New Optimal Aging Lecture Series kicks off Sept. 9

Event launches Optimal Aging Month by UofL Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging
New Optimal Aging Lecture Series kicks off Sept. 9

Robert Friedland, M.D.

The Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging at the University of Louisville has established September as “Optimal Aging Month” with several events planned. The month’s activities kick off Sept. 9 with the Optimal Aging Lecture Series designed to explore the science of aging.

Robert Friedland, M.D., professor of neurology, will present “Gene Therapy, Diet and the Biology of Neurodegeneration” at 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 9, at The University Club, 200 E. Brandeis Ave.

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

Holder of the Mason C. and Mary D. Rudd Endowed Chair in Neurology, Friedland is a clinical and research neurologist devoted to the study of brain disorders associated with aging. His work has focused on clinical and biological issues in Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.

Friedland has authored or co-authored more than 200 scientific publications and has current research funding from the National Institute on Aging as well as several foundations, institutes, corporations and families. He has had more than $1 million in research funding to support his work every year since 1985.

On August 29, 'Do Good, Be Bad'

Scoppechio kicks off million-dollar campaign to 'Splat Out Cancer'
On August 29, 'Do Good, Be Bad'

The countdown to “Splat Out Cancer” has officially begun. After months of preparation, the large-scale fundraising event dedicated to raising $1 million for the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center (JGBCC) is set to kickoff Aug. 29 on the corner of Sixth and Market streets in downtown Louisville.

With the goal of 1,000-plus balloons being launched from catapults in one day, the “Splat Out Cancer” team is preparing to use over 50 gallons of Benjamin Moore’s Aura® Exterior paint to create one of the largest community-generated works of art in Louisville history.

“You get to do good and be bad,” said Jerry Preyss, CEO of Scoppechio, the Louisville-based ad agency that created and is overseeing the execution of Splat Out Cancer. “For $25 bucks you get to launch a balloon filled with paint and see it splat against a giant wall. And nobody gets arrested. Now how much fun is that?”

Currently the JGBCC has over 165 cancer trials in process, and nearly a third of those are new, groundbreaking treatments developed by JGBCC researchers.

“We rely heavily on philanthropic dollars to move many of our most promising drugs and therapies into human clinical trials,” said JGBCC Director Donald Miller, M.D., Ph.D. “The money from this event will be used exclusively to accelerate research projects to the clinical trials. One million dollars can help transfer multiple projects out of the lab into a Phase 1 clinical stage trial.”

“We have a sense of urgency at UofL,” said UofL President James R. Ramsey. “We need to take translational research to the clinic to improve the quality of life for people with cancer. The support for Splat Out Cancer will enable us to take the research to the clinic and move forward. We are proud to be part of this initiative and the work being done at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center.”

“Every dollar donated by sponsors, groups and participants goes directly to reaching the goal of $1 million. And besides the activities on the 29th, there will be other components to this program to raise the $1 million,” Preyss added.

Event sponsors include Benjamin Moore Paints, the Yum! Brands Foundation, KFC, Interapt, Outfront Media, KentuckyOne Health, Humana, LG&E-KU, Onco360, Old National Bank, NPC Internatonal and Babs and Lee Robinson.

“We are so thankful for the generous involvement and donations from our sponsors and, particularly, Benjamin Moore,” said Scoppechio Founder and Executive Chairman and UofL Board of Trustees Member Debbie Scoppechio. “As a four-time cancer survivor, this initiative hits home for me. In fact, I believe one of the reasons I’m alive today is because of the work being done at the JGBCC.”

With nine Benjamin Moore retail locations in the Louisville area, the paint maker is playing a critical role in Splat Out Cancer with its expertise, donated paint and coordinated fundraising efforts in all Benjamin Moore area stores.

The festivities begin at 11 a.m. at Sixth and Main with inaugural splats by local figures, James Graham Brown Cancer Center doctors and cancer survivors. Decked out in a lab coat and goggles, groups and individuals will be able to splat throughout the day from one of three giant balloon launchers that will target a framed canvas on the wall of 539 W. Market St. Other activities include a kid’s area splat wall, photo wall, food trucks and booths with information and fun giveaways. Local celebrities, mascots and Louisville sports teams representatives also will be in attendance.

The film production company 180 Degrees Film will shoot throughout the day for an upcoming documentary about Splat Out Cancer. The company's “Cancer Confessions” booth also will allow people the opportunity to share their personal cancer story.

Individuals and groups who preregister with donations on also will receive a commemorative t-shirt.

“The Louisville community is extraordinary in the way it supports the great sports teams at the University. At the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, they are doing championship work in the field of cancer research. It’s important to support them too and bring visibility to what they are doing to beat cancer. We are looking forward to seeing a lot of people on the 29th,” Preyss said.


Visit to sign up, donate, sponsor or learn more about this event.
Also follow Splat Out Cancer on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @SplatOutCancer and #SplatOutCancer

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 website,
About Benjamin Moore
Founded in 1883, Benjamin Moore is North America’s favorite paint, color and coatings brand. A leading manufacturer of premium quality residential and commercial coatings, Benjamin Moore maintains a relentless commitment to innovation and sustainable manufacturing practices. The
portfolio spans the brand’s flagship paint lines including Aura®Regal® Selectben® as well as the most environmentally friendly premium paint in the marketplace today, Natura®. Benjamin Moore is renowned for its expansive color portfolio, offering consumers and designers more than 3,500 colors. Benjamin Moore paints are available exclusively from its more than 5,000 locally owned and operated paint and decorating retailers.
About Scoppechio
Scoppechio (previously known as Creative Alliance) is an independent, full-service advertising agency located in the heart of the Louisville business district. With over 165 employees, it serves a broad portfolio of clients in the restaurant, healthcare and B2C verticals. Founded in 1987 and now the largest agency in Kentucky, Scoppechio provides a broad range of strategic communications services that includes broadcast, digital, print, multicultural and experiential marketing programs. Clients include restaurant brands from Yum! Brands, Inc., and Darden, to a broad range of clients that include GE, LG&E, CHS (Community Health Systems), Thorntons and Kentucky Travel & Tourism. To learn more, visit


Spinal cord injury patient's foundation sponsors Crawford's Kid for therapy visit

Becomes first child to use new tools designed especially for children
Spinal cord injury patient's foundation sponsors Crawford's Kid for therapy visit

Evander Conroy is the first to use a treadmill specially designed for pediatric Locomotor Training

Four-year-old Evander Conroy is visiting Louisville this summer from his home in Sydney, Australia to continue therapy designed to help him gain the ability to walk. Evander is receiving Locomotor Training (LT) with University of Louisville researcher Andrea Behrman, Ph.D., director of the Kosair Charities Center for Pediatric NeuroRecovery, a clinical services division of UofL’s Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center (KSCIRC).

To make this trip to Louisville even more special, Evander will be the first child to utilize a newly developed locomotor treadmill designed specifically for children. Previously, Behrman and her team had to adapt adult devices to fit Evander and other children who come from around the world for the therapy.

Helping make the visit possible is the Crawford's Kid program, created by the Todd Crawford Foundation to Cure Paralysis, which provides funds to help cover the family’s expenses related to the trip to Louisville. Evander, the second “Crawford's Kid,” will spend five weeks in Louisville receiving booster LT therapy and participating in research to better understand the muscle activity contributing to his progress for sitting, standing and stepping.

Evander’s spine was damaged by a malignant tumor present in his chest cavity at birth, and his family was told he would spend his life in a wheelchair. However, his mother, Clare, met Behrman at a spinal cord injury conference in Australia and learned about LT, an activity-based rehabilitation approach Behrman provides at Frazier Rehab Institute, a part of KentuckyOne Health, in Louisville. Evander previously came to Louisville for therapy with Behrman in 2013 and again in 2014, and has experienced significant progress. Through the therapy, Evander has been able to move his legs and take independent steps.

The Todd Crawford Foundation grew out of efforts to assist Crawford following his own injury in 2002. Crawford was 22 years old and had just graduated from college when he suffered a spinal cord injury that left him in a wheelchair. His family and friends organized fundraisers to help during his physical rehabilitation. Crawford, who earned an MBA from UofL, is president of Crawford Designs and continues the fundraising events, including the 5K Run, Walk or Roll. Funds from the events support Crawford’s Kids and other programs affiliated with KSCIRC, as well as spinal cord awareness and advocacy organizations.

“We are able to help financially assist these kids coming to Louisville because we have a large group of wonderful people who come to our events and support our mission. For this, we are continually grateful,” Crawford said.

The new treadmill is the result of a collaborative effort of Behrman and her colleagues in the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center and others throughout the university, especially from the UofL Speed School of Engineering. Funding for the development of the prototype came from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. Additional funding from the Coulter Foundation will be used in this collaborative effort throughout the university to move this device forward to commercialization as a clinical unit for use in pediatric rehabilitation.

About Locomotor Training

Andrea Behrman, Ph.D.,is a professor in UofL’s Department of Neurological Surgery and director of the Kosair Charities Center for Pediatric NeuroRecovery. Her research focus is to develop and test therapeutic methods that promote recovery after spinal cord injury in children and adults. Behrman has found that early, intensive therapy harnesses the damaged system’s remarkable capacity to change. With intensive, specific therapies capitalizing on this plasticity of the spinal cord and nervous system, children like Evander Conroy who were never expected to get better are getting better. While intensive activity-based therapy does not always lead to fully independent walking, evidence shows it improves mobility, functional skills, quality of life and overall health.

UofL researcher to study methods to restore depth perception thanks to Disney award from RPB

UofL researcher to study methods to restore depth perception thanks to Disney award from RPB

Aaron McGee, Ph.D.

Aaron W. McGee, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, has received the Disney Award for Amblyopia Research in the amount of $100,000 from Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB). McGee will use the award to investigate approaches for improving recovery from amblyopia, or “lazy eye.”

Established in 2002, the RPB Walt and Lilly Disney Award for Amblyopia Research is intended to stimulate, strengthen and promote research to improve the diagnosis and treatment of amblyopia. The grant is offered to exceptional ophthalmic scientists – M.D.s or Ph.D.s – with research pursuits of potential significance and promise. McGee is one of two scientists to receive the award in 2016.

“Dr. McGee’s funding from RPB addresses a major cause of blindness in children – namely, amblyopia. The potential to reverse ‘lazy eye’ through medical therapy would be a major advance in curing childhood visual disabilities and improve the quality of life for those affected. His research is exciting and has major potential translational clinical impact,” said Henry Kaplan, M.D., chair of the UofL Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.

Amblyopia occurs in 2-3 percent of children and presents with a number of impairments in spatial vision including stereopsis, or depth perception. Permanent visual deficits may result if amblyopia is not treated during a ‘critical period’ for development of the visual system that ends in early adolescence. The funded research builds on McGee’s previous work investigating how the timing and duration of critical periods in the visual system are determined. McGee will test methods for reversing the loss of depth perception resulting from amblyopia by ‘re-opening’ the critical period in adulthood to enhance the flexibility, or ‘plasticity,’ of brain circuitry.

“Previously, we discovered that a gene encoding a neuronal receptor is essential for closing the critical period for visual plasticity,” McGee said. “This award from RPB will enable my lab to explore whether neutralizing this receptor will improve depth perception in the murine model of amblyopia.”

McGee moved from the University of Southern California to join the UofL Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Department of Anatomical Sciences and Neurobiology in September 2016. The goals of his research program are to identify treatments for low vision and aberrant eye dominance by understanding critical periods for neural plasticity and how experience drives changes in brain function.

The Disney Award for Amblyopia Research is a two-year award to help the awardee pursue promising scientific leads and take opportunities for which other funds are not readily available. RPB is the world’s leading voluntary organization supporting eye research. Since it was founded in 1960, RPB has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to support research into blinding eye diseases by medical institutions throughout the United States. For information on RPB, RPB-funded research, eye disorders and the RPB Grants Program, go to


November 14, 2016

UofL pediatrician elected chair of national committee

UofL pediatrician elected chair of national committee

Charles Woods Jr., M.D.

Charles R. Woods Jr., M.D., has been elected the incoming chair of the Executive Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) Section on Epidemiology, Public Health and Evidence (SOEPHE). His one-year term begins Nov. 1.

The AAP is a professional membership organization of 64,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical sub-specialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

The SOEPHE supports development high quality practice guidelines for children’s health care and fosters informed use of data to improve the health of children.  It is composed of AAP members who practice or have interests in the fields of public health and epidemiology.

Woods is board certified in pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases. He is Associate Chair of the UofL Department of Pediatrics and director of the department’s Child & Adolescent Health Research Design & Support Unit. He has been at UofL since 2006.

In addition to the AAP, his professional affiliations include the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, Infectious Diseases Society of America, Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and HIV Medicine Association. He also has been elected to membership in the American Pediatric Society and Society for Pediatric Research.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Samford University and his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine. He completed a pediatric residency followed by a pediatric infectious diseases fellowship at Texas Children’s Hospital. He later earned a master’s degree in epidemiology from Wake Forest University.

Woods practices with University of Louisville Physicians-Pediatric Infectious Diseases.



Community health screenings available Friday at Omni Medical Center

Community health screenings available Friday at Omni Medical Center

The Horses and Hope Screening Van will provide a variety of health screenings Friday, Nov. 18, at Omni Medical Center, 2746 Virginia Ave.

The Kentucky Cancer Program at the University of Louisville has brought together several groups to provide free and low-cost medical screenings to the community Friday, Nov. 18, at the Omni Medical Center practice of Eugene Giles Sr., M.D., 2746 Virginia Ave.
Kentucky African Americans Against Cancer, Horses and Hope, James Graham Brown Cancer Center, KentuckyOne Health and Partnership in Cancer Control have joined with the Kentucky Cancer Program to sponsor the screenings. The program is funded by the WellCare Community Foundation. The screenings will be provided by the Horses and Hope Cancer Screening Van.
The following will be provided from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.:
Mammograms for breast cancer screening
  • For women age 40 and over
  • No cost to women without insurance
  • Advance appointments required by calling 502-776-1177
Colon cancer screenings
  • Take-home stool test (FIT Kits)
  • For all men and women age 50 and over
  • For African-American men and women age 45 and over
  • No appointment needed

Blood pressure checks, health insurance information and free gifts

For additional information, contact Janikaa Sherrod, Kentucky Cancer Program, 502-852-6318,


UofL research shows severe heart failure patients recover function with drug therapy and LVAD

Emma J. Birks, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., presented preliminary study findings at AHA Scientific Sessions
UofL research shows severe heart failure patients recover function with drug therapy and LVAD

Emma J. Birks, M.B.B.S., Ph.D.

For patients with severe heart failure, a heart transplant or permanent artificial heart assist device have been considered the only permanent therapy as severe heart failure was not known to be reversible. However, a new study, led by Emma J. Birks, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., professor at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, is showing that an artificial heart assist device along with medications may actually help heal the heart, avoiding the need for a heart transplant and allowing for the removal of the device.

Birks presented preliminary results of the study at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions this weekend in New Orleans, showing more than 40 percent of advanced heart failure patients treated with a combination of an artificial heart assist device, called a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), and intensive drug therapy have recovered their heart function enough to allow removal of the LVAD device.

The multicenter trial called RESTAGE, includes 40 patients at six different centers (including Jewish Hospital, a part of KentuckyOne Health) with very advanced or end stage heart failure implanted with an LVAD (HeartMate II) pump, 36 of whom were considered evaluable, and prescribed an aggressive combination of drugs (Lisinopril 40 mg, spironolactone 25 mg, digoxin 125 mic, losartan 150 mg daily and coreg 25 mg bid). All of the patients were so disabled from heart failure that the initial intent with the LVAD was to use it until they could receive a heart transplant or to leave the device in for the rest of their lives.

“This suggests that even very advanced heart failure can be reversed using these heart pumps, particularly when combined with additional drug therapy, avoiding the need for heart transplantation for these patients and making the donor heart available for another needy individual,” Birks said.

Researchers tested the 36 patients’ heart function to determine if their heart function had improved enough from the therapy to have the pumps removed, or if their heart function remained poor and needed a heart transplant or to remain on the pump. Sixteen patients receiving the combination therapy had recovered enough heart function (after an average of 330 days) to have the pump removed.

“The fact that this could be done in several centers suggests that using the device with this drug combination to reverse heart failure is possible on a larger scale. It has previously been thought that these devices rarely recover heart function enough to allow them to be removed, but this study suggests that this can occur in a much bigger number than originally thought, particularly if combined with drug therapy,” Birks said.

“The next step, we hope, is for more centers to start doing this and then to see if we can potentially add other drugs to further optimize recovery and create a good platform to recover heart function.”

Medical students pound the pavement for pediatric patients

Runners presented Derby Festival Marathon and miniMarathon medals to young buddies
Medical students pound the pavement for pediatric patients

UofL Medical Student David Duncan, left, ran for Sebastian Edelen, center

For the past seven years, University of Louisville medical students have run in the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon or Marathon in honor of patients with cancer and blood disorders in the university’s pediatric hematology/oncology division. This year’s runners presented their race medals to their young buddies in a special ceremony following the races on April 25 in the lobby of the Kosair Charities Clinical & Translational Research Building.

“It’s an opportunity to share yourself and your time. In doing so, you create a bond with a patient and gain a better understanding of what they go through,” said McKenzie Vater, a third-year medical student who has participated in the event for the past three years. “I train with them in mind to get through 13.1 miles of road knowing they are running a much more difficult race of their own.”

Medals4Mettle (M4M) distributes race medals earned by distance athletes to critically ill patients across the nation who are running a race of a different kind – a race for their lives. The UofL School of Medicine program is unique in that the students have the opportunity to meet with their buddies prior to the race and personally present their medals to them after running. The students often run for the same patient year after year, developing a special relationship between the students and the patients and their families.

Evan Hendricks was one of 71 UofL medical students matched with young patients for this year’s race. He ran for a little girl named Katie.

“We met three or four times and it was something I would look forward to and I hoped she would, too,” Hendricks said at the presentation ceremony. “I hope to give her some comfort and let her know that even people who don’t know you want you to do well.”

“I think this is important because it supports many of the children that are diagnosed with cancer,” said Chase Weaver, a young buddy who spoke at the presentation. “Instead of sitting in a hospital bed, they should be out playing. They should have the opportunity to get out and have fun instead of sitting in a hospital bed with IVs stuck in their arms and fingers.”

Gerard Rabalais, M.D., M.H.A., chair of the department of pediatrics at UofL, thanked the parents of the children for allowing them to participate with the medical students.

“There is far more to becoming a physician than learning from a book, studying and looking in a microscope. This is a chance for the students to see illness through a patient’s and family’s eyes. The availability of your children to partner with them, for them to get to know you and your family and to know that child, is such a special thing.”



About Medals4Mettle

Medals4Mettle is an international public charity that arranges for medals donated by athletes completing distance events to be awarded to children and adults who are battling illness in hospitals around the world. Medals4Mettle has over 70 international chapters and has awarded over 40,000 medals since 2005.

Age-Friendly Louisville asks community members to give input for more age-inclusive city

Age-Friendly Louisville asks community members to give input for more age-inclusive city

Older adults involved in a discussion.

Creating solutions for affordable, safe housing as Louisvillians age, along with discussion on improving transportation are elements of conversations at workshops taking place throughout the city this spring.

As a part of Age-Friendly Louisville, the University of Louisville’s Institute for Sustainable Health and Optimal Aging joins AARP, the City of Louisville and the Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency to host workshops on what makes the community a better place for people to live, work and play at every stage of life. The events will include small group discussions on housing, mobility, respect and social inclusion, and community support and health services.

Workshop dates are March 7, 14, 21, 28, and April 4, 7, 17 and 24. More information, including times and locations, is available online

Information received from these conversations will help guide an action plan to drive the implementation of age-friendly practices. In October 2016, the City of Louisville became a member of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, an institutional affiliate of the WHO’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities & Communities®.

KIPDA and UofL’s Institute for Sustainable Health and Optimal Aging also are teaming up to host World Café events this month in Jefferson, Bullitt, Shelby and Trimble counties. These events include discussion about the results of the most recent regional needs assessment and how to work together to ensure support for the area’s aging population. More information is available online

Hillview supports the James Graham Brown Cancer Center

Hillview supports the James Graham Brown Cancer Center

Richard Luce Jr. of Hillview presented a check for $1,800 to Dr. Donald Miller, director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville, at the Hillview City Council meeting held June 20. The donation resulted from the proceeds of the Hillview Cancer Awareness Show, organized by Luce and featuring a model train show, a car, truck and model car show and an arts and crafts show, held May 21 at the Hillview Community Center. Luce organized the event in memory of his father, Richard Luce Sr., a model train enthusiast who died from cancer in 2013. “Since my father’s passing, I have striven to improve cancer awareness,” Luce said. “I am motivated to honor the memory of my father and to hopefully prevent others from enduring the pain of losing a loved one to cancer.” Plans are already underway for the 2017 show, he said. Photos from the check presentation can be viewed here.

Two UofL researchers named Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors

Two researchers at the University of Louisville have been named Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). The announcement was made Dec. 16, 2014.

Suzanne T. Ildstad, M.D., director of UofL’s Institute for Cellular Therapeutics, and Kevin M. Walsh, Ph.D., director of the Micro/Nano Technology Center, were among 170 new Fellows named. They will be inducted by Deputy U.S. Commissioner for Patent Operations Andy Faile of the United States Patent and Trademark Office during the 4th Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors on March 20, 2015, at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

“As a premier metropolitan research university, UofL strives to develop ideas into discoveries, then to translate these into forms that benefit all,” said UofL Executive Vice President for Research and Innovation William M. Pierce Jr., Ph.D. “Drs. Ildstad and Walsh are two of our many brilliant and dedicated scholars who do this every day. We are very proud of them and their achievements.”

Those named today bring the total number of NAI Fellows to 414, representing more than 150 prestigious research universities and governmental and non-profit research institutions.

Included among the NAI Fellows are 208 members of the other National Academies, 21 inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, 16 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation, 10 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Science, 21 Nobel Laureates, 11 Lemelson-MIT prize recipients, 107 American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellows, and 62 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Fellows, among other awards and distinctions.

To qualify for election, NAI Fellows must be academic inventors named on U.S. patents and nominated by their peers for outstanding contributions to innovation in areas such as patents and licensing, innovative discovery and technology, significant impact on society and support and enhancement of innovation.

About Suzanne Ildstad:

Ildstad is the Jewish Hospital Distinguished Chair in Transplantation and professor in the Department of Surgery in the UofL School of Medicine. She also holds associate appointments in the school’s Department of Physiology and Biophysics and Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

Ildstad has 20 patents related to her research and is the founding scientist of Regenerex LLC, a biotechnology company. Her research is being translated into the clinical arena with FDA approval to enroll patients in six different research protocols to treat autoimmune disease (multiple sclerosis) and red blood cell disorders (sickle cell anemia and thalassemia), inherited metabolic disorders and to induce tolerance to organ transplants (kidney).

In 2013, Ildstad, representing Regenerex, entered into collaboration with a multinational pharmaceutical company to provide access to stem cell technology she pioneered that has the potential to help transplant patients avoid taking anti-rejection medicine for life. The technology, known as Facilitating Cell Therapy, in early research enabled five of eight kidney transplant patients to stop taking about a dozen anti-rejection pills a day to suppress their immune systems. It was the first study of its kind where the donor and recipient did not have to be biologically related and immunologically matched.

Ildstad graduated from Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota, trained in Harvard Medical School’s general surgery program at Massachusetts General Hospital and was a staff fellow with the National Institutes of Health.  She was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 1997 in recognition of her contributions to cell therapies.

About Kevin Walsh:

Walsh is a professor and holder of the Samuel T. Fife Endowed Chair in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the J.B. Speed School of Engineering. He also is founding director of the Micro/Nano Technology Center (MNTC), home of the nationally-ranked, class 100, $30 million 10,000-square-foot cleanroom in which dust particles are totally eliminated so one can successfully design and prototype ultra-miniature devices and systems for a variety of  fields including  microelectronics, healthcare, consumer products and defense.

Walsh has 12 awarded patents and is co-founder of four technical start-up companies – Assenti, Intellirod Spine, UltraTrace Detection and Simon Sounds.  He has published over 150 technical papers in the areas of micro/nanotechnology and micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) and his research group has won over $35 million in external research funding from the National Science foundation, NASA, National Institutes of Health and others. He has twice been presented with the school’s top Research Award for the 3-year periods of 1998-2000 and 2007-2009.

Under his leadership, the MNTC has brought in over $55 million of research awards into UofL. In 2008, Walsh and his team started the "KY nanoNET Initiative" a statewide network funded by the National Science Foundation for the coordination of micro and nanotechnology efforts in the Commonwealth.

Walsh earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from UofL and a Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering (microelectronics/MEMS) from the University of Cincinnati.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be one of the first researchers at the University of Louisville to be inducted into the National Academy of Inventors,” said Walsh. “It’s been very exciting these past 25 years building nationally competitive micro/nano capabilities at UofL and working with extremely talented faculty, engineers and students applying this futuristic technology to a  variety of challenging problems.”

UofL neurosurgeon leads clinical trial to test therapy for brain hemorrhage

Robert F. James, M.D., leading national phase II trial investigating low-dose heparin treatment following ruptured brain aneurysm
UofL neurosurgeon leads clinical trial to test therapy for brain hemorrhage

Robert F. James, M.D.

A Louisville patient is the first to be enrolled in a national clinical trial to test a new treatment for patients who have suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm. The trial, based at the University of Louisville under principal investigator Robert F. James, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at UofL, will include eight other medical centers in the United States.

James, chief of neurosurgery at University of Louisville Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, and chief of the Division of Cerebrovascular and Endovascular Neurosurgery at UofL, is leading the ASTROH study, a phase II, randomized clinical trial to determine whether a continuous 14-day, low-dose intravenous infusion of heparin is safe and effective in patients with ruptured brain aneurysms.

“We believe this treatment may help prevent the long-term delayed neurological deficits (DNDs) and cognitive dysfunction that often afflict patients who survive the initial aneurysm rupture,” James said.

A brain aneurysm is a balloon-like bulge that forms when a segment of a blood vessel in the brain weakens and swells. If the aneurysm bursts, blood is leaked into the area between the brain and the thin tissues covering the brain known as the subarachnoid space. This condition is known as subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Patients who survive the initial hemorrhage are at high risk for delayed secondary brain injury, resulting in problems with localized neurological functions such as speech, vision, hearing or individual areas of the body, and long-term cognitive and psychosocial deficits. These problems are referred to as SAH-induced delayed neurological deficits (DNDs).

The ASTROH study will examine whether the use of intravenous heparin for 14 days following the repair of the ruptured aneurysm will control neuro-inflammation and improve clinical outcomes. Patients who enter University of Louisville Hospital or one of the other participating medical centers having experienced a ruptured brain aneurysm may be evaluated for participation in the trial.

ASTROH, which stands for “Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage Trial RandOmizing Heparin,” will involve up to 88 patients at the nine medical centers over a period of two years. James is working with co-investigators at the University of Maryland, Yale University and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The trial is funded by the UofL Department of Neurosurgery through the UofL Research Foundation, Penumbra, Inc., MicroVention, Inc., and the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.

Race in medicine and biomedical research discussed March 11

Race in medicine and biomedical research discussed March 11

John Chenault

John Chenault,associate professor and medical librarian, School of Medicine, and instructor, Department of Pan African Studies, at the University of Louisville will present “The Invention of Race and its Misuse in Medicine and Biomedical Research,” a lunchtime lecture exploring how the concept of race has been invented and misused in relation to medicine and medical research.

The event will be held from noon to 1 p.m., Wednesday, March 11, at the Health Sciences Auditorium in Kornhauser Library.

Scientific research provides substantial evidence that there is no genetic or biological basis for our social understanding of race. The use of race in biomedical research has, for decades, been a source of social controversy. However, recent events, such as the adoption of racially targeted pharmaceuticals, have raised the profile of the race issue. In addition, we are entering an era in which genomic research is increasingly focused on the nature and extent of human genetic variation, often examined by population, which leads to heightened potential for misunderstandings or misuse of terms concerning genetic variation and race.

Chenault will examine these issues in the context of how the concept of “race” was invented in 17th century colonial America and later emerged in the practice of medicine and the conduct of biomedical research in the centuries that followed.

He holds a master of library and information science degree from the University of Kentucky and a master of arts degree in Pan African Studies from the University of Louisville. He is currently enrolled in the doctoral program in Pan African Studies at UofL.


This program is sponsored by the UofL Health Science Center Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The office works to promote an environment of inclusiveness through the understanding and celebration of differences in perspectives, thoughts, experiences, belief systems and cultures of UofL students, faculty and staff.

Institute of Medicine president to speak at UofL Dec. 10

Leonard Leight Lecture focuses on regeneration of the heart
Institute of Medicine president to speak at UofL Dec. 10

Victor J. Dzau, M.D., president of the Institute of Medicine

The president of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies will present the 2014 Leonard Leight Lecture at the University of Louisville.

Victor J. Dzau, M.D., will speak at noon, Wednesday, Dec. 10, at Kornhauser Library Auditorium on the UofL Health Sciences Campus. Admission is free.

Dzau will discuss “Molecular Approaches to Cardiac Regeneration,” an area of research being explored at UofL. Roberto Bolli, M.D., director of UofL’s Institute of Molecular Cardiology, and his colleagues have successfully shown in 19 patients who previously suffered a heart attack that their stem cells, after processing, can be re-infused back into the damaged heart muscle and improve its function.

The Leonard Leight Lecture is presented annually by the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, also headed by Bolli, in the Department of Medicine at UofL’s School of Medicine. For 30 years until 1996, Leight was a practicing cardiologist in Louisville and played a major role in developing cardiology services and bringing innovative treatment modalities in heart disease to Louisville.

The Leonard Leight Lecture series was established in 1994 and is made possible by gifts from Dr. and Mrs. Kurt Ackermann and Medical Center Cardiologists to the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation.

About Victor Dzau

Dzau assumed the presidency of the Institute of Medicine July 1 after having served as chancellor for health affairs at Duke University, president and CEO for Duke University Health System, and the James B. Duke Professor, Duke University School of Medicine. He was elected to the IOM in 1988 and served on several leadership committees prior to being named president.

He has made a significant impact on medicine through his seminal research in cardiovascular medicine and genetics, his pioneering work in the discipline of vascular medicine, and recently his leadership in health care innovation.

His work on the renin angiotensin system (RAS) – a hormonal system that regulates blood pressure and fluid balance – paved the way for the contemporary understanding of RAS in cardiovascular disease and the development of RAS inhibitors as therapeutics.

Dzau also helped pioneer gene therapy for vascular disease. His most recent work provides novel insight into stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.

Next UofL Beer with a Scientist program examines Ebola on Nov. 12

Next UofL Beer with a Scientist program examines Ebola on Nov. 12

Against the Grain Brewery at 401 E. Main St. is host to monthly Beer with a Scientist events.

Separating the science from the sensational is the goal of the November Beer with a Scientist program, “Ebola! What is it, how is it treated and should we be worried?” on Wednesday, Nov. 12, beginning at 8 p.m. at Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St.

Speaking will be Jeremy Camp and Rachael Gerlach of University of Louisville Professor of Microbiology and Immunology Colleen Jonsson’s laboratory. The basic and translational research from this lab examines highly pathogenic RNA viruses – those capable of causing disease – including investigations of hantaviruses, influenza viruses, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus known as SARS-CoV and retroviruses.

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

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

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.

UofL Physicians recognized as a Partner in Care by National Multiple Sclerosis Society

University of Louisville Physicians has been recognized for its commitment to providing exceptional, coordinated care for people living with multiple sclerosis (MS). The National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Partners in MS Care program has designated UofL as a Partner in MS Care, Neurologic Care, for its commitment to MS care and a continuing partnership with the society to address the challenges of people affected by MS. UofL Physicians is the only Partner in MS Care in Louisville and western Kentucky.

“It takes a variety of medical and non-medical professionals to empower patients with multiple sclerosis and their families,” said David Robertson, M.D., who leads the UofL Physicians Multiple Sclerosis Center and is an assistant professor in the UofL Department of Neurology. “The MS Society has a variety of resources for patients that we cannot offer through the University of Louisville. In any situation when you find a person or an institution that does good work in a responsible way, it is worth developing a mutually beneficial relationship that ultimately benefits the patients.”

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and body. Symptoms vary from person to person and range from numbness and tingling to walking difficulties, fatigue, dizziness, pain, depression, blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with two to three times more women than men diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

“We are so proud to partner with the University of Louisville Physicians to enhance coordinated, comprehensive care for the people who live with MS in Louisville, Ky.,” said David Haddock of the National MS Society, Mid South. “In earning this recognition, the University of Louisville has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in MS care, making a tremendous impact on people affected by MS in our community.”

The society’s Partners in MS Care program recognizes committed providers whose practices support the Society’s initiative of affordable access to high quality MS health care for everyone living with MS – regardless of geography, disease progression and other disparities.

“We treat all of our patients differently because MS treats all of our patients differently,” said Jacinta Lockard, coordinator for the Neuroimmunology Clinic at the UofL Physicians MS Center. “We have access to many different resources for our patients, and the National MS society is a big part of that.”

The UofL Physicians MS Center includes experts who can address all of a patient’s needs, including medical care, physical/occupational/speech therapies, neuropsychology and social work. 

“We offer patients access to all 13 FDA-approved drugs to treat MS. The newer drugs often require the patient to come for an infusion and we have an excellent infusion center in our building,” Lockard said. “We treat patients from all over the state and southern Indiana and we try to make medication accessible to everyone a priority, no matter their location.”

About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society mobilizes people and resources so that everyone affected by multiple sclerosis can live their best lives as we stop MS in its tracks, restore what has been lost and end MS forever. Last year alone, through our comprehensive nationwide network of services, the society devoted more than $100 million to connect approximately one million people affected by MS to the connections, information and resources they need. To move closer to a world free of MS, the society also invested $42 million to support more than 380 new and ongoing research projects around the world.

Early and ongoing treatment with an FDA-approved therapy can make a difference for people with multiple sclerosis. Learn about your options by talking to your health care professional. For more information, visit or call 1-800-344-4867.

Research shows elite defenders have ‘steely focus’

UofL scientist reveals how football players excel at the mental game
Research shows elite defenders have ‘steely focus’

Brandon Ally, Ph.D.

The millions of viewers watching the Super Bowl on Feb. 4 will no doubt witness exceptional physical abilities of the athletes as they execute precise passes, acrobatic catches and lightning-fast runs. However, research at the University of Louisville into the neurocognitive abilities of these players is revealing specific skills that allow them to excel at the mental game as well.

Brandon Ally, Ph.D., and researchers at the UofL Center for Sports Cognition have demonstrated that elite college and professional football defensive players have a greater ability to show steely focus, shielding their actions against interfering information on the field. Ally, an assistant professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery, has looked at the speed with which elite defensive players read a play and close on offensive threats.

In research recently accepted in Frontiers in Psychology: Movement Science and Sport Psychology, Ally and his colleagues compared reaction times in NCAA football players with non-athletes. The athletes and non-athletes show similar reaction times to simple stimuli. In an experimental task requiring the subjects to respond in the same direction as a series of five arrows, again there was no difference between NCAA football players and non-athlete controls.

However, when the center arrow is pointed in the opposite direction of the four other arrows (which were all moving in the same direction), the NCAA football players respond to the direction of the center arrow much more quickly than the non-athletes. 

“This means that football players are more proficient at shielding motor response execution speed from the interfering effects of distraction than non-athletes,” Ally said. “On the field, this will translate to the ability to more quickly spot key movements amidst the visual chaos of the offense and respond with decisive action.”


Toxicology researchers help prep rural high school students for academic competition

Toxicology researchers help prep rural high school students for academic competition

John Pierce Wise, Sr., Ph.D., talks with Kentucky high school students

Researchers in the University of Louisville Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology spoke with Future Problem Solvers this week from two rural Kentucky high schools in hopes of prepping them for the district level academic competition.

Students from Adair County High School in Columbia, Ky. and Russel High School in Ashland, Ky. visited UofL’s Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology researchers. They toured labs and participated in a seminar on toxic materials - the topic for the district challenge of Future Problem Solving, a program of the Kentucky Association for Academic Competition that encourages critical thinking.

“Science unlocks the secrets of the universe and the keys to technology, including current ideas and those yet to be imagined,” said John Pierce Wise, Sr., Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and toxicology and University Scholar. “Engaging young people in science opens their hearts and minds to a whole new world of imagination, discovery and possibility, and starts them on a journey that will transform both their own lives and society as a whole." 

Tayler Croom-Perez, Ph.D., postdoctoral associate and Rachel Speer, M.S., doctoral candidate, explained the work of the Wise lab, which embraces a “One” environmental health philosophy.

“The concept considers how human health, animal health and ecosystem health are intertwined and interdependent, such that there is only “one” health,” Speer said.

Wise lab researchers study and compare human health with that of whales, alligators and sea turtles along with ecosystem changes. The goal, Speer says, is to better understand the impact on health, to discover novel adaptations in animals that may give insights into human health, and to use human health data in an effort to conserve wildlife and protect the ecosystem.

The toxicology investigators also study how environmental chemicals convert normal cells into tumor cells that cause cancer. In this work, scientists focus on structures inside cells called chromosomes, which contain the cell’s DNA. The researchers study how chemicals damage DNA and interfere with the ability of cells to repair that damage.

Nov. 30, 2017

UofL faculty and staff introduce at-risk youth to careers in health care

UofL faculty and staff introduce at-risk youth to careers in health care

1+1=U Summer Youth Enrichment Program

Twenty-six students from the Shawnee neighborhood who are participating in the 1+1=U Summer Youth Enrichment Program visited the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center Wednesday, July 20, to learn about sports medicine, healthy habits and steps to a career in health care.

Health-care professionals and faculty members from the School of Medicine and College of Education and Human Development talked with the students, from 12 to 17 years old, about the paths they took to careers as an athletic trainer, physical therapist, physician, teacher and exercise physiologist. In addition, they offered tips on recovering from sports injuries and healthy eating and activity. The visit was organized to introduce the students to opportunities for careers in health care.

1+1=U is a year-round mentoring program that targets students who have had academic and behavioral challenges in and out of the classroom. The program assists young men and women get in position to further their education beyond high school by boosting academic and personal achievement, sports achievement and parental and family involvement. The summer program is a two-week-long extension of that effort based at the Shawnee Arts and Cultural Community Center.

Brittney Richardson, M.D., a sports medicine fellow and board certified family physician at UofL and KentuckyOne Health, told the students about her journey to becoming a physician, a path she navigated despite the fact that no one in her family had been a health care professional.

“I want to show them that there are opportunities out there for them to succeed,” Richardson said. “I was connected along my way with the right people, but that doesn’t happen all the time. I can be that person for them to be connected with and I don’t think I have reached my goal until I have helped someone get to where I am.”

One of the students, Daihjae Tandy, said she was interested in the information about nutrition and concussions and definitely is planning to go to college. Although the high school junior is interested in art, she said she would consider a career in health care after hearing the presentation.

“I think it would be great. I even thought about it after hearing everything they do. It’s actually very wonderful for anybody,” Tandy said.

Margaret Dunbar-Demaree, founder and director of 1+1=U, began mentoring troubled students as a teacher at Central High School. Now retired from her teaching position, Demaree mentors and tutors students at the Shawnee Arts & Cultural Community Center and Bethel Baptist Church.

This is the third year the 1+1=U Summer Youth Enrichment Program students have visited the UofL HSC Campus. For more photos from the visit, click here.

Brittney Richardson M.D.

If you can’t quit, then switch

UofL researcher Brad Rodu, D.D.S., explains how smoke-free alternatives reduce the harm from smoking at Beer with a Scientist
If you can’t quit, then switch

Brad Rodu, D.D.S.

Cigarettes continue to make a killing in Kentucky. That’s because quitting is incredibly hard – even downright impossible – for many smokers.

Brad Rodu, D.D.S., professor at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, says smokers can reduce health consequences of smoking tobacco by switching to smoke-free alternatives, including dip and chew products, and e-cigarettes.

“These smoke-free tobacco products provide tobacco pleasure and satisfaction. More importantly, decades of research document that smoke-free tobacco is vastly safer than cigarettes,” Rodu said.

For more than 20 years, Rodu has worked to educate smokers and non-smokers on safer alternatives to smoking tobacco, authoring more than 60 tobacco research articles for medical and scientific journals. He has been in the forefront of policy development in this field, and in 2011, he launched Switch and Quit Owensboro, the first-ever community cessation program based on switching to smoke-free alternatives.

At the next Beer with a Scientist, Rodu will discuss, “Harm Reduction:  What You Don’t Know About Tobacco and Health.”

The talk begins at 8 p.m. onWednesday, June 20, at Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St. in Louisville. A 30-minute presentation will be followed by an informal Q&A session.

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.

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