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Senior Faculty Scholars

Senior Faculty Scholars are a group of outstanding clinicians and teachers who are current members of the University faculty, and who personify the mission and goals of the Bucksbaum Institute to improve the doctor-patient relationship and the care of patients. As a Bucksbaum Institute Senior Faculty Scholar, each senior faculty member is asked to mentor, coach and advise Bucksbaum Institute Student, Junior Faculty and Associate Junior Faculty Scholars.

Dana Suskind, MD

Dana Suskind, MD

2015–2016 SENIOR FACULTY SCHOLAR

Department of Pediatrics, Department of Surgery
Bio

Dana Suskind, author of the upcoming book, Thirty Million Words: Building A Child’s Brain, (Dutton, September 2015), is Professor of Surgery at the University of Chicago, Director of the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Program and Founder and Director of the Thirty Million Words Initiative. Based on scientific research that shows the critical importance of early language exposure on the developing child, Thirty Million Words helps parents enhance their home language environment in order to optimize their child’s brain development and, therefore, his or her ability to learn. An evidence-based intervention, Thirty Million Words is supported by a broad coalition of public and private partnerships and is an extension of Dr. Suskind’s Project ASPIRE, which she created to assure that her patients from disadvantaged backgrounds reached their full listening and spoken language potentials. Dr. Suskind’s ultimate goal, and that of her dedicated team, is to help all children reach their full potentials and to close the ever-widening achievement gap.

Helen S. Te, MD

Helen S. Te, MD

2017–2018 SENIOR FACULTY SCHOLAR

Department of Medicine
Bio

Dr. Helen Te is a Professor of Medicine and the Medical Director of the Adult Liver Transplant Program. She earned her Medical Degree from the University of the Philippines and pursued residency training in Internal Medicine at Rush University Medical Center. Dr. Te completed her fellowship training in Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at the University of Chicago and stayed on to join the faculty.

Her primary clinical interests are in dealing with the complications of cirrhosis to allow for optimal patient management and health restoration following liver transplantation.

Dr. Te serves on the committees of national societies and has gained a reputation for being a compassionate and astute hepatologist. She has been recognized by her peers with the Department of Medicine Clinical Service Award in 2016 and in 2017, and externally as one of America’s Top Doctors consistently since 2011.

Dr. Te’s passion lies foremost in patient care and she finds ways to deliver the optimal personal care that is essential for each patient by earning their trust and placing herself in their shoes.

Marie Tobin, MD

Marie Tobin, MD

2012–2013 SENIOR FACULTY SCHOLAR

Department of Psychiatry
Bio

Dr. Marie Tobin is an Associate Professor and is the Director of Consult-Liaison and Emergency Psychiatry. In particular, her practice focuses on the delivery of psychiatric services to medically ill hospitalized patients, and treating the psychiatric morbidity in cancer patients. Additionally, Dr. Tobin is the director of the Emergency Psychiatry Course and the Consult-Liaison Case Conference for residents and fellows, as well as a lecturer for medical students in their clerkship. She is also on the Committee of Task Force to Review Professionalism in the Medical School at the University of Chicago.

Alison Tothy, MD

Alison Tothy, MD

2014–2015 SENIOR FACULTY SCHOLAR

Department of Pediatrics
Bio

Dr. Alison Tothy is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and the Associate Chief Medical Officer for the University of Chicago Medicine. Dr. Tothy serves as the physician leader responsible for working to improve the patient experience at the University of Chicago Medicine. Dr. Tothy provides physician leadership and oversight in development, implementation, and execution of the vision and strategy of the Patient Experience and Engagement Program. Dr. Tothy’s works seeks to promote a culture of patient centered care that emphasizes compassion and outstanding service.

Dr. Tothy’s clinical practice is in Emergency Medicine at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital where she is the Section Chief and Medical Director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine. Please join me in congratulating Alison Tothy on her appointment as a Bucksbaum Institute Senior Faculty Scholar.

Kiran Turaga, MD, MPH

Kiran Turaga, MD, MPH

2018–2019 SENIOR FACULTY SCHOLAR

Department of Surgery
Bio

Dr. Kiran K. Turaga is a renowned surgical oncologist with a specific expertise in metastatic cancers. He grew up in India and completed his medical training from the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). He completed his surgical residency from Creighton University and his fellowship from The Moffitt Cancer Center. He also holds a Master’s in Public Health from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

Dr. Turaga is interested in the patient centered management of patients with complex malignancies. Prior to joining the University of Chicago, he was the Sharon Wadina Endowed Professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Some of his initiatives have included patient navigation, trimodality prehabilitation for patients undergoing complex cytoreductive surgery and early use of supportive oncology in the management of patients. Along with the regional therapies team, he has successfully created one of the premier programs for cytoreductive surgery and regional therapies in the nation which attracts patients from across the country.

Dr. Turaga’s research has focused on patient outcomes with oligometastatic cancers and he has published over 110 journal articles. He has contributed scholarly works to foremost oncological textbooks about peritoneal surface malignancies and is currently the section editor for the Annals of Surgical Oncology for the regional therapies section. He is interested in disease prediction, modeling and delivery of optimal care for his patients.

He is also the fellowship director for the Complex General Surgical Oncology Fellowship program at the University of Chicago/Northshore program. He has been awarded the Department of Surgery Excellence in Teaching award in 2016-17.

Gaurav Upadhyay, MD

Gaurav Upadhyay, MD

2021–2022 SENIOR FACULTY SCHOLAR

Department of Medicine
Bio

Gaurav A. Upadhyay, MD, FACC, FHRS is an expert in cardiac rhythm devices and Associate Professor at the University of Chicago Medicine. He cares for patients with arrhythmia, syncope, and heart failure. Dr. Upadhyay focuses on innovative electrical therapies in heart disease, including cardiac resynchronization therapy, conduction system pacing strategies (including His bundle, left bundle branch area pacing, and endocardial LV pacing), autonomic modulation, and machine-based learning to improve heart failure (HF) management. Dr. Upadhyay strives to improve the quality of life for his patients. His goal is to implement pioneering technologies to treat symptoms of heart failure and improve overall health.

Paralleling his focus on patient care, Dr. Upadhyay is an active clinical investigator. An invited national and international speaker, he has authored or delivered over 150 manuscripts, invited talks, and book chapters. He is also deeply committed to teaching, and seeks out opportunities to collaborate and engage trainees in teaching at the bedside as well as in transforming models of care.

Dr. Upadhyay received his medical degree from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, then completed his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School. He remained for an additional Cardiology Fellowship.

Dr. Upadhyay’s publications may be found here.

Sandra R. Valaitis, MD

Sandra R. Valaitis, MD

2016–2017 SENIOR FACULTY SCHOLAR

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Bio

Dr. Sandra Valaitis is dedicated to patient care, medical education and administration. Dr. Valaitis has received a number of honorary educational awards (AOA and Golden Apple, Academy of Distinguished Medical Educators –all awards for excellent teaching) and has held leadership positions in medical education at the University of Chicago including student clerkship director, core faculty for the U of C MERITS program (Medical Education Research Innovation and Teaching Scholarship), and is a member of the University of Chicago Residents as Teachers and FAME Steering Committee. She has given workshops locally and nationally on clinical teaching and urogynecology, and has been an Oral Boards Examiner for ObGyn since 2001. Dr. Valaitis also holds the title of Director of Ambulatory Operations for Ob/Gyn and serves on the Ambulatory Operations Committee for the University of Chicago Hospital. She has been recognized as a Top Doctor in Urogynecology in Chicago annually since 2010. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Sandra Valaitis as a Senior Faculty Scholar of the Bucksbaum Institute.

Monica Vela, MD

Monica Vela, MD

2013–2014 SENIOR FACULTY SCHOLAR – ALUMNI

Department of Medicine
Bio

Monica Vela, MD is an Associate Professor of Medicine and the Associate Dean for Multicultural Affairs at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. Since joining the University of Chicago faculty in the Department of Medicine in 1997, Dr. Vela has established herself as a leader in scholarship and education related to health care disparities and diversity in medicine.

Dr. Vela is actively involved in teaching of both medical students and medical house staff. She serves as the Course Director of the Clinical Skills Teaching module for the Pritzker School of Medicine. And in 2006, Dr. Vela piloted and implemented an innovative new curriculum in health care disparities, which has become an important feature of the curriculum at the Pritzker School of Medicine. Her work has been presented nationally and published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine and has gained broad attention as it is one of the few required courses on health care disparities among American medical schools.

Dr. Vela serves as Chair of the national Society of General Internal Medicine’s Disparities Education Task Force. Her other interests include issues of medical professionalism and the doctor-patient relationship. At the University of Chicago, Dr. Vela plays an active role in the recruitment and support of students underrepresented in medicine. She is also meaningfully engaged in a similar role as the Vice Chair for Diversity in the Department of Medicine.

In 2021, Dr. Vela joined the faculty at the University of Illinois College of Medicine.

Lisa M. Vinci, MD

Lisa M. Vinci, MD

2012–2013 SENIOR FACULTY SCHOLAR

Department of Medicine
Bio

Dr. Lisa Vinci is an Associate Professor in the Section of General Internal Medicine. She has a longstanding interest in quality improvement and medical education. She received her medical degree from Washington University and completed her residency in internal medicine at Northwestern Medical Center. She is currently the Director of the Primary Care Group, the primary practice site for Internal Medicine resident and general internal medicine faculty at the University of Chicago. In addition, she is the Associate Vic-Chair for Ambulatory Operations for the Department of Medicine. Dr. Vinci is actively involved in medical education and has co-directed the Quality Assessment and Improvement Curriculum (QAIC), a required 2 year longitudinal course in quality improvement for Internal Medicine residents for the last 6 years. She is also Co-Director of the Pritzker Scholarship and Discovery Track in Quality and Safety, a longitudinal 4 year program to develop medical students to become future leaders in quality improvement and patient safety.

In addition she serves as a quality advisor to a collaborative of four community health centers and 2 academic practices focused on improving diabetes care on the South Side of Chicago. Her primary clinical focus is on developing care coordination and care management programs for complex patients across settings of care. She recently completed the Master’s Degree in Healthcare Quality and Safety at Northwestern University.

Tamara Vokes, MD

Tamara Vokes, MD

2014–2015 SENIOR FACULTY SCHOLAR

Department of Medicine
Bio

Dr. Vokes is a Professor in the section of Endocrinology. She has a special interest in osteoporosis and metabolic bone disease and is the Director of Osteoporosis Clinic and Huron Clinic. She has an active research program in several areas including the importance of vertebral fractures in clinical care of osteoporosis, non-invasive assessment of bone structure, racial differences in fracture risk, and novel treatments of hypoparathyroidism. Dr. Vokes has a busy clinical practice and promotes an individual-centered approach to osteoporosis care utilizing the state-of the art diagnostic and therapeutic modalities as well as non-pharmacologic interventions geared to each patient’s specific needs.

Dr. Vokes is also a highly regarding teacher working with medical students, as well as residents in Internal Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology and fellows in Endocrinology, Rheumatology and Geriatrics. She has developed a new elective course for 4th year medical students entitled “Using Empathy as Clinical Tool”. The objective of this course is closely linked with the principles and goals of the Bucksbaum Institute.