September 8, 2022

School celebrates faculty promotions, tenure and awards Sept. 29

The Wayne State University School of Medicine will recognize and celebrate outstanding members of its faculty during the 2022 School of Medicine Faculty Awards and Promotion and Tenure Ceremony on Sept. 29.

The ceremony will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Scott Hall Cafeteria, and will include the presentation of College Teaching Awards and Research Excellence Awards, along with Dean’s Office Awards.

Faculty members who received tenure this year include Kevin Theis, Ph.D., associate professor of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology; Kristen Purrington, Ph.D., associate professor of Oncology; Theresa Hastert, Ph.D., associate professor of Oncology; and Rodrigo Fernandez-Valdivia, Ph.D., associate professor of Pathology.

Tenure, Dr. Fernandez-Valdivia said, "is a chief recognition of our service and contributions as educators, researchers, innovators and academic scholars, not only to our university but to our society as well." He joined the faculty in 2012, "and it has been the greatest time of my career."

"Achieving tenure means a great deal in that it is an affirmation from your peers and the administration that you have demonstrated the capacity to be an independent scholar, teacher and mentor," said Dr. Theis, a member of the faculty for seven years. "It affords security, not only financially which is important, but scientifically as well, in that it provides an opportunity to revisit your research program and start to pursue some of the investigations that you have envisioned but have not yet pursued because they entail higher risk (and higher reward) than projects executed pre-tenure."

In the 2022 Dean’s Office Awards, Kezhong Zhang, Ph.D., professor of Molecular Medicine and Genetics and of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, won the Outstanding Research Achievement Award. The honor is given to a faculty member in a basic science or clinical department who has made significant and career-long contributions to the advancement of an area of biomedical, behavioral, clinical or medical research. Nominees must have a sustained record of meritorious publication and scholarship, and must have demonstrated a record of nationally and internationally recognized research.

Dr. Zhang is “a world-class expert in biomedicine with a demonstrated record of nationally and internationally recognized research achievements. During his tenure at Wayne State University, he has made exceptional contributions to the research fields of stress response, inflammation, metabolism and environmental medicine,” said Lawrence Grossman, Ph.D., the Henry L. Brasza Professor and director of the Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, who nominated Dr. Zhang for the honor. “Dr. Zhang is a leading expert in defining cell stress signaling pathways and their physiological functions in inflammation and metabolism associated with metabolic disease, autoimmune disease and cancer.

“His group was the first to demonstrate that the specific unfolded protein response (UPR) inhibitor 4u8c can efficiently prevent the progression of inflammatory arthritis,” Dr. Grossman said. “This breakthrough has led to substantial research efforts in studying the therapeutic effects and clinical trials of UPR inhibitors on inflammatory diseases, including arthritis and lupus. He has secured 15 major research grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and the American Heart Association, attracting more than $20 million in research funding to WSU. During the entire period of his tenure at WSU, he has continuously maintained multiple NIH R01 awards, even under the highly competitive climate. He has mentored impressive numbers of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, M.D. fellows and junior faculty members who have been distinguished by research awards and high-impact publications. Among his trainees at Wayne State, at least five of them became tenure-track/tenured professors or took leadership positions in the U.S. and elsewhere.”

Dena Nazer, M.D., associate professor of Pediatrics, won the Women in Medicine and Science Leadership Award. The award is given to an individual who has supported and/or brought recognition to women faculty members or activities for women faculty members.

“Dr. Nazer demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to the WSU Women in Medicine and Science group. As the current secretary of WIMS, she is strongly committed to the smooth functioning of WIMS,” Yamuna Sanil, M.D., associate professor of Pediatrics wrote in her nomination. “As a clinician, Dr. Nazer is widely recognized for her work for child protection. She has been featured in Hour Detroit Magazine's List of Top Docs annually since 2009 as a Top Doc in Child Abuse Pediatrics. She is a member of multiple taskforces, both regionally as well as nationally.

Dr. Sanil added: “Dr. Nazer is very passionate about education. She is involved extensively with teaching at Wayne State University as well as at national and international levels. Her learners range from medical students and social workers to law enforcement personnel and community agents.”

Dr. Nazer has won several awards for teaching, including the WSU Teaching Award, which she received in 2016 and 2021.

The Kamran S. Moghissi, M.D. Endowed Faculty Award for Excellence in Basic Science Teaching went to Cristina Artalejo, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Pharmacology. The award is given annually to a faculty member who, through long and meritorious teaching of basic sciences, has left a mark of excellence and provided students with a critical understanding of the faculty member's discipline. The purpose of the award is to recognize faculty achievement, to encourage continued progress and to provide assistance to faculty who demonstrate significant contributions to the teaching of basic science courses during the first two years in the School of Medicine.

“Dr. Artalejo is a leading voice for basic science teaching in our Department of Pharmacology and the School of Medicine at large,” wrote Department of Pharmacology Chair Sokol Todi, Ph.D., in his nomination of Dr. Artalejo. “Current and former students often write to Dr. Artalejo about how she motivated and inspired them. You will read that some students express that they feel they are not the same person as when they started a course she taught; they write how Dr. Artalejo has transformed their life; the students have more self-esteem, more targeted and focused career goals; and they grow as persons and as budding professionals.

“Dr. Artalejo has been a stalwart supporter of the student perspective in our department as we organize, refresh and re-launch various courses, mini-courses, case studies and interactions with medical and graduate students,” Dr. Todi added. “Cristina places the learning and well-being of the student first and foremost. … Her dedication to each student’s progress through each course or case study ensures their active participation and care for the material at hand. Her care and dedication mean that students seek out additional future courses by Dr. Artalejo. A testament to this are the frequent requests for overrides in her courses, every semester.”

Abhinav Deol, M.D., associate professor of Oncology, received the Excellence in Clinical Science Teaching Award. The award is presented to a faculty member who has served as an outstanding mentor to other faculty at Wayne State University School of Medicine and who demonstrated a gift and passion for mentoring faculty.

“Certainly, one of the most important aspect of teaching is mentoring younger physicians. Dr. Deol excels in this,” wrote Joseph Uberti, M.D., professor and chair of Oncology in his nomination of Dr. Deol. “Reviewing his publications, almost all are with residents, fellows and junior faculty. He has a role in mentoring all of them. … He has been the head of our CAR-T cell program at Karmanos Cancer Center. This technology is one of the breakthrough therapies of our generation. We were one of the first groups in Michigan to offer this technology to our patients through investigational trials led by Dr. Deol.

“I have met few clinician-educators who would match the extraordinary career of Dr. Deol. He has excelled at teaching, research and clinical activity. His energy is boundless. His interaction with everyone around him is respectful, educational and sincere,” Dr. Uberti added. “On top of his successful academic and educational output, he is one of our busiest clinicians. His patients adore him as he finds time to give them his entire focus and expertise in situations where cancer becomes the life-threatening illness. He has become an influential thought leader in the state of Michigan and nationally. There is no one better who should receive this award.”

Lauren Hamel, Ph.D., associate professor of Oncology, received the Outstanding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Faculty Scholar Award. The award was created to recognize individuals who, by their leadership and efforts, have specifically promoted the advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion-related education, mentorship, service and scholarship.

“As a health scholar, Dr. Hamel is committed to identifying, understanding and eliminating disparities in cancer care. She is trained in health care communication and has developed a scientifically rigorous program of externally-funded research devoted to the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion,” Felicity Harper, Ph.D., professor of Oncology wrote in her nomination. “The overall goal of her research is to investigate and improve patient-clinician communication and organizational processes to improve the quality of cancer care, with a specific focus on eliminating cancer health disparities between Black patients and their physicians. As evidence of her commitment to the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion, her research fully embraces a model of community engagement. She is dedicated to including key stakeholders from racially diverse groups of cancer survivors, oncologists, nurses, social workers, and administrators to ensure that behavioral interventions target the needs of patients and the health care systems in which they are implemented.”

Dr. Hamel is the co-program leader of the Population Studies and Disparities Research Program at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute.

“Dr. Hamel has also shown her commitment to the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion through her teaching efforts. In 2017, Dr. Hamel began the work of sharing her research on racial implicit bias through training workshops,” Dr. Harper added. “She has conducted dozens of implicit bias training workshops for masters of Business Administration students at WSU’s Mike Ilitch School of Business in the past five years. She also adapted this training workshop for other audiences, including officers of the Detroit Police Department, the Community Health, Equity and Wellness program of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, and for professional medical societies, including the WSU Women in Medicine and Science group and the Michigan State Medical Society. More recently, in 2020, Dr. Hamel co-designed a special topics course for WSU cancer biology graduate students on cancer health disparities. … In 2021, as a fellow in WSU’s Academic Leadership Academy, Dr. Hamel identified the need for implicit bias training in the WSU School of Medicine. She identified and convened more than a dozen content experts to translate her clinical research into the development of an innovative evidence-based, comprehensive and long-term implicit bias training curriculum for WSU students, faculty and staff.”

2022 Promotion and Tenure Awards

Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology
Kevin Theis, Ph.D. - associate professor (research educator) with tenure

Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics
Erin Carmany, M.S., C.G.C. - associate professor (clinical)

Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, and Obstetrics and Gynecology
Roger Pique-Regi, Ph.D. - professor (research educator)
Francesca Luca, Ph.D. - professor (research educator)

Emergency Medicine
Elizabeth Dubey, M.D. - associate professor (clinical)
Claire Pearson, M.D. - professor (clinical)

Internal Medicine
Melanie Hanna-Johnson, M.D. - associate professor (clinical)
Ashish Bhargava, M.D. - associate professor (clinical) FTA
Prateek Lohia, M.D. - associate professor (clinical) FTA
Sorabh Dhar, M.D. - professor (clinical)
Suganthini Krishnan Natesan, M.D. - professor (clinical) FTA
Fadi Antaki, M.D. - professor (clinical) FTA
Tamam Mohamad, M.D. - professor (clinical)
Tahir Mohamed, M.D., Ph.D. - professor (clinical)
Omar Ali, M.D. - associate professor (clinical)

Rohit Marawar, M.D. - associate professor (clinical)
Kavita Grover, M.D. - associate professor (clinical) FTA

Asif Alavi, M.D. - associate professor (clinical)
Kristen Purrington, Ph.D. - associate professor (research educator) with tenure
Theresa Hastert, Ph.D. - associate professor (research educator) with tenure
Zeng-Quan Yang, Ph.D. - professor (research educator)
Wei Chen, Ph.D. - professor (research educator)

Ophthalmology, Visual and Anatomical Sciences
Anju Goyal, M.D. - professor (clinical)
Evan Black, M.D. - professor (clinical)

Orthopedic Surgery
Jason Davis, M.D. - associate professor (clinical)
Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery
Nathan Gonik, M.D. - associate professor (clinical) FTA
Bianca Siegel, M.D. - associate professor (clinical) FTA

Sanjay Kumar, M.D. - associate professor (clinical)

Salah Ebrahim, M.D. - associate professor (clinical) FTA
Rodrigo Fernandez-Valdivia, Ph.D. - associate professor (research educator) with tenure
Sudeshna Bandyopadhyay, M.B.B.S. - professor (clinical) FTA

Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences
Rebecca Klisz-Hulbert, M.D. - associate professor (clinical)
Georgia Michalopoulou, Ph.D. - professor (clinical)
Alana Conti, Ph.D. - professor (research educator)
Mauran Sivananthan, D.O. - associate professor (clinical)

Sheena Saleem, M.D. - associate professor (clinical) FTA
Deniz Altinok, M.D. - professor (clinical) FTA
Faysal Saksouk, M.D. - professor (clinical)

Samantha Tarras, M.D. - associate professor (clinical)
Shakir Hussein, M.D. - associate professor (clinical) FTA
Abubaker Ali, M.D. - associate professor (clinical)

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
David Rustom, M.D. - associate professor (clinical)

2022 Research Excellence Award Winners

Research Excellence Awards are presented annually and are distributed among assistant professors, associate professors and professors from the Basic Science and Clinical Science departments based on criteria defined for each academic rank.

Basic Sciences Researcher
Donald Kuhn, Ph.D. - Psychiatry
Francesca Luca, Ph.D. - Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Iris Sun, Ph.D. - Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, and Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology
James Granneman, Ph.D. - Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, and Internal Medicine
Mariana Angoa-Perez, Ph.D. - Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences
Renu Kowluru, Ph.D. - Ophthalmology, Visual and Anatomical Sciences
Xiaohong Zhang, Ph.D. - Oncology

Clinical Researcher
Eric Woodcock, Ph.D. - Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences
Hilary Marusak, Ph.D. - Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences
Karen MacDonell, Ph.D. - Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences
Leslie Lundahl, Ph.D. - Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences
Sandra Jacobson, Ph.D. - Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences
Yongsheng Chen, Ph.D. - Neurology

Physician Scientist
Ira Winer, M.D. - Oncology 
Prateek Lohia, M.D. - Internal Medicine
Robert Welch, M.D. - Emergency Medicine

2022 College Teaching Award Winners

College Teaching Awards are presented to faculty based on the evaluation of instructional expertise as evaluated by students in the undergraduate medical education program, residents in the graduate medical education programs and graduate students, as well as the department chairs’ annual evaluation and other factors.

Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology
David Evans, Ph.D.

Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics
Siddesh Aras, Ph.D., M.B.B.S.

Emergency Medicine
Andrew King, M.D.
James Paxton, M.D., M.B.A.
Kristiana Kaufmann, M.D., M.P.H.

Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences
Michael McLeod, J.D., M.P.H.

Internal Medicine
Aiden Abidov, M.D., Ph.D.
Anna Salloum, M.D.
Ayman Soubani, M.D.
Julie Samantray, M.D., M.P.H.
Shaheena Raheem, D.O.
Wael Taha, M.D.

Ayaz Khawaja, M.D.
Edwin George, M.D., Ph.D.
Sabeena Iqbal Malik, M.D.

Obstetrics and Gynecology
David Bryant, M.D.
Jayanth Ramadoss, Ph.D.

Jay Yang, M.D.
Kay-Uwe Wagner, Ph.D.
Kristen Purrington, Ph.D.
Malathy Shekhar, Ph.D.
Manohar Ratnam, Ph.D.

Ophthalmology, Visual and Anatomical Sciences
Avril Holt, Ph.D.
Elizabeth Berger, Ph.D.

Rafael Fridman, Ph.D.
Rouba Ali-Fehmi, M.D.

Laura Jane Benjamins, M.D.
Sharon Marshall, M.D.

Joongkyu Park, Ph.D.

Donald DeGracia, Ph.D.

Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences
David Ledgerwood, Ph.D.
Hilary Marusak, Ph.D.

Gregory Auner, Ph.D.
Zane Hammoud, M.D.

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