The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine announced the appointments of two new assistant deans.
Leslie LaConte is now assistant dean for research. Michael Nolan now is serving as assistant dean for basic science education.
“Leslie and Mike will be a voice for basic science and research — two of our four curricular value domains — within the school’s leadership structure and will be key in strategic planning to help advance the school,” said Cynda Johnson, dean of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. “Both have a wealth of expertise in their fields and recognition for their teaching, which will serve the school’s senior leadership team well. I am happy to work more closely with each of them as we develop the next generation of physician thought leaders.”
Prior to his role as assistant dean, Nolan served the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine as professor and vice chair of the Department of Biomedical Science. Nolan joined the school in 2009, a year ahead of when the charter class started in 2010.
“Mike has been instrumental in the development and delivery of the basic science curriculum since our doors opened,” said Richard Vari, senior dean for academic affairs. “In this role, he will assist the senior leadership team in strategic planning, while also coordinating the curriculum delivery with each of the basic science block directors and looking for ways to purposefully continue the teaching of basic science in years three and four of the curriculum.”
In 2014, Nolan received the Master Teacher Award from the International Association of Medical Science Educators.
Before joining the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Nolan was on the faculty at the University of South Florida for 34 years, rising from the rank of instructor to professor. While there, he developed and taught a formal clinical neuroanatomy course for the school’s residency programs in neurology and neurosurgery.
Nolan’s background gives him a balance between research, teaching, and clinical experience. With a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from Marquette University, Nolan spent two years as a physical therapist in the U.S. Army. He earned his doctorate in neuroanatomy from the Medical College of Wisconsin.
LaConte previously served at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine as director of research education. LaConte helps oversee the four-year research domain curriculum. The domain requires every student to conduct hypothesis-driven research throughout their four years of study, ending with a project of publishable quality.
In 2015-16, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine students gave 89 presentations at regional and national research conferences and published 24 peer-reviewed articles related to their VTCSOM projects.
“Dr. LaConte is a strong voice for the medical students’ research activities and a dedicated contributor to the students’ research activities in the school,” said Michael Friedlander, senior dean for research at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, and vice president for health sciences and technology at Virginia Tech. “This promotion is not only well deserved in recognition of Dr. LaConte’s outstanding contributions but also will strengthen the visibility and contributions of the office that coordinates and oversees student research projects at the medical school.”
LaConte, who also teaches cell biology in the first-year medical curriculum, was recently recognized for her teaching efforts with a 2016 VTCSOM Faculty Teaching Award.
She is also actively involved in her own research, working in the laboratory of VTCRI faculty research team leader Konark Mukherjee to elucidate the function of a protein called CASK, which is associated with a condition known as microcephaly with pontine and cerebellar hypoplasia (MICPCH).
LaConte earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Denver, a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Minnesota, and did postdoctoral work at the Georgia Institute of Technology.