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Chief of staff in PERS board runoff, UMMC faculty, students, volunteers garner top awards

Published on Thursday, November 10, 2016

Published on November 10, 2016

Dr. Brian Rutledge, chief of staff, is one of two candidates in PERS board runoff election, while national, local organizations recognize Medical Center faculty, staff, students and volunteers for outstanding performance.

Chief of staff one of two remaining PERS board candidates


Dr. Brian Rutledge, chief of staff, is one of two runoff candidates for a representative position on the Public Employees' Retirement System of Mississippi Board of Trustees.

Rutledge and Porter Richard Swann, Mississippi State University Extension Service fiscal administrator, are vying to become the PERS Board's Institutions of Higher Learning employees' representative.

Ballots for the runoff were mailed this week to eligible voters. The deadline to cast a ballot is 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8. A sample ballot and election schedule is available at

The IHL representative term will run from Jan. 1, 2017 to Dec. 31, 2022 and will fill the vacancy left by the death of Dr. Cecil L. Hill. For more information, call (601) 359-3589.



MHA taps two UMMC volunteers for annual award

Lewis and McCluskey
Lewis and McCluskey

Jill McCluskey and Timothy Lewis, UMMC Volunteer Services team members, each received a Volunteer of the Year Award from the Mississippi Hospital Association during its annual Volunteer of the Year Ceremony Oct. 7 at the Jackson Hilton.

McCluskey, a volunteer in the pediatric intensive care waiting area in Batson Children's Hospital, was chosen for the award by Angela Compere, volunteer coordinator at the hospital. McCluskey was honored for her “professional and compassionate abilities” supporting patient families “at their most vulnerable time.”

Lewis, a heart transplant recipient who coordinates visits with University Heart for UMMC patients, was selected for the award by Marsha Burton, volunteer coordinator for University Hospital. He was honored for providing “experience, strength and hope to those who are facing heart transplants.”



Inpatient nurse receives 'extraordinary' honor

Rachel Black, an inpatient nurse in the Medical Intensive Care Unit, recently received the September DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses during a short celebration in her unit. She was presented with a certificate, a DAISY Award pin and a sculpture, “A Healer's Touch.”

Black was nominated for the award by the family member of an elderly patient who died while at UMMC. Despite the patient's illness, the family member wrote that Black answered all of the family's questions, “did the simplest things that she didn't have to do to make things a little easier,” explained things in a way that could be understood, and provided comfort and compassion at a time of loss for the family.

"I contacted Rachel a few weeks later,” the family member wrote. “I just wanted her to know how much we appreciated her and how thankful I was for the care and compassion she provided my Daddy AND my Mother as well.

"Rachel is one-in-a-million. Her caring, compassionate nature is real! There is a saying that people don't always remember what you said or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel. We will never forget Rachel Black and how special she made us feel during some of the most difficult days for our family.”

Established in 2000 by members of the family of former patient Patrick Barnes, the Diseases Attacking the Immune System (DAISY) Foundation presents the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses to the "unsung heroes of our society who deserve far more recognition and honor than they receive" as a "thank you" to nurses across the country. About 1,700 health-care facilities in all 50 states and in 11 other countries honor their nurses with the DAISY Award.

The DAISY Committee at UMMC reviews nominations every two months and selects up to two winners each cycle who meet the criteria for going "over and beyond the expectations of a nurse." To nominate a nurse for the award, click here.



MPA bestows fellow status to family medicine faculty


The Mississippi Psychological Association has selected Dr. Natalie W. Gaughf, associate professor of family medicine in the School of Medicine, as its 2016 Fellow.

She received the honor at the annual MPA convention Sept. 16.

Director of the Office of Academic Support, Gaughf coordinates and provides academic consulting services to UMMC students and residents, including skill development necessary for academic achievement and professional development. She also manages the UMMC peer tutoring service, the UMMC writing support service and the academic accommodations process for the institution.

Gaughf received her Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi. She completed the Doctoral Residency Program at the VA Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System and the Health Psychology Postdoctoral Fellowship in Primary Care in the Department of Family Medicine at UMMC.

Licensed as a psychologist in the state of Mississippi, Gaughf is recognized as a health services provider for the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology and is board-certified in clinical health psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology. She is a member of the Mississippi Board of Psychology.

“Not only is Dr. Gaughf receiving recognition from her colleagues in the psychology community, she is also garnering recognition within UMMC for her excellent work directing the academic support effort for our students,” said Dr. Ralph Didlake, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs. “She continues to emerge as an academic leader for our institution."

The MPA advances psychology as a science and a profession within the state of Mississippi.



Newborn med fellow wins young investigator award


Dr. Radhika Narang, a third-year fellow in the Division of Newborn Medicine, won the Young Investigator Award at the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Neonatal Perinatal Medicine conference in San Francisco.

Narang was one of 10 chosen from nearly 200 to present her research as an oral presentation, and her project, “Exploring the Effect of Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) and Hypoxic-Ischemic (HI) Brain Injuries in Newborns,” was one of two to receive the Young Investigator Award.

IUGR limits a baby's growth inside the womb and can lead to low birth weight and decreased oxygen levels. Hypoxic-ischemic brain injuries, caused by a lack of oxygen and blood, are an important cause of significant illness in the neonate, leading to cerebral palsy, developmental delay, learning and intellectual disabilities, seizures, and death.

Narang is studying whether IUGRs make hypoxic-ischemic brain injuries worse. It is hoped that the research will one day lead to new treatment strategies for HI brain injuries in newborns.

“These awards have typically been presented to fellows from the top U.S. academic institutions, and now I am proud to say the University of Mississippi is part of that group,” said Dr. Renate Savich, professor of pediatrics and chief of the Division of Newborn Medicine.

Narang said the honor would not have been possible without the mentoring of the late Dr. Yangzheng Feng as well as the guidance of Dr. Abhay Bhatt, Dr. Yi Pang, Dr. Lir-wan Fan and Dr. Norma Ojeda.

“I may have been the face of this research,” she said, “but it is as much their award as mine.”



Orthodontics chair captures ADA mid-career award

Dr. Ahmad Abdelkarim, right, associate professor of dentistry and chair of the Department of Orthodontics, receives the American Dental Association/American Association for Dental Research Evidence-Based Dentistry Mid-Career Faculty Award from Marcelo Araujo, vice president of science at the ADA, Oct. 19 at a reception after the Evidence-Based Dentistry Champions Conference.

The annual ADA/AADR awards recognize dentists and researchers who make significant contributions to implement and advance evidence-based dentistry.

Board-certified in orthodontics and oral and maxillofacial radiology, Abdelkarim received his D.M.D. and his Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi, a certificate in orthodontics from Jacksonville University in Florida, a doctorate in education from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, and a Master's of Science from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Abdelkarim's wide-ranging research interests include clinical and educational research, and his scholarly articles have been published in several journals. He is a fellow to the International College of Dentists, the American College of Dentists and the Pierre Fauchard Academy, and his honors include six awards from the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology and the Outstanding Faculty Award from the American College of Dentists Mississippi Section.

A strong proponent of implementation and advancement of evidence-based dentistry, Abdelkarim is one of the leading advocates for the appropriate use of ionizing radiation in orthodontics. He serves as a consultant to the American Association of Orthodontists Council on Scientific Affairs and is an editor and a reviewer for numerous dental journals.



SHRP students receive national allied health awards

Dr. Jessica Bailey, center, dean of the School of Health Related Professions, congratulates Gourj Mahajan, left, and Jennifer Ellen Cooper for earning national awards at the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions national conference earlier this month in New Orleans.

Mahajan received the Lee Holder Award for Excellence in Graduate Allied Health Education, while Cooper received the Exceptional Student Professional Service Award.

Mahajan is working on her dissertation and is scheduled to receive her Ph.D. in clinical health sciences in 2017. The award she received is presented to the student who best represents academic excellence at a graduate level. On the final day of the conference, Mahajan gave a presentation, “Length of Axons Expressing the Serotonin Transporter in Orbitofrontal Cortex is Decreased with Age in Depression.”

Cooper, a May 2016 graduate of UMMC's Physical Therapy Program, is the first recipient of the professional service award, given to the allied health student who has an exceptional academic record and shows advanced practice in service and leadership in the community.

“It is quite an honor that two of the three awards given by the Alpha Eta Society to students were awarded to SHRP students at the national ASAHP conference,” Bailey said.