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2022 Health Care Heroes Include Faculty from UTHSC, Hospital Partners

The Memphis Business Journal honored outstanding leaders of the health care community with its 2022 Health Care Heroes Awards. Drs. Wei Li, second from left, and Duane Miller, center, from UTHSC were honored for their drug discovery work. Also pictured are Bo Allen, president, First Horizon-West Tennessee, left, Joanna Crangle, president and publisher of the Memphis Business Journal, and Kevin Woods, VP, Memphis market president, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.

Academic, clinical, and research faculty from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and its clinical partner hospitals were among those honored Tuesday night during the 2022 Health Care Heroes Awards presented by the Memphis Business Journal.

The awards are given annually to recognize individuals who have gone above and beyond in improving health care and overall health in the community. Awards were presented in the following categories: Administrative Excellence; Community Outreach; Health Care Innovations; Health Care Provider, Non-Physician; Health Care Provider, Physician; and Lifetime Achievement.

Honorees affiliated with UTHSC include:

Health Care Innovations

Wei Li, PhD, UTHSC Distinguished Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and director of the UTHSC College of Pharmacy Drug Discovery Center, and Duane Miller, PhD, Professor Emeritus in the UTHSC Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Drs. Li and Miller were involved in the initial design and testing of the drug sabizabulin, along with scientists at Ohio State University and GTx Inc. Originally a cancer drug, sabizabulin’s anti-inflammatory capabilities have been shown effective in treating acute respiratory distress from COVID-19. Veru currently holds the license to the drug through the UT Research Foundation and is working to get FDA approval for sabizabulin.

Chester W. Brown, MD, PhD, St. Jude Chair of Excellence in Genetics, Department of Pediatrics at UTHSC, and Genetics Division chief, UTHSC, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Dr. Brown was honored for his work leading the Biorepository and Integrative Genomics initiative (BIG) for Le Bonheur and UTHSC.

Community Outreach

Diana Dedmon, DNP, FNP, BC, assistant professor, Michael Carter Endowed Professor, and director of clinical affairs in the UTHSC College of Nursing. Dr. Dedmon was honored for her work leading a COVID-19 vaccination education program in rural West Tennessee.

Dr. Diana Dedmon from the UTHSC College of Nursing is shown with Chancellor Peter Buckley after she received a Health Care Heroes Award for Community Outreach.

Cassandra Christiansen, RDH, MPA, EdD, an associate professor and director of School-Based Programs and Community Outreach in the UTHSC College of Dentistry. She received the award for her work with the “Love Thy Neighbor” program, a volunteer program she organized during the pandemic with Christ Missionary Baptist Church and the Mid-South Food Bank that provided more than 15,000 food boxes, 1,000 toothbrushes, and 1,300 tubes of toothpaste for those in need in Memphis. The program continues to this day. 

Shirin Mazumder, MD, infectious disease physician at Methodist Le Bonheur Health Care and an associate professor in the UTHSC College of Medicine. Dr. Mazumder was lauded for her extensive work and media interviews to educate and protect the community during the pandemic

Health Care Provider: Physician

David Shibata, MD, FACS, FASCRS, the Harwell Wilson Alumni Endowed Chair in Surgery and professor and chair of the Department of Surgery at UTHSC, and executive director/chief medical officer of the UTHSC Cancer Program. Dr. Shibata oversees the work of clinical faculty and surgical residents across all surgical specialties at UTHSC including cardiac surgery, general surgery, oncological surgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, pediatric surgery, trauma surgery and critical care, vascular and endovascular surgery and more. He also maintains a busy practice as a clinician.

Sandy Arnold, MD, MSc, professor of pediatrics, division chief of Pediatric Infectious Disease at Le Bonheur and UTHSC, and associate residency program director, Pediatric Residency, Le Bonheur. Dr. Arnold was honored for her leadership of Le Bonheur’s Safe Sleep Initiative, serving on the Back-to School Task Force, which advised area school administrators during the pandemic, and research of treatments for COVID-19.

William Warner, Jr., MD, orthopedic surgeon, Campbell Clinic; professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at UTHSC.  Dr. Warner is a leader in orthopedics, particularly in the focus on cerebral palsy.

Leonard Baidoo, MD, medical director, gastroenterology, Regional One Health and an associate professor of gastroenterology and hepatology at UTHSC. Dr. Baidoo was honored for his work in inflammatory bowel disease.

Many other outstanding Memphians among hospital and community group partners were also recognized for their health care leadership.  “It was invigorating to see the health care talent in our community. We were particularly proud that our academic clinicians were represented by both their hospital – group practice and UTHSC affiliations, an explicit expression that we are stronger together,” said UTHSC Chancellor Peter Buckley, MD.  “We are also most grateful to the Memphis Business Journal for all they do to advance health care in our region.”

Tuesday 24th-annual Health Care Heroes Awards were sponsored by First Horizon and held at The Kent in downtown Memphis.