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Close-up photo of a vaccination shot

Volunteers Needed for Experimental Avian Influenza Vaccine Study

The University of Maryland Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health is conducting an experimental avian influenza vaccine study.

You may be eligible if you are 19 years or older and in good health.

Participation is about 13 months, and you will receive two vaccinations. Compensation is up to $1,200. For more information, call 410-706-6156.

Leslie JamkaABAE, Bulletin Board, Clinical Care, Community Service, Education, People, Research, UMB News, University Life, USGAJune 21, 20180 comments
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Dr. Peter Mbi

Longtime Preceptor Mbi Inducted into Pharmacy Dean’s Hall of Fame

Peter T. Mbi, PharmD, PhD, owner of Global Health Pharmacy in Laurel and Odenton, Md., was inducted into the Dean’s Hall of Fame for Distinguished Community Pharmacists as part of the annual banquet hosted by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) Leavitt Student Chapter at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy on April 19. Established in 2006, the Hall of Fame Award is presented each year by Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FCP, FAAPS, dean and professor of the school, in recognition of a pharmacist’s leadership, entrepreneurship, and passion for independent pharmacy.

“Dr. Mbi is a highly educated and extremely accomplished pharmacist,” Eddington said. “His extraordinary dedication to serving the patients who visit his practice is matched only by his commitment to equipping the next generation of pharmacy professionals with the knowledge and skills they will need to achieve their personal career aspirations. Each year, when it comes time for students to enroll in their community pharmacy rotation, demand for Dr. Mbi as a preceptor is high. I am honored to present him with the 2018 Dean’s Hall of Fame Award for Distinguished Community Pharmacists.”

A History of Learning and Sharing Knowledge

Mbi received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and chemistry from the State University of New York, Brockport. He later attended Creighton University School of Pharmacy and the University of Florida School of Pharmacy, where he received his Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy (BSP) and Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degrees, respectively. He also earned a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from the University of California, San Francisco.

After completing a residency in cardiology pharmacy, Mbi worked as a clinical pharmacist in a variety of practice settings before transitioning to hospital practice, then to community practice. He has served as a preceptor for student pharmacists at the School of Pharmacy since 1990 and is a two-time recipient of the school’s Preceptor of the Year Award, which recognizes his exemplary service to the Experiential Learning Program.

“Dr. Mbi takes the same personalized approach with his students that he does with his patients,” Eddington said. “He works with students one-on-one to learn about the classes they are taking as well as their unique career goals, giving them opportunities to participate in hands-on techniques, direct involvement and interactions with patients, and other experiences assessing, evaluating, and providing clinical care for underserved patient populations. They acquire new skill sets that will serve them well in caring for their patients as practicing pharmacists.”

Paving His Own Path

In 1996, Mbi established Global Health Pharmacy to serve the medication-related needs of patients across Howard, Baltimore, and Anne Arundel counties. An advanced community practice site, Global Health Pharmacy integrates long-term care services, group homes, nursing homes, and assisted-living facilities to offer a wide range of services to patients, including one-on-one medication counseling, comprehensive medication reviews, immunizations, and diabetic and allergy services.

“During my time at Global Health Pharmacy, I saw firsthand how rewarding it is to be an independent pharmacist,” said one fourth-year student pharmacist who completed a rotation with Mbi. “Independent pharmacists have the inimitable opportunity to be able to develop lasting personal relationships with their patients and customers.”

Mbi also has received numerous awards for his service to the pharmacy profession, including the Excellence in Teaching Pharmacy Technicians Award from Anne Arundel Community College, a Maryland Governor’s Citation for Community Service, a Baltimore County Police Citation for Community Service, and the 2016 National Master Preceptor Recognition Award from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) — an honor for which he was nominated by the School of Pharmacy.

He is a member of several national and international organizations, including AACP and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

In His Own Words

“I feel privileged to have the great honor of being inducted into the Dean’s Hall of Fame for Distinguished Community Pharmacists,” Mbi says. “It is incredibly rewarding to have a career in which I am able to apply my clinical pharmacy knowledge — whether it is using evidence-based medicine to make recommendations during a comprehensive medication review, helping patients understand the nature of their health conditions and the importance of taking their medications correctly, or simply teaching them how to use a blood glucose meter to monitor their blood sugar — to help my patients live healthier lives. I dedicate this award to my students, both past and present, the communities I serve, and the patients who have trusted me and allowed me to make a positive difference in their lives through my practice.”

The NCPA annual banquet recognizes the student chapter’s yearly achievements. It also is the event at which new chapter officers are installed. “This outstanding group of students is the future of the profession, and a group of which we can be especially proud,” Eddington said.

The mission of the NCPA student chapter is to promote independent pharmacy with the intent of increasing students’ awareness of its advantages, encourage newly practicing pharmacists to pursue pharmacy ownership, and support independent pharmacy’s already established positive image.

— Malissa Carroll

Malissa CarrollClinical Care, Education, People, UMB NewsJune 20, 20180 comments
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UMB Champion of Excellence: Randi Barclay, SHRM-CP, PHR

UMB Champion of Excellence: Randi Barclay, SHRM-CP, PHR

The Champions of Excellence campaign is a multi-year branding campaign at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) in which we highlight individuals and teams that exemplify extraordinary accomplishment and represent excellence at the University. During the next few months, The Elm will be featuring these UMB Champions, who are making Baltimore, our region, and in some cases the world a better place. (Read about all the 2017-18 UMB Champions of Excellence.)

Today’s Champion:
Randi Barclay, SHRM-CP, PHR
Value-Based Approach to Human Resources

Accountability. Civility. Collaboration. Diversity. Excellence. Knowledge. Leadership.

These aren’t just the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s (UMB) core values — they’re how Randi Barclay, SHRM-CP, PHR, approaches every day as human resources manager at the University of Maryland School of Nursing.

“The core values align with my own personal values,” she says, “and being able to use them as a foundation is very important to me.

“They’re one of the things that attracted me to the School of Nursing and UMB,” she adds. “Sometimes core values are just ‘wallpaper’ — they look or sound good, but that’s where it ends. Not here. We really do live ours. You can feel it. They’re in the energy on the campus.”

They’re also captured in job listings for the School of Nursing. When recruiting new talent, Barclay says she wants applicants to know what UMB’s core values are and what UMB is committed to.

“We strive to identify candidates whose values align with ours,” she says. “We want all candidates to know from the beginning exactly what the core values are and that we take them seriously. We look for individuals who are able to define those values and demonstrate them here.”

It’s clear why Barclay’s the perfect fit for her position. She’s a spark of positive energy; her warmth and passion make her a strong advocate for UMB and a calming presence for job prospects — faculty and staff alike.

Since she began her position at the school in 2015, her can-do attitude and infectious philosophy to her work, grounded in the University’s and school’s core values, permeate everything she does — from staffing and recruitment to employee growth and retention, to helping the school achieve its strategic planning goals.

“Randi creates an environment that motivates our team to make changes to improve ourselves, both professionally and personally,” says Monica Williams, MSL, HR program specialist at the School of Nursing. “She’s very friendly and has such a compassionate approach to her work. Her care and concern for others really pushes her to be diplomatic in her approach to dealing with HR matters.”

For more than 20 years, Barclay has worked as a human resources specialist in a number of industries, from investment banking to nonprofit, from health care to the public defender’s office.

“I love being a resource to employees as well as the organization,” Barclay says. “Dealing with people every day, it’s not like working with this BIC pen, for example. I know exactly how this pen will perform when I need it, but when dealing with people, it’s not always that simple. I never know what I’ll walk into the next day.”

In a past job, she spent five years as director of human resources at Health Care for the Homeless, an organization that works to end homelessness in Baltimore and beyond. She longed to return to health care — when her position at the School of Nursing became available, she knew that was it.

“Health care is one of those sectors where something is always new or cutting edge,” she says. “It’s exciting to know that you’re part of something that’s helping people and contributing to the greater good. I feel privileged to be a part of that. There’s always a new advancement or innovation happening at UMB — take the BioPark, for example. I feel like I’m part of that energy now, too.”

Barclay loves that no two days are the same in HR — or at the School of Nursing. In her three years at the school, one of the oldest and largest nursing schools in the United States, Barclay’s increased the size of her small HR team, worked in collaboration with other UMB schools on various HR initiatives, and advocated for a strong, diverse school alongside Jeffrey Ash, EdD, associate dean for diversity and inclusion.

The School of Nursing is the first school at UMB to devote a full-time, associate dean position to diversity and inclusion. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is the school’s hub for service and community outreach, collaborative and innovative thinking about diversity, and inclusive excellence among students, faculty, and staff.

Barclay recalls during her own interview process when Jane M. Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the School of Nursing, shared her vision for adding a dean for diversity and inclusion. That vision became reality not long after Barclay joined the school and she began the recruitment process for the position.

Barclay has worked collaboratively with Ash to support diversity and inclusion initiatives at the School of Nursing. For example, she helped to facilitate a breakout professional development workshop session on tools for resolving conflict. Barclay has helped to grow and expand the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s professional development programs and initiatives, strengthening a working and learning environment where all are welcome.

In her quest for excellence, Barclay utilizes another core value (collaboration) regularly with her UMB peers. Just recently, she brainstormed with another UMB human resources manager to implement a successful staff hiring strategy.

“It truly does take a village to do everything that we do from an HR perspective,” she says.

Communication and Public AffairsCollaboration, Education, People, UMB News, University LifeJune 18, 20180 comments
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Dr. Abraham Schneider

UMB Champion of Excellence: Abraham Schneider, DDS, PhD

The Champions of Excellence campaign is a multi-year branding campaign at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) in which we highlight individuals and teams that exemplify extraordinary accomplishment and represent excellence at the University. During the next few months, The Elm will be featuring these UMB Champions, who are making Baltimore, our region, and in some cases the world a better place. (Read about all the 2017-18 UMB Champions of Excellence.)

Today’s Champion:
Abraham Schneider, DDS, PhD
Preventing the Progression of Oral Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, about 51,540 people will get oral and oropharyngeal cancer in 2018. Of these, an estimated 10,030 — more than one person per hour each day — will die from the disease.

Numbers like these are sobering, but they inspire researchers like Abraham Schneider, DDS, PhD, at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry to search for ways to stop cancer before it strikes.

Schneider grew up in Lima, Peru, where he received his dental degree before coming to the United States in 1991 for advanced training and specialization in periodontics.

After being in clinical practice for a few years, he decided to pursue a PhD in oral health sciences at the University of Michigan. There, he met a group of scientists at the dental school who were collaborating with the medical school’s cancer center to study prostate cancer and bone metastasis.

Prostate cancer had personally touched Schneider’s life when one of his close family members died from the disease, motivating him to join his colleagues in hopes of finding a solution.

In 2005, he came to the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) with his wife, Monica, also a faculty member, to continue to teach and conduct research at the School of Dentistry while also working with the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). It was working with the NIDCR that first exposed him to the study of oral cancer.

Today, he is an associate professor in the Department of Oncology and Diagnostic Sciences, where he is studying the drug metformin and its relation to reducing the risk of developing cancer.

Metformin is a relatively inexpensive, nontoxic, and well-tolerated drug currently used by more than 120 million people worldwide. Most who use metformin do so to lower their blood sugar in relation to diabetes. After research revealed that those diabetic patients taking metformin had a lower risk of cancer, Schneider became interested in learning more about the non-diabetic effects of the drug.

Originally, Schneider, with collaborators at the NIDCR, researched oral cancer development in mice. The results? About 90 percent of the mice given metformin never acquired fully formed cancer.

Schneider studies metformin’s effects at the cellular level: how metformin gets into the cells and how his team can develop the drug to work more efficiently. So far, metformin appears to be most successful when used in the early stages of cancer development.

Yet, Schneider isn’t limiting himself to just cancer prevention. He is also addressing the potential aftereffects of cancer treatment by applying these strategies to regenerating oral and craniofacial bone tissue. To do so, he combines metformin with specific stem cells. If successful, the findings of this research could create new approaches to enhance skeletal regeneration after the consequences of tumor resection, trauma or infection.

Not only is Schneider interested in metformin because of its unexpected positive effects, but also because it is so affordable.

“Metformin could be great for people who can’t afford costly treatment because it is an inexpensive and well-received drug,” he says.

He has used his five-year, $1.25 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to explore the impact of metformin in the chemoprevention and treatment of oral cancer.

“Results emerging from these studies may ultimately contribute to the implementation of novel personalized approaches to control the development and progression of oral cancer,” he says.

For Schneider, the most effective research is conducted through interdisciplinary collaboration, which abounds at UMB.

“Being proactive in reaching out to other experts at UMB who complement my own research studies has been key, I believe, to advance my research program,” he says. “A cross-disciplinary, team-based research approach that is based on the diversity of opinion generated from different scientific backgrounds broadens, by many folds, the possibility of answering specific research questions.”

The collaboration he has found at UMB is unlike any other he has been a part of. Specifically, Schneider has worked with faculty from the schools of pharmacy, medicine, and dentistry on this project and others. The access to a diverse and accomplished faculty for interdisciplinary research, along with the proximity of UMB to NIH and major hospitals, has been extremely helpful for advancing his studies.

Outside of his research, Schneider says the most gratifying part of his job is seeing his students in the School of Dentistry grow professionally and personally.

“They start off knowing very little, but in just a few years they are much more knowledgeable and confident,” he says. “It truly makes my life much nicer to see how our students and postdoctoral fellows grow at UMB.”

Communication and Public AffairsCollaboration, Education, People, UMB News, University LifeJune 14, 20180 comments
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The President's Message-June

The President’s Message

Check out the June issue of The President’s Message.

It includes:

  • Dr. Perman’s column on last month’s State of the University Address
  • A recap of commencement, UMB’s Neighborhood Spring Festival, Glendening and Ehrlich’s political discussion, and the CURE Scholars’ end-of-year celebration
  • A look ahead to Dr. Perman’s June 19 Q&A
  • Stories on philanthropic gifts to the schools of medicine and nursing
  • Two more employees benefit from the Live Near Your Work Program
  • UMB police start active shooter response training
  • A roundup of student, faculty, and staff achievements
Chris ZangABAE, Bulletin Board, Clinical Care, Collaboration, Community Service, Contests, Education, For B'more, People, Research, Technology, UMB News, University Life, USGAJune 11, 20180 comments
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UMB Champion of Excellence: James Polli, PhD

UMB Champion of Excellence: James Polli, PhD

The Champions of Excellence campaign is a multi-year branding campaign at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) in which we highlight individuals and teams that exemplify extraordinary accomplishment and represent excellence at the University. During the next few months, The Elm will be featuring these UMB Champions, who are making Baltimore, our region, and in some cases the world a better place. (Read about all the 2017-18 UMB Champions of Excellence.)

Today’s Champion:
James Polli, MD
Ensuring Prescription Drug Quality for All Patients

Growing up, James Polli, PhD, thought everyone worked in pharmaceuticals. After all, his father was a longtime researcher who developed medications, and the young Polli spent his summers working on research projects at Pfizer and Merck. “To me, that was pretty normal,” he says with a shrug.

Professor and Ralph F. Shangraw/Noxell Endowed Chair in Industrial Pharmacy and Pharmaceutics, Polli has been part of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy faculty for 25 years. In that time, he’s devoted his career to two main research interests — maximizing oral drug availability, and developing public quality standards for oral dosage forms.

“The Food and Drug Administration [FDA] talks about safety, efficacy, and quality. I’m interested in quality — quality medicine,” Polli says.

How medications are designed and manufactured isn’t something the public fully appreciates, he says. “I make sure a drug is designed to be absorbed not only on a chemical level but also from a tablet and capsule point of view,” Polli says. “There are lots of challenges to maintaining drug product quality over time.”

Ranked in the top 10 nationally, the School of Pharmacy partners with numerous organizations to enhance product quality. For instance, Polli and his team collaborate with the FDA on research initiatives to help understand how to maintain drug product quality for complex formulations.

“We’re interested in drug product quality,” Polli says, “but we’re also interested in not having regulations be overbearing. We just want to know what risks there are, and how to mitigate those risks.”

They do this in part through the Maryland Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (M-CERSI), a collaborative partnership between the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP).

As M-CERSI co-director, Polli helped to secure a $3 million grant from the FDA to develop the education and research program focused entirely on regulatory science — the first of its kind to an academic institution (it’s since been replicated at other prestigious universities, including Johns Hopkins, UCSF/Stanford, and the Yale/University Mayo Clinic).

M-CERSI trains the next generation of regulatory scientists, working from both UMB and UMCP to develop new tools, standards, and approaches to assess the safety, efficacy, quality, and performance of products regulated by the FDA. These revolutionary professionals are modernizing and improving the way drugs and medical devices are reviewed and evaluated.

Currently, researchers are looking at the safety of e-cigarettes, evaluating the metal ions found in their aerosol condensates. One M-CERSI project is predicting the toxicity of certain cardiovascular drugs; another is improving communication between elderly women and the FDA regarding FDA-regulated products.

Under Polli’s leadership, each year M-CERSI hosts symposiums, conferences, and workshops on regulatory science issues. One recent workshop attracted nearly 300 attendees to Pharmacy Hall and was highlighted by a keynote address from Janet Woodcock, MD, director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the FDA.

In fall 2018, M-CERSI, the Center on Drugs and Public Policy at the School of Pharmacy, and the Center for Devices and Radiological Health at the FDA will host a one-day workshop on best practices for patient engagement in the National Evaluation System for health Technology (NEST). The workshop will focus on how patients are engaged with real-world evidence generation for medical device or device and drug combination evaluation.

“M-CERSI would not exist without Dr. Polli’s leadership,” says Paul Shapiro, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the School of Pharmacy and M-CERSI researcher. “Under his guidance, M-CERSI has brought together leaders from academia, biopharmaceutical industry, and government agencies to develop better approaches to improve the safety and efficacy of drugs regulated by the FDA. Regulatory science students have the opportunity to meet with these leaders and learn about the issues that affect health care.”

M-CERSI’s not only improved collaboration and communication with the FDA — it’s also led to the development of an online master’s of science in regulatory science program, also directed by Polli.

Launched in 2014, the part-time, two-year program is one of the school’s first online degree programs. With an emphasis on drug discovery, drug development, clinical research, and post-approval drug regulation, the program provides additional learning and training for people who currently work or would like to work in drug regulation and biologics development.

“About 20 percent of students in the program actually work at the FDA,” Polli says, with others attracted from academia (including other schools at UMB), industry, and federal government. The program is entirely online, though students work in groups on team projects and presentations.

To date, the program has enrolled 120 students. The first cohort graduated in 2015. In May 2018, Polli graduates the fourth class, the latest students who will continue his legacy of looking beyond efficacy to research and provide quality medicine.

 

Communication and Public AffairsCollaboration, Education, People, UMB News, University LifeJune 11, 20180 comments
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On Your Feet! actor Doreen Montalvo and others

For ‘On Your Feet!’ Cast Member, Acting is a Labor of Love

A group of 15 UMB students, faculty, and staff took their lunch breaks and gathered at the Hippodrome Theatre on June 7 for an intimate conversation with Doreen Montalvo, a longtime actor and principal performer in the touring production of the musical On Your Feet!

The Broadway 101 lunchtime event was the latest in an enlightening series organized by the University’s Council for the Arts & Culture that takes members of the UMB community behind the scenes of the Hippodrome and its shows. On Your Feet! — which just finished a six-day run at the historic venue on Eutaw Street — is billed as “an inspiring true story about heart, heritage, and two people who believed in their talent and each other to become an international sensation: Gloria and Emilio Estefan.”

In this production of the musical, Montalvo plays Gloria Fajardo, the mother of Gloria Estefan — and a staunch critic of her daughter’s music career. Though Montalvo plays the unsupportive mother, the actor herself has much in common with the show’s main characters, and she shared stories of her career that illustrated her love of the theater, determination to make it on Broadway, and dedication to her craft.

“I still go to dance class when I’m home at least once or twice a week,” Montalvo told the UMB group. “I still take voice lessons with my same voice teacher that I’ve had since I was 18 years old. You’re constantly learning.

“I love it, and what’s why we do it — because we love it.”

Montalvo discovered that love of performing at an early age: A priest in her parish recognized and nurtured her talent, and she recalled singing in church as early as 6 years old. She said she chose to study broadcast journalism in college because her school didn’t offer theater as a major.

After graduating, Montalvo began her career at a local television station in New York, but her love of theater never left her. At 24, she heard about a yearlong touring production of Man of La Mancha and decided to audition. Much like with Gloria Estefan and her mother in On Your Feet!, Montalvo’s mother was not supportive of her acting career at first. She wondered why her daughter couldn’t simply continue to work in journalism and pursue theater as a hobby.

But Montalvo said her mother quickly came around. Montalvo booked a role in that production of Man of La Mancha, for which she received her union equity card, and she never looked back. She has been acting on Broadway and in television and film ever since.

‘Survival Jobs’ Before a Life-Changing Show

Montalvo shared many stories that illuminate what life is like as a theater actor and what it takes for a show to finally reach Broadway. She held many “survival jobs” over the years, including voiceover work and part-time posts at trade shows and conventions that allowed her to make a living while continuing to audition.

Her first Broadway show was Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights, which focuses on the largely Hispanic-American neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York.

Montalvo revealed that she was the first person in New York to audition for Miranda for In the Heights, when the playwright/performer was 20 years old. In September 2002, Montalvo joined the first reading of In the Heights in the basement of The Drama Bookshop in New York. She participated in readings of the show for five years and stayed with it through various productions until making her Broadway debut in the ensemble at nearly 40 years old, when the show premiered at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in 2008.

Montalvo spent nine years working on the show in some capacity, from the first reading to closing night on Broadway. To put it simply, Montalvo said “That was the show that changed my life.”

That was just one of the stories from the Broadway 101 event’s conversation that illustrated the uncertainty of a life spent in theater, but Montalvo never let it deter her from pursuing her goals, and she told others not to be deterred, either: “It’s never too late to live your dream. It’s never too late to dream it and do it.”

After her time in In the Heights, Montalvo continued acting in theater. She joined the cast of On Your Feet! early on, when she participated in the second reading of the show — the first of Act 1 and Act 2 together.

Referring to the musical’s subjects, Montalvo said Gloria and Emilio Estefan were actively involved from the beginning. She remembered the surreal moment of singing Gloria Estefan’s songs with Estefan sitting in the room for the first time. “The minute those two walked in the door of the theater, everybody’s hearts just stopped. They are two of the most generous and loving people on earth,” Montalvo said.

After the reading of On Your Feet!, Montalvo re-auditioned for the Chicago production of the show and stayed with it as an original Broadway cast member in the ensemble as well as the understudy for Gloria’s mother when it debuted on Broadway. She took over the role of Fajardo for the final six months of the Broadway production. After a break, she returned to reprise her role on the national tour, which led her to the Hippodrome on June 7.

Don’t Stop Working on Your Craft

One UMB attendee asked whether Montalvo feels like there are more roles of substance for Latina performers today than in her earlier years as an actor. Montalvo said that when she was starting out, “West Side Story was pretty much it,” but with shows like In the Heights, Hamilton, and On Your Feet!,  more roles are being written that allow performers to share their heritage with the audience in a universal way. “It’s wonderful to be able to celebrate a culture and share the culture, yet keep the show open to everyone and make the story open to everyone.”

When it comes to getting a show to Broadway, Montalvo noted that securing investors to fund the production is crucial, and that involves getting people to come and see the show and to believe in it.

As for her advice to aspiring actors and performers, Montalvo noted the importance of being a triple threat — singing, acting, and dancing — and encouraged people to always continue to learn and work on their craft.

“Keep taking classes. Don’t stop,” she said. “Keep learning constantly. And keep growing.”

–  Emma Jekowsky

Visit the UMB Council for the Arts & Culture website to learn more about its events and programs.

Emma JekowskyCollaboration, Education, People, UMB News, University LifeJune 11, 20180 comments
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UMB Champion of Excellence: Neda Saghafi

UMB Champion of Excellence: Neda Saghafi, JD ’18

The Champions of Excellence campaign is a multi-year branding campaign at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) in which we highlight individuals and teams that exemplify extraordinary accomplishment and represent excellence at the University. During the next few months, The Elm will be featuring these UMB Champions, who are making Baltimore, our region, and in some cases the world a better place. (Read about all the 2017-18 UMB Champions of Excellence.)

Today’s Champion:
Neda Saghafi, JD ’18
Inspiring Action for Social Justice

When Neda Saghafi, JD ’18, applied for the Teach For America program, she had only one destination in mind — Baltimore. She wanted to live on the East Coast, and Baltimore was less costly and crowded than Boston and New York. Her path to law school was a bit more circuitous.

In 2011, she relocated from the West Coast to teach English to Students of Other Languages (ESOL) at Moravia Park Elementary School in the northeast corner of Baltimore City. Her students included a diverse group of young refugees from Iraq, Sudan, Nepal, and Bhutan. There, she began to see how the educational system and society at large intersect with young girls’ lives — and shape their interactions with their male peers.

After three years in the Baltimore City public school system, and seeing how “things were broken and ‘solutions’ were in place that weren’t sustainable,” she decided to do something about it. She wanted to tackle the issues she saw in the classroom from a grass-roots angle but she also wanted to confront the larger, systemic issues at play.

“Teachers can create immense changes,” she says. “I just think that law school fit my personal skill set for creating the most change.” So she applied to the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.

A May 2018 graduate, Saghafi is preparing for a career in public interest law and social justice. Her studies focus on gender violence in society, particularly violence against women (VAW), and how in some societies cultural patriarchy and international or domestic VAW go hand in hand.

Saghafi’s parents immigrated to the U.S. from Iran. Though she grew up in the U.S., her heads of household came from a country where women’s rights were restricted. “I think that gave insight into my interest in how culture shapes our relationships and how the dynamic of gender plays out,” she says.

By no means does Saghafi believe that law and policy change is the solution to all problems, but it’s one solution that can make a big impact. “If I feel something is unjust, I can develop the tools and find the resources to do something about it,” she says. “That inspires me to take action.”

Her friends agree Saghafi is not one to wait for others to spark change. “I still remember reviewing her résumé when she asked to volunteer with us,” says Adam Dodge, a close friend and the legal director of nonprofit shelter Laura’s House, where Saghafi interned in California. “Her credentials were ridiculous. We simply don’t get prospective volunteers walking through the door with Neda’s educational and extracurricular background. When it comes to this work, she is just so driven. It’s really inspiring.”

Adds friend Sana Shaikh, a PhD candidate at Brandeis University, “When we were Teach For America Corps members, Neda not only taught students during the day, but she completed her coursework at night, and during the weekends drove throughout the city to support her students in various recreational and sports activities. Complacency and idleness are definitely not in her nature.”

Saghafi is a catalyst for justice, every day committed to serving those who suffer historic or systemic disadvantages within the legal system.

Since enrolling at Maryland Carey Law, Saghafi’s résumé has included an internship at U.N. Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. In the U.N.’s EVAW (Ending Violence Against Women) Section, she wrote briefs for the interim chief of the department and developed concepts for better collaboration between the U.N.’s other sections. In that role, she facilitated timely conversations with #MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke and represented U.N. Women at the fifth Annual 30 Under 30 Film Festival, whose opening night selection featured international films about U.N. Sustainable Development Goal #5: Gender Equality.

Saghafi has served as a research assistant for Maryland Carey Law professor Leigh Goodmark, JD, evaluating alternative approaches to criminalization for perpetrators of intimate partner violence, and interned at the University of Maryland SAFE Center for Human Trafficking Survivors, where she assisted with writing and researching court-related documents, legal and policy research, and legal memoranda.

For Saghafi, it’s not about taking on every opportunity — it’s about the impact she can make. “When given a job, I want to do something with it,” she says. “I don’t want it to just be a résumé filler — I feel an obligation to make it impactful.”

She did just that a few years ago, when she organized a panel discussion at the law school on another issue near and dear to her heart, “Battling the Stigma of Mental Health Conditions.”

According to a 2014 American Bar Association (ABA) survey, 17 percent of law school students screened positive for depression, 23 percent for mild to moderate anxiety, and 14 percent for severe anxiety. In another ABA survey, 42 percent of respondents thought they needed help for mental health or emotional problems in the last year.

“The stigma for mental health is already so great, but it seems exacerbated in the law school community,” Saghafi says. Within the profession, there’s a fear of being deemed incapable of completing complex tasks for those who seek mental health treatment. The character component of the bar application only heightens the pressure. “Law students may not seek help until it’s too late,” she says.

Saghafi was inspired by the ABA’s Mental Health Day, where law schools across the country are encouraged to sponsor educational programs and events to break the stigma of depression among law students and lawyers. She also gathered a team of law professionals and advocates of mental health for a discussion on campus.

“As a student, Neda consistently used her intellectual gifts and leadership skills to serve others, whether they are victims of domestic abuse, employment discrimination, or human trafficking operations,” says Donald B. Tobin, JD, dean and professor at Maryland Carey Law. “Given her outstanding performance as a student, I know she will be an amazing lawyer.”

Communication and Public AffairsCollaboration, Education, People, UMB News, University LifeJune 8, 20180 comments
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Join ASDA at Baltimore Wine Fest on June 16

The American Student Dental Association is selling tickets to the fourth annual Baltimore Wine Fest, which will be held Saturday, June 16, noon to 7 p.m., at Canton Waterfront Park (3001 Boston St.) in Baltimore.

Tickets are $10, which is an $8 discount compared to buying at the festival doors. Please purchase them at this link.

The festival features 160-plus wines from all over the world, craft beer and spirits, food from 30-plus local eateries, live music, cooking demonstrations, wine tasting seminars, unique shopping, and a family zone.

A portion of proceeds will benefit local nonprofits

Kids 16 and under will be admitted free. Visit baltimorewinefest.com for more details.

 

Devon AllisonPeople, University LifeJune 7, 20180 comments
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Dr. Noel Wilkin

Pumpian Lecture Explores Meaning in Pharmacy Profession

Chasing innovation — being an entrepreneur — is not an easy task, especially when creative or financial resources are limited. So why would an individual willingly choose to pursue such a difficult endeavor?

This was the question Noel E. Wilkin, RPh, BSP ’89, PhD ’97, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs and professor of pharmacy administration at the University of Mississippi, sought to answer as he delivered the annual Paul A. Pumpian Memorial Lecture at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy on April 11.

More than Money

Titled “Innovation and Meaning: The Building Blocks of Entrepreneurship and Professional Satisfaction,” Wilkin’s lecture focused on a grant he received from the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) that aimed to encourage pharmacists to implement more innovative approaches in their practices by demonstrating how profitable such innovations could be for the pharmacy.

However, Wilkin was quick to explain that the results of his research did not quite match his funders’ original hypothesis.

“NCPA was convinced that pharmacies would innovate if we could demonstrate how profitable it was for pharmacists,” said Wilkin, who also serves as a research professor for the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Mississippi. “But our team quickly recognized that there was no profitability source. We had 300 pharmacists coming to a sponsored breakfast to learn about how to innovate and how to be profitable, and we had nothing to tell them. We were panicking.”

Do What Makes You Happy

Wilkin and his team conducted interviews at 14 pharmacies across the country to learn about the factors that motivated those pharmacists to innovate in their practices. Although none of the pharmacists reported increased profits as a motivator or result of incorporating their innovations into their practice, they explained that their innovations left them feeling a high level of personal and professional satisfaction. One pharmacist interviewed by Wilkin even described his motivation to rearrange his practice by saying, “My lawn service calls me before I need my lawn serviced. Why can’t my pharmacist call and talk to me about my medications before I need my prescriptions refilled?”

Although Wilkin appreciated the honesty with which the pharmacists responded to his questions, he struggled to frame the results in a way that would encourage other pharmacists to pursue innovation in their own practices. It was an episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart that led Wilkin to his greatest epiphany surrounding the reasons that pharmacists might still choose to pursue innovation even in the face of constrained resources.

“I’m lying awake thinking about this problem, and Jon Stewart began interviewing a man named Tal Ben-Shahar, a faculty member at Harvard who had just written a book titled Happier,” Wilkin recalled. “And, as I laid there listening to him talk about people who are pursuing meaning in their lives and how it made them happier, it clicked. Pharmacists were not innovating because they were motivated by money. They were not innovating because the pharmacy profession told them it was what they ought to do. Instead, they were doing it because it made them happy.”

Find Meaning in Your Work

Wilkin then further examined personal motivators, such as identity and purpose, as potential drivers behind pharmacists’ desire to innovate in their practices.

“We know that identity drives actions,” he said. “Our purpose is manifested in our roles; it gives us a sense of direction. Accepting the role of being health care professionals affects our actions and outlines our purpose. It is our reason for being, and success in this role is then knowing our purpose, growing to reach our potential, and sowing those seeds to help others.”

He also explored the concept of “meaning,” noting that if pharmacists have accepted their role as health care professionals, pharmacies can further energize their performance by ensuring that the activities in which they are engaged relate to their purpose and have significant value or an impact on others — or, in other words, are meaningful.

“Meaning is self-generated,” Wilkin said. “It’s based on your experiences and linked to the circumstances that you accept in your life and that define your purpose. It’s also linked to, I believe, happiness. It’s the pursuit of meaning on an everyday basis and on a long-term basis that helps you to appreciate and understand happiness.”

Strive for Lasting Happiness

Wilkin argued that happiness is not a dichotomy in which a person is or is not happy at a given time, as many people think. Instead, he posited that all individuals, including pharmacists, can achieve sustained happiness by engaging in activities that offer both an immediate, present benefit as well as goals that they can strive to achieve in the future (or future benefit). “If you get in touch with what you believe is your meaning and it brings you present benefit and future benefit, then it’s going to result in greater happiness and, ultimately, it will help you find direction as you engage in activities that are connected to your roles in society,” he said.

To conclude his lecture, Wilkin revisited the pharmacists he interviewed during his NCPA-funded study.

“Pharmacists have incredible opportunities to find purpose and meaning in their work,” he said. “For the pharmacists that we interviewed, the purpose and meaning that they found wasn’t a function of profitability; it wasn’t a function of them making more money. Instead, it was a function of them finding incredible meaning in their life — taking daily pleasure in their work and the benefit they found in interacting with patients on a day-to-day basis, while also keeping sight of their overall goal and drive to improve the health of their patients.”

Malissa CarrollPeople, Research, UMB NewsJune 7, 20180 comments
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Project Search Graduating Class of 2018

Project SEARCH Graduation Provides Celebration, Inspiration

On a day of singular celebration, Carolyn Spencer had reason to be doubly proud June 1 as she watched not one but two sons graduate from the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s Project SEARCH Class of 2018.

Spencer showed off that pride speaking at the ceremony, captivating the crowd of 75-plus family members at the SMC Campus Center with the inspirational tale of her sons, Wesley and William Powell. The twin brothers were among the 18 graduates wearing dark-blue robes and carrying sky-blue hopes after completing the UMB program, which offers a year of workforce and career development for Baltimore high school seniors with intellectual and developmental disabilities. (See a photo gallery.)

“My sons are eager and they are hungry to learn. They are wonderful,” Spencer said of Wesley and William, who have gotten jobs with UMB’s Office of Design and Construction and Alban CAT heavy equipment company, respectively. “There’s no such thing as a child that can’t learn. Someone can learn from anybody. … I thank all of you for guiding my sons the right way.”

Carolyn Spencer and sons Wesley and William Powell

Spencer recounted the story of her surprise, mid-30s pregnancy, her sons’ diagnosis of mental retardation, her fears for their futures, and their ultimate triumphs. She broke it down into three chapters: amusing, detrimental, and amazing. Amusing, because she burst out laughing when told she was pregnant — with twins. Detrimental, because a doctor told her they would never learn. Amazing, because Wesley and William have thrived in school and life.

Before asking her “two blessings” to escort her back to her seat, Spencer had a closing message to the graduates as the crowd nodded and cheered its approval: “Never let anybody say that you can’t do something. Never let anybody put a label on you, because you can be anything you want to be.”

This was a major theme during the emotional, 90-minute commencement ceremony for the Project SEARCH program, a collaboration among UMB, the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), the UMMC Midtown Campus (a new partner this year), The Arc Baltimore nonprofit, Baltimore City Public Schools, and the state’s Division of Rehabilitation Services. Student interns are placed at UMB or one of the UMMC facilities for three 10-week job rotations during their senior year of high school.

“This program gives them a chance to be who they are. They don’t have to be something they’re not,” said Yolanda Jones, the mother of graduate Eldridge Martin. “They are the best people you can be around. This program matters, big time. “This gets [the interns] out of their shell. They’re like the little chickens inside the eggshell, and they’re trying to get out, and this graduation is them getting out.”

Added Dana Washington, the mother of graduate Jazmine McDowell, “This program changed my little girl’s life.”

Rotations and Salutations

The ceremony opened with welcoming remarks from graduates Robert Gray, who served as emcee, and Tiffany Waters, followed by guest speeches from Washington and Spencer. Next up were the graduates, who took turns talking about their work rotations and thanking skills coordinators, mentors, and facilitators, including Project SEARCH program manager Tameka Harry and instructor Shirley Cook.

Anthony Courtney discussed his roles in patient transportation and environmental services and how his mother told him to avoid having jitters as he spoke: “Don’t be nervous, just be happy.” Brian Crawford talked about tagging and delivering packages from the loading dock and cleaning tables and floors for food services. Damond Davis spoke of building cages for veterinary resources and thanked family and mentors “for teaching me skills that will help me for a lifetime.” Demetriis Floyd detailed his work at URecFit, sorting and folding towels and wiping down exercise equipment.

The graduates also brought humor to the proceedings by reciting the nicknames they’d acquired during their rotations. Need to chill out? Check in with Dimarco Daley, aka “Mr. Mellow,” or Jaqon Sample, “The Quiet One.” Have a question? Ask Raekwon Walker, “Mr. Know It All,” or Reakwon Williams, “The Answer Man.” Need an unvarnished opinion? Talk to McDowell, “The Truthful One” — “I’m always honest with all the people,” she said.

Several of the students announced they have gotten jobs, magical words for the program that began at UMB in 2008. In addition to the Powell twins’ positions, Jamika Robinson announced she will be working at Horseshoe Casino, then blew kisses to the crowd. Gray talked about his various duties as a porter at ShopRite. Darian Moore is employed by D&L Cleanup, a nearby cleaning service.

“It’s notable that we’ve been on this campus for so many years and given this opportunity to so many young adults,” said Joanna Falcone, senior director of competitive employment at The Arc Baltimore. “There are two memorable days: graduation and the day they get their first job offer, because that’s what this whole program is about.”

The ceremony left Project SEARCH job coach Jeaneathia Yerby beaming with pride. Asked to describe this class in particular, she called them conquerors. “They have come a long way,” Yerby said. “They have made a lot of milestones. And we are so excited to see what the future holds for them.”

‘An Unforgettable Journey’

After the presentations, the graduates came up again, one by one, to receive their certificates, getting high-fives, fist-bumps, and handshakes along the way, before Wesley Powell offered closing remarks.

“Project SEARCH has been an unforgettable journey that has prepared us for a future in the workplace,” he said. “The past year has involved some of the most memorable and influential moments of our lives. Individually, our experiences were unique, but together we share a common bond. We are filled with excitement as we begin the next stage of our lives.”

As the opening strains of Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me” played, the graduates formed a conga line, waving to the crowd in unison, then came together for a group picture. As family and friends converged for hugs and more photos, emotions ruled the day.

“I’m just trying to keep it together,” Washington said. “This program changed my little girl’s life. It’s an excellent program. It developed Jazmine’s independent skills, made her more sociable. At first I was a little nervous about it, but it’s just a win-win.”

Malinda Redfearn had trepidations, too, about her son, Joseph Sparrow, but she said he has thrived after working in food services for each of his rotations.

“I wasn’t sure he would accept it or embrace it, but he really did enjoy the program,” Redfearn said. “He loved it and I loved it. It was a big step for him. This is an emotional day. My other kids have their diplomas, but he’s my baby, and it was a long road. But we finally got here.”

Emotions ran high as well for Lashonda Hudson, the aunt of graduate Chay’La Hudson-Dean.

“I’m very proud of her,” Hudson said. “They initially have to deal with all the difficulties of not being what’s deemed ‘normal,’ and they’re still trying to fit into society. But it’s heartwarming to see them still pushing, to see them live their lives as normal adults.”

And the tears flowed from Jones, who said if she had cried any more, her eyes would have been swollen shut. She did swell with pride in her son and appreciation for Project SEARCH.

“I love this! I love this!” Jones repeated. “All the people in the program support you and listen to you, and it’s the best thing ever. To me, it’s almost better than winning the lottery. It’s tax-free, and it’s filled with love.”

— Lou Cortina

Departments that are interested in utilizing Project SEARCH interns can notify program manager Tameka Harry at THarry@umaryland.edu.

Lou CortinaCollaboration, Education, People, UMB News, University LifeJune 7, 20180 comments
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UMB Champion of Excellence: Emily Poulos

UMB Champion of Excellence: Emily Poulos, DDS ’18

The Champions of Excellence campaign is a multi-year branding campaign at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) in which we highlight individuals and teams that exemplify extraordinary accomplishment and represent excellence at the University. During the next few months, The Elm will be featuring these UMB Champions, who are making Baltimore, our region, and in some cases the world a better place. (Read about all the 2017-18 UMB Champions of Excellence.)

Today’s Champion:
Emily Poulos, DDS ’18
Sculpting Smiles to Shape Oral Health

Dentistry was not always the path Emily Poulos, DDS ’18, thought she’d take. An avid jewelry maker since childhood, she began college intending to turn her hobby into a career — and quickly changed her mind.

“After the first semester, I was like ‘this is not for me!’” says Poulos. “It’s way too subjective, and after you graduate, what do you do? It’s not that certain a career. I wanted something more guaranteed.”

She decided to major in chemistry and biology, and in her final year of undergrad chose to pursue dentistry, interestingly, because of its connection to her artistic roots. She recalls the moment when she was first issued orthodontic pliers: their comfort and familiarity reminded her exactly of her jewelry tools.

“When you’re carving amalgam fillings and shaping composite veneers for people, it really is sculpture. It really is art,” she says. “Dentistry has the science side and the art side. And that is what pulled me toward the field.”

She came to study at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, where she graduated in May 2018. For the first time, her childhood pastime and career goals were fully molding together.

As a student, Poulos maintained a 3.98 GPA, was a member of the Gorgas Odontological Honorary Society and the Gamma Pi Delta Prosthodontic Honor Society, and volunteered more than 120 hours for initiatives including Mission of Mercy and Special Olympics. She is also a member of the American Student Dental Association, where she served as the newsletter editor for the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) chapter in her junior year.

“I do enjoy writing,” she says. “I had written some pieces for [the newsletter], and then I thought why don’t I run for the editor position? And I got elected! It’s been fun communicating with my classmates and organizing various articles for everyone to read.”

On top of that, she is also a member of the Maryland Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, where she served as a lunch-and-learn coordinator. Her job was to bring in speakers, related to the field of dentistry or in other disciplines, during lunch hours to talk to groups of students. These events happen monthly and, as Poulos describes “are a really fun way to get outside of our normal curriculum.”

Her decision to complete her education in dentistry at UMB is one she says she will never regret. But what really makes UMB unique for Poulos is the diversity of the students and faculty.

“I really appreciate the diversity our class has,” she says. “We have people from all different countries, speaking different languages. … I think that it’s great because you get to learn about different backgrounds and cultures. Back when women weren’t allowed to become dentists, [UMB leaders] were pioneers in letting women come in and get an education. The diversity we have here is something that’s special.”

Outside of her classes, Poulos channels her creative passions into a personal blog and web shop called Wired & Flossin’. Here, she has a space to express her inner dental soul by selling her handmade jewelry and other personalized pieces while also writing about her journey to becoming an orthodontist.

“Since I can remember, I have been bending wire and forging jewelry with my hands. Something about transforming my creative visions into reality is liberating and fulfilling to me,” she says. “You’ve got to find balance when you have so much going on with school and life. Making jewelry and crafting definitely helps keep me sane.”

After her graduation, Poulos will make a big move across the country to begin her orthodontic residency program in Arizona. After the 2½-year program, she will officially be an orthodontist, achieving the dream she set forth so many years ago.

The recent birth of her and her husband’s first child makes her life even more full.

“I think it’s important for people to see that women can have strong careers, be leaders in the community, and also be mothers. You don’t have to choose one over the other,” she says. “I think that is something that dentistry can offer for women: to have a career and be able to provide for a family while still having the flexibility to care for a family.”

Overall, Poulos is inspired to continue giving back to her community and is grateful for the opportunities UMB has provided for her to achieve her goals and participate in outreach programs.

“Everybody deserves a right to good oral hygiene and health care,” she says. “I would love to find new ways to help people who can’t afford it get the care they need.”

Communication and Public AffairsCollaboration, Education, People, UMB News, University LifeJune 7, 20180 comments
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Joseph R. Proulx

Retired School of Nursing Professor Awarded Professor Emeritus Status

Joseph R. Proulx, EdD, RN, has been appointed professor emeritus by University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) President Jay A. Perman, MD. Proulx served as a faculty member at the University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON) for 44 years, including 37 at the rank of full professor with tenure. He retired in December 2015.

A professor emeritus is a retired faculty member who has demonstrated an exemplary record of service to the school and to the profession. The faculty member also must express a desire to continue to support the school’s mission.

“After working for the School of Nursing for over 40 years, I never expected such an honor. To say I was shocked is an understatement. I appreciate Dean (Jane) Kirschling and all others who made this honor possible,” Proulx said. “There is an old saying from an educator: ‘By your students you shall be taught,’ and indeed, I have learned a lot. I will always treasure the fond memories of my classroom interactions with all of the wonderful students who have crossed my path.”

During his tenure at UMSON, Proulx developed and taught graduate core courses for the Health Services Leadership and Management master’s program. He served on the Committee on Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure; Graduate Admissions Committee; Graduate Curriculum Committee; Master’s Program Committee; Specialty Coordinators Committee; and Faculty Council. He was instrumental in designing and implementing the dual-degree offerings for the MS/MBA and the former PhD/MBA from UMSON and the University of Baltimore’s Merrick School of Business, serving as a co-principal. Proulx was also a member of the UMB planning group for an interdisciplinary course on conflict management offered by UMSON and the schools of Medicine, Law, and Social Work.

“We congratulate Dr. Proulx on this well-deserved honor. Throughout his career at the School of Nursing, he gave generously of his time through teaching, mentoring students, and service to the School and University,” said UMSON Dean Jane M. Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN. “We are very fortunate that Dr. Proulx chose to share his 44-year career with us and that he also shared his considerable expertise with such a wide array of community programs, educational institutions, and professional organizations. It is no surprise that he continues to be much loved by his former students and mentees and highly esteemed by his faculty colleagues.”

Regionally, Proulx has shared his expertise as a consultant to other nursing programs, including those at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, MedStar Montgomery Medical Center, the Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Services Systems, George Mason University, Salisbury University, Georgetown University, and the University of Southeastern Louisiana. He also received the Award for Distinguished Achievement in Nursing Service from Columbia University’s Nursing Education Alumni Association of the Teachers College in 1985, and in 1989, he was named honorable mention for the Outstanding Educator Award from the Maryland Association for Higher Education.

Since his retirement, Proulx has continued to lecture at UMSON, teaching one class per semester as needed.

Kevin NashBulletin Board, Education, People, UMB News, University Life, USGAJune 5, 20180 comments
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Linda Diaconis

Diaconis Named Specialty Director of Nursing’s HSLM Master’s Program

Jane M. Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON), has appointed assistant professor Linda Diaconis, PhD, MS ’95, BSN ’92, RN, specialty director of the Health Services Leadership and Management (HSLM) master’s program. The appointment was effective June 1.

“It is an honor to have been appointed, and as an alumna of the program, I know how important it is to build upon the strong foundation of nursing education in preparing our future health care leaders,” Diaconis said. “I am really looking forward to collaborating with colleagues and our partner institutions to foster a teaching and learning environment that inspires students to excel in scholarship and the practice of nursing.”

Since her arrival in 2013, Diaconis has been engaged in teaching, research initiatives, and service activities in the HSLM Master of Science specialty, ranked No. 4 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. In her new role, Diaconis will maintain the integrity of the HSLM program by providing curricular leadership and guidance. She also will continue to recruit, advise, teach, and mentor students.

“Dr. Diaconis is fully engaged in the mission of our school and is very familiar with the workings of the HSLM specialty,” said Kathleen Michael, PhD, RN, CRRN, associate professor and chair of the Department of Organizational Systems and Adult Health, in which the HSLM program resides. “Over the years, Dr. Diaconis has demonstrated that she is a committed teacher, research co-investigator, committee member, and professional association leader who exercises mature, authentic leadership. She is conscientious by nature, and with her strong attention to detail and ability to work with many personalities to achieve positive results, I am confident that she will be an asset in this important role.”

The HSLM master’s specialty prepares students to lead in today’s complex health care environment or to become a nurse educator. Students choose a leadership and management, business, or education focus and take advantage of practica placements with leaders at hospitals and health care systems, universities and community colleges, national and state agencies, and more.

Diaconis earned a PhD in education from the University of Maryland, College Park and Master of Science and Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees from UMSON.

Kevin NashBulletin Board, Education, People, UMB News, University Life, USGAJune 4, 20180 comments
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UMB Champion of Excellence Margaret M. McCarthy

UMB Champion of Excellence: Margaret M. McCarthy, PhD

The Champions of Excellence campaign is a multi-year branding campaign at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) in which we highlight individuals and teams that exemplify extraordinary accomplishment and represent excellence at the University. During the next few months, The Elm will be featuring these UMB Champions, who are making Baltimore, our region, and in some cases the world a better place. (Read about all the 2017-18 UMB Champions of Excellence.)

Today’s Champion:
Margaret M. McCarthy, PhD
Revolutionizing Research on Male and Female Brains

Margaret M. McCarthy, PhD, thinks a lot about sex — or rather, sex differences in the brain.

For 20-some years, McCarthy has been exploring how the brain develops differently in males versus females to understand why males are at higher risk for developmental disorders, ranging from autism to stuttering and dyslexia, than females.

She is also chair of the Department of Pharmacology — and as the only female of 26 chairs at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, she is passionate about promoting the professional careers of women. Since becoming chair, she’s hired three female faculty and doesn’t plan to stop there. And as a leading neuroscientist at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), McCarthy has made significant discoveries on sex differences in the brain.

McCarthy’s interest in sex differences extends to how those differences affect a person’s response to treatment. She was instrumental in a national policy change that now requires researchers to account for sex as a biological variable in any research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Researchers must now include at least some animals of both sexes in their preclinical studies and must analyze their data for the influence of sex on the effects they observe. Previously, this was not a NIH requirement, and the majority of brain studies only used male animals.

“The hope is that incorporating sex as a variable in biomedical research will prevent the mistakes that were made in the past in which women received treatments that had never been assessed in female animals, which in some cases led to severe adverse outcomes,” says McCarthy, UMB’s Researcher of the Year in 2015. “An additional hope is that much more will be learned about basic biological processes by contrasting males and females.”

Now in the second phase of that policy change, the NIH is monitoring the policy’s impact, creating metrics for measurement, and developing new tools to help understand, organize, and share data so researchers have the necessary information for maximum impact.

It’s too soon to tell, but qualitative data suggest they’re on the right track. Already, a number of colleagues have reached out to McCarthy saying they’ve seen significant differences in females versus males in their research. “We’re just at the tip of the iceberg,” she says. “I anticipate we’re going to see some major shifts in our understanding of the brain, as well as other organ systems, once we incorporate sex as a biological variable.”

McCarthy’s lab has discovered a number of novel ways in which the brain is shaped during development, including a central role for the immune system, as well as “the brain’s own marijuana,” the endocannabinoids. She has found that common over-the-counter drugs like aspirin can impact normal processes that shape the brain, highlighting how little we still know about the most fundamental aspects of neural development.

Clearly, McCarthy is not your average researcher. But this isn’t just because she’s world-renowned for her pioneering work on sex differences in the brain. She also finds joy in the more tedious aspects of science work.

“For instance, I particularly like writing grants,” says McCarthy, whose five current studies have attracted more than $4 million in support. “You have to be part scientist, part lawyer, and part poet. I think it’s the most creative thing we do and being awarded taxpayer dollars to pursue your idea of what you think is important, generating new knowledge, and contributing to the larger scientific discourse, there is nothing more fun than that.”

McCarthy’s peers have high praise and respect for her work. “In many scientific interactions with Peg, I find her to be a deep thinker, highly creative, and fearless in her entry into new fields and use of new technologies,” says Arthur P. Arnold, PhD, director of the Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology at UCLA’s Brain Research Institute. “This is a formidable combination of traits, and accounts for her emergence as a top leader in her field.”

Geert de Vries, PhD, director of the Neuroscience Institute at Georgia State University, waxes poetic on McCarthy’s “major impact” as a mentor and role model. “Five of her former graduate students and nine of her postdoctoral trainees have faculty positions at major research institutions. Many of these are doing very visible work themselves. Precious few of my colleagues can make similar claims.”

McCarthy is known as a powerhouse of productivity who has delivered countless speeches and authored close to 200 journal publications and at least 60 reviews and book chapters. Her ability to work, produce, and be an involved parent has been an inspiration to many in the field. Says de Vries, “When one of my students asked her what her secret is, Dr. McCarthy answered that she takes it one day at a time. Clearly, most of those days must be very rich.”

Communication and Public AffairsCollaboration, Education, People, UMB News, University LifeJune 4, 20180 comments
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