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Sharon Lynch, M.D., Clinic Director and MS Achievement Center Medical Director
Dr. Lynch has been involved in multiple sclerosis research, patient care and teaching for more than 25 years. She came to the University of Kansas Medical Center in 1991 to start a new MS clinic. Since that time, she has gradually increased the clinic so it operates 5 days a week and treats approximately 240 patients each month. She has collaborated with a number of individuals, including researchers at KU Medical Center, KU-Lawrence and the University of Missouri-Kansas City, to further local research into MS. She has received grants from the National MS Society, the National Institutes of Health and other agencies, to study a wide range of topics, including the psychiatric and cognitive problems associated with MS, the presence of iron and neurochemicals in the brains of people with MS and how those might affect disability, as well as gait and exercise in MS. She has also participated in numerous multi-center clinical trials, many of which have led to the approval of new medications to treat MS.
Dr. Lynch helped found the Mid-America MS Achievement Center in 1997, which has grown to serve the needs of more people and found a permanent home at KU Medical Center. The program is designed to optimize the daily lives of people with more progressed MS through ongoing rehabilitation and wellness programs. Dr. Lynch has also worked with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society at the local and national levels. She is the chair of the Clinical Advisory Committee and a member of the Board of Directors of the local chapter. She was inducted into the National MS Society Hall of Fame in 2005.
Dr. Lynch graduated from the University of Utah with her M.D. in 1984. She completed her residency and fellowship in neurology immunogenetics at the University of Utah Medical Center.
Yasir N. Jassam, MBChB, MRCP (UK), earned his medical degree from the University of Baghdad College of Medicine, completed his core medical training in Cambridge University Hospitals in the United Kingdom and earned the Membership of the Royal College of Physicians of the UK and a diploma in Neuroimaging for Research from the University of Edinburgh. After completing a residency in neurology at Tufts University School of Medicine, he was a Clinical Fellow in Neuroimmunology at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Jassam joined the University of Kansas Medical Center faculty in July 2017 where his specialties include autoimmune neurology, neuroimmunology and neurology. His clinical practice is focused on autoimmune neurology, inflammatory nervous system diseases, multiple sclerosis and neuroimmunology. Dr. Jassam is board-certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.
Kelsey Morris, Pharm.D., MSCS, Clinical Pharmacist
Kelsey received her bachelor's from Doane University and her doctor of pharmacy degree from University of Nebraska Medical Center. She completed her residency training at the Kansas City Veterans Affairs Medical Center where she worked in both the ambulatory care clinic and inpatient settings. After completion of her residency, Kelsey worked as an intensive care unit pharmacist where she worked with patients diagnosed with a variety of neurology-related conditions. Kelsey joined the MS Clinic team in September 2017.
In her role as clinical pharmacist, Kelsey is available as a resource to clinic staff and patients to answer any medication questions or address concerns. She also sees patients during their office appointment to address any medication-related issues, including but not limited to, medication side effects, affordability, medication interactions and insurance issues. Occasionally, she presents on a variety of topics as a guest speaker for the Multiple Sclerosis Achievement Center.
Kelsey's favorite part of her job is being able to help patients and support them on their journey. She enjoys working with multiple sclerosis patients because it allows her to develop rapport and establish long-term follow-up.
Dave, a clinical social worker for the department of neurology, offers case management and counseling services as a trained psychotherapist. He received his bachelor's degree and master's in social work from the University of Kansas, and is a licensed specialist clinical social worker in Kansas and Missouri. Dave has more than 35 years of expertise working as a social worker for non-profit organizations, hospital systems (offering case management), managed mental health and employee assistance programs (as a psychotherapist), and consultant (working with nursing homes). He offers experience in providing direction and assistance to patients and families needing counseling services, evaluation and tangible support in meeting financial needs, transitional services and care planning. Dave has been a part of the MS team since 2004.
The thing Dave most enjoys about his role is that he's able to offer all of his skills and expertise as a counselor and case manager to address both financial and care components while assisting with the related emotional stressors typically involved in adjusting to a serious illness.
Vonda Whitley, BSN, ACLS TNCC, Research Coordinator
Vonda has worked in both hospital and emergency room care. She has been part of the MS research team for 5 years, specializing in research trials for the University of Kansas Medical Center. As Research Coordinator, Vonda enrolls patients in clinical trials, monitors and manages their care and serves as liaison to the trial sponsors. She also manages baclofen pumps and refills for Dr. Lynch's patients. Vonda enjoys working with individuals with MS because she brings a unique perspective as someone living with relapsing-remitting MS herself.
Lisa has experience in rehabilitation, psychiatric, medical surgical, cancer and transplant units before joining the MS team. She has worked with Dr. Lynch for 25 years, the last 14 as research coordinator. In her role, Lisa enrolls patients in clinical trials, monitors and manages their care and serves as liaison to the trial sponsors. Lisa enjoys working in the MS field, especially because of the people she has met.
Jill began clinical research with Dr. Lynch in 2013. She uses her clerical and administrative skills to maintain the required regulatory documents for clinical research studies and helps the study coordinators with assessments. Jill most enjoys working with the study patients on the mental and physical assessment tests required by some research studies.
Nicholas LeVine received his bachelor's in political science from William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri. While this is his first job in research, he enjoys learning about the field and the complexities of MS research. Nick assists the study coordinators, processes labs, manages the research financial accounts and helps with regulatory document filing and management. He enjoys interacting with the patients and learning about MS drug research. He hopes a cure for MS will be found in his lifetime!
Dr. Sharon Lynch, M.D., Medical Director
Dr. Lynch is the founder and medical director of the MS Achievement Center. She provides vision and leadership to all activities relating to medical care and research at the MS Achievement Center. Her extensive background and years of practice in MS are invaluable as she works with the team to evaluate services, assists in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the center and advocates on behalf of members. Her vision has guided the organization since its inception and continues to move it into a future serving people with progressed MS.
See her full bio here.
Judy received her bachelor's of science from Iowa State University. She has spent the last 18 years working in the nonprofit arena, with the last 12 years focused on multiple sclerosis. In 2014, she joined the University of Kansas Medical Center as the first executive director of the KU MS Achievement Center. She has transitioned this program from a small nonprofit serving 28 people to an integral part of the neurology department, providing weekly care and service to more than 70 individuals with progressed MS.
As executive director, Judy's role is driving the center's mission, sharing the impact, and engaging passionate people to fund this program. She uses her years of experience developing education and advocacy programs to help individuals find and match their passion with organizational needs to serve the MS Achievement Center and its members. Judy serves as secretary of the Friends of the MS Achievement Center board and leads all fundraising efforts for the MS Achievement Center.
She loves supporting members in pursuing their passions, encouraging them to advocate for their own needs and leveraging resources in the community to support this program. She enjoys problem-solving and sees her work as an extension of that interest - connecting individuals, resources, and talents with the needs of individuals with MS.
Erin received her Bachelor's degree in Child and Family Studies from Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, MO. Following a year of AmeriCorps VISTA service, in which she worked with refugee and immigrant families in Atlanta, GA, Erin obtained her Masters of Social Work from The University of Georgia. She has spent most of her social work career doing hospice and bereavement counseling. Her role as program manager involves overseeing all aspects of the member experience. She ensures the MS Achievement Center is meeting the needs of members, especially providing a fun, supportive environment! She also facilitates connections groups, schedules guest speakers, coordinates all electives and manages applications and intakes. Erin is also part of the fundraising team and manages social media. Her favorite part of working for the MS Achievement Center is that she is continually inspired by the members' strength and fortitude.
Joan Augustyn, OTD OTR/L, KU MSAC Director of Occupational Therapy
Joan earned her Master of Occupational Therapy from the University of Kansas and her post-professional clinical doctorate of occupational therapy from the University of Kansas. She has a variety of experience including 6 years of experience of working with children in Peru, 5 years of experience in skilled nursing memory care and acute inpatient care, and 4 years in academia. She is a full-time faculty member in the occupational therapy department at KU Medical Center. Joan coordinates and oversees occupational therapy services for all MS Achievement Center members as well as supervises Level II occupational therapy students at MSAC.
Stacia earned her bachelor's from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and her doctorate of physical therapy from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. She has 11 years of clinical expertise in outpatient orthopedics, acute care and outpatient neurologic settings. She is a full-time faculty member in the physical therapy and rehabilitation science program at KU Medical Center. Stacia has worked extensively with pro bono physical therapy clinics and is currently developing the MS Scholars Program for a doctorate of physical therapy students at KU Medical Center. Stacia coordinates and oversees physical therapy needs for all members, which includes performing assessments and developing individual plans of care, orienting and supervising physical therapy and physical therapist assistant students, developing movement program plans and facilitating referrals for appropriate services.
Stacia loves working with participants and seeing their engagement and excitement about movement and exercise in everyday life. She enjoys seeing participants and staff support and lift each other up. Stacia works to connect everyone involved in MS care across the KU Medical Center campus to develop resources and improve the MS Achievement Center.