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Class Notes

By Decade Fall 2019


Nicholas Cunningham, of Springfield Center, New York, has — at the age of 90 — taught his last class at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. He now plans to write about the importance of integrated primary maternal and child health care programs in least-developed societies.


Frederick Merkel, of Kenilworth, Illinois, spent January lecturing on pancreatic transplantation while visiting cities in Austria and Germany. He was able to reconnect with several former colleagues and former students he had encountered during his 50-plus-year career.


Myron L. “Mike” Weisfeldt, of Baltimore, has received a Dean’s Distinguished Mentoring Award. A cardiologist, he was director of the Department of Medicine and physician-in-chief of The Johns Hopkins Hospital from 2001 to 2014 and remains active on the faculty.


Clydette L. Powell, of Arlington, Virginia, has been appointed the designated federal officer for the 23-member National Clinical Care Commission, a federal advisory group including members from academia, private practice, patient advocacy groups and the federal government. The commission primarily evaluates federal programs related to diabetes. Powell currently is director of the Division of Health Care Quality and Outcomes in the Department of Health and Human Services.


Elliot L. Chaikof, of West Newton, Massachusetts, chair of the Department of Surgery and surgeon-in-chief at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, has received the American Surgical Association’s 2019 Flance-Karl Award for his seminal contributions in translational research that have applications to clinical surgery of any specialty. Also a professor of surgery at Harvard, Chaikof has led multiple research efforts that have advanced the development of engineered living tissues, implantable devices and artificial organs, as well as cell-based therapies.

Peter J. McDonnell, of Baltimore, director of the Wilmer Eye Institute, has been named to the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists Foundation’s Alumni Hall of Fame. McDonnell is an international leader in corneal transplantation, laser refractive surgery and the treatment of dry eye.


Robert E. Kelly Jr., of Norfolk, Virginia, is surgeon-in-chief and vice president of surgical affairs for Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters (CHKD), for which he led the team that obtained the American College of Surgeons’ verification of it as a Level I Pediatric Surgical Center. CHKD is the only free-standing children’s hospital in Virginia. He also helped establish a chest wall center at CHKD to treat children with pectus excavatum. Kelly also is a professor of clinical surgery and pediatrics as Eastern Virginia Medical School.


Kenneth W. Kinzler, of Baltimore, co-director of the Ludwig Center at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, has been named to the National Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was recognized for his role in uncovering the genetic alterations linked to the initiation of colon cancer, one of the most common cancers worldwide, as well as the development of novel approaches for the molecular analysis of cancer, and for his role in deciphering the genetic blueprints of many types of cancer. In May, a newly formed Baltimore company raised $110 million to license CancerSEEK, a cancer early detection blood test devised by Kinzler, Bert Vogelstein ’74 and other scientists at the Ludwig Center to find cancer at preliminary stages, when it is easier to treat.


Karen Murray, of Cleveland, a national leader in pediatric gastroenterology, has been named chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Pediatric Institute, physician-in-chief of Cleveland Clinic Children’s and president of the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital for Rehabilitation. Previously, Murray was at the University of Washington School of Medicine, where she served as vice chair of clinical affairs for the Department of Pediatrics and professor-in-chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.  She also served as interim chair of the Department of Pediatrics and pediatrician-in-chief of Seattle Children’s Hospital.


Hanzhang Lu, of Baltimore, a professor in the Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Science, as well as the Department of Biomedical Engineering, has been inducted into the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering’s College of Fellows. This is among the highest professional distinctions in the fields of medicine and biomedical engineering. His lab research concentrates on noninvasive imaging of brain physiology and function and its applications in brain disorders. He has invented several brain MRI technologies.


Nancy L. Schoenborn, of Baltimore, an associate professor of medicine and oncology, has received the 2019 Outstanding Junior Investigator of the Year Award from the American Geriatrics Society. Her research interests focus on cancer screening in older adults that incorporates patient preferences and life expectancy.


Samantha D. Maragh, of Columbia, Maryland, head of the Genome Editing Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, has received a 2019 Outstanding Young Scientist Award from the Maryland Science Center/Maryland Academy of Sciences.

House Staff, Fellows and Faculty

James C.O. Harris Jr. (HS, pediatrics; pediatric psychiatry; psychiatry, 1972–76; faculty, psychiatry and behavioral sciences; pediatrics, 1976–present), has received the 2019 William I. Gardner Award from the Center for START Services at the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability. The award recognizes Harris’ national leadership in efforts to improve the lives of people with intellectual/developmental disabilities and behavioral health. Harris is director of the Developmental Neuropsychiatry Clinic at Johns Hopkins.

Gordon L. Klein (HS; fellow, pediatrics, 1977–78), of Dickinson, Texas, has been named an Overseas Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, an inaugural fellow of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, and a member of the editorial board of the Learning Environment of the International Education of Musculoskeletal Research Societies. He is a senior scientist and adjunct professor of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Texas at Galveston.

Henry Brem (fellow, ophthalmology; neurological surgery, 1980; faculty, neurosurgery, 1984–present), director of the Department of Neurosurgery, has received the 2019 Medical Student Teaching Award from the Society of Neurological Surgeons. He also has been inducted into the Baltimore Jewish Hall of Fame.

Sheila K. West (faculty, ophthalmology, 1984–present) has received the 2019 Association for Research and Vision in Ophthalmology’s Mildred Weisenfeld Award for Excellence in Ophthalmology. West, who served as the association’s first female president from 2001 to 2002, is vice chair for research at the Wilmer Eye Institute, with a joint appointment in epidemiology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Last November, she was one of three recipients of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences’ 2018 Al-Sumait Prize for Health. She was honored for her research on ways to improve trichiasis surgery outcomes and eliminate blinding trachoma in Africa.

Richard L. Huganir (faculty, neuroscience, 1988–present), director of the Department of Neuroscience, has received the 2019 Edward M. Scolnick Prize in Neuroscience from the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The prize recognizes Huganir’s research on molecular mechanisms that modulate the communication between neurons in the brain.

Cynthia Wolberger (fellow, biophysics, 1990; faculty, biophysics and biophysical chemistry, 1990–present) was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in April and to the National Academy of Sciences in May. She is developing finely detailed 3D models to study the cellular machinery that controls DNA packaging, revealing how the process may go awry in human disease and to determine how to formulate medications that can control the process.

Maxine L. Stitzer (faculty, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, 1974–present) has received the 2019 Nathan B. Eddy Memorial Award from the College on Problems of Drug Dependence. This lifetime achievement award recognizes Stitzer’s decades of studies focusing on both pharmacological and behavioral approaches to the treatment of substance use disorders. 

David L. Thomas (fellow, infectious diseases, 1990–93; faculty, 1993–present), chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, has received a 2019 Provost’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Mentoring. The award, which comes with a $2,500 honorarium, recognizes Thomas’ tireless commitment to guiding others and providing advice that opens up opportunities to achieve success.

Rachel Green (faculty, molecular biology and genetics, 1998–present) has been elected to the National Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her research uses genetic and biochemical tools to explore the function of ribosomes in bacteria, yeast and mammals.

Vladimir Kefalov (fellow, neuroscience, 1999–2005), of St. Louis, has received the 2019 Bressler Prize for Outstanding Accomplishments in Vision Science from the Lighthouse Guild, a leading nonprofit vision and health care organization. The $54,000 award recognizes Kefalov’s creative retinal research, which has generated discoveries into the mechanisms of many vision disorders, including photoreceptor dysfunction and degeneration. A professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the Washington University School of Medicine, Kefalov’s research is supported by five major grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Colleen Christmas (fellow, geriatrics, 1996–2002; faculty, 1996–present), director of the school of medicine’s Primary Care Leadership Track, has received the American Geriatrics Society’s 2019 Outstanding Mid-Career Clinician Educator of the Year Award. 

Sharon D. Solomon (fellow, ophthalmology, 2002; faculty, 2000–present) was honored with citations by the Maryland General Assembly and Maryland’s governor after she became the first African American promoted to full professor in the history of the Wilmer Eye Institute. She was named the Katharine M. Graham Professor of Ophthalmology.

Kristen L. Nelson (fellow, anesthesiology and critical care medicine, 2004–07; faculty, 2007–present) has been named a 2019 Health Care Hero Physician of the Year by The Daily Record, Maryland’s legal and business newspaper.

Sewon Kang (faculty, 2008–present), director of the Department of Dermatology, served as editor-in-chief of the ninth edition of Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology, considered the world’s foremost textbook in the field. Fifteen members of the Johns Hopkins dermatology department contributed to the book.

Warren L. Grayson (faculty, biomedical engineering, 2009–present) and Sujatha Kannan (faculty, anesthesiology and critical care medicine, pediatric critical care, 2011–present) have been inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. 

Kavita Sharma (HS; fellow, cardiology, 2010–15; faculty, cardiology, 2015–present), director of the Johns Hopkins Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction Program, has received the 2019 Young Author Achievement Award from the American College of Cardiology in recognition of her outstanding research published in one of its journals.

Emmanouil Tampakakis (fellow; faculty, cardiology, 2012–present) received a 2019 Presidential Career Development Award from the American College of Cardiology. This one-year, $70,000 fellowship is to encourage exceptional junior cardiology faculty and provide financial support for their outstanding cardiovascular research.

Col. James R. Ficke (faculty, 2013–present), director of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, has been named to the board of directors of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. A 1983 West Point graduate and 30-year Army veteran, Ficke also is orthopaedist-in-chief of The Johns Hopkins Hospital. He has received numerous awards for his surgical and educational skills, as well as two dozen military decorations and awards, including the Bronze Star and Meritorious Services medals. 

Panagis Galiatsatos (HS; fellow, internal medicine, pulmonary and critical care medicine, 2017–18; faculty, medicine, 2018–present) has been named a 2019 Health Care Hero for Community Outreach and Education by The Daily Record, Maryland’s business and legal newspaper.