The University of Kentucky College of Medicine is excited to share the winners of the third annual Mission, Vision, Pillar, and Enabler (MVPE) Awards.

The college honors this year’s award-winning faculty, staff, and learners who have made exceptional contributions to the overall mission, vision, and purpose of the college’s current strategic plan

This strategy includes excellent education, patient-centered clinical care, transformative research, diversity and inclusion, community engagement, and enabling the successes of each.

Winners are listed below with their titles and summaries of their nominations. Please join us in congratulating these incredible members of the UK College of Medicine community.

Mission Award

Christine Brainson, PhD   |   Faculty Winner
Associate Professor with Tenure, Toxicology and Cancer Biology
Department Diversity Ambassador

Dr. Brainson's unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusivity, combined with her exceptional mentoring and groundbreaking research in lung cancer, positions her as a catalyst for positive change in the realms of education, health care, and research. Her efforts not only enrich the academic and scientific landscape at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine but also contribute significantly to the well-being of Kentuckians, leaving an indelible mark on the pursuit of excellence in these critical domains.

Leslie Justice   |   Staff Winner
Graduate Medical Education Coordinator, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

As a department program manager, Leslie works to improve and provide equitable health care for both local and far-reaching communities. She is involved with recruiting underrepresented health care professionals, and she was a founding member of her department’s DEI committee. She works to form policies and structured education for the department that reflect the college’s values, encouraging residents and medical students alike to prioritize their well-being to provide better patient care, support initiatives related to DEI, and foster community engagement. 

Aaron Chacon   |  Learner Winner
PhD Candidate, Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences

Throughout his PhD program, Aaron has contributed excellent academic work and research. He approaches challenges with an open mind, valuing the unique perspectives that each individual within our workplace brings to the table. His genuine kindness, empathy, and approachability have created a sense of belonging for many, fostering an atmosphere where everyone feels valued and respected. His open-minded approach to challenges reflects a deep appreciation for diverse perspectives, a quality that lies at the heart of the Mission Award. 

Vision Award

Dong “Dan” Han, PsyD   |  Faculty Winner
Professor, Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Dr. Han is a nationally and globally renowned leader in transdisciplinary health care research, education, and clinical care. His commitment to transdisciplinary engagement is evident in his numerous roles and affiliations, including his elected fellow status in the American Neurological Association, the Royal Society for Public Health, and the Royal Society of Medicine. Dr. Han's impactful vision and initiatives include organizing inter- and transdisciplinary gatherings in neurogastronomy, facilitating communication between diverse groups, and engaging the general public. Through these events, individuals with gustatory synesthesia, anosmia, and sensory deficits have shared their experiential and emotional testimonies, contributing to collective knowledge.

Molly Bates, MD   |  Learner Winner
Fourth-Year Resident, Neurology

Recognizing the need for enhanced efficiency in consults between different specialties, Dr. Bates worked to streamline communication and optimize patient care. Through her meticulous research and collaboration with stakeholders across multiple departments, she pioneered "The Consult Compendium" – a dynamic resource facilitating quick access to essential information for consulting physicians. This initiative has enhanced the fluidity of multidisciplinary treatment. Dr. Bates's dedication to innovation and excellence has not only led to tangible improvements in patient outcomes but has also inspired collaboration and further contributions from her colleagues. Her legacy of transformational work is poised to leave a lasting impact on health care delivery after her tenure as a resident with UK. 

Pillar Awards

Clinical Care

Michelle Lofwall, MD   |  Faculty Winner
Professor, Behavioral Science and Psychiatry
Bell Alcohol and Addictions Chair

Dr. Lofwall’s work has centered on advancing clinical care and treatment for persons with substance use disorder. She has championed low-barrier access to comprehensive treatment. Her efforts to cultivate a multidisciplinary team and provide evidence-based care have not only improved patient outcomes but also served as a model for other health care systems. Dr. Lofwall's involvement in extramurally funded clinical research has led to significant advancements in addiction care, such as the FDA approval of long-acting injectable buprenorphine. She established the Bell Addiction Medicine Physician Scholar program, nurturing the next generation of addiction medicine leaders. The program's success is evidenced by the accomplishments of its physician scholars, who have made meaningful contributions to improving clinical care and education in addiction medicine.

Jacklyn Brewer   |  Staff Winner
Nurse Navigator

In her role as coordinator for fetal care, Jacklyn has displayed remarkable dedication and compassion in assisting countless pregnant individuals facing complex situations. Her personalized approach in navigating our health system provides comfort and security to patients and families during challenging times. Jacklyn's outstanding organizational skills, efficiency, and intelligence shine through in her role. She seamlessly coordinates sub-specialty consultations, facilitates facility tours, and addresses social determinants of health, among other responsibilities. Her timely and helpful communication ensures smooth transitions for patients and families, and her ability to handle multiple tasks efficiently and without disruption to patients is truly commendable.

Community Engagement

Bryan Rone, MD   |  Faculty Winner
Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology

During his tenure as acting chair, Dr. Rone was dedicated to enhancing the department’s impact in the community. He spearheaded an initiative to support STEM education for girls at a local elementary school in Lexington. Alongside the academic component of the program, Dr. Rone recognized the importance of promoting health and wellness. He led a fundraising campaign to provide bicycles and safety equipment for the students involved in the program, and, with members of the department, he personally delivered the bikes to the school. The gratitude and satisfaction of the young students as they rode their new bikes cemented for us the power of compassionate community engagement as an academic institution.

Whitney Nipple   |  Staff Winner
Admissions Officer, Bowling Green Campus

Under Whitney's leadership, the Bowling Green student admissions ambassadors have engaged with local public schools, educating students on relevant health topics and potential career paths in the medical field. With one outreach program in particular that involved stewarding community partnerships, our students have been instrumental in teaching young minds in local schools about the importance of early detection and prevention of skin cancer. Whitney's commitment to community engagement is further exemplified by her efforts in advising a student who is spearheading a mentorship program with pre-med students at Western Kentucky University. Through her work, Whitney is not only facilitating the admissions process for prospective students but also bridging relationships between the College of Medicine and the broader community, ensuring that more people in her region have access to the resources and opportunities offered by our institution.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Claire Clark, PhD, MPH   |   Faculty Winner
Associate Professor, Behavioral Science 

As the chair of her department’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity Council, she has spearheaded various initiatives to promote diversity and equity. Among these initiatives is the White Coats for Black Lives Fellowship program, a vital program that supports medical students in developing mentored health equity research projects. She has also overseen the department's Inclusive Excellence Awards and made significant revisions to the graduate course on the History of Medicine Among African Americans. Additionally, Dr. Clark mentors students and contributes to the development of new modules addressing anti-fat bias and harm reduction approaches in clinical medicine. Dr. Clark also led efforts to develop a novel mentoring program for individuals with lived experience of substance use and advocating for social justice and service-learning components in the department’s certificate program for pre-medical students. 

Taylor Bradley   |  Learner Winner
Fourth-Year Medical Student

At a national level, Taylor recently served a two-year term on the Pride Ortho Education and Communication Committee, a national LGBTQ+ organization focused on enhancing diversity and collegiality in orthopedics. She crafted a grant proposal with the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, which was accepted, in order to host hands-on volunteer events, leading to Taylor delivering an orthopaedic surgery Grand Rounds lecture at the University of Michigan in January 2023. The presentation highlighted allyship and inclusivity in orthopedics and patient bone health. Locally, Taylor serves on the college’s  LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee. She contributed to the improvement of didactics and assisted in implementing its second annual mentorship program aimed at supporting students across the College of Medicine and fostering inclusion and acceptance. 


Parijat Sen, MD   |  Faculty Winner
Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine

Dr. Sen’s transformative contributions have reshaped the fellowship program, enriching the educational experience for fellows and faculty alike. From pioneering a hands-on "Lungs-On" Ventilator Curriculum to spearheading a groundbreaking "Research-In Progress Conference," he has consistently championed initiatives that empower fellows to thrive as clinicians, researchers, and educators. His dedication to professional development, exemplified by his completion of the Academy for Medical Educators program and pursuit of a master’s degree in clinical and translational science, underscores his unwavering commitment to advancing medical education and research.

Misty Fenech   |  Staff Winner
Health Education Coordinator Senior, Internal Medicine

Misty has demonstrated great commitment to enhancing the quality of internal medicine programs and nurturing the development of our learners. Her exceptional organizational skills, professionalism, and kindness make her a joy to work with, earning her praise from both students and faculty alike. Misty's clear and timely communication fosters a supportive environment for students entering challenging clinical rotations, easing their anxieties and ensuring a positive experience. Misty's proactive approach and innovative mindset are evident in her initiatives, such as the redesign of our Canvas course page, which has garnered high praise from our students. She is dedicated to improving the clerkship experience, making her an indispensable asset to students and faculty.


Terry Hinds, PhD   |  Faculty Winner
Associate Professor, Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences

Dr. Hinds exemplifies excellence and innovation in his approach to addressing critical health challenges. His leadership of a highly productive lab reflects his commitment to pushing the boundaries of conventional research, encouraging his team to explore innovative and forward-thinking avenues. Dr. Hinds’ research mentorship style is characterized by unwavering support and a dedication to nurturing individual interests and talents. His ability to inspire confidence and push his mentees beyond their comfort zones has led to remarkable achievements, such as guiding an undergraduate student to be awarded Best Undergraduate Speaker at a scientific conference. Through his guidance and support, he empowers his students to realize their full potential and make significant contributions to the scientific community. 

Colleen McMullen   |  Staff Winner 
Editorial Officer, Internal Medicine

Since joining the center in September 2022, Colleen has demonstrated exceptional skill and commitment in identifying, organizing, and writing grant applications relevant to obesity/diabetes research. Her leadership in spearheading the writing and submission of three significant grants, including an $11.4 million UK Diabetes Prevention COBRE, showcases her dedication to advancing UK’s mission of becoming a world-class diabetes research center. Colleen’s meticulous attention to detail and tireless efforts in coordinating inputs from faculty contributors have been instrumental in the success of these grant applications. Her ability to navigate extensive instructions, paperwork requirements, and support letter assemblage, all while ensuring on-time submission, is a testament to her outstanding professionalism and dedication. Her contributions have undeniably elevated the research efforts of the college.

Enabler Award

Lillian Sims, PhD  |  Faculty Winner
Lecturer, Behavioral Science

This award is in recognition of Dr. Sims’ outstanding efforts in building community and supporting student research opportunities. She and her family host and cover the cost of monthly dinners meant to foster connections among medical students, faculty, and staff. Additionally, she is streamlining student research opportunities by creating platforms like Canvas pages and student surveys to enhance research support. Furthermore, Dr. Sims serves as advisor to two new student organizations, First-Generation in Medicine and the Medical Education Interest Group, enabling community well-being and mentorship opportunities for students.

Sabrina Brewer   |  Staff Winner
Administrative Operations Coordinator, Research

Sabrina is the administrative operations coordinator for the Office of Research. Beyond her exemplary work in streamlining processes and helping our research operations be more efficient, Sabrina exemplifies a deep commitment to fostering community well-being within the College of Medicine. As the chair of the UK College of Medicine Staff Well-Being Committee since 2023, Sabrina has united a diverse group from domains across the college to enhance wellness initiatives. She champions open communication channels, fostering dialogue among different stakeholders to build a culture of support and belonging. Sabrina's genuine approach to engaging with others cultivates a sense of recognition and value within the College of Medicine community. She is dedicated to facilitating meaningful conversations and driving positive change.

The UK College of Medicine's mini-documentary series captures interviews with people across our community, exploring who we are as a college and why our mission matters.