Cancer Research publication authored by Drs. John and Sandy Wise recognized as NIEHS extramural publication of the month

Hexavalent chromium induces permanent and heritable cell changes

NIEHS grantees showed that exposure to hexavalent chromium can lead to changes to genetic information in human lung cells. Hexavalent chromium is a known lung carcinogen, but the mechanism by which it causes cancer is not well understood. In human lung cells exposed to hexavalent chromium, the researchers observed permanent and heritable changes in DNA molecules that carry genetic information, known as chromosomes, as well as problems in DNA repair.

The researchers exposed lung cells to hexavalent chromium for three 24-hour periods, each about a month apart. After each treatment, they seeded cells onto new plates to regrow. Each generation of cells was tested for changes to chromosomes and DNA repair capacity.

The study provided evidence for the first time that hexavalent chromium induced chromosome translocations, or abnormal arrangements of chromosomes. They also found that exposure to hexavalent chromium inhibited DNA repair. Both the chromosome translocations and the DNA repair inhibition persisted after exposure ceased and both were heritable at the cellular level.

According to the authors, these chromosome imbalances likely lead to preferential selection and survival of abnormal cells, which may provide a growth advantage for cancer cells.

CitationWise SS, Aboueissa AE, Martino J, Wise JP Sr. 2018. Hexavalent chromium-induced chromosome instability drives permanent and heritable numerical and structural changes and a DNA repair-deficient phenotype. Cancer Res 78(15):4203−4214.

Dr. La Creis Kidd presents prostate cancer findings at new cancer center in Senegal

Associate professor and UofL’s highest potential chair in cancer research La Creis Renee Kidd was invited to visit and share her research at Senegal Dakar’s new Cancer Center, whose doors will open in December. Dr. Kidd presented her prostate cancer research to an audience that included Dr. Abdoul Aziz Kasse, director of the prospective Cancer Center in Senegal. Kidd’s research, which has spanned 14 years, focuses on the impact of genetic susceptibility markers and miRNAs in prostate cancer, disease progression and health disparities.


41 UofL Cancer Education Program Students to Present Their Cancer Research Projects

Forty one students in the 2018 UofL Cancer Education Program will present their research project posters October 9-10 at Research!Louisville.

The students and their research project posters can be accessed online.

UofL and Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center achieve 300th Lung Transplant

First lung transplant at Jewish Hospital took place in 1991
UofL and Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center achieve 300th Lung Transplant

UofL's Victor van Berkel, M.D., Ph.D., performed the 300th lung transplant at Jewish Hospital.

The Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center and the University of Louisville are celebrating an important milestone – the 300thlung transplant performed at the hospital since the lung transplant program began there 27 years ago.

“Three-hundred lung transplants is a significant milestone for Jewish Hospital Transplant Care,” said Chris Jones, M.D., director of the Transplantation Program at Jewish Hospital and chief of the division of Transplant Surgery at University of Louisville Physicians and the UofL School of Medicine. “We recognize the selfless sacrifice of all organ donors, celebrate the improved lives of our organ recipients, and recognize the impact of everyone on the transplant team for their lifesaving and life-changing work.”

The 300th lung transplant was performed Tuesday, Sept. 18, on a 71-year-old man from northern Kentucky who suffered from pulmonary fibrosis. The patient was on the transplant list for two months before undergoing a lung transplant. The surgery was performed by Victor van Berkel, M.D., Ph.D., surgical director of the Lung Transplant Program at Jewish Hospital and chief of Thoracic Surgery at UofL Physicians and the UofL School of Medicine.

“Each year, we are performing more and more lung transplants at Jewish Hospital, and it is exciting to hit this milestone as this momentum continues,” said Dr. van Berkel, “When I first started, we were doing between five to 10 lung transplants a year. Now we are closer to 20 lung transplants a year, and we’re trying to grow that even further.”

The first lung transplant at the hospital took place in 1991, and the first double lung transplant in 1995. Since then, transplantation has seen significant advancements in anti-rejection medications, surgical techniques and other technologies, helping Jewish Hospital achieve one-year survival rates higher than the national average.

In 2017, the Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center’s program with UofL became the first transplant program in Kentucky, and only the second program in the region, to begin offering Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion (EVLP). EVLP is a leading-edge technology that allows for an expansion of the Lung Donor Pool that will allow more patients to receive lifesaving lung transplants.  

“The Jewish Hospital and UofL transplant team are helping save lives in our community each day,” said Ronald Waldridge, M.D., president of Jewish Hospital. “The team is one of the leading providers of organ transplantation in the United States, and milestones like the 300th lung transplant remind us how important this work is daily. We’ve come so far since the first lung transplant in 1991, and we’re looking forward to many more lives impacted.”

On Thursday, doctors and lung transplant recipients gathered at the Jewish Hospital Rudd Heart and Lung Center to celebrate the 300th milestone and the many lives that have been saved over the years thanks to lung transplantation. 

“When I first started my training, we used to have a firm age limit of 65. That was the absolute limit for transplantation,” said Allan Ramirez, M.D., medical director of the Lung Transplant Program at Jewish Hospital and a pulmonologist with UofL Physicians and assistant professor at the UofL School of Medicine. “These days, we are extending that age and our oldest recipient got their lungs at age 75, so we are continuing to push the envelope in terms of being able to offer transplants to older patients, and patients who are sicker who we would not have considered doing a transplant on 5 to 10 years ago.”

Dr. Jill Jacobs is among the 300th lung recipients at Jewish Hospital. Jacobs was the 271st recipient, and was also a double lung transplant recipient. Jacobs says she smoked cigarettes for about 40 years, and by the time she stopped, had already developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  

“I had the transplant in February of 2017,” Jacobs said. “I have been extremely happy and grateful that I had doctors who have given me my life back. They’ve given me a new life, in fact.”

Jacobs said before the transplant, she couldn’t even do simple things, like getting dressed, without being short of breath. She says the Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center has helped change her life.

“I can’t tell you how happy I am that I went to Jewish to have this done,” Jacobs said. “It’s a gift nobody can believe. It’s a miracle, in my opinion. A miracle.”

Earlier this year, the Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center – a joint program with the UofL Physicians, the UofL School of Medicine and KentuckyOne Health – also celebrated its 500th heart transplant. In addition to Kentucky’s first heart transplant, the program is known for performing Kentucky’s first adult pancreas, heart-lung and liver transplants.

For information on the Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center, visit

M&I Faculty Receive Multiple Awards in 2018

M&I Endowed Chair Professor Yousef Abu-Kwaik was recently awarded a National Institute of Health R01 grant entitled "Innate immunity and inflammatory response of macrophages to Legionella infection".  The grant received a score of 1%.  This NIH funded project is budgeted from 09/14/2018 - 08/31/2023 for $1,913,286.

M&I Associate Professor Esma Yolcu recently received a SBIR Phase I award from the National Institute of Health entitled “Exploiting activation-induced cell death as a means of inducing tolerance to kidney allografts”.  The award is a collaboration with the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

M&I Associate Professor Esma Yolcu and M&I Professor Haval Shirwan recently received a $500,000 gift in memory of William Marvin Petty, MD.  The funds are to be used to advance Type 1 Diabetes research conducted in the School of Medicine Department of Microbiology and Immunology.  Dr. Yolcu and Dr. Shirwan’s research focuses on the use of ProtEx technology, pioneered by the team, as an alternative to gene therapy for immunomodulation to treat transplant rejection and autoimmune diseases with particular focus on Type 1 Diabetes.     


M&I Professor Haval Shirwan received a five year NIH/NIAID R01 grant award in support of the application entitled “A novel immunomodulatory approach to overcome innate and adaptive immune barriers to islet transplantation”.  The project is for the period  11/5/2018 – 10/31/2023 with a total budget of $1,943,360.


M&I Associate Professor Bing Li was recently awarded a National Institute of Health R01 grant entitled "Immunomodulatory mechanisms of E-FABP in psoriasis pathogenesis".  This NIH funded project is budgeted from 09/24/2018 - 08/31/2023 for $1,925,000.


M&I Associate Professor's Matthew Lawrenz (PI) and Jonathan Warawa (Co-PI) were awarded a contract from the FDA entitled “Development of a Mouse Model for Preclinical Screening of Investigational Drugs Against Pseudomonas Aeruginosa and Acinetobacter Baumannii”.  The $933,606 award runs from 9/19/2018 to 9/18/2020.



Dr. Abu-Kwaik


Dr. Shirwan


Dr. Yolcu

Bing Li

Dr. Li

Matthew Lawrenz

Dr. Lawrenz

Jonathan Warawa

Dr. Warawa

Cierra Sharp recipient of KC Huang Outstanding Graduate Student Award

Cierra Sharp recipient of KC Huang Outstanding Graduate Student Award

Cierra Sharp, Ph.D received the KC Huang Outstanding Graduate Student Award in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. 

Dr. Sharp completed her PhD dissertation entitled "A clinically relevant mouse model of cisplatin-induced kidney injury" in the laboratories of Drs. Leah Siskind and Levi Beverly.


Support from Crusade for Children enables UofL Pediatrics to extend access

Support from Crusade for Children enables UofL Pediatrics to extend access

UofL’s Novak Center for Children’s Health opened in July and enables providers to offer comprehensive health care services for children in one convenient location. The center is among the recipients of funding from the WHAS Crusade for Children.

For decades, the University of Louisville and the WHAS Crusade for Children have partnered with the single goal of bringing the best health care possible to the children of Louisville and Kentucky. This year, the Crusade has helped fund in part or in whole 12 projects at UofL, including the recently opened Novak Center for Children’s Health.

Neeli Bendapudi, Ph.D.The support from the Crusade enables us to expand the breadth of general and specialty services we are able to provide to the children who come through our doors,” said UofL President Neeli Bendapudi, Ph.D. “All of us at UofL cannot thank the Crusade enough for its commitment to the next generation and their trust in UofL.”

Beginning in late June, nearly all the practices that see patients from infancy to mid-20s in some cases moved into the Novak Center for Children’s Health. This marks the first time that outpatient clinical care for these patients is concentrated in a single location. The Crusade has provided more than $475,000 in support of the facility, including $274,000 in this round of funding.

Because of support from the Crusade, UofL is closer to being able to purchase, equip and staff a van that will serve as a mobile asthma clinic.

Kim Boland“We have seen that if we are able to get into the neighborhoods and make it more convenient for parents and our patients, we have better results,” said Kim Boland, M.D., interim chair of the UofL Department of Pediatrics. “This van will have a significant impact on our patients who have asthma and other respiratory ailments.”

The Crusade also provides valuable funding for what may seem like small things such as basic supplies for a clinic, but they are essential to providing care to children. And this extends to support for hiring personnel.

Greg Postel, M.D.“Through the support of the Crusade, we can hire specialized care staff that is critical to our delivery of the most complex care to children who have autism, learning disorders, cancer and other conditions and diseases,” said Greg Postel, M.D., UofL executive vice president for health affairs. This year, the Crusade has helped fund positions in pediatric neurology, pediatric endocrinology, pediatric hematology/oncology and the Weissskopf Child Evaluation Center.

Through the years, the WHAS Crusade for Children has provided nearly $16.3 million to the University of Louisville. This support has enabled UofL to provide medical care to countless children.




Department is awarded first NIH T32 training grant in its history

M&I received the notice of award for its NIH T32 training grant application entitled “Inflammation and Pathogenesis Training Program” on August 1st.  Dr. Haval Shirwan (Professor, M&I) is the contact PI and Dr. Richard Lamont (Chair, Department of Oral Immunology and Infectious Disease) is the Co-PI on this award.  The grant will support 4 PhD students per year during the 5 year period 8/1/2018-7/31/2023.  This collaborative effort between M&I and OIID is the first NIH T32 training award in Department’s history.

Haval Shirwan    Lamont





Dr. Haval Shirwan         Dr. Richard Lamont

McGee wins 2018 Louisville Medicine essay contest

Former chief resident and current assistant professor joins three others from the University of Louisville as winners in annual contest
McGee wins 2018 Louisville Medicine essay contest

Suzanne E. McGee, M.D.

Mary G. Barry, M.D., editor of Louisville Medicine, announced the winners of the 11th annual Richard Spear, M.D., Memorial Essay Contest during the Greater Louisville Medical Society Presidents' Celebration on May 20 in the Louisville Central Community Center.

Among the winners was Suzanne McGee, M.D., assistant professor with the University of Louisville Division of General Internal Medicine, Palliative Medicine and Medical Education in the UofL Department of Medicine who came in first place in the practicing/life category for her essay titled "Back Scratches, Cornbread and Unspent Love: Sacrifices I Made to Become a Good Doctor."

The theme of the physician essay contest was "What Have You Sacrificed to Become a Physician?"

Spear was a respected Louisville general surgeon who also served on the faculty of the UofL School of Medicine. When he died in 2007, he left GLMS a bequest to fund the annual essay contest. Spear wished to support high quality writing about the practice of medicine.

The winning essays were published in Louisville Medicine's July 2018 edition.

Previous winners from the Department of Medicine include Nina Vasavada, M.D., in 2015 for "The Unexpected in Front of Us," Michael Stillman, M.D., in 2013 for "'Dismaying' Number of Uninsured Kentuckians," and Sohail Ikram, M.D., FACC, in 2012 for "It's Worth It."

Future doctors receive their first white coat at UofL

White Coat Ceremony marks beginning of journey in medical school
Future doctors receive their first white coat at UofL

First-year medical students at the University of Louisville receive their first white coats at the White Coat Ceremony on Sunday. Classes started today.

Today is the first day of medical school for 163 students at the University of Louisville, who received their first white coat as a doctor over the weekend.

On Sunday, there were lots of smiles, hugs, cheers and tears from students and their families at the School of Medicine’s White Coat Ceremony, which formally marks the students’ entry into medical school. The ceremony was held Sunday afternoon in the ballroom at the Marriott Louisville Downtown.

At the annual ceremony, UofL faculty and the local medical community formally welcome first-year medical students (known as “M1s”) by presenting them with their first white coat, a gift from the Greater Louisville Medical Society. They also received their first stethoscope, courtesy of the Stethoscopes for Students program, an effort funded by alumni of the UofL School of Medicine.

The class of 2022 is a diverse group, with the youngest being 19, and the oldest 32. Forty-three percent of the class is female, and 11 percent are from groups underrepresented in medicine. Twelve percent are from rural Kentucky counties. The 163 were selected from a pool of 3,558, and come from 18 different states and 58 different colleges and universities.

Compassion was a theme of the ceremony. Speakers urged students to take care of themselves, so that they could take better care of others.

UofL President Neeli Bendapudi, Ph.D., gave the students three pieces of advice: to take care of themselves, to look out for one another, and to recognize that being a doctor meant they were part of a broader community.

“Remember, you will be treating a whole human,” she advised. “When you are physicians and you are working with a patient, the patient is more than an aching knee or a tumor, or something else that’s wrong with them. You need to see the psychosocial dimensions of every individual. The more you cultivate your own humanity, the more you cultivate who you are and the better off you will be.”

She told them they had chosen a noble profession. “You will see us when we are at our most vulnerable, our most nervous, most scared, and we will look to you to be our partners, our coaches, to be our cheerleaders, and I am thrilled that you’ve chosen to embark on that journey with us at UofL.”

Keynote speaker Barry Kerzin, M.D., a Buddhist monk and founder and president of the Altruism in Medicine Institute and the personal physician to the Dalai Lama, also urged the students to practice self-care, along with humility and gratitude.

“The more you give, the more you receive. That’s enough. It says it all. … The more you love, the more you are loved. The more you are kind, the more kindness is shown to you,” he said.

He noted “these are kind of compasses to try to orient our lives. Of course we won’t achieve these things overnight, maybe not – probably not – fully achieved in a lifetime. But these are goals, these are aspirations.”

He said gratitude was “extremely important.”

“To feel gratitude for the next breath that you take. That you’re alive. It’s wonderful stuff,” he said. “It makes you feel good, makes you appreciate life. Even when you’re having a rough time.”

He said humility, by decreasing the ego and arrogance, increases compassion and love.

“So in terms of a doctor, make a proper diagnosis, give a treatment, but also support the patient emotionally and the family emotionally. That’s critical, and that’s what makes a good doctor.”

After Kerzin’s speech, the students filed across the stage in groups, where UofL doctors helped them don their coats. The students’ first white coat is a short white coat, and after they graduate from medical school, they are entitled to wear a long white coat.  The white coat symbolizes cleanliness and the compassion that inspires students to become physicians. As they walked from the stage, they were handed their stethoscopes.

Led by Greg Postel, M.D., executive vice president for Health Affairs at UofL, the students then took the Declaration of Geneva, a more modern version of the Oath of Hippocrates, in which a new physician swears to uphold professional ethical standards.

Parents have difficulty estimating sugar content in kids’ food

UofL providers daily see problem newly researched by German institute
 Parents have difficulty estimating sugar content in kids’ food

Common foods consumed by children, such as pizza, orange juice and ketchup, contain more sugar than parents think they do, say UofL pediatric medical and dental providers.

A recent study from researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin verifies what several University of Louisville physicians and dentists see in their practices: Parents, though well-meaning, are not good judges of the amount of sugar in common foods their children consume.

In the study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, about three-quarters of parents surveyed underestimated the total amount of sugar in foods commonly found in the diets of children: orange juice, pizza, yogurt, ketchup, granola bars and more. The biggest divergences occurred in foods thought to be “healthful”; for example, more than 90 percent of the 305 study participants underestimated the amount of sugar found in yogurt by an average of 60 percent.

More concerning was the fact that parents’ misjudgments tended to be related to their children’s body weight. Those children with the highest body mass index tended to have parents who made the greatest misjudgments of sugar content.

Heather M. Felton, M.D., medical director of the UofL Pediatrics-Sam Swope Kosair Charities Centre, and Hector Martinez, D.D.S., M.Sc., of the UofL School of Dentistry, aren’t surprised. It is a situation they see virtually every day in their practices.

“This happens quite a bit,” said Felton, who is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). “Parents simply don’t know how much sugar is in the food they feed to their children. They believe they are feeding healthy meals and can’t understand why their child is overweight.

“Generally speaking, you should limit your younger child’s intake of added sugar to 12-16 grams a day – that’s about 3-4 teaspoons. For pre-teens and teens, it should be no more than 8 teaspoons.”

Although the German study only examined medical health and sugar underestimation, Martinez says the problem is a contributing factor to dental problems as well.

 “Sugar contributes to tooth decay,” Martinez said. “If left untreated tooth decay can be painful -- and painful teeth will affect a child’s performance in school,” Martinez said.

Preventing cavities and decay is the first line of defense, he said. Martinez also urges parents to find a dental home for their child, and schedule a dental exam, cleaning and fluoride treatment. For children experiencing extreme decay, the UofL School of Dentistry offers Silver Diamine Flouride, a 58-percent solution that stops decay in its tracks.

Both Martinez and Felton echo a point made in the study: Food labeling needs improvement. The study authors recommend a “traffic-light system”: a red dot on the label for high sugar content and a green one for minimal sugar. 

“Food labels can be confusing because they list ingredients in terms of percentages of daily recommended values,” Felton said. “Parents may read that a container of yogurt has 25 grams of sugar, but they often do not know how that should fit into their child’s diet.

“Plus, parents are busy and don’t have time to thoroughly read labels, let alone keep track of how many grams of sugar their children consume in a given day. A simpler labeling system would help enormously.”

For now, the providers recommend that parents “assume that there is too much sugar in food and try to cut back where you can,” Felton said. “Instead of buying yogurt with fruit or other flavorings already in it, for example, buy plain yogurt and add your own fresh fruit to it. Don’t add sugar to the breakfast cereal you give to your children. Serve them water or milk instead of highly sweetened juices or sodas.”

“The worse thing parents can do is allow their children to drink juice or anything other than water in a sippy cup all day, which disrupts the ph balance of the mouth,” Martinez said. Better, he says, to drink juice or milk in one sitting rather than over the course of several hours.

Martinez and Felton also reminded parents of juice drinking guidelines released a year ago by the AAP.  The recommendations urge parents, when possible, to feed their children whole fruit rather than juice, where fiber and other nutrition can be gained. And, the Academy has reduced the quantity of fruit juice for children according to age:

  • No juice for children younger than 12 months.
  • 1-3 years – Limit fruit juice to a maximum of 4 ounces per day (1/2 cup)
  • 4-6 years –  No more than 4-6 ounces (1/2 cup –  ¾ cup)
  • 7-18 years – Limit juice to 8 ounces per day (1 cup)

Following these guidelines will at least limit sugar intake and help lead to healthier smiles and bodies, Martinez said.





Wendy Novak Diabetes Center at Norton Children’s Hospital earns certification for inpatient diabetes care

Care provided by UofL Physicians pediatricians and pediatric specialists
Wendy Novak Diabetes Center at Norton Children’s Hospital earns certification for inpatient diabetes care

Kupper Wintergerst, M.D.

The Wendy Novak Diabetes Center at Norton Children’s Hospital, staffed by University of Louisville Physicians pediatricians and pediatric specialists, is now one of three centers nationally to earn recognition for its treatment of children with diabetes.

The Joint Commission, the premiere national health care accrediting organization, granted the center a Certificate of Distinction for Inpatient Diabetes Care, making the center one of only three in the country to receive the designation. The others are Boston Children’s Hospital and Children’s Medical Center of Dallas

“The certification was made possible through our partnership with the University of Louisville and our joint vision to develop one of the most comprehensive diabetes programs in the nation,” said Emmett C. Ramser, chief administrative officer, Norton Children’s Hospital. “We’re always striving to provide the best service to our patients, families, and the community, and are proud these efforts have been nationally recognized.”

The certification is the result of a focus on improving diabetes care, particularly for children moving between the hospital and outpatient care settings. At UofL, outpatient services are provided in the Wendy Novak Diabetes Center location in the Novak Center for Children’s Health.

“We’ve seen the number of children with Type 1 diabetes increase dramatically in recent years,” said Kupper A. Wintergerst, M.D., division chief of pediatric endocrinology and director of the center. “Caring for children with diabetes, especially those who are newly diagnosed, requires a coordinated approach so that patients are successful once they leave the hospital. By coordinating care on all levels, we can better support patients and families living with this disease.”

Norton Children’s Hospital underwent a rigorous review to assess its compliance with standards on quality, safety, transitions of care, handoff communications and other key attributes. More than 1,200 children currently are being treated for Type 1 diabetes by specialists at Norton Children’s Hospital and the University of Louisville. Approximately 150 children are diagnosed each year.


‘A Taste of Health’ to honor nurses, health care workers for community service during hepatitis A outbreak

July 26 event will feature healthy food from local restaurants, live music
 ‘A Taste of Health’ to honor nurses, health care workers for community service during hepatitis A outbreak

Ruth Carrico, Ph.D., RN, is clinical director of the UofL Physicians Vaccine and International Travel Center and an associate professor at the UofL School of Medicine.

“A Taste of Health” event will be held on Thursday, July 26, to thank nurses and other health care workers for their service to the community during the recent hepatitis A outbreak.

The event, which is open to the public, will feature healthy food options from more than 20 different restaurants and local grocers, as well as a cash bar, live music from Joe DeBow (blues, R&B, reggae, jazz), a silent auction and raffles.

Hosted by University of Louisville Physicians – Infectious Diseases, the Kentucky Nurses Association and the Kentucky Restaurant Association, the event will be held from 6-8 p.m. at the UofL Kosair Charities Clinical and Translational Research Building at 505 S. Hancock St. on the UofL Health Sciences Campus.

The cost of the event is $45 for members of the Kentucky Nurses Association, and $50 for others. The money will go toward scholarship funds, education and research at the UofL School of Nursing, and some also will go to UofL Physicians - Infectious Diseases for vaccine supplies. The event also will feature a “Giving Tree.” 

“The event is a way for restaurants and the community to say ‘thank you’ to nurses for their efforts to mobilize and come to restaurants and vaccinate all workers against hepatitis A,” said Ruth Carrico, Ph.D., RN, clinical director of the UofL Physicians Vaccine and International Travel Center and an associate professor at the UofL School of Medicine.

Nurses from UofL vaccinated around 6,000 people at restaurants in Louisville and Jefferson County. Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection, most likely to be spread from contaminated food or water or from close contact with an infected person or contaminated object.

“It’s important to recognize their contribution to public health,” Carrico said. “It’s also important to realize what a resource UofL is, in that we have the ability to mobilize and respond to a public health crisis such as this.”

RSVPs are requested by July 20 by visiting the Kentucky Nurses Foundation site here, or by calling the Kentucky Nurses Association office at 502-245-2843.

UofL researcher receives Outstanding Investigator Award from International Society for Heart Research

Steven P. Jones, Ph.D., works to understand the molecular explanations of heart failure
UofL researcher receives Outstanding Investigator Award  from International Society for Heart Research

Steven P. Jones, Ph.D., has been named the 2018 Outstanding Investigator from the International Society for Heart Research.

University of Louisville researcher Steven P. Jones, Ph.D., was named the 2018 Outstanding Investigator from the International Society for Heart Research on Tuesday at the society’s meeting in Amsterdam.

The annual Outstanding Investigator Award, one of the society’s highest and most prestigious, recognizes a scientist who is making major and independent contributions to the advancement of cardiovascular science, and is leading a growing research program likely to play a major role in the future.

Jones is a senior faculty member at UofL’s Institute of Molecular Cardiology and a professor at the UofL School of Medicine. A goal of his research is to understand the mechanisms of cardiac muscle damage during a heart attack, and to develop novel therapeutics to preserve the heart. He also is investigating the confounding influence of risk factors, such as diabetes, on the development of heart disease, and the molecular explanations of ventricular remodeling and heart failure.

Jones was chosen by an international panel of experts from among some of the best scientists in the world. The winner presents a major lecture and receives a $1,500 honorarium and plaque. Jones delivered his lecture Tuesday morning at the meeting, which is taking place July 16-19 at Vrije University Medical Center in Amsterdam. The meeting is focused on basic and translational research in cardiology. The topic of his lecture was “Non-catabolic Fates of Glucose in the Heart.”

The International Society for Heart Research, which has 3,000 members on five continents, is an international organization devoted to promoting cardiovascular research.  It is dedicated to the discovery and dissemination of knowledge in cardiovascular science worldwide, and publishes the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology.

The Outstanding Investigator Award was created by UofL researcher Roberto Bolli, M.D., when he served as the society’s secretary general nearly two decades ago. Bolli is the director of UofL’s Institute of Molecular Cardiology and scientific director of UofL’s Cardiovascular Innovation Institute. He is also a professor and chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at UofL. The award is for established investigators in the intermediate phase of their academic career.

“The roster of previous recipients for the Outstanding Investigator Award is simply amazing,” Bolli said. “We are proud of Steven, and grateful for his support in the research mission of the Institute of Molecular Cardiology here at UofL. He has been one of my best recruits ever.”

Jones serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology, Basic Research in Cardiology, and Circulation Research. Since 2012, Dr. Jones also has been associate/consulting editor for the American Journal of Physiology — Heart and Circulatory Physiology.

He regularly serves on editorial boards and review panels for the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health. He recently started a term as chairperson of the Myocardial Ischemia and Metabolism Study Section of the NIH’s Center for Scientific Review. In addition to Jones, the study section consists of 18 experts from around the U.S.

Jones received his doctorate in physiology in 2002 from Louisiana State University. After graduation, he joined Johns Hopkins University, where he focused on mitochondrial function with the goal of developing a deeper understanding of the metabolism-dependent mechanisms of cell death and survival. He came to UofL in 2004.

UofL Hospital, partners offering free testing for hepatitis C across city on World Hepatitis Day

All groups may be at risk for hepatitis C, which can have no symptoms
UofL Hospital, partners offering free testing for hepatitis C  across city on World Hepatitis Day

University of Louisville Hospital and community partners will be offering free hepatitis C screenings at 18 locations in Louisville and surrounding counties for World Hepatitis Day on Saturday, July 28.

University of Louisville Hospital and community partners will be offering free hepatitis C screenings at 18 locations in Louisville and surrounding counties for World Hepatitis Day on Saturday, July 28.

Hepatitis C, a blood-borne illness, is prevalent in the Louisville area and throughout the state. Currently, providers are encouraged to test for hepatitis C only in patients with certain risk factors or are from the Baby Boom generation (born 1946-1964). 

“A growing body of evidence suggests age and risk-based screening is missing a significant number of people, including children, with hepatitis C infection. Universal hepatitis C screening will be a future standard of care,” said Barbra Cave, a family nurse practitioner specializing in gastroenterology and hepatology who leads the Hep C Center at UofL Hospital. Cave is helping to organize the event.

Kentucky has one of the highest hepatitis C infection rates in the country – seven times the national average. “Up to half of patients who have it may not know they are infected, and people may carry the disease for decades before they have symptoms,” Cave said.

While in the past certain groups were known to be at risk, Cave said a recent spike in hepatitis C cases among those who have no or unrecognized risk factors has prompted health officials to consider screening all adults. This spring, the state of Kentucky passed a law requiring all pregnant women to be tested for hepatitis C, as the disease can be passed from mother to baby. The law went into effect July 1. Kentucky is the first state in the nation to require universal hepatitis C screening in pregnant women.

“The goal of the World Hepatitis Day screening event is to expand testing and awareness, link more people to curative treatment, and normalize the conversation about hepatitis C,” said Cave. “There should be no stigma surrounding hepatitis C. Anyone could have it, including babies.”

Screenings will be offered from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday, July 28. Screening is done with a simple finger prick, similar to checking a blood sugar, and results will be available on site in 20 minutes. Hepatitis C experts will be available at all sites to answer questions, and help link those affected by hepatitis C to appropriate care.

This is the second year UofL Hospital and community partners are offering the free screenings on World Hepatitis Day. Screening sites, staffed by more than 130 health care volunteers, will be set up in Louisville and Jefferson County, along with sites in Oldham, Shelby and Bullitt counties and Clark County, Indiana. Last year, 488 people were tested. Cave said she hopes to double that number this year.

There are some known risk factors for hepatitis C:

  • Born between 1945 and 1965. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends  screening for all baby boomers.
  • A blood transfusion or organ transplant prior to 1992
  • Had blood filtered by a machine (hemodialysis) for a long period of time because kidneys were not working
  • IV drug use at any point in life, even if just once
  • Intranasal drug use at any point in life
  • HIV or hepatitis B infection
  • Healthcare workers exposed to blood through a needle stick or other contact with blood or bodily fluids
  • Exposure to contaminated tattoo equipment, including ink
  • Men who have sex with other men
  • Prior military service. “Older veterans are particularly at risk due to the use of the old ‘jet gun’ vaccinators by the military, and from combat injuries requiring blood transfusion,” Cave said.

Contaminated dental equipment, such as that used before most items were single patient/single use, may have also spread hepatitis C, and Cave said the virus can live on a surface for six weeks if not sterilized properly.

But there are many cases of hepatitis C that are not tied to any risk factors, Cave said.

Left untreated, the disease can cause major complications. It can cause cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer, and is a leading cause of liver transplant. Hepatitis C may also predispose those infected to diabetes and depression, and has an association with joint pain, certain skin disorders and lymphoma.

World Hepatitis Day is marked across the globe on July 28 every year. The purpose is to increase awareness of viral hepatitis, including hepatitis A, B and C. “We have a local goal to decrease the stigma about hepatitis C, and let people know it is easy to test for and treat,” said Cave.

“Some may still remember the old days of treating hep C when treatment was difficult,” Cave said. “It involved a triple therapy with interferon that lasted almost a year, with multiple side effects. Not everyone was a candidate for treatment, and some patients opted to not get treated at all.

“Today, hepatitis C is easily curable and relatively inexpensive to treat. Treatment is one pill, once a day, for 8-12 weeks – with minimal side effects. It is covered by almost all insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid. Cost and side effects are no longer an excuse to defer treatment.”

Partners with UofL Hospital in the screening event include the Louisville Metro Department of Health and Wellness, the Kentucky Department of Public Health, KentuckyOne Health, Volunteers of America, the Sullivan University College of Pharmacy, the nursing programs of Galen University and Bellarmine University, and University of Louisville Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry and Public Health.

Free hep C testing sites on July 28

  • St. Matthews Mall (2 sites within the mall), 5000 Shelbyville Road, Louisville, 40207
  • Walgreens, 3980 Dixie Highway, Louisville, 40216
  • Walmart, 10445 Dixie Highway, Louisville, 40272
  • Walmart, 500 Taylorsville Road, Shelbyville, 40065
  • Walgreens, 152 N. Buckman St., Shepherdsville, 40165
  • Walgreens, 4310 Outer Loop, Okolona, 40219
  • Wayside Christian Mission, 432 East Jefferson St., Louisville, 40202
  • CVS Pharmacy, 1002 Spring St., Jeffersonville, IN 47130
  • CVS Pharmacy, 1950 State St., New Albany, IN 47150
  • Kroger, 10645 Dixie Highway, Louisville, 40272
  • Walmart, 7100 Raggard Road, Louisville, 40216
  • Southwest Family YMCA, 2800 Fordhaven Road, Louisville, 40214
  • Oldham County Family YMCA, 20 Quality Place, Buckner, 40010
  • Kroger, 2710 W. Broadway, Louisville, 40211
  • CVS Pharmacy, 3229 Poplar Level Road, Louisville, 40213
  • Walmart, 11901 Standiford Plaza Drive, Louisville, 40229
  • St. Stephen Church, 1018 S. 15th St., Louisville, 40210
  • Churchill Downs, Backside

UofL film aims to change the way students are taught CPR

Scenario is one students can relate to, hope is to aid skill retention
UofL film aims to change the way students are taught CPR

Filming on a new CPR training film developed by UofL cardiologist Lorrel Brown, M.D.

A beloved high school basketball coach suffers cardiac arrest at practice. Alone with his players, they are forced to step in to help save his life until an ambulance can arrive.

Dramatic, yes, but it’s a scene that could happen, and it’s the plot of a new CPR training film developed by a University of Louisville doctor. Lorrel Brown, M.D., physician director for resuscitation at UofL Hospital and an assistant professor at the UofL School of Medicine, is hoping the novel approach will improve high school CPR training by helping students remember what they have learned by applying it to a real-life situation they can relate to.

CPR instruction in high school is now required by law in a growing number of states. Thirty-nine states have passed laws requiring the training before graduation, including Kentucky, which passed its law in 2016. Similar laws are being considered in the remaining states.

“The goal is to create a real, emotional scenario,” said Brown. “There are so many lives that could be saved if more Americans knew CPR, and we have all of these students coming out of high school with CPR training.”

About 4 million students per year now graduate with CPR training. Brown has studied CPR training in high school, with her work recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. She found CPR skill retention in high school students was poor, with only 30 percent able to perform adequate CPR six months after training. She also found that there was no standard method of implementation.

“We wanted to know, is there a better way to do it?” she said.

That’s where the film comes in. Working with the local Start the Heart Foundation and using $10,000 in grant money she received from winning the prestigious Stamler award for young researchers at Northwestern University last October, she modeled the film after one done in the United Kingdom, where CPR training also is required.

The interactive film, designed for classroom use in high schools and shot at Ballard High School by a local film company, forces students to make choices along the way about how to respond. It will be rolled out in local high schools this fall, then Brown will determine whether it improves skill retention. If it does - and Brown said she believes it will - the plan is to expand it across Kentucky and the nation.

“This could be a game-changer in the way CPR is taught in the United States,” she said.

The film used six local high school and college actors, and paramedics from Louisville Metro Emergency Medical Services, who brought an ambulance for one scene. In the film, the coach (Brown’s real-life husband, who auditioned for the part) stuffers cardiac arrest during basketball practice, and staggers out into the lobby, where he becomes unconscious and falls onto the floor. He is found by a player, who, along with the other students at practice, must call an ambulance and perform CPR on the coach together until the paramedics arrive. The coach regains consciousness, and the students are congratulated by paramedics for saving his life.

In the United States, 350,000 people suffer cardiac arrest outside a hospital each year. Only 30 percent get bystander CPR, which affects whether they survive, Brown said. Only 11 percent of the 350,000 receive CPR. Brown has said that if CPR survival improved by just 1 percent, 3,500 more people would live.

Expanding and improving CPR training has been a personal mission for Brown, who has worked for several years on unique approaches.  These days, effective CPR is hands-only, removing a barrier for some from the old mouth-to-mouth method. She also founded and directs a program called “Alive in 5” (, a five-minute method of teaching CPR she developed.

The American Heart Association wants to double the percentage of cardiac arrest victims who receive bystander CPR by 2020, and CPR training in high schools has been endorsed by a variety of organizations.

“It’s important that people be willing to act, and that they remember the skills that they’ve learned,” she said. “As most cardiac arrests that don’t occur in a hospital happen in homes, it is likely they will save the life of someone important to them.”

See the filming

To watch a video on the making of the film, click here.

More on CPR training

Watch a video on how to perform hands-only CPR, and find printable posters and fact sheets, on the American Heart Association’s web site here.

About the Start the Heart Foundation

The Start the Heart Foundation is a group dedicated to teaching hands-only CPR classes to improve survival from cardiac arrest in the community.  Classes are free and taught by CPR-certified college students. The foundation educates people about cardiac arrest and empowers them to act during a cardiac emergency. For classes and other information, visit the website at

M&I Faculty Publish Back-to-Back High Impact Articles in 2018

Bing LiDr. Bing Li's discovery of a novel molecular link between obesity and breast cancer entitled "Circulating Adipose Fatty Acid Binding Protein is a Link Underlying Obesity-Associated Breast/Mammary Tumor Development," appeared in the online version of the November 2018 issue of Cell Metabolism (2017 impact factor 20.565).  The study was the result of a long-standing collaborative project between the Li lab and colleagues at the University of Minnesota, Hartford Healthcare Cancer Center in Connecticut and Peking University in China.  Separately, Dr. Bing Li was selected to be featured in NCI’s electronic newsletter, Nutrition Frontiers, a publication of the Nutritional Science Research Group (NSRG), NCI, NIH. The NSRG Program staff selected him based on the high level of enthusiasm for his research efforts on Prevention of Breast cancer Development by Epidermal Fatty Acid Binding Protein as well as his past contributions in the field of nutrition and cancer prevention.  He will be featured in the section, “Investigator Spotlight” in October.






Haval Shirwan

Dr. Haval Shirwan, along with a team of researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan published on a potential new therapy for treating Type 1 Diabetes.  This new therapy involves the use of a novel technology for islet cell transplantation.  More information regarding Dr. Shirwan's, et al., research may be found in Nature Materials (2017 impact factor 39.737).






Huang-Ge ZhangDr. Huang-Ge Zhang’s paper entitled “Plant-derived exosomal microRNAs shape the gut microbiota” has been accepted for publication in the journal “Cell Host Microbe” (2017 impact factor 17.87).  The article will be featured on the cover.   It describes the novel finding that diet-derived exosome-like nanoparticles can selectively modulate the metabolism of gut-resident bacteria via microRNA, which ultimately impacts  immune homeostasis in the gut.


Jones begins term as NIH study section chairman

Leading UofL cardiology researcher to head the Myocardial Ischemia and Metabolism Study Section
Jones begins term as NIH study section chairman

Steven P. Jones, Ph.D., FAHA

In looking for a top authority to lead one of its featured research groups, the National Institutes of Health turned to one of the University of Louisville's leading cardiology researchers.

Steven P. Jones, Ph.D., FAHA, professor of medicine in UofL's Division of Cardiovascular Medicine recently started his term as chairperson of the Myocardial Ischemia and Metabolism Study Section of the NIH's Center for Scientific Review.

Jones, a University Scholar who also directs the Imaging & Physiology Core in UofL's Diabetes and Obesity Center, began his one-year term on July 1, 2018.

The Myocardial Ischemia and Metabolism (MIM) Study Section reviews applications involving basic and applied aspects of myocardial ischemia/reperfusion, coronary circulation, and myocardial metabolism.

It includes the review of studies using molecular, genetic, cellular, biochemical, pharmacological, genomic, proteomic, and physiological approaches to define normal and pathological processes.

MIM also evaluates study proposals ranging from in vitro models of simulated ischemia in isolated cells to whole animal models to human studies.

In addition to Jones, the study section consists of 18 experts from around the U.S.

According to the NIH, study section members are selected on the basis of their demonstrated competence and achievement in their scientific discipline as evidenced by the quality of research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals, and other significant scientific activities, achievements and honors.

In addition, service on a study section also requires mature judgment and objectivity as well as the ability to work effectively in a group.

Parents: Don't share the slide with your kids

Parents: Don't share the slide with your kids

A seemingly simple and fun activity that parents may want to share with their children could have serious medical repercussions, as evidenced by a video currently popular on Facebook.

Sharing a ride down a slide with your child may appear to be fun but it could cause serious injury, said Heather Felton, M.D., medical director of the UofL Pediatrics - Sam Swope Kosair Charities Centre. Felton cites a USA Today photo showing a playground accident that broke a 1-year-old girl’s leg, leading to national attention to slide safety for little ones.

In a video shared to Facebook on an incident that took place in 2015, Heather Clare of Huntington, N.Y., shared footage in which she put her 1-year-old daughter on her lap and took her “down a slide during a family outing at a local park.” The child’s “right foot caught the side of the slide, snapping her tibia and fibula.” In her Facebook post, Clare advocated “for warning signs at playgrounds telling parents not to ride down slides” with their kids.

Felton agrees. ““From 2002-15, there were 350,000 children under the age of five who were injured on slides, according to the Centers for Disease Control. A 2017 study published in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that more than 350,000 children younger than 6 years old were injured by going down a slide in the United States between 2002 and 2015,” she said.

“In the majority of cases, children experienced a fracture after their foot caught the edge or bottom of a slide while sitting on a parent’s lap.”

For the safest outcome, Felton said, parents should allow their child to go down slides alone.