School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine
White Coat Ceremony welcomes Class of 2017 Aug. 2
In Headlines on July 19, 2013
Lisa MacLean, M.D., assistant dean of student affairs and career development, coats a student at the Class of 2016 White Coat Ceremony in 2012.

Lisa MacLean, M.D., assistant dean of student affairs and career development, coats a student at the Class of 2016 White Coat Ceremony in 2012.

Wayne State University president M. Roy Wilson, M.D., M.S., is scheduled to speak at the ceremony.

Wayne State University president M. Roy Wilson, M.D., M.S., is scheduled to speak at the ceremony.

James Meza, M.D., assistant professor of family medicine and public health sciences, will be this year’s keynote speaker.

James Meza, M.D., assistant professor of family medicine and public health sciences, will be this year’s keynote speaker.

They’re not doctors quite yet, but that doesn’t mean they have to wait four years for a coveted white coat.

The Wayne State University School of Medicine will officially welcome its new freshmen medical students, or “first-years,” at its annual White Coat Ceremony, set for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 2 at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward Ave. in Detroit.

Surrounded by family and friends, nearly 300 new students making up the Class of 2017 will take turns on stage getting officially cloaked in a hip-length, three-button white coat meant to identify them as medical students for the next four years. The garb is shorter than the traditional white coat worn by physicians, and includes a School of Medicine patch on the left arm. After receiving their coats, accompanied by announcements of their name, undergraduate degree major and alma mater, the students will recite the Hippocratic Oath, pledging to practice medicine ethically.

The Class of 2017 will be the first to study under the administration of WSU’s new president, M. Roy Wilson, M.D., M.S., who is scheduled to speak at the ceremony on just his second day in office. Dr. Wilson, an ophthalmologist, comes to WSU from the National Institutes of Health.

The event’s keynote speaker will be James Meza, M.D., assistant professor of family medicine and public health sciences, who was awarded the School of Medicine’s first Faculty Award for Excellence in Clinical Science Teaching in October 2012. Dr. Meza also was selected by the Gold Humanism Honor Society medical students to receive the 2013 Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award. This prestigious award is presented annually to one School of Medicine faculty member who best demonstrates the society's ideals of outstanding compassion in the delivery of care; respect for patients and their families and fellow colleagues; and clinical excellence.

The White Coat Ceremony will cap the medical students’ weeklong orientation, which begins July 29 with a special welcome breakfast in WSU’s Scott Hall. Classes begin Aug. 5.

Mazurek Education Commons earns LEED certification for being 'green'
In Headlines on July 12, 2013
Richard J. Mazurek, M.D.

Richard J. Mazurek, M.D.

Ron Spalding

Ron Spalding

The Richard J. Mazurek, M.D., Medical Education Commons, the new face of the Wayne State University School of Medicine, has earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The building, opened in June 2009, was designed and constructed incorporating methods that allowed it to qualify for LEED certification. Requirements for buildings to be considered “green” include initiatives to conserve natural resources, reduce operating costs and improve employee productivity and satisfaction. Certification is achieved by meeting specific requirements in five environmental categories – site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

“Achieving LEED certification for the Mazurek Commons building completes the vision of what we set out to accomplish for the building,” said Ron Spalding, chief administrative officer of the Office of Medical Education, who oversaw the planning and construction of the building. “This certification is about good stewardship of the planet, and our building is about providing a state-of-the-science learning environment to train the physicians of tomorrow. You won’t have one without the other.”

Some of the characteristics incorporated into the Medical Education Commons, often referred to on campus as “The Mazurek,” that allowed it to be considered for LEED certification included the repurposing of the existing Shiffman Medical Library into new space; recycling materials from the demolition phase of the project; the installation of new high-efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; new energy-efficient windows installed in the older portions of the building; and the use of green cleaning products during custodial maintenance.

Earning LEED certification can be challenging. Standards set by the USGBC are rigorous and exacting. According to the USGBC, since 2000 only 9,075 buildings nationwide have achieved certification in the “new construction-major renovation” category.

Spalding said a plaque noting the certification will be placed in the Mazurek lobby next to the American Institute of Architects Award that the building won for urban design.

The $35 million building, which includes the updated library, is named for Richard J. Mazurek, M.D., a 1961 graduate of the School of Medicine. Dr. Mazurek, now deceased, was honored with a naming gift of $10.2 million by his longtime friend and business partner, Nick Labedz. The gift stands as the largest single donation to Wayne State University.
Dr. Sonnino named chair-elect of AAMC's Group on Faculty Affairs Steering Committee
In Headlines on July 12, 2013
Roberta E. Sonnino, M.D.

Roberta E. Sonnino, M.D.

Roberta E. Sonnino, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.A.A.P., vice dean of Faculty Affairs for the Wayne State University School of Medicine, has been elected chair-elect of the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Group on Faculty Affairs Steering Committee.

Dr. Sonnino begins her term as chair-elect in August. The following year, in August 2014, she will start a one-year term as chair of the committee.

Established by the AAMC in 2006, the Group of Faculty Affairs works to develop and sustain “vitality” in medical schools and teaching hospitals by supporting faculty affairs deans and administrators as they develop and implement policies and professional development activities. The steering committee is responsible for the leadership and management of the GFA.

“I am honored to have been elected to this prestigious role, the highest leadership position in the field of faculty affairs,” said Dr. Sonnino, who also serves as associate provost of Medical Affairs for WSU. “It is a position of huge visibility within the AAMC, as one of the 14 group leaders who manage the global interests of the different medical school offices throughout the U.S. and Canada. The GFA is a young group, with a lot of growing still ahead of it, and I am delighted to be given the opportunity to actively participate in guiding that growth over the next few years.”

Dr. Philip Pellett co-chairs International Herpesvirus Workshop July 20-24 in Grand Rapids
In Headlines on July 12, 2013
Philip Pellett, Ph.D.

Philip Pellett, Ph.D.

Wayne State University School of Medicine Professor of Immunology and Microbiology Philip Pellett, Ph.D., is co-chairing the 38th annual International Herpesvirus Workshop, set for July 20-24 at the DeVos Place Convention Center in Grand Rapids.

More than 470 researchers from universities and institutes in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia are expected to attend the conference, which is returning to the U.S. for the first time since 2010. This is only the second IHW held in Michigan since 1985.

The conference will offer plenary lectures, concurrent sessions, poster sessions and professional development, with the intent of exploring new discoveries, models and opportunities in every aspect of herpesvirus biology, Dr. Pellett said.

“I have found that things learned and relationships developed at meetings such as this take the science being done in my laboratory to levels and in directions that simply would not happen otherwise,” he said. “Although it is very difficult to account for in financial terms, I see the societal value of the meeting as far exceeding its dollar cost. That is the main driver in wanting to help organize one.”

Dr. Pellett’s co-chair, Steven J. Triezenberg, Ph.D., is head of the Van Andel Institute’s Laboratory of Transcriptional Regulation in Grand Rapids, Mich. Planning for the meeting began when Dr. Triezenberg suggested working together to organize a herpes meeting in his hometown at the 2007 workshop in Asheville, N.C., the same year Dr. Pellett moved from the Cleveland Clinic to the WSU School of Medicine.

This year’s conference will focus on latency – how and why herpesviruses go quiescent and reactivate later. Latency is a hallmark of all nine herpesviruses known to affect humans.

In addition to latency, the event will include discussion of genome structure, virus cell interactions, immunology, pathogenesis and intervention, treatment and prevention. Satellite workshops on other herpesvirus-related topics, including veterinary medicine, will be held at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel on July 20.

Dr. Pellett has been a regular participant at IHW meetings since 1987, including numerous presentations from his lab; chairing sessions; serving on the International Scientific Committee; convening, organizing and chairing a series of satellite sessions beginning in 1988; and conceiving and organizing the first International Conference on Human Herpesvirus 6 and 7.

“As organizers, our main objective is to create an environment that enables transfer of scientific concepts and understanding in ways that maximize our understanding of, and ability to, prevent or control herpesvirus infections,” Dr. Pellett said. “In service of this, the meeting is in part a nearly continuous series of networked social interactions during meals, breaks, the question periods that follow every talk, and poster sessions, as well as during less purely science-driven events such as the opening reception, banquet and the informal gatherings that take place after hours. Over the course of the meeting, these activities enable data to be better understood, experimental approaches to be improved and productive collaborations, frequently international, to be developed.”

In addition to co-chairing the event, Dr. Pellett will also play guitar as a member of the band Herpetic Legion, set to perform at the welcome reception and at an off-site jam session.

Dr. Pellett’s research is aimed at understanding the biology of human herpesviruses and improving clinical outcomes of infection. He studies how human cytomegalovirus remodels cells it infects, transforming them into factories that can produce an infectious virus. CMV is the leading cause of congenitally-acquired cerebral palsy and deafness, and an important cause of mental retardation, seizures, blindness and death. One in 150 children is born with the virus, and one in 750 is born with or will develop permanent disabilities caused by congenital CMV.

Three members of Dr. Pellett’s lab will present research at the conference. Research Scientist Subhendu Das, Ph.D., will give a talk and a poster presentation on virion structure, assembly and egress, co-authored by doctoral student Daniel Ortiz. Doctoral candidate Stephen Gurczynski will present a poster about biological activities of a gene encoded by HCMV, co-authored by Dr. Pellett, his mentor.

In addition to Dr. Pellett’s team, WSU’s Paul Kilgore, M.D., an associate professor in the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, will present an abstract about CMV vaccines at the meeting, and herpesvirologist Haidong Gu, Ph.D., assistant professor of Biological Sciences in the WSU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, served on the conference’s local organizing committee.

The conference is sponsored, in part, by Experience Grand Rapids, the city’s convention and visitors’ bureau, and a variety of research institutes, foundations, pharmaceutical companies and universities, including WSU’s Office the Vice President for Research and the School of Medicine.
AHEC offers webinar on behavioral health issues of returning armed forces members
In Headlines on July 9, 2013

The Western Regional Center of the Michigan Area Health Education Center, National AHEC Organization and Postgraduate Institute for Medicine are sponsoring a continuing education webinar designed to provide an educational resource for health care professionals to address the behavioral health issues of returning service members and their families more effectively.

“Rules of Engagement: Understanding Behavioral Needs of Service Members and Their Families,” is scheduled for Aug. 1, from 5 to 6 p.m. Health professionals should visit to register. The registration fee is $20. Individuals will receive a link for the webinar once they register.

The webinar is part of the AHEC Veterans Mental Health Project. Now in its second year, the national initiative seeks to support civilian health care professionals in providing high-quality, culturally competent care to veterans, service members and their families. In the first year of the program, AHECs trained more than 2,700 health professionals.

“Many veterans battle with mental health issues. As more of our troops return home, it is critical that primary care professionals are equipped to address issues, particularly behavioral and mental health concerns, they may have,” said Linda Tarjeft, associate program director of the Michigan Area Health Education Center at the Wayne State University School of Medicine.

The program is open to physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, certified medical assistants, social workers and other behavioral/mental health providers, as well as health providers involved in the care of patients who have served in the military and their families. Continuing education credit will be available for physicians, registered nurses, social workers, and marriage and family therapists.

Speakers will address topics related to understanding military culture, increasing awareness of behavioral health issues, and providing appropriate care and counsel for patients and their families. Presenters include Richard Long, Ph.D., associate dean of the College of Health and Human Services at Western Michigan University; Capt. Anthony Strong, professor of Military Science at Western Michigan University; and Shirley Thomas, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor in the School of Social Work at Wayne State University.

For more information, visit or contact Lori Stegmier, executive director of the Western Regional AHEC, at 616-771-9494 or

Dr. Li to lead program introducing nursing students to research earlier
In Headlines on July 9, 2013
Xiaoming Li, Ph.D.

Xiaoming Li, Ph.D.

A Wayne State University School of Medicine professor will lead a program that provides eight WSU undergraduate nursing students with unique insight about the research field thanks to a $40,000 grant awarded to the university’s College of Nursing and School of Medicine from the National Institute of Nursing Research of the National Institutes of Health.

The “Socio-behavior Training and Research (STaR) Program,” led by Xiaoming Li, Ph.D., professor of pediatrics and director of the Pediatric Prevention Research Center in the School of Medicine, and Nancy Artinian, Ph.D., associate dean for Research and director of the Office for Health Research in the College of Nursing, will provide participants with skills and experiences not offered at the undergraduate level. In doing so, Dr. Artinian said, the students will have a more successful transition to research work environments or graduate studies sooner.

“Now is the time to get them excited about research and expose them to the many possibilities available in the field of nursing,” she said. “We don’t want them to get to a doctorate level and find out that it is too late for a research career.”

An important goal of the program is to attract nursing students to doctoral education at an earlier age. Research has found that the median age of graduates receiving doctorate degrees is 47.3 years. Earlier engagement would result in increased years for productive teaching and research.

StaR students Lisa Bensmiller of Brighton, Kurt Omadlao of Royal Oak, Roberta Ukavwe of Detroit, Amber Buchholz of Dearborn Heights, Brittany Nelson of Brownstown, Anita D’Souza and Emily Glick of Troy and Cristina Miclea of Rochester Hills are paired with faculty of the College of Nursing and the School of Medicine’s Pediatric Prevention Research Center.

Throughout the eight-week program, trainees spend 20 hours a week between laboratory and field work while attending seminars and topical workshops relative to socio-behavioral health research and career development.

The experience introduces participants to every facet of research, from determining focus groups to recruiting participants and collecting and analyzing data. The students receive a $3,000 stipend for their participation in the program, to which they were accepted through a competitive application process.

The students will assist with research on a host of health topics including juvenile diabetes, asthma, HIV, immunization rates and cancer. The students are developing their own abstract studies for submission to research conferences and events such as the college’s Research Day or the annual WSU Undergraduate Research Conference. Several are pursuing the publication of their work in research journals.

With the growing complexity of today’s health issues, a significant component of the program is educating participants about the importance of working in multidisciplinary teams.

The NIH grant number for this project, “Socio-Behavioral Training and Research (STaR) Program for Nursing College Students,” is NR013160.

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