The May 2013 Connection

Have a story you think your fellow alumni would be interested to hear? Email medalum@uw.edu, and put “Connections topic” in the subject line. Thanks!


Meet the Class of 2013!

This month, the UW School of Medicine Alumni Association is devoting the newsletter to introducing students and trainees completing their studies in 2013. Read about enthusiastic, intelligent and inspiring students from programs across the UW School of Medicine, including the M.D., Ph.D., MEDEX, and rehabilitation medicine programs!

 Thao Phuong Le

Thao Phuong Le, 26: Global Eye Care
Hometown: Everett, WA
M.D. candidate
Pending residency: Virginia Mason and UW Medical Center (ophthalmology)

I was born in Nha Trang, Viet Nam, and immigrated to the U.S. as a refugee with my parents and brother in 1990. Ophthalmology interested me for a lot of reasons, both personal and professional. For as long as I can remember, I have been a pair of eyes for my mother, who is visually impaired. I feel fortunate to have matched with UW ophthalmology, where I've already built strong relationships since doing research as an undergraduate student. The surgeries and technology are fascinating and the idea of “curing blindness” is admittedly quite cool. In the future, I hope to have the opportunity to teach in my field and travel abroad to provide services in countries where access to ophthalmologic care is limited. For my class, I hope they have fulfilling and inspiring careers and that our paths will cross again somewhere down the road!

 Jessica Turnbull

Jessica Turnbull, M.D., 33: The Parents’ Hero
Hometown: Massillon, OH
Fellowship candidate: pediatric critical care

This spring, I will complete my pediatric critical care fellowship at Seattle Children’s, my clinical bioethics fellowship with the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics and my M.A. with the Department of Bioethics and Humanities. In July, I will begin a clinician educator-track position as a pediatric intensivist at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt as well as a position as a pediatric bioethicist with the Vanderbilt University Center for Bioethics. My favorite memory: after I ran a code for a seven-year-old who had undergone an organ transplant. After he was stabilized, I left the room foggy because we had no idea what had led to the event that had precipitated the code. I saw his dad sitting outside the room. He had been looking in just enough to see what was going on, and he looked up at me with tears in his eyes and said, “thank you…you kicked so much *** in there.” About 20 minutes later, I was caught sideways in an unexpected full-force hug by the patient’s mom. Sobbing, she grabbed me and said, “My husband told me you kicked so much *** in there!” The patient got better and went home shortly thereafter. In 10 years, I will be settled into my role as a pediatric intensivist, and will still be providing consults for the ethics team at my institution. (And I will have two pugs and their names will be Carl and Sally!)

 Trevor Steinbach

Trevor Steinbach, 29: The Black Sheep
Hometown: Fort Shaw, MT
M.D. candidate
Pending residency: UW Medical Center (internal medicine)

I grew up on the front range of the Rocky Mountains and loved growing up in a ranching family. I’m sort of the “black sheep” of the family for going to medical school and moving to the city, although I never did look good in a cowboy hat! I spent my first year at Montana State University, which was a great way to start medical school, with a small class and a core group of dedicated teaching faculty. I chose internal medicine because I enjoy the thought process that goes into treating medical problems and get excited thinking through complex physiology and pathology challenges. Internal medicine is also a specialty that coordinates a great deal of care both in the hospital as well as the clinic, and I enjoy being the person who helps patients navigate their care. Along with clinical work, I hope to find myself working as an educator.

 Svetlana Syropyatova

Svetlana Syropyatova, 27: Maximizing Patients’ Lives
Hometown: Spokane, WA
Ph.D. candidate: physical therapy

I was born in Russia and moved with my family to Spokane in 1997. What attracted me to physical therapy was the opportunity to work with people and feel like I am making an impact on their lives. As a physical therapist, I have a unique opportunity to help individuals maximize physical function, thus improving their quality of life. After taking the boards, I am considering applying for a residency program to further develop my skills as a clinician. Other than that, I would love to work on my golf game, read some British novels, travel and learn how to salsa! One of my favorite memories of UW was my participation in the UW Fall Prevention Awareness Leadership Team, which consisted of other PT, OT and pharmacy students and faculty. Our goal was to raise awareness about the risks and consequences of falls in older adults and provide them with fall-prevention strategies.

 Karla Rivera

Karla Rivera, 26: For People in Need
Hometown: Colima, Mexico/Los Angeles, CA
P.A. candidate, Spokane Class 15

The town I grew up in had no hospital or clinic, the nearest medical center was an hour away, and lack of transportation prevented people from receiving medical care. My experience of living in a medically underserved community inspired my interest in the medical field and instilled in me a desire to make things better for those in need. I chose to become a physician’s assistant because the profession gave me a wide scope of practice — and as a single parent, the time commitment to the program was ideal. What I have enjoyed most about studying at UW Medicine is the great faculty support, diverse student body and receiving a high-quality education focused on primary care. After graduation, I plan to work in a primary-care clinic serving rural and underserved communities.

 Emily Hutchison

Emily Hutchison, 43: The Third Career
Hometown: Sammamish, WA
M.D. candidate
Pending residency: Seattle and Boise (psychiatry)

I consider medicine my third career, after working in cardiac rehabilitation and being a stay-at-home mom for nine years. I like psychiatry because people let you into their lives in a unique way, and I will have the opportunity to help people in times of vulnerability and need. While I am here in Seattle, I’m looking forward to great inpatient psychiatry, and learning about emergency psychiatry and strong outpatient and clinical training in Boise. I don’t have one favorite memory of medical school, but whenever a patient mentioned that I was going to be a great doctor — that really helped me get through the training. In the coming years, I hope to be working part-time for a hospital and part-time in private practice.

 James Noonan

James Noonan, 31: Working with the Urban Underserved
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
P.A. candidate

In August, I will be finishing a master’s of clinical health services degree through the MEDEX Northwest physician assistant program. First things first: my plan after graduation is to pass my certification exam. Hopefully, by that time I will have lined up a job. My background prior to MEDEX was working in homeless healthcare. Ideally, I'd like to find a job that builds on my experience, such as working in a primary-care clinic that works with the urban underserved. The memory I hold closest to my heart is of my friend and classmate, Liza Benson, who tragically passed away in an avalanche this winter in Jackson, WY. Spending day in, day out with the same 40 people, our Seattle cohort already felt like family. But when we lost Liza, the class came together in a powerful way to support each other to mourn and celebrate Liza's life.

 Katrina Claw

Katrina Claw, 30: Pursuing Evolution
Hometown: Navajo Reservation, AZ
Ph.D. candidate: genome sciences

I have always been fascinated by how things come to be. When thinking about evolution in humans and primates, there are so many similarities and yet also a vast amount of differences physically and genetically. Using genomes to study how species have evolved and become unique from each other continues to interest me. I was recently awarded the Bonderman Travel Fellowship, and I will embark on independent, international travel for eight months after graduation. I will travel to New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, China, Africa and South America. Then I’ll start my postdoctoral research. Following my research, I hope to return to the Southwest to teach undergraduate students. One of my favorite memories from UW Medicine was helping bring underrepresented students from middle schools, high schools and college to visit the UW campus and to visit the genome sciences labs.

 Colin McCluney

Colin McCluney, 35: Being Patient-focused
Hometown: Seattle, WA
M.D. candidate
Pending residency: Swedish Medical Center (family medicine)

Thinking about my time at UWSOM, the experiences that really stick out were my third-year rotations. My family medicine rotation in Missoula was fantastic, and my OB rotation in Yakima was incredible. I also spent time in Anchorage, Pocatello and Seattle. For my residency, I will be starting at Swedish and will later spend some time with the Country Doctor network of Community Health Centers. I chose family medicine because I wanted to be in an outpatient setting. I was tempted by pediatrics, but I realized I would miss adult medicine. I believe the School worked to reinforce the importance of compassion, empathy and physician citizenship in the chaos of residency, the mountains of debt and the continuing political wrangling over healthcare. I hope my classmates and I can all focus on how lucky we are and keep patients at the center of our attention.

 Cami Zobel

Cami Zobel, 39: Balancing Responsibilities
Hometown: Tok, AK
P.A. candidate, Anchorage Class 3

I was born in Tillamook, Ore., and moved to Alaska in 1985. In the years prior to starting the physician assistant’s program, I lived in Tok, Alaska, a rural community with a population of approximately 1,500 people in the winter and 3,000 in the summer. The average temperature in the winter is -30 to -70 degrees Fahrenheit, and the EMS service covers more than 22,000 square miles. Next year, I will continue to learn and research how to best manage my patient’s health needs, while learning to balance the new responsibility to be a P.A. If I had to choose a favorite memory of training, it would be the pediatric lecture on the lung that used different types of kitten sounds to explain different respiratory sounds. The guest lectures help make the information come alive. In 10 years, I hope to be working as a physician assistant, providing great patient care and mentoring students.

 Julie Silverman

Julie Silverman, 28: Studying Bacteria
Hometown: Albany, NY
Ph.D. candidate: microbiology

As a graduate student at UW, I studied a complex bacterial protein export pathway, called the type VI secretion system. In August, I’ll be starting as a postdoctoral fellow in a lab at MIT where I will study a protein modification system, called glycosylation, which is used by many important bacterial pathogens. One of my favorite memories of UW is of the annual Department of Microbiology retreat, where the entire department comes together, presents their research and shares ideas. In 10 years, I see myself being involved with an academic institution as an independent researcher. I would like to continue studying biological pathways used by bacteria in an effort to further our understanding of how they adapt to changing environments and, most importantly, how they cause disease.

 Heidi Richards

Heidi Richards, 56: Finding a Second Career
Hometown: Seattle, WA
M.S. candidate: occupational therapy

I completed the master of occupational therapy program in December 2012. For the past eight months, I've been the O.T. trainee in the UW LEND program as well. I plan to begin practicing as a pediatric occupational therapist this summer. I have many favorite memories of my time spent in the program, but my favorite was the day we presented our final capstone projects. It was a day full of pride, emotion, meaning, and hope for the future. I became interested in occupational therapy in my search for a second career. I was looking for a new path that would be meaningful to me and that would allow me to help others. In 10 years, I hope to be an experienced clinician, perhaps involved in research, and definitely involved in fieldwork education of O.T. students.

 Ashley Burt

Ashley Burt, 25: Following in Dad’s Footsteps
Hometown: Boise, ID
M.D. candidate
Pending residency: University of California San Diego (radiology)

I spent my first year in Moscow-Pullman, and we had a phenomenal class full of intelligent and talented people. Following graduation, I hope we stay in contact and continue to share knowledge with one another. For my residency, I’m looking forward to focusing on radiology and learning how imaging plays into patient care. Although many people think radiologists spend most of their time sitting in a dark room, I was attracted to the field’s rapidly advancing technology and opportunities to interact with diverse medical fields. My father is also a radiologist, and as I have the highest admiration for him, I’m sure that played a role in my decision. Following residency, I hope to return to Boise. However, during my WWAMI rotations, I really enjoyed Montana and Washington. I will be happy anywhere in the Pacific Northwest!

 Kimberly Gutierrez

Kimberly Gutierrez, 30: Fighting Cancer Progression
Hometown: Huntsville, AL
Ph.D. candidate: microbiology

Next year, I am going to continue my research at UW Medicine. I’ll transition later to another postdoctoral position within the Seattle research community. I’ve always been interested in infectious diseases and in understanding the mechanisms of disease. My mother battled cancer, and that experience was also a strong influence in my pursuit of a scientific career. Ultimately, I hope to establish myself in the biotech community working on ways to combat infectious diseases and cancer progression. My favorite thing about studying and training at UW, and within the Department of Microbiology, is the sense of community. There is a lot of great cutting-edge science happening at UW, and it's a wonderful experience to be so close to the emerging themes in the varying scientific disciplines.

 Pamela Gallagher

Pamela Gallagher, 30: Joining the NIH
Hometown: Lake Forest, IL
Ph.D. candidate: pharmacology

After graduation, I will begin a postdoctoral research position with the National Institutes of Health at the National Cancer Institute. The most rewarding experience of my doctoral training has been the opportunity to present my research at the FASEB Ubiquitin and Cellular Regulation meeting last summer. I received a lot of great feedback on my work from many people in the field. In 10 years, I will either be working in an academic setting or the biotech industry. I think it would be great to start my own lab with an academic institution.

 Elizabeth Malshuk

Elizabeth Malshuk, 24: Practice Makes Perfect
Hometown: Renton, WA
M.S. candidate: occupational therapy

I am currently working at Mosaic Children’s Therapy, where I also completed my master's project. It involved designing, implementing and evaluating a group intervention for children with coordination and motor-planning difficulties. Our project was chosen to be presented at the national occupational therapy conference in April, and I was honored to represent both the University of Washington and my current employer at the conference. I always smile when I remember learning our practical skills together — students or professors would act as patients, and we would have to practice teaching them to get dressed or use a walker, among other things. We would always have some funny moments, but this practice is useful when I work with actual patients!

 Jason Villarin

Jason Villarin, 36: Proud of His Class
Hometown: Flagstaff, AZ
Ph.D. candidate: physical therapy

Next year, I will be relocating to Oakland, Calif., to work in outpatient physical therapy. I'm currently applying for a fellowship program in advanced orthopedic manual therapy through Kaiser Hayward. Professionally, I'd like to find a clinic where I'm challenged. Personally, I'm looking forward to lots of weekend adventures with my wife and son. One of the best memories from the program was when class was becoming increasingly skilled at manual techniques and clinical interventions. Some of the techniques initially seemed impossible to do correctly. One day, while practicing on each other, I looked around the room and saw a mix of smiles and confidence. Half the class performing the techniques were confident, focused and skilled. The other half of the class playing the “patient” were smiling, because we could tell it was being performed precisely right. I was proud for myself and all of my classmates.

Space Needle

All-alumni Event

Alumni from across the School of Medicine are invited to:

A Night to Remember
Saturday, June 1
5:30 p.m.
Space Needle, Seattle

A party on top of the town! Socialize with your fellow alumni at the reunion weekend’s signature event. Enjoy ample hors d’oeuvres, hosted wine and beer, complimentary valet parking and a ride to the Space Needle’s famous observation deck.

Register today through our reunion website. 

Last Week to Register

You have only a few days left to register for your UW School of Medicine 2013 Reunion Weekend. And we hope that you will join us — and your fellow alumni — for a full and celebratory weekend of activities. 

We encourage you to respond soon, as the registration deadline is Friday, May 17, 2013.

Reunion Update: Chihuly Garden and Glass

While you’re in town for the 2013 Reunion Weekend, visit a great new art experience in Seattle showcasing a comprehensive collection by glass artist Dale Chihuly. A discount on tickets is available for UW School of Medicine alumni and guests, May 28June 4.

Adults and seniors: $17; youth: $11 (plus tax and a 75-cent ticket fee)

Discounted tickets are only available for purchase using this link. Username: UWMED. Password: REUNION. Please note that tickets must be printed out prior to arrival.

Alumni in the News

Groundbreaking Surgery for Girl Born Without Windpipe
Mark Holterman, M.D., Fel. ’96, contributes to pioneering surgery at Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

WSU Spokane Medical School Students Sticking Around
UWSOM pilots second-year WWAMI instruction program in Spokane to 20 students.

Fifty Years Later
Outside Magazine interviews Thomas Hornbein, M.D. ’57, about his historic hike. He was one of the first Americans to summit Mt. Everest.


Where Am I?

Think you know every nook and hideout connected to UW Medicine? Guess where this picture was taken and win a UW School of Medicine t-shirt. Email medalum@uw.edu with your guess, and put “where am I?” in the subject line. 

Congratulations to John A. McDougall, Jr., M.D. ’11, who correctly noted that the SimBaby featured in last month’s newsletter is located in UW Medicine’s Institute for Simulation and Interprofessional Studies!