Nevada Front Page

School of Medicine in the News

Respiratory viruses effect babies differently

• Galena Times, p. 13

Winter is around the corner and children’s hospitals across the country, including ours, are preparing for an influx of babies and toddlers who will be fighting respiratory viruses. Most of these viruses also infect adults, but due to our built-up immunity and big noses, we can boot out those viruses with a good sneeze and fight the infections. Small babies, on the other hand, have tiny nasal passages, so any virus that causes swelling of the airways tends to completely block their ability to breathe.

UNR appoints new acting dean, acting executive associate dean for School of Medicine

• Reno Gazette Journal

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine is temporarily under new leadership, following the retirement of former dean Dr. Thomas L. Schwenk. University of Nevada, Reno President Brian Sandoval announced Thursday that Melissa Piasecki, M.D., a longtime member of the UNR Med senior leadership team and professor of psychiatry, has taken over the role of acting dean at UNR Med.

What is Cancer?

• Galena Times, p. 9

For most of us, the word cancer elicits fear: fear for prolonged pain and suffering, fear maybe for death. While it is true that having cancer is far more serious than many other diseases or medical conditions,tremendous progress has been made over the past few decades that has translated in prolonged survival and even cure. In 2021, there are good reasons to be cautiously optimistic when dealing with cancer, although a group of cancers remains that have a bleak outcome.

Want to See What COVID Strain You Have? The Government Says No

• WebMD

There is a loophole that allows labs to release variant information: They can develop their own tests. But they then must go through a lengthy validation process that proves their tests are as effective as the gold standard, says Mark Pandori, PhD, director of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory.

Staffing shortages, covid cases impacting ability of local hospitals to provide care

• This Is Reno

John Packham, associate dean at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, said the supply of nurses was a problem prior to the pandemic. “I work with rural hospitals, and their ability to transfer to places like Reno and Las Vegas are now challenging, because that next level of care is just not as available right now,” he said. “You’ll be lucky if you can find another bed in Reno or Salt Lake.

Ask the Doctor: Did We Miscalculate the Risk of COVID for Kids?


Young people do represent a larger share of infections nationwide now than they did at the outset of the pandemic. But that’s likely because far fewer minors than adults are vaccinated, and many remain ineligible for shots, said Kristina Deeter, professor of pediatric medicine at University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine.

About 40 cases of ‘mu’ coronavirus variant detected in Nevada

• Las Vegas Review Journal

In designating mu a “variant of interest” on Aug. 30, WHO said it possesses a constellation of mutations that could make it resistant to the protection against disease afforded by vaccination or past COVID-19 infection. Despite the designation, the head of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory thinks it’s unlikely that mu (pronounced “mew”) will overtake the highly contagious delta mutant as the state’s dominant strain. “It got seeded here. It wasn’t a flash in the pan,” lab director Mark Pandori said about mu, first spotted in the state in late April and consistently present until early August. However, his lab at University of Nevada, Reno, now hasn’t detected the newer mu variant in more than 30 days.

Nevada Business Magazine Healthcare Heroes 2021

• Nevada Business Magazine

Nevada Business Magazine honored UNR Med faculty as part of the 2021 Healthcare Heroes Awards. Caroline Cobine, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Physiology and Cell Biology, was selected as Northern Nevada Educator Hero of the Year. And Max Coppes, M.D., Ph.D., MBA, physician-in-chief, Renown Children’s Hospital; cancer center director, Renown Health; professor of clinical internal medicine and pediatrics, UNR Med, was selected as Northern Nevada Community Partner Hero.

OBGYN excited to be providing expanded quality care in new San Manuel Maternity Pavilion

• Loma Linda University Health

The San Manuel Maternity Pavilion in the new hospital facility is now open, bringing expanded care to the region’s most vulnerable mothers and babies through state-of-the-art technology and private patient rooms. Tiare Evans, MD, an attending OBGYN at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, is one of the incredible physicians dedicated to quality care in the new space. After receiving her medical degree at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and finishing her residency at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, Evans says she was inspired to pursue a career as an OBGYN because she is passionate about the care of her patients.

People: Tami Brancamp named interim chair at UNR Med Speech Pathology and AudiologyDr. Kerac Falk hired as urogynecologist with University Health

• Northern Nevada Business Weekly

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine on Aug. 11 named Tami Brancamp, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, as interim chair for the department of speech pathology and audiology. UNR Med also announced Aug. 11 the hiring of Kerac Falk, M.D., FACOG, as a urogynecologist with University Health. In the role, Dr. Falk will bring expertise in the treatment of many common, but infrequently discussed female pelvic floor conditions that significantly impact women’s quality of life.

Rosen Holds Roundtable Discussion at UNR Focused on Medical Residency Programs in Nevada


U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), held a roundtable discussion with representatives from state medical schools and hospitals focused on physician provider shortages and how to better support Nevada’s graduate medical education (GME) programs and medical schools, and identify ways to improve the system to reduce provider shortages in the state and across the country. The roundtable discussion follows the recent issuance of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report requested by Senator Rosen, which examined GME programs and medical provider shortages in the U.S.

I-Team: Is it here? What we know about the Lambda variant in Nevada

• KLAS 8 News Now Las Vegas

Most coronavirus cases in Nevada, about 94% over the past week, are from the Delta variant, he said. “Lambda may in fact be biologically significant, but because Delta is screaming through the population right now, there’s no room for Lambda,” he said.

Covid cases among children rise

• KTVN Channel 2 News

Kristina Deeter, M.D., FAAP, clinical associate professor, pediatric critical care medicine discusses the rise in pediatric covid cases with KTVN's Paul Nelson.

Las Vegas doctor gets her own Barbie doll, honored for fight against COVID

• KLAS 8 News Now Las Vegas

Audrey Cruz, M.D. '15, B.E. '11 (electrical and electronics engineering) is one of six new Barbies modeled after modern real life heroes of the pandemic, as part of Mattel Inc.’s #ThankYouHeroes program. “It’s a huge honor that I never expected,” Cruz told 8 News Now. The program highlights the work of frontline workers during the pandemic.

Elko County rejects governor's mask mandate

• Gerald Ackerman, director of the University of Nevada, Reno, School of Medicine’s Office of Rural Health, said that “the pandemic showed us all that health is local and you need the resources locally.”

Elko Daily Free Press

Barbie debuts one-of-a-kind dolls in likeness of six women who are 'heroes of the pandemic'

• USA Today

Audrey Cruz, M.D. '15, B.E. '11 (electrical and electronics engineering) is one of six new Barbies modeled after "modern real life heroes of the pandemic." "I’m so incredibly honored to be a Barbie Role Model, shining a light on the commitment and compassion all frontline workers exhibited over the past year and a half and every single day," Cruz said in a statement. "Kids imagine they can be anything but actually seeing that they can, and hearing the brave stories of others, makes all the difference."

Barbie creates doll of Las Vegas doctor

• Las Vegas Review Journal

Audrey Cruz, M.D. '15, B.E. '11 (electrical and electronics engineering) is one of six new Barbies modeled after "modern real life heroes of the pandemic."

Planted in honor of brain cancer victim, UNR apple orchard to preserve heirloom varieties

• Reno Gazette Journal

Having grown up in an agricultural community, Jessica Younger Dickens knew the importance of providing food for families. So, when she was diagnosed in 2017 with brain cancer, her wishes were simple – find somewhere on the University of Nevada, Reno campus where food could be grown to feed others. A new memorial apple orchard and separate pollinator garden on campus will do just that. Younger Dickens died in March 2020 at age 39.

Dr. Warren H. Evins Recognized by Marquis Who's Who for Excellence in Medicine

• Marquis Who's Who

Dr. Warren H. Evins has been included in Marquis Who's Who. As in all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process. Dr. Evins was a University of Nevada School of Medicine internal medicine resident in 1979, and served as a clinical assistant professor of medicine with the University of Nevada School of Medicine from 1979 to 1987.

Elko PA Troy Eden delivers commencement to UNR Med PA graduates

• Elko Daily Free Press

An Elko physician assistant spoke to graduates of the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine’s Physician Assistant Studies Program at their completion ceremony on Wednesday. Troy Eden, PA-C, who practices family and urgent care medicine with Aspen Quick Care in Elko, is also a UNR Med PA Studies Program preceptor.

Thomas L. Schwenk to retire as UNR Med dean

• Northern Nevada Business Weekly

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med) announced July 13 that Dr. Thomas L. Schwenk will retire as dean and Vice President of Health Sciences following a decade at the helm, effective Aug. 31.

Sequencing COVID-19: What It Can Tell Us About The Delta Variant In Nevada


The Delta variant of COVID-19 is the most common strain found in Nevada, making up more than 68% of the COVID-19 cases sampled over the last two weeks, according to the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory. KUNR’s Lucia Starbuck spoke with the head of the lab, Dr. Mark Pandori, to learn more about studying the genetics of the virus and what this work can tell us about the Delta variant.