News

Disaster Medicine Certificate Series hosts active shooter disaster drill Saturday, March 30

Bystanders should be aware of visual, sound effects and avoid area unless necessary.

The UofL School of Medicine Disaster Medicine Certificate Series will hold an Active Shooter Disaster Drill on the Health Sciences Center campus from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, March 30.

This will be a live-action (not tabletop) drill, complete with actors portraying both perpetrators and victims, and visual, sound and other effects to simulate reality.  The location will be the Instructional Building and the HSC Plaza, 500 S. Preston St. The second floor of Kornhauser Library will be open.

Due to the large-scale nature of this drill, bystanders may hear simulated gunshots or explosions, and see a large police presence on campus. Bystanders should not be alarmed, and should not call 911 as this is only a drill.

In order for this drill to be safe and effective, the number of people on campus must be minimized. If anyone does not have to be on the HSC campus on March 30, please avoid the area.

For additional information, contact Madison Kommor, madison.kommor@louisville.edu, or Jill Scoggins, jill.scoggins@louisville.edu. 

What do old bones tell us about the health of ancient humans? Beer with a Scientist March 13

What do old bones tell us about the health of ancient humans? Beer with a Scientist March 13

Fabian Crespo, Ph.D., at Stonehenge

A person’s immune system is affected by a large number of biological, social and environmental influences, many of which change throughout his or her lifetime. This makes it difficult to research certain aspects of immune health by studying living people.

At the next Beer with a Scientist, Fabian Crespo, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Louisville, will explain how bioarchaeologists are studying the skeletons of ancient humans to learn about health and disease.

“By studying different skeletal markers where inflammation is involved, bioarchaeologists can reconstruct immune competence in human skeletal samples. These osteoimmunological findings can help us understand the relationship between immune and bone cells,” Crespo said. “However, to better understand what these findings reveal about human health in the past requires discussion among immunologists, bioarchaeologists and historians.”

Crespo’s talk will begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13, at Holsopple Brewing, 8023 Catherine Lane, Louisville, 40222. A 30-minute presentation will be followed by an informal Q&A session.

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

Organizers encourage Beer with a Scientist patrons to drink responsibly.

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

Upcoming Beer with a Scientist dates:  April 17, May 15.



March 6, 2019

Toni Ganzel to participate in national deans' panel on medical education, live-streamed Sept. 8 at noon

Toni Ganzel to participate in national deans' panel on medical education, live-streamed Sept. 8 at noon

Toni Ganzel

Dean Toni Ganzel, M.D., M.B.A., will discuss the future of American medical education in the National Deans’ Panel On Thursday, Sept. 8 from noon to 1:30 p.m., hosted by the University of Florida College of Medicine. The event is part of its 60th anniversary celebration. Ganzel will be joined by fellow medical school deans Joseph Kerschner, M.D. of the Medical College of Wisconsin, E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A. of the University of Maryland and Michael Good, M.D., of the University of Florida to discuss contemporary issues in medical education, biomedical science and American health care.

Join the live stream of the event online at: http://bit.ly/DeansPanelUF

Submit questions to the panel during the event via Twitter using the hashtag #UFMed60.

Native son, Nobel laureate Phillip Sharp, Ph.D., to discuss genetics research at UofL May 25

Native son, Nobel laureate Phillip Sharp, Ph.D., to discuss genetics research at UofL May 25

Phillip Sharp, Ph.D.

A Kentucky native who won the Nobel Prize for research that advanced the understanding of gene structure, Phillip A. Sharp, Ph.D., will visit UofL on May 25. His presentation is titled, “40 years from split genes to convergence of life sciences with engineering and physical sciences.”

Sharp shared the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Richard Roberts, Ph.D., for 1977 research that revealed the first indications of “discontinuous genes” in mammalian cells. The discovery fundamentally changed scientists’ understanding of gene structure.

Sharp is an institute professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Department of Biology. His research centers on the molecular biology of gene expression relevant to cancer and the mechanisms of RNA splicing. The author of more than 400 publications, Sharp is a member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the Royal Society, United Kingdom. The Kentucky native earned his B.A. in chemistry and mathematics from Union College in Barbourville, Ky.

The lecture begins at noon, Thursday, May 25, at the Kosair Charities Clinical and Translational Research Building, room 101-102. The event, hosted by the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics of the UofL School of Medicine, is part of the Austin and Mary Frances Bloch Lecture Series, established in 1999 in honor of Austin Bloch and his wife, Mary Frances Bloch. Austin Bloch practiced medicine in Louisville for many years and served as an adjunct clinical instructor for the UofL School of Medicine. 

Sharp also will present a research seminar on Friday, May 26 in room 102 of the UofL School of Medicine instructional building on the topic, “Super-enhancer-associated microRNAs and phase transitions.”

Sharp is the second Nobel laureate to visit UofL this month. Peter Agre, M.D., spoke on Belknap Campus on May 8. Agre shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2003, with Roderick MacKinnon for his work in the discovery of water channels in cell membranes. 

Kosair Charities Clinical and Translational Research Building is located at 505 S. Hancock St., Louisville, Ky. 40202.

 

Photo © Peter Badge / Typos1 in coop. Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings—all rights reserved, 2016

May 17, 2017

Evolent Health expands partnership with Passport Health Plan to support Medicaid beneficiaries in Kentucky

Evolent Health expands partnership with Passport Health Plan to support Medicaid beneficiaries in Kentucky

Passport Health Plan andEvolent Health, a company providing an integrated value-based care platform to the nation's leading providers and payers, announced on May 29 that Evolent has entered into a definitive agreement to partner with the current sponsors of Passport in continuing to serve the Kentucky Medicaid market. The current sponsors, which include The University of Louisville, University of Louisville Physicians, University Medical Center, Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence, Norton Healthcare and the Louisville/Jefferson County Primary Care Association, have been seeking a partner to provide expanded management and operational support, as well as capital through joint ownership of the health plan, and haveselected Evolent as its long-term financial and operating partner.

Per the terms of the agreement, Evolent will acquire an ownership interest in Passport Health Plan and will expand the scope and term of its long-term Management Services Agreement with the health plan. Evolent will also provide interim balance sheet support if necessary to meet near-term regulatory capital requirements.

Passport health plan logoPassport has provided Medicaid managed care services in Kentucky since 1997 and currently serves more than 300,000 members statewide. The plan employs more than 600 Kentuckians, primarily at its headquarters in Louisville. Evolent has provided extensive services to Passport since 2016, when the organizations formed a relationship to launch the Medicaid Center of Excellence focused on improving health outcomes for Medicaid beneficiaries in Kentucky and in several states nationwide.

Passport will be jointly owned and operated through a partnership between Evolent, The University of Louisville, the University of Louisville Physicians, University Medical Center, Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence, Norton Healthcare and the Louisville/Jefferson County Primary Care Association. The plan will be governed by a newly formed board of directors upon closing with joint representation from the current owners and Evolent Health. Evolent intends to maintain all Kentucky operations under the Passport name and looks forward to building upon the plan’s excellent history of service in the Commonwealth.  

“We strongly believe in Passport’s mission and have been proud to partner with Passport’s leadership team to serve the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” said Evolent Health Chief Executive Officer Frank Williams. “We are honored by the vote of confidence the owners of Passport have given us to continue to build on an extraordinary legacy of delivering an excellent member experience to Kentucky’s Medicaid beneficiaries. We are confident that by leveraging our value-based care platform and the full scope of our clinical programs, as well as providing enhanced functional expertise, we can drive strong operational and financial performance. We look forward to collaborating with The University of Louisville and other Passport owners—as well as local and state regulatory agencies and other key stakeholders—to continue driving improved health outcomes and critical support to one of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable populations.”

 

“The University of Louisville helped create Passport Health Plan in 1997, paving the way for what has become a national model for managed care,” said University of Louisville President Dr. Neeli Bendapudi. “Now, we are proud to partner with Evolent Health to begin a new chapter that will continue to spark innovation in the delivery of care.”

“For the past 20 years, Passport has been proud to work with the Commonwealth, our provider partners and other valued supporters to deliver a quality health plan that promotes our members’ best interests and health outcomes,” said Passport Health Plan Chief Executive Officer Mark Carter. “I am confident that Passport has a bright future ahead, thanks to the solid foundation we’ve built and the significant investment, expertise and support that Evolent brings to the table. Evolent and Passport are dedicated to finding ways to bring the West Louisville Health and Wellbeing Campus to life, as we believe it will significantly positively impact the health of the community. Evolent and Passport will be working with developers and key stakeholders to create a definitive plan and select a real estate developer to bring the project to fruition.”

About Evolent Health

Evolent Health partners with leading provider and payer organizations to achieve superior clinical and financial results in value-based care and under full-risk arrangements. With a provider heritage and over 20 years of health plan administration experience, Evolent partners with more than 35 health care organizations to actively manage care across Medicare, Medicaid, commercial and self-funded adult and pediatric populations. With the experience to drive change, Evolent confidently stands by a commitment to achieve results. For more information, visit evolenthealth.com.

About Passport Health Plan

Passport Health Plan is a provider-sponsored, non-profit, community-based health plan administering Medicaid benefits to more than 300,000 Kentuckians. Named the top Medicaid plan in Kentucky by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) for 2016-17, Passport has been contracted with the Commonwealth of Kentucky to administer Medicaid benefits since 1997. For details, please visit passporthealthplan.com or call toll-free (800) 578-0603. Passport also operates a Medicare Advantage program, called “Passport Advantage,” for residents of Jefferson, Bullitt, Hardin, Nelson, Breckinridge, Carroll, Grayson, Henry, Larue, Marion, Meade, Oldham, Shelby, Spencer, Trimble and Washington counties who are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare. For details, go online to passportadvantage.com or call toll-free (844) 859-6152.

 

UofL psychiatry resident wins national fellowship

Award provides for 10-month advocacy role with Congress
UofL psychiatry resident wins national fellowship

Daniel Jackson, M.D.

A third-year resident in the University of Louisville Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences has been awarded the Jeanne Spurlock, M.D. Congressional Fellowship of the American Psychiatric Association and the association’s related organization, the American Psychiatric Foundation.

Daniel T. Jackson, M.D., is serving in the Capitol Hill office of U.S. Rep. James McDermott, M.D. (D-Wash.) for the 10 months of the fellowship beginning in September. The award is offered to only one individual each year and provides the opportunity to represent the profession of psychiatry in Congress, working with federal policy makers to shape public policy.

“My work with Rep. McDermott – who is a psychiatrist himself – focuses on mental health issues including the Mental Health Reform Act of 2015 in the Senate and the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 in the House,” Jackson said. “We hope to see action on one or both bills in the coming months.”

Both bills propose to reform current mental health law to make available needed psychiatric, psychological and supportive services to individuals with mental illness and families in mental health crisis. The bills focus on providing more programs and resources to help those suffering from mental disorders.

 

Jackson is a two-time graduate of UofL, earning his medical degree in 2013 and a bachelor of arts degree cum laude in psychology with concentration in the natural sciences in 2007. He entered the residency program in July 2013.

As a resident, he lectures on substance abuse topics to third- and fourth-year medical students and sits on the UofL Psychiatry Residency Admission Committee. He also is a member of the American Psychiatric Association, Kentucky Psychiatric Medical Association, Kentucky Medical Association and Greater Louisville Medical Society.

He also has undertaken public policy advocacy work as a resident, attending the Advocacy Leadership Conference in Washington last year. There, he joined with others in the health care profession to recommend for increased federal investment through the National Institutes of Health, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Indian Health Service. He has lobbied for passage of the Ensuring Veteran’s Resiliency Act and helped efforts that were successful in reforming Medicare’s physician payment formula.

 

UofL’s Trover Campus a national model in drawing physicians to rural practice

UofL’s Trover Campus a national model in drawing physicians to rural practice

William J. Crump, M.D.

Although many rural residents who were previously uninsured now have health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act, a shortage of physicians in many rural communities means it still can be difficult for rural residents to obtain health care.

The University of Louisville School of Medicine has been working to increase the number of physicians in rural communities by training doctors at Trover Campus at Baptist Health Madisonville for 17 years. William J. Crump, M.D., associate dean for the Trover Campus, and his colleagues at UofL have assembled data to demonstrate that their efforts are paying off. The physicians who spent the last two years of medical school at the rural location are much more likely to ultimately practice in a rural setting.

In a study published online last week in The Journal of Rural Health, Crump reveals that 45 percent of the physicians who completed medical school at the rural campus now practice in rural areas, compared with only 7 percent of graduates who remained on the urban campus. The authors examined data for 1,120 physicians who graduated from the UofL School of Medicine between 2001 and 2008, including those who completed training at the traditional urban campus as well as Trover Campus. They used statistical methods to control for the percentage of graduates who had rural upbringing and chose family medicine, factors that previously were shown to predispose a physician to rural practice, and were able to demonstrate the rural campus itself added to the likelihood a physician would choose a rural practice.

“We were able to show that the investment of resources in our campus over the past 17 years has made a real difference for our Commonwealth,” Crump said. “There are almost 20 other such small campuses that have been established recently around the country. It will be another 10 to 15 years before they are able to prove the outcomes that we have, but we are confident that they will find the same thing. Not only will physicians be placed into small towns, but the small towns that host these rural regional campuses will benefit greatly from the financial investment by the parent campus as well as potentially recruiting their graduates to make their own medical care better."

Almost two-thirds of Kentucky’s counties are considered health professional shortage areas, meaning they have far too few primary care physicians. The University of Louisville focused on correcting this shortage by establishing the Trover Campus in Madisonville, Ky., a town of 20,000 that is 150 miles southwest of Louisville in the west Kentucky coal fields. It was believed that training students from small towns in a small town would more likely produce physicians for the small towns, and now this concept has been proven. Trover Campus was only the second in the United States to be placed in such a small town.


November 6, 2015

UofL medical residents donate 870 Christmas presents to Louisville kids

UofL medical residents donate 870 Christmas presents to Louisville kids

The UofL House Staff Council collected 870 gifts during its Toys for Tots campaign this month. Resident physicians pictured are (from left) Jamie Morris, M.D., Jared Winston, M.D., and Taro Muso, M.D.

Medical residents and fellows at the University of Louisville have donated 870 new toys to local children for Christmas.

For the fourth consecutive year, the UofL School of Medicine House Staff Council, the representative body for resident and fellow physicians, led a weeklong collection for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. Donations were received from individual residents and fellows and School of Medicine faculty, staff and students.

The Toys for Tots Program collects new, unwrapped toys and distributes them as Christmas presents to economically disadvantaged children in the community in which a campaign is conducted.

“This is our community,” said Jared Winston, M.D., a UofL internal medicine resident from St. Louis. “Louisville is hosting a lot of residents who aren’t from this area. It’s a way to say ‘thank you’ to our community.”

There was some healthy competition among School of Medicine departments over donating the most toys. Stock Yards Bank & Trust is providing a luncheon and plaque to the three residency programs that donated the most toys.

The winning program for the fourth straight year, the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, collected 370 toys. The Department of Radiology donated the second-most number of toys with 139, and the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health finished third by contributing 102 gifts.

“The residents love helping out with the toy drive,” said Jamie Morris, M.D., a UofL radiology resident. “The House Staff Council is very big into community outreach and this is such a fun way to do it. We have multiple people in our department who love going shopping for Toys for Tots.”

Researchers fill gaps in horse reference genome to guide new approaches in fighting disease

Researchers fill gaps in horse reference genome to guide new approaches in fighting disease

By re-analyzing DNA from a thoroughbred named Twilight, pictured here on a farm at Cornell University, scientists corrected thousands of errors in the original horse reference genome.

Research led by scientists at the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky has produced a more complete picture of the domestic horse reference genome, a map researchers will use to determine the role inherited genes and other regions of DNA play in many horse diseases and traits important in equine science and management.

By re-analyzing DNA from a thoroughbred named Twilight, the basis for the original horse reference genome, scientists generated a more than ten-fold increase in data and types of data to correct thousands of errors in the original sequence that was released in 2009. Since then, there have been dramatic improvements in nucleotide sequencing technology and the computational hardware and algorithms used to analyze data. It is now easier and less expensive to build a reference genome.

The new equine reference genome, known as EquCab3.0, was published today in Communications Biology, representing the work of 21 co-authors from 14 universities and academic centers around the world. The horse reference genome is publicly availablethrough the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a division of the National Institutes of Health.

Genome sequencing allows researchers to read and decipher genetic information found in DNA and is especially important in mapping disease genes – discovering diseases a horse might be genetically predisposed to developing.

Data gathered from future genetic and genomic studies of horses will use the new reference as a basis, which also has implications for tackling serious diseases in humans, said principal investigator Ted Kalbfleisch, Ph.D., of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the UofL School of Medicine.

“Because we can sequence a horse and map it to the reference genome, we can know what genes might be affected by a mutation and come up with a hypothesis for what went wrong,” Kalbfleisch said. “Looking beyond the horse, we all want to cure cancer and other diseases that affect humans. Being able to accurately generate reference genomes gives us the tool that we need to map an individual’s genomic content. Having a high-quality reference genome makes it possible for us to know where an individual has a mutation and personalize therapies that will be right for an individual and the specific disease they have.”

Senior author James MacLeod, V.M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Kentucky’s Gluck Equine Research Center added, “Increased accuracy of the horse reference genome achieved through this work will greatly facilitate additional research in many aspects of equine science.  Medical advances for horses as a patient population, both in terms of sensitive diagnostic tests and emergent areas of precision medicine, are addressing critical issues for the health and wellbeing of these wonderful animals.”  

Financial support for the research was provided by the Morris Animal Foundation, the United States Department of Agriculture and several additional grants to the laboratories of individual co-authors. 

UofL cancer researcher gains NIH funding to study Alzheimer’s disease

Levi Beverly, Ph.D., will use additional $385K to expand study of ubiquilins in neurodegeneration
UofL cancer researcher gains NIH funding to study Alzheimer’s disease

Levi Beverly, Ph.D.

Levi Beverly, Ph.D., believes he can use his cancer research to help in the quest to understand a cause and find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, and the National Institute on Aging is providing funding to allow him to investigate further.

To generate new ideas in Alzheimer’s disease research, the National Institute on Aging, one of the National Institutes of Health, has offered researchers in other fields already funded by the NIH additional money to explore links between their current field of research and Alzheimer’s disease. Beverly, a UofL cancer researcher, has received one of the first round of these $385,000 awards.

“They are hoping to spark some new directions, uncovering potential new areas for research,” said Beverly, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at the University of Louisville. “This will get more people involved in the work and develop some preliminary seed data.”

Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases affect more than 5 million people in the United States. As the population ages, this number is increasing.

Beverly’s primary research grant from the National Cancer Institute is to study ubiquilin proteins in cancer. Ubiquilin proteins are critical adapters that appear to be central to signaling pathways driving Alzheimer’s disease as well as cancer.

“The protein ubiquilin is lost in both cancer and Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases,” Beverly said. “What we hope to discover is how this protein, which is associated with aberrant cell growth in cancer, also is associated with aberrant cell death in neurodegenerative diseases.”

Beverly plans to use the new funding to determine whether and how ubiquilin regulates contradictory signaling pathways in neuronal cells and epithelial cells, and how the loss of ubiquilin affects multiple types of tissues.

Robert Friedland, M.D., professor of neurology at UofL who has conducted research in Alzheimer’s disease for more than three decades, is collaborating with Beverly on the project.  

“We have known for many years that protein folding patterns are critical to neuronal damage in Alzheimer's,” Friedland said. “The work Dr. Beverly has done with ubiquilin has uncovered pathways that may be involved in key mechanisms of both Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. We anticipate that the interaction of researchers in cancer and neurodegeneration will help advance both fields.”

With combined annual national expenditures of approximately $300 billion for cancer and Alzheimer’s diseases in the United States, these conditions represent two of the largest burdens on the health-care system. Beverly believes the laboratory research conducted in this project will facilitate the development of therapeutic interventions for these diseases.

“Only by understanding the basic molecular, biochemical and genetic causes of these diseases will we be able to make significant progress in treating these patients,” Beverly said.

 

 

 

November 15, 2018

Daughter of UofL faculty member up for Espy Award

Cast your vote online through July 13
Daughter of UofL faculty member up for Espy Award

Oksana Masters on the medal stand at the Sochi Olympics in 2014

For the third year in a row, Oksana Masters is one of four nominees for ESPN’s Female Athlete With A Disability Award. The Louisvillian — daughter of UofL Assistant Professor M. Gay Masters, Ph.D., in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and Communicative Disorders — is nominated for her prowess in cross-country skiing.

Winners of the annual Espy Awards are selected through online fan balloting conducted from among candidates selected by the ESPY Select Nominating Committee. The public can vote online now until 5 p.m. EDT, July 13, on the ESPN website.

“I'm thrilled to see Oksana recognized for her talent and incredible hard work as an athlete. The ESPY nomination itself is already a win,” Gay Masters said. “We both appreciate your votes and support.”

Born in the Ukraine in 1989, Oksana Masters was brought to the United States by her adoptive mother when she was seven. She was born with several radiation-induced birth defects,including tibial hemimelia (resulting in different leg lengths), missing weight-bearing shinbones in her calves, webbed fingers with no thumbs, and six toes on each foot.

After moving to the United States in 1997, both of Oksana's legs were eventually amputated above the knee —her left leg at age eight and her right leg at age 13 — as they became increasingly painful and unable to support her weight. Oksana also had surgery to modify her innermost fingers on each hand so they could function as thumbs.

Oksana first made a name for herself as she won a bronze medal in rowing with partner Rob Jones at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the first-ever United States medal in trunk and arms mixed double sculls with a final time of 4:05.56. She then transitioned her talents to the snow and won silver and bronze at the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Winter Games in cross-country skiing.

When issues with her back prevented her return to the water for the 2016 Summer Games, Masters decided to give the sport of cycling a try. She has qualified for the 2016 Summer Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Sept. 7-18, in paracycling, her fourth competitive sport.

Espy winners will be announced in the Espy Awards telecast at 8 p.m. EDT, July 13, on ABC-TV hosted by WWE wrestler John Cena. For more information, go to the Espy Awards website.

UofL researcher developing drug to treat emerging encephalitis viruses

NIH dedicates $21 million to prepare antiviral drug for clinical trials
UofL researcher developing drug to treat emerging encephalitis viruses

Donghoon Chung, Ph.D., in the Regional Biocontainment Lab

Donghoon Chung, Ph.D., a virologist at the University of Louisville, is one of three principal investigators with a new center working to advance new drugs for the treatment of equine encephalitis viruses in humans. The project, Center of Excellence for Encephalitic Alphavirus Therapeutics, is funded by a $21 million grant from the National Institutes of Health over five years.

The center, headquartered at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, will develop therapeutic drugs to treat three mosquito-borne alphaviruses that cause serious illness in humans and horses: Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV), Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) and Western equine encephalitis virus (WEEV). Although a vaccine is available for horses, there are no FDA-approved treatments or preventive vaccines for these viruses in humans.

Chung, an associate professor in the Center for Predictive Medicine and Department of Microbiology & Immunology at UofL, said the center’s goal is to refine potent small molecule compounds the researchers previously identified as promising as antiviral drugs for treating the encephalitis viruses, and enable those compounds to move to the next step of research, clinical trials in humans.

“In my previous research I found that these compounds inhibit the viral replication cycle. However, we want to further understand which target molecules are interacting with the compound,” Chung said. He described the mechanism of the compounds the group is investigating as similar to the way the drug nevirapine, a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, works in treating human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

“This project is to develop a new antiviral compound to treat these diseases in humans,” Chung said. “However, we do not limit our applications of this drug to only humans, as it may be possible to adapt it for treating horses as well.”

These equine encephalitis viruses infect humans and horses through the bite of an infected mosquito. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms of infection include fever, chills, headache and vomiting. Outbreaks of the Western and Venezuelan viruses are uncommon, and an average of only seven human cases of EEEV have been reported annually in the United States over the past ten years. However, the disease may leave people with permanent neurological symptoms, and approximately 30 percent of people who contract the Eastern equine encephalitis virus will die from the disease.

According to Chung, the potential for the viruses to be used in bioterrorism is perhaps even more worrisome. The CDC recognizes viral encephalitis as a Category B human biothreat, making the development of a treatment important.

Chung’s co-principal investigators in the center are Colleen Jonsson, Ph.D., of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center who directs the center, and Jennifer E. Golden, Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy.

“The goal of our new Center of Excellence is to further develop novel therapeutic molecules discovered by our team that are highly potent across all three viruses, moving the optimal ones forward into pre-clinical development,” said Jonsson, formerly director of the UofL Center for Predictive Medicine.

Chung will test the compounds for toxicity against human cells in vitro, deciphering their molecular mechanisms and determining their resistance threshold utilizing the facilities and staff at the Regional Biocontainment Laboratory at UofL. He also will test the compounds’ resistance threshold that inevitably develops over time, along with Juw Won Park, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer engineering in the J.B. Speed School of Engineering at UofL.

Once their work is completed, the researchers expect the new drugs would be ready to begin clinical trial testing in humans.

Where to seek care when you’re sick or injured

UofL doctors discuss health care options
Where to seek care when you’re sick or injured

Ashley Iles, M.D.

We’ve all been there. Perhaps you have a mild sore throat and cough on Friday but by Saturday afternoon the cough has worsened. Or you wake up in the middle of the night with extreme nausea and a high fever. What is the most appropriate place to receive care in the most timely manner? 

Primary Care Providers

One of the best ways to care for your own health is to establish a primary care provider (PCP), says Ashley Iles M.D., assistant professor in the University of Louisville Department of Family and Geriatric Medicine and a physician with UofL Physicians Centers for Primary Care at Cardinal Station.

“Primary care refers to medical care given by a provider - physician, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant. This is the first point of contact for patients’ non-emergent symptoms, disease management and health concerns. 

“For an acute illness like a sinus infection or earache that comes on suddenly during the week, a primary care provider should be your first point of contact,” she said. 

PCPs also encompass preventative types of care including cancer screening, vaccinations, health maintenance exams and patient education. 

“Think of your PCP facility as your medical home,” Iles said. 

Urgent or Immediate Care

An urgent care or immediate care center, however, may be the best option for after hours for worsening acute illness or injuries like mild sprains. These facilities may have an X-ray machine and the ability to perform some lab tests on-the-spot. 

“Think episodic care for urgent care centers,” Iles said. “If you need non-emergency care at a time when you can’t get to your primary care provider, these are good alternatives.” 

But Iles says patients should understand that urgent care facilities don’t keep track of their medical problems, prescriptions or visits the way a primary care provider would. 

“Be sure to follow-up with your primary care provider if you’ve gone to immediate care so they can update your medical records,” Iles. 

Emergency Care

Emergency rooms should be reserved for life-threatening conditions or injuries that could result in serious complications if not immediately addressed, says Adam Ross, M.D., medical director of UofL’s Department of Emergency Medicine.

National statistics indicate that between 5.5 – 8 percent of ER visits are non-urgent.

“However, as you can imagine, someone may come in with chest pain, concerned about a heart attack, and after a workup in the emergency room (EKG, chest x-ray, blood tests, etc.), it’s determined their pain was from GERD or heartburn” Ross said. “While their diagnosis is not an emergent one, the symptom they presented with certainly is.”  

It is better to be safe than sorry, says Ross.

“Always go to the ER when you feel life or limb are at risk: chest pain, shortness of breath, severe headache, weakness, numbness or speech difficulty, severe cuts, excessive bleeding, broken bones or other symptoms with which you are emergently concerned,” he said.

Call 9-1-1 if you are experiencing what seems to be a life-threatening condition. Otherwise, patients can often call their medical insurance company hotlines to speak with an on-call providers that can give advice on what to do. UofL Centers for Primary Care at Cardinal Station can often see patients for acute illnesses or minor injuries the same week. Make an appointment by calling 502-588-8700. An on-call doctor is available to answer urgent medical questions after hours.

About UofL Centers for Primary Care at Cardinal Station

Located at 215 Central Ave. in Louisville, UofL Centers for Primary Care at Cardinal Station offer a full range of primary care services including acute illness visits, annual health maintenance visits, cancer screenings, STI screenings and vaccinations for both children and adults of any age. Additionally, the centers have a wide range of women’s health services including appropriate annual screenings and all types of non-surgical birth control including implantable devices. The office also is home to multiple Sports Medicine specialists who can offer on-site x-rays, acute injury management, chronic conditions management, physical therapy referrals and joint injections. For information and appointments, call 502-588-8700.

McClain to lead UofL health sciences center research efforts

McClain to lead UofL health sciences center research efforts

Craig McClain, M.D.

Craig McClain, M.D., has been named the Associate Vice President for Health Affairs/Research at the University of Louisville. McClain also serves as Distinguished University Scholar, UofL Associate Vice President for Translational Research, Director of the UofL Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, Director of Research Affairs, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, and Director of Gastroenterology at the Louisville VAMC.

“Dr. McClain brings a wealth of research experience to this position. I am confident that in this new position, which bridges research activities across the university and acts as a liaison between the Offices of the EVPHA and the Executive Vice President for Research and Innovation, he will continue to provide outstanding research leadership on behalf of the Health Sciences Center,” said David L. Dunn, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for health affairs.

McClain is a widely recognized expert in alcohol abuse, nutrition, and cytokine research, as well as hepatic drug metabolism. In 1980, he described the deleterious interactions in the liver between alcohol and acetaminophen, and he was the first to describe dysregulated cytokines in alcoholic hepatitis.

His laboratory currently focuses on nutrition and the gut: liver axis, especially as it relates to alcoholic liver disease. He has published more than 340 peer-reviewed articles and 100 book chapters/reviews, and he has mentored more than 100 medical students, residents, GI fellows, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

He has received multiple awards, such as the American Gastroenterology Association Foundation Research Mentoring Award, the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman award for mentoring,  the Grace A Goldsmith Award in Nutrition, the University of Louisville Distinguished Faculty Award in Research for Basic and Applied Sciences, and teaching awards such as Outstanding Gastroenterology Education at UofL.

McClain also has been prominent nationally, serving as president of the American College of Nutrition. He also has served on several NIH and VA Study Sections. He was the first physician member of the NIH Peer Review Advisory Committee (PRAC) and currently serves on the NIAAA National External Advisory Council and on the NIH Council of Councils.

From black hat to white hat: Findings tip assumptions about TAK1 in muscle growth

Research published today reveals molecule’s critical role in maintaining muscle health
From black hat to white hat:  Findings tip assumptions about TAK1 in muscle growth

Control and TAK-1 inactivated tibialis anterior muscle

Among researchers exploring the mechanisms of muscle growth and health, there have been certain conceptions about the role of the signaling protein, transforming growth factor-ß-activated kinase 1 (TAK1). Convention was that TAK1 is detrimental to muscle health since it activates pathways associated with muscle wasting.

“TAK1 is a very important molecule in the body and it is involved in the regulation of almost all cell types. It is implicated in many signaling processes and many physiological roles in the body,” said Ashok Kumar, Ph.D., a professor and distinguished university scholar in the University of Louisville Department of Anatomical Sciences and Neurobiology. “But the role of TAK1 in skeletal muscle was not known at all.”

Kumar and Sajedah M. Hindi, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the department, hypothesized that by removing TAK1, they could mitigate the negative effects of two downstream pathways associated with muscle wasting with a single action. They and other members of the research team devised a series of cell culture and animal model experiments to determine if removal of TAK1 would preserve muscle mass and strength.

Their first clue to the significance of TAK1 was that mice genetically modified to remove TAK1 in skeletal muscle all died shortly after birth. Shifting their strategy, the researchers began working with adult mice. They found that in mature mice, instead of increasing muscle mass, reducing TAK1 resulted in severe muscle wasting, along with abnormalities in mitochondria and oxidative stress. These changes are consistent with those witnessed in muscle of individuals with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), type II diabetes, cancer and aging.

“It did the opposite of what we were hoping it would do,” Hindi said. “In other tissues, having too much TAK1 has a bad effect. Knocking it down is actually positive. But in mature skeletal muscle, knocking TAK1 down had a negative effect.”

The research is detailed in TAK1 regulates skeletal muscle mass and mitochondrial function, published today in the journal JCI Insight, authored by Hindi, Kumar, Shizuka Uchida, Ph.D., associate professor and researcher in the UofL Cardiovascular Innovation Institute, Bradford Hill, Ph.D., associate professor and researcher in the UofL Diabetes and Obesity Center, and others at UofL.

This research reveals the essential role of TAK1 for the health of mature skeletal muscle, and adds to work by Kumar, Yuji Ogura, Ph.D., now of Japan, and Hindi, published in 2015 in Nature Communications, revealing that TAK1 is required for adult muscle cell proliferation and survival and for the regeneration of adult skeletal muscle upon injury. That research showed that when TAK1 is reduced, satellite stem cells do not vigorously self-renew and many eventually die. Alternately, when TAK1-regulated signaling is increased, the satellite cells prosper.

Kumar believes this understanding of the essential role of TAK1 in muscle health could lead to the development of therapies to preserve muscle mass in the elderly and in individuals with muscle wasting diseases such as muscular dystrophy, cancer, type II diabetes and ALS.

“This is a very fundamental discovery that people had a misconception about this pathway. This protein is very important for muscle maintenance,” Kumar said. “The next question is whether this is a mechanism for loss of muscle mass in all these conditions. We have approaches now to put this protein back into the body. If we put it back in the muscle or we have some drugs that activate this molecule, can we improve the muscle mass, can we preserve the muscle mass?”

UofL Stroke Program again receives top designation

University of Louisville Hospital certified as a Comprehensive Stroke Center for third time
UofL Stroke Program again receives top designation

Tele-stroke robot with Jignesh Shah, M.D.

Kentucky is in the stroke belt, among the states with the highest incidence of stroke. Luckily, residents of the Louisville and Southern Indiana region who suffer a stroke can receive the highest level of stroke care possible at the University of Louisville Stroke Program. The program provides inpatient services at University of Louisville Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, first certified as a Comprehensive Stroke Center (CSC) in 2012. It was the first designated CSC in Kentucky and remains one of only four in the state.

Recertification as a CSC, the highest designation of care for stroke patients awarded by The Joint Commission, the primary independent accrediting body for health-care systems in the United States, assures patients that the physicians, nurses and other providers at UofL Hospital are fully prepared to quickly assess and treat patients suffering from all types of strokes using the most advanced treatments available. The Joint Commission recertified the UofL program for two years, the maximum time period allowed for certification.

“We are proud to serve the citizens of our region with the highest level of integrated stroke care. We will continue to set the bar in Kentucky and Southern Indiana when it comes to stroke prevention and treatment,” said Kerri Remmel, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Neurology at the UofL School of Medicine and director of the University of Louisville Stroke Program.

Patients are treated by the highly trained and specialized physician faculty members of the UofL School of Medicine, including neurologists, neurosurgeons, cardiologists, emergency medicine providers, neuro-radiologists, vascular surgeons, hospitalists and neuro critical care providers. The multidisciplinary team also includes advance practice nurses, social workers, rehabilitation specialists, case managers and dieticians.

Comprehensive stroke centers such as UofL have the ability to care for patients suffering a stroke, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, and perform procedures that may not be available elsewhere. When a patient arrives in the emergency department at UofL Hospital, examination, laboratory studies, cardiac tests and state-of-the-art imaging studies can be performed within minutes of a patient's arrival.

Highlights of the UofL Stroke Program include:

  • Rapid delivery of clot-busting drug - The UofL Stroke Program achieved the highest award status from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, Target: Stroke Elite Plus Honor Roll, in 2016 for prompt IV administration of the clot-busting drug tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA). UofL met the standard of administering the drug to more than 75 percent of patients who qualify within 60 minutes of arrival to the hospital, and to more than 50 percent of eligible patients within 45 minutes of arrival.
  • Clot-removal techniques – UofL neurointerventional specialists can rapidly open blocked blood vessels by removing blood clots and quickly restoring neurological function to patients.
  • Aneurysm treatment UofL neurosurgeons and interventional specialists are experts with the latest treatments for brain aneurysms, whether with surgery or minimally invasive endovascular coiling techniques.
  • Tele-stroke consultations – UofL neurologists provide their expertise to hospitals in outlying communities in Kentucky and Southern Indiana in real time via tele-stroke services. Using a 5-foot, 6-inch tall robot, physician specialists in Louisville can interact and converse with a patient, the patient’s family, and on-site physicians and nurses through a live, two-way audio and video feed. The remote connection allows neurologists at UofL to more quickly determine the best treatment protocol for patients in their home hospitals and allow them to be treated with IV t-PA or other treatments quickly when appropriate.
  • Post-stroke support – In addition to inpatient care, the UofL Stroke Program provides stroke survivor and caregiver support to improve patients’ wellbeing as they resume their daily lives.
  • Community education – UofL Stroke Program team members reach out to educate community members about reducing the risk of stroke by monitoring their blood pressure and maintaining healthy habits.

Even prior to its designation as Kentucky’s first certified Comprehensive Stroke Center in 2012, the UofL Stroke Program achieved the highest recognition with the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, receiving the Get with the Guidelines® Stroke Gold Plus Award for the last 11 years. The recognition is awarded for meeting performance guidelines for the treatment and management of stroke patients from hospital admission to discharge.

BE FAST to spot signs of stroke

UofL Stroke Program medical experts advocate the use of the acronym BE FAST to recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke.

Balance – Sudden loss of balance or coordination

Eyes - Sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision

Face – Sudden face drooping

Arm – Sudden weakness or numbness of the arm or leg, especially on one side of the body

Speech – Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech

Time – to call 911 for help. Time saved is brain saved!


BE FAST was developed by Intermountain Healthcare, as an adaptation of the FAST model implemented by the American Stroke Association. Reproduced with permission from Intermountain Healthcare. Copyright 2011, Intermountain Health Care.


April 18, 2017


Science fiction into reality: What can artificial intelligence really do for us – or against us? Beer with a Scientist Mar. 15

UofL computer science professor will discuss safety, security and economic possibilities of artificial intelligence
Science fiction into reality:  What can artificial intelligence really do for us – or against us? Beer with a Scientist  Mar. 15

Roman Yampolskiy, Ph.D.

From TheJetsons to I, Robot, science fiction writers have illustrated both exciting and frightening visions of the impact computers, robots or other forms of artificial intelligence (AI) could have on society and mankind. As technology has become increasingly integrated into our lives, the prospect of living with super-intelligent machines has become not only conceivable, but perhaps inevitable.

Roman Yampolskiy, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Computer Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Louisville Speed School of Engineering, will share his insights into the current and future reality of artificial intelligence at the next Beer with a Scientist event.

“Many scientists, futurologists and philosophers have predicted that humanity will achieve a technological breakthrough and create Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), machines that can perform any task as well as a human can,” Yampolskiy said. “It has been suggested that AGI may be a positive or negative factor in all domains, including technology and economy. I will attempt to analyze some likely changes caused by arrival of AGI.”

Yampolskiy is interested in AI, AI safety, cybersecurity, digital forensics, pattern recognition and games related to artificial intelligence. He has written a book, “Artificial Superintelligence:  A Futuristic Approach,” that addresses issues related to ensuring this technology remains beneficial to humanity.

 The event begins at 8 p.m. onWednesday, Mar. 15, at Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St. in Louisville. A 30-minute presentation will be followed by an informal Q&A session.

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.

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. Upcoming dates:  April 5, May 17, and June 14.

UofL educators honored by Louisville Business First for preparing future physicians to care for LGBTQ patients

Amy Holthouser, M.D., and Stacie Steinbock receive “Best Innovators” award for UofL’s eQuality Project
UofL educators honored by Louisville Business First for preparing future physicians to care for LGBTQ patients

Amy Holthouser, M.D., and Stacie Steinbock

Amy Holthouser, M.D., and Stacie Steinbock were honored by Louisville Business First as “Best Innovators” for their work in educating future physicians regarding the best care for LGBTQ patients at the 2017 Health Care Hero Awards. Holthouser, associate dean for medical education at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and Steinbock, director of the UofL LGBT Center Office at the Health Sciences Center, received the award for their work in launching the eQuality Project, a national pilot program at UofL for developing curriculum for medical students to better meet the health-care needs of LGBTQ patients. The event, held Feb. 23 at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, recognized professionals making a significant impact in the Louisville health-care community.

“We are proud to be recognized by leaders in our business community with this award,” Holthouser said. “By teaching physicians how to take better care of all patients, we believe we make the Commonwealth of Kentucky a healthier environment for businesses to invest in the future.”

The eQuality Project was established at UofL to ensure that individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), gender nonconforming or born with differences of sex development (DSD) receive the best possible health care. The UofL School of Medicine is the first in the nation to incorporate competencies published in 2014 by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) related to provision of care for LGBT and DSD individuals.

“While this category only allowed up to two people to be named, the success of this project is due to a huge team of people contributing in many different ways,” Steinbock said. “This innovative work is made possible by the compassionate, brave leadership within the School of Medicine.”

Holthouser and Steinbock were among five winners at the 2017 Health Care Heroes program honored for their impact as a manager, provider, innovator or in community outreach. A total of 19 health-care professionals and a specialty health-care facility were finalists for the awards. Finalists for the innovator award from UofL also included Jason Chesney, M.D., Ph.D., deputy director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, and Darryl Kaelin, M.D., chief of the Division of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. Kathrin LaFaver, M.D., the Raymond Lee Lebby Chair for Parkinson’s Research, was a finalist in the provider category, and the Kentucky Racing Health Services Center through the UofL School of Nursing was a finalist for the community outreach award. Winners were selected by a team consisting of Business First editors and the publisher.

Bolli to receive Schottenstein Prize for cardiovascular research from Ohio State University

Bolli to receive Schottenstein Prize for cardiovascular research from Ohio State University

Roberto Bolli, M.D.

Roberto Bolli, M.D., chief of the University of Louisville’s Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, will receive the 2015 Jay and Jeannie Schottenstein Prize in Cardiovascular Sciences from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Heart and Vascular Center. The Schottenstein Prize is among the largest monetary prizes in the United States dedicated to cardiovascular research.

“We congratulate Roberto for achieving this award. He is such a scientist,” said Thomas Ryan, M.D., director of the Ohio State Heart and Vascular Center. “His work on heart muscle protection and regeneration has greatly increased our understanding of the cellular changes that occur during a heart attack and how to minimize and repair the damage that results.”

The Schottenstein Prize was established in 2008 with a $2 million gift from Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein for an endowed fund for a biennial award. The prize goes to a physician or researcher who is an international leader in cardiovascular medicine, cardiothoracic surgery or molecular or cellular cardiology. Bolli will receive his award during a ceremony on Nov. 4 in Columbus, Ohio. The prize includes an honorarium of $100,000.

“I am deeply honored to be the recipient of this prestigious award. I would like to thank the leadership of the University of Louisville for their steadfast support of my research efforts over the past 20 years and all of the members of our research team for their outstanding work and dedication, which have made this recognition possible. The Schottenstein Prize recognizes all of them,” Bolli said. “This award will further strengthen our resolve to advance the research agenda of the University of Louisville, focusing on pioneering studies of new therapies such as the use of adult stem cells to regenerate heart muscle in patients with heart failure and to improve blood flow in patients with peripheral arterial disease.”

Bolli is the Jewish Hospital Heart & Lung Institute Distinguished Chair in Cardiology and serves as director of UofL’s Institute of Molecular Cardiology, scientific director of the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute and executive vice chair in the Department of Medicine. He has conducted research on preventing damage caused during heart attacks by studying ischemic preconditioning, the phenomenon in which heart muscle exposed to brief periods of stress becomes resistant to the tissue death that might be caused by a heart attack.

Previous biennial Schottenstein Prize winners include Garret FitzGerald, M.D., the McNeil Professor in Translational Medicine and Therapeutics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Christine Seidman, M.D., professor in the Departments of Medicine and Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Pascal Goldschmidt, M.D., the senior vice president for medical affairs and dean at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

 

October 29, 2015

Surgeons with Jewish Hospital / University of Louisville / University of Louisville Physicians perform first islet cell auto-transplantation procedures in Kentucky

People with a debilitating and painful disease have a new treatment option available to them thanks to the collaborative efforts of Jewish Hospital, the University of Louisville and University of Louisville Physicians.

Jewish Hospital, a part of KentuckyOne Health, and faculty members from the UofL School of Medicine are providing total pancreatectomy with islet cell auto-transplantation for some patients with chronic pancreatitis. Since the start of the year, six patients have undergone the procedure and all have functioning islet cells. The program is funded by an $800,000 grant from the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence.

Chronic pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas, can only be cured with complete removal of the pancreas (total pancreatectomy). However, removing the entire pancreas creates diabetes that is extremely difficult to control, with alternating very high and dangerous, life-threatening low blood sugars. Therefore, only a portion of the pancreas typically is removed in an attempt to prevent post-operative diabetes. This treatment does not very effectively treat the episodes of pain that lead to recurrent hospital admissions for patients with chronic pancreatitis.

The total pancreatectomy with auto-transplantation of islet cells from the pancreas is an alternative treatment being performed by a handful of facilities around the world, including Jewish Hospital. This procedure involves complete removal of the pancreas. The patient’s islet cells are isolated in a “cleanroom” facility at the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute (a partnership between UofL and the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence) and then re-implanted into the patient to prevent diabetes.

“Chronic pancreatitis is a disabling disease that results in constant, unremitting pain” said Michael Hughes Jr., M.D., transplant surgeon, Jewish Hospital, and assistant professor of surgery at UofL, and a surgeon with University of Louisville Physicians. “Until now, we have been unable to safely perform these procedures. Islet cell auto-transplant immediately following total pancreatectomy allows us to do this.”

“Complete removal of the pancreas leads to diabetes due to loss of insulin-producing islet cells,” said Balamurugan Appakalai, Ph.D., known as “Dr. Bala,” an associate professor of surgery, director, Clinical Islet Cell Laboratory at UofL and an investigator with the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute. “Islet cell auto-transplantation is a clinical procedure that is performed to prevent diabetes or reduce the severity of diabetes after removal of the pancreas. After pancreatic tissue is removed during surgery, insulin-producing islet cells are immediately separated from the pancreas in a special cleanroom facility. These islet cells are then infused into the patient's liver and the islet cells continue to produce insulin to control blood sugar levels in the body.”

Most patients who have had total pancreatectomy with islet auto-transplantation find a dramatic lessening of abdominal pain, reduction in the use of narcotic pain medicine and improved blood sugar control. Since the process involves the re-implantation of the patient’s own cells, the patient does not have to take immunosuppressive medication to ensure the viability of the treatment.

According to Hughes, in addition to helping patients with chronic pancreatitis, the auto-transplantation of pancreas islet cells has the potential to impact people with type 1 diabetes. The techniques and skills acquired in auto-transplantation may be applied to patients with diabetes in the future.

The Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence grant has funded the creation of the islet cell auto-transplant program at Jewish Hospital. The Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence provides financial assistance to not-for-profit organizations offering programs focused on Jewish culture/identity, health, human services and education.

“We are grateful to the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence for its support of Jewish Hospital’s islet cell auto-transplantation program,” said Joe Gilene, president, Jewish Hospital and downtown market leader. “We are among a select group of medical centers in the world undertaking this work that will benefit our patients and help us to become a regional leader in the treatment of pancreatitis.”

“Pioneering the latest treatments in diseases and conditions is one of the primary goals of the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center,” said David L. Dunn, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for health affairs at the University of Louisville. “We know that chronic pancreatitis results in more than 122,000 outpatient visits and more than 56,000 hospitalizations per year nationwide. As the only health care provider in the Commonwealth offering islet auto-transplantation, we can drastically reduce the pain and suffering experienced by Kentuckians with chronic pancreatitis.”

Referring physicians or patients with chronic pancreatitis can learn more about the procedure by calling 502-407-3220.

 

About KentuckyOne Health

KentuckyOne Health, the largest and most comprehensive health system in the Commonwealth, has more than 200 locations including, hospitals, physician groups, clinics, primary care centers, specialty institutes and home health agencies in Kentucky and southern Indiana. KentuckyOne Health is dedicated to bringing wellness, healing and hope to all, including the underserved.  The system is made up of the former Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare and Saint Joseph Health System, along with the the University of Louisville Hospital and James Graham Brown Cancer Center. KentuckyOne Health is proud of and strengthened by its Catholic, Jewish and academic heritages.

About the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center

The University of Louisville Health Sciences Center is the city’s only academic health center. Approximately 1,000 faculty members are involved in education, research and clinical care. The UofL HSC is home to more than 650 medical and dental residents, 3,000 students pursuing degrees in health-related fields within the Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Public Health and Information Sciences, as well as 14 interdisciplinary centers and institutes. Approximately $140 million in extramural funding enables researchers to uncover the causes of disease and better ways to prevent, treat and cure those diseases. Patients are seen at the Ambulatory Care Building, The James Graham Brown Cancer Center, the UofL Physicians Outpatient Center, Norton Children’s Hospital and University of Louisville Hospital.

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. For more information, visit www.uoflphysicians.com

Sept. 30, 2015