Nevada System of Higher Education
Health Sciences System Newsletter 
May 2015
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:
UNLV Professor Ramona Denby-Brinson recognized for her work on social services, the foster system, and children's mental health.

Ramona Denby-Brinson has built her career by changing the conversations about teen pregnancy, foster care, and social policy for decades. Now the conversation is about her. Denby-Brinson has become the first female researcher to win UNLV's top annual research award.


She earned the university's 2014 Harry Reid Silver State Research Award for her work on social services, including family and children welfare, the foster system, and children's mental health. She is also a senior resident scholar at the UNLV Lincy Institute. 


Ramona Denby-Brinson is tackling Nevada's shortage of mental health providers. She was instrumental in organizing the university's Mental and Behavioral Health Coalition, which consists of several health-related academic disciplines. UNLV faculty are launching a new curriculum this summer that will create a pipeline of healthcare professionals specializing in children's mental health. Taught by faculty across health and counseling fields, the program will train graduate students to work with kids suffering from severe mental health disorders, have a history of violence, or who have experienced traumatic events.


Students from psychology, educational counseling, addictions, counseling, marriage and family therapy, social work and nursing will work together to exchange ideas and develop comprehensive treatment plans - the results of which will be examined in the research project. The program and research project are funded through a $1.4 million federal grant.


"The rewarding part is when you get a chance to use your research discoveries to change policy, to change programs, and to bring attention to how we're labeling kids, and how even a minimal level of support and investment can help children live normal and productive lives," Denby-Brinson said.


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WNC Nursing Grads Honored at Pinning Ceremony

WNC Nursing graduates at graduation ceremonies included L-R, Anna Alauria, Brittney Allen (class president), and Jennifer Evans (class treasurer)


Just hours after receiving their associate degrees on Monday, May 18, thirty-nine Western Nevada College nursing graduates were also recognized in a traditional pinning ceremony.


There, WNC, families and the public recognized students for their achievements in the program.


Receiving the Top Academic Student Award was Bethany Hinchliffe. Other award winners were Melissa Trubitsky and Jose Zepeda Barrios, Spirit of Nursing Award; Brittney Allen, Northern Nevada Nurse of Achievement Award; Hinchliffe, Allen, Janelle Martin, Jesseca Pacheco Larios and Heather Palmer, National Student Nurses' Association outstanding students; Aaron Kanow, Faculty/Student Liaison Award; and Hinchliffe and Keana Grover, Associated Students of Western Nevada outstanding students;


Nurse of distinction honors went to Cassidy Jost (presented by Michelle Meyer), Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center; Sandi Ellis (presented by Hinchliffe), Renown Regional Medical Center; and Natalie Walther (Pacheco Larios), St. Mary's Regional Medical Center.


A scholarship was established in memory of beloved faculty member Sherry Neil-Urban. The Keep Calm and Carry On scholarship will be presented to first-year nursing students in the coming years.


Dr. Judith Cordia, WNC's Nursing and Allied Health director and division chair, delivered the opening statements and WNC President Chester Burton provided the welcoming remarks.


Award presenters included Anna Anders, M.S.N. and R.N., vice president and chief operating officer at Carson Tahoe Health; Lisa Dunkelberg, M.S.N. and R.N.; Edda Gibson, M.S. and R.N.; Elizabeth Cordero, M.B.A and R.N.; Debi Ingraffia-Strong, M.S.N. and R.N.; and Catherine Fuller, M.S.N. and A.P.R.N.


Graduates hailed from numerous communities in the area:


Carson City

Brittney Allen, Elena Crandell, Jennifer R. Evans, James L. Hewitt, Danielle A. Jones, Jennifer L. McCoun, Heather N. Palmer, Amanda N. Peachay, Daniel Perez, Marina O. Vyshutina, Cynthia A. Yenter


Della G. Morron, Melissa A. Trubitsky


Kimberly S. Dela Vega, Stacy M. Wallace


Tonya S. Ciofffi, Elizabeth A. Eubanks, Hannah L. Gonzales, Stephanie N. Pruitt, Sarah D. Rollins, Suzanne G. Thompson

Markleeville, Calif.

Bethany Hinchliffe


Janelle M. Martin, Michelle M. Meyer, Jesseca Pacheco Larios, Kathryn J. Schaller


Anna L. Alauria, Keana M. Grover, Christian M. Jensen, Aaron T. Kanow, Laura M. Kruse, Esther Wegner, Sheri L. West


Bryce M. Becker, Jose D. Zepeda Barrios

South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Michelle S. Flury, Lavon C. Shay, Jennifer D. Webb

Zephyr Cove

Maureen S. McDermott


TMCC Student Researchers Discover 5 Phages; Study Expands to Water


A bacteriophage study which began at Truckee Meadows Community College in the fall has already produced results with five previously unknown phages, and the research is now expanding.TMCC students have named their finds, and will add information about the new bacteriophages into a national database. A phage, also known as a bacteriophage, is a virus that can infect or kill bacteria. Studying them can lead to breakthroughs in treating bacteria that are harmful to humans and other animals.


"The soil phages project is ongoing - we have electron micrographs of five phages and two high quality genetic sequences," said Dr. Laura Briggs, Biology Instructor. "What has spun out of this is an idea to expand the exploration - looking for phages in regional waterways, for the purpose of treating bacterial infections in fish at hatcheries. So we approached the local, northern Nevada, Sagebrush Chapter of Trout Unlimited in seeking a research grant."


The official title of the grant application is the Sagebrush Chapter of TU - Conservation Grant Program, "Fly Fishers for Phage." Other partners in the grant include the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE), Nevada NASA Space grant, NV INBRE, and the HHMI Science Education Alliance. For more information about research at TMCC, call the Biology Department at 775-673-8251.



School of Medicine holds hooding ceremony: Class of 2015 graduates 70 new physicians
Class of 2015 President Jimmy Verlanic addresses his classmates from the podium at today's Hooding Ceremony for the University of Nevada School of Medicine. Photo by Anne McMillin, APR.

Commencement ceremonies for the University of Nevada School of Medicine's Class of 2015 were held this afternoon at Lawlor Event Center at the University of Nevada, Reno. The 70 graduating students celebrated completion of their medical education by receiving their academic hoods and reciting the Hippocratic Oath, which reaffirms their commitment to the medical profession.

Susan Dentzer, senior policy advisor from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, served as the ceremony's keynote speaker. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the nation's largest philanthropy focused on U.S. health and health care. 

Dentzer is also one of the nation's most respected health care journalists and thought leaders. She is an on-air analyst on health issues with the PBS NewsHour and a regular commentator on health policy for National Public Radio, Al Jazeera America and other television and radio networks.

The Class of 2015 has a short break before they begin their residency training programs. This year's graduating class continued Nevada's tradition of placing in some of the nation's most competitive residency programs-students will enter specialties ranging from anesthesiology to otolaryngology.

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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