Oct. 17, 2019

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Pediatrics specialist, psychological sciences expert, women's health practitioner among new faculty hires

Medical Center leadership is proud to announce the following additions to its faculty and leadership staff.

Ali Mirza Onder, M.D.

Portrait of Ali Mirza Onder

Dr. Ali Mirza Onder, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Tennessee and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, has joined the Medical Center faculty as an associate professor of pediatrics.

After earning his M.D. at Uludag University, Bursa, Turkey, in 1997, Onder had pediatric residency training at Marmara University Hospital, Istanbul, Turkey, from 1997-2000, a pediatric internship and residency training at Miami Children’s Hospital, Miami, Florida, from 2000-03, and a pediatric nephrology fellowship at the University of Miami/Holtz Children’s Hospital from 2003-06.

Onder joined the West Virginia University faculty as an assistant professor of pediatrics in 2006 and was promoted to associate professor of pediatrics in 2011. He then joined the University of Tennessee/Le Bonheur in 2016.

An ad hoc editor and reviewer for a number of professional publications, Onder is the author or coauthor of 21 articles published in peer-reviewed journals and six abstracts and case reports. He has given 10 invited presentations at scientific seminars and symposia nationally. His clinical interests are infectious complications in dialysis patients and use of 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring technique to diagnose and manage hypertensive children. His research interests are treatment and prevention of acute kidney injury in children undergoing cardiac surgery with cardio-pulmonary bypass machine and treatment and prevention of catheter-related bacteremia in pediatric hemodialysis patients.


Tara Scott Price, M.S.N.

Portrait of Tara Price

Tara Scott Price, a women’s health nurse practitioner with 27 years of experience, most recently at McComb Ob-Gyn Associates, has joined the Medical Center faculty as an instructor in nursing. She will also serve as the school-based clinic nurse practitioner at the Lanier Teen Wellness Clinic, providing sexual and reproductive health care.

After receiving her associate of arts degree and practical nursing degree from Southwest Mississippi Junior College in 1992, Price earned her B.S.N at UMMC in 2001. While in school at UMMC, she served on the Student Government Council and held an MASN office in her chapter and on the state level for two years. She received the Christine Oglevee Leadership Award upon graduating from UMMC.

She served as a registered nurse in the Emergency Department from 2001-03 and at the Emma B. Holmes Women’s Center from 2003-06 at Southwest Health Systems, McComb, while concurrently earning her M.S.N. at the University of South Alabama, Mobile, in 2005. Price also serves as a certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner.

Price served as a women’s health nurse practitioner in the Southwest Health System from 2006-08 before joining the Southwest Mississippi Community College faculty as a clinical coordinator in the Summit institution’s Associate Degree Nursing Program. In 2009 she began serving as a faculty instructor and later became a regional director for Hurst Review Services, Brookhaven. In 2010, she joined George Regional Health Systems/Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates in Lucedale as a women’s health nurse practitioner. In 2015, she joined the Women’s health Center in McComb as its first nurse practitioner and later joined the gynecology practice at McComb Ob-Gyn Associates in 2017.

Her memberships have included the American Nurses Association, the Mississippi Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau International, the International Association of Forensic Nurses and Manchester Who’s Who Among Professionals. Price has spoken publically across Mississippi about women’s health care issues, and across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, has taught thousands of nursing students to pass the NCLEX.


Mary A. Smith, D.N.P.

Portrait of Mary Smith

Mary A. Smith, cofounder and longtime administrator and nurse practitioner at the Starkville Orthopedic Clinic, has joined the Medical Center faculty as an associate professor of nursing and director of the Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Track.

After receiving her B.S.N. from the Mississippi University for Women in 1995, Smith served as an R.N. at River Oaks Hospital while earning her M.S.N. at UMMC in 1999. She then served as a F.N.P. at Fillingane Family Clinic before relocating to Starkville in 2002. During her time with the Starkville Orthopedic Clinic, she also served as a per diem nurse practitioner at the Mississippi State University’s Longest Student Health Center and Gentiva Hospice in Starkville. Smith received her D.N.P. from the University of Alabama in 2011 and has since become active in advocacy and policy that focuses on the rural elderly and disabled populations. In August she received her M.S. in health law and policy from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham.

Smith has academic experience as an assistant professor in the Graduate Nursing Department at the Mississippi University for Women; as an assistant professor and assistant program director for online programs for South University’s College of Nursing and Public Health, and as a clinical associate professor for the Sacred Heart University College of Nursing before joining the Medical Center faculty. In 2013, she was selected as the only national scholarship recipient from the Nursing Organizations Alliance to attend the Nurse in Washington Internship and she completed a policy fellowship with the National Rural Health Association in 2014. She was appointed in 2016 as a clinician champion for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Quality Payment Program.

Smith is an active member of several professional organizations, including the Mississippi Nurses Association, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the National Academies of Practice and the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses. She is a fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners and is a National Academies of Practice public policy fellow. She has authored or co-authored many articles in peer-reviewed professional publications, textbook chapters and continuing education modules. She has given many presentations at professional meetings nationally and serves on the editorial board of the Orthopaedic Nursing Journal.


Michael Edward Stefanek, M.D.

Portrait of Michael Stefanek

Dr. Michael Edward Stefanek, most recently a professor of psychological sciences in the College of Science and Mathematics at Augusta University, has joined the Medical Center faculty as associate director of cancer control, epidemiology and disparities in the UMMC Cancer Center and Research Institute. He is also a professor of psychiatry and human behavior and a professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences.

After receiving his B.A. in psychology from Towson University, Baltimore, Maryland, in 1974, Stefanek earned his M.A. in behavior therapy and analysis at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, in 1976. He earned his M.S. in psychology in 1982 and his Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1984 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, then had a pre-doctoral internship at the Johns Hopkins Department of Psychiatry in 1985.

Stefanek was an instructor in oncology from 1985-87 and an assistant professor of oncology from 1988-95 at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore. In 1995 he joined the University of Maryland School of Medicine as an associate professor of psychiatry in the University of Maryland Cancer Center. He became chief of the Basic and Biobehavioral Research Branch, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, at the National Cancer Institute in 1998. Stefanek then took a position as vice president of behavioral research and director of the Behavioral Research Center for the American Cancer Society from 2006-10. Following this position, Stefanek served as associate vice president for research and collaborative research programs at Indiana University from 2011-13. He joined Augusta University as chair and professor of psychological sciences in 2013.

A member of the editorial boards for Frontiers in Epidemiology and Cancer Prevention Research and an ad hoc reviewer for a host of professional journals, Stefanek is the author or coauthor of more than 90 articles in peer-reviewed journals, 15 book chapters and one textbook. He has given more than 100 invited presentations at scientific meetings internationally. He is an active member of a number of professional societies, including the Society of Medical Decision Making, the Society of Behavioral Medicine (Fellow) and the Association for Psychological Sciences.

Stefanek has received research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society and the Association for Psychological Sciences. He has served as grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society and the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute.