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University of Queensland Ochsner Clinical School Honors 2020 Graduates at Socially Distant Culmination Ceremony

The University of Queensland (UQ) Ochsner Clinical School honored its 2020 graduating class with a socially distant culmination ceremony on Friday, November 20, on campus at Ochsner Medical Center – New Orleans. The festivities were streamed live to family and friends of graduates.

The 103 graduating students successfully completed medical education through a unique four-year training, academic and clinical experience across two continents. Students completed two years of medical school curriculum in Brisbane, Australia at UQ, which is recognized as one of the top universities in the world and ranked 36th worldwide on the 2020 U.S. News & World Report’s Best Global Universities list. The final two years of clinical study were completed with Ochsner Health – one of the largest independent academic medical centers in the United States – at the UQ Ochsner Clinical School in New Orleans.

“In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, our communities need high-quality doctors now more than ever. We are confident our students are prepared to take the next step in their medical careers and look forward to seeing how they will shape the future health and wellbeing of our community,” said Leonardo Seoane, M.D., chief academic officer, Ochsner Health.

For the past eight years, UQ Ochsner Clinical School’s match rate through the National Residency Match Program has been 90% or above – a rate comparable with the national Match Rate for U.S. medical schools. Students match into residency training programs at many prestigious institutions in Louisiana and across the country in a variety of specialties, including Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Emergency Medicine and General Surgery.

During the 2020 culmination ceremony several UQ Ochsner Clinical School faculty and residents were recognized with awards of excellence in clinical teaching. The following teachers were nominated for the Teacher of the Year Award – the highest individual award of excellence:

  • Bruce Cleland, M.D. – General Surgery
  • Dean Hickman, M.D. – Psychiatry
  • Suma Jain, M.D. – Pulmonology
  • Charles Leithead, M.D. – Vascular Surgery
  • Rocky Mollere, M.D. – Med/Peds
  • Ashley Newell, M.D. – Pediatric Intensive Care
  • Vu Vuong, M.D. – OB/GYN
  • Rajasekharan Warrier, M.D. – Pediatric Hematology/Oncology

The 2020 Teacher of the Year award – was bestowed upon Bruce Cleland, M.D. – General Surgery. A member of the Ochsner team since 1992, Dr. Cleland is board certified in surgery and holds a medical degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine. He completed both his surgical internship and surgery residency at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas.

Resident teaching awards were awarded to the following physicians:

  • Diana Maslov, M.D. – Internal Medicine
  • Catherine Lule Rault, M.D. – OBGYN
  • William Shamus Rohn, M.D. – Psychiatry
  • Mary Van Wert, M.D. – Surgery
  • Mary Vetter, M.D. – Pediatrics

Recipients of Post Graduate Research Fellowship Awards included:

  • Diab Ali – A System-Wide Retrospective Cohort Analysis toward an Epidemiology of Persistent Post-Concussive Symptoms
  • Kennedy Carpenter – An Anatomical Model for Studying Cerebellar Tonsillar Herniation Related to Raised Intracranial Pressure
  • Colin Carroll – Single-Shot versus Continuous Regional Anesthesia for Treating Acute Postoperative Pain in Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery: A Prospective Randomized Control Trial
  • Donald Chang – Investigating Clinical Outcomes and Cost-Effectiveness of Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator Generator Change in Patients with Recovered Left Ventricular Ejection
  • Nrusheel Kattar – Post-Operative Outcomes in OSA Patients after Sinonasal Surgery Compared to Oropharyngeal, Laryngeal, and Otologic Surgery
  • Akanksh Ramanand – Urinary Sediment Biomarkers for Diagnosis of Acute Tubular Necrosis
  • Katherine Robbins – Contribution of the Notch4-Wnt5a Axis to Melanoma Plasticity and Drug Resistance

The following students were recognized with individual awards:

  • Diab Ali - Student Excellence Award for Psychiatry
  • Colin Carroll - John Lockwood Ochsner Sr. Surgical Award
  • Elise Le Cam - Internal Medicine-American College of Physicians Excellence Award
  • Iman Malik - Dr. E. Edward Martin, Jr. Family Medicine Award
  • Kali Stewart - Student Excellence Award for OB/GYN
  • Caroline Vasco - Student Excellence Award for Pediatrics

Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D., delivered the keynote address. Dr. Bill Cassidy is the United States Senator for Louisiana. He grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and attended Louisiana State University (LSU) for undergraduate and medical school. In 1990, Cassidy joined LSU Medical School teaching medical students and residents at Earl K. Long Hospital, a hospital for the uninsured.  

During this time, he co-founded the Greater Baton Rouge Community Clinic, a clinic providing free dental and health care to the working uninsured. Cassidy also created a private-public partnership to vaccinate 36,000 greater Baton Rouge area children against Hepatitis B at no cost to the schools or parents. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Cassidy led a group of health care volunteers to convert an abandoned K-Mart building into an emergency health care facility, providing basic health care to hurricane evacuees. 

In 2006, Cassidy was elected to the Louisiana State Senate. In 2008, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives to represent Louisiana’s Sixth Congressional District. In 2014, he was elected to the U.S. Senate. He serves on the Finance Committee, the Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Committee, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and the Veterans Affairs committees. In 2020, he was reelected to the U.S. Senate.

For more information on the UQ Ochsner Clinical School, visit


About Ochsner Health

Ochsner Health is a system that delivers health to the people of Louisiana, Mississippi and the Gulf South with a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate. Ochsner Health is a not-for-profit committed to giving back to the communities it serves through preventative screenings, health and wellness resources and partnerships with innovative organizations that share our vision. Ochsner Health healed more than 876,000 people from across the globe in 2019, providing the latest medical breakthroughs and therapies, including digital medicine for chronic conditions and telehealth specialty services. Ochsner Health is a national leader, named the top hospital in Louisiana and a top children’s hospital by U.S. News & World Report. As Louisiana’s leading healthcare educator, Ochsner Health and its partners educate thousands of healthcare professionals annually. Ochsner Health is innovating healthcare by investing in new technologies and research to make world-class care more accessible, affordable, convenient and effective. Ochsner's team of more than 26,000 employees and 4,500 providers are working to reinvent the future of health and wellness in the region. To learn more about Ochsner Health, please visit To transform your health, please visit