‘Unmatched’ mentor, exemplary educators celebrated (2024)

Published on Monday, May 6, 2024

By: Gary Pettus, gpettus@umc.edu

Photos By: Joe Ellis/ UMMC Communications

If you’re trying to decide whether to read “War and Peace” or Dr. Joey Granger’s curriculum vitae, you should know that the CV is slightly shorter.

Also: It has only one character – but you’ll like him.

Most of all, perhaps, the summary of his decades-long career is still being written: Another telling detail was added last Thursday when the former dean of the School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences was named the 2024 winner of one of the highest faculty honors at the University of Mississippi Medical Center: the Regions TEACH Prize .

‘Unmatched’ mentor, exemplary educators celebrated (1)

Presented since 2013, the Toward Educational Advancement in Care and Health honor goes to the “single educator who represents the very pinnacle of Medical Center teaching,” said Dr. Rob Rockhold, professor emeritus of pharmacology and toxicology, who announced this year’s winner of the $10,000 prize from Regions Bank.

Of this year’s award, Rockhold said: “It is a fitting honor for Dr. Granger’s diligence and dedication to the school, the Medical Center and the citizens of this state.”

Following the awards ceremony, Granger said he was surprised when he was called to come up and shake hands with the giant facsimile check: “I had a lot of competition,” he said.

That he did. Granger, now a professor of physiology and biophysics, was one of 21 faculty members who joined the Nelson Order, as befits the institution’s best teachers.

Two of the inductees are Dr. Elizabeth Lutz, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UMMC, and Dr. Katherine Artman, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice, from the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy. As Nelson Order members, they are distinguished by their accomplishments and the fact that they are sisters.

Another Nelson Order inductee has been nominated 10 times: Dr. Stephen Stray, professor of cell and molecular biology, who was chosen this year by the School of Medicine. He was also the 2021 TEACH Prize recipient, nominated then by SGSHS.

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Stray thanked Regions Bank, represented at the ceremony by Philip Blaylock and Walt Stephens, for the institution’s “generous sponsorship” of the award.

Recognized each year in conjunction with the TEACH Prize announcement, a new crop of honorees from the campus schools is inducted into the Nelson Order; it borrowed its name, as did the Student Union where the ceremony was held, from the gifted educator and former leader of the Medical Center: the late Dr. Norman C. Nelson.

His successor, Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, and Dr. Scott Rodgers, associate vice chancellor for health affairs, presented the inductees who were selected by students and recommended by each school’s dean.

In Granger’s case, that would be Dr. Sydney Murphy, who succeeded Granger as dean of the SGSHS, a position he held for 17 years, or about half as long as his Medical Center career.

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“No one touches him,” Murphy said. “The legacy he is leaving is unmatched. He’s created so many leaders across this institution – and the world.”

The former associate vice chancellor for research and Billy S. Guyton Distinguished Professor, Granger was also director of three programs: the Cardiovascular-Renal Research Center, Center for Clinical and Translational Research, and Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease Training Program.

His contributions as a researcher have been astronomical: More than $50 million in extramural funding came the Medical Center’s way because of Granger, who also published hundreds of manuscripts cited tens of thousands of times.

But perhaps what the Erath, Louisiana, native is most admired for, even beyond his triumphs in Cajun cookery, is his reputation as a teacher and mentor.

“Of all my accomplishments, that’s the one that has brought me the most pleasure,” he said. “It is the joy of seeing my trainees not only have successful careers, but also become deans, chairs of departments and chiefs of medical divisions.”

Granger, of course, had his own mentors, including Dr. John Hall, Arthur C. Guyton Professor and Chair in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at UMMC; and the late, world-famous physiologist for whom the chair is named.

From Hall, he learned a “logical, structured and organized” method of lecturing that provided “clear objectives” and “timely feedback,” Granger said.

As for Guyton: “We all were in awe of his presence, and we would listen as he told ‘stories’ of how he thought the body worked,” he said. “He always provided the ‘big picture’ of how circulatory and other physiological systems functioned to maintain body homeostasis.

“I used Dr. Guyton’s ‘big picture’ and ‘story’ approach in all of my classes.”

One of Granger’s own trainees was last year’s TEACH Prize winner: Dr. Barbara Alexander, Billy S. Guyton Distinguished Professor, Department of Physiology.

In a letter of support for his TEACH prize nomination, she wrote: “My approach to mentoring is the “Granger method”; persevere, be patient, respect others and enjoy! Science is fun.

“Thus, Joey’s gift as a mentor provided me with the skills to have a career doing what I love!”

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2024Regions Nelson Order Inductees
*Denotes TEACH Prize finalist

School of Dentistry
*Dr. Darrell “Mitch" M. Hutto, associate professor of care planning and restorative sciences
Barbara Brent, assistant professor and clinic director, dental hygiene
Dr. Yuanyuan Duan, associate professor and director of admissions, biomedical materials science
Dr. Charly Edwards, assistant professor and chair of endodontics

School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences
*Dr. Joey Granger, professor physiology and biophysics

School of Health Related Professions
*Dr. Ottis “Lee” Brown, associate professor and program director, Radiologic Sciences Traditional Program
Dr. Peter W. Giroux, professor of occupational therapy
Dr. Ryan H. McGlawn, professor of physical therapy
Tawanda M. McNair, assistant professor of health systems administration

School of Medicine
*Dr. Nathan Tullos, associate professor of advanced biomedical education
Dr. Wade Christopher, assistant professor of surgery-transplant
Dr. Jonah Gunalda, associate professor of emergency medicine
Dr. Elizabeth Lutz, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology
Dr. Susie Phillips, associate professor of pediatrics
Dr. Stephen Stray, professor of cell and molecular biology

School of Nursing
*Dr. Angela Duck, associate professor of nursing
Dr. Jorri Davis, assistant professor of nursing
Dr. Tiffany Griffin, assistant professor of nursing
Presly Lowry, instructor of nursing

University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy
*Dr. Katherine Artman, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice

John D. Bower School of Population Health
*Dr. Vinayak Nahar, associate professor and director of clinical research, Department of Dermatology

‘Unmatched’ mentor, exemplary educators celebrated (2024)


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