Social Justice: Talking With a Purpose

Michael Okoronkwo (L2) 


Social Justice Picture
Katherine Davidson (Class of 2019) and Michael Okoronkwo (Class of 2019) lead the discussion at a recent Social Justice lunch time Table Talk.

The expectation to address psychosocial factors influencing patient health status has always been a model within the culture of healthcare. Such commitment in recognizing this virtue as a fundamental tool in the goal of patient care is honorable.  Reflecting upon this mission in medicine, students from LOCUS, APAMSA, SNMA, and LMSA were inspired to create a community of open and honest dialogue aimed at fostering humanistic development for our growth not only as future physicians, but as future leaders. The collective voice of these students, and the audience which engages with us at our Table Talk lunch series, are passionate about moving the vision of equity, selflessness, and compassion in the approach to healthcare forward.  These goals are not lifeless themes that have evolved to a cliché in the hearts of us, but rather a responsibility to foster.

The role of a physician inherently draws the platform of influence given by our community. We are aware of such, and want to ensure that this influence is morally potent and empowering for our future patients and community at large. At our talks, we seek to invoke conversations that stimulate conscientious development for the student through group discussion.

In order to grow as future physicians and help strengthen the capacity and impact of our patient interaction, we confront and bring to the table of discussion common challenges that threaten the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship.  We acknowledge that many of these threats branch from the core of implicit bias.  We agree that all of us have them. However, we also agree that the weakness is not having implicit bias, but rather the weakness is ignoring the internal truth that we have them as we enter a profession where dedication to human service is our enduring responsibility.

Implicit bias in patient care can manifest in the form of gender, race, ethnic, or sexual identity bias.  By having a very diverse student population within our Table Talk series, we are able to share perspectives and gain insight about cultural values, norms, and differences shared by our diverse audience. These sessions result in transformative personal growth as we together make a step forward in cultural competency and human understanding.

The leaders from LOCUS, APAMSA, SNMA, and LMSA have opened an additional door of resource for students to think, discuss, and learn of ways in which we can be more of an asset to our future patient population beyond the clinical perspective.  These leaders have created the Table Talk series as a setting where the compassion of the human heart is the guide of discussion, as we recognize the moral obligation we have to our patients and community.


How to Use the Calendar of Events

Let’s work together and encourage our departmental administrators, seminar coordinators and group leaders to add upcoming seminars, grand rounds, special classes, open-to-the-public meetings, and any other events that your department may feel is of general interest to the SOM.

The more people use the Calendar of Events, the more informative it will be and the more people will WANT to use it. Help us make the SOM Calendar of Events YOUR source for SOM information!

Using the Calendar of Events, which is part of the Outlook program that we use to access our e-mail, is as easy as knowing where to look and how to add events!  Here’s how to do it:

Instructions for PC users:

  1. Open Outlook  and log in as if you are checking your e-mail
  2. Within Outlook, click on View –> Folders (or click on the small folder icon at the bottom of the left navigation panel)
  3. Within Folders, double click on Public Folders, then All Public Folders
  4. Look for “Medical School NO”
  5. Under that folder, open SOM Calendar
  6. Double click on your date of interest and fill in the appropriate information just as you would for any appointment
  7. When finished, click “Save and Close”
  8. Timesaver Tip: Right click on SOM Calendar and click Add to Favorites. A shortcut to the SOM Calendar will then be available when you click the Calendar button at the bottom of the left navigation.

Instructions for Mac users:

  1. Open up Outlook and log in as if you are checking your e-mail
  2. Click on “Public Folders”
  3. Look for “Medical School NO”
  4. Under that folder, look for SOM Calendar
  5. Double click on your data of interest and fill in the appropriate information
  6. When finished, click “Save and Close”
  7. Timesaver Tip: Right click on SOM Calendar and click Copy Folder. A shortcut to the SOM Calendar will then be available when you click the Calendar button at the bottom of the left navigation.

If you are having trouble accessing the calendar or need assistance please contact your IT representative.

Upcoming Events


The American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS) conference will be held in New Orleans from April 30 – May 5. Accepted publications from our department include:

  • Dr. Bradley Spieler and Dr. Eric Wallace titled “Persistent Sciatic Artery: A Favorable Anatomic Variant In A Setting Of Trauma.”
  • Dr. Lillian Tiara Murphy and Dr. Bradley Spieler titled “Pancreatic Arteriovenous Malformations with Hepatitis C” and “Renal Excretion on Five Minute Delay Phase CT as a Predictor of Cardiopulmonary Arrest within 24 hours.”
  • Dr. Stephanie Cajigas-Loyola titled “Emerging MRI Techniques for Characterization of Ectopic Endometrial Tissue.”



LSU ENT Resident Sinus & Sleep Surgery Course, Course Director, Kevin McLauglin, MD, Center for Advanced Practice Conference Room, Lions Building, New Orleans, LA, March 31-April 1, 2017.

LSU ENT Resident Temporal Bone Dissection Course, Course Director, Moises Arriaga, MD, Center for Advanced Practice Conference Room, Lions Building, New Orleans, LA, April 21-22, 2017

Dr. Rohan Walvekar, Associate Professor is invited to speak and instruct at the ENT World Congress in Paris, France on June 24-24, 2017.

Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics:

The Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Student Colloquium will take place May 22-23, 2017 on the LSU Health Sciences Center campus. Dr. Mohan Raizada, Distinguished Professor of Physiology & Functional Genomics at the University of Florida, Gainesville will be the honored guest speaker.


AWIS-SL Update

Jane Eason, Ph.D., P.T., President 

The AWIS Southern Louisiana chapter is dedicated to empowering women in science and technology by providing a platform for networking opportunities and career development programs, and to promoting an interest in science among girls and young women.  The AWIS Southern Louisiana chapter welcomes all persons interested in furthering the careers of women in science.

The cost to join the national organization is $150.00 annually as a professional member and $65.00 annual for junior members (students, postdocs).  To join only the AWIS-SL chapter only, professional and junior member dues are $25.00 annually and $10.00 annually for students.  We use this money to help fund our Outstanding Young Scientist Travel Award for graduate students/post-docs as well as for other community outreach events.  If you are interested in joining the local AWIS chapter, please contact our treasurer, Allison Augustus-Wallace at

We’ve had a busy spring with our mentoring lecture series.  Dr. Mary Coleman provided an excellent seminar titled “The Art of Healthy Feedback” on February 9 and Dr. Florencia Polite provided another excellent seminar titled “The Mentor/Mentee Relationship – How to Make the Most of Your Role” on April 27.  Both speakers provided great information on various aspects of mentoring that the audience appreciated.

We hosted a coffee social on March 15 as an opportunity for those who find it difficult to attend networking opportunities later in the workday.  We had a good turnout with 7 mentees and 10 mentors attending the coffee social.  We were able to provide some targeted mentoring with the mentees and share experiences with each other.  We are planning to hold another coffee social in the summer.

If anyone is interested in learning more about us, please contact anyone on the Executive Committee; we’d be glad to provide more information.

Local Executive Board members are: 

  • Jane Eason (SAHP), President
  • Tekeda Ferguson (SOPH), Secretary
  • Allison Augustus-Wallace (SOM), Treasurer
  • Angela Amedee (SOM), Past-President
  • Crescent Combe (SOM) – Post-Doc Representative
  • Adrienne McGinn (Graduate Studies) – Graduate Student Representative

LGBT+Allies Organization for the Cultural Understanding in the Health Sciences (LOCUS)

Brandon Jones (L2) and Louis Monnig (L2), Co-Presidents 

LGBTQ health is a topic that has garnered increasing attention in recent years as providers are realizing their gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer patients face unique health challenges. LGBTQ individuals encounter social inequities that affect them psychologically and predispose them to poorer health outcomes. For instance, lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults are more likely to be current smokers, approximately 1 in 4, compared to 1 in 6 heterosexual adults currently smoking, according to the CDC.

Many providers agree that taking a sexual history can be awkward for them, even more so if the provider is unfamiliar with the health and wellness concerns of LGBTQ patients. In an effort to promote LGBTQ cultural competency at LSUHSC, the LGBTQ + Allies Organization for Cultural Understanding in the Health Sciences (LOCUS) has been working hard to become a more visible and active organization on campus. LOCUS is a community for LSUHSC students, faculty, and staff with the goals of taking action in our school to create a more inclusive space and to become the most open-minded providers.

Because healthcare is delivered in teams of many types of providers, we pride ourselves on having membership from all six LSUHSC schools. Although we are an LGBTQ organization, all are invited to join and learn what we can do to meet the health needs of the LGBTQ communities. We strive to create a space where students feel safe, can meet their colleagues in other schools, and foster an environment where progress can be made to better our school and community.

We have made great strides in increasing the visibility of our organization in the past few weeks with the launch of our new website (, which can be found on the LSUHSC Office of Diversity and Community Engagement main page. We created this platform to communicate upcoming school and local events, offer health resources, and provide scholarship information so that prospective students may know they will be welcomed at LSU.

We are happy to say that we have a very diverse, forward-thinking and passionate group of students in LOCUS that are here to enact change for the better and strive to make LSUHSC inclusive of all. As future healthcare providers and researchers, it is our duty to be accepting of all walks of life and to show compassion and empathy for all.

We hosted an LGBTQ health symposium this past April in conjunction with ETHIKOS, the School of Medicine interest group for medical ethics, bringing together transgender patients and doctors, as well as experts in LGBTQ health law issues. (See the upcoming July issue of The Pulse for a more detailed story of this symposium.)

We are also excited to be exploring partnerships with New Orleans Advocates for GLBT Elders (NOAGE) and the LGBT Community Center of New Orleans so that our members will be out in the community sharing their knowledge and expertise with the greater New Orleans area.

SOM Grants

Congratulations to the following researchers for obtaining extramural funding from federal, state, and independent sources between January 1 – Febraury 28, 2017!

NOTE: the Office of the Dean provided the information below to The Pulse.  If there is any information that was inadvertently omitted, please contact the editor ( so a correction can be printed in the next issue of The Pulse.

National Institutes of Health – R01:

  • Wayne Backes, Ph.D. (Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics)
  • Jason Gardner, Ph.D. (Physiology), Xinping Yue, M.D., Ph.D. (Physiology) and Eric Lazartigues, Ph.D. (Pharmacology) – multiple PI

National Institutes of Health – R21:

  • Yaguang Xi, M.D., Ph.D. (Genetics)

National Science Foundation:

  • Sunyoung Kim, Ph.D. (Biochemistry)


  • Sunyoung Kim, Ph.D. (Biochemistry)
  • Michael Lan, Ph.D. (Genetics)
  • Ashok Ayar, Ph.D. (Microbiology, Immunology, and Parasitology)

University and Private Hospitals:

  • Melissa Ann Spera, M.D. (Gastroenterology)
    • University of Colorado
  • Kellen Jex, M.D. (Gastroenterology)
    • University of Colorado

Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC):

  • Matthew Lammi, M.D. (Pulmonary/Critical Care and Allergy/Immunology)

Pharmaceuticals and Companies:

  • Clifford Crutcher, M.D. (Neurosurgery)
    • CoreLink Surgical
    • Stryker Craniomaxillofacial
  • Anthony DiGiorgio, D.O. (Neurosurgery)
    • Globus Medical
  • Adam Riker, M.D., F.A.C.S. (Surgery)
    • NewLink Genetics Corp.

Approach Removes Thyroid Gland without Neck Scarring or Need for Special Equipment

A surgical approach developed by ENT surgeons at LSU Health New Orleans to perform thyroidectomies without scarring the neck appears to be just as successful as standard surgery. When originally used, the approach, which involves making an incision behind the ear instead of in the neck, took advantage of modern robotics and endoscopic technology. It was available to patients only at centers with this specialized equipment. A new study led by Rohan Walvekar, MD, Associate Professor of Otorhinolaryngology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, shows that the same approach can be employed using standard surgical equipment and techniques, making it much more widely available. The study was published online in the Indian Journal of Otolaryngology Head and Head & Neck Surgery January 16, 2017.

Thyroidectomy has been the gold standard procedure for surgical management of thyroid disorders. There has been a concentrated effort over the last two decades to provide alternative approaches to the thyroid gland to avoid the neck scar associated with thyroid surgery. These approaches have been possible due to the incorporation of robotic and endoscopic technology. However, while there continues to be a demand for what is termed “distant” access thyroid surgery, these procedures involve the use of specialized instrumentation and require specially trained surgeons – both of which are only available at select centers in the country. In addition, the use of robotic technology for thyroid surgery is not FDA approved for this indication.

Over an 18-month period, Walvekar examined the outcomes of 10 patients who underwent open retro-auricular thyroidectomy with a slightly modified incision from the original technique. The incision follows the principles of standard face-lift approach incision that optimizes incision placement – hidden in the hairline and a natural skin crease. There were no major complications, and all patients reported satisfaction with the results.

Co-authors include Drs. Jason Trahan, Laura Pelaez, Michael DiLeo, Daniel Nuss and Leslie S. Son, all of LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine’s Department of Otorhinolaryngology.


Welcome Newcomers!

We would like to extend a warm welcome to the following faculty members who have joined the School of Medicine Family between January 1 – February 28, 2017.

Thomas Heigle, M.D. – Clinical Assistant Professor

Michael Brumond, M.D. – Associate Professor-Clinical
Isa Ashoor, M.D. – Assistant Professor-Clinical

Janis Letourneau, M.D. – Clinical Professor

Abdur Razzaque, M.D. – Assistant Professor-Research

Farha Khan, M.D. – Assistant Professor-Clinical