Academic Leadership

Richard Nielsen, PT, DHSc, ECS

Founding President/CEO

Dr. Nielsen served in the U.S. Navy Medical Service Corps for over 20 years as a Physical Therapist and Clinical Electrophysiologist with degrees from Brigham Young University and the University of Utah. During his time in the Navy, Dr. Nielsen held several esteemed positions, including the Physical Therapy and Clinical Electrophysiologist Consultant to the Surgeon General, U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Congress, U.S. Senate, Pentagon, and White House.

While in the Navy, Dr. Nielsen received his Master of Science degree in Neurokinesiology (Neurophysiology) from the University of Washington and following retirement attained a Doctorate in Health Science, with an emphasis in Clinical Electrophysiology from the University of St. Augustine in Florida. He co-founded and served as the Founding President/CEO of The Institute of Clinical Electrophysiology before becoming Founding President/CEO of Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in Provo, Utah. He is a board certified electromyographer, servant-leader, and humanitarian.

President Nielsen has more than a 30-year legacy of international service work and co-founded a humanitarian foundation known as World of Difference with his wife, Jodi. More than 25 primary and secondary schools have been built for underserved children in different African countries and clean water wells have been installed and permaculture and other sustainability initiatives have been implemented.

Dr. Nielsen has received several recognitions in the medical community, including the National Leader of the Year Award (2015) and Lifetime Achievement Award (2004) from the American Physical Therapy Association, the American Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year Award (2013), and the Healthcare Hero for Healthcare Education Award from Utah Business Magazine (2019).

John Dougherty, DO, FACOFP, FAOASM, FAODME

Founding Dean and Chief Academic Officer

After an undergraduate degree in education Dr. Dougherty graduated from medical school from Kansas City University. He is board certified in Family Medicine and holds a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Sports Medicine. He is recognized as a fellow in both Family and Sports Medicine as well as two Academic Leadership colleges. Dr. Dougherty is past President American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine (AOASM), an Organizational Physician for the Kansas City Royals serving in the Dominican Republic in collaboration with the Kansas City Royals and Dominican Republic Ministry of Health since 2008.

Immediately before coming to Provo, Dr. Dougherty had been serving as Dean of the medical school for Touro University in Henderson, Nevada. Prior to that he served in a variety of senior leadership roles at his alma matter in Kansas City for 20 years.

Dr. Dougherty is a Certified Physician Leader in Administration. He was selected for and completed a Senior Leadership Development Program, a National Health Policy Fellowship and holds a Certificate in Finance from the University of California, San Diego - Rady School of Management. He was voted Family Physician of the Year for Missouri in 2014, named Education Health Care Headliner by VegasInc Magazine in 2018 and was recently selected to serve as a Governor for the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce.

Alexa Levine, MA

Executive Director

After completing an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies with a minor in Solar and Renewable Energy from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Ms. Levine completed her Master of Arts in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Immediately before coming to Provo, Ms. Levine had been serving as the Executive Assistant to the Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Touro University in Henderson, Nevada. Ms. Levine is currently pursuing a Doctor of Psychology degree in Human & Organizational Psychology with an expected graduation date of Fall 2022.

Michael Rhodes, MD

Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs

Dr. Michael Rhodes brings over 20 years of medical education experience to his role as Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs. A graduate of the Medical College of Georgia, Dr. Rhodes has been a member of the Intermountain Healthcare team in Provo since 1994 where he most recently served as the Associate Medical Director for Utah Valley and American Fork Hospitals. He has completed the National Institute for Program Director Development course and Leadership Development courses for Health Care Executives from both the University of Utah, David Eccles School of Business and the Center for Domestic Preparedness, FEMA, U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In 2009 Dr. Rhodes was inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society, and in 2016 was recognized as the Doctor of the Year for the State of Utah.

Lynsey Drew, DO, FAAFP

Assistant Dean for Clinical Affairs

A graduate of Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, CA, Dr. Drew is a native Utahn. She completed a Faculty Development Fellowship and has served as residency program faculty since 2013 for the Family Practice residency at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo. Dr. Drew has developed curriculum and assessment for medical students and residents for both the outpatient clinical and hospital setting, including obstetrics. She has been a member of the Utah Osteopathic Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing since 2012, where she currently serves as Chair.

Casey Himmelsbach, MBA, MSML

Associate Dean for Student Affairs

Dean Himmelsbach grew up in a small, rural town in Southwest Missouri and has 15 years of experience in supporting student success. Most recently, she served as the Assistant Director of Student Affairs at the Kansas City University – College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Joplin campus. Ms. Himmelsbach holds a Master’s in Business Administration as well as a Master’s of Science in Management and Leadership. Dean Himmelsbach joined the Noorda-COM team as it provided the opportunity to bring creative solutions to Student Affairs in a rapidly changing undergraduate medical education environment.

Jennifer Brown

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Dean Brown attended Harvard University, and served as Senior Director for Kaplan Medical’s Institutional Programs before joining Noorda-COM. At Kaplan she managed teams for over 130 partner institutions including all US and Caribbean allopathic and osteopathic medical schools, dental schools, pharmacy schools and physician assistant schools. Ms. Brown was selected as Curriculum Director for the Kaplan Medical Advisory Council in 2016 and had been a Faculty Development lead since 2006. She brings an in-depth knowledge of licensing exam standards and trends to the Associated Dean for Academic Affairs position. She has received certificates in leadership from Columbia Business School, in Healthcare Innovation from the Harvard Macy Institute, and is a Nutrition Therapist.

Alice Akunyili, MD

Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs

Dr. Akunyili grew up in Enugu, also known as Coal-city, in eastern Nigeria and received her Medical Degree from the Victor Babes University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Timisoara, Romania. After a career in research and pharmaceuticals, Dr. Akunyili joined Kaplan Medical in 2010, most recently as the Associate Director of Clinical Academics. In addition, she was an Assistant Professor of Cell Biology and Pharmacology at the Florida International University – Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine where she led the creation of both asynchronous and synchronous online content for Basic Sciences courses.

Kyle Bills, DC, PhD

Associate Dean for Research

Dr. Bills is a researcher, inventor and published author with his Ph.D. in Neurosciences from Brigham Young University in Provo and D.C. from Parker University in Dallas. He has an active license in Chiropractic Medicine for the State of Utah. Dr. Bills interned at the Dallas VA and accomplished an NIH - National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship. Dr. Bills has been faculty in the Department of Psychology and Neurosciences at BYU and Clinical Neuroscience at Parker University with course development and teaching responsibilities in physiology, neuroanatomy, neurobiology, neurology, sensorimotor integration and manual medicine.

Medhat Kalliny, MD, MPH, MBA, PhD, MRO, FAAFP

Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education

Dr. Kalliny brings over 20 years of experience of academia, clinical practice and graduate medical education. Dr. Kalliny is a native of Egypt and received his medical degree from Al-Minya University Faculty of Medicine, Egypt. He received his Doctorate degree in Toxicology and Public Health from Tulane University of New Orleans, LA and MBA degree from the University of Texas at the Permian Basin.  He is board certified in Family Medicine, Sleep Medicine, Addiction Medicine, Occupational & Environmental Medicine, and General Preventive Medicine & Public Health. Dr. Kalliny serves on the board of different professional organizations such as the Academy of Family Medicine Physicians of Tennessee and the National Board of Medical Examiners. In 2015, Dr. Kalliny was inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society.

Maria Vásquez-Amaral, JD, MEd

Assistant Dean of Simulation

Dean Vazquez-Amaral  graduated from New York Law School (JD) in New York, NY. She was a civil trial attorney in and around New York City and a member of the New York Bar for many years before accepting a position at a non-profit in Charlottesville, VA where she was honored to co-author 2 amicus briefs before the Supreme Court of the United States.  Dean Vazquez-Amaral went on to join the University of Virginia Health System in 2005 where she served as Director of Operations for the Medical Simulation Center at the University of Virginia School of Medicine from 2013 until 2020.  In 2018, she completed a Masters in Higher Education at the Curry School of Education & Human Development at the University of Virginia.    She has been an active member of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare since 2013 and has done workshops on the management of healthcare simulation centers for that organization at the national level.

Jay Danto, DO

Chair of Osteopathic Principles and Practices

Dr. Danto received his Bachelor of Science in Psychology and his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Michigan State University (MSU).  He is dually boarded in Family Practice/OMM and Osteopathic Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine.  He completed his internship and residency at St. John-Oakland Hospital in Madison Heights, Michigan. From 2012-2016 he served in the OMM Department and as residency program Director at the Northeast Regional Medical Center (NRMC) for two combined residency programs (the Family Medicine/ONMM residency and the Internal Medicine/ONMM residency)  at A.T. Still University in Kirksville, Missouri.  He has completed two teaching fellowship certificate programs at MSU-COM and a research certificate fellowship program at ATSU. As an osteopathic student, Dr. Danto was awarded the SOMA Silver Scholarship for Outstanding Dedication to the Osteopathic Profession.

Steve Embley, DO, MBA

Chair of Clinical Sciences

Dr. Embley obtained a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Utah and followed that with an MBA with a finance emphasis at Brigham Young University.  After completing his MBA, Dr. Embley worked for many years with Intel Corporation and other companies in several locations through the world.  He received his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his residency in family medicine at Utah Valley Hospital in Provo, serving his final year as chief resident.  After residency, Dr. Embley practiced in Gunnison, Utah as a small town full-scope doctor. Dr. Embley comes to Noorda-COM most recently from a family medicine and urgent care clinic in Eagle Mountain, Utah.  During that time in Eagle Mountain, he also served as Chief Medical Officer for Revere Health, which is the largest independent multispecialty physician group in Utah.

Steve Prinster, PhD

Chair of Biomedical Sciences

Steven Prinster, Ph.D., earned a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from Brigham Young University in 1997 and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Emory University and in 2006 joined the faculty at the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. In 2009 he began teaching pharmacology to students in the Medical and Physician Assistant Studies Programs at Touro University, Nevada. In 2014, his passion for student education and success led to his appointment as the Program Director for the Medical Health Sciences Program, managing the admission and progression of the students in the program.