Staff Spotlight – LaVonne Kahler

LaVonne is the administrative support and Fellowship Coordinator for the Division Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

I have worked in the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics for the past 19 years. Prior to that I worked in General Pediatrics for 20 years, 8 months and 3 days. I will have a total of 40 years working in Pediatrics in July, 2019 and have worked with many wonderful and interesting people. I always say there is never a dull moment around here!

Doug and I have been married for 18 years. He retired from UIHC on January 3, 2017 where he worked as an electrician for over 38 years. I have 7 step-grandchildren and love spending time with them. The oldest is enrolled at Iowa–pre-med.

In my free time I enjoy doing crafts, writing family history books, and photography. I grew up on a farm in northeast Iowa (by Lawler) and enjoy spending time there with family and friends. I come from a huge extended family and am the middle child of 9 (3 older brothers, 3 younger brothers, 1 older sister and 1 younger sister).

My favorite movies are The Notebook, Dirty Dancing and Forrest Gump.

If I had 3 wishes, they would be 1) to have enough money to pay off all my bills and help my family pay theirs; 2) for researchers to have enough money to find cures for all diseases; and 3) to have money to build a new Center for Disabilities and Development and money to help our patients with their needs.

Staff Spotlight – David Dickens, MD

Dr. Dickens is Clinical Professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology. He is also the University of Iowa Dance Marathon Endowed Chair Clinical Professor, Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Clinical Director, Pediatric Oncology Services Director, and Director of the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Program

In February 2019, i joined a dedicated and talented team of health care providers in the division of pediatric hematology oncology. As the director of oncology services, I hope to complement the skills of existing staff and provide clinical oncology leadership and mentorship to provide the best available medical care with the highest level of quality and safety.

I have been married for 19 years to Laura Dickens; landscape architect, master of family development and engineering. We have four beautiful children, but five total if you count the ugly one. I think they are about ages 17, 15, 14, 12 and 10 years old.

Spend time with the little Dickens, experiencing joy at whatever they are accomplishing. I exercise regularly, but do not like to do it. I enjoy playing almost any sport (including bowling), but am not great at any of them. I like to travel and have dabbled with music (guitar, piano, harmonica and mouth harp) as well as magic, making me a musician, magician, physician.

The most fascinating places I’ve visited or lived are 1) Amsterdam, Netherlands 2) Hot Springs, Arkansas.

My favorite meal is Calamari at Ca’s Patro March in Deia, Majorca, Spain.

Go Yankees!

Favorite book or movie? Books: “A Treatise of Human Nature” – David Hume; Movies: Tie between Schindler’s List and Dumb and Dumber (not the sequel, that was terrible).

My answer if I had three wishes would depend on who is asking. If it is a Genie, they would be 1) I wish to remove all meta-rules against removing limitations 2) I wish to remove all rules against wishing for more genies or more wishes 3) I wish for infinite wishes. If it is God asking I would reply, “You Pick”.

Fun fact: I met my wife on a train in Spain, but it was not raining.

Staff Spotlight – Alpha Sidhu, MBBS, PhD

Dr. Sidhu joined the Division of Medical Genetics and Genomics in October 2017 as Clinical Assistant Professor.

I have a 7 year old son, with whom I enjoy biking, hiking, and traveling. We love to make new puzzles and dance.

My present job is dream job, love the work atmosphere and opportunities to pursue academic interests. People make the job fun.

The most fascinating place I’ve ever lived or visited is Kashmir, India.

I love seafood!

My favorite movie is Life is Beautiful.

Fun fact: I had a huge collection of stamps as a child.

Staff Spotlight – Shruti Tewar, MBBS

Dr. Tewar started in the Department in 2016 as Clinical Assistant Professor in the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

My husband, Arun Modi is a Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant physician here at UIHC. We have two adorable and energetic daughters under the age of 3. Although most of our family lives in India, we are fortunate to have grandparents come visit and spend time with us for extended time!

In my free time I like to spend it with my family, and go on walks now that the weather is getting nicer! Being a mom is a full time hobby right now :).

India is my favorite place. I grew up in India and the diversity in culture, languages, and cuisines just amazes me every time I go back.

While I see children with a wide variety of developmental and behavioral concerns, including ADHD, autism, developmental and learning disabilities, I am also interested in working closely with children with adverse childhood experiences. I do a wide variety of EPIC improvement projects for CDD and I am part of an ongoing scribe pilot project for our department. Since our wait times can be long, if you have a concern that cannot wait or needs a brief curbside opinion, please send me an email or EPIC message and I am happy to help out!

Staff Spotlight – Teresa Schmidt

Teresa currently provides administrative support to the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, and serves as the Fellowship Coordinator for the Division, as well.

I’m also the Interim Coordinator for Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship. I have worked at UIHC for 39 years – I started in Pediatrics from 1980-1986 and then went to Anesthesia until I returned to Pediatrics in April 2016. In Anesthesia I started as the division secretary and Coordinator for the Anesthesia Obstetrics Fellowship program, and then in 1998 was division secretary for Pain Medicine and Regional Anesthesia as well as being Fellowship Coordinator for both.

I am married to my husband John and we live in Marion. I have one son, Joe and one granddaughter, Ella who live in Coralville.

We glamp (camping, but definitely do not roughing it!). We belong to a camping club and was club president for approximately 10 years. I love to read, travel, hike, bike and family history. I also organize my family reunion each year.

My dream job is to be a genealogist – yes I am a history nerd!

The most fascinating place I’ve ever been is Alaska – my husband and I took our honeymoon in Alaska.

My favorite sports team is the Hawekeyes, and my favorite book is Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.

Fun fact: In my 20s I was a flag girl at a sprint car track for several years..

Staff Spotlight – Jason Misurac, MD

Dr. Misurac has been Clinical Assistant Professor in the Division of Nephrology, Dialysis, and Transplantation for 3 years; and Associate Medical Director of the Pediatric Specialty Clinic.

My children are 2 and 4 years of age, and are a constant bundle of energy and joy. My wife helps keep us all in line!

My hobbies including reading fiction, spending time with my kids both indoors and outside, camping, hiking, and biking.

I lived in Zagreb, Croatia for 6 months before starting medical school. I worked for the Croatian Medical Journal and took Croatian language classes.

I’m a long term Philadelphia Eagles fan, and my favorite book is Old Man’s War by John Scalzi.

Staff Spotlight – Vanessa Curtis, MD

Dr. Curtis is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes. She is also the Assistant Director for Medical Student Education and Director of Advanced Pediatric Courses.

My husband, Andy Peterson, is a Sports Medicine Physician at the University of Iowa. We both grew up in rural Wisconsin and met in college at Lawrence University. We have a spoiled dog named Wattson but no children.

I spend most of my time outside of the hospital riding my bike and doing Crossfit.

I grew up on a farm with beef cattle, sheep, goats, Shetland ponies, and lots of dogs and cats, so that was the most fun place I’ve ever lived! This year, I visited Ecuador and learned about plant medicine in the jungle and how to treat a sting ray injury by getting stung by one myself while surfing.

My favorite meal is a pile of local vegetables paired with beef from my family’s farm.

Fun fact: I am learning to ride a motorcycle and recently got my learners permit.

Staff Spotlight – John Heinemann, MHA, MPH

I support seven clinical divisions (Cardiology, Critical Care, DBP, Endocrinology, General Pediatrics, Nephrology, & Rheumatology); the Departmental education programs, and our Pediatric Prior Authorization Team. I have been in the role since May 2017. Prior to joining the Department, I worked in Clinical Operations in various healthcare systems across the U.S. In addition to my current role, I am also an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Health Management & Policy in the UI College of Public Health. I am currently a team instructor for the Medical Practice Administration course offered to second- and third-year Masters in Health Administration students.

My wife and I have been married for almost 2 years. We just welcomed our first child, a baby girl, in January 2019. All of my free time is spent with my daughter! I have plenty of other hobbies (running, cycling, traveling, cooking) but they have taken a back seat at the moment (which I am definitely ok with).

My dream job would be space exploration. I am fascinated by the concept of all things space travel. If we ever open a healthcare facility in space or on the moon, mars, or some distant planet I will definitely put my name in the hat!

The favorite place we’ve ever visited is Iceland. My wife and I spent a week traveling across the country this past fall. It was absolutely stunning. We are outdoor enthusiasts and enjoyed the natural diversity the country has to offer.

My favorite meal is Sushi or poke – both of which are really hard to come by in Iowa City. When we lived in Southern California, we had go to places for both.

My favorite sports teams are the University of South Dakota Coyotes, Iowa Hawkeyes, Dallas Cowboys, and US Men’s and Women’s National Soccer teams.

My top 3 favorite movies (in no particular order) at the moment Top Gun, The Departed, The Dark Knight.

Fun fact: I was the New Year’s baby in my hometown. I was featured on the front page of the local newspaper and came home in a stocking with a wide arrange of random business gift certificates. This all happened on January 7th…

Staff Spotlight – Angelia Shea


Angie is administrative assistant in the Division of Rheumatology, and has been there almost 13 years.

I started in Pediatric Hem/Onc-Rheumatology was under that umbrella and Dr. Ferguson was the only provider in Rheumatology at that time.

I have 3 children ages, 33, 31 and 21. I have 2 granddaughters Ashlynn, age 6 and Ilyzza, age 5. I am the oldest of 3 children; my sister and her family live in Minneapolis; my brother and his family live in Cedar Rapids. My parents also live in Cedar Rapids about 10 blocks from my house.

What is free time? I love to see local live music as well as concerts. I attend my granddaughters activities. Reading is one thing I wish I had more time to do.

My dream job would be a stay-at-home grandma because who wouldn’t love to do that?!

Visiting Washington DC was the most fascinating place I’ve been! We spent 7 days there busy everyday and there is still more that I would love to go back and see.

Favorite book or movie? I love thrillers and mysteries but growing up I loved “The Little Prince” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” which I read to my kids several times and hope to read to my granddaughters.

Fun fact: At age 3, I was the youngest patient to have open heart surgery at the University of Iowa Hospital.

Staff Spotlight – Christina Cifra, MD, MS

Dr. Cifra is Clinical Assistant Professor, and has been in the Division of Critical Care since 2014.

My husband, Erik, is a sociologist and teaches at the university. He is also my collaborator on research studies involving large databases and requiring coding skills to crunch numbers. We have two children, Hank, 3 years and Tilly, 9 months old. Oh, and we have two cats – Izzy and Hannah.

In my free time I spend time with my kids. It’s very hard to have hobbies now since my children are young and I am early in my career. I do still get a lot of leisure reading done though not as much as before (I used to read around 3 books a month just for fun). I catch up with family and friends, near and far. And there’s always stuff that needs to be done around the house… very domestic stuff.

This is corny, but I am thankful everyday that I am a pediatric intensivist. My mother was also a pediatric intensivist who pioneered pediatric critical care in the Philippines, and following in her footsteps have been such an honor. I do think I have the best job ever. For funsies though, I would certainly love to be the NY Times 52 Places Traveler – that would be amazing.

In terms of most fascinating place I’ve been, Baltimore is an education. Fascinating in that it taught me a lot about American cities coming as a new immigrant. Iowa is also a special place and I am learning a lot, this time about rural America.

My favorite meal is bacon with sunny-side up eggs and garlic fried rice for breakfast. This is a Filipino treat! Hands down, best meal ever. My husband and I eat this at night too when we’re too lazy to cook. Favorite restaurants: Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore, Clinton St. Social Club here in town.

It’s so hard to pick a favorite book or movie! How about I just tell you about the last 3 books I read? FYI I almost always read non-fiction. 1. Fashion Climbing by Bill Cunningham – awesome autobiography of a beloved NYC institution 2. Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport – I’ve been on a productivity kick lately 3. Thanks, Obama by David Litt – funny and poignant memoir by one of Obama’s speechwriters.

Fun fact: I used to volunteer at an anarchist bookshop/coffeehouse in Baltimore (Red Emma’s, named after Emma Goldman). It was a great way to meet all sorts of different people. I met my husband through friends I met at the bookshop. I had a grand old time in that place!