UofL resident physicians provide physicals and health screenings for Special Olympics athletes

Partnership with JCPS serves athletes and individuals with intellectual disabilities
UofL resident physicians provide physicals and health screenings for Special Olympics athletes

UofL PM&R medical residents and faculty at MedFest

More than 300 Special Olympics athletes and students from Jefferson and Bullitt Counties received free athletic physicals and health screening exams at University of Louisville’s Cardinal Stadium on Oct. 17. University of Louisville physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) resident and faculty physicians provided the service as part of MedFest, an event organized by Special Olympics of Kentucky (SOKY) in partnership with Jefferson County Public Schools.

MedFest, part of the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Initiative, is an annual event providing free pre-participation physicals for SOKY athletes and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the community age 8 through adult. The physicals are required for the athletes to compete in Special Olympics activities or unified track or bowling through the Kentucky High School Athletic Association.  Optional dental, vision and hearing screenings also are offered to the students and athletes.


“It’s so important for our athletes to receive the medical screenings that they need. We know that through MedFest screenings, underlying conditions a lot of times are determined,” said Kim Satterwhite, senior director of field and athlete services for SOKY.

Priya Chandan, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor in the UofL Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation who serves as clinical director for the event, said participation in MedFest is not only a service to the community, but also a learning opportunity for the providers.

“Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) experience health disparities, partly because many physicians in the community are not trained to provide care for them,” Chandan said. “It’s important for our trainees – medical residents and students, nurse practitioner and nursing students, and other providers – to have this opportunity to interact with this population.”

Maria Janakos, M.D., a resident physician in physical medicine and rehabilitation, was one of 10 UofL physicians who volunteered to provide pre-participation physical exams at this year’s event.

“The athletes are amazing individuals who have tremendous motivation and determination to succeed,” Janakos said. “It is rewarding to have the opportunity to interact with them. One of the individuals I met loves to play basketball. He told me his favorite athlete was LeBron James.”

MedFest has been held every year since 2005. The location alternates between Louisville and Lexington, however UofL PM&R physicians and trainees provide the screenings every year.

Dallas Derringer, one of the athletes at the event to obtain a physical for bowling, basketball and softball, expressed gratitude for the service:  “This physical is going to help me be ready!”



Nov. 20, 2018

Not your father’s tobacco: A scientist’s perspective on health risks of e-cigarettes

Beer with a Scientist, May 15
Not your father’s tobacco: A scientist’s perspective on health risks of e-cigarettes

Daniel Conklin, Ph.D.

What would you guess is the average age when someone starts smoking?

Perhaps early 20’s? Maybe even 16?

“The average chronic smoker begins smoking at 13.7 years old,” says Daniel Conklin, Ph.D. “And if you know anything about averages, that’s...not good.”

Conklin, a professor of medicine at the University of Louisville, specializes in cardiovascular research and what environmental pollutants do to our bodies. At this month’s Beer with a Scientist, Conklin will discuss smoking and what we do (and don’t) know about the harm caused by electronic cigarettes.

“Essentially, we’re trying to separate fact from fiction. We’re currently part of an American Heart Association Tobacco Regulation Center to investigate emerging tobacco products and their potential to cause harm to the cardiovascular system,” Conklin said. “We’re trying to figure out the best way to regulate these products.”

Scientists have known that conventional tobacco products are associated with cardiovascular disease risk since the 1960s, Conklin said. However, with new technology comes a new generation of health risks and the emerging science showing what vaping does to the body may shock you.

Conklin’s talk will begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15, 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.

Setting the bar for heart, lung and blood research - UofL hosts second NIH institute director in three weeks

Setting the bar for heart, lung and blood research - UofL hosts second NIH institute director in three weeks

Gary H. Gibbons, M.D.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently announced a strategic vision of eight objectives that provide the framework for the institute’s research priorities for the coming decade.

Gary H. Gibbons, M.D., director of the NHLBI, will discuss that vision in the 24th Leonard Leight Lecture at the University of Louisville on Friday, Nov. 4, at noon in the HSC Auditorium. In his talk, “Charting our future together:  Setting an agenda for the NHLBI,” Gibbons will outline the priorities set out in the vision, which support the NHLBI’s goals to understand and promote health, stimulate discoveries in the causes of disease, enable the translation of those discoveries into clinical practice and foster the next generation of scientists and physicians.

“The convergence of innovations in areas such as computational biology, data science, bioengineering and high-throughput ‘omics’ technologies is paving the way for a new appreciation of human health and disease,” Gibbons said as the institute published the NHLBI’s Strategic Vision in August. “We now have unprecedented opportunities to better understand the complex interplay of environmental, behavioral and molecular factors that promote health; a clearer picture of the earliest point of disease development; and the ability to repair damaged tissues with stem cell and tissue engineering techniques.”

The NHLBI provides global leadership for research, training and education programs to promote the prevention and treatment of heart, lung and blood diseases and enhance the health of all individuals so that they can live longer and more fulfilling lives.

The 24th Leonard Leight Lecture is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, noon - 1 p.m. in the HSC Auditorium in Kornhauser Library on the UofL Health Sciences Center Campus.

The Leonard Leight Lecture is presented by the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine in the Department of Medicine at the UofL School of Medicine. For 30 years until 1996, Leight was a practicing cardiologist in Louisville and played a major role in developing cardiology services and bringing innovative treatment modalities in heart disease to Louisville. The Leonard Leight Lecture series was established in 1994 and is made possible by gifts from Dr. and Mrs. Kurt Ackermann and Medical Center Cardiologists to the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation.

Gibbons is the second director of a National Institute to speak at UofL in three weeks. On Oct. 14, Linda S. Birnbaum, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, discussed environmental research and the role of the NIEHS in human health at UofL as the keynote speaker of Research!Louisville.

Nominate a deserving medical resident for inaugural awards

Nominate a deserving medical resident for inaugural awards

Mark Amsbaugh, president, House Staff Council

The University of Louisville House Staff Council has launched the inaugural Outstanding Resident Awards to recognize achievement among the medical house staff.

Nominations are accepted through March 31, and anyone in the university community is eligible to submit a nomination. Three awards will be presented:

  • Resident of the Year Award: Presented to the resident who overall best embodies the mission of the university to provide excellent patient care, either directly or indirectly, advance his or her field through scholarly activity, educate other residents and students, and is an excellent example of professionalism.  
  • Resident with Outstanding Achievement in Scholarly Activity: Given to the resident who has achieved the most to further his or her field through scientific pursuit. Publications — both number and quality — as well as other scholarly activity such as presentations, quality improvement programs, grand rounds and others are considered.
  • Resident with Outstanding Achievement in Community Engagement: Awarded to the resident who has best embodied the university mission of service to and engagement with the community, state, nation or world.  A leadership role, over part or all of a project, is essential.

Nominations are made online  and must include the resident’s name and a 2-4-sentence description of the nominee’s qualifications for the award.  All nominations will be anonymous. Winners will be selected by the House Staff Council and will be announced in May or June.

For additional information, contact House Staff Council President Mark J. Amsbaugh, M.D., at

Improved DBS device offers a better solution for tremor

UofL, Jewish Hospital physicians first in region to offer refined DBS technology
Improved DBS device offers a better solution for tremor

Kathleen Prezocki with Joseph Neimat, M.D.

Kathleen Prezocki finally had enough.

Her essential tremor had progressed to the point that writing was nearly impossible, she always ordered sandwiches instead of soup or salad when eating out, and she was forced to use a card-holder so she could continue to play bridge.

“It was affecting me in eating, in writing and in speech. The medicine was not allowing me to control the symptoms anymore,” Prezocki said. “Trying to put a necklace on and trying to get that hook in there – my goodness that was frustrating!”

Prezocki’s UofL physicians suggested deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy, in which surgeons implant in the brain a wire lead that is attached to a battery controller, similar to a pacemaker used for the heart. The lead provides electrical stimulation to a precise point in the brain to mitigate the tremor. DBS has been in use for nearly 20 years, but a new device allows more precise control over the stimulation, avoiding side effects, and is controlled with an iPod touch, a more intuitive control device than previous DBS technology.

The St. Jude Medical Infinity™ DBS system was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for patients with Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor. The St. Jude system is the first in the United States to feature a directional lead designed to precisely customize therapy to help maximize patient outcomes and reduce side effects. The more precise control of the direction of the electrical stimulation allows for reduced strain on the battery, leading to longer battery life. In addition, the iPod Touch controller is more intuitive and familiar for patients.

When Prezocki learned of this improved DBS device, she decided it was time to take the next step, and was the first patient in the region to receive the St. Jude device. Joseph Neimat, M.D., a neurosurgeon with UofL Physicians, recently provided the implant for Prezocki at Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, to control tremor in her right hand. Neimat, also chair of the UofL Department of Neurological Surgery, has implanted several hundred DBS devices.

“This therapy can make a dramatic difference in a patient’s quality of life, particularly if they like to write, to play piano, to eat soup,” Neimat said. “And even though it is brain surgery, it’s a relatively low-risk surgery.”

Neurologist Victoria Holiday, M.D., clinical director of the Deep Brain Stimulation Program at UofL Physicians, has monitored Prezocki’s condition for several years and programmed her Infinity system to provide the proper stimulation. Holiday said the ability to more precisely control the stimulation allows doctors to achieve stimulation in the desired location while avoiding side effects.

“Think about a wire inside the brain and electricity is surrounding that wire in a ball shape. With this device, we can cut that ball into pie pieces. It allows us to steer away from areas of the brain that may be causing trouble,” said Holiday, also an assistant professor in the UofL Department of Neurology.

Since activating the device, Prezocki has been able to stop taking tremor medications. Her ability to write is improved and she is able to play bridge without a card-holder.

“I can write again!” Prezocki said.

“Her handwriting is much better than expected. Ms. Prezocki was not able to write at all prior to surgery and is now scrutinizing how her Zs look,” Holiday said. “She is successfully using the patient programmer at home and seems very pleased with how the system works.”

3D model of child’s heart helps surgeons save life

See video interviews with the faculty who made it happen here.

A 14-month-old boy in need of life-saving heart surgery is the beneficiary of a collaboration among University of Louisville engineers, physicians and Kosair Children’s Hospital.

Roland Lian Cung Bawi of Owensboro was born with four congenital heart defects and his doctors were looking for greater insights into his condition prior to a Feb. 10 operation.

Dr. Philip Dydynski, chief of radiology at Kosair Children’s Hospital, recently had toured the Rapid Prototyping Center at the University of Louisville’s J.B. Speed School of Engineering and became impressed with the 3D printing capabilities available there.

He asked the center’s operations manager, Tim Gornet, if a 3D model of the child’s heart could be constructed using a template created by images from a CT scan to allow doctors to better plan and prepare for his surgery. No problem, Gornet said.

The result of the Rapid Prototyping Center’s work was a model heart 1.5 times the size of the child’s. It was built in three pieces using a flexible filament and required about 20 machine hours – and only about $600 -- to make, Gornet said.

Once the model was built, Dr. Erle Austin III, cardiothoracic surgeon with University of Louisville Physicians, was able to develop a surgical plan and complete the heart repair with only one operation.

“I found the model to be a game changer in planning to do surgery on a complex congenital heart defect,” he said.

Roland was released from Kosair Children’s Hospital Feb. 14 and returned Feb. 21 for checkups with his doctors. His prognosis is good.

That’s good news for Gornet, whose work at the Rapid Prototyping Center routinely benefits manufacturers and heavy industry. Helping surgeons save a life was new territory for him.

“Knowing we can make somebody’s life better is exciting,” he said.

Lung cancer breath ‘signature’ presents promise for earlier diagnosis

UofL researchers’ analysis of breath samples could lead way to increased survival
Lung cancer breath ‘signature’ presents promise for earlier diagnosis

The balloon device and microchip used by the researchers are shown.

A single breath may be all it takes to identify the return of lung cancer after surgery, according to a study authored by University of Louisville Researchers and posted online today by The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

Exhaled breath contains thousands of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that vary in composition and pattern depending on a person’s health status. A subset of four VOCs—called carbonyl compounds because of their carbon base—have been discovered in the exhaled breath of lung cancer patients. Being able to identify this lung cancer “signature” through a simple breath test has emerged as one of the most promising ways to diagnose the disease. Now the test is being used to monitor for disease recurrence.

Erin M. Schumer, M.D., of the Department of Surgery, Victor van Berkel, M.D., Ph.D., of the Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery and colleagues from the University of Louisville analyzed breath samples collected before and after surgery from 31 lung cancer patients and compared their carbonyl VOCs levels with samples from 187 healthy patients.

The researchers found a significant decrease in overall carbonyl VOC levels following surgery; in fact, three of the four carbonyl VOCs normalized after surgery, matching levels in the control group.

“The rapid normalization of almost all of the four compounds after surgery provides strong evidence that they are directly produced by the tumor environment,” Schumer said. “This study confirms that the technology is accurate.”

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 224,000 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year, and more than 158,000 lung cancer patients will die—that translates to 433 lung cancer deaths per day in the United States.

Schumer said those grim statistics underscore the need for early detection, “We hope that breath analysis will allow us to diagnose patients with primary or recurrent lung cancer long before they suffer from symptoms, when we have more options for treating them, giving them the best chance for cure.”

Currently, lung cancer patients are followed after surgery with chest computed tomography (CT) scans, which can be inconvenient, expensive, and expose the patient to radiation. “We hope that the breath analysis can serve as the primary screening tool for cancer recurrence and a CT scan ordered only if the breath test suggests that there has been a change,” van Berkel said.

How the breath test works

The process of breath analysis is relatively simple. The patient blows a single breath into a specialized balloon. The balloon is then connected to a pump that pulls the breath over a small microchip that is smaller in size than a quarter, trapping the chemicals. The microchip is sent to the lab, where the chemicals are analyzed within hours. Breath collection can be performed in the doctor’s office.

The pump is reusable; the balloon, microchip and lab test together cost around $20, all supporting the increasing acceptance of breath tests as a cost-effective, easy-to-perform, non-invasive and rapid option for the diagnosis of lung cancer.

“The great potential with breath analysis is detecting lung cancer at any point, both as a primary screening tool and to follow patients after disease has been treated,” van Berkel said. “The technology is pretty robust. Our next step is getting approval from the FDA.”


Daniel A. Durbin named associate vice president for health affairs at UofL

Daniel A. Durbin named associate vice president for health affairs at UofL

Daniel A. Durbin

Daniel A. Durbin has been named associate vice president for health affairs/chief financial officer for the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center. The appointment is pending approval from the UofL Board of Trustees.

Durbin currently is the senior associate vice president for administration and finance at West Virginia University.

Gregory C. Postel, M.D., UofL interim president and interim executive vice president for health affairs, highlighted Durbin’s extensive experience within academic medicine and higher education.

“Dan brings to Louisville more than 30 years’ experience with the finances at universities and academic health centers,” Postel said. “During this significant time of transition for UofL and our health sciences center, this expertise is invaluable.”

Durbin joined the WVU Division of Finance in 2006. He maintains overall responsibility for central finance functions comprising more than 140 staff members in areas including institutional accounting, budget planning, procurement, payment services, revenue services, risk management, grants accounting, payroll and financial compliance. Durbin also serves as the treasurer for the WVU Research Corporation and the WVU Innovation Corporation. Before joining the finance division, he held financial and administrative leadership positions at the WVU Health Sciences Center for nearly 20 years, ultimately becoming its director of budget and financial operations.

Durbin serves as a Peer Reviewer with the Higher Learning Commission. He also is a member of the National Association of College and University Business Officers, as well as the Southern Association of College and University Business Officers.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from Glenville State College in Glenville, W.Va., and his master’s in public administration from West Virginia University.

UofL resident physician to deliver research at national ophthalmology conference

UofL resident physician to deliver research at national ophthalmology conference

Joshua C. Gross, M.D.

Joshua C. Gross, M.D., a first-year resident in training with the UofL Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, will present his research at the annual meeting of the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology (AUPO) on Jan. 26 in Austin, Tex. At the RPB/AUPO Resident and Fellow Research Forum. Gross has conducted research into the association between blood flow in the retina and the progression of open-angle glaucoma and diabetes mellitus.

Working with colleagues at Indiana University School of Medicine and in Italy, Gross found that patients who had reduced retinal blood flow and optic nerve damage consistent with glaucoma who also had diabetes experienced faster visual deterioration than patients with similar characteristics but who did not have diabetes.

Open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of glaucoma, accounts for at least 90 percent of all glaucoma cases, affecting about 3 million Americans. It is caused by the slow clogging of the drainage canals, resulting in increased eye pressure. 

January 25, 2018

Surplus medical equipment from UofL gets a second life in Ghana

Improvements in eye care at UofL mean better care for 3 million Africans
Surplus medical equipment from UofL gets a second life in Ghana

Surplus ophthalmic equipment in use in Tamale, Ghana

To provide the best care for patients and the best training for physicians, the University of Louisville Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and UofL Physicians Eye Specialists regularly upgrade diagnostic and other equipment. Several of these displaced items have been put to use more than 5,000 miles away to improve care for patients in Ghana.

Until recently, Friends Eye Center in Tamale, Ghana, lacked basic ophthalmic equipment and the center’s surgical microscope was outdated and cumbersome. The center, directed by Seth Wanye, M.D., provides vision care for nearly 3 million residents of the West African nation and serves as a training site for future ophthalmologists.

Henry J. Kaplan, M.D., chair of the UofL Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, visited Friends Eye Center during a medical mission trip several years ago.

“Most of the equipment they had was non-functional. The equipment we gave them we no longer use because of the acquisition of more technologically advanced diagnostic devices,” Kaplan said. “Many of the people there have totally lost their eyesight and are dependent on their relatives and other support structures, which presents an enormous economic burden.”

Wanye, who regularly visits UofL to enhance his surgical skills, was visiting Louisville in 2015 when Kaplan offered to donate the equipment to his center in Ghana.

“It was like a dream come true,” Wanye said. “It helps me perform thorough examinations of the eye so I can identify other problems, not just the cataract that you can see. It also gives the patients comfort and they are fascinated.”

Shipping large items to Africa is not a simple process, however, and it was nearly a year before the equipment reached the center. Thanks to multiple organizations that shared the expense and worked to transport the instruments, the Friends Eye Center now has a slit lamp, which allows Wanye to examine his patients’ eyes more precisely, a better surgical microscope, chairs for both the surgeon and the patient, and an auto refractor for determining eyeglass prescriptions.

Wanye, who was the only ophthalmologist serving the Northern and Upper West regions of Ghana until a colleague joined him last year, also works with future physicians in the center to introduce them to the specialty of ophthalmology. Most Ghanaian medical students choose other specialties since ophthalmology is not a medical priority in Ghana.

“You have so many other diseases that are killing people. They say eye diseases don’t kill so they are overlooked,” Wanye said. But he has seen that restoring vision allows individuals to regain their independence and enables children to go back to school.

“When you go out into the villages, people are poor, they don’t have money but they are blind. So we will get the resources and do the surgery.”

Wanye receives funding from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Unite for Sight and the Lions Clubs International to provide eye screenings and perform between 2,000 and 4,000 cataract surgeries each year. In addition to screenings and surgeries on location, Wanye provides care for patients in the Friends Eye Center.

“To be one doctor that serves millions of people is not a trivial task. He does it because of a love and conviction for the good that he is doing. I really do admire what he’s doing and that’s why we are more than happy to assist him,” Kaplan said. This is the first time UofL’s ophthalmology department has donated equipment to a foreign health-care organization.

Wanye hopes to establish a regular exchange between UofL ophthalmologists and the center, similar to a program in which residents and faculty members from the UofL Department of Pediatrics travel to the Tamale Teaching Hospital several times each year. Tamale is an official sister city to Louisville.

“My dream is to have some continuous program, especially with the residents’ program here, so we would have residents coming to Friends Eye Center,” Wanye said. In the meantime, he is grateful to UofL for the donated equipment. “We know how valuable they are and how expensive they are. They will help us deliver more quality service to our people. Thank you to everyone at UofL,” Wanye said.


February 6, 2017

Photo courtesy Friends Eye Center, Ghana

UofL medical student wins essay contest for perspective on patients with mental illness

UofL medical student wins essay contest for perspective on patients with mental illness

Natalie Spiller

Natalie Spiller, a fourth-year student at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, believes patients with mental health disorders need a physician’s empathy, compassion and best medical attention. In her experience, they do not always receive it.

Spiller’s essay on the topic won the Physician-in-Training/Student category in the eighth annual Richard Spear, M.D., Memorial Essay Contest, sponsored by the Greater Louisville Medical Society. This year’s theme was:  “What Drives you Crazy in Health Care?”

In her essay, Spiller calls attention to discrimination shown by health-care professionals toward patients with mental health disorders. Spiller opens her piece by describing a situation in which a woman arrives alone in an emergency room with incoherent speech and disheveled appearance, along with a history of drug abuse and mental illness. While the physician-narrator assumes her symptoms were due to drugs or mental illness, it turns out the woman is suffering from a stroke. The patient dies.

“While our society is making its way to de-stigmatize the diagnosis of mental health disorders, we in the medical community have a long way to go in creating comprehensive medical care for those suffering from ‘invisible illness,’” Spiller wrote.

For the winning essay, published in the July issue of Louisville Medicine, Spiller received a plaque and $750 award at the 2017 GLMS Presidents’ Celebration in May.

The awards are named for Richard Spear, a respected Louisville general surgeon who also served on the faculty of the UofL School of Medicine. When he died in 2007, Spear left GLMS a bequest to fund the annual essay contest. Spear wished to support high quality writing about the practice of medicine.


Photo courtesy GLMS.

August 11, 2017

Spike it to Cancer sand volleyball event benefits UofL cancer center, Aug. 12

Spike it to Cancer sand volleyball event benefits UofL cancer center, Aug. 12

2016 Spike it to Cancer tournament

Benefactors of a fund to support patients at the University of Louisville James Graham Brown Cancer Center are sponsoring their fifth annual sand volleyball event to raise money for the fund.

The Mary Jane Gift Quality of Life Fund was established in 2013 by Alex and Tommy Gift in honor of their late mother, who passed away from breast cancer in 2010. The fund helps patients and their families enjoy life while facing a cancer diagnosis. For the past four years, the fund has provided Thanksgiving turkeys for patients at the cancer center.

To benefit the fund, the Gifts are sponsoring the Fifth Annual Spike it to Cancer Sand Volleyball Tournament at Baxter Jack’s sand volleyball complex, 427 Baxter Ave. on Saturday, Aug. 12. Player or spectator admission is $20 per person. The Open Pro division (co-ed quads) play starts at 8 a.m. (check in at 7:30 a.m.). The Fun division (co-ed sixes) play will start at about 2 p.m. (check in at 1:30 p.m.).  

To register a team, purchase admission or make a donation, go to the event’s online link. All registration fees go directly to the fund. Last year’s event raised $13,466 for the fund.

Additionally, Ward 426 on Baxter Ave., directly across the street from Baxter Jack’s, has once again agreed to donate a portion of all food and beverage sales throughout the day to the fund.

“Mary Jane taught us countless lessons throughout the course of her life. Stay Positive. Be thankful. Step away from it all,” Alex Gift said. “The fund can help do this by providing simple gifts to patients that could help improve their quality of life, even if it’s for a short period of time.”

The event has brought in more than $45,000 over five years.

For additional details, contact Lisa Ward at 502-852-2794.

Three siblings pursue dreams at UofL School of Medicine

Youngest member of the Eid family joins her brothers in medical school at white coat ceremony July 26
Three siblings pursue dreams at UofL School of Medicine

Eid family - Ryan, Nemr, Sabine, Nada and Mark

When Nemr Eid, M.D., joined the staff at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in 1988, he could not have guessed that his children would ultimately attend medical school there – all at the same time. As of July 26, when Eid’s youngest child, Sabine, received her white coat and formally became a medical student, all three children of Eid and his wife, Nada, are students in the UofL School of Medicine.

“When I think about it, it fills my heart with joy and with pride,” said Eid, chief of UofL’s division of pediatric pulmonology. “And to have them in the same medical school with me is even more joyful.”

At the White Coat Ceremony, held on July 26 at the Downtown Marriott (280 W. Jefferson), the UofL School of Medicine faculty and medical community members formally welcomed first-year medical students by presenting them with a white coat. The coats, a gift from the Greater Louisville Medical Society, are shorter than the physicians’ coats, and are worn until the student graduates from medical school. Once they received their coats, members of the incoming class recited the Declaration of Geneva, promising to serve humanity and honor the traditions of the medical profession.

Eid never assumed his children would follow in his footsteps. He encouraged them to pursue their own paths.

“We would sit at the dinner table and talk about what you want to be. I did not discourage them. I did not say ‘you should not be a doctor.’ But I never encouraged them, either,” Eid said. “I would tell them to ‘follow your dream; do whatever makes you happy.’ I never thought all three of them would go into medicine!”

Eid’s three children, Mark, Ryan and Sabine, each decided on a career in medicine via different routes. The eldest, Mark, originally set his sights on a career in economics or law. Sabine considered a career in broadcast communications. Only the middle child, Ryan, always knew he wanted to be a physician.

“I knew I would go into medicine since the third grade. Science was one of my passions,” Ryan said. “I also have always been interested in cultures and people and the world and travel. That took me to the University of Miami in Florida. It is the most diverse school in the country, so I have friends in China, the Cayman Islands, Europe and Africa.”

Mark enrolled as an undergraduate at UofL with a law degree in mind.

“I was a political science and economics major for my first two and a half years of college,” Mark said. However, he realized he missed science and appreciated his father’s relationships with his patients. So he backtracked to catch up on undergraduate science courses in preparation for medical school.

In 2013, both Mark and Ryan enrolled at UofL School of Medicine as members of the class of 2017.

Having also decided on a career in medicine, Sabine received her bachelor’s degree from UofL this spring with a major in biology, and will formally join her brothers in medical school as a member of the Class of 2019.

“I had the privilege of working with Dr. Nemr Eid on mutual patients with pediatric airway problems for many years. It has been such a treat to have his sons, Mark and Ryan, as medical students at UofL. Their strong intellect, commitment and altruistic spirit certainly came as no surprise,” said Toni Ganzel, dean of the UofL School of Medicine. “I’m delighted to see the Eid legacy continue at UofL and look forward to working with Sabine as she begins her medical school journey.”

Although they had individual mentors outside the family, each of the Eid children say their father inspired them to enter medicine through his attitude toward his work.

“He gets up every single morning and goes to work happy,” Sabine said. “He comes home every single evening happy. He loves what he does. He has never said anything negative. Hopefully, in the chapter I choose, I will wake up every morning and feel excited to go to work.”

They also credit their mother, Nada, for encouragement and support.

“She is a lawyer so she knows exactly what a rigorous curriculum is like. My mom has been there to help us through the tasks at hand from grade school and college and now med school,” Ryan said.

“Each of them has had a different journey that brought them to this day,” Dr. Eid said. “Each will have a different path that will propel them to their dream. It is up to them to follow that dream.”


About Pediatric Pulmonology – During his first ten years at UofL, Nemr Eid, M.D., was the only pediatric pulmonologist in Louisville. Although other physicians in his specialty now have joined him, a critical need for these physicians remains throughout the nation and in Kentucky, where there is only one pediatric pulmonologist for every 170,000 children. Under Eid’s direction, UofL began a pediatric pulmonology fellowship two years ago, but he hopes more physicians will pursue the specialty since those positions are not always filled.

Conference to examine multidisciplinary approach to treating metastatic brain and spinal cancer

UofL James Graham Brown Center hosts meeting July 10 open to providers and public

Experts from around the country will join faculty experts from the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center, a part of KentuckyOne Health, to look at the latest evidence-based medicine in treating metastatic cancer of the central nervous system.

“Evaluation and Management of Patients with Brain and Spinal Metastasis” will be held July 10 from 7:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the UofL Clinical and Translational Research Building, 505 S. Hancock St. Admission is free but pre-registration is strongly encouraged at the conference website.

“We are bringing together some of the leading clinicians and researchers from our cancer center and beyond to discuss the latest innovations in caring for patients with central nervous system cancer,” said Conference Director Eric Burton, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Neurology. “Disciplines represented include neurosurgery, radiation oncology, neuroradiology, neuro-oncology and more.”

The conference is designed both for health care providers and the general public, Burton said. “If you are a health care professional working in the neurological cancer field, if you are a patient with neurological cancer or if you are a caregiver to someone with neurological cancer, this conference will benefit you.”

In addition to Burton, presenters include:


  • Donald Miller, M.D., Ph.D., director, James Graham Brown Cancer Center, and James Graham Brown Foundation Chair, UofL
  • Michael Glantz, M.D., professor of neurosurgery, medicine and neurology, Penn State University
  • Roy Patchell, M.D., neurologist, Capital Health Medical Center-Hopewell and Capital Institute for Neurosciences, Pennington, N.J.
  • Warren Boling, M.D., interim chair and professor, Department of Neurological Surgery, UofL
  • Vinai Gondi, M.D., clinical assistant professor, University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center and Radiation Oncology Consultants, Chicago
  • Maxwell Boakye, M.D., associate professor and the Ole A., Mabel Wise and Wilma Wise Nelson Chair in Clinical Geriatrics Research, UofL Department of Neurological Surgery
  • Shaio Woo, M.D., chair and professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, and the Kosair Children’s Hospital/Norton Healthcare Chair in Pediatric Oncology, UofL

    Continuing education credit is available to health care providers. For additional information, visit the conference website or contact Emily Rollins in the UofL Department of Neurological Surgery at

    Scientists meet in Louisville to share research that could lead to improved treatments for spinal cord and head injury

    Scientists meet in Louisville to share research that could lead to improved treatments for spinal cord and head injury

    The second participant to receive an epidural stimulator as part of the investigation of standing, stepping and voluntary control in individuals with complete spinal cord injury.

    More than a dozen leading basic scientists from around the nation and the world studying neurological function will make presentations to 160 fellow researchers in Louisville Wednesday and Thursday. The goal is to facilitate collaborations that will advance science leading to improved spinal cord and head injury rehabilitation.

    Scientists from Sweden, Canada and the United States will share their latest neurotrauma research at the 21st Annual Kentucky Spinal Cord & Head Injury Research Trust Symposium.

    The symposium, sponsored by Kentucky Spinal Cord and Head Injury Research Trust, Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center, KentuckyOne Health, Craig H. Neilsen Foundation and University of Louisville School of Medicine, is organized to advance the study of neurotrauma and ultimately lead to methods of restoring function to those with spinal cord and head injuries.

    Among those speaking are Abdel El Manira, Ph.D., and Tatiana Deliagina, Ph.D., of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, and Paul Kubes, Ph.D. and Christopher Power, M.D., F.R.C.P.C. of Canada. El Manira will discuss his research into locomotor circuits in zebrafish. His research shows that neuron groups are selectively wired for slow, intermediate or fast movement, and the fish’s nervous system selects distinct motoneurons for different swimming speeds.

    Deliagina will discuss her work studying feedback mode of postural control in quadrupeds. Loss of postural control is one of the major motor disorders following spinal cord injury. Marc Freeman, Ph.D. of the University of Massachusetts Medical School will present the keynote address on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of nerve degeneration.

    This work is similar to basic science research that led to the groundbreaking clinical studies, done at the University of Louisville and Frazier Rehab Institute, in which stimulators were transplanted into spinal cord injured patients who subsequently gained the ability for volitional movement in their legs (see the patient photo below).

    The event will be held May 20-21, 2015 at the Louisville Marriott Downtown, 280 W. Jefferson St. Hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

    The UofL Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center is dedicated to developing successful spinal cord repair strategies in the laboratory that can be taken to the clinic in a timely and responsible fashion.

    Get straight talk on climate change at the next Beer with a Scientist program

    So, is it real or not?
    Get straight talk on climate change at the next Beer with a Scientist program

    Keith R. Mountain Ph.D.

    The severity of climate change as a global issue and whether humans are causing climate shifts have been hotly debated among individuals and politicians in recent years. At the next Beer with a Scientist event, a UofL scientist will discuss the science behind the issue.

    Keith R. Mountain, Ph.D., chair and associate professor of the University of Louisville Department of Geography and Geosciences, will address the question, "Climate change: What's the problem and is it even real?"

    Mountain’s research interests and expertise center on climatology and climate change, radiative and surface energy balances, geomorphology – the study of the evolution and configuration of landforms – glaciology and Arctic and Alpine environments.

    The program begins at 8 p.m. at Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St. on Wednesday, May 13. 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.

    Internationally renowned genomicist to give public talk on application of big data to human health

    Internationally renowned genomicist to give public talk on application of big data to human health

    Michael Snyder, Ph.D.

    Michael Snyder, a pioneer in the use of big data in biomedical research, will give a free public lecture at the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center on Monday, March 25.

    Snyder’s talk, “Big Data and Health,” will take place at noon in room 101-102 at the Kosair Charities Clinical & Translational Research Building, 505 S. Hancock St. Snyder will focus on how information in large databases, or big data, can be used to develop improved and more individualized approaches to predicting, diagnosing and treating common diseases. 

    The lecture is sponsored by the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the UofL School of Medicine. For more information, contact Janice Ellwanger at 502-852-5217 or David Samuelson at 502-852-7797.

    Snyder, Ph.D., is an international leader in the fields of functional genomics and proteomics and is the director of the Center of Genomics and Personalized Medicine at Stanford University, where he is the Stanford W. Ascherman Professor and Chair of Genetics.

    He wrote “Genomics & Personalized Medicine: What Everyone Needs to Know,” a book that explores the prospects and realities of genomics and personalized medicine for consumers. He was a key participant in the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project, which identified functional elements in the human genome.

    Snyder’s research group was the first to perform a large-scale functional genomics project in any organism. Genomics is a branch of molecular biology that focuses on the structure, function, evolution and mapping of genomes in an organism’s complete set of DNA.

    The Snyder Lab has made several groundbreaking findings, including the discovery that much more of the human genome is either transcribed or contains regulatory elements than previously known, and that a high diversity of binding of transcription factors – gene products that participate in regulating what genes are active – occurs between and within species.

    Snyder also has combined different advanced “omics” technologies to perform the first longitudinal Integrative Personal Omics Profile (iPOP) of an individual and used the information to assess disease risk and monitor disease states for personalized medicine. He co-founded several biotechnology companies, including Protometrix (now part of Life Technologies), Affomix (now part of Illumina), Excelix, Personalis and Q Bio.

    Snyder received his Ph.D. at the California Institute of Technology and postdoctoral training at Stanford University.

    Exemplars of compassion in health care

    UofL faculty, UofL Hospital staff honored with Commitment to Compassion Award
    Exemplars of compassion in health care

    Commitment to Compassion Award winners

    Recognized as individuals who improve the lives of others, two UofL faculty and two UofL Hospital staff are honored with the Commitment to Compassion Award.

    Presented by the Partnership for a Compassionate Louisville, the award is given to health care professionals who inspire others to be more compassionate.

    Matt Adamkin, M.D., and assistant professor in the Division Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, UofL School of Medicine, is among this year’s winners for his work with Special Olympics athletes. Adamkin is a physical medicine and rehab physician in the UofL Department of Neurological Surgery and UofL Physicians – Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation.

    His volunteer work with Special Olympics Kentucky includes providing no cost physicals to the special athletes who often suffer from intellectual or developmental difficulties.

    Amanda Corzine, M.S.N., R.N., S.A.N.E.-A., and Vicki Yazel, B.S.N., R.N., S.A.N.E.-A., are receiving a joint award for their work at UofL Hospital’s Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) Services, a program that has helped hundreds of sexual assault and domestic violence victims in the Louisville area.

    Corzine, coordinator of SAFE Services, was instrumental in implementing an evidence-based domestic violence screening tool in the UofL Hospital Emergency Department that connects victims to immediate advocacy services. She has expanded the office to provide 24-hour availability and new services, including domestic violence forensic exams, the first in Kentucky. Yazel, assistant coordinator of SAFE Services, has strengthened the hospital’s relationships with law enforcement agencies and is improving human trafficking screening in the emergency department.

    The fourth UofL recipient is Joseph D’Ambrosio, Ph.D.,Director of Health Innovation and Sustainability at the UofL Trager Institute. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and a professor at the UofL School of Medicine. He also teaches couples and family therapy courses for students at the Kent School of Social Work.

    D’Ambrosio also is developing a Compassionate Cities Index – a validated measurement of a city’s compassion. The index will be a reliable and accurate tool for measuring the prevalence of compassion in cities.

    These honorees will receive an award during the 4th Annual Commitment to Compassion Luncheon at the Muhammad Ali Center on Wednesday, Feb. 27. The event is hosted by Passport Health Plan, Insider Louisville and the Compassionate Louisville Healthcare Constellation. Read more on the Insider Louisville website.


    ‘Game changing’ new minimally invasive treatment for brain aneurysms available at UofL Hospital

    First WEB device procedures in Kentucky successfully performed by UofL neurosurgeon Robert James, M.D.
    ‘Game changing’ new minimally invasive treatment for brain aneurysms available at UofL Hospital

    WEB® Aneurysm Embolization System. MicroVention

    After learning she had a family history of brain aneurysms, Mary Steinhilber went in for testing to see whether she also had an aneurysm.

    Doctors found she had not one, but three. Robert James, M.D., a neurosurgeon at UofL Physicians – Neurosurgery, treated two of her aneurysms with minimally invasive stents, but the location of the third, at a juncture of arteries, was not conducive to stent treatment.

    In January, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the WEB® Aneurysm Embolization System for treating this type of aneurysm, and on Feb. 13, Steinhilber was one of the first three patients in Kentucky to be treated with the device at UofL Hospital.

    An aneurysm is an enlarged, weakened area of an artery that results in a bulging or ballooned area in the artery. Untreated, an aneurysm in the brain may rupture, causing severe disability, cognitive loss or death. The WEB system, James said, provides a new, minimally invasive option for treating wide-necked bifurcation aneurysms, which occur at the juncture of two arteries. In the procedure, a mesh basket is placed inside the aneurysm, allowing blood to bypass the opening, which seals itself off over time, creating a permanent cure.

    “If we can fix the aneurysm before it bursts and cure it, then the threat of this aneurysm bursting and the patient dying from it essentially goes away,” James said. “The WEB device is a game changer for the minimally invasive treatment of aneurysms.”

    Steinhilber is grateful to have more advanced options for treating her condition. Two of her sisters were treated for aneurysms in the past. One required re-treatment and another was unable to be treated for one aneurysm due to its location. A third sister died suddenly from what may have been a ruptured aneurysm.

    “Seeing the history of my sisters, I feel very good about what the UofL doctors are doing here,” Steinhilber said. “It’s wonderful to see the progress made in treating aneurysms.”

    As many as 6 million people in the United States are estimated to have an unruptured brain aneurysm. Coils and stents have provided minimally invasive options for some types of aneurysms, but James explained those options have limitations in their use, and may have negative features.

    The WEB (an acronym for Woven Endo-Bridge) device is approved for treating wide-neck bifurcation aneurysms, which may account for 35 percent of all brain aneurysms. James completed the first three procedures in Kentucky with the device since it received FDA pre-market approval on Jan. 7. He had previous experience in performing the procedure, having participated in the device’s clinical trials.

    During the WEB system procedure, a small catheter is threaded from the groin area through the patient’s artery to the aneurysm site. Using fluoroscopy imaging, the surgeon deploys the WEB device into the “sack” of the aneurysm, where its flexible mesh conforms to the aneurysm walls, minimizing blood flow inside the aneurysm. In most cases, over time, the body seals off or occludes the neck of the aneurysm, essentially curing it.

    In clinical testing, the WEB system was shown to be highly effective and safer than other options. In addition, the minimally invasive nature of the procedure means most patients, including Steinhilber, are able to go home the next day.

    In addition to unruptured aneurysms, the WEB system may be used in some cases in which the aneurysm has already ruptured, providing more desirable options for treatment.

    “This device also gives us the ability to use flow diversion in already ruptured aneurysms to prevent them from re-rupturing, which we have never been able to do before,” James said.

    The WEB system, marketed by MicroVention, Inc., a U.S.-based subsidiary of Terumo and a global neurovascular company, has been used safely in more than 6,000 cases outside the United States as well as clinical studies here and abroad.



    Feb. 19, 2019

    Immune stimulant molecule shown to prevent cancer

    UofL researchers discover that an immune checkpoint stimulator, SA-4-1BBL, as a single agent prevents against multiple types of cancer
    Immune stimulant molecule shown to prevent cancer

    Confocal microscope image shows SA-4-1BBL (green) bound to its receptor on an immune cell (red)

    A research team at UofL has discovered that an immune checkpoint molecule they developed for cancer immunotherapy also protects against future development of multiple types of cancer when administered by itself.

    The recombinant protein molecule SA-4-1BBL has been used to enhance the therapeutic efficacy of cancer vaccines with success in pre-clinical animal models. It accomplishes this by boosting the effectiveness of CD8+ T cells, adaptive immune cells trained to target the tumor for destruction. Surprisingly, when the researchers treated normal healthy mice with SA-4-1BBL alone, the mice were protected when the researchers later exposed them to different types of tumor cells.

    “The novelty we are reporting is the ability of this molecule to generate an immune response that patrols the body for the presence of rare tumor cells and to eliminate cancer before it takes hold in the body,” said Haval Shirwan, Ph.D., professor in the UofL Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the UofL Institute for Cellular Therapeutics. “Generally, the immune system will need to be exposed to the tumor, recognize the tumor as dangerous, and then generate an adaptive and tumor-specific response to eliminate the tumor that it recognizes. Thus, our new finding is very surprising because the immune system has not seen a tumor, so the response is not to the presence of a tumor.”

    The researchers have determined that the molecule generates a tumor immune surveillance system through activation of what are known as CD4+ T cells and innate NK cells, thereby protecting the mice against various cancer types they have never had. This function is an indication of the molecule’s effectiveness in cancer immunoprevention.

    In the research, published today in Cancer Research, mice that had never had cancer were treated with SA-4-1BBL alone, then challenged with cervical and lung cancer tumor cells at various time intervals. The mice showed significant protection against tumor development, with the greatest protection when challenged two weeks after treatment with SA-4-1BBL. The cancer immunoprevention effect generated by SA-4-1BBL lasted more than eight weeks.

    “Just giving SA-4-1BBL alone prevents the formation of tumors in animal models,” Shirwan said. “To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that an immune checkpoint stimulator, known for its function for adaptive immunity, as a single agent can activate an immune system surveillance mechanism for protection against various tumor types.”

    Additional testing showed that CD8+ T cells were not required for the protection, but when CD4+ T and NK cells were eliminated in the mice, protection failed, indicating these two cell types were necessary to achieve the effect. The lack of necessity for CD8+ T cells indicates the process is not one of conventional acquired immunity.

    Although the research, which was conducted in collaboration with FasCure Therapeutics, LLC, tested the mice for cervical and lung cancers, the protective function of SA-4-1BBL works without context of specific tumor antigens, giving it the potential to be effective in preventing any number of tumor types.

    “We are very excited about the cancer immunoprevention possibilities of this molecule. Its effectiveness is not tumor specific, and as a natural ligand, it does not cause toxicity, as is found with 4-1BB agonist antibodies. Plus, the fear of autoimmunity is highly minimized, as evident from our data, because it is activating the innate immune cells,” said Esma Yolcu, Ph.D., associate professor at UofL and co-author of the study.

    Immune checkpoint stimulators and inhibitors are major regulators of the immune system and work in a similar fashion to the “brake” and “gas” pedals in a vehicle. Cancer evades the immune system by various means, including immune checkpoint inhibitors, which apply the brake on the immune response against a tumor. Stimulators, on the other hand, serve the accelerator function, improving immune responses against cancer.

    Drugs to block the action of immune checkpoint inhibitors already have shown therapeutic efficacy for several cancer types in the clinic and are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to Shirwan, the focus now is on immune checkpoint stimulators.

    “Several antibody molecules are in clinical testing for cancer immunotherapy as immune checkpoint stimulators. However, nothing so far is approved by the FDA that gives a positive signal to the T cells,” Shirwan said. “The immune checkpoint inhibitors take the foot off the brake, so to speak. This ligand, as an immune checkpoint stimulator, puts the gas on the immune system to destroy the tumor.

    “Another big surprise is that an antibody to the same receptor targeted by SA-4-1BBL did not protect against tumors, demonstrating unique and desired features of SA-4-1BBL for caner immunoprevention.”

    Shirwan and Yolcu plan to conduct further tests for SA-4-1BBL in cancer immunoprevention.

    “Although the notion of cancer immunoprevention is an attractive one, the design of clinical trials presents a challenge with respect to the target population,” Shirwan said. “However, with advances in cancer screening technologies and genetic tools to identify high-risk individuals, we ultimately are hoping to have the opportunity to test the SA-4-1BBL molecule for immunoprevention in individuals who are predisposed to certain cancers, as well as in the presence of precancerous lesions.”

    To encourage and accelerate research in cancer prevention, the National Institutes of Health have created a network for research into immunoprevention, outlining possible methods for testing promising preventive substances and provided opportunities for associated funding. The Immuno-Oncology Translational Network is designed to create a fertile environment for research and to facilitate cancer immunoprevention research projects focusing on people who are genetically predisposed to certain cancers, those who have been diagnosed with pre-malignant lesions or polyps, and individuals exposed to cancer-causing substances, such as smokers and asbestos workers.



    Feb. 15, 2019