10th Annual Dean’s Honor Awards Recognize Outstanding UAMS College of Medicine Faculty and Staff

By Amy Widner

“Although we can’t gather in an auditorium and applaud our colleagues in person this spring due to COVID-19, our gratitude could not be stronger,” said Christopher T. Westfall, M.D., FACS, executive vice chancellor of UAMS and dean of the College of Medicine. “It is an honor and joy to work with these superb members of the College of Medicine team.”

The college’s signature annual awards include the Distinguished Faculty Service Award, which this year honors Robert W. Bradsher Jr., M.D., a professor of Internal Medicine who has held many leadership roles over the past four decades, including 32 years as director of the Division of Infectious Diseases.

Bradsher joined the faculty in 1980 and assumed leadership of the Infectious Diseases Division in 1986. He directed the Infectious Diseases Fellowship from 1986 to 2011, and led the division through 2018. Bradsher served as Program Director for the Internal Medicine Residency, one of the college’s largest, from 1994 to 2007. He was Vice Chair for Education in the Department of Internal Medicine from 1994 to 2019.

“Dr. Bradsher has helped train and mentor an entire generation of UAMS medical students, internal medicine residents and infectious diseases fellows, many of whom stayed in Arkansas to care for the people of our state,” wrote his nominators, Michael Saccente, M.D., professor and current director of the Division of Infectious Diseases, and James Marsh, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Internal Medicine.

“Over the past 40 years, it is a rare medical student who did not have Dr. Bradsher as her or his attending physician,” Saccente and Marsh wrote. “It would be a rare community in Arkansas that does not have a physician that he directly supervised and trained.”

“The first real clinical experiences start in the third year of medical school,” Bradsher said in an interview conducted by email. “Some of my most rewarding moments have been observing the transformation of a junior medical student as he or she participates in taking care of an Internal Medicine patient in the hospital – taking a really full and thorough history; finding subtle physical signs on exam previously read about but never having seen; seeing and understanding the laboratory and radiology findings; reviewing medical textbooks and articles – all to make a tentative diagnosis and plan of treatment and being able to compassionately and competently relate that to a patient and family. I see the eyes of the student widen as they realize: this is what the satisfaction of being a doctor is like.”

College of Medicine classes have voted Bradsher as the most outstanding teacher of the year, presenting him the prestigious Golden Apple award, seven times. Graduating seniors have awarded him six Gold Sash awards as one of their top teachers throughout all four years of medical school. They have chosen him to address their class at Honors Convocation 11 times, and have invited him to place their doctoral hoods at an additional 10 Honors Convocation ceremonies. Bradsher has received the student-selected Red Sash award for teaching in 32 of his 40 years on the faculty.

Bradsher is also widely recognized for his contributions to clinical care and research. He is a leading authority in the field of fungal infections, particularly blastomycosis, an infection caused by breathing in microscopic fungal spores that live in the environment and can cause flu-like symptoms, and histoplasmosis, a similarly obtained infection that also causes severe symptoms in some patients. Bradsher and the late Robert Abernathy, M.D., a mentor during his training and early years at UAMS, defined the epidemiology of blastomycosis in Arkansas, conducted the first clinical trials of azole therapy for the infection, and provided cutting-edge care for patients with blastomycosis.

Bradsher is also known more broadly as a masterful practitioner of general infectious diseases and internal medicine. He received the Arkansas Chapter of the American College of Physicians (ACP) Robert S. Abernathy Award in 1996 and was inducted to Mastership in the national ACP in 2012. At UAMS, Bradsher received the Distinguished Faculty Award from the College of Medicine Alumni Association in 1994. He has served as the inaugural Richard V. Ebert Professor of Medicine since 1999. The College of Medicine presented Bradsher its Master Teacher Award in 2004, and he received the UAMS Chancellor’s Faculty Teaching Award in 2006.

The Pine Bluff, Arkansas, native received his undergraduate degree at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, in 1972 and his medical degree at UAMS in 1976. Bradsher interned and completed his residency in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He continued his training with a fellowship in infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Click here to read our Q&A with Dr. Bradsher, including observations about his mentors and the art of mentoring, and his insights into the COVID-19 pandemic and infectious disease outbreaks that preceded the current crisis.

The College of Medicine is proud to recognize the following additional 2020 honorees:

(Click on the award title or photo to read more about each honoree.)


Alan Diekman, Ph.D.Master Teacher Award

Alan Diekman, Ph.D
Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology



Nancy Rusch., Ph.D.Educational Innovation Award

Nancy Rusch, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology



Charles O'Brien, Ph.D.Excellence in Research Award

Charles O’Brien, Ph.D.
Professor, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine



William Ventres, M.D., M.A.Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award
Presented by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation

William Ventres, M.D., M.A.
Associate Professor, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine



Erika Petersen, M.D.Residency Educator Awards – Program Director

Erika Petersen, M.D., Neurosurgery Residency
Professor (effective 7-1-20), Department of Neurosurgery



Emily StottsResidency Educator Awards – Program Coordinator

Emily Stotts
Program Coordinator, Pediatrics Residency
Department of Pediatrics



Marcie JohnsonStaff Excellence Award – Education

Marcie Johnson
Education Coordinator
College of Medicine



Debbie HodgesStaff Excellence Award – Research

Debbie Hodges
Research Assistant
Department of Psychiatry



JoAnn Conley CooperStaff Excellence Award – Clinical

JoAnn Conley Cooper
Patient Representative
UAMS Interventional Pain Clinic



Debbie HollimanStaff Excellence Award – Administration

Debbie Holliman
Executive Assistant
Department of Anesthesiology



The College of Medicine also is pleased to honor the inaugural recipients of the Clinical Excellence Awards. The 2020 recipients were announced in December 2019. Read more about these honorees here.


Ashley Ross, M.D.Physician of the Year

Ashley Ross, M.D.
Associate Professor and Chief of Neonatology
Department of Pediatrics



Carly Eastin, M.D.Excellence in Service and Professionalism

Carly Eastin, M.D.
Associate Professor
Departments of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics



Jennifer Laudadio, M.D., Ph.D.Excellence in Quality and Safety

Jennifer Laudadio, M.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Pathology



Nithin Karakala, M.D.Best Consulting Physician

Nithin Karakala, M.D.
Associate Professor, Division of Nephrology
Department of Internal Medicine



Michael Wilson, M.D., Ph.D.Clinical Collaborations and Teamwork

Michael Wilson, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Departments of Emergency Medicine and Psychiatry



Rising Stars Clinical Faculty (two honorees)

Katie Kimbrough, M.D.Mary Katherine “Katie” Kimbrough, M.D.
Associate Professor, Division of Trauma and Critical Care
Department of Surgery




Andre Wineland, M.D.André Wineland, M.D.
Assistant Professor, Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology
Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery




Faculty Promotions & Tenure

The College of Medicine congratulates faculty receiving promotion and tenure in 2020. A record 76 faculty members requested promotion in academic rank, and 100% of the requests were approved, a first since the college began tracking the metrics several years ago.

The list of this year’s promotion and tenure recipients is available here.