ASPECTS Southern Illinois University School of Medicine | Spring 2021 | 44-1

The world has changed in the last year and we have been changed by it.

In health care, you often hear about “the next pandemic” and what that may look like or how to prepare. The way the last year has impacted our physical AND mental health has been different for everyone, but the new emphasis on mental health and its importance on your entire body will likely remain.

In this issue, we dive into topics like depression, research related to brain health and Alzheimer’s disease, how burnout, resilience and stress have affected our health care teams locally and how the Neuroscience Institute at SIU Medicine is adapting in this time of change.

Community activists honored at 2021 Kenniebrew Lecture

The son of a former slave, Alonzo Homer Kenniebrew, MD, was educated at Tuskegee University and was a friend, colleague and personal physician to Booker T. Washington. After relocating to Illinois, he persevered despite repeated roadblocks from the Jim-Crow world of the early 20th century.

Kenniebrew was the first African-American physician in the United States to build and operate a surgical hospital, the New Home Sanitarium in Jacksonville, Illinois, established in 1909. At its peak, New Home had 67 rooms, three labs, three surgeons and eight associated physicians. It served patients from 20 states and Canada. He founded the hospital because he could not obtain medical privileges at area hospitals.

Dr. Joia Adele Crear-Perry (right), founder and president of the National Birth Equity Collaborative, was the guest speaker at the 2021 Alonzo Kenniebrew Lecture, discussing “A New Legacy: Trust, Truth and Anti-racism in Medicine” via WebEx on February 9.

Dr. Crear-Perry shared her philosophies for improving health care inequities by fighting implicit biases and addressing the root policies driving the social determinants of health. “Everyone should have the ability to thrive, and we need to help those who are unjustly impacted to achieve it,” she said. “It will require a sustained effort from us, to be both the provider and an advocate.”

The following morning, SIU’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion hosted the virtual Kenniebrew Forum via Zoom. Dr. Ann-Gel Palermo, senior associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, moderated the discussions among forum guests. Both events were open to the public.

At the Kenniebrew Lecture, a trio of awards were announced to honor the groups and individuals who continue the groundbreaking work that Dr. Kenniebrew modeled.

Recipients of the 2021 Alonzo Homer Kenniebrew MD, Trailblazer Award are:

Teresa Haley, President - National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Springfield Branch.

Kelly Hurst, educator, speaker and executive director of Being Black at School

The Springfield NAACP has been a champion of equality and economic rights, working to eliminate race-based discrimination for Blacks and other people of color since its founding here in 1909. (The NAACP was formed as a result of the Springfield Race Riots of 1908.) In addition to its traditional advocacy in 2020, the Springfield Branch organized outreach and education to serve the most vulnerable populations impacted by COVID-19.

Kelly Hurst was recognized for her dedication and tireless efforts toward anti-racism, undoing systems of harm through her workshops, community forums, blogs and activism.

Erica Austin, deputy director of SIU’s Office of Community Care, received the 2021 Kenniebrew Equity Award.

Erica was honored for her commitment to promoting inclusive excellence within the diverse populations that SIU serves. Her nominator highlighted Erica’s character and collaborative nature, as well as her efforts to uplift young girls through in-school and after-school health education programs. More recently her coordination of mobile COVID testing clinics in underserved neighborhoods in Springfield has removed barriers to improve residents’ health and safety.

HSHS St. John’s Hospital, Memorial Health Systems and the SIU Foundation support the cost of the annual Kenniebrew Lecture and Forum.

Tischkau named chair of Pharmacology, MMICB

Shelley Tischkau, PhD, has been named chair of the departments of Pharmacology and Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology. In her new roles, she will build collaborations across the basic science and clinical departments, and with SIU Edwardsville. Tischkau is also working with leaders in Springfield and Carbondale to develop a biomedical sciences graduate program that will increase visibility and attract more students to SIU.

“Dr. Tischkau’s passion for research and educating the next generation of investigators is infectious,” said Dean and Provost Jerry Kruse, MD, MSPH. “She has great energy and ideas to keep SIU medical research moving forward.”

Tischkau joined the faculty in 2007. She completed a four-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) (1999). She earned her doctoral and master’s degrees in physiology at UIUC (1995, 1991) and her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in biology at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo. (1989, 1986).

Dr. Tischkau’s research focuses on environmental factors that influence the development of disease, including changes in circadian rhythms (sleep/wake cycles) and exposure to farm chemicals and industrial waste products. She has received numerous awards, including the SIU School of Medicine Academy for Scholarship in Education’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 2014.

Pearson Museum shines on PBS

How did a complete Depression-era drugstore and an antique physician’s desk that survived the Great Chicago Fire end up in Springfield?

They are part of the Pearson Museum, a treasure trove of medical artifacts and eye-catching displays at SIU School of Medicine. We are one of the few U.S. medical schools with a museum on its campus. The Pearson was featured on the PBS program ‘Illinois Stories’ in March. Museum curator Mike Moseley shared the fascinating stories behind some of the objects and oddities with host Mark McDonald.

► Watch the half-hour segment at: pbs.org/video/the-pearson-museum-p4bwr5

Aspects of a LEARNER

Tiayrra Kirkwood

MEDPREP Class of 2021

Photography by Yenitza Melgoza

Before enrolling in SIU’s post-baccalaureate preparatory program, Chicago Heights native Tiayrra Kirkwood was a caseworker for the State of Illinois.

What did you want to be when you were young? Even as a child, I knew I wanted to be a physician. I had a Fisher-Price medical kit filled with Band-Aids, a thermometer, a blood pressure cuff, and even a stethoscope! I loved going around playing “doctor” with my friends and family.

Tell us about your life prior to entering MEDPREP. I was a caseworker for the Illinois Department of Human Services, working 8:30 to 5. Those were the office hours, and it still was not enough time.

As caseworkers, we’d see a steady stream of clients, arguably some of the most disadvantaged in our society. It was my mission to ensure they knew that I was there to be of service to them. I felt privileged to be an advocate for the individuals and families I assisted. I’d listen and observe their needs, then provide targeted solutions to lead them on a path of self-sufficiency. The experience really increased my capacity for empathy. I see similarities in a physician’s role to help ease a patient’s health burdens, to increase their quality of life and overall self-sufficiency.

What do you love most about the program? Your career path?MEDPREP is such a supportive environment. Every MEDPREP student can be labeled as disadvantaged in some way, yet we are all in the same room because MEDPREP is our second chance at achieving our dreams. There’s truly nothing like walking into a building and knowing that every single person in there is rooting for you to succeed.

For my career, I’m glad I will be able to serve my community in a significant way. For many, going to the doctor is such an intimidating thing. I want to help ease those fears by building trust with my patients. Listening to them and their concerns, then taking that information and providing them with a treatment plan that takes them and their specific history into account.

What are your plans after earning your degree? I have not chosen a specialty yet. I want to remain open-minded to all my options; however, I do know that it is very important to me to serve marginalized populations. From my time as a caseworker, I know these are the communities and populations I feel drawn to serve.

What do you hope to accomplish in the future? I hope to be able to make a real impact in my patients’ lives by allowing them to feel seen, heard and understood. Far too often, patients are afraid to go to the doctor, afraid to ask questions. I want to provide a space for them to feel comfortable vocalizing their concerns so together we can find a treatment plan that best serves them.

This issue of Aspects highlights clinician burnout, wellness and resilience, among other things. What are your go-to coping strategies during this pandemic? My go-to coping strategy is to take a break. In this last year, we’ve all been glued to our screens for work and school and keeping up with current events. Constantly being plugged in can be very draining. So I say, “take a break.” Whether it’s a few minutes without looking at the screen, taking a quick nap, washing out your morning coffee mug or going for a walk.

Something else I like to do is schedule calls with loved ones. It gives me something to look forward to, and it reminds me that even though we may by physically distant, we are still very much connected.

What has it been like as a student this past year? To be a student this past year is to be resilient. It has been all about learning to adapt and adapt quickly. We students and our professors have had to learn to adapt together. On both ends of the classroom, we have learned to extend grace and understanding to each other because this transition has not been easy.

What advice would you give to young men and women who are struggling with their mental health amid COVID-19? First, I would tell them it’s OK to not be OK. Second, I would encourage them to find and hold onto joy when and where they can. Also, I will always speak highly of seeking professional help.

What’s your greatest passion? My “why” is a deep-rooted desire to advocate for and serve the underserved in one of the most intimidating spheres of our lives: health care.


Students get Match Day news

Photography by Sara Way

Students in the Class of 2021 have been through a final year unlike any other in the school’s history. At a critical career crossroads, they were hit with dual hurdles: The pandemic limited some of their hands-on rotation opportunities for medical specialties while travel bans pushed the residency interview season into an exclusively virtual realm.

On the plus side, remote interviewing lowered the costs and complications involved in the traditional in-person, exploratory process. Students could put their best faces forward in a virtual meeting from the comforts of their home turf. Conversely, interview slots for some of the most popular programs could be monopolized by a larger influx of candidates.

As spring approached, the students had all been vaccinated and were eager to experience a communal moment again. They asked Dr. Erik Constance, associate dean of student affairs, if an actual on-campus Match Day event was possible. A big “if” was COVID infection rates and the respective safety protocols.

On March 19, the fourth-year students filled every other seat in every other row of the South Auditorium. Dr. Constance called the classmates to the podium one by one to get their envelopes as friends and family members watched on Facebook Live. At 11 a.m., the students learned their future destinations from the National Resident Matching Program. And there was much rejoicing.

Two positives of note: Match numbers were comparable to previous years, and a large percentage of the future doctors will be staying within Illinois to train.

Match results also were announced for SIU’s residency programs in Springfield, based at the school’s two affiliated hospitals – Memorial Medical Center and HSHS St. John’s Hospital. Seventy-eight starting positions were filled. The first-year residents will join more than 245 senior residents and fellows already in training at SIU programs in Springfield.


Pandemic tests grit of health care workforce, support systems for physician burnout

By Steve Sandstrom

Last March, Vidya Sundareshan, MD, was on her first family vacation in more than a year, traveling to San Antonio, Tx., to attend her brother’s wedding. Sundareshan had been named co-chief of the SIU Department of Internal Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases (with colleague Vidhya Prakash, MD) on March 1.

The trip was a welcome break and an opportunity to tend to her own needs as a busy physician. However, her vibrating phone kept reminding her that multiple health care systems were preparing for the inevitable. The coronavirus outbreak that had been an overseas occurrence before the holidays had gone global, sending public health teams into overdrive.

On March 9, she and her family returned to Illinois. Hours later she was attending a joint meeting of officials from the five groups in the Mid-Illinois Medical District: SIU School of Medicine, Memorial Health System, HSHS St. John’s Hospital, Springfield Clinic and the Sangamon County Department of Public Health, where Sundareshan has been medical advisor since 2012.

Dr. Sundareshan would work the next four months without a day off.

As one of the region’s top infectious disease specialists, her knowledge and counsel were critical to preparing for the myriad of ways COVID could do harm. The long hours and stress she was about to experience would be relentless. But her experiences would not be unique.

Even as the pandemic stretches into its second year and vaccines are being deployed to turn the tide, fatigue and burnout are real concerns within health care. How we have adjusted and learned to cope with this new reality of constant burnout – one that weighs heavily on our physical, mental and economic health – is a study in resilience.


Some SIU Medicine colleagues have lost family members and loved ones, some contracted the virus themselves. The danger and fear were ever-present.

Another hardship was the inability to allow a loved one to be at the bedside when a patient was especially ill and could die. “It was bad for each family and it was bad for us, as physicians,” says Christopher McDowell, MD, endowed chair of SIU’s Department of Emergency Medicine. “You felt like you weren’t able to do your level best for them at that critical time. That was devastating.”

The fear of acquiring COVID and giving it to family members, loved ones or colleagues was common across campus. Dr. Sundareshan is part of a dual-physician family. Her husband is a critical care provider, so both had worries about being in contact with their children after returning home from work. There were 14-day stretches when her husband was exiled to the basement as a precaution.

Mary Stewart, chief operating officer at SIU Medicine, worried that she could bring something harmful home to her husband, and was forced to keep others at a distance. “It’s definitely made me appreciate my family more than I already did,” she says. “Not being able to see your own kids and grandkids was really hard. Facetime and Zoom are great, but it’s not the same as being able to hug them.”


SIU School of Medicine launched the Center for Human and Organizational Potential (cHOP) in 2019 to enhance the institution’s work environment and focus on employee advancement and wellness. When the pandemic struck in 2020, it provided an unexpected proof of concept for the center’s necessity. Susan Hingle, MD, associate dean of cHOP, had assembled the team that was now tasked with meeting the evolving, unprecedented demands of the pandemic.

Its members initially focused on ways to sustain connections across remote workspaces. Colleagues were trying to do their jobs from home, or were staffing frontline positions that generated a different type of anxiety. They began training supervisors for new dynamics that better managed scattered team members. And they shared personal stories from SIU staff in a newsletter and on the school’s intranet to give voice to many communal concerns.

Hingle says, “The pandemic made a lot of things related to well-being difficult. There was so much change. Protocols were constantly shifting. Human beings like to be in control and it made planning hard. We were glad we’d had a year to work together, meet with everyone and get our feet underneath us.”

Mental health studies indicate existing in crisis mode can lead to fatigue, depression and burnout. With COVID grinding on, experts worry that providers will shun necessary mental health care for fear of harming their reputations or ruining their careers.

SIU Medicine participated in an American Medical Association Caregivers Survey conducted over 6 months in 2020 that showed the scope of the nationwide problem. The fear of exposure to COVID-19 was high (62%). More than a third of those surveyed in the 85 health care organizations said they’d experienced symptoms of anxiety and depression as the result of the pandemic. Over half reported some symptoms of burnout.

Dr. Hingle says the medical school’s numbers were comparable to the national response, understandably.

We were told to sprint, and then to run a marathon, and in truth we don’t know where the finish line is. It’s now an ultramarathon.

The pressures and uncertainty impacted learners as well. Rukmini Roy, MS4, says, the pandemic’s stress was wildly different than the medical school anxieties that had come before. “Our future careers were at stake. It was difficult to accept that away rotations were canceled, classes and interviews would be virtual, hospitals were at capacity, and no one had any idea when this all would end.”

Compassion and empathy from those at the top was essential. The men and women in SIU leadership had decades of clinical experience to draw upon as they assessed the needs of students and staff in the shifting environment. Dean Jerry Kruse, MD, MSPH, Harald Lausen, DO, chief medical officer, and Stewart acknowledged the dangers and made efforts to relieve stress and reinforce safety throughout the organization. They redeployed some physicians and employees in new positions to supplement offices that were short-staffed.

They also recognized the additional needs of team members who had children learning at home while also working virtually. Flex-time and child-care options were expanded as the summer months began.


For some, the measures were not enough.

Sacharitha Bowers, MD, assistant professor in dermatology, says a confluence of factors brought her down. The complexities of balancing multiple workloads — program duties, moving schedules, long hours, and keeping up with COVID literature — “felt like 150 percent.”

As the challenges of improvising at work became constant, a national upheaval in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor seemed to amplify the trauma. Bowers channeled some of her energy into racial equity activities that made her feel better, temporarily. Social media also provided both an outlet and a platform. “I wanted to empower others who may have been feeling similar angst and were afraid to express it,” she says.

But by the fall her tank was empty.

“It was a very tough year,” she says. “I’m a big proponent of well-being, but there has to be some space in your schedule to let it in. Every day was getting through the eight Zooms, the resident questions, the clinic work and then going home to take care of your children. We were in survival mode. There was negative space.”

She was experiencing burnout, a common problem among physicians.

Burnout was considered an epidemic before the pandemic. In the current era of electronic health records, managed care and increasingly complex systems and regulations, the problem has gained new prominence.

According to 2019 data from the Annals of Internal Medicine, burnout costs an estimated $4.6 billion annually in health care, adds to the worsening physician shortage, and correlates with negative patient outcomes.

There are a multitude of reasons for burnout. Many young people choose medicine because of an interest in science and the desire to help others. As these intrinsic motivators get eroded, it can lead to emotional and physical exhaustion and a sense of depersonalization.

Dr. Hingle has studied the problem, and cites other common factors: not feeling a connection to your work; workplace inefficiency / function (a primary care physician with a full-time clinic duty spends an average of two to three hours a day on documentation responsibilities, she says); the pay-to-play demand, when practices are based on the patient client load; and perfectionism.

“Physicians tend to go all-in on things and that is not always healthy, and it’s not sustainable,” says Hingle.


There is also a self-imposed shroud of silence for fear of stigma. A recent report from the American College of Emergency Physicians found that 87% of emergency medicine doctors are experiencing more stress during the pandemic, and 57% say they would be concerned for their jobs if they sought mental health treatment. Hence many are not getting the help they need. Only 13% have sought treatment to address pandemic-related mental health concerns.

“If you’re struggling, you are often hesitant to say anything,” Hingle says. “It’s the biggest piece that we’re trying to figure out: how to get people to ask for help.”

Establishing the right culture is critical to talking about burnout and getting providers the proper care to begin healing themselves. Emergency medicine physician McDowell says his residency program takes a proactive approach to curb burnout, emphasizing the importance of finding a career niche or an interest beyond work as an outlet to help restore enthusiasm and the ability to relate to people.

We tell our residents there’s value in serving on a committee, or working outside the hospital, volunteering in the community. Find what your expertise can offer to another organization and lend it because you’ll get much more out of it in recharged batteries throughout your career.

The SIU School of Medicine Alumni Society board also is taking steps to combat workplace dissatisfaction. They have established a Physician Wellness Committee to explore ways to assist alumni, residents, fellows and students. In March 2021, a virtual presentation ‘Surviving Your Profession’ featured a trio of speakers — Drs. Michael Honan (’91), Loren Hughes (‘83) and Gwen Erkonen (’04) — discussing burnout, and ways in which physicians can recover when they feel their sense of purpose and joy waning.

Dr. Sundareshan made physician burnout the focus of her community press conference on November 22, 2020. “I wanted to help people actively look for it, recognize it, and call it out in their institutions.”

SIU Medicine’s support system could be a model, she says. “Dr. Hingle is great at keeping many of the people within our department afloat, checking in regularly and positively reinforcing the good parts of our jobs. She would share resources from the ACP [American College of Physicians] to combat the burnout we were all feeling.”

Identifying signs similar to post-traumatic stress disorder among physicians and staff as the pandemic winds down could help mitigate stress and burnout. But Hingle considers it half the battle. The goal isn’t simply to eliminate burnout, but to promote well-being. The ACP offered free counseling services to internal medicine physicians, she says, “but it was only utilized by a handful of people. So it’s not just about having the resources. It’s creating the culture where the people feel comfortable using them, with no stigma.”

Vaccination Celebrations

Photography by Maria Ansley and Sara Way

Photography by Maria Ansley and Sara Way

On January 21, 2021, U.S. officials announced a long-awaited federal vaccination plan. In the Springfield region, Memorial Health System, HSHS St. John’s, Springfield Clinic, SIU Medicine and the Sangamon County Department of Public Health worked together to develop a community vaccination program, with all five organizations providing shots.

By mid-February, the State of Illinois had launched three COVID-19 mass vax sites: two in Carbondale and one in Springfield. The National Guard helped administer 2,700 vaccine doses per day at those locations. To aid the public vaccination efforts, SIU Medicine coordinated campaigns encouraging participation, especially among communities of color.

At the School of Medicine’s campus sites, the mood was uniformly upbeat.

On the day she got vaccinated, SIU Medicine Chief Operating Officer Mary Stewart says,

“It felt like the weight of the world had been lifted.” Working at one of the SIU campus vaccine clinics, she noticed others felt the same. “I’ve never seen so many people so happy to get a shot.”

Internal medicine physician Mark Graves, MD, posted his reaction online: “I may have had a new COVID-19 vaccine side effect: euphoria! I am considering sending this side effect to the CDC.”

A Bracing Shot of Hope

By Christine Todd, MD

On Thursday, December 18, 2020, I arrived at the Memorial Center for Learning and Innovation to get vaccinated. I was expecting to join a line, get my shot and leave. I wasn’t prepared for what actually happened. Apart for so long, I forgot what it felt like when people are gathered together in hope and positivity. What relief there is in communal effort. That feeling is really the root of why I love working in health care, but I think I’d lost it in busyness and burnout over the years. I’d forgotten what it means, in a dark hour, to see someone else in the hallway with you, under the sterile fluorescent institutional light of science.

How many times in history have people who cared made lines like this? Solemn, expectant, reverent, intentional, taking a communal risk, doing the right thing with the right people around you, volunteering, stepping into the unknown lightly because the unknown is an adventure and your fellow explorers are all around you.

I signed papers, answered questions, and saw many of the people I’ve missed seeing every day in the hospital. The line moved slowly, as the pharmacists carefully drew the doses up one by one. People were taking lots of pictures – after all, this was not only hope and relief and science and advocacy but once-in-a-lifetime history, too. I got a card with the lot number of my dose, and the date for my booster in 4 weeks – 2021. I’d be another year older and my immune system would be that much wiser.

And then we were sent to a room to wait for any reactions for a few minutes, and then, alone again, I went home. I had a sore arm for a day. I felt a little more tired than usual the next morning. I made a post on Facebook and texted my family, and that was the end of that.

I was reminded of when I was a kid and my dad was in the Navy. I spent a fair amount of time at the Naval Hospital in Great Lakes, Illinois. The hospital there was the first one I fell in love with. It felt safe there – all hospitals feel safe to me, but it wasn’t until many years later that I realize they feel safe to me because it is one of the few places of last resort in this world. Hospitals never close. If you go there, they will help you, no matter who you are. Hospitals, and health care in general, are places where people never stop caring.

As I think about the COVID vaccine, it occurs to me that Science never stops, either. Neither do the good things that happen when you are committed to standing up for people. The next time hope seems like it’s asking too much of us, I’m going to think about that. It is very meaningful to be here with everyone at SIU School of Medicine who makes sure caring for people never stops.

Patients with Hard-to-treat Depression Have Options with Esketamine

By Sarah Kinkade

As a USPS mail carrier and mother of three, Tricia Duckworth began struggling with depression in her mid-20s. She felt tired, anxious and struggled to find a reason to get out of bed. As her symptoms progressed, she began seeing Karen Broquet, MD, a psychiatrist at SIU Medicine. Through the years, Dr. Broquet and Duckworth tried a variety of drug therapies to treat her depression. Ultimately, she was on the highest allowed dose of Effexor (venlafaxine) and could function on an interim basis. Unfortunately, the side effects were often as challenging as the depression itself.

“I was treated with multiple medications to try to quiet some of the anxiety and depression,” says Duckworth, 43. “I just learned to live with the suicidal ideas that kept popping into my brain.”

She tried electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), a procedure used to treat severe, chronic depression. It is typically used on patients who experience hallucinations, delusions or suicidal thoughts, after other treatments have failed to help.

At one point, Duckworth tried to kill herself and ended up in a coma.

“Some patients have suicidal thoughts often, but do not actually consider taking action,” says Dr. Broquet. “However, in this case, her suicide attempts were incredibly serious and she came very close to succeeding.”

Like many patients who suffer side effects, Duckworth had trouble trying to reduce the dosage on any drug because her depression and anxiety would return.

She would function day-to-day but it wouldn’t take much to trigger her into suicidal danger.

When the drug esketamine was developed as a nasal inhaler, instead of the typical oral pill, SIU Medicine physicians and their patients were part of a clinical trial to test the efficacy of the drug in 2017-2019.

Esketamine is different than the current crop of anti-depressant treatments. Most drugs affect one of three brain chemicals: norepinephrine, serotonin or dopamine. Esketamine impacts a chemical called glutamate, which is the most abundant chemical messenger in the brain. It’s an excitatory neurotransmitter, which means it stimulates the cells, causing the junctions between cells to become stronger and more adaptable.

Duckworth was not part of the clinical trial group, but in 2019, she was one of the first SIU patients to receive treatment after the FDA approved the drug for use in adults with suicidal thoughts/actions or with treatment-resistant depression.

“We don’t exactly know why it works yet, but we know it does work,” says Dr. Broquet. “Esketamine blocks the receptors, which increases the amount of glutamate available to the junctions. The current theory is that depression is associated with lower levels of glutamate. We think this increasing glutamate is what’s helping our patients with depression.”

“Esketamine is a miracle drug to me.” Duckworth says. She is now receiving only esketamine treatments for her depression and anxiety. “It’s amazing to not have to take a pill every day or to try to come off of those drugs ever again. I experienced a lot of withdrawal symptoms trying to get off of those drugs. I also don’t have the stigma of taking those pills.”

“For people with chronic depression, it’s important to remember that there are multiple new and different forms of treatment available these days,” says Dr. Broquet.

NOTE: Esketamine treatment is given through a nasal inhaler. It must be administered in the clinic, and patients are monitored for two hours after each treatment for side effects.



By Sarah Kinkade | Photography by Sara Way

A major gift to SIU School of Medicine will transform the health care of people throughout Illinois and beyond. Springfield couple Dale and Deborah Smith donated a substantial financial gift to the Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders at SIU Medicine to expand research, enhance programming and improve care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and assist their caregivers. The center will now be named the Dale and Deborah Smith Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment at SIU Medicine.

The center provides clinical care, research and community programs throughout Illinois. Since 1986, its employees have diagnosed, treated and educated Illinoisans with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia and their families. In the past year, the center, along with its Memory and Aging Network, has served more than 4,000 patients and their families. The National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health has awarded more than $7.2 million in grants to the center for Alzheimer’s-related research in the past three years. ► Learn more at: siumed.edu/neuro/alz

“This gift from Dale and Deborah Smith will continue to propel research at SIU that may translate into novel treatments and interventions for patients in the future,” says Jerry Kruse, MD, MSPH, dean and provost at SIU School of Medicine. “It will also provide much needed clinical, educational and community support for those with Alzheimer’s and their families.”

Despite decades of pharmaceutical development and drug testing, Alzheimer’s disease continues to be incurable, and prevention may hold the greatest hope for combating this disease. The research team at the Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment is focused on discovering ways to slow its progression.

Erin R. Hascup, PhD, serves as the center’s director and associate professor in the Departments of Neurology and Pharmacology at SIU School of Medicine.

“What we want to do is understand the changes that are occurring across disease progression, including in the very early stages,” she says. “Many have Alzheimer’s for up to 30 years prior to cognitive decline, so we want to intervene earlier to slow or stop disease progression and improve patient outcomes and quality of life.”

In addition to a better quality of life, early and accurate diagnosis and timely intervention could save up to $7.9 trillion in medical and health care costs, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

The center is focusing on creative ways to improve the quality of life for both patients and caregivers through a variety of programs that use art therapy, music therapy and movement for individuals with dementia.

Springfield-area caregiver Janet Scott and her husband are two of the more than 4,800 patients and caregivers who have participated in a ‘Beyond the Medical Center’ program in the last two years. “I cannot imagine what my life would be like had we not come here,” she says. “SIU has meant everything to me. They’ve been like my third arm, I’ve depended on them for so much.”

Currently, 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. By 2050, this number is projected to rise to nearly 14 million. Illinois communities will continue to be impacted by various forms of dementia as the population ages, and the Smiths are eager to be a part of the solution locally and beyond.

“As longtime Springfield residents, we’re proud of the impact the School of Medicine has had on the community,” Dale Smith says. “The efforts of the Alzheimer’s center inspired us to give and hopefully create a consciousness within the community around the breadth of research and patient care we have here. Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease, and we hope our gift can help researchers at SIU Medicine produce better clinical outcomes that improve our community, one family at a time.”

Scientists in the Hascup laboratory recently published data showing that diabetes alters the signals crossing between neurons in the hippocampus (where learning and memory functions are housed in the brain), called glutamate neurotransmission.

Their team is pursuing a variety of other research projects at SIU Medicine, including:

  • Use of medication targeted at receptors to restore glutamate function and cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Determining the neurochemical changes that occur as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in military veterans that makes them more susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Tracking Alzheimer’s disease progression within glutamate neurotransmission by using a memory test to determine changes over a lifespan.
  • Identifying early biomarkers and therapeutic targets for Alzheimer’s disease. As the project progresses and targets are identified, pharmaceuticals will be administered to try to alter Alzheimer’s disease outcomes and delay or stop cognitive decline.
  • Determining the relationship between cellular senescence (when cells stop functioning properly, common in aging and in Alzheimer’s), inflammation, glutamatergic neurotransmission (important for learning and memory) and cognition.
  • Gaining a better understanding of the long-term effects of COVID-19 on Alzheimer’s patients. Individuals with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease often have a “leaky” blood-brain barrier that may give COVID-19 easier access, causing inflammation and additional damage.
  • Examining the prevalence, treatment and outcomes in rural-urban settings, along with racial disparities in relation to Alzheimer’s and related disorders to better understand the disease’s demographics and improve patient outcomes.

Gifts received by the SIU Foundation support the growth of the School of Medicine, including its medical research efforts. Those interested in donating can do so at forwardfunder.siumed.edu/CARE or by contacting the SIU School of Medicine Foundation Office at foundation@siumed.edu or 217-545-2955.


By Caleigh Findley

Kevin Hascup, PhD, assistant professor of neurology, recently received funding through an NIH grant to research the link between COVID-19 and cellular senescence and its possible impact on Alzheimer’s disease pathology.

The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), along with respiratory and “flu-like” symptoms, led to an unexpected rise in strokes, brain hemorrhaging, and memory impairment in young (30s and 40s) COVID-19 patients. These phenomena sparked scientific studies of the impact of COVID-19 on the brain, which showed that the virus could infect the brain’s nerve cells, called neurons, and then kill them.

Coronaviruses can enter a neuron through a doorway into the cell called the ACE2 receptor. This receptor is located on the surface of cells and is found all over the body. Though ACE2 does not appear as often in the brain, it is found in neurons inside the hippocampus, a seahorse-shaped structure that plays an important role in learning and memory. Some COVID-19 patients experience memory loss, which may be explained by the virus infiltrating hippocampal neurons through the ACE2 receptor.

Scientists think that the coronavirus may turn neurons into a zombie-like state known as cellular senescence. Typically, this refers to a cell that is technically alive, but does not go through the cell cycle to grow and divide. Neurons do not divide like other cells, but may revert to this dormant state when detecting a viral invader, to protect against infection. It’s a brilliant defense mechanism, but it becomes dangerous as these senescent cells begin to release molecules that cause inflammation. This contributes to what researchers have deemed “inflamm-aging,” when chronic inflammation damages brain cells, causing lasting effects typically seen in older populations, such as memory loss. As Dr. Hascup explains, “Once the virus enters the brain, the question becomes, what is it doing? If it is permanently stopping the cell cycle, this could have much longer-term implications than just the duration of the virus in the body.”

Unfortunately, the populations that are already experiencing deteriorating brain health—the elderly and patients suffering from progressive neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease—are most susceptible to viral damage in the brain. Research suggests that older patients are at greater risk of the virus entering the brain because of a weakened blood-brain barrier. This tightly packed layer of cells acts as the gatekeeper to the brain, preventing harmful toxins and pathogens from entering.

Dr. Hascup says barrier weakening occurs faster in Alzheimer’s patients than in normal, elderly patients, putting them at significant risk of viral brain damage. Once the virus passes the barrier, it activates the brain’s innate immune response and eventually leads to inflammation of the brain. Dr. Hascup aims to explore the extent of senescent cell burden and inflammation that may occur after COVID-19 infection, and how this could impact clinical symptoms, like memory loss, in Alzheimer’s disease mouse models. Investigating this connection is vital to understanding how the pandemic may impact patients with neurodegenerative diseases and bring forth potential therapeutic targets for further study.

Researchers at SIU fear COVID-19 poses a huge risk to long-term health, though the extent and nature of this risk remain uncertain. As the elderly population swells with each passing year, future studies will uncover the lasting damage of contracting COVID-19 on this community.


By Sarah Kinkade

Hanging out with Kevin Hascup while completing a PhD in neurobiology at the University of Kentucky, Erin Rutherford often gave Kevin dating advice for the other women he was courting. After working together for several months and being friends as most lab employees were, they went to a party together after work one night… and the rest was history.

More than 15 years later, they have two girls (Evie, 9, and Finley, 5), several lizards and a Bernese mountain dog at their home in Springfield.

The couple moved to Springfield after completing postdoctoral training together at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and McGill University in Montréal, Québec, Canada.

“We moved here for Kevin’s job while I was pregnant with Evie,” said Erin. “We stay here because we found a culture of research. Being part of a clinical department was also key, because it gave us insight into the actual problems patients and caregivers face that we want to impact. The research environment at SIU is a place where we feel supported and encouraged to try to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.”

The Hascups lead the research focused on Alzheimer’s disease as part of the Dale and Deborah Smith Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment at SIU Medicine. The couple works closely together and even go for walks together on their lunch hour. At night, they brainstorm the next grant submission after the kids go to sleep.

Dr. Sandra Lee POPS into Springfield

The star of The Learning Channel’s hit reality TV program “Dr. Pimple Popper,” Sandra Lee, MD, returned to Springfield in April to be the guest speaker at a Women’s Power Night to benefit Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU. Dr. Lee completed her residency in dermatology at SIU School of Medicine in 2003. She answered some questions for us prior to her visit.

Dr. Lucinda Buescher, chief of SIU's Division of Dermatology, was a mentor to Dr. Sandra Lee (right) during her residency.

We recently had Match Day here at SIU. Was your Match Day at Drexel [University College of Medicine] a “Yay!!” or an “OK, Illinois it is”? Very much YAY. I did a rotation with SIU Derm and loved it there. It felt like home.

Did your dermatology residency at SIU School of Medicine meet your expectations? Yes, I loved my residency. I had no family or friends around me, so the fellow residents and the attendings became my friends and family. I sincerely would not trade my experience and my training at SIU with any other residency program in the nation.

As a former resident of New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, what WERE your expectations moving to Springfield? I didn't really have any — I didn't know what to expect. I thought of it as an adventure and I was just so appreciative and lucky to be doing such a competitive Dermatology residency. I didn't want to let the program down and I didn't want to let my family down, and I wanted to get the best experience I could possibly get.

Was there any culture shock? Well, I certainly didn't know how to layer my clothing. I'm from California, so I just thought I could put on a big puffy coat over an untucked T-shirt when it's cold.

But I'm open to all experiences; I've lived in multiple parts of our nation. My family is from Asia -- Malaysia and Singapore, specifically -- and I've been lucky to visit many other countries as well. I am always very interested in other cultures, in other people and what makes them happy, what makes them tick. So it was a wonderful experience to meet the people who live and work in and around Springfield.

Did you embrace any Midwestern experiences while here in 2000-03? A state fair? A horseshoe? A 15-minute commute to work? I learned to waterski on Lake Springfield and experienced my first tornado warning. Personally, I think a tornado is worse than an earthquake. The fact that you don't know an earthquake is coming before it happens is really a good thing.

I lived next to a cornfield, saw a life-size cow made entirely out of butter at the state fair, and got my first cat while in Springfield. I’ve always owned dogs but I decided to get a cat so I wouldn't have to walk a dog in the snow. Usually cats are a little lower maintenance. My beautiful cat, Dim Sum, lived for over 20 years and she really was my partner, preventing me from getting lonely in Springfield.

Did you have a mentor or coach who helped you get acclimated? All the attendings at SIU Dermatology were my mentors and coaches. Dr. [Lucinda] Buescher, Dr. [Robert] Buzzell, Dr. [Jonathan] Goldfarb, Dr. [Stephen] Stone, they are all dear to me and really helped shape the dermatologist that I am now. They welcomed me as if I was a member of their families and really made me feel very comfortable living in a place where I frankly didn't know anyone.

Do you have any humorous faculty stories or clinical anecdotes worth sharing? The faculty loved dressing up for Halloween, and their costumes were always so creative and extravagant, with a lot of thought put into it. When I look back, I realize that many of them are younger that I am now and can’t imagine this big role they played in our lives at such a young age, but they did a fantastic job. It just increases my love and respect for them.

Any memorable derm cases to compare with what you now see on the West Coast? One of the wonderful perks about being a dermatologist is developing really close relationships with your patients. Sometimes they're sort of like social calls: They come to see you and you catch up and often times you get to know whole families.

Many farmers, being out in the sun for long hours, would develop skin cancers. I learned from them that human skin when it is cauterized (which is what we do to stop little baby blood vessels from bleeding) that this smells like chicken fat. So I guess we probably DO taste like chicken, as the saying goes. Wonderful salt-of-the-earth, hard-working people that make me proud to be an American.

Social media was in its infancy around the new millennium. Was you interest sparked during your time here? Or later? We’d love to hear the origin story that set you on your course to nearly 7 million YouTube followers and TLC fame. When I was at SIU there were no such thing as a smart phone. I had a flip phone. Yes, I am that old. And we had beepers and actually called people on landlines! All this Dr. Pimple Popper stuff didn't start until about six years ago, when I decided to set up an Instagram page and show a little window into my world as a dermatologist. Early on, I happened to post a blackhead extraction video, and it just snowballed from there. Crazy, isn't it?

SIU Dermatology residents and faculty, summer 2001; Dr. Sandra Lee is front row center

You too can support SIU Medicine cancer research at forwardfunder.siumed.edu/project/19216


Dr. Susan Nagele leaves legacy of a healthier Africa

By Steve Sandstrom

Throughout her career as a Maryknoll Lay Missioner in East Africa, SIU School of Medicine alumnus Susan Nagele, MD, (’81) provided care to the sick and worked with groups to administer vaccination programs that helped to eradicate measles, polio and other infectious diseases from towns and regions where she served.

She had to overcome language and cultural barriers, and bouts with malaria and dysentery. She learned to “make do” with inadequate supplies against a backdrop of extreme poverty, malnutrition and civil unrest. And she persevered to bring improved medical care to some of the most vulnerable populations on a continent of 1.2 billion inhabitants.

Raised in Urbana, she says she believes in the intrinsic – and altruistic – value of “thinking globally and acting globally.”

Nagele traces her urge to care for others to a childhood trip to Kentucky to visit her uncle, a priest. “It was the first time I’d seen a one-room schoolhouse,” she says. “It shocked me that these kids had so much less than I had.”

Summers spent working in her father’s dentist office and as a candy striper at the local hospital had her considering a nursing career. Her father dashed her nursing ambitions when he explained that nurses are not taught how to read x-rays.

“That made me mad,” Nagele says. “I wanted to learn everything, so I began to consider medicine.”

She matriculated at her hometown University of Illinois and then SIU School of Medicine. Short-term mission trips during college and medical school further stoked her passion for service work. Upon completing her family medicine residency training in Carbondale Memorial Hospital in southern Illinois, she pursued a contract with the Catholic Maryknoll Lay Mission organization “because they had the longest terms — 3.5 years. I knew I wanted to do this for a while.”

And so she did, for 36 years.

Her first assignment was in Tanzania, a peaceful country in East Africa, developing primary care health services, including maternal and child health and immunization programs. She established an outpatient department and was instrumental in creating a 36-bed hospital for obstetrics and minor surgery.

In 1991 she moved to Sudan to begin a primary health care program for the Diocese of Torit, where she practiced for 12 years while a civil war raged, claiming 2 million lives. She established several dispensaries and health centers in various parishes. She also began a TB program that treated more than 500 people before it had to be closed because of the war. At one point she was the only doctor for more than 30,000 displaced persons in two camps.

In 2003 she moved to Kenya where she transformed a health center into a hospital in the Diocese of Kitale. In 2010 she moved again, to the Archdiocese of Mombasa to improve the services in the 16 health units and add five more, educating nurses and hospital administrators, and consulting on challenging patients, often in rural areas with little access to other resources.

Over the course of her career, she found difficulties to be mostly temporary. She says SIU deserves a lot of credit: “The training we got in problem solving really taught me to adapt and provide care in tight situations. Once I got past the fear of not being good enough, it was fine. I said, ‘you’re the best they’ve got, so just do your best.’”

Her love for her patients, the relationships they formed and the variety of the cases they presented also added to the enjoyment of her work. “I got to do more as a family doc overseas than many of the specialists have done back here,” she says.

In 2018 Nagele returned to Urbana to attend to her elderly mother and her own health needs. As 2020 drew to a close, she officially retired and watched as the first COVID-19 vaccines were deployed to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Amid the optimism, there was disappointment in how distribution in Africa lagged the rest of the world, and there was concern for her former colleagues.

“Global health care workers should have been one of the first groups vaccinated,” she says. “I know politically that wasn’t feasible. But we truly are all in this together. The virus can mutate and reproduce in one part of the world that’s neglected and then spread beyond its borders and cause new problems. We’re seeing it in the variants from Britain and South Africa now.”

Over the years, Nagele has been honored with numerous awards, including the School of Medicine’s Distinguished Alumni Award (1996), the American Academy of Family Physicians Humanitarian Award (2007) and the American Medical Association’s Medal of Valor in 2012, given to members who demonstrate courage under extraordinary circumstances in non-wartime situations.

But physicians value people more than medals.

Nagele got a precious gift last year when a young man contacted her through email. In 2000 she had treated him as a 9-year-old child. He and his mother had walked 120 miles to reach her clinic in the Sudan, an incredible feat considering he weighed only 20 pounds—the weight of a 1-year-old. He had contracted kala-azar, a potentially fatal disease transmitted by the bite of sandflies, and she expected him to die.

Instead he survived, thrived, attended the local schools and is now a community health worker in South Sudan, following in the footsteps of the woman who helped to save his life, Dr. Susan Nagele, whom he considers “my friend.”

The good news of polio eradication in Africa

In one of her last columns as a Maryknoll missioner, Dr. Susan Nagele reflected on her part in the decades-long public health campaign to ‘Kick Polio Out of Africa.’

The recent news from the World Health Organization, declaring that wild polio has been eradicated in Africa, reminded me of my own part in this decades-long public health campaign.

I was privileged to work on the polio eradication campaign in Toposaland in what is now South Sudan from 1997 until 2003. There was a place called the Kauto plateau above our mission at Good Shepherd Parish in Nanyangacor. We trained local health care workers to take the polio vaccine up to the plateau for distribution. So, one day I sent off two strapping young Toposa men with 1,000 doses of polio vaccine in cool boxes with tally sheets.

They were to place three drops of vaccine in the mouth of every child and make a tick on the sheet. Of course, there is always wastage when the dropper misses its mark or the kid spits it out and the drops have to be repeated. We aimed for 80 percent distribution, expecting 20 percent wastage according to WHO protocols.

The young men came back a couple of days later with their tally sheets carefully marked to record the distribution of 1,100 doses!

I was never sure exactly what happened up there in the far reaches of Toposaland. But on August 26, 2020, the WHO declared that wild polio has been eradicated from the continent of Africa. This joyful news capped 24 years of the Kick Polio Out of Africa Campaign, started by Nelson Mandela in 1996.

Somehow, over the decades, the two young Toposa men and countless others across Africa did what needed to be done!



Roger Wujek, MD, ’76. “I’m now fully retired after 41 years in Litchfield. Litchfield Family Practice Clinic has grown from Dr. Epplin and me to seven family physicians and 12 mid-level practitioners, thus ensuring primary care for this community of 6,900 for the foreseeable future. That was, after all, the purpose of a downstate medical school.”

Larry Jones, MD, ’76. “After retiring from clinical practice in 2016, I accepted a part-time faculty position with Indiana University School of Medicine at their Evansville campus. I enjoy teaching first- and second-year students there but my heart and soul remain with SIU School of Medicine.”

Frank Fara, MD, ’78. “Several years ago, my twin sister talked me into doing 23andMe during my residency years. Nothing came of it that was news to me, until spring 2019, when the phone rang and I learned I had a daughter. She had just finished her 23andMe testing, and I was a 49+% match. She is happily married and has three children who are now my grandchildren numbers 7, 8 and 9. We have met several times, and both of us are ecstatic about this happy development. COVID has since intervened, but when things settle, we'll be off to Indianapolis to see them. A happy story for those of us who are starving for good news.”

Stephen Nold, MD, ’78. “I am mostly retired and feel that I am slowly coming out of the ‘liminal space’ that follows 37 years of practice. The transition has been challenging. I am restoring a 50-year-old wooden sailboat, the name of which will probably be Therapy. Recommended reading: Atlantic, July 2019, Arthur C. Burns: Your Professional Skills Degrade Sooner Than You Think.”

David Riesenberger, MD, ’79. “Retired January 31, 2021, from practice of emergency medicine. No part-time anything. Done. Full-time Papa.”


Gregory Kasten, MD, ’80, traveled to Carbondale with wife, Jan Kasten, in December 2020 to visit the Life Sciences building for first time since 1978.

Gregory Kasten visits the Life Sciences building

Layne Lovell, MD, ’80, retired from Mercy St. Louis in November 2020.

Kriegh Moulton, MD, ’83, awarded 2020 article of the year in Sonoma Medicine for his publication “Managing Atrial Fibrillation: Outcomes and Expectations”.

Elisa Bell, MD, ’89, delivered the commencement address at the Iowa Wesleyan virtual ceremony in October 2020: bit.ly/3wNgss2

Elisa Bell


Cara Vasconcelles, MD, ’91, was named Best Doctor in 2020 Illinois Times - Best of Springfield poll. bit.ly/3uNR57Q

Andrew Kerwin, MD, ’92, after 19½ years at the University of Florida in Jacksonville, has moved to Memphis, Tn., and is division chief of trauma and surgical critical care and professor of surgery at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. bit.ly/3dWuK0L

Cristina Medrano-Johnson, MD, ’94, is employed part-time at the U of I’s McKinley Health Center, is establishing a private practice in Champaign and organizing volunteer clinicians for the project. bit.ly/3mJaCDC

James Hubler, MD, ’96, and his wife, Aimee, welcome a new son, Zeagan Hubler, in October.

Elizabeth Montgomery Collins, MD, ’96, finished a one-year pediatric hospitalist fellowship at Duke University. She will be working as a newborn hospitalist but looking toward academic pediatrics and/or global health as a career goal.

Elizabeth Montgomery Collins and family

Frank James, MD, ’96, has joined Mind Springs Health, the largest provider of mental health and addiction treatment in western Colorado, as outpatient medical director. bit.ly/3saSljl

Sean Hollonbeck, MD, ’97, was featured in AHERO Magazine, highlighting his therapeutic program for combatting PTSD, The War Horse Project of Northwest Florida. bit.ly/3uKUsfI

Jennifer Jones, MD, ’98, is the Pathology Department chairperson and medical director of McDonough District Hospital. She will also coordinate MDH pathology support from the West Central Pathology Specialists group in Quincy, which has covered the Blessing Health System for many years. bit.ly/2PQ3xVP


Dana Ray, MD, ’03, is now board certified in addiction medicine through the American Board of Preventative Medicine. She is the chief medical officer at Crossing Healthcare Crossing Healthcare and has been a board certified family physician since 2006. She completed the Community Health Center Executive Fellowship program from the University of Kansas Medical Center in 2014. In 2016, Dr. Ray received the Innovative Research in Primary Care Award from the National Association of Community Health Centers. She also implemented the Medication Assisted Treatment program for outpatient and inpatient services at Crossing Healthcare.

Lisa Nijm, MD, ’04, was featured in a Healio article discussing her MD-JD, degree from SIU School of Medicine and School of Law. bit.ly/2OJ7LxP

Janice Vandeveer Wernsing Monroe, MD, ’08, was listed as one of the Top Community Leaders Under 40 in the Effingham area. Dr. Monroe practices family medicine at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center in Neoga.

Jennifer Hardwick, MD, ’08, moved to Lafayette, In., in April to start her new job at Valley Oaks, a community mental health center.

Tabatha Wells, MD, ’09, became family medicine residency program director at Carle Health in Champaign in October, and is president-elect of the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians.


Karen Bertels, MD, ’15, has offered a remote site emergency medicine elective for students the last two years at Anderson Hospital in Maryville. She is training an SIU student again this year.


Kathy Brenneman, MD, ’85, passed away on Sept. 10, 2020. Formerly of Minier, Ill., she had retired as director of geriatrics at Providence Hospital and director of Carroll Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Washington, DC. bit.ly/3s8zjdr

Kenneth Hill, MD, ’02, passed away on March 14 in Peoria, Arizona. https://bit.ly/3gxXakQ


The Alumni Office moved from face-to-face events this past year to virtual events, and the feedback has been very positive. For many who can’t always travel and take the time out of your busy schedule, this alternative has provided a great connection online. We will continue to offer virtual events and when it is safe to do so, we will plan small face-to-face events. ►Keep current at bit.ly/3dczPmv

Alumni in southern Illinois will be hosting the first-year medical students for outdoor dining and conversation during the first week of May. We hope that alumni and students will make great connections after a year of virtual tutor groups. The students are excited to hear about medicine and community/family life from an alumni perspective. We thank our alumni for taking on this supportive role.

On March 4, Kriegh Moulton, MD, ’83, hosted a virtual evening of wine tasting with Whitehall Lane Winery of St. Helena, Ca. The event was conducted by Whitehall sommeliers, his son, Jason Moulton, winemaker, and Katie Leonardini, VP Operations/Owner.

A “Surviving Your Profession” Wellness panel discussion was held for alumni and residents on March 18. Lisa Wichterman, MD, ’81, moderated with Gwen Erkonen, MD, ‘04, Michael Honan, MD, ’91, and Loren Hughes, MD, ’83 as panel members. The Alumni Society offered this Wellness presentation on physician burnout to provide support, resources and discussion with fellow alumni. The objectives included understanding burnout, identifying resources and long-term solutions, and finding meaning again. The evening’s dialogue prompted more ideas that will be developed by the Wellness Committee to continue exploring this very important topic. bit.ly/3g3bW2z

On March 4, Kriegh Moulton, MD, ’83, hosted a virtual evening of wine tasting with Whitehall Lane Winery of St. Helena, Ca. The event was conducted by Whitehall sommeliers, his son, Jason Moulton, winemaker, and Katie Leonardini, VP Operations/Owner.

Jyoti Patel, MD, ‘99, hosted a healthy cook-along demonstration for SIU alumni on January 28. She believes that ‘Food is Medicine,’ emphasizing the importance of nutrition in health care for her patients and through community gardening activities in her hometown. In Dr. Patel’s series ‘Healing Foods,’ local chefs demonstrate garden-to-table recipes in the garden’s outdoor kitchen.

The SOM Alumni Society Student Resource Fund provided student study snack bags in March to help boost our medical students’ energy and spirits.

Dr. James Daniels, ’83, delivering snack bags to the Carbondale students.


HOSTS (Helping Our Students To Succeed) program

Thank you to our alumni who virtually met with the fourth-year students this interview season. Your connection with the students was overwhelmingly positive and the students were very appreciative for your outreach. ► To learn more visit: siumed.edu/alumniaffairs/hosts-program

For more information: siumed.edu/alumniaffairs/events

Three-peat & double win on Day of Giving

The totals are in, and we are excited to announce the most successful #SIUDAY of Giving with more than $2.8 raised for SIU, which included more than $387,000 raised for the School of Medicine.

Thanks to our generous alumni and friends, the school surpassed all of its goals. It was a tight race, but these totals earned us the trophy for the most dollars raised by an academic unit and most gifts received by an academic unit.

FUN FACTS: Almost 400 gifts were made to 92 different funds. The fund with most dollars raised at the School of Medicine is the Nurse Family Partnership at $150,000, followed closely by almost $95,000 given to scholarships to help our medical, physician assistant and MEDPREP students.

Thank you all for another successful year!

Donate to your class scholarship: forwardfunder.siumed.edu/classscholarships