Vital Signs Winter 2021
From the Dean: Winter 2021
Weber, Valerie

2020, I believe most will agree, was a year like no other. Not only did we face a pandemic, which caused dramatic changes to how we see patients, teach, learn, work and live, we witnessed tragedies of social injustice and a divisive presidential election. There are no words to describe the pace of change and the number of issues our world has faced. 

The Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine (BSOM) community should be proud of all that has been accomplished during this turbulent period. Whether changing curricula and courses on a dime, creating new processes on the fly to continue research and other essential functions of the school, or providing outstanding, compassionate patient care, we have simply not missed a beat. 

In this issue of Vital Signs, we focus our attention on COVID-19 and how the BSOM community is making significant contributions to fighting this disease, assisting the community around us and the world at large. Faculty, students and alumni from BSOM have been involved with COVID-19 from testing to vaccinating, and all points in between. We have collaborated with each other and those outside our community during this pandemic to provide solutions and support. 

Wright State University students from all across campus, aided by BSOM students and the Department of Population and Public Health Sciences, provided contact tracing support to area public health departments. You will read about a resident who organized a virtual symposium, attended by over 150 Dayton-area medical professionals, which provided critical information about COVID-19 vaccines and ways to overcome vaccine hesitancy. We also share a story about our students who helped to get those vaccines in arms at local COVID-19 vaccine clinics.

While COVID-19 was altering day-to-day life, at BSOM, like all learning institutions, we were having to make adjustments. You will see how quickly switching to virtual instruction and trying to maintain personal connections with students were among some of the challenges created by the pandemic. I am impressed by the creativity of our dedicated faculty and staff who were able to successfully navigate the changes necessary to continue providing our students with quality learning experiences.

You will read about an alumnus whose expertise in dealing with disaster has put him in a position to assist the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and emergency medical services nationwide, with guidelines for COVID-19 care. Another alumnus has been labeled a hero and awarded for his dedication to COVID-19 care in the Dayton area. 

Ask any parent of a school-aged child and they will agree their students’ education has been affected by COVID-19. K–12 students have been challenged by not being in the classroom consistently for almost a year. You will learn about a study—made successful by collaboration between BSOM, Dayton Children’s Hospital, and administrators from several southwest Ohio school districts—The results of which played a role in getting kids back in the classroom. 

I was thrilled in November to begin my role as BSOM’s dean. I am excited to have the opportunity in this issue to share my story, so you can learn more about me and what I will bring to BSOM.

As we continue into 2021 with the hopeful promise of better things to come, I am grateful for the strong and dedicated BSOM community and the support from the Wright State family and our many community partners. We are achieving great things and caring for patients and our community, all while educating the next generation of physicians. 

Valerie D. Weber, M.D., M.S., FACP

James Augustine, M.D., ’83
Vital Signs » Winter 2021

James Augustine, M.D., ’83, Emergency Medicine, is quite experienced at handling disasters. From train derailments to pandemics, the emergency medicine physician, who also completed his emergency medicine residency at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine (BSOM), has assisted with disaster planning and creating best practices for many crisis care situations. He is now using this experience to assist with, and try to stay one step ahead of, COVID-19. 

Dr. Toussaint speaking to a group of students.
Vital Signs » Winter 2021

Quickly switching to virtual instruction, maintaining personal connections with students and shouldering an increased workload were among the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic for the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine (BSOM) faculty.

However, the restrictions posed by the pandemic enabled students, faculty and staff to adjust to and master virtual instruction in multiple locations at the same time, creating new educational possibilities for the future.

Dr. Weber
Vital Signs » Winter 2021

On November 1, 2020, the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine (BSOM) welcomed a new dean, Valerie D. Weber, M.D., M.S., FACP, the eighth in school history. Dr. Weber was hired as dean following the June 2020 retirement of Margaret Dunn, M.D., M.B.A., FACS.

A Pennsylvania native, Dr. Weber grew up in the small town of Harborcreek, Pennsylvania. She is the youngest of three children and enjoyed spending time on the water during her childhood, especially with her dad, an avid boatsman.

BSOM Students at graduation.
Vital Signs » Winter 2021

Jack Gruber, M.D., former vice chair and professor with the department of obstetrics and gynecology with the Boonshoft School of Medicine (BSOM), passed away in January 2021 as a result of complications from COVID-19.

Gruber joined the faculty of BSOM in 1976 as a professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology. He was serving as vice chair of the department when he retired as professor emeritus in 2006. 

Child getting temperature checked.
Vital Signs » Winter 2021

Quarantining students for close contact to a COVID-19-infected classmate, even if they don’t become sick, is causing children to miss a substantial amount of in-person class. In a nine-week grading period, a 14-day quarantine, which health officials recommended for most of the school year, would result in a student missing nearly one-fourth of in-person class time.

We'am Hussain
Vital Signs » Winter 2021

This past December, a few medical colleagues, including We’am Hussain, M.D., ’18, a third-year internal medicine resident at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine (BSOM), were enjoying a cup of tea together. They were discussing how they could give back to the community. 

Vital Signs » Winter 2021

Erica Taylor, M.D., ’05, is the new assistant dean for diversity and inclusion at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine (BSOM). Taylor transitioned into the role in fall 2020 from her previous position as BSOM pediatrics clerkship director. She will continue to serve as a pediatric hospitalist at Dayton Children’s Hospital.

Medical student participating in contact tracing.
Vital Signs » Winter 2021

They have quickly become detectives in the war against COVID-19.

Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine (BSOM) students say conducting contact tracing of people testing positive for the virus has been challenging but underscores its importance in limiting the spread of the pandemic.

Vital Signs » Winter 2021

The dictionary defines a hero as a person admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities. In mythology and folklore, it’s a person of superhuman qualities.

Our world saw many heroes emerge throughout 2020, particularly when it came to issues surrounding the pandemic. One of those heroes is a graduate of the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine (BSOM). 

Mukul Chandr, M.D.
Vital Signs » Winter 2021

Mukul Chandra, M.D., former clinical assistant professor with the Boonshoft School of Medicine (BSOM) department of internal medicine, prominent Dayton-area cardiologist, and heart health advocate, passed away in October of 2020 due to complications from COVID-19.

Anthony Forsythe Titus, M.D., ’85
Vital Signs » Winter 2021

The Boonshoft School of Medicine mourns the passing of alumnus Anthony Titus, M.D., who passed away unexpectedly in July of 2020.

Titus was an emergency medicine physician with Wilson Medical Center in Wilson, North Carolina.

Part of a military family, Titus traveled the world. Most of his formative years were spent in Dayton, Ohio. Following high school, Titus earned his undergraduate degree from Purdue University. 

Ayman El-Sheikh, M.D.
Vital Signs » Winter 2021

Ayman El-Sheikh, M.D., passed away from COVID-19 complications in February, 2021. El-Sheikh was a preceptor with the Boonshoft School of Medicine (BSOM). He was also the elective director and fourth-year sub-internship director for the hematology and oncology unit, teaching and working with BSOM students, residents and other learners. He was a mentor to BSOM medical students interested in pediatrics and hematology.