Pulse Logo

Pulse the Magazine of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

Colorful illustration of hospital and homes
Vitals Spirit Shop logo
Take 20% Off Your Next Purchase with Code: PULSE20
Take 20% Off Your Next Purchase with Code: PULSE20
Exclusive Gear typography
From hats to t-shirts to bags.
Represent your school and our university!
Vitals spirit shop red polygon divider University Center, 1st Floor RM 101
Monday-Friday 8am-5pm
Inside 2022 typography
Volume 32 | Issue 2
Colorful illustration depicting Texas Tech city and network
TTUHSC readies for the next frontier of health care by establishing the Julia Jones Matthews School of Population and Public Health. TTUHSC’s sixth school bears the name of a legendary female Abilene philanthropist whose vision led to its formation.
By Erin Peterson
Artist standing outside dressed in scrubs next to easel with painting on it
A urologist and surgeon, Bevan Choate, MD, (Medicine ‘13)struggles with his new identity as the patient following a life-threatening stroke. Writing and mastering a new painting technique become his therapy and the conduit to recovery.
By Bill Monroe and Bevan Choate, MD, (Medicine ’13)

Health Matters A Letter from Our President

Lori Rice-Spearman Headshot
Artie Limmer

To be Understood Should Not be a Luxury

In the School of Medicine Class of 1982, Beatriz (Garcia) Stamps, MD, was the only Mexican-American student. Stamps grew up in Laredo, Texas, the daughter of physicians who emphasized education as a pathway to success — and who strongly believed in the value of being bilingual — and gifted Stamps and her siblings with the opportunity to become proficient not only in dual languages of English and Spanish but also in the respective cultures.

As a medical student and resident, Stamps said she often served as the “unofficial” official interpreter — a source of pride in that she could relate with Hispanic patients because she could speak their language and understood their culture. She also realized she was somewhat of a unicorn and made it a career priority to offer opportunities for medical students also to acquire such skills. Stamps, an obstetrics-gynecology physician for almost 40 years, founded a program in 2018, and has served as instructor since, at the Mayo Clinic’s Alix School of Medicine in Scottsdale, Arizona, called the Medical Spanish Selective — an immersive elective in language and culture.


Editor’s Note

We were honored to see the feature’s opening illustration (see page 19) included in The University Magazine: Special UCDA Edition, noting how original artwork enhances stories.

I’m also excited to introduce a new member of our Pulse staff, Alessandra Singh. She joined our team in May and is responsible for the daily production of the magazine and leads content development for each issue. Alessandra is a graduate of Texas Tech University and comes to TTUHSC with a passion for long-form storytelling. Please welcome Alessandra to the Pulse team and the TTUHSC family.

TTUHSC has defined its priorities and President Lori Rice-Spearman will present the university’s wish list to the 88th Legislature in early spring. Topping the list is $13.5 million to establish a comprehensive Institute for Telehealth Technology and Innovation. In the Winter 2023 issue, we’ll take a look at the impact telehealth can make in health care for rural Texans.

— Danette Baker, MA
Editor-IN-CHIEF, Pulse


I learned the most from two professors in the (MSN) nursing program. Carol Boswell, EdD, RN, and Sharon Cannon, EdD, RN, showed me compassion while completing my master’s thesis and guiding me through a difficult personal time — ultimately allowing me to complete my degree without added stressors. Our theory and therapies instructor, Yondell Masten, PhD, APRN, was key in helping me learn the art of writing scholarly papers. During the RN to BSN program, my instructor, Donna Scott-Tilley, PhD, (Nursing ’97, ’91) wasinstrumental in helping me complete my community assessment through creative collaboration. However, my journey began when Myrna Armstrong, EdD, RN, saw my commitment to start the program at age 52 and opened admissions for me to enter the program in 2004.
— Kerry Dudley, MSN, RN, CCRN-K
(NURSING ’08, ’05)

thank you!

“The Humans Behind the Heroes” and “In Their Own Words” articles were heartfelt and meaningful.  The photographs captured our reality very well. I have had several friends and family comment positively on the article. Thank you for including me. I have seen the entire online issue as well and enjoyed seeing the additional stories and photographs. Thank you for documenting this experience for us. It is a treasure.
—Benjamin J. Leeah, MD, CCHP

INNOVATIVE Technological Advancements

I am thrilled to see the what the digital version of Pulse looks like! Bravo to you and your whole team that made all this come together! (page 31, Winter 2022) How nice this includes the video link too! I am very pleased with how it turned out and look forward to seeing the magazine.  Thanks so very much for all your time and efforts! What a great boost to my life this wonderfully done item by you is to me!
—Robert Rees
Pulse Cover
Pulse welcomes thoughts and opinions from our readers via email at pulse@ttuhsc.edu.


Pulse logo
Volume 32, Issue 2


Danette Baker

Managing Editor

Alessandra Singh


Jim Nissen


TR Castillo, Suzanna Cisneros, Roald Credo, Carolyn Cruz, Kathleen Fu, Mark Hendricks, Neal Hinkle, Kami Hunt, Ken Kosub/Limelight Films, Artie Limmer, Erin Peterson, Camille Smithwick, Melissa Whitfield



Lori Rice-Spearman, PhD
(Health Professions ‘86)

Vice President of External Relations

Ashley Hamm

Assistant Vice President of External Relations

Mattie Been, Amarillo
Jessica Zuniga, Permian Basin


Chief Advancement Officer

Cyndy Morris

Gift Officers

Kevin Friemel, Clarissa Sanchez, Clifford Wilkes

Corporations & foundations

Jordan Nabers

Alumni Relations


Peyton Sifrit

Contact Us

TTUHSC External Relations
3601 Fourth Street STOP 6242
Lubbock, TX 79430-6242

Pulse is published twice a year. Content may be reprinted only wior’s permission. Discrimination or harassment based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, status as a covered veteran or other legally protected categories, class or characteristics is not tolerated. Pulse is distributed in compliance with the State Depository Law and is available for public use through the Texas State Publications Depository Program. In compliance with HB 423, Pulse is available in electronic format. If you no longer want to receive the printed version, please notify the editor in writing.
the future belongs to text
Programs Offered
Laboratory Sciences & Primary Care
Bachelor of Science in Clinical Laboratory Science
Second Degree Bachelor of Science in Clinical Laboratory Science
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Clinical Laboratory Science
Master of Science in Molecular Pathology
Master of Physician Assistant Studies

Rehabilitation Sciences
Master of Athletic Training
Doctor of Occupational Therapy
Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Doctor of Science in Physical Therapy
Doctor of Philosophy in Rehabilitation Science
Concentration in Communication Sciences Disorders
Concentration in Movement Sciences Disorders

Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences
Doctor of Audiology
Bachelor of Science in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences
Second Degree Bachelor of Science in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences
Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology

Healthcare Management & Leadership
Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management
Master of Science in Healthcare Administration
Graduate Certificate in Health Informatics and Data Analysis
Graduate Certificate in Health Systems Policy and Management
Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Finance and Economics
Graduate Certificate in Health Systems Engineering and Management
Graduate Certificate in Long Term Care Administration

Clinical Counseling & Mental Health
Master of Science in Addiction Counseling
Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Master of Science in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling

the future belongs to text
Health Professions
Programs Offered
Laboratory Sciences & Primary Care
Bachelor of Science in Clinical Laboratory Science
Second Degree Bachelor of Science in Clinical Laboratory Science
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Clinical Laboratory Science
Master of Science in Molecular Pathology
Master of Physician Assistant Studies

Rehabilitation Sciences
Master of Athletic Training
Doctor of Occupational Therapy
Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Doctor of Science in Physical Therapy
Doctor of Philosophy in Rehabilitation Science
Concentration in Communication Sciences Disorders
Concentration in Movement Sciences Disorders

Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences
Doctor of Audiology
Bachelor of Science in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences
Second Degree Bachelor of Science in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences
Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology

Healthcare Management & Leadership
Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management
Master of Science in Healthcare Administration
Graduate Certificate in Health Informatics and Data Analysis
Graduate Certificate in Health Systems Policy and Management
Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Finance and Economics
Graduate Certificate in Health Systems Engineering and Management
Graduate Certificate in Long Term Care Administration

Clinical Counseling & Mental Health
Master of Science in Addiction Counseling
Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Master of Science in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling


Plant-powered Health Care

Finding a different approach to better health. That was the goal of Emily Fine, TTUHSC School of Medicine student and volunteer with the Free Clinic, when she applied her knowledge of hydroponics to a community health project. In collaboration with the Texas Tech greenhouse, fellow students and grants, Fine executed her plan to impact health care through fresh produce and by encouraging a healthy diet. Produce harvested will be donated to the soup kitchen inside of Lubbock Impact, a nonprofit organization and community partner for the Free Clinic.
Plant leaves in a tube
TTUHSC students in their caps and gowns at graduation in an arena
TTUHSC receives designation as a Military Friendly® School for 2022-2023.

Status Symbol

School of Nursing alumnus George Elliott, BSN, RN, (Nursing ’18) appreciated the school’s approach to admissions, which considers “not just what a transcript report tells you,” he said. “That meant a lot.” Elliott is one of TTUHSC’s 173 veteran alumni, served 13 years in the U.S. Air Force — one year in the California Air National Guard and the remainder on active duty as a medic and aeromedical evacuation technician. The support TTUHSC offers those with military service seeking college admission is among the many reasons TTUHSC received the 2022-2023 Military Friendly® Schools designation by VIQTORY. The company was established to help veterans transition into civilian life, recognizes top choices for post-secondary education for veterans and their families. TTUHSC ranked fourth among the participating graduate schools, earning the “Gold” award status based on leading practices, outcomes and effective programs. More than 1,800 schools participated in the program, with only 282 receiving Gold, the highest award designation. TTUHSC currently has 365 military-affiliated students served by the university’s Veterans Resource Center.

One for the Record Books

TTUHSC is the academic home to several of the world’s top-ranked researchers, based on a widely publicized citation database created at Stanford University. The top 2% of global researchers were identified by assigning them to different categories of scientific expertise.

Current and past TTUHSC faculty members making the list:

School of Medicine
Steven Berk, MD; Gail Cornwall, PhD; Vadivel Ganapathy, PhD; Matt Grisham, PhD; Volker Neugebauer, MD, PhD; Kenneth Nugent, MD; Alan Peiris, MD; Hemachandra Reddy, PhD; Patrick Reynolds, MD, PhD; Rial Rolfe, PhD, MBA; Kendra Rumbaugh, PhD; Doug Stocco, PhD

School of Nursing
Myrna Armstrong, EdD, RN

Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy
Ulrich Bickel, DrMed; Lance McMahon, PhD; Cynthia Raehl, PharmD; Quentin Smith, PhD; Sanjay Srivastava, PhD.

Researchers retired from TTUHSC who are deceased: Michael Conn, PhD; James Heavner, PhD; Ann Kosloske, MD; Kenneth Nelder, MD; Danny Pence, PhD; Prithvi Raj, MD.

digital artistic illustration of a head with clouds inside and different triangular shapes
adobe stock
ScopeGlobal Health

Culture Club

Angelia Taylor, BSN, RN, checked off a bucket list item this fall — volunteer her nursing services to the benefit of others. An advance practice nursing student, Taylor joined 14 nursing and five public health students for a week of service learning at Silliman University in Dumaguete, Philippines — one of TTUHSC’s longest standing international partnerships.
We are global citizens, and solving global challenges takes working with communities across other countries. Even those who stay in West Texas to practice will encounter patients who are from a culture different than their own.
— michelle ensminger
senior director, office of global health
digital rendering of map with Texas Tech logo on pin point
adobe stock illustration/jim nissen
Scopefor the record

Nursing Schools Almanac named the School of Nursing as the best nursing school in Texas and the southwest region for 2022. The school also ranked No. 10 nationally among public nursing schools and No. 18 among all nursing schools in the U.S.

Kaitlyn Drennan smiling with her arms crossed and wearing a lab coat
Kaitlyn Drennan smiling with her arms crossed and wearing a lab coat

“Your contributions to my education helped me achieve more than I ever could have without your generosity.”

(Pharmacy ’22)


PhDs are conferred annually at TTUHSC, supporting the university’s designation by the Carnegie Classification® of Institutions of Higher Education as a Special Focus Four-Year Research Institution.
a man wearing gloves and a lab coat uses a pipette
TTUHSC was named for the first time to the 2022 Great Colleges to Work For Honor Roll — a status granted to only 30 four-year universities annually for their significant achievements across the recognition categories.

I Can Hear Clearly Now

You know the old saying, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it?” Case in point: the stethoscope. The 1816 invention by French physician Rene Laennec, MD, is health care’s utility tool. The stethoscope’s simple design results from Laennec innovating a less invasive way to examine his patient — using a rolled paper tube to concentrate the sound between his ear and the patient’s chest. George P. Cammann, MD, of New York, modernized the design 25 years later to include dual earpieces. In the early 1960s, David Littman, MD, a Harvard Medical School professor, patented the acoustics to amplify sound. Although there have been adjunct technological alterations, the stethoscope has remained a simplistic but powerful diagnostic health care tool for over two centuries.
Neal Hinkle
diagram of a stethoscope


The trio of diaphragm, bell and stem, which connects them, form the chest piece of a double-sided stethoscope. Sounds produced by the patient’s organs make the plastic disk of the diaphragm or bell vibrate, creating the sound waves that travel through the tubing.


Comprised of two ear tubes and ear tips, the upper half of the stethoscope holds the tool in place, or sometimes around the neck when not in use, and concentrates body sounds from the patient into the provider’s ear canal through the tubing, which helps block external sounds.

VitalsSchool of Medicine

Victor J Test
Provided by Roald Credo/TTUHSC Stock Image
Victor J. Test, MD, is the division chief of pulmonary care and professor of internal medicine.

Courage Under Pressure

The American Medical Association honored critical care specialist Victor J. Test, MD, with its Medal of Valor for his work on behalf of patients and his community during the epidemic. The award recognizes physicians who demonstrate courage under extraordinary circumstances in non-wartime situations.

A Stitch in Time

How can a dinosaur stuffy about the size of a 32-ounce Yeti tumbler impact learning for medical students?

For members of the Surgical, Pediatric, and Research and Clinical Scholarship Initiative clubs, handmaking them entails students practicing suturing skills, said Roald Cred0, second-year medical student and Surgery Club president.

And it’s a way to give back to the community. Dinos for Kiddos, the clubs’ philanthropic project, brings students together with residents, faculty members and other health care professionals who participate, for networking and opportunities to learn about their specialties, Credo said.

Students have made and donated about 60 dinosaurs to UMC Children’s Hospital, working with Alan Pang, MD, trauma/burn surgeon and critical care fellow, and the hospital’s child life specialists.

“In medical school, it is easy to lose track of everything around you as coursework and studying consume your time,” Credo said. “Participating in a club helps connect you with a community, and this project connects our communities on a broader scale.

“In turn, that brings a smile to someone else.”

students showing off stitch projects

VitalsSchool of Medicine

The Gift of Life

The human body is a health care professional’s first patient. Life experiences and disease states leave their mark, presenting opportunities from which future generations can learn.

Individuals who choose to donate their bodies through the Willed Body Program help to advance health knowledge, education, research and training, said Kerry Gilbert, PT, Sc.D., assistant dean for anatomy, research and education, and co-director of the Institute for Anatomical Sciences with Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Dean Brandt Schneider, Ph.D.

The institute houses TTUHSC’s Willed Body Program, which has served West Texas since 1972.

There are 11 willed body programs in Texas, all located within a health science center and governed by the Texas State Anatomical Board. TTUHSC program serves the area west from Wichita Falls to the Rio Grande.

VitalsSchool of Nursing

Amarillo’s First-Class Nurses

The inaugural class of 20 students are completing their first year in the Traditional BSN program in Amarillo at a time when front-line nurses are in the greatest demand. “As a former chief of nursing, I have seen many cycles of nursing shortages (in my 42-year career), some worse than others, and often wondered if we would ever see the day when there was not a shortage,” said Valerie Kiper, DNP, MSN, RN, (Nursing ’13), regional dean for nursing. “It is not a fun position to be in when you are needing a bed for a patient, and you cannot provide one because you do not have a nurse to go with the bed. ”

By 2030, the supply of full-time registered nurses nationwide is expected to increase by 35%, yet, the demand is projected to be close to 54%, leaving a deficit of almost 60,000 nurses. Texas has one of the higher vacancy and turnover rates, with TTUHSC’s service area at 13%.

“The nursing shortage may never be totally eliminated,” Kiper added, “but we (TTUHSC) are proud to now be among the five nursing programs in the Panhandle helping train RNs to impact this deficit.”

First class nurse holding papers


The Traditional BSN program at Amarillo trains students to be front-line health care workers.

Innovative Intervention

COVID heightened stress levels for many nurses, but students were dealing with stressors even before the pandemic, said Karla Chapman, PhD, School of Nursing associate dean for admissions, enrollment management and student affairs. “Faculty became the first line of defense. We wanted to support them so they could focus on delivering academics, and honor our commitment to students with resources and support.”

The school implemented a Student Wellness Program in 2018 and has since adopted a common language to triage students’ stress, based on an algorithm developed by Hollis Franco, PhD, RN, assistant dean of wellness. Green, yellow and red signals identify increasing intensity of stress — from mild anxiety about a test to concern of immediate threat to harm oneself and/or others. Faculty assist with academic related stressors, and the school’s wellness team provides support outside the learning environment. Students can access resources on the program website as well.

“Significant levels of emotional distress can be found throughout higher education, but now, more than ever, nursing schools are seeing a wellness predicament that impacts the delivery of material and attrition rates, which can ultimately affect the availability of nurses,” Franco said. “Our goal is to assist students in coping with the stress of nursing school and everyday life, as well as support them through their journey.”




What would you do if you won $100,000? Courtney L. Luoma, MSN, BSN, RN, (Nursing ’21, ’12) knew her answer — invest in women’s health. Luoma, a certified nurse midwife with Midland Memorial Hospital, and her business partner invested their winnings from the 2021-2022 Midland Entrepreneurial Challenge to furnish and launch The Birth Center, which offers an alternative for women who want a childbirth option other than at a hospital or their home.


Michael D. Moon, PhD, MSN, RN, (Nursing ’87) received the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) Lifetime Achievement Award, reflecting on a career of dedicated service, accomplishments and contributions to emergency medicine. Moon is a professor, advanced practice registered nurse and certified emergency nurse at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas.


Panhandle Great 25 Nurses Committee honored Dean Michael Evans, PhD, RN, FAAN, with its 2022 Legacy Award. The award recognizes registered nurses who have made substantial contributions to nursing in the Texas Panhandle for at least 25 years.


The Gerontological Society of America awarded fellow status to Alyce S. Ashcraft, PhD, RN, professor and associate dean for research and scholarship. As the world’s oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization, the society is devoted to research, education and practice in the field of aging.

Time Away from Work — to Work

Forget the ideal of a vacation . . .coveted time away from academic responsibilities is no vacation on the beach sipping mai tais, lulled by the ocean’s rhythmic waves.

Jen Collins, PhD, RN, CNE, filled the 90 days of her sabbatical in the spring of 2022, earning her nurse educator certification and revising the curriculum for a master’s nursing course, which go hand in hand. She also helped young adults who have aged out of foster care obtain their driver’s licenses.

Collins, a School of Nursing research professor, is one of the school’s first Ketner Fellows. These are nursing faculty chosen for a development leave program funded through the generous gifts of Ken Ketner, PhD, a professor at Texas Tech University. He established an endowment in the school to cover the cost of a faculty member’s academic coursework so that they can engage in personal and professional growth, said Alyce Ashcraft, PhD, RN, CNE, professor and Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship. Ashcraft also manages the Ketner Fellows program.

“The sabbatical is open to any faculty member, but for research faculty, time to focus on research is absolutely a most precious commodity,” Ashcraft said.

During her sabbatical in the spring of 2022, Collins was able to do additional recruitment on a pilot study to help 18- to 29-year-olds, who have aged out of the foster care system or are experiencing poverty or homelessness, get their driver’s licenses. Collins enrolled six participants during the semester who wanted to acquire their driver’s licenses. The study now has 10 participants, and five are now licensed drivers.

Collins walks each participant through the application process for their permits and then personally drives them to and from driving school for practice and their driving test, and then takes the participant to the Department of Public Safety for their final driver’s license paperwork.

illustration of person on laptop sitting on hammock
A generous gift from Ken Ketner, PhD, funds sabbaticals for nursing faculty.
Having the Ketner Fellowship supported my courses and offered me the time to take a deep dive into developing my research scholarship and service areas. I was able to earn my nurse educator certification while at the same time revise the course I’m lead on, which go hand in hand.



Neurological Disease Grant

Neurological disorders are the leading cause of disability and second cause of death, after heart disease, according to the Global Burden of Disease study. Neurological conditions including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, epilepsy and schizophrenia are linked to malfunctions in pentameric ligand-gated ion channels (pLGICs), primarily located in the central and peripheral nervous systems, which bind with neurotransmitters, producing an electrical signal by managing ion channel activity.

Michaela Jansen, PharmD, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Cell Physiology and Molecular Biophysics, and her team are continuing their research with a $1.53 million R01 grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a division of the National Institutes of Health.

Jansen seeks to fill knowledge gaps pertaining to interactions of plGICs with chaperone-like proteins, specifically resistance to inhibitors of cholinesterase 3, and conformational changes that occur during gating. Jansen’s laboratory is part of TTUHSC’s Center for Membrane Protein Research, which includes 20 principal investigators and their respective laboratories.
A portrait photograph of Michaela Jansen, PharmD, PhD in a white laboratory coat working on/glancing at her computer as she researches information on neurological disorders
Neal Hinkle
Michaela Jansen, PharmD, PhD, receives extension on RO1 grant.


1| 2023 marks the 35th year of Student Research Week. Students organize and manage the event to showcase research and serve as a platform for collaboration and interaction.

2| The theme for Student Research Week 2023 is set for February 28-March 3, with a theme of “The Lord of the Genes.”

3| More than 310 students, a record-breaking number, presented posters at the 2022 event. In the first year, 25 students participated.

4| Student Research Week 2022 was held as a hybrid event, allowing for the review of projects and presentations in person and online. SRW 2021 was virtual.

5| Presentation categories are basic science, case study, medical education, chart review/survey and literature review.

6| Abstract submission deadline is the end of January each year.

7| Proceeds from a silent auction benefit student scholarships.

8| Annually, more than 50 TTUHSC faculty and staff donate their time and expertise to serve as judges; in 2022, that number was close to 80.

9| Sam Prien, PhD, professor in the School of Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, has served as an event judge for 25 years.

10| Ten years ago, Gurvinder Kaur, PhD, (Biomedical Sciences ’12), assistant professor of Medical Education, won first place in the poster competition the year she graduated. Kaur has served as a judge, judging committee chair and supervised several undergraduate and graduate student participants.


News and Notes


For 25 years, Summer Balcer was a name synonymous with the pharmacy school — and not just because she was here at the school’s inception, in 1996. Balcer held three roles in the two decades, beginning as assistant to the dean. She then served as interim assistant dean for Student Services and was named senior director of Student Affairs, before her retirement in 2021. Balcer is described as the school’s “rock,” and she had an exceptional ability to befriend and support many pharmacy students, beginning with the initial Class of 2000. The school honored Balcer this summer and celebrated her many years of service.
A portrait headshot photograph of Summer Balcer smiling in her dark navy blue shirt covered by a white jacket that contains grey stripes as far as the pattern style


Pharmacy students paired with students in the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine to host the One Health Clinic for peole who are experiencing homelessness in Amarillo and their pets. Pharmacy students provided immunizations and blood glucose and blood pressure screenings. Veterinary medicine students gave examinations and yearly rabies vaccines for their furry friends, thanks to a community partnership with the city of Amarillo Animal Management and Welfare.
A portrait photograph of two women (one is wearing a purple shirt covered by a black jacket plus a dark gray hat and the other is wearing a red scientific gown), who are Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine students, examine a dog as part of a yearly medical inspection for any potential rabies


Khadijah Mohiuddin is among the 2022-2023 NIH All of Us Research Scholars. The virtual, eight-month program champions student researchers from underrepresented communities to increase diversity in the biomedical workforce. The program provides Mohiuddin, a second-year student on the Dallas campus, with opportunities for significant mentorship, support and hands-on research experience. She plans to focus her research on mental health in the Muslim community.
A portrait headshot photograph of Khadijah Mohiuddin smiling in a burgundy traditional hijab covered around the head and neck area on top of a white pharmaceutical jacket/coat that contains the logo of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy)
A portrait headshot photograph of Magdalena Karbowniczek (MD, PhD) smiling in a white medical laboratory coat with a light green pen tucked in her left pocket of the coat
Magdalena Karbowniczek, MD, PhD

Research Targets Rare Cancer Therapy

Magdalena Karbowniczek, MD, PhD, is furthering her work on pulmonary lymphangioleiomyomatosis, also known as LAM, with a four-year, $2.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. LAM is a rare form of cancer that affects women worldwide of reproductive age; currently, there are 1,500 confirmed cases in the U.S. Karbowniczek’s work, a collaborative effort with a University of Cincinnati researcher, focuses on the role of extracellular vesicles, nanometer particles thought to be facilitators in cancer metasis, and their possible role in the spread and progression of LAM. “This multi-PI grant unifies (our) expertise in LAM again and formalizes a long-lasting collaboration for the benefit of LAM patients,” Karbowniczek said.
VitalsSchool of Health Professions

What’s in a Name?

The Clinical Laboratory Science Program will become the Medical Laboratory Science Program in fall 2023 to better represent the profession’s identity, said Tammy Carter, PhD, MT, MB (Biomedical Sciences ’13, Health Professions ’13, ’00). The new name can help to clarify the health care professional’s role in the hospital setting and ensure individuals with the correct credentials are being hired.
A digital illustrative representation of a red, black, and gray human head silhouette cutout shape in the middle with a red, black, and gray letter x silhouette cutout shape on top/middle of the head with four red, black, and gray border frame edges around the head surrounded by a various gray colored shade background
Clinical Laboratory Science Program gets a new name in 2023.


role reversal

Once a student in the same program, Ericka Hendrix, PhD, MB(ASCP)cm, (Health Professions ’03) now shares her knowledge and expertise with students training to become diagnostic molecular scientists, learning to perform clinical genetic analysis of human DNA. Hendrix is an associate professor and director of the Molecular Pathology Program.


Hands-on learning has given our students the greatest success and the ability to be lifelong learners, solving real-world problems in real-life scenarios. That’s why I like simulating a real-world situation; it allows students the chance to put everything they’ve learned together and apply themselves to solve problems they didn’t think they could solve. You have to learn to troubleshoot and apply your knowledge to realistic situations.


One of the final projects is for the students to design and validate a molecular lab test. Faculty assign a disease, and the students must design a test to identify the disease either by detecting a mutation or the organism’s DNA. They validate their test with proof of results that are reliable, accurate consistent and precise. If their design doesn’t work, they have to change the parameters and retest until it does. We guide them, but we also give them the freedom to fail so they can learn how to recover —and learn in the process.


This program moves fast. To see the students so confident at the end is truly satisfying, especially when they understand they don’t have to be told exactly what to do by the instructor. They venture out and apply their new skills and knowledge to create something from scratch. It’s exciting to see that potential within them, and it’s empowering for the student and for us to see their hard work pay off.


Amanda Cramer, MP, (Health Professions ’19), for example, joined PerkinElmer, a global company providing innovative detection, imaging, informatics and service capabilities, where she was instrumental in the design and validation of a COVID-19 assay that received emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in clinical testing. Cramer now works in molecular biology research and development.

A Community Too Good

By the time Nathanael Longacre, PA-C, (Health Professions ’21) graduated, Midland, Texas, had become home.

Previously a firefighter paramedic, Longacre’s desire to provide care led him to further explore training and health care delivery options. The physician assistant degree’s versatility and courseload appealed to this nontraditional student, said Longacre, PA-C (Health Professions ’21), who works at Medical Center Health System in Odessa, Texas.

Longacre didn’t have TTUHSC high on his list; yet, the superior rankings of its Physician Assistant Studies Program and high pass rates by students on the certification exam were convincing.

But it was the community that changed his mind. The kindness of those he met while in school and accessibility of small-town living “felt homey;” and for Longacre and his family, “It fit.”

New Kid on the Block

The university’s sixth school, Julia Jones Matthews School of Population and Public Health, is a major milestone in the institution’s larger vision to transform health care through innovation and collaboration.
plus sign

Illustration KATHLEEN FU
digital illustration of a Texas Tech logo on a stethoscope with the state of Texas, a skyline, windmills, and a magazine
A dropcap
nnette Lerma, MPH, (GSBS ’21) started her career as a teacher, but when she landed a part-time job as a nutritionist for WIC, the USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, with the city of Abilene, Texas, 20 years ago, she knew she’d found an even better fit.

“I fell in love with the mission of public health,” she said. “I didn’t initially choose public health, but public health has a way of choosing you.”

As she ascended the career ladder — health programs manager, assistant director and now director of health services for the city — she realized that if she paired her experience with more formal education, she could supercharge the work she did.

digital illustration of a Texas Tech logo on a stethoscope with the state of Texas, a skyline, windmills, and a magazine

New Kid on the Block

The university’s sixth school, Julia Jones Matthews School of Population and Public Health, is a major milestone in the institution’s larger vision to transform health care through innovation and collaboration.
plus sign

Illustration KATHLEEN FU
A dropcap
nnette Lerma, MPH, (GSBS ’21) started her career as a teacher, but when she landed a part-time job as a nutritionist for WIC, the USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, with the city of Abilene, Texas, 20 years ago, she knew she’d found an even better fit.

“I fell in love with the mission of public health,” she said. “I didn’t initially choose public health, but public health has a way of choosing you.”

As she ascended the career ladder — health programs manager, assistant director and now director of health services for the city — she realized that if she paired her experience with more formal education, she could supercharge the work she did.

Julia Jones Matthews headshot
PROVIDED BY THE Matthews family

Who Is
Julia Jones Matthews?

Over a lifetime of “anonymous” philanthropy, she rendered a tour de force for her hometown, quietly, exquisitely, selflessly. Her gracious spirit and her generous heart worked powerful and positive changes among legions throughout the Abilene community and beyond.

he footprint of Julia Jones Matthews’ legendary philanthropy extends deep and wide across the environment and culture of Abilene, Texas. Portending this moment we celebrate, Matthews long recognized the importance of health care. Over many years, she has magnanimously shared her considerable resources to address health needs in the Abilene community by supporting local health care institutions including Hendrick Health, West Texas Rehabilitation Center, TTUHSC and many others.

Born in December 1918, much of Matthews’ early life was spent in her childhood home on Abilene’s Alta Vista Hill, enjoying the company of her many childhood friends. During her youth, she developed a life-long appreciation of film and spent many afternoons watching the latest release in downtown Abilene’s Paramount Theatre. The pursuit of education led her to the East Coast in 1933. She attended the Maderia boarding school in Virginia where she excelled both academically and athletically. After earning a bachelor’s degree in economics from Massachusetts’ Smith College in 1942, she returned home to Abilene, marrying Albany rancher John Matthews later that year. They had five children, Joe, Jill, Watt, Matt and Kade.

paint brush graphic

‘The Stroke Artist’

A Tale of Survival, Painting and Urology


Republished with permission
Photographer Camille Smithwick
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is adapted from two previously published works. The first is Bill Monroe’s notes from an interview with Bevan Choate, MD, (Medicine ‘13) on his June 6, 2022, podcast, “StrokeCast” (strokecast.com). The second is Choate’s essay written for Mindy McGinnis’ blog, “Writer, Writer Pants on Fire,” published May 10, 2022. (mindymcginnis.com/blog)

ometimes we may “accuse” medical teams of forgetting their patients are human and not just a wristband and chart in a hospital bed; it works the other way, too. We sometimes forget that our doctors are more than white coats adjusting medications and asking, yet again — “Who is the president?” But doctors are, in fact, human. And they can create art. And they can have strokes.

Bevan Choate, MD, was a surgeon and urologist just entering his career. One morning, everything changed.

a painting sits on an easle among chaparral and vegetation

In “The Stroke Artist,” Bevan Choate, MD, describes “feeling alone and adrift, a victim of a massive stroke.”

We’re Proud of Our Leaders + Legends

We're Proud of Our Leaders + Legends typography
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Alumni Association logo
Meet the
Alumni Awardees
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Alumni Association logo
Meet the 2021-2022 Distinguished Alumni Awardees
Beyond the Call of Duty
Community: a fellowship with others as a result of something shared.

Deployment to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan linked a group of TTUHSC alumni. But their alma mater solidified the relationship.

Capt. Joseph Lozada, (Nursing ’13) took the Texas Tech flag with him to Bagram Air Base on his deployment to Afghanistan in 2019. There it remained until Lt. Col. Kristina Spindel (Nursing ’14) brought it home, when she returned to the U.S. following President Joe Biden’s order for the withdrawal of American troops.

The flag then completed a tour across the U.S. to various School of Nursing alumni who had served at Bagram. Signatures on the flag’s scarlet field proudly signify the end of the Afghanistan campaign and an everlasting appreciation for TTUHSC.

RoundsCheck up

Walk this way

To impact health outside of the clinical exam room, Charla Allen, MD, (Resident ’15, Medicine ’12) associate professor in the School of Medicine Department of Family and Community Medicine in Lubbock, Texas, relaunched the TTUHSC Walk with a Doc program and is collaborating with medical residents and students for a prescription to good health.
"Walk With a Doc" prescription note on top of running shoes
Neal Hinkle
Texas Medical Association supports Texas Walk with a Doc chapters.
Initially, the program was to launch in 2019 as a component of the university’s quality enhancement program (QEP) — but was interrupted by the pandemic, Allen said. The QEP focuses on institutional quality and effectiveness through issues that help to improve student learning and/or student success, according to the QEP website. The goal is for TTUHSC graduates to not only be knowledgeable in their fields, but also be individuals who prioritize self-care and work-life balance.

Morgan Allen, a second-year medical student, and her colleagues joined Charla Allen — her mother — on the relaunch. Morgan said it’s an opportunity to develop an outreach initiative for students that supports health care in the community.

Walk With a Doc events are scheduled monthly Lubbock, currently the only TTUHSC campus with a program, according to the TMA website, which sponsors about 60 programs in Texas.

At the walks, health care students and professionals engage with the community to promote healthy lifestyle habits. Walking as an activity provides a cardio workout, Charla Allen said, which is important to maintaining overall physical and mental health; but it’s an activity in which you can still carry on a conversation so providers can answer questions and share health tips. At a recent walk, Morgan Allen shared that apples are a healthy alternative to a candy bar for satisfying a sweet tooth — and had the fruit on hand for participants to enjoy.

Walking Works

Walking does not require special skills, a gym membership or expensive equipment. But, according to the Centers for Disease Control, walking produces health benefits that can improve sleep, memory, ability to think and learn, and can reduce anxiety symptoms.
is the minimum number of minutes per week adults should engage in moderately intense (able to converse) aerobic activity.
minutes of moderate-or vigorous-intensity daily physical activity is recommended for children.
of adults in America get the recommended amount of aerobic physical activity each week.
days a week, pair walking with muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
U.S. adults visit a health care professional annually. Providers can use those visits to promote the benefits of walking.

Campus Shots

TTUHSC students playing with toddler at event
2 students posing with Red Raider mascot
Man being awarded medal
3 women doing #1 hand gestures next to LifeGift car
photos by neal hinkle/provided by TTUHSC Alumni Association TR Castillo
2 students posing with Red Raider mascot

toys for tots

1| At the annual Interprofessional Toy Fair and Expo, TTUHSC students from audiology, nursing, occupational and physical therapy, and speech-language pathology provided developmentally appropriate books and therapeutic toys to children who receive early intervention services and share educational materials with their families.

wreck ‘em alumni

2| TTUHSC Alumni Association co-hosted a Red Raider watch party with the Texas Tech Alumni Association at the School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo.

highest faculty honors

3| The provost’s office honored current and past Grover E. Murray Professor awardees at the inaugural recognition dinner. Currently, 15 faculty members hold the honorary title, the highest awarded to TTUHSC faculty.

uncrewed transport test

4| The Matador UAS Consortium, co-developed by TTUHSC and 2THEDGE, conducted an uncrewed aerial system (UAS) transport with LifeGift to test the ability to successfully fly medical supplies and health care cargo across Texas.
hands operate a beer tap
top view of a table of muffins, donuts and coffee for two
two women stand in a book store lined with dark wooden shelves filled with books
See what's new script


A brewery toasting to the 806, a bookstore writing the next chapter for local authors and readers, and hand-crafted culinary creations with a down-under twist are transforming downtown Lubbock.

Update Catching Up With TTUHSC Alumni & Friends

Ajith Pai in gray/navy suit

Ajith Pai,

Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southwest
Fort Worth, Texas

Pharmacy Graduate: 2007

Ask me Anything

You’ve been diagnosed with a debilitating disease, say cancer.

Emotions flood as you’re pushed from doctor to doctor. Put through test after test. Internally, the questions race through your mind. “What is the reason behind each decision? Why has no one explained my condition? What happens next?”

A question enthusiast, Pai aims to change the stigma around patient questions. He says the relationship between a caregiver and patient should be a partnership. A former practicing pharmacist and pharmacy director, Pai treasures that partnership and has used questions to develop his career. He credits questioning as a skill that’s equipped him to better serve. Pai recognizes questions may require slightly more time to develop a care plan, but he’s helping lead a charge to understand that they are welcome and encouraged.

“I’ll just be honest, I think hospitals can be confusing places,” he said, especially to a patient — anxious about their care — who is unfamiliar with them. Our hospitals should be a place of healing, Pai continued, expressing he harbors no frustrations with inquisitive patients.

No matter the type of patient, it’s a verbiage and bias Pai says needs to change. Each person is different. Some have no idea what they need, while others are well-versed and prepared, he said.

“Our role here is to serve. We must be open-minded to all folks.”. — Alessandra Singh

UpdateNews & Notes
  • News & Notes

    Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

    Duke Appiah, PhD, associate professor, TTUHSC Department of Public Health, was appointed for an undated term by Texas Gov. Great Abbott to a task force on infectious disease preparedness and response.

  • Brianyell McDaniel, PhD, (’20) has launched a podcast, “Conversations with Dr. Yella,” to better understand a diagnosis by exploring the science behind the disease. You can follow her on YouTube and Facebook.
  • Kerri Spontarelli, MD/PhD student, and Valeria Jaramillo-Martinez, PhD student, presented at the 2022 Biophysical Society Meeting in San Francisco.
  • Tanvirul Hye, PhD, (’16) joined Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine Department of Foundational Medical Studies to teach pharmacology.
  • News & Notes

    Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy

    Nkechi Amadi, MPH, (’22) and her team won second place in the American Pharmacists Association’s Digital Health Rx Hackathon. With this win, their team secured a cash prize for their MedMood prototype.

  • Craig Cox, PharmD, (Pharmacy Resident ’00) TTUHSC professor of pharmacy practice and vice chair for experiential programs, was named president-elect of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.
  • News & Notes

    School of Medicine

    Jason Acevedo, MD, MBA, FAAOA, (’05) joined West Texas Ear, Nose and Throat of Abilene in March.

UpdateNews & Notes

Berchman Vaz, MD, PhD

Physician, Board-certified in Rheumatology and Internal Medicine
Catalina Pointe Arthritis and Rheumatology Specialist, PC
Tucson, Arizona

Biomedical Sciences Graduate: 1993 (Medical Microbiology and Immunology)

Physician-Scientist with a Clinical Persuasion

It’s safe to say that learning and teaching has been the highlight of a long medical career as a rheumatologist for Berchman Vaz, MD, PhD.

The specialty appealed to his researcher side when he decided to become a rheumatologist after completing his doctoral studies. He liked the approach of “newer ideas, newer medications and newer treatments” that practitioners in the field are able to offer their patients.

Berchman Vaz portrait outside in front of brick wall
PROVIDED BY Berchman Vaz, MD, PhD

The privilege of taking care of patients has been a big part of what pulled this researcher to the clinical side the last few years. Vaz said he cherishes the long-term relationships he has with his patients. “That’s what’s special about being a practicing rheumatologist.”

“Rheumatology’s constant evolvement keeps me excited,” he said. There’s a vast spectrum of diseases within the specialty that sustains his interest. “It’s not just one disease we treat all day long.”

“The field of rheumatology is intellectually stimulating and has been personally fulfilling for me,” he said, calling himself blessed.

— Alessandra Singh

UpdateNews & Notes | FRIENDS WE’LL MISS

Bik Kafle, MLS, HTL, QIHC

Medical Clinic of Houston, LLP, Houston, Texas

Health Professions Graduate: 2012 (Clinical Practice Management)


Behind every health care provider stands a laboratorian.

It’s a position that lab manager Bik Kafle, MLS, HTL, QIHC, a graduate of the Clinical Practice Management master’s program — now Healthcare Administration — says is a vital part of the care team. Certified in clinical and anatomic pathology, Kafle can oversee both sides of the spectrum, and it’s a career he’d recommend to anyone. “It feels very refreshing to know I chose the right career path.”

Bik Kafle in the lab

 Kafle takes a great pride in his position. “Even though [my] title is lab manager, [I’m] a leader.” Two titles that he says are very different. Knowledge is power to him, and as a leader, it’s his job to share that knowledge with others. There are no tricks up Kafle’s sleeve; it’s not how he operates, he said.

“The more you share, [the] more knowledgeable you get,” said Kafle. This exchange of information is how he serves other people for their growth, creating new leaders.

— Alessandra Singh

UpdateNews & Notes

David Troutman, MD

Internal Medicine Physician
Texas Health Huguley Hospital Fort Worth South, Fort Worth, Texas

Medicine Graduate: 1992

Something new, something lost

It has to be around here somewhere. Where did I put it? I know I just had it.

Working in the operating room during a fourth-year anesthesia rotation, David Troutman, MD, stumbled onto what he’d thought he’d lost several months before – his first stethoscope — which he found hanging on a hook in the surgery department.

Troutman jokes he “predated” the traditional white coat ceremony, when complimentary Littman stethoscopes given to incoming medical students symbolized “you’re now on your way to becoming a doctor.”

David Troutman in a doctor's coat holding up a stethoscope

This feeling of acceptance into the profession is what Troutman wanted to pay forward by supporting Stethoscopes for Students, he said, which gifts stethoscopes to incoming TTUHSC medical students. Describing the feeling as finally embarking on your “lifelong work,” it’s an emotion he associates with his first stethoscope.

Although Troutman traded his first stethoscope for a new one — a graduation present from his uncle – he couldn’t bear to lose the old one again. Packed safely away is the stethoscope that started his journey, sitting sideline as backup. You know – in case the new one goes missing.

— Alessandra Singh

UpdateNews & Notes

Michael Escobar, BSN, RN

Commissioned Officer, U.S. Navy
Camp Foster, adjoined to Naval Hospital, Okinawa, Japan

Nursing Graduate: 2018 (Traditional BSN)

A Call Out of Comfort

Taking the “gamble,” as he describes it, marks Michael Escobar’s nursing career. At least for now.

Escobar, BSN, RN, served as a nurse aide at UMC Health System in Lubbock, Texas, and security duty in the U.S. Navy Reserve on his way to earning his bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Exposure to the nursing profession at UMC led to his career path. Describing the nurses that he worked with as “outstanding role models,” Escobar credits them for defining what it meant to be a nurse. Accompanied by leadership supportive of his educational goals, the nurses “would never hesitate to educate you, teach you.”

Michael Escobar holding on to a white railing and, in the background, the ocean and a cityline in the distance
provided by michael escobar, bsn, rn

With graduation came a choice: return to the known or take a gamble. It would’ve been easy to remain at UMC with its familiarity, but Escobar decided to step into a new realm of the military – active duty.

The U.S. Navy continues to push Escobar out of his comfort zone. When COVID-19 hit so did the unknown. Stationed at a hospital in Virginia, Escobar was given less than a week to pack up and load onto the USS Comfort, traveling to New York. Treating 15 to 20 patients on board at any time, Escobar was part of supportive care to “alleviate the health care system in New York,” he said.

— Alessandra Singh


Honoring a Life Dedicated to Service

Who was John Cheng, MD, (‘95)?

He was “uncomplicated, humble, and an utmost giving man,” according to the South Coast Medical Group where Cheng was a family and sports medicine physician.

“A great man, a proud father, and husband and always genuine. He always had a smile on his face,” according to a statement from Aliso Niguel High School, where Cheng was a volunteer team physician.

“An upbeat individual who [was] consistently cheerful and a source of pleasure to those around him … his value system [was] excellent and his devotion to patient care exemplary,” according to a recommendation on Cheng’s 1994 residency program application.

On May 15, Cheng demonstrated heroism in its purest form, according to a TTUHSC statement.

He was with his mother at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, California, when a gunman opened fire on luncheon attendees.

In an act of bravery, Cheng charged the gunman, tackling and disarming him likely saving numerous lives.

Five people were wounded; Cheng was the only fatality.

John Cheng portrait in medical coat
Thomas McGovern portrait
Thomas McGovern portrait
Thomas McGovern, EdD, died March 21, 2022.


Thomas McGovern, EdD, was the voice of compassion and concern for the most vulnerable. For 40 years at TTUHSC, he addressed the needs of individuals and families as well as health care professionals, sharing with them the importance of finding a sense of meaning through life’s hardships.

Every Gift Counts!

couple holding corgi in snowy forest
“He was my biggest fan, and thanks to you, I know every day I make him proud.”
Natalie Suchil, MSN
Nursing graduate 2022
Alumni and donors like you were there for me during one of the most stressful times of my life.
At 30 years of age, my life completely changed on October 23, 2021. My husband died in a rollover one semester before my graduation. He was my biggest fan when it came to my education, but he also was the sole provider for our family at the time. I knew he wouldn’t want me to give up on our shared dream this close to the finish line.
Will you be there for other TTUHSC students like me?
Our Legacy Now Student Foundation offers Emergency Hardship Awards up to $1,000 to students who are facing financial crisis because of an emergency. For many, it is the only option available that allows them to remain in school and complete their degree.
make a gift today at givetottuhsc.com
Our Legacy Now Emergency Hardship Award and Scholarship
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center - Our Legacy Now - Student Foundation
askus@ttuhsc.edu | 806.743.2786

A Gift of Impact to ensure the future of medical education.

Lisa K. and Nicky R. Holdeman, MD, (Medicine ’87) benefitted from longtime careers in higher education. Understandably, they chose to make it their legacy. The couple included TTUHSC in their trust to establish endowed chair or professorship in the School of Medicine.
Their goal is to sustain the school’s ability to recruit the type of faculty for which it’s known — expert physicians who look for qualities in students that others might not recognize. Dr. Holdeman was 30 when he applied to medical school to pursue a career in ophthalmology. “They were very receptive to someone older than the average applicant,” he said. “They took a chance on me, and it worked out well all around.”
To make your GIFT OF IMPACT, contact Nathan Rice, CFRE, at giftplanning@ttu.edu or 806.742.1781.
Texas Tech Foundation logo
Learn more about smarter ways to give:
Dr. Nicky and Mrs. Lisa Holdeman smiling in suits next to each other
Thanks for reading our 2022 issue!
We would appreciate your feedback on this issue.