Skip to Content

My School of Medicine Columbia

Past Winners

Below is a full list of previous Dean's Distinguished Service Award recipients and Gillespie Award recipients.

Dean’s Distinguished Service Awards

Kerry LaChance Photo


Kerry Lachance, PhD, joined the faculty of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia in 2005 after more than 20 years of dedicated service in the field of psychiatric rehabilitation in Rhode Island, Florida, and South Carolina. In 2009, she became the director of the Rehabilitation Counseling Program and served in that role until 2022. Lachance led the transformation of the graduate program through two successful accreditation cycles, the latter of which coincided with pivotal changes in the field of professional counseling and resulted in an enhanced graduate degree in clinical rehabilitation counseling.

While at the School of Medicine, Lachance was the principal and co-principal investigator of several U.S. Department of Education grants that focused on vocational rehabilitation workforce development. She also served as evaluator on several SAMHSA grants that addressed homelessness among individuals with mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders. As a member of the School of Medicine community, Lachance served in several roles, including as a member of the Graduate Education Task Force, the Culture and Climate Committee and chair of the Carolina Creed Task Force. 

Lachance's passion is counselor education. She developed graduate-level coursework in counseling and rehabilitation services for LGBTQ+ individuals and provided clinical supervision to countless graduate students and post-graduates seeking professional counselor licensure. Lachance retired from full-time employment in 2022 and continues to serve as a School of Medicine adjunct instructor, community consultant and clinical supervisor.

Nicki Holt Photo


Nicole (Nicki) Holt joined the Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia in 2014 as administrative coordinator to the Department Chair, Dr. Mitzi Nagarkatti. In her daily interactions with the diverse department from varied nationalities, ethnicities, religions, disabilities, and cultural backgrounds, she strives to make all feel welcome, to listen and comfort, assist with concerns, and help all feel happier than when they arrived. 

Holt volunteers countless hours weekly to provide for those in need. Through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, she organizes and helps distribute truckloads of canned goods and supplies to families and churches of varied denominations throughout South Carolina. These food items have also helped the School of Medicine international students when funding was interrupted and they were in need. She works with Lutheran Refugee Services to assist in housing for Ukrainian refugees and she also gives of her time each Sunday to volunteer with the soldiers stationed in the U.S. Army at Fort Jackson.

She loves spending time with her husband, children, grandchildren, cooking and sewing.

Katie Stephenson Photo


Kathryn (Katie) A. Stephenson, MD, graduated from Kalamazoo College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Health Sciences and Psychology. She went on to receive her medical degree from the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine before her pediatric residency at Richland Memorial Hospital where she served her last two years as the elected Chief Resident.

After completing her postgraduate training, Stephenson accepted a faculty position with the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia, Department of Pediatrics and has happily remained at the school since 1996. She has held many positions within the department including 20+ years as the associate residency director, division director for both General and Hospital Pediatrics and Child Abuse Pediatrics. In addition, current roles include vice chair for Medical Staff Affairs and associate medical director for Prisma Health Children’s Hospital.  She has an interest in the social determinants that affect the health of patients and families which she addresses as the medical director for CHAMPS, a medicolegal partnership with the USC School of Medicine. She was also one of the original members of the Carolinas Collaborative, a network of advocacy leaders from both Carolinas who believe that promoting the well-being of children requires integration of clinic, community and population health strategies.  

Stephenson lives in Forest Acres with her husband Steve, and her two daughters, Grace and Lizzie, who are students at USC.

Joseph Kelly-Brown Photo


Joe Kelly-Brown is an MD candidate in the Class of 2024 at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in International Business and Finance from USC. After working for nearly five years in corporate finance, he returned to his alma mater to pursue a new career path that would better fit his passion for working with, and advocating for marginalized communities.

Throughout his time at the medical school, Kelly-Brown has continued his advocacy work through various endeavors. He created a partnership with Richland One School District, allowing him to establish a recurring series focused on clinical education and promoting future careers in medicine for minority students. As the president of the school’s Pride Alliance/LGBTQ+ Medicine Interest Group, he partnered with Prisma Health to organize the school’s first-ever involvement in the South Carolina Pride March. Through his research work with The Ohio State University, he led a project centered on the concept of intersectionality in cancer care, finding its place published in Psychooncology and receiving the James E. Clyburn Health Disparities Student Poster Award. Other work that he has been involved with includes speaking as a panelist for the “See Me In STEM” initiative launched at Midlands Technical College and serving as a student representative on the school’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.

Ana Pocivavsek Photo


Ana Pocivavsek, PhD, joined the School of Medicine Columbia Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience as an assistant professor in 2018. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Duke University and her PhD in Neuroscience from Georgetown University, before completing her post-doctoral training at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. 

Pocivavsek studies the impact of sleep disruptions on cognitive dysfunction — particularly during pregnancy, an important period for early brain development. Her work has brought groundbreaking insight to the cause and treatment of cognitive impairment and mental illness, including schizophrenia. She has been very successful in securing major national funding, publishing work in high-impact journals, mentoring students, contributing to a positive and inclusive academic culture, and building a national and international reputation in her field.

Pocivavsek, who was named a 2022 Breakthrough Star at USC from the Office of the Vice President of Research, is an associate member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and serves on the Executive Committee for the International Society for Tryptophan Research. The research program that she has built is focused on investigating novel mechanisms to ameliorate poor sleep quality and cognitive deficits for individuals with neurodevelopment and neuropsychiatric disorders. 

After her participation in the School of Medicine Climate Task Force in 2020, then-Dean Les Hall appointed Pocivavsek as the Chair of the Culture and Climate Committee and her leadership of this highly engaged group has contributed to creating a workplace culture that strives to include and empower all members of the School of Medicine community to contribute to the overall mission. Pocivavsek also seeks to create a welcoming and inclusive culture in her research laboratory, supporting a diverse team amongst her staff and trainees.

Pocivavsek finds her supportive family – husband, two children, parents, and brother – have served as inspiration, propelling her to succeed professionally. 

Gild Cobb-Hunter Photo


Widely respected on both sides of the aisle, the Honorable Gilda Cobb-Hunter also known as “the conscience of the House,” is the longest serving Representative in the South Carolina General Assembly.

Her historic public service portfolio includes becoming the first African American woman elected to statewide office, where she still serves today representing Orangeburg and Dorchester counties; the only freshman legislator appointed to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, where she is now the ranking member and 1st Vice Chairwoman; and the first person of color elected to lead a legislative caucus as former House Minority Leader. She is also a member of the Joint Bond Review Committee.

Her servant leadership extends nationally as former President of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators; National Committeewoman to the Democratic National Committee; member of the National Conference of State Legislatures Executive Committee; and the first woman of color Chair of the Southern Regional Caucus.

Representative Cobb-Hunter’s longstanding commitment to community service and advocacy is reflected in her alignment and active participation on numerous boards and commissions, including the Community Development Advisory Committee for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond; Center for Women Policy Studies; Grassroots Leadership; Planned Parenthood of South Carolina; South Carolina Fair Share; South Carolina Low Income Housing Coalition; and South Carolina SAFEKIDS.

She currently serves as Social Work Administrator & Chief Executive Officer of CASA/Family Systems, a private, not-for-profit organization serving Bamberg, Calhoun and Orangeburg counties whose primary focus is providing prevention, advocacy, and intervention to individuals and families who have been affected by sexual assault, family violence, and/or child abuse and neglect. She is a former teacher and caseworker for the Orangeburg Department of Social Services.

Representative Cobb-Hunter holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Afro-American History from Florida A&M University and a Master of Arts degree in American History from Florida State University.

She is a native of Gifford, Florida, and is proudly married to Dr. Terry K. Hunter, Executive Director of the Fine Arts Cultural Enrichment Teaching Studios.

David Mott Photo


David D. Mott, PhD, received his doctorate degree from Duke University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Emory University. He joined the faculty at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia as an Assistant Professor in 2005 and is currently a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience. His research, focused on the neural mechanisms of emotion, is internationally recognized, and has received continuous funding since his arrival at USC. Mott serves as a grant reviewer for both USC and the NIH, and served as chair of an NIH study section for multiple years. He was selected as a Breakthrough ‘Rising Star’ at USC for contributions and commitment to research and teaching.

Mott significantly contributes to both graduate and medical student teaching at the School of Medicine, with major roles in teaching and directing neuroscience- and pharmacology-based courses. He serves as the graduate director in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience and director of the neuroscience track of the Integrated Biomedical Sciences graduate program. In these roles Mott has updated and remodeled coursework and training in the doctoral neuroscience program. He also serves as a mentor to new faculty and has successfully mentored many graduate and undergraduate students. He has served on numerous committees at the School of Medicine and at the University, where he chaired the Faculty Welfare Committee for several years. Mott was selected as the faculty member of the year by the M2 Class at the USC School of Medicine for excellence in teaching and received the Distinguished Research Service Award from the Vice President for Research for exceptional commitment to USC’s research community through consistent service.

Bob Price Photo


Robert L. Price, PhD, joined the School of Medicine Columbia in 1990 as Director of the Instrumentation Resource Facility (IRF). Dr. Price has led the transformation of this facility from one solely focused on microscopy and centered primarily in the Department of Anatomy to a core facility containing diverse cutting-edge instrumentation utilized by investigators from across the university and South Carolina. Dr. Price has received numerous grants totaling several million dollars for the IRF that support research infrastructure for all university investigators. 

Dr. Price is a dedicated educator who is passionate about training the next generation of biomedical researchers. He developed the Applied Biotechnology Master of Science Concentration that helps students gain extensive hands-on experience in research techniques and become competitive for research positions within academia and industry. Dr. Price annually teaches three hands-on technical courses in the program and spends countless hours providing one-on-one training to students in the IRF.

Dr. Price has established a national reputation as a leader in the microscopy field and has greatly impacted the training of countless junior scientists. Dr. Price has authored one of the most widely utilized books on confocal microscopy, Basic Confocal Microscopy, and authored over 100 peer reviewed articles. He has served as the President of the Microscopy Society of America, the largest organization in the country focused on the advancement of microscopy and microanalysis. He served as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Microscopy and Microanalysis for almost a decade and is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Microscopy Today.

Brandon Gettleman Photo


Brandon Gettleman is an MD candidate in the Class of 2024. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Health Sciences at Chapman University. Community service has been an integral piece of his time in Columbia. Since 2019, he has worked closely with the foundation Curing Kids Cancer and co-founded the Young Professionals Group.  

The focus of his philanthropic endeavor is to create a reproducible, turn-key 5k and family fun day. The first installment in Columbia in 2021, the Run With All Your Heart 5K Fun Run, raised over $20,000, all of which was contributed directly to Prisma Health Midlands for pediatrics research. He is now the lead research fellow for the Musculoskeletal Oncology Division of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. While assisting the new leadership team in Columbia for this year’s event, he has also expanded to a second event in Los Angeles. Mr. Gettleman aspires to create a 5k tour driven by medical students to support pediatric research and the Curing Kids Cancer foundation.

Sophia Papelis photo


Sophia Papelis is an MD program candidate in the Class of 2024. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering and Master of Science in Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurial Engineering at the University of South Carolina. 

As a lifelong advocate for health and wellness, Papelis has focused her service activities in these areas during medical school. As president of the HEALthy Strides student organization, she led the return of the Healthy Strides 5K in 2022 after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19. She led a team of more than 20 volunteers that assisted in planning, promoting and executing the Healthy Strides run/walk. She secured sponsorship from local businesses and coordinated the designing and printing of T-shirts, the blocking off of streets for race day, and the provision of healthy food options for participants. Papelis met with Shandon Neighborhood leaders to get approval for the race and the route. The event included 148 participants and more than $6,000 was raised for Food Share South Carolina. This was an enormous event to plan and execute. Papelis did this with solid leadership and a passion for supporting Food Share. Papelis is also a student wellness leader within the School of Medicine Academic Success and Wellness Center and is a member of the School of Medicine Wellness Committee.

Sarah Tryon Photo


Sarah C. Tryon, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Medicine Columbia Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience. Dr. Tryon holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Neuroscience and German Studies from Furman University, a Doctorate in Exercise Science from the University of South Carolina (UofSC), and was a Fulbright Student Grant Recipient to Germany. She has encouraged the next generation to become leaders in neuroscience research and medicine through local and state-wide neuroscience programs that she has created and directed. 

Dr. Tryon was the Founding President of the Graduate Association for Brain Awareness (GABA) at UofSC and now serves on the steering committee that organizes Brain Awareness Week activities in schools across the region. She has served as the lead coordinator for the South Carolina Brain Bee neuroscience competition for high school students since 2020. She has received two funded awards from the DANA Foundation to support S.C. Brain Bee activities and to develop neuroSC, the first South Carolina-wide high school neuroscience course. 

Now permanent programs, these initiatives provide leadership and volunteer opportunities to UofSC students and faculty and have introduced over 200 K-12 students in South Carolina to neuroscience education and career paths. Dr. Tryon is also involved in neuroscience outreach at the national level by currently serving as Co-Chair of the Public Policy Committee for the international organization, Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience.

Chuck Carter Photo


Charles J. Carter, Jr., MD, serves as the Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education, Regional Graduate Medical Education (GME) Executive and Designated Institutional Official (DIO), Prisma Health Midlands, and Academic Vice Chair, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. A graduate of the School of Medicine Columbia, he completed his Family Medicine residency at Palmetto Health Richland Hospital and a fellowship at Georgetown University.

Dr. Carter helped establish the South Carolina Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare (CRPH) and served as its first director. Collaborating with the CRPH to develop policy and improve healthcare delivery in rural South Carolina has been a consistent theme of his work. He secured substantial funding and worked as part of the CRPH team starting numerous programs including rural health workforce loans, statewide innovation grants, clinical outreach, and the rural residency program in Sumter. This year he developed a significant Loan Repayment Award Program to encourage family medicine physician development and placement into rural counties of South Carolina. Due to this program, the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine was able to retain two family medicine residency program graduates and place them in underserved rural areas.

Dr. Carter has been instrumental in the development of a collaborative relationship with Lexington Medical Center for ongoing training of learners in undergraduate and graduate medical education. He provided strong leadership with a delicate balance of communication and administrative skill when advocating for the training needs of all the learners. Dr. Carter brought the group together, found a solution, and laid the groundwork for an ongoing transformative relationship.

Carol McMahon Photo


Carol L. McMahon, MD, is the Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion and Clinical Associate Professor of Pathology in the School of Medicine Columbia Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology. She received her medical degree from Howard University and completed her residency in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology at Howard. She joined the School of Medicine Columbia faculty in 1994 and has held the position of Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion since its inception in 1996. 

When the medical school was founded it was with the understanding that it would help to recruit and train more underrepresented minorities to practice medicine. Dean Larry Faulkner quickly realized Dr. McMahon's talents and appointed her as the first Assistant Dean for Minority Affairs. Dr. McMahon, now with the assistance of Dr. Robert Rhinehart, is the face of recruitment of underrepresented minorities. For most of her time on faculty she was a one-woman show who almost single handedly significantly increased the number of underrepresented minority physicians in South Carolina. She meets with middle and high school students, works with advisors at historically black colleges and universities, organizes health fairs in underserved communities, gives personal attention to medical school applicants and counsels current students. 

As an Admissions Committee member, Dr. McMahon advocates for minority applicants and works hard to recruit them. Through her efforts the number of minority applicants has grown and is on track this year to have 10 percent of the incoming class as underrepresented minority students. She also helped to establish the Everett L. Dargan Endowed Scholarship, the first SOMC scholarship for underrepresented minority students.

Eileen Korpita Photo


Eileen G. Korpita served as the founding director of the Office of University of South Carolina (UofSC) Pre-Professional Advising for 25 years. She recently retired, but still works part-time as a health professions advisor for the office. As a health professions advisor she has worked with tens of thousands of undergraduate students throughout her career, including pre-med, pre-PA, and pre-dental students, the vast majority being pre-med.

Ms. Korpita has provided guidance and support to hundreds of UofSC undergraduate students who eventually matriculated to the School of Medicine Columbia as medical students. She has advanced the medical school’s mission by providing opportunities for undergraduate students to spend time at the medical school, by having programs that allow current medical students to interact with undergraduate students, and by sponsoring forums where School of Medicine faculty and staff members promote the medical school program. She has partnered with the School of Medicine Columbia in hosting the Pre-Medical Fair, has allowed students from the PACES Summer Recruitment Program to visit the medical school, and has been the primary contact to select undergraduate students for the Finding Your Future Program. 

The School of Medicine has been the benefactor of Ms. Korpita’s leadership over the years. Since the medical school typically enrolls approximately 35 percent of its class from the main campus, Korpita has influenced several hundred students during her tenure. She has been a true friend to the School of Medicine Columbia and significantly contributed to its educational mission. 

James Fadel Photo


James R. Fadel, Professor, Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience, earned a PhD in Neuroscience from Ohio State University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Vanderbilt University before joining the School of Medicine Columbia as an Assistant Professor in 2002.  

Dr. Fadel significantly contributes to the School of Medicine teaching mission, with major roles in teaching and directing courses in neuroscience-based courses. He played a critical role in the revision of the MD program second-year curriculum by leading the development of the new Neuroscience Block and serving as the inaugural block director. Dr. Fadel also serves as a teaching mentor to new instructors and course directors and is a skilled mentor for many students and postdoctoral fellows.

Dr. Fadel tirelessly supports the school in administrative roles, including serving as vice-chair of the department. He played a critical leadership role in chairing the Curriculum Committee during the revamping of the MD program curriculum and served on the Curriculum Innovation Task Force. 

His research, focused on neural mechanisms of aging and cognitive decline, is internationally recognized and has received continuous extramural funding since his arrival at UofSC.  Dr. Fadel has received the UofSC Educational Foundation Award for Research in Health Sciences and serves on the Editorial Board for the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience and the National Scientific Advisory Council for the American Federation for Aging Research. 

Morris Blachman

Career Achievement Award

Morris J. Blachman, PhD
Office of Continuous Professional Development and Strategic Affairs

Morris J. Blachman, PhD, joined the University of South Carolina in 1979 and dedicated two decades to teaching and research in international studies, with a specialization in Latin America. He became internationally recognized as a scholar and consultant on leadership and institutional effectiveness. In 1996 he joined the School of Medicine Columbia as a clinical professor and the assistant dean in the Office of Continuous Professional Development and Strategic Affairs. He was promoted to associate dean in 2012. 

Over the past decade Dr. Blachman has assisted Palmetto Health, now Prisma Health, with physician executive development. He has been recognized as a national leader in continuing medical education, being named as an inaugural fellow of the Society for Academic Continuing Medical Education (SACME), and receiving the prestigious Outstanding Service Award for SACME. 

Dr. Blachman has co-authored four books and published over 40 peer-reviewed articles. He has played key roles in the development of numerous School of Medicine strategic plans, mentored numerous faculty and staff, and worked with virtually every department on leadership development and/or strategic planning. Dr. Blachman retired in 2020 and is Distinguished Professor Emeritus.

Jason Hawn

Community Service Award

Jason L. Hawn, MD
Department of Pediatrics

Jason L. Hawn, MD, joined the School of Medicine Columbia Department of Pediatrics as an assistant professor of clinical pediatrics in 2007. A magna cum laude graduate of Wofford College, Dr. Hawn earned a doctor of medicine degree from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Columbia. He completed his pediatric residency at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine/Palmetto Health, where he served as Chief Resident of Pediatrics. Dr. Hawn is board certified in general pediatrics with special interest in hospital medicine and is the Medical Director for the Prisma Health Down Syndrome Clinic.

Dr. Hawn has worked tirelessly in supporting children in the community with their Make-A-Wish requests by giving his time and donations to Make-A-Wish South Carolina. As the medical director of the Down Syndrome Clinic, Dr. Hawn has strongly supported events which help children with Down syndrome and given presentations to Family Connection of South Carolina and to families and clinicians.

Berry Campbell

Dean's Leadership Award

Berry A. Campbell, MD
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Berry A. Campbell, MD, completed his Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellowship at the Medical University of South Carolina. He served in multiple positions at the University of Kentucky at St. Joseph East in Lexington.  Dr. Campbell joined the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia faculty in 2015 and was named Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2020. 

Dr. Campbell has been clinically active his entire career, dedicating his life to the well-being of those patients in greatest need. Since arriving in Columbia, he has built a large referral network, developed an outreach clinic for pregnant diabetics in Sumter, and continues to grow new practices with inclusion of midwives in the Midlands. During the COVID-19 pandemic he deftly managed the clinical impact by maintaining focus on the provision of safe obstetric care and acute gynecological services despite impacted staffing and PPE shortages.

Dr. Campbell has been involved in training residents, medical students and sonographers and received countless teaching awards. Patients, colleagues, and trainees are appreciative of his expertise and guidance.

Kevin LeBlanc

Dean's Leadership Award

Kevin J. LeBlanc, PhD, MNA, CRNA
Nurse Anesthesia Program

Kevin J. LeBlanc, PhD, MNA, CRNA, is the current Program Director for the Graduate Program in Nurse Anesthesia and assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience. He earned his doctorate and master’s degrees from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia in Biomedical Science and Nurse Anesthesia respectively. He continues to practice anesthesia at Prisma Health where he has served for the past 15 years.

Dr. LeBlanc has been instrumental in guiding the nurse anesthesia program through a national accreditation and leading the program’s transition to a doctoral degree from the master’s degree on both the Columbia and Greenville campuses. He successfully directed the program’s transition to a doctoral degree while still directing the master’s program and navigating the challenges of securing hands-on clinical training for learners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. LeBlanc serves on several committees at the School of Medicine and University. Education remains a central focus for Dr. LeBlanc as he lectures in both medical and graduate education while mentoring anesthesia students in clinical practice.

Kari-Claudia Allen

Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Award

Kari-Claudia Allen, MD
Department of Family and Preventive Medicine

Kari-Claudia Allen, MD, is a board-certified family medicine physician, motivational coach, speaker, author, and community activist. She attended the Historically Black University, North Carolina Central University and obtained her MD and Master of Public Health at Boston University School of Medicine. She completed her residency at the Prisma Health-University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia Family Medicine Residency Program, where she currently serves as the Associate Program Director. 

Dr. Allen established the department’s first Diversity Taskforce which resulted in its first longitudinal LGBTQ curriculum. She significantly increased the diversity of the residency program by initiating a pipeline with underrepresented minority medical students and mentoring them in the Student National Medical Association chapter. She also revamped the program’s admissions process for increased recruitment of diverse candidates during the match. The Family Medicine Residency Program is now the most diverse residency program at Prisma Health Midlands Columbia. She also created the department’s inaugural racial justice curriculum and has given equity grand rounds, and provided lectures on bias and racism in medicine for medical and graduate students, School of Medicine departments and other universities. 

Dr. Allen’s special interests include maternal mortality, antiracism and mindfulness, and she published her first book “Envision: A Vision Journal on Loving Yourself Whole” in 2020. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and serves on various community boards in Columbia.

Laura Howell

Sustained School of Medicine Service Award

Laura Howell
School of Medicine Library

Laura Howell is the Acquisitions and Cataloging Specialist at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia Library.  She joined UofSC in 1998. Ms. Howell’s service has included serving on the Library’s Collection Development Committee, serving on the School of Medicine Wellness Promotion Committee and being a UofSC Wellness Ambassador for the Library.  She has also coordinated numerous community service projects for the library including teams for the American Heart Walk and Prisma Health Walk for Life, as well as projects benefitting Prisma Health Children’s Hospital - Midlands.

Volunteering to assist with projects outside her normal job duties is something Ms. Howell enjoys.  These include - White Coat Picture Day, 2020 Drive-Thru Diploma Pick-up and various book signings and lectures. She is currently maintaining the School of Medicine Wellness Resources page on the School of Medicine COVID-19 website.

Lawrence Reagan

Sustained School of Medicine Service Award

Lawrence P. Reagan, PhD
Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience

Lawrence P. Reagan, PhD, received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Rockefeller University. He joined the faculty at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia as an Assistant Professor in 2002 and is currently a tenured Professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience. 

Dr. Reagan is also a Research Health Scientist with the Columbia VA Health Care System. His research focuses on the effects of metabolic and psychosocial stress on brain plasticity. He is a recipient of the USC Educational Foundation Award for Research in Health Sciences and serves as an Associate Editor for Physiology & Behavior and Neurobiology of Stress

Dr. Reagan previously served as the course director for medical pharmacology and is currently a block director for several courses taken by second year medical students. He has received numerous teaching awards, including induction into the AOA Medical Honor Society.

Alyssa Lee

Community Service Award

Alyssa Lee, MS

Alyssa Lee, MS, is an MD program candidate in the Class of 2022. She received her master’s degree at Boston University School of Medicine before returning to her home state of South Carolina to pursue a medical career. Lee helped establish the School of Medicine Community Service Group. As president, she encouraged student involvement with the Red Cross by organizing and planning blood drives on campus. She also established a new partnership blood drive with the Columbia VA Health Care System, which led to the VA being awarded a grant for future Go Red Blood Drive events. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Lee served as project lead for the Community Food Outreach Team for the COVID-19 Midlands Outreach initiative. She managed a team of 30 volunteers to help the Salvation Army serve meals at Transitions, a local homeless shelter, and FoodShare SC. The team served every meal for a month at Transitions, and 500 food boxes were assembled and delivered to families in need through FoodShare SC, which resulted in the Salvation Army awarding the School of Medicine a plaque to demonstrate their gratitude.

Christina Romano

Community Service Award

Christina Najjar Romano, BS

Christina Najjar Romano, BS, is an MD program candidate in the Class of 2022. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and molecular biology with research distinction. She and her husband, Ryan Romano, moved to South Carolina after graduation to start their respective doctoral trainings in medicine and law at the University of South Carolina.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Romano spearheaded and organized, with the help of the School of Medicine Columbia and the United Way of the Midlands, an outreach initiative with the Salvation Army, The Friendship, Midlands Gives Fundraiser, FoodShare SC, Transitions, and Prisma Health. With roughly 80 volunteers divided into three teams, the UofSC School of Medicine COVID-19 Midlands Outreach group was able to pack and deliver 500 meal boxes, pack 800 hygiene kits, deliver groceries for seniors, serve a month of meals, deliver community thank you notes and PPE donations to health care workers, and aid in raising $12,000. The school now has permanent relationships with these organizations and is incorporating more volunteer opportunities into student activities. 

Bryan Holloman

Community Service Award

Bryan L. Holloman, MSc

Bryan L. Holloman, MSc, is a PhD candidate in immunology at the School of Medicine. He also is a decorated Army veteran, having completed a tour of duty (Global War on Terrorism), an entrepreneur, and an adjunct biology instructor at the University of Maryland Global Campus. He received his master's degree in biotechnology from Fort Valley State University and his bachelor's degree in biology from Columbus State University. Throughout his research career, Holloman's studies have been focused on medicinal plants. For his doctoral studies, Holloman is studying the relationship between plant-derived compounds and the adaptive immune system using both transplant rejection and acute lung injury murine models.

Holloman is an activist who fights social injustice and a leader who has organized community-based events to promote STEAM careers in low-income communities. Holloman was selected to participate in UofSC's 2020-21 Graduate Civic Scholars program, which provides opportunities for interdisciplinary research, involvement in social justice initiatives, and an enhanced understanding of the role of scholarship in addressing societal needs.

Teshia McSwain

Community Service Award

Teshia S. McSwain, MBA, MSOL

Teshia S. McSwain, MBA, MSOL, is a fiscal analyst in the Office of the Dean at the UofSC School of Medicine. She volunteers with two community organizations, Path2Redemption and Just Leadership USA (JLUSA). Path2Redemption provides services for those returning to society after incarceration. Their objective is to reduce recidivism rates by providing a support system and helping people understand their emotions, fears, and triggers that resurface during transition. They provide resources for expungements, job placement, tools for emotional intelligence, budgeting, ACA health care enrollment, work clothing, and voter registration information. Path2Redemption also feeds and provides masks, water and sanitizer to the homeless population in Columbia.

Because many issues surrounding crime are birthed from economic disparities, McSwain works with JLUSA to help people with convictions become gainfully employed. Last year she worked to get the Ban the Box ordinance passed in cities across South Carolina, which removes the question from a job application asking if a person has a criminal record. It doesn’t eliminate background checks, but affords a person the opportunity for an interview. During the interview, the applicant can explain to the employer the background check results and what they have done since the conviction to better themselves.

Helmut Albrecht

Dean’s Leadership Award

Helmut Albrecht, MD

Helmut Albrecht, MD, is the current Heyward Gibbes Distinguished Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia. He is an infectious diseases physician with Prisma Health Medical Group, and is the former chair of the Department of Internal Medicine. He received his medical degree from the University of Hamburg, Germany, and completed residencies at the University of Hamburg and Emory University. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Albrecht has served as a regional and national leader. His team conducted clinical drug trials, developed a treatment registry, and created treatment algorithms. He was heavily involved with developing the convalescent plasma program at Prisma Health, which was the first in the state to recruit donors and the first to give convalescent plasma. Albrecht has educated others on COVID-19 through countless print and broadcast interviews with local and national outlets including ABC News. He has spoken on panels and provided evidence-based information to audiences both internal and external to the university. By serving as a spokesman, Albrecht has been an ambassador of the School of Medicine and helped highlight the level of expertise within the school.

Claudia Grillo

Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Award

Claudia A. Grillo, PhD

Claudia A. Grillo, PhD, is a research associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience. She earned her doctorate from Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina. When Grillo joined the School of Medicine in 2003, she was particularly interested in training students from under-represented groups.

In 2013, she joined Broadening the Representation of Academic Investigators in NeuroScience (BRAINS), a University of Washington-based, and NIH-funded program designed to improve the career advancement of neuroscience scholars from under-represented groups. Grillo initiated her own program, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), with the objective of providing research experience for college students from under-represented groups. Through this NSF grant, Grillo created a UofSC- College of Charleston Internship Program that provides a laboratory research experience with stipend support for college students from under-represented groups. Since the initiation of the program, she has successfully recruited six undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds. The success of these students is a direct reflection of Grillo’s passion for inclusion and diversity in the biomedical sciences.

Holly Lavoie

Sustained School of Medicine Service Award

Holly A. LaVoie, PhD

Holly A. LaVoie, PhD, is currently a professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy and the course director for Medical Microscopic Anatomy. She joined the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia faculty in 1999, and has taught first-year medical students microanatomy every year since then. She also teaches graduate and undergraduate courses. LaVoie’s research focuses on female reproductive health including ovarian function, fertility, and the effects of pregnancy and lactation on the heart. 

LaVoie’s service has included the School of Medicine Strategic Planning Steering and Education Committees, and the University Committee on Tenure and Promotion. She currently serves as chair of the School of Medicine Basic Science Unit Tenure and Promotion Committee and is a member of the Curriculum Committee. She serves as a grant reviewer for USDA and NIH. She has served on the council and is currently treasurer-elect for the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine. She was associate editor for Experimental Biology and Medicine, served on the editorial board for Biology of Reproduction, and is associate editor for the journal Reproduction. She is the incoming program coordinator for the SC-INBRE grant.

Everett Dargan

Friend of the School of Medicine Award

Everett L. Dargan, MD, FACS

Everett L. Dargan, MD, FACS, is a retired cardio-thoracic surgeon and educator. Born in Columbia, S.C., he earned a scholarship to Morehouse College at the age of 15. He later graduated from the University of Buffalo with a BA in biology and from Howard University College of Medicine with First Prize honors. Following his internship at Brooklyn’s Kings County Hospital, he was chief resident at Albert Einstein College of Medicine Bronx Municipal Hospital. Dargan served as US Air Force captain and commander of the 3910th Hospital in Mildenhall/Lakenheath during the Korean War. He completed cardiovascular and thoracic specialty training at Boston City Hospital, then returned to New York to teach at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine as an associate professor of surgery. He also served as chief of surgery at Sydenham Hospital, an executive committee member of the medical staff at the Hospital for Joint Diseases, and chief of surgery at Lincoln Hospital.

Dargan continued his deep commitments to providing quality medical care to military veterans and to minority and underserved communities when he returned to Columbia in 1978. He worked for decades at Dorn VA Medical Center, at Richland Memorial Hospital as chief of staff, and as clinical associate professor at the School of Medicine. He’s been recognized with the Order of the Palmetto, by Kappa Pi and Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor societies, as a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and received a Congressional tribute from Congressman James Clyburn in 2005.

In 2005, the School of Medicine established a scholarship to recruit underrepresented minority students to honor Dargan’s legacy as a teacher and physician. Understanding how important scholarships are to recruiting talented minority students, Dargan personally contributed a significant amount to seed the scholarship. The Dargan Scholarship supports three students per year and enables the School of Medicine to attract and retain top-ranked students. Dr. Dargan’s support of the School of Medicine’s educational mission significantly impacts the lives of medical students, future physicians, and patients in South Carolina.

John Yarborough

Friend of the School of Medicine Award

John W. Yarbrough, MD, FACS

John W. Yarbrough, MD, FACS, has served as an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy at the School of Medicine since 2011. He received his MD degree from the Bowman Gray School of Medicine and completed a residency in general and thoracic surgery at Duke University. He joined a private practice of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery in Greensboro, North Carolina, and then joined the University of Nebraska Medical Center as an assistant professor of surgery. He moved to Columbia to join Thoracic and Cardiovascular Associates, where he practiced at Providence Hospital until 2007. Upon retirement from clinical practice he began volunteering, first in the School of Medicine Department of Radiology, and then in the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy. 

For the past ten years, Yarbrough has tirelessly volunteered as a mentor and assistant in the School of Medicine gross anatomy courses. He interacts with all students - medical, physician assistant, graduate, and physical therapy students - and is present for lectures and labs. In the lab, Yarbrough circulates from table to table, helps the students become at ease and familiar with the art of dissection, quizzes the students, and challenges the students to think critically and clinically. Yarbrough’s service has significantly contributed to the advancement of the School of Medicine’s educational mission and helped prepare the next generation of South Carolina health care professionals.

Janice Edwards

Career Achievement Award

Janice G. Edwards, MS, CGC

Janice G. Edwards, MS, CGC, is a clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and director of the School of Medicine’s Genetic Counseling Program. She has practiced as a genetic counselor for nearly 40 years. As a clinician educator, she has trained and mentored over 250 genetic counselors.

Edwards was instrumental in developing the curriculum for the Genetic Counseling program, which accepted its first class in 1985. The program was the first in the Southeast and one of only ten programs nationally when it began. Edwards is founding president of the Transnational Alliance for Genetic Counseling, a network of genetic counselor education programs from more than 20 countries. She has served on the boards of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC), the American Board of Genetic Counseling, and the Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors. The NSGC has honored her with their Regional Leadership and International Leader Awards. Edwards also has received the School of Medicine Teaching Advancement Award.

Edwards has been committed to supporting the integration of genetics and genomics into medicine. Her work with multiple national organizations has facilitated consensus statements on emerging issues in prenatal genetic testing. She served on the Committee for the Protection of Genetic Privacy, which developed South Carolina legislation preventing discrimination in health insurance. Edwards also has directed genetic education conferences regionally, nationally, and internationally.

James Stallworth

Career Achievement Award

James R. Stallworth, MD, FAAP

James R. Stallworth, MD, FAAP, is a professor, vice chairman for education and faculty development, and clerkship director in the Department of Pediatrics. He also is assistant dean of admissions/director of student recruitment for the School of Medicine. As a premier teacher, he’s been recognized more than 40 times through teaching awards including the O’Neill Barrett Teaching Award, Faculty Teacher of the Year, and Michael Mungo Graduate Teaching Award. Additionally, he's received the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glazer Distinguished Teacher Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

During his leadership as the pediatrics clerkship director since 1986, medical students have maintained scores on the NBME shelf test consistently above the national average, and the clerkship has been rated by students as the top clerkship 27 of the last 29 years. Stallworth also is the medical director for the Physician Assistant program and leads the successful Finding Your Future shadowing program for prospective medical students.

Stallworth has been a leader in the South Carolina chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, chairing three committees, and receiving the President’s Award and the Special Achievement Award. Stallworth’s scholarly activities include more than 30 publications in peer-reviewed journals, seven book chapters, more than ten grants exceeding two million dollars and invited presentations at more than 110 state, regional, and national meetings.


Career Achievement Award

Richard L. Frierson, MD
Clinical Professor, Vice Chair of Education, Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Science

Richard L. Frierson, M.D., has made significant contributions to the field of psychiatry and forensic psychiatry, over his 26-year career as both a member of the faculty and an alumnus of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia. As the Palmetto Health-USC School of Medicine Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship Program Director, Frierson has been directly responsible for the education of 30 forensic trainees and countless residents who have gone on to have successful careers.

In addition to his primary duties with the fellowship program, he has embraced additional duties as the vice chairman for education within the Department of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Science. He is responsible for all medical student education, residency training programs, and fellowship training programs in the department. Frierson also has edited two nationally recognized psychiatry textbooks and authored more than 40 publications in national peer-reviewed journals and book chapters on various topics in general and forensic psychiatry. At the national-level, Frierson currently serves as president of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (AAPL), the largest forensic psychiatry organization in the United States. He also is a past president of the Association of Directors of Forensic Psychiatry Fellowships, and has received several national awards.


Community Service Award

Anil V. Yallapragada, MD
Assistant Professor, Neurology
Medical Director, Palmetto Health Stroke Center

Anil Yallapragada, M.D., is a neurologist with Palmetto Health-USC Neurology, and currently serves as medical director of the Prisma Health - Midlands Stroke Center. He also is an assistant professor of neurology at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia. He received his medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, completed a neurology residency at the University of Chicago, and a vascular neurology fellowship at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Ronald Reagan Medical Center.

In 2017, Yallapragada started the Holy Stroke initiative to inspire and uplift his community, connecting religious and health care organizations. In doing so, he hopes to prevent strokes, one church at a time. He organized a team of volunteers (Prisma Health nurses and phlebotomists and School of Medicine and UofSC undergraduate students) that has visited over 15 churches in the Midlands. The team delivers health lectures, conducts health assessments, performs blood draws,and provides educational booklets on stroke awareness. Yallapragada also is currently the President of the Midlands American Heart Association board and chair of the DHEC Stroke Advisory council, helping to shape both primary prevention and improve stroke outcomes throughout South Carolina.


Dean’s Leadership Award

William D. Anderson III, MD
Clinical Professor, Family and Preventive Medicine
Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer

William D. Anderson III, M.D., serves as the associate dean for clinical affairs and chief medical officer for Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group and the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. A graduate of the University of South Carolina Honors College in Columbia, he received his medical degree from and completed his family medicine residency training at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. He received his master's degree in health care management from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Anderson was heavily involved in creating and implementing the vision to create the Palmetto Health-Medical Group. He provided key leadership during the clinical integration and contributed greatly to the strategic decisions for the new organization. Anderson’s strong leadership has contributed greatly to the service and education missions of the School of Medicine. He has demonstrated outstanding commitment to a high quality medical learning environment for medical students and residents and consistently provided strategic oversight of clinical policies for School of Medicine faculty. As founder of the South Carolina Center for Rural and Primary Health Care, he has helped secure over $30 million in resources to support health professions education, primary and specialty care, health workforce development and innovations for South Carolina's rural communities.


Dean’s Leadership Award

Charles T. McElmurray, MD
Clinical Associate Professor, Family and Preventive Medicine
John A. Martin Primary Health Care Center

Charles McElmurray, M.D., has been on faculty with the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia since 1992, serving as clinical faculty within the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. McElmurray earned his medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston and completed his residency at Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System.

Clinically, McElmurray has been a full-spectrum family medicine physician in the rural town of Winnsboro, S.C., for more than 25 years. He was the founding physician of the John A Martin Primary Care Center, a unique collaboration between the several of the UofSC health science programs and community leaders to provide primary care services and health training and research in the area. Winnsboro is a health care shortage area, and for much of the past 27 years McElmurray has been the only prenatal care provider in the entire county. McElmurray has been involved in training medical, pharmacy, social work, nursing, and public health students, and has mentored more than 1,400 health professional students during his career. As a result of McElmurray’s commitment to teaching excellence, the center was recently approved as a continuity training site for family medicine residents beginning in 2020.


Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Award

Edie C. Goldsmith, PhD
Professor, Cell Biology and Anatomy
SC INBRE Program Director

Edie Goldsmith, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Cell Biology & Anatomy. She also serves as director of the biomedical science graduate program and the postdoctoral academic career development program. In 2017, she was named program director for the South Carolina IDeA Networks for Biomedical Research Excellence (SC INBRE) Program. Goldsmith earned her Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and completed a fellowship at the University of South Carolina.

SC INBRE, a National Institutes of Health multi-million dollar, five-year, renewable award program, gives institutional support to 13 member institutions to supports their biomedical research programs. Among these institutions are SC State and Claflin, which both have historically black college and university (HBCU) designation. The program also supports Converse College, a women's college, and Francis Marion University, which has a large population (>35%) of first generation college students. The program also mentors four outreach institutions including Benedict College, which also has HBCU designation. During the current funding cycle (2015 to date), more than 415 students have received training in SC INBRE labs. Of these, more than 175 were males, more than 215 were females, and more than 33 percent were underrepresented minorities. 


Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Award

Lucia Pirisi-Creek, MD
Professor, Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology
SC INBRE Program Coordinator

Lucia Pirisi-Creek, M.D., is a professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology. She is also the program coordinator for the South Carolina IDeA Networks for Biomedical Research Excellence (SC INBRE) Program. Pirisi-Creek served as SC INBRE’s program director from 2006 until 2017, and oversaw the program through two competitive renewals. She earned her medical degree from Universita` degli Studi di Sassari in Sassari, Italy.

SC INBRE, a National Institutes of Health multi-million dollar, five-year, renewable award program, gives institutional support to 13 member institutions to supports their biomedical research programs. Among these institutions are SC State and Claflin, which both have historically black college and university (HBCU) designation. The program also supports Converse College, a women's college, and Francis Marion University, which has a large population (>35%) of first generation college students. The program also mentors four outreach institution including Benedict College, which also has HBCU designation. During the current funding cycle (2015 to date), more than 415 students have received training in SC INBRE labs. Of these, more than 175 were males, more than 215 were females, and more than 33 percent were underrepresented minorities. 


Friend of the School of Medicine Award

David L. Omura, DPT, MHA, MS
Director/CEO, Columbia VA Healthcare System and William Jennings Bryan Dorn Veterans Affairs Medical Center

David L. Omura, D.P.T., M.H.A., M.S., is director and CEO of the Columbia VA Healthcare System and the William Jennings Bryan Dorn Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Omura provides leadership over a health care system that includes a medical center that is located in Columbia, SC; and seven community-based outpatient clinics that cover the majority of the state of South Carolina. This health care system serves more than 83,000 Veterans, is staffed by more than 2,900 employees, and has an operating budget of $570 million.

The Columbia VA Health Care System (William Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center) has been an invaluable partner to the School of Medicine for the past 45 years, and has significantly contributed to the advancement of the School of Medicine's education and research missions. Serving as a major clinical training site for our medical students, the medical staff are valued members of the School of Medicine faculty and contribute many hours to the education of our students through clinical supervision, lecture, small group facilitation, and committee service. Earlier this year, the Columbia VA Health Care System and the SOM partnered to open a state-of-the art simulation center. The facility allows participants to engage in collaborative, multidisciplinary simulation teaching and learning. 


Sustained School of Medicine Service Award

Alexander J. McDonald, PhD
Professor, Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience

Alexander J. McDonald, Ph.D., is currently a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology & Neuroscience. He joined the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia faculty as an assistant professor in 1978, just a year after the school accepted its first class of medical students. Thus, he has taught nearly every UofSC School of Medicine student since the school opened.

McDonald has authored more than one hundred scholarly articles on the anatomy and function of the brain, specifically the brain area called the amygdala. He is a world-renowned authority on amygdalar anatomy, as demonstrated by his numerous speaking invitations to specialized meetings on the topic. He has taught medical neuroanatomy to medical and graduate students and currently serves as the course director for the Fundamental Neuroscience I course for graduate students. Continuously funded by extramural support from the NIH since 1983, McDonald’s extensive research efforts and reputation have earned him both the USC Educational Foundation Research Award in the Health Sciences and the School of Medicine Research Advancement Award.

Harold Friedman

Harold I. Friedman, MD, PhD, Professor of Surgery

Harold I. Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., joined the School of Medicine faculty in 1984 as the founding chief of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in the Department of Surgery. He became a Professor of Surgery in 1990. He also serves as the program director for the Palmetto Health/School of Medicine Integrated Plastic Surgery Training Program.

Friedman has made extensive contributions in clinical practice, medical education, research and leadership in his profession. He has run a busy clinical practice at Palmetto Health Richland and the Dorn VA Medical Center. He also has expanded his practice to underserved communities in the Midlands to increase access to plastic surgery clinical care. 

Friedman has been actively involved with third and fourth year medical students on surgery rotations and gets high teaching marks from them as well as from his residents. He has served as councilor in the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and director of the Surgical Subspecialties Clerkship. 

Friedman was instrumental in starting the plastic surgery residency program. He has been a strong mentor for over 100 general surgery residents in the Palmetto Health/School of Medicine General Surgery Program, providing motivation and supportive peer guidance to help them excel professionally. As a result of serving as such an excellent role model, many residents have chosen to pursue careers in plastic surgery. 

His research focuses on implantable materials and soft tissue interactions. He has obtained over $900,000 in grants and maintains an active research lab. He is well published with six book chapters, 66 publications, 34 abstracts and two patents.  Friedman has served on editorial boards for ten national journals and reviewed over 200 articles. He also has served on three dissertation committees and mentored numerous students in basic science research.

Friedman has shown maturity in leadership in multiple professional societies. He has served as president of both the South Carolina Society of Plastic Surgeons and the Southeastern Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons. Nationally, he has been active with the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Society and the American College of Surgeons. He has served as chairman of the government affairs committee for cleft palate and craniofacial anomalies  to improve access and care in the Southeast.

Friedman’s selfless dedication to his patients, students, residents and colleagues and the significant contributions to his profession during his 34 year career are a testament to his limitless energy and outstanding commitment to the School of Medicine.

Rajeev Bais

Rajeev K. Bais, MD, MPH Assistant Professor of Infectious Diseases, Internal Medicine

Rajeev Bais, M.D., M.P.H., joined the faculty of the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, in 2016. Since joining the faculty, Bais has successfully launched the Carolina Survivor Clinic (CSC), the only refugee health clinic within South Carolina. CSC supports 300 patients and 60 families from countries in all of the continents. CSC services provide patient care in the traditional clinical setting, mental health support, English as a second language classes, home-based medical care and several community programs. 

Two community-based programs of particular note are the Scholastic Soccer Program and the Survivor Garden Project. The Scholastic Soccer Program is dedicated to enriching refugee youth by motivating them through soccer and academic programs. The program meets twice a week and provides academic tutoring, English as a second language instruction, and soccer practice for over 50 refugee youth. The Survivor Garden Project, run in collaboration with the USC Office of Sustainability, provides garden plots to refugees so that they can have a quiet place to grow their own food, seek solace and healing, improve their English skills and social integration and increase physical activity. 

Bais’ programs benefit the refugee community and provide a vehicle for students and volunteers to learn about refugees and the problems they have faced in their countries. Bais always has students shadowing in the clinic or volunteering with the community-based programs. 


Gavin V. Truong, Medical Student, Class of 2019

As president of the School of Medicine Medical Student Association during his second year of medical school, Gavin Truong has been very involved in promoting medical student involvement in community service. Last year Truong partnered with Dr. Rajeev Bais and the Carolina Survivors Clinic to help start the Scholastic Soccer program. This organization serves refugee youth in our community and helps them with their school work so that they are able to succeed in school with the end goal of being able to go to college. The students have tutoring and soccer practice three times a week but they must attend tutoring sessions to go to soccer practice. Truong has given countless hours of his time to these refugee youth. He knows all of the students on a personal level and has attended events at their schools. He has worked with other people and organizations to get equipment, set-up field trips and arranged transportation for students to get to practice and tutoring. In the demanding days of the second year of medical school, Truong devoted his time and energy to these youth. He is selfless, humble and never asks for any recognition for all of the work that he does. When the kids see Truong their faces light up. He is truly a role model and a big brother to many of these children.


William Hester

William H. Hester, MD,Assistant Dean for Medical Student Education - Florence

Dr. William "Bill" Hester joined the faculty of the School of Medicine in 1981. He served as the program director for the McLeod Family Medicine Residency Program in Florence, S.C., for 32 years. In 2014 he was named the assistant dean for medical student education - Florence and established the School of Medicine-Florence regional campus. He has had a tremendous impact on the creation of the regional campus, significantly advancing the educational mission of the School of Medicine. What makes Hester's accomplishments so incredible is that he already had a long and successful career as an educator and family medicine physician. Then in his mid-seventies, when many would have been retired, the call came that the School of Medicine needed a leader to help establish the regional campus, and he answered it.

Hester has worked tirelessly for the past four years to establish a regional campus that already is receiving high praise from our students and faculty for its individualized approach to medical education. He has been a one man show who has recruited each faculty member to the program and personally mentored the more than 30 students who are in or already completed the program there. He rallied the community around the establishment of the regional campus and directs an innovative program that connects our students with leaders in the community from government, business, education and healthcare. The students have been very appreciative of his efforts with them and see him as both their surrogate grandfather and mentor who is full of both wisdom and advice in equal measure. When Hester retires later this year it will be with the full knowledge that he has not only set a high bar for whomever assumes the role of assistant dean but that he has left a lasting legacy on Florence and the Pee Dee for years to come. While the launch of the Florence Regional campus has had its challenges, Hester has risen to each one and the program would not be the success it is today without him. His outstanding leadership of this important initiative has been invaluable to the School of Medicine.


Ruth Riley

Ruth A. Riley, MS, Assistant Dean for Executive Affairs & Director of Library Services

Ruth Riley, M.S., has served as director of library services since 2000, and as assistant dean for executive affairs since 2012. Riley has shown distinguished leadership in both her roles while serving as a leader in national and regional library associations. She was recently recognized for her role as past president of the Association of Academic Health Science Libraries. She also has served as the chair of the Southern Chapter of the Medical Library Association and the chair of the Partnership Among South Carolina Academic Libraries. 

As director of library services, Riley has built a top-notch library resource. Key elements include adding LibGuides which are extremely useful to faculty and students, hosting National Library of Medicine traveling exhibits, and creating the Charles S. Bryan History of Medicine Room. More critically she has built a team of librarians and staff who are exceptionally helpful and knowledgeable and actively participate in training students and faculty in multiple teaching and research venues. The library resources have been vital for our strategic planning, LCME accreditation, and curriculum innovation processes.

Riley also provides leadership for multiple School of Medicine initiatives in her role as assistant dean for executive affairs. Much of Riley's work is behind the scenes as she handles many things that happen without anyone thinking about how they were orchestrated. She provided incredible support for the various task forces and accreditation processes with information searches and documents. She also has headed numerous initiatives for School of Medicine deans including awards events, visits from dignitaries, compiling the Blueprint report for the Office of the Provost and LCME reports and arranging for library services for the new Florence campus and the new Medical Group. She has headed several search committees for important School of Medicine positions and managed our website when the communications manager position was vacant. She does all of this while leading a top-rate library and serving at the national level in the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries.



Chandrashekhar Patel, PhD, Research Associate Professor, Cell Biology and Anatomy

Chandrashekhar "Shekhar" Patel, Ph.D., joined the School of Medicine faculty in 2000. In 2011, he became the founding director of the Certificate of Graduate Study in Biomedical Sciences Program. While the program was initially designed as an avenue for students to enhance their academic background in basic sciences prior to entry into professional health programs such as medicine and dentistry, under Patel's leadership its mission has been expanded to include a focus on underrepresented minorities in the health professions. Since its creation, the program has successfully matriculated over a dozen women and underrepresented minority applicants into medical and dental schools. Without the program and Patel's mentorship, many of these individuals would have been less likely to achieve their career goals. 

For over a year, Patel has been working with the faculty at Claflin University, a historically black university in South Carolina, to develop a pipeline program for their biology majors to prepare them for a masters in Biomedical Sciences and ultimately admission into a health professions school. He is very passionate about this program, even meeting with President Pastides to discuss it. The program is in the final stages of launching and is expected to become a prototype pathway for other underrepresented minorities to achieve their goals. Patel is a warm collaborative faculty member who is seen by his students as both their teacher and mentor. They credit him with helping them to achieve their professional dreams and it is obvious that he has their best interests at heart. As the School of Medicine continues to expand its focus on diversity and inclusion, Patel is already moving the school forward to meet its goals one student at a time.


Luther F. Carter, PhD, President, Francis Marion University

President of Francis Marion University Fred Carter, Ph.D, has been instrumental in the development of the Pee Dee Health Education Partnership which includes Francis Marion University, the University of South Carolina, Carolinas Hospital and McLeod Regional Medical Center. This unique partnership, working with the South Carolina Legislature, helped obtain the funding to create the University-of South Carolina School of Medicine's regional campus in Florence. President Carter saw the need for improved healthcare in Florence and advocated for funds for the School of Medicine to advance their mission of opening a regional campus in Florence to help address healthcare disparities in eastern South Carolina. President Carter's vision of having medical students train in the Pee Dee has introduced them to the needs of the community and allowed them to become a valued part of the community and assist in providing healthcare to the underserved.

President Carter also has been an encouraging voice with the two local hospitals systems by rallying support for the education of third and fourth year medical students with their respective medical staff. In the three years since the regional campus opened, he has remained one of its most ardent supporters. He personally meets with School of Medicine students annually and secured a state-of-­the-art facility for the regional campus office.

Carter received his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina and was recognized by the University's College of Arts and Sciences as its distinguished graduate alumnus in 2006. He is the recipient of multiple awards for his work as an educator, administrator and as a community leader. He has also received honorary degrees from the College of Charleston, Lander University and The Citadel. His entire career has been in public service and his efforts will leave a lasting legacy for the School of Medicine.

Daniel Green

Daniel Bernard Green, Orthopedic Technician, Orthopedic Surgery

Bernard Green has made a positive difference with every person he touches or comes in contact with at the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and now Palmetto Health-USC Orthopedics for close to 40 years. His specialty as a cast technician did not come from formal education or training, but from hard work and determination. He picked up his craft by watching and learning from others. The Orthopedic Surgery Department depends on Bernard for all casts and any cast that may be a challenge or may need a little extra care. Green's "job" may be cast tech; however, there is not a day that he is not seen helping direct a person who may be lost. He truly wants to make sure that all patients are taken care of regardless of department. Green greets and shares his memorable smile with everyone he meets. He epitomizes the description of the Sustained Service Award: a person who consistently demonstrates ongoing commitment to improving the School of Medicine, exceeds his or her job responsibilities and helps create a positive work environment. He is one of the finest employees at the School of Medicine.

Lynn Thomas

Lynn K. Thomas, DrPH, RD, Assistant Dean for Preclinical Curriculum

Lynn Thomas, DrPH, R.D., joined the faculty of the School of Medicine in 1996. She has served with distinction as a teacher, scholar and administrator. As assistant dean for preclinical curriculum since 2002, she consistently has demonstrated a commitment to improving the educational experience for our students while also serving as director of the nutrition curriculum.

Thomas was recruited to the School of Medicine from the VA Hospital as a teacher. The curriculum was desperately in need of an individual to provide nutrition instruction and Thomas made the decision to leave her position as a nutritionist to enter academics. Through a Fullerton Foundation Grant, she developed one of the first web-based courses and expanded the nutrition curriculum from a few lectures into a true vertical curriculum spanning all four years of medical education. She was the first to develop individual modules in nutrition that matched educational goals with individual clerkships and required students to complete these modules while on their clerkships.

As a scholar, Thomas has made substantial contributions in the areas of nutrition and medical student education with published papers, educational grants and speaking invitations at the state and national levels. She has been the "go to" faculty member for faculty and students needing data structured in a cohesive and understandable fashion and was instrumental in developing the first research proposal for the ultrasound curriculum. She has served as a reviewer for Journal of Family Medicine and Journal of the American Dietetic Association and her co-editorship of a textbook on renal nutrition has given her national recognition.

Thomas has been involved in every aspect of medical education from managing the Office of Curricular Affairs and Media Resources, serving on numerous committees, overseeing compliance with LCME standards in the preclinical curriculum, and serving as chief proctor to the National Board of Medical Examiners. She has overseen implementation of the OASIS scheduling system for third and fourth year medical students and served as an education mentor for junior faculty and advisor for first and second year medical students in academic difficulty. She has demonstrated maturity of judgment, personal and professional integrity, leadership, and commitment to institutional goals that make her a credit to the School of Medicine and to the University. 

Dr. C. Warren Derrick, Jr. is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, Pediatrics. He served as the chair of Pediatrics when the School of Medicine was founded and held the position for 29 years from 1977 to 2006. Simultaneously, he held the position of Director of Pediatric Education at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital.

In the early years as chairman, Dr. Derrick initiated events to recognize outstanding pediatricians and to foster professional growth in pediatrics. The first Carolina Cup Symposium, in conjunction with the horse race in Camden, was held in 1979 to offer CME and to bring alumni together. In 1980, the Department established the Weston Award and held the first Weston Award Banquet. In 1983, Dr. Derrick helped start the children's hospital within a hospital - the state's first children's hospital – and worked with others to establish in 2008 the state’s first free-standing children's hospital, the Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital.

Under Dr. Derrick's leadership, the Pediatric residency program grew from four to nine residents in each class. The residency program has consistently had one of the highest board pass rates in the nation, and the department has won best clinical teaching department from the third year medical students for all but two years in the last 23 years.

In 1993, the Department of Pediatrics assumed administrative oversight of the Center for Disability Resources which resulted in a significant service contract with state agencies and research projects of national significance. In 1994, the directors of the four children's hospitals in South Carolina collaborated on the creation of statewide Developmental Education Centers. Dr. Derrick wrote two successful proposals to the Duke Endowment for funding child abuse services in South Carolina and creation of the South Carolina Institute for Childhood Obesity and Related Disorders.

Dr. Derrick retired as chairman of the department in 2006 but has continued to attend in the teaching clinic, serve on the Admissions Committee, interview pediatric residency applicants and serve as the medical director for the School of Medicine Medical Home Network.

As one of the foundation stones upon which the USC School of Medicine was built, Dr. Derrick’s wisdom and calm demeanor helped to bring stability to the school in its early years. His excellence as a clinical pediatrician and educator, and his outstanding leadership of the pediatrics department and the Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital have built a legacy of service that will endure for many years to come.

Erik Van Eperen is a Class of 2018 medical student who has become an integral part of the Columbia community through numerous community service activities. He’s been a Big Brother with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Midlands since November 2015. He was paired with a then nine year old boy who lives with his mother and four sisters and needed a positive male presence in his life.

Erik participated in Columbia’s 2017 annual Point in Time Count (PIT Count) of Homelessness, a study mandated by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department. He collected and disseminated items as incentives for the Columbia homeless population to participate in the PIT Count survey and helped give the survey at community events where homeless members congregate.

Erik is a co-founder of Inspire Sports, a nonprofit organization in Wisconsin which helps organizations and high school athletic teams build leaders by sharing their passion with individuals with special needs. He is working with high schools in the Midlands to implement this program in South Carolina. Erik also volunteers his time to assist with free sports physicals for high school student athletes in the Midlands.

Erik also sat on the South Carolina Set Aside Review Committee, which allocates federal Emergency Food and Shelter funds to jurisdictions with unmet needs. He will also be acting as the advisor for the Healthy Futures focus area on the South Carolina Commission on National and Community Service (SC Commission) Grant Review Committee that decides which organizations will receive state AmeriCorps funding.

Seth A. Thomas was a Class of 2020 medical student who articulated that service to others was a core value in his life and consistently demonstrated this with his actions. During the final month of his life, he was serving with other students, offering critical women’s care services in the developing community of Cusco, Peru. His strong values, dedication to service, and respect for others had shortly before that been recognized by Seth’s selection to serve as a student representative from the Class of 2020 on the School of Medicine Honor Council. Seth was also the Secretary/Treasurer of the Class of 2020. Seth’s commitment to helping those in great need exemplifies the highest values of the School of Medicine and embodies the concept of servant leadership.

Dr. James Stallworth, Professor of Pediatrics, Pediatrics, has exhibited outstanding leadership in the School of Medicine’s teaching mission. In the last two years, he has been instrumental in the success of the new regional campus in Florence and of the new Physician Assistant (PA) Studies Program.

As special assistant to the Dean for the regional campus in Florence, Dr. Stallworth has diligently worked to facilitate the success of the Florence campus medical education program. His contributions have ranged from advising students to his work as the pediatric clerkship director in establishing the clerkship in Florence and assisting other clerkship directors with the transition. He also serves an excellent advocate for the Florence program to other Columbia campus faculty and has contributed to the successful recruitment of Florence physicians as teaching faculty.

As the first medical director for the PA Studies Program, Dr. Stallworth helped establish the curriculum, facilitated communication with clinical providers, and assisted clerkship directors in developing a plan for incorporation of PA students into existing medical student clerkships. He also helped recruit new clinical teaching sites and interviewed new faculty and prospective students. His reputation and standing in the School of Medicine provided the “glue and connectivity” during the program planning. His effort, passion, and commitment to the PA program have truly contributed to its success.

Dr. Stallworth simultaneously maintains the excellence of the pediatric clerkship, excels in his role as director of medical student recruitment, and demonstrates excellence in teaching as demonstrated by his recognition as Teacher of the Year by the Class of 2016. He has also directed the yearly Pediatric Hilton Head Update which brings national recognition to the School of Medicine and to the Department of Pediatrics.


Dr. Mitzi Nagarkatti is the SmartState Endowed Chair of Center for Cancer Drug Discovery, Carolina Distinguished Professor, and Chair of the Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology Department. Since joining the School of Medicine in 2005, she has enhanced the climate of diversity and inclusion in the School of Medicine through several initiatives.

Dr. Nagarkatti has established collaborative programs for the training of diverse scientists. Through the Institute of International Education, she hosted the first Iraqi Rescue Scholar at the School of Medicine. Currently seven Iraqi students who are supported through the Higher Committee of Education Development in Iraq and the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Iraq are pursuing doctoral degrees in Dr. Nagarkatti’s lab. She has also established a collaborative program of education and research with the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Additionally, Dr. Nagarkatti has trained international scientists and students from over 15 countries in her lab.

Dr. Nagarkatti has developed programs for students to gain knowledge of international cultures while pursuing their studies. She has traveled to several countries to establish agreements with international universities for student and faculty exchanges which have enabled medical students to study abroad in China and Kazakhstan in the area of complementary and alternative medicine. A contingent of five faculty paid by China Medical University in Taiwan are expected to visit there this year to develop collaborative research on traditional Chinese medicine. In addition, 17 medical students have expressed interest in pursuing a summer program on global health in Taiwan and China. Dr. Nagarkatti has also established an incentive program to encourage departmental faculty to train undergraduate students through the USC TRIO initiative for low-income and first-generation students.


Representative G. Murrell Smith, Jr. was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2001 to serve District 67 in Sumter County.

Representative Smith’s strong commitment to enhancing the delivery of health care in rural areas of South Carolina has been instrumental in providing support for the School of Medicine’s rural health initiatives over the past two years. His vision of a stronger rural health workforce has helped the School of Medicine gain legislative support for the South Carolina Center for Rural Health and Primary Care. The mission of this center is to support and develop rural and primary care education, delivery, and sustainability in South Carolina through clinical practice, training, and research. Representative Smith’s advocacy for the center has led to support for other initiatives increasing health care services to South Carolina residents, especially those in rural areas.

Representative Smith currently serves as Chairman of the Health and Human Services Subcommittee on the House Ways and Means Committee. He served on the House Judiciary Committee until 2009 and was First Vice Chairman of the Committee and Chairman of the Criminal Laws Subcommittee. He has received numerous awards including the Legislator of the Year for the South Carolina Human Services Providers Association, the Legislation Award for South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation, the South Carolina Primary Health Care Association Award and the Community Health Center Champion Award.


Rachel Peters has served the School of Medicine for over 35 years in numerous roles with excellence, dedication, and commitment. For the past twenty years, she has provided outstanding service as the Administrative Director of the Department of Pediatrics. She previously worked in the departments of Neuropsychiatry and Microbiology.

During her tenure as Administrative Director of Pediatrics, Ms. Peters has helped guide its growth while maintaining its financial stability and strength. Her dedication and commitment to the School of Medicine and to the department are unsurpassed. Without any fanfare, she consistently works long hours to keep the department functioning efficiently.

Ms. Peters has served on numerous committees in Pediatrics and in the School of Medicine including the Wellness Promotion Committee, the Committee on Women, and the Women in Science and Medicine Committee. She has also led the Administrative Directors group and often mentors new administrative directors. Her advice is widely sought by many faculty and staff. She has also made valuable contributions to the planning and implementation of the Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group.


Dr. Robert Price, Research Professor, Cell Biology and Anatomy, has served as the Director of the Instrumentation Resource Facility (IRF) since 1995. He was previously the Manager of the Integrated Microscopic Analysis Facility. Under Dr. Price’s outstanding leadership, the IRF has become a state-of-the-art facility with over twenty major pieces of equipment, including systems for electronic microscopy and live cell and confocal imaging. The IRF strongly support USC’s research and training missions and is a key resource for recruitment of top-notch investigators. Dr. Price has aggressively pursued funding to expand the arsenal of biomedical research equipment and developed a national reputation for the IRF as a leading biomedical research facility.

Dr. Price is a passionate educator who teaches hands-on technical courses to biomedical graduate students and others in the IRF and has directed numerous confocal microscopy workshops locally, nationally and internationally. He recently developed a biotechnology track in the Biomedical Science M.S. program that is designed to help address the shortage of trained support staff in biomedical research.

Dr. Price is an active researcher with over seventy peer-reviewed publications, over a dozen book chapters, has served as Editor-in-Chief of Microscopy and Microanalysis, and is currently the Associate Editor of Microscopy Today. He is currently serving as President-Elect of the Microscopy Society of America (MSA), the largest organization in the country focused on the advancement of microscopy and microanalysis.

Career Achievement Award

James R. Augustine, Ph.D. | Associate Professor | Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience

Community Service Award

Beverly Y. Wilson, B.A. | Research Coordinator | Internal Medicine

Brody Hingst | Class of 2019

Dean’s Leadership Award

Marlene A. Wilson, Ph.D. |Professor and Chair | Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience

Friend of the School of Medicine Award

Charles “Chuck” Beaman, Jr. | President and Chief Executive Officer | Palmetto Health

Sustained School of Medicine Service Award

Shawn A. Chillag, M.D. | Professor and Chair | Internal Medicine


William C. Gillespie Staff Recognition Award

Charity Dunn photo.

2023, Charity Dunn, Cell Biology and Anatomy


Joann Nagy photo

2022, Joann Nagy, Biomedical Sciences Program


Jane Hixenbaugh photo.

2021, Jane Hixenbaugh, Office of Information Technology


Jon Crain

2020, Jon Crain, Facilities Management


Kevin Henessee

2019, Kevin Hennessee, Facilities Management ​


Toni Bracey

2018, Toni Bracey, Basic Sciences Grant Administration


Larry Knott

2017, Larry Knott, Administration and Finance


Nan Barker

  2016, Nan Barker, Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Sciences


Dora Woodrow

  2015, Dora Woodrow, Human Resources


Stanley LaLarque

  2014, Stanley Laraque, Office of Information Technology


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.