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Distinguished Alumni 2024

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Alison LaFrence, MD, FAAFP ’88, is the recipient of the 2024 SIU School of Medicine Distinguished Alumni Service Award. 
Alison LaFrence, MD, FAAFP ’88

Dr. LaFrence is retired after completing residency at the University of Minnesota Methodist Hospital program, and going on to practice family medicine at Park Nicollet Medical Center in Shakopee, Minnesota from 1991-1999. Since then, she has volunteered her time and expertise on Medical Group Missions to the Dominican Republic and Mexico, and in Cameroon teaching courses to village women in prenatal care, childbirth skills, postpartum care, newborn care and common prenatal/childbirth emergency skills. Upon successful completion of this course, these women become TBAs, or as they are now called, Community Mother Child Health Aid (CoMCHA). CoMCHAs can return to their rural villages and provide prenatal care and low-risk deliveries. Alison’s mother-in-law, Dr. Laura Edwards, wrote the medical textbook for this course. In 2000, Dr. Edwards died during a tragic vehicular accident in Cameroon. Following the death of her mother-in-law, Dr. LaFrence and her husband (an MD, OB-GYN) began traveling to Cameroon to volunteer their time to help teach the TBA/CoMCHA course until 2018. Her work supporting critical healthcare and education programs in Cameroon has made real-world impacts. She was also board President of Alpha Women’s Center in Minnesota from 2001-2010. A beacon of perseverance and goodwill in medicine, Dr. LaFrence’s compassionate work continues as she is currently serving as President of the board of directors of the Cameroon Health and Education Fund (CHEF).

Sam Gaines, MD, ’77, is the recipient of the 2024 SIU School of Medicine Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award. 
Sam Gaines, MD, ’77

Dr. Gaines has recently retired from the practice of Emergency Medicine. He has served in various pivotal roles since completing an Internal Medicine residency at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, Illinois in 1980. He achieved board certification in both Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine and also was awarded the status of Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians. Notably, Dr. Gaines worked for more than 42 years in the Emergency Department at HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield. He served in the role of Director and Chairperson of the Emergency Department, as well as Director of EMS during his tenure. Dr. Gaines also served as Emergency Department Director at Mercy Hospital, Aurora, IL, and on staff at hospitals in Bloomington, Champaign, and Belleville, Illinois. He is an active member and served as a past executive officer of multiple local, state, and national professional societies. Throughout his career, Sam also proudly served his country through the military for over twenty years; rising through the ranks to Colonel of the Illinois Army National Guard. He was appointed Commander of the State Health and Dental Clinic and State Surgeon. He retired from the Army just before Desert Storm. Dr. Gaines was the Medical Director of the Phoenix-7 Drug Abuse Program, as well as an advisor for six additional programs; each focused upon substance abuse, rehabilitation, and youth services. He served as an advisor to the Illinois Department of Public Health for nearly ten years. He was the Medical Director for the IDPH Office of Preparedness and Response for seven years. Additionally, Dr. Gaines served as Chairperson of the Illinois State Medical Society Committee on Alcohol and Substance Abuse. As an Associate Professor with SIU SOM, he has positively impacted Students and Residents throughout his career, and was recently acknowledged by the Emergency Medicine Residency Program for excellence in teaching medical students. Dr. Gaines’ focus on providing accessibility of affordable healthcare to underserved populations and communities, was achieved in 1997 with the creation of North Star Clinic and Urgent Care, SC. Such a facility was the first to be opened on the east side of Springfield. To further increase access to healthcare for Springfield residents and the surrounding communities, he partnered with Dr. John Holland and First Presbyterian Church to form the Health First Community Free Clinic. With the support of local endowments and federal subsidies, Central Counties Health Center (CCHC) was formed.  CCHC has continued to provide affordable and accessible healthcare to the underserved and general population for over the past twenty years. Dr. Gaines continues his commitment by serving on the Board of CCHC today.

Mohsin Khan, MD, Resident ’16, is the recipient of the 2024 SIU School of Medicine Distinguished Alumni Early Career Award. 
Mohsin Khan, MD, Resident ’16

Dr. Khan is an Assistant Professor specializing in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (CAP) at Children’s Medical Center/UT Southwestern and Parkland in Dallas, Texas. He is the Psychiatry Clerkship Director at Rees Jones Center on both the Dallas and Plano campuses. He serves on the UT Southwestern CAP Fellowship Education Policy, Foster Care Oversight, and Program Evaluation committees as well as multiple research, advocacy and policy committees within regional medical centers. In his service to the community, Dr. Khan has led discussions within the Foster Care Consortium (Region 3) focusing on ongoing issues in foster care as well as changes in leadership positions in Child Protective Service agencies. He is a member of several esteemed professional societies, including the Texas Society of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) of which he has been a contributing participant in the Assembly Delegate Ad Hoc Group Meeting and has been selected as a Distinguished Fellow (AACAP). While dedicating himself to many advocacy efforts, editorial, and teaching activities including invited lectures, all of which aim to improve the health and quality of life for his patients and the broader community, Dr. Khan has distinguished himself as a clinician, educator, and leader in his field.

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