Staff Spotlight – Cheri Stevens

Cheri is an Admin Services Coordinator in the Division of Hematology/Oncology.

I provide administrative support to the division director, Dr. Yatin Vyas. I also support the Hematology clinical director, Dr. Anjali Sharathkumar and the Oncology clinical director, Dr. David Dickens. I am the coordinator for the Frontiers in Pediatric Research lecture series. I started at the university in 2015. I worked in the PAC scheduling for neurology and then worked in the Department of Anesthesia providing administrative support.

My husband is Mike and we live in North Liberty. We have two sons, Logan and Max. Logan will graduate in December from the University of Iowa with a degree in Finance. Max will start at the University of Iowa this fall and will major in business.

I like spending time with my family and friends. I enjoy being near water, taking walks and bike riding.

The best vacation I’ve had was to Turks and Caicos. I’ve never seen water that clear before.

My favorite cuisine is Mexican or Chicago style pizza from Wig and Pen; and ideally if I’m watching the Hawkeyes or Chicago Cubs.

No real favorite book or move, but I love anything suspenseful.

Staff Spotlight – Steve Rumelhart, PA-C

Steve is a Physician Assistant in the Division of Hematology-Oncology/BMT.

I started in Peds Hem-Onc/BMT in Feb. 1987. I am involved with managing inpatient BMT and seeing outpatient BMT and leukemia/lymphoma.

I grew up in Waukee, IA, and attended undergrad and PA school at UIowa. I worked in ED at St. Paul-Ramsey Med Center in St. Paul for the first year following PA school. I have been in current position ever since.

I’ve been married for 23 years to my wife, Susan, who is a nurse practitioner in the Cedar Rapids Public Schools.  We actually met in Peds Hem-Onc. My daughter, Helen, is starting her senior year at Iowa State. We have one dog, Ruthie.

My free time is spent doing yard work, running and playing golf.  I completed the Crandic half marathon the past 2 years.  I hope to do a marathon some day.

I feel like I am in my “dream job” in that I can try to make a difference for children with life-threatening illness. It is a privilege being involved in their care.

The most interesting place I have visited was Florence, Italy, this past spring. The food and history were great.

Besides closely following the Hawkeyes, my favorite sports teams are the Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Twins, followed by the Chicago Cubs (by osmosis having lived in eastern Iowa for most of past 40 years).

Favorite movie recently is “The Green Book”.

My favorite meal is anything with the brussel sprouts appetitzer, and my favortie restaurant is Big Grove in Solon.

Staff Spotlight – Ben Reinking, MD

Dr. Reinking is Clinical Professor in the Division of Cardiology.

I graduated from the University of Iowa College medicine in 2000. I completed pediatrics residency at the University of Arizona, and returned to the University of Iowa in 2003 for pediatric cardiology fellowship. I’ve been on faculty for 13 years.

My partner, Lynn, is a family practitioner in the Quad Cities. I’m thankful he doesn’t mind the commute, as we both love living in Iowa City. Lynn has two children, Jenna and Griffin, who are in medical school. We spend a lot of time spoiling our dogs, Stanzi, Moe, and Daisy. I enjoy seeing my parents, six siblings and 16 nieces and nephews regularly.

I enjoy spending time with family, exercise, grilling, traveling to the beach, hiking, walking the dogs, and watching the neighborhood wildlife. Gardening has become an unexpected passion. Iowa is the most plowed state in the country. Creating a pollinator and wildlife friendly backyard is an ongoing challenge!

Favorite meal? I have an unhealthy relationship with pizza.

Favorite sports teams? Go Hawks! College football season and March madness are two of the greatest times of the year.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is a little book with a big message. Right now I am reading The Overstory: A Novel. I will be very happy when Patrick Rothfuss finishes the Kingkiller Chronicles soon. I like any movie that involves a superhero saving the universe.

My great grandfather graduated from the University of Iowa College of Dentistry in 1917; I am the 4th generation in my family to receive a degree from the University of Iowa.

Staff Spotlight – Dr. Patrick McNamara

Dr. McNamara is Professor of Pediatrics, and Division Director of the Division of Neonatology.

I was appointed the Division Director of Neonatology in June 2018 and have established the Hemodynamic Program with the assistance of Dr Regan Giesinger.

I have a wife, Christine, and 4 children [Karl, Gareth, Cian and Saffron]. My oldest son Karl will be attending medical school at NUI, Galway (Ireland) and my youngest son will be playing NCAA1 soccer this fall at Western Illinois University.

My passion is “football” (the round ball). I have coached high level soccer for over 10 years and my 1999 boys team were ranked 2 in Canada. I took them on international travel to play professional academies in Brazil and Uruguay. I would love to coach professional football – in particular Liverpool soccer club.

The most fascinating place in the world is my home country of Ireland – the people, the history, the culture and the landscape are breathtaking.

My favorite sports teams are Liverpool FC…..and the Toronto Raptors basketball team.

If I had 3 wishes, they would be to attend the world cup final, watch my son play professional soccer, and for the Iowa Neonatology program to be number 1 in the world.

Staff Spotlight – Dr. Amy Stier

Dr. Stier is Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Program Director of the Pediatrics Residency Program, and the Chief Wellness Officer for the Department.

I came to Iowa City for medical school and haven’t left! I did pediatrics residency and a chief resident year before starting as faculty, and have done newborn nursery and hospitalist work as well as outpatient clinic over the years. I started out my first year as faculty as an associate residency program director, and after 5 years took over as the PD. I’ve also served as the associate CMIO during the Epic roll out, and built a few Epic tools for peds that we still use. Recently I became the departmental Chief Wellness Officer as well.

My husband Matt followed me to Iowa from Minnesota after college and a year of volunteering, and has been a science teacher in the area for 10 years. He went back to graduate school and will finish his PhD in Educational Leadership next spring. We have two daughters that will both be at NW Junior High in the fall, Nora in 8th grade and Marie in 7th. We also have a fish named Basil. Our entire extended family lives in Minnesota, where we visit often.

Family has taken up most of my free time over the last few years. I love to read, and will go through a book or two a week if given the chance. I become a news junkie during election season, and read the NY Times each morning over coffee. Being outside makes me calm and happy, so anything I can do near grass, trees, and water is good.

I am truly doing my dream job right now. The chance to practice medicine, work with kids and empower families, and help trainees and colleagues get to where they want to be, is exactly what I should be doing with my career. I like jobs that give me a chance to solve problems, and I think I’ve found my share of them over the years here! It’s also tremendously rewarding to see people grow and learn and become better here, and I’ve been around the program long enough to know people all over the country that have called Iowa home.

Most fascinating place I’ve ever visited or lived? I spent a semester in London, England, when I was in college. I went over with all of the theater majors (no other serious bio majors!), and lived right off of Hyde Park. We arrived on the day before Princess Diana’s funeral, so it was a busy time to be there. I went to shows and museums for class, and had tea with my physiology professor. I also had the chance to travel all over Europe before coming back. I intend to go back again in the next few years.

Favorite book or movie? I mostly read nonfiction, and have several genres that I pick from. My favorites over the last few years have been by Doris Kearns Goodwin – especially “Team of Rivals”. Recently I decided to go through the PBS “Great American Read” series and loved Gilead. I also tend to re-read those that speak to me or teach me something, and love to share or get recommendations for books to try out. So many good ones!

Staff Spotlight – Cassie Wagner, ARNP

Cassie is a weekend option nurse practitioner in the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit.

I’ve been a weekend option Nurse Practitioner in the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit since June 2018, former PICU staff RN (April 2005-October 2014) and Neonatal/Pediatric Transport RN (April 2007-March 2013).

I have a husband, Matthew, and two sons, Kellen (age 7) and Cody (age 2).

I’m a busy mom of 2 busy boys, but if I had hobbies my dream would be to sleep, then binge Netflix!

My dream job would be any job where I can help children to achieve their fullest possible health, and support parents to care for them.

My favorite restaurant is Northwestern Steakhouse in my home town of Mason City, Iowa-delicious!

I love the Hawkeyes (of course!), and if I had 3 wishes they would be for my family’s health, happiness, and like a bazillion dollars.

Staff Spotlight – J. Muse Davis, MD, PhD

Dr. Davis is Assistant Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases.

I work in the Pediatric Infectious Disease division. I have been here since July of 2018.

I have my dream job. I spend the majority of my time in the lab, studying infection and inflammation using zebrafish. I also see patients as an ID consultant. Clinical work can be hard but it is also very energizing and inspirational for research.

Most fascinating place I’ve ever visited? Ape Cave is a lava tube near Mt. St. Helens. It has very interesting rock formations. No apes though.

My favorite book or movie is constantly changing. Right now Godard’s “A Band a Part” is my favorite movie, after a recent obsession with “Topsy Turvy”. Favorite books have included Moby Dick and Vineland, among others.

Fun fact: Once there was an action figure made of me. Just one.

Staff Spotlight – Dr. Andrew Norris, MD, PhD

Dr. Norris is Professor of Pediatrics and Biochemistry, and is currently the Interim Division Director for the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes.

I am proud to be in the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes. I was a Pediatric Resident here 1997-2000, then did endocrine fellowship in Boston, and then returned as faculty in 2005.

My wife, Cecilia, is a family physician and is the medical director of the Iowa City Free Medical clinic. We have three children and three dogs. Our oldest two children have left the nest and live in Utah and Iowa City, but visit home to see the dogs. Our youngest child seems to be endeavoring to keep the Sports Medicine clinic busy via various high school soccer injuries.

I love conducting biomedical research; this is the largest consumer of my free time. My hobbies are fly fishing, biking, guitar, backpacking, and an annual trip to Colorado to climb “14ers”.

Starting in early elementary school, I began dreaming of being both a scientist and a doctor. I feel so grateful to have had this dream realized. What I have learned though, is that it is more important to have wonderful colleagues. In this regard, I feel so blessed to be surrounded by so many outstanding peers, mentors, trainees, co-workers, and staff (and patients). This is what makes it delightful to come to work each day.

The past two years I have accompanied my wife and children on medical mission trips to the Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala. Several other Peds Department members have also gone. The area is beautiful and its largely Mayan population wonderful to work with.

“Sod and Stubble” is one of my favorite books. It chronicles in exquisitely personal detail the trials and tribulations of a family attempting to homestead in central 19th century Kansas.

Staff Spotlight – Myrl Holida, PA

Myrl is a Physician Assistant in the Division of Medical Genetics and Genomics.

I work in Medical Genetics and Genomics in the Stead Family Department of Pediatrics. I began at UIHC as a Cardiovascular Research Assistant in 1981 and left in 1985 to attend training at The Military Physician Assistant Course. I returned in January 1988 and cared for patients in Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant/Hematology Oncology. I became more involved in clinical research in the late 1990s and was a principal investigator on multiple clinical trials for patients primarily with enzyme deficiencies (Lysosomal Storage Disorders-LSDs). A worldwide enzyme shortage prompted the FDA to request researchers to make available alternative therapies and I was tasked with filling the treatment void through the clinical trial process until production was again adequate. Heightened awareness of UIHC as a Lysosomal Storage Disorder Center and a growing patient population prompted my transition to Genetics in 2014. I was then able to focus clinical care and provide increased research opportunities. Since 2003, five LSD medications in which UIHC participated in multi-institutional clinical trials were FDA approved; two were the first oral medications ever available. The Medical Genetics and Genomics Division in SFCH currently has 5 ongoing clinical trials and will soon be opening gene replacement trials. Additionally the division also has multiple rare disease monitoring registries.

I enjoy traveling with my wife Denise, who also works at SFCH as a neonatal nurse practitioner. We have traveled on 6 continents and more than 25 countries. We have two grown children and are new grandparents!

I think my current position has many components of my “dream job”. I enjoy coming to work and the people I work with are great people. I feel valued by my coworkers and my patients, and I have good relationships with them. I have a passion for helping these patients with rare diseases. I have three generations of patients with these inherited disorders and know many of them well. My time at UIHC and in genetics has been satisfying and the program continues to grow with addition of collaborating and supervising physicians and research personnel to administer research trials.

We love Hawkeye football and are 40 year season ticketholders. Denise and I are trying to go to all the BIG Ten stadiums and only have a few remaining.

Fun fact: Denise and I share the same start day at UIHC.

Staff Spotlight – Melanie Wellington, MD, PhD

Dr. Wellington is Clinical Associate Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases.

Part of my time is spent seeing patients on the Peds ID consult service. The other “jobs” I have are: Associate Hospital Epidemiologist – I am the Children’s Hospital representative for the epidemiology program. This program focuses mostly on infection prevention. Physician Scientist – I am part of a research group that is working to develop better anti-fungal drugs and studies how the body defends itself against fungal infections.

Being a scientist is pretty cool. I’m not sure I have a “dream job” per se. Actually – if I could have a true dream job, I’d be a magician with a magic wand that could immediately eradicate disease and war… and climate change….. etc. But only if I could be anonymous. I’m not into fame.

My husband Mike and I met while whitewater kayaking. He is a restoration carpenter sometimes and our “domestic superhero” all of the time. My daughter Jess just turned 10. She loves to learn and is looking forward to being in 5th grade next year. Fun fact: She is a gymnast and is proud to be a 2019 Iowa State Uneven Bars Champion (for her age group).

I love trying new things, the outdoors and gardens (but not weeds). I also weave and I have a fun time every fall hand-making Jessica’s Halloween costume. A few years ago, she dressed as a construction crane. Really. I can send the picture….. she could raise and lower her candy pumpkin.

My father and I went to Antarctica and South Georgia for a vacation once. I also lived in Gallup, New Mexico for a year when I was a physician working for the Navajo Indian Health Service.

I don’t have a single favorite [meal or restaurant]. Interestingly, though, I love a lot of vegetables that start with A: Artichokes, Avocados, Asparagus…. but not Arugula (yuk).

Favorite book/movie combo is A Princess Bride.

My 3 wishes would be for: 1. World Peace 2. Gender and Race equity 3. An unlimited travel budget – Thailand, Peru, and Disney World would be high on the list.

Fun fact: I have a terrible fondness for puns. I think it may be genetic as my grandfather and father had it too. My three-generation heirloom joke: What would the country be if every automobile were pink? A pink carnation. 🙂

Favorite quote: “Though she be but little, she is fierce” Shakespeare.