2023 Top Ten Roundup: A USU Year-in-Review

As we celebrate the achievements of 2023, we are proud to present our top ten articles that have not only garnered the most views but have also sparked meaningful conversations across the military medical community.

The collage includes images that represent the diverse activities and achievements of military medical personnel. From the upper left, there's an illustration of a vaccine being administered with menacing viruses in the background, symbolizing medical research and treatment. Below, a night vision photograph shows military personnel in a cargo plane, ready for deployment. In the center left, DNA helix and brain graphics denote medical science advancements. Top right, a military officer smiles confidently with an airplane and sunset behind, illustrating travel and readiness. Below, a speaker in military uniform addresses an audience, signifying leadership and communication. A family portrait of a military couple with a child highlights family life and support systems. Bottom left, a soldier poses with a thermometer showing high temperatures, indicating operations in challenging climates. The collage captures the spirit of dedication, family, and scientific advancement in the military medical community.

December 27, 2023 by USU External Affairs

In a year of unparalleled innovation and inspiring stories, the Uniformed Services University has been at the forefront of military medical excellence. From the groundbreaking development of a potential cure for rabies by USU researchers to the personal triumphs of USU alumni shaping the battlefield's future, our articles have captivated audiences worldwide. 

As we celebrate the achievements of 2023, we are proud to present our top ten articles that have not only garnered the most views but have also sparked meaningful conversations across the military medical community. These stories exemplify the spirit of innovation and dedication that the USU embodies. Join us as we revisit these highlights, each narrative offering a unique glimpse into the advancements and impact of the USU's commitment to healthcare and service.

"American College of Surgeons President Dr. E. Christopher Ellison presents the ACS Distinguished Lifetime Military Contribution Award to USU President Dr. Jonathan Woodson, Oct. 22, 2023.  (Screenshot photo captured by Cathy Hemelt, USU)"
American College of Surgeons President Dr. E. Christopher Ellison presents the ACS Distinguished Lifetime
Military Contribution Award to USU President Dr. Jonathan Woodson, Oct. 22, 2023. (Screenshot photo
captured by Cathy Hemelt, USU)

10. USU President Jonathan Woodson Presented American College of Surgeons Award for Distinguished Lifetime Military Contributions

Dr. Jonathan Woodson, president of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, was awarded the “Distinguished Lifetime Military Contribution Award” by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) on Oct. 22, 2023.  Woodson received the award, surrounded by an estimated 12,000 attendees amidst a display of pageantry and formality, during the annual ACS Clinical Congress convocation ceremony.  

Woodson was chosen for the award, which was established by the ACS Board of Regents’ honors committee, based on his significant contributions towards advancing military progress and surgical care, both in the theater of operations during military conflicts, and at home... Read More


During orientation, helicopters landed on the softball field, and students were taught about air medical evacuations. (Brandenburg is in the back row, second from left.) (Photo credit: Courtesy of 2LT Patrick Brandenburg, USU)
During orientation, helicopters landed on the softball field, and students were taught about air medical
evacuations. (Brandenburg is in the back row, second from left.) (Photo credit: Courtesy of 2LT Patrick
Brandenburg, USU)

9. Students and Faculty Take a Retrospective Look at the Start of Medical School

"“I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was in high school,” says U.S. Air Force 2d Lt. Pallavi Malladi, a first-year medical student at USU. “I am thrilled to finally be here.”

Starting medical school can be exciting, but also demanding and intimidating. Students typically enter medical school with a rough understanding of the trials ahead, and their possible effects on their emotional, physical, and psychological well-being. However, until they are fully immersed in the process, students can’t fully comprehend what the experience will be like. As reported by many, “Balance is something that students must begin to learn starting day one of medical school and modify throughout their career.”

Student expectations can include issues with academics, time management, self-motivation, family obligations, work–life balance, relocation, etc. There are always the hopeful expectations versus the tough realities of medical school life. 

Three USU students share the expectations they held for their first year, while two module directors also weigh in with their perspectives."... Read More


Defense Health Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Telita Crosland addressed more than 360 uniformed and civilian health professionals on May 20 as the guest speaker of USU's commencement ceremony. (Photo credit: Tom Balfour, USU)
Defense Health Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Telita Crosland addressed more than 360 uniformed and
civilian health professionals on May 20 as the guest speaker of USU's commencement ceremony. (Photo
credit: Tom Balfour, USU)

8. More than 363 Military Health Care Providers Graduate on Armed Forces Day

"During a ceremony steeped in tradition, the director of the Defense Health Agency, Army Lt. Gen. Telita Crosland, addressed more than 360 uniformed and civilian health professionals on May 20, Armed Forces Day, as they received their medical, graduate nursing, biomedical science, public health, and clinical psychology degrees from the Uniformed Services University (USU).

Crosland, a Doctor of Medicine and Master of Public Health degree graduate of USU, is responsible for leading a joint, integrated Combat Support Agency of nearly 140,000 military and civilian personnel that enables the Army, Navy, and Air Force medical services to provide a medically-ready force to Combatant Commands in times of both peace and war."... Read More


Three friends: (l to r) Ysehak Wondwossen, Harvey Harper, and Brandon Neal. (Credit: Courtesy of 2LT 
Yeshak Wondwossen)

7. How This USU Student's Daughter Inspired His Surgery Invention

Medical student Harvey Harper’s 11-year-old daughter, Niyah, wants to do everything her dad does. When the Army second lieutenant was practicing his surgical suturing skills at home, she wanted to do it, too. That, and the opportunity to spend time with his daughter, was the impetus for his creation of the Harper Innovative Safety Suture Kit.

Harper hatched the idea for the kit during one of his third-year clerkship rotations when he assisted on a thyroidectomy case... Read More


Army 2nd Lt. Cole Crandall assisted in a medical emergency aboard a flight to Hawaii as he headed for his nephrology rotation. (Airplane photo courtesy of the U.S. State Department. Crandall photo credit: Tom Balfour, USU)
Army 2nd Lt. Cole Crandall assisted in a medical emergency aboard a flight to Hawaii as he headed for
his nephrology rotation. (Airplane photo courtesy of the U.S. State Department. Crandall photo credit:
Tom Balfour, USU)

6. Assistance During In-Flight Medical Emergency Becomes Learning Experience for USU Student

Flying over the Pacific Ocean, third-year Uniformed Services University (USU) medical student Army 2nd Lt. Cole Crandall heard some commotion in the back of the plane. He had just completed his internal medical rotation at Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington and was headed for his nephrology rotation at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii. 

“I was just over two and a half to three hours into the flight. I planned on having a nice five-hour nap, but chaos ensued,” Crandall says. “I was sitting in the middle of the plane and couldn’t see what was going on, but I heard some noise and saw people headed toward the back. Then, one of the flight attendants announced that there was a medical emergency, but stressed that we should remain calm because everything was being taken care of.” 

By then, everyone wanted to know what was going on in the back of the plane... Read More


Army Col. (Dr.) Benjamin "Kyle" Potter is the recipient of the Army Hero of Military Medicine Award. (Photo courtesy of Army Col. (Dr.) Kyle Potter, USU)
Army Col. (Dr.) Benjamin "Kyle" Potter is the recipient of the Army Hero of Military Medicine Award.
(Photo courtesy of Army Col. (Dr.) Kyle Potter, USU)

5. USU’s Surgery Chair Dr. Kyle Potter Named ‘Military Medicine Hero’

Army Col. (Dr). Benjamin “Kyle” Potter, Norman M. Rich Chair of the Uniformed Services University’s (USU)
Department of Surgery and internationally recognized leader in combat casualty care, has been awarded the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine’s (HJF) Army Hero of Military Medicine Award. The annual award is bestowed upon medical professionals for their remarkable contributions to military medicine and for enhancing the lives of service members, veterans, their families, and civilians.

Potter, who has dedicated more than 20 years as an Army surgeon, will accept the award May 11 during a ceremony at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC. The HJF awards ceremony will recognize the top researchers, practitioners, ambassadors, and champions of military medicine who demonstrate excellence in medical research and clinical care... Read More


Amidst indirect fire and suppressive tear gas, the team volunteered to stay on. They provided unescorted and seamless coverage for the American forces until the last airplane lifted off. (Photo courtesy of Maj. Harris Kashtan)
Amidst indirect fire and suppressive tear gas, the team volunteered to stay on. They provided unescorted and
seamless coverage for the American forces until the last airplane lifted off. (Photo courtesy of Maj. Harris
Kashtan)

4. The Continuing Impact of USU Alumni on the Battlefield

Three Uniformed Services University (USU) alumni from its F. Edward H├ębert School of Medicine were recently awarded the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious achievement for their actions in support of the evacuation from Afghanistan in August 2021.

The Bronze Star recognizes the leadership, life-saving medical treatment, exemplary efforts and commitment to duty of Air Force Maj. (Dr.) Evan Richards, Maj. (Dr.) Harris Kashtan, and Maj. (Dr.) Samuel Bergin for their roles on an Air Force Special Operations Command Special Operations Surgical Team (SOST) from August 23-31, 2021.
Richards, Kashtan, and Bergin served as part of a six-person SOST team with the 23rd Expeditionary Special Tactics Squadron. The team supported removal of troops from Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan. The evacuation marked the end of the nearly 20-year Global War on Terrorism... Read More


Digital composite image related to medical science. The foreground features a doctor in a lab coat with the emblem of the School of Medicine on it, holding a transparent tablet that displays a hologram of a human figure. The background shows a vibrant blue with graphics of a DNA double helix, pills, molecular structures, and a detailed brain illustration to the left. These elements collectively signify innovation and research in medical technology and neuroscience.
Graphic credit: Sofia Echelmeyer, USU

3. How Our Vision For a Digital Health Strategy Will Transform the Military Health System

Much like the broader health care system in the United States, the Military Health System (MHS) is facing projected increases in costly chronic conditions such as diabetes among the millions of beneficiaries it serves, along with a looming shortage of clinicians and caregivers. For the MHS, these and other challenges not only present cost and care delivery pressures; they also have a significant impact on military readiness and the readiness of the medical force — both vital to deterring our adversaries and protecting our interests and allies around the world.

Organizations across today’s health care landscape are increasingly engaging in digital transformation to improve patient experience and outcomes, minimize clinician burnout, reduce costs, advance health equity, and tackle other longstanding clinical and operational challenges. Companies across a wide spectrum -- from long-established health systems to new market entrants  -- are disrupting health care by digitalizing key processes such as scheduling appointments, ordering tests or medications, and facilitating communications between patients and providers... Read More


Air Force Lt. Col. (Dr.) Jun Mendoza, wife Crystal, and daughter Maddie appeared on the Today Show after being notified of Maddie's selection as the 2023 Gerber Baby. (Photo courtesy of Jun Mendoza)
Air Force Lt. Col. (Dr.) Jun Mendoza, wife Crystal, and daughter Maddie appeared on the Today Show after
being notified of Maddie's selection as the 2023 Gerber Baby. (Photo courtesy of Jun Mendoza)

2. USU Alumnus is parent to newly-announced 2023 Gerber Baby

Nearly everyone in America has seen the smiling face of infant Ann Turner Cook on Gerber baby food jars. Cook was selected as the first “Gerber Baby” and has graced their products over the past 95 years. Since 2011, the company has held a contest to select its latest Gerber Baby and this year 10-month-old Madison “Maddie” Mendoza, the daughter of Uniformed Services University graduate Air Force Lt. Col. (Dr.) Jun Mendoza and his wife, Crystal, was selected for the honor.

Jun Mendoza is a 2011 alumnus of USU’s F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, currently serves as the chief of Allergy and Immunology at the 10th Medical Group, U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, and holds a faculty appointment in USU’s Department of Pediatrics. He said he and his wife were surprised and excited when they got the news of their daughter’s selection... Read More


An illustrative image depicting a close-up view of a vaccine vial and syringe against a backdrop of magnified virus particles. The vial's cap is being pierced by the needle of the syringe, symbolizing the preparation of a vaccine dose. The viruses are rendered in high detail, with spike proteins visible, suggesting a focus on vaccination and immunization efforts in the field of medical science
Lyssaviruses are typically transmitted to humans by a bite or scratch from an infected animal. These viruses
then invade the nervous system of mammals, causing the disease called rabies. (Graphic illustration by
Melissa Martin, USU)

1. USU Researchers Develop Potential Cure for Rabies Infection

Researchers at the Uniformed Services University (USU) have made a significant breakthrough in the fight against the deadly viral infection rabies.

USU’s Drs. Brian Schaefer and Christopher Broder, professors in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, published a study Sept. 28 - World Rabies Day - in EMBO Molecular Medicine, along with scientists in their lab, that demonstrates an effective treatment for combating lyssavirus infection (rabies). The research team’s findings suggest that this single-dose treatment could be easily administered for symptomatic rabies... Read More