School of Medicine Honors and Awards 2020

From left, Drs. Daniel Marks and Katherine Michaelis
From left, Drs. Daniel Marks and Katherine Michaelis, winners of the School of Medicine's Graduate Studies Resko awards.

School of Medicine celebrates – virtually – the highest achievements of students and faculty

Students and faculty are receiving School of Medicine honors and awards virtually this year as part of OHSU’s efforts to keep people safe and healthy during the coronavirus pandemic.

Although the annual Undergraduate Medical Education and Graduate Studies Honors and Awards Ceremony did not take place, the school is marking the occasion by celebrating individuals that define the highest striving of our school and by telling a few of their stories.

"These awards recognize simply outstanding science - from Kathleen Beeson’s paper for the Neuroscience Graduate Program on the role of α2δ-2 proteins to Whitney Shervey’s master’s thesis in Food Systems and Society on the role of labor unions in restaurant industry equality,” said Allison Fryer, Ph.D., associate dean for Graduate Studies. “Especially now as science steps to the forefront to lead us out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a moment to honor and to celebrate the incredible effort, dedication and brilliance of our students and faculty. They are foundational to advancing health for all."

Added Tracy Bumsted, M.D., M.P.H., associate dean for undergraduate medical education, “These past few months have been stark reminders of the role our aspiring physicians and their faculty must play in righting unacceptable health disparities in our communities of color and in advocating for our patients for whom racism, and its too often violent consequences, is first and foremost a public health issue. The OHSU M.D. program is focused on forging physician leaders. The students and faculty honored this year are a tribute to these efforts and all that our students will go on to do - across many specialties and pursuits - to change our world for the better.”

School of Medicine community members are invited to use this link to view the virtual Doctor of Medicine Hooding Ceremony on Sunday, June 7, at 11 a.m., following the virtual OHSU Convocation at 10 am. The reading of the Oath of Geneva during the ceremony is dedicated to the memory of George Floyd, killed May 25 by police in Minneapolis. Several faculty members will share personal remarks. Individual Graduate Studies programs will be holding smaller virtual hooding ceremonies.

George Mejicano, M.D., senior associate dean for education, framed this year’s virtual honors and awards celebration against the backdrop of the global pandemic. “The need for a highly trained health and science workforce has never been clearer. As these awards attest, our leaners are prepared to confidently enter the workforce and advance the knowledge and practice of medicine.”

“Stories of heartbreak and triumph, mentorship and partnership, humility and perseverance are all around us in the School of Medicine, and once a year we get to tell a few of those tales and honor their protagonists at the Honors & Awards Ceremony,” said Dean Sharon Anderson. “While we weren’t able to do so in person this year, the acknowledgment of our some of our most outstanding learners and faculty in our M.D. and Graduate Studies programs is no less sweet.”

Below is a sampling of the honorees.

View the entire list of individuals in the event program. 

Congratulations to all of this year's award winners and honorees!

Mentor/mentee pair receive highest graduate honors

Katherine Michaelis, Ph.D., remembers the lecture during her first year in the OHSU School of Medicine M.D. program that helped chart her research path as she pursued her M.D./Ph.D.   

Daniel Marks, M.D., Ph.D., FAAP, professor of pediatrics, OHSU School of Medicine, director of the Papé Family Pediatric Research Institute, and senior associate dean for research in the school, talked to Dr. Michaelis’ M.D./Ph.D. journal club about the devastating metabolic and behavioral condition known as cachexia that is experienced by many patients with cancer.  

“Dr. Marks urged us to see cancer as being about much more than the tumor itself,” Michaelis said. “Cancer can affect the entire body in ways that lead to decreased physiological reserve and poor quality of life. There are biological underpinnings to this process that, if successfully targeted, would allow patients to live longer and higher quality lives.”  

Dr. Michaelis eagerly joined Dr. Marks’ lab the next summer to research cancer cachexia. Under his guidance, she established a preclinical model to investigate the whole-body impacts of pancreatic cancer cachexia, performed research on the safety and tolerability of the immunotherapy agent R848, and demonstrated the efficacy of R848 in alleviating both pancreatic cancer progression and cachexia in a preclinical mouse model.  

Her work with the Marks lab has so far resulted in 10 publications, including a Nature Communications Editor’s Highlight in Therapeutics for her work on R848 in pancreatic cancer. Her dissertation earned her the Resko Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award, among the highest graduate student awards in the school.

She expressed gratitude to her faculty mentors including Dr. Marks.

“He’s particularly skilled at striking a balance between encouraging independence and providing thoughtful guidance to overcome roadblocks and challenges,” she said. “Not only did Dan provide me with knowledge and perspective on systemic physiology and illness that I will use throughout my entire career, but he helped me develop crucial skills necessary to succeed as a physician-scientist: how to learn and persevere, how to cultivate curiosity and collaborate with colleagues, and above all, great things can be accomplished with hard work.”

Dr. Michaelis completed her Ph.D. this spring and will now tackle her final year of medical school with plans to train as a pediatric oncologist. In addition to patient care and research, she intends to contribute to pediatric health equity work addressing social and structural determinants of health. “Not only do scientists and clinicians have an imperative to improve therapies and address patient needs,” she said, “we have a duty to ensure access to quality healthcare for all."

This year, Dr. Marks was selected for the Resko Faculty Excellence in Research and Mentoring Award, among the highest graduate faculty awards in the school.

Dr. Marks says he’s humbled and grateful to be chosen. “This was something my father, who passed away in December, would have been exceptionally happy to hear about. He was a professor of physics, and I grew up watching him mentor students, who were over at our house all the time. He often told me that mentorship was his greatest honor and joy, and I learned all of the cardinal virtues of good mentorship from him. His standard is something I have always tried to live up to, so this award has special meaning to me for that reason.”

M.D. excellence in teaching, innovation

Dr. Susan Tran
Dr. Susan Tran

In the M.D. program, Susan Tran, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology was selected for multiple awards, including Outstanding Leader in Clinical Experiences for her role as course director in the Ob/Gyn clerkship.

“She is an excellent educator who thoughtfully developed the rotation curriculum based on the latest research,” wrote one fourth-year M.D. student. “She is invested in her students' growth by encouraging them to be independent in their coursework while providing actionable feedback for improvement. Her passion for education leadership in ob/gyn is infectious, and she often goes the extra mile to mentor students on their path in ob/gyn.”

And fourth-year M.D. student Douglas Preston, Ph.D., was honored with the Scholarly Projects Poster Award in the Basic Science and Biomedical Engineering category for his project entitled, “Improving Throughput and Sensitivity with ELISA Based Arrays for Pancreatic Cancer Exosome Detection.” His mentor was Sadik Esener, Ph.D., director of the Center of Early Detection Advanced Research, Knight Cancer Institute.

Dr. Preston is coming to medicine as a second career after working in the semiconductor industry for many years where he rose to chief technology officer. His scholarly project drew upon his computer and chemical engineering expertise and industry connections as part of a larger CEDAR project to develop an early detection system for pancreatic cancer.  

In his project, he wrote code to program a SpotBot Microarray System. The program instructed the SpotBot to precisely lay down layers of chemicals in specific concentrations in order to more efficiently run scientists’ early detection experiments.

Now, he’s looking forward to helping people through the field of pathology, where he can pursue an interest in the mechanisms of disease and big data.

“I like that you have time to think in pathology and you’re answering ‘why’ questions a lot,” he said. “That’s intellectually appealing to me.”

Graduate Studies Faculty and Student Achievement Awards

John A. Resko Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award

Katherine Michaelis, M.D./Ph.D. Program in Physiology and Pharmacology, for her dissertation titled "TLR7 as a therapeutic target for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma and cancer-associated cachexia." This award recognizes outstanding contributions to biomedical research in the School of Medicine and is presented to a graduate student in recognition of research leading to completion of an outstanding thesis. The award is made in honor of John A. Resko, Ph.D., chair and professor emeritus of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, for over 30 years of excellence in research, mentoring, and dedicated leadership of the basic science graduate studies program. Michaelis is mentored by Dr. Marks, this year’s Resko Faculty award winner.

John A. Resko Faculty Excellence in Research and Mentoring Award

Daniel L. Marks M.D., Ph.D., FAAP, Professor, Department of Pediatrics, OHSU School of Medicine, and Director, Papé Family Pediatric Research Institute, Senior Associate Dean for Research, OHSU School of Medicine. This award is made in honor of John A. Resko, Ph.D., chair and professor emeritus of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, for over 30 years of excellence in research, mentoring, and dedicated leadership of the basic science graduate studies program. It is given to recognize a faculty member for outstanding research and student mentoring. Nominations are solicited for members of the School of Medicine Graduate Faculty who have a sustained record of high quality research as well as a strong record of mentoring graduate students and/or postdoctoral fellows in their laboratories and subsequent careers. This is the highest faculty honor in Graduate Studies.

Graduate Studies Faculty Award

Excellence in Teaching

Melanie Gillingham, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics

Graduate Student Achievement Awards

Associate Dean’s Award for Exemplary Contributions to the Graduate Community

Tyler Chase, Master of Science Program in Human Nutrition  

Outstanding Journal Article

Kathleen Beeson, Neuroscience Graduate Program, for “α2δ-2 Protein Controls Structure and Function at the Cerebellar Climbing Fiber Synapse.”

Outstanding Master’s Thesis

Whitney Shervey, Master of Science Program in Food Systems and Society, for “The Role Labor Unions and Worker Centers Play in Restaurant Industry Equality”

M.D. Program Faculty and Student Achievement Awards

The Edward J. Keenan Teaching Award was created to memorialize Dr. Edward J. Keenan's legacy as a celebrated teacher, scientist, mentor and colleague, and to honor Dr. Keenan's passion for teaching and for teachers. This year the award went to Katherine Tacker, M.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry.

The Community Preceptor Award recognizes a physician or physician group that has demonstrated outstanding dedication to the education of medical students. This year the award goes to Gary Plant, M.D., Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, and Jeffrey Youker, M.D., Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics.

The Faculty Mentor Award recognizes a faculty member who demonstrates outstanding skill and dedication to advising and mentoring medical students. This year, the award went to Amy Garcia, M.D., M.S., FAAP, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, OHSU School of Medicine

The Dean's Award for Exemplary Contributions to the M.D. Program went to student Phoebe Hammer.

The Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award presented by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation is given to a graduating medical student and to a physician faculty member who are judged by their peers to best exemplify the humanistic qualities of a physician and their consistent expression of compassion, empathy, respect and sensitivity toward their patients and colleagues, while maintaining the highest professional and ethical standards and devoting themselves to the welfare of our citizens who are most vulnerable and in need of their care. Megan Furnari, M.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, received the faculty award and Monique Hedmann, M.P.H. received the student award.

The Edward S. Hayes Gold-Headed Cane Award is presented annually to a member of the graduating medical school class selected by his or her peers and teachers. The award recognizes the compassionate devotion and effective service to the sick, with the conviction that its holder will forever epitomize and uphold the traditions of the true physician. This year this prestigious award went to Juliet Alla. 

M.D. Program Faculty Awards

Excellence in Teaching

Magdalena Muchlinski, M.A., Ph.D., Associate Professor, Anatomical Services

Ali Olyaei, PharmD, BCPS, Professor, Department of Medicine

Peter Sullivan, M.D., Associate Professor, Department of Medicine

Susan Tran, M.D., Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Excellence in Education

Rebecca Cantone, M.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine