The College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center presented its Alumni Awards for 2020 and 2021 during its recent Virtual Alumni Weekend.
2020 Outstanding Alumni
Chadwick P. Smith, MD, FACS (CoM ’01)
Dr. Smith is a practicing acute care, trauma, and burn surgeon at the Level I Trauma Center at Orlando Regional Medical Center. He joined the hospital’s Department of Surgical Education in 2011 and has served as the Surgical Critical Care Fellowship program director since 2013. He is also the co-medical director for Orlando Health Tactical Medicine, where he provides education and support for the Orlando Police Department’s SWAT team.
An alumnus of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Dr. Smith received his medical degree from UTHSC in 2001 and completed his general surgery residency and surgical critical care fellowship at Orlando Health. He is board-certified in general surgery, surgical critical care, and neurocritical care.
Dr. Smith has received many accolades throughout his career, including the 2016 Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Florida Medical Association and the 2016 Central Floridian of the Year Award from the Orlando Sentinel for his role in treating victims in the Pulse Nightclub shooting. He was the surgeon on call and led surgical triage efforts that night. He has traveled nationally and internationally to present at medical and educational conferences about his experience.
Dr. Smith is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and is involved in several professional organizations, including the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma, the Society of Critical Care Medicine, and the Surgical Critical Care Program Directors Society.
Donald S. LaFont, MD (CoM ’64)
Dr. LaFont is a resident of Jackson, Tennessee, and specializes in pediatrics. After graduating from UTHSC, Dr. LaFont interned at St. Joseph Hospital in Memphis for one year. He then joined the United States Public Health Service and was stationed at Fort Yates Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation from 1965 to 1967. After being discharged as a lieutenant commander, Dr. LaFont completed his pediatric residency at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital from 1967 to 1969, and a fellowship in pediatric endocrinology and metabolism from 1969 to 1970.
Dr. LaFont moved to Jackson in 1970 to join Jesse “Kippy” Miller, MD, and Bobby Higgs, MD, to start a private practice, before merging with the Jackson Clinic in 1982. He also was a professor at the UT Family Practice Clinic, served as chairman of Jackson-Madison County Hospital twice, and was a member of the Bylaws and Credentials Committee. He has been involved in other organizations, including the March of Dimes, American Heart Association, and West Tennessee Speech and Hearing Center, where he served as board chairman, as well as the Visitation Haiti Hospital of Parish Twinning Program of America. He retired in 2001, after 31 years of practice.
His accolades include receiving the Dr. Donna Jean Walker Award for Excellence in Maternal/Fetal Medicine from the March of Dimes and the West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation Award for Medicine (2014). He is also a 50-year member of the Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization.
Dr. LaFont has completed more than 25 years of medical mission work in Haiti with at least 75 missions of two to three weeks, including a three-week trip setting up clinics on street corners in Port-au-Prince after the 2010 earthquake.
Janet S. Wright, MD, FACC (CoM ’78)
Dr. Wright is the director of the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She most recently served as the acting director of Science and Policy in the Office of the Surgeon General, where she received the 2020 Surgeon General’s Award for Exemplary Service.
From 2011 to 2019, Dr. Wright served as the executive director of Million Hearts®, a national initiative co-led by the CDC and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, with the goal to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes in the U.S. over five years.
Dr. Wright was the senior vice president for Science and Quality at the American College of Cardiology from 2008 to 2011. Among her responsibilities was the National Cardiovascular Data Registry, a suite of cardiovascular databases containing millions of patient records from inpatient and outpatient care settings.
Dr. Wright practiced cardiology for more than 20 years in Chico, California, serving on the ACC’s board of trustees and a number of quality and public health organizations.
Dr. Wright received her MD degree from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in 1978. She completed a residency in internal medicine at Children’s Hospital and Adult Medical Center in San Francisco and a fellowship in cardiology at San Francisco General Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco.
Phil Roe, MD (CoM ’70)
Dr. Roe is the former U. S. Representative for Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District. A resident of Washington County, he completed his sixth term in Congress in January 2021.
He was a ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and chaired the committee in the 115th Congress. Additionally, he served on the House Education and Labor Committee. Previously, he was a member of the Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans.
Dr. Roe was born in Clarksville, Tennessee. He earned a degree in biology with a minor in chemistry from Austin Peay State University in 1967. He went on to earn his medical degree from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in 1970. Upon graduation, he served two years in the United States Army Medical Corps.
Dr. Roe has taken an active role in the effort to reform our nation’s health care system. He is the co-chair of the House GOP Doctors Caucus and a co-chair of the Congressional Academic Medicine Caucus. Dr. Roe previously served as the chair of the Republican Study Committee’s Health Care Task Force for three congresses and helped write a patient-centered, free-market alternative to the Affordable Care Act.
Prior to serving in Congress, Dr. Roe served as the mayor of Johnson City, Tennessee, from 2007 to 2009, and vice mayor from 2003 to 2007. He ran a successful medical practice in Johnson City for 31 years, delivering nearly 5,000 babies.
2021 Outstanding Alumni
Rear Admiral Susan J. Blumenthal, (ret.), MD, MPA, (CoM ’75)
Dr. Blumenthal has been a leading U.S. government health expert and spokesperson for more than 20 years, serving as the Assistant Surgeon General of the United States and the first assistant secretary for women’s health.
Dr. Blumenthal, who received her medical degree from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in 1975, has held other positions, including senior global and e-health adviser in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and chief of the Behavioral Medicine and Basic Prevention Research Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health, in addition to serving as a White House adviser for health issues.
Dr. Blumenthal is currently a clinical professor at Georgetown University and the Tufts schools of medicine in Boston, and serves as a distinguished adviser on health and medicine at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. She is also the chair of the Global Health Program at the Meridian International Center in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Blumenthal has received numerous awards, medals, and honorary doctorates for her landmark contributions to improving health, especially in HIV/AIDS, which has been her focus for more than four decades.
Michael S. Bronze, MD, (CoM ’82)
Dr. Bronze is a Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Royal College of Physicians (London), as well as a Master of the American College of Physicians. He is board certified in internal medicine and infectious diseases and was honored with the prestigious University of Oklahoma titles of professor and chairman of the OU Health Sciences Center in 2000, Stewart G. Wolf Professor in Internal Medicine in 2004, and David Ross Boyd Professor in 2011. He works for OU Health, a joint endeavor of the OU Health Sciences Center and OU Medicine, Inc. He holds numerous awards, including several for teaching, and is active on the National Board of Medical Examiners.
Dr. Bronze received his medical degree in 1982 from UTHSC, where he completed an internship, residency, and fellowship in infectious diseases. As a faculty member in the UTHSC College of Medicine until 2000, he was the director of the Internal Medicine program, vice chair for Education, and vice chair for Operations.
He has served as a chair or officer in various local, national, and regional committees and professional societies, including as president of the Southern Society for Clinical Investigation (2004-2005), president of the Association of Professors of Medicine (2012- 2013), and chair of the board of directors of the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine (2013-2015).
Dr. Bronze’s research focuses on bioterrorism, the role of inflammatory cytokines in bacterial growth, and the pathogenesis of nonsuppurative complications of group A streptococcal infections and hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with hepatitis C and other cancers. He is a reviewer and editorial board member for multiple academic journals, and frequently writes abstracts, book chapters, and manuscripts related to these research interests.
Alvin C. Powers, MD, (CoM ’79)
As a physician-scientist with Vanderbilt University and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Nashville, Alvin C. Powers, MD, a specialist in internal medicine/endocrinology and diabetes, has been a leader in diabetes research, patient care, and medical education.
At Vanderbilt since 1988, Dr. Powers holds the Joe C. Davis Chair in Biologic Science and is a professor of medicine, molecular physiology and biophysics. He is the director of the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center, the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-supported Diabetes Research and Training Center, and chief of the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism.
His research on type 1 and type 2 diabetes has provided new insights into the cause of several forms of diabetes, leading to more than 190 scientific publications. He is the founder of the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Medical Student Research Program, and directed the Vanderbilt Medical Student Research Program. These have enabled more than 1,000 medical students to conduct diabetes-related research over the past 20 years. An endocrinologist, he is listed by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. as one of America’s Top Doctors.
Dr. Powers has served on advisory panels, study sections, or boards for the NIH, the Endocrine Society, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), International Society of Endocrinology, and the American Diabetes Association (ADA). He served as President of Medicine and Science of the ADA in 2017. In recognition of his contributions, Dr. Powers was elected to the Association of American Physicians and as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and received the David Rumbough Award for Scientific Excellence from the JDRF, the Banting Medal for Leadership and Service from the ADA, the Naomi Berrie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Diabetes Research from Columbia University, and the Outstanding Educator Award from the Endocrine Society.
Dr. Powers received his medical degree in 1979 from UTHSC. He then trained at Duke University Medical Center, followed by training in Boston, Massachusetts, at the Joslin Diabetes Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School.
Sid Wilroy, MD, CoM ’60
As a pediatrician in Memphis for more than 50 years, Dr. Wilroy has served in many roles at UTHSC, as well as at Memphis hospitals, in particular, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.
He is a 1957 graduate of Vanderbilt University and 1960 graduate of UTHSC. He did a pediatric internship at St. Louis Children’s Hospital at Washington University in 1961, followed by a residency in pediatrics at Le Bonheur and Memphis City Hospital. He received a Master of Science degree in 1966, after spending three years as a U.S. Public Health Service postdoctoral trainee in pediatric endocrine and metabolic diseases at UTHSC.
He served in the U.S. Army Reserves 330th General Hospital for 8 years, discharged with the rank of captain.
At UTHSC, Dr. Wilroy was an instructor in the Department of Pediatrics in 1967, assistant professor in 1968, and professor in 1979. During this period, the pediatric consulting group divided into nephrology, endocrinology, diabetes, and genetics.
He worked with Robert Summit, MD, in the section of genetics, and served as chief of the Genetics Division from 1984-1990. (Other notable professors in this consulting group were James Etteldorf, MD, Shane Roy, MD, and Al Camacho, MD.)
He is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Human Genetics.
His love of teaching has been documented by numerous Golden Apple Teaching Awards and Excellence in Teaching Awards. Medical students have requested that he speak at graduations.
Dr. Wilroy has published 25 book chapters, 86 journal articles and presented 168 papers. He has been a visiting professor in national and international institutions, including in Central and South America and Europe.
To provide genetic services to patients in Tennessee, he initiated a state-supported plan to fund genetic centers in major cities (Johnson City, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Nashville, and Memphis). This began in 1989 and continues today.
Dr. Wilroy retired from the university in 2016 at age 80.