Mohamed Abdi, MD
MD CLASS OF 2014
CHAIR, STUDENT ENGAGEMENT COMMITTEE
I am a Radiation Oncologist with an interest in making medicine equitable, accessible and humane. My background is in the physical sciences, radiation medicine, and oncology. I am currently working at a hospital-based practice and covering all sites with particular interest in CNS and Head & Neck. I am also an associate editor at Advances in Radiation Oncology and mentor to medical students and residents. I completed my undergraduate education at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario and finished my MD at the University of Minnesota. I matched at Queen’s University for Radiation Oncology and moved back to the midwest to start my career last year. My other interests include biking, working on drones, gardening, reading science fiction novels, and working on our hobby farm.
Marc Berg, MD, FAAP
MD CLASS OF 1993
CHAIR, PHILANTHROPY COMMITTEE
I'm a born and raised Minnesotan having grown up in Battle Lake (Ottertail County). Both my parents and three siblings have degrees, and some advanced degrees, from the "U," so I knew at an early age where I would be attending college. After graduating from the College of Biological Sciences with a BS in Biology in 1989, I started medical school at the Medical School, Duluth Campus and joined the main campus class to graduate in 1993. I have since spent 28 years "living abroad," currently in California for four years after 20 years in Arizona and stints in Utah and Michigan. However, I'm back to Minnesota at least once a year to spend time with family. In addition to my full-time academic pediatric critical care career, I spend additional professional time working in technology, both in adaptive learning and digital health. My wife is a Pediatrician and I have three kids, ages 24, 22, and 8. What time I have left over is spent riding my bike around the California coastal mountain range, reading, cooking and enjoying life. I'm honored and delighted to serve on the alumni board.
Melvina Bissonette, MD
MD CLASS OF 2012
STUDENT ENGAGEMENT COMMITTEE
I am Lakota and Dine. I completed my undergrad studies at the University of New Mexico, majoring in psychology. I completed medical school and my residency in psychiatry through the University of Minnesota. I worked at a tribal clinic, primarily providing telepsychiatric care, for 4 years, prior to transitioning to the VA hospital in Minneapolis one year ago. My husband also works as at the VA, he is a nurse in MH. We have three children, 5 and 2.5 years, and a one month old.
Shannon Blackmer, MD, MPH, CDR, MC (FS), USN
MD CLASS OF 2005
STUDENT ENGAGEMENT COMMITTEE
CDR Shannon Blackmer is the daughter of Lieutenant Colonel Eugene Herrera, USMC (ret), and Ernestine Herrera. She was raised in several states on the east coast, west coast, and Okinawa, Japan. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in cellular and molecular biology with a minor in chemistry from San Francisco State University. She went on to graduate from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Medical School as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) in 2005.
She was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the US Navy and completed a surgical internship year at Naval Medical Center San Diego in 2006. She was accepted to the Naval Aerospace Medicine Institute and earned her Flight Surgeon wings in April 2007. Upon graduation she was immediately transported to USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER to serve as a flight surgeon for Carrier Air Wing SEVEN (CVW-7) in support of Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM. She remained with CVW-7 until 2009 as one of two flight surgeons responsible for the care of 2000 personnel. In addition to providing primary care, she evaluated pilot illnesses and injuries, releasing them safe for flight, while providing expertise as the medical representative on mishap investigation boards. She was then assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron TWO EIGHT (HSC-28) and served with them until 2012.
She completed her residency in Public Health and General Preventive Medicine at the Uniformed Services University in 2012. Her first assignment as a Preventive Medicine Officer (PMO) was to the Naval Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit TWO in Norfolk, VA. While there she became the Department Head for the Threat Assessment Department and deployed as the Medical Officer in Charge and PMO during Southern Partnership Station 2015, a mission to build partner nation capacity in the SOUTHCOM Area of Responsibility. She also became board certified in Occupational Medicine in 2016. CDR Blackmer was assigned to the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center in Portsmouth, VA, in the Expeditionary Platforms Department in 2016. She worked as a Global Health Engagement planner and provided training to public health personnel assigned to the Forward Deployable Preventive Medicine Unit, a scalable, flexible and sustainable force health protection unit that provides rapid assessment and identification of health hazards to deployed forces.
CDR Blackmer is a diplomate of the American Board of Preventive Medicine, certified in Public Health and General Preventive Medicine and Occupational Medicine. Her personal awards include the Commander, US Naval Air Forces Leadership Award, USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, 2019, and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (four awards). She is a member of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and the Association of American Indian Physicians. CDR Blackmer is married to CAPT Brent Blackmer and they have 2 children, Nico, 11 years old and Sasha, 9 years old.
Ira Davis, MD, MS
MD CLASS OF 1984
STUDENT ENGAGEMENT COMMITTEE
An academic pediatrician, kidney specialist, educator, and physician executive with over 30 years of experience spanning a career in clinical practice and the medical device and pharmaceutical industries.
Education and Training
Medical School Class of 1984
MS Genetics- University of Minnesota (1980)
General Pediatrics Residency, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio (1984-1987)
Pediatric Nephrology Fellowship, University of Minnesota, Department of Pediatrics (1987-1990)
17 years as academic pediatric nephrologist at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital/University Hospitals of Cleveland, the primary affiliate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, including 15 years as Division Chief (1990-2007); achieved academic appointment of Associate Professor of Pediatrics, current appointment-Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics.
14 years as a medical specialist in the medical device and pharmaceutical industry including: Global Medical Director and Medical Director Lead at Baxter International in Renal Care business (2007-2014); Medical Director at CTI Clinical Trials and Consulting (2014-2015); Medical Director at Hospira Infusions Systems (2016-2017); Independent medical consultant contractor for global medical device and pharmaceutical companies (2017-present).
David Einzig, MD
MD CLASS OF 1998
STUDENT ENGAGEMENT COMMITTEE
David graduated from the U of M Medical School in 1998. He completed the triple board residency program in Salt Lake City, UT before returning home to Minnesota. He is board certified in general pediatrics, adult psychiatry and child/adolescent psychiatry. He works at Children's Minnesota doing mostly outpatient care, including telemedicine. He is in the pediatric clinic 1 day per week doing some integrative/collaborative models of care. His interests include integrating psychiatry services into various pediatric subspecialty clinics, and working with the medically complex with co-morbid psychiatric needs. He enjoys teaching medical students and residents, and provides lectures to community providers. He has served on various steering committees for National Quality Forum in Washington DC. He is a distinguished fellow of the AACAP, and is past president of the Minnesota Society of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He loves gopher athletics, and is greatly looking forward to being a member of the Alumni Board!
Alan Glass, MD
MD CLASS OF 1982
Alan Glass, MD, is an emeritus faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry, former medical director of the Standardized Patient Program and advisory dean for the Cori Society. He is the recipient of numerous teaching awards and an inaugural fellow in the Washington University School of Medicine Academy of Health Professions Educators. A pediatrician by training, he spent two decades as a higher education administrator and is a past president of the American College Health Association. His medical education expertise lies in medical student admissions, where he formerly served as assistant dean for Washington University, and in complex remediation in the areas of clinical skills and communication. Dean Glass has had faculty cameos is seven Washington University School of Medicine student musicals.
Kathy Halverson, MD
MD CLASS OF 1986
ALUMNI ENGAGEMENT & EVENTS COMMITTEE
As an alumna of the University of Minnesota Medical School, participating on the Alumni Board allows me to repay some of the investment this institution has made in my life and career. I am grateful for those formative years, beginning at the Duluth campus, which provided me with the education, training, and support to practice Family Medicine for 28 years. What a great ride! My career has been interesting, diverse and meaningful. This has included a full Family Medical practice with obstetrics, helping establish a local multidisciplinary team response to Child Maltreatment as part of a national consortium, receiving a Bush Medical Fellowship in Adolescent Health Care, practicing in Urgent Care, and ongoing work in Gnlobal Health Promotion. My husband and I have adventured together outside for 38 years. We have a daughter, who is a Med-Peds physician; and a son, who is in media production.
Jane Loitman, MD, MBA, MS, FAAHPM
MD CLASS OF 1992
ALUMNI ENGAGEMENT & EVENTS COMMITTEE
After graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1992, Dr. Loitman completed an internship and residency at Brown University and a fellowship in Pain Medicine and Palliative Care at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She has worked in hospice and palliative medicine since 1997. She started Palliative Care programs and worked in hospice in St. Louis and around New England. An author and contributor, she is also on the editorial board for various palliative care and AAHPM publications. She has a Pain Medicine private practice in addition to working in Hospice and Palliative Medicine at the VAMC. She lives in St. Louis, MO but loves to return to MN and spends one week every summer in Bemidji as a camp doctor and occasionally makes it back for the State Fair!
Joseph Milo Meland, MD
MD CLASS OF 1968
I am a retired diagnostic radiologist. Born and raised in Bemidji, MN, I graduated from Harvard University in 1964 and UMN Medical School in 1968. After two years of training in internal medicine at the University of West Virginia and two years in the Navy, I completed a residency in diagnostic radiology at UMN Med School. The part of medicine that has always appealed most to me is the diagnostic effort so this was a perfect choice. I practiced for 15 years at Metropolitan Medical Center and 20 years with the Abbott Northwestern radiology group. I married a med school classmate fifty two years ago (Mary Hobbs Meland,MD) and our immediate family includes two pediatricians, a surgeon, and me, a radiologist. We all trained at this medical school so I feel a great attachment and a responsibility for its future. I have served for two years on the UMN Med School Scholarship Committee and for four years on the UMN Med School Admissions Committee. In both of these settings I have come to appreciate the great unmet financial needs of so many of its graduates. I benefited from scholarships in my education and want to repay my backers.
Dale Ray, MD, MMM, CPE
MD CLASS OF 1988
STUDENT ENGAGEMENT COMMITTEE
I am an emergency medicine physician with over 25 years of practice in West Michigan at Level One trauma and tertiary medical center. During this part of my career, I also had departmental, health system, residency program, and GME-consortium leadership roles. For seven years, I was a member of the ACGME Clinical Learning Environment Review team, which aimed to enrich the training of physicians and enhance patient care at the institutions where physicians are trained. Most recently, I have worked at the medical school level in directing the third and fourth year clinical curriculum. I joined the board in order to share my experience and passions with alma mater, and to help support the experiences of physicians in training. In my spare time, I enjoy salt and freshwater fly fishing, the training of upland hunting dogs, reading and learning on a wide range of topics, and spending time with friends and family.
Patience Reich, MD
MD CLASS OF 1997
As a physician and humanitarian for over 20 years, I have led and developed leaders locally, nationally and internationally. I was national Chairman of the Society of Hospital Medicine’s Leadership Committee, developed leadership training curriculum for my peers and participated as faculty. Besides that, I have been involved in humanitarian and philanthropic work all over the world through out my career as a hospitalist. I have worked with marginalized people both here at home and on every continent except Antarctica. I was recognized by the Society of Hospital Medicine with its inaugural Humanitarian Award in 2014. I am adept at cross cultural communication and engagement, navigating complexity, managing risk, diplomacy, building relationships and collaboration.
The reason is that I would like to give back to the U and serve as an Alumni Board member is that I consider the U my home and want to see her prosper and flourish and set up another generation of servant-leaders. Along with providing strategic and operational leadership, these are the things I bring to the alumni board. I graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School in 1997. I am second generation U of M. My dad graduated from the School of Veterinary Medicine. I was born at the U’s teaching hospital and will forever consider the U of M my home. I am an Internal Medicine Hospitalist in Thomasville, North Carolina with Novant Health. I chose the hospital setting because I enjoy acuity and complex systems re-design. I love re-designing complex systems to make care safer for patients. I am married and live with my husband and two cats in Winston Salem, North Carolina. We have two adult children. I have a parallel career as a jazz singer. When I am not practicing medicine, I am usually playing music. I won first place in my category at the American Protégé International Music Competition in 2013 and made my debut at Carnegie Hall that same year. So someone other than my mother thinks I can sing.
John Ring, MD, MPH, FAAP
MD CLASS OF 1977
STUDENT ENGAGEMENT COMMITTEE
My name is John C. Ring; the middle initial is important, because there are four named John Ring in my family - my father, his father and my older son. I have been married - forever - to Adriana van Breda, who immigrated as a child from the Netherlands; it was a workplace romance. We have two grown children, who have no interest whatsoever in healthcare professions. We live just south of Alexandria, VA, on part of George Washington's Mansion Farm. I graduated from the University of Notre Dame (English-'73), University of Minnesota (MD-'77) and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School (MPH-'10), where I also earned the certificate in healthcare economics. I was a Pediatrics Intern/Resident at the U of MN, a Cardiology Fellow at the same institution and a Critical Care Fellow at Children's Hospital/George Washington U. (Those choices make for a long story and, in retrospect, were good choices.) I was an Academic Sub-Specialty Pediatrician throughout my career, rising through the professoriate and providing clinical care, teaching students and trainees and performing administrative duties. I dabbled enough in clinical research to understand the process and appreciate a life of the mind. I worked in the North Central, Mid-South and Mid-Atlantic states.
I am now retired from clinical practice - this time, for good (I think). Through a broad and intense involvement with my professional association - the American Academy of Pediatrics - my focus changed to include population health and advocacy. I was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow, working on the majority staff of the U.S. Senate H.E.L.P. Committee. Subsequently, I directed the Department of Healthcare Policy at the American Heart Association and the Department of Quality Improvement (Pediatrics) at Geisinger Health System. Currently, I am a volunteer member of Virginia's Medical Reserve Corps, where I have been involved - clinically and administratively - in pandemic response. I am a director of a local low-income housing non-profit organization. I remain active with the Virginia Chapter - American Academy of Pediatrics, focusing on immunizations; this includes chairing the Quality Improvement Workgroup Commonwealth's multi-stakeholder immunization coalition. I like to read, write and think, cook (and eat), ride my bicycle and listen to music of all kinds. So...why did I join this group? Minnesota is my home. Medicine is my profession; I think it is a calling. I think the next generation of providers is the future. We can do better in preparing them and have a responsibility to do so. I value the group process and believe this group can help.
Lisa Roazen, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
MD CLASS OF 2003
STUDENT ENGAGEMENT COMMITTEE
Dr. Lisa Roazen, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, is an Emergency Physician currently practicing at St. Luke's in Duluth. Lisa received her medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School, having completed her preclinical years in Duluth. She completed her residency in Emergency Medicine from New York Medical College, Metropolitan Program, in Harlem. Prior to returning to her hometown in 2017, Dr. Roazen practiced EM and urgent care in NYC for several years. She's been on the board of directors for the Great Lakes chapter of AAEM, and is currently serving on the BoD for MNACEP.
With her husband, three children, and too many bikes, Lisa enjoys cooking, singing with Arrowhead Chorale, traveling, and mentorship. She'd be happy to chat with you in French and makes a mean quiche.
Petr Ruzicka, MD
MD CLASS OF 1976
ALUMNI ENGAGEMENT & EVENTS COMMITTEE
I was born in Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic. I was always the top student in the school. My desire to become a physician-neurosurgeon was squashed by the communist government early in my middle school when I was informed that I would be denied an entrance to medical school because my family did not belong to the communist party. My family was persecuted and after several members of my family were killed by the government, we escaped to Austria. My father was the leading specialist in mica paper production and held many patents in this field. After the Czechoslovak government’s attempt to kidnap me and thus force my parents to return to Czechoslovakia, my parents decided to leave Europe. Eventually, because of my father’s inventions, we were asked by the US government to come to the USA. We settled in St. Paul, MN, where 3M Company wanted to use my father’s inventions. I finished my high school education at Harding High School in St. Paul and then I was admitted to University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts. That gave me hope that once I mastered the English language, I may after all become a neurosurgeon. My major was microbiology and minor was immunology. I had the opportunity to meet many great doctors at the University Hospital, where I was working part time to have a better understanding of the American hospital systems. After three years of college, I was admitted to the University of Minnesota Medical School provided I completed my 4th year of college. It was a very gratifying feeling to finally be able to accomplish my dream. I was accepted into U of M Medical School Neurosurgical Residency. After two years of general surgery in Hawaii, I returned to Twin Cities and completed my residency training. During my residency, I also attended University of Minnesota Graduate School of Health Sciences with a major in neurophysiology and a minor in neuroanatomy. My training prepared me not only for clinical aspects of my professional life, but also for education of others and for administrative demands. Expectations were that all graduates become leaders across the country.
Guided by the physicians’ true mission, namely providing medical care to all in need and working to accomplish it in all societies, I decided to join Medical School in Newark, NJ, to provide and improve medical care to the underserved population. I was given the opportunity to create the 1st pediatric neurosurgical center in NJ, located in the United Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. Our center became a training site for pediatric neurological rotations. I worked closely with the state government, medical school, and hospital administrators to accomplish this mission. Patients no longer needed to travel out of state to get the care they needed. I was recognized by the Governor for this effort. I was elected to the hospital’s Executive Committee and assumed many hospital leadership positions, including being a member of the United Medical Center Foundation Board. Furthermore, I was instrumental in creating statewide hydrocephalus, spina bifida, and craniofacial programs. This also extended to establishment of prenatal care of mothers with fetal congenital malformations, which was also supported by insurance companies. Building bridges and collaboration with high-risk obstetricians and other pediatric surgical/medical specialists was essential to this effort. I was able to create a Division of Pediatric Craniofacial and Neurological Surgery. Due to the structure of the hospital, I saw a need to create a Department of Pediatric Surgical Specialties to better serve our population in a systemic and organized fashion. I became Chair of the Department responsible for pediatric surgical services in several other hospitals throughout the state. As a member of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, I was an Associate Professor and had the opportunity to teach medical students and residents. Eventually I was asked to come to Arizona to help build pediatric neurological services in Cardon Children’s Medical Center. Besides being a Chief of Pediatric Craniofacial and Neurological Surgery, I became a Chair of Pediatric Surgical Services and Medical Director of Pediatric Medical and Surgical Services. I expanded the fetal congenital malformation services and built bridges with hospitals throughout the state including the Indian Reservation Hospitals.
Currently, I am completing certification as CPE (Certified Physician Leader) and hope to complete my MBA as well. I am a member of board of directors of several organizations, including Arizona Healthcare Executives (Arizona branch of the American College of Healthcare Executives), representing physicians as a Physician Leader Liaison.
I enjoy classical music, opera, travel, learning languages, learning about different cultures, and reading books both educational and international thrillers. I am also interested in aviation industry in which I have been involved as an advisor and a member of the board of directors and a member of the supervisory board.
Reetu Syal, MD, MBA
MD CLASS OF 1999
CHAIR, ALUMNI ENGAGEMENT & EVENTS COMMITTEE
I am a private practice OBGYN physician, providing support to my local community, hospital systems, and other medical professionals. I have managed all aspects of the patient's healthcare journey and, as a business owner, I have learned the administrative and financial aspects to maintain high-quality standards across clinic operations. I currently serve as the Chairwoman of Premier OBGYN of Minnesota, which is a consortium that consists of five OBGYN clinics with 50 doctors. My personal passion is to utilize, create, and disseminate digital technology to deliver better care and enhance communication amongst the medical community. I come from a diverse background with a life lived as an immigrant where English is my second language. I offer these life experiences, my constant drive to learn, and a passion to make changes. I await new opportunities that can be offered by the Alumni Board to advance issues important within my medical community.