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Celebrating SMD Faculty Awards

Friday, May 26, 2023

Steve Dewhurst and Edith WilliamsVice Dean for Research Steve Dewhurst (right) congratulates Edith Williams, MD, PhD on being appointed Dean’s Associate Professor in Health Equity Research.


Congratulations to all of our faculty members who received mentoring awards, named professorships, and teaching fellow awards. They were honored in a celebration in Flaum Atrium on May 17, 2023. The full list of awardees is below.

SMD Faculty Mentoring Awards
Thomas Caprio, MD – Faculty Academic Mentoring Award
Carla Casulo, MD – Trainee Academic Mentoring Award in Clinical Programs
Yeates Conwell, MD – Lifetime Mentoring Award
Toru Takimoto, DVM, PhD – Trainee Academic Mentoring Award in Basic Science

John Foxe and Kuan Hong Wang
John Foxe, Ph.D., (left) director of the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience, congratulates Kuan Hong Wang, PhD on being appointed Dean’s Professor.

Named Professorship Recognition
Anna Majewska, PhD - Dean’s Professor
Dennis Z. Kuo, MD, MHS – Purcell Family Distinguished Professor
Matthew D. McGraw, MD – George Washington Goler Chair in Pediatrics
Karen M. Mustian, PhD, MPH – Dean’s Professor
Joseph A. Nicholas, MD, MPH – William and Sheila Konar Professor in Geriatrics, Palliative Medicine and Person-Centered Care
James Palis, MD – Northumberland Trust Professorship in Pediatrics
Douglas S. Portman, PhD – Donald M. Foster, M.D. Professorship in Biomedical Genetics
M. Patricia Rivera, MD – C. Jane Davis & C. Robert Davis Distinguished Professor in Pulmonary Medicine
Lainie Friedman Ross, MD, PhD – Dean’s Professor of Health Humanities and Bioethics
Michael A. Scharf, MD – Mark and Maureen Davitt Distinguished Professor in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
David M. Siegel, MD, MPH – Northumberland Trust Professorship in Pediatrics
Laurie Ann Steiner, MD – Lindsey Distinguished Professorship for Pediatric Research
Kuan Hong Wang, PhD - Dean’s Professor
Edith M. Williams, MD, PhD – Dean’s Associate Professor in Health Equity Research

Recognition of Dean’s Teaching Fellow Awards
Anne Nofziger, MD
Rita Dadiz, MD
Szilvia Arany, DMD, PhD- EIOH
Grace Black, MD – Pediatrics
Francis Coyne, MD – Internal Medicine and Pediatrics
Chris Tarolli, MD - Neurology

Raven Osborn, Ph.D. Delivers Graduate Student Address at Commencement

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Raven OsbornRaven Osborn, Ph.D., (middle row third from left), celebrates with her family during the Ph.D. Award Presentation and Reception on Thursday, May 11. Raven received The Leadership Award for Excellent in Equity and Inclusion.

Raven Osborn, a Translational Biomedical Science Ph.D. graduate, gave the graduate student address at this year's commencement.

Her research focuses on developing network and statistical models to understand how the virus that causes COVID-19 evades the innate immune system. She co-founded and eventually presided over the University of Rochester's chapter of the Alliance for Diversity in Science and Engineering.

During her time here, she won two awards recognizing her research and five awards recognizing her commitment to inclusion in STEM fields.

In her speech, she talked about overcoming self-doubt, as well as the importance of community.

“You will go further if you lock arms with the people around you, and you teach others to do the same through actions first. And finally, if you don't remember anything else from this speech, please remember to pick up the phone for the people you love.”

Check out the full speech on YouTube.

The New Issue of Opportunities to Explore is Out Now!

Monday, May 15, 2023

Read the May 15 - May 19, 2023 Issue

Nicole Wilson, M.D., Ph.D. Looks at Long-term Psychological Effects of Childhood Trauma

Friday, April 14, 2023

Nicole Wilson, M.D., Ph.D
Nicole Wilson, M.D., Ph.D.

Nicole Wilson, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the departments of Surgery, Pediatrics, and Biomedical Engineering led a study of young adults who were victims of violent injuries as children and found significantly higher levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in this group than the general population.

The study surveyed 24 respondents who were victims of gunshot, stab, or assault wounds as children between the years of 2011 and 2020. Of the participants, 15 suffered a gunshot wound, eight suffered a stab wound, and one was assaulted. Respondents were primarily teenagers at the time of injury, with a median age of 16.6 years. An average of six years had passed from the initial injury to the time respondents were contacted for the study.

Read the full article in the URMC Newsroom.

The Misunderstood Reason Deaf Children Fall Behind: Rhode Island PBS Weekly

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

deaf student

Many students arrive at the Rhode Island School for the Deaf, which serves students from preschool through high school, with little to no language. Wyatte Hall, Ph.D., an expert of language deprivation and assistant professor of Public Health Sciences at the URMC, knows that delayed language acquisition causes other problems, and is preventable. "We already know how to prevent these problems: You give deaf children sign language... Options are framed as 'or' -- that you have to pick ASL or English spoken language… It does not have to be that way. It can be 'and.' You can have ASL and English."

Hall was also the first graduate of the Rochester Postdoc Partnership, a one-of-a-kind postdoctoral training program for deaf or hard-of-hearing scientists run jointly by URMC and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at RIT.

Watch the full story from Rhode Island PBS Weekly.

April 11, 2023: Research Update from Steve Dewhurst

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Dear colleagues, 

Last week (April 2- April 8) was graduate student appreciation week, a national celebration of graduate students and the many essential contributions they make to academic and research communities across the country – including this medical center.   

A highlight was the finals of the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, at which students from across the University summarized their doctoral research in a three minute presentation. I was blown away, not only by the quality of the speakers and their research, but also by the sheer breadth of their scholarship. The overall winner, Fatma (Betul) Zeyrek, spoke about her work on early childhood moral development and the complex reasons that kids agree to do what their parents ask them to (most of the time…).  Two SMD students also received awards – Gabrielle Kosoy, who won 2nd place overall, and Sara Blick-Nitko, who was the joint winner of the People’s Choice Award

Graduate Education and the 2030 UR Strategic Plan 

Graduate students are also at the core of the UR’s 2030 Strategic Plan. While the plan is still being refined based on feedback from the University community, its five overarching goals are clear. One of these is to re-imagine undergraduate and graduate education and to ensure that all students “feel a sense of belonging” and have “access to high-impact learning experiences” that prepare them for their future careers. 

One step towards this is a new partnership between the office of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs (GEPA) and Archer Career, which will assist learners with preparing for networking opportunities, internships, job shadowing, job searches, and more.  Eric Vaughn in GEPA made this happen with the help of a Burroughs-Wellcome grant he secured (thank you, Eric!) and a first cohort started last month. A second cohort will start in May; if you’re interested, please contact Eric

More About the 2030 UR Strategic Plan and How it Relates to the Medical Center 

The cornerstone of the 2030 UR Strategic Plan is to enhance our research enterprise and our global reputation by investing in areas of distinction that provide opportunities for innovation, discovery, and transdisciplinary collaboration. Medical Center researchers will play key roles in the following areas: 

A Last Thought: Commencement  

Finally, the University’s 173rd Commencement Ceremony for undergraduate and graduate students from all schools will be held on Friday, May 12 and kicks off a weekend of graduation ceremonies and celebrations that continue through Sunday, May 14. 

For the students who’ll be walking across a stage next month, in front of family and friends, I offer my congratulations and my appreciation: For the countless hours you put into your research; for the difficult times when things weren’t going well, but you stuck it out and made it work; for the support you both gave and received along the way.   

Take a moment to savor what you’ve achieved. 

Steve Dewhurst, PhD 
Vice Dean for Research 


Nathan Smith, Ph.D. says stars in the brain my be information regulators

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Nathan Smith
Nathan Smith, Ph.D.

Long thought of as “brain glue,” the star-shaped cells called astrocytes—are members of a family of cells found in the central nervous system called glial that help regulate blood flow, synaptic activity, keep neurons healthy, and play an important role in breathing. Despite this growing appreciation for astrocytes, much remains unknown about the role these cells play in helping neurons and the brain process information.

“We believe astrocytes can add a new dimension to our understanding of how external and internal information is merged in the brain,” said Nathan Smith, MS, PhD, associate professor of Neuroscience at the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rochester.

He and fellow authors from the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Copenhagen highlight this in an opinion article in Trends in Neuroscience.

Read the full article in the URMC Newsroom.

Wyatte Hall Joins Congressional Briefing on Language Access for Deaf Children

Friday, February 24, 2023

Wyatte Hall, Ph.D., presenting at the Education and Advocacy Summit.
Wyatte Hall, Ph.D., presenting at the
Education and Advocacy Summit

Wyatte Hall, Ph.D., assistant professor of Public Health Sciences at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), took part in a congressional briefing at the U.S. Capitol on February 22 to advocate for earlier and better language access for deaf children. The briefing was part of the eighth annual Education and Advocacy Summit hosted by the Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf.  

Hall, who is also an assistant professor in Neurology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, and the Center for Community Health & Prevention at URMC, has studied the prevalence and impact of language deprivation on deaf children and adults for almost 10 years. While most children share a common language with their parents and have access to that language from infancy, the majority of deaf children are born into hearing families that use spoken language and many have delayed access to language. 

Read the full article.

Paula Vertino Named Senior Associate Dean for Basic Research

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Paula Vertino
Paula M. Vertino, Ph.D.

Paula Vertino, Ph.D., an accomplished cancer research scientist and leader at the Wilmot Cancer Institute at the University of Rochester Medical Center, has been appointed senior associate dean for Basic Research effective February 1, 2023.

Vertino was recruited to Wilmot in 2018 to transform its research endeavors by breaking down silos and promoting collaboration and team science. She enjoys identifying commonalities and bringing people together in a “grass roots” approach.

She sees her new role as an opportunity to interact more broadly across the Medical Center to enhance cross-programmatic communication; to work with institutional leadership to create an environment that fosters faculty and trainee success; and to further integrate the basic and clinical research enterprise – something that’s been top-of-mind since she joined the University.

Read the full article in the URMC Newsroom.

January 27, 2023: Research Update from Steve Dewhurst

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Traditionally, as a new year starts, we take a moment to reflect on the year that just ended – and on the year to come. As we come to the end of this first month of 2023, it seems timely to do so now. 

Jeff Koslofsky in Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs created this terrific infographic which presents some of the key facts and figures around our research mission in 2022. What isn’t captured in this image is the tremendous amount of creativity, innovation, hard work and passion that faculty, staff, and learners pour into their science. 

For many of us, research is also deeply personal. If you have a few minutes, this inspiring December news piece on Arielle Sheftall’s research is exemplary of that.   

Sheftall, a 2022 recruit in the department of Psychiatry, recently received one of only four NIH Director’s Transformative Research Awards; the $4M grant will fund her research on using digitally enabled peer-to-peer support, as well as at-home nerve stimulation, as early intervention approaches for teenagers at high risk for suicide.    

Another theme that emerges from the year-in-review is that of mentoring, and its critical importance to the success of all members of our SMD research community. In October, Nikesha Gilmore, a faculty member in the Wilmot Cancer Institute (Wilmot) and the department of Surgery coauthored a guest editorial for The Hematologist, together with two colleagues at Duke University and the University of North Carolina. The article addresses the unique challenges faced by Black faculty in academia, and the negative impact of systemic racism and bias. It also identifies mentorship as an important part of the solution. As Gilmore notes, mentorship “can keep people from saying – ‘I’m done. I’m not doing this anymore.’” In a November news feature on this article, Gilmore adds that:  

“You need a mentor to say, ‘I have faith in you. You can do this.'”   

I couldn’t agree more.   

Importantly, Gilmore also credits her own mentors at the U of R for the positive effect they have had on her career success, including Jacques Robert (her PhD mentor), as well as Michelle Janelsins-Benton and Supriya Mohile, scientific leaders within Wilmot, and key contributors to her subsequent growth as an early stage faculty member. That’s making a positive difference, and something we can all aspire to. 

Looking to the year ahead, we’ll be continuing with hybrid work in many venues, but in others, we’ll be moving to increasing levels of in-person participation. As many of us know first-hand, in-person professional scientific meetings are back, as are in-person social gatherings, as exemplified by the December SMD Philosophy meeting, which was a celebratory gathering of our research community. That community building effort needs to continue and redouble, particularly for those who have recently joined the SMD research family and who have not (yet) had opportunities to build in-person peer connections and support networks.  

Over the next several months, University-wide strategic planning efforts will also continue to move forward. A central aspect of the plan will be to strengthen our reputation as a leading global research University, while also: providing outstanding educational opportunities for our learners; investing in health and healthcare; supporting the success and well-being of our people; and continuing our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice, across all the University’s missions. 

In the short-term, our PhD applicant interview weekends are just around the corner, on February 3-4 and March 3-4. I encourage you to participate actively in that process, and to help our interviewees understand what’s special about doing research here. 

Finally, I want to thank each of you for the little things you do every day to make this place better; the small gestures or kind words that make others around you feel valued and welcome. It’s those small details that linger in the heart. 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

- Maya Angelou  

Steve Dewhurst, PhD 
Vice Dean for Research 

PHOTOS: GEPA December 2022 Philosophy Meeting

Tuesday, January 17, 2023


E’Lissa Flores, Ph.D (’18) Talks Authenticity, Moving from L.A. to Rochester, and Keys to Networking

Wednesday, January 4, 2023


"What sets you apart is who you are and how you work with others."

E'Lissa Flores, Ph.D., a 2018 graduate of our Translational Biomedical Science program, credits being her authentic self as a big reason she's in a career she loves today.

Flores recently joined us for a live LinkedIn career discussion to talk the importance of authenticity, as well as:

  • Her role as scientific program manager at the Health and Environmental Sciences Institute (HESI) and what it's like working in the non-profit sector
  • How our PREP program helped launch her into her Ph.D.
  • Overcoming imposter syndrome through the help of mentors
  • The importance of networking and not just re-connecting with colleagues when you need something
  • What she did to get better at science communications
  • Moving from Los Angeles to Rochester, and more

Check out the full replay on our LinkedIn page.