MISTRE broadens student's horizons

MISTRE broadens student's horizons

Brittany Mangas- first MISTRE participant

Microbiology and Immunology Summer Transitional Research Experience (MISTRE)

Brittany Mangas- 2016

 When I applied for the Microbiology and Immunology Summer Transitional Research Experience at the University of Louisville several months ago, I had no idea what to expect coming into the program. My knowledge in the sciences was fairly limited in high school, and the opportunity to expand that was overwhelmingly exciting. What I was even less prepared for, however, was how much I would truly end up learning in these eight weeks in more fields than I imagined.

During the summer, I was mentored by Neal Bhutiani, a surgical resident in the process of working towards a Ph.D. Neal was very patient in explaining what it was he was doing specifically in his own experiments, as well as teaching me techniques and necessary lab skills I would need later in life. By the end of the first week, I was able to successfully create a useable gel to run a polymerase chain reaction. At the end of the eight weeks, I am now able to run the reaction from start to finish on my own, as well as analyze the results to pick out which mice show positive and which show negative under the U.V. lamp.

Not only was I able to gain experience in something I will likely be doing later on in my schooling, but Neal allowed me to participate in things I was curious about. I helped grow bacteria, stain slides, and use different microscope techniques, such as confocal, to view them. Many of these things are more advanced than what I will be exposed to during undergraduate school, making them that much more interesting to see.

All my life, I have set a clear path that headed straight towards Neuroscience. Because of this, I never took the time to open my mind to other fields of science that are just as interesting. Immunology was definitely a hard topic to grasp, and that only covers the basics! This field would take several lifetimes to master, but I have loved every second of trying this summer. I began by studying the differences between the innate and adaptive immune system, and then moved on to cell types and functions. I spent a lot of time focusing on several T-cell populations, including TH1, TH2 and TH17 cells, as well as CD8 T-cells. After further explanation from Neal, I began to understand the concept of cytokines and receptors involved in these cells that allow the immune system to work as intended. I spent some time reading different sections in Dr. Eglimez’s Immuno-biology textbook, aiding me as both a source of knowledge and preparation. As I have mentioned, my previous teachings in biology were very limited, and there were several things Neal sat down to review with me that I did not grasp on my own. By the end of every work day, I had learned a new concept in Immunology.

I spent some time at the University outside of this lab and inside another, working with primarily microbiology. Working alongside Ashley Best, I washed bacteria and removed it from various suspensions in order to run it through a PCR, eventually to extract it from the gel. Working with Ashley showed me a much different side to this program, one that I enjoyed just as much. Looking at similar things through different perspectives aided me in grasping wide concepts in science.

Flow was another vital part of my summer in the program. I spent a day with Bob Miller reviewing Flow Cytometry after spending time on my own looking over some material. He opened the machine and explained how the laser functions as well as how the data is processed in the machine and displayed on the computer. Forward scatter and side scatter are measured, determining the type of cell that is found based on complexity and size. After working with Bob, I had a better understanding of the variety of methods that need to be used in the lab to obtain the information you need in order to successfully run an experiment.

Perhaps my favorite part of MISTRE was working with the mice. Although I was not allowed to experiment with them myself, I was able to watch Neal perform the most important part of his project in person. I was able to see the foundation for genotyping from start to finish, and learned how testing as “positive” or “negative” comes into play when it is time for breeding. In addition, having a personal experience with animal testing will help me defend how essential it truly is for humankind throughout my life. Neal taught me many regulations during my time in the turnaround and barrier that will make sure I am safely working with animals when it is time to do research on my own further in my career. These include maintaining the cages, checking for signs of discomfort in the animal, proper weaning, and how perform tail snips to be able to accurately genotype.

Working with Neal for the duration of this program has been an enlightening experience. Not only was I able to learn about the workings of immunology, but I gained knowledge that will help me in all aspects of life. These include proper time management, successful interactions with peers, and even balancing school and work.  Having already completed medical school, he was able to teach me many things that would be beneficial to me to know over the next eight years of my life, as well as equip me with diagrams and websites to navigate successfully in science.

Overall, this summer has been the most eventful one yet. I have learned more in these eight weeks than I have in an entire year of high school. I gained tremendous interest in research, and have a new acceptance for the idea of exploring as many fields of science as possible- Neuroscience may not be for me. Spending a summer in a lab may not seem exciting to the average American teenager, but I would not have wanted to do anything else. I am appreciative for the opportunity to participate this year, and hope the program continues for many years to come.

Important note about Pre-Travel Forms

(Note: Do not make any travel arrangements until all forms have been approved and you have received Provost approval). Once approval has been received, please submit copies of the following to the International Center and GEO office: an e-receipt for airfare signed passport page purchased travel insurance The approved forms and supporting documentation must be received in the International Center and GEO office thirty working days before the start of travel.

Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology welcomes 18 new graduate students

The Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology welcomes 18 new graduate students in its 2016 class.  This year's 2016 graduate student class completed undergraduate, masters, medical, and veterinary degrees at Universities throughout the United States, China, England, and Egypt.

Pharmacology & Toxicology PhD candidate Cierra Sharp selected for ASN Kidney Stars Program

Cierra Sharp, a Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology PhD candidate has been selected as a 2016 American Society of Nephrology (ASN) Kidney STARS award recipient. Cierra will receive an $800 travel support stipend and complimentary registration to the Annual Meeting of ASN Kidney Week 2016 in Chicago, IL.

Cierra is pursuing her dissertation research in the laboratory of Dr. Leah Siskind, Associate Professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology.

UofL Cancer Education Program Undergraduates to present research Aug 3

Twenty-eight undergraduate students from this year's UofL Cancer Education Program will present their research projects at the University of Louisville Undergraduate Student Research Symposium scheduled for August 3 from 12 to 3 pm in the lobby of the Kosair Charities Clinical and Translational Research Building.   Other program students also presenting include Engineering IMPACT REU, KBRIN, Physiology Cardiovascular, SROP, James Graham Brown Cancer Center High School Internship Program, and others supported by individual fellowships.

The UofL Cancer Education Program students will present their research posters to faculty judges for awards to be issued in October at Research!Louisville.

The design and objectives of the UofL Cancer Education Program, including presentation of research projects, are described in a paper published in the Journal of Cancer Education.

Six from the Department of Medicine recognized as 'Top Docs' for 2016

Accolades earned from annual survey conducted by Louisville Magazine and Greater Louisville Medical Society
Six from the Department of Medicine recognized as 'Top Docs'  for 2016

Louisville Magazine recently honored six faculty members from the UofL Department of Medicine as "Top Docs" for 2016.

Five members of the University of Louisville Department of Medicine were recognized as "Top Docs" as voted on by their peers in the Louisville medical community in the August 2016 edition of Louisville Magazine.

Questionnaires were mailed to approximately 2,200 members of the Greater Louisville Medical Society asking the question, "If you or a member of your family were in need of medical care or treatment, who among the Louisville-area doctors would you choose to provide medical care in the following specialties?"

From the Department of Medicine, those recognized include (categories as listed in the publication):

Norton Healthcare grants $1.25 million to University of Louisville for pediatric research

Norton Healthcare grants $1.25 million to University of Louisville for pediatric research

Greg Postel, M.D., Interim Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, University of Louisville

As partners in providing specialized care to the children of Kentucky and Southern Indiana, Norton Healthcare has granted $1.25 million to the University of Louisville to support research initiatives related to a host of pediatric subspecialties.

Areas receiving grants are pediatric cardiac regenerative medicine, pediatric surgery research, the Kosair Charities Pediatric Clinical Trials Unit, the UofL Autism Center at Kosair Charities, the Child and Adolescent Health Research Design and Support Unit, and the Kosair Children’s Hospital Research Institute.

“Research is vital to advancing the care we, as partners, can provide to children,” said Steven T. Hester, M.D., MBA, system senior vice president and chief medical officer, Norton Healthcare. “The pediatric specialists at the University of Louisville are doing work that can help us provide even better care and, hopefully, cures.”

“We appreciate the funding provided by Norton Healthcare to further our work in understanding and ultimately curing diseases and conditions that affect children,” said Gregory C. Postel, M.D., interim executive vice president for health affairs, University of Louisville. “At UofL, we have set an ambitious yet achievable agenda in pediatric research that will advance medical knowledge and provide novel and innovative treatments for the children of Kentuckiana and beyond.”

“We see firsthand the benefits that research provides to children,” said Thomas D. Kmetz, division president, Women’s and Children’s Services and Kosair Children’s Hospital. “Supporting this research agenda is incredibly important not just to children, but also in continuing to attract additional pediatric specialists to Louisville.”

The $1.25 million provides one year of funding to the six research areas:

  • $100,000 for pediatric cardiac regenerative medicine, led by Bradley B. Keller, M.D., for research focusing on identifying the biomechanical origins of congenital heart disease and the development of implantable engineered cardiac tissues for repair and restoration using patient-derived human pluripotent stem cells. The goal of these studies is to repair and regenerate damaged heart muscle as an alternative to cardiac transplantation.
  • $100,000 for the pediatric surgery research lab, led by Mary E. Fallat, M.D., to support research in surgical techniques and outcomes, trauma practices and necrotizing enterocolitis, a disease that affects mostly the intestine of premature infants where the wall of the intestine is invaded by bacteria that cause local infection and inflammation that can ultimately destroy the bowel wall. Research in this area directly impacts the care children and neonates receive when they need surgical services.
  • $100,000 for the Kosair Charities Pediatric Clinical Research Unit, led by Janice E. Sullivan, M.D., to support the unit’s medication, quality improvement and device clinical trials. The goal of this unit is to improve health care provided to children through development of new or improved treatment practices and evaluation and approval of medical devices or medications for children.
  • $250,000 for the UofL Autism Center at Kosair Charities led by Gregory N. Barnes, M.D., Ph.D., to support the Precision Medicine Initiative in Autism Spectrum Disorders. The goal of this study is to use a child’s DNA to develop individualized treatment approaches to better restore the function of neural circuits in the brain, thereby improving behavior and cognitive skills.
  • $300,000 for the Child and Adolescent Health Research Design and Support Unit led by Charles R. Woods Jr., M.D., to support research projects around overprescribing of psychiatric medications and antimicrobial agents in children, as well as improving data availability to frontline state workers in the foster care system. The goal of this research unit is to improve the effectiveness, quality, safety and delivery of health care and prevention/health promotion services to children.
  • $400,000 for the Kosair Children’s Hospital Research Institute led by Lu Cai, M.D., Ph.D., for support in research programs in the areas of diabetes- and obesity-related multi-organ diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, pulmonary diseases, neurobiological and carcinogenic susceptibility, molecular and cellular mechanisms and potential interventions. The focus of the institute is on basic and translational research, bringing these programs forward as quickly as possible from the laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside.

“Research is integral to our quadruple mission, along with education, patient care and community engagement,” said Gerard P. Rabalais, M.D., the Billy F. Andrews Endowed Chair in Pediatrics. “The funding we are announcing today is appreciated for its contribution to our ability to develop and maintain an effective body of research.”

About Norton Healthcare
For 130 years, Norton Healthcare’s faith heritage has guided its mission to provide quality health care to all those it serves. Today, Norton Healthcare is a leader in serving adult and pediatric patients throughout Greater Louisville, Southern Indiana, the commonwealth of Kentucky and beyond. The hospital and health care system is the Louisville area’s third largest private employer, providing care at more than 210 locations throughout Greater Louisville and Southern Indiana. The Louisville-based not-for-profit system includes five Louisville hospitals with 1,837 licensed beds; seven outpatient centers; 13 Norton Immediate Care Centers; more than 13,000 employees; more than 750 employed medical providers; and approximately 2,000 total physicians on its medical staff. In 2015 Norton Healthcare was named by Healthiest Employers as the 11th healthiest place to work in the country. More information about Norton Healthcare is available at

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

About the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center
The University of Louisville Health Sciences Center is the city’s only academic medical 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 Health Care Outpatient Center, and University Hospital, which is the primary adult teaching hospital for the School of Medicine.  University Hospital’s public mission is steeped in history and now is most clearly visible through its provision of nearly $90 million of health care to the uninsured annually. More information is available at


UofL T32 pre-doctoral and post-doctoral training program receives $2.31M in new funding from NIEHS

Professor Gavin Arteel

The NIEHS-funded T32 training program in environmental health sciences hosted by the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology was awarded $2.31M in funding for five additional years effective July 1, 2016.  The training program provides cutting edge basic, clinical, computational, and population-based research and incorporates interdisciplinary and integrated approaches to environmental health sciences. The training program supports six pre-doctoral and three post-doctoral trainees and interfaces exceptionally well with the the strategic plans of NIEHS and the University of Louisville. Led by Professor David Hein as Principal Investigator/Program Director and Dr. Russell Prough as Co-Investigator/Co-Director for years 2004-2016, the proposal for renewal funding for 2016-2021 was led by Professor Gavin Arteel as Principal Investigator/Program Director and Professors Aruni Bhatnagar, Matthew Cave, and David Hein as Co-investigators/Co-Directors.

PhTx PhD candidates Laila Al-Eryani and Samantha Carlisle awarded extramural funding

Laila Al-Eryani received Supplemental Training for Education Program (STEP) funding from the Society of Toxicology to attend a NIH/NCI molecular prevention summer course in Rockville, Maryland, Aug 1-5, 2016.  Laila is carrying our her dissertation research in the laboratory of Professor Christopher States.

Samantha Carlisle received NIH funding to attend the Sixth NIGMS-funded Short Course on Statistical Genetics & Genomics at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, July 11-15, 2016.Samantha is carrying out her dissertation research in the laboratory of Professor David Hein.

Dr. Joseph Calvin Kouokam awarded NIH faculty diversity supplement grant

Dr. Joseph Calvin Kouokam, Instructor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, has received an NIH faculty diversity supplement grant to carry out research under the direction of Dr. Kenneth Palmer, Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and Executive Director of the Owensboro Cancer Research Program.  In his NIH grant, Dr. Kouokam will study Griffithsin (GRFT), a sugar binding protein with pronounced antiviral activities against multiple enveloped viruses, including HIV. His project will evaluate whether GRFT is effective and safe for use as microbicide in patients with colorectal pathologies such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colorectal cancer.

IBD are chronic relapsing inflammatory disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, and mainly include ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. They affect about four million people worldwide mostly in North America and Europe. As a faculty diversity supplement to the 1U19AI113182 project evaluating “Griffithsin-based rectal microbicides for the prevention of viral entry (PREVENT)”, led by Professor Kenneth Palmer, Dr, Kouokam will assess the safety and efficacy of plant produced Griffithsin (GRFT) in the context of IBD.

One of the primary goals of the proposed study is to assess the inhibitory effects of GRFT on HSV-2 in mice with dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis. A mouse model of IBD-associated colorectal cancer (using azoxymethane) will be assessed as well. The findings will provide a proof of concept for GRFT efficacy in preventing HIV in the context of colorectal pathologies. In addition, Dr. Kouokam will carry out comprehensive safety studies of GRFT in the context of IBD, both in vitro and in vivo. The findings will provide valuable information regarding the potential use of GRFT in IDB patients and further advocate its development as a microbicide with broad application against enveloped viruses.

With fireworks injuries to children on the rise, caution urged

UofL pediatricians offer tips for a safe and fun July 4th weekend

With the Fourth of July weekend coming up, pediatricians with University of Louisville Physicians are urging parents to be aware of the dangers involved with children handling fireworks, while offering tips to enjoy them as well as alternatives for a safe and enjoyable holiday.

New research from the University of Louisville that was presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2016 Meeting in Baltimore in May shows loosening U.S. laws that let people buy pyrotechnics at younger ages is tied to increased incidence and severity of fireworks-related burns in children.

As states relaxed laws related to fireworks sales during the past decade, emergency doctors saw an increase in both the number of fireworks-related injuries among children and the severity of those injuries.

“The increase in fireworks-related injuries and the severity of these injuries in children since 2006 are very concerning,” said Dr. Charles Woods Jr., one of the study’s authors and associate chair of pediatrics at the University of Louisville and UofL Physicians. “Parents and caregivers of children also should be aware of these increasingly serious injuries and the potential dangers involved in allowing young children to handle and play with fireworks.”

Dr. Heather Felton, medical director of the UofL Pediatrics Sam Swope Kosair Charities Centre and an assistant professor at the UofL School of Medicine, said there are ways parents can protect their children from the dangers and still enjoy the festivities.

“First, igniting fireworks should be left to adults,” Dr. Felton said. “Adults are also at risk of having an accident, so any and all precautions should be taken.”

Adults should also be aware of local and state laws regarding fireworks before purchasing and setting off fireworks.

“If you’ve done this and are ready to start your celebration, children should be encouraged to watch the fireworks and not help,” Dr. Felton said.

Accidents can happen, and having them a safe distance away from where the fireworks are being lit is one way to avoid injury from any mishaps, she said.

The National Council on Fireworks Safety recommends that if fireworks are going to be used, they are used outdoors away from flammable materials, overhead obstructions, buildings or vehicles.

”It’s also a good idea to have a water source available in case of a fire,” Dr. Felton said.

To dispose of used fireworks, the council recommends wetting the fireworks, placing them in a metal trash can away from any building and waiting a day to dispose of the materials.

Also, Dr. Felton said that for parents and their children’s safety, they should read the cautionary labels on fireworks before igniting them.

If participating in your family’s fireworks display is a battle between parents and their children, Dr. Felton offers a few alternatives:

  • Bubbles. If age appropriate, buy bubbles and let children enjoy seeing who can produce the most bubbles or who can create the biggest bubble.
  • Sidewalk chalk. Ask children to use their creativity and draw a fireworks display.
  • Glow sticks. If celebrating outdoors, give children glow sticks to wear when the sun goes down. (Read the safety labels on these as well and make sure the product is age appropriate.)
  • Silly string or confetti. “This can be fun and colorful, and only a bit messy to clean up,” said Dr. Felton. You can find confetti poppers, which give your children the sights and the sounds of the Fourth of July.
  • Attend a neighborhood or citywide celebration. Many cities, neighborhoods and clubs will have fireworks. Parents and children can enjoy the show without being close.

“Teaching your children responsible fireworks safety now will prepare them for later, and it helps everyone have a safe and enjoyable holiday,” Dr. Felton said.

Initial site work begins on new home for UofL pediatric health care

Initial site work begins on new home for UofL pediatric health care

Rendering of proposed new UofL pediatric office building

On July 18, the University of Louisville Foundation will begin construction on a new, 170,000-square-foot pediatric medical office building. The building will be designed to house all of the UofL Physicians pediatric specialty clinical practices, with a large general pediatrics location on the ground floor. The eight-story building will have seven clinical floors, plus a lab, pharmacy and radiology services, as well as a rooftop garden and conference area.

The new building will be adjacent to the UofL Physicians Outpatient Center, located at 401 E. Chestnut St.

Planning for the building began in January 2015 and Architectural firms GBBN, Stanley, Beaman & Sears and Messer Construction Co. have been engaged since June 2015.

“This will be the premier pediatrics care building for children in the state of Kentucky,” said Dr. Gerard Rabalais, chair of the UofL Department of Pediatrics. “This will allow parents easy access to pediatrics specialists and primary care providers in one location, with everything designed specifically for children and their families. It is our intent that through this new facility, we will be building the future of pediatric care for years to come.”

An official groundbreaking ceremony with more details on the overall vision for the building is scheduled for fall.

PhTx PhD candidates Samantha Carlisle and Marcus Stepp present research findings overseas

Department of Pharmacology &Toxicology PhD candidates presented their research findings at the 7th International Workshop on N-acetyltransferases in Trier Germany, June 18-20, 2016.

Samantha Carlisle and Marcus Stepp are carrying out their dissertation research in the laboratory of Professor David Hein.

Samantha Carlisle                                                                         Marcus Stepp

Nathan Wainscott Awarded ASPET Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship

Nathan Wainscott, an undergraduate student enrolled at the University of Louisville has been awarded a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship by the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.  Nathan is testing the ability of several lead compounds targeting the anaphase promoting complex to arrest the cell cycle and induce apoptosis in lung cancer cell lines. He will then determine the cell cycle phase in which this arrest is induced by the presence of specific cycle markers.  Nathan is working in the laboratory of  Professor J. Christopher States in the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology.

DIGH and Two Fulbright Fogarty Fellowship Winners

DIGH and Two Fulbright Fogarty Fellowship Winners

Congratulations to Jessica Eaton and Mackenzie Flynn on each receiving a Fulbright Fogarty Fellowship. This is a huge honor and to have two at once from our school is a jaw-dropping accomplishment. We are thrilled that each of these women are members of the Distinction in Global Health and cannot wait to see all the wonderful things they do in their careers.

To read the complete article please click the link below or copy and paste into your browser.

Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology welcomes five new PhD students through partnership with Wenzhou Medical University

Liya Chen (Leah)
Bachelor of Clinical Medicine, Wenzhou Medical University
Postgraduate Student in Pediatrics, Scientific Research Center
The Second Affiliated Hospital and Yuying Children’s Hospital
Wenzhou Medical University

Jian Jin (Joseph)
Bachelor of Clinical Medicine, Wenzhou Medical University
Masters in Endocrinology, Wenzhou Medical University
Attending Physician (Endocrinology), The Second Affiliated Hospital
Wenzhou Medical University

Lexiao Jin (Monica)
Bachelor of Clinical Medicine, Wenzhou Medical University
Masters in Anesthesiology, Wenzhou Medical University
Attending Physician (Anesthesiology), The Second Affiliated Hospital
Wenzhou Medical University

Yihong Li (Summer)
B.S., Biological Engineering, Qiqihar University
M.S., Microbiology, Anhui University
M.S., Microbiology, Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Research Associate, Wenzhou Institute of Biomaterials and Engineering
Wenzhou Medical University

Haiyan Lu
Bachelor of Clinical Medicine, Wenzhou Medical University
Masters in Pediatrics, Wenzhou Medical University
Pediatrician, The Second Affiliated Hospital and Yuying Children’s Hospital
Wenzhou Medical University

Lisanne Anders, MD selected for a 2016 AASLD Emerging Liver Scholar Resident Travel Award

Lisanne Anders, MD has been selected for a 2016 American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) Emerging Liver Scholar Resident Travel Award to attend the annual meeting in Boston, MA.

Dr. Anders carries out her research in the laboratory of Dr. Juliane Arteel, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology.

The Emerging Liver Scholar Award is designed to promote the study of hepatology among residents who have potential for a career in academic medicine and who may be interested in choosing adult or pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology, hepatopathology, surgery or GI radiology with an emphasis on hepatobiliary imaging as their career focus.

UofL pediatrician named inaugural scholar in collaboration to improve population health

UofL pediatrician named inaugural scholar in collaboration to improve population health

Gilbert Liu, M.D.

University of Louisville pediatrician Gilbert Liu, M.D., has been named an inaugural scholar by the Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky (CIK) in an initiative to broaden capacity in addressing health disparities across the state and beyond. Liu is chief of the Division of General Pediatrics at UofL and practices with UofL Pediatrics.

By bringing together the expertise of researchers from multiple disciplines, the CIK, an entity of the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences, has brought together 18 researchers as its inaugural Commonwealth Scholars, from academic areas ranging from health promotion, economics, medicine and urban affairs to health policy.

Along with Liu, the first CIK Scholars include:

  • Joseph Benitez, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Health Management and Systems Sciences, UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • Craig Blakely, Ph.D., M.P.H., dean, UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • Susan Buchino, Ph.D., OTR/L, senior research manager, UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • Ryan Combs, Ph.D., M.A., assistant professor, Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • Liza Creel, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor, Department of Health Management and Systems Sciences, UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • Robert Esterhay, M.D., associate professor, Department of Health Management and Systems Sciences, UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • José Fernandez, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Economics, UofL College of Business
  • Jeremy Gaskins, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics, UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • J’Aime Jennings, Ph.D., M.P.A., assistant professor, Department of Health Management and Systems Sciences,UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • Christopher Johnson, Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Health Management and Systems Sciences,UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • Brandy Kelly Pryor, Ph.D., director,  Center for Health Equity at the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness; assistant professor, Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • Jelani Kerr, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., assistant professor, Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences,UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • Bert Little, Ph.D., professor, Department of Health Management and Systems Sciences, UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • W. Paul McKinney, M.D.,associate dean for research; professor, Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • Elizabeth Munnich, Ph.D.,assistant professor, Department of Economics, UofL College of Business
  • Matthew Ruther, Ph.D.,director of the Kentucky State Data Center; assistant professor, Department of Urban and Public Affairs, UofL College of Arts and Sciences
  • Monica Wendel, Dr.P.H., M.A., associate dean for public health practice; acting director, Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky; associate professor, Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences

“The complex health issues facing our communities such as poverty and preventable health disparities, require individual scholars to recognize the valuable knowledge and methods of other disciplines,” said Craig Blakely, dean of the UofL School of Public Health and Information Science and CIK Executive Committee member. “We are convening researchers from across the globe with wide-ranging expertise to improve population health and affect health policy.”

The primary operations of the CIK involve community-based research, health policy support, data analytics, and education. Commonwealth Scholars are able to access a variety of national data sets. Researchers also benefit from infrastructure support, such as financial management and biostatisticians, as well as connections to CIK community partners to develop new research.

Initial CIK projects underway include the development and pilot of neighborhood-focused health literacy interventions and a mentoring program for justice involved youth. An experiential study of LGBTQ Kentuckians enrolling in and using health insurance and an evaluation of the Affordable Care Act implementation in Louisville Metro are among the completed projects.

Interested researchers should submit a short statement and current CV to Applications will be reviewed by the CIK Executive Committee and applicants will be notified of their acceptance as a Commonwealth Scholar.


Diana Avila and Dominique Jones awarded PhD degrees at May 2016 doctoral hooding ceremony

Dr. Diana Avila and Dr. Dominique Jones were awarded their PhD in pharmacology and toxicology at the May 2016 University of Louisville doctoral and hooding ceremony.  Dominique also received the graduate student diversity award in the School of Medicine.

UofL, GI division well represented at DDW 2016

University of Louisville faculty, fellows and residents part of several talks and presentations.
UofL, GI division well represented at DDW 2016

Dr. Thomas Abell and the University of Louisville GI fellows at the 2016 Digestive Disease Week conference in San Diego.

The University of Louisville Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition made a far-reaching impact at the 2016 Digestive Disease Week conference, held May 22-24, 2016 in San Diego.

The Gastroparesis group presented a total of nine posters and two talks, while the Liver group will give seven posters and two talks.

Also, the UofL Gastroparesis group presented the posters and seven talks at the International Gastrointestinal Electrophysiology Society (IGES) satellite meeting, also in San Diego in conjunction with the DDW2016 event.

The talks presented by the UofL group and its associates include:


Gastroparesis Group

  • Dr. Henry Parkman - "Early Satiety and Postprandial Fullness in Gastroparesis. Characteristics using the GpR2 Database"
  • Dr. Pankaj Pasricha - "Clinical Outcomes and Neuropathological Features of Patient with Chronic Nausea and Vomiting are Similar in patients with or Without Delayed Gastric Emptying"

Liver Group

  • Dr. Irina Kirpich - "Dietary fat rich in linoleic acid exacerbates EtOH-induced inflammasome activation and liver injury in mouse models of alcoholic liver disease"
  • Dr. Craig McClain - "Not Written in Stone: Modifying Hepatic Fibrosis"


IGES Symposium Talks

  • Dr. Patrick McKenzie - "The Effect of Gastrointestinal Electrical Stimulation in Patients with The Symptoms of Gastroparesis Combined With Pancreato-Biliary Disorders"
  • Dr. Andy Patel - "Autonomic And Enteric Responses to Temporary Gastric Electrical Stimulation"
  • Dr. Ammar Hassan "Clinical Outcome of Diabetic Versus Idiopathic Gastroparesis Undergoing Gastric Electrical Stimulation"
  • Dr. Nikhil Kadle - "Energy of Gastric Electrical Stimulation Interacts with Cajal, Mast and S100 Cells to Predict GI Symptom Outcome"
  • Dr. Shifat Ahmed - "Comparison of Neurohormonal Changes with Gastroparesis in Response to Temporary Gastric Electrical Stimulation"
  • Dr. Shifat Ahmed - "Is the Electrogastrogram a Clinically Useful Tool?"
  • Dr. Imad Jaafar - "Medium and Long Term Outcome of Symptoms using Gastric Electrical Stimulation with Temporary GES as a Screening Tool"



(links in .pdf format)