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UMMC shines in national organizations

Published on Monday, December 4, 2023

By: Patrice Guilfoyle,

Medical Center faculty and staff often are recognized regionally, nationally and internationally for their academic or medical achievements. These accolades place UMMC among health science centers worldwide.

Thigpen awarded mastership in American College of Physicians

Calvin Thigpen

Dr. Samuel “Calvin” Thigpen was awarded mastership in the American College of Physicians. Mastership is awarded to ACP Fellows who have shown “integrity, positions of honor, impact in practice or in medical research, or other attainments in science or in the art of medicine.”

Masters must be highly accomplished persons demonstrating impact in practice, leadership, or in medical research. Thigpen is the 11th Mississippian to gain this honor, with the most recent being Dr. Dan Jones, vice chancellor emeritus of health affairs, in 2019.

Thigpen is professor of medicine in the Division of Internal Medicine, Internal Medicine Residency Program Director, and Vice Chair of Education for the Department of Medicine.

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Dental student delivers top research presentation in North America

Third-year dental student Michael Bierdeman's research progresses the identification of bacteria that contribute to periodontal disease.
Third-year dental student Michael Bierdeman's research progresses the identification of bacteria that contribute to periodontal disease.

Third-year dental student Michael Bierdeman of Madison was awarded “Most Outstanding” for his research presentation at the 28th Annual Hinman Student Research Symposium in Memphis. 

At this year’s symposium, 101 students represented 44 dental schools in 34 states, the District of Columbia, and two provinces of Canada. Thirteen awards were given for the most outstanding student presentations, six for clinical research and seven for basic and translational research. As one of the “Most Outstanding Presentations in Clinical Research” winners, Bierdeman said that he was delighted and honored to accept the award as a representative of the School of Dentistry.

Every year, the dental research symposium-- sponsored by the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry and the Hinman Dental Society-- invites each DDS/DMD program in North America to send one student as representation. This year, the University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Dentistry selected Bierdeman to represent the program based on his research presentation “Prevalence of Fusobacterium nucleatum among various Periodontal Disease Severity States” at the School of Dentistry Research Day in March.

“It was quite an honor to be chosen to represent the entire school at a national conference,” Bierdeman said. “It was a wonderful experience where I was able to collaborate and see the fascinating research being done at dental schools across the country.”

His award-winning project was directed by Dr. Jennifer Bain, professor and chair of the department of periodontics and preventive sciences. Bierdeman’s other research mentors include Dr. John Bates, associate professor in the department of cell and molecular biology, and Dr. Michael Garrett, professor and chair of the department of cell and molecular biology. Two UMMC alumni, Kaitlin McNeely and Charlie Cook, assisted with the project—both hold a master's in biomedical science from the School of Graduate Studies.

The research is centered around the bacteria Fusobacterium nucleatum, measuring its effects at different stages of periodontal disease. Bierdeman, who earned a BS in biological science from Mississippi State University, said that furthering the understanding of what causes this polymicrobial disease and how it affects the host immune system can help to guide future treatments and therapies.

“I would just like to thank Dr. Bates and Dr. Bain for their mentorship throughout this research project,” said Bierdeman. “It has been an exciting experience. I also want to thank Dr. Jason Griggs and Dr. Amol Janorkar for all of their continued efforts with the School of Dentistry’s UPSTART program. It’s a wonderful way for current or prospective dental students to either continue their research or gain experience in research.”

Bierdeman grew up surrounded by dentistry—his father an orthodontist and his brother practicing as a general dentist. He said that being immersed in the field from such a young age gave him an appreciation for the profession. However, before beginning his own journey at the School of Dentistry, Bierdeman spent several years as a researcher in the UMMC Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

In the year immediately preceding dental school, he worked with Bates and Dr. Gailen Marshall, R. Faser Triplett Chair of Allergy and Immunology and director of the Clinical Research Support Program and Clinical Research and Trials Units at the Medical Center. It was during that time that Bierdeman was able to join the collaborative efforts of Bates and Bain in pursuit of his current research focus in dentistry.

Bierdeman is still undecided about his plans for the future. While early in the clinical phase of his dental education, he said he wants to keep his options open as he gains more experience in the field.

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Chappell to receive honor from National Academic Internal Medicine Group

Jennifer Chappell

The Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine (AAIM) is pleased to announce Jennifer P. Chappell, director of health education in the Department of Internal Medicine, as the recipient of the 2024 MPPDA Program Administrator Service Award. This award is presented to a current or former program administrator who has demonstrated outstanding service and contribution to the MPPDA.

This prestigious award will be presented to Chappell at Academic Internal Medicine Week 2024, to be held April 14-17, in Columbus, OH. The Alliance’s annual spring conference brings together more than 4,000 faculty and administrator leaders from departments of internal medicine in medical schools and teaching hospitals in the United States.

“This year's Alliance Awards celebrate the commitment of our members in the academic internal medicine community. Ms. Chappell’s distinction, as recognized by her peers, is a testament to her outstanding contributions. We're grateful for her valuable input and dedication to our community,” said AAIM President and CEO Polly E. Parsons, MD, MACP, FCCP, ATSF.

AAIM promotes the advancement and professional development of its 12,000 members who prepare the next generation of internal medicine physicians and leaders through education, research, engagement, and collaboration.

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PKP chapter named Circle of Excellence Silver Chapter

Circle of ExcellenceThe University of Mississippi’s Phi Kappa Phi Chapter 077 has been named a 2023-2024 Circle of Excellence – Silver Chapter by the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. The chapter includes students from both the Oxford and Jackson campuses.

The designation recognizes chapters that excel in recognizing and promoting academic excellence on their campus and engaging the community of scholars in service to others.

Introduced in 2018, the Circle of Excellence recognized 74 chapters this year, including 38 with the silver distinction. The silver honor is given to chapters scoring a 90-94 out of 100 on a criteria scale that evaluates chapter health indicators.

By receiving the Silver distinction, the chapter is recognized as a thriving organization that holds annual initiations, upholds the Society Bylaws, regularly attends chapter training opportunities and submits a chapter-endorsed nominee to the Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship Program.

Chapters with a silver distinction receive a commendation letter from the Society sent to chapter officers and campus administration, special recognition on the Phi Kappa Phi website, a specially-designed logo for use in chapter communications and a $100 cash award.