Faculty and Staff Features for November 2017

Vigneshwar Kasirajan, M.D., chairman of cardiothoracic surgery, VCU Health Pauley Heart Center

Vigneshwar Kasirajan, M.D.
Vigneshwar Kasirajan, M.D.

Kasirajan was named a first place winner in the 2017 OurHealth Richmond Magazine Bedside Manner Awards. The acknowledgement honors medical providers, who are voted on by the community, for attributes like medical professionalism, and the ability to communicate with concern and empathy.

This is the fifth year OurHealth Richmond Magazine has offered the contest. More than 35,000 votes were cast for medical providers in more than 50 medical specialties. The voting process was open throughout May, via

“Good bedside manners are a reflection of the compassion and care we have for our patients and is an essential part of being a physician,” said Kasirajan, also the Stuart McGuire professor and chair of the Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Surgery. “We must make patients feel comfortable at their most vulnerable time with an illness. I am honored that my patients consider me this type of physician.”

A full list of winners, including first, second and third place and honorable mention, is available on the OurHealth Richmond website.


Joey Parent, assistant director, VCU Rec Sports Outdoor Adventure Program

Joey Parent.
Joey Parent.

Parent has been recognized as one of this year’s recipients of the Ralph White River Hero Award, given by the Friends of the James River Park. The annual award recognizes individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the preservation and promotion of the James River Park System.

Parent oversees the Outdoor Adventure Program at VCU, which encourages VCU students and the Richmond community to discover the joys of the outdoors. The OAP offers many outdoor trips, ranging from local day trips on the James River to weeklong adventures in Peru and Iceland. The OAP also offers free clinics to students, teaching them skills in kayaking, paddle boarding, climbing and bike maintenance.

The Ralph White River Hero Award is named for Ralph White, who served as superintendent of the James River Park System for nearly 33 years prior to his retirement in 2012.


E. Ayn Welleford, Ph.D., associate professor and chair, Department of Gerontology

E. Ayn Welleford, Ph.D.
E. Ayn Welleford, Ph.D.

On Oct. 23, the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities named Welleford among six recipients of the 55th annual Richmond Humanitarian Awards. 

The awards dinner in Short Pump honored individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the promotion of respect and understanding among people of diverse racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds in the Richmond area. 

The VCIC traces its origins to 1935 in Lynchburg, where Catholic, Protestant and Jewish leaders came together to develop an educational program of communication and understanding. In 1963, the organization began its Richmond Humanitarian Awards tradition of honoring “the work of our friends, neighbors, and family members who gave to others the same rights, respect and dignity that they sought for themselves.” 

Welleford was recognized for her work promoting optimal aging for individuals and communities, through her teaching, scholarship, and community engagement, including her work in the VCU Department of Gerontology and as co-lead of the Greater Richmond AgeWave Collaborative.


Craig Cheifetz, M.D., associate dean for medical education, VCU School of Medicine

Craig Cheifetz, M.D.
Craig Cheifetz, M.D.

Cheifetz has been honored by the Association of American Medical Colleges for his service in fostering information sharing, communication and discussion of key issues among administrators, staff and faculty of regional medical campuses. He accepted the Distinguished Service Award from the AAMC Group on Regional Medical Campuses at the AAMC Annual Meeting in Boston on Nov. 3. 

Cheifetz has overseen the development of the School of Medicine’s Inova Campus from its earliest stages. Since 2005, he has supervised the training of third- and fourth-year medical students at Inova Fairfax Hospital, where students benefit from the hospital’s diverse patient population and state-of-the-art facilities. 

As the nation faces an anticipated physician shortage, many medical schools have elected to expand class size. Much of the expansion has been accomplished through the growth of regional medical campuses — campuses geographically separate from the medical school’s main campus. 

“Regional campuses have been a key component as we look to address the physician shortage, and Dr. Cheifetz has been a national leader in their development and success,” said Peter F. Buckley, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine. “He’s universally known for his willingness to serve as a mentor — whether you’re a medical student or a peer at another school. I greatly admire his generosity in sharing from his experiences and wisdom.” 

Cheifetz has served as chair of both the GRMC Steering Committee and the GRMC Program Planning Committee. He is credited for leadership that led to a marked increase in energy, productivity and visibility for the GRMC. In addition, his published scholarship on regional campuses has helped academic medicine better define and understand the many roles and value of regional medical campuses. 

VCU and its faculty played a prominent role at the AAMC’s 2017 annual meeting. Vice President for Health Sciences Marsha D. Rappley, M.D., who also serves as CEO of VCU Health System, gave a plenary address on Nov. 5 and was honored for her role as chair of the AAMC board of directors. An alumni reception on Nov. 4 celebrated Rappley’s tenure as board chair as well as VCU Health’s selection as a 2017 Baldwin Awardee for its graduate medical education program.


Gretchen M. Brophy, Pharm.D., professor, Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science, VCU School of Pharmacy

Gretchen M. Brophy, Pharm.D.
Gretchen M. Brophy, Pharm.D.

Brophy has taken office as the 2017–18 president of the Neurocritical Care Society, an international, multidisciplinary medical society with more than 2,000 physician, nurse, pharmacist and resident/fellow members worldwide. She is the first nonphysician president of the society, the mission of which is to improve outcomes for patients with life-threatening neurological illnesses.

“My longtime involvement in NCS has helped advance my professional efforts and connect me with other health care providers and leaders worldwide,” Brophy said. “I look forward to serving as NCS president as a way to give back to this organization that has been of tremendous benefit to my esteemed colleagues and I in the neurocritical care profession.”

Brophy is a professor of pharmacotherapy and outcomes science and neurosurgery. She is also a neurocritical care clinical pharmacist at VCU Health. In addition to earning her doctor of pharmacy degree from the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy in Tucson, her postgraduate training includes residencies in critical care and pharmacy practice at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington.

Brophy’s research interests include effective treatment strategies for traumatic brain injury, brain injury biomarkers, neurocritical care, hemostasis, stroke, sedation and status epilepticus. She is an investigator for the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Defense and industry-funded studies. An invited speaker at national and international conferences, she publishes in the area of neurocritical care.

Brophy is a board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist and a fellow of the NCS as well as the American College of Clinical Pharmacy and American College of Critical Care Medicine.