The Wake Forest School of Medicine received its second Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) from the National Institutes of Health, extending the school’s efforts to quickly translate research into better clinical care.
The five-year, $25.4 million grant provides funding to:
- Train and build new skills within a translational research workforce.
- Engage community stakeholders across Wake Forest Baptist Health’s service geography to improve clinical processes.
- Develop an informatics system capable of managing huge data sets required across numerous, multisite locations.
- Enhance the speed, safety and quality of research that can be implemented into daily clinical care.
“There are so many people living in our region who can benefit from the programs and research that will be funded through this CTSA grant,” said Julie Ann Freischlag, MD, FACS, FRCS, ED (Hon), DFSVS, chief executive officer of Wake Forest Baptist Health and dean of the School of Medicine. “That is why it is so important for us to find ways to reach and engage these populations in rural and isolated communities where health care options are limited.”
Researchers are already working on some of the most pressing medical issues facing our community including diabetes, obesity, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and addiction. For example, in 2017 when the SPRINT study found older patients who adjusted their systolic blood pressure from the previously recommended 140/80 to 120/80 had reduced rates of cardiovascular events and death, 10 Wake Forest Baptist primary care clinics began to bring more aggressive blood pressure control to their patients, testing various strategies to determine what worked best.
Another goal of the grant is to integrate special populations into research to help address disparities in health care as well as the barriers to minority and rural community participation. Through Wake Forest Baptist’s Special Populations program, services such as transportation vouchers and navigation services are provided to participants, resulting in more participation and better insight into health care access and conditions.
Over the next five years, CTSA funding will help Wake Forest Baptist expand the reach of existing efforts from western North Carolina to southern Virginia, eastern Tennessee and South Carolina, where work will address health issues that affect rural populations.
As part of a 67-year tradition, fourth-year medical students from Wake Forest joined those from across the country in opening envelopes on Friday, March 15, to learn where they “matched” to spend the next three to seven years of residency training.
This year was the largest Match Day on record with 44,600 medical students registered. A total of 119 School of Medicine students participated with 117 matching, resulting in a 98.3% match rate.
Specialty areas represented in the MD Class of 2019:
- Emergency Medicine—18
- Family Medicine—8
- Internal Medicine—19
- Internal Medicine/Pediatrics—1
- Neurological Surgery—1
- Orthopaedic Surgery—7
- Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation—1
- Radiation Oncology—3
From opera singers to bodybuilders, college athletes to comedians, ballroom dancers to video game developers, and a U.S. Army medic with six overseas deployments, the MD Class of 2023 arrived as a highly diverse group.
The 145 students account for the largest class in the school’s history, with 74 women and 71 men chosen from 10,703 applicants.
“These students bring with them a rich diversity of backgrounds and life experiences that I know will be valuable during their time here at medical school and ultimately in their future careers as physicians,” said Julie Ann Freischlag, MD, FACS, FRCS, ED (Hon), DFSVS, CEO of Wake Forest Baptist Health and dean of the School of Medicine.
“In the next four years, they will be exposed to a wide array of clinical and research experiences which will prepare them to be physicians and leaders poised to help guide the health care field through complex and unprecedented changes.”
The members of the class received their undergraduate degrees at 72 different institutions. While students come from 32 states, 45 are residents of North Carolina and 24 are members of racial or ethnic groups that are underrepresented in medicine.
The School of Medicine lost two remarkable alumni and leaders in a four-week span earlier this year with the deaths of Richard Janeway, MD, House Staff ’66, and Timothy Pennell, MD ’60, House Staff ’66.
Janeway, professor emeritus of neurology and dean and executive vice president emeritus of Health System Affairs, died March 17 at the age of 86 after a long illness. Pennell, professor emeritus of surgery, died April 13 at age 85.
Janeway is remembered as an energetic, determined and dynamic visionary who oversaw great change and improvements at the medical school and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. He led the largest physical expansion program in the Medical Center’s history, a $200 million project that includes the tower that bears his name. He also laid the foundation for Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, a 200-acre, mixed-use center in downtown Winston-Salem focusing on the biomedical and material sciences and information technology fields.
He was named dean of the School of Medicine in 1971 and served in executive leadership roles until 1997. His numerous honors included Wake Forest University’s Medallion of Merit in 2000.
Pennell was known as a surgeon leader, medical missionary, servant healer and revered caregiver and teacher. He served on the faculty for 37 years, directed the Office of International Health Affairs from 1982 to 2000, and in 1986, became the first alumnus of the medical school to be named Wake Forest Baptist’s chief of professional services. He also served on the North Carolina Baptist Hospital Board of Trustees.
Pennell traveled to more than 100 countries on medical missions and served on more than 22 mission boards and sending agencies. His numerous awards included the Silver Medallion from the American College of Surgeons and Wake Forest University’s Medallion of Merit in 2005.
Students, faculty and medical school leaders honored a member of the MD Class of 2019 by presenting a degree to the family of Tori McLean, MD ’19, in her memory.
McLean was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia during her first year of medical school and died Sept. 12, 2016. McLean’s family accepted the degree during the annual Hooding Ceremony in Wait Chapel on the Wake Forest University campus.
“Tori's journey as a medical student took a different turn when she was diagnosed,” said Mary Claire O’Brien, MD, former senior associate dean for healthcare education. “Yet she continued to embrace each day and each encounter as an opportunity to learn more about herself, the practice of medicine, and most importantly, how we support each other.”
McLean, a native of Raleigh and a graduate of Appalachian State University, was the oldest of seven children. She developed a desire to care for others in part by helping care for her siblings as she grew up. Friends and family recalled her perseverance, sacrifice and great passion for pursuing medicine.
Following her diagnosis, McLean created a video to share her experience with incoming medical students.
“Tori understood the need to be there for others, and in turn, others were there for her,” O’Brien said. “You, the Class of 2019, were there. You supported her. You loved her. We loved her, too.”
Julie Ann Freischlag, MD, FACS, FRCS, ED (Hon), DFSVS, CEO of Wake Forest Baptist Health and dean of the Wake Forest School of Medicine, has been named one of the 105 Physician Leaders to Know by Becker’s Hospital Review, a national health-care media organization based in Chicago.
Freischlag is the only health-care executive from North Carolina to be included this year. She is one of 17 female executives to make the list and the only woman executive to serve in both roles as CEO of a clinical health-care system and dean of a medical school, basic science and clinical research programs.
To better deliver health care to individuals without health insurance, Wake Forest Baptist Health and the School Health Alliance of Forsyth County (SHA) have partnered to create a new mobile clinic that will bring care directly to underserved neighborhoods and schools in Forsyth County.
The Mobile Health Program is wheelchair accessible and features two private exam rooms and a counseling room. Uninsured adults and children can receive a wide range of services, including preventive care, treatment for minor illnesses and management of chronic health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and asthma.
The health care team includes a nurse practitioner, a behavioral health specialist and a certified nursing assistant. Health education, nutrition coaching, lab services and referrals to specialists are provided as needed.
“We want to be able to prevent or treat health issues for those in our community before they potentially turn into costly health crises for them and get them connected to the most appropriate care for their needs,” said Rachel Zimmer, DNP, clinic director of Wake Forest Baptist’s Community Health Alliance.
Zimmer said MD students Judy Ugwuegbu and Sharon Thomson helped apply for grants and plan workflows to accommodate homeless patients. Students who run the DEAC (Delivering Equal Access to Care) Clinic helped create an electronic medical records system that the DEAC and mobile clinics use to provide care in free clinic settings, and MD and PA students are serving as volunteers in the mobile unit. The DEAC Clinic and mobile health program also received shared funding through the Delta Dental grant to provide dental care vouchers to patients.
The unit will visit various locations in Forsyth County — based on community input and data such as rates of chronic disease, poverty and food insecurity — but will serve people regardless of where they live.