Each year one faculty member from each division in the Department of Medicine is recognized as a Divisional Rockstar for their contributions to the department. Congratulations to our FY 2019 Divisional Rockstars!


Assistant Professor, Cardiology

Elliott Groves, MD, serves as medical director of the Structural Heart Disease (SHD) program at UIC. He started our SHD program in March 2018 and has performed nearly 200 structural procedures including transcatheter aortic and mitral valve replacements, therapies for mitral regurgitation, ASD/PFO closure and left atrial appendage occlusion. He has helped to move UIC into the current era of percutaneous approaches for the most common structural heart conditions. In addition to his structural practice, Dr. Groves is a very active coronary and peripheral interventionalist at UIC and JBVA. He performs some of the most complex PCI procedures at UIC and is one of the highest volume operators for chronically occluded coronary arteries in the region. His efforts have not gone unnoticed as witnessed by multiple invitations to speak at national cardiology meetings. He is a passionate educator and works to improve the quality of interventional procedures at UIC and JBVA.


Associate Professor, Pulmonary, Critical Care, Sleep and Allergy

Min Joo, MD, has been named a Castle Connelly Top Doctor each of the past 5 years. Dr. Joo is director of the UI Health Pulmonary Function Laboratory and director of the Tobacco Treatment Center. Her research focuses on improving the quality and effectiveness of healthcare delivery in COPD and asthma and is supported by her AHRQ-funded R01 entitled “Reducing Diagnostic Error to Improve Patient Safety in COPD and Asthma”. Dr. Joo is a member of the Clinical Competency Committee for both the Internal Medicine residency and the Pulmonary and Critical Care fellowship programs. Dr. Joo serves on the DOM Diversity Inclusion Task Force and is a member of the UIC Senate and Senate Executive Committee. Externally, Dr. Joo serves on two panels for the National Committee for Quality Assurance. She is a member of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee for the COPD Foundation and a member of the Informing Health Care Decisions with Observational Research Working Group for the American Thoracic Society. Locally, she has served as an expert panelist at the Lung Health Expo sponsored by the Respiratory Health Association. Dr. Joo is a highly valued and essential member of our faculty.


Associate Professor, Gastroenterology/Hepatology

Sean Koppe, MD, is the director of Hepatology, associate section chief and medical director of the Liver Transplant Service at UI Health. He provides compassionate and comprehensive care for patients with advanced liver disease and facilitates the evaluation for liver transplant. Since joining UIC in 2014, he has spearheaded efforts at faculty recruitment to build a world-class team. In addition to his busy clinics at UI Health and the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, his efforts to establish and maintain outreach clinics throughout Illinois have led to a thriving liver transplant program, with over 50 liver transplants performed in 2019. Dr. Koppe is a nationally known expert on liver diseases, and has worked with UIC housestaff in publishing manuscripts on cirrhosis and viral hepatitis. His calm and gentle demeanor are respected by patients and colleagues alike. Dr. Koppe’s efforts in clinical care and education were recognized when he was awarded this year’s UI Health Physician of the Year.


Assistant Professor, Infectious Diseases

Alfredo Mena Lora, MD, is the medical director of Infection Control and Antimicrobial Stewardship at Saint Anthony Hospital (SAH). Dr. Mena Lora works with Dr. Bleasdale on CDC-funded studies focusing on surgical site infections and C difficile stewardship of testing. Implementation of an Antimicrobial Stewardship program at SAH led to multiple presentations at the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and the Infectious Diseases Society of America conferences, and an implementation award by the Illinois Hospital Association. Dr. Mena Lora also works on defining antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial use in his native Dominican Republic, where he has reported on multidrug resistant organisms in the community and in various local hospitals. Dr. Mena Lora enjoys teaching at all levels. He is an assistant medicine clerkship director for M3s, leads the medicine interest group for M1-M2s and is an assistant program director for the internal medicine residency program and infectious diseases training program.


Assistant Professor, Academic Internal Medicine

Sarah Messmer, MD, joined the DOM in July 2018. Her clinical interest includes immigrant and refugee health, LGBTQ and gender-affirming care, global health, and opioid use disorder. As PI and co-director of a federally-funded grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Dr. Messmer is committed to advancing education on opioid use disorders for medical students, residents and faculty. Dr. Messmer is co-investigator on Project STAMINA (Syringe Service Treatment Access for Medication-Assisted Intervention through NAvigation), awarded by the Arnold Foundation, which will assess implementation and test the effectiveness of a model for linking people who use opioids to evidence-based medication assisted treatment through a syringe service program. Dr. Messmer has key roles on other UIC collaborations including: Milesquare “Breaking Down Silos” , the Center for Global Health, and Medication Assisted Treatment OB Training and Technical Assistance 2019. Dr. Messmer’s accomplishments over her first year as faculty are nothing short of impressive!


Associate Professor, Hematology/Oncology

Pritesh Patel, MD is the associate director of the Blood & Marrow Transplant (BMT) program in the Division of Hematology and Oncology. His research focus has been primarily in BMT and in a cancer, multiple myeloma, that is two-time more prevalent in African American patients. Dr. Patel is incredibly loved by his patients for his compassionate and very knowledgeable care. He is the leader of a unique myeloma program at UIC that combines a multidisciplinary clinical approach to innovative research studying immunologic biomarkers predicting outcomes after BMT, developing targeted therapies in BMT for myeloma, such as the use of Total Marrow Irradiation, or PK-based dosing of melphalan, to increase efficacy of BMT; as well as testing new therapeutic strategies impairing DNA repair mechanism in myeloma cells in preclinical experimental models. Dr. Patel’s energy, competence and humanity make him certainly a great colleague and a “rockstar”.


Associate Professor, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

Dr. Sirimon Reutrakul is an internationally recognized diabetes researcher and educator. Dr. Reutrakul has obtained a NIH R01 as a co-investigator, two pilot and feasibility grants (NIDDK) as principal investigator, and one pilot and feasibility grant (NIDDK) as a co-investigator. Dr. Reutrakul produced over 20 publications, including peer-reviewed senior author papers and articles. Her work focuses on sleep and circadian related to metabolism, and her work consistently appears in top ranked sleep journals. She has also helped develop the sleep course, Sleep and Glucose Metabolism, at the College of Nursing. For over 10 years, Dr. Reutrakul has contributed to diabetes care and education in Thailand. She is president of Academic Affairs and the chair of the Certified Diabetes Educator Examination Committee for the Thai Association of Diabetes Educators. Dr. Reutrakul has a tireless work ethic, with a focus on our collective mission. She is a leader in diabetes research at our institution.


Assistant Professor, Nephrology

Dr. Stephanie Toth-Manikowski joined the DOM in July 2018. Her research focus is on reducing health disparities in chronic kidney disease. She was awarded an NIH Diversity Supplement to evaluate the impact of health care access in chronic kidney disease and was selected as a UIC KL2 Clinical and Translational Science Affiliate Scholar. Additionally, she received the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois Young Investigator Award to conduct a pilot study evaluating the impact of an intervention to improve sleep quality in individuals with chronic kidney disease. Dr. Toth-Manikowski was selected as a semi-finalist for the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development program, a competitive award funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Clinically, she is working with maternal fetal medicine providers to streamline interdisciplinary care for patients. She has taken on a role as a home therapies dialysis provider and along with Drs. Claudia Lora and Julia Brown is implementing an urgent start peritoneal dialysis program for patients admitted to the University of Illinois Hospital. We are delighted to have Dr. Toth-Manikowski on our team and look forward to watching her promising career evolve in the coming years.


Assistant Professor, Rheumatology

Dawen Zhang, MD, joined our faculty August 2019. He is passionate about providing outstanding clinical care for patients. He is an excellent teacher and mentor to the fellows, residents, and students. He is developing a structured program of musculoskeletal ultrasounds in the diagnosis and the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, crystal induced arthritis, and osteoarthritis. Our fellows and faculty seek out his input and advice as a valued resource and a role model. He is well received by the staff, faculty, fellows, and trainees for his incredible devotion towards teaching.


FY18 Divisional Rockstars – Amer Ardati, MD, MSC; Alana Biggers, MD, MPH; Jose Cordoba-Chacon, PhD; Dustin Fraidenburg, MD; Irum Khan, MD; Stockton Mayer, DO; Anjali Mehta, MD; Ana Ricardo, MD, MPH, MS; Cemal Yazici, MD