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Leadership Within The Program

We believe a strong residency leadership team combines skillful day-to-day program administration with excellence in education. That’s why we recruit individuals who are accountable, set clear and high expectations, have a love of lifelong learning and communicate honestly. At the end of the day, it is about choosing a team whose members’ strengths complement one another, and this is what we’ve done in selecting Associate Program Directors, Chief Residents and Coordinators. 

Program Director 
Fred Buckhold, M.D.

Fred R. Buckhold III, M.D.
Associate Professor
Director, Internal Medicine Residency Program 

Originally from St. Louis, Dr. Buckhold went to the University of Arizona for his undergraduate degree before attending Saint Louis University for medical school and staying at SLU for IM residency. He joined the faculty after graduating in 2010 and became Program Director in 2014. 

Dr. Buckhold has held plenty of different roles and responsibilities in his tenure at SLU. Above all of these, the most fulfilling is the role of PD, which provides the opportunity to exponentially improve patient care, build the careers of early physicians, and interact daily with a fantastic community of residents that provides such a positive impact on the program and the institution. Despite the bald jokes. 

Dr. Buckhold has four daughters, a dog, and now a guinea pig (because what’s another mouth to feed), and a saint of a wife who puts up with such madness. In his spare time, Dr. Buckhold loves to hear from former residents, particularly if they stressed him out, just so he may return the favor or hit them up for money for current residents. He also religiously watches his soccer (#COYS) and cannot wait for St. Louis City SC.

Twitter: @DrBuckholdSLU
Instagram: im_slu_pd


Associate Program Directors
Stephanie Shieh, M.D.

Stephanie Shieh, M.D.
Senior Associate Program Director 
Division: Nephrology
Primary Practice Site: John Cochran VA Hospital

Dr. Stephanie Shieh is originally from Saint Louis but did the majority of her training in California including internal medicine residency and a chief resident year at University of California Irvine, as well as a nephrology fellowship at University of California San Francisco. She returned to St. Louis in 2014 and has been working at Saint Louis University and the John Cochran VA in both nephrology and internal medicine.

Dr. Shieh's interests are varied and include home-dialysis therapies, innovations in educational teaching, and healthcare policy both within and outside the VA.

Working with SLU and the Veterans Affairs has afforded Dr. Shieh the ability work with a diverse patient population with exposure to different models of healthcare delivery. She says her experiences working with residents, fellows, and medical students have helped her to become a better mentor, educator and clinician.

Roshani Desai, M.D.

Roshani Desai, M.D. 
Division: Gastroenterology
Primary Practice Site: SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital

Dr. Roshani Desai completed medical school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and then ventured to the other side of the state to complete her residency and fellowship training here at Saint Louis University. She attends at SLU Hospital on the gastroenterology and liver services.

Ghassan Kamel, M.D., F.C.C.P.

Ghassan Kamel, M.D., F.C.C.P. 
Division: Pulmonary, Critical Care, & Sleep Medicine
Primary Practice Site: SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital

Dr. Ghassan Kamel moved to Saint Louis in 2011 from Beirut, Lebanon after completing his medical school training at the American University of Beirut. Saint Louis University has been his home since then. He completed his internal medicine training, chief residency, and pulmonary and critical care fellowship at SLU. He was fortunate enough to stay on as faculty and to become an associate program director for the program that helped him become the physician he is today. 

Dr. Kamel has a strong interest in airway diseases - in particular asthma and acute respiratory distress syndrome, as well as quality improvement and improving health care metrics, especially in the Medical ICU, where he serves as the Associate Director. 

On a personal level, he is a father of two beautiful daughters and he loves spending time with them and his amazing wife. He enjoys tennis, basketball, and sports in general.

Twitter: @GKamelMD

Paul Kunnath, M.D.

Paul Kunnath, M.D. 
Division: General Internal Medicine
Primary Practice Site: SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital

Dr. Paul Kunnath received his undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis, where he studied biomedical engineering and music. He worked as a research and development engineer in St. Louis prior to completing medical school, residency and chief residency at Saint Louis University. He joined the SLU faculty in 2020. 

Dr. Kunnath is a general internist and sees primary care patients at the Saint Louis University Doctors Office Building (soon to be Center for Specialized Medicine). He also attends on the general internal medicine wards at Saint Louis University Hospital. His teaching interests are in clinical reasoning and evidence-based medicine. His research interests are in reduction of low-value medical practices and physician and patient numeracy. He is deeply grateful for the opportunity to teach and learn from residents and students. 

Twitter: @PaulKunnath

Philip Mar, M.D., Pharm.D.

Philip Mar, M.D., Pharm.D. 
Division: Cardiology
Primary Practice Site: SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital

Dr. Philip Mar grew up in Atlanta, and earned his pharmacy degree at the University of Georgia. After pharmacy school, he worked for a few years as a pharmacist while attending medical school at the Medical College of Georgia, and then completed his internal medicine residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He then moved to Kentucky to finish his general cardiology fellowship at the University of Louisville, where he also served as chief cardiology fellow. After cardiology fellowship, he finished an advanced fellowship in clinical cardiac electrophysiology at Indiana University before starting his career in academia at Saint Louis University. In his free time, Dr. Mar enjoys playing table tennis and is always looking for a good challenge!

Headshot of Justin Purdy

Justin Purdy, M.D. 
Division: Hospital Internal Medicine 

Primary Practice Site: SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital 

Dr. Justin Purdy completed his medical school training at the University of Missouri and residency at the University of Kentucky. He also completed a hospital medicine fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and stayed on as faculty.  He is originally from St. Louis and jumped at the opportunity to move back in 2019 and join the hospitalist group at Saint Louis University Hospital. Upon joining SLU, Dr. Purdy helped develop a hospital medicine track for our senior residents and continues to serve as the co-director of the track. His research interests are focused on professional development, shared decision making, and preserving autonomy for patients and learners.   

When not in the hospital he enjoys spending time with his family which usually requires that he try and maintain some semblance of peace as his three children work tirelessly to destroy the house.  When a quiet moment can be found Dr. Purdy enjoys watching sports, binging prestige TV and playing golf or hockey.


Martin Schoen, M.D., M.P.H. 
Division: Hematology and Oncology

Primary Practice Site: John Cochran VA Hospital

Dr. Martin Schoen is a hematologist/oncologist and hospitalist at St. Louis Veterans Affairs Medical Center and assistant professor of medicine at Saint Louis University. After attending Harvard Medical School and completing an internship at Naval Medical Center San Diego, Dr. Schoen served in the Navy and was deployed with the Marine Corps to Djibouti, Africa. He earned a masters degree in public health at University of North Carolina before returning to residency at Saint Louis University and then fellowship in hematology/oncology. He conducts research into health outcomes and disparities in cancer treatments using national VA data to the focus on comparative effectiveness of treatments and personalized medicine based on patient co-morbidities. He is the proud father of twin girls, Ana and Miriam, and is married to Rachel Tabak, a professor and researcher at a little university down the street from SLU.

Twitter: @mwschoen



Keniesha Thompson, M.D. 
Division: Hospital Medicine

Primary Practice Site: SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital

Dr. Keniesha Thompson grew up in Jamaica and migrated to Kansas during her final year of high school. She completed her undergraduate degree in biology at Howard University in Washington, DC, and went on to medical school at the University of Kansas in Kansas City. After completing internal medicine residency and chief resident years here at Saint Louis University, she was invited to join the Saint Louis University School of Medicine faculty where she now serves as associate program director in internal medicine. In addition, she is heavily involved in medical-student education as co-director of the internal medicine core clerkship.

Her current focus is on student and resident engagement and the development of quality-improvement projects in clinical and non-clinical areas with the aim of improving workflow and affecting health outcomes. Her research interests include health-outcomes research, physician-patient communication, patient safety and medical education. She is passionate about Saint Louis University, where caring for our community requires compassion and commitment. Her clinical time is spent attending on the inpatient internal medicine wards.

Twitter: @DrKThompsonMD


2022-2023 Chief Residents
Headshot of Yan Chu

Yan Chu, M.D.
Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky
Undergraduate School: Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts
Medical School: University of Kentucky 

"When I was applying to residency, I really had no idea where I would end up. I interviewed for dozens of programs across the country and my experience at SLU stood out. My priorities in choosing a program were being able to serve a diverse patient population, having a variety of pathology resources, and be a part of a friendly and supportive environment. SLU fit all of those perfectly. We take care of many patients who are acutely ill and complex, many from underserved areas. I had never been to St. Louis before my interview and had no family or friends locally, but I grew close to my co-residents very quickly and made lifelong friendships with them. Residency is not easy, but it is immensely more enjoyable to do it alongside a group of people who are smart, kind, and always have your back. I am looking forward to my chief year to learn more and contribute to this program!"

Headshot of Heather Eschbach

Heather Eschbach, D.O.
Undergraduate School: Rockhurst University
Medical School: Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine

Being a native St. Louisan, I was looking forward to my month rotating at Saint Louis University (SLU) as a sub-intern. Very early in my rotation, I felt welcomed and a sense of belonging. I was impressed by how capable the residents were while managing complex patients. I compared every program I visited afterwards to SLU and knew this was where I wanted to continue training. A positive learning environment was most important to me in a residency program. While each day presents new challenges, I see my colleagues supporting each other throughout. My class was in our intern year during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have rallied around each other through many unforeseen circumstances. I look forward to my chief year and being able to give back to the program that has taught me so much. 

Headshot of Mackenzie Steck

Mackenzie Steck, M.D.
Hometown: Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania
Undergraduate school: Butler University
Medical School: Indiana University 

When choosing a residency program, my main priority was to find a place where I would feel accepted and supported as I grew as an internist in training. I still vividly remember meeting the residents, faculty, and staff on my interview day at SLU and feeling a genuine sense of community. Our residents love spending time with each other inside and outside of the hospital, which is not the case at every program. Residency will always be challenging no matter the location, but having a group of co-residents and faculty that provide support and genuinely care about its residents’ well-being is what makes SLU such a special place. Through the guidance of this supportive environment, we have the opportunity to take care of extremely complex patients from diverse backgrounds, which prepares residents to practice Internal Medicine in any environment after graduation. I am excited to follow in the footsteps of the chief residents before me and continue to nurture this collaborative environment for future residents to come! 

Headshot of Kelvin Pollard

Kelvin Pollard, M.D., M.H.S.
Hometown: Oklahoma City/ Memphis
Undergraduate School: Austin Peay State University
Graduate School: Mississippi College & Meharry Medical College
Medical School: Meharry Medical College

I aspired to match into a program that served the underserved, provided exceptional teaching and learning opportunities, promoted collaboration between colleagues, provided direction and mentorship, and exposure to diverse patients and pathologies. SLU has provided me with the above and so much more. In addition, I wanted to match to a program that felt more like a family environment than just colleagues. I am more than happy with my decision and can confidently complete my training knowing that I am ready to serve the masses with the unique knowledge and skills that I have acquired since training at SLU!

2023-2024 Chief Residents
Headshot of Josh Fernelius

Joshua Fernelius, M.D. 
Hometown: Springfield, MO
Undergraduate School: Missouri State University, Springfield, MO
Medical School: Saint Louis University School of Medicine

“Being a SLU medical student, I was familiar with the strengths of the internal medicine residency program: diverse and complex patient populations, a great balance of autonomy and support, solidarity among the housestaff and support from faculty. After some unexpected career changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic I found myself starting at SLU July 1st, 2020. I could not be happier with the results. The training I received at SLU has developed me into a confident and capable internist. I look forward to my role as a chief resident to continue to develop my skills in leadership and to give back to this wonderful program.”

Headshot of Rohun Patel

Rohun Patel, D.O.
Hometown: Fremont, California
Undergraduate: University of California, Los Angeles
Medical School: Touro University California
Graduate School: Case Western Reserve University

“My primary goal when I began the residency application cycle was to find a program that would train me into a confident physician able to handle a broad array of situations. I was fortunate to be able to rotate at SLU as a medical student, and experienced firsthand both the patient complexity and competence of the residents caring for them. But what surprised me was the effort that the residents and attendings put into me, the visiting student from halfway across the country. This culture of inclusivity and investment fosters a supportive environment in which anyone can reach their full potential as a physician, and it strongly influenced my decision to choose SLU. Over the last few years, I have grown both as a physician and as a person in ways I hadn't thought possible, all thanks to my colleagues and faculty. I am excited to begin a chief year so I can help others experience similar personal and professional growth.”

Headshot of Christian Hendrix

Christian Hendrix, M.D. 
Hometown: Fredericksburg, VA
Undergraduate School: Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Medical School: George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington D.C.

“During interview season, my sister took me to some of her favorite spots in St. Louis, which made me feel at home. In addition, during my interview day, I was struck by how well residents interacted with each other. When deciding on a residency program, I knew that I wanted to train at an institution that would teach me how to be a good internist. Strong clinical experiences coupled with resident support and autonomy has enhanced my confidence and added to my medical knowledge illness scripts. In addition to its clinical aspects, I have valued our program's commitment to implementing innovative changes. As a Black female physician, I remain grateful for the opportunity to serve mankind through the art of medicine alongside my SLU family.”

Headshot of Elizabeth Robin

Elizabeth Jane Q. Robin, M.D.
Hometown: Saint Louis, Missouri 
Education: The University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Medicine - 6-Year B.A./M.D. Program

“As I determined where to continue my medical training for residency, I looked for a program that would allow me to live by my values while providing a safe and structured environment for learning and growth. When I interviewed at SLU, it was clear how much everyone cared, not just about their patients but about one another. The residents I met were kind, humble, creative, and fun! I left that day hoping to become good friends with many of the residents I had met, and I am glad to say we are now great friends! SLU has continually set the bar high by offering an outstanding balance between autonomy and supervision, classic and complex patients, work, and personal life. One of the defining features of my time here has been the overwhelming support displayed by our leadership from Dr. B and all the chiefs throughout the years. My main goal in becoming a chief resident is to offer our residents that same support I so gratefully received; to be an advocate, to support through hardship, to problem solve, to encourage, to teach. I hope to continue to learn and grow in our community that has begun to feel like home!”