunity, particularly inflammasome biology, employing biochemical, genetic, molecular biology, and pharmacologic methods in the Fitzgerald Lab."

Read the full spotlight.

This month in our Graduate Student Spotlight, we feature Pooja Parameswaran, a student in the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UMass Chan and the lab of Dr. Megan Orzalli in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology.

"I was very keen on joining a program with a focus on Innate Immunity and UMass Chan is perfect for that. We have several PI’s who work in the space, so there are so many opportunities to learn. Additionally, thanks to a very collaborative environment it’s really easy to share knowledge, techniques, and reagents."

Read the full spotlight.

In this month’s Researcher Spotlight, we feature the work of Honghuang Lin, PhD, a professor of medicine in the Division of Health Systems Science, Clinical Informatics Section, and a co-director in the Program in Digital Medicine. 

Dr. Lin’s research focuses on the development of novel computational methods to study complex diseases. He is a longtime investigator of the Framingham Heart Study, the longest-running cardiovascular epidemiological study that recently celebrated its 75th anniversary. Dr. Lin has extensive experience in the analysis of genetic and omics data. Through his role in various large-scale international genetic consortiums, he and his collaborators have identified thousands of genetic variants associated with various diseases, including chronic inflammation, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and Alzheimer’s disease.

"I am dedicated to advancing the field of computational biomedical science," said Dr. Lin, "I look forward to continuing to make contributions to the field in the years to come."

Read Dr. Lin's full spotlight.

Anna Gubala, MD, a third-year Internal Medicine resident, led a food drive this month to gather donations for the Thanksgiving holiday. Along with other residents, Dr. Gubala helped raise $1,580 and filled multiple cars of goods that were delivered to the Worcester County Food Bank.

We applaud Dr. Gubala and her colleagues for their hard work and service!

Laura Gibson, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, has been selected as a Worcester Business Journal 2023 Champions of Health Care Award honoree.

The award honors those who excel in helping others, promoting innovation, and improving access to care. Dr. Gibson's work on cytomegalovirus (CMV) and leadership in infectious disease and immunology research highlights her qualifications for the award. She will be honored at The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester on Wednesday, December 13, 2023.  

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Gibson! 

The Department of Medicine is seeking applicants for the newly established Leadership Fellowship. Believed to be the first academic internal medicine administrative fellowship in the U.S., the Department of Medicine is pleased to offer this new program that will help develop tomorrow’s administrative leaders in medicine. 

Maureen Canellas, MD, MBA, the director of the Leadership Fellowship and an assistant professor and physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine, developed the program along with David McManus, MD, ScM, chair of the Department of Medicine, and Richard Forster, MD, associate professor of medicine and physician in the Division of Hospital Medicine, who will serve as a program advisor on the fellowship. Dr. Canellas’ enthusiasm, experience, and expertise in administrative leadership training led her to this role. She completed an administrative fellowship in emergency medicine, has an MBA, and currently runs an elective for emergency medicine residents that focuses on health systems and health systems science. It was through her work in health systems and digital medicine that she and Dr. McManus began to have discussions about the current gap in leadership training for internal medicine physicians. “There are hospital-based fellowships and there are emergency medicine-based fellowships,” said Dr. Canellas, “but [to our knowledge] there are no academic internal medicine administration fellowships.” 

This two-year, non-ACGME accredited full-time fellowship will offer up to 2 fellows per class protected time to obtain an MBA from the University of Massachusetts Isenberg School of Management as well as clinical rotations through the UMass Memorial Medical Center’s Hospital at Home program. Participants will gain expertise in administration specifically through the lens of the executive leadership within the Department of Medicine.  

Goals:  

  • Foster the training and growth of future executive leaders in departmental and hospital administration and operations. 
  • Create a low-risk environment where the fellow can translate administrative theory into action at an early stage in their career. 
  • Create leaders in the growing fields of digital health and data analytics and how those implementations relate to hospital operations and finances. 
  • Foster early mentor-mentee relationships that span beyond the fellowship and progress the fellow’s career development and advancement. 

Minimum Requirements: 
Applicants must be graduates of an ACGME-accredited residency program by July 1 of the fellowship year and be able to obtain independent medical licensure in the state of Massachusetts. 

Learn more.

What started as a quality improvement project is now slowly growing into a well-received weight management program at the Benedict Primary Care clinic at UMass Memorial Medical Center.

Three years ago, Jeevarathna Subramanian, MD, associate professor of medicine, and Varun Ayyaswami, MD, assistant professor of medicine, both in the Division of General Internal Medicine, started a quality improvement project during Dr. Ayyaswami’s residency. Their project focused on overall obesity management in primary care and they found that very few patient appointments were made for obesity management. They surveyed providers on the primary challenges of managing obesity and although it was found to be a significant problem, the medical complexity of patients and resource limitations made it difficult for providers to appropriately address the issue. Many providers requested an embedded metabolic clinic to focus on weight management and weight stabilization for patients, leading to the development of today’s Weight Management Program. 

With encouragement and support from providers such as Nina Rosano, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, Bruce Weinstein, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Deborah Blazey-Martin, MD, vice chair for ambulatory affairs and chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine, Drs. Subramanian and Ayyaswami developed the program with the goal of serving patients with weight issues and high blood pressure, along with other comorbidities. Additionally, they wanted to focus on how weight impacts the patient’s health and how they can work to maintain a healthier weight and lifestyle. 

Although the program is still in its beginning stages, work in the clinic is conducted on Monday mornings, where Drs. Subramanian and Ayyaswami alternate enrolling patients into the program, establishing a plan based on their medical history, and coordinating with other departments and services as needed, such as Behavioral Health and Endocrinology. The Weight Management Program has been well-received throughout the Benedict clinic. Dr. Subramanian explains that as the program expands, multidisciplinary collaboration between primary care providers and sub-specialists will be important. “Getting a nutritional aspect and an exercise aspect to this will be very important additions,” stated Dr. Subramanian. “[Additionally] having someone who has expertise in advocating for activity for these patients depending on their weight are all important aspects.” 

The team also hopes to provide the necessary resources to keep patients on a healthy track for the future. “Weight management and obesity are going to fall into the lap of primary care providers. The more primary care providers that [become] familiar with this [program] the better it is,” said Dr. Subramanian.  

Over the last few months, we have featured patient flow initiatives in Medicine that aim to increase patient discharges by noon and 2 p.m. These initiatives are critical to improving quality of care, overall patient safety, and timely care progression.

This month, we are featuring the Cohorted Unit-Based Teams initiative that launched in early June 2023—specifically, the pulmonary medicine unit on 5 West led by Shahzad Khan, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine.  

One of the primary objectives of the Cohorted Unit-Based Teams initiative has been to establish effective flow for patients to be discharged in a timely manner through coordinated team care. This, in turn, allows for patients who are in the emergency room and need a bed to be transferred to the floor for care. On 5 West, Dr. Khan and his team accomplish this through multidisciplinary rounds which include meeting with individuals from the health care team (usually a second-year or senior resident), nursing management, case management, physical therapy, respiratory therapy, and a COPD nurse navigator. During these meetings, they discuss patients and establish a care progression plan together, rather than having what might be at least six or seven individual conversations with different team members. Dr. Khan and his team are able to identify what is needed to allow the patient to be discharged and coordinate a plan together. They aim to have the patient discharged during the day for a variety of reasons including ensuring they stay on track with medications (if they are discharged at night, the pharmacy might be closed and they could miss their medication for that day). It has also helped with various logistical factors in transitioning the patients home, including transportation. 

Overall, the initiative has seen positive results thus far. Prior to the initiative, the pulmonary service placed discharge orders before noon on 19% of discharges. The team is now discharging one-third of their patients before noon. By working closely with the nurse manager, Viet Le, and case manager, Steven Nordborg, who have been critical to the success of this initiative, Dr. Khan has also been able to steadily increase the number of patients discharged before 2 p.m. over the last several months. There has also been a steady trend in decreasing the length of stay on the unit.  

“It's been a big effort even though it seems like a small thing. It has taken a lot of work from hospital leadership and communicating with different services to come together and focus on this one thing and with all these moving parts,” said Dr. Khan. “It is impressive how quickly it has moved forward and how infrequent there are hiccups because everyone is willing to figure out the next step.” 

In this month’s Resident Spotlight, we highlight Garrick Gu, MD, a second-year Internal Medicine resident. Here, Dr. Gu describes his clinical and research interests, his involvement with groups on campus, and his favorite place to eat in Worcester! 

"The students and residents are so impressive in their dedication to their patients and their communities, always reaching out to family members and communities to promote health equity and quality care."

Read Dr. Gu's full spotlight.

In this month’s Fellowship Spotlight, we highlight Rina Modha, MD, a Rheumatology fellow in the Department of Medicine. Here, Dr. Modha describes her clinical interests, why she chose UMass for her fellowship, her favorite vacation spots, and more! 

“[I chose UMass for my fellowship because] the work environment was appealing, and the program's culture was extremely welcoming. I appreciated the clinical exposure fellows experienced with individual patient panels and the breadth of pathology in the community.”

Read Dr. Modha's full spotlight.

In this month’s Chair’s Spotlight, we highlight Terrell Johnson, MD, a physician in the Division of General Internal Medicine, and co-director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice in the Department of Medicine. He joined UMass Chan Medical School/UMass Memorial Health this past August and has enthusiastically dived into a variety of activities across Medicine’s mission areas.

In addition to his roles as a clinician and educator, Dr. Johnson will be taking a new leadership role in the Pipeline for underRepresented Students in Medicine (PRISM) program, a program that introduces postgraduate students from diverse backgrounds who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM, to clinical research and healthcare opportunities. “I think there is a great opportunity to work with these students to make them so strong that they cannot be missed,” said Dr. Johnson. “Whether it is additional opportunities in research or in educational activities and exposures to experiences in the field, we want them to be prepared [for their future careers in medicine] and confident.”

Read Dr. Johnson's full spotlight.