Southern Illinois University School of Medicine

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Campus News

Young cancer patient designs license plate

Dr. Gregory Brandt, Jennifer Pramuk, her daughter Zoe and State Senator Andy Manar unveil the design for the new ‘Curing Childhood Cancer’ license plate.

Zoe Pramuk of Decatur was diagnosed with leukemia at age 5. After more than two years of treatment by SIU’s Dr. Gregory Brandt, she is now in remission from the cancer and leading a normal, healthy life of a 9-year-old.

On the drive home from Zoe’s treatments in Springfield, her mother, Jennifer Pramuk, observed the numerous specialty license plates. “I decided to help create a license plate to help cure childhood cancer," Pramuk said. “By working with a friend, we connected with State Sen. Andy Manar, and legislation was passed to create the ‘Curing Childhood Cancer plate.’" Proceeds from the sale of the plate will equally benefit the Children’s Oncology Group and St. Jude’s Research Hospital.

Dr. Brandt is a member of the Children’s Oncology Group, which sponsors research including national clinical trials that benefit most of his patients. Patients who enroll in a clinical trial have access to newer medications that may have fewer side effects and better outcomes. “Since 2000 the survival rate has increased to about 75 percent for these children," said Dr. Brandt.

Under Illinois Secretary of State rules, Illinois residents will need to pre-order 1,500 plates before production can begin. To order the license plate, go to and complete the form, writing “Curing Childhood Cancer plates" in the first line, and mail it with a check for $50.

Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among US children between infancy and age 14. Approximately 11,600 new cases of pediatric cancer were expected to be diagnosed last year, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Memorial Medical Center Foundation awards SIU $313K in health grants

The Memorial Medical Center Foundation awarded more than $435,000 in health-related grants for community and health-system initiatives. Nineteen projects in the medical district received amounts ranging from $1,000 to $73,000. Ten of the grants went to SIU School of Medicine, including the largest: $73,740 to SIU/Memorial Health System to buy two lifelike human simulators for the SIU surgical skills lab that will be located in the new Memorial Center for Learning and Innovation. In total, SIU programs received $313,684 in grant support.

Additional Memorial Foundation grants to the School include: Internal Medicine: $31,826 to study the management of chronic non-cancer pain. Funding will provide for the development of educational videos, tablet acquisition, survey development and analysis and conduct of group sessions.
Plastic Surgery: $39,476 to study the quality of life after discharge for patients from Memorial Medical Center’s Regional Burn Center and their use of mobile applications. The division was also granted $27,937 to continue advancements in tissue engineering by developing a novel hair follicle stem cell transplant system for individuals who suffer from male pattern baldness. $2,251 was awarded to plastic surgery to buy a device for use in conjunction with fat grafting surgery to provide a safe and effective alternative for breast construction in appropriate patients.
SIU School of Medicine: $30,685 to fund a randomized clinical trial using a prophylactic antiviral drug for burn patients with herpes simplex virus, which can complicate burn recovery via infection, delayed wound healing, pain and scarring. $16,762 to help fund a randomized, controlled international clinical trial of 400 patients (six sites in the United States and Canada, including SIU) who undergo carpal tunnel surgery. $16,740 to fund a study to compare the effectiveness of treatment-as-usual models with a living-well public health strategy that uses weekly in-home case-worker visits in the management of mental health patients between 18 and 55 years old who have had two or more emergency room visits within six months for psychiatric complaints.
Urology: $58,900 to fund a pilot study of biomarkers and their response to platinum-based chemotherapy as a prelude to developing personalized treatment options for patients with bladder, ovarian, fallopian tube and peritoneal cancer.
Vascular Surgery: $15,367 to conduct a pilot study of 20 patients undergoing total knee arthroplasty in order to evaluate changes in calf muscle pump function.

SIU HealthCare physicians named among nation’s “Best Doctors”

Twenty-three faculty physicians at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine are included in the Best Doctors® in America 2014 database. Best Doctors includes more than 45,000 US physicians, chosen by peer review and representing the top 5% of physicians in more than 40 medical specialties.

The SIU physicians, all members of SIU HealthCare include: Daniel G. Batton, MD, Neonatology
Carol A. Bauer, MD, Otolaryngology Surgery
Lucinda Buescher, MD, Dermatology
Jeffrey Cozzens, MD, Neurosurgery
Rodger Elble, MD, PhD, Neurology
Terry F. Hatch, MD, Pediatric Gastroenterology
Stephen Hazelrigg, MD, Cardiothoracic Surgery
Jerry E. Kruse, MD, Family and Community Medicine and Medical Education
J. Ricardo Loret de Mola, MD, Ob-Gyn
Kevin T. McVary, MD, Urology
John D. Mellinger, MD, General Surgery
Michael W. Neumeister, MD, Surgery
Jan Rakinic, MD, Colorectal Surgery
K. Thomas Robbins, MD, Otolaryngology Surgery
Leonard P. Rybak, MD, PhD, Otolaryngology Surgery
Khaled J. Saleh, MD, Orthopaedics
Bradley F. Schwartz, MD, Urology
David E. Steward, MD, Internal Medicine and Community and Health Service
Stephen P. Stone, MD, Dermatology
Gayle Woodson, MD, Otolaryngology Surgery
Casey Younkin, MD, Ob-Gyn

Japanese students visit SIU

Japanese students visit SIU

Vising medical students (from left) Toshiaki Takahashi, Mai Kasai and Kazuki Funakoshi examine standardized patient David Poole in the School’s Professional Development Laboratory. The students were guests from our sister medical school, Aichi Medical University in Nagakute, Japan. View more photos at

In Memoriam

Dr. SolerDr. Norman Soler, 71, died on January 27, 2014. Dr. Soler was professor of medicine, director of the Internal Medicine clerkship and chief of endocrinology at the School of Medicine, where he worked from 1977-2003. In a career devoted to improving diabetes care, Dr. Soler established the Springfield Diabetes and Endocrine Centre, now an affiliate of the HSHS Medical Group. He authored more than 100 publications. Surviving are his wife, Dr. Susan Soler, three children, a grandson, three brothers and several nieces and nephews.

Robert H. Colvin, PhD, 83, of Austin, Texas, formerly of Carbondale, died April 1, 2014 in Austin.Dr. Robert Colvin
Dr. Colvin served 22 years on the faculty of the SIU School of Medicine, of which he was a founder. He had previously earned his Master’s and PhD degrees in clinical psychology at SIU. After his retirement, he and his wife, Barbara, moved to Austin in 1997.

In addition to his wife of 61 years, survivors include their four children, five grandchildren, a sister, many brothers- and sisters-in-law and nieces and nephews. A memorial service was held April 14 in Austin. To read Dr. Colvin'’s obituary, visit

Awards & Honors

Zachariah Gurnsey, MD Zachariah Gurnsey, MD, assistant professor of internal medicine, has been
approved as a Fellow in the Society of Hospital Medicine. Dr. Gurnsey is a hospitalist in the Division of General Internal Medicine, a 2006 graduate of SIU School of Medicine and a 2009 graduate of SIU’s Internal Medicine residency training program. He joined the faculty in July 2009.

Dr. Susan Hingle


Susan Hingle, MD, professor and interim chair of internal medicine, has been appointed as chair of the Education and Publication Committee of the American College of Physicians (ACP) for the 2014-15 term.

Dr. Swafford


Kathy Swafford, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, has been certified in child abuse pediatrics by the American Board of Pediatrics. Dr. Swafford is medical director of the Children’s Medical Resource Network in Anna




New Faculty

New Faculty


Family & Community Medicine, Quincy
William Dixon, MD, assistant professor


Brian Moore, MD, associate professor in the Department of Neurology. He is cross-appointed in the departments of Pathology and Medical Education as well as the Division of Neurosurgery. In addition to teaching, he will serve as director of the brain bank at the Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders


Patricia Fank, PsyD, assistant professor


Stephen Beck, MD, associate professor, urology
and urologic oncology

Debra Gonzalez, MD,
assistant professor, head and neck cancer

Sonia Vasdev, MD, MPH/MPA,
assistant professor, orthopaedics

The mission of SIU School of Medicine is to assist the citizens of central and southern Illinois in meeting their health-care needs through education, patient care, research and service to the community.


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