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WVU honors Sistersville native Dr. Menighan

By Staff | Mar 4, 2015

A Sistersville native, Dr. Thomas Menighan, was among the four new inductees to the West Virginia University Academy of Distinguished Alumni.

The academy’s Class of 2015 Judith Hayes, NASA chief of the Biomedical Research and Environmental Services Division at Johnson Space Center; Menighan, executive vice president and CEO of the American Pharmacists Association; Dr. Rustin Moore, associate executive dean, executive director of Veterinary Medical Center and renowned equine researcher at The Ohio State University; and internationally acclaimed tenor James Valenti was inducted on Feb. 20 at The Erickson Alumni Center.

“The Academy of Distinguished Alumni is truly a representation of the very best of West Virginia University,” said Stephen L. Douglas, president and CEO, WVU Alumni Association. “The accomplishments of Judy, Tom, Rustin, and James showcase the hard work, determination, pioneering spirit and values instilled in each one of them at West Virginia University.”

Menighan has held his current positions at the APhA since 2009. The APhA has more than 62,000 practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians as members, and is the country’s largest pharmaceutical association.

Menighan previously worked as a senior staff member of APhA from 1987 to 1992. During his first tour of duty as senior director of external affairs, he managed state affairs, public relations, business development, and practice management. He received his Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy in 1974 from WVU School of Pharmacy and a master’s degree in Business Administration in 1990 from Averett College. He also is the recipient of honorary degrees from WVU (2014) and the University of Charleston (2010).

Prior to rejoining APhA in 2009, Menighan was president and founder of SynTegra Solutions Inc., which provides supply chain auditing and consulting in risk management, 340B programs, anti-counterfeiting, and the technology of medication information. Menighan founded SymRx, Inc., and developed Corner Drugstore.com. Other professional experiences include management of PharMark Corp., creator of unique systems licensed to manage drug utilization review for millions of state Medicaid enrollees. Menighan also founded and was a 20-year Medicine Shoppe owner in Huntington, W.Va., and is a founding partner in Pharmacy Associates Inc., a multi-state specialty pharmacy that has served patients in much of the United States for 33 years.

He has served volunteer roles in the American Cancer Society and hospice. He also was a member of the board of the West Virginia Pharmacists Association, president of APhA (2001 to 2002), and a member of the APhA Board of Trustees between 1995 and 2003.

Hayes, a native of Hope, N.J., began her career at Johnson Space Center in 1984 as a research scientist in the Neurosciences Laboratory and has since served the space life sciences community in many capacities as a scientist and manager.

Hayes established the JSC Exercise Physiology Laboratory and was principle investigator on two Space Shuttle experiments studying the effects of microgravity on skeletal muscle performance in astronauts.

During her career she managed numerous programs at JSC, including space physiology laboratories, space life sciences’ Reduced Gravity Program, Space Medicine Project, and integration of biomedical activities for the Space Shuttle, Russian Mir-Shuttle, and International Space Station programs.

She also managed NASA laboratories in Russia to support astronaut biomedical testing for Mir and ISS missions, interfacing with specialists at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City and the Moscow Institute of Biomedical Problems.

In her role as chief of the Biomedical Research and Environmental Sciences Division for NASA, Hayes works closely with the program’s international partners in Russia, Japan, Canada, and Europe to implement biomedical practices in space and has negotiated international contracts with the Japanese, European, and Canadian space agencies to provide them ISS medical certification tests and experiment support. She currently serves on the International Exercise Countermeasures Working Group which develops global requirements for space exercise and research of other preventative treatments to assure astronaut health and performance during human space exploration.

Moore dreamed of becoming a veterinarian, an Appalachian James Herriot if you will, as far back as he can remember, and today that dream is a reality. He is a world-renowned equine surgeon and researcher; dedicated veterinary educator, role model and mentor; and highly-regarded academic administrator.

A native of Spencer, W.Va., Moore began his faculty career in 1994 at Louisiana State University and quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a professor in 2001. He served as service chief of equine medicine and surgery and director of the Equine Health Studies Program and was appointed the Paula and Milton Wyman Endowed Professor in 2004.

While at LSU, Moore led a large-scale rescue effort for nearly 500 horses along with many other animals during the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. He also is well known for his work with Molly the pony, who, after being rescued after Hurricane Katrina, was attacked by a dog, requiring the lower half of her leg to be amputated. Molly was fitted with a prosthetic limb and continues to do well nine years later, serving as a therapeutic friend to children and adults who have physical or mental challenges.

His research and clinical interests are extensive, and he has been a principal or co-investigator on approximately 120 funded grants totaling more than $4 million. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the Pfizer Award for Research Excellence, the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design’s Young Distinguished Alumni Award, and the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work and support of laminitis research.

Valenti, an internationally acclaimed tenor, has a voice of Italianate lustre and is part of the long-standing tradition of great Italian tenors. The sought after 6-foot-5 tenor, has built a global reputation for his elegant musicianship, commanding stage presence and ardent vocal style.

A native of Clinton, N.J., Valenti earned a bachelor’s degree in music from WVU in 2000. He studied with former music professor and artist-in-residence Augusto Paglialunga, former Opera Program director Robert Thieme, and former choral director Kathleen Shannon. The trio was the first to notice the young singer’s raw talent.

Valenti, the youngest person to be inducted into the academy, experienced exceptional growth artistically and culturally while at the College of Creative Arts, going from a fresh-faced 18-year-old attending his first opera in Pittsburgh on a WVU trip, to auditioning for national opera apprenticeships upon graduation. He studied with William Shuman at the distinguished Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.

At age 25, he made his professional debut at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma where he played Rodolfo in the Franco Zeffirelli production of “La Boheme.” Since his debut, he has scored one triumphal role after another and has had the opportunity to perform in many of the most celebrated citadels of opera in the world, including the Royal Opera Covent Garden, La Scala Milan, Opera National de Paris, and Teatro Colon Buenos Aires, among others. He also has worked alongside some of the greatest opera voices and maestros in the industry.

Valenti has received a number of accolades.