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Contributions in robotics earn dental school faculty and staff VP awards

Two team members at West Virginia University School of Dentistry have been recognized as WVU Health Sciences Vice President’s Awards recipients. Both Amy Funk, Chair of the Department of Dental Hygiene, and Christopher Braham, Information Technology Support Services, were part of a virtual ceremony held Thursday, September 9.

Winners were nominated by their peers and selected by their respective Achievement Award committees. This year, 10 individuals and two teams were recognized, as well as two WISH (Women in Science & Health) Awards, for their significant contributions to the mission of the Health Sciences Center. View a list of all honorees.

Christopher Braham, Professional Technologist, Information Technology Services, was honored with the Vice President’s Award for Paraprofessional/Technician. The nominator applauded Braham for his 20 years of service to WVU.

“He is the embodiment of patience, determination, calm, creativity and thoroughness. During the COVID transition and work from home, Chris worked to get all 150 School of Dentistry employees comfortable with remote access and tirelessly configured new machines for users to take home to ensure they could work safely and be comfortable from what many used to call their kitchen but have learned to call their home offices. He’s not just another technician. He’s the reason the School of Dentistry is leading the industry in 3D scanning, modeling and printing, digital radiography and why WVU is the second school in the country to introduce robotic dental surgery with the YOMI surgical robot.”

Watch the awards event online. Braham’s selection begins at 22:53.

Chris Braham

The Vice President’s Go First Award recognizes a team of faculty, staff, or a team of faculty and staff that has demonstrated positive outcomes and enhanced the missions of the Health Sciences Center through implementation of innovations or quality improvement measures in their respective area. Coordinators for the Interprofessional Education Apartment Simulation project, including Amy Funk, were honored. The team includes:

  • Gina Baugh, PharmD, HSC Director of Interprofessional Education & Professor, School of Pharmacy, Department of Clinical Pharmacy
  • Christy Barnhart, DHSc, MSN, RN, CHSE, Assistant Professor, Director of Simulation, School of Nursing, Adult Health Department
  • Amy Kurowski-Burt, MOT, OTR/L, EdD, Associate Professor, School of Medicine, Division of Occupational Therapy
  • Kimeran Evans, DP, PT, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Medicine, Division of Physical Therapy
  • Amy Funk, BS, MSDH, Chair, School of Dentistry, Department of Dental Hygiene
  • Adam Hoffman, CHSE, Simulation Education Specialist, Simulation Training for Education and Patient Safety (STEPS) Center
  • Jennifer Momen, MD, MPH, FAAP, Assistant Professor, Program Director, School of Medicine, Department of Human Performance – Physician Assistant Studies
  • Toni Morris, EdD, Assistant Professor, School of Public Health, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Jenna Sizemore, MD, Assistant Professor, School of Medicine, Department of Medicine
  • Amy Sponhaltz Summers, BS, Project Manager, WVU Office of Interprofessional Education & Project Manager, WVU Office of Interprofessional Education

The nominator explained the value of the project and teamwork to continue the project when COVID nearly threatened the future of the project.

“Along with the focus of the patient-centered challenges, the interprofessional team members are able to learn the nuances of the different professions and that it takes a village to care for today’s patients. With the assistance of a research and scholarship grant, the team was able to purchase a telepresence robot. Permission and special training of the standardized patient enabled the robot to be placed in the patients’ home and utilized for the idea sessions. The robot is operated by the simulation ed specialist and enables the learner to interview the standardized patient, do a walk-through of their home and development a plan of care.

“Not only has this allowed for an innovative, interactive educational activity to continue, but outcomes and input from the learners support the case that these changes have improved the overall encounter. The use of a robot has transformed and enhanced this educational opportunity while, during a pandemic, keeping the learners distanced and safe.”

Watch the awards event online. The Go First Award selection begins at 32:20.

Amy Funk and team members