Former Dartmouth Medical School dean Dr. Rolf Syvertsen taught and mentored medical students for almost 40 years, from 1923-1960. He fostered academic accomplishment and scientific rigor, a passion for learning, and a love of medicine, while also cultivating in students a breadth and depth of human concern and a sense of community spirit and citizenship. Today, the Syvertsen Scholars and Fellows program honors fourth-year Geisel School of Medicine students who exemplify the qualities he stood for and have become deeply embedded in the culture of the medical school. Six Scholars are nominated each year by a faculty committee, and a Fellow is selected from among this group by the Syvertsen Memorial Committee, composed of alumni. Awards to the Syvertsen Scholars and Fellows are funded by contributions to the Rolf C. Syvertsen Memorial Fund.
John Damianos ’20 has been named the 2019-20 Syvertsen Fellow, and this year’s Syvertsen Scholars are Drew Blake ’20, Luke Mayer ’20, Devanshi Mehta ’20, Christiaan Rees ’20, and Katherine Trinh ’20. All of these students excel academically, work selflessly in the community, and are members of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. Their activities include volunteering at the Good Neighbor Health Clinic, advocating for people with substance use disorders, implementing a noteworthy high school STEM program, increasing compassionate care in eating disorder treatment, chairing the Geisel chapter of Physicians for Human Rights, teaching and mentoring fellow students, and more.
2019-20 Syvertsen Fellow John Damianos
In 2016, John Damianos graduated from Dartmouth College, where he was a C. Everett Koop Scholar in Addiction Studies. As a Pano T. Rodis Fellow in Compassionate Medical Care at Geisel, John furthered his work in behavioral health by collaborating with The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice on a grant to better equip New Hampshire health professions students with the tools of Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT), an evidence-based practice used to identify, reduce, and prevent problematic use, abuse, and dependence on alcohol and illicit drugs. He has also counselled high school and college students at risk for alcohol or drug use, and has volunteered at the Good Neighbor Health Clinic’s Addiction and Mental Health Program. Equally devoted to education, John participated in the redesign of Geisel’s preclinical curriculum on motivational interviewing, co-developed an elective pilot course on evidence-based strategies for sustaining wellness, and has tutored medical school and undergraduate students in group and individual settings.
2019-20 Syvertsen Scholars
Drew Blake is a student in the MD-MBA dual degree program with the Tuck School of Business and has been a vocal advocate for harm reduction policies for intravenous drug users. He worked as an assistant to New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu’s advisor on addiction and behavioral health and testified to the state senate on the benefits of harm reduction. Leveraging his experiences in the MBA program to think creatively about healthcare problems, Drew developed a model to predict how public health interventions would affect hepatitis C prevalence in New Hampshire.
Luke Mayer has collaborated with mentors from both the Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H) Department of Orthopaedics and the Dartmouth Biomedical Engineering Center at the Thayer School of Engineering on projects to better understand mechanisms of prosthetic failure, and to study outcomes of tourniquetless total knee arthroplasties. As an Albert Schweitzer Fellow, Luke implemented and co-managed a STEM-focused mentorship program at Hartford High School in Vermont, which earned him and his co-managers an “Excellence in Public Health” award from the United States Public Health Service.
As a Rodis Fellow, Devanshi Mehta helped increase the screening and treatment of eating disorders in a clinical environment. Her project spanned from early detection in the community to primary care practices to the inpatient unit at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and the materials she developed are now included in every patient and staff binder for this patient group at D-H.
Christiaan Rees is enrolled in the dual MD-PhD program at Geisel. As an Albert Schweitzer Fellow, Christiaan worked to identify and address social determinants of health that contribute to poor outcomes for uninsured and underinsured members of the Upper Valley community. For his PhD research, Christiaan focused primarily on the use of computational methods, including machine learning techniques, to identify biomarkers produced by pathogenic bacteria and fungi.
Katherine Trinh serves as chair of the Geisel chapter of Physicians for Human Rights, as a member of the Physicians for Human Rights National Student Advisory Board, and as class representative in Geisel’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement. She was the student volunteer coordinator at the Craniofacial Center at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock as well as a volunteer at the Hartford Community Restorative Justice Center.