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School of Medicine Columbia

2022 School of Medicine Columbia Award Recipients Announced

Twenty-two individuals will be recognized for their contributions to the healthcare field and their service to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia at the 2022 Alumni and Dean's Distinguished Service Awards Ceremony and Dinner, which will be held on Thurs., Oct. 27, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at City Market Place in downtown Columbia. Other award categories include the William C. Gillespie Award, the Luminary Leaders in Medicine and Science honorees and the Award for Advancement of Women in Science and Medicine.

Tickets to the event are $75 per person. Faculty, staff, students and friends of the School of Medicine Columbia are asked to please purchase tickets by Mon., Oct. 17. Dress for the ceremony is business attire.




Alumni Award Recipients

The Alumni Awards are presented annually by the School of Medicine Columbia Alumni Association to recognize our most dedicated alumni and friends 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 eight award recipients in 2022:

David Giovannini Photo


David C. Giovannini, MD, FACP is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Internal Medicine at Prisma Health-UofSC School of Medicine Columbia. A native of Hickory, N.C., he earned his Bachelor of Science in Textile Engineering from NC State University. After two years as a process engineer for Milliken, he decided to pursue a career in medicine and was accepted to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in 2010. He earned his Doctor of Medicine in 2014.

Dr. Giovannini completed his internal medicine residency training at Palmetto Health Richland/UofSC SOM and served as chief resident from 2016-17 prior to joining the faculty upon graduation. He is currently an Associate Program Director for the Internal Medicine Residency Program as well as Associate Clerkship Director for the IM Clerkship.

As an educator, he is focused on helping his learners develop solid clinical reasoning skills and was selected as the Teacher of the Year for the Prisma Health/UofSC Internal Medicine Residency program in 2019, 2021, and 2022. He was also elected to the UofSC SOMC S.C. Beta Chapter of AOA by medical students in 2021. Committed to lifelong learning and improvement, Dr. Giovannini participated in the two-year Society of General Internal Medicine TEACH Program and completed it in 2022.

Dr. Giovannini’s clinical interests include Point of Care Ultrasound and he has served as an instructor at local CME events hosted by the UofSC SOMC Ultrasound Institute as well as nationally through the American College of Physicians and continues to co-lead the ultrasound curriculum for IM residents and students at Prisma Health - Midlands. He also volunteers regularly at the Good Samaritan Clinic in Columbia since 2020.

Outside of medicine, Dr. Giovannini is an active member of the Columbia Running Club and coaches youth soccer at the YMCA. He and his wife, Shannon, live in Columbia with their two boys, Parker (6)  and Connor (4).

Andrew Vaughn Photo


Andrew D. Vaughan, MD is a Family Medicine physician at Prisma Health in Columbia, S.C. He grew up in the midlands of South Carolina. As an undergraduate, Dr. Vaughan attended the University of South Carolina where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree and he also competed in track and field.  He went on to receive his medical degree from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia in 2015.  He completed his Family Medicine residency training at Palmetto Health where he served as a Family Medicine chief resident from 2017-18 and was awarded Resident of the Year in 2018 by the Graduate Medical Education Office of Prisma Health.

Presently, Dr. Vaughan is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Family Medicine at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia as well as the Director of Student Education in the Department of Family and Preventative Medicine at Prisma Health Midlands. Within his role as the Director of Student Education he is the MS3 Clerkship Director and MS4 acting Intern Course Director.

Dr. Vaughan’s professional interests include Point-of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS) in Primary care as well as outpatient procedures in primary care. In pursuit of these interests, Dr. Vaughan has been active in the development and implementation of continuing medical education courses in the fields of POCUS for both local and national institutions.

Dr. Vaughan lives in Columbia with his wife Elizabeth and their two children Clara and Nelson.

Marc Bentz Photo


Marc R. Bentz, DNAP, CRNA earned his Master of Nurse Anesthesia Practice from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia in 2013. Dr. Bentz went on to earn his Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2016.

Dr. Bentz has continued to practice at Prisma Health Richland as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist specializing in cardiothoracic and vascular anesthesia since completing his Master of Nurse Anesthesia Practice. Dr. Bentz began as Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia Graduate Program in Nurse Anesthesia in the fall of 2019. He is also a member of the South Carolina Association of Nurse Anesthetists research and scholarship committee.

Dr. Bentz’s professional interests include mentoring doctoral project committees, anesthesia for cardiothoracic surgery, and call shift fatigue/burnout reduction strategies for Student Registered Nurse Anesthetists (SRNAs) and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs). He is also very involved in medical missions, providing anesthesia services with multiple mission organizations located in Central America and Africa. Dr. Bentz was influential in helping transition the Graduate Program in Nurse Anesthesia at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia from a Masters of Nurse Anesthesia to a Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice degree. He is also a clinical preceptor at Prisma Health.

Dr. Bentz has lived in South Carolina for the past 11 years, now residing in Chapin, S.C. He enjoys teaching, cycling, paddle boarding, and cooking.

Andrea Sellers Photo


Andrea Adams Sellers, MS, CGC graduated from Furman University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology in 2002. She worked at the Greenwood Genetic Center for a year prior to earning her Master’s Degree in Genetic Counseling from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia Genetic Counseling Program in 2005. Upon graduation, she joined her UofSC mentors as a prenatal genetic counselor and instructor in the Genetic Counseling Program. Sellers thoroughly enjoyed the combination of clinic and student teaching and eventually took on the role of Assistant Director of the Genetic Counseling Program. In 2012, she left her physical office at the university to join her husband for a few years of required work travel and to raise their two young children. She remained connected to UofSC for 10 additional years, however, leading the online course Genetic Counseling: Career for the Future where she had the joy of teaching nearly 1,000 prospective students about the dynamic profession of genetic counseling.

Sellers joined Informed Medical Decisions (InformedDNA) in 2017. She currently manages a team of 16 genetic counselors performing utilization management for genetic testing. 

John Patrick Photo


John D. Patrick, MD graduated from the College of Charleston with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology. He went on to receive his medical degree from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Columbia. He later served a three-year medical internship at the North Carolina Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, where he also served a concurrent five-year anatomic and clinical pathology residency.

Since completing his postgraduate training, Dr. Patrick has held a variety of key positions at hospitals across North Carolina. He is currently Medical Director of Moses Cone Hospital, Wesley Long Hospital, the Cone Health Women’s Hospital, Annie Penn Hospital, and the MedCenter of High Point. He has been a Staff Pathologist with GPA Laboratories for nearly 30 years. 

Dr. Patrick is a member of six professional medical organizations, such as the American Society for Clinical Pathology, the College of American Pathologists, and the North Carolina Society of Pathologists. He holds full medical licensure in ten states, including Florida, Michigan, North Carolina and Tennessee. He is board certified in anatomic and clinical pathology and cytopathology by the American Board of Pathology. Dr. Patrick has coauthored several peer-reviewed articles that were subsequently published in some of the more prestigious medical journals.

Brannon Traxler Photo


Brannon Traxler, MD, MPH, currently serves as Director of Public Health for the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). In this capacity, she provides strategic direction for public health, leading its more than 2,000 public health employees. She ensures the delivery of appropriate, timely and quality services at DHEC’s 74 public health service sites, located in every county in the state and the performance of the central office bureaus of Community Health Services, Communicable Disease Prevention and Control, Maternal and Child Health, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Public Health Laboratory, Public Health Preparedness and Community Nutrition Services.

A native of Greenville, S.C., Dr. Traxler most recently served as the Chief Medical Officer for the state’s COVID-19 response. She is trained and board certified in general surgery and previously practiced as a surgeon in South Carolina before changing her specialty focus to public health. Dr. Traxler completed residency in general surgery at Greenville Health System in Greenville, S.C. and fellowship in breast surgery at Emory University in Atlanta. 

Dr. Traxler earned her medical degree from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and her Master of Public Health degree from George Washington University. She received her undergraduate degree in microbiology at the Clemson University Honors College. In Spring 2022, Dr. Traxler was recognized for her leadership and dedication to public health as one of The State's 20 under 40 and became a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society.

Moeen Saleem Photo


Moeen A. Saleem, MD is an electrophysiologist at Midwest Cardiovascular Institute in Naperville, Ill.

Dr. Saleem received his undergraduate degree from the University of South Carolina, where he graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and a Minor in Chemistry. He graduated with his medical degree from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia in 1995. His post graduate training started at Rush Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago where he served as chief resident in internal medicine and did his fellowship in general cardiology. He went on to Northwestern Memorial for training in cardiac electrophysiology.

Dr. Saleem is the Director of the Electrophysiology Lab at Edward Elmhurst Health System. He is board certified in cardiology and cardiac electrophysiology. He has also served as a principal and sub-principal investigator for various electrophysiology-related research trials.

In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and spending time with his wife and five children. He also serves on the board of directors of MedGlobal, a humanitarian non-government organization (NGO) dedicated to serving health crises around the world. He has volunteered and led several cardiology missions to serve indigent populations including refugees.

Susan Butler Photo


Susan C. Butler joined the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia Office of Development in 1997 and continues to demonstrate her commitment to the school and its mission through her important work and tireless efforts for all. Over the course of her 26-year career with the school, Butler has made significant contributions to its educational goals and the Alumni Association. Since 2003, the native of Dillon, S.C., has expertly served the School of Medicine as the fiscal coordinator managing all endowments and non-endowed projects within the UofSC Educational Foundation. Butler also serves as the fiscal coordinator for the Office of Development and throughout the years has been deeply involved with the Black Tie White Coat Gala as well as many other School of Medicine events. She works closely with the Office of Student Services and USC Financial Aid in identifying funds available for student scholarships. She plays a crucial role in overseeing financial expenditures for the entire medical school. A 1980 graduate of the University of South Carolina, she previously worked as the assistant corporate secretary for First Citizens Bank and First Citizens Bancorporation of South Carolina.


Dean’s Distinguished Service Award 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 award recipients in 2022:

Bob Price Photo


Robert L. Price, PhD, joined the School of Medicine Columbia in 1990 as Director of the Instrumentation Resource Facility (IRF). Dr. Price has led the transformation of this facility from one solely focused on microscopy and centered primarily in the Department of Anatomy to a core facility containing diverse cutting-edge instrumentation utilized by investigators from across the university and South Carolina. Dr. Price has received numerous grants totaling several million dollars for the IRF that support research infrastructure for all university investigators. 

Dr. Price is a dedicated educator who is passionate about training the next generation of biomedical researchers. He developed the Applied Biotechnology Master of Science Concentration that helps students gain extensive hands-on experience in research techniques and become competitive for research positions within academia and industry. Dr. Price annually teaches three hands-on technical courses in the program and spends countless hours providing one-on-one training to students in the IRF.

Dr. Price has established a national reputation as a leader in the microscopy field and has greatly impacted the training of countless junior scientists. Dr. Price has authored one of the most widely utilized books on confocal microscopy, Basic Confocal Microscopy, and authored over 100 peer reviewed articles. He has served as the President of the Microscopy Society of America, the largest organization in the country focused on the advancement of microscopy and microanalysis. He served as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Microscopy and Microanalysis for almost a decade and is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Microscopy Today.

Brandon Gettleman Photo


Brandon Gettleman is an MD candidate in the Class of 2024. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Health Sciences at Chapman University. Community service has been an integral piece of his time in Columbia. Since 2019, he has worked closely with the foundation Curing Kids Cancer and co-founded the Young Professionals Group.  

The focus of his philanthropic endeavor is to create a reproducible, turn-key 5k and family fun day. The first installment in Columbia in 2021, the Run With All Your Heart 5K Fun Run, raised over $20,000, all of which was contributed directly to Prisma Health Midlands for pediatrics research. He is now the lead research fellow for the Musculoskeletal Oncology Division of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. While assisting the new leadership team in Columbia for this year’s event, he has also expanded to a second event in Los Angeles. Mr. Gettleman aspires to create a 5k tour driven by medical students to support pediatric research and the Curing Kids Cancer foundation.

Sophia Papelis photo


Sophia Papelis is an MD program candidate in the Class of 2024. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering and Master of Science in Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurial Engineering at the University of South Carolina. 

As a lifelong advocate for health and wellness, Papelis has focused her service activities in these areas during medical school. As president of the HEALthy Strides student organization, she led the return of the Healthy Strides 5K in 2022 after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19. She led a team of more than 20 volunteers that assisted in planning, promoting and executing the Healthy Strides run/walk. She secured sponsorship from local businesses and coordinated the designing and printing of T-shirts, the blocking off of streets for race day, and the provision of healthy food options for participants. Papelis met with Shandon Neighborhood leaders to get approval for the race and the route. The event included 148 participants and more than $6,000 was raised for Food Share South Carolina. This was an enormous event to plan and execute. Papelis did this with solid leadership and a passion for supporting Food Share. Papelis is also a student wellness leader within the School of Medicine Academic Success and Wellness Center and is a member of the School of Medicine Wellness Committee.

Sarah Tryon Photo


Sarah C. Tryon, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Medicine Columbia Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience. Dr. Tryon holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Neuroscience and German Studies from Furman University, a Doctorate in Exercise Science from the University of South Carolina (UofSC), and was a Fulbright Student Grant Recipient to Germany. She has encouraged the next generation to become leaders in neuroscience research and medicine through local and state-wide neuroscience programs that she has created and directed. 

Dr. Tryon was the Founding President of the Graduate Association for Brain Awareness (GABA) at UofSC and now serves on the steering committee that organizes Brain Awareness Week activities in schools across the region. She has served as the lead coordinator for the South Carolina Brain Bee neuroscience competition for high school students since 2020. She has received two funded awards from the DANA Foundation to support S.C. Brain Bee activities and to develop neuroSC, the first South Carolina-wide high school neuroscience course. 

Now permanent programs, these initiatives provide leadership and volunteer opportunities to UofSC students and faculty and have introduced over 200 K-12 students in South Carolina to neuroscience education and career paths. Dr. Tryon is also involved in neuroscience outreach at the national level by currently serving as Co-Chair of the Public Policy Committee for the international organization, Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience.

Chuck Carter Photo


Charles J. Carter, Jr., MD, serves as the Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education, Regional Graduate Medical Education (GME) Executive and Designated Institutional Official (DIO), Prisma Health Midlands, and Academic Vice Chair, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. A graduate of the School of Medicine Columbia, he completed his Family Medicine residency at Palmetto Health Richland Hospital and a fellowship at Georgetown University.

Dr. Carter helped establish the South Carolina Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare (CRPH) and served as its first director. Collaborating with the CRPH to develop policy and improve healthcare delivery in rural South Carolina has been a consistent theme of his work. He secured substantial funding and worked as part of the CRPH team starting numerous programs including rural health workforce loans, statewide innovation grants, clinical outreach, and the rural residency program in Sumter. This year he developed a significant Loan Repayment Award Program to encourage family medicine physician development and placement into rural counties of South Carolina. Due to this program, the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine was able to retain two family medicine residency program graduates and place them in underserved rural areas.

Dr. Carter has been instrumental in the development of a collaborative relationship with Lexington Medical Center for ongoing training of learners in undergraduate and graduate medical education. He provided strong leadership with a delicate balance of communication and administrative skill when advocating for the training needs of all the learners. Dr. Carter brought the group together, found a solution, and laid the groundwork for an ongoing transformative relationship.

Carol McMahon Photo


Carol L. McMahon, MD, is the Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion and Clinical Associate Professor of Pathology in the School of Medicine Columbia Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology. She received her medical degree from Howard University and completed her residency in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology at Howard. She joined the School of Medicine Columbia faculty in 1994 and has held the position of Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion since its inception in 1996. 

When the medical school was founded it was with the understanding that it would help to recruit and train more underrepresented minorities to practice medicine. Dean Larry Faulkner quickly realized Dr. McMahon's talents and appointed her as the first Assistant Dean for Minority Affairs. Dr. McMahon, now with the assistance of Dr. Robert Rhinehart, is the face of recruitment of underrepresented minorities. For most of her time on faculty she was a one-woman show who almost single handedly significantly increased the number of underrepresented minority physicians in South Carolina. She meets with middle and high school students, works with advisors at historically black colleges and universities, organizes health fairs in underserved communities, gives personal attention to medical school applicants and counsels current students. 

As an Admissions Committee member, Dr. McMahon advocates for minority applicants and works hard to recruit them. Through her efforts the number of minority applicants has grown and is on track this year to have 10 percent of the incoming class as underrepresented minority students. She also helped to establish the Everett L. Dargan Endowed Scholarship, the first SOMC scholarship for underrepresented minority students.

Eileen Korpita Photo


Eileen G. Korpita served as the founding director of the Office of University of South Carolina (UofSC) Pre-Professional Advising for 25 years. She recently retired, but still works part-time as a health professions advisor for the office. As a health professions advisor she has worked with tens of thousands of undergraduate students throughout her career, including pre-med, pre-PA, and pre-dental students, the vast majority being pre-med.

Ms. Korpita has provided guidance and support to hundreds of UofSC undergraduate students who eventually matriculated to the School of Medicine Columbia as medical students. She has advanced the medical school’s mission by providing opportunities for undergraduate students to spend time at the medical school, by having programs that allow current medical students to interact with undergraduate students, and by sponsoring forums where School of Medicine faculty and staff members promote the medical school program. She has partnered with the School of Medicine Columbia in hosting the Pre-Medical Fair, has allowed students from the PACES Summer Recruitment Program to visit the medical school, and has been the primary contact to select undergraduate students for the Finding Your Future Program. 

The School of Medicine has been the benefactor of Ms. Korpita’s leadership over the years. Since the medical school typically enrolls approximately 35 percent of its class from the main campus, Korpita has influenced several hundred students during her tenure. She has been a true friend to the School of Medicine Columbia and significantly contributed to its educational mission. 

James Fadel Photo


James R. Fadel, Professor, Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience, earned a PhD in Neuroscience from Ohio State University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Vanderbilt University before joining the School of Medicine Columbia as an Assistant Professor in 2002.  

Dr. Fadel significantly contributes to the School of Medicine teaching mission, with major roles in teaching and directing courses in neuroscience-based courses. He played a critical role in the revision of the MD program second-year curriculum by leading the development of the new Neuroscience Block and serving as the inaugural block director. Dr. Fadel also serves as a teaching mentor to new instructors and course directors and is a skilled mentor for many students and postdoctoral fellows.

Dr. Fadel tirelessly supports the school in administrative roles, including serving as vice-chair of the department. He played a critical leadership role in chairing the Curriculum Committee during the revamping of the MD program curriculum and served on the Curriculum Innovation Task Force. 

His research, focused on neural mechanisms of aging and cognitive decline, is internationally recognized and has received continuous extramural funding since his arrival at UofSC.  Dr. Fadel has received the UofSC Educational Foundation Award for Research in Health Sciences and serves on the Editorial Board for the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience and the National Scientific Advisory Council for the American Federation for Aging Research. 


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 in 2022: 

Joann Nagy photo


Joann Nagy, MA, joined the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia in January 2019 and has made an immediate impact in her role as a Student Services Coordinator. Nagy has been praised for her student-focused mindset and for her helpfulness and quick response to situations, and for being a source of unification between the graduate studies and MD students. Prior to joining the medical school, she had a long career in administration at her alma mater, Columbia College. During her 16-year career at the school, she served as an admissions counselor before her roles as an Assistant and Associate Director of Admissions, and most recently as a Student Services Manager where she provided academic advising, planning and support for online students among her many responsibilities. Nagy earned Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Public Affairs and Communications from Columbia College, where she also earned her Master of Arts Degree in Organizational Change and Leadership.


Luminary Leaders in Medicine and Science Honorees

The Luminary Leaders in Medicine and Science Recognition Program was established in February 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.

There are three honorees in 2022:

Janice Edwards Photo


A leader with endless impact, Janice Edwards, MS, CGC has expertly served the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia and South Carolinians with passion and commitment, supporting patients and clinicians as genetics and genomics have become integral to medicine. As the School of Medicine's first genetic counselor, she developed genetic counseling services and education impacting our state and beyond, highlighted by the over 250 genetic counselors who have trained under her direction. A skilled facilitator, she assisted several national organizations build consensus around emerging issues in genetics and was the founding president of the Transnational Alliance for Genetic Counseling, an international network of genetic counselor educators. She has been recognized by the National Society of Genetic Counselors with their Regional Leadership (2000) and International Leader (2010) Awards and was a 2020 recipient of the School of Medicine's Dean’s Career Achievement Award. Committed to genetic education, she has directed conferences and symposia regionally, nationally and internationally, most recently facilitating an online course for physician fellows in reproductive genetics. Her patient care has focused on prenatal genetics and service to families affected with Huntington disease, spanning over 40 years of genetic counseling practice.

Don Saunders Photo


Donald E. Saunders, Jr., MD, was a passionate leader in the campaign to establish the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. Beginning early in his career he saw the need for an additional medical school in his home state. He chaired the Columbia Chamber of Commerce Medical Affairs Committee from 1965-69, working to convince the city’s business and medical community of the benefits of the proposed school. He advised the S.C. Commission on Higher Education on selecting the consultants who documented the need for an additional medical school and established Columbia as the most favorable location. His passion for the new medical school’s creation permeated all of his actions. He gave media interviews and made numerous presentations to the South Carolina General Assembly and the U.S. Congress in support of a second medical school. 

Almost as soon as the medical school was founded, Dr. Saunders became part of it, first as Director of Cardiology at Richland Memorial Hospital and then as Director of the medical school’s cardiology division.  He joined the School of Medicine faculty as Professor of Medicine in 1979 and was Director of the Cardiology Division and later the Associate Dean for Planning and Development. He was a compassionate and caring physician who understood the importance of the humanities and ethics in medicine. He developed and taught the first medical ethics course and was co-founder and later the Director of the Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities at the University of South Carolina. In 2004 the School of Medicine established the Saunders Humanism Honor Society and the Saunders Visiting Lectureship.

A native of Columbia and a graduate of the University of South Carolina, Dr. Saunders attended Duke University School of Medicine where he graduated first in his class. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Duke Hospital and the Johns Hopkins Hospital and completed his cardiology training at the National Heart Hospital in London. Throughout his life and career, Dr. Saunders was a prolific writer. He authored numerous journal articles and two books, To Improve the Health of the People, An Insider’s View of the Campaign for the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and Christmas Thoughts about Love: A Cardiologist Speaks from His Heart.

Dr. Saunders committed a great deal of his professional and personal life to campaigning for the medical school and to ensuring that it was a success. His relentless dedication to the School of Medicine has created a lasting legacy of improved health for the people of South Carolina.

Marcia Welsh Photo


Marcia Welsh, PhD was appointed by the Board of Governors for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education as the 13th president of ESU in April 2012, and assumed her role as the first female president of ESU in July 2012. She retired from ESU in July 2020.

Dr. Welsh earned both her undergraduate degree in physical sciences and Master’s Degree in Anatomy from Colorado State University, and her Doctoral Degree in Anatomy from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. She published numerous articles in academic journals, presented at a number of national and international conferences, and has been involved with a variety of community organizations. She served the local and regional communities in multiple capacities including: the Northampton Community College Monroe Campus Advisory Board, the Northeastern Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Universities (NEPACU), Women’s Resources of Monroe County Board, WVIA (Public Media) Board of Directors, and the Pocono Mountains Musical Festival Board. As president of East Stroudsburg University, Dr. Welsh was also a member of the Chincoteague Bay Field Station board of directors, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), the Greater Pocono Chamber of Commerce, Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, and TecBridge.

ESU’s many accomplishments under Dr. Welsh’s leadership included: the addition of 3-D printing and additive manufacturing to the curriculum; the institution of two new sports to ESU athletics, women’s wrestling and acrobatics and tumbling; building a good neighbor program within the East Stroudsburg community which enabled administrators, faculty, staff, students, alumni, police and borough leadership to more closely connect to local residents and neighbors; supporting the incorporation of esports in the University’s academic research; the approval for ESU’s two doctoral degrees (in Educational Leadership and Administration and Health Sciences); the opening of the institution’s Lehigh Valley Center in Bethlehem; helping to unveil the Philadelphia Multi-University Center (PMUC); establishing collaborative degree programs with The Commonwealth Medical College and Marywood University, both in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and the College of Sport and Health Science at Ritsumeikan University in Shiga, Japan; announcing the launch of LYME-AID, the first commercial licensing agreement of faculty/student research at ESU and within Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education; opening a Student Veterans Center at ESU; initiating ESU’s annual Economic Outlook Summit to raise awareness of the economic development initiatives underway in Monroe County; launching a new website, Made in the Poconos, in cooperation with the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau, Pennsylvania CareerLink and the Pocono Mountains Economic Development Corporation to promote and encourage residents and visitors to shop locally; assisting Pocono Medical Center in the facilitation of focus groups and the creation of an online platform to match residents with health professionals, social service agencies, workshops and other events geared toward health concerns; partnering with Stroudsburg Little League for two FieldTurf surfaces and other facilities upgrades for ESU baseball, softball and local athletes at the Creekview complex; the establishment of the Dr. Jane Huffman Wildlife Genetics Institute in the ESU Innovation Center; and the creation of a state-of-the-art marine aquaculture facility in the Warren E. ’55 and Sandra Hoeffner Science and Technology Center.

Dr. Welsh also supported a partnership with Pocono Medical Center to train ESU student volunteers to act as health coaches for patients in the Pocono community; ESU’s hosting of the International European Union Simulation (EUROSIM) which brought students from nearly 20 universities in Europe and the U.S. to ESU for political role-playing at its highest level; and the university’s participation in the Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program to assist veterans with tuition costs. She led the campus community through two strategic planning processes that resulted in ESU’s plans – Students First: Innovate ESU, and Students First: Empowering Innovation through Collaboration 2017-2020.  She also assumed a leadership role in Monroe 2020, the strategic planning process for Monroe County

During her presidency at ESU, Dr. Welsh was selected as one of the Top 25 Women in Business by the Northeast Pennsylvania Business Journal and as one of the Top 25 Women of Influence in the Greater Lehigh Valley with special recognition in the Community Achievement Award category by Lehigh Valley Business. She was also recognized with the Athena Award by the Greater Pocono Mountains Chamber of Commerce for her business and professional accomplishments, community service and mentoring of others, especially encouraging women to achieve their own leadership potential. In 2019, she was also named one of the Top 10 Influential Executives on Social Media by Campus Sonar, and she was the only woman to make this list. In fall 2020, she received ICON honors from Lehigh Valley Business for her long-standing commitment to the Greater Lehigh Valley’s business community and significant professional accomplishments through innovation and leadership.

Dr. Welsh pursued both administrative and academic career paths prior to her presidency at ESU. She began her academic career in 1978 as an assistant professor in the Department of Anatomy at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. She remained at UofSC for 23 years, rising through the ranks to professor and also serving as chair of the Faculty Senate and acting chair of her department before being named associate provost and dean of the Graduate School. In 2001, she was named senior vice president for academic affairs and provost of Adelphi University. Dr. Welsh then became provost of Towson University in 2009, and also served as interim president of the university in 2011. 

She is married to Louis Terracio, PhD, former vice dean of academic affairs and research and professor at NYU’s College of Dentistry. They have three children: Nate, Matthew, and Mallory, and four grandchildren, Giovanni, Harper, Logan and Matilda. 


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 award recipients in 2022:

Marlene Wilson Photo


Marlene A. Wilson, PhD is Professor and Chair, Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience (PPN) at the University of South Carolina (UofSC) School of Medicine Columbia, and a VA Research Health Scientist at the WJB Dorn VA Medical Center. She is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychology at UofSC. After graduating from Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio with a Bachelor of Science in both Biology and Chemistry, Dr. Wilson received her PhD in Neural and Behavioral Biology at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, under the guidance of Dr. Edward Roy. She then completed postdoctoral training at Yale University in the Department of Psychiatry with Dr. Dorothy Gallagher, before joining the UofSC School of Medicine faculty in 1988 where she rose through the academic ranks to become full professor in 2003.

Dr. Wilson is recognized for her work in the neuroscience field, specifically concerning the neurochemical underpinnings of anxiety- and stress-related disorders and the actions of anxiolytic, antidepressant, and anticonvulsant drugs, with an emphasis on understanding sex differences in responses to these agents. A major focus of her laboratory is the role of neuropeptides and the cholinergic system within the amygdala in anxiety-related behaviors and the actions of anxiety-reducing modalities such as the Valium-like benzodiazepines, alcohol and exercise and her research has been funded through numerous agencies including the National Institute of Health (NIH), the Veterans Administration and private agencies such as NARSAD. She has been fortunate to lead a remarkable team of faculty, staff and students in the PPN department for over 10 years to achieve national recognition in research and teaching, as well as mentoring postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, medical students, undergraduate students, and PREP students. She has also served in numerous leadership roles at UofSC, including serving as Faculty Liaison for Biomedical Research for the UofSC Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies Office, the Interim Associate Dean for Basic Science and Graduate Studies for the School of Medicine, and co-Chairing the Curricular Innovation Task Force.  She is the recipient of several research and teaching awards at the University, such as the Dean’s Leadership Award and the UofSC Russell Research Award for Health Sciences, and is an active member in the Association of Chairs of Departments of Physiology (ACDP). 

Patricia Witherspoon Photo


Doctor, educator, mentor - words used to describe Patricia Wilson Witherspoon, a clinical associate professor of family and preventive medicine with the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia. 

Inspired by her parents' belief in the importance of education, Witherspoon received a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and went on receive a scholarship to study for a Master’s Degree in Histology from Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pa. Initially discouraged from pursuing a degree in medicine, Witherspoon and her husband moved to Baltimore where she worked at Johns Hopkins University and rekindled her desire to attend medical school.

Witherspoon returned to Penn State’s College of Medicine in Hershey to earn her Doctor of Medicine. She came to Prisma Health Richland, then Palmetto Health Richland, for residency in family medicine, where she served as chief resident in her last year. She provided care for patients with the Richland Primary Health Care Preventive Medicine Association for three years, and in 1998, joined the faculty for the School of Medicine in the Department of Family Medicine.

As a school of medicine faculty member she served as a contributing lecturer for the Introduction to Clinical Medicine lectures, was interim ICM Coordinator, member of numerous School of Medicine and main campus committees, and was co-faculty advisor to SNMA.

Witherspoon was equally involved in the medical community in a variety of volunteer roles. She was a member of the investigation team at the South Carolina Rural Health Research Center in the office of Rural Health Policy. She was a member of the South Carolina Cardiovascular Task Force, a subcommittee chair of the Tri-State Stroke Network. She originally returned to the department to create a month long experience for each family medicine intern, the community medicine rotation. Throughout her tenure, she has served as the interim and eventually Medical Director for the Family Medicine Outpatient Facility, the Director of Community Outreach and the Quality Team. 

Her community appointments include the South Carolina Academy of Family Physicians Board of Directors, past president, where she serves on several subcommittees. She is an active member of the South Carolina Medical Association and participates in the Doctor of the Day program at the South Carolina state legislature. She is a member of the volunteer physician work force at the Columbia Free Clinic and the Good Samaritan Clinic.  She is a board member of the SC Office of Rural Health and Diabetes Initiatives of South Carolina. She currently holds the position of medical director or medical consultants for several statewide organizations.

Witherspoon has the distinct honor to have been a past recipient of both the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Diabetes Physician Champion Award and the School of Medicine’s Kay McFarland Women’s Health Award, each on two different occasions. She also received the Social Justice Award, given by the UofSC Office of Equal Opportunity Programs, and she was honored as a physician teacher by the Gold Humanism Honor Society. In 2021, she was selected as a Luminary Leader in Medicine and Science by the School of Medicine Columbia.

Witherspoon considers it her responsibility to serve as a mentor not only to her medical students but to learners of all ages from high school students to junior faculty members, illustrating to them that no matter the difficulties they may face, they can maximize their opportunities to make their dreams come true.


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