Researchers find expert panel reliable, accurate in identifying injuries in young children as abusive, accidental

Findings from UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences published this month in the Journal of Pediatrics
Researchers find expert panel reliable, accurate in identifying injuries in young children as abusive, accidental

Doug Lorenz, Ph.D.

When a child is brought to a pediatric emergency department with an injury, it can be difficult for physicians to precisely identify whether the injury is the result of abuse or an accident. One approach is to employ the opinion of a panel of pediatric injury experts.

In a study led by University of Louisville biostatistician Doug Lorenz, Ph.D., associate professor, School of Public Health and Information Sciences, the reliability and accuracy of a nine-member expert panel was measured in determining the likelihood of abuse in more than 2,000 cases. The results of the study that published recently in the Journal of Pediatrics found nearly perfect reliability and accuracy of the panel both individually and as a composite.

“Decision rules for identifying  injuries from abuse are valuable for settings such as pediatric emergency departments - in these cases, reliability and accuracy of human judgement is needed since victims of child abuse are at high risk of future abuse and death,” Lorenz said.

Each panelist received de-identified case information, including current and past data of the patient’s visit to a pediatric emergency department. The panelists independently rated the likelihood of abuse on a 5-level classification scale as “definite abuse,” “likely abuse,” “indeterminate,” “likely accident,” and “definite accident”. Each individual also provided a “yes” or “no” answer to a question on whether to report the case to state child protective services.
The study examined injuries involving children less than 4-years-old who visited pediatric emergency departments between 2011 and 2016 at five children’s hospitals in the United States. The expert panel included four child abuse pediatricians, four emergency medicine physicians and one bioengineer with expertise in pediatric injury.

At least two panelists reviewed each of the 2,166 cases. There was unanimous agreement in 852 cases (39-percent). An additional 1,048 cases (48-percent) exhibited partial agreement, where all panelists provided classifications of abuse (definite or likely) or accident (definite or likely). There were 44 instances (2-percent) of abuse-accident disagreement, none of which were in the definite category. In the remaining 222 cases (10-perecent), all panelists gave classifications of indeterminate.

The study tested the accuracy of the expert panel based on 584 of the 2,166 cases that could be more definitively classified as abuse or accidental based on other information learned after the child’s visit to the emergency department. This included video of an event, a third party account, a confession of abuse or criminal conviction of abuse, to name a few examples. Individual panelists accurately classified between 95 and 98-percent of the abuse cases and between 99 and 100-percent of the accident cases.

“We have demonstrated the reliability and accuracy of the expert panel approach, and suggest this method provides a suitable set of criteria for the future evaluation of clinical decision rules for identifying child abuse,” Lorenz said.

Lorenz collaborated with other UofL colleagues in the School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics and J.B. Speed School of Engineering. The study also involved researchers at the Northwestern University, University of Pittsburg, University of Utah, University of Washington and Yale University.


'Match Madness' once again a success for UofL Internal Medicine residency programs

Internal Medicine, Combined Med-Peds residency groups both fill their available spots with another set of strong incoming classes
'Match Madness' once again a success for UofL Internal Medicine residency programs

UofL fourth-year medical students celebrate Match Day 2018, when they found out where they will continue the residency portion of their medical education.


Who said the madness of March was confined to the basketball court?

March 16 was Match Day for University of Louisville medical students, and others nationwide, as they opened their envelopes from the National Residency Match Program to find where they had been matched for their future training as residents.

"I would like to welcome an excellent group of young doctors to the internal medicine residency program," Jennifer Koch, M.D., FACP, Director of the UofL Internal Medicine Residency Program said. "We are honored to train this accomplished and diverse class of interns."

Conducted annually by the NRMP, The Match uses a computerized algorithm designed to the best results by aligning the preferences of applicants with the preferences of residency programs. The results are used to fill thousands of training positions available in the United States.

The UofL Internal Medicine Residency Program successfully filled all of its 24 categorical and 12 preliminary positions.

In addition the Combined Internal Medicine-Pediatrics Residency Program, under the direction of Laura Workman, M.D., added five new members.

Our incoming Class of 2021 includes:

Categorical Residents

  • Agastaya Nelur - Seth G.S. Medical College
  • Thomas Bierman - University of Louisville
  • James Bradley - University of Louisville
  • Wenjing Cai - Indiana University
  • Aaditya Chandramouli - Indiana University
  • Rishi Charate - University of Missouri-Kansas City
  • Sirmad Chaudhary - East Tennessee State University
  • Scott Diamond - Nova Southeastern College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Mohamed Elmasry - Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Khusboo Gala - Grant Government Medical College
  • Katherine George - Nova Southeastern College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Margaux Hetzman - Central Michigan University
  • Parth Jadav - University of Louisville
  • Yiran Jiang - Indiana University
  • Bokhodir Mamedov - University of Louisville
  • Leondrus McIver - Morehouse School of Medicine
  • Kyle Mills - University of Pikeville
  • Cody Moore - Indiana University
  • Chris Moser - Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Sahil Patel - Drexel University
  • Gayatri Suresh Kumar - University of Arkansas
  • Ashley Twyman - Louisiana State University Shreveport
  • Pradheep Vermula - The Ohio State University
  • James Vernace - Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine


Preliminary Residents

  • Ali Cohen - University of Iowa
  • Michael Del Busto - University of Cincinnati
  • Bryan Edwards - Indiana University
  • Collin Gamble - University of Louisville
  • Brian Gordon - University of Louisville
  • Dagan Kaht - University of Louisville
  • Aleksander Krazinski - Medical College of South Carolina
  • Samantha Sears - University of Louisville
  • Laura Taylor - George Washington University
  • Graham Trent - University of Maryland
  • Razvan Turcu - University of Louisville
  • Mengmeng Zheng - Indiana University


Combined Med-Peds Residents

  • Ariel Carpenter - University of Missouri
  • Caitlin McKenzie - Loyola University Chicago
  • Adam Neff - University of Louisville
  • Jonathan Phillips - Kansas City University
  • Kasey Reed - University of Louisville

March Madness doesn’t have to mean losing control over eating

March Madness doesn’t have to mean losing control over eating

Alternatives such as pretzels in place of high-fat chips, mini instead of full-size meatballs and the use of non-fat Greek yogurt in dips can help you be a champion of healthy snacking during March Madness.

New Year’s resolutions made in January to eat healthy don’t have to be sabotaged during March Madness, said Whitney Cessna, M.S., R.D.N., L.D.N, diabetes educator at University of Louisville Physicians-Pediatric Endocrinology. With a little information on how to practice good habits for snacking, you can be a champion at healthy eating.

“I recommend the practice of what we call ‘mindful eating,’” said Cessna, who provides services with the Wendy Novak Diabetes Center managed jointly by UofL and Norton Children’s Hospital. “Whether it’s the craziness of the ballgame itself or the stress of hosting a watch party, overeating can easily happen, and you should be mindful of that.”

Here are a few simple guidelines Cessna recommends to practice mindful eating during March Madness:

  • Listen to your body and stop eating when you are full. It takes about 20 minutes for the satiation signal to reach the brain, which is why we often overeat unconsciously.
  • When your stomach is growling or if you feel like your energy is low…eat. Don’t ignore the signals your body gives you or you could overeat later.
  • Eat with others at the same time to help prevent wandering around and eating at random times and places.
  • When it’s time to eat, just eat. Try not to be on your cell phone or engaging in other activities. This can cause overconsumption.
  • As much as possible, eat foods that are healthy and full of nutrients.
  • Try baking, not frying when preparing cheese sticks, wings or other game-time favorites to cut down on calories.
  • Serving size matters; serve mini corn dogs, mini meatballs or hamburger sliders when indulging in higher carb/fat foods.
  • Seek out crunchy alternatives; instead of potato chips, try carrots, celery or low-fat pretzels.
  • Use skim or reduced fat products when possible when making recipes with cream cheese or shredded cheese. Avoid regular mayo and use avocado mayo instead.
  • If making ranch or taco dip, use non-fat plain Greek yogurt.
  • If eating or making dips, serve with pita bread or baked chips rather than higher-fat fried chips.

Cessna offers the following recipes to help March Madness party planners provide healthy alternatives:


Black Bean & Corn Quinoa Salad

Serving size: ½ cup      Carbs in serving: 15 g


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • ½ cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Roma tomato
  • 1 tbsp. red onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup frozen corn
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. cilantro, chopped


  • Cook quinoa according to package directions
  • In a large bowl, add all ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined
  • Serve immediately or chill in refrigerator and serve later on.


Wonton Taco Cups

Serving Size: 3 cups     Carbs in serving: 28 g


  • 24 wonton wrappers
  • 1 lb. 85/15 or 90/10 ground beef
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • Toppings of choice: shredded lettuce, salsa, shredded cheese, plain Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream), avocado, cilantro


  • Preheat oven to 375˚ F.
  • Cook ground beef in skillet over medium heat until done. Drain. Stir in taco seasoning and cook according to package directions.
  • Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray. Gently push wonton wrappers down in the cups. Add a second wonton wrapper on top of each cup, rotated slightly where the corners of both wrappers show.
  • Distribute ground beef mixture evenly between the 12 cups
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown
  • Top with taco toppings of your choice and serve


Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Celery Sticks (Low Carb)


  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ¾ cup plain, Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup hot sauce of your choice
  • ¼ - ½ diced onion (*optional)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 bunch celery (8-10 medium stalks cut into 2-3 inch pieces)
  • Blue cheese, crumbled


  • Add chicken breasts to bottom of crockpot/slow cooker
  • Combine yogurt, hot sauce, onion, garlic, and garlic powder in a bowl.
  • Cook on high for 3-4 hours or until chicken is cooked through.
  • Transfer chicken to a medium bowl and shred with 2 forks.
  • Fill celery sticks with chicken filling (1-2 tbsp. each)
  • Top with crumbled blue cheese, if desired


Chicken Salad with Apple Slices


  • 1, 9 oz. pkg chicken breast strips, cooked
  • 3 apples
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup celery, chopped
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp. light cream cheese spread with veggies
  • 2 tbsp. avocado mayo
  • Salt & pepper, to taste


  • In a bowl, combine cream cheese, mayo, vinegar, and pepper. Stir in chicken breasts, celery, and dried cranberries.
  • Slice apples into small, round circular, thin pieces.
  • Serve chicken salad on top


Zucchini Pizza Bites


  • ¼ cup mini pepperoni
  • 3 zucchini
  • 1/3 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp. EVOO (olive oil)
  • ½ cup low-fat mozzarella


  • Preheat oven to broil
  • Heat EVOO in large skillet over medium high heat. In small batches, add zucchini and cook, flipping just one time until golden brown on each side. Should be about 1-2 minutes. Season with salt & pepper, to taste.
  • Place zucchini rounds on a baking sheet. Top each zucchini round with a little marinara, mozzarella, and pepperoni minis. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning.
  • Put in oven and make until cheese has melted, about 1-2 minutes, and serve.


University of Louisville and Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center achieve 500th heart transplant

Celebration commemorates milestone
University of Louisville and Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center achieve 500th heart transplant

UofL's Mark Slaughter, M.D., performed the 500th heart transplant for the UofL and Jewish Hospital transplant team.

The University of Louisville and the Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center marked an important milestone on Wednesday – the 500th heart transplant performed at the hospital since the heart transplant program began there nearly 35 years ago.

“As we end American Heart Month, it’s the perfect time to share this wonderful news,” said Mark Slaughter, M.D., surgical director of heart transplant for University of Louisville Physicians and Jewish Hospital, and professor and chair, Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, UofL School of Medicine.

Dr. Slaughter performed the 500th transplant on Wednesday, Feb. 21, on a 59-year-old man who had a left ventricular assist device implanted to support his heart until the donor heart was available for transplant. An LVAD is a surgically implanted mechanical pump attached to the heart.

The first heart transplant at the hospital, which was also the first heart transplant in Kentucky, took place on Aug. 24, 1984, performed by the University of Louisville’s Laman Gray Jr., M.D. The state and region waited in suspense as 40-year-old Alice Brandenburg received a new heart. The surgery, which took seven hours, was groundbreaking at the time. The UofL and Jewish Hospital transplant team is one of the leading providers of organ transplantation in the country.

“Jewish Hospital is a place where miracles happen every day and patients’ lives are changed forever,” said Ronald Waldridge II, M.D., president of Jewish Hospital. “Five-hundred hearts is much more than a milestone. It represents the life-changing impact on our patients, their families and the entire region. Together, with UofL, Jewish Hospital’s Trager Transplant Center is investing in research, technology and advance procedures to increase access to transplant services.”

On Wednesday, doctors and heart transplant recipients gathered at the Jewish Hospital Rudd Heart and Lung Center to celebrate the 500th milestone and the many lives that have been saved over the years thanks to heart transplantation. 

“The 500th heart transplant is a reminder of the commitment by Jewish Hospital and the University of Louisville to provide advanced therapies for patients with advanced heart failure,” said Dr. Slaughter. “We’ve come a long way since Dr. Gray broke ground with that first heart transplant more than 30 years ago. Every day, we continue to advance the science of heart transplantation here at UofL and Jewish Hospital. I’m excited about the future of this program, and I’m confident that we’ll mark a lot more milestones over the next 30 years.”

For Dr. Gray, Wednesday’s celebration marked decades of dedication to the heart transplant program.

“After performing the first heart transplant, it means a lot to me to see the 500th and where we are today,” said Dr. Gray.

Gray continues to research new ways to help patients with heart disease at UofL’s Cardiovascular Innovation Institute, a center focused on bio-adaptive heart innovations, including the integration of heart-assist device, biodfeedback sensors and related technologies. In 2001, Gray and the Trager-UofL surgical team implanted the first fully implantable replacement heart, the AbioCor™.

Today, patients like Jeffrey McMahan continue to benefit from the heart transplant program. McMahan was the center’s 479th heart transplant, and he attended the celebration on Wednesday along with other recipients.

Before his heart transplant, McMahan, 61, was no stranger to the procedure – it had helped save many of his family members. The Memphis, Indiana, resident had four family members receive heart transplants - two by University of Louisville surgeons at Jewish Hospital. In 2015, McMahan learned he, too, needed one.

“I was serving in the military at Fort Knox when I developed a cough,” said McMahan. “It finally got bad enough that doctors flew me to Jewish Hospital, where I was diagnosed with a cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart muscle is weakened. I learned that I would need a transplant in the next 10 years, but that timeframe quickly changed to 10 months after my condition worsened.”

On Aug. 15, 2015, McMahan was added to the organ donor transplant list. A month later, he received the transplant that forever changed his life.

“I wouldn’t have lived without the transplant,” McMahan said. “It means a lot to be here to celebrate the 500th. I’m forever thankful to the transplant team that helped save my life and gave me more time with family.”

It has been an exciting year for the Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center and University of Louisville team. In December 2017, the center – a joint program with the UofL School of Medicine and KentuckyOne Health – broke its all-time record for number of organs transplanted in the center’s 53-year history, with 175 organs transplanted in a year. The center also achieved several other milestones in 2017, including its 5,000th transplanted organ, its 3,000th kidney transplant and its 900th liver 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.

But the 500th heart transplant and other milestones wouldn’t have been reached without organ donors, noted David Lewis, director of Transplant Services at the Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center.

“We often encourage people to sign up as organ donors to help save lives. The need for organ donors is unfortunately greater than the number of people who donate, so each day, an average of 20 people pass away while waiting for a transplant in the United States,” Lewis said. “Knowing that we have helped save 500 people in need of a new heart is a wonderful feeling, and it would not be possible without the donors and their families.”

For information on the Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center, visit

For video of the first heart transplant at Jewish Hospital, visit

$550,000 goal set for raiseRED Dance Marathon

Annual event helps fight pediatric cancer and blood disorders
$550,000 goal set for raiseRED Dance Marathon

raiseRED generated more than $459,000 in 2017 to fight pediatric cancer and blood disorders, and organizers intend to raise almost $100,000 more at the 2018 event on Feb. 23.

It’s time to shake it for a good cause. The University of Louisville student group raiseRED kicks off its 18-hour dance marathon Feb. 23 to fight pediatric cancer and blood disorders.

About 1,000 dancers will try to raise $550,000, about $100,000 more than the record-breaking amount the group collected last year.   

Patrick McSweeney, a freshman engineering student, is well on his way. Thanks to a viral video McSweeney made detailing his own battle with cancer, he’s already raised $20,000.

McSweeney, who is 18, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, when he was 5 years old. He learned last month that he has relapsed for the sixth time. He delayed his next cancer treatment in Philadelphia by a week so he could attend raiseRED and help others.

“I want to turn this negative situation of relapsing into a positive,” he said. “I want to help others, so that no one else experiences what I’ve been through, no one has to relapse six times. One time is enough. They can be cancer free after one time.”

The dance marathon kicks off at 6 p.m. Feb. 23 in the Swain Student Activities Center. The night is a mix of dancing, testimonials by patients and special guests to keep the dancers energized and focused on how their participation makes a difference.

The public is invited to take part in the Community Celebration from 10:30 a.m.-noon Feb. 24, which culminates in the grand reveal of the total number of dollars raised.

All funds from raiseRED go to research and patient care at the UofL Division of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation.

Learn more at To make a donation, go

Dr. Julio Ramirez Presents at Department of Medicine Grand Rounds

February 15, 2018 - "Clinical Research: From Idea to Publication"
Dr. Julio Ramirez Presents at Department of Medicine Grand Rounds

Julio A. Ramirez, M.D., FACP, Professor of Medicine/Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology; Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases; Director, Infectious Diseases Fellowship Training Program and Founding Director, Global Health Initiative at The University of Louisville, presented "Clinical Research: From Idea to Publication" at University of Louisville Department of Medicine Grand Rounds on February 15, 2018. The talk focused on performing an overview of clinical study designs, describing the planning and performing of a clinical study, reviewing the process for statistical and clinical analysis, and presenting the structure of a Clinical Research Coordinating Center.

A recording of the presentation may be viewed at the following link: UofL Dept. of Medicine Grand Rounds: Dr. Julio Ramirez

Dr. Julio Ramirez Presents at Department of Medicine Grand Rounds

February 15, 2018 - "Clinical Research: From Idea to Publication"
Dr. Julio Ramirez Presents at Department of Medicine Grand Rounds

Julio A. Ramirez, M.D., FACP, Professor of Medicine/Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology; Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases; Director, Infectious Diseases Fellowship Training Program and Founding Director, Global Health Initiative at The University of Louisville, presented "Clinical Research: From Idea to Publication" at University of Louisville Department of Medicine Grand Rounds on February 15, 2018. The talk focused on performing an overview of clinical study designs, describing the planning and performing of a clinical study, reviewing the process for statistical and clinical analysis, and presenting the structure of a Clinical Research Coordinating Center.

A recording of the presentation may be viewed at the following link: UofL Dept. of Medicine Grand Rounds: Dr. Julio Ramirez

It’s Heart Month. We know smoking is bad. So why don’t we quit?

New UofL treatment program addresses why our relationship with tobacco is ‘complicated’
It’s Heart Month. We know smoking is bad. So why don’t we quit?

The University of Louisville’s Rachel Keith, Ph.D., APRN, is a specialist in cardiovascular medicine and tobacco treatment and runs the new UofL Physicians Tobacco Treatment Clinic.

Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body. It causes about 1 in every 5 deaths in the United States each year, and is the main preventable cause of death and illness. We know the harmful effects of tobacco, so why is it so hard for people to quit?

“The benefits of not smoking, in particular to the heart, are huge. And with February being American Heart Month, it’s a good time to think about quitting,” said the University of Louisville’s Rachel Keith, Ph.D., APRN, a specialist in cardiovascular medicine and tobacco treatment. “But it’s a lot more than just halting a bad habit. That’s why we can say our relationship with tobacco is, ‘complicated.’”

Keith, who runs the new UofL Physicians Tobacco Treatment Clinic, said there are “strange dynamics” with tobacco.

“Smoking cessation is hard in general,” she said. “Helping patients to quit smoking often involves a lot of talking and figuring things out.

“We have to really get at WHY they smoke. Perhaps their grandmother died at age 100 even though she smoked, so they don’t believe there’s a connection. Or, she got them smoking and that’s their connection to her now that she’s gone.”

She said many people who come to the clinic have smoked for 30 or 40 years, and they are hesitant to quit. “That’s because it’s almost a part of them. In their view, you are taking away something they don’t know how to replace.”

She said she encourages patients to try different things and look for healthier alternatives when they have the urge for a cigarette.

“But when I ask them, ‘What are some other things you like to do for 10-15 minutes?,’ a whole lot of people can’t name those things. Many don’t have anything else. We try to help them find them, whether it’s a hobby or something like taking a walk,” she said.

But again, it’s complicated.

“A lot of patients feel sick, so they think they can’t get out and walk, even though they know it will be easier when they quit. There’s just a lot that goes into smoking, culturally and hormonally.”

People “can’t see the immediate effects of quitting, but they can quickly gain the rewards of smoking, because it’s almost instant. The body actually gets hard-wired to anticipate the effects from tobacco.”

That’s why the new clinic approaches all the factors that make it hard for people to stop, making it Louisville’s only comprehensive tobacco treatment program.

Keith meets with patients and develops a personal, individualized approach that best suits each patient’s needs. During sessions, Keith and patients discuss the benefits of stopping smoking, medication options, and different skills, such as mindfulness and relaxation, to help overcome anxiety.

Medications to treat withdrawal symptoms are paired with the cognitive-behavioral therapy to help patients sustain attempts to quit. Any medical issues also are addressed. One treatment Keith is studying is how to increase people’s motivation with virtual reality therapy, where an immersive session allows patients to imagine what life will be like once they’ve quit.

“The good news is, this type of program has been proven over and over as the most effective method for long-term cessation,” Keith said. “But until we opened, it was hard to find one in this area to get into.”

She said those who try to quit on their own have about a 6 percent chance of succeeding. If they work with a health provider, their chances improve to 10 percent to 15 percent. But with the comprehensive program, patients see a success rate of 30 percent and above.

“Those who have come through the program have done really well,” she said. “Almost everyone who comes through has quit.”

It generally takes about six sessions, usually once a week or every other week, to complete. Afterward, patients return on a more limited basis, and Keith follows up by phone.

Anyone who wants to quit smoking can come to the clinic, and many insurance plans will cover the program at little or no cost to the patient. It is located in Suite 310 of the UofL Physicians Health Care Outpatient Center, 401 E. Chestnut St.

To make an appointment, call 502-588-4600.

Valentine’s Day: For a healthy heart, strengthen your relationships

Risk factors for heart disease now include loneliness
Valentine’s Day: For a healthy heart, strengthen your relationships

University of Louisville cardiologist Lorrel Brown, M.D.

According to The Beatles, love is all you need. While it may not be all you need, there’s evidence it makes the heart healthier.

On Valentine’s Day, people may find themselves celebrating their relationships, or contemplating their lack of one. However, it’s not just love in the traditional sense that affects the heart, but also social bonds with friends and family.

University of Louisville cardiologist Lorrel Brown, M.D., studies the heart and says there is definitely a correlation between heart attacks, heart failure and other cardiac problems and loneliness, depression and anxiety.

While doctors know about the effects of diet, blood pressure and cholesterol on the heart, “now the medical community is interested in other components of heart health, that whole body connection,” Brown said. “Emotions are definitely part of this new way of understanding the body. Ideal cardiovascular health is now going beyond things you’ve already heard.”

In fact, some experts – including former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, M.D. - are calling loneliness and social isolation a sort of epidemic, noting the increased risk for cardiovascular disease, among other health problems. Last month, the United Kingdom even appointed a “Minister for Loneliness” to address the finding that 9 million British people often or always feel lonely.

In an article in the Harvard Business Review in September, Murthy wrote, “Loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity.

“But we haven’t focused nearly as much effort on strengthening connections between people as we have on curbing tobacco use or obesity.”

Brown said Eastern medicine has long correlated the connection between emotions, love and health, and Western medicine is now starting to apply science to those observations.

“There’s ongoing research now into the question, ‘Is there some way to intervene?’” Brown said.

She said “Broken Heart Syndrome” (clinically named stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy) is the most clear and dramatic example of the effect of the emotions on heart health.

The phenomenon, where people actually suffer from a broken heart, is common in medical literature, and named after a Japanese takotsubo, a ceramic pot used to trap octopus, as the stressed heart takes on the pot’s shape. The condition was first identified in Japan.

It starts abruptly, with chest pain and often shortness of breath, usually triggered by an emotionally stressful event, Brown said, and it is not uncommon to see after spouses argue or one passes away. People experiencing Broken Heart Syndrome often end up in the emergency room because they think they are having a heart attack, which is caused by a blocked coronary artery.

Tests will show an unusual shape of the heart’s left ventricle (the pumping chamber), with a narrow neck and ballooned lower portion, giving the condition the “takotsubo” name. While cause is still unknown, it may be due to an increase in stress hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine, and is treated with medication to block those hormones.

While all of our social bonds are important, “it does seem that married people live longer than those who aren’t,” Brown said.

There are a few small studies that show the benefits of traditional love on the heart, and “we do know that people react most positively to stress when they are in love,” she said. The hormone released in love is the powerful oxytocin, which also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. When oxytocin levels go up, blood pressure goes down, and the heart rate slows. Inflammatory markers also tend to go down.

“However, love can apply to other types of relationships as well,” Brown said. “Happiness and companionship are an important part of heart health. People with strong bonds, whether it’s a spouse, many friends, or a close family, tend to have healthier hearts. While we don’t understand yet the nuances, there’s certainly a significant connection.”

UofL study finds Medicaid expansion in Kentucky improves breast cancer care for women ages 20-64

A University of Louisville study has found a connection between Medicaid expansion and improved quality of breast cancer care, including an increase in the early-stage diagnosis of the disease and greater utilization of breast-conserving surgery.
UofL study finds Medicaid expansion in Kentucky improves breast cancer care for women ages 20-64

University of Louisville surgeon and researcher Hiram Polk, Jr., M.D.

A University of Louisville study has found a connection between Medicaid expansion and improved quality of breast cancer care, including an increase in the early-stage diagnosis of the disease and greater utilization of breast-conserving surgery instead of more invasive treatments, such as mastectomy. 

The study, “Evaluating the Early Impact of Medicaid Expansion on the Quality of Breast Cancer Care in Kentucky,” appears today on the website of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons in advance of print publication.

“We found several good things happened by the expansion of Medicaid,” said the study’s senior author, Hiram C. Polk, Jr., M.D., of the division of surgical oncology in the Department of Surgery at the UofL School of Medicine. “It really did work. The care was better because people were getting what they need.”

Since passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, 32 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid coverage, with the federal government covering the increased costs. Kentucky is one of the Medicaid expansion states, and the study looked at the effects of the expansion here.

“What we learned is that the expansion of some form of third-party coverage for health care leads to people doing more things that are intrinsically good for their health,” said Polk, who also has served as Kentucky’s public health commissioner.

UofL researchers who were co-authors on the study were Nicolas Ajkay, M.D., as first author; Neal Bhutiani, M.D.; Jeffrey Howard, M.D.; Charles Scoggins, M.D.; and Kelly McMasters, M.D., Ph.D. Also involved were researchers from the University of Kentucky.

The researchers looked at breast cancer as a marker of the impact of Medicaid expansion as it is “a very common cancer,” Polk said. “Our goal was to get an early measure of what really happened with Medicaid expansion.”

The study evaluated measures related to breast cancer from 2011 to 2016, using 2014 - the year Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion went into effect- as the cutoff between pre- and post-expansion.

“We knowingly took on the possibility of making too early of an observation on Medicaid expansion, but the degree of change that occurred so promptly in two years surprised me,” Polk said. “It’s amazing these changes happened in just two years.”

Researchers examined the Kentucky Cancer Registry for all women ages 20 to 64 who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 2011 and 2016.

From 2011 to 2013, 635,547 screening mammograms were performed in the state. That number increased to 680,418 from 2014 to 2016.

In 2011, 208,600 screening mammograms were performed, compared with 234,315 in 2016.

The number of screening mammograms covered by Medicaid increased from 5.6 percent before expansion to 14.7 percent after, and the number of women who had screening mammograms and were uninsured declined almost tenfold, from 0.53 percent before to 0.05 percent after expansion.

Breast cancer incidence and treatment rates did not vary significantly from year to year. But the changes in the rates of early-stage vs late-stage disease treated in the pre- and post-Medicaid expansion periods were statistically significant. 

Early stage (stage I-II) breast cancers accounted for 64.5 percent of the diagnoses in 2011-2013, compared with 66.7 percent in 2014-2016. Late-stage (III-IV) cancers accounted for 15 percent, compared with 12.9 percent.

Rates for breast-conserving surgery increased significantly after Medicaid expansion, from 44 percent pre-expansion to 48.8 percent, while rates of other resections, including mastectomy, declined, falling from 50.5 percent to 44.5 percent.

While the time from diagnosis to surgical treatment for the disease was shorter before expansion, an average of 28.6 days compared with 36, two other key treatment variables were either unchanged or improved after expansion:  time from the operation to chemotherapy (47.5 days before, and 46.6 days after); and time from the operation to radiation (96.4 days before, and 91.5 after).

“Chemotherapy and radiation didn’t happen as quickly as we’d like,” Polk said.

The study noted the findings were mirrored by experiences in other states, but Polk said a thorough analysis of the Medicaid expansion in Kentucky requires longer-term study. 

“Two years is a very short run,” Polk said. “But on the other hand, it’s a very pure study.”

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to show love to your children

Need ideas? UofL pediatrician offers parents suggestions to be more mindful in showing love
Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to show love to your children

Spending time together as a family goes far in showing love to your children. (Photo: Bill Branson via Creative Commons)

There are many ways to show children love, and Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14 is a perfect time to be more mindful of those ways that work best.

Heather M. Felton, M.D., medical director of the University of Louisville Pediatrics Clinic at Sam Swope Kosair Charities Centre, endorses recommendations on showing love to children from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Love isn’t just something we feel; it’s something we do,” Felton said. “These suggestions give parents, grandparents and anyone else who loves a child concrete ways to show that love. Loved children grow up to be confident, secure adults.”

Felton and the academy recommend:

  • Say, “I love you,” often to your child, no matter his or her age. “This is probably the most important thing you can do,” Felton said.
  • Use plenty of positive and encouraging words when talking with your child. Positive language begets positive behavior.
  • Make an extra effort to set a good example about how to connect and talk with other people at home and in public. Children learn from observing and imitating their parent’s behavior.
  • Respond promptly and lovingly to your child's physical and emotional needs. Be available to listen to your child when she wants to talk with you even if it’s not the best time for you. 
  • When your child is angry, grouchy or in a bad mood, give him a quick hug, cuddle or other sign of affection he responds to and then talk with him about the event when he’s feeling better. Never respond in violence if your child is in a bad mood.
  • Use non-violent forms of discipline. Parents should start using both rewards and restrictions many years before adolescence to help establish ways to encourage strengths and address concerns during the teenage years.
  • Make plans to spend time alone with your child or teen doing something she enjoys. Encourage your child to be active by going on walks, bicycle riding, or playing ball with you. 
  • Spend time together as a family on a regular basis, such as one evening each week, and turn off cellphones and tablets during these family times.
  • Consider owning a pet. Having a pet can help children, especially those with chronic illnesses and disabilities, feel better by increasing their physical activity, enhancing their overall positive feelings, and offering another way to connect with someone they care about.
  • Help your child foster positive relationships with friends, siblings and members of the community. Have friends over for a meal, to play games, help others in need or for any positive group activity. Encourage your child to play sports or be involved in activities that show teamwork.
  • One of your most important gifts as a parent is to help your child develop self-esteem. Your child needs your steady support and help to discover his strengths. He needs you to believe in him as he learns to believe in himself. Loving him, spending time with him, listening to him and celebrating lessons learned from his mistakes and successes are all part of this process.



TV tip-overs pose danger for children

Every 3 weeks, a U.S. child dies from tip-over injuries
TV tip-overs pose danger for children

As fans prepare to watch the Super Bowl on Feb. 4, parents should be aware of the potential injury risk posed by televisions that can tip over onto children, says UofL pediatrician Heather Felton, M.D. (Photo: mojzagrebinfo / pixabay via Creative Commons)

As Super Bowl fans around the world prepare for one of the biggest television viewing events of the year, child safety advocates are urging parents and caregivers to look at their TV in a different way: as a serious injury threat.

Injuries and deaths from TV tip-overs happen more often than people might think, and health care professionals with University of Louisville Physicians-Pediatrics want to make sure parents understand how often these injuries occur and what they can do to prevent TV tip-over injuries.

Heather Felton, M.D.Research has found that every three weeks, a child in the United States dies from a TV tipping over, and hundreds more are injured, sometimes quite seriously. “It is important that parents and caregivers understand what actions they can take to protect their families,” said Heather M. Felton, M.D., medical director of the University of Louisville Pediatrics Clinic at Sam Swope Kosair Charities Centre. “To reduce the risk of TV tip-overs, TVs should be placed on furniture designed for TVs, and both the TV and the furniture should be securely attached to the wall.”

Older model televisions pose special concern, she said. “Older TVs are often moved to less safe locations in the home, such as on top of dressers and other furniture not designed for TVs. Children sometimes pull dresser drawers open to use as stairs to help them reach the TV, potentially pulling both the dresser and TV over onto themselves.”

Felton also is a member of Prevent Child Injury, a national group working to identify and prevent injuries to children. The group recommends the following to help safeguard children from TV tip-overs:

  • All TVs should be secured to the wall. Use safety straps or brackets for CRT TVs and wall mounts for flat-screen TVs.
  • Place TVs only on furniture designed to support televisions, such as TV stands and entertainment centers. Dressers, armoires, and chests of drawers are not safe places for a television.
  • Secure TV stands and entertainment centers to the wall using safety straps or brackets.
  • Do not place toys or the remote control on top of the furniture or the TV. Your child could climb the furniture to reach the item and cause the TV and furniture to tip over onto him.
  • Make sure TVs are safely secured in other places your child spends time, like the homes of family, friends, and caregivers.

If a child is injured by a TV tip-over, seek medical help immediately. “Do not assume that everything is OK if the child doesn’t appear hurt,” Felton said. “It is best to take the child to the doctor or emergency room at Norton Children’s Hospital to check for concussion or internal injuries that may not reveal themselves right away at home.”

ThePediatrics Clinic at Sam Swope Kosair Charities Centre is located at 982 Eastern Parkway. The clinic provides general pediatric care and appointments can be made by calling 502-588-0700.


 About Prevent Child Injury: Prevent Child Injury is a national group of organizations and individuals, including researchers, health professionals, educators, and child advocates, working together to prevent injuries to children and adolescents in the U.S. Prevent Child Injury promotes coordinated communication to the public about prevention of child injury, which is the leading cause of death of our nation’s youth. To become a member of Prevent Child Injury or for more information and resources on this and other child injury topics, please visit



UofL heart researcher receives highest honor from state chapter of the American College of Cardiology

Roberto Bolli, M.D., to receive Honorable Maestro Award for work
UofL heart researcher receives highest honor from state chapter of the American College of Cardiology

University of Louisville cardiologist and researcher Roberto Bolli, M.D.

University of Louisville cardiologist and researcher Roberto Bolli, M.D., has been awarded the 2018 Honorable Maestro Award by the Kentucky Chapter of the American College of Cardiology, the chapter’s highest honor.

Bolli is director of UofL’s Institute of Molecular Cardiology and serves as scientific director of the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute at UofL. He is also a professor and chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at the School of Medicine.

The Maestro Award recognizes achievements in the field of cardiology and medicine, leadership in the regional and national cardiology community, charity work, mentorship and vigilant care of the sick.

In the past year, Bolli received one the largest grants ever for medical research at the University of Louisville, saw the impact factor jump on a major medical journal he edits, and led the Stem Cell Summit at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Anaheim, Calif.

The $13.8 million grant Bolli and his UofL team received from the National Institutes of Health is to study a promising new type of adult cardiac stem cell that has the potential to treat heart failure.

Bolli’s research focus has been on how to repair the heart and cure heart failure using a patient’s own stem cells. It is an approach that could revolutionize the treatment of heart disease.

He also serves as editor of the journal Circulation Research, which achieved its highest-ever “impact factor,” a measure of its importance in the medical field, last year. Circulation Research is an official journal of the American Heart Association and is considered the world’s leading journal on basic and translational research in cardiovascular medicine.

Bolli will be recognized and presented with the Maestro Award on stage at the Kentucky chapter’s annual meeting at the Lexington Center in Lexington, Ky., on Oct. 13, 2018.

A national talk the following year will be named in his honor.

Children require special care in cold weather

UofL pediatrician warns of susceptibility to frostbite, hypothermia
Children require special care in cold weather

The right clothing and avoiding exposure to frigid temperatures will keep kids safe from frostbite and hypothermia.

As temperatures plunge, University of Louisville pediatrician Heather M. Felton, M.D., reminds parents and other caregivers that children are more vulnerable to cold weather than grown-ups.

“Children exposed to extreme cold for too long and without warm, dry, breathable clothing can get frostbite or life-threatening hypothermia,” Felton said. “Children are more at risk from the cold than adults. Because their bodies are smaller, they lose heat more quickly.”

The medical director of the University of Louisville Pediatrics Clinic at Sam Swope Kosair Charities Centre, Felton provides the following advice on how to handle frostbite and hypothermia in little ones:

Frostbite: Frostbite happens when the skin, and sometimes the tissue below it, freezes. Fingers, toes, ears and noses are most likely to get frostbite. Frostbitten skin may start to hurt or feel like it’s burning, then quickly go numb. It may turn white or pale gray and form blisters. 

What to do:

  • If you suspect frostbite, bring your child indoors to gently warm up. Don’t rub the affected area, and don’t pop any blisters.
  • Avoid placing anything hot directly on the skin. Soak frostbitten areas of the body in warm – not hot – water for 20 to 30 minutes. Warm washcloths can be applied to frostbitten noses, ears and lips.
  • After a few minutes, dry and cover your child with blankets. Give him or her something warm to drink.
  • If the pain or numbness continues for more than a few minutes, call your pediatrician.

Hypothermia: When the body’s temperature drops below normal from the cold, dangerous hypothermia begins to set in. A child may start shivering, a sign the body is trying to warm itself up, but then become sluggish, clumsy or slur words. 

What to do:

  • Hypothermia is a medical emergency, so call 911 immediately.
  • Until help arrives, bring your child indoors. Remove any wet clothing, which draws heat away from the body.
  • Wrap your child in blankets or warm clothes, and give him or her something warm to drink.
  • Cover core body areas like the chest and abdomen.
  • If your child stops breathing or loses a pulse, give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or CPR.

Preventing Frostbite and Hypothermia

“Frostbite and hypothermia are different conditions, but some wintertime planning and safety steps can help protect your child from both,” said Felton, who also cares for patients at Norton Children’s Hospital. She provides the following tips to parents:

  • Check the Wind Chill:  In general, playing outside in temperatures or wind chills below minus-15 degrees Fahrenheit should be avoided. At these temperatures, exposed skin begins to freeze within minutes. When possible, children waiting for school buses should wait inside their home or car with parents to avoid exposure.
  • What to Wear: Several thin layers will help keep kids warm and dry. Insulated boots, mittens or gloves, and a hat are essential. Make sure children change out of any wet clothes right away.
  • Take Breaks: Set reasonable limits on the amount of time spent playing outside to prevent hypothermia and frostbite. Make sure kids have a place to go for regular indoor breaks to warm up.

The Pediatrics Clinic at Sam Swope Kosair Charities Centre is part of UofL Physicians and is located at 982 Eastern Parkway. The clinic provides general pediatric care and appointments can be made by calling 502-588-0700.



Novak Center for Children’s Health on track for July opening

Novak Center for Children’s Health on track for July opening

The Novak Center for Children’s Health is on track for completion by July 2018. The building’s current state is shown at left; a rendering of the finished building is shown at right.

Six months away from its scheduled opening, the Novak Center for Children’s Health at the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center continues its rise over South Preston Street.

Mike Materna and Chuck Denk of UofL’s Department for Planning, Design and Construction recently released an update to campus staff on the progress of the building, slated to open in July 2018.

The first new health care delivery facility constructed in the Louisville Medical Center in nearly a decade, the Novak Center for Children’s Health is a 176,000-square-foot building that will be home to the general, specialty and subspecialty pediatrics programs at UofL. This includes faculty physicians from UofL’s Department of Pediatrics as well as other departments throughout the UofL School of Medicine, including neurology, oncology-hematology, cardiology, surgery, ophthalmology and more. Faculty physicians at UofL practice with UofL Physicians.

The outpatient services of the Wendy Novak Diabetes Center, currently housed in the Children’s Hospital Foundation Building, will move to the facility. Norton Children’s Hospital also will provide care within the new building, including infusion and laboratory services.

Currently, the structure has many interior walls and floors in place, and finishes such as wall tiles and flooring are being laid. Electrical wiring is being installed, and interior painting is underway. A pedway bridge, linking the new building to the existing UofL Physicians Outpatient Center and the Chestnut Street Garage, is now partially enclosed and is being finished out as well. Messer is the construction manager for the project.

“We have made a lot of progress,” Materna said. “Just one year ago we were literally still ‘playing in the sand,’ as I called it, working on digging out the basement and the steam tunnel integration.

“We have hundreds of people working on this site every day no matter what the weather is. They have done a great job to get us to where we are now.”

Approximately 500 employees, residents and students will inhabit the building, and UofL officials expect nearly 120,000 patient visits per year in the new facility.

“We are providing a new medical home for our pediatric patients and their caregivers,” said Gerard Rabalais, M.D., acting CEO of UofL Physicians. “It is a home where we are bringing together nearly all of the services we provide to children in an outpatient setting with a true multidisciplinary approach.”

The Novak Center for Children’s Health is named in recognition of the outstanding support provided by David Novak, his family and the Lift-A-Life Foundation. Novak retired as chairman of Yum! Brands in 2000.

“David Novak and his family are helping us build the future of pediatric health care here in Louisville,” said Charles Woods, M.D., chair of the Department of Pediatrics and UofL Physicians-Pediatrics. “With their support, we will transform how we deliver care, with health care teams located in one space so they can meet simultaneously with patients and their families and avoid unnecessary inconvenience and delays.”

The Novak Center for Children’s Health is located on South Preston Street between East Chestnut and Muhammad Ali Boulevard.


Eleven students receive graduate degrees in pharmacology & toxicology at December 15 commencement

Eleven students (see table below with student, degree, faculty mentor, and thesis/dissertation title) received their graduate degrees in pharmacology and toxicology at the December 15, 2017 commencement ceremony.  Among the student graduates was Tuo Shao, the first graduate of the Wenzhou Medical University Partnership.  The number of student graduates of the pharmacology and toxicology graduate program now exceeds 300.                                                                                       

J. Caleb Greenwell


Jessie Roman, M.D.


Age-related host factors regulate lung cancer progression

Marcus W. Stepp


David W. Hein, Ph.D.


Role of human arylamine N-acetyltransferase 1 in tumorigenesis and cancer biology

Lauren G. Poole-Hardy


Gavin E. Arteel, Ph.D.


Novel insight into the liver-lung axis in alcohol-enhanced acute lung injury

Zimple D Kurlawala


Levi J. Beverly, Ph.D.


UBQLN1: A multi-domain protein with multiple functions

Tuo Shao


Wenke Feng, Ph.D.


The role of HIF-1α in intestinal epithelial barrier function in alcoholic liver disease

Laila Al-Eryani


J. Christopher States, Ph.D.


miRNA expression changes in arsenic-induced skin cancer in vitro and in vivo  

J. Mason Hoffman


J. Christopher States, Ph.D.


Targeting the major regulator of mitosis 

Ashley M. Mudd


Ramesh C. Gupta, Ph.D.


Prevention and treatment of familial adenomatous polyposis and colorectal cancer by bilberry-derived anthocyanidins

Divya Karukonda


Ramesh C. Gupta, Ph.D.


Advances in tumor-targeted therapy using nanomedicine

Rachel M. Speer


John P. Wise, Sr., Ph.D.


The comparative cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of hexavalent chromium in humans and sea turtles

Tess V. Dupre


Leah J. Siskind, Ph.D.


Sphingolipids in models of kidney injury and disease

UofL, Harvard and USF provide model for medical schools to teach the signs of human trafficking

UofL, Harvard and USF provide model for medical schools to teach the signs of human trafficking

Olivia Mittel, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics, left, and Carrie Bohnert, director of UofL's patient simulation program, worked with colleagues from Harvard and USF on the research.

As many as 88 percent of human trafficking victims in the United States interact with a health care professional while they are being exploited. These professionals’ ability to recognize the signs of human trafficking and intervene appropriately, however, is lacking due to an absence of training.

A new medical school curriculum to fill this training gap has been proposed and tested by researchers from the University of Louisville, Harvard University and the University of South Florida. Their research is published this month in Medical Education Online.

The paper, “Medical education and human trafficking: using simulation,” explores the use of a patient simulation training module incorporated into the third year of medical school.

Human trafficking is a public health crisis in the U S, and victims are consistently under-recognized by health care providers (HCPs), the authors write. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline documented 8,042 cases of reported trafficking in 2016. U.S. studies of trafficking survivors show that anywhere from 25 to 88 percent of these victims interact with an HCP during the time they are being exploited by traffickers.

“One survey shows that 63 percent of HCPs – including physicians, nurses, social workers and physician assistants – did not have training on how to identify and intervene in human trafficking situations,” said Olivia F. Mittel, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at UofL and Norton Children's Hospital, who is a co-author of the paper. “Providers must be educated about the issue of trafficking, including how to recognize it in the clinical setting.”

To meet this need, the UofL School of Medicine created a simulation-based medical education curriculum to prepare students to recognize victims and intervene on their behalf. Known as the Medical Student Instruction in Global Human Trafficking, or M-SIGHT, the program utilizes online learning, medical documentation and standardized patient-based simulation to prepare students to see the signs of human trafficking.

“We want to ensure that all students receive the training,” Carrie A. Bohnert, M.P.A., director of the standardized patient program at UofL, said. “Every medical student, regardless of their chosen specialty, must be able see human trafficking when it presents and intervene for the victim.”

M-SIGHT begins with a forensic medicine lecture to impart basic facts about human trafficking, among other topics, Mittel said. Later, students have a standardized patient simulation case in which an adolescent female patient presents with classic symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease as well as common characteristics of victims of human trafficking: poor eye contact, reluctance to communicate with the physician, inconsistencies in what she communicates, tattoos that could suggest  branding and evidence of physical abuse.

The goal of the simulation is not to force intervention on the patient but rather to build trust. “We want the students to exercise the principles of adolescent communication that are taught as part of the medical school curriculum,” Bohnert said.

Mittel outlined these principles: “They are trauma-informed care – which is health care delivered with an understanding of what patients experiencing trauma need – and ensuring confidentiality, asking non-judgmental and open-ended questions, and gradually progressing from the less invasive questions to more direct questions.”

The simulation concludes with feedback from the standardized patient participant and documentation by the learner. The students then complete an online module developed by the authors that assesses knowledge gained and re-introduces definitions of human trafficking and trauma-informed communication techniques.

The initial project was implemented over a 16-month period and the authors are now evaluating the data collected from the students. They intend to share an analysis of the curriculum’s efficacy in the future. For now, they want to encourage other medical schools to implement anti-trafficking education and training.

“There is a wide array of methods for creating human trafficking simulations, and it is our hope that the description of our process will inspire others to create similar interactive educational programs,” Mittel said. “The ultimate goal, of course, is to help human trafficking victims receive both the health care they need and interventions that stop their exploitation.”

Along with Mittel and Bohnert, the other authors on the paper were Hanni Stoklosa, M.D., of Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Michelle Lyman, a student at the University of South Florida’s Morsani College of Medicine.


Fellowship match successful again for UofL residents

Trend of near perfection in fellowship matches for UofL internal medicine residents continues with the Class of 2017
Fellowship match successful again for UofL residents

Several members of the of the UofL Internal Medicine Residency Program seeking fellowship appointments were matched successfully for the 2018-2019 academic year.

The quest for fellowship matches was successful again for several members of the University of Louisville Internal Medicine Residency Program following their graduation in 2018, including three who will continue their training at UofL.

"UofL internal medicine residents have once again shown that hard work, careful preparation, and demonstration of intellectual curiosity and scholarly productivity result in amazing professional opportunities," Jennifer Koch, M.D., director of the UofL Internal Medicine Residency Program said. "Congratulations to our residents on an outstanding fellowship match!"

Over the past six years, nearly all of the program's internal medicine residents have successfully matched into their choice of fellowship.

Those from The University of Louisville who matched for 2018-2019 include:


Alok Bhatt

Dhruv Chaudhary

Monika Darji

Rahul Dhawan

Brian Dong

Syed Hussaini

Natalie Kelsey

Yash Kothari

Ninad Maniar

Taku Mkorombindo

Drew Murray

Nevin Murthy

Alex Pontikos

Nelson Seabrook

Srividya Srinivasamaharaj

Chandra Vethody

Pulmonary/Critical Care







Pulmonary/Critical Care

Pulmonary/Critical Care

Pulmonary/Critical Care







New York University

Allegheny College

University of Chicago

University of Nebraska

University of Louisville

Western University of Health Sciences

University of Louisville

University of Southern California

Baylor University

University of Alabama at Birmingham

University of Louisville

University of Chicago

Case Western Reserve University

Medical University of South Carolina

Allegheny College

Vanderbilt University

M&I Faculty Awarded Multiple NIH/NIAID Grants in 2017

M&I Associate Professor Matthew Lawrenz was recently awarded a National Institute of Health R21 grant entitled "Zinc Acquisition in Yersinia pestis".  The major goal of this project is to define the contribution of the yersiniabactin synthase-dependent zinc acquisition system on the virulence of Yersinia pestis.  This NIH funded project is budgeted from 11/24/2017 - 10/31/2019 for $437,080.

M&I Professor Dr. Esma Yolcu recently awarded a National Institute of Health SSRT grant to study “SA-FasL-engineered human islets as a novel product for the treatment of type 1 diabetes."  The major goal of this phase I STTR application is to develop SA-FasL-engineered human islets as a novel immune privileged product for the treatment of type 1 diabetes (T1D).  This NIH funded project is budgeted from 07/01/2017 – 03/30/2018 for $224,529.00.


M&I Professors Drs. Thomas Mitchell and Carolyn Casella were recently awarded a National Institute of Health R01 grant to study “Mechanisms of successful vaccine adjuvants." This NIH funded project is budgeted from 06/26/2017 – 05/31/2022 for $1,925,000.



Drs. Haval Shirwan and Esma Yolcu have been awarded a multiple PI NIH/NIAID UO1 grant with Andres Garcia from Georgia Institute of Technology. The grant is entitled “Targeted delivery of immunomodulatory biologics for induction of immune privilege to allogeneic pancreatic islet grafts”.  The major focus of this project is to develop immunomodulatory biomaterials for induction of tolerance to allogeneic islets as a cure for type 1 diabetes.  The award amount of $1,954,270 is budgeted for 06/20/20176 – 05/31/2022



M&I Professor and Vice Chair, Haribabu Bodduluri, PhD was awarded a grant titled ‘Innate immune mechanisms regulating silicosis”. This NIH/NIAID funded project is budgeted from 6/6/2017 - 5/30/2019 for $423,500. This research is important to explore the mechanisms of their recent work on silicosis and lung cancer;

Hari Bodduluri


M&I Associate Professors Drs. Jon Warawa and Matt Lawrenz were recently awarded an NIH/ NIAID grant contract to study “Therapeutics Testing In a Murine Model of Multiple Drug Resistant (MDR) Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Lung Infection.” This NIH/ NIAID funded project is budgeted from 03/2017 – 11/2018 for $729,174.

Jonathan Warawa     Matthew Lawrenz


M&I Assistant Professor Dr. Krishna Jala was recently awarded a National Cancer Institute of National Institute of Health R21 grant to study “PQ-10:  Microbial metabolite, Urolithin A is a potent immunomodulator and chemosensitizing adjuvant in treating color cancer.” This NIH funded project is budgeted from 04/12/2017 – 03/31/2019 for $368,445.


M&I Associate Professor Dr. Jon Warawa was recently awarded an NIH/ NIAID grant contract to study “HHSN272201000033I/HHSN2720005 / Task A91- Mod #1.” This NIH/ NIAID funded project is budgeted from 03/21/2017 – 05/25/2018 for $508,703.


M&I Professor Dr. Nathan Schmidt was recently awarded an NIH/ NIAID grant contract to study “Role of gut microbiota in shaping severity of malaria.” This NIH/ NIAID funded project is budgeted from 01/11/2017 – 12/31/2021 for $2.6M.

Student Highlights

M&I Graduate Students Present at American Society for Microbiology Fall 2020 Research Meeting

The M&I Department was well represented at the KY/TN Branch of the American Society for Microbiology Fall 2020 Research Meeting on December 5th. Trey Landers (Sokoloski Lab), Autumn LaPointe (Sokoloski Lab), Sarah Price (Lawrenz Lab), Drew Skidmore (Chung Lab), and Claire Westcott (Sokoloski Lab) were invited to give oral presentations on their thesis projects. Congratulations to Sarah and Trey for receiving the top awards at the meeting for their presentations!

 Trey Landers Autumn LaPointe Sarah Price Drew Skidmore Claire Westcott Jones

(From left to right: Trey Landers, Autumn LaPointe, Sarah Price, Drew Skidmore, Claire Westcott) 

M&I Graduate students win University doctoral awards

Dylan Johnson and Irina Miralda received University’s Guy Stevenson Award and the John Richard Binford Memorial Award, respectively.

Please click here to view Dylan Johnson's virtual Graduate School Graduation speech.

The Guy Stevenson Award recognizes an outstanding doctoral degree recipient who has demonstrated excellence in both scholarship and leadership within the discipline, and has made significant contributions to teaching and service. This award is the highest award given by the Graduate School and the winner carries the graduate school banner at both the Doctoral Hooding and Commencement Ceremonies, and provides remarks during the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony.  The Binford Award is presented to a doctoral degree recipient who excels in scholarship, and has contributed to other areas within the discipline such as leadership, teaching, or service.  The winner receives special recognition at the Doctoral Hooding and Graduation ceremony.  Congratulations Dylan and Irina!

Autumn LaPointe wins presentation award at Viruses 2020 conference in Barcelona

Autumn LaPointe, PhD candidate, received the best oral presentation award, elected by the scientific committee and sponsored by the journal Microorganisms, for her talk entitled “Noncapped genomic RNA are critical for Alphaviral infection and pathogenicity”. LaPointe is a PhD candidate in the lab of Dr. KevinSokoloski. Read more at




M&I students receive 1st and 2nd place for doctoral dissertation at Research! Louisville

Congratulations to Autumn LaPointe on receiving 1st place and Samantha Morrissey on receiving 2nd place for the  2019 Research!Louisville Doctoral Basic Science award. Autumn is a doctoral candidate in the lab of Dr. Kevin Sokoloski and Samantha is a doctoral candidate in the lab of Dr. Jun Yan. Read more at:



2019 T32 Awardees announced

The Inflammation and Pathogenesis T32 Training Grant is excited to announce its newest PhD graduate student fellows: Drew Skidmore, laboratory of Dr. Donghoon Chung, Trey Landers, laboratory of Dr. Kevin Sokoloski, and Sarah Price laboratory of Dr. Matthew Lawrenz. These students will join 2018 fellow Autumn LaPointe, laboratory of Dr. Kevin Sokolowski, in the program. 

 This year M&I’s summer high school program MISTRE merged with Louisville Science Pathways, which is the Science Policy and Outreach Group’s University-wide internship program. This merger expanded the opportunities to include weekly career seminars, and how to apply to two- and four-year colleges, with emphasis on careers in the biomedical field. Altogether, seventeen 10th and 11th graders experienced hands on research projects.  M&I provided stipends to two of the seventeen participants, Awa Koita from Central High, and Osazuwa Omoruyi from St. Francis; who were hosted in the labs of Drs. Venkatakrishna Jala and Sylvia Uriarte, respectively. During their internship, the students participated in mentored biomedical research, focused on the roles of microbial communities inhuman disease.

MISTRE is coordinated by Claire Jones, and Louisville Science Pathways is coordinated by Dylan Johnson and Sarah Price. Claire, Dylan and Sarah are all PhD candidates in the Department.

The Microbiology and2018 SLB Group Immunology Department was well represented by its graduate students at the 2018 Joint Meeting of the Society for Leukocyte Biology and International Endotoxin and Innate Immunity Society in October. Amanda Pulsifer (laboratory of Matthew Lawrenz) was one of three finalists for the SLB Presidential Award, which included the opportunity to present her research at a plenary session during the first day of the meeting. Katlin Stivers’ research (laboratory of Jay Hoying) was also highlighted and she was chosen to give a “Poster Flash Talk”. Irina Miralda (laboratory of Silvia Uriarte) won a SLB travel Award for her poster presentation. Finally, Hazel Ozuna (laboratory of Don Demuth) was selected to present her research at the Late Breaking Research Poster Session. Congratulations to all of the students!

Tiva Vancleave, a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Matthew Lawrenz, has been awarded the 2018 University of Louisville School of Medicine Student Diversity Award.  This award acknowledged Tiva’s commitment to the educational and societal needs of underrepresented minorities through mentorship and service during her PhD career. Tiva was recognized for this award during the 2018 PhD Commencement Ceremony, where she also received a Dean’s Citation for her PhD research on the YapE protein of Yersinia pestis.


Hazel Ozuna, a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Donald Demuth, has been awarded a five year F31 Research Fellowship from the National Institiute of Dental & Craniofacial Research for her project entitled: "Exploitation of the host response by Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans mediated by QseBC".



Katlin Stivers, a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. James Hoying, has been awarded a predoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association for her project entitled "Regulation of Adipose Tissue Inflammation by Resident Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells". The two year award will fully support her research investigating the role of tissue resident, immunosuppressive myeloid cells in promoting immune homeostasis in healthy, lean adipose tissue and preventing the chronic inflammation that can lead to the development of obesity.

Earlier this year, Katlin also received a travel award to give an oral presentation on her current work "Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells in Adipose Tissue Homeostasis" as  part of the Kaley Lecture featured topic session, "The Complications of Diabetes and the Role of Inflammation: Mechanisms and Therapeutic Opportunities" at the Experimental Biology 2017 Conference, April 22-26, Chicago, IL.

Amanda Pulsifer was awarded a “Best Poster Presentation” prize at The Yin and Yang of Phagocytes: Regulators of Human Health and Disease Gordon Research Conference, June 11-16, Waterville Valley, NH for her work entitled “Exploitation of Host Rab GTPases by Yersinia pestis Facilitates Intracellular Survival”. Amanda is a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Matthew Lawrenz.