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School of Medicine Columbia

2021 School of Medicine Columbia Awards Recipients Named

Nineteen individuals will be recognized for their contributions to the health care field and their service to the School of Medicine Columbia at the annual Alumni and Dean's Awards Virtual Ceremony on Thursday, October 21st. Two additional categories of achievement will be acknowledged: the Luminary Leaders in Medicine and Science and the Award for Advancement of Women in Science and Medicine.  

The Awards Ceremony will be broadcasted live on YouTube from 6:00-7:30pm EST.

Alumni Awards Recipients

The Alumni Awards are presented annually by the School of Medicine Columbia Alumni Association to recognize our most dedicated alumni who have demonstrated outstanding achievements in their respective fields while also strengthening the alumni community and school. All graduates, faculty, staff, and friends are invited to submit nominations. Awardees are chosen by a selection committee comprised of alumni, faculty, staff, and students.

There are six award recipients for 2021:

Christopher Gainey

Distinguished Young Alumni Award

Christopher E. Gainey, MD, FACEP, FAEMS '12

Christopher E. Gainey, MD, FACEP, FAEMS, spent his youth growing up in the Lowcountry of South Carolina before moving to Columbia as an undergraduate at the University of South Carolina, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences in 2008. Dr. Gainey continued his medical education at the UofSC School of Medicine Columbia, earning his Doctor of Medicine in 2012.

Dr. Gainey completed residency training in emergency medicine at Palmetto Health Richland in 2015, as well as fellowships in emergency medicine and simulation medicine in 2017. He is currently medical director of the Prisma Health-UofSC School of Medicine Simulation Center and program director of the Simulation Medicine Fellowship.

Dr. Gainey is dedicated to training the next generation of health care providers as a clinical assistant professor with the School of Medicine and as a faculty member for the Prisma Health-UofSC School of Medicine Emergency Medicine Residency and EMS Fellowship programs. In 2019, he was named director of Medical Student Education and serves as the clerkship director for third- and fourth-year medical students, pediatric emergency medicine and Sim-emergency medicine rotations.

Dr. Gainey also serves as medical director for EMS Education and Training Programs with the State Fire Academy and Midlands Technical College.

He has been recognized for his work as Attending of the Year for Prisma Health Emergency Medicine, received the Presidential Citation from the Neurocritical Care Society, and received the Residency Academic Excellence Award two times from the South Carolina College of Emergency Physicians.

Dr. Gainey and his wife, Amelia, live in Columbia.

Jeffrey Boswell

Distinguished Master’s Alumni Award

Jeffrey S. Boswell, DNAP, MNA, CRNA, '04

Jeffrey S. Boswell, DNAP, MNA, CRNA earned his Master of Nursing Anesthesia Practice from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia in 2004. Boswell went on to earn his Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice from Midwestern University in 2021.

Upon completion of his doctoral degree, Dr. Boswell has practiced at Aiken Regional Medical Centers in Aiken, South Carolina, initially as a staff CRNA. He was named chief cardiothoracic and vascular CRNA in 2008 and became manager of the anesthesia department in 2016. Dr. Boswell also serves as an adjunct faculty member for the School of Medicine’s CRNA program. His colleagues describe him as someone with a great command of knowledge in his field.

Dr. Boswell’s professional interests include management of difficult and complex airways, procedural ultrasound, regional anesthesia, enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS), opioid reduction strategies, and anesthesia for cardiovascular and thoracic surgery. Dr. Boswell has been recognized by the South Carolina Association of Nurse Anesthetists for his research work focused on pain management during cardiac surgery while decreasing use of opioids.

Among his other interests are professional public speaking and clinical and didactic instruction, and is dedicated to improving student experiences. Dr. Boswell was influential in helping to expand experiential opportunities for UofSC CRNA students by adding a clinical rotation within his department.

Dr. Boswell and his wife, Mary, have two teenagers, Garrett and Caroline. He enjoys teaching, playing guitar, outdoor activities, and woodworking.

Ginger Hocutt

Distinguished Genetic Counseling Alumni Award

Ginger Hocutt, MS, CGC, '13

Ginger Hocutt, MS, CGC, received her Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology in 2009 and earned her Master of Genetics in 2011 from North Carolina State University. She furthered her education by attaining a master’s degree in Genetic Counseling from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia in 2013. She was honored with the S. Robert Young Outstanding Genetic Counselor award, named in honor of the program’s founding director and presented to a graduate who performed in an exemplary manner in every facet of their professional education.

Hocutt is a clinical instructor in the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, providing reproductive genetic counseling services for a variety of indications including preconception, advanced maternal age, mosaic embryos, family and pregnancy history concerns, and ultrasound anomalies.

She serves as a co-lead supervisor for genetic counseling trainees for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the University of South Carolina genetic counseling training programs. She is also the genetic counselor liaison for the UNC Fetal Care program.

Sadiye Rieder

Distinguished Doctorate Alumni Award

Sadiye Amcaoglu Rieder, PhD, '11

Sadiye A. Rieder, PhD, is an industry immunologist with expertise in immune regulation in autoimmunity and inflammation. She received her doctoral degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia in 2011. She completed her postdoctoral training at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where she worked on T cell and T regulatory cell biology.

Dr. Rieder launched her industry career at Medimmune, where she led preclinical programs and helped develop cutting edge technologies for drug discovery. She then moved to Viela Bio and was a key player in building the early preclinical pipeline. In her current role as Associate Director of Research at Horizon Therapeutics, Rieder leads development of multiple preclinical programs aimed at bringing solutions to high unmet need diseases.

Dr. Rieder has conducted innovative research and published several high-impact papers. She served as vice president and president of the Washington D.C. chapter of Graduate Women in Science, a global organization dedicated to the empowerment of girls and women in science. Dr. Rieder now serves as the industry representative on the Committee on the Status of Women (CSOW) for the American Association of Immunologists.

In addition to her scientific accomplishments, she has great passion for communicating science clearly, working closely with multidisciplinary colleagues and leading teams to reach a scientific goal. She cares immensely about training the new generation of scientists and is a role model for her colleagues and students.

Mary Beth Poston

Distinguished Physician Alumni Award

Mary Beth Poston, MD, MSCR, FACP, '99

Mary Beth Poston, MD, MSCR, FACP, is an associate professor of clinical internal medicine at Prisma Health-UofSC School of Medicine Columbia. She received both her bachelor and master's degrees in Animal and Food Industries from Clemson University. She went on to earn her medical degree from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia in 1999.

Dr. Poston completed her internal medicine residency at Palmetto Health Richland. She then completed an academic general internal medicine fellowship and earned a Master of Science in Clinical Research at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

As an educator focused on pushing her students to excellence, Dr. Poston is the program director of the Internal Medicine Residency program for the UofSC School of Medicine. Her additional interests include ultrasound in medical education and increasing physical activity in primary care. Dr. Poston is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and currently serves as governor for the organization’s South Carolina chapter. Among her many accolades, she has been recognized by the ACP and the Society of General Internal Medicine for her dedication to teaching.

Dr. Poston is recognized by her peers as a role model and mentor for her residents and for her leadership in developing the next generation of physicians.

Tan Platt

Alumni Association Honorary Life Membership Award

Tan J. Platt, MD

Tan J. Platt, MD, is recognized as one of the most outstanding and accomplished physicians and clinical educators to serve at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia.

After completing his medical degree at Columbia University and residency training in Colorado, Dr. Platt began his medical career as a rural family physician in South Dakota with the National Health Service Corps, followed by private practice in New York, New York.

Dr. Platt came to the UofSC School of Medicine in 1986, serving in multiple roles including associate professor, vice chair and clinical director in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.

His influence extended beyond his role as a physician to the patients and families he cared for and to the colleagues with whom he worked, the students and residents he taught, and with fellow citizens he represented.

He also served as medical director for the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, committed to ensuring South Carolinians received access to high-quality medical care. Dr. Platt served on the South Carolina Developmental Disabilities Council, the South Carolina Autism Medical Advisory Committee, and the Department of Disability and Special Needs Collaborative Advisory Committee. He served for 20 years as medical director of the Babcock Center and the Epworth Children’s Home, as well as the Burton Center and CHESCO.

The South Carolina Academy of Family Physicians, of which Dr. Platt was a long-time member and for which he served as its president, in 2010 honored him as “Physician of the Year.”

Dr. Platt passed away at age 73 on August 19, 2020. His selfless devotion to duty has elevated the quality of health for thousands of South Carolina’s citizens. His dedication to duty and service to others will continue to serve as an inspiration in the years to come.


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 seven award recipients for 2021:

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.


William C. Gillespie Staff Recognition Award Recipient

Named after William C. Gillespie, a former employee in the Office of Administration and Finance, the award recognizes an outstanding staff member at the School of Medicine Columbia whose work performance stands out as an example for all to emulate. Awardees are chosen by a selection committee of peer staff members from clinical, research, and administrative areas.

There is one recipient for 2021: 

Jane Hixenbaugh

William C. Gillespie Staff Recognition Award

Jane Hixenbaugh
Office of Information Technology (OIT)

Jane Hixenbaugh joined the School of Medicine Columbia in 1997.  She has always focused on customer service in her role in OIT, but the pandemic and its heavy demands on information technology really showcased her ability to help students, faculty, and staff with hardware and connectivity issues to ensure continuity in our educational programs.  Jane has worked tirelessly to provide timely responses to service issues from early in the morning until the last student or faculty member needed her at the end of the day.  She is unfailingly pleasant, always resourceful, and consistently willing to share her vast knowledge with everyone in the School of Medicine Columbia community.  She is very deserving as this year’s recipient of the William C. Gillespie Staff Recognition Award. 


Luminary Leaders in Medicine and Science Fall Honorees

The Luminary Leaders in Medicine and Science Recognition Program was established in February of 2021, at the recommendation of the School of Medicine Columbia Women in Science and Medicine (WiS&M) Committee, to promote a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion by visually and artistically honoring individuals that have made a significant positive impact on the School of Medicine Columbia, the University of South Carolina, our community, our state, and beyond. 

The program provides a unique way to recognize and honor those individuals who have served as role models or created a lasting legacy of excellence through their service, teaching, discovery, leadership, generosity, life story, or, through their significant role in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within our school. Honorees' pictures are displayed on the first floor of Building Three on the VA Campus. Click here to review the spring 2021 inaugural honorees. 

There are three honorees for fall 2021:

Jim Chow

Luminary Leaders in Medicine and Science

The son of medical missionaries, Jim C. Chow, MD, FACS, immigrated to the United States from North Africa when he was fourteen, settling in Columbia, South Carolina where his older brother was attending the University of South Carolina. Chow also attended the University of South Carolina and then the School of Medicine Columbia, earning his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1985.

Dr. Chow went on to further his training by completing a residency in dermatology and a Wound Healing Fellowship at Vanderbilt University, followed by an Advanced Cutaneous Laser Post Fellowship at Harvard University, and a fellowship In Mohs Micrographic Surgery and Dermatologic Surgery at Johns Hopkins. He authored many papers on growth factor research and held National Institute of Health and National Cancer Institute research grants. As Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine and Surgery at the UofSC School of Medicine, he mentored many students and residents.

Dr. Chow has spent his medical career providing unparalleled care to his patients at the Columbia Skin Clinic, where he has practiced since 1991, focusing on treatment of skin cancer, reconstructive and cosmetic dermatologic surgery. He has held key positions in medical associations and served on the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners for 15 years.

Serving his community, state and country for thirty years in the South Carolina Air National Guard/USAF, rising to the rank of Brigadier General, Dr. Chow served in all major conflicts from 1985 to Enduring Freedom in 2015. During his service, Dr. Chow was flight surgeon for the 157th fighter squadron for many missions and worldwide deployments. He also became the Joint Force Headquarters Surgeon for the South Carolina National Guard after serving as the State Air Surgeon. In 2007, General Chow was assigned as the Air National Guard Assistant to the Air Combat Command Surgeon General and later to the USAF Surgeon General in Washington DC. He served as a liaison and advisor for health readiness for all Air National Guard units in the country. His last assignment was as Special Assistant to the Director of the Air National Guard/USAF at the Pentagon.

In 2005, Dr. Chow established ‘Patriot Docs,’ an initiative to support wounded service members from Iraqi Freedom. He recruited specialized surgeons and trauma specialists from across the US to volunteer their time in providing the best medical care possible to wounded warriors, resulting in more lives being saved or improved of those severely injured military personnel.  He has been twice selected as the Air National Guard/USAF Medical Officer of the Year and received the Palmetto Cross for distinguished military Service.

Dr. Chow’s dedication to his work in providing the best care possible to his patients, both as a civilian and as a military serviceman, has been recognized through numerous awards, including Physician of the Year by the SC Medical Association, the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Alumni of the Year, the Algernon Sidney Sullivan Award for Humanitarian Service, and the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest civilian honor for his service to the state.

Warren Derrick

Luminary Leaders in Medicine and Science

C. Warren Derrick, Jr., MD, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, served as chair of Pediatrics when the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia was founded and held the position for 29 years from 1977 to 2006. Simultaneously, he also held the position of director of Pediatric Education at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, now Prisma Health Children’s Hospital, which he helped found in 1983.

A native of Marion, South Carolina, Dr. Derrick attended Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina before earning his Doctor of Medicine degree from the Medical University of South Carolina. He completed a fellowship in pediatrics at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, along with a fellowship in infectious diseases, before returning to South Carolina.

Under his leadership, the Pediatric residency program more than doubled the number of residents in each class. The residency program has consistently had one of the highest board pass rates in the nation, and the department continually is chosen as best clinical teaching department by the third-year medical students.

During his tenure, the Department of Pediatrics assumed administrative oversight of the Center for Disability Resources, resulting in a significant service contract with state agencies and research projects of national significance. The directors of the four children's hospitals in South Carolina also collaborated on the creation of statewide Developmental Education Centers. 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 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 until 2020.

Because of his dedication to serving the youngest of patients throughout South Carolina, in 2001, the Children’s Hospital named the C. Warren Derrick/Helen Lynch Champion of Children Award in his honor. The award is given annually to an individual or organization displaying extraordinary devotion and dedication to the welfare and well-being of the community’s children. In 2017, Dr. Derrick was honored with the UofSC School of Medicine Dean’s Distinguished Service Award for Career Achievement.

As one of the foundational stones upon which the UofSC School of Medicine Columbia was built, his wisdom and calm demeanor helped bring stability to the school during its formative years. His excellence as a clinical pediatrician and educator, and his outstanding leadership of the pediatrics department and the Prisma Health Children’s Hospital have built a legacy of service that will endure for years to come.

Kristi Williams

Luminary Leaders in Medicine and Science

Kristi Williams, MSN, CRNA, has spent most of her health care career focused on providing anesthesia services to patients and teaching the next generations of those who would do the same.

Williams began her career as a nurse, earning both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of South Carolina. While continuing to work as a nurse, she earned her diploma as a certified nurse anesthetist through the Richland Memorial Hospital School of Nurse Anesthesia in 1986.

Just three years later, Williams became the clinical director of the hospital’s nurse anesthesia training program. She began the work that would eventually result in moving the program from diploma level to a master’s program by 1998, under the UofSC School of Medicine, at a time when most CRNA programs fell under the direction of schools of nursing.

Williams guided the program through numerous accreditation cycles and played a key role in expanding the CRNA program by helping to develop a second primary training site in Greenville, South Carolina. She saw the program grow in size from its original five students to upwards of more than 30 students. Under her direction, the program began an initiative that would lead it to transition to a doctoral level program in 2021.

Williams briefly left her role as director to care for her father, then later returned as assistant director. Once again, she answered the call to serve as director in 2010. Williams stepped down from the position in 2017 but remained a member of the faculty as a clinical associate professor. She continues to practice as a staff nurse anesthetist, specializing in cardiovascular anesthesia.

Her abilities as a skilled clinician enabled her to be a master educator not only in the classroom but in the operating room as well. 

As a true leader, she has played a significant role in developing the next generation of leaders in the field of nurse anesthesia, including the UofSC School of Medicine’s current CRNA program director, assistant directors, and other faculty members.


Award for Advancement of Women in Science and Medicine

The Award for Advancement of Women in Science and Medicine was established in 2021 by the School of Medicine Columbia Women in Science and Medicine (WiS&M) Committee, in consultation with Dean Les Hall, to recognize outstanding individual and organizational contributions to advancing women leaders in the health sciences. Awardees are chosen by the WiS&M Committee.

There are two recipients for this new award: 

Erika Blanck

Award for Advancement of Women in Science and Medicine

Erika Blanck, DPT, ATC
Department of Cell Biology & Anatomy

Erika Blanck, DPT, ATC,  grew up knowing that she was destined to earn an advanced degree in whatever her chosen professional career might be. As a dancer during her undergraduate years at Central Michigan University, she realized that, if she could not foresee a career in dance, she wanted to take care of dancers, thus earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Medicine. In 2001, she came to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia to begin work on her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, completing it in 2005.

Dr. Blanck then joined the UofSC School of Medicine Columbia as a clinical assistant professor. She now serves as clinical associate professor for the School of Medicine, Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy and serves as associated faculty for the School of Public Health, Exercise Science, Doctor of Physical Therapy program.

She also is director of the school’s Gift of Body program, which provides for individuals to participate in the noble and time-honored practice of donating their bodies to advance scientific discovery after their death. As a teacher of anatomy, Dr. Blanck recognizes the great significance that she plays in training students to work with their first patient and the respect owed to each.

Dr. Blanck has authored and coauthored multiple research papers and publications, along with many research presentations. She has actively served on committees with the School of Medicine and professional organizations, and she continually volunteers to represent the School of Medicine at events across the state.

Her reputation as a professor is one who is tough and challenging, but fair, and as a teacher who is fully invested in the success of her students and pushes them to be their absolute best. She models her teaching philosophy after the Greek philosopher Socrates who said, “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”

Because her students recognize her devotion to their education in the field of medicine, Dr. Blanck has twice been chosen as Faculty Member of the Year, and in 2018, she received the O’Neill Barrett Excellence in Teaching Award, given annually at commencement by the graduating class to faculty members in recognition of outstanding teaching during their four years of medical school. She has also twice been chosen as a String of Pearls lecturer, nominated by graduating students to share her ‘pearls of wisdom,’ thoughts and ideas that have made her a successful teacher, mentor, and advisor.

Dr. Blanck’s greatest reward as a teacher comes in the form of cards, letters and texts received from former students many years down the road, thanking her for helping them to achieve their best in their careers.

Mitzi Nagarkatti

Award for Advancement of Women in Science and Medicine

Mitzi Nagarkatti, PhD
Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology

In research circles, Mitzi Nagarkatti’s name garners much recognition and respect. Dr. Nagarkatti serves as the South Carolina SmartState Endowed Chair of the Center for Cancer Drug Discovery, is a Carolina Distinguished Professor, and chair of the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia.

Dr. Nagarkatti earned her doctoral degree in immunology from the Defense Research and Development Establishment in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India. She came to the UofSC School of Medicine in 2005, from which time she has attracted extramural grant funding of more than $68 million. The annual departmental funding has also risen from $600K in 2004 to more than $9million in 2021, and the department is ranked 31st in the nation based on National Institutes of Health funding.

Her research interests are in the areas of inflammation, cancer immunology and immunotherapy, biodefense, immunopharmacology, immunotoxicology, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Her research uses cutting-edge technology including approaches to study various diseases in experimental models and in patients.

Dr. Nagarkatti has made her mark in her field not only through her dedication to research, but also by sharing her knowledge as a mentor to undergraduate, graduate, medical and veterinary students, postdoctoral and clinical fellows, and junior faculty, helping them attain the ability to earn their own research funding.

She has published more than 325 scientific papers in high-impact journals and presented more than 600 research abstracts at international, national, and regional meetings. She has been an invited speaker and has chaired scientific sessions at national and international meetings. Nagarkatti has served as a reviewer for grant proposals for funding agencies such as National Institutes of Health, American Cancer Society, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Dr. Nagarkatti is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, Academy of Toxicological Sciences, American Academy of Microbiology and the National Academy of Inventors. She has received multiple patents and has several pending approval through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. She currently serves as president-elect of the national Association of Medical School Microbiology and Immunology Chairs.

She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Pfizer Award, UofSC Breakthrough Leadership Award, and the Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Award.   

Through her many accomplishments and awards, Dr. Nagarkatti feels her greatest achievement is the opportunity to mentor those from all walks – women, minorities, those who are physically challenged and those who are economically disadvantaged – in helping them to direct their career development.


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.