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Frank Church, PhD, professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, delivered this year’s Whitehead Lecture. The annual event, which serves as an unofficial convocation for the UNC School of Medicine, has been held since 1947.

By Jamie Williams,

Frank Church shared insights from his decades as a researcher and medical educator, lessons he learned growing up as an “Air Force brat,” and truths he’s gained from his current battle with Parkinson’s Disease during his poignant speech to a crowd including current and past faculty and students.

During his remarks, Church encouraged the students to live by the Air Force’s three core values: integrity, service, and excellence. He told the first year students in the room to find their “Holy Grail.”

“If you find you’re not happy in what you’re doing, then just keep searching,” Church said, highlighting the various paths their journey through medicine may take them. “Let your heart tell you where your home is.”

Church explained how his path has changed since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. As a researcher, his inclination has been to learn as much as he could about the history and causes of the disease. As a patient, he’s worked to be a resource for others, both through his blog, where he chronicles his journey, and as an active member of several Parkinson’s patient organizations.

“I refuse to surrender,” he told the crowd, as photos of Church playing golf, traveling, and smiling with members of his research lab flashed on the screen behind him.

In her introduction of Church, last year’s Whitehead lecturer, Alice Ma, MD, associate professor, hematology-oncology, read from the nomination letters submitted by students, recommending Church as this year’s lecturer.

“An integral and inspiring presence,” is how one described Church.

This year’s Whitehead Lecture surely made fans of a whole new class of medical students.

Following Church’s lecture, a number of faculty and student awards were presented. A full list of winners is below.

Faculty Awards:

The Hyman L. Battle Distinguished Excellence in Teaching Award in the Clinical Sciences:

Christopher Klipstein, MD, Professor, Department of Medicine, Director of Internal Medicine Clerkship

Best Clinical Clerkship:


Richard Hobbs, MD, Clerkship Director

Kevin Kelly, MD, Interim Department Chair

William Mills, MD, MPH, Associate Clerkship Director

Jenny Kaselak, UNC Clerkship Coordinator

Outstanding AHEC Faculty Award:

Suresh Nagappan, MD, MSPH, Site Director, Greensboro

The George T. Wolff Award:

Catherine Sotir, MD, Site Director, Wilmington

Kaiser Permanente Excellence in Teaching Awards:

Family Medicine:

Jessica Waters Davis, MD

Carolyn Vaught, MD

Internal Medicine:

Mussasir Ayaz, MD

David Steele, MD


Trey Bateman, MD


Carol Bretschneider, MD

Caroline Cassling, MD


Lauren Bradford, MD

Mike Parsons, MD

Sally Wood, MD, MPH


Douglas Henningsen, MD

Winston Li, MD


Ashish Jain, MD, MPH

Bailey Sanders, MD

Megan Quintana, MD

Hadley Wilson, MD, MS

The Hyman L. Battle Distinguished Excellence in Teaching Award in the Foundation Phase:

Cheryl McNeil, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Neurology and Clinical Academic Resources

The Foundation Phase Outstanding Director Teaching Award:

Edward Kernick, DPM, Associate Professor, Department of Cell Biology and Physiology

The Foundation Phase Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award:

William F. Pendergraft III, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Nephrology and Hypertension

The Best Foundation Block Award:

Endocrine Block:

Deepa Kirk, MD, Block Director

Marianne Meeker, PhD, Block Director

The Foundation Phase Coil Award:

Anatomy Coil:

Edward Kernick, DPM, Coil Director

Student Awards:

The Brett J. Pearce and Lauren K. Brown Memorial Award:

Paul McIntosh

Heusner Pupil Award:

Rob Broadhurst

Benjamin Frush

Paul McIntosh

Manuel Fanarjian

Kelly Hemmings

Caroline Newman

Billy Oslund

The Frank Lee Dameron Award:

Franklin Niblock

Michael Robinson

The James A. Bryan II Award:

Khadijah Bhatti

The William deB. MacNider Award:

Audrey Lan

Melissa Rolfsen

Lucius Blanchard Carolina Family Loyalty Fund Scholarship:

Erik Davies

Keren Eyal

Cameron Holland

Wesley Roten

Alan W. Cross Social Medicine Paper Award, Department of Social Medicine:

Tendal Kwaramba

Honorable Mention: Gabriela Reed