2021 School of Medicine Columbia Awards Recipients Named
2021 School of Medicine Columbia Awards Recipients Named
Posted on: October 11, 2021; Updated on: October 11, 2021
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.
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,
There are six award recipients for 2021:
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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:
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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:
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.
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.