UofL receives $13.8 million to study use of promising new adult stem cell to treat heart failure

Award is one of university’s largest-ever federal grants for medical research
UofL receives $13.8 million to study use of promising new adult stem cell to treat heart failure

The research team on the Program Project Grant is shown on the steps of the Abell Administration Center at the UofL Health Sciences Center in October 2016, with principal investigator Roberto Bolli, M.D., at front center.

The University of Louisville has received one of its largest grants for medical research in the school’s 219-year history, a $13.8 million award from the National Institutes of Health to study a promising new type of adult cardiac stem cell that has the potential to treat heart failure.

The announcement on Friday was made by Gregory Postel, M.D., interim president of UofL, and the study’s principal investigator, Roberto Bolli, M.D., director of UofL’s Institute of Molecular Cardiology. Bolli also serves as scientific director of the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute at UofL and as a professor and chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at the School of Medicine.

“This is a prestigious grant reflecting the magnitude of the work being conducted here,” Postel said. “Being awarded this grant is a huge, huge accomplishment.”

Bolli thanked the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the NIH for their support. “It is critical that we have this type of support for the important research programs that we carry out, which can help patients around the world,” he said.

Heart failure affects millions of people, and the most common cause is a heart attack. When a person suffers a heart attack, part of the heart muscle dies from lack of oxygen and is replaced with scar tissue, which does not contract. Because of the loss of muscle, the heart becomes weaker and less able to pump.

Until now, conventional treatments for heart failure have consisted of surgery or medications, which can alleviate symptoms but do not cure the disease. In contrast, Bolli’s focus has been on how to repair the heart itself and actually cure heart failure using a patient’s own stem cells. It is an approach that could revolutionize the treatment of heart disease.

The NIH grant is a continuation of a Program Project Grant (PPG) that Bolli and his team were originally awarded in 2005. The overall goal of this PPG is the use of stem cells to repair the damage caused by a heart attack by regenerating heart muscle in the area that died, replacing the scar tissue with new muscle and thereby making the heart stronger and able to pump more blood.

A PPG is a cluster of several projects with a common focus relating to one theme, in this case, the use of adult stem cells to repair the heart. It involves a collaboration among different investigators working as a team, a collaboration that otherwise might not be able to occur without funding.

The latest round of funding comes after Bolli and his colleagues discovered a new population of adult stem cells, called CMCs, in the heart three years ago.

“CMCs seem to be more effective,” Bolli said. “In addition to showing more promise than those we have used in the past, these cells also offer several advantages in that they can be produced more easily, faster, more consistently and in larger numbers than other adult stem cells, which have proven tricky.”

He said this would make them easier to apply for widespread use, as specialized labs to isolate the cells would not be needed as with other types of adult stem cells.

Bolli and his team want to find out what CMCs will do when transplanted into a diseased heart in mice and pigs, ultimately laying the groundwork for clinical trials in patients.

On Friday, Postel noted that the NIH didn’t just approve UofL’s grant application - a long, multistep process involving more than a dozen reviewers who are experts in the field - it funded the project with a perfect score and rare high praise. In fact, the committee reviewing the application concluded Bolli’s program was, quote “exceptional,” with “significant translational impact, an exceptional leader and investigative team and an exceptional environment.”

“We are continually striving for new and better ways to treat heart disease,” Bolli said. “I’m confident we are not that far from a cure.”


Beating cancer with leading-edge research right here in Louisville

Learn how UofL researchers and clinicians are diagnosing and curing cancer at the next Beer with a Scientist, Oct. 12
Beating cancer with leading-edge research right here in Louisville

Levi Beverly, Ph.D.

Clinicians using a person’s breath to detect cancer. Computers helping identify the best cancer therapies. Researchers testing ways to activate a patient’s own immune cells to find and kill cancer cells. Scientists using tobacco plants to produce vaccines against cancer-causing viruses. These and other promising and interesting techniques for beating cancer will be discussed at the next Beer with a Scientist event. Levi Beverly, Ph.D., will present, “Cutting-edge ways that researchers and clinicians are diagnosing and curing cancer right here in Louisville,” at the free, public event, which also is part of Research!Louisville.

Beverly is an assistant professor in the University of Louisville School of Medicine Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology and Toxicology, and is a researcher at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center. His research focuses on understanding the biology of lung cancer and leukemia. In addition, his group is trying to find new therapies for treating cancer and new drugs to protect patients from the detrimental side effects of common cancer treatments.

The event begins at 8 p.m. onWednesday, Oct. 12, at Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St. in Louisville. A 30-minute presentation will be followed by an informal Q&A session. This edition of Beer with a Scientist is part of Research!Louisville, an annual week-long festival of health-related research being conducted at the Louisville Medical Center.

The Beer with a Scientist program began in 2014, the brainchild of Beverly, who hoped to make science accessible 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.


More about Research!Louisville

An annual conference highlighting health-related research in the Louisville Medical Center, Research!Louisville features four days of showcases and events sponsored by the University of Louisville, University of Louisville Hospital/KentuckyOne Health, Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation/KentuckyOne Health and Norton Healthcare. Find the full schedule for this year’s Research!Louisville at


October 5, 2016

UofL sole site in Kentucky testing investigational device for emphysema

UofL sole site in Kentucky testing investigational device for emphysema

Tanya Wiese, D.O., director of the UofL Interventional Pulmonary Program

The University of Louisville has launched a research trial to study an investigational medical device designed to aid patients with emphysema by shutting off the diseased part of the lung. UofL is the only site in Kentucky among 14 nationwide testing the device.

The Zephyr Endobronchial Valve (EBV) is a one-way valve that blocks off diseased lung sections to inhaled air but allows trapped air already inside the area to escape. This enables the collapse of the diseased part of the lung, allowing for the healthier parts of the lung to expand.

Emphysema, a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is an ongoing, progressive disease of the lower respiratory tract in the lungs. It is a seriously disabling disease with the potential for major complications and is often eventually fatal.

The symptoms of emphysema include shortness of breath and wheezing, an abnormal whistling sound made by the lungs during breathing. It is usually caused by smoking or other long-term exposure to inhaled irritants such as air pollution, chemicals, manufacturing fumes or small particles such as coal dust.

The randomized study, known as the LIBERATE study, is investigating the safety and effectiveness of the EBV for treating emphysema symptoms as compared to a current standard medical therapy program alone. Tanya Wiese, D.O., director of the Interventional Pulmonary Program, is principal investigator of the UofL study.

“The Zephyr EBV’s novel mechanism of action shows promise to help the healthy parts of the lung expand and reduce the effect of the disease,” Wiese said. “While not a cure, we believe this device could bring relief and improved quality of life to our patients with emphysema.”

The EBV can be placed by a doctor in a diseased section of the lungs using bronchoscopy, a procedure to access the lungs using a small tube with a camera on the end. With bronchoscopy, a physician can reach the airways in the lung by passing the tube through either the mouth or nose so invasive surgery is not required.

The problem of emphysema is particularly acute in Kentucky. The American Lung Association estimates that more than 56,000 Kentuckians, or 13 percent of the population, have emphysema, making the incidence of emphysema in Kentucky one of the highest in the United States.

Enrollment in the study is expected to be completed by the end of 2015 and patients will be followed for three years. To schedule an appointment to be screened for inclusion or for more information, contact Crissie DeSpirito at 502-852-0026 or Additional information on the LIBERATE study is available on the national clinical trials website,, using the Clinical Trials Identifier NCT01796392 or by calling 1-888-248-LUNG.

The other trial sites are Arizona Pulmonary Specialists, Cleveland Clinic, Duke University Medical Center,  Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Temple University Hospital, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, University of Pittsburg Medical Center, The Mayo Clinic, University of California at Davis Medical Center,  University of California, San Francisco and University of Southern California.

The study is sponsored by Pulmonx Inc., a pulmonology-focused medical device company headquartered in Redwood City, California.

Beer with a Scientist: Up close and personal with personalized precision medicine, Mar. 23

Learn how a patient’s DNA can be used to improve medical treatments at the next Beer with a Scientist
Beer with a Scientist:  Up close and personal with personalized precision medicine, Mar. 23

Roland Valdes Jr., Ph.D.

Roland Valdes Jr., Ph.D., will explain how personalized precision medicine uses an individual patient’s genetic material (DNA) to improve drug treatments for that patient at the next Beer with a Scientist on March 23.

Valdes, a Distinguished University Scholar and professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Louisville, has researched and patented biological markers that can be used to personalize a patient’s treatment for a specific disease. By analyzing a patient’s DNA, pathologists can pinpoint whether that individual may be susceptible to adverse events, respond well to a specific medication, or experience drug sensitivities or interactions.

The program begins at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Mar. 23 at Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St. A 30-minute presentation will be followed by an informal Q&A session.

The Beer with a Scientist program began in 2014 and is the brainchild of UofL cancer researcher Levi Beverly, Ph.D. Once a month, the public is invited to enjoy exactly what the title promises:  beer and science.

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

Organizers add that they also encourage Beer with a Scientist patrons to drink responsibly.

For more information and to suggest future Beer with a Scientist topics, follow Louisville Underground Science on Facebook.


March 16, 2016

Seminar offers care guidance for couples after cancer treatment

Seminar offers care guidance for couples after cancer treatment

Daniela Wittmann, Ph.D.

A March 28 workshop is designed to help cancer care providers support and provide resources for patients and families coping with sexual dysfunction related to chronic illness and treatment.

Daniela Wittmann, Ph.D., University of Michigan clinical assistant professor of urology, will present “Assessing and Treating Sexual Dysfunction After Cancer Treatment: The Role of the Oncology Social Worker.”

The University of Louisville’s Kent School of Social Work, Baptist Health Cancer Care and Hosparus co-sponsor the 12:30-4 p.m. event in the Cancer Resource Center Conference Room of the Charles and Mimi Osborn Cancer Center, Baptist Health Louisville, 4003 Kresge Way.

The seminar is intended for the social workers, oncology nurses, doctors and caregivers who help cancer patients through the grief process, treatment and recovery.

The workshop and lunch are free but registration is required by March 21 at Three continuing education units are available for social workers for $30 during the National Social Work Month event.

Wittmann will discuss a biopsychosocial approach to understanding sexual dysfunction after cancer treatment and providing treatment geared to improving recovery of sexual function and relationships.

She is co-author of the American Cancer Society guideline for prostate cancer survivorship care and has led the development of psychosocial interventions in the University of Michigan’s program. She has more than 30 years of clinical experience focusing on adjustment to chronic illness.

For more information, contact Karen Kayser at 502-852-1946 or

Posted March 11, 2016

Gut environment could reduce severity of malaria

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

Nathan Schmidt, Ph.D.

Posted Feb. 8, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Putting cancer detection, prevention on the road

Brown Cancer Center screening unit meets people where they are
Putting cancer detection, prevention on the road

The same cancer screening services available at the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center can be brought to workplaces, churches, schools or other organizations, with just a phone call to schedule.

The cancer center’s Mobile Screening Unit provides prevention and early detection services for breast and other types of cancers. People with private health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid will incur no additional charges for mobile services, and the cancer center will bill providers on behalf of the patients. Some co-pays may apply.

Services provided by the Mobile Screening Unit are furnished by staff at the cancer center and the Kentucky Cancer Program, the statewide cancer prevention and control program mandated by the Kentucky General Assembly.

For more than 25 years, the mobile unit has reached people at their place of business, church, school or community, first focusing on the provision of mammograms for breast cancer and later adding screening services for other types of cancer.

Business and organizational leaders who want to schedule the unit should contact Vera Hobbs at 502-562-4361, extension 4.



Home IV antibiotics unnecessary for children with complicated pneumonia

UofL study shows bacterial pneumonia with empyema in children successfully treated with video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) and early transition to oral antibiotics
Home IV antibiotics unnecessary for children with complicated pneumonia

Claudia Espinosa, M.D., M.Sc.

Treating children with pneumonia complicated by infected fluid in the chest (called empyema) can take longer than other infectious diseases, and typically requires surgical intervention and intravenous (IV) antibiotics. A study published in the April issue of The American Surgeon by University of Louisville assistant professor of pediatrics Claudia Espinosa, M.D., M.Sc., and colleagues, shows that the disease can successfully be treated with a course of broad-spectrum oral antibiotics once the children are released from the hospital, thus making administration of IV antibiotics at home unnecessary.

Espinosa and several colleagues at the UofL School of Medicine conducted a retrospective study of 61 patients treated using a standardized approach of video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) and IV antibiotics administered in the hospital, with transition to broad-spectrum oral antibiotics about five days after surgery or when the patients were discharged. The study showed a 92 percent rate of recovery without complications using this approach, which is comparable to that achieved with prolonged courses of IV antibiotics continued at home, but avoids potential complications associated with home IVs.

“Given the adverse effects of IV antibiotics and the potential possible complications of PICC lines, transitioning to oral antibiotics and providing a shorter course than previously advised is a good strategy,” Espinosa said. “The outcomes appear to be good even when cultures are negative and the choice of antibiotic is an empiric one.”

The children in the study, all previously healthy children with community-acquired bacterial pneumonia and empyema, were admitted to Kosair Children’s Hospital from 2008 to 2012. All of the children were treated with prompt VATS and early transition to oral antibiotics, which continued for an average of two weeks after discharge.

“Many physicians believe that placing a chest tube and giving fibrinolytics is better than VATS for treatment of empyema,” Espinosa said. “In this study, we show good outcomes, short length of stay, minimal complications and short course of antibiotics for pediatric patients with empyema who underwent VATS.”

Horses and Hope, UofL Kentucky Cancer Program host Breast Cancer Awareness Day at Keeneland

Horses and Hope, UofL Kentucky Cancer Program host Breast Cancer Awareness Day at Keeneland

Former Kentucky First Lady and longtime cancer awareness activist Jane Beshear will join with the Kentucky Cancer Program at the University of Louisville to host Horses and Hope: A Breast Cancer Awareness Day at the Races, Wednesday, April 13, at Keeneland  race track in Lexington.

Doors open at 10:30 a.m. with lunch served at 11:30 a.m. at the Keene Barn and Entertainment Center. First post time for the day’s racing card will be 1:05 p.m.

Breast cancer survivors and guests are invited to enjoy lunch and a Derby Fashion Style Show sponsored by Talbots, The Spa at Griffin Gate, Kroger, Keeneland and WKYT-TV and emceed by WKYT anchor Amber Philpott. Following the program, participants will be escorted to reserved seating in Keeneland’s Grandstand where the day’s racing will feature a Horses and Hope race honoring breast cancer survivors.

Horses andHope™ is a project of Beshear and the Kentucky Cancer Program. The mission is to increase cancer awareness, education, screening and treatment referral among Kentucky’s horse industry workers and other special populations. Screenings and events are held across the state in collaboration with the new Horses and Hope Cancer Screening Van launched earlier this year with KentuckyOne Health.

Ticket packages are $30 per person and include reserved parking, track admission, lunch, covered grandstand seating, racing program and a special Horses and Hope souvenir. Participants are encouraged to wear pink for breast cancer awareness.

Seating is limited so registration by April 11 is advised. To make reservations, call 859-254-3412. For additional information, call toll-free, 877-326-1134.

Advances in operating room ultrasound discussed at daylong workshop

Advances in operating room ultrasound discussed at daylong workshop

The latest advances in the use of ultrasound in the operating theater will be shared in a daylong workshop on May 14 sponsored by the University of Louisville.

The latest advances in the use of bedside ultrasound in the operating theater will be shared at a daylong conference for health care professionals.

The Perioperative Ultrasound and Echocardiology Workshop will be held Saturday, May 14, in the Paris Simulation Center in the University of Louisville School of Medicine Instructional Building, 500 S. Preston St. Registration opens at 7 a.m. and the workshop will be held from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The workshop is designed for anesthesia providers, anesthesiologists, intensivists, residents and nurses in the perioperative environment, said Jiapeng Huang, M.D., Ph.D., clinical professor of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine at UofL, an attending cardiac anesthesiologist at Jewish Hospital, a part of KentuckyOne Health, and president of medical staff for Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Healthcare.

Perioperative ultrasound, also known as point-of-care or bedside ultrasound, enables the anesthesiology staff to have real-time ultrasound images in the operating room environment that are equal in accuracy to x-ray or CT scan without exposing patients to potentially harmful radiation. Echocardiography is a diagnostic test that uses ultrasound waves to create an image of the heart. Ultrasound of the nerves and blood vessels also enables health care professionals see these structures in real time to guide nerve blocks and central line placement. Ultrasound makes these invasive procedures much safer and more efficient.

“This course will provide anesthesiologists and others involved in perioperative care the most up-to-date and practical ultrasound skills required for safe and the highest quality anesthesia care,” Huang said.

The workshop has sliding registration fees based on profession and hospital affiliation. Continuing education credit also is available. Breakfast and lunch are provided.

For details and to register, go to the workshop website.

UofL Physicians to hold special pediatric eye clinic hours on Saturday, Dec. 6

One-day clinic from 8 a.m. to noon provides convenience for families
UofL Physicians to hold special pediatric eye clinic hours on Saturday, Dec. 6

Rahul Bhola, M.D., with two patients at the Kentucky Lions Eye Center.

For the convenience of parents, UofL Physicians will hold an eye clinic for children from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Dec. 6. This special clinic will be held at The Springs Medical Center, 6400 Dutchmans Lane, Suite 310.

Appointments can be made by calling 502-742-2848 or 502-588-0550. UofL Physicians - Pediatric Eye Specialists sees patients from birth to age 18. Major forms of insurance are accepted.

“To help parents who can’t always bring their children in to our office during regular hours, we periodically schedule Saturday clinic hours to make it more convenient,” said Rahul Bhola, M.D., who leads UofL Physicians - Pediatric Eye Specialists and is director of pediatric ophthalmology for the UofL School of Medicine.

“All preschool children, even those without noticeable eye problems, should have at least one vision screening or comprehensive eye exam before the age of 5,” Bhola said. “After age 5, every child should have an annual eye exam.”

To help parents, Bhola offers eight signs that can signal a child has a vision problem:

  • An eye appears to be misaligned, either crossed or drifting outward
  • Squinting, closing or covering one eye
  • Rubbing one or both eyes excessively
  • Headache, nausea or dizziness with visual tasks
  • Excessive or unusual clumsiness
  • Tilting the head to one side
  • One or both eyelids droop downward
  • A sibling or other close family member has lazy eye or other eye problems


About University of Louisville Physicians
University of Louisville Physicians isthe 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

Gov. Beshear, Lt. Gov. Luallen formally unveil UofL/Community Dental Clinic

Innovative partnership to provide children with medical, dental health care home
Gov. Beshear, Lt. Gov. Luallen formally unveil  UofL/Community Dental Clinic

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen announced Dec. 1 an innovative public/private partnership between Community Dental – a nonprofit of Kentucky and the University of Louisville Pediatrics to provide a multi-disciplinary health care home for Kentucky children enrolled in the Medicaid program.

Through co-located facilities, the two organizations will work to meet both the dental and medical needs while providing a health care home for children who qualify for health care services through the Medicaid program.

“Our citizens face a number of significant health issues, not the least of which is oral health,” Gov. Beshear said. “One of the most effective ways to combat chronic health conditions is to identify potential problems early and address them. This means ensuring that our children have easy access to the health care they need and deserve. This partnership seeks to meet that need, not just medical care, but also dental care. Through the creation of a health home for children, we believe we will be able to reverse some of the major health problems facing Kentucky.”

Community Dental of Kentucky is a full-service dental organization designed to increase access to health care in underserved communities with the goal of improving the overall health of the population. The clinic specializes in meeting the oral health needs of individuals who are enrolled in Medicaid, a population that has historically lacked sufficient access to dental services. Community Dental’s Kentucky clinic is located at 3438 Taylor Blvd. in Louisville. Community Dental is patterned after Sarrell Dental, which was founded in 2004 in Anniston, Alabama. Since then, Sarrell has grown to include 13 other offices in Alabama. The Sarrell Dental Team consists of more than 250 employees, including dentists, hygienists and managers.

“We are honored to partner with the Commonwealth and the University of Louisville,” said Jeffrey Parker, chairman of Community Dental of Kentucky. “Gov. Beshear has created the environment for preventive care as a major tool for combating the health care problems faced by the people in the state.”

Earlier this year, Gov. Beshear launched kyhealthnow, an initiative aimed at attacking the causes of many of the significant health care issues faced by the people of the Commonwealth, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and oral health.

“Part of the mission of kyhealthnow is to encourage Kentuckians to routinely visit primary care providers and dental professionals to detect potential issues before they escalate into major health problems,” Lt. Gov. Luallen said. “As chair of this initiative, I want to continue to help the Governor build strong partnerships with the dental and medical community to ensure Kentucky has a healthier population.”

“We continue to uncover the links between dental and medical health,” said David L. Dunn, M.D., Ph.D., UofL executive vice president for health affairs. “Co-locating primary care sites for both dentistry and pediatrics enables the inter-professional collaboration that can truly impact the disease state of many people. This partnership has the potential to be a national model for providing preventive care to children.”

UofL Pediatrics provides general pediatric care to children throughout the region. The physicians are faculty members of the UofL Department of Pediatrics and not only see patients, but also educate the next generation of pediatricians and conduct research that leads to new and improved treatments for children.

“One of our missions is to provide children of our region with the best possible health care,” said Gerard Rabalais, M.D., chair of the UofL Department of Pediatrics. “Partnering with other primary care providers who specialize in areas outside of medicine only brings children a better opportunity for healthier living opportunities. Establishing health care homes where children receive medical and dental care in a single location provides a level of convenience that should improve access and utilization of services.”

UofL Trover Campus wins national academic medicine award

Madisonville, Ky., campus addresses need for rural health care providers
UofL Trover Campus wins national academic medicine award

Williams J. Crump, M.D.

The Trover Campus at Baptist Health Madisonville of the University of Louisville School of Medicine will receive the 2014 Shining Star of Community Achievement award from the Group on Regional Medical Campuses of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The award will be presented today (Friday, Nov. 7) during the AAMC Annual Meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago.

The award is presented to a regional academic medical program that has a positive impact on the community it serves and shows success in achieving a part of the medical school’s social mission.

Begun in 1998 by UofL and the Trover Health System (now Baptist Health Madisonville) under the leadership of William J. Crump, M.D., the Trover Rural Track has several components, all with the same goal: to address the shortage of physicians in medically underserved rural areas.

More than two-thirds of Kentucky’s counties – 81 out of 120, and nearly all of them rural – are officially designated health professional shortage areas (HPSAs) for primary care by the Health Resources and Services Administration. Nationally, only about one-fourth of the United States’ 3,082 counties are wholly designated as primary care HPSAs.

Baptist Health hosts the Trover Campus in Madisonville, Ky., serving a population of 300,000 in 12 counties with a group practice of more than 75 physicians in more than 25 specialties; a 410-bed hospital with 100 physicians on staff; up-to-date diagnostic and treatment technologies; a comprehensive cancer treatment facility and more.

“The idea is simple,” said Crump, who is associate dean for the Trover Campus and co-directs the campus with Steve Fricker, director of rural health/student affairs. “The best way to get doctors to small towns is to get medical students from small towns. Our program strives to provide first-class, individualized clinical training in an environment that allows students to experience the benefits of small-town life.”

The Trover Campus sponsors High School Rural Scholar and College Rural Scholar programs that help students from the region gain admission to medical school. Summer programs in Madisonville held after students’ first year of medical school in Louisville help them stay connected to the region. A student-led free clinic at the campus provides primary care services to the area’s low-income and uninsured population while giving students valuable training as part of their medical school curriculum.

The Trover Campus’ newest component reached an important milestone in May when Ashley Jessup of Benton, Ky., became the first graduate of its Rural Medical Accelerated Track. This track enables students to finish medical school in three years, reducing both the cost and length of their education and training.

“I cannot think of a group that has developed more innovative and comprehensive programs that have positively impacted the community they serve than the Trover Campus at UofL,” said David L. Wiegman, Ph.D., associate vice president for health affairs at UofL, in making the nomination for the award. “In fact, this program that originated at a regional rural campus is now being looked at for implementation here in Louisville with a focus on the urban uninsured.”

Crump sees the goal of increasing the numbers of physicians in rural areas as challenging but achievable. “Most of the counties in Kentucky that are underserved are only underserved by an average of 1.5 full-time equivalent positions,” he said. “This means that placing just one more physician permanently in a county may move it from being an underserved to an adequately served county.”

UofL Physicians Family & Geriatric Medicine receive patient-centered designation

UofL Physicians Family & Geriatric Medicine receive patient-centered designation

Lisa Leon, C.C.M.A., Sean Warren, M.D. and Luz Fernandez, M.D.

Patients at all four UofL Physicians Family & Geriatric Medicine practices can be assured their care is highly focused and coordinated. Each facility has received recognition from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) as a Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) for using evidence-based, patient-centered processes that focus on highly coordinated care and long‐term, participative relationships. This is a renewal of the designation originally achieved in 2014.

“NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition raises the bar in defining high-quality care by emphasizing access, health information technology and coordinated care focused on patients,” said NCQA President Margaret E. O’Kane. “Recognition shows that UofL Physicians Family & Geriatric Medicine has the tools, systems and resources to provide its patients with the right care, at the right time.”

Earning the NCQA’s Level 3 designation – the highest recognition level -- is a significant accomplishment, says Jonathan Becker, M.D., chair of the Department of Family and Geriatric Medicine.

“We strive to make sure each patient experiences continuity of care and a team-based approach to care - it’s the way medicine is supposed to be practiced,” Becker said.

Medical homes foster ongoing partnerships between patients and their personal clinicians, instead of approaching care as the sum of episodic office visits. Each patient’s care is overseen by clinician-led care teams that coordinate treatment across the health care system. Research shows that medical homes can lead to higher quality and lower costs, and can improve patient and provider reported experiences of care.

At UofL Physicians Family & Geriatric Medicine practices, patients experience access to not only physicians, but also a social worker, chronic care nurse, nutritionist and marriage and family therapist, a team that can provide a holistic approach to care.

Anne Banks, Ph.D., compiles data for the NCQA application. She says UofL Physicians Family & Geriatric Medicine practices are making continual improvements to better serve patients.

She says such changes as keeping a number of appointments open each day for those who need immediate care has prevented emergency room visits for something that could be treated in the office. Patients also have greater continuity in seeing the same doctor, as opposed to a different physician each visit. And, Banks says registered nurse case managers are reviewing patient charts periodically to assure individuals with chronic conditions like diabetes are appropriately tracked and seen in a timely manner.

“We are striving to break-down all barriers to great care,” Banks said. “Empathy and commitment to the patient should resonate throughout the practice - from the front-desk all the way through to physician interactions.”

Stem cells derived from fat tissue offer potential regenerative therapies for multiple diseases

Stuart Williams, Ph.D., of the UofL Bioficial Organs Program, delivers conference keynote address in Saudi Arabia
Stem cells derived from fat tissue offer potential regenerative therapies for multiple diseases

Stuart Williams, Ph.D.

Stem cells and other regenerative cells that have been isolated from a patient’s own fat tissue are being tested in the treatment of peripheral arterial disease, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, neurological disorders, erectile dysfunction and, most recently, Crohn’s Disease. Stuart Williams, Ph.D., director of the Bioficial Heart Program at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, pioneered the use of these cells and discussed advances in his research in a keynote address to open The 2nd Saudi International Biotechnology Conference this morning in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Fat-derived cells also are being tested at UofL for the ability to reduce the need for anti-rejection drugs in patients receiving transplanted organs, and pre-clinical studies are evaluating the use of the cells to improve the outcome of islet cell transplantation. UofL physicians are already performing pancreatic islet transplantation for the treatment of pancreatitis.

In today’s address, Williams also discussed the emerging use of additive manufacturing (3D printing) for the manufacture of medical devices and tissue implants. The program has made strides toward its 10-year goal of bioprinting a human heart from a patient’s own cells.

The conference, held in the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, is designed to build bridges of communication between scientists and specialists in Saudi Arabia and research and technical pioneers from institutions around the world.

“The Saudi Arabian government has made a major commitment to research, development and translation of regenerative medicine,” Williams said. “We have begun discussions regarding how investigators at UofL and in Saudi Arabia can create a strategic alliance to foster joint research and education in regenerative medicine.”

Williams’ research is supported in part by the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence and conducted at the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute, a collaboration between the University of Louisville and Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Health Care.


February 23, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

The program begins at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 10 at Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St. A 30-minute presentation will be followed by an informal Q&A session.

The Beer with a Scientist program began in 2014 and is the brainchild of UofL cancer researcher Levi Beverly, Ph.D. Once a month, the public is invited to enjoy exactly what the title promises:  beer and science.

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

Organizers add that they also encourage Beer with a Scientist patrons to drink responsibly.

For more information and to suggest future Beer with a Scientist topics, follow Louisville Underground Science on Facebook.


Feb. 3, 2016

Inaugural UofL Optimal Aging Conference set for June 12-14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drive Out Cancer golf scramble to help bone marrow transplant patients at UofL Brown Cancer Center

Oct. 14 event will support Mary Jane Gift Quality of Life Fund
Drive Out Cancer golf scramble to help bone marrow transplant patients at UofL Brown Cancer Center

Tommy Jr., Mary Jane and Alex Gift

For six years, Tommy Gift Jr. and his brother, Alex Gift, have been helping cancer patients at the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center through the Mary Jane Gift Quality of Life Fund. Later this month, the Gift brothers will raise the bar by hosting the inaugural Drive Out Cancer golf scramble to increase support for the fund.

Established in honor of the Gifts’ mother, who passed away from breast cancer in 2010, the Gift Fund helps patients and their families enjoy life while facing a cancer diagnosis. Over the years, the Gift Fund has provided more than 600 Thanksgiving turkeys for patients undergoing treatment at the UofL Brown Cancer Center.

Now, the fund also will support a year-round apartment for patients receiving bone marrow transplants. To raise additional funds to support this patient resource, they established Drive Out Cancer, a golf scramble to be held later this month.

“We have raised money for the fund only from the Spike It To Cancer Volleyball Tournament for years. Recently, when we learned the fund also will be supporting an apartment for bone marrow transplant recipients, we decided to host the golf scramble to raise even more money. This is a huge deal,” Tommy Gift said.

Bone marrow transplant procedures require patients to stay in or near the hospital for lengthy periods. Those who travel long distances to UofL Brown Cancer Center for this lifesaving treatment must be away from home for an extended period of time. This can create a substantial financial burden for the patients and their families. Having lodging available will ease this burden for many patients.

“The Fund was established to help keep spirits up for cancer fighters at James Graham Brown Cancer Center and let them know there are complete strangers in our community who are pulling for them, willing to help make their lives a little easier during this hard time,” Tommy Gift said.

Drive Out Cancer will be held at South Park Country Club, 915 S. Park Road in Fairdale., on Monday, Oct. 14 beginning at 10 a.m. Registration for the event is $400 for a three-person golf team. To register or sponsor the event, follow the link here.

UofL archaeologist to discuss mapping of Maya ‘Atlantis’ at Beer with a Scientist, Aug. 14

John R. Hale, Ph.D., will recount underwater mapping of an ancient ceremonial site
UofL archaeologist to discuss mapping of Maya ‘Atlantis’ at Beer with a Scientist, Aug. 14

John R. Hale, Ph.D.

After a Guatemalan sport diver discovered ancient Maya ruins in the depths of Lake Atitlan, underwater archaeologist John R. Hale, Ph.D., director of the Liberal Studies program at the University of Louisville, was invited to map the site, located in the Sierra Madre mountains of Guatemala. 

“Working with UofL archaeology majors who also were scuba divers, we were able to show that the site was in fact a 2000-year-old ceremonial center that the Maya had constructed on a small circular island in the middle of the large lake,” Hale said. “Using newly developed mapping techniques that linked sonar with satellite data, our UofL team was able to reconstruct the original contours of this Maya ‘Atlantis’ and reveal the extraordinary array of altars, standing stones and processional ways which had played a vital role in early Maya ceremony, cult and myth-making.”

A real-life “Indiana Jones,” Hale received a Ph.D. in archaeology from Cambridge University and has performed field work for more than 40 years. He has published works on ancient Scandinavian, Greek and Maya civilizations and technologies.

At this month’s Beer with a Scientist, Hale will recount the exploration of the ancient, underwater site. His talk begins at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 14, at Holsopple Brewing, 8023 Catherine Lane. 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.



August 9, 2019

Free hep C screenings available on World Hepatitis Day, July 28

“You don’t know how bad it makes you feel until you are well again”
Free hep C screenings available on World Hepatitis Day, July 28

World Hepatitis Day, designated by the World Health Organization, is Sunday, July 28

Amber Bow knew she was sick, but did not seek treatment for hepatitis C for more than two years. She did not realize just how much the virus was affecting her daily health. After completing an eight-week course of treatment in July, Bow said she feels good again.

“You don’t know how bad it makes you feel until you are well again,” Bow said. “I am getting my senses back and remembering what it’s like to live without the virus. You feel good when you get up in the morning.”

University of Louisville Hospital and community partners will be offering free hepatitis C screenings at 13 locations in Louisville and surrounding counties for World Hepatitis Day on Sunday, July 28.

Hepatitis C, a blood-borne illness, is prevalent in the Louisville area. Kentucky has one of the highest hepatitis C infection rates in the United States. Currently, providers are encouraged to test for hepatitis C only in patients with certain risk factors [SEE SIDEBAR: Known risk factors for hepatitis C] or who are from the Baby Boom generation (born 1946-1964). However, those guidelines may not be leading health care providers to everyone who has the disease.

“A growing body of evidence suggests age and risk-based screening is missing a significant number of people, including children, with hepatitis C infection,” said Barbra Cave, a family nurse practitioner specializing in gastroenterology and hepatology who leads the Hep C Center at UofL Hospital. Cave is helping to organize the local events as part of a global effort by the World Health Organization.

“Up to half of patients who have it may not know they are infected, and people may carry the disease for decades before they have symptoms,” Cave said. “The goal of the World Hepatitis Day screening event is to expand testing and awareness, link more people to curative treatment, and normalize the conversation about hepatitis C. There should be no stigma surrounding hepatitis C. Anyone could have it, including babies.”

Screenings will be offered from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday, July 28, at sites in Louisville and Jefferson, Oldham, Shelby and Bullitt counties in Kentucky and Clark County in Indiana. Screening is done with a simple finger prick and results will be available on site in 20 minutes. Hepatitis C experts will be available at all sites to answer questions and help link those affected by hepatitis C to appropriate care.

Free hepatitis C testing sites on July 28

  • Mall St. Matthews (2 sites within the mall), 5000 Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40207
  • CVS Pharmacy, 1002 Spring St., Jeffersonville, IN 47130
  • CVS Pharmacy, 2169 Midland Trail, Shelbyville, KY 40065
  • Southwest Family YMCA, 2800 Fordhaven Road, Louisville, KY 40214
  • Walgreens, 5900 Timber Ridge Dr., Prospect, KY 40059
  • Walgreens, 12101 Shelbyville Rd., Middletown, KY 40243
  • Walgreens, 2360 Stony Brook Dr., Louisville, KY 40220
  • Walgreens, 6620 Bardstown Rd., Louisville, KY 40291
  • Walgreens, 4310 Outer Loop, Louisville, KY 40219
  • Walgreens, 152 N. Buckman St., Shepherdsville, KY 40165
  • Walgreens, 11099 Highway 44E, Mount Washington, KY 40047
  • Walgreens, 807 S. Highway 53, LaGrange, KY 40031
  • Walgreens, 200 E. Broadway, Louisville, KY 40202

“We have a local goal to decrease the stigma about hepatitis C, and let people know it is easy to test for and treat,” Cave said. “Some may still remember the old days of treating hep C when treatment was difficult, involving a triple therapy with interferon that lasted almost a year and multiple side effects. Not everyone was a candidate for treatment and some patients opted to not get treated at all.

“Today, hepatitis C is easily curable and relatively inexpensive to treat. Common treatments for hep C are one or three pills, once a day, for 8-12 weeks – with minimal side effects. It is covered by almost all insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid. Cost and side effects are no longer an excuse to defer treatment.”

Left untreated, the disease can cause major complications. It can cause cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer, and is a leading cause of liver transplant. Hepatitis C may also predispose those infected to diabetes and depression, and has an association with joint pain, certain skin disorders and lymphoma.

Partners with UofL Hospital in the screening event include the Louisville Metro Department of Health and Wellness, the Kentucky Department of Public Health, KentuckyOne Health, Volunteers of America, the Sullivan University College of Pharmacy, the nursing programs of Galen University and Bellarmine University, and University of Louisville Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry and Public Health and Information Sciences, as well as generous sponsors, including Abbvie.



Known risk factors for hepatitis C

  • Born between 1945 and 1965
  • A blood transfusion or organ transplant prior to 1992
  • Had blood filtered by a machine (hemodialysis) for a long period of time because kidneys were not working
  • IV drug use at any point in life, even just once
  • Intranasal drug use at any point in life
  • HIV or hepatitis B infection
  • Health care workers exposed to blood through a needle stick or other contact with blood or bodily fluids
  • Exposure to contaminated tattoo equipment, including ink
  • Men who have sex with other men
  • Prior military service: “Older veterans are particularly at risk due to the use of the old ‘jet gun’ vaccinators by the military and from combat injuries requiring blood transfusion,” Cave said.

Contaminated dental equipment, such as that used before most items were single patient/single use, may also have spread hepatitis C, and Cave said the virus can live on a surface for six weeks if not sterilized properly.




July 25, 2019