Alumni News and Notes

Keep up with the latest events and milestones of your Wake Forest School of Medicine classmates

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Sharkey Succeeds Clinch as Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

C. Randall 'Randy' Clinch, DO

After navigating many obstacles to facilitate the rapidly shifting needs of the Wake Forest School of Medicine during the pandemic and strategic combination with Atrium Health, C. Randall “Randy” Clinch, DO, MS ’04, has returned to direct patient care for the underserved and veteran populations, transitioning out of his role as senior associate dean for academic affairs with the MD Program.

Clinch served as a stabilizing force for the MD program since 2019. He worked closely with the school’s COVID-19 task force and other educational program leaders to coordinate the safe return of students to direct patient care in June 2020 and the virtual matriculation of the Class of 2024. He also led the school’s efforts to develop a second campus in Charlotte, planning a phased approach to develop a four-year regional campus.

Angela Sharkey MD - Wake Forest School of Medicine

Angela Sharkey, MD, FAAP, former senior associate dean for academic affairs and professor in biomedical sciences and pediatrics at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville, has been named to succeed Clinch.

She is responsible for the overall strategic direction, operation and management of the MD program for both the Winston-Salem and Charlotte campuses. She will assist in designing and planning for the opening of a new, state-of-the-art medical education facility in Charlotte, and she will lead the development of an innovative curriculum that will integrate basic science, clinical science and health systems science throughout the curriculum with content and experience delivered in the context of clinical care.

In her previous role, Sharkey led the strategic operations for admissions, student affairs, curriculum, LCME readiness, and faculty and academic affairs. Among other honors, she guided the Greenville medical campus to recognition as an Apple Distinguished School for intentional integration of technology in the classroom and clinical environment.

The board-certified pediatric cardiologist is a graduate of Creighton University with a medical degree from Saint Louis University School of Medicine. She completed her residency at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis and her fellowship at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.


Students Sweep Neurological Society Poster Awards

Three Wake Forest School of Medicine students were selected as winners for their research posters at the North Carolina Neurological Society’s 2021 Annual Meeting. Among 17 total posters, the three highest-rated abstracts were from Wake Forest students.

First: Natasha Shah, MD Class of 2024, Wake Forest School of Medicine, UNC School of Medicine and Atrium Health, “Dextromethorphan-Quinidine (Nuedexta) Improves Swallowing in Bulbar Onset ALS Patients with Pseudobulbar Affect – Pre-Post Observational Study in 86 ALS Patients.”

Second: Caroline Wilson, MD ’21, Wake Forest School of Medicine, “MOG Antibody Disease: A Pictorial Overview of Imaging Findings.”

Third: Undergraduate student Caroline Caraci, Wake Forest University, and Laura Silla, MD ’21, Wake Forest School of Medicine, “Patient Experience Outcomes by Diagnosis in Rapid Telehealth Implementation.”

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A group of medical students from the Class of 2021, led by Lauren Clopper, MD ’21, transformed a frequently used stairwell into a beautiful art mural depicting the heart of Wake Forest Baptist and the city of Winston-Salem.




Zitelny Receives Peacock-Plonk Award

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Edan Zitelny, MD ’21, was presented the 2020 Peacock-Plonk Award for Outstanding Student Clinician for receiving the highest clerkship grade of honors in all of his year three immersion curriculum clerkship rotations.

Comments from Zitelny’s clerkships described him as a thoughtful and meticulous student with impressive knowledge combined with excellent bedside manner, collegial and professional team interactions, and a very advanced clinical skill set compared to his peers. Commenters also noted his “sophisticated balance of expressing empathy for his patients while remaining focused on addressing their problems.” He is an internal medicine resident at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

The award was established in 2017 in honor of James E. Peacock, MD, professor of infectious diseases, and George W. Plonk Jr., MD ’73, associate professor of vascular surgery, who are widely revered for their clinical expertise, diagnostic acumen, bedside manner and humility. Both attended Zitelny’s award presentation.


In Memoriam: Jon C. Lewis, PhD

Jon C. Lewis, PhD, a faculty member who was instrumental in developing the groundbreaking parallel curriculum that changed the way Wake Forest medical students are educated, died Dec. 13, 2020, in Placitas, N.M., at age 80.

Lewis, a native of Connecticut, worked with the School of Medicine from 1977 until retiring in 1998. He contributed to over 300 professional publications, and his research included work in the cell biology of thrombosis and its relationship to heart disease. For nearly two decades, he served as a consultant to the National Institutes of Health, which in 1985 designated his laboratory as a National Research Resource for Intermediate Voltage Electron Microscopy. He served as North Carolina’s liaison for biomedical research to the State of North Rhine, Germany, and later studied in London, but his true professional passion was teaching. His son, Andrew J. Lewis, MD ’98, also graduated from Wake Forest School of Medicine.

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Curtis Retires as Chair, Bodner Serves as Interim Chair

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After nearly 40 years of service, L. Gail Curtis, PA-C ’81, MPAS, retired on June 30 as chair and associate professor of PA Studies. Gayle Bodner, PA-C, MMS, vice chair of the Department of PA Studies and assistant professor of PA Studies and anesthesiology, is serving as interim chair.

Curtis has served in many roles, including as a clinician in otolaryngology, pulmonology and family and community medicine, and served as director of the Weight Management Program in the Center for Health Promotion, championing weight management in patients long before the obesity epidemic. In 2007, she transitioned to full-time academician in PA Studies, where she served as principal faculty, director of student services, preclinical director and vice chair.

Since becoming the first woman to lead the department as chair in 2017, she has overseen the growth of two PA campuses in Winston-Salem and Boone and the establishment of the Emerging Leaders programs in collaboration with Wake Forest’s schools of Business and Law.

Curtis has served the PA profession in a variety of leadership positions, including president of the N.C. Academy of PAs, speaker of the American Academy of PAs’ (AAPA) House of Delegates and president of the AAPA from 2016-18. Her dedication and service to the North Carolina Medical Board directly led to improved practice regulations for the PA profession in the state.

Also, Brian B. Peacock, PA-C ’10, MMS, has succeeded Suzanne Reich, PA-C, MPAS, as program director. Reich is preparing the Department of PA Studies for accreditation in 2022.

Peacock received his BS in Biological Sciences from North Carolina State University in 2004 and served as a phlebotomist and autopsy assistant at Watauga Medical Center in Boone, N.C. He also served as the lead operating room technician at Wake Forest Baptist Health. Since graduating from the School of Medicine, he has been practicing clinically in Wake Forest Baptist’s Department of General Surgery. He states his favorite part of being on the faculty is his interactions with the PA students.

Program Retains Stellar National Ranking

The PA Program remains ranked seventh nationally by U.S. News & World Report in the 2022 edition of the publication’s Best Graduate Schools.

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Academic Nursing

Program Maintains Top Rankings

The Nurse Anesthesia Program again ranked 10th nationally in U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 edition of the publication’s Best Graduate Schools, and a nationwide evaluation of data collected by Nursing Schools Almanac also placed the School of Medicine’s Department of Academic Nursing ninth among nursing schools in North Carolina.

The Almanac collected data on more than 3,000 institutions, and only 20% made its list of the best nursing schools in each geographic region. Factors considered for the rankings included the institution’s academic prestige and perceived value, breadth and depth of nursing programs offered, and student success, particularly on the NCLEX licensure examination.

The Department of Academic Nursing has doctoral degree options in nurse anesthesia and nursing leadership. The school has provided nursing education since the 1920s, with the nurse anesthesia program in continuous operation since 1942. The nurse anesthesia Doctor of Nursing Practice Program (DNP) is fully accredited by the Council on Accreditation.

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Graduate School

West-Livingston Lands Prestigious AAMC Scholarship

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Lauren West-Livingston, PhD ’20, was one of five students honored by the Association of American Medical Colleges with its 2020 Herbert W. Nickens Medical Student Scholarship Award.

The scholarship is given to outstanding students entering their third year of medical school who have shown leadership in efforts to eliminate inequities in medical education and health care, while demonstrating leadership initiative in addressing educational, societal and health care needs of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States.

West-Livingston is in the MD and PhD programs at the School of Medicine, and she is a recent graduate of the Wake Forest School of Law, with a master of studies of law in the health law and policy track.

While pursuing her education, West-Livingston has prioritized community programs geared toward Black and Latinx youth, mentorship for underrepresented minorities in medicine and outreach to underserved communities. She volunteers with the Parenting Path and teaches the teen component of Parent Teen Solutions, a class aimed at improving communication between at-risk adolescents and their caregivers. She has also served in several leadership roles at the School of Medicine, including as chapter co-president of the Student National Medical Association, chapter chair of physician and community outreach for the Latino Medical Student Association and director of public relations for the student-led Delivering Equal Access to Care (DEAC) Clinic.

Within the medical school, she serves her peers as a cultural awareness ambassador in the Student Government Association and works closely with the Department of Student Inclusion and Diversity on an IRB-approved study examining the effects of peer-to-peer microaggressions, stereotype threat and implicit bias/discrimination in the learning environment.

Alumnae Named Fulbright Scholars

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Moriah Jackson, MS ’20, and Danielle Medina-Hernandez, MS ’20, received the Fulbright Scholarship, the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program, for the 2020-21 academic year.

Jackson is conducting biomedical research at the Universiti Teknologi MARA in Malaysia. Her work is part of a project to assess the prevalence of infectious pathogens associated with blow flies, house flies and flesh flies to provide spatial mapping of fly-borne diseases between hosts and facilitate improved public health interventions.

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Medina-Hernandez is conducting biology research at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark as part of a project to evaluate subclinical cardiac tissue and metabolic changes immediately following myocardial infarction using novel MRI techniques. The study hopes to provide unprecedented insights into the early pathophysiological tissue remodeling and metabolism of the heart after a myocardial infarction.

The Fulbright Program is designed to build lasting connections between the United States and over 160 countries worldwide. Selections are based on academic and professional achievement, a record of service and demonstrated leadership.

Five Receive Kirschstein NRSA Grants

Five Wake Forest graduate students received 2021 Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) grants from the National Institutes of Health. The program prepares qualified predoctoral and/or postdoctoral trainees for careers that have a significant impact on the nation’s health-related research needs.

Gracie Peck, a third-year neuroscience PhD student, received a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to work with her mentor, Sara R. Jones, PhD, professor of physiology and pharmacology, to research the interaction between synaptogyrin-3 and the dopamine transporter in cocaine use disorder.

Sarah Sizer, a fourth-year PhD candidate in integrative pharmacology and physiology, received a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). As part of the laboratory of Brian A. McCool, PhD, her project seeks to understand how chronic alcohol use dysregulates cholinergic neurophysiology and its role in mediating anxiety during alcohol withdrawal.

Hannah Carlson, a third-year neuroscience PhD student, also received an NIAAA grant. Working with mentor Jeffrey L. Weiner, PhD, she is researching the roles of two distinct projections to the nucleus accumbens in performance on a novel rodent model of maladaptive alcohol self-administration.

Brittany Liebenow, a fourth-year MD/PhD neuroscience candidate, received a NIDA grant and is working with mentors Kenneth T. Kishida, PhD, and Christopher T. Whitlow, MD ’04, PhD ’04, MHA, and clinical mentors Stephen B. Tatter, MD, PhD, and Ihtsham ul Haq, MD, on her project, “Dopamine's Role in Impulse Control and Reward Learning in Humans.”

Paul Sands, a fourth-year PhD candidate in neuroscience, was awarded a NIDA grant to support his work with Kishida as they research the computational processes underlying human decision-making that go awry in behavioral addictions and substance use disorders.

NASA Selects Biomedical Engineering Team for Project

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Ashley Weaver, PhD ’13, associate professor of biomedical engineering, and her team at the Center for Injury Biomechanics at Wake Forest School of Medicine have been selected by NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP) to study how spaceflight affects the network of bones and muscles in the spinal column that provides structural support for vital organs, including the brain, heart and lungs.

Weaver’s team, which includes graduate students Katelyn Greene and Mitesh Lalwala, will compare detailed scans of astronauts’ spines immediately before and after spaceflight. Techniques such as quantitative computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging allow researchers to pinpoint subtle shifts in bone density and muscle size upon return to Earth.

NASA’s HRP is dedicated to discovering the best methods and technologies to support safe, productive human space travel.

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Steele Reflects on Diverse, 44-Year Career

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Deborah Steele, RN ’69, arrived at North Carolina Baptist Hospital’s School of Nursing just after high school graduation because a friend told her if she became a nurse, she would always have a job.

Forty-four years later, she retired from Wake Forest Baptist after a career that ranged from nursing to human resources.

“My nursing education and experience prepared me for every job I have held at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center,” she said. “Nursing and people skills gave me the knowledge and intuition to lead our recruiting teams as they hired staff. My nursing training continued to help as I facilitated new employee orientation each week.”

From her nursing training, she recalls the strict standards that required a patient’s bed to be made so that a quarter could be bounced off the bottom sheet; taking the bus with her classmates to Wake Forest University for chemistry, microbiology and anatomy labs; and the many steps the nurses took to avoid static electricity.

Steele worked as a nurse in the post-anesthesia care unit for 15 years. She took advantage of the medical center’s tuition reimbursement benefit to earn her BSN from Gardner-Webb University. Her education and experience prepared her to work as a nurse recruiter. She spent 15 years traveling the country seeking nurses to fill critical roles at the medical center.

Later, as director of talent acquisition, Steele helped navigate the integration of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and the Wake Forest School of Medicine, and she served as a strategic partner during the systemwide implementation of the WakeOne electronic medical record. Most recently, Steele trained new employees each Monday, helping to prepare them for their careers at Wake Forest Baptist.

“I have had the chance to work with the best people in the world,” she said. “We all contribute to the success of Wake Forest Baptist because we all care for others in many different ways. I’ve had a wonderful journey using my nursing skills – not a single boring day.”

Class of 1956 Reunion

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The RN Class of 1956 celebrated a reunion on June 17 with a luncheon in Winston-Salem, N.C. Seated (from left): Joyce Jackson Godwin, RN; Mary Casey Stevens, RN; Willa Lewis Bell, RN; Barbara Sugg Barnett, RN; Phyllis Martin Bernstein, RN; and Yvonne Rich Lemons, RN; standing: Carol Pearson Simes, RN and Deloris Hooker Cox, RN.

Class of 1957 Reunion

A group of eight older women sit and stand together in a sunroom

The RN Class of 1957 celebrated a reunion on May 19 with a luncheon in Ramseur, N.C. Front row (from left): Willie S. Hill, RN; Rebecca Bragg Yarborough, RN; and Johnsie Bryant Burchfield, RN; back row (from left): Frances Alley Wilson, RN; Billie Jo White Cox, RN; Barbara S. Phillips, RN; Rita Truitt Thornton, RN; and Mary Belle Pugh Overton, RN.

Five Earn Heinzerling Recognition

Five Wake Forest Baptist Health nurses were honored as 2020 recipients of the Edna L. Heinzerling Award for Nursing Excellence:

  • Hannah Kate Meadows, High Point Medical Center, Oncology (MSN program)
  • Shaniquewa Jackson, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (MSN program)
  • Stephanie Bowman, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (DNP program)
  • Hannah Allison, Ambulatory Neurology (MHA degree program)
  • Laci Sweeney, High Point Medical Center, 7NT medical (BSN program)

Each recipient received $2,000. The Heinzerling Award is dedicated to fostering and rewarding professional nursing and is open to registered nurses across the Wake Forest Baptist system. The program recognizes registered nurses for skills, leadership, education, volunteerism and dedication to the nursing profession, compassion, integrity, excellence and innovation.

Alumni from the School of Nursing established the award in memory of Edna L. Heinzerling, RN, the first director of nursing at North Carolina Baptist Hospital. Contributions are made by alumni with additional funding support from the hospital. To make a gift to the Heinzerling Fund, visit

Alma Mater Honors Wheatley as Noble Knight Nurse

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The University of Central Florida College of Nursing honored Cathleen Wheatley, DNP, RN, CENP, president of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, as one of its inaugural 40 Noble Knight Nurses.

In celebration of its 40th anniversary, the UCF College of Nursing honored 40 alumni who reflect its values of excellence, innovation, integrity, compassion, service and community. The awardees were recognized at the 40th Anniversary Virtual Gala in May. The inaugural class of Noble Knight Nurse award recipients include direct care providers, innovators, educators and scientists who have made a profound difference in the lives of others through their contributions to the profession and community.


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