Beer and science with a twist, Oct. 18

For October, in lieu of the regular Beer With a Scientist, you are invited to a special “world tour mini event” at an ALTERNATE VENUE, Holsopple Brewing ( in Lyndon. At this informal event, you will have the chance to discuss science and ask questions about anything related to biomedical science (especially cancer) with Levi Beverly, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Medicine at UofL.


Oct 18, 2017
from 07:00 PM to 09:00 PM


Holsopple Brewing, 8023 Catherine Ln., 40222

Contact Name

Betty Coffman

Contact Phone


Add event to calendar


On Nov. 15 at 8 p.m., BWAS returns to its normal format at Against the Grain. Speakers will be Miriam Krause and Kelly Pagidas. The title of their talk will be: “Is the designer baby a reality?”

As usual, there will be no event in December. Dates are set for the first quarter of 2018.

Jan. 17, 2018
Feb. 21, 2018
Mar. 14, 2018

Clinical “calculators” seriously overrate heart attack risk

Clinical “calculators” seriously overrate heart attack risk

Most “risk calculators” used by clinicians to gauge a patient’s chances of suffering a heart attack and guide treatment decisions markedly overestimate the likelihood of an attack, according to results of a study by investigators at Johns Hopkins, the University of Louisville and other institutions.

Physicians commonly use standardized risk-assessment systems, or algorithms, to decide whether someone needs care with daily aspirin and cholesterol-lowering drugs or just watchful waiting and follow-up exams. These algorithms calculate heart attack probability using a combination of factors such as gender, age, smoking history, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and diabetes, among others.

The new findings, reported in Annals of Internal Medicine, suggest four out of five widely used clinical calculators seriously overrate risk, including the most recent one unveiled in 2013 by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology amid considerable controversy about its predictive accuracy.

The results of the study, the research team says, underscore the dangers of over-reliance on standardized algorithms, and highlight the importance of individualized risk assessment factoring additional variables into a patient’s score, such as other medical conditions, family history of early heart disease, level of physical activity and the presence and amount of calcium buildup in the heart’s vessels.

“Our results reveal a concerning lack of predictive accuracy in risk calculators, highlighting an urgent need to reexamine and fine-tune our existing risk assessment techniques,” says senior investigator Michael Blaha, M.D., M.P.H., director of clinical research at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease.

“The take-home message here is that as important as guidelines are, they are just a blueprint, a starting point for a conversation between patient and physician about the risks and benefits of different treatment or preventive strategies,” Blaha adds.

Those treatment and preventive strategies are impossible to develop without individualized consultation with patients, says Andrew DeFilippis, M.D., M.Sc., co-director of cardiovascular disease prevention and medical director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at the University of Louisville, and a co-author of the study.  “What the data tell us is that current risk assessment algorithms provide the ‘jumping-off point’ for physicians to utilize in starting the process to determine a patient’s risk,” DeFilippis says. “Especially when these assessments indicate marginal or great risk, it is crucial for physicians to factor in other variables such as family medical history, calcium buildup in the vessels and lifestyle factors, among others, to obtain the truest picture of the patient’s condition. Only then can the physician develop prevention or treatment strategies that have the greatest chance of success.”

While prevention and treatment decisions are straightforward in some patients, many have borderline risk scores that leave them and their clinicians in a gray zone of uncertainty regarding therapy. Under the American Heart Association’s most recent guidelines, people who face a 7.5 percent risk of suffering a heart attack within 10 years are urged to consider preventive therapy with a cholesterol-lowering medication.

Risk overestimation could be particularly problematic for patients with marginal scores as it can artificially push a person with a relatively low risk profile into the “consider treatment” group. This is why patients with such borderline scores could benefit from further risk assessment including tests such as CT scans that visualize the degree of calcification in the arteries of the heart.

Additional testing could be a much-needed tie-breaker in all too common ‘to treat or not to treat’ dilemmas,” says study co-author Roger Blumenthal, M.D., professor of medicine and director of the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease. “Such testing should be considered in all patients with marginal risk scores — those in whom the decision to treat with long-term statin and aspirin remains unclear.”

To check the accuracy of each one of five risk calculators, the investigators compared the number of predicted versus actual heart attacks and strokes among a group of more than 4,200 patients, ages 50 to 74, followed over a decade. None of the patients had evidence of atherosclerotic heart disease at the beginning of the study. Atherosclerotic heart disease or atherosclerosis — a condition marked by the buildup of fatty plaque and calcium deposits inside the major blood vessels — is the main cause of heart attacks and strokes, claiming the lives of some 380,000 people in the United States each year.

Four out of five risk scores analyzed in the study overestimated risk by anywhere from 37 percent to 154 percent in men and 8 percent to 67 percent in women. The fifth, and least flawed, risk-scoring tool overestimated risk among men by only 9 percent, but underestimated it by 21 percent among women.

The new American Heart Association calculator overestimated risk by 86 percent in men and by 67 percent in women. Thus, a man with projected risk score of 10 percent, had, in fact, a 6 percent risk of suffering a heart attack within 10 years. In the group with a risk score between 7.5 to 10 percent — the threshold at which initiation of stain is recommended — the actual risk was 3 percent, well beyond the level at which statin use should be considered.

The least flawed prediction of heart attack risk was generated by the so-called Reynolds risk score calculator, which underestimated overall risk by 3 percent. In addition to age, gender, smoking, diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure, the Reynolds score factors in levels of C-reactive protein — a marker of systemic and blood-vessel inflammation — and family history of early heart disease.

While not the subject of the current study, the researchers say they believe the overestimation of risk stems from the fact that all calculators, including the newest one, use as risk reference data obtained decades ago when more people were having heart attacks and strokes.

“The less-than-ideal predictive accuracy of these calculators may be a manifestation of the changing face of heart disease,” Blaha says. “Cardiac risk profiles have evolved in recent years with fewer people smoking, more people having early preventive treatment and fewer people having heart attacks or having them at an older age. In essence, baseline risk in these algorithms may be inflated.”

The Reynolds risk equation, for example, was based on data from a more recent group of patients compared with other calculators, which may explain its superior accuracy, the researchers say.

Other institutions involved in the study included University of Washington, University of Colorado, the University of California-Los Angeles and Baptist Medical Group in Miami.

The research was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute under grant numbers N01-HC-95159 and N01-HC-95169 and by the National Center for Research Resources under grants UL1-TR-000040 and UL1-TR-001079.

Save the date now for health career information later

Free September workshop provides information for minority students on health careers
Save the date now for health career information later

Increasing the number of people of color in the health professions workforce is the goal of a free day-long event hosted by the University of Louisville Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Hyatt Regency Louisville, 320 W. Jefferson St.

The 2015 College Student Development Program and Student Recruitment Fair is open to college students and their families, pre-health advisers, college and university administrators and others involved in increasing the numbers of racial and ethnic minority students in health professions schools – medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, graduate biomedical sciences and allied health, among others. The event is part of the 2015 Annual Meeting of the National Association of Medical Minority Educators Inc. (NAMME)

At the event, college students and undergraduate pre-health advisors will be provided with information on various health professions, meet one-on-one with representatives from health professions schools and learn about entrance requirements and application processes for admission.

Participating institutions are being recruited and will come from throughout the United States, said Michael L. Rowland, Ph.D., annual meeting chair and associate dean for diversity initiatives in the UofL School of Medicine.

“Students and faculty attending past NAMME recruitment fairs have been able to meet with approximately 50 colleges and universities from throughout the country, and we anticipate that the 2015 event will be equally robust,” Rowland said.

Health professions schools wishing to participate in the fair should contact Rowland at or 502-852-1864.

Students and advisors wishing to attend can learn more by emailing or online at


About National Association of Medical Minority Educators Inc.:
NAMME is a national organization dedicated to developing and sustaining productive relationships as well as action-oriented programs among national, state and community stakeholders working to ensure racial and ethnic diversity in all of the health professions. NAMME also seeks to provide critical guidance and professional development opportunities for individuals dedicated to these efforts and the students they serve.



Coping with stress discussed March 5

Coping with stress discussed March 5

Eric Russ, Ph.D.

A University of Louisville psychologist will present a public talk that provides information on how to cope with stress.

“Tips and Tools for Coping with Stress” will be presented by Eric Russ, Ph.D., Thursday, March 5, at 7 p.m. at Second Presbyterian Church, 3701 Old Brownsboro Road. Admission is free.

The lecture is a part of the “Building Hope” public lecture series sponsored by the University of Louisville Depression Center, Kentuckiana’s leading resource for depression and bipolar disorder treatment, research and education.

Russ will provide participants with strategies to improve the ability to cope with a wide range of stressful situations, from those occurring in daily life to stress that is a result of traumatic events.

Russ is assistant professor in UofL’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. He specializes in working with anxiety disorders and with people who have experienced traumatic stress. He earned his undergraduate degree in psychology and anthropology from Emory University and received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Emory University.  He completed a clinical internship at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and a post-doctoral fellowship in traumatic stress at Rush University Medical Center.

Russ serves as Director of the Veterans Treatment Program, which focuses on treating National Guard veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and other mental health difficulties.

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

Is it better to be lucky or good? Paula Bates, Ph.D., talks about serendipity in scientific discovery at the next Beer with a Scientist, July 20

Is it better to be lucky or good? Paula Bates, Ph.D., talks about serendipity in scientific discovery at the next Beer with a Scientist, July 20

Paula Bates, Ph.D.

Scientists have made some amazing discoveries by accident, including penicillin, the microwave oven and Viagra. Of course, the scientists needed to have specific knowledge in order to recognize their discoveries.

At this month’s Beer with a Scientist, Paula Bates, Ph.D., will talk about the role serendipity has played in many scientific discoveries as well as her own career as a scientist. Bates, associate professor at the University of Louisville Department of Medicine and researcher at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, “accidentally” discovered a new cancer therapeutic that has been since used in patient clinical trials.

In her research, Bates focuses on identifying and characterizing novel cancer therapeutics. Her work has led to the clinical trials of a ‘first in humans’ therapeutic called AS1411, a DNA aptamer, which was, in fact, a serendipitous discovery. AS1411 folds into a G-quadruplex structure that binds to nucleolin (a protein present at high levels on the surface of cancer cells) and can kill cancer cells without harming non-malignant cells. She and her colleagues are now also using AS1411 to guide various nanoparticles to cancer cells, which could lead to better methods for cancer detection and therapy.

Bates also is principal investigator for University of Louisville ExCITE, an NIH Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hub, created to facilitate the translation of biomedical innovations into commercial products that improve patient care and enhance health.

The program begins at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20 at Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St. A 30-minute presentation will be followed by an informal Q&A session.

The Beer with a Scientist program began in 2014 and is the brainchild of UofL cancer researcher Levi Beverly, Ph.D. Once a month, the public is invited to enjoy exactly what the title promises:  beer and science.

Admission is free. Purchase of beer, other beverages or menu items is not required but is encouraged.

Organizers add that they also encourage Beer with a Scientist patrons to drink responsibly.

For more information and to suggest future Beer with a Scientist topics, follow Louisville Underground Science on Facebook.

COMING NEXT MONTH: On August 17, Kristofer Rau, Ph.D., researcher in the UofL Department of Anesthesiology, will discuss the neurobiology of why we hurt. He’ll explain why the “funny bone” hurts so often, the placebo effect, why amputees feel pain in a lost limb and other painful topics.

Dedication of UofL Hospital nurse forges strong friendship

Gretta Walters ‘truly the mom when mom can’t be there’
Dedication of UofL Hospital nurse forges strong friendship

UofL Hospital nurse Gretta Walters was nominated for a DAISY Award for exceptional nurses from The DAISY Foundation by a former patient.

Gretta Walters is “truly the mom when mom can’t be there.”

A nurse at University of Louisville Hospital, she cares for infants in the neonatal intensive care unit of the Center for Women & Infants. And she can say something a lot of people can’t say – she never dreads going to work.

 “I get to care for babies,” she said. “And I love UofL Hospital, it’s a warm, caring place to work.”

Four years ago, Gretta’s love for what she does changed the life of one of her patients, and her own. Tabby Cooper’s son was born at 26 weeks via an emergency Cesarean section. Gretta was there, doing her job, wrapping Sulli Cooper’s tiny body and placing him in an incubator, where he would live the first two months of his life.

Twenty-three weeks’ gestation is considered the age at which a baby is viable. Little Sulli beat that by three weeks, and he had a long road ahead of him. A few hours after he was stabilized, Gretta came to talk with Tabby.

“She gave me two pictures of my baby boy and told me everything about him,” Tabby said. “And she warned me of the roller coaster ride I was about to endure.”

But she would not have to ride that roller coaster alone. Gretta was there, every step of the way.

“The first few days were agonizing, when I looked at this tiny baby and I wasn’t able to help him,” Tabby said. “I was so afraid to put my hands in the box. He was so fragile. One day, Gretta asked if I’d held him. When I said no, she said ‘We’ll change that.’ She had me place my hands inside his incubator and placed his tiny two-pound body in my hands. She asked if two pounds was heavier or lighter than I imagined. He was heavier than I thought.”

Then one day, Sulli took a turn for the worse, and became very ill.

“Gretta stood by my side, holding me as I cried, not knowing what the future held,” Tabby said. “She sat across from me in the dark as I sat at his bedside, because he was not going to be without his mommy while he was sick.”

Gretta often brought Tabby magazines or books, trying to give her a break.

Eventually, he recovered, and it was finally time for him to go home. “She showed so much love to our tiny baby, and she also cared for me and my husband,” Tabby said.

But once Sulli left the hospital, that wasn’t the end of the family’s time with Gretta. The experience had forged a bond between the two, who became close friends, taking walks at the zoo or park, talking on holidays and sharing stories.

“We do a lot of things with the kids, who I love seeing,” Gretta said. “We spent months together, almost every day and night. It made us close.”

Three years later at UofL Hospital, Gretta was back at Tabby’s side again when Tabby’s triplet daughters came into the world – eight weeks early. “Once again, Gretta reminded me of the crazy ride we were in for. And there she was, encouraging me and my husband, just like before,” Tabby said.

This May, Gretta will have her own special moment as she gets married. Her flower girls will be none other than Tabby’s daughters, who were born as Gretta and her fiancé had just met.

“We talked through the night, and I told her about him,” Gretta said.

Tabby says she’ll never be able to thank Gretta enough. She recently nominated her for a DAISY Award for exceptional nurses from The DAISY Foundation.

“She showed my son, daughters and all the infants she cared for so much love and affection. She provided a tremendous amount of support to the patients, parents and their families. She is truly the mom when mom can’t be there. She is an extraordinary nurse.”

Gretta, who is from Brandenburg, Ky., said she always knew she’d be a nurse or a veterinarian from the time she was 13 years old. She doesn’t have her own children, but caring for others comes naturally for her.

“I love being a nurse,” she said. “It’s a challenge, as you never know what you are going to get. And I love being a nurse at UofL Hospital.”

She said the staff is like a second family, working as a team and spending long days and nights together, and supporting each other during rough times.

“It’s like home,” she said. “I think our patients feel that.”


UofL researcher Bart Borghuis, Ph.D., proves process allowing adult retinal neurons to form new synaptic connections

UofL researcher Bart Borghuis, Ph.D., proves process allowing adult retinal neurons to form new synaptic connections

Bart Borghuis, Ph.D.

Research published online this week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences could lead to therapeutic advances for recovery from injury and diseases affecting the central nervous system. Bart Borghuis, Ph.D., assistant professor in the University of Louisville Department of Anatomical Sciences and Neurobiology, worked with researchers in Idaho and Puerto Rico on the research, which stimulated the formation of new neural connections in adult retinal cells through genetic modification.

Typically, adult neurons cannot make new synaptic connections as easily as developing neurons. That limits the potential for recovery from injury to the brain and spinal cord. One type of neurons in the retinas of mice, OFF-type retinal bipolar cells, has the unusual ability to make new connections into adulthood. Under normal conditions however, these cells only develop new connections with a few cells and within a limited area known as a tile. The function of these cells is to receive information from photoreceptor cells and send it along the optic nerve to the brain.

“These neurons continue to develop and elaborate their connections within their established group of cone cells in the retina,” Borghuis said. “This suggests synaptic plasticity, or the ability for the neurons to create new connections with other neurons. This is significant because in brain disease, you want to transplant and regenerate neurons and integrate them through the formation of new synapses with other neurons.”

In the first stage of the work, a team of researchers at the University of Idaho led by Peter Fuerst, Ph.D., determined that removing the gene encoding a protein known as Down syndrome cell-adhesion molecule (DSCAM) allows these cells to extend neuronal connections beyond their normal tile barriers. They genetically modified the mice to omit DSCAM from those cells, after which the cells were seen to form apparent contacts with neurons outside their tiles.

However, the researchers were unable to determine whether those apparent neural connections were, in fact, functional and capable of transmitting visual information.

That’s where Borghuis comes in. Using a unique imaging and recording technique pioneered in his laboratory at UofL, two-photon fluorescence-guided electrophysiology in deep layers of the neural retina, Borghuis recorded the bipolar cells’ responses to visual stimulation. His measurements showed enlarged visual receptive fields in the genetically manipulated retinal neurons, demonstrating that the extended cells made new, functional synapses onto cones.

“Right off the bat we could see that the receptive fields were larger, so we could tell that their visual responses were consistent with neural outgrowth and new synapse formation,” Borghuis said.

These tests proved the neural outgrowth seen by the Idaho team led to stable, functional connections with new cells.

A new joint research grant from the National Institutes of Health, awarded equally to Borghuis and Fuerst, will fund the collaborative research for another two years. During that time, they will induce the DSCAM knockout later in the lifespan to determine the identity and strength of the new synapses. In addition, they also will perform studies of neurons at later synaptic stages within the retina to determine other potential consequences of increased neuron growth at the level of the visual input.

“We have known about the tiling or mosaic structure of these cells for decades, and there are models and ideas for why neurons should tile. Now that we have a genetic tool that allows us to disrupt tiling within a neuron population experimentally, we can finally test these models,” Borghuis said.

The ability to stimulate neural outgrowth with new synaptic connections may ultimately improve humans’ ability to recover from brain and spinal cord injury or disease by supplying new neural connections. Even more promising, it could lead to neural regeneration and transplantation-based therapies for restoring visual function in retinal diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.



November 8, 2017

UofL receives $5.5 million grant from Helmsley Charitable Trust to support innovative cancer research

UofL receives $5.5 million grant from Helmsley Charitable Trust to support innovative cancer research

John Codey (right) of the Helmsley Charitable Trust talks with Dr. Nobuyuki Matoba about his work into finding a vaccine to prevent cholera, which in turn would prevent some cases of colon cancer.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Noting the significant progress in drug and vaccine development over the past three years, the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, has provided a three-year, $5.5 million grant to the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville to develop new treatments and vaccines for various forms of cancer.

“Seven years ago, we partnered with Owensboro Health to explore the novel idea of plant-based pharmaceuticals and vaccines in the treatment and prevention of cancer,” said Dr. James R. Ramsey, president of the University of Louisville. “Our team showed enough promise that the Helmsley Charitable Trust provided more than $3 million in research support in 2010. Today’s grant, with Dr. Donald Miller, director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, as the principal investigator, demonstrates the confidence the leaders of the trust have in the work that is being accomplished. We are extremely grateful to the trust for its support and we look forward to further opportunities to partner.”

The new funding will help UofL researchers move into clinical trials vaccines for cervical and colon cancer. Additionally, researchers will further develop plant-based drug delivery systems to allow for higher concentrations of anticancer drugs to be transported directly to human tumors, as well as to increase a tumor’s sensitivity to anticancer treatment. The plants involved in the research range from tobacco to soybeans to colored berries.

“The work of Dr. Miller and his team has the potential to significantly impact health around the world,” said John Codey, a trustee with the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “They are focusing on finding much less expensive methods for delivering vaccines and medications so that these treatments are accessible to even the poorest of countries. We are pleased to continue to support efforts that have the potential to relieve suffering for a significant segment of people around the world.”

The Helmsley Charitable Trust also has funded research at UofL focused on helping people with spinal cord injuries regain function. To date, the Helmsley Charitable Trust has provided UofL with nearly $15 million in research funding.

“Federal funding for research continues to be more and more competitive, with fewer researchers receiving funds each year,” said Dr. David L. Dunn, executive vice president for health affairs at UofL. “The resources the Helmsley Charitable Trust provides enables our internationally renowned researchers to continue with their groundbreaking work that has the potential to transform the lives of people worldwide. It is through these significant partnerships that innovative health care approaches are possible.”

“Owensboro Health’s cancer research partnership with the University of Louisville has allowed us to help lead the charge with groundbreaking projects in the fight against cancer. This grant has been key in allowing us to work toward taking solutions from the laboratory bench to the patient bedside,” said Philip Patterson, president and CEO of Owensboro Health. “Since its creation in 2007, the team at the Owensboro Cancer Research Program at our Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center has made tremendous strides. We are grateful for the renewed support from the Helmsley Charitable Trust.”

Under Miller’s leadership, researchers will move an oral cervical cancer vaccine from preclinical trials into pre-investigational new drug studies. These studies reduce the amount of time it takes to move a vaccine from the laboratory to use in people. The vaccine uses a specific protein (L2 minor capsid) to create a broad response to attack HPV, the virus responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancer, and should be ready to enter clinical trials by early 2015. This project is being led by Dr. Kenneth Palmer.

A second cervical cancer vaccine is being developed by two researchers who were part of the team that created the world’s first cervical cancer vaccine. Drs. Bennett Jenson and Shin-Je Ghim are working on a vaccine that is biosimilar to the original vaccine, but produced in tobacco plants. This effort also will enter into the pre-IND phase over the next two years.

Drs. Nobuyuki Matoba and Palmer are developing an oral cholera vaccine that may prove to be a way to prevent colon cancer. The gastrointestinal issues associated with cholera create a favorable environment for the development of colon cancer, thus, preventing cholera can also prevent colon cancer. The goal is for this vaccine to enter clinical trials in late 2014.

For several years, Dr. Huang-Ge Zhang has been exploring the anticancer properties of tiny particles called plant exosomes. Animal studies suggest that exosomes may be able to play a role in the treatment or prevention of colon, breast and lung cancer. Zhang was the first to demonstrate that exosomes existed in plants and plans to demonstrate that they could be used to deliver higher concentrations of anticancer drugs directly to human tumors.

Dr. Ramesh Gupta has uncovered that certain compounds within colored berries increase the anticancer effect of chemotherapy drugs. This has the potential to enable smaller amounts of the drugs to be used, but with the same or more beneficial effects.

“Our goal is to cure cancer in people, not in mice,” Miller said. “The Owensboro Cancer Research Program is a tremendous tool for reaching that goal, not just locally or regionally, but worldwide. Through plant-based pharmaceuticals, we will be able to provide low-cost vaccines and anticancer medications that make them accessible to even the poorest of nations. To have an organization like the Helmsley Charitable Trust partner with us will enable us to move toward our goal at a much quicker pace.”

UofL’s comprehensive campaign is scheduled to wrap up June 30 after already surpassing its $1 billion goal. Charting our Course formally launched in 2010 with the funds raised designated for academic support, scholarships and programs for students; faculty recruitment, research and professional development; infrastructure enhancements and upkeep of athletic facilities; and support of the university's academic units and libraries. More than 75,000 donors throughout the world have invested in the future of the University of Louisville. 

About the Helmsley Charitable Trust

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective nonprofits in health, place-based initiatives, and education and human services.Since 2008, when the Trust began its active grantmaking, it has committed more than $1 billion to a wide range of charitable organizations.For more information on the Trust and its programs, visit


Conference to focus on heart disease in women

The 2014 Louisville Symposium on Heart Disease in Women, the first of what is planned to be an annual event, will be held Saturday, June 28.
Conference to focus on heart disease in women

Kendra Grubb, M.D.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among women, striking one in three. About every 60 seconds, a woman dies from heart disease.

With this as a backdrop, the University of Louisville School of Medicine, Department of Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery, in conjunction with KentuckyOne Health and University of Louisville Physicians, is hosting a one-day conference in Louisville to help educate patients and health care professionals about the prevention, recognition and treatment of the disease in women.

Heart disease is more deadly for women than all forms of cancer combined, according to the American Heart Association, and 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors, and more than one in three have some form of cardiovascular disease. Yet, women don’t recognize that heart disease is their biggest health threat.

“Although heart disease is a multi-factored, complex disorder, it is preventable, but education about the disease in women is essential,” said Kendra Grubb, M.D., assistant professor of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at UofL.

To help in this educational effort, Grubb has organized the 2014 Louisville Symposium on Heart Disease in Women, the first of what is planned to be an annual event.

The conference will be held Saturday, June 28, at the Jewish Hospital Rudd Heart & Lung Center, 16th Floor Conference Center, 201 Abraham Flexner Way in Louisville. It is designed to provide physicians, nurses, allied health professional and the community with up-to-date information pertaining to the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease in women.

Two dozen doctors and health professionals are scheduled to speak including Toni Ganzel, M.D., dean of the UofL School of Medicine, and Ruth Brinkley, CEO of KentuckyOne Health.

The conference begins at 7 a.m. with registration and a continental breakfast, with the program starting at 8 a.m. The event ends at 5 p.m., with a reception to follow.

Continuing medical education (CME) credit is available. For more information on CME credit, click

To see the agenda, click

All are welcome at the conference, but registration is required. Costs are:

  • Physicians: $100
  • Allied health professionals/nurses: $50
  • Community: $25
  • Students/residents/fellows: Free with registration before June 2

To register, click

For more about the conference, go to or call 502-561-2180.

Save the date now for 14th annual geriatrics symposium

Sept. 19 event features national experts in medications, immunizations, acute care of hospitalized elders

Experts in the use of comprehensive geriatric assessment for hospitalized elders and immunizations in older adults, and the author of the 2012 Beers Criteria – a guide to medication use in elders – will be featured at the 14th Annual University of Louisville Geriatrics Healthcare Symposium.

The conference will be held Friday, Sept. 19, at the Seelbach Hilton Hotel, 500 S. Fourth St. in Downtown Louisville.

The conference is sponsored by the Division of Geriatrics in the Department of Family and Geriatric Medicine at the University of Louisville and provides information on the latest research and best practices in care for people age 65 and older. Plenary speakers include:

  • Michael Malone, M.D., Center for Senior Health & Longevity, Aurora Sinai Medical Center, Milwaukee, addressing the acute care of elderly hospitalized patients.
  • Kenneth Schmader, M.D., Geriatrics Division Chief, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C., providing information on immunizations for elders
  • Todd Semla, Pharm.D., Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, speaking on polypharmacy, the overuse or misuse of medications in older adults

Other sessions will be held on POLST: Physician’s Orders for Life, disease screening and prevention, caregiver burnout, injury prevention, exercise, elder abuse, dementia and enhancing independence in the older adult.

The conference is open to health care professionals and students and the public alike. CE credit will be available for physicians, nurses, social workers and other professionals working in the field of geriatrics.

For details, contact the UofL Division of Geriatrics, 502-852-3480 or





Existing institute renamed, will look at aspects of environment on health

  Existing institute renamed, will look at aspects of environment on health

Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D.

The University of Louisville Board of Trustees today approved a name change of an existing institute that will contribute to expanding the university’s scope in evaluating the influence of the environment on health and wellness 

The Board okayed the changing of the name of the Kentucky Institute for the Environment and Sustainable Development (KIESD), created in 1992, to the Envirome Institute. Like KIESD, the institute will support research and applied scholarship, teaching and educational outreach activities, but with greater emphasis on community engagement and health.

Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D., professor and the Smith and Lucille Gibson Chair in Medicine in the UofL School of Medicine, is tapped to lead the institute, which will have a more focused emphasis on the health effects of the environment, not as separate domains but as an integrated whole. An envirome is the total set of environmental factors, both present and past that affect the state and disease susceptibility of individuals. 

“Over the past decade, new expertise in the area of environmental health research has emerged,” Bhatnagar said. “To fully meet the needs of our state and nation in environmental health, it is critical for UofL to expand the scope of the KIESD and to recruit new leading scholars with broad backgrounds in health sciences, environmental research and community engagement.”

The Board also approved the creation of the Center for Healthy Air, Water, and Soil (CHAWS), a part of the Envirome Institute. CHAWS will support outreach activities to promote collaborations and interactions with the community for information exchange, partnership in scientific studies, dissemination of environmental information to the community and consultation by the community on issues relevant to the environment and health.


Tickets now available for Best of Louisville; event benefits Brown Cancer Center

Tickets now available for Best of Louisville; event benefits Brown Cancer Center

Tickets are now available for Louisville Magazine’sBest of Louisville® award celebration recognizing people and companies who make Louisville a great city.

The James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville has been named the “Charity of Choice” of the event, scheduled for 6:30-10 p.m., Thursday, July 12, at the C2 Event Venue, 225 E. Breckinridge St.

Funds raised for the cancer center from the Best of Louisville event will specifically go to the UofL Brown Cancer Center’s M. Krista Loyd Resource Center, a place for patients and families to receive much-needed resources such as transportation and lodging assistance; wigs, scarves and prosthetics; and a variety of therapies, education and support.

Early bird tickets throughout May are $35 per person when using the code ENDCANCER at checkout. Beginning June 1, early bird tickets will be $45 with the code. Regular-price tickets purchased without the code are $50 per person.

Tickets are available at by clicking on the “Best of Louisville” link. All sales with the promo code ENDCANCER go directly to the cancer center.

Admission includesfood and drink tastings, cash bar and a complimentary copy of Louisville Magazine's July "Best of Louisville" issue. The magazine created the city’s first reader-voted awards 33 years ago.

Sponsors of the event are UofL Hospital, Korbel California Champagne, DJX 99.7 All the Hits, Four Roses Bourbon and Universal Linen Service/Every Piece Counts.

For information, contact Elea Fox, executive director of advancement for the Brown Cancer Center, 502-852-3380 or


Postponed: Ribbon-cutting for Medical Mile walking path at UofL health sciences campus

Due to anticipated inclement weather on Tuesday, April 24, the ribbon-cutting event for the new Medical Mile walking path at the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center campus has been postponed.

The event will be rescheduled for a later date.

Please contact Jill Scoggins at 502-852-7461 or if you have any questions.

About the Medical Mile:

The creation of the Medical Mile walking path is part of the School of Medicine’s SMART Wellness Task Force and the Being Well Initiative. The Medical Mile follows a 1-mile path on the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center campus. A map of the path can be found here.The mile is marked along the way with the Medical Mile graphic image and with one-fourth, one-half and three-quarter mile markers.



$11.2 million federal grant to support microorganism and disease research

$11.2 million federal grant to support microorganism and disease research

Rich Lamont, Ph.D.

It is well-established that the community of organisms inside our bodies perform vital roles in digestion, production of critical metabolites, controlling the immune system and even affecting the brain.

To further understand these associations linking the microbiome - bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses and protozoans - with inflammation and disease, the University of Louisville has received an $11.2 million federal grant over five years to establish an interdisciplinary research program.

The grant, awarded through the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, establishes a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) and pairs well-funded scientists with junior faculty in the Schools of Dentistry, Medicine and Engineering. This arrangement facilitates the career development of junior faculty, and aims to advance the study of the interface between microbiome, inflammation and disease development.

“Although the microbiome contributes to many beneficial aspects of our physiology, when these communities are out of balance, or dysbiotic, they are implicated in an array of diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, periodontitis, vaginosis, colorectal cancer, and distant sites like rheumatoid arthritis, even neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease and autism spectrum,” said Richard Lamont, Ph.D., chair of the School of Dentistry’s Department of Oral Immunology and Infectious Diseases and principal investigator for the grant.

Furthermore, Lamont said, inflammation is a process that provides the mechanism connecting the microbiome and disease.

“The interplay of the pro and anti-inflammatory components of the immune system with microbes often dictates whether a person remains healthy or develops a disease, as well as controls aspects of recovery, chronic infection and the level of tissue destruction,” he said.

Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine is the other primary department participating in the COBRE. Researchers in the J.B. Speed School of Engineering’s bioengineering department will provide expertise as possible new discoveries show potential for new therapeutic technology against disease.

“This program will synergize with, and augment, existing research priorities at UofL centered around microbial community-associated diseases,” said Greg Postel, M.D., interim UofL president. “We are confident that establishing a critical mass of investigators with unique complementary expertise will propel UofL to a position of preeminence in this important field.”

“We are thrilled to add this COBRE multidisciplinary program in research, education and mentoring to facilitate and accelerate the transition of junior faculty to independent extramural funded status, advancing our overall research enterprise,” said T. Gerard Bradley, B.D.S., M.S., Dr.Med.Dent., dean of the School of Dentistry.

The grant will support five junior faculty and their specific research focused on the mouth, GI tract, arthropod (flea) vector environments, vagina and lungs:

  • Juhi Bagaitkar, Ph.D., will study how oxidants change neutrophil, or white blood cell, responses in the mouth. She is focused on inflammatory pathways regulated by Reactive Oxygen Species essential in host responses to oral bacteria. She hopes to provide insights into neutrophil biology, and enhance the understanding of immune pathways related to inflammation of the gums and the interface with microbes.
  • Venkatakrishna Jala, Ph.D., will investigate the beneficial effects of the microbial metabolite, uronlithin A (UroA) and its structural analogue UAS03 in inflammatory bowel disorders. He will examine their impact on both immune responses and maintenance of the epithelial barrier in the gastrointestinal mucosal membrane.
  • Matthew Lawrenz, Ph.D., will study the pathogenic mechanisms of Y. pestis, a bacterium that causes bubonic plague. Humans can become sick after being bitten by a rodent flea. Lawrenz will further investigate several mechanisms, including how Y. pestis evades macrophages, a kind of white blood cell first on the scene of infection. As the project develops, Lawrenz also hopes to explore the relationship of Y.pestis and microbial communities of the flea, which may impact colonization and transmission.
  • Jill Steinbach-Rankins, Ph.D., will investigate a new nanotherapeutic approach to treat bacterial vaginosis (BV), a dysbiotic condition where vaginal microbial communities are disrupted. With expertise in materials science engineering and biomedical engineering, Steinbach-Rankins aims to develop targeted community engineering to restore the balance between the microbiome and host to prevent the manifestation of disease.
  • Jonathan Warawa, Ph.D., will investigate Burkholderia pseudomallei (Bp), the bacterium responsible for respiratory melioidosis, an inflammatory disease of the lungs that progresses into a fatal systemic disease involving major organs. This project drills down into innate immune responses contributing either to protection and resolution of diseases or to increased morbidity. Through greater understanding of immune responses, therapeutic intervention is possible.

The COBRE also helps establish a functional microbiomics core research facility at UofL. The facility will provide germ free animal facilities, oxygen-free culture capability, microbiome sequencing and bioinformatics, assessment of inflammatory markers and pathology services. 

Aging – and why no ‘cure’ for it has been found – to be discussed July 16

Monthly Beer with a Scientist program features UofL researcher
Aging – and why no ‘cure’ for it has been found – to be discussed July 16

Leah Siskind, Ph.D.

The next Beer with a Scientist program will shed light on the “incurable” condition of aging.

Leah Siskind, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Louisville, will present “Everyone is Aging: So Why Haven’t We Found a Scientific Cure?” from 8-9 p.m., Wednesday, July 16, at Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St.

Admission is free. Purchase of beer, other beverages or menu items is not required but is encouraged.

The Beer with a Scientist program is now in its third month and is the brainchild of University of Louisville cancer researcher Levi Beverly, Ph.D. Once a month, the public is invited to Louisville’s Against the Grain brewpub for exactly what the title promises: beer and science.

Beverly created the monthly series as a way to connect with people who don’t have scientific backgrounds but want to know about scientific topics. “We lose sight of the fact that most people have never even met a Ph.D., never talked to one,” he said. “(However) whenever I go someplace, if I strike up a conversation at a bar and I tell someone what I do for a living, they always have questions. It leads to a whole conversation.”

Against the Grain’s Sam Cruz believes Beer with a Scientist bridges what he sees as a disconnect between scientists and the general public. “If you don’t know about something, it’s hard to care,” he said. “I think that’s why this works; what we’re doing with these talks is letting people take the time to think about these things.”

Organizers add that they encourage Beer with a Scientist patrons to drink responsibly.

For more information and to suggest future Beer with a Scientist topics, follow Louisville Underground Science on Facebook.

Cancer Education Program shapes future scientists and clinicians

New class of students begin 10 week experience
Cancer Education Program shapes future scientists and clinicians

Sara Mudra

Unraveling  the complexities of cancer continues as the next generation of scientists pick up the baton and blaze new trails of discovery. Influencing students to pursue cancer research careers is at the heart of the University of Louisville’s National Cancer Institute-funded Cancer Education Program, now in its seventh year.

A new class of more than 40 undergraduate and medical students representing 13 institutions including Stanford University and MIT, began the 10-week program in May.

Sarah Mudra completed the program in 2014. Inspired by her experience in Louisville, she’ll start medical school at UofL this summer.

Mudra, who plans to pursue the School of Medicine’s Distinction in Research Track, will conduct research in collaboration with Beth Riley, M.D., F.A.C.P., associate professor of medicine and deputy director of clinical affairs at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center.

Riley was Mudra’s primary mentor in the Cancer Education Program.

“I witnessed the multi-faceted nature of medicine as Dr. Riley balanced relational care with scientific inquiry and ethical decision-making – I became fascinated with the field of oncology,” Mudra said. “Dr. Riley became a steadfast encourager and mentor, prompting me to ask complex research questions and examine new bodies of literature.”

Throughout the 10 weeks, Mudra worked with Riley to analyze data from individuals who were diagnosed with breast cancer through testing on the cancer center’s mammography van. They engaged in conversations about patient care and population-based research, including the utility of mobile mammography for reducing health disparities.

Mudra said it was her participation in the Cancer Education Program that laid the foundation for continued scientific exploration as a post-baccalaureate research fellow at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. During the two-year fellowship, she worked to refine her research techniques and develop a novel protocol for human microbiome analysis.

“It is remarkable how the Cancer Education Program molded my professional and scientific development, serving as my foundation,” Mudra said. “I would advise all students interested in scientific growth to pursue a dedicated period of research in a field of interest. Be inquisitive and curious. Exercise a willingness to learn any aspect of a project, and uphold a tireless work ethic. Above all, demonstrate gratitude for the opportunity to be shaped through a mentor’s guidance.”

The directors of the program, David Hein, Ph.D., Peter K. Knoefel Endowed Chair of Pharmacology and chair of the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, and La Creis Kidd, Ph.D., Our Highest Potential Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, outlined the success of UofL’s program in an article published in the Journal of Cancer Education.

Since 2011, 188 students have completed UofL’s program.


May 31, 2018


UofL School of Medicine launches Medical Mile walking path to promote wellness

Mayor, Medical School Dean cut the ribbon on Louisville's newest urban trail
UofL School of Medicine launches Medical Mile walking path to promote wellness

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and School of Medicine Dean Toni Ganzel, M.D., cut the ribbon to open the Medical Mile at the UofL Health Sciences Center.

Students, faculty, staff, patients and visitors to facilities within the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center now have a marked one-mile path to foster wellness through walking.

The HSC Medical Mile walking path was dedicated at a ribbon-cutting on Tuesday, May 23. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer joined UofL School of Medicine Dean Toni Ganzel, M.D., to open the new path.

The Medical Mile follows a 1-mile path from the HSC Plaza north to East Muhammad Ali Boulevard, east to South Hancock Street, south to East Chestnut Street, west to South Floyd Street, north to East Muhammad Ali again, and finishing up by going south on South Preston back to the starting point.

The mile is marked along the way with the Medical Mile graphic image and with one-fourth, one-half and three-quarter mile markers as well.

The creation of the Medical Mile was part of the School of Medicine’s SMART Wellness Task Force and the Being Well Initiative, said Chief of Staff Karan Chavis, and is the product of the work of the committee under the leadership of former co-chair Miranda Sloan and current co-chair Tamara Iacono.

“We know that walking is great physical activity that virtually anyone can do, and with the sidewalks we have surrounding our buildings, we have a ready-made way to create a dedicated walking space for people,” Chavis said. “Through the spring and summer, we are encouraging people to create ‘walking trains,’ picking up people along the way and walking together.”

Photos of the ribbon-cutting are available here.




Psychiatrist recognized for work on worldview in clinical psychiatry

Allan Josephson, M.D., to receive the Oskar Pfister Award from the American Psychiatric Association
Psychiatrist recognized for work on worldview in clinical psychiatry

Allan Josephson, M.D.

In recognition of his work on understanding the importance of both the patient’s and the clinician’s worldview in clinical psychiatry, Allan Josephson, M.D., chief of child and adolescent psychiatry and psychology in the University of Louisville Department of Pediatrics, will be the 2015 recipient of the Oskar Pfister Award from the American Psychiatric Association.

This award recognizes individuals who have made professional contributions to the interfaces of psychiatry, religion and spirituality in research and clinical practice.

"The Department of Pediatrics is honored to have Dr. Josephson leading our Division of Pediatric Psychiatry and Psychology,” said Charles Woods, M.D., interim chair of the UofL Department of Pediatrics. “This award recognizes his longstanding personal efforts and excellence in advancing the quality of mental health services for children and families both in the Louisville area and nationally."

For more than a decade, Josephson coordinated workshops, symposia and lectures on religion, spirituality and psychiatry at the annual meetings of the American Psychiatric Association. These events resulted in several publications, including the “Handbook of Spirituality and Worldview in Clinical Practice,” co-edited by Josephson and John Peteet, M.D., of Harvard Medical School. The work is now used in the teaching programs of many psychiatry residencies throughout the country.

“Are there people who come in to a psychiatrist’s office who really have spiritual issues, concerns about life in a broader context? We think there are,” Josephson said. “What we tried to do is bring these ideas in front of the psychiatric community. Some of my work and that of others has been directed toward helping psychiatrists say this may be an important part of your patient’s life.”

Josephson will receive the award at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in Toronto May 16-20, and will deliver the 33rd Oskar Pfister Lecture in New York in October at the American Psychiatric Association’s Institute of Psychiatric Services meeting.


About the award:

Oskar Pfister was a Protestant minister who regularly corresponded with Sigmund Freud on matters of psychiatry and religion. Award recipients are selected by representatives of the American Psychiatric Association, the Caucus on Religion and Psychiatry and the Association of Professional Chaplains.

How in the brain are you?

UofL Alzheimer’s specialist to talk brain health at Beer with a Scientist, Sept. 11
How in the brain are you?

Sam Cotton, Ph.D.

The search for effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease continues, as new cases are diagnosed at an ever-increasing rate. Unfortunately, every drug tested to treat the disease so far has been proven ineffective. The focus now is on prevention with healthy habits and mitigating other health risks.

At this month’s Beer with a Scientist, Sam Cotton, Ph.D., program manager of Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) at the University of Louisville Trager Institute and director of the Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias program, will share the latest updates on what we all can do to prevent development of Alzheimer’s disease. Plus, for those who have developed Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, Cotton’s talk also will include how to care compassionately for people who have the disease.

This month’s Beer with a Scientist event is part of Research!Louisville, a citywide event going on Sept. 10-13 highlighting health research for physicians, nurses, researchers and other health care providers and students. In addition, September is Optimal Aging month, with a focus on aging well.

Cotton’s talk begins at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11, at Holsopple Brewing, 8023 Catherine Lane. A 30-minute presentation will be followed by an informal Q&A session.

Admission is free. Purchase of beer or other items is not required but is encouraged. Organizers encourage Beer with a Scientist patrons to drink responsibly.

UofL cancer researcher Levi Beverly, Ph.D., created the Beer with a Scientist program in 2014 as a way to bring science to the public in an informal setting. At these events, the public is invited to enjoy exactly what the title promises:  beer and science.

Spike it to Cancer Volleyball Tournament to benefit patients at UofL Brown Cancer Center

Two-division tournament set for Aug. 10 funds Thanksgiving turkeys for cancer patients
Spike it to Cancer Volleyball Tournament to benefit patients at UofL Brown Cancer Center

Participants in the 2018 Spike it to Cancer Tournament

Sand volleyball teams from around Kentuckiana are invited to the seventh annual Spike it to Cancer sand volleyball tournament on Saturday, Aug. 10, at Baxter Jack’s Volleyball Cub, 427 Baxter Ave. The tournament will raise funds to support patients at the University of Louisville James Graham Brown Cancer Center through the Mary Jane Gift Quality of Life Fund.

Established in 2013 by Alex and Tommy Gift in honor of their late mother, who passed away from breast cancer in 2010, the Gift Fund helps patients and their families enjoy life while facing a cancer diagnosis. For the past several years, the fund has provided Thanksgiving turkeys for patients at the UofL Brown Cancer Center.

To continue the tradition, the Gifts and former volleyball player Paige Sutton are sponsoring the tournament. Coed Quad Open Division play starts at 9 a.m. (check in at 8:15 a.m.). The Coed Sixes Division will start at about 2 p.m. (check in at 1:30 p.m.). 

Team registration fees of $300 go directly to the fund. A cash prize of $3,000 to be divided among winning and runner up teams has been donated by The Power Agency. To register a team or make a donation, go to the event’s online link.

Ward 426 on Baxter Ave., directly across the street from Baxter Jack’s, has once again agreed to donate a portion of all food and beverage sales throughout the day to the Gift Fund.

“Mary Jane taught us countless lessons throughout the course of her life. Stay Positive. Be thankful. Step away from it all,” Alex Gift said. “The fund can help do this by providing simple gifts to patients that could help improve their quality of life, even if it’s for a short period of time.”

The event has brought in more than $45,000 over six years.