Inside IM
News from the Department of Internal Medicine - March 2024

Debra Romberger, MD, chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, shares a message with important updates for all faculty and staff.

Thank you for participating in the For The Greater Good 2024 campaign!
Donors from across the country came together for the 2024 For the Greater Good, making a record-setting 2,062 gifts to raise $767,919 to support UNMC and Nebraska Medicine.
The giving day began at noon March 27 and concluded at noon March 28. In its second year, the 2024 event surpassed last year’s 1,542 gifts and this year’s increased target of 1,800 gifts. Nebraska Medicine CEO James Linder, MD, and UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, thanked donors for their generosity.

Dr. Mannon awarded Medal of Excellence from AAKP
Roslyn Mannon, MD, professor in the UNMC Division of Nephrology, received a 2024 Medal of Excellence from the American Association of Kidney Patients. This award is one of the highest honors for kidney health care professionals bestowed by the American Association of Kidney Patients and is designed to elevate local, national and international figures who have been at the forefront of advancements in kidney care and patient empowerment.

Dr. Rupp is inaugural recipient of Advocacy of Science Award
The inaugural Bob and Helen Bartee and Family Advocacy of Science Lectureship was held March 26, at the Yanney Conference Room at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. The event included the awarding of the first Bartee Advocacy of Science Award, for exceptional community engagement by a scientist, to Mark Rupp, MD, chief of the UNMC Division of Infectious Diseases.

Work continues on Innovation Design Unit
The work to shape the future of inpatient care is happening now. In fact, if you’re anywhere near level six of University Tower, you may even hear and feel it. The actual noise aside, the real noise to focus on is the teamwork and innovation being put into the Innovation Design Unit, which is scheduled to open in January 2025. You may be asking yourself, “What is the Innovation Design Unit?” “Who will it treat?” “How will it be different from other inpatient units?”  

Internal Medicine offers variety of Enhanced Medical Education Tracks
UNMC College of Medicine faculty were invited to the Enhanced Medical Education Track Capstone presentations on March 14. Read more

Enhanced Medical Education Tracks (EMETs) offer medical students an opportunity to perform an in-depth study of an interdisciplinary field of medicine that enhances the required curriculum without extending the time needed to graduate from medical school. Tracks consist of longitudinal activities in which students work closely with faculty mentors, residents and advanced students.

The Gastroenterology and Hepatology Division offers a new EMET for medical students. Dr. Faruq Pradhan is the course director for the Combined Medical and Surgical Integrated Track in Liver Transplantation. Learn more about EMET at UNMC, including a list of approved tracks
Research News & Updates
Content prepared by Toni Goeser, Internal Medicine Research Program Associate
Seeking participants for All of Us research program
Dr. Cyrus Desouza and his team are preparing for the start of UNMC’s part in an ambitious national program through the NIH called All of Us. The NIH is partnering with academic institutions, healthcare organizations, community partners and others to create a groundbreaking national research platform, and Dr. Desouza is the PI for the program’s UNMC site.

The overall objective of the All of Us Research Program is to build a robust research resource to facilitate the exploration of biological, clinical, social and environmental determinants of health and disease and aims to advance the science of precision medicine while ensuring everyone shares in its benefits. The program’s goal is to gather health data from at least one million people nationally. For their part, Dr. Desouza’s team hopes to recruit 1,500 participants per year for five years, with at least half being from groups typically underrepresented in biomedical research demographics.

The team hopes to begin recruiting participants soon and eligibility is open to U.S. residents 19 and older who are able to provide consent and are not incarcerated at the time of enrollment. Enrollment is also open to UNMC/NM employees. For more information or to begin the steps to enroll, visit For UNMC-specific information about All of Us, email
Dr. Mannon's SEKTR study receives VA funding
Roslyn Mannon, MD, received notice of funding for “An Exploratory Investigation of the Safety of Empagliflozin in Kidney Transplant Recipients” (SEKTR) study, a multicenter clinical trial funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Sciences Research and Development (CSRD) Merit Award. This study, in kidney transplant recipients (KTRs), will assess the safety and efficacy of use of the SGLT2i empagliflozin. The study includes investigators at the Nashville, Pittsburgh and Iowa City VA transplant centers. The goal is to enroll 264 participants in an open label fashion to determine if empagliflozin is safe and tolerated by KTRs and assess their potential cardiorenal protection in patients with Type 2 diabetes. This study may provide a potential new therapy to improve long term outcomes in KTRs. The study was awarded on Jan 1 2024, to conclude in Dec 31, 2028.
Dr. Mikuls receives VA merit award, Senior Clinician Scientist Award
Ted Mikuls, MD, MSPH, received notice of award for a VA Merit Award, with funding slated to begin April 1, 2024. The grant is titled “Inflammatory and Fibrotic Responses to Malondialdehyde-Acetaldehyde Adducts in Rheumatoid Arthritis.” In addition, Dr. Mikuls received a Biomedical Laboratory Research and Development (BLRD) Senior Clinician Scientist Award, which will allow for a Merit award extension of up to four additional years, for a possible total of eight years.
UNMC COM grant and funding Awards
Kusum Kharbanda, PhD, internal medicine-GI, received a grant of $13,304 from the University of Toledo for a study of phosphodiesterase 4B inhibition as a therapeutic target for alcohol-associated liver disease.

Eric Langewisch, MD, internal medicine-nephrology, received a grant of $50,000 from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for assessment of biomarker-guided CNI substitution in kidney transplantation.

Trevor Van Schooneveld, MD, internal medicine-infectious diseases, received a grant of $19,999 Johns Hopkins University for a diagnostic stewardship intervention to improve blood culture use among adult patients in acute care hospitals.

Aaron Schwab, internal medicine-allergy/immunology, received a grant of $36,447 from DHHS/NIH/NIEHS for a study targeting the ACOD1 immunometabolic pathway of lung myeloid cells to reduce environmental exposure-induced lung disease.

Roslyn Mannon, MD, internal medicine-nephrology, received a grant of $21,048 from the University of Alabama-Birmingham for the APOL1 Long-term Kidney Transplantation Outcomes Network (APOLLO) Clinical Center, as well as a grant of $20,000 from the University of California-San Francisco for a study applying precision medicine to optimize desensitization with novel biologics or cellular therapies in highly sensitized kidney transplant patients.

Scott Westphal, MD, internal medicine-nephrology, received a grant of $20,405 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the APOL1 Long-term Kidney Transplantation Outcomes Network (APOLLO) Clinical Center.

Laura Graeff-Armas, MD, MS, PhD, received a PCORI grant for an upcoming study, Reducing Future Fractures and Improving Outcomes of Fragility Fracture, with the University of Alabama Birmingham.

The following industry-sponsored grants and contracts were received:

Ronald Zolty, MD, PhD, internal medicine-cardiovascular, received funding for a study of the effects of Ziltivekimab versus placebo on morbidity and mortality in patients with heart failure with mildly reduced or preserved ejection fraction and systemic inflammation.

Bryant England, MD, PhD, internal medicine-rheumatology, received funding for a study on a risk-factor guided approach to interstitial lung disease screening in patients with rheumatoid arthritis at higher risk for ILD using high-resolution computed tomography.

Nicole Shonka, MD, internal medicine-oncology/hematology, received funding for a study of APG-157 with Bevacizumab for patients with recurrent high-grade glioma.

Tammy Wichmann, MD, internal medicine-pulmonary, received funding for a study to assess the safety and efficacy of Ifetroban in patients with diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis or systemic sclerosis associated pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Tammy Wichmann, MD, internal medicine-pulmonary, received funding for a study to evaluate the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and efficacy of Liposomal Treprostinil inhalation suspension (L606) in certain subjects.

Fedja Rochling, MBChB, internal medicine-GI, received funding for a study of Linerixibat for the treatment of cholestatic pruritus in participants with primary biliary cholangitis.

Jennifer Medlin, MD, internal medicine-neurology, received funding for a study of FT819 in participants with moderate to severe active systemic lupus erythematosus.

Karen Deffenbacher, MD, PhD, internal medicine-cardiovascular, received funding for the “SPYRAL AFFIRM Global Clinical Study of Renal Denervation with the Simplicity Spyral Renal Denervation System in Subjects with Uncontrolled Hypertension,” as well as “Equity in Modifying Plaque of Women with Undertreated Calcified Coronary Artery Disease (EMPOWER).”

Apar Ganti, MD, internal medicine-oncology/hematology, received funding for a study of P-MUC1C-ALLO1 in adult subjects with advanced or metastatic solid tumors.

Ronald Zolty, MD, PhD, internal medicine-cardiovascular, received funding for a study to assess the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and potential efficacy of multiple doses of ONO-2808 in patients with multiple system atrophy.
In the News or From Social Media
Dr.Troy Plumb was featured in Ask UNMC, answering what do my kidneys do and how do I keep them healthy. Watch the video
Dr. Anupam Kotwal was featured in Nebraska Medicine's Advancing Health. Read the article
Dr. Lydia Kang will be the featured speaker at the Nebraska Medicine Fusion Guild's annual fundraiser. Learn more
Dr. Sarah Richards and Dr. Debra Romberger were published in the American Journal of Medicine. Read the article
Education News
Content prepared by Stephanie Hooten, Internal Medicine Educational Programs Administrator
Please join the residency program in welcoming our new Internal Medicine and Medicine-Pediatrics interns! We are excited for our new class to join us this summer. View the matched residents for the Med-Peds Class of 2028, Categorical Class of 2027, Preliminary Class of 2025 and the Primary Care Sub-Interns
February 23 was Thank a Resident/Fellow Day. Programs celebrated their house officers in various ways. One thing is for certain – we appreciate our residents and fellows and all that they do!
Congratulations to the Department of Internal Medicine's 2023 Top Teachers! View the list
Save the date! The sixth annual Graduate Medical Education Research Symposium will be held on April 22 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. in the Sorrell Center’s Truhlsen Events Center.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Content prepared by Vice Chair of Equity and Inclusive Excellence Jasmine Marcelin, MD
Welcome to Stacy Rafferty who joins our department as the inaugural Program Manager of the newly established Department of Internal Medicine Office of Equity & Inclusive Excellence. She joins Drs. Jasmine Marcelin, Chelsea Navarrette, Natalie Crump and Jenn Davis in the Internal Medicine Office of Equity and Inclusive Excellence leadership team. Up next for our new office: filling the Equity & Inclusion Council with faculty and staff from across all divisions in our department. More details to come!
Lunar New Year was February 10 and the UNMC-wide Lunar New Year celebration for students and employees (on Feb. 29th) was amazing! The event was sponsored and facilitated by the Office of Global Engagement, UNMC's Asian American and Pacific Islander Student Association (AAPISA), the Asian American and Pacific Islander Employee Resource Group (AAPI ERG), and the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA). There were over 250 people in attendance. Some more information on the Lunar New Year can be found here: Lunar New Year

Ramadan started on March 11 and many patients, friends, colleagues, and learners may be fasting during this holy month. Learn more about supporting those around us who are observing Ramadan. Before the pandemic, some people in our department hosted a beautiful Eid celebration that was highlighted in the ID blog.
Community engagement: March 16 community engagement opportunity participation by our DOM folks – Black Health and Wellness Expo hosted by the Omaha chapter of the Links Inc. Clinicians from our DOM provided education on kidney and heart health and direct exposure to UNMC nephrologists.

Resident spotlight: One of our residents, Dr. Humza Ahmed shared his global health rotation “Floating Doctors Experience” during a noon conference on April 1.

The Office of Global Engagement and UNMC's International Student Association hosted the annual UNMC Holi Festival on March 30!

Check out other upcoming events on the UNMC Diversity & Inclusion Events Calendar.
Faculty Education
Content prepared by Zach Slocum, Internal Medicine Instructional Designer
“Our institution has provided an additional way to capture learning activities and lectors; Yuja. If you have never heard of it or are looking for an alternative to echo360, this module is for you. Yuja allows you to create a nurturing and interactive learning environment. By capturing lectures and learning activities residents can revisit and absorb complex material at their own pace, fostering a deeper understanding. Yuja's user-friendly features, such as automatic captioning, add a personal touch, ensuring that every resident feels supported and engaged in their learning journey.

To log in, remember, first, click the red NetID“Sign In.” Next, it will prompt you to log in using your UNMC credentials. To log in, remember, first, click the red NetID Sign In. Next, it will prompt you to log in using your UNMC credentials. Click to view "Just-in-time: Yuja" module.

Lastly, check out the other modules and resources on our faculty intranet.
Faculty Development
Content provided by Vice Chair of Faculty Development Kristina Bailey, MD
The Phase 1 Examination Review Committee (ERC) is looking for more members to join the committee. This committee represents an opportunity for any faculty member with an interest in learning more about student assessment and best practices in multiple-choice question writing. Members will work closely with the Director of Student Assessment and Office of Medical Education to review examination/item statistics from each preclinical block examination and perform peer review of questions to ensure alignment with established performance standards. Following review, they will suggest edits to individual faculty members and block directors for inclusion in the next iteration of the examination and monitor the future performance of these questions. Individuals will receive relevant instruction/faculty development to help prepare them for their role. Faculty from either foundational science or clinical departments may apply. Estimated workload: 0.1 FTE. Individuals that are interested should submittheir application using this formApplications are due on April 12. Direct questions to Dr. Kirstie Bash ( 

We hope you participated in the AAMC StandPoint™ Faculty Engagement Survey to share your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions anonymously, allowing us to gain valuable insights into what is working well and where we can make enhancements. This survey helps us set priorities for faculty engagement and development in the upcoming years and allows us to compare our department to similar ones. We will share the overall results with the department after results have been received and analyzed, probably in late summer or early fall. If you have any questions about the survey, please contact Dr. Kristina Bailey at, who is working with the AAMC to administer the survey.

Internal Medicine Faculty Development recently presented “Evaluation Prep 101” and a recording of the presentation is now on the Department Intranet. Click to view the recording

If you missed the webinar "Making Med Ed Research Less Murky: Intro to the AAIM Medical Education Research Committee," which was held March 21, the recording is now available Click to view past recordings

AAIM is seeking volunteers for more than 15 Alliance or association committees in FY2025, including program planning and survey. The term of service on a committee is three years. To be eligible to serve on a committee, all volunteers must be a current member. The call for committee applications closes April 17, at 11:59 p.m. EDT. 

The AAMC will present a webinar titled "A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Peer Review: Insights from Editors and Reviewers" on April 18 at noon EST. In this webinar, speakers who hold roles as editors and reviewers will present an overview of the peer-review process, provide practical advice on how to conduct a meaningful peer review, and give insights into writing reviewer comments that will be both useful to editors and actionable for authors. Learn more
New Faces, Promotions or
Committee Involvement
Welcome to the following new faculty!
Kristen Rupp
Wei Shi
Luis Vilches
Assistant Professor
Assistant Professor
Post Doc Research Associate
General Internal Medicine
Congratulations on your new position!
Michael Dempsey
Ireisy Hernandez
Terah Riddle
Imani Nzai
Mery Worthington
Laura Shafer
Denisse Victoria Estrada
Marina Beverly
Jordan Rogers
Abbey Gibson
Tanette Welsh
Ligia Subitoni Antonio
Melissa Eagen
Sri Venkata Lepaksheswari Madduri
Hospital Med
Dr. Vijaya Bhatt has been selected to serve as a Vice Chair of Alliance's Cancer in Older Adults Committee. The Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology is part of the National Clinical Trials Network sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. The Cancer in Older Adults Committee is unique committee across the NCI funded networks and plays an important role in designing trials for older adults with cancer.
AAIM recently announced its 2025 Alliance Council leaders and Dr. Allison Ashford is the President-Elect of the MPPDA Executive Committee.

Dr. Erin Ramelb was selected for in the American Board of Internal Medicine. She will serve on the ABIM's specialty board focusing on General Internal Medicine and Hospital Medicine. This board will set the standards for certification specifically for those internists who specialize in General Internal Medicine and Hospital Medicine. This will be a three-year term with an opportunity to renew and will start in July.

Dr. Steven Ebers has been selected for a seat on the UNMC Faculty Senate.
Awards and Honors
Dr. Amy Cannella and Dr. Elizabeth Harlow were honored at the UNMC Impact on Excellence Awards ceremony on February 29. Dr. Harlow received the Inspirational Mentor of Educators Award. The award recognizes an individual who has mentored junior faculty or trainees in developing as health professions educators. Read more Dr. Cannella, MD, is the recipient of the Innovative Practices in Education Award. The award recognizes an individual or team that demonstrates ingenuity, courage and creativity in teaching, including innovations in use of educational technology, experiential learning, adoption of simulation and/or creative use of the classroom. Read more

Dr. Cory Rohlfsen has been selected as a recipient of the prestigious iEXCEL Academic Award. The iEXCEL Innovation Awards are provided through philanthropic donations recognizing faculty, students and staff who create and implement “new ideas” that foster innovation in teaching, research and scholarship using the wonderful assets of iEXCEL and Davis Global Center. Dr. Rohlfsen was nominated for his work in the development of the HEAL OSTE program, "an innovative first-of-its-kind training at UNMC preparing students on the teaching track through human simulation activities involving peer evaluation and self-reflection to evaluate the interpersonal and instructional skills of students." Dr. Rohlfsen received the award at a UNMC ceremony on March 12.

Jessica Quick, former division administrator for Infectious Diseases (now in the Department of Surgery), was chosen as the March recipient of the UNMC Chancellor’s Council Silver ‘U’ Award! The Silver ‘U’ Award recognizes UNMC’s top performers whose daily contributions or special achievements help meet UNMC’s mission.

The Kinman-Oldfield and Reagan awards ceremony will be April 24, 11 am to 12 pm at the Wigton Heritage Center Atrium. The recipient of the Oldfield scholarship is Peng Zhong, PhD. The Reagan scholarship recipients are: Shefali Srivastava, Rakhi Chowdhury, Megan Paustian, Rana Kadry, Emma Foster, Hanyu Xiao, Mohit Kumar, Debapriya Sutar and Shaurav Bhattarai.
Watch for named Grand Rounds lectures
Grand Rounds on April 5 was the Kass Lecture, hosted by the UNMC Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine. This year’s lecture featured guest speaker Timothy Blackwell, MD, professor and chair of internal medicine at the University of Michigan. Dr. Blackwell spoke on “Leveraging Genetics and Genomics to Advance Understanding of Progressive Pulmonary Fibrosis” to a those who attended via Zoom and in person in the Durham Research Center auditorium.

The Kass Lecture is in honor of Irving Kass, MD, who joined UNMC in 1966 and was the first pulmonologist and first chief of the pulmonary medicine section. He was the first to use ethambutol to treat tuberculosis and was also a pioneer in respiratory therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation and smoking cessation. A clinician-scientist, Dr. Kass was an author of more than 115 publications and received grant and industry funding for his studies on tuberculosis, emphysema, COPD and asthma. The Kass Lectureship Endowment was created following his death in 1984. 

The April 12 Harman Lecture will feature Aimee Kao, MD, PhD. Dr. Kao, an associate professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, will discuss "Aging, Lysosomes and Neurogenerative Disease."

The Denham Harman, MD, PhD, Lectureship in Biomedical Gerontology was established in 2002 by the University of Nebraska Foundation in honor of the late Dr. Harman, a famed researcher who served on the UNMC faculty for 52 years from 1958 through 2010.
Dr. Harman was nominated six times for a Nobel Prize and was called the “Father of the Free Radical Theory of Aging.” He proposed the theory in 1954 and discovered the role of antioxidants (vitamins C, E and beta-carotene) in fighting heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Harman’s wife, Helen Harman, was instrumental in his pursuit of a medical degree and ultimately conducting research in the area of aging. Dr. Harman died in 2014 at age 98.

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UNMC Department of Internal Medicine
983332 Nebraska Medical Center
Omaha, NE 68198-3332
402-559-6315 (phone)