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Hidden Gems

These faculty members have been nominated by their departments in recognition of their outstanding, but often unnoticed or unrecognized, contributions to Emory or beyond.


The below quotes were provided by the department Chairs.

John Altman, PhD

Department of Microbiology & Immunology

"For his work in education and training the next generation of scientists. Over the past few years he directed the Immunology thread for the medical school’s foundation series and has also been the Director of the Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis program. He has worked diligently to make these programs outstanding."

Laura Aspey, MD, MPH

Department of Dermatology

"Dr. Laura Aspey has taken our Emory commitment to care delivery and training at Grady Hospital to a new level. Her commitment to patients served at Grady and to the students and residents learning has been transformative."

Cecelia Bellcross, PhD, MS, CGC

Department of Human Genetics

"She established the Genetic Counseling Training Program at Emory in 2011. The first such program in Georgia. She achieved full accreditation of the program and the program was recently named the third best in the country."

Erin Buckley, PhD

Department of Biomedical Engineering

"Leadership as Co-Chair the Coulter Biomedical Engineering Culture, Diversity, and Inclusion (CD&I) Committee, including creating new training modules in “Lab Culture”

Susan Dreyer, MD

Department of Orthopaedics

“Dr. Dreyer has been a long standing member of the department, diligently and tirelessly serving her patients. Her patient satisfaction scores are consistently excellent, often dealing with a challenging set of patients in constant and chronic pain. She epitomizes the department purpose of “giving patients their lives back” by treating their conditions. She is also the department leader in facing the challenges of opioid management. Her service to the department and patients is truly exemplary."

Manila Gaddh, MD

Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology

"Manila has demonstrated quiet leadership in her growing role as part of the hemostasis and thrombosis center, with her focus on thrombosis and treatment/prevention of DVT across the EHC system. She has organized a new Multi D team approach to management including players from many different disciplines, and has implemented a ‘tumnor board’ like meeting for patients with thrombosis and other benign heme conditions to bring focus to an area that has been neglected in the past. Her leadership by example is an outstanding model for other faculty, and she does this all while staying in the background and allowing others to shine."

Kathy Glas, MD, MBA, FASE

Department of Anesthesiology

"Worked selflessly as the Interim Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at Emory for more than a year. During this time, she effectively directed the day to day operations of the Department, guided numerous faculty through the promotions process, and helped Emory expand its reputation as a leader in Anesthesiology education and patient care. She also served as a champion for diversity and inclusion, transforming the Department's approach to faculty recruitment, retention, and advancement. She now serves as the Vice Chair for Faculty Development, Diversity, and Inclusion. With advanced training and certifications in cardiac anesthesiology and echocardiography, Kathy is one of the most respected clinicians in the Department."

Carla Haack, MD
Department of Surgery

"Dr. Haack’s clinical, educational and research contributions since joining faculty have been in the area of general and acute care surgery. Her main focus has been building a general surgery practice at the Emory University Hospital (EUH) campus and serving as one of the founding surgeons to roll out the acute, critical care surgery service (ACCS) at EUH. This service provides immediate surgical intervention to patients in the EUH Emergency Department (ED), when they would otherwise have to be triaged and wait till a surgeon already in the operating room (OR) or outpatient clinic setting can get to them. This service has dramatically improved patient experiences in the ED with their immediate surgical needs. This also helps the EUH ED flow and bed turnover to ensure we can expeditiously care for our patients coming to the ED and offer reduced wait times. Without Dr. Haack’s “can do” style, tenacity and easy personality to work with, this service would not be nearly as successful as it has been over the last 5 years. Dr. Haack has consistently and graciously distinguished herself as the “go to” general surgeon at EUH. She provides many specialties a strong piece of mind that the patients will have incredible surgical care as well as thoughtful and deliberate communication with patients and other physicians on what needs to happen next."

Jessica Hammett, MD
Department of Urology

"Jessica Hammett, M.D., joined Emory Urology in 2017 and has quickly become a pivotal leader and pillar in the foundation of urological clinical care, administrative service, and teaching at Emory. Dr. Hammett brought a contemporary perspective in her subspecialty area of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery to Emory, joining a multidisciplinary team at both Emory University Hospital as well as at the Women’s Center at Emory St. Joseph’s Hospital and has received accolades from faculty and learners in Gyn/OB, Colorectal Surgery and Urology alike for her contribution to clinical care and teaching of residents, students and fellows. Soon after arriving at Emory, Dr. Hammett identified an opportunity for greater physician engagement in ambulatory care process, and became the Medical Director for Urology Ambulatory operations at the Emory University campus, where she has become a leader in Empower Urology Lean initiatives to enhance patient care, provider fulfillment, and staff engagement."

Cherie Hill, MD
Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics

"Dr. Hill is devoted to service and mentorship to residents as Residency Wellness Director as well as Robotic Surgery Director under our larger Simulation Program. Dr. Hill devoted substantial time helping our residents identify healthy outlets for self-care by developing wellness strategies and activities. She also helps interested residents gain additional skills in robotics surgery and mentors them on these procedures. This year, we graduated our first resident who completed the certificate in Robotics Simulation Curriculum. We are grateful for Dr. Hill’s dedication to teaching and her ongoing service to the department."

Jean Ikanga, PhD
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

"After graduating from our neuropsychology program, Dr. Ikanga joined our faculty, dividing his time between Emory and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He is now the first Neuropsychologist in the Democratic Republic of Congo. His research, with his Mentor Dr. Tony Stringer, has produced the first validated neuropsychological testing in that country. Prior to that there was no means to diagnose dementia Alzheimer’s or other significant neurologic conditions. He and doctor Stringer are working to create a teaching program in the DOC to expand number of clinicians able to diagnose and properly treat this population."

Richard Kahn, PhD, MS
Department of Biochemistry

"Hidden Gem for his tireless efforts in creating innovative graduate program courses, mentoring students and faculty, and pushing for an exciting research environment within the department and school."

Shannon Kahn, MD
Department of Radiation Oncology

"Shannon is an assistant professor of radiation oncology and is the medical director of our facility at Emory Saint Josephs Hospital. She did an extraordinary job this year in integrating the independent Kaiser Permanente radiation oncology physicians and their patients into our practice at ESJH. This work was no small order given the challenges of managing and integrating two very different practices into a busy center. This process has been led by Dr. Kahn and with her leadership this transition has been executed very well. The current result is a practice which is nearly double the size of the prior practice and which is very well integrated after a short period of time."

Department of Neurology

"Dr. Karakis has dedicated his entire career to the care of patients living with neurologic disease and the neurologic education of those training to care for them. Since joining our faculty in 2012, he quickly established himself as a well-respected teacher among our trainees and faculty. At the UME level he is involved in our classroom neuroscience courses for medical students and is a frequent faculty-supervisor for our monthly medical student clinical skills exam session. In addition to traditional ward and outpatient-based teaching for GME, he coordinates and participates in multiple lecture series for our neurology residents and fellows. At our institution he holds leadership roles in education as the Program Director for our Epilepsy Fellowship and as the Associate Program Director for our CNP Fellowship Program. As a demonstration of his excellence in teaching and value to our trainees, he was the recipient of the Emory University Neurology Residents’ Faculty Teaching Award, as well as the Friend of the Residents Award, a recognition given only to our best and brightest teachers. Subsequent to this, his contributions to neurologic education were recognized at a national level by his receipt of the American Academy of Neurology’s A.B. Baker Teaching Recognition Certificate. In sum Dr. Karakis is a consummate educator who is not only devoted to the education of future generations of neurologists but also to those choosing other medical specialties."

Thomas Kukar, PhD
Department of Pharmacology & Chemical Biology

"Tom is a true hidden gem in the Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, as he performs many important but under-the-radar duties. While Tom is an accomplished investigator who runs a robust research program and holds multiple grants, he is also reserved by nature and not one to call attention to himself. Much of Tom’s selfless service is focused on helping students. For the past three years, he has served as Qualifying Exam Coordinator for the Neuroscience graduate program, the largest graduate program in the Emory School of Medicine. Tom also makes myriad contributions to other graduate programs on campus, as for example he serves as the faculty sponsor for the Graduate Students in Pharmacology group, assisting the students in organizing their professional development events. Along these lines, Tom has also promoted student professional development in many other ways behind the scenes, such as organizing Laney Graduate School networking events at large national meetings. These sorts of activities are often under-recognized by university leadership but nonetheless greatly appreciated by the students. In addition to serving the students, Tom also serves his faculty members in many ways that are underappreciated. For example, he currently serves as Chair of the Faculty Search Committee for the Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology. In this behind-the-scenes role, Tom is helping to shape the future of the university by recruiting the best and brightest young faculty members to come to Emory. Tom also serves on numerous campus committees that are important but unglamorous. For example, in the past year alone, he has served on the Lab Design Standards Working Committee, the Health Sciences Research Building II Planning & Programming Committee, and the Emory School of Medicine Research Strategic Plan Stakeholder Team. This service is far beyond that of the normal faculty member, but Tom serves in these roles because he is passionate about creating the best possible environment for research and teaching at Emory. In summary, Tom Kukar performs countless under-the-radar duties that greatly benefit Emory students and faculty."

April Landry, MD
Department of Otolaryngology

"Dr. Landry is a pediatric otolaryngologist with expertise in reconstruction of the airway. In collaboration with Georgia Tech she has pioneered the use of 3-D printed extraluminal stents for severe tracheomalacia."

Matthew Thomas McKenna, MD, MPH
Department of Family & Preventative Medicine

"Dr. McKenna has helped lead a tremendous expansion in Preventive Medicine (PM) training
capacity, 2 to 7 PM residents. We have expanded to include new electives and new rotation
sites. Dr. McKenna serves on the Emory University School of Medicine Faculty Committee for
Appointments and Promotions, a member of the Vice-Chairs’ Research Group, and is a member
of the American Cancer Society Guideline Development Group. He serves on the editorial board
of Population Health Metrics. He teaches M3 students during their Ambulatory Medicine rotation
at the Emory at Dunwoody Family Medicine and teaches didactics and precepts for both
Preventive Medicine and Family Medicine Residents.
In addition, Dr. McKenna’s research has elucidated the social, demographic and health systems
dynamics that influence outcomes in populations. These efforts include methodological
evaluations to identify optimal approaches to measuring health determinants and outcomes.
Most of his work has been in cancer, tuberculosis, HIV, tobacco and comparative population
health status assessment.

Anna Mirk, MD

Department of Medicine

"As program director, Dr. Mirk leads an outstanding geriatrics clinical fellowship that continues to attract high caliber trainees when peer institution programs have trouble filling slots. Our clinical fellows consistently provide positive feedback about the Dr. Mirk's genuine care regarding their professional development as geriatricians and support for their academic pursuits. As a result of her encouragement and mentorship, all of our geriatric fellows had abstracts selected for presentation at the 2019 annual meetings of the American Medical Directors Association and the American Geriatrics Society. Dr. Mirk took the reins of our educational program this year to lead the faculty in a process of redesigning our curriculum and clinical offerings to better align with trainee background and experience. In the past year, Dr. Mirk has taken on several additional opportunities to provide expanded access to geriatrics expertise and age-friendly health care to older Veterans. She accepted the lead physician role for a clinical innovation program called GRECC Connect, which delivers geriatric consultative services via telehealth to Veterans in rural Georgia. She will also serve as a co-Investigator on an upcoming HSR&D-funded award to determine the impact of continence care delivered via telehealth in women Veterans.
Dr. Mirk is an extremely valuable member of the faculty and has not received recognition previously for her educational leadership and expertise in innovative clinical geriatrics programs. She is a dedicated academician and a role model for peers and trainees."

Courtney Moreno, MD

Department of Radiology & Imaging Sciences

"Dr Moreno is an outstanding contributor across the missions and a generous colleague."

Ghazala O'Keefe, MD

Department of Ophthalmology

"Dr. O’Keefe is a wonderful Uveitis and Medical Retina physician at the Emory Eye Center. Her leadership in multidisciplinary care, health services research, and autoimmune diseases of the eye brings together both world-class clinical care and quality metrics to better understand service benefits and costs to the patient, physician, and health care systems. She is an outstanding physician and investigator with excellent leadership potential at Emory and nationally. "

Maureen Powers, PhD

Department of Cell Biology

“Dr. Powers is recognized for her continued outstanding leadership role as Director of Discovery Phase for medical student research, commitment to teaching, and as a valued colleague in the Department of Cell Biology and SOM."

Gustavo Pradilla, MD

Department of Neurosurgery

"Gustavo Pradilla has transformed the neurosurgical service at Grady Memorial Hospital during his relatively short tenure by attracting and retaining a superb faculty that provides unparalleled subspecialty care. His vision of creating a skull base laboratory for training neurosurgery and otolaryngology skull base surgeons has been realized through his dedication and hard work."

Brian Quigley, MD

Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine

"Dr. Quigley came to the Department as a fellow in gastrointestinal pathology. During his fellow year his interactions with the residents were so positive that he was given the golden apple award. His outstanding performance earned him a faculty position immediately after finishing his fellowship. As a faculty member he has carried a heavy load of service work as there has been an increased need of coverage related to a variety of factors such as the incorporation of the Kaiser Practice and departures from the Department. He is always smiling and willing to help. As an educator he takes the time to evaluate how the residents and fellows are learning and give great constructive feedback to trainees by identifying areas of strength along with areas of improvement for every resident."

Ashish Sharma, PhD

Department of Biomedical Informatics

"I'd like to nominate Ashish Sharma for his groundbreaking work in cloud computing in healthcare and leading our department to international reputation in this area, as evidenced by a recent documentary Google made on our department and his work supporting sepsis prediction. Our field is new and rapidly evolving, with industry often taking the lead, and Google leading industry. Their constant reference to us as world leaders places us on the international stage, yet is rarely recognized within academia, except for those that understand the nuances of what it takes to build scalable and AI enabled healthcare systems."

Joy Smith, MD

Department of Pediatrics

"During 35 years at Emory as an undergraduate, medical student, pediatrics resident and chief resident, and faculty member, she has consistently demonstrated a commitment to helping the under-served and leading with quiet, yet effective determination and vision. She exemplifies all the categories specified in the award but her administrative service, service to the community, and exemplary service to under-served populations stand out. "

Daniel Wood, MD

Department of Emergency Medicine

“Dan is an extraordinary physician who provides outstanding clinical care to all our patients at Emory University Hospital at Midtown (EUHM). He has also taken up the mantle of leadership in a very chaotic time in our practice. Where others may have floundered, Dan has excelled to become the leader we all knew he would become. Dan serves as our Medical Director for the EUHM emergency department leading a group of over 40 physicians and advanced practice providers in one of our most challenging clinical environments.”

Keith Wood, PhD, ABPP

Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

“Keith Wood, PhD, ABPP represents the model of an outstanding clinician-educator. He has held a variety of clinical administrative roles at Grady and is held in high esteem by his colleagues for his outstanding management skills and thoughtful development of patient-centered programs. He is currently developing a new program to provide innovative treatment to people with psychotic disorders. He has been recognized numerous times by trainees for his exceptional teaching and mentoring. One of his best qualities is his passion for working to improve the lives of people living in the local community. An active and engaged volunteer, he serves on and has chaired numerous community boards and has been instrumental in strengthening the community and its relationship with our health system.”

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