Nevada System of Higher Education
Health Sciences System Newsletter 
December 2014
The Health Sciences System (HSS) was established by the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Board of Regents in 2006. Its purpose is to address Nevada's community health issues through a system-wide effort to integrate and expand the education of health professionals and to foster collaborative research in health and health care.  Through collaboration among the NSHE institutions and a broad range of external partners, the HSS intends to be a catalyst for improvement in the health and wellness of Nevada.  Visit us at:
Noted biomedical researcher Mick Hitchcock creates endowed chair for UNR medical biochemistry

Noted biomedical researcher Mick Hitchcock has made a gift to establish the Mick Hitchcock, Ph.D. Endowed Chair in Medical Biochemistry at the University of Nevada, Reno. 

Endowed chairs provide a distinguished scholar the opportunity to advance their research, teaching and public service. This tenure track faculty position will bolster research development in medical biochemistry and support the mentor of future scientists.

"The creation of an endowed chair for a distinguished biomedical scientist is the 'gold standard' for how to support a medical school research enterprise," said Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D., dean of the University of Nevada School of Medicine. "Dr. Hitchcock has honored the medical school with his confidence. He has made an extraordinary commitment that will have a permanent and positive impact on our ability to advance science and train the next generation of scientists."

Hitchcock, a senior adviser to bio-pharmaceutical company Gilead, has worked for more than 30 years in the bio-pharmaceutical industry and played a key role in developing ground-breaking HIV drugs. 

"The creation of this endowment allows me to participate in the future advances that will be made by the incumbents for this position and the people they train," Hitchcock said. "Inspirational research in biochemistry will lead to new understanding of the molecular basis of how cells work, of how they become dysfunctional in diseases and potentially to new drugs for treatment of these conditions."

UNLV Researchers Krystal Belmonte and Van Vo to be honored for academic excellence

A researcher dedicated to finding a cure for cancer and a biologist uncovering the mysteries of Alzheimer's disease will be honored as UNLV's outstanding graduates at winter commencement.


These two students - Van Vo and Krystal Belmonte - will be among the nearly 2,000 new graduates at the winter commencement Dec. 16. During the ceremony, President Donald Snyder will continue the tradition of highlighting students who have excelled in the classroom, are engaged in the community, and/or who have overcome personal adversity to succeed.


Van Vo - Ph.D. in Chemistry

Vo has spent 13 years at UNLV, obtaining bachelor's and master's degrees in biochemistry and now a Ph.D. in chemistry, as well as a U.S. patent. A cancer researcher, Vo has made it her personal quest to find a cure for a disease that has taken the lives of many, including her grandfather's and uncles'.


She found her calling in an oncology class during her senior year as an undergraduate.


"I became certain of what I wanted to do after taking the class. I wanted to become a cancer researcher," Vo, 31, said. "I like doing all the hands on work. It's exciting to get results that demonstrate the drugs are working and to be a part of the development of clinical chemotherapy drugs."

Krystal Belmonte - B.S. in Biological Sciences

Belmonte spent her last summer as a Rebel researching the biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease. Selected for a summer undergraduate research fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Belmonte's work at the prestigious institution solidified her commitment to piecing together the puzzle that is Alzheimer's.


Belmonte's motivation to find solutions for patients comes from personal experiences. Her family members have suffered from the disease and her parents have served as primary caregivers, so the disease has always had a part in her life.


"It may be a far off way (before we find) a cure, but at least we are taking steps, and I want to be a part of those steps," Belmonte, 22, said.


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Student Nurses at TMCC Reaffirm Faith in Humanity

Picture caption: MSJ Student Nurses' Association members on the pediatric floor of Renown Regional Medical Center. Photo by Penelope Burke
An inaugural charity drive led by the TMCC Maxine S. Jacobs Nursing Program's Student Nurses' Association took place from Dec. 1-12. These amazing young nurses collected eight 4-foot tall circular bins filled with new or gently used gloves, scarves, socks, blankets, coats, toiletries, snacks, water bottles, and baby wipes. Their "Cure for the Cold" drive was in partnership with St. Vincent's Center, Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada, and the items will go directly to homeless clients whom St. Vincent's serves, said Penelope Burke MSJ Student Nurses' Association president. The colored collection bins were located throughout both Dandini and Redfield campuses at TMCC.


Student nurses collected approximately $100 in monetary contributions toward gifts for children who are patients at Renown Regional Medical Center. They also hand created holiday ornaments for seniors at the hospital. Fifteen MSJ Student Nurses' Association members caroled at Renown on the rehabilitation and pediatric units on Dec. 18, bringing the gifts and ornaments with them to bring cheer and a smile to patients. Nursing faculty joining in the caroling were professors Debbie Bader and Joy Alverson, and director of nursing, Jody Covert.


Did you know: 
The Nevada System of Higher Education has 150 distinct Health Sciences programs throughout eight institutions with an estimated total of 18,000 enrolled students.
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