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School of Medicine Faculty Recognized for Excellence with Inaugural Dean’s Faculty Awards

SOM faculty were honored for excellence in teaching, mentoring, research and in promoting equity, diversity and inclusion

January 25, 2021
Faculty Awards: Row Of Trophies With Glitter And Confetti
SOM Dean's Award Ceremony

“It’s vital to have an event like this to remember the importance of what we do, the value of expertise, the strength of the professoriate and how much the faculty has to contribute to our institution and society and celebrate that,” said Edward C. Halperin, M.D., chancellor and chief executive officer. “Congratulations to those members of the faculty who in their pursuit of knowledge have demonstrated considerable and laudable excellence.”

Kathryn Spanknebel, M.D., senior associate dean of faculty affairs and associate professor of surgery, served as host for the event and chaired the awards selection committee, who was tasked with making recommendations on awardees to the dean. “With such a pool of talented nominees, this was a difficult task and I was truly impressed with the thoughtful review by the committee,” she said.

In recognition of their sustained and significant achievements in their field and contributions to New York Medical College (NYMC), two faculty members received Outstanding Achievement Awards – Mitchell S. Cairo, M.D., professor of pediatrics, medicine, pathology, microbiology and immunology and of cell biology and anatomy, and Gary P. Wormser, M.D., professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology and of pharmacology.

Dr. Cairo is an international leader in the study of childhood lymphomas and leukemias, stem cell transplantation, developmental therapeutics, experimental hematopoiesis and immunology and stem cell biology and regenerative therapy with more than 400 peer-reviewed publications and more than 1,100 national and international presentations.

Dr. Wormser is internationally recognized as an authority in the area of tick-borne illnesses, with a particular focus on Lyme disease. During the course of his career, he has published more than 350 seminal papers regarding the origin, pathogenesis, natural history and treatment of tick-borne disease. He also holds the distinction of having co-authored the first paper on AIDS to appear in a scientific journal.

In addition to the awards to Drs. Cairo and Wormser, during the ceremony, the following Dean’s Faculty Awards were presented:

Excellence in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award

Mill Etienne, M.D.'02, M.P.H. FAAN, FAES
Associate Professor of Neurology and Medicine

Rising Star Award

Jonathan Fisher, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Physiology

Julia G. Keltz, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Excellence in Teaching Award

Brian Ratliff, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Physiology and Medicine

Joseph L. Giamelli, M.D. ’02
Associate Professor of Pediatrics

Excellence in Mentoring Award

Raj K. Tiwari, Ph.D.
Professor of Microbiology and Immunology

Claud Andrew Powers, Ph.D.
Professor of Pharmacology

Distinguished Teaching and Mentoring Award

Kenneth M. Lerea, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy

Excellence in Research Award

Chandra S. Bakshi, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology

Rifat Latifi, M.D.
Professor of Surgery

Honorable mentions were made to Apolonia E. Abramowitz, M.D., clinical professor of anesthesiology; Tetyana Cheairs, M.D., assistant professor of pathology; Edwin Gulko, M.D., assistant professor of radiology; and Patrick A. Lento, M.D., professor of pathology and medicine.

Following the presentation of each award, the recipients had an opportunity to respond via pre-recorded video messages. “My grandfather, who was also a physician, advised me that your goal should be for a patient to feel better walking out of your office than walking in, even if you give them bad news,” said Dr. Keltz. “This has been a guiding principle for how I practice medicine and for the empathy and compassion I teach to my residents and students. It’s a privilege to contribute to the future of medicine. I am passionate about elevating the care of women in our community and helping create the next generation of incredible physicians.”

“At NYMC, I received an outstanding education which more than prepared me for residency and my career as a pediatric cardiologist,” said alumnus Dr. Giamelli. “It has been and continues to be an honor to educate and guide the students at NYMC toward phenomenal careers.”

“This honor must be shared with all of my NYMC colleagues who I’ve had the privilege to work with and learn from throughout the years,” said Dr. Lerea. “We have a rich history of teaching faculty, who have made NYMC not just their livelihood but their life.”