Better Breathers Club to discuss nutrition, lung disease

Monthly support group offers information for people with chronic lung conditions
Better Breathers Club to discuss nutrition, lung disease

“Nutrition and Lung Disease” will be the topic when the University of Louisville Better Breathers Club next meets from 2-4 p.m., Thursday, July 9. The free support group is open to the public and meets in room 120 of the UofL Physicians Outpatient Center, 401 E. Chestnut St.

Metered parking is available on East Chestnut and parking for a fee is available in the Chestnut Street Garage at 414 E. Chestnut Street, directly across the street from the outpatient center.

Participants will discuss the role diet plays in management of lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, chronic bronchitis and others. UofL staff will be on hand to answer questions and provide information.

Better Breathers Clubs are an initiative of the American Lung Association, giving people with lung disease, their caregivers and loved ones support, education and information. At UofL, the Better Breathers Club is sponsored by the American Lung Association, UofL Physicians-Pulmonology and the UofL School of Medicine.

For information, contact the UofL Better Breathers Club at 502-852-1917.


UofL lab helps discover new disease that causes kidney failure

UofL lab helps discover new disease that causes kidney failure

Jon B. Klein, M.D., Ph.D., UofL School of Medicine vice dean for research and professor of medicine, and James Graham Brown Foundation Chair in Proteomics.

 Researchers at the University of Louisville were part of a group that discovered an insidious new autoimmune disease that causes kidney failure.

The discovery of anti-brush border antibody (ABBA) disease was made in the UofL Core Proteomics Laboratory, led by Director Jon B. Klein, M.D., Ph.D., UofL School of Medicine vice dean for research and professor of medicine, and James Graham Brown Foundation Chair in Proteomics. Klein worked with the laboratory’s Co-Director Michael Merchant, Ph.D., associate professor in the Division of Nephrology & Hypertension in the Department of Medicine at UofL.

Klein and co-investigators will present their findings Friday, Nov. 3, at the American Society of Nephrology’s annual meeting in New Orleans.

“It’s the first time in my career that I’ve described a new disease, and truthfully, most people in their career don’t stumble on this,” said Klein, who is internationally recognized for his expertise in biomarker discovery related to kidney disease and practices with UofL Physicians-Kidney Disease Program. “We don’t know yet whether this causes kidney failure in a lot of people. It’s early in the story.”

The UofL lab identified ABBA after analyzing biopsied kidney tissue from 10 patients who had developed acute kidney injury, a sudden episode of kidney failure or damage that happens within a few hours or days. The condition causes a build-up of waste products in the blood and makes it difficult for kidneys to maintain adequate balance of fluid in the body.

For the first time, researchers discovered that in the nephrons, the functional units of the kidneys, antibodies had coated a specialized part of cells called brush borders, which help reabsorb and process proteins.

“The disease is rather insidious,” Klein said. “It was documented in a group of older men who simply turned up with abnormal kidney function, and there were no symptoms until they had very advanced kidney failure.”

Since it is an autoimmune disease, different approaches to suppress the immune system were used to treat the patients, but those efforts were unsuccessful, Klein said.

Further research will focus on defining demographics of patients with ABBA and the disease’s prevalence. Also, determining where on the protein megalin – which acts as a sponge to absorb proteins and other compounds that enter the nephron – the antibody binds is key to treating the disease, Klein said.

It’s unknown what stimulates the antibody formation.

“Antibodies have very specific targets; they bind to only certain proteins in autoimmune kidney diseases, and then to only certain portions of that protein,” Klein said. “That’s where you learn how to begin to block the antibody binding.”

Klein said the disease had gone undetected because most people with abrupt kidney failure recover and do not get biopsies. In cases of ABBA, however, kidneys do not improve.

Lead investigators of the study are Laurence H. Beck, M.D., Ph.D., of Boston University School of Medicine, and Christopher P. Larsen, M.D., a nephropathologist at Arkana Laboratories in Little Rock, Ark.

Co-investigators include: Klein, Merchant, and Daniel W. Wilkey of UofL; Claire Trivin-Avillach, Paige Coles, Hong Ma and David J. Salant of Boston University School of Medicine; A. Bernard Collins, Ivy A. Rosales and Robert B. Colvin of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School; Josephine M. Ambruzs, Nidia C. Messias, L. Nicholas Cossey and Patrick D. Walker of Arkana Laboratories; and Thomas Wooldridge of Nephrology and Hypertension Associates in Tupelo, Miss.

Certified nurse midwife to discuss hormones’ role in labor, childbirth

Certified nurse midwife to discuss hormones’ role in labor, childbirth

Damara Jenkins, CNM, APRN

A pregnant woman’s body undergoes a complex set of interconnected, mutually beneficial phases that prepare her and her baby for childbirth. The hormonal actions occurring in one phase anticipate and usher in subsequent phases.

These phases are known collectively as the hormonal cascade of childbirth, and a Certified Nurse Midwife at the University of Louisville Center for Women & Infants will present a continuing education session on the topic for nurses, midwives, lactation consultants and other professionals involved in childbirth.

“Normal Physiologic Birth and Supporting the Hormonal Cascade of Childbirth” will be presented by Damara Jenkins Tuesday, May 3, at Babyology, 3934 Dutchman’s Lane, beginning at 6 p.m. The presentation is sponsored by Kentuckiana Lactation Improvement Coalition, a chapter of the United States Lactation Consultant Association that provides support and education on breastfeeding in Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

Jenkins will discuss practices that encourage normal physiologic birth, the role of certified nurse midwifery in supporting normal childbirth and the phases of hormonal childbirth:

  • Late pregnancy and early labor: There is an increase of hormones and receptor systems in the woman’s body that prepares her for an efficient labor and birth; efficient lactation that leads to bonding and attachment with the baby; and the well-being of the fetus during labor and the transition to a newborn.
  • Active labor: Hormonal processes during active labor prepare the body for effective postpartum contractions and hemorrhage prevention; the health transition of the newborn; and breastfeeding and bonding.
  • Birth and the hours that follow: The process of giving birth and skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby immediately after birth promote a hormone release that is thought to further reduce hemorrhage risk, initiate mother-baby bonding and help establish success in breastfeeding.

“The hormonal cascade of childbirth shows us how the body perfectly times the release of hormones in each phase and ensures that labor, birth and breastfeeding all happen according to the body’s design,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins, who also is an Advanced Practice Nurse, is one of three Certified Nurse Midwives who practice with UofL Physicians-Certified Nurse Midwife Program in tandem with the UofL Physicians-OB/GYN & Women’s Health practice. While pregnancy and childbirth care is her primary practice, she provides care to women across the entire lifespan, partnering with them to enable them to live their healthiest life.

Jenkins received her undergraduate degrees from the University of Louisville in 1999 and Bellarmine University in 2000 and received her MSN degree from Frontier Nursing University in 2009. She is president of the Kentucky Affiliate of the American College of Nurse Midwives and received the Frontier Nursing University 75th Anniversary Pioneer Award in 2014. She is on the board of the Friends of the Louisville Birthing Center and a member of the Kentucky Coalition of Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Midwives.

Continuing education credit will be provided for some disciplines, and pre-registration is requested but not required for the presentation. For more information, contact Kentuckiana Lactation Improvement Coalition member Peggy Rinehart at

Fireworks-related burns requiring hospital stays skyrocket among kids

New research from UofL shows loosening U.S. laws that let people buy pyrotechnics at younger ages is tied to increased incidence and severity of fireworks-related burns in children

April 30, 2016

As states relaxed laws related to fireworks sales during the past decade, emergency doctors saw an increase in both the number of fireworks-related injuries among children and the severity of those injuries, according to new research being presented by faculty from the University of Louisville at the Pediatrics Academic Societies 2016 Meeting.

An abstract of the study, “Effect of Fireworks Laws on Pediatric Fireworks Related Burn Injuries," will be presented at the PAS meeting in Baltimore on May 3.

Researchers looked at federal and state data from the National Inpatient Sample, with data on 8 million hospital stays each year, and the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample, which annually compiles information on 30 million discharges from emergency medicine facilities.

They determined the number of patients under age 21 treated and released by emergency departments between 2006 and 2012 rose modestly. Significantly larger increases were seen in injuries requiring inpatient hospital admission, which skyrocketed from 29 percent of cases in 2006 to 50 percent in 2012.

“The increase in fireworks-related injuries and the severity of these injuries in children since 2006 are very concerning,” said Charles Woods Jr., M.D., one of the study’s authors and associate chair of pediatrics at the University of Louisville. “Although our findings do not prove a direct link to relaxations in state laws governing fireworks sales, it may be time for lawmakers to reassess this issue. Parents and caregivers of children also should be aware of these increasingly serious injuries and the potential dangers involved in allowing young children to handle and play with fireworks.”

Lead author John Myers, Ph.D., a researcher in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Louisville, will present the abstract, “Effect of Fireworks Laws on Pediatric Fireworks Related Burn Injuries," at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 3 in Exhibit Hall F at the Baltimore Convention Center. To view the abstract, visit

“Pediatric fireworks-related burn injuries have increased in incidence, apparent severity of injury, the proportion requiring hospitalization and length-of-stay in the hospital in a time period of relaxed fireworks laws in the United States,” Myers said. “These findings suggest that policy-makers should revisit current fireworks laws for the safety of children.”

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About the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting:

The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Meeting brings together thousands of individuals united by a common mission: to improve child health and wellbeing worldwide. This international gathering includes pediatric researchers, leaders in academic pediatrics, experts in child health, and practitioners. The PAS Meeting is produced through a partnership of four organizations leading the advancement of pediatric research and child advocacy: the Academic Pediatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Pediatric Society, and Society for Pediatric Research. For more information, visit the PAS Meeting online at, follow us on Twitter @PASMeeting and #PASMeeting, or like us on Facebook.



Behrman, Harkema to present latest developments in therapy at international conference

Behrman, Harkema to present latest developments in therapy at international conference

Andrea Behrman, Ph.D. and Susan Harkema, Ph.D.

Researchers in the University of Louisville Department of Neurological Surgery will share their recent developments in therapies for children and adults with neurological conditions at IV STEP, an international conference intended to foster, guide and affect neurologic physical therapy practice over the next decade. Andrea Behrman, Ph.D., P.T., and Susan Harkema, Ph.D., professors at UofL, along with Elizabeth Ardolino, Ph.D., P.T., assistant professor at the University of St. Augustine, will present “Activity-dependent Plasticity for Neuromuscular Recovery:  Use of Classifications to Drive Therapies and Outcomes,” on Friday, July 15, at the IV STEP Conference in Columbus, Ohio.

In their presentation, the researchers will discuss how therapies aimed at recovery and improved function after neurological injury or disease can be designed based on key scientific evidence of the ability of the central nervous system to change through physical activity, a process known as activity-dependent plasticity. They will discuss how evidence for this process can be used in the treatment of children with chronic spinal cord injury. The sensorimotor experience of typical childhood development, current rehabilitation after pediatric SCI, and activity-based therapies will be explored as a basis for different outcomes and expectations.

To assist in the development of these novel therapies, the team will introduce the Neuromuscular Recovery Scale and the Pediatric Neuromuscular Recovery Scale, tools for assessing the neuromuscular capacity of adults and children to perform functional tasks without compensation from behavioral strategies, equipment or physical assistance. The scale can be used to classify capacity and track recovery in individuals with neurologic injury or disorders.

“One aim of this assessment is to capture incremental gains in motor function. Assessing ‘how’ the movement is performed also addresses the quality of the movement, which distinguishes this measure from many other pediatric instruments typically in use,” Behrman said.

With funding from the Department of Defense and the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, the group has established the validity, reliability, responsiveness and other properties of the scale, which will pave the way for it to be incorporated into clinical practice and research. Other aspects of the research are supported by the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and Kosair Charities.

The IV STEP conference, sponsored by the Pediatric and Neurology Sections of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), is designed to explore new theory and research evidence related to movement science and to translate this theory and evidence into physical therapy practice. The six-day program will include 33 invited speakers, 13 video case presentations and 100 peer reviewed poster presentations for approximately 700 clinicians, educators, and researchers from around the United States and abroad.

It is only the fourth such conference to be held in 50 years. The first, NUSTEP, was held in 1966 and the second, II STEP, in 1990. At III STEP, held at the University of Utah in June 2005, Behrman presented information on her research in using locomotor therapy, “Locomotor recovery after SCI: From basic science to clinical practice.”

In addition to the invited plenary presentation by Behrman and Harkema, five research teams from Frazier Rehabilitation Center, a part of Kentucky One Health, and the University of Louisville will be presenting posters.

Behrman is a professor in the UofL Department of Neurological Surgery and director of the Kosair Charities Center for Pediatric NeuroRecovery. Her research focus is to develop and test therapeutic interventions promoting recovery after spinal cord injury in children and adults capitalizing on activity-dependent neuroplasticity and an understanding of the neurobiology of walking and motor control. Her research has demonstrated improvements in trunk control in children in particular.

Harkema is a professor in the UofL Department of Neurological Surgery and associate scientific director of the UofL Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center. Harkema’s research in epidural stimulation in adults shows promise in helping individuals recover function following complete spinal cord injury.

The University of Louisville is an academic sponsor of the IV STEP Conference.

Robert Friedland proposes new term for the role of microbiota in neurodegeneration: Mapranosis

Robert Friedland proposes new term for the role of microbiota in neurodegeneration:  Mapranosis

Possible routes for microbial amyloid to influence the CNS

Research in the past two decades has revealed that microbial organisms in the gut influence health and disease in many ways, particularly related to immune function, metabolism and resistance to infection. Recent studies have shown that gut microbes also may cause or worsen Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.

University of Louisville neurology professor Robert P. Friedland, M.D., and Matthew R. Chapman, Ph.D., professor at the University of Michigan, have proposed a new term to describe an interaction between gut microbiota and the brain in an article released today in PLOS Pathogens.

Friedland and Chapman propose the term “mapranosis” for the process by which amyloid proteins produced by microbes (bacteria, fungi and others) alter the structure of proteins (proteopathy) and enhance inflammation in the nervous system, thereby initiating or augmenting brain disease. The term is derived from Microbiota Associated Protepathy And Neuroinflammation + osis (a process).

Friedland hopes that giving the process a name will facilitate awareness of the process, as well as research leading to therapeutic opportunities.

“It is critical to define the ways in which gut bacteria and other organisms interact with the host to create disease, as there are many ways in which the microbiota may be altered to influence health,” Friedland said.

Research into the multitude of microbes that inhabit the human body has expanded considerably in recent years. Genomic analysis has begun to reveal the full diversity of bacteria, viruses, fungi, archaea and parasites living in and on the body, the majority of them in the gut. Even more recently, researchers have begun to explore how the proteins and other metabolites produced by microbes inhabiting the gut influence functions in other parts of the body, including the brain. However, we do not yet have a full understanding of how these systems work. The relationship between the microbiota and the brain has been called the “gut-brain axis.”

It is understood that the clumping of misfolded amyloid proteins, structures produced by neurons in the brain, are associated with neurodegeneration and conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

“It is well known that patterns of amyloid misfolding of neuronal proteins are involved in age-related brain diseases. Recent studies suggest that similar protein structures produced by gut bacteria, referred to as bacterial amyloid, may be involved in the initiation of neurodegenerative processes in the brain,” Friedland said. “Bacterial amyloids are produced by a wide range of microbes that inhabit the GI tract, including the mouth.”

In research published in 2016 in Scientific Reports, Friedland and colleagues showed that when E. coli microbes in the gut of rats and worms (nematodes) produced misfolded amyloids, the amyloids produced in the animals’ brains and intestines also misfolded, a process called cross-seeding.

“Our work suggests that our commensal microbial partners make functional extracellular amyloid proteins, which interact with host proteins through cross-seeding of amyloid misfolding and trigger neuroinflammation in the brain,” Friedland said.

In today’s article, Friedland and Chapman also address other factors related to the microbiota and its products and how they influence neurodegenerative disorders.

  1. The microbiota modulates (enhances) immune processes throughout the body, including the central nervous system.
  2. The microbiota may induce oxidative toxicity (free radicals) and related inflammation that contributes to neurodegeneration.
  3. Metabolites produced by the microbiota may be either beneficial (health sustaining) or damaging (pathogenic).
  4. Host genetics influence microbiota populations, illustrating that the gut-brain axis is bidirectional.

Friedland believes further research in this area may lead to therapies for these neurodegenerative diseases, which are increasing in frequency and for which there are few effective treatments.

Chapman’s research is supported by the National Institutes of Health. Friedland’s work has been supported by The Michael J. Fox Foundation.


December 21, 2017

UofL receives $6.7 million to create Superfund Research Center

Researchers to study how exposure to pollutants contributes to cardiometabolic disease
UofL receives $6.7 million to create Superfund Research Center

Sanjay Srivastava, Ph.D.

The University of Louisville has received a $6.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to become one of fewer than two dozen Superfund Research Centers across the United States.

The five-year grant comes after a 20-year effort by the university to secure Superfund money for environmental study and will establish a new, multidisciplinary center at UofL that will support the federal Superfund Hazardous Substance Research and Training Program.

UofL was one of five new Superfund Research Center sites funded in 2017, bringing the number across the nation to 23, including such institutions as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia University and Duke University.

“The University of Louisville is joining an elite group of research enterprises in this growing field of study examining the impact of environmental determinants to health conditions,” said Gregory Postel, M.D., interim president of the University of Louisville. “The work performed here will impact the field for generations to come, not only from the research findings that come from the program, but from the next generation of researchers who will be educated and trained.”

“This is a very prestigious grant for the university and will help raise the awareness of environmental issues as they relate to health, and train the next generation of environmental scientists,” said Sanjay Srivastava, Ph.D.,a professor and researcher in cardiovascular medicine at the UofL School of Medicine who will lead the project.

Researchers will study how chemical exposures, particularly to chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), contribute to the incidence, prevalence and severity of cardiometabolic disease as it relates to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and fatty liver disease, all big problems in Kentucky.

The Superfund program, created in 1980, is part of a federal government effort to clean up land in the U.S. that has been contaminated by hazardous waste, and identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a potential risk to human health or the environment. The program was started in part by the discovery of a waste site near Louisville in Bullitt County. Known as the “Valley of the Drums,” the site contained thousands of steel drums full of chemical waste that accumulated over decades.

Currently, there are hundreds of Superfund sites across the country, and Louisville has one near the Rubbertown industrial area along Lees Lane in the western part of the city.

The grant to UofL comes through the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Superfund Research Program, which funds university-based research on human health and environmental issues related to hazardous substances. The program’s goal is to understand the link between chemical exposure and disease, reduce that exposure and better monitor the effects on health.

While the government tried to make Superfund sites safe, it was not completely known exactly how toxic some of that waste was, or how it could exacerbate diseases. Waste at Superfund sites includes such substances as industrial solvents, pesticides, metals, dry-cleaning solvents, paints, wood preservatives, cleansers, disinfectants and gasoline and other petroleum products that generate VOCs such as butadiene, trichloro ethylene, benzene, acrolein, vinyl chloride, and formaldehyde.  When disposed of together, these substances can react and form compound chemicals that are even more toxic.

“The task of cleaning up those sites proved easier said than done,” said Srivastava, who also is a Distinguished University Scholar at UofL.

In its heyday, Rubbertown was a booming industrial site with multiple factories and plants. Today, manufacturing in the area is down about 90 percent and the EPA closed the Superfund site to waste disposal about five years ago, satisfied that the waste disposed of there no longer posed a threat. But residents have continued to complain about chemical odors from the site, and the EPA has made multiple visits back as it considered reopening the site for remediation, Srivastava said.

Studies already have associated certain chemicals with heart disease and metabolic disorders. Excessive rates of type 2 diabetes and stroke have been found in an evaluation of 720,000 people living within a half-mile of 258 Superfund sites associated with excessive VOCs in drinking water.  “There is strong evidence that insulin resistance, type-2 diabetes, fatty liver disease and cardiovascular disease are associated with environmental exposures” Srivastava said.

UofL’s Superfund Research Center will focus on residents around the Lees Lane Landfill, a 112-acre landfill in Southwest Louisville. The site was used for a quarry in the 1940s and 1950s and was used as a landfill through 1975. The EPA placed the site on the Superfund program in 1983 because of contaminated ground water, surface water, soil and air resulting from landfill operations. Steps were taken to clean up the site and the EPA removed the site from the National Priorities List in 1996. However, the most recent estimates were inconclusive regarding remedy protectiveness, Srivastava said.

The Superfund team will measure pollutant exposure at the site, and compare pollutant levels at this site with those in the Rubbertown site with its multiple factories and plants. Nearly 38,000 people live within three miles of the site. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and death records from 2005-2009, UofL researchers have observed a 48 percent higher cardiovascular mortality in 26 neighborhoods around Rubbertown than in nearby Louisville areas.

The UofL team hopes to enroll 500 participants from three geographic areas in the project: one near the Superfund site on Lees Lane; one farther away, but still in Rubbertown; and one not nearby, in Oakdale. Researchers will set up continuous air monitoring at the sites, as well as mobile monitoring in different areas to help determine how far the level of gaseous pollution from the ground extends.

They will collect current health and demographic data and medical history, and look for evidence of chemical exposure in blood, urine and other samples. Participants’ blood chemistry, obesity and cardiovascular and liver function will be monitored after 18 months and 36 months. The team also will study the cardiometabolic effects of VOCs in animal models.

The other part of the project will focus on developing sensors for measuring VOCs in the air and constructing a land-use model to decrease ambient VOCs. The project also will test whether planting trees – known to help reduce the effect of exposure to toxic particles and VOCs in the air and soil – would improve the health of residents in the Oakdale area under the Green Heart project, launched last month. 

AHEC programs improve Kentuckians’ health by increasing supply of health-care providers

Area Health Education Centers awarded $4.12 million continued funding
AHEC programs improve Kentuckians’ health by increasing supply of health-care providers

Kentucky AHEC offices

Kentucky ranks among the worst states for access to quality health care, and 96 of its 120 counties are medically underserved. Educating health-care providers within the state is vital to combating the shortage of health workers and is the heart of the mission of Area Health Education Centers (AHEC).  Kentucky AHEC has been awarded $4.12 million in continued funding from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to continue that mission through Aug. 2022.

Administered by the University of Louisville School of Medicine in collaboration with the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Kentucky AHEC has worked to improve Kentuckians’ access to health care since 1985. Kentucky AHEC is composed of eight centers that promote healthy communities and health-care delivery in the state’s regional service areas by increasing the number of health-care workers of all disciplines, particularly in underserved areas.

“The AHEC centers contribute to the education of health professionals at UofL and at other institutions throughout Kentucky. Having an adequate number of well-trained, dedicated health professionals is a vital component to reducing health disparities, increasing access to health-care and improving the health of all Kentuckians,” said Gregory Postel, M.D., interim president of the University of Louisville. “This renewed funding is assurance that these programs will continue to support health education in the Commonwealth.”

Since its inception, Kentucky AHECs have facilitated the training of medical students in primary care, in many cases, introducing the students to issues faced by patients in underserved communities. All third-year students in the UofL School of Medicine complete a four-week clinical rotation in family medicine in rural or urban underserved communities throughout the state. The Kentucky AHEC program also provides education and rotations for nursing and dental students.

Kelli Bullard Dunn, M.D.

“Students gain a deeper understanding of the needs of the patients by working in these communities. It encourages then to consider practicing primary care in rural or urban underserved communities,” said Kelli Bullard Dunn, M.D., vice dean for community engagement and diversity at UofL, Kentucky AHEC program director and the principal investigator of this HRSA award.

To facilitate training, AHEC staff work with the Schools of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing to identify physicians and other professionals to coordinate students’ rotations in their communities. This provides a framework for the students to complete rotations in clinics, medical offices and community hospitals across the Commonwealth.

“This is a way for health-professions students to come out and serve in rural and underserved communities where they are exposed to different cultures and the practice of medicine without the innovative technologies available at the health sciences campuses. They get to see real medicine, real people,” said Brenda Fitzpatrick, director of the Northwest AHEC, based at the Family Health Center in Louisville’s Portland neighborhood.

In addition to educating health-professional students, AHECs in each region develop programs that further their mission in ways best suited to their communities.

For Fitzpatrick, that is developing a true pipeline of health-care professionals, from physicians and dentists to nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, nurse’s aides, bioengineers and computer technology professionals.

“While HRSA encourages AHECs to promote careers in the health professions to high school students, we take that a step further and work with middle school students,” she said. “By the time they reach eighth grade, it may be too late.”

Fitzpatrick adds that the Northwest AHEC collaborates with several medical magnet schools in Jefferson County to help students obtain certifications during high school.

“This will get them in the workforce sooner and allow them to then continue their education and move on up the chain.”

In the latest round of program funding, HRSA has instructed AHEC programs to encourage patient-centered medical homes, which coordinate patients’ care in a single office, improving overall health-care delivery and reducing costs.

Another new directive from HRSA is the development of the AHEC Scholars program. Each center will instruct 15 -25 health-profession students from a variety of disciplines in interprofessional education, behavioral health integration, social determinants of health, cultural competency, practice transformation and current and emerging health issues. Interprofessional education fosters collaboration among physicians, nurses, social workers, allied health and other providers.

“In a time of significant federal cutbacks, we were pleased to receive funding under HRSA’s extensively revised criteria,” Bullard Dunn said.

In addition to the federal funding, Kentucky AHEC is supported by Kentucky General Assembly appropriations, UofL and UK. AHEC is part of UofL’s Signature Partnership, a university effort to enhance the quality of life and economic opportunity for residents of West Louisville.




November 9, 2017

Indiana woman undergoes double hand transplant

Louella Aker, 69, becomes first female hand transplant recipient in Kentucky; video of the procedure can be found at
Indiana woman undergoes double hand transplant

Louella Aker is seated with from left, Christine Kaufman, Ph.D., Stuart Williams, Ph.D., and Tuna Ozyurekoglu, M.D.

A Jeffersonville, Ind., woman has become the first female hand transplant recipient in Kentucky and the 10th patient to receive a hand transplant from the Louisville Vascularized Composite Allograft (VCA) program, a partnership of physicians, researchers and health care providers from the University of Louisville, Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, the Christine M. Kleinert Institute for Hand and Microsurgery (CMKI) and the Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center.

During a 17-hour procedure on Sept. 17, Louella Aker underwent a double hand transplant at Jewish Hospital. The 69-year-old acquired an infection while involved in the cleanup of Henryville, Ind., after an EF4 tornado hit the area on March 2, 2012. Aker was later diagnosed with septicemia and underwent a bilateral, below-the-knee amputation on her legs, left forearm amputation, and right partial hand amputation. Aker was added to the organ donor registry in September 2015.

“There are so many things you cannot do without your hands. This will change my life and allow me to do the things I miss, like holding my granddaughter’s hand,” Aker said at a news conference on Oct. 19. “I spent many days praying for a donor, but also crying for the donor’s family for their loss. This is such a huge and exquisite gift they have given me and I thank and bless them for their sacrifice. I also want to thank the surgeons, my family and my church for their support.”

Twenty surgeons from UofL, CMKI and Kleinert Kutz performed the procedure. Fourteen staff members and six anesthesiologists also assisted with the surgery.

“Although a little slow, we are pleased with the progress that Louella has been making,” said Tuna Ozyurekoglu, M.D., lead surgeon on the procedure and assistant clinical professor of orthopedic surgery at UofL. “She is truly a fighter who has continued to grow stronger each day following this surgery. We look forward to watching her return to her normal activities, as she shows the world how successful transplantation can be.”

“Operations such as this help demonstrate the enormous importance of organ and tissue donation,” said Christopher Jones, M.D., associate professor of surgery at UofL and director of abdominal transplantation at Jewish Hospital. “If it were not for the donor family graciously agreeing to limb donation, the efforts of Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates and neighboring organ procurement organizations, this certainly would not have been possible.”

Aker was placed on immunosuppressive medications to prevent rejection of the new hand.

“She is tolerating her medications, and to date, has no signs of clinical rejection,” said Jones, who is overseeing the patient’s immunosuppressive therapy by closely monitoring her for signs of rejection and adverse reaction to medications.

“It is amazing to be part of an extraordinary team, performing procedures such as this double hand transplant,” said Stuart K. Williams, II, PhD, director, Bioficial Organs Program, Cardiovascular Innovation Institute. “New innovations developed by investigators at the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute are being translated to help patients recover more quickly from transplant surgery.”

The Louisville team developed the pioneering hand transplant procedure and has performed hand transplants on 10 patients since 1999. The clinical trial is led by Ozyurekoglu with research at the CMKI and the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute, a partnership of UofL and the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence.

Funding for the surgical procedure was provided by the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation, part of KentuckyOne Health.

The success of the Louisville VCA program has led to additional funding for ongoing transplantation and research. Early funding for research on composite tissue allotransplantation and immunotherapy from the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation helped bring about the nation’s first hand transplant. Other hand transplants were funded by the Department of Defense.

In late 2012, the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation allocated $1.5 million for the Louisville VCA program to bring potential hand transplant recipients to Louisville for screening, hand transplantation surgery and patient therapy and rehabilitation after surgery.

In 2013, the Louisville VCA program was awarded $850,000 to fund a clinical trial of a new treatment that will help prevent rejection of hand transplants as part of the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM) research program. AFIRM II is a five-year, $75 million federally funded project that will focus on applying regenerative medicine to battlefield injuries. Results of this trial will be far-reaching and benefit not only military patients, but all hand transplant recipients.

The AFIRM II funding enables Louisville VCA researchers to explore the potential for a cell-based therapy to help control the immune system’s response to a hand transplant, with a goal to lessen or eliminate the need for immune-suppressant drugs.


Barry Kerzin, M.D., advocate for physician compassion, interviewed on "UofL Today with Mark Hebert"

Barry Kerzin, M.D., advocate for physician compassion, interviewed on "UofL Today with Mark Hebert"

Barry Kerzin, M.D., personal physician to the Dalai Lama, is featured on the "UofL Today with Mark Hebert" radio broadcast set for Monday, August 8, at 6 p.m. on 93.9 FM The Ville.

Kerzin, who was the keynote speaker at this year's UofL White Coat Ceremony on July 24, talked with Hebert about his life, his visit to Louisville, and the importance of training doctors to avoid burnout and retain their sense of empathy.

Hebert hosts two weekly 30-minute radio broadcasts focusing on research, programs, successful students and insights from UofL’s faculty experts which run on Monday and Tuesday during drive time on 93.9 FM. Listen to upcoming and past programs at

In the Tuesday, August 9, program, Ruth Carrico, Ph.D., of UofL's Global Health Initiative, talks about the spread of Zika virus, and MD Anderson surgeon Raymond Sawaya, M.D., who was in Louisville for the neuro-oncology symposium July 8, discusses surgical treatment for primary glioma. That program will air August 9 at 6 p.m. on 93.9 FM The Ville. The programs are repeated on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Physicians familiar with stresses facing transgender youth better equipped to provide care

LGBT Healthcare Summit sponsored by Humana at UofL to focus on mental health
Physicians familiar with stresses facing transgender youth better equipped to provide care

Christine Brady, Ph.D.

Research shows that transgender youth experience higher rates of depression and are more likely to attempt suicide. Health-care providers are better equipped to care for these young patients and their families if they are familiar with their needs and struggles.

“As a mental health professional specializing in working with transgender and gender non-conforming youth, I am keenly aware of the prejudice, discrimination, rejection and bullying these youth face on a day-to-day basis,” said Christine Brady, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist with UofL Physicians’ Bingham Clinic and assistant professor in the University of Louisville Department of Pediatrics, Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry & Psychology.

“Rejection often comes out of fear, fear of the unknown. If I can reduce the fear of one person and facilitate that person approaching a transgender youth with more acceptance and compassion, I'll consider the summit a huge success.”

Brady will provide insight for health-care providers and the community as part of the LGBT Healthcare Summit at UofL, sponsored by Humana. Her talk, “Transgender and gender creative youth:  Mental health and evidence-based treatments,” will help familiarize participants with common terms and vocabulary used within the transgender community, communicate the prevalence of mental health issues and health disparities among transgender youth, and learn about both effective and potentially harmful mental health treatments across early, middle and late childhood development. Register for Brady’s talk, scheduled for noon at the UofL HSC Auditorium on Feb. 16, at

The LGBT Healthcare Summit also will feature "Substance use disorder treatment responsiveness for LGBT clients" by Brian Hurley, M.D., M.B.A. Hurley is an addiction psychiatrist and medical director for Substance Use Related Care Integration at the Los Angeles County Health Agency and assistant professor of addiction medicine at U.C.L.A. The presentation will include a panel of community members speaking to the challenges and successes around this issue in Louisville, including Jennifer Hancock, president of Volunteers of America Mid-States. Register for Hurley’s 9 a.m. presentation at

The LGBT Healthcare Summit sponsored by Humana will be held Friday, Feb. 16 at the UofL Health Sciences Center Auditorium, 500 S. Preston St., Louisville, Ky. 40202.

New option may help age-related hearing loss

UofL seeking trial participants for drug that may improve hearing in noisy environments
New option may help age-related hearing loss

New drug may help with age-related hearing loss

Over the past 10 years, Tom Schlindwein noticed it gradually became more difficult to follow conversations in public places.

“I have most difficulty in a restaurant or a venue where there is a lot of background noise,” Schlindwein said.

The 69-year-old Schlindwein is not alone. Many people find that as they get older, they have difficulty understanding conversations in crowded rooms or when there is significant background noise. Although hearing aids can help, age-related hearing loss can result from not only reduced loudness of speech, but also changes in central auditory processing in the brain. Thus, even with a hearing aid, people may find that understanding speech in noise is a problem.

“I have talked to people with hearing aids who say they do not work well in these situations,” Schlindwein said. “If there is an alternative, I am eager to pursue it.”

Schlindwein is participating in a clinical trial being conducted by researchers at the University of Louisville Program in Audiology for an investigational medication, AUT00063. The drug was developed for adults with age-related hearing loss and difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments.

Jill Preminger, Ph.D., chief of the Division of Communicative Disorders in the Department of Otolaryngology at UofL, is leading the trial of AUT00063, developed by Autifony Therapeutics. She said this medication, which focuses on improving brain-related aspects of age-related hearing loss, may be the first to help individuals with this condition.

“There have been very few drug studies for age-related hearing loss, yet approximately 45 percent of people over the age of 45 have some degree of hearing loss,” Preminger said.

Understanding speech involves distinguishing between similar sounds (such as p and b). These distinctions rely on not only reception by hair cells in the cochlea, which are lost with age, but on optimal function of auditory processing mechanisms in the brain.

“This drug is not targeting an improvement in hearing thresholds (i.e. making things louder), rather it is targeting how sound is processed in the auditory areas of the brain. This may result in improved hearing in noise,” Preminger said.

Coordinators are seeking additional individuals, age 50 to 89, with age-related hearing loss to participate in the trial.  Qualified individuals are those who experience difficulty understanding speech against high background noise but do not use hearing aids. Subjects accepted for the study will receive evaluations by an audiologist and physician and have a 50/50 chance of receiving the study medicine or placebo. Participation may last up to 10 weeks and include compensation.

People who are interested in participating in this clinical trial may call 502-852-5251 or email to see if they qualify. For more information on the study, go to Age Related Hearing Loss Clinical Trial.


November 2, 2015

Annual UofL Depression Center dinner spotlights ‘Psychiatry and the Movies’

Annual UofL Depression Center dinner spotlights ‘Psychiatry and the Movies’

Glen O. Gabbard, M.D.

Tickets are still available for the University of Louisville Depression Center’s annual dinner on Friday, Nov. 6, featuring Glen O. Gabbard, M.D., clinical professor of psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine, speaking on “Psychiatry and the Movies.”

Cocktail hour gets underway at 6 p.m. with dinner to follow at the University Club, 200 E. Brandeis St. Admission is $125 per person with proceeds going to support the UofL Depression Center. For information on tickets, email or call 502-588-4886.

The University of Louisville Depression Center is Kentuckiana’s leading resource for depression and bipolar disorder treatment, research and education. It is a charter member of the National Network of Depression Centers, a consortium of leading depression centers that develops and fosters connections among members to advance scientific discovery and provide stigma-free, evidence-based care to patients with depressive and bipolar illnesses.

Gabbard is the author of more than 300 journal articles and 23 books. He is known for his works on psychoanalysis, psychodynamic psychotherapy, personality disorders, psychiatric evaluation of professionals and more.

The son of professional actors turned a hobby of examining psychiatry in the movies into his first book on the subject and today has something few other psychiatrists can cite: his own listing on the Internet Movie Database. He is author of two books that examine how the profession is portrayed by filmmakers – Psychoanalysis and Film and Psychiatry and Cinema. A third book looks at one of the most dysfunctional families ever created in The Psychology of ‘The Sopranos’: Love, Death, Desire and Betrayal in America’s Favorite Gangster Family.

While filmmakers continue to be fascinated by psychiatry, Gabbard said, they don’t always accurately portray the profession or its practitioners. Hollywood has mostly preferred distortion and stereotype over more true-to-life representations.

“People don't make distinctions between what's reality and what's on the great silver screen,” Gabbard said in a New York Times interview.

Yet inaccurate as such portraits are, they are also compelling. In the same interview, Gabbard recalled a 1980 encounter with a patient who wanted to introduce hugs into the therapy he provided. Why? She had just seen Ordinary People and the psychiatrist in the movie portrayed by Judd Hirsch hugged the patient played by Timothy Hutton. “It helped (Hutton’s character) a lot,” she said, so she was certain it should be part of her sessions with Gabbard.

Occasionally however, he said, screenwriters and directors who tackle the subject of mental disorders and their treatments get it right. In Gabbard's view, The Sopranos is the best depiction of psychotherapy “ever to appear on film or television.” And A Beautiful Mind, director Ron Howard's award-winning drama chronicling the genius and the battle with schizophrenia of the mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr., who won the Nobel Prize for economics in 1994, is as accurate a portrait of the illness as Hollywood has produced.

Yet most on-screen portrayals fall short, Gabbard said. “The technique depicted is … simplistic and similarly naïve about therapeutic change,” he wrote in an essay in Psychiatric Times.

“While (psychiatrists) can commiserate with one another about the impact such depictions have on our public image and potential patients, we also can learn something about the image we project to those outside our field,” he said. “…no profession likes the way they’re depicted. We may actually take heart from the old Hollywood axiom that there’s no such thing as negative publicity.”

Posted October 21, 2015

UofL School of Medicine transforms medical education program

Accrediting body lifts probationary status
UofL School of Medicine transforms medical education program

Toni Ganzel, M.D., M.B.A.

Having transformed the curriculum and the educational space in which it is delivered, the University of Louisville School of Medicine was notified by phone yesterday by its accrediting entity that it is in compliance with all educational standards and probationary status has been lifted. UofL anticipates receiving the detailed written report in the coming weeks.

“During the past two years, we have worked diligently to address the concerns raised by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME),” said Toni Ganzel, MD, MBA, dean of the UofL School of Medicine. “We reformed our preclinical curriculum from a discipline-based model to an integrated model with more active learning and engaged pedagogies. We completed a major renovation of our instructional building, implemented new educational technologies and strengthened our educational governance and organizational structure.

“We continue our efforts to assure that we consistently meet or exceed expectations for compliance with LCME standards.”

UofL began implementing a redesigned curriculum in 2011, but significantly increased the speed during the past few years. Separate courses have been integrated to create a better fundamental understanding of the way the human body works in health and disease, and to link all of the courses throughout the four-year program. The faculty and students now are more focused on teamwork, communication, and application of knowledge using enhanced teaching technology and methods to take better care of patients.

The most visible change at the school is the $7.5 million renovation of the instructional building that redesigned the school’s instructional space that opened in 1970, including two large interactive lecture halls that will better meet the needs of current class size and enable UofL to potentially expand its class size to meet the growing physician shortage in Kentucky and beyond. There also are new small group learning labs and classrooms, a new student lounge and expanded student study areas. Additionally, the infrastructure was upgraded to better support innovative, cutting edge academic technologies.


October 16, 2015

University of Louisville researchers launch international project in HIV prevention

University of Louisville researchers launch international project in HIV prevention

Kenneth Palmer, Ph.D.

Researchers from the University of Louisville will lead an international effort to utilize tobacco plants to develop a gel containing a specific protein that will prevent the transmission of HIV. The project is being funded by a five-year, $14.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

“Our researchers are looking to solve problems that affect the world,” said James R. Ramsey, Ph.D., president of the University of Louisville. “Globally, more than 34 million people are HIV positive. The development of a low-cost method to prevent transmission of HIV certainly is something that is desperately needed and the use of tobacco plants as a method of carrying the vaccine appears to be key in the process.”

“Approximately seven years ago, UofL and Owensboro Health created a joint venture to develop a world-class plant pharmaceutical program that would have an impact globally,” said David L. Dunn, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for health affairs at UofL. “Today’s announcement, coupled with the announcement we made in May about the Helmsley Charitable Trust providing funding to our research into two other cancer vaccines utilizing tobacco plants, demonstrates that the vision is becoming a reality.”

Kenneth Palmer, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and toxicology and director of the Owensboro Cancer Research Program of UofL’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center, is leading a team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, the Magee-Women’s Research Institute in Pittsburgh, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, the University of Maryland, Baltimore and Kentucky Bioprocessing Inc. and Intrucept Biomedicine LLC in Owensboro.

The team is working with the carbohydrate combining protein Griffithsin (GRFT), which is found in red algae. In laboratory work, the protein has shown to have broad-spectrum activity against HIV. GRFT binds to the dense shield of sugars that surrounds HIV cells and prevents these cells from entering other non-HIV cells. The team plans to develop a gel containing the protein for use during sexual intercourse by people at risk for HIV transmission.

To develop the microbicide, Palmer’s team takes a synthetic copy of the protein and injects it into a tobacco mosaic virus, which carries the protein into the tobacco leaves. After 12 days, the researchers harvest the leaves and extract the mass-produced protein for development into the vaccine.

“Our goal is to optimize the delivery system of the protective agent, which in this case is a gel, and determine its safety and estimates of its efficacy, leading to a first-in-humans clinical trial,” Palmer said.

“People may question why a cancer program is conducting research into HIV prevention,” said Donald Miller, M.D., Ph.D., director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, a part of KentuckyOne Health. “In fact, cancer can be a result of every major disease that we know about, and HIV infection is no exception.”

Overall, the grant contains three significant projects – The Critical Path Project; Preclinical Testing Project; and Clinical Trial Project.

The critical path project involves manufacturing the microbicide active ingredient, ensuring quality of the microbicide and the formulated gel product and production for actual use. This process is in collaboration with two Owensboro-based biotechnology companies (Kentucky Bioprocessing Inc. and Intrucept Biomedicine LLC), and Lisa Rohan, Ph.D., at the University of Pittsburgh and Magee-Women’s Research Institute. Rohan has significant experience developing delivery systems for similar medications.

The preclinical testing project is a collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to use an animal model to ensure that the vaccine is safe and to determine that it actually provides protection from infection.

The clinical trial project involves developing the application to conduct a clinical trial for the Food and Drug Administration, as well as conducting the first-in-humans testing.


Editor’s note: Palmer is one of the founders and principal partners in Intrucept Biomedicine LLC.

University of Louisville team closer to helping millions battling lung cancer

Researchers have identified a new group of molecules that help cause apoptosis in lung cancer cells

Researchers at the University of Louisville have uncovered a cadre of small molecules that tell certain proteins to kill lung cancer cells. The team, led by Chi Li, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine, published its finding in the April 2014 issue of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

One of the characteristics of lung cancer is the dysregulation of apoptosis, or regulated cell death. Cancer cells are able to survive in the unnatural state.

Proteins from the Bcl-2 family are major regulators of apoptosis. One of them, Bax, sometimes becomes erratic and loses its ability to maintain its killer function, which leads to lung tumor development. The researchers realized that this meant Bax potentially could be part of the cure as well.

The researchers used virtual screening in their study, a process where they ran through a computer program all the possible combinations of molecules that could bind with the Bax proteins to find the best combination. After trying more than 10 million molecules, they found the right one. This Bax-activating small molecule compound kills lung cancer cells as well as inhibits the growth of lung tumors transplanted into mice.

The scientific finding of Li and his team showed it is possible to identify small molecules capable of binding and activating Bax proteins that in turn induce apoptosis in cancerous cells. In the study, published in Molecular and Cellular Biology in April of 2014, Li and his team were able to specifically induce tumor cell death while avoiding normal cell death.

The compound also shows synergy with the widely used chemotherapeutic drug carboplatin. This means that the potential application for this compound in cancer treatment is very broad.

The scientific discovery could form the basis for advanced therapeutic agents for cancer in patients, specifically lung cancer, which is especially prevalent in Kentucky.

The high mortality rate of lung cancer is partially attributed to ineffective therapeutic treatments. This makes it very important for scientists to develop new chemotherapeutic drugs for lung cancer.

Li says it could pave the way for new treatment for other types of cancer as well. “Lung cancer is a really big issue for us. We have a large mortality rate, and that’s one of the reasons we wanted to go after lung cancer,” he said. “We are in the process of trying to expand the application of our discovery onto different types of cancer.”

Li and his team will have the opportunity for that expansion very soon. The National Institutes of Health recently awarded them a grant of $1.5 million to continue their groundbreaking research.

UofL lecture will help you ‘Maintain Your Brain’

  UofL lecture will help you ‘Maintain Your Brain’

David Casey, M.D.

A healthy body’s connection to a healthy mind will be the topic of the next “Building Hope” lecture on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

David A. Casey, M.D., chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Louisville, will present “Maintaining Your Brain: Tips on preserving thinking and memory with the aging process.” The event is part of the “Building Hope” public lecture series sponsored by the UofL Depression Center and will be held at 7 p.m. at Second Presbyterian Church, 3701 Old Brownsboro Road.

Casey will discuss lifestyle changes that can be helpful to maintain brain processes. He also will explain how optimal management of medical conditions can help preserve brain power.

Board-certified in both general psychiatry and geriatric psychiatry, Casey joined the UofL faculty in 1985 and was named chair in 2015. His research interests are focused on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, geriatric depression, psychiatric education and the history of psychiatry. He practices with UofL Physicians-Psychiatry.

The University of Louisville Depression Center is Kentuckiana’s leading resource for depression and bipolar disorder treatment, research and education. It is a charter member of the National Network of Depression Centers, a consortium of leading depression centers that develops and fosters connections among members to advance scientific discovery and provide stigma-free, evidence-based care to patients with depressive and bipolar illnesses.

For more information, contact the Depression Center at 502-588-4886.

Julep Ball announces entertainment celebrity guests

Julep Ball announces entertainment celebrity guests

Some of America’s most popular reality stars will join bright talents from the world of music, television and film at the 2014 Julep Ball.

The premier Derby Eve Party with a Purpose, The Julep Ball is held annually on the evening before the Kentucky Derby and supports the work of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville. The event on May 2 at the KFC Yum! Center kicks off with a 6:30 p.m. cocktail reception, followed by dinner and a live auction at 8 p.m.

An Official Event of the 140th Kentucky Derby®, The Julep Ball provides a celebrity-studded night to remember with a multi-course seated dinner, a knock-your-socks-off auction, multiple open specialty bars, complimentary valet parking, and dancing until the wee hours of Derby morning. Tickets to The Julep Ball sell out early each year. The full evening’s entertainment is $600 per person, $5,000 for a table of 10, and $100 per person for dance-only tickets. For further information and to buy tickets, go to The Julep Ball website,

This year’s celebrity guests from the world of entertainment include:


Danielle Gregorio is a wife and mother to three beautiful children, residing in Villa Park, Calif. She is the co-owner and principal designer of Danielle Kaye Design Studio, a boutique interior design firm located in Orange County, California. Interior design has always been a passion for Gregorio, so she is now able to re-create her visions in both residential and commercial design projects, living her dream of owning her own business and doing what she loves.  Gregorio also has always had a special talent and vision for planning and hosting the most amazing events. When partnering with Jimmy Choo in May 2012 to support and raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® Man of the Year, the event was such a success that she was asked to host a yearly event. When she accepted this task, she knew it was a perfect fit to become a founding member of Heels2Heal Orange County. Most recently, Gregorio joined the seasoned cast of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Orange County. Though new to the reality TV world, she was excited to show the world that a full-time mom, businesswoman and philanthropist can have it all.


Mark and Matthew Harris are nationally known as starring in A&E’s hit series Storage Wars, where they are the newest bidders on the show viewed by 5 million viewers weekly.  In addition to being radio personalities in Los Angeles hosting their weekly radio show, The Tastemakers, the Harris brothers are regular judges at Miss USA pageants, including Miss California USA, Miss Illinois USA, Miss Nevada USA, Miss New Jersey USA and Miss Maryland USA. The Harris brothers are also known as “The Kings of Swag” as they own and operate the biggest celebrity marketing agency in Hollywood, WOW! CREATIONS, providing celebrity gift bags and hosting celebrity gift lounges around the world from the Cannes Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and many more events. The Harris brothers are also luxury life style consultants who have a daily blog and can be seen in upcoming Independent feature films playing wealthy investors and are currently shopping their new reality show, The Kings of Swag.


Aussie native Kym Johnson has made the transition from ballroom to judging panel and is currently one of four judges on Dancing with the Stars, Australia. Johnson holds three mirror-ball trophies (two in the United States and one in Australia) and she is the only professional dancer in the world to hold trophies on two different continents. In 2006, she arrived in the United States when she was asked to join the U.S. version of DWTS. Her first partner was talk show host Jerry Springer during season three, where she won the hearts of Americans. Her other partners have included some of the most popular celebrities on the show: David Hasselhoff, Joey Fatone, Jaleel White, Mark Cuban, Penn Jillette, Warren Sapp, Ingo Radamacher and David Arquette.  Johnson has been runner-up twice on the American syndicated DWTS. In November 2009, Johnson won the prestigious mirror-ball trophy with entertainer Donny Osmond, and followed up the win with another first place in 2011 with Pittsburgh Steeler Hines Ward. Johnson has been involved in 13 seasons of DWTS U.S.A.


Carson Kressley was most recently a “fan-favorite” on ABC’s world-wide hit, Dancing With The Stars and recently headlined as the host of Dancing With The Stars Live in Las Vegas. In 2011, Kressley starred in Carson-Nation, a one-hour reality show that premiered on OWN, The Oprah Winfrey Network. In Carson-Nation, he travelled to small towns throughout the United States, transforming lives one person at a time with his signature heart, humor and style. Previously, Kressley helmed Lifetime's critically acclaimed show How To Look Good Naked and earned a primetime Emmy for his role on Bravo's breakout hit series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. He was a frequent style contributor on The Oprah Winfrey Show where millions of viewers accessed his expertise, style, and wit. He can also be seen as a style contributor on ABC’s Good Morning America,Live With Kelly and Michael!, The Queen Latifah Show, Bethenny and The Wendy Williams Show. Kressley recently debuted his signature line of women’s sportswear and accessories, "Love, Carson," which is known for its easy, instant, affordable glamour and is available exclusively at ShopHQ.


Before he made his way to Tinseltown, the Kentucky native set his sights on music and attended the University of Georgia. Shortly after traveling to Los Angeles and upon a chance meeting with a film and television manager, Robinson jump-started his career performing in more than 50 television and film projects and still counting while still pursuing his music career. Robinson is best known for his role as C.C. White in the Academy Award-winning film Dreamgirls, which earned him an Oscar nomination for best song that he performed at the Academy Awards. He can also be seen in such films as Dear John, Fat Albert, 35 & Ticking, This Christmas, CRU (August 2014) and the soon-to-be released James Brown biopic, Get on Up due out Aug. 1. `Robinson also is slated to release brand-new music later this year.


Elizabeth (Lizzie) Rovsek is a swimsuit designer and stay-at-home mother of two. Lizzie is the newest Housewife on Bravo's The Real Housewives of Orange County and joined the cast in its ninth season. Elizabeth hails from the Bluegrass state, is a former Miss Kentucky USA, and is now owner and designer of her own swimsuit company, Sun Kitten Swimwear. She’s married to Christian, CEO of Service First Restoration, an emergency service construction company handling properties damaged by flood, fire, mold and more, and they have two children, 3-year-old Preston and 2-year-old Kingston. They live in Orange County, California, and plan on growing their family in 2015.


His television credits include series regular roles on Kevin Hill and Close to Home and recurring roles in Ghost Whisperer and Oz. Seda also guest starred on Hawaii Five-0, The Closer, Burn Notice, House, M.D, CSI: Miami, NYPD Blue, Las Vegas and Law and Order, among many others. In 2010, Seda was seen in the award-winning HBO World War II miniseries The Pacific, playing the starring role of legendary marine Jon Basilone, and joined the cast of the acclaimed HBO series Treme as a series regular. Seda can currently be seen starring as Detective Antonio Dawson on Chicago PD. The show, created by Emmy Award-winning executive producer Dick Wolf, is a spin-off of Chicago Fire and airs on NBC.


In 2013, Nina Davuluri became the first contestant of Indian descent to win the Miss America competition. The Syracuse, N.Y., native was educated at the University of Michigan and plans to attend medical school. During her year as Miss America, Davuluri will serve as spokesperson for increasing enrollment in the STEM fields – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics – working with the U.S. Department of Education. Along with the coveted title of Miss America 2014, the 24-year-old won a $50,000 scholarship provided in part by Joseph Ribkoff Inc. and the Miss America Organization to continue her education. For the talent portion of the competition, Davuluri returned to her roots and performed a Classical Bollywood Fusion dance.



Growing up in a banking family in Louisville, Hardwick started to play the piano and compose at age four with the gift of perfect pitch. He went on to win numerous national talent competitions including the Coca-Cola Talent Contest and was accepted for private study by the University of Louisville School of Music at age 12. After earning a BA in business from Centre College and completing graduate music studies at the University of North Texas (classical and jazz), he studied composition with Hall Overton at the Juilliard School of Music. He also received a DownBeat magazine award scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston. "The Bob Hardwick Sound" is now one of the leading dance orchestras in the country, with an average of over 200 engagements per year in the United States, in addition to England, France, Italy, Ireland and Bermuda and the Caribbean. With Bob's dazzling piano artistry, the orchestra's irresistible beat, and a repertoire that delights all ages, Hardwick's music makes every party a success, including Presidential inaugurals, private parties, benefit galas, corporate events, debutante balls and weddings of all sizes. Recently, Hardwick played for his fifth Inaugural Ball and seventh U.S. president by performing at the prestigious Illinois Presidential Inaugural Ball in Washington, D.C., for President Barack Obama.


Country artist J.D. Shelburne grew up on a tobacco farm in Taylorsville, Ky., a tiny town southeast of the Ohio River near Louisville. At age 19, he found a guitar after the death of his grandmother and began learning to play and sing on his own. By his sophomore year of college, he had found a few gigs at some local bars in the Louisville and Lexington areas and developed a fan base that eventually landed him on some of the biggest stages in the business, opening for some of the nation's hottest stars. Eventually, Shelburne was adding original songs into the set mix, in addition to producing songs of his own material. Twelve years later he is soaking up country music, touring cities, building a fan base and celebrating a decade of success playing venues all across the southeast trying to get his big break. Today he’s among the most hardworking and relevant country singers in the business, with the hits “Farmboy” and “Grandma & Garth.” They say Nashville doesn’t work that way anymore – that talented musicians with very few connections don’t stand a chance, but J.D. Shelburne proved that Music City’s engine still runs off talent and persistence. Critics find him credible. Fans pack his shows. Venues strive to book him. There are very few new artists recording songs today about whom that can be said.


About the James Graham Brown Cancer Center:

The James Graham Brown Cancer Center is a key component of the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center. As part of the region's leading academic, research and teaching health center, the cancer center provides the latest medical advances to patients, often long before they become available in non-teaching settings. The JGBCC is a part of KentuckyOne Health and is affiliated with the Kentucky Cancer Program. It is the only cancer center in the region to use a unified approach to cancer care, with multidisciplinary teams of physicians working together to guide patients through diagnosis, treatment and recovery. For more information, visit our web site,

The Julep Ball is sponsored in part by Advanced Cancer Therapeutics, Ashton Advertising, Bob Montgomery Dixie Honda, Boutique Serendipity, The Dahlem Company, Dillards, Enterprise, Headz Salon, Heaven Hill, Hubbuch & Co., InGrid Design, Jaust Consulting Partners, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, KentuckyOne Health, Kroger, Louisville Magazine, Maker’s Mark, Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company, Morgan Stanley, MPI Printing, Nfocus, Old 502 Winery, Power Creative, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, WAKY and WHAS11.

Gregory Barnes named director of UofL Autism Center

Gregory Barnes named director of UofL Autism Center

Gregory Barnes, M.D., Ph.D.

Gregory Barnes, M.D., Ph.D., is the inaugural permanent director of the University of Louisville Autism Center. Barnes comes to UofL from Vanderbilt University. Barnes also will hold the Spafford Ackerly Chair for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and faculty positions in the departments of Neurology and Pediatrics.

“Dr. Barnes is a national leader in providing care for people who are affected by autism,” said David L. Dunn, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for health affairs at UofL. “His emphasis on evidence-based treatment, teamed with his research into potential genetic influences into the development of the disorder, as well as the potential influence in epilepsy, make him a perfect fit for our program.”

In 2008, Barnes was appointed national neurology co-leader for the Autism Treatment Network. In 2012 he was appointed to the external scientific advisory committee for the Preclinical Autism Consortium for Therapeutics (PACT). He also has served as a reviewer for the Autism Speaks special grant program for preclinical translational research and the Autism Speaks translational postdoctoral fellowship grant program.

Barnes, who will hold the academic title of associate professor of neurology and pediatrics, has held academic appointments at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Harvard Medical School, Duke University Medical School, the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and Vanderbilt School of Medicine.

He earned his bachelor of science degree in molecular biology from Vanderbilt University before earning his doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Kentucky. He also earned his medical degree from UK. He served his pediatric residency at St. Louis Children’s Hospital in affiliation with Washington University School of Medicine. He served as a clinical fellow in pediatrics, neurology and epilepsy at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He completed an epilepsy research fellowship from the Duke University Center for the Advanced Study of Epilepsy.

The UofL Autism Center at Kosair Charities, located at 1405 Burnett Ave., offers children, parents and community partners a single source for expert treatment, referral and information. It is a joint effort by the UofL departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Pediatrics and the College of Education and Human Development that will eventually incorporate resources from other university programs. The university-based partnership serves as the focus for collaboration with other community-based autism services and advocacy groups.

Emcees, red carpet interviewer announced by The Julep Ball

Accomplished actress joins the ‘Voice of the Cards’ and WHAS11 anchor for May 2 gala

Movie and television actress Josie Davis joins “Voice of the Cards” Sean Moth and WHAS11 morning anchor Brooke Katz in emceeing The Julep Ball.

Katz will interview celebrities as they make their red carpet entrances, while Davis and Moth will keep the evening moving as emcees.

The premier Derby Eve Party with a Purpose, The Julep Ball is held annually on the evening before the Kentucky Derby and supports the work of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville. The event on May 2 at the KFC Yum! Center kicks off with a 6:30 p.m. cocktail reception, followed by dinner and a live auction at 8 p.m.

An Official Event of the 140th Kentucky Derby®, The Julep Ball provides a celebrity-studded night to remember with a multi-course seated dinner, a knock-your-socks-off auction, multiple open specialty bars, complimentary valet parking, and dancing until the wee hours of Derby morning. Tickets to The Julep Ball sell out early each year. The full evening’s entertainment is $600 per person, $5,000 for a table of 10, and $100 per person for dance-only tickets. For further information and to buy tickets, go to The Julep Ball website,

About Josie Davis

Josie Davis is best remembered as a series regular on the hit television series Charles in Charge opposite Scott Baio, which she began when she was 12 years old. After the show wrapped, Josie transitioned into series regular roles on Beverly Hills 90210 and then the television series Titans with Victoria Principal.

Davis’ feature film credits include a lead role in Nicholas Cage’s directorial debut Sonny, opposite James Franco and Scott Caan. She also starred in Carolina Moon, opposite Claire Forlani and Oliver Hudson, The Perfect Assistant, Seduced by Lies, and The Perfect Student, Blind Injustice, Past Obsessions, and Dirty Teacher, all for Lifetime.

Davis next can be seen in the indie film Mantervention, coming to theatres in Summer 2014, and also in Stealing Roses opposite John Heard and Wizardream opposite Malcolm McDowell.

Her television credits include a recurring role on CSI: NY and guest starring roles on Two and a Half Men, The Mentalist, Chuck, Bones, Rules of Engagement, Navy NCIS, Burn Notice,Breakout Kings and many more. Josie is a lifetime member of The Actors Studio being run by Martin Landau and Mark Rydell. For more information, visit:

About Brooke Katz

Brooke Katz came to WHAS11 and Louisville from her hometown of Charleston, S.C. She anchors the 4:30 a.m. edition of Good Morning Kentuckiana as well as the noon newscast. She also does traffic reports for the 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. shows.

Brooke started her career in journalism at Charleston’s WCBD-TV in 2008, working as a reporter and a producer. On the streets, she covered a wide range of stories from hard news to special health and fitness segments. Since coming to Louisville, Brooke has worked as a multimedia journalist, a general assignments reporter and a feature reporter.

In her spare time, Brooke is an exercise enthusiast. She’s been teaching aerobics classes since her senior year in high school. Brooke received her degree in journalism and media studies and a certificate in criminology from Rutgers University in New Jersey.

About Sean Moth

Enjoying his 15th season at the University of Louisville, Moth has been the “Voice of the Cardinals Athletic Department” during that span as the arena and stadium announcer for the football, volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball teams. In addition, he has been the radio voice of the Louisville Cardinals baseball team for the past 12 seasons.

As associate director of creative services, he works with video and social media and has emceed banquets and events at UofL and around the City of Louisville. The teams he works with have carried him on their coattails to 12 bowl games, five Final Fours and two College World Series.

Moth lives in Louisville with his wife of 20 years, Angie and their 16-year-old son Erik who attends Youth Performing Arts School. When Moth “used to have spare time,” as he phrases it, he enjoyed cooking, good music, fly-fishing and photography.


About the James Graham Brown Cancer Center:

The James Graham Brown Cancer Center is a key component of the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center. As part of the region's leading academic, research and teaching health center, the cancer center provides the latest medical advances to patients, often long before they become available in non-teaching settings. The JGBCC is a part of KentuckyOne Health and is affiliated with the Kentucky Cancer Program. It is the only cancer center in the region to use a unified approach to cancer care, with multidisciplinary teams of physicians working together to guide patients through diagnosis, treatment and recovery. For more information, visit our web site,

The Julep Ball is sponsored in part by Advanced Cancer Therapeutics, Ashton Advertising, Bob Montgomery Dixie Honda, Boutique Serendipity, The Dahlem Company, Dillards, Enterprise, Headz Salon, Heaven Hill, Hubbuch & Co., InGrid Design, Jaust Consulting Partners, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, KentuckyOne Health, Kroger, Louisville Magazine, Maker’s Mark, Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company, Morgan Stanley, MPI Printing, Nfocus, Old 502 Winery, Power Creative, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, WAKY and WHAS11.