More than 100 faculty and physicians throughout the community were honored Tuesday, Oct. 30, for their service and dedication to the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria at the 2018 Celebration of Excellence. Also recognized were the 2018 Community Health Award recipients: the Goodwill Stand Down for Homeless Veterans, an annual program targeting area homeless veterans, and Peoria’s first neonatologist, Dr. Tim Miller.

Faculty of the Year

Elsa Vazquez-Melendez, MD, is a recognized physician, scholar, and educator. A hospitalist at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center and the Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at UICOMP, Dr. Melendez has led educational efforts regarding bias and often speaks about unconscious bias. Her work spans medical students, residency, and faculty development. She has presented scholarly research work among colleagues locally, nationally, and internationally. Dr. Melendez also is the recipient of two Golden Apple awards this year, chosen by the medical students of the Classes of 2018 and 2019.

2018 Community Health Awards

Goodwill - Celebration of Excellence
Goodwill Stand Down for Homeless Veterans is a community-based intervention program providing Central Illinois homeless veterans with much needed resources. Goodwill, along with other social service agencies, local businesses, and veterans’ services organizations, provide homeless veterans with food, winter clothing, personal hygiene products, and an opportunity for a hot shower and a haircut. Veterans also have opportunities to attend classes relating to maintaining sobriety, managing depression, veterans’ benefits, money management, legal matters, women’s resources and PTSD. The program, in its 10th year, serves more than 200 veterans annually.

Tim Miller, MD, was the first neonatologist in Peoria and the second in Illinois outside of Chicago. In 1972, he founded the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center where he introduced modern neonatal care for premature infants and sick newborns. For two years, he was on call every night and weekend serving the needs of sick babies. He served as director of the unit until 1994, as it grew to one of the best in the country. He not only saved the lives of hundreds of premature infants, he worked with other pediatric and surgical physicians to save many term babies with complex congenital malformations. In 1994, Tim became the second Chief Medical Officer at SFMC, a position he held until 2016. He currently is the Medical Director of Academic Affairs for OSF HealthCare.

Among the 2018 UICOMP Faculty Award Recipients:

UICOMP Outstanding Research

Amy Christison, MD
Ken-ichiro Fukuchi, MD, PhD
Christopher Gondi, PhD

UICOMP Outstanding Service

Jessica Hanks, MD
Asim Jaffer, MD
Kiran Velpula, PhD

UICOMP Outstanding Teaching

Robin Alley, MD
Jonathan Fisher, PhD
Krishna Veeravalli, PhD

UICOMP Outstanding Clinical, Technological, or Scholarly Achievements Applied to Medical Research

David Dominguese, PhD

UICOMP Outstanding Teaching and Service for Community-Based Faculty

Jeffrey DeSanto, MD
Zohra Moeenuddin, MD
James Nesselroad III, MD

Outstanding Senior Scholar

Martha Willi, MD

Golden Apple

Jolene Harris, MS (Class of 2021)
Pushpa Joseph, MD (Class of 2020)
Elsa Vazquez- Melendez, MD (Classes of 2018 and 2019)

ELI2TE Program Preceptors

Nearly 60 physician preceptors across central Illinois, including many in smaller communities, will be
recognized for participating as physician mentors in UICOMP’s Early Longitudinal Immersion
Interprofessional Team Experience (ELI2TE). The program, unique to the Peoria campus of the
University of Illinois College of Medicine, provides students with clinical experience early into their first
year of medical school by imbedding students into primary care settings to learn all of the aspects of
delivering patient-center care.