From the Editor - Spring 2010
Photo of Cindy Young

 Usually in this space, you’d find the “Dean’s Perspective” by Howard Part, M.D., dean of the Boonshoft School of Medicine. But in this issue you’ll find him in the “Second Opinion” column on page 16, where he reflects on why he chose a career in primary care. It took a little arm-twisting to convince Dr. Part to share his story with us, but I think you’ll find his reminiscences on his father’s 40 years as a physician in Harlem insightful.

Life experiences often guide a physician’s career choice, just as they did for the dean. Cynthia Olsen, M.D., was also influenced in her career path by her father, a teacher and researcher in virology and immunology who developed the first feline leukemia vaccine. But after five years of lab work as an undergrad, Dr. Olsen decided research was too isolating and enrolled in medical school at Wright State. You can read more about her career as a small-town doctor and Boonshoft School of Medicine faculty member on page 18.

During the ongoing national debate about health care reform, the need for primary care physicians has played a central role in discussions on improving care while lowering costs. To learn why the number of new primary care physicians continues its precipitous decline just when the need has never been greater, read our in-depth report “Wanted: Primary care physicians” on page 8.

As always, we’d love to hear what you think about this story or any of the other articles featured in Vital Signs. Send us your comments, suggestions, or story ideas. We want to hear from you.

Cindy Young
Director of Marketing and Communications

Vital Signs » Spring 2010

When she learned she will be heading to Yale for residency training, fourth-year medical student Lindsay Gates was so ecstatic she had to celebrate the emotional moment with her husband, Phil Santinoceto. Along with 85 of her classmates (and more than 16,000 other medical students nationwide), Gates learned on Match Day in March where she will take the next big step in her medical training. Following her graduation in May, Gates will become a vascular surgery resident at Yale University/Yale New Haven Hospital.

Photo by William Jones

Vital Signs » Spring 2010

We’re proud of our alumni and want to spread the word about your achievements. If you have professional news or personal updates to share—or simply want to stay in touch—please contact the Office of Advancement at or (937) 775-2972.

Photo of Tom Watson
Vital Signs » Spring 2010

An evening with Golf Legend Tom Watson April 28, 2010

Each year, Academy of Medicine members and their guests gather for a special event to honor students, residents, and faculty; celebrate the invaluable work of academy members; and promote fellowship and camaraderie. The keynote speaker for this year’s event is one of the world’s most accomplished and admired athletes: golf legend Tom Watson.

Photo of Vice Admiral Regina M. Benjamin
Vital Signs » Spring 2010

Vice Admiral Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A. Surgeon General of the United States

Graduation is always a memorable event and a high point of the academic year, but this year’s ceremony will be especially noteworthy. In addition to welcoming 89 outstanding new physicians into the medical profession, attendees will be treated to a commencement address by a very special guest speaker: Regina Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A., Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service.

Vital Signs » Spring 2010

When James Lucot, Ph.D., oversaw the work of undergraduate David Helton in his laboratory in the early 1980s, he admired Helton’s intelligence and self-motivation.

He never imagined that two decades later, Helton would found a biomedical research company and approach his former mentor to establish a novel and very promising partnership.

Photo of woman having a mammogram
Vital Signs » Spring 2010

Sometimes the most effective approach to research is simply to take a closer look at existing data and analyze it in new ways. This is exactly the strategy Sara Paton, Ph.D., employed when called on to lead an investigation into alarmingly high breast cancer rates in Madison County, Ohio.

Damaged Mississippi parking lot following Hurricane Katrina
Vital Signs » Spring 2010
By Cindy Young

The parking lot of the Gulf Islands Water Park off of I-10 in Gulfport, Mississippi, is an unlikely spot for inspiration. But in the sweltering heat and humidity in late August 2005, just days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, the parking lot was where Mark Gebhart and Jim Gruenberg would meet to swap stories about the dysfunction they saw daily as emergency responders helping in the rescue efforts.

They knew there had to be a better way.

Photo of Cynthia Olsen, M.D., enjoying the opportunity to forge long-term relationships with her patients as she cares for them over the course of many years or even decades.
Vital Signs » Spring 2010
By Phil Neal

Cynthia Olsen, M.D. (’85), believes in tradition.

Whether it’s a family legacy of teaching and learning, the personal care and commitment exemplified by many old-fashioned country doctors, or a family practice’s half-century history of service to the community, Olsen is passionate about preserving the best of the past, even as she eagerly prepares for the future.

Vital Signs » Spring 2010

Even as modern technology is improving the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of illness and disease, patients in many parts of the world often lack access to even basic health technology. Katherine Cauley, Ph.D., associate professor of community health and director of the Center for Healthy Communities, is playing a key role in an international project whose goal is to address this disparity.

Vital Signs » Spring 2010
Boonshoft School of Medicine hosts its first Music and Medicine Symposium

The connection between music and medicine is an old one, stretching back through the ages to ancient Greece. Apollo, the Greek god of healing and music, was the father of both Asclepius and the Muses. The rod of Asclepius, a snake-entwined staff, has endured as the symbol of medicine to this day.

Vital Signs » Spring 2010
By Howard Part, M.D.

My first exposure to medicine as a profession occurred when I was around 10 years old. That’s when I started accompanying my father to his internal medicine and dermatology practice in New York City on Saturday mornings. We had to leave early to make our way into the city from our home across the river in suburban New Jersey, but I didn’t mind. It was fun for me to go and help out in the office, although in retrospect, I really didn’t do very much.

Photo of Jill Waibel, M.D.
Vital Signs » Spring 2010

Well before she even considered a future career in medicine, Jill Waibel, M.D. (’01), (then Jill Stewart) found herself near the center of national public health crisis. As a high school senior in Cicero, Indiana, in 1987, Waibel became a reluctant but passionate spokesperson when her school district welcomed a new student: Ryan White.

Photo of measuring tape with pictures of people on it
Vital Signs » Spring 2010
80 years of data lead to more questions

What makes people different?

It sounds like a simple question. But eight decades after Arthur Morgan, then president of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, first posed the question, the answer remains as elusive as ever.

Morgan thought a longitudinal study of people from birth to adulthood would help solve the mystery, so in 1929 he contacted Samuel Fels, a Philadelphia businessman and philanthropist. Fels agreed to fund the project, and the Fels Longitudinal Study was born.

Photo of Mark Anstadt, M.D. (’86), receiving the 2009 Outstanding Alumni Award from Wright State University President David R. Hopkins, P.E.D.
Vital Signs » Spring 2010

With significant new advances announced every year, the pace of change in medicine often seems lightning-fast. In reality, many years of diligent work may be necessary to develop, test, refine, and roll out new treatments or technology. In fact, sometimes the quest to bring the benefits of a medical innovation to patients can become a family legacy spanning generations.

Such is the case for Mark Anstadt, M.D., (’86) FACS, who has worked for more than 30 years to perfect a life-saving device his father, George L. Anstadt, invented in the early 1960s.

Photo of Norrlands University Hospital in Umeå, Sweden where students spent two weeks working and learning
Vital Signs » Spring 2010

Student medical missions abroad typically serve two key purposes: to provide aid to patients and populations in need, and to expose students to the health care systems (or relative lack thereof) of other countries. Many missions pursue these goals by bringing students to underserved areas ravaged by poverty, poor living conditions, and minimal access to even basic medical care.

Photo of Oliver Smithies with Herbert and Marion Morris, who established the Earl H. Morris Endowed Lecturesip in honor of Herbert’s father, Earl H. Morris, M.D.
Vital Signs » Spring 2010
Nobel Laureate Oliver Smithies, D.Phil., shares notebook pages from his 60 years as a bench scientist

Nobel Laureate Oliver Smithies’ 60 years of research as a bench scientist are meticulously recorded in nearly 140 notebooks spanning his entire career, from his time as an undergraduate student at Oxford, through the groundbreaking research that led to the Nobel Prize, and up to the present day.

Photo of James E. Brown
Vital Signs » Spring 2010

James E. Brown, Jr., M.D., M.M.M., FACEP, EMT-P
Acting Chair Department of Emergency Medicine

Photo of Larry Lawhorne, M.D., and Jess Levy, a third-year medical student, looking over an electronic health record (EHR) in the Wright State Physicians Family Medicine practice office.
Vital Signs » Spring 2010

Since its foundation in 1973, the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine has embraced a strong emphasis on primary care.

This priority has always been clearly reflected in the school’s mission, which includes “focusing on generalist training that is integrated, supported, and strengthened by specialists and researchers.”

Photo of second-year students Lakshman Swamy, Avash Kalra, and Shamie Das interviewing U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky during her keynote address at an AMSA conference in Chicago
Vital Signs » Spring 2010

In its second and third seasons, Radio Rounds welcomed an all-star assemblage of renowned guests from around the country. In addition, the show’s hosts and producer participated in a joint keynote address at an American Medical Student Association (AMSA) conference in Chicago, interviewing a U.S. congresswoman live on stage before an audience of several hundred people.

Photo of Reunion Weekend 2009
Vital Signs » Spring 2010
Save the Date: Reunion Weekend 2010

The 2009 Reunion Weekend, sponsored by the Medical Alumni Association, brought together members of the classes of 1984, 1989, 1994, 1999, and 2004 for a weekend of family fun and fond memories in mid-July. The weekend began with a private, after-hours dinner and reception at the Newport Aquarium, where alumni and their guests enjoyed full access to the aquarium’s thousands of animals and 70 exhibits, including 200 feet of immersive observation tunnels.

Photo - Student Chioma Anokwute analyzes pathology samples while conducting diabetes research in the lab of faculty mentor Khalid Elased, R.Ph., Ph.D. Anokwute hopes to become a cardiothoracic surgeon, and based on her STREAMS experience, the Boonshoft School of Medicine will be one of her top choices for medical school.
Vital Signs » Spring 2010

When identifying reasons for their success, scientists often cite the influence of an encouraging mentor or a formative experience in the classroom or laboratory. For more than 15 years, a groundbreaking program at the Boonshoft School of Medicine has sought to provide promising young students with both.

Photo - Undergraduate, second-year student Ryan Schmucker volunteering at a health clinic in rural Haiti.
Vital Signs » Spring 2010

As a high school student from a small town in the heart of Ohio’s Amish country, Ryan Schmucker never considered a career in medicine until he job-shadowed a local surgeon.

“I was completely hooked from that point. I was just fascinated. I began to see medicine as something I could really enjoy doing. It’s working with people, it’s serving people, and there’s also never a dull moment—you’re constantly challenged.”

Photo of McCluskey’s classmates wearing orange
Vital Signs » Spring 2010

When Casey McCluskey was diagnosed with a malignant breast tumor near the end of her first year of medical school, the unexpected news meant a lot of upheaval.

“School had to be put in the background. All my summer plans had to be put in the background,” she said. “I had to focus suddenly on being a patient instead of being a med student, which was not an easy transition to make.”

As she grappled with her situation, McCluskey drew strength from the immediate, unstinting support of her classmates, the close-knit “Scrubs” of the Boonshoft School of Medicine class of 2012.

Photo - Justin Fox, M.D., assists with surgery to repair a patient’s cleft lip during a medical mission to the Dominican Republic.
Vital Signs » Spring 2010

When Justin Fox, M.D., left community college to enlist in the Air Force at age 18, he had no intention of going back, let alone enrolling in medical school.

“I volunteered at a hospital when I was in 7th or 8th grade,” Fox said, “and I hated it. I never thought medicine was something I was going to pursue.”

Photo of Donate Life icon
Vital Signs » Spring 2010

When Thavam Thambi-Pillai, M.D., arrived in Dayton in the spring of 2006, transplant surgery in the area was something of an open secret. Surgeons had been performing kidney transplants at Miami Valley Hospital (MVH) for more than 30 years, and dozens of gravely ill patients were benefitting from the procedure each year.

Photo of students on White Hall
Vital Signs » Spring 2010

The new Medical Education Center in White Hall was specifically designed to serve as a “home away from home” for medical students, especially during the first two years of intensive pre-clinical study. Since the building opened in fall 2008, some 200 incoming students have voted with their feet (and stiff backs, and tired eyes) and their verdict is unanimous: mission accomplished.

Vital Signs » Spring 2010

In early March, fifth-year M.D./ M.P.H. student Jeff Jenks borrowed a bicycle from his uncle. Jenks hadn’t done much cycling before, so it took a while to get familiar with the bike and grow comfortable using its clipless pedals.

Three weeks later, he felt confident enough to saddle up for a cross-country journey of 3,700 miles.