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Richard C. Vari, Ph.D.

Associate Dean for Medical Education

Ph.D., Physiology, University of Kentucky

  • Professor, Department of Basic Sciences

Position Responsibilities

As associate dean for medical education, Dr. Richard Vari provides oversight over all development and implementation of the basic sciences curriculum.

Professional Background

Dr. Vari received his undergraduate degree in biology and his master's and doctorate in physiology under the mentorship of Cobern E. Ott, PhD, from the University of Kentucky. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the department of physiology at the University of Missouri School of Medicine – Columbia under the mentorship of Ronald H. Freeman, Ph.D. Dr. Vari served as an assistant professor in the department of physiology at Tulane University School of Medicine from 1986 until 1993, working on cardio-renal research projects and teaching renal physiology to medical and graduate students. In 1993, Dr. Vari took a position as an associate professor in the department of physiology at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences.

In 1997, North Dakota's medical school restructured the curriculum and Dr. Vari, as one of the leaders in this reformation, became the patient-centered learning director in the Office of Medical Education. He served as an assistant dean in various capacities in medical education and later was appointed to associate dean for medical education and professor of physiology. In that role, Dr. Vari coordinated the medical curriculum at North Dakota and directed the Office of Medical Education. He was heavily involved in redirecting the medical curriculum from a traditional didactic-based program to a PBL-Hybrid model; one that is patient-centered and focused on students as life-long learners. At North Dakota, Dr. Vari was also involved in the creation of an integrated combined graduate program in the basic sciences, helped to shape a medical curriculum with an emphasis on defining and assessing professionalism, explored the role of relationship centered care initiatives in improving the working environment of the medical school, and helped develop a national curriculum to identify and treat substance abuse focused on prescription use in the elderly, methamphetamine, and inhalents in the Native American population. He was also instrumental in the development and implementation of an interprofessional health education course involving all representatives of the health care profession at the University of North Dakota, and also helped to introduce a medical humanities and writings curriculum into the first two years of medical education.

Dr. Vari has obtained national funding for his work in renal physiology and innovations in medical education. He is an active member of the American Physiological Society, the International Association of Medical Science Educators, and has served on the American Physiological Society's education committee. He served two terms on the NBME Physiology Step 1 Committee. Dr. Vari has mentored numerous graduate and medical students, including four FAIMER International Fellows in Medical Education from Ethiopia and Nepal. Dr. Vari has taught renal and cardiovascular physiology to medical and graduate students for 22 years, many of those using problem-based learning methodology. Dr. Vari has been recognized numerous times for his contributions to research, teaching, innovations in medical education, faculty development, and community service.

Dr. Vari joined the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, in Roanoke, Virginia on April 1, 2008, as the founding associate dean for medical education. He is married to Patty Maloney, PhD, RN, IBCLC, associate professor of nursing at the Jefferson College of Health Sciences, also in Roanoke. They have two children; Elizabeth, a second-grade elementary teacher in St. George, Utah; and Alex, a senior at the University of North Dakota, who is majoring in accounting.

Video: Richard C. Vari, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Medical Education

Research Interests

American Heart Association, Missouri Affiliate, Edward G. Schlieder Educational Foundation, Pharmacological Sciences Training Program Participant, Tulane University, Tulane University Occupational Therapy Fund, NHLBI 5R01 HL26371, Co-Investigator (20% effort), L.G. Navar, P.I., American Heart Association - Louisiana, Inc., American Heart Association, Louisiana, Inc., March of Dimes - Basil O'Conner Starter Scholar Research Award, American Heart Association, Louisiana Inc., American Diabetes Association, Consultant, P.K. Carmines, P.I., March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, American Heart Association, Dakota Affiliate, University of North Dakota Research and Program Development, American Heart Association, Dakota Affiliate, University of North Dakota Research and Program Development, AHA, Dakota Affiliate, Consultant, J.R. Haselton, P.I., UND Faculty Research Committee, Travel Award, UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences Research Committee, NIH IdeA Center, Co-investigator, W.K. Samson, P.I., NDEPSCoR, "Renotropic Actions of Prolactin", American Heart Association, Dakota Affiliate, March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, UND Faculty Research Committee, Travel Award, Mentor, International Fellowship in Medical Education, Mentor, International Fellowship in Medical Education, Mentor, International Fellowship in Medical Education, HRSA -Cooperative Agreement on Bioterrorism Training and Curriculum Development, Co-Principal Investigator, Mentor, International Fellowship in Medical Education, American Medical Association Medical Education Research Consortium Planning Grant Co-PI, Charles E. Christianson, M.D., Sc.M., (PI), NIDA Center of Excellence for Drug Abuse Information, Charles E. Christianson, M.D., and D. Carlson, M.D., Co-PIs, Co-Investigator.

Publications

  • Carlson, E.C., R.C. Vari, J.L. Audette, M.A. Finke, and M.S. Ressler. Significant glomerular basement membrane thickening in hyperglycemic and normoglycemic diabetic prone (DP) BB Wistar rats. Anatomical Records 281A: 1308-1318, 2004
  • Christianson, C.E., R. B. McBride, R.C. Vari, L. Olson, and H.D. Wilson. From traditional to patient-centered learning: curriculum change as an intervention for changing institutional culture and promoting professionalism in undergraduate medical education. Academic Medicine 82: 1079-1088, 2007
  • Offutt S.M., A. Haskins, J.S. Jedlicka, R.C. Vari, P.M. Vari, S. Christian, M.A. Romanick, M.J. Schill, and J. Hall. The Bricks and Motar of Interprofessional Health Care Course Development: A Tool-Kit for Educators. J. Interprofessional Care (Submitted)       
  • Romanick, M.A., S.M. Offutt, P.M. Vari, J.S. Jedlicka, MJ Schill, and  R.C. Vari. Development of a Problem-Based, Patient-Centered Interdisciplinary Health Care Course on a University Campus. (in preparation)
  • Vari, R.C., and F.F. Estrada.  Key Factors for Successful Curriculum Innovations; Abstract Session Discussion  Proc. IAMSE http://www.iamse.org/member/proceedings/f6.htm, 2004
  • *Simanton, E.G., K.E. Borg, R.W. Schauer, and R.C. Vari, Ph.D. Improvement of medical school essay questions using statistics. International Association of Medical Science Educators (IAMSE), (July, 2004)
  • *Vari, R.C., S. Hill, C. Christianson, D. Drake, J. Studney, and J. Allen. Linking clinical skills assessment and teaching in the first two years of medical school. American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), November 2005
  • *Simanton, E., K.E. Borg, R.W. Schauer, J. Allen, and R.C. Vari. Improvement of performance assessment tools using statistical test item information. American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), November 2005
  • *Vari, R.C.,  H.D. Wilson, M. Wakefield., E. Nicholls, K. Ruit, R. Clarens, E. Burns, M.A. Sens, T. Mohr, J. Jedlicka, M.A. Laxen, and T. Heitkamp. Successful Initiation of an Interprofessional Health Care Program. All Together Better Health Conference, (London), Frank Low Research Day, UNDSMHS, April 2006
  • *Offutt, S.,  J. Jedlicka, M.J. Schill, P. Vari, S. Christian, J. Hall, T. Wold, M. Romanick,  P. Mohr, R.C. Vari, M. Haga, R. Paur, and W. Bruce. Interprofessional Health Care: A Patient Centered Learning Model. All Together Better Health Conference, (London), Frank Low Research Day, April 2006
  • *Christianson, C.E., R. McBride, and R.C. Vari. You cannot teach relationship-centered care in a traditional lecture-based curriculum. 27th Annual Conference on Families and Health, Society Teaching Family Medicine, Austin, TX , February 2007
  • *Offutt, S., J. Jedlicka, R. C. Vari, M. Romanick, A. Haskins, MJ. Schill, P. Vari, S. Christian, C.E. Christianson, and R. McBride. Cutting-edge innovation in curriculum and instruction: University of North Dakota’s Interprofessional Health Care Course Evaluation: An Evolving Process. Collaborating Across Borders: an American-Canadian Dialogue on Interprofessional Health Education, Minneapolis, MN, October 2007
  • *Offutt, S., J. Jedlicka, R. C. Vari, M. Romanick, A. Haskins, MJ. Schill, P. Vari, S. Christian, C.E. Christianson, and R. McBride.: Programs That Educate Health Professionals for New Models of Health Care: University of North Dakota’s Interprofessional Health Care Course:  A Tool-Kit for Getting Started. Collaborating Across Borders: an American-Canadian Dialogue on Interprofessional Health Education, Minneapolis, MN, October 2007
  • *Christianson, C.E., R. McBride, and R.C. Vari.  Teaching Primary Care Management of Substance Abuse: A New Egg in the "Basket of Services". 28th Annual Conference on Families and Health. Society Teaching Family Medicine, New Orleans, LA , February 2008
  • Ruit, K.E., P.Carr, E.C. Carlson and R.C. Vari. Integrating anatomy into the medical curriculum. Experimental Biology, April 2008
  • Vari, R.C, D. Trinkle, P.M.Vari, D. Baker, C. Melby, L. Allison-Jones, and D. Southard. Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine-Interprofessionalism as a Foundational Principle, AAMC Southern Group on Educational Affairs (SGEA), New Orleans, LA, April 2009
  • Garber, J., R.C. Vari, G. Mayhew, D. Southard and P.M. Vari. The Foundation for a New Organizational Culture. Collaborating Across Borders II: Building Bridges Between Interprofessional Education and Practice (CAB II), Halifax, Nova Scotia, May 2009.

 

Awards and Honors

  • 1983, 1986 - NHLBI National Research Service Award, University of Missouri – Columbia
  • 1990 - Basil O'Conner Starter Research Award, March of Dimes Foundation
  • 1988-93 - Four Outstanding Medical Student Teaching Awards, Tulane University School of Medicine
  • 1992 - National TRIO Achiever Award, Department of Education
  • 1993 - Nominee, Excellence in Graduate Teaching, Tulane University Graduate School
  • 1995 - Commencement Speaker, Southeast Community College, University of Kentucky
  • 1996 - Keynote Speaker, North Dakota March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation
  • 1997 - Keynote Luncheon Speaker, TRIO DAY, University of North Dakota
  • 1998 - Reverend Elmer and Min West Memorial Award for Exemplary Teaching, UNDSMHS Recognition Award, North Dakota East Regional March of Dimes Foundation
  • 1998-01 - Member, American Physiological Society Education Committee
  • 1999 - Mentor, Alice T. Clark / UND Foundation Scholars Program
  • 1999-Present - Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, Faculty Member
  • 1999-08 - Member, State Board of Directors, March of Dimes Foundation North Dakota
  • 2000 - “Portrait Award” for Contributions to Student Education, Y2 –Medical Students, UNDSMHS March of Dimes Service Award (10 years), Grand Forks Community Service Award, Finalist, Outstanding Faculty Development and Service Award, UND
  • 2001 - “Outstanding Block Instructor Award” Y1- Medical Student, UNDSMHS UND Foundation Thomas J. Clifford Faculty Achievement Award for Outstanding Faculty Development and Service FAIMER Mentor for two International Fellows in Medical Education from Ethiopia
  • 2001-05 - Member, National Board of Medical Examiners, USMLE Step 1 Physiology Committee
  • 2002 - “Outstanding Block Instructor Award” Y1- Medical Students, UNDSMHS
  • 2003 - FAIMER Mentor for an International Fellow in Medical Education from Nepal Member, National Board of Medical Examiners, USMLE Step 1 Standards Panel Grand Forks Convention & Visitors Bureau Community Appreciation Award North Dakota Youth Soccer Association Competitive Boys State Coach of the Year
  • 2004 - “Outstanding Block Instructor Award” Y1- Medical Students, UNDSMHS FAIMER Mentor for an International Fellow in Medical Education from Nepal Member, International Association of Medical Science Educators (IAMSE) Program Committee
  • 2005 - Two “Outstanding Block Instructor Awards” Y1- Medical Students, UNDSMHS President Elect, North Dakota Youth Soccer Association “Hippocratic Dignity Award”, for contributions to medical education at UNDSMHS March of Dimes Service Award
  • 2005-08 - American Physiological Society Representative to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • 2006 - William Crozier and Edith Magwood Fawcett Faculty Enhancement Award Acknowledging Excellence In Teaching Research and Service, UNDSMHS
  • 2006-07 - President, North Dakota Youth Soccer Association
  • 2007-08 - Member, International Association of Medical Science Educators (IAMSE) Program Committee
    Rick Vari

  • Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine
    2 Riverside Circle, Suite M140
    Roanoke, Virginia 24016