UofL adds cardiothoracic surgeon from Boston

Frank A. Pigula, M.D., joins UofL and Kosair Children’s Hospital staff
UofL adds cardiothoracic surgeon from Boston

Frank A. Pigula, M.D.

A nationally and internationally recognized expert in complex congenital heart disease has joined the faculty of the University of Louisville School of Medicine Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. Frank A. Pigula, M.D., comes to Louisville from Boston where he was the clinical director of the pediatric cardiac surgery program at the Children’s Hospital of Boston, rated number one in cardiology and heart surgery by U.S. News & World Report. Pigula also was an associate professor of surgery at Harvard University School of Medicine.

Pigula will perform both clinical and laboratory research at UofL. He has ongoing clinical studies to document neurodevelopmental outcomes in neonates using a technique he developed in Boston to reduce circulatory arrest times in an effort to reduce bypass-related neurologic injury. He also is conducting laboratory research on protecting the brain from bypass‑related brain injury during surgery.

“We are extremely pleased to bring a world-class clinician and researcher such as Dr. Pigula to UofL. He will be a tremendous asset in training the next generation of physicians in cutting edge cardiovascular and thoracic surgery,” said Mark S. Slaughter, M.D., chair of UofL’s Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery.

Pigula also will practice with University of Louisville Physicians and will serve as chief of the Division of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery at Kosair Children’s Hospital. He is expected to begin seeing patients next month. He joins Erle H. Austin, III, M.D., who has been chief of cardiovascular surgery at the hospital for 26 years and will now focus on direct patient care, and Deborah J. Kozik, D.O.; both practice with ULP-Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. Pigula and Christopher Johnsrude, M.D., chief of the Division of Pediatric Cardiology at UofL, will serve as co-directors of the Kosair Children’s Hospital Heart Center.

“Kosair Children’s Hospital is dedicated to ensuring children needing complex care for heart issues do not need to leave Kentucky,” said Thomas D. Kmetz, Norton Healthcare division president, Women’s and Children’s Services and Kosair Children’s Hospital. “With Dr. Pigula’s leadership, we expect to see the care we can provide to children with heart issues continue to grow.”

Pigula earned his medical degree from the University of Vermont College of Medicine and completed his residency in general surgery and surgery research fellowship at Medical Center Hospital, College of Vermont and UVM College of Medicine. He completed a residency in cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh and a fellowship in congenital cardiovascular surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Boston.

At the Children’s Hospital of Boston, Pigula served as the clinical director of the pediatric cardiac surgery program since 2004, the director of the neonatal surgical program since 2010, and surgical director of the pediatric cardiac neurodevelopmental program since 2007 before moving to Louisville. He is a member of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery Scholarship Committee and Education Committee.

Pigula is widely published and is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in complex congenital heart disease. He is on the editorial board of Pediatric Cardiology, Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, and Case Reports in Medicine, and is an ad hoc reviewer of The Annals of Thoracic Surgery, Pediatrics, The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation, Circulation and Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Gut environment could reduce severity of malaria

UofL and Tennessee researchers find that gut microbes influence disease
Gut environment could reduce severity of malaria

Nathan Schmidt, Ph.D.

Posted Feb. 8, 2016

Microorganisms in the gut could play a role in reducing the severity of malaria, according to a new study co-authored by researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and the University of Louisville.

Steven Wilhelm, the Kenneth and Blaire Mossman Professor in UT's Department of Microbiology, and Shawn Campagna, associate professor of chemistry at UT, partnered with Nathan Schmidt, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at U of L, to examine the gut microbiomes of mice. They discovered that the severity of malaria is not only a function of the parasite or the host but also is influenced by the microbes in the infected organism.

The research could one day help scientists develop new treatments for malaria in humans.

The findings will be published Feb. 8, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Unfortunately, we are still years away from an effective and easily administered malaria vaccine, and drug resistance is a growing concern," Schmidt said.

Wilhelm added, "The research provides a potential new avenue to investigate factors that control the severity of malaria. With 1 million people dying each year, many of whom are young children, any approach that may save even a few lives is worth following up on."

Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease, and those with the illness often experience fever, chills and flu-like symptoms. It may be fatal if left untreated. Malaria transmissions typically occur in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

During the study, the research team found that genetically similar mice acquired from different vendors showed significant differences in pathology after infection with malaria. The researchers measured the mice gut microbiomes—via DNA sequencing of the bacteria in the digestive tract—and noted significant differences within the different populations. Schmidt directly transferred the gut microbiomes to other mice and was able to show that the differences in disease severity were transferred.

The researchers observed an increased abundance of bacteria common in yogurt in the mice that exhibited reduced malaria pathology. When mice were fed a yogurt containing these bacteria the researchers discovered that the severity of malaria decreased.

"These results demonstrate the possibility of modifying the gut microbiome to prevent severe malaria," Schmidt said.

Wilhelm noted that while the research interventions lessened the severity of malaria in mice, it did not prevent or cure it.

The researchers are a long way from perfecting similar treatments in humans but are working on understanding the mechanism.

"A way to help people who are infected—and especially a simple and cheap way, as much of the infection occurs in the developing world—would be a great service to society," Wilhelm said.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society and Wilhelm's Mossman Professorship.

UofL family and geriatric medicine chair named to U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Diane Harper joins panel charged with making national recommendations on clinical preventive services
UofL family and geriatric medicine chair named to U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Diane Harper, M.D.

University of Louisville’s Rowntree Professor and Endowed Chair of Family and Geriatric Medicine, Diane Medved Harper, M.D., has beenappointed to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an appointed panel that issues evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services such as screenings, counseling services, and preventive medications.

Harper is one of four new members to the 16-member task force. Other new members are: John W. Epling, Jr., M.D., State University of New York Upstate Medical University.; C. Seth. Landefeld, M.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham; and Carol M. Mangione, M.D., University of California, Los Angeles.

The task force is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine. Members come from throughout health-related fields, including internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, behavioral health, obstetrics/gynecology and nursing. Members are appointed to serve four-year terms by the director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“The University of Louisville is proud to congratulate Dr. Harper on this prestigious new appointment,” Toni Ganzel, M.D., dean of the UofL School of Medicine, said. “We are confident that her experience in family medicine and obstetrics and gynecology and her dedication to prevention and evidence-based medicine will serve the task force, health care professionals, patients and the nation well.”

In addition to holding an endowed professorship and chair, Harper also serves as a professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health; a professor of bioengineering at the Speed School of Engineering; and a professor of epidemiology and population health and of health promotion and behavioral health sciences in the School of Public Health and Information Sciences. Her expertise and primary research focus is prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases related to human papillomavirus.

“On behalf of my fellow Task Force members, I am pleased to welcome Dr. Harper to the Task Force,” said Task Force Chair Albert Siu, M.D., of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital. “Her expertise in the areas of medical education, preventive medicine and obstetrics and gynecology will be an important addition to the Task Force.”

“We congratulate Dr. Harper on her appointment to the Task Force,” said Ruth W. Brinkley, president and CEO of KentuckyOne Health, the largest health system in Kentucky and partner in care with the UofL School of Medicine. “It’s an honor for the Commonwealth of Kentucky to be represented on the national level by Dr. Harper. We know her experience will bring significant value to shape health and wellness across the United States.”

Latest developments in the artificial heart to be discussed at Beer with a Scientist Feb. 10

UofL researchers will review technology that helps restore the lives of patients suffering from advanced heart failure and describe the process for obtaining FDA approval for medical devices
Latest developments in the artificial heart to be discussed at Beer with a Scientist Feb. 10

Steven Koenig, Ph.D. and Mark Slaughter, M.D.

At the next edition of Beer with a Scientist, Steven Koenig, Ph.D., a professor and endowed chair in the Departments of Bioengineering and Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at the University of Louisville, and Mark Slaughter, M.D., chair of the Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, will share the latest developments in artificial heart technology.

Over the past 20 years, Koenig and Slaughter have been instrumental in partnering with industry to develop medical devices that have restored the lives of patients suffering from advanced heart failure. At the next Beer with a Scientist event on Feb. 10, they will discuss the latest developments in medical devices used in patients suffering from heart failure and describe the engineering, research, testing and implementation that goes into getting FDA approval for the use of medical devices.

The program begins at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 10 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.


Feb. 3, 2016

UofL medical school dean recognized for Army Medical Department support

Lt. Col. J. Patrick Staley, right, presents a U.S. Army Medical Recruiting Brigade certificate of Appreciation to Toni Ganzel, M.D., dean of the University of Louisville School of Medicine, Thursday (Jan. 28) at the University Club on the UofL campus. The recognition was granted for the support shown by Ganzel and the medical school across a variety of activities, including partnership with UofL’s Paris Simulation Center with the brigade for education and training; the provision by UofL of discounted training supplies and training to uniformed personnel; access to medical school grounds for Brigade-sponsored Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter or “DRASH” exercises showing field medical operations; interaction between Brigade personnel and UofL students and residents; and more. Ganzel also received a battalion coin in recognition of the relationship that continues through the UofL Office of Military Initiatives and Partnerships and the Patriot Partnership Program. “We thank Dean Ganzel and the School of Medicine for their support of the Army Medical Recruiting Brigade and seek to further our partnership in the future,” Staley said.

UofL cancer researcher honored by president of Poland

Faculty member who discovered embryonic-like stem cells in adult bone marrow receives Gold Cross of Merit
UofL cancer researcher honored by president of Poland

Mariusz Z. Ratajczak, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sci., received the Gold Cross of Merit from the president of Poland on January 22, 2016 in Warsaw.

Mariusz Z. Ratajczak, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sci., was presented with a Gold Cross of Merit by the president of Poland, Andrzej Duda, on January 22 in Warsaw. Ratajczak, a professor in the University of Louisville Department of Medicine, was recognized for his work in stem cell research and transplantation.

Ratajczak, a native of Poland, received the award at a ceremony marking the opening of National Transplantation Congress in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the first kidney transplant in Poland and the 30th anniversary of the country’s first bone marrow transplant. The Cross of Merit is a civil state award presented by the government of Poland to citizens who have gone beyond the call of duty in their work for the country and society as a whole. The award was established in 1923 to recognize services to the state and has three grades:  gold, silver and bronze.

Ratajczak is an internationally known specialist in the field of adult stem cell biology and is director of the Stem Cell Program at UofL’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center, a part of KentuckyOne Health. His 2005 discovery of embryonic-like stem cells in adult bone marrow tissues has the potential to revolutionize the field of regenerative medicine. These very small embryonic-like cells (VSELs) may lead to new treatments for cancer, heart disease, eye disease, diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders.

“My work would not be possible without the longstanding support of Donald Miller, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Brown Cancer Center, to my program,” Ratajczak said. “I also consider the award as recognition to my team of collaborators:  Magda Kucia, Ph.D., D.Sci., Janina Ratajczak, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sci., Malwina Suszynska, Ph.D., and Gabriela Schneider, Ph.D., who are working with me to employ VSELs in regenerative medicine.”

Recently, Ratajczak’s research team has developed a promising strategy to expand VSELs, opening a door for using the cells in regenerative medicine as a promising alternative to other stem cells.

Ratajczak also is known for his work on novel mechanisms of mobilization and homing of stem cells, the biological role of extracellular microvesicles and molecular mechanisms of cancer metastasis. His work is supported by two R01 grants. He holds the Stella and Henry Hoenig Endowed Chair in Cancer Biology.


Jan. 28, 2016

James Graham Brown Cancer Center first in Kentucky to offer one-day treatment for early-stage breast cancer

Intraoperative radiation therapy targets cancer cells, spares healthy tissue
James Graham Brown Cancer Center first in Kentucky to offer one-day treatment for early-stage breast cancer

Early-stage breast cancer patients now have a new one-day breast cancer treatment option at the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center, a part of KentuckyOne Health. The cancer center is the first in Kentucky to offer this new technology.

Patients who meet specific selection criteria are able to be treated with intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT), a one-day breast cancer treatment option that offers multiple patient benefits, including added convenience, fewer treatments and reduced costs.

IORT allows radiation oncologists and breast cancer surgeons to work together to deliver a full, concentrated dose of radiation in one day at the time of lumpectomy, targeting cancer cells and sparing healthy tissue, such as the heart, lungs and ribs. This compares to traditional breast cancer treatment, which involves daily radiation five days per week, for six to eight weeks. With IORT, radiation is delivered from inside the breast rather than externally, as is done during external beam radiation therapy (EBRT).

“As one of America’s finest cancer treatment and research institutions, our goal is not just to fight cancer, but to win,” said Donald Miller, M.D., Ph.D., director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center. “The more advanced technology and research available to our multidisciplinary care teams, the more tools we have at our disposal to save lives. IORT is an exciting advancement in breast cancer care.”

“Two major studies have shown IORT is effective, but with fewer side effects than traditional radiation, making it a viable treatment option for appropriate patients,” said Anthony Dragan, M.D., radiation oncologist with UofL Physicians and the James Graham Brown Cancer Center. “In addition to fewer side effects, IORT can also help improve access to care. Some women, such as those who live in more rural areas, women who are in the workforce and women who are caretakers for their families, find it difficult to finish a course of traditional treatment that requires multiple visits.

“Since IORT requires only one dose of radiation, patients are able to return to their normal life within days rather than weeks, a huge improvement over traditional radiation treatment.”

The technology used is the Xoft® Axxent® Electronic Brachytherapy (eBx®) System®, which is FDA cleared for the treatment of cancer anywhere in the body, including early-stage breast cancer, gynecological cancers and non-melanoma skin cancer.

The Xoft System uses a proprietary miniaturized x-ray source, which is inserted into a flexible balloon-shaped applicator, then temporarily placed inside the lumpectomy cavity. A full course of radiation is then administered in a single dose, lasting as little as eight minutes, which directly targets cancer cells.

“IORT gives patients with early stage breast cancer an integrated surgical and radiotherapy option, in just one treatment, with the hope for the same outcomes (resulting from treatments currently in use),” said Nicolas Ajkay, M.D., surgical oncologist with UofL Physicians and the James Graham Brown Cancer Center. “Our multidisciplinary team approach leads to constant collaboration among physicians to find the right treatment plan for each patient. IORT furthers our ability to do so in new and exciting ways.”

A growing body of favorable clinical data supports the use of IORT in candidates meeting specific selection criteria. iCAD, the maker of Xoft, is currently conducting one of the largest IORT clinical studies to date using the Xoft System, which compares Xoft IORT to traditional external beam radiation therapy. To date, more than 2,000 patients have been treated with Xoft IORT.

For more information about IORT at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, visit or call 502-562-HOPE(4673).

Inaugural UofL Optimal Aging Conference set for June 12-14

Event brings together seniors, caregivers, academics and professionals
Inaugural UofL Optimal Aging Conference set for June 12-14

The Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging at the University of Louisville will host its inaugural Optimal Aging Conference June 12-14 in Louisville. The conference will be held at the Brown Hotel, 335 W. Broadway.

The Optimal Aging Conference brings together academics, professionals and older adults across a variety of disciplines who are united by a view that aging is an opportunity, not a disease, said Institute Executive Director Anna Faul, D.Litt. “This conference supports the dissemination of biopsychosocial aging research, age-friendly product innovation, and evidence-based practice and education models, with participation and input from older adults,” Faul said.

The conference will feature presentations on the latest in aging research, community based programs and services, evidence-based interventions, innovative opportunities, and community engagement for older adults.The deadline for abstract submissions is March 18.

Registration will open April 1. The registration fee for students, residents, and senior citizens age 65 and older is $100; $240 for KAG Members; and $260 for all other academics and professionals.

The conference also will feature exhibits from a variety of businesses and organizations involved in the aging profession. Deadline for exhibitors and sponsorships is April 30.

The conference is sponsored jointly by the UofL Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging and the Kentucky Association for Gerontology. For information about the conference, visit or call 502-852-5629.

UofL institute awarded $2.55 million to create Kentucky Rural & Underserved Interprofessional Education Program

UofL institute awarded $2.55 million to create Kentucky Rural & Underserved Interprofessional Education Program

Anna Faul, D.Litt.

The Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging at the University of Louisville, now in just its 15th month of operation, has garnered a major grant to further efforts to bring health care to rural and medically underserved Kentuckians.

The Health Resources and Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $2.55 million to institute researchers to create the Kentucky Rural & Underserved Geriatric Interprofessional Education Program (KRUGIEP).

This three-year initiative will be headed by Dr. Anna Faul, executive director of the Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging at UofL, and will include a group of transdisciplinary faculty at UofL along with partnering organizations from six rural counties in Kentucky: Hart, Metcalfe, Barren, Bullitt, Henry and Shelby.

In the six counties, KRUGIEP addresses the following needs:

  1. The shortage of the geriatric and primary care work force
  2. The need to train health care providers that can deliver culturally appropriate services to Kentucky’s growing Hispanic population
  3. The need to decrease the chronic disease burden in rural Kentucky
  4. The lack of supportive environments to promote health, specifically for older rural populations
  5. The need for supportive education and resources in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD)

With the grant funding, KRUGIEP will develop an interprofessional education center for geriatric education at UofL for students and professionals in medicine, nursing, social work, dentistry, pharmacy, community health and law; help primary care sites deliver integrated patient-centered geriatric primary care; and provide training and community engagement resources to create ADRD-friendly communities in the six-county region.

“This project is unique in its integration of community health teams and mental health specialists within geriatric primary care delivery systems,” said Institute Executive Director Anna Faul, D.Litt., who is principal investigator on the grant. “We are going to use a systemic approach of collaborative care and develop an inter-agency consortium that strengthen the links among related services for older adults.”

Within UofL, the grant will initially draw upon resources and faculty from the Brandeis School of Law, Kent School of Social Work, School of Dentistry, School of Medicine and School of Nursing. Partner sites in the first year of the grant will be Glasgow Family Medicine Clinic serving Barren, Hart and Metcalfe counties; Shelby Family Medicine and Mercy Medical in Shelby County; Kentucky River Medical Partners in Henry County and UofL Geriatrics Home Care Practice in Bullitt County. Additionally, partnering organizations are KIPDA in Louisville and the Barren River Area Agencies on Aging and Independent Living.

Although three of the six counties – Henry, Shelby and Bullitt – are classified within the Louisville Metro region, large percentages of the population are seen as rural, based on population density, count and size thresholds. The total population of the six counties is just 202,726, with 13 percent age 65 and older.

Crucially, the projected population growth of those 65 and older in the six counties is projected to be 149 percent by the year 2050 – 35 percent greater than both the projected growth rates of 114 percent for the same group in Kentucky and the United States.

Growth in the Hispanic population in the six counties also is above the state and national average. From 2000 to 2010, the Hispanic population change was 144 percent as compared to 122 percent in Kentucky and 43 percent in the United States during the same time frame.

“This grant represents exactly why the Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging was created,” said Terry Singer, Ph.D., dean of the Kent School who is involved with work funded by the grant. “The need for transdisciplinary approaches to examine issues that our aging population faces is significant because no issue stands on its own; all are inter-related from a health, social science, legal and policy perspective.”

The University of Louisville Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging seeks to transform the aging process at the local, national and international levels. In partnership with the university and community partners, the institute works to empower older adults to flourish by engaging in biopsychosocial transdisciplinary research, innovation leading to age-friendly product commercialization, evidence-based practice models of care and creative didactic and experiential education. For more information, visit or on Facebook, Facebook/OptimalAgingInstitute.


UofL medical students welcome refugees with donation drive

Group encourages community to donate household items and winter clothing for new arrivals in Louisville

University of Louisville medical students in the Distinction in Global Health (DIGH) track are putting their passion to work for refugees resettling in Kentucky and they are inviting the community to join their effort.

Third-year UofL medical students Allison Lyle and MeNore Lake are spearheading the My New Kentucky Home: Donation Drive to collect clothing and household items for refugees arriving in Kentucky. The donations will be distributed directly to individuals in need by Migration & Refugee Services, a department of Catholic Charities of Louisville, Inc., which assists refugees in the Louisville area. The Kentucky Office for Refugees, also a department of Catholic Charities, reports that about 1,250 refugees arrived in Louisville in 2015 from 23 countries, and expects that many or more in 2016.

It all started late last fall when Lyle and her husband were cleaning out their apartment. Lyle decided she would like to get the unneeded clothing and household items to someone who could use them.

“This was around the same time as the attacks in Paris and the unfortunate discourse around Syrian refugees not being wanted,” Lyle said. “I thought we could do a med-school wide outreach program to show this demographic some extra kindness.”

As a member of the Distinction in Global Health track in the UofL School of Medicine, Lyle is particularly concerned with the needs of refugees. She brainstormed with Lake, a medical school classmate and fellow DIGH track member, and they began collecting clothing and household items for donation.

“We both recognize and respect the role of Louisville as a new home to refugees. I see the My New Kentucky Home: Donation Driveas an excellent initiative for our school to recognize and show a sense of community to refugees in Louisville,” Lake said.

The Distinction in Global Health track teaches medical students with interests in global health how to approach the literature and conduct scholarly projects in this field.

“This project, which was totally student-initiated, is in addition to all the work they are doing in school and in the track. It has now turned into a project to help stock up the warehouses around Louisville so that we are more prepared, as a city, to meet the needs of the refugees we are expecting,” said Bethany Hodge, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Global Education Office of the UofL School of medicine and the DIGH program.

The group is collecting new or gently-used items including:

  • Men's, women's and children's clothing
    (greatest need is for winter clothes, shoes, socks, undergarments)
  • Kitchen utensils, pots, pans, dish sets
  • Bedding (blankets, comforters, fleece throws and sheets) and pillows
  • Bath towels, hand towels and rags

Donations may be taken to Michael Keibler in the UofL Office of Student Affairs, “A” Building, 319 Abraham Flexner Way, Suite 210 through Friday, Jan. 29.

Items also may be dropped off at Migration Refugee Services, 2220 W. Market St. from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

To have furniture or other large items picked up, contact Chris Clements, Catholic Charities Assistant Community Resource Developer at 502-636-9263, ext 125


Jan. 15, 2016

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, find out ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It?’

UofL Optimal Aging Lecture Series begins spring slate of programs Feb. 10

The Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging at the University of Louisville begins its spring 2016 Optimal Aging Lecture Series with “What’s Love Got to Do With It?,” Wednesday, Feb. 10. The lecture will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the University Club, 200 E. Brandeis Ave.

The Institute’s Drs. Anna Faul, executive director, and Joseph D’Ambrosio, director of health innovation and sustainability, will deliver a timely discussion about the ways to infuse love into caregiving and everyday life as you age.

Infusing love into caregiving and long-term care for older adults is a daunting experience when you are exchausted, and there are minimal resources available to support you as a caregiver. This lecture will combine Faul’s and D’Ambrosio’s expertise in the areas of love, compassion and gerontology to empower caregivers and older adults to maintain love throughout the life span.

Faul and D’Ambrosio are recognized as academic experts in compassionate love; click here to learn about their 2014 study on compassionate love in long-term relationships.

Admission is $17 per person and includes lunch. Reservations are required; for information, call 502-852-8953 or email

UofL Autism Center patients create Asian-inspired art

Program created by Kentucky Autism Training Center engages students on the autism spectrum
UofL Autism Center patients create Asian-inspired art

Evan Green with his Asian-inspired scroll

Eleven-year-old Evan Green discovered a whole new world at Asia Institute Crane House (AICH) thanks to a new art program for patients at the University of Louisville Autism Center at Kosair Charities.

“It was great! I learned how there are a lot of patterns in the artwork,” said Green, a patient at the UofL Autism Center.

In its first six-week session last fall, the New Perspectives Art Program introduced Green and 13 other students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to the patterns, shapes and themes of Asian art. Students explored the exhibit “Peacocks and Paisleys” at AICH, learning about the artistic themes and textiles of China, India, Japan and Korea. They also learned how those cultures used scrolls for communication and art. The students then created their own art using natural materials, stencils and block printing.

“It lit him up. It was a day of excitement,” said Evan’s mother, Linda.

The program, funded by a grant from The Norton Foundation, Inc., was created to encourage social interaction, positive behaviors and individual self-confidence in children on the autism spectrum. It was developed by Mike Miller, field training coordinator in the UofL College of Education and Human Development working at the Kentucky Autism Training Center, and Delaire Rowe of VSA Kentucky, an organization dedicated to providing arts education for individuals with disabilities.

“At first I wondered if it would work. A lot of the kids didn’t know each other and they had to build relationships and to share materials,” Miller said. “However, after they got in the art process they stayed so engaged. Most of the time at the clinic, they need a break after about 15 minutes. In the classes, they would work the entire hour. We asked if they needed to go walk, but they stayed right there.”

Art instructor Pat Sturtzel and Asia Institute Crane House staff members Ruchi Malhotra and Matt Nichols conducted the hour-long classes with the students, age 6 through 21. Linda Green said Evan was enthusiastic about the Saturday classes since he loves to draw, and he quickly became engaged in the activities.

“He talked to other kids and he would make sure they had things they needed. If they came in late, he would sit down next to them and try to give them instructions that he had just been given,” Linda Green said. “As soon as we got home he wanted to do the activities again. He did not ever want the class to end.”

Following the weekly sessions, the students’ scrolls were placed on exhibit in the Crane House gallery and an opening reception held Dec. 10, at which the students showed off their work for visitors. The students’ artwork will remain on display at Asia Institute Crane House, 1244 S. Third St., through Mar. 18.

Miller and Rowe are planning additional programs for students in the spring.


About the organizations:

UofL Autism Center at Kosair Charities, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, offers families and primary care providers a single source for treatment, evaluation, intervention, training and research in autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Kentucky Autism Training Center (KATC) has a mission is to strengthen our state's systems of support for persons affected by autism by bridging research to practice and by providing training and resources to families and professionals. KATC is affiliated with the UofL College of Education and Human Development and has a legislative mandate to enhance outcomes for all Kentuckians with ASD. KATC bridges the research to practice gap by leveraging resources, building sustainable collaborative relationships, and uses evidence-based practices in all regions of Kentucky.

VSA Kentucky is a non-profit organization dedicated to inclusive arts education for children and adults with disabilities. In addition, VSA Kentucky works to train art instructors throughout the state. VSA Kentucky is a member of the VSA Affiliate Network, a program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Asia Institute Crane House provides educational and cultural programs and services to the public and works to increase the capacity of our local Asian communities to share and preserve their heritage.

The Norton Foundation, Inc.Since 1958, the Norton Foundation has granted millions of dollars to the Louisville community in an effort to support the educational, emotional and physical development of our community’s children.


Jan. 13, 2016

Vanderbilt neurosurgeon named UofL department chair

Vanderbilt neurosurgeon named UofL department chair

Joseph Neimat, M.D.

Jan. 15, 2016

An accomplished medical researcher, clinician and educator has joined the University of Louisville as chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery.

The appointment of Joseph S. Neimat, M.D., was approved by the UofL Board of Trustees at its Jan. 14 meeting.

“In Joseph Neimat, the UofL School of Medicine is getting a chair with an excellent balance of expertise in research, clinical care and medical education,” Dean Toni M. Ganzel, M.D., said. “His knowledge and skills will greatly benefit our students, residents, patients and community.”

Neimat comes to UofL from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., where he has held a variety of positions: associate professor and the director of human neurophysiological research, neurotrauma, epilepsy surgery and the functional neurosurgery fellowship in the Department of Neurosurgery; and a founding member of the Vanderbilt Initiative in Surgery and Engineering. He was medical director of inpatient neurosurgery and neurosurgery operating rooms at Vanderbilt, and served on the curriculum planning committee of Vanderbilt University Medical School.

He also was chief of neurosurgery for Tennessee Valley Health Care of the Veterans Administration and held joint appointments with Vanderbilt’s Center for Integrative & Cognitive Neuroscience, Psychiatric Neuroimaging Program and Department of Psychology.

Neimat’s current research interests include investigation of the affective and cognitive properties of the basal ganglia – structures located deep in the brain that are responsible for normal movement. His research also examines the clinical application of neural stimulation in the treatment of refractory medical disease, or disease that is resistant to current therapies. He has received funding from the National Institutes of Health as well as from industry to support his research.

He serves as an ad-hoc reviewer for the NIH Study Section on Clinical Neuroscience and Neurodegeneration. He also serves on the Boards of Directors of American Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery and the World Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery. He is the lead or co-author of approximately 90 peer-reviewed articles, published abstracts and textbook chapters.

Neimat earned a bachelor’s degree at Dartmouth, double majoring in music and biochemistry, and then earned a master’s in neurobiology and a medical degree from Duke University. He completed his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and a fellowship in functional neurosurgery at the University of Toronto. He is board certified in neurological surgery.

Francis named chair of UofL obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health

Francis named chair of UofL obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health

Sean Francis, M.D.

Jan. 15, 2016

Sean L. Francis, currently the interim chair of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health at the University of Louisville, has been named to the post permanently. The appointment was approved by the UofL Board of Trustees at its Jan. 14 meeting.

“Dr. Francis brings a patient-centered approach to care that enables him to partner with our patients to identify the best treatment options and infuses that approach in his work leading the department, its residents and students,” said Toni M. Ganzel, M.D., dean of the UofL School of Medcine.

Francis was named interim chair in February 2015. He came to UofL in 2012 as associate professor and chief of the divisions of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMR) and Minimally Invasive and Gynecologic Surgery. He also is FPMR fellowship director and practices with University of Louisville Physicians-Urogynecology. Prior to his tenure at UofL, he was on the faculty of the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.

Francis is board-certified in both obstetrics and gynecology and FBMR and completed a fellowship at the Mayo Clinic Scottsdale’s Department of Gynecology, Urogynecology and Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery.

He has been named to “Top Doctors in America,” “Best Doctors in America,” “Top Doctors in Louisville” and “Top Surgeons in Louisville.” The author or co-author of chapters in two reference manuals and 20 journal articles, Francis has made 47 oral, video and poster presentations at professional meetings in the United States, Canada and Wales.

He is a past winner of the Faculty Award for Excellence in Resident Education by the Council on Resident Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology; the Association of Professors of Obstetrics and Gynecology Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching; and the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists’ Special Excellence in Endoscopic Procedures Award.

Francis earned a bachelor’s of science degree, cum laude, in biology from Morehouse College, Atlanta, Ga., and his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He completed a residency in internal medicine at Case Western’s Mount Sinai Hospital and another in obstetrics and gynecology at the Medical College of Georgia.

‘Memory, Aging and Alzheimer’s Q&A’ offered Jan. 12

‘Memory, Aging and Alzheimer’s Q&A’ offered Jan. 12

Ben Schoenbachler, M.D.

Most of us have experienced it, or have a loved one who has: You enter a room, intending to retrieve something – and cannot remember what it was you wanted. Or you exit the shopping mall, only to discover you have forgotten exactly where you parked your car.

Annoying? Yes. Signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease? Maybe. Or maybe not.

Ben Schoenbachler, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Louisville, will help sort out the differences between temporary forgetfulness and symptoms of age-related memory disorders at a “Building Hope” lecture and question-and-answer session sponsored by the UofL Depression Center.

Schoenbachler’s “Memory, Aging and Alzheimer’s Q&A” will begin at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 12, in Room 251 of Second Presbyterian Church, 3701 Old Brownsboro Rd. Admission is free.

Results from a 2015 survey conducted by Trinity College Dublin found that more than 75 percent of people can’t distinguish between signs of Alzheimer’s and the usual forgetfulness that comes with aging. Schoenbachler’s presentation will help participants learn more about those differences.

Schoenbachler is a native of Louisville who earned his bachelor’s degree in zoology and his medical degree from the University of Kentucky and completed combined residency training in neurology and psychiatry at Tulane University. His clinical focus is primarily on cognitive and behavioral complications of brain injury and neurodegenerative disorders.

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 502-588-4450.

Norton Healthcare, UofL reach agreements, end litigation

Long term deal ensures stability and growth for Children’s Hospital

Norton Healthcare and the University of Louisville today announced they have reached agreements which end more than five years of negotiations and more than two years of litigation. The University of Louisville Physicians group and the Commonwealth of Kentucky are also parties to the agreements.

“This is great news for the Louisville community and the Commonwealth,” said Donald H. Robinson, chair of the Norton Healthcare board of trustees. “The agreements clear up critical land lease and ownership issues as well as bringing operational security to Norton while assuring stable financial support to the UofL School of Medicine in pediatrics. The real winners here are the families who depend on our children’s hospital for their child’s care.”

“We reached fair and mutually beneficial agreements that extend our long-time relationship for providing the highest level of pediatric care to the children of the Commonwealth and beyond,” said Larry Benz, chair of the UofL board of trustees. “Both organizations are passionate about fulfilling their missions in this regard. We are now focused on how our organizations will combine our strengths to make Kosair Children’s Hospital a top tier pediatric hospital in the United States.”

The agreements include an amendment to the 1981 land lease between Norton and the Commonwealth for the children’s hospital property which results in a permanent solution, one that secures Norton’s ownership and control of the hospital, confirmed by the Commonwealth and UofL. It also makes it possible for Norton to continue plans for more than $35 million in additional capital improvements to its children’s hospital over the next five years. Those plans had been held up due to the litigation.

An amendment to the 2008 academic affiliation agreement currently in place between Norton and UofL sets an initial eight-year term with automatic annual renewals thereafter. UofL will be Norton’s primary academic partner for pediatrics with at least 90 percent of the Norton’s residency positions at the children’s hospital being made available to UofL.

UofL guarantees that its pediatric residents will utilize the children’s hospital as UofL’s primary hospital training site and that the majority of its pediatric hospital admissions will be made to the children’s hospital.  Both Norton and UofL will appoint three representatives each to a new Pediatric Academic Medical Center Committee (PAMCC), charged with overseeing and making recommendations for the affiliation relationship. Norton can still pursue other third party relationships and programs, such as the previously announced intent to collaborate with UK Children’s Hospital, as long as its commitments to UofL are fulfilled. UofL agrees to participate in collaborative pediatric care joint programs with Norton and UK and/or others.

Under the terms of the agreement, UofL will receive $272 million over eight years. Norton has extended its current total of $30 million in annual funding (through separate individual contracts as is currently done) for UofL academic support and physician services over the next eight years, with an additional $3 million annually for additional pediatric care investments. Those investments are to be recommended by the PAMCC and approved by Norton. UofL will participate in independent audits to facilitate full transparency regarding how Norton’s financial support is used. UofL also will receive a one-time payment of $8 million to resolve any and all financial disputes from the past.

“We thank the administration of Gov. Bevin for its leadership in finalizing the land lease amendments and assuring we can move forward with our planned $35 million additional investments by Norton in our Children’s Hospital,” said Stephen A. Williams, CEO, Norton Healthcare. “We also sincerely thank UofL Board Chairman Larry Benz for his great leadership in helping accomplish these agreements. The combined agreements stabilize the relationship between Norton and UofL in pediatrics and facilitate additional investments in pediatric care, while also allowing for appropriate collaboration with UK and other providers across the state to advance pediatric care in Kentucky.”

“This agreement allows both organizations to continue fulfilling their missions of caring for the children of the Commonwealth; UofL through the education and training of future health care providers and conducting cutting-edge research and Norton as the primary site for the provision of the highest levels of health care possible,” said Dr. James Ramsey, president of the University of Louisville. “The Bevin administration’s quick attention and assistance is a demonstration of his desire for ensuring the future of the Commonwealth.”

All three of the agreements were effective immediately upon ratification over the last few days by the boards of Norton, University of Louisville, University of Louisville Physicians, and the Commonwealth.

UofL School of Medicine collects 570 toys for Toys for Tots

UofL School of Medicine collects 570 toys for Toys for Tots

Residents with 500 toys collected for Toys for Tots

The resident physicians at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, along with the school’s faculty, staff and medical students, are making the holidays a little brighter for underprivileged children in the Louisville community. In just one week, they collected 570 toys for Toys for Tots.

UofL’s House Staff Council, the representative body for resident and fellow physicians, issued a request on December 10 for new, unwrapped toys for its annual holiday service project. The group was inspired by Mayor Greg Fischer’s call to set a world record for the most toys collected in a 12-hour period during Holiday in the City.

As of December 16, the residents, fellows and program faculty had collected 500 toys.

“The initiative took hold more than we had even imagined,” said Matthew Bertke, M.D., president of the House Staff Council. “The response shows the kind of charitable spirit and sense of community we have in the house staff. Although young physicians are busy with patient care, we also are invested in our community.”

John Roberts, M.D., UofL’s vice dean for graduate medical education and continuing medical education, supported the request by offering a luncheon for the departments with the highest percentage of residents participating. Four programs earned the luncheon, having greater than 150 percent participation:  Psychiatry (430 percent), Neurology/Child Neurology (246 percent), Pediatrics (193 percent - the largest number of gifts at 166) and Emergency Medicine (161 percent).

The school’s faculty, staff and medical students then joined in the project, adding an additional 70 toys for a total of 570 from the UofL School of Medicine.

“Among the qualities of a good physician are empathy and compassion. It is inspiring to see how generously our young physicians, faculty, staff and students responded in order to brighten the holidays for our community’s children,” said Toni Ganzel, M.D., dean of the UofL School of Medicine.

The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program collects new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distributes those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.


December 21, 2015

Since there is water on Mars, could humans live there?

UofL professor to explain why the discovery of water on Mars is a big deal at next Beer with a Scientist event, Jan. 13
Since there is water on Mars, could humans live there?

Timothy Dowling, Ph.D.

For the January 2016 edition of Beer with a Scientist, Timothy Dowling, Ph.D., will explain how the discovery of water on Mars sheds light on our own environment.

“In 2015, NASA announced the discovery of liquid water on present-day Mars. We’ll take a look at what the many rovers and orbiters have turned up about the past, present and future of the Red Planet, and why liquid water is so important,” Dowling said. “The discoveries on Mars are revealing how essentially every detail of the Earth’s system is beneficial to life, and we will discuss habitability and the future of space exploration.”

Plus, Dowling will separate fact from fiction in the recent movie, “The Martian.”

Dowling is a professor of atmospheric science in UofL’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. He studies planetary atmospheres and specializes in atmospheric dynamics and thermodynamics.

The program begins at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 13 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.


January 5, 2015

UofL professor to receive education award from Society of Toxicology

John Pierce Wise Sr., Ph.D., recognized for efforts to educate students and professionals
UofL professor to receive education award from Society of Toxicology

John Pierce Wise Sr., Ph.D.

University of Louisville professor of pharmacology and toxicology John Pierce Wise Sr., Ph.D., will be honored by the Society of Toxicology with a 2016 Education Award in March, 2016.

Wise is being recognized for teaching and training the next generation of toxicologists on a variety of educational levels both in the classroom and in the field. He has taught high school students and their teachers, undergraduate students, graduate students and junior faculty members. Wise has participated in K–12 outreach and lifelong learning programs attended by older students. Wise and his wife, Sandra Wise, Ph.D., joined the faculty at the UofL School of Medicine earlier this year.

“The Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology was thrilled to recruit Dr. John Wise Sr., his wife and research collaborator Dr. Sandra Wise, and other members of his research team to the University of Louisville,” said David W. Hein, Ph.D., chair of UofL’s Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. “Professor Wise's research program transforms the excitement of a world class research laboratory experience to graduate, professional, post-graduate and undergraduate students. The very prestigious Education Award from the Society of Toxicology reflects the international impact of his research program and training accomplishments.”

In addition to on-campus instruction and lab work, Wise spends a good deal of time working in the field, testing wildlife for toxic exposures. He, his wife and their adult children spent three summers working aboard a sailboat in the Gulf of Mexico, obtaining tissue samples from whales to test for toxins resulting from the 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil well. Most recently, he has been collecting tissue samples from alligators around the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and investigating sea turtle populations on Puerto Rico’s Vieques Island. Prior to his arrival at UofL, Wise was a professor of toxicology at the University of Southern Maine in Portland.

“Whether it is our work in the tiny, microscopic world of a cell or out in the wild with some of the most amazing creatures on earth, being a scientist is always a thrill and a privilege, and the most important part of being a scientist is to share all of these discoveries with others and to be an educator,” Wise said. “We all thirst to know more, to understand more. We seek to be amazed and inspired by the world. For me, engaging others in my scientific quests, teaching them and learning from them, is a central part of being a scientist.”

The Society of Toxicology (SOT) is a professional and scholarly organization of more than 7,800 scientists from academic institutions, government and industry. The SOT Education Award recognizes an individual who teaches and trains toxicologists and who has made significant contributions to education in the field of toxicology. The award will be presented to Wise at the 2016 SOT Annual Meeting and ToxExpo in New Orleans, March 13–17, in the form of a plaque and stipend. Wise is one of more than two dozen scientists from across the United States and abroad who will be honored at the event.


December 15, 2015

Nominations open for Gold Standard for Optimal Aging Award through Feb. 1, 2016

Nominations open for Gold Standard for Optimal Aging Award through Feb. 1, 2016

Dawne Gee, WAVE3

The Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging at the University of Louisville is seeking nominations for the 2016 Gold Standard for Optimal Aging Award. Nominations for this annual award are open now through Feb. 1, 2016.

The Gold Standard for Optimal Aging Award celebrates and honors older adults who embody the Institute’s vision for a world where all older adults lead engaged and flourishing lives. This award recognizes older adults who are 85 years or older and who are outstanding models of optimal aging in the following four categories: physical, social, spiritual and creative. There is no geographical limitation for nominations.

The award will be presented at a luncheon on May 10, 2016 at the Crowne Plaza, 830 Phillips Lane. WAVE3 News Anchor Dawne Gee will be the keynote speaker for this year’s award luncheon.

Lunch reservations are $35 per person and $350 for a table of 10. Sponsorships in a variety of opportunities also are currently being accepted by the Institute at (502) 852-5629.

Registration and nomination available at: For information, call 502-852-5629 or email