Why did you become a physician?
My mom was a nurse and my dad was a medic in the army earning both silver and bronze stars; both of them wanted to go further with their education but were unable due to other life circumstances. They instilled in me a strong love for learning, understanding of the importance of education and challenging oneself mentally, and helping others who are less fortunate. I worked in an emergency room during high school and really enjoyed the hustle and bustle there and how the physicians were so smart and able to help people with a wide variety of problems. The human body and pathology were fascinating to me, particularly diseases and behaviors affecting the brain that are often poorly understood, but amenable to treatment.
Tell us about your educational and professional background.
I graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and received my MD and Masters in Pathology from the Chicago Medical School. I completed an internship, psychiatry residency, and a behavioral pharmacology research fellowship at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. In 2006, I joined the faculty at the University of Kentucky where my primary focuses are on research, teaching, clinical care and advocacy for patients with substance use disorders. Currently, I serve as the Bell Alcohol and Addictions Chair and the Medical Director of the First Bridge Clinic that provides rapid access to comprehensive opioid use disorder treatment for patients with serious health complications. I also work on several clinical research studies primarily funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. A main focus of mine over the years has been in the area of opioid use disorder, which has had a devastating impact on Kentucky and across the nation, but it is also a disorder that has effective treatments, which significantly decrease morbidity and mortality. I am very excited to now be working with a talented multi-disciplinary team on a more community level within our state on a new NIH study, titled the HEALing (Help End Addiction Long-term) Communities Study. It aims to decrease opioid-overdose deaths by 40% over three years in 16 KY counties and many other communities in three additional states. It is an ambitious goal, and one that is sorely needed.
What are your interests outside of Medicine? I don’t have a bunch of free time so most of it goes towards spending time with my family. I also enjoy running, doing yoga, gardening, traveling, knitting and reading.
Why did you join the Lexington Medical Society? I believe it is important to be part of one’s professional societies that can influence the local landscape of care for our patients and our profession.