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School of Medicine

2019 Alumni and Dean’s Distinguished Service Awards Recipients Named

Fifteen individuals will be recognized for their contributions to the health care field and their service to the School of Medicine at the annual Alumni and Dean's Awards Dinner on Oct. 4 (Friday). 

The Awards Dinner will be held at Stone River in West Columbia from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $60 per person and available online. Please RSVP by September 23 (Monday). 

 
Alumni Awards Recipients 

Each year, the School of Medicine presents a number of prestigious awards to our most dedicated alumni who have demonstrated outstanding achievement or service to the school. All graduates, faculty, staff and friends are invited to submit nominations. Awardees are chosen by a selection committee of alumni, faculty, staff, and students. 

There are seven alumni award recipients for 2019:

Perkinson

Distinguished Physician Alumni Award

Joseph C. Perkinson, MD – ’92/Family Medicine

Joseph Perkinson, M.D., is a family practice specialist in The Woodlands, Texas. He received his medical degree from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia in 1992, and initially pursued a surgical career taking him through internship and residency to Detroit and Hawaii. Seeking more patient-centric interaction, he transitioned to specialization through generalization – family medicine – at the Baylor College of Medicine’s Department of Family and Community Medicine, completing that residency program in 1998.

In 2000, he started one of the first completely paperless medical offices in Texas, developing and refining workflows for more compassionate and efficient care. After a decade, he moved to the north Houston area, working in a group practice, and later, as medical director of a fledgling, but now nationwide, hormone replacement center. Perkinson’s current practice, Vector Health, combines state-of-the-art medical care with a focus on customer service. Vector Health features open-access, same-day scheduling, minimal paperwork, and direct access to Perkinson.

Morgan

Distinguished Young Alumni Award

L. Garrison Morgan, MD, FACC – ’10/Cardiology

L. Garrison Morgan, M.D., FACC, is a cardiologist at Providence Health in Columbia, S.C. Morgan received his medical degree from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in 2010. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Palmetto Health Richland (now Prisma Health – Midlands), then continued his training at the Medical College of Georgia, completing a fellowship in cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, he did a sub-specialty fellowship in interventional and structural cardiology at Mount Sinai Medical Center of Florida/Columbia University.

Morgan has a special interest in structural heart diseases, conditions that result from abnormalities in the heart's structure, and he has been an integral part of the development of Providence Health's Structural Heart Program. Through this program, he was the first physician in the Midlands to implant the MitraClip, used to treat a severe leak in the mitral valve. In 2019, Morgan was named the "Best of Lexington" in cardiology by Lexington Life Magazine. He is married to wife of 13 years, Kristen Morgan, and has three children, Graham, Reid, and newest addition, Alivia.

Morrow

Distinguished Humanitarian Physician Alumni Award

James R. Morrow, MD – ’82/Family Medicine

James R. (“Jim”) Morrow, M.D., is founder of Morrow Family Medicine in Forsyth County, Georgia. Graduating in 1982, Morrow was a member of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine’s second class of medical students. After graduating, he completed a family medicine residency at Anderson Memorial Hospital in Anderson, S.C., and opened a solo practice in his home town of Greenville, S.C. After eight years, he moved to Georgia and has been practicing family medicine there since 1993.

 In 2012, Jim and his wife, Peggie, learned that there were over 2,000 students in their community who did not have the necessary technology to complete their assignments for school. The Morrows established the Morrow Community Foundation, which conducts the “Forsyth BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) Benefit” to raise money and provide devices and home internet access to students in need. The Forsyth BYOT Benefit has raised over $275,000, and has put devices and internet in the homes of hundreds of students. Morrow has won numerous local and national awards, and since 2015, Morrow Family Medicine has been voted the “Best of Forsyth” in family medicine every year. 

Peng

Distinguished Doctorate Alumni Award

Guang Peng, MD, PhD – ’05

Guang Peng, M.D., Ph.D., is a tenured-associate professor in the Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. She received her doctoral degree in biomedical sciences from University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia in 2005, after completing her bachelor’s degree in medicine from Tongji Medical University in Wuhan, China.

The long-term goal of her research is to characterize and target molecular regulators of the mutational and dysfunctional DNA repair processes driving tumor evolution and immune responses. Her research has been funded by several agents including the National Cancer Institute (NIH), the Department of Defense, the American Association for Cancer Research, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas, and Sponsored Research Programs from Pfizer. Her recent research has been published in Nature Medicine (2018), Nature Communications (2018, 2014), and Cancer Discovery (2015).

Zimmerman

Distinguished Genetic Counseling Alumni Award

Holly H. Zimmerman, MS, CGC – ’07

Holly Zimmerman, M.S., C.G.C., is a board-certified and licensed genetic counselor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). Zimmerman earned her Master’s in Genetic Counseling Degree from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia in 2007. She is the inaugural director of the Masters in Genetic Counseling Program at UNMC, which earned accreditation in January 2019 and welcomed its first class of eight students this fall. Zimmerman also is an assistant professor in the College of Allied Health Professions where she serves on the Leadership Council as well as the Curriculum and Admissions Committees. She has a courtesy appointment in Genetic Medicine at the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute, and also is faculty within the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program.

Previously, Zimmerman spent 10 years at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, initially serving as the center’s only genetic counselor. In this role, she established genetic counseling services while also gaining experience in general, prenatal, pediatric, and cancer genetics. Zimmerman recently celebrated her 12-year wedding anniversary with her husband, Pat. They enjoy exploring Omaha with their two children.

Rhea

Distinguished Master’s Alumni Award

Catherine B. Rhea, MBS, CRNA – ’00

Catherine Rhea is a graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Nurse Anesthesia Program. She earned her Master’s of Biomedical Science with Specialization in Nurse Anesthesia in 2000. While attending the School of Medicine, she was awarded the Donald H. Harwood Award and the Physiology Cup. Rhea now serves on the faculty at the UofSC School of Medicine. She is a clinical instructor in pediatric anesthesia, a clinical assistant professor, and the clinical coordinator of the Nurse Anesthesia Program at the Columbia campus.  Currently, Rhea is pursuing her Doctorate of Nurse Anesthesia Practice.

Rhea earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing and Psychology at the University of South Carolina and remains an avid Gamecocks fan. She is an active member of the S.C. Association of Nurse Anesthetists, and has served on the board and numerous committees. She is a member of the First Baptist Church of Columbia, S.C., and Forest Lake Club. She also enjoys spending time with her family and traveling.

Thornhill

Alumni Association Honorary Life Membership Award

Joshua T. Thornhill IV, MD

Joshua T. Thornhill IV, M.D., is clinical professor in the Department of Neuropsychiatry & Behavioral Science and associate dean for medical education and academic affairs at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia. Thornhill earned his medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School in 1989 and he completed his general psychiatry residency at the William S. Hall Psychiatric Institute in Columbia, S.C., in 1993. 

Thornhill joined the University of South Carolina faculty in 1993. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and has authored and given a number of presentations on the topic of medical education. He is a past president of the South Carolina Psychiatric Association and the Southern Psychiatric Association. A Fellow of the American College of Psychiatrists and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, in 2001 he was initiated into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. 


Dean’s Distinguished Service Awards Recipients 

The Dean’s Distinguished Service Awards are annual honors established by the Office of the Dean to recognize individuals who demonstrate excellence in service, leadership, advocacy and professional accomplishment. Awardees are chosen by a selection committee overseen by the Dean’s leadership team. 

There are eight service award recipients for 2019:

Frierson

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.

Yallapragada

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.

Anderson

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.

McElmurray

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.

Goldsmith

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. 

Creek

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. 

Omura

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. 

McDonald

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.

 


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