UTHSC Faculty, Staff Among Memphis Business Journal’s 2021 Health Care Heroes

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The Shelby County Relative Caregiver Program has helped families by providing support and services to children who are being cared for by a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or other family members because their parents are unable to do so.

Faculty and staff members of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center are among the Memphis Business Journal’s 2021 Health Care Heroes.

Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSc, APRN-Bc, FAANP

UTHSC College of Nursing Dean Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSc, APRN-Bc, FAANP, was recognized in the Administrative Excellence Category. Michael Whitt, PhD, associate dean of the Office of Medical Education in the UTHSC College of Medicine, was honored in the Health Care Innovations category. Claudette Jones Shephard, MD, associate professor and interim chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the UTHSC College of Medicine, was recognized in the Health Care Provider, Physician Category. The Shelby County Relative Caregiver Program was honored in the Community Outreach category.

Since 2015, Dean Likes has led the UTHSC College of Nursing. Under her tenure, the college has risen steadily in national rankings. It is ranked No. 26 for its Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program by U.S. News & World Report. The college is also the No. 1 college of nursing in the state in funding from the National Institutes of Health, and most recently was designated a Center of Excellence by the National League of Nursing, one of only 23 across the country.

Michael Whitt, PhD

Dr. Whitt, a researcher and educator, was honored for his contributions to science, with the development 20 years ago of an assay to test for the presence of neutralizing antibodies, which has played an integral role in the development of today’s COVID-19 vaccine. To examine the efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine during development, the company needed a way to test the inhibitory effects of the antibodies generated after vaccination on virus infection. Pfizer-BioNTech and other companies have utilized the surrogate system developed by Dr. Whitt.

Dr. Shephard is the only fellowship-trained pediatric/adolescent gynecologist in the region. Under her direction, the Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology Clinic at Regional One Health provides comprehensive gynecologic services to girls and young women. More than 100 physicians and groups around the region refer patients to Dr. Shephard. In addition, this year Dr. Shephard was named the founding associate dean of Diversity and Inclusion for the UTHSC College of Medicine.

Claudette Jones Shephard, MD

For more than 20 years, the Shelby County Relative Caregiver Program has helped families by providing support and services to children who are being cared for by a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or other family members because their parents are unable to do so. Since it began, the program has helped more than 4,420 children and 3,200 caregivers. The RCP is funded by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and operates through the Center on Developmental Disabilities in the College of Medicine.

Other UTHSC honorees nominated by their respective institutions include:

Administrative Excellence: Brandon Edgerson, PharmD, MS, assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Translational Science and vice president and chief operating officer at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital

Community Outreach: Jessica Jiles Carwell, grants coordinator in the College of Medicine

Health Care Provider, Non-Physician:
Justin Griner, PharmD, assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy & Translational Science and Inpatient Pharmacy Manager at Regional One Health

Jamila Smith-Young, DNP, MSN, MPH, assistant professor in the College of Nursing and nurse practitioner at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital

Health Care Provider, Physician:
Cynthia Cross, MD, associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Division Chief of Pediatric Hospital Medicine, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital

Cyrilyn Walters, MD, MPH, FACP, FAAP, assistant professor in Division of General Internal Medicine and medical director for ambulatory services at Regional One Health. Dr. Walters leads the UTHSC/Regional One Health post-COVID-19 clinic.

The annual Health Care Heroes Awards have recognized Memphis’ top health care professionals for more than 20 years. The list was recently announced in the print edition of the Memphis Business Journal, with individual profiles about each nominee running through the end of the year.