Distinguished Alumnus Award
Dennis L. Ross, M.D. (Class of 1973)
Dennis L. Ross is a native of Aurora, Neb. He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska Lincoln and the UNMC College of Medicine, earning his doctorate of medicine in 1973. He completed his internship and residency at the Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, Kan. and a fellowship in Nephrology at the Jewish Hospital of St. Louis. Dr. Ross is widely recognized in his community and beyond as “brilliant, innovative, generous, and interesting.”
Dr. Ross is president of the Kansas Nephrology Physicians in Wichita, a practice specializing in kidney disease, hypertension, osteoporosis, and metabolic bone disease. In addition to his practice, he is an active researcher with the Kansas Nephrology Research Institute, LLC, of which he is also the president. His research focuses on new treatments for kidney patients and conducting clinical trials. In addition to his clinic and research endeavors, he also serves as a clinical professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine.
Dr. Ross started a physician-owned dialysis company in Wichita in the mid-1980s. In 1996 his group merged their dialysis facilities with four other dialysis companies nationwide to form Renal Care Group, a publicly traded company. By the time the company was sold in 2006, it was caring for more than 32,000 patients.
In 2005, Dr. Ross started a nighttime dialysis program, allowing patients to sleep at a clinic while being treated. This was the first treatment of its kind in Wichita. The move was praised as “brilliant and innovative.” It enabled patients to feel better after their treatment, and enabled them to free up their days. During his career, he has established multiple dialysis centers in western Kansas and facilitated joint ventures with physicians for dialysis centers in Nebraska. The development of these remote centers enabled patients to have access to care closer to home. His work led to authorship and publication of a book chapter in “Dialysis in the Elderly” titled The Pros and Cons of Home vs. In-Center Dialysis in the Elderly.
In 2014, Dr. Ross and his wife Ann, who is a 1971 graduate of the UNMC College of Nursing, made a generous gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation that established the first endowed chair in the UNMC Division of Nephrology – the Dr. Dennis Ross Chair of Nephrology. The funding supports growth in the division’s research and clinical programs, physician recruitment and scholarly activities. This particular gift continued longstanding support to UNMC by Dr. Ross and his wife. The chair is held by Dr. Troy Plumb, a 1997 graduate of the College of Medicine. His support of UNMC’s nephrology division extends beyond his philanthropic commitment. Dr. Ross’ extensive experience in forming dialysis units and clinical trials has benefited the UNMC Division of Nephrology and has fostered research and clinical trial opportunities. Their generous philanthropy towards UNMC also includes scholarships and other campus projects.
In his spare time, Dr. Ross is a member of the National Advisory Board of Wichita State University, the Wichita Grand Opera Board, the Ulrich Museum Board, and ACO board of Via Christi Hospital. In addition, he enjoys playing the saxophone, singing and is interested in science, history and travel. He has also finished writing a novel, a medical thriller, about patients and their experience with renal failure. Title Perfect Match, if published, he plans to donate the proceeds to the National Kidney Foundation.
Dedication to Student Excellence Award
Joseph C. Anderson, M.D. (Class of 1968)
Joseph Anderson is a native of Stromsburg, Neb. He earned his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from the University of Nebraska Lincoln and his doctorate of medicine from UNMC in 1968. Dr. Anderson completed his internship at Wayne County General Hospital in Eloise, Mich., and his residency at UNMC in radiology.
Dr. Anderson began teaching early in his medical career. After serving as Chief Resident, he began as a graduate faculty member and has served in roles as assistant professor, associate professor and professor in the Department of Radiology. He has also served as the department’s vice chair since 2000; mentoring countless faculty members and students. He served as the medical director for UNMC’s diagnostic medical sonography program since its inception in 1998. Over the course of his career he has been actively involved in educating generations of medical students, graduate students and students in the allied health professions.
In 2018, Dr. Anderson was recognized with a UNMC campus wide teaching award from the Faculty Senate as well as an Excellence in Teaching Award from the College of Allied Health Professions in the same year. Over his career spanning five decades, he has been consistently recognized for his ability to direct learning, advise students, and facilitate effective interaction between students and faculty, accumulating multiple teaching honors along the way.
Dr. Anderson honed his skills as a physician as a member of the medical staff at UNMC beginning in 1974, as well as appointments at Clarkson Hospital and the then Lutheran Medical Center. In 1997, he began an appointment with Nebraska Medicine. He has served in a consulting role at Omaha’s Veteran’s Administration Hospital since early in his career and reviewed cases for the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services.
Dr. Anderson and his wife Darlene are generous UNMC supporters. They established the Joseph & Darlene Anderson Distinguished Professorship in Imaging Sciences in 2014; a gift that was matched by the Charles R. O’Malley Charitable Lead Trust. At its inception, the professorship supported the expansion of educational opportunities in the sonography program at UNMC to include musculoskeletal sonography. The Andersons’ philanthropy has provided a lasting impact in many areas and will continue to be felt for years to come.
Dr. Anderson is a member of the American College of Radiology and the Nebraska Radiologic Society. He is the consummate physician statesmen and is well-known and well-respected for his excellent teaching. He and Darlene have three adult children, Laura, Jeff and Mark.
Early Career Achievement Award
Sasha K. Shillcutt, M.D. (Class of 2003)
Sasha K. Shillcutt, MD, MS, FASE is a Tenured Associate Professor and the Vice Chair of Strategy and Innovation in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). She underwent her residency in Anesthesiology at UNMC and completed an Executive Fellowship in Perioperative Echocardiography at the University of Utah Medical Center.
She is a board certified Anesthesiologist, is a testamur in the Special Competence in Adult Echocardiography (ASCeXAM) and has certification in advanced perioperative echocardiography (Advanced PTEeXAM) through the National Board of Echocardiography. She is an NIH-funded researcher through the National Institute of Aging. She is a Board Examiner for the American Board of Anesthesiology and holds national leadership positions in the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiology and the American Society of Echocardiography. She also serves on the National Board of Echocardiography.
Sasha is a wife, mother, physician, clinical scientist, national educator, writer, and speaker. In 2016, Sasha was awarded the national American Medical Associations Women Physician’s Inspiring Physician Award by her peers. Sasha’s greatest passion is empowering and encouraging others to achieve wellbeing in their professional and personal lives. She speaks frequently to health care executives and physicians on the topics of professional burnout, resilience and gender equity. You can follow her blog at www.becomebraveenough.com.
Honorary Alumnus Award
Lynell W. Klassen, M.D.
Dr. Klassen received his M.D. from the University of Kansas School of Medicine and completed his residency at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Following a fellowship at the Arthritis and Rheumatism Branch of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Klassen returned to the University of Iowa as Chief Resident, Fellow-Associate and Assistant Professor. He came to the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) in 1982 and has served as founder and Chief of the Division of Rheumatology and Immunology, VA Chief of Rheumatology, Vice-Chair of Medicine and VA Associate Chief of Staff/Research. Dr. Klassen recently completed 9 years as the Henry J. Lehnhoff Professor and Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine. At UNMC, he initiated the Experimental Immunology Laboratory, co-directed the Bone Marrow Transplant Program, and founded the HIV Clinic.
Dr. Klassen has a long-standing interest in understanding the mechanisms of autoimmune disease. He has been continuously funded since 1976 by the NIH and/or the VA to perform basic and translational research in cellular and molecular immunology. He received a ten-year NIH Method to Extend Research In Time (M.E.R.I.T.) grant, awarded for innovative research in the pathophysiology of autoimmune reactions. He also served as a member of the NIH/NIAAA National Advisory Council for 4 years.
As an active American College of Rheumatology (ACR) member, Dr. Klassen has served on 5 standing national committees, was President of the ACR Central Region, and chaired the Educational Materials Committee. He was involved in curriculum development and writing for the ACR’s High Impact Rheumatology course that was directed at primary care physicians. He was chair of the ACR/REF Grants and Awards Committee and served on the Executive Committee of the REF Board of Directors. In addition, Dr. Klassen has been involved with national educational programs for the American College of Physicians (ACP) and is currently director of the ACP Midwest Internal Medicine Board Review Course.
Dr Klassen was named a Master of the ACP in 2011, and a Master of the ACR in 2016.
Dr. Klassen maintains an active clinical practice seeing patients with rheumatologic and immunodeficiency diseases at UNMC and the Nebraska Western Iowa VA Health Care System.