Free legal clinic for people with cancer set for April 13

Three area organizations are teaming up to sponsor a free legal clinic for people facing cancer and their families and caregivers on April 13.

The Kentucky Cancer Program at the University of Louisville, Louisville Bar Association and Louisville Pro Bono Consortium are sponsoring the clinic, which will be held 5:30-7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 13 at Gilda’s Club of Louisville, 633 Baxter Ave. Free parking is available behind the building and across the street from the club.

At the clinic, attorneys will be available to offer help with life-planning documents under Medicare Part D, including wills, powers of attorney, health care surrogacy and living wills. They also will provide guidance on employee benefits during illness and government assistance that is available such as Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security disability insurance.

Although admission is free, RSVPs in advance are needed at 502-852-6318. For additional information, contact the Kentucky Cancer Program at or 502-852-6318.

UofL medical school dean appointed to national accrediting committee

UofL medical school dean appointed to national accrediting committee

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

Toni Ganzel, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the University of Louisville School of Medicine, has been appointed to the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the governing body that accredits medical education programs throughout the United States and Canada. Her three-year term begins July 1.

Ganzel will be one of 19 voting members of the LCME – 15 medical educators/administrators/ practicing physicians, two public members and two medical students. Each year, the LCME reviews annual survey data and written reports on all accredited U.S. and Canadian medical schools, and conducts survey visits to 20-30 institutions.

LCME accreditation is a peer-reviewed process of quality assurance that determines whether a medical education program meets established standards. This process also fosters institutional and programmatic improvement.

To achieve and maintain accreditation, a medical education program leading to the M.D. degree in the United States and Canada must meet the LCME’s accreditation standards. Programs are required to demonstrate that their graduates exhibit general professional competencies that are appropriate for entry to the next stage of their training and serve as the foundation for lifelong learning and proficient medical care.

For medical education programs located in the United States, accreditation by the LCME establishes eligibility for selected federal grants and programs. Most state boards of licensure also require that U.S. medical schools granting the M.D. degree be accredited by the LCME as a condition for licensure of their graduates.

Eligibility of students in M.D.-granting schools to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination requires LCME accreditation of their school. Graduates of LCME-accredited schools are eligible for residency programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

Ganzel’s appointment follows the UofL School of Medicine’s success in revising its program and seeing the probationary status of the school fully lifted in 2015.

“I am honored that the LCME has selected me for the important task of surveying medical schools that are scheduled for accreditation review, and I view this appointment as one of the highlights of my career,” Ganzel said. “At UofL, we learned a great deal during our own accreditation review, and developed strong systems that modernized our program of education and training for physicians of the 21st Century. I look forward to bringing that perspective to the LCME and working with colleagues to help shape the future of medical education.”

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

Toni Ganzel was named dean in 2013 and joined UofL in 1983 as an assistant professor in otolaryngology. She served as director of the division of otolaryngology at UofL from 1993 to 2001, when she was named associate dean of student affairs for the School of Medicine. A native of New Mexico, Ganzel earned her bachelor of science and medical degrees from the University of Nebraska. She earned a master’s degree in business administration/medical group management from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. She completed her residency in otolaryngology at the University of Nebraska before joining the faculty at the Creighton University School of Medicine. She is a Harvard Macy Fellow and a fellow of the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) Program, the nation’s only in-depth program for women leaders in academic health care.

DeFilippis receives grant to test biomarker that may predict heart disease in women

Heart to Heart Grant from Alpha Phi Foundation to fund research that could reduce heart disease deaths
DeFilippis receives grant to test biomarker that may predict heart disease in women

Andrew DeFilippis M.D., M.Sc.

Heart disease is the leading cause of mortality in women worldwide, including in the United States. Although deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD) in men have declined since the 1970s, the rates of death for women have not followed.

University of Louisville cardiologist Andrew DeFilippis, M.D., M.Sc., may be on the verge of a breakthrough in detecting cardiovascular disease before a heart attack occurs. Thanks to a $100,000 Heart to Heart Grant from Alpha Phi Foundation, DeFilippis will study archived blood samples from thousands of patients to determine whether the presence of certain lipids in a person’s bloodstream can be used to pinpoint women at risk for having a heart attack.

“This new test holds great promise for more accurately identifying women at risk for having a heart attack before any permanent heart damage occurs,” DeFilippis said. “It may allow for more targeted therapy for those at greatest risk of having a heart attack.”

The buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on the artery walls, known as atherosclerosis, is the underlying cause of heart attack and stroke. Atherosclerotic plaques contain large amounts of oxidized phospholipids (OxPL). DeFilippis believes that the release of OxPL from plaque out into the bloodstream may allow doctors to identify women at increased risk for cardiovascular disease events.

To test this theory, DeFilippis and his research team in UofL’s Institute of Molecular Cardiology will evaluate blood samples and data collected in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) trial, a multi-center prospective study of cardiovascular disease involving 6,814 men and women in six cities in the United States. Beginning in 2000, blood samples were taken and stored for MESA subjects, and their health was followed for up to a decade. DeFilippis plans to evaluate the blood samples and data to determine whether OxPL can be used as a biomarker in predicting cardiovascular disease.

“If our project confirms OxPL as a biomarker of atherosclerotic CVD, it opens the possibility of the development of a totally new class of medications for the treatment of CVD years before the onset of an acute event,” DeFilippis said.

Existing risk assessment tools focus on risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol and smoking. While these factors can predict whether a person is pre-disposed to the formation of plaques, it cannot confirm whether high-risk plaques actually exist. As a component of the plaque itself, OxPL has the potential to allow doctors to identify patients who actually have the dangerous plaques which may cause an acute cardiac event in the foreseeable future.

“The efforts associated with understanding a novel biomarker can cost millions and take decades to introduce to clinical practice. With this grant from Alpha Phi Foundation, we can take advantage of the wealth of data in the MESA study and test this promising biomarker with much less expenditure of funds and time.”

Alpha Phi Foundation is the philanthropic and educational partner of Alpha Phi International Fraternity. The foundation’s mission is to advance women’s lives through the power of philanthropy. Awarded annually, the Heart to Heart Grant funds research and educational programs that help medical professionals better understand heart disease in women – specifically its symptoms, treatment and prevention.

“The potential for the research Dr. DeFilippis is conducting is awe-inspiring,” said Susan Zabriskie, interim executive director of Alpha Phi Foundation. “We are proud to invest in this innovative study that can change the way women are diagnosed with and treated for heart disease. Together we can lessen the impact of heart disease in women for generations to come.”


February 28, 2016

Number of low-income Kentuckians without health insurance declined by 68 percent under Affordable Care Act

UofL study shows more of Kentucky’s low-income adults enrolled in health coverage

A University of Louisville study published Feb. 17 in Health Affairs found low-income Kentuckians without health insurance declined by 68 percent - from 35 percent uninsured at the end of 2013 to 11 percent in late 2014. Completed prior to Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s announcement to dismantle the state’s health exchange, kynect, the data supports trends of similar studies published nationally showing a drop in the number of uninsured Americans. Study findings also revealed declines in the number of people lacking a regular source of health care and those with unmet medical needs.

At the time of the study, Kentucky was one of two southern states to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The expansion raised Medicaid eligibility up to 138 percent of the poverty level as a means to make coverage more accessible and affordable for those likely to experience financial barriers to medical care.

The study was conducted by University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences Department of Health Management and Systems Sciences faculty Joseph Benitez, Ph.D., Liza Creel, Ph.D., M.P.H., and J’Aime Jennings, Ph.D. – all affiliates of the school’s Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky, a transdisciplinary collaborative for population health improvement and health policy analysis.

Using data from the 2006-14 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an annual survey of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they focused on adults between the ages of 25 and 64 who reported an annual household income below $25,000, allowing them to capture a large segment of the population that could benefit from the expansion. Data from residents of Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia - three neighboring states that did not expand Medicaid eligibility - served as study controls.

“We found that low-income Kentuckians largely benefitted from the state’s decision to expand Medicaid relative to its neighbors in three measurable areas of access to health care,” Benitez said.  “Our findings may shed light on advantages other states may realize under the ACA-related expansions in public insurance coverage eligibility and decisions to expand Medicaid.”

University of Louisville Physicians, Kosair Children’s Hospital program offers specialized care for adult congenital heart disease

Nearly one in every 100 babies is born with some type of heart defect, making congenital heart disease the most common birth defect. But thanks to advances in medical care, more than 90 percent of these children now survive well into adulthood.

Because of this, there are now more adults living with adult congenital heart disease than there are children, according to the Adult Congenital Heart Association. In all, there are more than 2 million people of all ages with congenital heart disease in the United States alone. Hundreds are in Kentucky, not knowing they may need specialized care. But a new program of University of Louisville Physicians and Kosair Children’s Hospital fills the gap in care with a statewide network of specialized services.

Congenital heart disease is a lifelong problem - even if a defect is successfully repaired during childhood. Those who have the condition may experience long-term problems, such as difficulty with exercise, disturbances in heart rhythm, infections and heart failure, and will benefit from lifelong medical management. There is also the potential need for additional surgery

Patients can be at high risk for sudden cardiac arrest, stroke and premature death, and their rates of emergency room visits and hospitalizations are higher than the general population. Many have cardiac issues that arise during pregnancy. All of these require monitoring by a specialist who understands the unique needs of an adult with congenital heart disease.

“This is a new and growing population of adult patients, and there have historically been few physicians in the U.S. specializing in congenital heart disease in adults,” said Dr. Craig Alexander, an adult congenital heart specialist for University of Louisville Physicians and Kosair Children’s Hospital who is the first physician in Kentucky and among the first in the nation to be fellowship-trained in adult congenital heart disease (ACHD).

“These patients often have a hard time finding doctors who understand their conditions and can care for their unique medical needs.”

With Alexander and a team of dedicated specialists, UofL Physicians and Kosair Children’s Hospital provide the care and resources in Kentucky and Southern Indiana for adult congenital heart care, helping patients live longer, healthier lives. The team works with the patient’s regular cardiologist to provide both clinical and procedural care for adults, including advanced diagnostic testing and cardiac imaging, interventional catheterizations, including advanced device implantation and complex arrhythmia therapies, as well as complex surgical procedures.

For patients, the program can mean living healthier, longer lives.

“I was diagnosed as having a bicuspid aortic valve stenosis when I was 5,” Hannah Reed said. “After I turned 16 and everything was fine; I stopped seeing a cardiologist.”

Bicuspid aortic valve stenosis means the aortic valve of the heart only has 2 leaflets instead of 3. The aortic valve regulates blood flow from the heart into the aorta, the major blood vessel that brings blood to the body. With only 2 leaflets, the abnormal valve can leak or become narrow, causing the heart to pump harder requiring medications, cardiac catheterization and/or other minimally invasive or surgical procedures.

Reed is an example of the kinds of patients now finding their way to Dr. Alexander.

“When I became pregnant, several referrals brought me to Dr. Alexander, who has helped me through my baby’s birth. If I want to have more children, I’ll need closer monitoring and possibly even a procedure to open the valve.”

The UofL Physicians adult congenital heart program is co-directed by Alexander and Dr. Walter Sobczyk, who has been treating ACHD patients for more than 25 years. Alexander recently joined the UofL Physicians staff from Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

In addition to Louisville, pediatric cardiologists with UofL Physicians travel to eight rotating sites across the state to see patients who cannot easily make the trip.

To refer a patient to the UofL Physicians adult congenital heart program, call 502-585-4802. To connect with the Kosair Children’s Hospital Heart Center, call 502-629-6000.

For more information on the program and adult congenital heart disease, visit the UofL Physicians web page at For more information on the Kosair Children’s Hospital Heart Center, visit

About University of Louisville Physicians

University of Louisville Physiciansisthe largest multispecialty physician practice in the Louisville region, with nearly 600 primary care and specialty physicians in more than 78 specialties and subspecialties. Our doctors are the professors and researchers of the University of Louisville School of Medicine, teaching tomorrow’s physicians and leading research into medical advancements.

About Kosair Children’s Hospital

As Kentucky and Southern Indiana’s only full-service, free-standing pediatric hospital, Kosair Children’s Hospital, along with its predecessor hospitals, have cared for children for more than a century without regard to their families’ ability to pay. The hospital also is an advocate for the health and well-being of all children. The 267-bed hospital is the region’s only Level I Pediatric Trauma Center and serves as the primary pediatric teaching facility for the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Specialists offer comprehensive pediatric care including a full range of services for congenital and acquired heart disease, cancer care, neurosciences, spine and orthopaedic care, and neonatal care. In 2007 and 2012, Kosair Children’s Hospital received the prestigious Magnet designation recognizing excellence in nursing from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. More information is available at

Children with neurological disorders need flu vaccine but don’t always get it

UofL-led article published April 9 shows vaccination rate on par with those without disorders despite high risk
Children with neurological disorders need flu vaccine but don’t always get it

Michael J. Smith, M.D.

Children who have neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy or epilepsy are no more likely to be vaccinated against influenza than youngsters without these conditions, despite the increased risk for complications from flu these children experience. Moreover, health care providers may not be familiar with the increased risk among these patients to effectively recommend influenza vaccine.

Those are the findings of a study by a research team from the University of Louisville and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published online April 9 in the journal Vaccine.

Michael J. Smith, M.D., is an associate professor in the UofL Department of Pediatrics and pediatric infectious disease specialist with University of Louisville Physicians. Smith is lead author of the study that is the first to estimate the rates of flu vaccination among children with neurological or neurodevelopmental disorders (NNDDs).

“Our research shows that influenza vaccination in children with NNDDs is comparable to vaccination in healthy children – but both rates are suboptimal,” Smith said. “More education about the need for annual influenza vaccination is needed, both for parents and health care providers.”

Overall, 2,138 surveys were completed by parents of children with at least one high-risk condition of any kind. Of these, 1,143 were completed by parents of children with at least one NNDD and 516 by parents of children with more than one NNDD. In the survey of providers, 412 physicians participated. The researchers worked with Family Voices, a national advocacy group for children with special health care needs, and the American Academy of Pediatrics to recruit survey participants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Overall, 47 percent of parents reported that their children had received or were scheduled to receive seasonal flu vaccine; among the group of NNDD parents, the rate was only slightly higher at 50 percent.

The major driver to have a child vaccinated was not the presence of an NNDD, however, but the presence of a chronic respiratory condition, although several studies show that children with NNDDs are at increased risk of complications from flu. According to a 2013 study in the journal Pediatrics, one-third of reported pediatric influenza-related deaths between 2004 and 2012 in the United States occurred in children with NNDDs.

“The reasons for the increased severity of influenza among these children are uncertain,” Smith said. “We do know, however, that an NNDD, intellectual disability, was the most common NNDD associated with pediatric deaths during the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic. A better understanding of the attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that influence flu vaccination of children with NNDDs such as intellectual disability is needed.”

Parents who did not vaccinate their children were asked why. More than one-third of the 1,140 respondents – 38 percent – said they had concerns about how the vaccine would affect their child. Another 32 percent expressed concerns about the safety of the vaccine.

Among the 412 physicians who participated, 74 percent recognized that children with another NNDD, cerebral palsy, were at higher risk from flu but other NNDDs were not so highly recognized as posing risk: epilepsy at 51 percent and intellectual disability at 46 percent.

Conducting the research with Smith were Georgina Peacock, M.D., and Cynthia Moore, M.D., Ph.D., of the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities and Timothy Uyeki, M.D., of the Influenza Division of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Kentucky Cancer Program at UofL launches online guide to cancer resources

Program’s “Pathfinder” to be featured in April 1 KET call-in program
Kentucky Cancer Program at UofL launches online guide to cancer resources

The Kentucky Cancer Program at the University of Louisville has launched a new version of its cancer resource guide and moved it online.

Pathfinder, the KCP’s popular guide to cancer-related services and resources for 25 years, is now online and will be featured during a live KET call-in show on cancer at 8 p.m., Wednesday, April 1. The show will air at the culmination of the three-part series beginning March 30, “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies.”

About Pathfinder online

Pathfinder now provides an easy-to-use online tool to identify cancer resources in communities, counties, the state and across the nation, said Connie Sorrell, director of the Kentucky Cancer Program at UofL.

The opening page of Pathfinder features links for “Local Resources” and “National and State Resources” so users can go directly to the geographic area they want to investigate.

“People can easily search for resources in cancer prevention, screening, treatment, survivorship and caregiving through Pathfinder,” Sorrell said. “For example, in the ‘Local Resources’ section, you simply choose a topic, select your county and a list of resources in your area will be generated to view or print.”

For information about Pathfinder and the Kentucky Cancer Program, visit or call 1-877-326-1134.

About the call-in program on April 1

Donald Miller, M.D., Ph.D., director of UofL’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center, a part of KentuckyOne Health, will join staff from the Kentucky Cancer Program and other health experts to provide information and answer questions from viewers at the conclusion of “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies.”

The three-part series based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Siddhartha Mukherjee tells the complete story of cancer, from its first description in an ancient Egyptian scroll to the gleaming laboratories of modern research institutions.

At six hours, the film by Emmy and Peabody Award winner Ken Burns interweaves a sweeping historical narrative with intimate stories about contemporary patients and an investigation into the latest scientific breakthroughs that have brought the world to the brink of finding cures.

About the Kentucky Cancer Program

Established by the Kentucky Legislature in 1982, Kentucky Cancer Program is the state cancer control program with 13 regional offices located throughout the Commonwealth. The program is jointly administered by the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky. The mission is to reduce cancer incidence and mortality through education, research and service.

Encounter of a lifetime: John Pierce Wise Sr., Ph.D., met a blue whale for the first time in 18 years of marine mammal research

He shares the experience and video of the event. >>NOTE: Wise will be the featured speaker at Beer with a Scientist, June 15, 8 p.m. at Against the Grain Brewery<<
Encounter of a lifetime:  John Pierce Wise Sr., Ph.D., met a blue whale for the first time in 18 years of marine mammal research

John P. Wise. and research team in the Sea of Cortez

In April, John Pierce Wise Sr., Ph.D., spent two weeks on a lab-equipped sailboat in the Sea of Cortez collecting tissue samples from free-ranging whales to be tested for chromium, mercury, silver and other toxic metals. He began this research in 1998, and since that time, has embarked on more than two dozen marine research expeditions. This spring’s trip included an experience Wise had hoped for since before he began his research:  His team encountered a blue whale.


When I started, and back even further, the whale I most wanted to see and study was the blue whale. Yet, try as I might, blue whales always seemed just out of my reach. … each time I went near the sea, be it on boat or land, I hoped I would see one of these magnificent creatures.

Today was finally the day.

-- John Pierce Wise Sr., Blog post, April 6, 2016


A professor in the UofL School of Medicine’s Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Wise is a leading authority on metal-induced cancer development. He studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms of cancer and investigates the health impacts of chemicals in the environment, comparing their effects in humans with wildlife such as whales, sea turtles and alligators. Through this research, he hopes to better understand whether these pollutants cause DNA damage and cancer in marine life and in humans.

During this trip, Wise and his team of researchers obtained skin and blubber samples from 29 whales of seven different species in the Sea of Cortez, which lies between the Baja peninsula and the mainland of Mexico, emptying into the Pacific Ocean. On this project, Wise is collaborating with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Jorge Urbán Ramírez, PhD, at the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur in Mexico. Wise’s son, John Jr., (Johnny) a graduate student in toxicology at Purdue University, and other team members used a crossbow to shoot a small dart into the whales’ skin from the vessel to obtain thimble-sized tissue biopsies without disrupting the animals’ activity. These crossbow handlers are known as biopsiers.

Following is Wise’s blog describing the encounter with the blue whale –


Wednesday, April 6, 2016 – Day 5 at Sea

I started developing my whale research in 1998. Hard to believe 18 years have passed as those first days seem like yesterday. I’ve worked on many species from whales to sea lions to sea otters to polar bears. Shoot even humans are considered marine mammals for that matter and we work on them too. But going back to when I started, and then back even further, the whale I most wanted to see and study was the blue whale. Yet, try as I might – blue whales always seemed just out of my reach. We worked on blue whale cells when a colleague gave me a sample. Still, each time I went near the sea, be it on boat or land, I hoped I would see one of these magnificent creatures.

Today was finally the day.

The day started with a couple of pods of short finned pilot whales – very cute whales travelling in a small group. We managed three biopsies of them and it seemed liked it was going to be an exciting day. But as sea research days often go, the day quickly settled into a quiet routine of changing watch shifts and the hum of the engine churning away. There was nothing to see and all was quiet. A bird flew by – it was a masked booby – but not much was going on. The team carried out its duties with focus and efficiency, but a sense of no further sampling for the day started to set in.

Late in the afternoon as the light was fading, several of us were talking in the pilot house. Suddenly, Johnny bolted up and yelled, “whale blow, 9 o’clock.” He ran to the bow and we yelled up to Mark on the mast. Soon Johnny spotted a tail fluke. That left three possibilities – sperm whale, humpback or blue whale. Each has a distinctive shape to their tail. Johnny came into the pilot house and described the fluke. It was not something he had seen before. He has biopsied hundreds of sperm whales and dozens of humpbacks – so I knew then this whale had to be a blue whale. The question was could we get near it and biopsy it?

To be clear, all whales have a tail fluke. It’s just that not all whales lift their tail flukes out of the water when they dive. Thus, with other whales you simply cannot see their tail flukes in the air. But sperm whales, humpback whales and blue whales frequently raise their tail flukes, almost in a gesture of waving ‘goodbye’ as they dive down deep.

The team took a collective breath and renewed efforts to find this whale. Everyone wanted to see this magnificent whale that grows to be the biggest animal alive on earth.

With Oona at the helm, Mark in the crow’s nest, Mike on the rigging and Johnny, Rick, Carlos and me in the foredeck, we pressed on with our search. Closer we crept forward. Closer. Closer. We would have these anxious periods between the whale’s dives, wondering where it might surface. Yet, it stayed just ahead of us. Finally, it was in sight. Carlos pointed out that we should look for the blue water – something about the whale’s coloration creates a bluish glow of a reflection in the water. The glow is why the blue whale is called a “blue” whale.

Watch a video of the encounter.

Mark called in the position from above. We all scanned the water for the blue glow. There it was, quite close!!! But just a tad too far for a biopsy. The whale dove and we all marveled at the sight. We kept search, only now it was harder, for the whale had been right next to us. Before, it was in front in the distance. Where did it go? Where would it surface? We slowed our speed and looked.

Generally, I stay out of the foredeck in the pilot house and let the team work, but this whale was a blue whale and I had waited a long time to see a blue whale. This time, I moved right into the bowsprit with the biopsiers to see the whale up close. Everyone understood. Now, we just had to find the whale.

Suddenly, the whale surfaced right behind the boat! Oona turned us around as the whale dove. We searched for the blue glow. Carlos starting yelling, “It’s right there! Right there!”

When someone yells like that, the whale is so close they cannot express in words exactly where it is. We all looked down and sure enough, there was the whale in all its fantastic blue glow – right under us in the bow. What a breathtaking and awesome sight!

Only problem was the whale was close in and perpendicular to the boat. The biopsiers were at the wrong angle. A sample would be exceptionally difficult. But, there was an odd wrinkle to the biopsiers’ positions. Normally, they are next to each other, but now I was in the bowsprit between them, which created more space. Johnny was the furthest in the bowsprit and he had no angle for a shot. Rick, however, leaned way over the rail and released his arrow!  It hit! He had just enough of an angle to take a perfect biopsy! We recovered the arrow and we had done it! Our first blue whale biopsy. The team was abuzz with excitement.

The light was low as the sun was setting and it was overcast. We called it a day and shared our stories of our individual thrill from this magnificent whale. We are up to 16 whales biopsied. It’s been a success so far.


Leadership and Innovation in Academic Medicine announces larger second cohort

School of Medicine faculty learn to lead self, others and the organization
Leadership and Innovation in Academic Medicine announces larger second cohort

LIAM inaugural cohort members

Sixteen members of the University of Louisville School of Medicine faculty have completed a 10-month training program aimed at developing effective future leaders in academic medicine. Leadership and Innovation in Academic Medicine (LIAM) was designed to develop innovative thinking skills in early to mid-career faculty who are motivated to be leaders in medical education.

“Leadership is more important than ever as the university prepares to deal with changes in our health-care world. Our leaders need to have the resilience and creativity and the ability to be innovative and problem solve as challenges keep coming,” said Gerard Rabalais, M.D., M.H.A., associate dean of faculty development, who created the program along with Staci Saner, M.Ed., program manager for faculty development.

“We need to deepen our bench here at the university,” said Tracy Eells, Ph.D., M.B.A., vice provost for faculty affairs, at the program’s final event on July 17. “We need to have a deep set of leaders that we can turn to because there are a lot of leadership positions at the university.”

LIAMThe participants attended monthly meetings organized to introduce innovation and design thinking through understanding how to lead oneself, how to lead others and how to lead the organization.

Jeremy Clark, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, most values the connections he made with other participants.

“The single most impactful aspect of LIAM is the relationships I built with each of my peers and with our physician leaders in the School of Medicine.  I now have 15 other young leaders that I can go to and ask for advice and counsel when I am struggling with leadership problems,” Clark said.

Hugh Shoff, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine, expected the program to help him acquire tools for becoming a better leader and innovator in medicine. He was surprised by the value of the self-reflection aspect.

“We spent lot of time in the beginning learning to analyze yourself and make sure you as a person are in the right place to become a better leader. I didn’t expect to spend as much time on that, but I am glad we did,” Shoff said.

Eells said self-leadership is a critical aspect of the program’s three-stage approach.

“It has to start with yourself, with emotional intelligence, knowing how to keep your cool when you are in a tense situation since you are serving as a role model to many others around you when you are serving in a leadership capacity,” Eells said.

The self-reflection portion will be expanded for the second LIAM cohort, which will increase from 16 to 24 members.

At the program’s final meeting, teams of four participants presented projects to improve the school or health care in general and presented them to a panel of judges, leaders from the UofL School of Medicine, and members of the 2018-2019 cohort were announced.

2018-19 LIAM second cohort

Pascale Alard, Ph.D.                                Microbiology and Immunology
Thomas Altstadt, M.D.                           Neurosurgery
Laura Bishop, M.D.                                  Medicine
Eric Burton, M.D.                                      Neurology
Camilo Castillo, M.D.                              Neurosurgery
Priya Chandan, M.D., M.P.H.               Neurosurgery
Brittany Chapman, M.D.                        Neurology
Lynzee Cornell, Ph.D.                              Otolaryngology and Communicative Disorders
Russell Farmer, M.D.                              Surgery
Shahab Ghafghazi, M.D.                        Medicine
Josephine Gomes, M.D.                        Family and Geriatric Medicine
Sushil Gupta, M.D.                                   Pediatrics
Ahmed Haddad, M.D., Ph.D.                Urology
Jennifer Hamm, M.D.                             Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women's Health
David Haustein, M.D.                              Neurosurgery
Bridget Hittepole, M.D.                         Medicine
Deborah Kozik, M.D.                               Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery
Rana Latif, M.D.                                        Anesthesiology
Jennifer Le, M.D.                                      Pediatrics
M. Eli Pendleton, M.D.                          Family and Geriatric Medicine
Melissa Potts, M.D.                                 Radiology
Vikas Singh, M.D.                                     Medicine
Abigail Stocker, M.D.                              Medicine
Christina Terrell, M.D.                            Psychiatry

2017-2018 LIAM class projects

Increasing the Value of Academic Teaching 

Academic teaching is a core mission for UofL School of Medicine faculty that is difficult to quantify in terms of scholarly recognition. The definition and documentation of good teaching is lacking. Our project proposes a structured way of accounting for teaching in an easily accessible system, and ideas for a culture shift towards recognition of teaching excellence as a critical mission for the university.
Team members:  Alexander Ovechkin, M.D., Ph.D., Christine Brady, Ph.D., Elizabeth Cash, Ph.D., Kathrin LaFaver, M.D.

A Better PICC Line

The project focuses on the creation of a PICC line that is tamper-evident for use in patients who have a history of IV drug use and require long-term antibiotic therapy for conditions such as bacterial endocarditis. The hope is that use of this PICC line will allow these patients to transition home for IV antibiotics in lieu of prolonged hospital stays to complete the antibiotics course.
Team members:  Farid Kehdy, M.D., Hugh Shoff, M.D., Laura Workman, M.D., Luz Fernandez, M.D.

Mind the Gap:  Using Generational Strengths to Create Faculty-Student Teaching Partnerships
Many University of Louisville Health Sciences Center faculty struggle to adapt their teaching to include new educational pedagogies due to lack of time, variable prioritization of teaching and difficulty using new technology. We propose the creation of student-faculty partnerships where the faculty – our content experts – can use the technical savvy and availability of students to modify and improve their teaching. We plan to pilot this initiative as part of the Medical Students as Teachers elective for fourth year medical students and measure change in course evaluations, student satisfaction and faculty well-being.
Team members:  Leah Siskind, Ph.D., Sara Multerer, M.D., Sara Petruska, M.D., Tyler Sharpe, M.D.

Financial Empowerment
Leaders in academic medicine are frequently ill prepared to make the financial decisions that are a necessary part of their jobs. There is currently a gap between finance officers at senior levels and leaders at lower levels who lead clinical, research or education teams. Our proposed innovation is to empower leaders across the University of Louisville School of Medicine to make financial decisions by providing local, focused financial training to leaders.
Team members:  Carolyn Roberson, Ph.D., Adrienne Jordan, M.D., Brian Holland, M.D., Jeremy Clark, M.D.


July 25, 2018

Professor with bipolar disorder will discuss genius, mania at UofL Depression Center annual dinner

Professor with bipolar disorder will discuss genius, mania at UofL Depression Center annual dinner

Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D.

A Johns Hopkins University psychiatry professor and New York Times bestselling author will discuss her experience overcoming bipolar disorder and her latest book on the relationship between mental illness and art at a University of Louisville-sponsored event in October.

Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, will speak at the UofL Depression Center’s Annual Benefit Dinner on Thursday, Oct. 19, at the Muhammad Ali Center, 144 N. Sixth St. A book-signing featuring Jamison will begin at 5:30 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m.

The dinner benefits the UofL Depression Center, Kentuckiana’s leading resource for depression and bipolar disorder treatment, research and education. Tickets are $125 per person and can be ordered by phone at 502-588-4886 or by email.

Jamison’s current book, “Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania and Character,” published in February, brings a fresh understanding to the work and life of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Robert Lowell, whose intense, complex and personal verse left a lasting mark on the English language and changed the public discourse about private matters.

Jamison brings her expertise in mood disorders to bear on Lowell’s story, illuminating the relationships among mania, depression and creativity, as well as the details of Lowell’s treatment and how illness and treatment influenced the great work that he produced and often became its subject. 

Jamison herself battled mental health issues as early as her teenage years. While pursuing her career in academic medicine, Jamison found herself succumbing to the same exhilarating highs and catastrophic depressions that afflicted many of her patients, as her disorder launched her into ruinous spending sprees, episodes of violence and an attempted suicide. Her memoir, “An Unquiet Mind,” rose to the best-selling list upon its release in 1995 and was cited for its candor in its examination of bipolar illness from the dual perspectives of the healer and the healed, revealing both its terrors and the cruel allure that at times prompted her to resist taking medication. 

Oct. 9, 2017

UofL Health and Social Justice Scholars launch plans to improve health equity in Louisville

UofL Health and Social Justice Scholars launch plans to improve health equity in Louisville

HSJS first cohort and directors

The first cohort of the University of Louisville Health and Social Justice Scholars (HSJS) is ready to begin implementing strategies to improve health equity in the Louisville community.

The four Health Sciences Center students, who began the program last summer, presented project plans to a group of faculty members, program directors and future scholars that include research and action aimed at improving the health of Louisvillians. Each of the students worked with a faculty or community mentor to develop a plan for a project to be completed over the next two years. Their projects focus on improvements in access to fresh food, community trust in health-care providers, dental care for HIV patients and diversity in the health-care work force.

“The diversity of the projects speaks volumes. Although they receive guidance from mentors, this is truly their work, based on their vision for a more equitable Louisville. I can only imagine where these initiatives will lead,” said Katie Leslie, Ph.D., program director in the UofL HSC Office of Diversity and Inclusion and director of the Health and Social Justice Scholars program.

The HSJS cohort includes one doctoral student from each of the four schools on the UofL HSC campus:  School of Dentistry, School of Medicine, School of Nursing and School of Public Health and Information Sciences. The students are selected based on their commitment to social justice and health equity to engage in a three-year program designed to help them learn techniques for working interprofessionally and with community members to improve the overall health of local residents. Their projects are to include community-based research conducted along with a faculty mentor and a report prepared for scholarly publication. In addition, they participate in community service projects and attend monthly discussions.

Ashton Green – School of Dentistry                               

Mentor:  Karen Krigger, M.D.

“Improving Access to Dental Care and Resources for Individuals Living with HIV”

Oral signs are often the first indication of larger health problems, and related oral conditions occur in 30 to 80 percent of HIV-infected individuals. Green hopes to improve dental care compliance in this population by developing and testing educational materials that will reinforce the importance of oral health and encourage them to seek and continue dental health care.

Diana Kuo – School of Public Health and Information Sciences

Mentor:  Brandy Kelly Pryor, Ph.D.

“Examining and Addressing the Effects of Food Systems on Health Outcomes in Louisville”

Neighborhoods with limited access to healthy food, known as food deserts, are associated with reduced health among residents. A number of areas in central Louisville have been identified as food deserts. Kuo plans to evaluate whether neighborhood international markets are good sources of fresh food for the community.

Jade Montanez – School of Nursing

Mentor:  Vicki Hines-Martin, Ph.D.

“Confronting Health Disparities Through Post-Secondary Health Sciences Degree Attainment”

Montanez hopes to support an increase in the number of underrepresented minorities in nursing by strengthening a program that prepares junior high and high school students for post-secondary education. She anticipates that a more diverse health-care workforce will benefit not only the students themselves, but also the community through reduced health disparities.

Mallika Sabharwal – School of Medicine

Mentor:  Theo Edmonds, J.D., M.H.A., M.F.A.

“Understanding Medical Mistrust in Smoketown”

Mistrust of the medical community can prevent individuals from receiving care and cloud interactions with health-care providers. Sabharwal plans to survey residents of Smoketown and UofL students and providers to assess mistrust of health professionals. She then will develop tools to improve cultural competency among providers and improve communication between providers and Smoketown residents. She hopes to include a focus group for creative expression by Smoketown residents, providers and students, possibly resulting in a creative project.


In developing the HSJS program, V. Faye Jones, M.D., Ph.D., M.S.P.H., associate vice president for health affairs – diversity initiatives at UofL, hoped to tap into the students’ interests and aptitudes while instructing them in techniques for addressing community issues.

“Our original vision for the program was to educate our students of the complexity of the problems facing our communities,” Jones said. “Each one has found a unique avenue for integrating their passion into a community project to address health disparities. Although each project has a connecting theme of social justice and health equity, the diversity in the approaches ignites excitement for the program.”

New scholars announced

The second cohort of Health and Social Justice Scholars has been selected and will begin matching with mentors and developing their projects this summer.

  • Morgan Pearson – School of Dentistry
  • Devin McBride – School of Medicine
  • Charles (John) Luttrell – School of Nursing
  • Tasha Golden – School of Public Health and Information Sciences

UofL spinal cord injury researcher delivers national physical therapy group lecture

UofL spinal cord injury researcher delivers national physical therapy group lecture

Andrea Behrman, Ph.D., P.T., FAPTA

Andrea L. Behrman, Ph.D., was selected to give the Maley Lecture at the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) in Charlotte, N.C., on June 13. The lecture honors a physical therapist that has made distinguished contributions to the profession of physical therapy in clinical practice.

Behrman is a professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery and Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center at the University of Louisville and is currently examining neuromuscular recovery in children with spinal cord injuries via both research and clinical practice. She also is a licensed physical therapist and is a Fellow of the American Physical Therapy Association.

Behrman’s lecture was titled, “I never thought that I would need to child-proof my home!” and focused on a paradigm shift for rehabilitation from the traditional view that “paralysis cannot be resolved” to an evidence-based physiological perspective that, with training, “paralysis can be resolved” and recovery is possible – to what degree has yet to be determined. As the mother whose comments inspired the lecture’s title said, “after locomotor training, my child became so mobile that I needed to child-proof my home” – something she never thought she would need to be concerned about.

Researchers have demonstrated that the spinal cord is in fact smart and that it can learn, Behrman said. By providing specific sensory input via intense training, therapists can activate the spinal circuitry and the neuromuscular system below and across the level of the injury.

Using a method known as “activity-based locomotor training,” therapists provide specific sensory information while patients are standing and walking on a treadmill with partial body weight support. Trainers also provide manual cues to promote muscle activation. Behrman demonstrated the benefits of locomotor training for developing trunk control and stepping in children who suffered a spinal cord injury when they were as young as 5 months and were paralyzed for nearly three years.

As director of the University of Louisville Kosair Charities Center for Pediatric Neurorecovery, Behrman and her fellow researchers and clinical partners work to change outcomes for children recovering from paralysis while undergoing locomotor training.

More information about Behrman’s lecture and work at UofL is available on the American Physical Therapy Association website.





Advanced Cancer Therapeutics enters Phase 1 human clinical trials with first-in-class anti-cancer drug candidate

Trial sites now enrolling patients at University of Louisville, Georgetown University
Advanced Cancer Therapeutics enters Phase 1 human clinical trials with first-in-class anti-cancer drug candidate

Jason A. Chesney, M.D., Ph.D.

Advanced Cancer Therapeutics (ACT), a privately held company dedicated to bringing new anti-cancer therapies to market, announced June 4 that it has begun clinical trials of PFK-158, a small molecule therapeutic candidate that inactivates a novel cancer metabolism target never before examined in human clinical trials. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Phase 1 dose escalation study is evaluating the safety, tolerability and anti-tumor activity of PFK-158 in cancer patients with solid tumors such as melanoma, lung, colon, breast and pancreatic cancer.

PFK-158 is the first 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-biphosphatase 3 (PFKFB3) inhibitor to undergo clinical trial testing in cancer patients. The target, PFKFB3, is activated by oncogenes and the low oxygen state in cancers, stimulates glucose metabolism and is required for the growth of cancer cells as tumors in mice. PFK-158, which has been licensed by ACT from the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville, inhibits the substrate binding domain of PFKFB3 causing a marked reduction in the glucose uptake and growth of multiple cancer types in mice.

PFK-158 human clinical trials began recruiting patients in May with the first clinical trial site located at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, a part of KentuckyOne Health. Within weeks of opening the first clinical trial site, ACT was able to open the second clinical trial site at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, also in May.

According to Jason A. Chesney, M.D., Ph.D., deputy director of the Brown Cancer Center and a global thought leader and researcher in cancer metabolism, “PFK-158 is not only a first-in-class cancer drug but also the first to target glucose metabolism by inhibiting PFKFB3. This unique mechanism of action has resulted in efficacy against a broad spectrum of human cancers caused by common mutations as well as synergy with targeted agents that are FDA approved for several cancer types.

“As a researcher, it is incredibly rewarding to witness your group's studies move into clinical trials and potentially save the lives of cancer patients,” Chesney said.

“This is a significant milestone for ACT and it supports our dedication to develop significant treatment advancements for cancer patients with first-in-class, potential breakthrough therapeutics like PFK-158,” said Randall B. Riggs, president & CEO of ACT.

About Advanced Cancer Therapeutics (ACT):

ACT is a privately held company dedicated to advancing novel therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of cancer. ACT has successfully established a unique and innovative business model with the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center whereby ACT is able to obtain exclusive worldwide licenses to novel cancer therapeutics discovered at Brown Cancer Center under preset business terms. ACT then fast-tracks these discoveries, including the selection process for partnership, commercialization and manufacture, to the pharmaceutical industry, and ultimately to the patients who need them. Led by Donald M. Miller, M.D., Ph.D., the Brown Cancer Center employs more than 50 scientists focused on the discovery and advancement of breakthrough cancer therapeutics for patients suffering from cancer. For more information, please visit

About the James Graham Brown Cancer Center:

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

July 15 deadline set for optimal aging award nominations

UofL recognizes maintaining active engagement with life at age 85 and above

UofL Geriatrics in the Department of Family and Geriatric Medicine at the University of Louisville is calling for nominations for the fourth annual Gold Standard Award for Optimal Aging.

The deadline to submit nominations is 5 p.m., July 15. The award will be presented Sept. 25 at the Annual UofL Geriatrics Gold Standard Award for Optimal Aging Luncheon at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 830 Phillips Lane.

The Gold Standard Award for Optimal Aging is presented to someone 85 years old or older as of Oct. 1 who is an outstanding model for optimal aging in all areas of life.

“We are seeking people 85-plus who are making the most of whatever their later years bring and who continue to demonstrate great zest for life,” said Christian Davis Furman, M.D., vice chair for geriatric medicine. “The award is presented for optimal aging across the full spectrum of physical health, mental health, social health and spiritual health.”

The nomination process includes submitting information on the nomination form that describes why the nominee qualifies for the award. Nomination forms and information about the luncheon can be found online or obtained by calling (502) 588-4260 or emailing

New York Times bestselling author, University of Chicago researcher to discuss cancer immunotherapy treatment

New York Times bestselling author, University of Chicago researcher to discuss cancer immunotherapy treatment

The University of Louisville James Graham Brown Cancer Center and School of Medicine will present a free seminar open to the public on immunotherapy in the treatment of cancer at 11:30 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. The event will be held in rooms 101-102 of the Kosair Charities Clinical and Translational Research Building, 505 S. Hancock St.

Charles Graeber, New York Times bestselling author of “The Good Nurse,” and Thomas Gajewski, M.D., Ph.D., a cancer researcher at the University of Chicago, will discuss Graeber’s new book, “The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer.” The book examines the ways in which cancer proliferates by avoiding the immune system, and the important new cancer immunotherapies that are beginning to unleash the immune system to fight – and beat –  the disease. 

Following the discussion, a question-and-answer session will be held.

Lunch will be provided at the seminar at no cost but seating is limited. For details, contact Diane Konzen at the Brown Cancer Center,

At 6 p.m. on the same date, the Kentucky Author Forum will present Graeber and Gajewski at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, 501 S. Main St. Several admission packages are available. Details can be found on the Kentucky Author Forum website found here.



Louisville Society for Neuroscience top in the nation for encouraging interest in science

Louisville Society for Neuroscience top in the nation for encouraging interest in science

Kristopher K. Rau, Ph.D., receives the Next Generation award from Eric Nestler, M.D., Ph.D., 2016-17 president of the national Society for Neuroscience

How would scientists go about encouraging interest in their field and educating the public about science? Members of the Louisville chapter of the Society for Neuroscience found more than 30 ways to accomplish that goal, developing interactive exhibits at the Kentucky Science Center, speaking about scientific topics at public events and organizing seminars to encourage K-12 students’ interest in science and more.

For their work, the Louisville group was named the 2017 chapter of the year by the National Society for Neuroscience (SfN) earlier this month at the organization’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

The Society for Neuroscience is an organization of nearly 38,000 basic scientists and clinicians in more than 90 countries who study the brain and nervous system. The Louisville SfN chapter includes nearly 300 members, about 280 of whom are faculty, staff and students at the University of Louisville. Members also represent Bellarmine University, Morehead State University and Northern Kentucky University.

The SfN presents its Chapter-of-the-Year Award in recognition of a chapter’s accomplishments in outreach to the public, providing neuroscience resources for K-12 education and advocacy for issues related to research and science.

The Louisville chapter organized or participated in more than 30 events between June 2016 and July 2017 related to this mission. Members hosted 25 minority high school students interested in health professions for a tour at UofL, held a seminar to encourage middle school girls’ interest in STEM-related careers, developed “Brain Days:  An Interactive Neuroscience Experience” at the Kentucky Science Center, and helped organize the local March for Science in Louisville. The club estimates that through these and other events, 171 volunteers helped educate more than 5,000 people about the field of neuroscience.

In addition to the chapter award, the group’s outgoing president, Kristofer K. Rau, Ph.D., earned the organization’s Next Generation Award for junior faculty for his efforts to share neuroscience with the public throughcommunication, education and outreach activities. Rau, a senior research associate in the UofL Department of Anesthesiology, spearheaded community outreach efforts for SfN’s Louisville chapter designed to increase science education and literacy focused on nervous system function and careers in neuroscience research. Rau helped to establish adult education programs, initiated neuroscience awards at regional science fairs, and prepared materials and mobilized volunteers for a walk to end multiple sclerosis.

The Louisville SfN chapter will receive $3,000 for the two awards.


November 30, 2017

UofL Dept of Neurology hosts 8th Annual Advances in Neurology May 21 at Churchill Downs

Update in Movement Disorders and Multiple Sclerosis course provides CME for physicians, nurses and allied health practitioners
UofL Dept of Neurology hosts 8th Annual Advances in Neurology May 21 at Churchill Downs


The University of Louisville Department of Neurology will host the 8th annual Advances in Neurology course in conjunction with the annual spring meeting of the Commonwealth Neurological Society. This year’s focus will be on Movement Disorders and Multiple Sclerosis, two of the more challenging therapeutic areas in neurology. The conference will present the latest update in the evaluation and management of multiple sclerosis, including the newer options in disease-modifying therapy. Neuroophthalmologic evaluation of the patient with movement disorders or multiple sclerosis will be discussed. The latest available treatment options, both medical and surgical, for the patient with movement disorders will be discussed.

Visiting faculty include David Charles, M.D., professor of neurology in the Division of Movement Disorders at Vanderbilt University and Aaron Miller, M.D., professor of neurology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and medical director of The Corinne Goldsmith Dickinson Center for Multiple Sclerosis.

The event begins at 7:00 a.m., May 21, 2016, in the Derby and Oaks rooms at Churchill Downs, 700 Central Avenue. Program concludes at 2:30 p.m.

The seminar is free for UofL faculty, staff, residents and students, UofL Physicians nurses, and members of the Commonwealth Neurological Society.  Cost is $40 for all others. For a copy of the full agenda, CME credit information and a registration link, go to:

‘Why be nice?’

Next UofL Beer with a Scientist program looks at evolution of goodness
‘Why be nice?’

Lee Dugatkin, Ph.D.

In a world where the concept of survival of the fittest rules and swimming with the sharks is touted as the way to success, humans and animals alike still perform what only can be described as great acts of kindness and altruism.

The evolutionary aspects of selflessness and doing for others will be explored in the next Beer with a Scientist program, “The evolution of goodness and justice: Why does it pay to be nice?” on Wednesday, Jan. 14, beginning at 8 p.m. at Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St.

Speaking will be University of Louisville Distinguished Scholar and Professor of Biology Lee Dugatkin, Ph.D. A behavioral ecologist, evolutionary biologist and science historian, Dugatkin’s research focuses on the evolution of cooperation, the evolution of aggression and the interaction between genetic and cultural evolution. Dugatkin has authored more than 150 scientific papers and published seven books.

The question about why humans and animals perform acts of goodness has plagued scientists for generations, most notably Charles Darwin in the 1850s as he developed his theory of evolution through natural selection.

“Indeed, Darwin worried that the goodness he observed in nature could be the Achilles’ heel of his theory,” Dugatkin said. “Ever since then, scientists and other thinkers have engaged in a fierce debate about the origins of goodness that has dragged politics, philosophy and religion into what remains a major question for evolutionary biology.”

The Beer with a Scientist program began in 2014 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.”

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.


Postel named permanent CEO of UofL Physicians, vice dean of clinical affairs at UofL School of Medicine

Postel named permanent CEO of UofL Physicians, vice dean of clinical affairs at UofL School of Medicine

Gregory Postel, M.D.

Gregory Postel, M.D., who had been serving as interim CEO of University of Louisville Physicians, has been named permanent CEO of the organization.

Postel was chosen to lead the organization long term by its board.

“I’ve been involved with UofL Physicians since long before it formally existed,” Postel said. “I’ve been at the UofL School of Medicine for 20 years, and I care a lot about the school and the clinical practices. It’s exciting to see how far we’ve come, and what is on the horizon. I’m honored my colleagues have placed their trust in me to lead this effort.”

Along with his appointment as CEO, Postel was named vice dean of clinical affairs at the UofL School of Medicine, a decision approved by the University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees. In that position, Postel is responsible for the clinical faculty at the school.

All UofL faculty perform their clinical duties through UofL Physicians. Research and teaching are conducted through the school, and the chairs of the school’s clinical departments serve on the UofL Physicians board, which manages the clinical practice mission of the faculty. The vice dean of clinical affairs position had remained vacant as UofL Physicians developed.

“With Greg in both positions, it will provide continuity as we see more and more crossover between the school and the clinical practices,” said Toni Ganzel, M.D., dean of the UofL School of Medicine. “He is exceptionally skilled and talented and the right person to lead us in this new era.  He has been instrumental in integrating the practice groups into this new company and in helping to promote a more cohesive strategy and culture.”

Most medical schools have brought their faculty under a single organization for clinical purposes. UofL Physicians was created in 2011, bringing 26 practices affiliated with physicians from the school, which had operated as independent health care companies, into a single entity.

Today, UofL Physicians has about 600 physicians and 1,200 employees. The closer coordination, Postel said, is important amid health care reform.

Postel, who also serves as chairman of the board for UofL Physicians, had served as interim CEO since the departure of the organization’s first CEO, Mike Bukosky, in November 2013. When Postel was named permanent CEO, the UofL Physicians board voted to combine the position of CEO and board chairman.

Postel also leads the radiology practice at UofL Physicians and is chair of the Department of Radiology at the UofL School of Medicine.

“Dr. Postel brings considerable experience and skill to these new roles,” said Gerard Rabalais, M.D., a member of the board’s executive committee who also leads the pediatrics practices for UofL Physicians and is chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the school. “With his experience in integrating the practices for UofL Physicians, he is uniquely poised to lead this new organization forward as its first physician CEO. Having worked closely with him for four years through this process, I have the utmost confidence in Greg’s ability.”

Postel said UofL Physicians has grown and changed since it developed, shifting from a holding company “bringing many businesses together into one new business” to an operating company.

“We realized there was an opportunity, and as we transformed into an operating company, we needed a larger infrastructure. This will give us the scalability to grow and expand as opportunities arise.”

UofL physiologist wins early career award

Cynthia Miller, Ph.D., assistant professor of physiology in the University of Louisville School of Medicine, recently was awarded the Outstanding Early Career in Post-Secondary Education Superlative at the Centennial Meeting of the Kentucky Academy of Science. She is one of four people to receive this award recognizing her accomplishments in teaching and research as well as service to the university and the community.

Miller also is the course director for physiology in the Prematriculation Program at both the UofL School of Medicine and the School of Dentistry.

Her work with innovative educational programs in and out of the classroom has led to significant increases in the learning and retention of students within the UofL dental program. The lectures and modules she has created through this research have been implanted into the dental physiology curriculum and have increased performance on unit exams.

In the Louisville community, Miller participates in several service activities, including the Louisville Regional Science Fair and Research!Louisville. She also received the Research Recognition Award from the American Physiological Society earlier in 2014.

Miller earned her doctorate degree from UofL in 2008 and joined the faculty in 2011. She focuses her research on how technology and active learning in the classroom impact student performance and motivation.