Faculty celebrated for leadership, advancing medicine, research and training to serve others

August 29, 2023
Group of people pose in front of sign that says Changing What's Possible in Health Care. They are wearing dress clothes.
Celebrated faculty and leadership gather for the MUSC James W. Colbert Lectureship and Faculty Awards and Recognition event in the Drug Discovery Auditorium. Photos by Nancy Carney

This year’s James W. Colbert Lectureship and Faculty Awards and Recognition Ceremony gathered the best of MUSC’s leaders, researchers, educators and clinicians to recognize their hard-working efforts.

The Aug. 15 event was held at the Drug Discovery Auditorium. It was a chance to welcome new faculty and celebrate clinical, educational and research excellence and achievement across the institution.

Bethany Wolf, Ph.D., Faculty Senate president, opened the afternoon event and introduced Lisa Saladin, P.T., Ph.D., executive vice president for academic affairs and provost. 

“Today we come together not only to acknowledge the remarkable accomplishments of our faculty but also to express our sincere gratitude for their enthusiasm, expertise and willingness to go the extra mile that makes MUSC a center of excellence. MUSC faculty have a profound impact on the lives of our students and patients and on the advancement of discovery. Their contributions ripple outward, shaping future leaders, thinkers and innovators of our world,” said Saladin.

Woman on stage wearing a blue dress gestures as she speaks to an audience. 
Dr. Andrea Abbott gives the 2023 Colbert Lecture, highlighting clear communication and leadership.

The event also recognized the life and contributions of former MUSC Provost Dr. James W. Colbert, who joined MUSC in 1969, and whose contributions over a short time made great strides to strengthen the institution’s core missions of education, research and patient care. Saladin also recognized members of the Colbert family in attendance – Elizabeth Colbert Busch, her husband Claus Busch, John Colbert, and his wife, Melinda Colbert. 

The event’s keynote speaker was Andrea M. Abbott, M.D., associate professor of surgery andsurgical oncologist at MUSC, shared her insight into the value of clear, concise and honest communications and leadership.

Abbott’s talk focused on three mistakes and how to correct them: apologizing when it was unnecessary, wording statements as questions and using too many words to get to the point. 

Man holding a plaque smiles while standing between a woman wearing a yellow blazer and dark skirt and a man wearing a suit coat, red tie and khakis. 
Dr. Barry Gibney, winner of the Outstanding Clinician Award, with Provost Dr. Lisa Saladin and MUSC President David Cole.

As a surgeon, she felt confident in the operating room, but outside of the OR felt less confident in her leadership role. In a multidisciplinary team of providers, she found that using unapologetic words to delegate a task and applying please and thank you go a long way. 

“Delegating tasks and being an effective leader is so important in health care. It’s important to make sure that everyone on the team feels valued. That simple change allows people to feel appreciated and that they are doing meaningful work. It makes you a great leader and creates a strong team,” she said. 

The awards portion of the event highlighted the celebration and recognition of outstanding faculty with the institution’s highest honors and awards. Together, Saladin and MUSC President David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, recognized all of the honorees. 

  • Teaching Excellence Developing Teacher – Meghan Thomas, M.D.
  • Teaching Excellence Educator-Lecturer – Joe Blumer, Ph.D.
  • Teaching Excellence Educator Mentor (Academic Scholarship) – Casey O’Neill, Ph.D.
  • Teaching Excellence Educator Mentor (Clinical Professional) – Karen Hartwell, M.D.
  • Excellence in Interprofessional Education & Collaborative Practice Award – David Fitzgerald, DHA
  • Population Health – Nichole Tanner, M.D.
  • Outstanding Clinician – Barry Gibney, D.O.
  • Developing Scholar (Applied/Clinical Science) – DeAnna Baker Frost, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Developing Scholar (Basic Science) – Wenjian Gan, Ph.D.
  • Peggy Schachte Research Mentor – Besim Ogretmen, Ph.D.
  • Distinguished Faculty Service – Elisha Brownfield, M.D.

In closing, Cole thanked this year’s 11 faculty honorees and other faculty members for their excellence, passion and dedication to their individual vision and contributions to MUSC’s overall missions. 

“This doesn’t happen without all of the work that you and your colleagues do on a daily basis. When I talk about the MUSC family – who we are and what that means and how we work together to make a difference in people’s lives -- We are not us, without you. It’s important that we recognize the contributions that everyone brings to the table. For me, it’s an honor to stand with you and say thank you for all the work that you do,” said Cole.

Teaching Excellence Awards

Meghan Thomas, assistant professor, College of Medicine
Developing Teacher

Thomas serves as associate chief quality officer. An exceptional clinician and educator, she’s respected by both colleagues and students. Driven by a commitment to excellence, she leads by example and demonstrates an unparallel dedication to her craft and instills an impassioned learning from her students. She has masterfully guided pre-clerkship medical students and expertly orchestrates their journey into the clinical environment. She is passionate about patient safety and shaping the next generation of medical professionals. 

Joe Blumer, Ph.D., College of Medicine
Educator-Mentor, Educator Lecturer

Blumer is an associate professor of cell and molecular pharmacology and experimental therapeutics in the COM. He stands out as an exceptional educator and mentor celebrated by both colleagues and students alike for his unwavering inspiration and commitment. He challenges his students by fostering their intellectual growth and empowering them to realize their full potential. Moreover, Blumer’s pursuit of excellence transcends the confines of the classroom as he wholeheartedly invests in the physical and mental well-being of his students. He has demonstrated a steadfast dedication to teaching, pioneering instructional methods and extensive engagement in educational and national service establishing himself as an exceptional educator and researcher.

Casey O’Neill, Ph.D., associate professor, Center for Academic Excellence and Writing Center
Educator-Mentor, Academic/Scholarship

In her five years at MUSC, O’Neill has quickly become a leader in the organization, primarily due to the combination of her deep scientific knowledge and the skill to apply educational theory to improve student learning outcomes. She has been an academic mentor for many students across colleges from their first semester to graduation and licensure. Her relentless dedication and adaptability have positioned her as a driving force in navigating challenges and advancing learning methodologies at MUSC. 

Karen Hartwell, M.D., professor, College of Medicine
Educator-Mentor, Clinical/Professional

Hartwell is a professor psychiatry in Behavioral Sciences in the COM. She’s an accomplished clinician and prolific researcher known for her influential contributions in addiction psychiatry. Hartwell has served in countless roles which illustrate her passion for mentoring and serving the underserved. She has served as addiction sciences director, director of the building interdisciplinary research centers in women’s health innovation program and a regular mentor for the diversity and addiction research track at MUSC. Hartwell’s enduring impact is marked by her exceptional mentorship, her clinical expertise and her tireless efforts to address the opioid epidemic. She leaves a legacy of gratitude and transformation in the lives she has touched.

Faculty Awards

David Fitzgerald, DHA, assistant professor, College of Health Professions
Excellence in Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice Award

Fitzgerald is an asstistant professor of cardiovascular perfusion and associate dean for student affairs in the CHP and also president for American Academy of Cardiovascular Perfusion. He’s an outstanding role model of collaborative teamwork and a leader of interprofessional education and collaborative practice. Fitzgerald has been a strong advocate for advancing interprofessional teamwork training as part of graduate education for perfusionists so that these practitioners are well equipped to meet the growing demand for an increasing complexity in cardiac surgery. He is an outstanding educator who regularly facilitates interprofessional courses and activities with consistently high teaching evaluations. His remarkable teaching acumen and esteemed leadership roles highlight his profound contributions to health care education and practice.

Nichole Tanner, M.D., professor, College of Medicine
Population Health Award

Tanner is a distinguished lung cancer expert renowned for her contributions to lung cancer screening and smoking cessation programs. Her focus on expanding access to lung cancer screenings and early detection serves people of diverse backgrounds who live in medically underserved and at-risk communities. Tanner’s research findings have contributed to new lung cancer screenings issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. A visionary leader, she developed a national network of sites to facilitate lung cancer screenings and clinical trials at smaller and rural VA facilities to improve outcomes among veterans. Her work is improving the lives of patients in South Carolina and beyond.

Barry Gibney, D.O. associate professor, College of Medicine
Outstanding Clinician Award

An outstanding cardiothoracic surgery clinician, Gibney’s unwavering service, compassion and surgical skill led one peer to praise him as “our state’s most expert and accomplished surgeons for a shocking number of approaches and disease states.” directs the integrated thoracic surgery residency program and at one point, almost single-handily maintained MUSC’s thoracic surgery and lung transplant surgeon. His excellence has resulted in the highest level of skilled surgeries with excellent outcomes, strong relationships with patients and a highly-regarded clinic sought out by students and residents.

Research Awards

DeAnna Baker Frost, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, College of Medicine
Developing Scholar Award-Applied/Clinical Science

Baker Frost is an assistant professor rheumatology and immunology in the COM. Described as a brilliant early career physician scientist and rising star, she has made significant contributions to research, education, patient care and public service at MUSC.

Woman wearing a blue dress holds a plaque. She is smiling. She is standing between another woman and a man. 
Rheumatology and Immunology’s Dr. DeAnna Baker Frost receives the Developing Scholar Award in Applied/Clinical Science from Dr. Saladin and President Cole.

Her research seeks to understand the cause of fibrosis and scleroderma and its relationship to estrogen. She’s received significant funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the MUSC Margaret Gage Endowment and the National Institutes of Health. She’s also received several prestigious research awards both locally and nationally, including the American College of Rheumatology Distinguished Fellow Award in 2018. She has published several scientific articles in prominent journals and has presented her work at several national conferences, where she won first place for her poster presentations.

Wenjian Gan, Ph.D., assistant professor, College of Medicine
Developing Scholar Award-Basic Science

Gan is a rising star in cancer biology. He received a K99 award, two MUSC pilot projects in digestive and liver disease and an IDEA Award from the Hollings Cancer Center. In external funding, he secured an R35 maximizing research award for early stage investigators and a research scholar grant from the American Cancer Society. Gan’s research productivity has resulted in publications in exceptionally high-impact journals including Science, Nature, Nature Cell Biology and Molecular Cell. His research contributions have earned him accolades including a high impact publication recognition from HCC solidifying his position as a distinguished and developing scholar at MUSC.

Besim Ogretmen, Ph.D., professor, College of Medicine
Peggy Schachte Research Mentor Award

A highly respected researcher, Ogretmen served as principal investigator on multiple RO1 grants, PI of the COBRE in lipidemics and pathobiology and is the program leader for MUSC’s cancer therapeutics and lipid signaling and cancer programs. A caring mentor, junior faculty have praised for his invaluable guidance and generous research support. His commitment extends to serving as a mentoring champion within his own department, sharing his expertise and knowledge to help all faculty excel in their academic pursuits. 

Distinguished Faculty Service Award

Elisha L. Brownfield, M.D., professor of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, College of Medicine

Brownfield’s remarkable career at MUSC is characterized by transformation and pioneering contributions to education, patient care and service. Colleagues and students recognize her for her unwavering commitment to nurturing the next generation of leaders. She implemented the leadership and academic medicine program in 2013 and her exceptional abilities in leadership development led to her appointment as the director of strategic leadership development in 2016 where she later developed the MUSC Institute for Leadership. She is a consummate role model as a clinician-educator and profoundly touched the lives of many.

In her absence, Brownfield recorded her response that was shared during the event. Her award was accepted by colleague Kim Davis, M.D., professor, College of Medicine.

“Expanding leadership development to the MUSC enterprise opened a doorway through which I was given access to relationships with many amazing, passionate people that work at MUSC. This is what drives me every day. To not only provide direct patient care but to support those who do so now and in the future, who will make new discoveries and provide the scaffolding to support all this work and more. We are truly fortunate to work at such an incredible institution that fosters curiosity, strives for excellence and champions service to all our communities,” said Brownfield.

Distinguished University Professors

New to this year’s ceremony is public recognition of MUSC’s Distinguished University Professors. The honor is reserved for senior-level faculty who have had a distinguished academic career and have made outstanding contributions to their professions while achieving national and international recognition for their accomplishments. Saladin recognized all Distinguished University Professors in the audience and announced the honorees: Diann Krywko, M.D., professor of Emergency Medicine, Medicine; and Leslie A. Lenert, M.D., professor of General internal Medicine and Geriatrics, Medicine; Janice Key, M.D., professor of Adolescent Medicine, Medicine; Patrick M. Woster, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences, Pharmacy; Narendra Banik, Ph.D., professor of neurosurgery, Medicine; Michael Gold, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Cardiology, Medicine; and Dr. B. Joseph Almunzer, M.D., professor of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Medicine. 

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