From the Dean: Winter 2018

Cover of Winter 2018 Vital Signs
No matter the changes occurring in society at large, our true north as physicians is to do what’s best for the patient. It is our guiding principle. However, this shared ideal does not ensure consensus on what is best when there is a paucity of evidence and divergent clinician opinion.
In this edition of Vital Signs, we explore a few ongoing debates that turn on this challenge, such as improving care for the elderly and the coming legalization of medical marijuana in Ohio. Those on all sides of these issues have fervent arguments for their positions. There is no shortage of good intentions, but there is little consensus. 
Welcoming the beliefs and differences of others is part of what makes our medical school such a strong and supportive community. It’s helped to make the Boonshoft School of Medicine such a dynamic place, full of ingenuity with a passion for serving others. As welcoming others has served to make our collective fabric stronger, we can only hope for more unity elsewhere in our society.  
It is an unfortunate fact that mass shootings have become more common. And while we continue to prepare our students with advanced medical knowledge, insight, and experience, we also now must understand the tragedies they may face. It is an unpleasant but informed assumption to make, as many of our alumni have already served after these tragic events. You’ll read about a few working in emergency medicine who were called in after the Las Vegas shooting. 
We also feature alumni whose careers were impacted by Horizons in Medicine, a program nearing its 40th anniversary that has introduced more than 600 underrepresented and minority high school students in the Dayton area to careers in science and medicine. This incredible program has encouraged 80 percent of its students to attend college.
Many Horizons students have gone on to become students at the Boonshoft School of Medicine. Their passions and curiosities are an inspiration. I hope you feel the same pride I do as you read about them and their peers. 
It is a distinct honor to educate our students and a joy to watch them grow into caring and competent physicians. We couldn’t do it without the support of the Wright State family, our alumni, and friends. Thank you all for your passionate support and continued encouragement as we work together to train the next generation of physicians.
- Margaret Dunn, M.D., M.B.A., FACS
Aaron Patterson, M.D.
Vital Signs » Winter 2018
When Aaron Patterson, M.D., M.B.A., M.A., was a medical student at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, his professors spoke to his class about how difficult the process of becoming a physician can be. But they emphasized they were there to support them. More importantly, they provided the pager number of a psychiatrist that the physicians in training could reach if they needed confidential support. 
Horizons in Medicine
Vital Signs » Winter 2018
Coming up on its 40th year, the Horizons in Medicine program has given more than 600 high school students in the Dayton area the opportunity to prepare for careers in science and health care. It has sparked the passions of numerous students who are doctors today, many of whom were educated at the Boonshoft School of Medicine. Those participating in the program gain shadowing experience and are eligible for a one-year, full-tuition scholarship to Wright State University. Most of the students who attend the program are underrepresented minorities or from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Research image
Vital Signs » Winter 2018
It was a bit of a pleasant surprise for a team of researchers at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. Using yeast, they have found what could one day be a new and more effective antifungal therapy.
Mourning in Vegas after Tragedy
Vital Signs » Winter 2018

The mass shooting that occurred Oct. 1, 2017, at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip left 546 injured and 59 dead, including the shooter. Though initial reporting underestimated the extent of the carnage, emergency care personnel were immediately confronted with the realities of the worst mass shooting in the history of the United States. Husband and wife alumni of the Boonshoft School of Medicine and the Emergency Medicine Residency Program were called in that night: Brian Emil Syska, B.S., M.D., ’00, ’04, ’07, and Heidi Kabler, M.D., ’04, ’07.

Vital Signs » Winter 2018
In less than a year, medical marijuana will be legal in the state of Ohio. There are those who support the move, made by the state legislature, and those who don’t. But no matter their position on the issue, much of the debate among those with opinions centers on what’s best for patients. The most discernible difference comes in defining what “best for patients” actually means. It’s not an easy question, and the reality is that the answer varies depending on who is asked.
Karen Kirkham with patients
Vital Signs » Winter 2018
It’s well known that the population of the United States is aging. But instead of catching up with the coming gray wave as many would think, it appears health care is lagging behind in strategies that could help. A clear example of this is a worsening shortage of geriatricians, physicians who specialize in caring for older adults.
Boonshoft in Sri Lanka
Vital Signs » Winter 2018

Two professors from the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine traveled to Sri Lanka this past summer to teach residents and surgeons about the latest developments in trauma and minimally invasive surgery. This is the first time that American surgeons have taught surgery at the University of Jaffna in Sri Lanka.

Dr Eric Bennett
Vital Signs » Winter 2018
Eric Bennett, Ph.D., credits a claymation special for his initial interest in the sciences
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a classic, animated television special that has brought holiday joy to millions since it first aired in 1964. Underlying the magical notions of Santa Claus, reindeer and elves at the North Pole, the claymation story shares values of acceptance, inclusion, and teamwork. Many remember Rudolph and the shiny red nose that made him different. There’s also the Island of Misfit Toys, and Hermey, an elf not cut out for work in a toy factory. 
a baby
Vital Signs » Winter 2018
A Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine student’s research on neuro-oncology — cancers of the brain and nervous system — has led her to Stanford University School of Medicine, where she is conducting research on immunotherapy and its role in treating various pediatric neurological malignancies as a visiting student researcher. She also is conducting research at the University of California – San Francisco.
image of nurses and doctors looking at a computer screen
Vital Signs » Winter 2018
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine a $499,095 grant to accelerate the transformation of the school’s primary care curriculum, along with an $80,000 supplemental grant for medically assisted treatment of opioid addiction.
Vital Signs » Winter 2018
A team of researchers led by the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine Department of Family Medicine has been approved for a $25,000 funding award by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to support a project focused on better understanding the health needs of Ohio’s refugee population.
Vital Signs » Winter 2018
Ayfer Ekiz, M.D., ’15, completes residency with help from Boonshoft School of Medicine
After graduating from the Boonshoft School of Medicine in 2015, Ayfer Ekiz, M.D., returned to her hometown of New York City for an internal medicine residency at Mount Sinai Beth Israel. Her first year went well, and she was gearing up for year two when she learned that the hospital where she was working was going to be sold.
Boonshoft Logo
Vital Signs » Winter 2018
Col. Kenneth Beers, M.D., passes at 87
Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Kenneth “Ken” Beers, M.D., passed away on
Sept. 20, 2017, in Vandalia, Ohio. A longtime faculty member at the Wright State University School of Medicine, he was 87.
Beers instructed the departments of community health and family practice and was the associate director and training coordinator of the Aerospace Medicine Residency Program. He retired from Wright State University in 1993.
Rural Doctor
Vital Signs » Winter 2018
Medical student hopes to become rural family physician
Growing up in rural Northeast Ohio, many of Mitchell Weeman’s friends didn’t expect to go to college. In fact, his high school’s curriculum was geared toward qualifying students to get jobs immediately after graduation. 
brothers that went to med school
Vital Signs » Winter 2018
First-year medical students Wes and PJ Greene could be mistaken for fraternal twins. They come to class together, sit next to each other, and study together. But they’re not twins. They’re brothers, separated by two years.
“We’re each other’s best friend,” said Wes, the older brother. “We share an apartment. We’re pretty much together 24-seven.”
Vital Signs » Winter 2018
Julie Gentile, M.D., has been named chair of the Department of Psychiatry, effective Jan. 1, 2018. She also serves as a professor in the department and has taught at Wright State University since 2000. During her time at the university, Gentile has served as director of Medical Student Mental Health Services and as director of the Division of Intellectual Disability Psychiatry.
Vital Signs » Winter 2018
Paul Hershberger, Ph.D., professor of family medicine, has been appointed director of the department’s Division of Behavioral Health. The new role allows him to continue the division’s contributions to the mission and goals of the Department of Family Medicine and the Boonshoft School of Medicine.  
Vital Signs » Winter 2018
Robert L. Mott Jr., M.D., has been named medical director of the Wright State University and Premier Health Clinical Trials Research Alliance (CTRA).
Mott is a board-certified preventive medicine physician and retired U.S. Army colonel with 22 years of experience in population medicine, medical education, research, policy development, international health, corporate medicine, and medical leadership.
Vital Signs » Winter 2018


Melchor Antunano, M.D.,* was named president of the International Academy of Aviation and Space Medicine. He is director of the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute at the Federal Aviation Administration. 


Bradley Barker, M.D., a family medicine physician in Elyria, Ohio, has received a 2017 Top Doctor Award. The award honors physicians for demonstrating clinical excellence and delivering high standards of patient care. 


Vital Signs » Winter 2018

Refugee health conference welcomes medical student research

Two Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine students presented research about refugee patient communities and their health concerns at a workshop at the North American Refugee Health Conference in Toronto, Canada.