Appointments announced in College of Medicine Dean’s Message

News of many new faculty and staff appointments came with the latest Dean’s Message from  Elisabeth H. Young, M.D. ('85), FACP, dean of the College of Medicine.

Dr. Young’s message follows.

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff and Alumni,

Thank you for your hard work, innovation, problem solving, and unwavering commitment to the College of Medicine; and my special thanks to our clinical partner affiliates for their support in welcoming our third and fourth-year students back to clinical sites. I am amazed at how much we have accomplished under the ever-changing circumstances we all continue to face. 

Highlights since March 2020:

  • May 2020: Virtual Class of 2020 Commencement Ceremony
  • June 2020: Submission of LCME Action Plans
  • July 2020:
    • New systems-based integrated Peer Instruction (PI) M1 curriculum implemented
    • Class of 2024 Virtual White Coat Ceremony and awarding of the Deans’ Leadership Award
    • New COM Curriculum Committee operationalized
  • August 2020: All classes in full session, M1 thru M4

Visit the Curriculum Change Initiative website for more information on our new M1 curriculum and all Actions voted upon by the new COM Curriculum Committee.

The LCME Secretariat met with the College on July 21, to review and provide guidance on accreditation action plans. This was an important step in preparation for the limited site visit scheduled February 22-24, 2021.  In the coming months, the COM will be preparing an LCME Briefing Book, conducting a mock limited site visit, and surveying the student body, all in preparation for the limited site visit.

The 2020 Dean’s Leadership Award was awarded not to an individual, but to the COM students, faculty, staff, and administration in recognition of and to commemorate an unprecedented and exemplary year of teamwork. An outstanding keynote address was delivered by a student, faculty member, staff member, and an administrator representing the collaborative roles of each team member.

Both on and off campus, we anticipate both welcoming some new faces in new roles and seeing some familiar faces in new roles. Organizationally, changes have been made to meet the needs of the new curriculum and LCME expectations, and to emphasize our commitment to continuous quality improvement. These include:

  • New basic science faculty to enhance the pre-clerkship educational program
  • New leadership in the areas of: data science and strategic planning, clinical faculty relations and clinical partner collaboration, and medical education oversight and management
  • New clinical and Rootstown-based department chairs

The year 2020 remains a year of pandemics, one of health care and wellness and one of social justice and equality. Both share chaos, uncertainty, and yes, resolve. Together, we will continue to accomplish what would have previously seemed the unimaginable. I hope you take a moment to read about all the exciting things happing in the College of Medicine!

With sincere thanks,

Elisabeth H. Young, M.D., FACP
Dean, College of Medicine

New Faces

Stacey Barrenger, Ph.D., has joined the faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry.  As a mental health services researcher, her work examines the intersection between the mental health system and other social problems: criminal justice involvement, homelessness, substance use, social exclusion, and poverty. Dr. Barrenger will be teaching in the College of Medicine and looks forward to developing partnerships with local stakeholders to develop community-engaged research partners.

Dr. Barrenger comes to NEOMED from New York University’s Silver School of Social Work. Her research focuses on developing responsive and inclusive behavioral health services, specifically reentry interventions for those with mental illnesses leaving jail and prison. Her current research explores pathways recovery and desistance pathways for peer specialists with criminal justice histories and the prison health care experiences of those with mental illnesses who were formerly incarcerated.

Dr. Barrenger has a Ph.D. in Social Welfare from the University of Pennsylvania.

Sebastian Diaz, J.D., Ph.D., joins the College of Medicine’s Dean’s Office of Academic Affairs as associate dean of quality initiatives. He provides leadership for the data science team and oversees strategic planning and continuous quality improvement strategies as they relate to college accreditation and curriculum.

Dr. Diaz comes to NEOMED from Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine at Ohio University where he most recently served as associate professor of Family Medicine and co-principal investigator and research lead for the Central Appalachian Consortium of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, a project which investigated physician workforce trends related to primary care and rural health.

Dr. Diaz earned his Ph.D. from Ohio University in educational research and evaluation and his J.D. from the University of Akron School of Law.

Nancy Gantt, M.D., has been appointed interim chair of the Department of Surgery. As a clinical department chair, Dr. Gantt will provide oversight for faculty appointments, promotions, and evaluations for surgery clinical faculty. She is actively involved in mentoring NEOMED students serving as the Surgery Interest Group Advisor, Association of Women Surgeons medical student chapter advisor, and the M4 surgical specialty advisor.

Dr. Gantt is a general surgeon and co-director of the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center at Bon Secours Mercy Health in Youngstown. She is a professor of surgery and has served as both an M3 surgery clerkship site director and the overall M3 curriculum director for surgery.

Dr. Gantt is a graduate of the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and completed her general surgery residency at the University of Pittsburgh.

Kristen Knepp, Ph.D., joins the faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Knepp will teach across multiple behavioral science content areas in the Introduction to Clinical Skills and Patient, Physician, and Community modules, which includes medical interviewing skills, the patient-physician relationship, mental health and illness, and human psychosocial development. In addition, she will be developing standardized patient cases for medical interviewing.

Before to joining NEOMED, Dr. Knepp worked as a clinical health psychologist at Summa Health Weight Management Institute.

Dr. Knepp earned her Ph.D. from Virginia Tech in Clinical Psychology and is pursuing a certificate in nutrition science from Tufts University.

Linda Lawrence, M.D., joins the College of Medicine Office of Academic Affairs as the associate dean of clinical affairs.

As associate dean of clinical affairs, Dr. Lawrence will ensure the needs and expectations of the clinical sites are managed with a collaborative and shared value philosophy. She will work strategically with clinical faculty and partners to optimize relationships and meet accreditation expectations.

Before joining NEOMED, Dr. Lawrence served as a regional president of US Acute Care Solutions, a physician-owned provider of emergency medicine and hospitalist services working with health care systems across the United States.

Dr. Lawrence is a United States Air Force veteran. She received her medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine and trained in emergency medicine at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania.

Randon Welton, M.D., joins NEOMED as the Margaret Clark Morgan Endowed Chair of Psychiatry following a national search.

Dr. Welton will be responsible for providing administrative leadership and developing a shared departmental vision for the Department of Psychiatry. This includes collaboration with the University and College’s strategic plans and addressing student mental health. He will oversee the three centers of excellence and will work with department faculty to enhance the research portfolio.

Dr. Welton most recently served as residency program director at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. He has spent over 20 years in psychiatry resident and medical student education, which include roles as a residency outpatient supervisor at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center and deputy residency education director at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio.

Dr. Welton served as a member of the United States Air Force for 24 years. During his service, he held the position of psychiatry consultant to the Air Force Surgeon General and was selected for the Department of Defense/Department of Veteran Affairs work groups to create clinical practice guidelines for post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder.

Dr. Welton earned his medical degree from the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, and completed his psychiatry residency at Wright State University School of Medicine.

New Roles

Arthur Coulton, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Integrative Medical Sciences. Dr. Coulton will serve as the basic science dyad leader in the new M1 curriculum for the Human Architecture and Composition (HAC) and Cardiovascular, Pulmonary and Renal (CPR) modules. He is also an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Mount Union.

In early 2018, Dr. Coulton was hired on a grant to support basic science student learning. Prior to arriving at NEOMED Dr. Coulton was a post-doctoral research associate at Case Western Reserve University.

Dr. Coulton earned his Ph.D. in Plant Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom.

Feng Dong, M.D., Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Integrative Medical Sciences (IMS). Dr. Dong will serve as the basic science dyad leader in the M1 curriculum for the Flora, Pathogens, and Defense (FPD) module.

Dr. Dong’s research interests include diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, inflammation, and stem cell-based gene therapy. Most recently, he was a research associate professor in IMS and has been actively teaching in the NEOMED basic science curriculum since 2012.

Dr. Dong received his medical degree from Tonji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China, and his doctorate in Physiology and Pharmacology from the University of Wyoming.

Erin Franks, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology. Dr. Franks will be teaching developmental biology in the M1 curriculum as well as assisting in the Modern Anatomical Sciences graduate program.

Dr. Franks has been a post-doctoral researcher in Anatomy and Neurobiology since 2017. Her research interests include craniofacial morphology and form-function relations. She taught in the former Human Development and Structure course.

Dr. Franks earned her Ph.D. in biological sciences from the University of Notre Dame and has an M.S. in Forensic and Biological Anthropology from Mercyhurst University.

Sonja Harris-Haywood, M.D., has been appointed interim associate dean of curriculum integration in the College of Medicine Office of Medical Education.

In this role, Dr. Harris-Haywood oversee the development of curricular content and integration for the pre-clerkship curriculum. She will serve as module dyad leader for the HAC and CPR modules. In addition, she will also provide student success and advising for URM/URIM students in the Urban and Social Justice Pathways.

Prior to this appointment, Dr. Harris-Haywood served as the associate dean of the Cleveland State University/NEOMED Partnership for Urban Health. She is an associate professor in both the department of Family and Community Medicine and Integrative Medical Sciences.

Dr. Harris-Haywood earned her medical degree from New Jersey Medical School. She earned two master’s degrees: one in Clinical Investigation from Case Western University and the other in Science Education from New York University.

Susan Nofziger, M.D., has been appointed interim associate dean for experiential education.

Dr. Nofziger provides leadership and oversight of clinical experiential content, development and integration. She supports the M3 and M4 clerkship and elective curriculum to ensure student success and to meet accreditation expectations.

Dr. Nofziger is a clinical associate professor of pediatrics and a pediatric hospitalist at Akron Children’s Hospital. Most recently she served as director of M3 clinical experiences. Dr. Nofziger also served as pediatric student clerkship site director and M3/M4 clinical experiential director.

Dr. Nofizger earned her medical degree at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York and trained in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

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