SMHS Faculty Members Honored at Awards Ceremony

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Members of the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) faculty gathered for the annual SMHS Faculty Recognition Ceremony, Nov. 2, to honor friends and colleagues for their years of service, commitment to the institution, and significant achievements at the school.

“Today we recognize our faculty that have done so much to enrich our organization on so many fronts, on the front of education, service, research, and community engagement,” said Barbara L. Bass, MD, RESD ’86, professor of surgery, Bloedorn Professor of Administrative Medicine, vice president for health affairs, dean of GW SMHS and CEO of The GW Medical Faculty Associates (GW MFA).

“We love our students and our trainees, we worship our staff, but we can’t do it without our faculty,” she continued. “They are really our most valuable asset and our continuous asset that really does deliver on all of those important missions.”

The annual event, led by Dean Bass — as well as Yolanda Haywood, MD, BS ’81, RESD ’87, CERET ’04, senior associate dean for diversity, inclusion, and faculty affairs, and associate dean for student affairs; and Robert H. Miller, PhD, vice dean for research and academic affairs, and Vivian Gill Distinguished Research Professor — recognized the 2022 class of emeriti faculty, faculty members who earned promotion and tenure, and those reaching service milestones. The highlight of the event, however, was the presentation of faculty awards for diversity and inclusion, research, and distinguished service and teaching.

“These awards are given in areas of research, excellence, teaching excellence, service excellence, excellence in diversity and inclusive excellence,” said Dean Haywood, as she opened the awards portion of the celebration. They are a symbol, she continued, of “distinction and prestige at our school.”

Dean Haywood presented this year’s Diversity and Inclusion Awards to Chavon Onumah, MD, MPH, and Maranda Ward, EdD, MPH for “outstanding work in the area of diversity and inclusion.”

Onumah, Dean Haywood told the audience, “has been a champion for recruiting underrepresented talent to our training programs here at GW.”

“I wanted to take the time to thank the both of you,” Ward said to Deans Bass and Haywood, after receiving her honor. “The type of work that I do — around justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, anti-racism — is incredibly challenging. The work is often thankless. The work is often exhausting. So just imagine if you don’t have institutional support for that type of work. I’m very fortunate that I actually have had that of support.”

Dean Miller, presented the 2022 Early Career Research Achievement and Distinguished Researcher Awards, as well as the 2021 Elaine H. Snyder Cancer Research Award.

The Early Career Research Achievement Award recognizes investigators in the early stages of their careers, who have made important contributions to the biomedical sciences through their research. This year’s award went to Robert Turner, PhD, assistant professor of clinical research and leadership, whose research focuses on the social and neurocognitive consequences, and accelerated cognitive aging, stemming from mild traumatic brain injury among former college and professional athletes.

Dean Miller presented the 2022 Distinguished Research Award to Qing Zeng, PhD, professor of clinical research and leadership for her outstanding research achievements, as demonstrated by the quality and significance of their biomedical and health services research.

Zeng, Dean Miller said, founded the GW Bioinformatics Center, which helps a whole variety of faculty from the clinical departments, the basic science departments, and health sciences as well. “She has developed paradigms to think about the use of natural language processing and AI in the interrogation of large data centers. But, I think the most important thing is not only is she an outstanding scientist who’s making cutting-edge contributions, she serves the community. She takes a real approach to mentoring and supporting the people in that team, and I think that that combination is really remarkable.

Explaining that this year’s selection had yet to be confirmed, Dean Miller presented the 2021 Elaine H. Snyder Cancer Research Award to Rohan Fernandes, PhD, associate professor of medicine, and director of the Biomaterials and Nanotechnology Facility. Fernandes’s research focuses on what he calls “nanoimmunotherapy,” which partners the properties of nanoparticles with checkpoint inhibitors to treat neuroblastoma. The nanoparticles are heated using near infrared light to destroy tumor tissue and cause the immune system to deliver a robust anti-tumor response.

“You’ll notice that I’m a biomedical engineer by training,” said Fernandes. “So what am I really doing in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences? It’s actually a testament to the vision, the support, and the opportunity that the school has given me. I feel like I've grown up in this institution.”

The 2022 Distinguished Service Awards went to Andrea Anderson, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine; and Gurusher Panjrath, MD, director of the Heart Failure Program, and professor of medicine.

Maria Portela, MD, MPH, assistant professor of emergency medicine, wrote in her nomination letter for Anderson, about the lasting legacy she has made at GW. “Dr. Anderson has taught, or had an impact on so many in our community, from students to faculty to practicing family medicine physicians here in D.C. She’s been a champion of family medicine and service to underserved populations.”

In support of Panjrath, Dominic Raj, MD, director of the Division of Kidney Diseases and Hypertension and professor of medicine, said “Under Dr. Panjrath leadership, GW established a successful mechanical support program for treating advanced heart failure and a cardiac intensive care unit for managing these critically ill patients. … With his help, we’re also laying the foundations for a heart transplant program. Beyond all of this, Dr. Pandora service extends further into our community.”

This year’s Distinguished Teacher Awards went to a trio of faculty members whose teaching activities demonstrate exceptional ability in communication, communicating, information to advancement, inspiring, motivating and stimulating learners, being innovative and their teaching.

Nicole DeVaul, PhD, assistant professor of anatomy and cell biology, received the award as an innovative and committed educator who has had a remarkable impact both on curriculum delivery and on the learning environment during the pandemic.

Manjari Dimri, MD, program director of the master’s program of bioinformatics, safety, and bioinformatics, and biochemistry, and associate professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine, was nominated as a dedicated educator with strong talent for communicating with patients and stimulating their learning.

The final recipient was Ioannis Koutroulis, MD, PhD, MBA, assistant professor of pediatrics, emergency medicine, and genomics and precision medicine. He was selected for his sustained commitment as an educator and mentor, serving on the SMHS coaching program — mentoring and advising medical students throughout their studies — as well as his work as professional development mentor, lecturer, and small group facilitator to many programs.

“I want to congratulate our incredible honorees and thank them for all they do for our school and our students and our other faculty members in our community,” said Dean Bass. “It’s really a remarkable bunch. We’re really fortunate to have you here with us to serve in that capacity.”

View the full 2022 Emeriti Faculty and promotions and tenure list

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