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Mike Balado

Mike Balado
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Kenny Johnson

Kenny Johnson
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Wyking Jones

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Kevin Keatts

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UofL basketball coaching staff to walk The Julep Ball red carpet

UofL basketball coaching staff to walk The Julep Ball red carpet

Five of University of Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino’s key assistants will walk the red carpet at The Julep Ball.

Mike Balado, Kenny Johnson, Wyking Jones,Kevin Keatts and David Padgett will be among the stars from the sports and entertainment worlds at the May 2 gala.

The premier Derby Eve Party with a Purpose, The Julep Ball is held annually on the evening before the Kentucky Derby and supports the work of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville. The event on May 2 at the KFC Yum! Center kicks off with a 6:30 p.m. cocktail reception, followed by dinner and a live auction at 8 p.m.

An Official Event of the 140th Kentucky Derby®, The Julep Ball provides a celebrity-studded night to remember with a multi-course seated dinner, a knock-your-socks-off auction, multiple open specialty bars, complimentary valet parking, and dancing until the wee hours of Derby morning. A limited number of tickets to The Julep Ball are still available. The full evening’s entertainment is $600 per person, $5,000 for a table of 10, and $100 per person for dance-only tickets. For further information and to buy tickets, go to The Julep Ball website, julepball.org.

About Balado, Johnson, Jones, Keatts and Padgett:

Mike Balado (pronounced bah-LAW-doe) joined the University of Louisville men's basketball staff as an assistant coach in April 2013 after serving in a similar capacity at Florida International from 2012-13.

Balado helped FIU to quickly achieve success when the 18-14 Panthers produced their first winning season in 13 years, the fourth-highest win total in school history and the most Sun Belt Conference victories (11) since joining the league in 1998-99. He was an assistant under Richard Pitino, the son of UofL head coach Rick Pitino, who is now the head coach at Minnesota.

"Mike brings a wealth of experience in both the recruiting world and in coaching," said Pitino. "An important factor in adding him to our staff was his knowledge of what we do defensively and in scouting, after working with Richard (Pitino) for a year. It should not take a great deal of time in acclimating him to our program. He's a tireless worker and he should fit like a glove. He also brings another facet to our recruiting efforts, as he speaks fluent Spanish and has connections throughout Latin America."

Prior to his year at FIU, Balado worked three seasons at High Point University (2009-12), where he assisted in all areas of the Panther basketball program with a heavy concentration on recruiting. He spent the 2008-09 season on the Miami (Fla.) basketball staff where he helped the Hurricanes compile a 19-13 record and a berth in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) while working on player development, scouting and game preparation.

Balado played collegiate basketball at St. Thomas University in Miami, where he was a two-year starter and captain while helping his team win the regular season conference title in 1997. Recipient of a student-athlete leadership award as a senior, he earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from St. Thomas in 1998 and a master's of education in exercise and sport science from Augusta State in 2000. A native of Miami, Fla.,

Balado is married to the former Alicia Nigro and the couple had twins, Aiden and Addy, in June 2009.

Kenny Johnson, assistant men's basketball coach and recruiting coordinator at Indiana for the past two years, joined the Louisville men's basketball staff as an assistant coach under head coach Rick Pitino in April 2014.

"We're very excited to have Kenny in our program," said Pitino. "The first thing I did when Kevin Keatts left to become the head coach at UNC Wilmington was to ask my son Richard (Pitino, head coach at Minnesota) to find the best rising assistant coach in the business. He spoke to a lot of people and they led directly to Kenny Johnson and others think he is outstanding as well. He is extremely bright, having studied cell, molecular biology and genetics in college."

While at Indiana, Johnson helped the Hoosiers assemble top 20 recruiting classes each of the past two seasons. On the court, Indiana produced a combined 46-22 record in his two seasons there, winning the Big Ten Championship, earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2013.

ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman, after surveying more than 200 collegiate coaches, named Johnson as the nation's 11th most respected/feared assistant coach in a July 2013 listing after just two seasons as a collegiate assistant.

Johnson was an assistant coach at Towson in 2011-12, helping assemble a top five mid-major recruiting class. He began his coaching career in 2002 as the associate head coach at Eleanor Roosevelt High School before moving to Dr. Henry Wise High School in 2006 for one year. He was associate head coach at Paul IV High school for four years (2007-11) before advancing to the collegiate ranks.

As a senior at Oxon Hill (Md.) High School in 1994, he was named Science and Technology Student of the Year. He earned his bachelor's degree in cell, molecular biology and genetics in 1999 at the University of Maryland, where he was a Benjamin Banneker Scholarship recipient. He worked as a protein chemist/molecular biologist at Human Genome Sciences in Rockville, Md. after graduation.

A native of Oxon Hill, Johnson and his wife, Doreen, have two sons, Amare (11) and Mekai (8).

Wyking Jones (pronounced WHY-king) is in his third season as an assistant basketball coach for the University of Louisville after serving in a similar capacity two seasons at the University of New Mexico. He joined the Cardinals in April 2011.

"Wyking has the experience necessary to help us recruit top-notch student-athletes from all 50 states," said Pitino. "He is highly regarded in all circles as a tireless worker and an outstanding communicator with young people. I had asked Richard (Pitino) to provide me the top five assistant coaching candidates in the country and I would interview them. Immediately he had Wyking at the top of the list. After considerable research, it was apparent that he had all of the characteristics necessary to bring to Cardinal Basketball."

In Jones' two seasons, the Cardinals reached the NCAA Final Four twice - including winning the 2013 NCAA Championship -- and have a combined 65-15 record. He has helped the Cardinals assemble two straight top 10 recruiting classes.

During Jones' two years at New Mexico under head coach Steve Alford, the Lobos produced a combined 52-18 record. The 2009-10 New Mexico team won a school-record 30 games (30-5 record), won the Mountain West Conference Championship and was ranked eighth in the final AP poll.

Before joining the New Mexico staff, Jones spent two years as a basketball travel team manager with Nike Elite Youth Basketball. There he managed all 45 travel teams and the tournaments that Nike sponsored in its grassroots youth program while he built key relationships across the nation.

Jones lettered four years at Loyola Marymount for head coach John Olive (1991-95). He emerged as a junior through a staunch work ethic and unassuming manner to earn all-West Coast Conference honors and the Lions’ Student Athlete of the Year in 1993-94.

Jones earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Loyola Marymount in 1995. He served as a Lions' assistant coach during the 1996-97 season. He and his wife, Estrella, have a son, Jameel, and a daughter, Zoe.

Kevin Keatts, who won two national prep championships and was runner-up on three occasions as head coach at Hargrave Military Academy over eight seasons, just wrapped up his final year on the University of Louisville men's basketball staff.

In March, Keatts was named head coach at University of North Carolina-Wilmington, joining 10 other former assistants under Pitino now serving as college head coaches.

"Kevin has been one of the best assistant coaches with which I have had the good fortune to work, and I've had a lot of them," Pitino said. "He is a terrific person, coach, scout, family man and recruiter. He possesses all of the variables to build a successful program. We are really going to miss his upbeat personality … ."

Keatts was promoted to associate head coach in January 2014 after serving as an assistant coach under head coach Rick Pitino since joining the Cardinals in April 2011 and helped the Cardinals assemble two straight top ten recruiting classes. In his two seasons at UofL, the Cardinals reached the NCAA Final Four twice -- including winning the 2013 NCAA Championship -- won two Big East Conference championships, and have a combined 65-15 record.

ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman, after surveying more than 200 collegiate coaches, named Keatts as the nation's third most respected/feared assistant coach in a July 2013 listing.

Keatts' success as a prep coach is staggering. In 10 seasons in two separate stints as the head coach at Hargrave (1999-2001, 2003-2011), he compiled an incredible 263-17 record with two national prep titles (2004, 2008), three runner-up finishes (2005, 2006, 2009) and two additional appearances among the final four prep teams (2007, 2010).

Keatts coached nine players at the prep level that reached the NBA: Joe Alexander, Jordan Crawford, Josh Howard, Vernon Macklin, Mike Scott, Marreese Speights, Sam Young, David West and Korleone Young.

Keatts was a two sport standout in basketball and football at Heritage High School in Lynchburg, Va., and also excelled in basketball at Ferrum College. He and his wife Georgette have two sons, Kevin (9) and Kaden (5).

David Padgett, a former three-year starting center for the Cardinals, is in his first year on the UofL men’s basketball staff as assistant video coordinator.

Padgett spent three years as an assistant basketball coach at IUPUI (2011-14) after a year with UofL as an assistant strength coach (2010-11). He played professional basketball for UB LaPalma in the Canary Islands for two years following his graduation from UofL. He had reached the final preseason cut of the Miami Heat before his playing career in Spain.

A three-year starter and captain at center for the Cards (2005-08), Padgett was a unanimous first-team All-BIG EAST Conference selection as a senior and also earned USBWA All-District IV honors.  He averaged a team-leading 11.2 points and grabbed 4.8 rebounds his senior year in 2007-08 when the Cardinals reached the NCAA Elite Eight.

Padgett ranks second in career field goal percentage at UofL, hitting 61.3 percent of his shots (332-542). His .667 field goal percentage as a senior was the second best ever at UofL. He set a BIG EAST Conference field goal percentage record for league games as a senior, hitting 68.3 percent of his shots in 18 games (86-of-126). He was a second team All-BIG EAST pick as a junior.

Padgett’s basketball bloodlines run deep as his father played at the University of Nevada and his uncle played at New Mexico. His grandfather Jim played for Oregon State and his sister played for the University of San Diego.

Padgett and his wife, Megan, welcomed their first child Nolan in August 2013.

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About the James Graham Brown Cancer Center:

The James Graham Brown Cancer Center is a key component of the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center. As part of the region's leading academic, research and teaching health center, the cancer center provides the latest medical advances to patients, often long before they become available in non-teaching settings. The JGBCC is a part of KentuckyOne Health and is affiliated with the Kentucky Cancer Program. It is the only cancer center in the region to use a unified approach to cancer care, with multidisciplinary teams of physicians working together to guide patients through diagnosis, treatment and recovery. For more information, visit our web site, www.browncancercenter.org.

The Julep Ball is sponsored in part by Advanced Cancer Therapeutics, Ashton Advertising, Bob Montgomery Dixie Honda, Boutique Serendipity, The Dahlem Company, Dillards, Enterprise, Headz Salon, Heaven Hill, Hubbuch & Co., InGrid Design, Jaust Consulting Partners, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, KentuckyOne Health, Kroger, Louisville Magazine, Maker’s Mark, Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company, Morgan Stanley, MPI Printing, Nfocus, Old 502 Winery, Power Creative, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, WAKY and WHAS11.

Chuck Wicks

Chuck Wicks
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Nashville star Chuck Wicks will attend The Julep Ball May 2

Nashville star Chuck Wicks will attend The Julep Ball May 2

The singer-songwriter of 2007’s country hit “Stealing Cinderella” and the currently-rising-up-the-charts “Us Again,” Chuck Wicks, will walk the red carpet at The Julep Ball.

The premier Derby Eve Party with a Purpose, The Julep Ball is held annually on the evening before the Kentucky Derby and supports the work of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville. The event on May 2 at the KFC Yum! Center kicks off with a 6:30 p.m. cocktail reception, followed by dinner and a live auction at 8 p.m.

An Official Event of the 140th Kentucky Derby®, The Julep Ball provides a celebrity-studded night to remember with a multi-course seated dinner, a knock-your-socks-off auction, multiple open specialty bars, complimentary valet parking, and dancing until the wee hours of Derby morning. Tickets for the full evening of entertainment are sold out but a limited number of dance-only tickets at $100 per person are still available. For further information and to buy tickets, go to The Julep Ball website, julepball.org.

About Chuck Wicks:

On his new single that is rising the charts, “Us Again,” Chuck Wicks is clearly in the zone. The story of a couple who long to return to a time when loving each other was easy, the song also marks the return to the country charts for the Delaware farm boy.

“It’s a unique love song,” says Wicks, who co-wrote the hit with Andy Dodd and Tiffany Vartanyan. “It’s one of those things we all go through. When you first meet that someone who is really special, the first three to four months are flawless. Every day is a honeymoon. But as time goes on and life starts to happen, you can forget what it’s like and lose that spark.”

Now signed to Blaster Records, Wicks, who moonlights as a morning personality on NASH-FM’s popular America’s Morning Show (“I love speaking the language of country music and this gives me the chance to do that every day,” he says), has discovered his own creative fire.

After the breakout success of his 2007 debut single “Stealing Cinderella,” which hit the Top 5 on the Billboard country chart and marked the biggest single for any new country artist in 2007, the pristine-voiced singer actively took a step back and committed himself to songwriting. Freshly inspired, he’s readying his latest album, the follow-up to 2008’s Starting Now, which peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard country albums chart.

“I’m a lot more comfortable with who I am,” he says. “I feel like I’ve figured out who I am as a songwriter, as a singer, as an artist. I know where my pocket is.”

The upcoming album, co-produced by Chuck, will include all of the tracks from his EP Rough, a recent collection of songs that showcased Chuck’s lived-in sound.

“From Starting Now to today, I’ve grown so much as a writer and a performer,” says Wicks, who has performed in every state in the continental United States. “Releasing your first single on a major label is a lot to navigate, especially if you’ve never done it. I got thrown out on a huge tour with Brad Paisley and went from playing conference rooms with two guitar players to playing Denver, Colorado, my first big show in an arena.

“Grow up, have a family and work 9 to 5: That’s what most everybody sees in their future,” Wicks says. “I feel so lucky to do something different and special.”

###

About the James Graham Brown Cancer Center:

The James Graham Brown Cancer Center is a key component of the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center. As part of the region's leading academic, research and teaching health center, the cancer center provides the latest medical advances to patients, often long before they become available in non-teaching settings. The JGBCC is a part of KentuckyOne Health and is affiliated with the Kentucky Cancer Program. It is the only cancer center in the region to use a unified approach to cancer care, with multidisciplinary teams of physicians working together to guide patients through diagnosis, treatment and recovery. For more information, visit our web site, www.browncancercenter.org.

The Julep Ball is sponsored in part by Advanced Cancer Therapeutics, Ashton Advertising, Bob Montgomery Dixie Honda, Boutique Serendipity, The Dahlem Company, Dillards, Enterprise, Headz Salon, Heaven Hill, Hubbuch & Co., InGrid Design, Jaust Consulting Partners, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, KentuckyOne Health, Kroger, Louisville Magazine, Maker’s Mark, Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company, Morgan Stanley, MPI Printing, Nfocus, Old 502 Winery, Power Creative, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, WAKY and WHAS11.

Darrell A. Griffith named associate vice president for health affairs at UofL

Darrell A. Griffith named associate vice president for health affairs at UofL

Darrell A. Griffith has been named the new associate vice president for health affairs/finance and administration for the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center. He also will assume the position of vice president/CFO for University of Louisville Physicians. Griffith comes from the University of Kentucky/UK Healthcare, where he was the executive director for the faculty practice organization.

David L. Dunn, M.D., Ph.D., UofL executive vice president for health affairs, highlighted Griffith’s extensive financial experience within academic medicine and physician practices.

“I am very pleased to welcome Darrell to the UofL Health Sciences Center,” Dunn said. “He understands the complexity of an academic health center and the role of the faculty practice plan. His experience is critical as we begin the next steps in the transformation of the health sciences center.”

Griffith has spent the past 11 years at the University of Kentucky, initially as a senior manager of business development and decision support. He served two years as the interim associate dean for administration and finance for the College of Medicine before taking his current role in 2006. He was instrumental in developing the UK Healthcare strategic plan that saw unprecedented growth in revenues and outpatient care.

Prior to joining UK, Griffith was a senior consultant with Avalon Management Consulting LLC, in Knoxville, Tenn. He also has been with Promina-Dekalb Regional Healthcare System in Atlanta, Erlanger Health System in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Healthcare Resources Inc. in Somerset, Ky.

Griffith earned his bachelor of science in business administration and his master of public health/health care administration from the University of Tennessee. He is a certified medical practice executive from the American College of Medical Practice Executives. He is a member of the Academic Practice Plan Directors under the University Health Consortium.

UofL launches study in quest to decrease hospital readmission of heart failure patients

UofL launches study in quest to decrease hospital readmission of heart failure patients

Saeed Jortani, Ph.D.

Researchers at the University of Louisville are launching a clinical research study to develop an objective approach to discharge patients with heart failure from the hospital with the goal of decreasing their possible readmission.

Saeed A. Jortani, Ph.D., clinical associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, will lead a team of investigators including cardiologists, emergency medicine physicians, nurses and clinical coordinators in the “Congestive Heart Failure Readmission (CHFR) Trial.” It is now open for enrollment.

The team’s goal is to enroll 600 patients with symptoms of congestive heart failure who are admitted to the emergency departments at two KentuckyOne Health hospitals, University of Louisville Hospital and Jewish Hospital. Blood samples will be collected from patients at the time they are admitted and again when they are discharged. These samples will be analyzed for a variety of cardiac and kidney biomarkers.

The patients then will be surveyed twice, at 30 days and 6 months after discharge, to learn if their condition required readmission to the hospital.

The team will use the data obtained from the blood samples to develop an evidence-based approach that could be used in determining the optimal timing for discharging patients with heart failure and ultimately prevent readmission.

“We believe that using an objective, clinically verified approach to discharging heart failure patients initially could reduce the need for future readmission,” Jortani said. “Our thinking is that patients’ biomarkers will indicate when they are ready for discharge from the hospital with hopefully less chance of being readmitted later on.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart failure affects about 5 million people in the United States, with 550,000 new patients diagnosed each year. Patients with heart failure also have a high incidence of other life-threatening diseases and conditions, such as renal failure, hypertension, diabetes and others.

Each year, more than 1 million people are admitted to an inpatient facility for heart failure, and 27 percent of patients with heart failure who are on Medicare are readmitted within 30 days.

New guidelines established by the Affordable Care Act limits put limits on readmitting patients within a 30-day time period for the same diagnosis.

“Finding the right ‘formula’ for discharge and reducing readmission rates will help us improve the ultimate health outcome for the patient as well as realize significant cost savings in the long run,” Jortani said.

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About the CHFR Trial:

Principal investigator of the CHFR Trial is Saeed Jortani. The research team includes cardiologists Andrew DeFilippis, Shahab Ghafghazi and Jesse Adams; emergency medicine physicians George Bosse, Salvator Vicario and Tadd Roberts; nurses Ashlee Melendez, Kristen Young and Cynthia Lawrence; clinical coordinators Stanislava Prather, Anna Mains, Keivan Hosseinnegad and Louise Isaacs; and biostatistician Richard Baumgartner. Blood sample analysis will be conducted at the Kentucky Clinical Trials Laboratory. The study is funded in part by Roche Diagnostics USA. For information about the trial, contact 502-852-8835 or sjortani@louisville.edu.

Conference to focus on heart disease in women

The 2014 Louisville Symposium on Heart Disease in Women, the first of what is planned to be an annual event, will be held Saturday, June 28.
Conference to focus on heart disease in women

Kendra Grubb, M.D.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among women, striking one in three. About every 60 seconds, a woman dies from heart disease.

With this as a backdrop, the University of Louisville School of Medicine, Department of Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery, in conjunction with KentuckyOne Health and University of Louisville Physicians, is hosting a one-day conference in Louisville to help educate patients and health care professionals about the prevention, recognition and treatment of the disease in women.

Heart disease is more deadly for women than all forms of cancer combined, according to the American Heart Association, and 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors, and more than one in three have some form of cardiovascular disease. Yet, women don’t recognize that heart disease is their biggest health threat.

“Although heart disease is a multi-factored, complex disorder, it is preventable, but education about the disease in women is essential,” said Kendra Grubb, M.D., assistant professor of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at UofL.

To help in this educational effort, Grubb has organized the 2014 Louisville Symposium on Heart Disease in Women, the first of what is planned to be an annual event.

The conference will be held Saturday, June 28, at the Jewish Hospital Rudd Heart & Lung Center, 16th Floor Conference Center, 201 Abraham Flexner Way in Louisville. It is designed to provide physicians, nurses, allied health professional and the community with up-to-date information pertaining to the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease in women.

Two dozen doctors and health professionals are scheduled to speak including Toni Ganzel, M.D., dean of the UofL School of Medicine, and Ruth Brinkley, CEO of KentuckyOne Health.

The conference begins at 7 a.m. with registration and a continental breakfast, with the program starting at 8 a.m. The event ends at 5 p.m., with a reception to follow.

Continuing medical education (CME) credit is available. For more information on CME credit, click http://www.louisvilleheartdiseasewomen.com/about.html.

To see the agenda, click http://www.louisvilleheartdiseasewomen.com/agenda.html.

All are welcome at the conference, but registration is required. Costs are:

  • Physicians: $100
  • Allied health professionals/nurses: $50
  • Community: $25
  • Students/residents/fellows: Free with registration before June 2

To register, click http://www.louisvilleheartdiseasewomen.com/registration-contact.html.

For more about the conference, go to http://www.louisvilleheartdiseasewomen.com/home.html or call 502-561-2180.

UofL institute, physician win MediStar Awards

Institute of Molecular Cardiology and James Graham Brown Cancer Center director honored
UofL institute, physician win MediStar Awards

Roberto Bolli, M.D., center front, leads about 100 faculty and staff at the Institute of Molecular Cardiology.

An institute at the University of Louisville and the physician-director of UofL’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center won two MediStar awards presented Tuesday (May 13) at the Hyatt Regency Louisville.

The Institute of Molecular Cardiology, under the leadership of Director Roberto Bolli, M.D., received the Healthcare Innovation Award and Donald Miller, M.D., Ph.D., director of the cancer center, a part of KentuckyOne Health, was named the XLerateHealth Physician of the Year.

The Healthcare Innovation Award is presented to an organization that has developed a new procedure, device, service program or treatment that improves the delivery of medical care. Under Bolli’s leadership, the Institute of Molecular Cardiology (IMC) has become recognized worldwide as a leading cardiovascular research program for its contributions in ischemic heart disease, heart failure, diabetes and obesity and adult stem cell therapy for cardiac repair and regeneration. Established in 2001, the IMC consistently brings more than $13 million annually in federal funding to the Louisville Metro region in developing novel treatments and future cures for the nation’s No. 1 killer, cardiovascular disease.

The XLerateHealth Physician of the Year Award is conferred upon a physician who has shown outstanding leadership and vision and has contributed to his or her workplace, leaving a lasting legacy. Named director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center (JGBCC) in 1999, Miller also is the James Graham Brown Foundation Chair and Professor of Oncology and Associate Vice President for Health Affairs at UofL. Under his leadership, the JGBCC developed a nationally recognized leadership program in cancer drug development with more than two dozen novel treatments being studied and three entering early phase clinical trials. Miller’s own laboratory is currently studying short DNA sequences which are believed to cause cancer cell death; it is expected that treatments from his lab will enter clinical trials within the next two years.

Since 2007 IGE Media, publisher of Medical News and Medical News For You, has recognized excellence at the annual MediStar Awards, honoring professionals, volunteers and programs for their impact on health care. Also named finalists for MediStar Awards from UofL were:

  • BOK Financial Aging Care Award: UofL Physicians-Geriatrics
  • Facility Design Award: Nucleus Innovation Park Downtown and School of Dentistry and Department of Pediatrics at the Sam Swope Kosair Charities Centre
  • Hall Render Leadership in Healthcare Award: Gerard Rabalais, M.D., Chair, Department of Pediatrics
  • Middleton Reutlinger Nurse of the Year Award: Stephanie Jensen, R.N., Diabetes Nurse Educator, UofL Physicians-Pediatric Endocrinology
  • Seven Counties Services Healthcare Advocacy Award: Stephen Wright, M.D., Professor, Department of Pediatrics
  • A.O. Sullivan Award for Excellence in Education: Department of Pediatrics Medical Education Program
  • XLerateHealth Physician of the Year Award: Toni Ganzel, M.D., Dean, School of Medicine

Donald Miller, M.D., Ph.D.

Donald Miller, M.D., Ph.D.
Donald Miller, M.D., Ph.D.
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UofL receives $5.5 million grant from Helmsley Charitable Trust to support innovative cancer research

UofL receives $5.5 million grant from Helmsley Charitable Trust to support innovative cancer research

John Codey (right) of the Helmsley Charitable Trust talks with Dr. Nobuyuki Matoba about his work into finding a vaccine to prevent cholera, which in turn would prevent some cases of colon cancer.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Noting the significant progress in drug and vaccine development over the past three years, the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, has provided a three-year, $5.5 million grant to the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville to develop new treatments and vaccines for various forms of cancer.

“Seven years ago, we partnered with Owensboro Health to explore the novel idea of plant-based pharmaceuticals and vaccines in the treatment and prevention of cancer,” said Dr. James R. Ramsey, president of the University of Louisville. “Our team showed enough promise that the Helmsley Charitable Trust provided more than $3 million in research support in 2010. Today’s grant, with Dr. Donald Miller, director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, as the principal investigator, demonstrates the confidence the leaders of the trust have in the work that is being accomplished. We are extremely grateful to the trust for its support and we look forward to further opportunities to partner.”

The new funding will help UofL researchers move into clinical trials vaccines for cervical and colon cancer. Additionally, researchers will further develop plant-based drug delivery systems to allow for higher concentrations of anticancer drugs to be transported directly to human tumors, as well as to increase a tumor’s sensitivity to anticancer treatment. The plants involved in the research range from tobacco to soybeans to colored berries.

“The work of Dr. Miller and his team has the potential to significantly impact health around the world,” said John Codey, a trustee with the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “They are focusing on finding much less expensive methods for delivering vaccines and medications so that these treatments are accessible to even the poorest of countries. We are pleased to continue to support efforts that have the potential to relieve suffering for a significant segment of people around the world.”

The Helmsley Charitable Trust also has funded research at UofL focused on helping people with spinal cord injuries regain function. To date, the Helmsley Charitable Trust has provided UofL with nearly $15 million in research funding.

“Federal funding for research continues to be more and more competitive, with fewer researchers receiving funds each year,” said Dr. David L. Dunn, executive vice president for health affairs at UofL. “The resources the Helmsley Charitable Trust provides enables our internationally renowned researchers to continue with their groundbreaking work that has the potential to transform the lives of people worldwide. It is through these significant partnerships that innovative health care approaches are possible.”

“Owensboro Health’s cancer research partnership with the University of Louisville has allowed us to help lead the charge with groundbreaking projects in the fight against cancer. This grant has been key in allowing us to work toward taking solutions from the laboratory bench to the patient bedside,” said Philip Patterson, president and CEO of Owensboro Health. “Since its creation in 2007, the team at the Owensboro Cancer Research Program at our Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center has made tremendous strides. We are grateful for the renewed support from the Helmsley Charitable Trust.”

Under Miller’s leadership, researchers will move an oral cervical cancer vaccine from preclinical trials into pre-investigational new drug studies. These studies reduce the amount of time it takes to move a vaccine from the laboratory to use in people. The vaccine uses a specific protein (L2 minor capsid) to create a broad response to attack HPV, the virus responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancer, and should be ready to enter clinical trials by early 2015. This project is being led by Dr. Kenneth Palmer.

A second cervical cancer vaccine is being developed by two researchers who were part of the team that created the world’s first cervical cancer vaccine. Drs. Bennett Jenson and Shin-Je Ghim are working on a vaccine that is biosimilar to the original vaccine, but produced in tobacco plants. This effort also will enter into the pre-IND phase over the next two years.

Drs. Nobuyuki Matoba and Palmer are developing an oral cholera vaccine that may prove to be a way to prevent colon cancer. The gastrointestinal issues associated with cholera create a favorable environment for the development of colon cancer, thus, preventing cholera can also prevent colon cancer. The goal is for this vaccine to enter clinical trials in late 2014.

For several years, Dr. Huang-Ge Zhang has been exploring the anticancer properties of tiny particles called plant exosomes. Animal studies suggest that exosomes may be able to play a role in the treatment or prevention of colon, breast and lung cancer. Zhang was the first to demonstrate that exosomes existed in plants and plans to demonstrate that they could be used to deliver higher concentrations of anticancer drugs directly to human tumors.

Dr. Ramesh Gupta has uncovered that certain compounds within colored berries increase the anticancer effect of chemotherapy drugs. This has the potential to enable smaller amounts of the drugs to be used, but with the same or more beneficial effects.

“Our goal is to cure cancer in people, not in mice,” Miller said. “The Owensboro Cancer Research Program is a tremendous tool for reaching that goal, not just locally or regionally, but worldwide. Through plant-based pharmaceuticals, we will be able to provide low-cost vaccines and anticancer medications that make them accessible to even the poorest of nations. To have an organization like the Helmsley Charitable Trust partner with us will enable us to move toward our goal at a much quicker pace.”

UofL’s comprehensive campaign is scheduled to wrap up June 30 after already surpassing its $1 billion goal. Charting our Course formally launched in 2010 with the funds raised designated for academic support, scholarships and programs for students; faculty recruitment, research and professional development; infrastructure enhancements and upkeep of athletic facilities; and support of the university's academic units and libraries. More than 75,000 donors throughout the world have invested in the future of the University of Louisville. 

About the Helmsley Charitable Trust

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective nonprofits in health, place-based initiatives, and education and human services.Since 2008, when the Trust began its active grantmaking, it has committed more than $1 billion to a wide range of charitable organizations.For more information on the Trust and its programs, visit www.helmsleytrust.org.

 

Preclinical research shows promise in eliminating cataract surgery after vitrectomy

Preclinical research shows promise in eliminating cataract surgery after vitrectomy

Promising early preclinical research currently underway at the University of Louisville could lead to the elimination of a second surgery now commonly needed after retinal surgery.

Shlomit Schaal, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, and director of Retina, the Retina Fellowship Program in Vitreo-Retinal Diseases and Surgery and the Diabetic Retinopathy Service, Kentucky Lions Eye Center, is working with Martin O’Toole, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Bioengineering, on the project which is funded by the Coulter Translational Research Partnership at UofL.

The two are studying a new way for patients undergoing retinal surgery – known as “vitrectomy” – to avoid the need to have subsequent surgery to remove cataracts that develop. During vitrectomy surgery, vitreous gel is removed from the eye; it is this gel that protects the natural crystalline lens from damage caused by free radicals of oxygen.

With the gel loss during surgery, free radicals are diffused onto the lens and cause cataracts, and almost all patients undergoing vitrectomy surgery then are forced to undergo a second surgery to remove the cataracts.

Schaal and O’Toole have developed an artificial gel that is biocompatible to the vitreous gel present in the eye. Using animal models, Schaal has successfully used the biocompatible gel to create an oxygen barrier next to the lens during retinal vitrectomy surgery.

“The biocompatible gel appears to be working as well as the eye’s natural vitreous gel in blocking oxygen damage to the natural lens,” Schaal said.

The team hopes to be able to move the research into clinical trials within the next year. “The funding we’ve received from the UofL-Coulter Partnership has been invaluable in enabling us to prove our concept thus far,” Schaal said. “We are excited at the prospect of one day being able to help patients avoid the burden of cataract surgery after retinal surgery.”

The five-year, $5 million Coulter Translational Research Partnership in Bioengineering grant awarded in 2011 to UofL fosters the translation of research through successful collaboration between engineers and clinicians, supporting promising technologies.  The partnership funds promising projects in order to move innovative technologies to clinical application with the ultimate goal of accelerating the introduction of new technologies to improve the treatment and diagnosis of disease or reduce health care costs.

‘Spike It to Cancer’ sand volleyball event benefits cancer center at UofL, June 7

‘Spike It to Cancer’ sand volleyball event benefits cancer center at UofL, June 7

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

In 2013, Alex and Tommy Gift established the Mary Jane Gift Quality of Life Fund at the cancer center in honor of their late mother. The fund helps patients and their families enjoy life while facing a cancer diagnosis.

To benefit the fund, the Gifts are sponsoring The Second Annual Spike It to Cancer Sand Volleyball Tournament at Baxter Jack’s sand volleyball complex, 427 Baxter Ave. on Saturday, June 7. Registration will be held from 1-2:30 p.m., and games will begin at 3 p.m.

Admission is $20 per person. Payment by cash or check will be accepted at the door, or participants can pay by credit card at the cancer center’s secure online link.

“All proceeds from this event go to the Mary Jane Gift Quality of Life Fund that pays for extras provided to our patients and caregivers,” Michael Neumann, executive director of development, said. “Additionally, The Brewery on Baxter Avenue directly across the street from Baxter Jack’s has agreed to donate a portion of all food and beverage sales to us during the event.

“These gifts go a long way in bringing cheer to our patients and their families. For example, the fund provided Thanksgiving turkeys to many of our patients and their families last November. Also, one of our physicians, Dr. Cesar Rodriguez, used funds raised by the 2013 Spike It to Cancer to give picnic baskets to 26 patients on Easter morning.”

For additional details, contact Neumann at 502-562-4642.

 

Save the date now for 14th annual geriatrics symposium

Sept. 19 event features national experts in medications, immunizations, acute care of hospitalized elders

Experts in the use of comprehensive geriatric assessment for hospitalized elders and immunizations in older adults, and the author of the 2012 Beers Criteria – a guide to medication use in elders – will be featured at the 14th Annual University of Louisville Geriatrics Healthcare Symposium.

The conference will be held Friday, Sept. 19, at the Seelbach Hilton Hotel, 500 S. Fourth St. in Downtown Louisville.

The conference is sponsored by the Division of Geriatrics in the Department of Family and Geriatric Medicine at the University of Louisville and provides information on the latest research and best practices in care for people age 65 and older. Plenary speakers include:

  • Michael Malone, M.D., Center for Senior Health & Longevity, Aurora Sinai Medical Center, Milwaukee, addressing the acute care of elderly hospitalized patients.
  • Kenneth Schmader, M.D., Geriatrics Division Chief, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C., providing information on immunizations for elders
  • Todd Semla, Pharm.D., Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, speaking on polypharmacy, the overuse or misuse of medications in older adults

Other sessions will be held on POLST: Physician’s Orders for Life, disease screening and prevention, caregiver burnout, injury prevention, exercise, elder abuse, dementia and enhancing independence in the older adult.

The conference is open to health care professionals and students and the public alike. CE credit will be available for physicians, nurses, social workers and other professionals working in the field of geriatrics.

For details, contact the UofL Division of Geriatrics, 502-852-3480 or awburk02@louisville.edu.

 

 

 

 

July 15 deadline set for optimal aging award nominations

UofL recognizes maintaining active engagement with life at age 85 and above

UofL Geriatrics in the Department of Family and Geriatric Medicine at the University of Louisville is calling for nominations for the fourth annual Gold Standard Award for Optimal Aging.

The deadline to submit nominations is 5 p.m., July 15. The award will be presented Sept. 25 at the Annual UofL Geriatrics Gold Standard Award for Optimal Aging Luncheon at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 830 Phillips Lane.

The Gold Standard Award for Optimal Aging is presented to someone 85 years old or older as of Oct. 1 who is an outstanding model for optimal aging in all areas of life.

“We are seeking people 85-plus who are making the most of whatever their later years bring and who continue to demonstrate great zest for life,” said Christian Davis Furman, M.D., vice chair for geriatric medicine. “The award is presented for optimal aging across the full spectrum of physical health, mental health, social health and spiritual health.”

The nomination process includes submitting information on the nomination form that describes why the nominee qualifies for the award. Nomination forms and information about the luncheon can be found online or obtained by calling (502) 588-4260 or emailing UofLGeriatrics@louisville.edu.

Advanced Cancer Therapeutics enters Phase 1 human clinical trials with first-in-class anti-cancer drug candidate

Trial sites now enrolling patients at University of Louisville, Georgetown University
Advanced Cancer Therapeutics enters Phase 1 human clinical trials with first-in-class anti-cancer drug candidate

Jason A. Chesney, M.D., Ph.D.

Advanced Cancer Therapeutics (ACT), a privately held company dedicated to bringing new anti-cancer therapies to market, announced June 4 that it has begun clinical trials of PFK-158, a small molecule therapeutic candidate that inactivates a novel cancer metabolism target never before examined in human clinical trials. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Phase 1 dose escalation study is evaluating the safety, tolerability and anti-tumor activity of PFK-158 in cancer patients with solid tumors such as melanoma, lung, colon, breast and pancreatic cancer.

PFK-158 is the first 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-biphosphatase 3 (PFKFB3) inhibitor to undergo clinical trial testing in cancer patients. The target, PFKFB3, is activated by oncogenes and the low oxygen state in cancers, stimulates glucose metabolism and is required for the growth of cancer cells as tumors in mice. PFK-158, which has been licensed by ACT from the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville, inhibits the substrate binding domain of PFKFB3 causing a marked reduction in the glucose uptake and growth of multiple cancer types in mice.

PFK-158 human clinical trials began recruiting patients in May with the first clinical trial site located at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, a part of KentuckyOne Health. Within weeks of opening the first clinical trial site, ACT was able to open the second clinical trial site at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, also in May.

According to Jason A. Chesney, M.D., Ph.D., deputy director of the Brown Cancer Center and a global thought leader and researcher in cancer metabolism, “PFK-158 is not only a first-in-class cancer drug but also the first to target glucose metabolism by inhibiting PFKFB3. This unique mechanism of action has resulted in efficacy against a broad spectrum of human cancers caused by common mutations as well as synergy with targeted agents that are FDA approved for several cancer types.

“As a researcher, it is incredibly rewarding to witness your group's studies move into clinical trials and potentially save the lives of cancer patients,” Chesney said.

“This is a significant milestone for ACT and it supports our dedication to develop significant treatment advancements for cancer patients with first-in-class, potential breakthrough therapeutics like PFK-158,” said Randall B. Riggs, president & CEO of ACT.

About Advanced Cancer Therapeutics (ACT):

ACT is a privately held company dedicated to advancing novel therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of cancer. ACT has successfully established a unique and innovative business model with the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center whereby ACT is able to obtain exclusive worldwide licenses to novel cancer therapeutics discovered at Brown Cancer Center under preset business terms. ACT then fast-tracks these discoveries, including the selection process for partnership, commercialization and manufacture, to the pharmaceutical industry, and ultimately to the patients who need them. Led by Donald M. Miller, M.D., Ph.D., the Brown Cancer Center employs more than 50 scientists focused on the discovery and advancement of breakthrough cancer therapeutics for patients suffering from cancer. For more information, please visit www.advancedcancertherapeutics.com.

About the James Graham Brown Cancer Center:

The James Graham Brown Cancer Center is a key component of the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center. As part of the region's leading academic, research and teaching health center, the cancer center provides the latest medical advances to patients, often long before they become available in non-teaching settings. The JGBCC is a part of KentuckyOne Health and is affiliated with the Kentucky Cancer Program. It is the only cancer center in the region to use a unified approach to cancer care, with multidisciplinary teams of physicians working together to guide patients through diagnosis, treatment and recovery. For more information, visit our web site, www.browncancercenter.org.

Here’s your chance to be the first to shop The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass

New outlet center hosts VIP preview July 30 to benefit James Graham Brown Cancer Center
Here’s your chance to be the first to shop The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass

Attention, shopaholics: Here’s your chance to be among the very first to shop The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass.

The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass is teaming with the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center for an Opening Night VIP Preview from 6-9 p.m., Wednesday, July 30, the evening before the facility opens to the general public.

Patrons will be able to get the jump on the rest of Kentuckiana in shopping at choice retail outlets such as Coach, Brook Brothers, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Michael Kors, J Crew, Banana Republic, Nike, Talbots, Under Armour and more. They also will receive a free coupon book with over $300 in savings at many of the 80-plus retailers that make up The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass.

Cost is $50 per person with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, the only cancer center in the region to use a unified approach to cancer care, with multidisciplinary teams of physicians working together to guide patients through diagnosis, treatment and recovery.

“We are thrilled to partner with The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass,” Michael Neumann, executive director of development for the cancer center, said. “The pairing of Kentucky’s new premier shopping center with the region’s premier cancer research and treatment center is a great fit.”

Only 3,000 tickets to the event are available and are expected to go fast, Neumann said. Tickets are sold online only at www.shoppingforacure.org. Up to 10 tickets may be purchased per transaction.

The Veritas Curat Foundation is handling ticket sales on behalf of the cancer center, and receipts will be provided via email. The email receipt serves as the ticket to the event, and to be admitted, ticket buyers must bring both a printout of the email receipt and identification that matches the name on the ticket.

A silent auction of packages donated by Shoppes retailers also will be held the night of the VIP Preview, Neumann said. Items up for auction will be posted in advance on the website starting July 28, and online bidding will be available until July 30. On-site bidding on the night of the event will be conducted via smartphone only, he added.

The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass is located at Exit 28 on Interstate 64. For additional information on the Opening Night VIP Preview or the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, contact Neumann at 502-562-4642.

 

 

University of Louisville team closer to helping millions battling lung cancer

Researchers have identified a new group of molecules that help cause apoptosis in lung cancer cells

Researchers at the University of Louisville have uncovered a cadre of small molecules that tell certain proteins to kill lung cancer cells. The team, led by Chi Li, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine, published its finding in the April 2014 issue of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

One of the characteristics of lung cancer is the dysregulation of apoptosis, or regulated cell death. Cancer cells are able to survive in the unnatural state.

Proteins from the Bcl-2 family are major regulators of apoptosis. One of them, Bax, sometimes becomes erratic and loses its ability to maintain its killer function, which leads to lung tumor development. The researchers realized that this meant Bax potentially could be part of the cure as well.

The researchers used virtual screening in their study, a process where they ran through a computer program all the possible combinations of molecules that could bind with the Bax proteins to find the best combination. After trying more than 10 million molecules, they found the right one. This Bax-activating small molecule compound kills lung cancer cells as well as inhibits the growth of lung tumors transplanted into mice.

The scientific finding of Li and his team showed it is possible to identify small molecules capable of binding and activating Bax proteins that in turn induce apoptosis in cancerous cells. In the study, published in Molecular and Cellular Biology in April of 2014, Li and his team were able to specifically induce tumor cell death while avoiding normal cell death.

The compound also shows synergy with the widely used chemotherapeutic drug carboplatin. This means that the potential application for this compound in cancer treatment is very broad.

The scientific discovery could form the basis for advanced therapeutic agents for cancer in patients, specifically lung cancer, which is especially prevalent in Kentucky.

The high mortality rate of lung cancer is partially attributed to ineffective therapeutic treatments. This makes it very important for scientists to develop new chemotherapeutic drugs for lung cancer.

Li says it could pave the way for new treatment for other types of cancer as well. “Lung cancer is a really big issue for us. We have a large mortality rate, and that’s one of the reasons we wanted to go after lung cancer,” he said. “We are in the process of trying to expand the application of our discovery onto different types of cancer.”

Li and his team will have the opportunity for that expansion very soon. The National Institutes of Health recently awarded them a grant of $1.5 million to continue their groundbreaking research.

Ratajczak wins Landsteiner Prize

Ratajczak wins Landsteiner Prize

Mariusz Ratajczak, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sci.

Mariusz Ratajczak, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sci., has been selected to receive the prestigious Karl Landsteiner Prize from the German Society for Transfusion Medicine and Immunohematology. Ratajczak holds the Henry M. and Stella M. Hoenig Endowed Chair at the University of Louisville.

The Landsteiner Prize is given by the society to a doctor for outstanding achievements and research in the fields of transfusion and/or immunology. The prize is named after Karl Landsteiner, an Austrian biologist and physician. In addition to distinguishing the main blood groups, Landsteiner also discovered polio along with several other researchers and received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1930. Landsteiner is recognized as the father of transfusion medicine. Previous recipients of the Karl Landsteiner Prize include Nobel Prize laureate Rolf Zinkernagel (Basel), Karl Blume (Seattle) and Stephanie Dimmeler (Frankfurt).

Ratajczak was honored for his outstanding achievements in the characterization of mechanisms involved in the mobilization of hematopoietic stem cells and the discovery of very small embryonic like stem cells in the adult tissue.

An internationally known specialist in the field of adult stem cell biology, his 2005 discovery of embryonic-like stem cells in adult bone marrow has potential to revolutionize the field of regenerative medicine. The discovery may lead to new treatments for heart disease, eye disease, diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders, as well as provide insight into the development of many forms of leukemia.

In addition to his endowed position, Ratajczak is a professor in the Department of Medicine and the director of the Developmental Biology Research Program and of the Research Flow and Sorting Core Facility at the University of Louisville's James Graham Brown Cancer Center.

In addition to receiving the Karl Landsteiner Prize, Ratajczak has also been invited to deliver an opening lecture on Sept. 9 during the society’s annual meeting in Dresden, Germany.

UofL spinal cord injury researcher delivers national physical therapy group lecture

UofL spinal cord injury researcher delivers national physical therapy group lecture

Andrea Behrman, Ph.D., P.T., FAPTA

Andrea L. Behrman, Ph.D., was selected to give the Maley Lecture at the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) in Charlotte, N.C., on June 13. The lecture honors a physical therapist that has made distinguished contributions to the profession of physical therapy in clinical practice.

Behrman is a professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery and Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center at the University of Louisville and is currently examining neuromuscular recovery in children with spinal cord injuries via both research and clinical practice. She also is a licensed physical therapist and is a Fellow of the American Physical Therapy Association.

Behrman’s lecture was titled, “I never thought that I would need to child-proof my home!” and focused on a paradigm shift for rehabilitation from the traditional view that “paralysis cannot be resolved” to an evidence-based physiological perspective that, with training, “paralysis can be resolved” and recovery is possible – to what degree has yet to be determined. As the mother whose comments inspired the lecture’s title said, “after locomotor training, my child became so mobile that I needed to child-proof my home” – something she never thought she would need to be concerned about.

Researchers have demonstrated that the spinal cord is in fact smart and that it can learn, Behrman said. By providing specific sensory input via intense training, therapists can activate the spinal circuitry and the neuromuscular system below and across the level of the injury.

Using a method known as “activity-based locomotor training,” therapists provide specific sensory information while patients are standing and walking on a treadmill with partial body weight support. Trainers also provide manual cues to promote muscle activation. Behrman demonstrated the benefits of locomotor training for developing trunk control and stepping in children who suffered a spinal cord injury when they were as young as 5 months and were paralyzed for nearly three years.

As director of the University of Louisville Kosair Charities Center for Pediatric Neurorecovery, Behrman and her fellow researchers and clinical partners work to change outcomes for children recovering from paralysis while undergoing locomotor training.

More information about Behrman’s lecture and work at UofL is available on the American Physical Therapy Association website.

 

 

 

 

Telemedicine catches blinding disease in premature babies

UofL part of NIH-funded study showing obstacles to care for at-risk babies could be reduced

Telemedicine is an effective strategy to screen for the potentially blinding disease known as retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), according to a study funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI). The investigators say that the approach, if adopted broadly, could help ease the strain on hospitals with limited access to ophthalmologists and lead to better care for infants in underserved areas of the country. NEI is a part of the National Institutes of Health.

The telemedicine strategy consisted of electronically sending photos of babies’ eyes to a distant image reading center for evaluation. Staff at the image reading center, who were trained to recognize signs of severe ROP, identified whether infants should be referred to an ophthalmologist for evaluation and potential treatment. The study tested how accurately the telemedicine approach reproduced the conclusions of ophthalmologists who examined the babies onsite.

“This study provides validation for a telemedicine approach to ROP screening and could help save thousands of infants from going blind,” said Graham E. Quinn, M.D., professor of ophthalmology at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the lead investigator for the study, which is reported today in JAMA Ophthalmology.

The study was conducted by the e-ROP Cooperative Group, a collaboration that includes 12 facilities in the United States and one in Canada. The University of Louisville was the only site in Kentucky among the collaborative group. In addition to UofL, study sites were Johns Hopkins University, Boston Children’s Hospital, Vanderbilt University, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Nationwide Children’s Hospital/Ohio State University Hospital, Duke University, University of Minnesota, University of Oklahoma, University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, University of Utah and Hospital of the Foothills Medical Center (Calgary, Canada).

Some degree of ROP appears in more than half of all infants born at 30 weeks pregnancy or younger—a full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks—but only about 5 to 8 percent of cases become severe enough to require treatment. In ROP, blood vessels in the tissue in the back of the eye called the retina begin to grow abnormally, which can lead to scarring and detachment of the retina. Treatment involves destroying the abnormal blood vessels with lasers or freezing them using a technique called cryoablation. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment is the best prevention for vision loss from ROP, which is why the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends routine screening for all babies who are born at gestational age 30 weeks or younger or who weigh less than 3.3 pounds at birth.

The study evaluated telemedicine for ROP screening during the usual care of 1,257 premature infants who were born, on average, 13 weeks early. About every nine days, each infant underwent screening by an ophthalmologist, who assessed whether referral for treatment was warranted. Those who were referred were designated as having referral-warranted ROP (RW-ROP). Either immediately before or after the exam, a non-physician staff member in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) took images of the infant’s retinas and uploaded them to a secure server at the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City. Trained non-physician image readers at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, then downloaded the photos, independently evaluated them following a standard protocol, and reported the presence or absence of RW-ROP.

Through the telemedicine approach, non-physician image readers correctly identified 90 percent of the infants deemed to have RW-ROP based on examination by an ophthalmologist. And they were correct 87 percent of the time when presented with images from infants who lacked RW-ROP. The examining ophthalmologists documented 244 infants with RW-ROP on exam. After referral, 162 infants were treated. Of these, non-physician image readers identified RW-ROP in all but three infants (98 percent).

“This is the first large clinical investigation of telemedicine to test the ability of non-physicians to recognize ROP at high risk of causing vision loss,” said Eleanor Schron, Ph.D., group leader of NEI Clinical Applications. “The results suggest that telemedicine could improve detection and treatment of ROP for millions of at-risk babies worldwide who lack immediate in-person access to an ophthalmologist,” she said.

About 450,000, or 12 percent,  of the 3.9 million babies born each year in the United States are premature. The number of preterm infants who survive has surged in middle income countries in Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe. In these parts of the world, rates of childhood blindness from ROP are estimated at 15 to 30 percent—compared to 13 percent in the United States.

One advantage of telemedicine ROP screening is that it can be done more frequently than screening by an ophthalmologist. “It’s much easier to examine the retina when not dealing with a wiggling baby,” said Quinn said. “If a baby is too fussy or otherwise unavailable when the ophthalmologist visits the NICU, the exam may be delayed until the ophthalmologist returns—sometimes up to a week later.”

Weekly ROP screening—or even more frequently for high-risk babies—is a realistic goal for telemedicine and could help catch all cases needing treatment, according to the report. In the study, imaging was restricted to occasions when an ophthalmologist examined the baby. In practice, hospital staff could implement an imaging schedule based on the baby’s weight, age at birth and other risk factors. “With telemedicine, NICU staff can take photos at the convenience of the baby,” Quinn said.

Telemedicine for evaluating ROP offers several other advantages:

  • Telemedicine may help detect RW-ROP earlier. In the study, about 43 percent of advanced ROP cases were identified by telemedicine before they were detected by an ophthalmologist—on average, about 15 days earlier.
  • Telemedicine could save babies and their families the hardship and hazards of being unnecessarily transferred to larger nurseries with greater resources and more on-site ophthalmologists. “Telemedicine potentially gives every hospital access to excellent ROP screening,” Dr. Quinn said.
  • Telemedicine might also bring down the costs of routine ROP screening by reducing the demands on ophthalmologists, whose time is better allocated to babies who need their attention and expertise. In a separate analysis, the study found that non-physicians and physicians had similar success in assessing photos for RW-ROP. Three physicians evaluated image sets from a random sample of 200 babies (100 with RW-ROP based on the eye exam findings; 100 without) using the standard grading protocol. On average, the physicians correctly identified about 86 percent of RW-ROP cases; the non-physicians were correct 91 percent of the time. The physicians correctly identified about 57 percent of babies without RW-ROP; non-physicians were correct 73 percent of the time.

The cost of establishing a telemedicine ROP screening program includes acquisition of a special camera for taking pictures of the retina, training of NICU personnel to take and transmit quality photos, and establishment and maintenance of an image reading center. “As we move along this road, advances in imaging and grading of images may streamline the process even more,” Dr. Quinn said.

For more information about ROP, visit http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/rop/.

To view a video about e-ROP, visit the NEI YouTube channel at http://youtu.be/7l_CqjV3NMA.

UofL makes list of top physician-executive programs

A national publication for health care executives and managers has ranked the University of Louisville’s College of Business as one of the top business graduate schools for physician-executives.

UofL appears on a list Modern Healthcare compiled in May of the top graduate schools awarding advanced degrees in health care business administration in 2013-14. The ranking is based on how many full-time students are pursuing the degree at each school.

UofL placed at the 20th spot with 45 students, just under Yale School of Management’s 48 students. Rice University’s graduate business school topped the list with 231 students.

UofL’s business school has offered an MBA degree with a health care focus since 2011. Students in the 20-month program take weekend courses preparing them for executive positions in hospital administration, senior care, health insurance, biomedicine and related areas.

For more details, see http://business.louisville.edu/wptest/images/Ranked20.pdf

Horses and Hope ambassador uses world cup qualifying events to spread breast cancer awareness

Horses and Hope ambassador uses world cup qualifying events to spread breast cancer awareness

Horses and Hope Pink Stable Member Misdee Wrigley Miller

Kentucky’s Horses and Hope is going international. Champion equestrian and Horses and Hope Pink Stable member Misdee Wrigley Miller will spread the message of breast cancer awareness as she competes next week in two European Equestrian World Cup qualifying events.

In 2008, the office of Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear partnered with the Kentucky Cancer Program to create Horses and Hope. The program’s mission is to increase breast cancer awareness, education, screening and treatment referral among Kentucky’s horse industry workers and their families.

 

The University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky operate the Kentucky Cancer Program and staff Horses and Hope programs and events. UofL’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center, a part of KentuckyOne Health, manages the Kentucky Cancer Program for the western half of the Commonwealth.

On Thursday, July 3, Miller will compete in CAI3* horse driving competitions in Lähden and Riesenbeck, Germany, in the four-in-hand combined driving competition. Both competitions are FEI World Equestrian Game qualifying events. While there, she will spread awareness about the importance of breast cancer screening, early detection and education through the Horses and Hope program—sharing the program’s best practices and encouraging international participation.

 

Since 2009, she has served as a member of the Pink Stable, a committee of Kentucky horse owners, riders, trainers, farm owners and jockeys that support the Horses and Hope initiative.

“I have been grateful to serve as member of First Lady Jane Beshear's Horses and Hope Pink Stable committee, and even more honored to serve as an ambassador for this important initiative as I compete in Europe,” Miller said. “Women are traditionally care givers, especially so in the horse business; often they take care of their horses before they think of themselves. I have friends and family who have been touched by breast cancer, so I am aware of the importance of early detection. If I accomplish anything here, I want every woman, especially those with high risk, who hear my message to practice self-examination and get screened.”

 

Miller is a fourth-generation horsewoman and has been involved in the horse business her entire life. She is an accomplished rider and has competed as a United States team member twice in the FEI Pair Horse World Championships, was the 2013 USEF National Champion in Pairs and the 2014 USEF Reserve National Champion in 4-In Hands.

 

Horses and Hopehas hosted several breast cancer race days at Kentucky racetracks in the past six years, reaching nearly 1 million race track and horse show fans and educating nearly 16,000 equine employees. The program has screened close to 700 workers and detected breast cancer in two individuals, both of whom have received treatment.

The next Horses and Hope Race Day will be at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., on Aug. 2. For more information about Horses and Hope and all upcoming events, please visit www.horsesandhope.org.

For more information on breast cancer, please contact the Kentucky Cancer Program at UofL at http://kycancerprogram.org/kcp-west/.

 

UofL pediatricians make changes to improve care for community’s children

The University of Louisville Department of Pediatrics is reorganizing its general pediatrics division, positioning itself to respond better to the needs of the community’s children and to the changing health care enrivonment.

The division provides primary care services to children in Louisville and Campbellsville, Ky., and helps train students and residents in medicine, nursing, dentistry, psychology and social work.. In 2013, its 22 pediatricians were responsible for more than 22,000 patients. Approximately 12 percent of the children in metro Louisville sees a UofL pediatrician as their primary care provider.

“Health care reform has placed a greater emphasis on primary care, where providers can promote health and safety,” said Gerard Rabalais, M.D., MHA, chair of the UofL Department of Pediatrics. “Pediatric programs like ours may be the best place to achieve success with health care reform since we have the ‘longest runway’ to influence attitudes about prevention and healthy lifestyle.”

A number of changes are planned for the coming months.

Consolidating offices, redeploying physicians

The department created a single, expanded practice site in Downtown Louisville, moving the office formerly located on Broadway at Floyd Street a few blocks north  of the Children & Youth Project (C&Y) at 555 S. Floyd St.

C&Y will offer all of the services previously offered at the Broadway office, and the expanded downtown clinic will serve as a medical home with a wider array of on-site ancillary services: social work, psychology, dental care, home health, speech therapy, WIC nutrition services and legal counseling.

“This practice demonstrates the power of a university to bring multiple disciplines together to provide comprehensive health care for children,” Rabalais said.

Patients may see a UofL pediatrician at C&Y or one of the department’s other general pediatrics practices: the Stonestreet location at 9702 Stonestreet Road; or the Sam Swope Kosair Charities Centre at 982 Eastern Parkway.

Families who want a Spanish-speaking provider will have three office locations to choose from in Downtown Louisville, Germantown and South Louisville.

“Consolidating these two offices and deploying our physicians to different locations lays the groundwork for increasing access and building partnerships in the communities we serve,” said Gil Liu, M.D., chief of the UofL general pediatrics division. “Increasingly, we want to be able to say, ‘Our pediatricians are coming to a neighborhood near you.’”

Adding pediatric practices

This summer, the UofL Department of Pediatrics will partner with an East Louisville pediatric practice, bringing the number of general pediatricians and nurse practitioners in the department to 36.

The department will also expand its Campbellsville, Ky., practice – located at 73 Kingswood Dr. – later this summer, partnering with Taylor Regional Hospital to open a satellite office in Columbia, Ky.

Plans also are underway to provide general pediatric care in the West End of Louisville.

“We see these additions as opportunities to expand availability to patients and support community practitioners, who don’t have the resources to support multiple disciplines or the buying power and advantage in contract negotiations that we do,” Rabalais said.

Creating a network

All of the Louisville pediatric practices will soon operate as a network. That means patients will have a medical home for routine visits as well as access to urgent care at any of the other Louisville general pediatric practices. The network also will enable families to access ancillary services headquartered at C&Y and specialty care by UofL pediatric specialists.

“We think an arrangement that offers ‘one-stop shopping’ for multiple health care providers will be good for all our patients,” Dr. Liu said.

Creating additional learning opportunities for trainees

The department’s reorganization also ensures that residents, medical students and trainees from other programs will have places to learn primary care pediatrics. Historically, trainees have spent time in community pediatric practices but these practices may struggle to continue hosting students because of changes in the health care landscape.

“It is part of our educational mission to expand primary care opportunities,” Rabalais said.

 

Remembering Asia Ludlow

James Graham Brown Cancer Center patient, spokesperson loses fight with cancer
Remembering Asia Ludlow

Asia Ludlow address the audience at The Julep Ball, a benefit for the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, on May 2, 2014.

University of Louisville President James R. Ramsey, Ph.D., and Donald Miller, M.D., Ph.D., director of UofL’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center, issue the following statements on the death July 2 from cancer of Asia Ludlow of Louisville:

“Asia Ludlow possessed great courage and an attitude that was so uplifting to all who came in contact with her. Her zest for life was an inspiration to all of us.

“Asia will always remain a driving force for everyone at UofL who work in the field of cancer to find the cures and preventions so that one day, no more lives are lost to this terrible disease.

“Cancer can be an all-encompassing experience, affecting every aspect of a person’s life. Asia dealt with cancer head-on with hope and optimism. The disease was in her body, never in her spirit.

“To her daughters and other loved ones, we express our deepest sympathies. As we grieve for her loss, we hope that memories of Asia will provide some comfort to all who knew and loved her.

James R. Ramsey, President

 

“It is with great sadness that all of us at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, KentuckyOne Health and the University of Louisville mourn the loss of Asia Ludlow.

“Asia was a 2013 Survivor Ambassador at the Julep Ball, and the true champion that she was, she joined us again at the 2014 Julep Ball to share her story. We were honored again when she began volunteering at our M. Krista Loyd Cancer Resource Center, helping other patients with her unmatched spirit of hope and compassion.

Asia first fought breast cancer and kept fighting as it spread throughout her body. She was strong and committed, keeping faithfully to the treatment regimen prescribed for her – but her experience reminds us again that cancer is still a formidable enemy despite all we have at our disposal to combat it.

“Her odyssey as a patient with cancer began in 2008 and ended all too soon this week in mid-2014. Her life, however, serves as a legacy to show how one person’s grace, courage and caring heart can and does make a difference for others.”

Donald Miller, M.D., Ph.D., Director, James Graham Brown Cancer Center

To see and hear Asia’s message of hope in her own words, visit the James Graham Brown Cancer Center video here, her profile on Jean West’s Medical Digest here and her interview with Urban Lifestylez here.

Aging – and why no ‘cure’ for it has been found – to be discussed July 16

Monthly Beer with a Scientist program features UofL researcher
Aging – and why no ‘cure’ for it has been found – to be discussed July 16

Leah Siskind, Ph.D.

The next Beer with a Scientist program will shed light on the “incurable” condition of aging.

Leah Siskind, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Louisville, will present “Everyone is Aging: So Why Haven’t We Found a Scientific Cure?” from 8-9 p.m., Wednesday, July 16, at Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St.

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

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

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

Against the Grain’s Sam Cruz believes Beer with a Scientist bridges what he sees as a disconnect between scientists and the general public. “If you don’t know about something, it’s hard to care,” he said. “I think that’s why this works; what we’re doing with these talks is letting people take the time to think about these things.”

Organizers add that they 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.

Lite 106.9 giving away Outlet Shoppes VIP Preview tickets

July 30 event benefits James Graham Brown Cancer Center at UofL

The University of Louisville James Graham Brown Cancer Center is teaming up with Lite 106.9 to give away tickets to the Opening Night VIP Preview Shopping Event at The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass.

Five pairs of tickets to the preview event are being given away this week by the radio station. To win, listen to Lite 106.9 with Vicki Rogers during the noon hour for the call for entries, and then phone 502-571-1069 for a chance to win.

The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass is holding the event to benefit the cancer center from 6-9 p.m., Wednesday, July 30, the evening before the facility opens to the general public.

Patrons will be able to get the jump on the rest of Kentuckiana in shopping at choice retail outlets such as Coach, Brooks Brothers, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Michael Kors, J Crew, Banana Republic, Nike, Talbots, Under Armour and more. They also will receive a goody bag of items that includes a free coupon book with over $300 in savings good for an entire year at many of the 80-plus retailers that make up The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass. VIP preview event guests will also enjoy live music, light passed hors d’oeuvres, and the opportunity to bid on silent auction packages valued at $50 to $500 donated by Shoppes merchants.

Tickets are valued at $50 each, and for those not lucky enough to win, tickets can be purchased at www.shoppingforacure.org. Only patrons with tickets will be able to enter The Outlet Shoppes on opening night.

All proceeds from the VIP Preview go to the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, a part of KentuckyOne Health and the only cancer center in the region to use a unified approach to cancer care, with multidisciplinary teams of physicians working together to guide patients through diagnosis, treatment and recovery.

The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass is located at Exit 28 on Interstate 64. For additional information on the Opening Night VIP Preview or the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, contact 502-562-4642.

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McClain to lead UofL health sciences center research efforts

McClain to lead UofL health sciences center research efforts

Craig McClain, M.D.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Save the date: IOM president to present Leonard Leight Lecture at UofL Dec. 10

Save the date: IOM president to present Leonard Leight Lecture at UofL Dec. 10

Victor J. Dzau, M.D.

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

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

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

He has made a significant impact on medicine through his seminal research in cardiovascular medicine and genetics, his pioneering work in the discipline of vascular medicine, and recently his leadership in health care innovation. His work on the renin angiotensin system (RAS) – a hormonal system that regulates blood pressure and fluid balance – paved the way for the contemporary understanding of RAS in cardiovascular disease and the development of RAS inhibitors as therapeutics. Dzau also helped pioneer gene therapy for vascular disease. His most recent work provides novel insight into stem cell biology and regenerative medicine.

The Leonard Leight Lecture is presented annually by the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine in the Department of Medicine at the University of Louisville 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.

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Auction items announced for Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass VIP Preview

Bidding begins July 25 at 5 p.m., continues through July 30 event

More than a dozen silent auction items valued at $50 to $500 from The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass will be available for bidding online beginning Friday, July 25, at 5 p.m. at www.shoppingforacure.org. Bidding online continues until 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 30, during the Opening Night VIP Preview Shopping Event.

The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass is holding the event from 6-9 p.m. to benefit the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville. The by-ticket-only VIP Preview is being held on the evening before the facility opens to the general public.

Patrons are encouraged to bring smart phones or tablets to the event to continue bidding until the silent auction closes. Among the merchants and items available are:

  • Saks Fifth Avenue OFF FIFTH: $100 gift card
  • Polo Ralph Lauren: 5 $100 gift cards
  • Columbia: $500 gift card
  • J Crew: $200 gift card
  • Wilson’s Leather: ladies handbag
  • Crabtree & Evelyn: $50 gift card and 2 gift sets
  • Converse All Star: $100 gift card
  • Auntie Anne’s: $150 in VISA gift cards and 3 At-Home Pretzel Kits
  • Gold Toe, Hanes & Jockey: $250 in gift cards to Hanes Brands, $100 in gift cards to Jockey and a tote bag filled with Gold Toe socks

Patrons also will be able to beat the huge crowds expected for opening weekend and get the jump on the rest of Kentuckiana in shopping at the facility. Other retail outlets that will be open on the night of the VIP Preview include Coach, Brooks Brothers, Michael Kors, Banana Republic, Nike, Talbots, Under Armour and more. Patrons also will receive an exclusive goody bag of items that includes a free coupon book with over $300 in savings good for an entire year at many of the 80-plus retailers that make up The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass.

Tickets to the event are $50 each and also can be purchased at www.shoppingforacure.org. Only patrons with tickets will be able to enter The Outlet Shoppes on VIP Preview night.

Proceeds from the VIP Preview go to the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, a part of KentuckyOne Health and the only cancer center in the region to use a unified approach to cancer care, with multidisciplinary teams of physicians working together to guide patients through diagnosis, treatment and recovery.

The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass is located at 1155 Buck Creek Road, Exit 28 on Interstate 64. For additional information on the Opening Night VIP Preview or the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, contact 502-562-4642.

University of Louisville researchers launch international project in HIV prevention

University of Louisville researchers launch international project in HIV prevention

Kenneth Palmer, Ph.D.

Researchers from the University of Louisville will lead an international effort to utilize tobacco plants to develop a gel containing a specific protein that will prevent the transmission of HIV. The project is being funded by a five-year, $14.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

“Our researchers are looking to solve problems that affect the world,” said James R. Ramsey, Ph.D., president of the University of Louisville. “Globally, more than 34 million people are HIV positive. The development of a low-cost method to prevent transmission of HIV certainly is something that is desperately needed and the use of tobacco plants as a method of carrying the vaccine appears to be key in the process.”

“Approximately seven years ago, UofL and Owensboro Health created a joint venture to develop a world-class plant pharmaceutical program that would have an impact globally,” said David L. Dunn, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for health affairs at UofL. “Today’s announcement, coupled with the announcement we made in May about the Helmsley Charitable Trust providing funding to our research into two other cancer vaccines utilizing tobacco plants, demonstrates that the vision is becoming a reality.”

Kenneth Palmer, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and toxicology and director of the Owensboro Cancer Research Program of UofL’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center, is leading a team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, the Magee-Women’s Research Institute in Pittsburgh, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, the University of Maryland, Baltimore and Kentucky Bioprocessing Inc. and Intrucept Biomedicine LLC in Owensboro.

The team is working with the carbohydrate combining protein Griffithsin (GRFT), which is found in red algae. In laboratory work, the protein has shown to have broad-spectrum activity against HIV. GRFT binds to the dense shield of sugars that surrounds HIV cells and prevents these cells from entering other non-HIV cells. The team plans to develop a gel containing the protein for use during sexual intercourse by people at risk for HIV transmission.

To develop the microbicide, Palmer’s team takes a synthetic copy of the protein and injects it into a tobacco mosaic virus, which carries the protein into the tobacco leaves. After 12 days, the researchers harvest the leaves and extract the mass-produced protein for development into the vaccine.

“Our goal is to optimize the delivery system of the protective agent, which in this case is a gel, and determine its safety and estimates of its efficacy, leading to a first-in-humans clinical trial,” Palmer said.

“People may question why a cancer program is conducting research into HIV prevention,” said Donald Miller, M.D., Ph.D., director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, a part of KentuckyOne Health. “In fact, cancer can be a result of every major disease that we know about, and HIV infection is no exception.”

Overall, the grant contains three significant projects – The Critical Path Project; Preclinical Testing Project; and Clinical Trial Project.

The critical path project involves manufacturing the microbicide active ingredient, ensuring quality of the microbicide and the formulated gel product and production for actual use. This process is in collaboration with two Owensboro-based biotechnology companies (Kentucky Bioprocessing Inc. and Intrucept Biomedicine LLC), and Lisa Rohan, Ph.D., at the University of Pittsburgh and Magee-Women’s Research Institute. Rohan has significant experience developing delivery systems for similar medications.

The preclinical testing project is a collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to use an animal model to ensure that the vaccine is safe and to determine that it actually provides protection from infection.

The clinical trial project involves developing the application to conduct a clinical trial for the Food and Drug Administration, as well as conducting the first-in-humans testing.

###

Editor’s note: Palmer is one of the founders and principal partners in Intrucept Biomedicine LLC.

UofL neurosurgeon performs unique surgery: Extended endoscopic skull-based surgery of the brain

UofL neurosurgeon performs unique surgery: Extended endoscopic skull-based surgery of the brain

Mary Koutourousiou, M.D.

A surgeon at University of Louisville Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, recently performed an extended endoscopic skull-based surgery of the brain, a unique surgery of its kind in Kentucky.

Performed by Dr. Mary Koutourousiou, assistant professor of neurosurgery and director of the skull base program, the minimally invasive surgery was done to help restore the eyesight of a 34-year-old man who suffered from a malignant brain tumor located at the base of the skull.

Extended endoscopic skull-based surgery is performed through the nose and enables surgeons to remove brain tumors and lesions – some as large as softballs. During the procedure, which takes an average of six hours, surgeons use a specially designed endoscope to view the tumor and additional instruments to dissect it piece-by-piece through the nasal cavity.

This approach reduces risks and recovery times for the patient who would otherwise need a craniotomy, which requires temporary removal of a bone flap from the skull to access the brain and brain retraction to reach the tumor.

“The base of the skull is one of the most challenging regions of the body to access,” Koutourousiou said. “Using an endoscopic endonasal approach provides a panoramic view of the base of the skull and the patient’s tumor.”

The minimally invasive nature of the procedure leaves no visible scarring, shortens a patient’s hospital stay, reduces overall recovery times and involves less trauma to the brain and critical nerves. Hospital stays following a craniotomy could be up to 30 days, compared to three to four days following an extended endoscopic skull-based procedure.

“This approach is the future of brain surgery,” said Ken Marshall, president, University of Louisville Hospital. “There are only a handful of surgeons with fellowship training on this procedure in the country. We are proud to have one of those surgeons on our team and to be able to offer this new option for patients in the Commonwealth.”

Koutourousiou completed a clinical fellowship in endoscopic skull base surgery and open skull base surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She has published extensively on the endonasal approach to brain surgery.

 

Accelerated rural medical education program graduates first physician

Ashley Flanary Jessup, 24, intends to return to practice in hometown Benton, Ky.
Accelerated rural medical education program graduates first physician

Ashley Jessup, M.D.

Ashley Flanary Jessup always wanted to be a doctor when she grew up. She just never imagined that along the way she would blaze a new trail for medical education in Kentucky. Growing up in the small rural town of Benton, Ky., Jessup didn’t fit the typical demographic for a medical school candidate. But she held on to her dream and now, at age 24, that determination has paid off.

When Jessup received her medical degree in June, the University of Louisville celebrated not only her success, but a historic first when Jessup became the first person to graduate the School of Medicine’s Rural Medical Accelerated Track program, or RMAT. This new program enables students to finish medical school in three years, reducing cost and time commitments for rural students who plan to open practices in small towns in Kentucky.

Rural doctors are desperately needed in the United States. Nationwide, 20 percent of the U.S. population is living in small towns or far away from big cities, but only 9 percent of physicians practice in those rural areas. Family doctors are distributed more evenly, with 22 percent practicing outside large cities, but the need is still greater. Proponents of the RMAT hope that more successes like Jessup’s will pave the way for more doctors to go where they are needed.

William Crump, M.D., associate dean of the University of Louisville School of Medicine, says that outcome is likely, considering Kentucky’s numbers. He stressed that “most of the counties in Kentucky that are underserved are only underserved by an average of 1.5 full-time equivalent positions. This means that placing one more physician permanently in a county may move it from being an underserved to an adequately served county.”

The idea for an accelerated medical track gained national attention in 2006 with an essay by the editor of Academic Medicine, an internationally renowned medical journal. The essay made the case that financial barriers may keep many students coming from families with more modest incomes—the ones most likely to choose a rural medical path—from considering medical school. At the same time, a strategic planning process by Kentucky Academy of Family Physicians supported a proposal for a three-year track to rural practice. The University of Louisville began the planning process in 2009.

Crump says the RMAT program will definitely help Kentucky’s shortage of doctors and healthcare providers in rural areas. In his opinion, “The best way to get a doctor to a rural area is to get a medical student from a rural area.” The program channels students from small towns that truly want to study family medicine, and then keeps them in that channel.

Students in RMAT have the same required curriculum as traditional four-year medical students, but the lens in which they filter the material is focused on a rural practice, and undertaken in a condensed amount of time.  It begins with a four-week experience in a rural community practice, and students must complete their capstone, a family medicine clerkship at the end of their final year.

Jessup says the program was fast-paced, but manageable. “At first glance, it sounds overwhelming, but if you take things one step at a time, it isn’t.” In fact, Jessup was able to find the time to get married during her time in the RMAT program. She says the biggest advantage of the program was the financial aspect. “One less year of school means one less year of tuition, and I was finished one year sooner,” she said.

Denying the label of a trailblazer, Jessup gives the credit to others. “I would consider all of the faculty and staff who envisioned the program as the trailblazers,” she said. “They laid the plans for me and made it all possible.”  She simply says she worked hard and did what every other medical student does—just in a smaller amount of time. She views herself as just another kid who dreamed of becoming a doctor, and hopes that more will follow in her footsteps at UofL.

Crump says students who have chosen to take the accelerated path have done very well with the course load despite initial fears to the contrary. “Even though the program is stressful and does not leave much wiggle room, students who are focused and efficient will succeed,” he says.

Two second-year medical students are currently taking part in the RMAT program and Crump says several first-year students have expressed an interest in the program.

In Crump’s view, the RMAT program has had an amazing start. “I tend to think of it as my ‘baby’,” he says. “When we started in 2006, we had a vision, and we have seen that vision come true. We have overcome the doubters and the skeptics.”

Jessup says she is proof of the RMAT program’s success. With her successful graduation from UofL’s program, Jessup hopes to return to her hometown of Benton to begin her practice after her residency in Madisonville. She says she is very excited to have the chance to make a difference in her community, and is optimistic about the program’s future. “We wanted to make the RMAT successful, and we all worked together to make it happen.”

UofL ophthalmology researcher named chair of NIH study section

Group reviews research grant applications for scientific merit
UofL ophthalmology researcher named chair of NIH study section

Maureen McCall, Ph.D.

A professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences in the University of Louisville School of Medicine has been named chair of a panel that reviews research grant applications, helping determine which are worthy for support from the National Institutes of Health.

Maureen McCall, Ph.D., has been named chair of the 20-member Neurotransporters, Receptors and Calcium Signaling Study Section of the NIH’s Center for Scientific Review. She is the only Kentuckian on the panel, which has representatives from universities in 14 states. Her term begins this month (August 2014) and will conclude in 2016.

The Center for Scientific Review is the gateway for NIH grant applications and their review for scientific merit. It recruits and organizes scientists into 174 study sections to review applications for funding made to the NIH.

Each study section has a precise focus so that applications receive expert reviews to help the NIH identify the most promising research. The Neurotransporters, Receptors and Calcium Signaling Study Section reviews studies that investigate signal transduction pathways in neurons, muscles and other excitable cells – those that can be stimulated to create an electric current.

McCall holds joint appointments as professor in the Departments of Anatomical Sciences and Neurobiology and Psychological and Brain Sciences. She came to UofL in 1997.

The author of approximately 60 journal articles, McCall uses electrophysiological techniques in her research to evaluate normal retinal function, dysfunction caused by blinding retinal diseases, and the restoration of function using a variety of therapeutic strategies. Particular areas of emphasis are in the study of retinitis pigmentosa, glaucoma and congenital stationary night blindness.

Bhatnagar leads group developing first policy statement on e-cigarettes

Bhatnagar leads group developing first policy statement on e-cigarettes

Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D.

A University of Louisville professor chaired a 10-member American Heart Association panel of experts in formulating the association’s first-ever policy statement on e-cigarettes.

Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D., the Smith and Lucille Gibson Chair in Medicine and director of the UofL Diabetes and Obesity Center, is lead author of the statement as published in the journal CirculationAug. 24.

While much is still unknown about the rapidly growing electronic cigarette industry, e-cigarettes are dangerous because they target young people, can keep people hooked on nicotine, and threaten to “re-normalize” tobacco use, according to the policy statement.

The battery-powered e-cigarettes that contain nicotine are tobacco products and should be subject to all laws that apply to these products, according to recommendations in the policy statement. The association also calls for strong new regulations to prevent access, sales and marketing of e-cigarettes to youth, and for more research into the product’s health impact.

“People need to know that e-cigarettes are unregulated and there are many variables that we don’t know about them,” Bhatnagar said. “Recent studies raise concerns that e-cigarettes may be a gateway to traditional tobacco products for the nation’s youth, and could re-normalize smoking in our society.”

Manufacturers present e-cigarettes as “cool and sexy and acceptable, which is a problem because you’re increasing addiction,” Bhatnagar said. Companies also use terms like “vaping” rather than smoking to gain public acceptance and try to break the connection between e-cigarettes and traditional, “combustible” cigarettes, he added.

In April the Food and Drug Administration proposed rules banning the sale of e-cigarettes to people under the age of 18 and subjecting the $2 billion industry to federal regulation for the first time. Such rules had been long sought by the AHA and other organizations.

The FDA’s proposal fell short of what was hoped for by the AHA and other public health advocates, however, because it did not go far enough in limiting online sales, advertising and flavored products, all tactics used to make e-cigarettes appealing to young people.

Liquid nicotine used by e-cigarettes comes in many flavors like bubble gum, caramel, chocolate, fruit and mint, all attractive to young people, and many brands use colorful, candy-like packaging.

“That’s an unfortunate trend, to make them palatable and attractive to children,” Bhatnagar said.

Breast radiation trial provides more convenience, better compliance, lowered cost and patient outcomes on par with current treatment

UofL researcher finds once-weekly regimen successful with no adverse effects
Breast radiation trial provides more convenience, better compliance, lowered cost and patient outcomes on par with current treatment

Anthony E. Dragun, M.D.

An experimental regimen of once-weekly breast irradiation following lumpectomy provides more convenience to patients at a lower cost, results in better completion rates of prescribed radiation treatment, and produces cosmetic outcomes comparable to the current standard of daily radiation.

These interim results of the 5-year Phase II clinical trial using the experimental regimen were presented Sept. 4 at the Breast Cancer Symposium 2014 in San Francisco by Anthony E. Dragun, M.D., vice chair and associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Louisville.

Dragun, a radiation oncologist with University of Louisville Physicians, launched the trial three years ago at UofL’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center, a part of KentuckyOne Health and the only site offering the experimental regimen in the United States. A second KentuckyOne Health site is being planned, he said, and is expected to begin enrolling patients this autumn.

Reviewing data from Europe – the United Kingdom in particular – Dragun found an alternative to the currently standard daily radiation treatments prescribed to patients after a lumpectomy. Physicians in the U.K. and other European countries were reporting excellent results with a regimen of radiation administered once-weekly.

“Instead of daily treatments for 25-30 days, five to six treatments administered once each week were being used,” he said. “I thought this regimen would give our patients here in Kentucky a great deal of access and choice, so we developed the trial and launched it in 2011.”

Approximately 150 female patients have been enrolled in the trial thus far, he said. Patients undergoing a lumpectomy following diagnosis of breast cancer are given a choice of the current standard of daily radiation treatments or the option to enroll in the trial and receive treatment one time per week.

The radiation dosing has been calibrated to compensate for the change in how the treatments are administered, but no adverse effects have been seen, Dragun said. “The outcomes with once-weekly treatments are absolutely in line with what we see in daily breast irradiation,” he said. “The standard of care is maintained.”

Giving women the choice of how their treatment is administered means more women complete their treatment, he said. “Finding time for daily treatments for 6 weeks or more just isn’t possible for many women,” Dragun said. “Scheduling once-weekly treatments is much easier to fit into the busy lives our patients lead.

“We also see many patients who depend on public transportation or live in rural areas that are 30 miles or more from our center, and they have told us that they would not have been able to complete a traditional course of daily radiation treatment.  Their only alternative would be a mastectomy,” he said.

Because radiation treatment is reimbursed on a per-treatment basis, Dragun said the overall cost is lowered. “We have reduced the number of treatments to about one-fourth to one-third of what the current daily treatment regimen is,” he said. “Medicare reimburses radiation costs on a per-treatment basis, and most private insurers do likewise.

“This means we’ve been able to reduce the cost by 50 to 60 percent without jeopardizing the quality of care.”

Dragun plans to enroll another 50 patients at the Louisville site and 30 at the future trial site. After the completion of this trial, he intends to expand into a multi-center Phase III trial at facilities in other states.

“We believe the once-weekly regimen such as this will become a standard option in the next decade,” he said.

 

 

 

 

UofL pediatric spinal cord injury research program garners significant support

The Helmsley Charitable Trust provides $1.5 million grant
UofL pediatric spinal cord injury research program garners significant support

Andrea Behrman, Ph.D.

At three months of age, Emmalie Smith suffered a spinal cord injury leaving her paralyzed. Her parents, Amy and Bryce, took her to traditional physical and occupational therapy three times a week with the hope that their little girl would regain her ability to move.

Amy says the results were underwhelming, with Emmalie using her forehead to activate a motorized wheelchair.

Unsatisfied with that as an option, Amy contacted the University of Louisville and Andrea Behrman, Ph.D., who had brought to UofL her research into the use of Locomotor Training to provide better rehabilitation to children with paralysis from spinal cord injuries.

Nine months after the intense physical therapy at the Frazier Rehab Institute, a part of KentuckyOne Health, Emmalie was able to better move her arms, roll over and come to sit in bed, and use a manual wheelchair. After her most recent work with Behrman and the pediatric team, the now 4-year-old from Brighton, Mich., is beginning to stand. With an injury at such a very young age, these are new experiences in Emmalie’s growth and development.

“This has made a tremendous difference in Emmalie’s life,” Amy said. “Her core strength is to where she is able to sit on her own and doesn’t need a chest belt. She’s able to get herself around and is much more independent. Working with Dr. Behrman and her team has had a huge impact on Emmalie and our entire family.”

More children like Emmalie will be able to benefit from Behrman’s groundbreaking efforts, thanks to a three-year, $1.5 million grant provided by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

“The work of Dr. Behrman and her team is a perfect example of the goal of every researcher at the UofL Health Sciences Center -- transforming peoples’ lives through creating and translating into actions new knowledge about how to prevent, treat and cure medical issues,” said James R. Ramsey, Ph.D., president of the University of Louisville, in announcing the grant at a news conference today (Sept. 4). “We are very excited and grateful that the Helmsley Charitable Trust shares our vision and is providing significant support to help us achieve this ambitious objective.”

To date, the Helmsley Charitable Trust has provided nearly $16.5 million to support UofL researchers investigating both cancer prevention and cures and rehabilitation efforts for adults and children who are paralyzed.

“Dr. Behrman’s work has the potential to be truly transformative for adults and children who are affected by paralysis -- not just in Louisville and Kentucky, but around the world.” said John Codey, a trustee of the Helmsley Charitable Trust.  “With this latest grant that is focused on treating pediatric spinal cord injuries, the Trust is thrilled to build upon our relationship with UofL’s world-class team of researchers, who continue to break new ground in the quest to understand and solve some of the most critical medical challenges that we face today.”

“The importance of support from our partners cannot be over-emphasized,” said David L. Dunn, M.D., Ph.D., UofL executive vice president for health affairs. “The current research funding environment does not guarantee that projects like Dr. Behrman’s will receive support from the typical funding agencies. We are extremely grateful that the Helmsley Charitable Trust recognizes that the work taking place at the University of Louisville has the significant potential to change the lives of children throughout the world.”

Behrman, professor of neurosurgery and director of the UofL Kosair Charities Center for Pediatric Neurorecovery, is a pioneer in the use of Locomotor Training in children. The intense physical therapy regime was developed by Behrman and fellow UofL faculty member Susan J. Harkema, Ph.D., professor of neurological surgery and the Owsley B. Frazier Chair in Neurological Rehabilitation at UofL and the Rehabilitation Research Director of the UofL Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center.

Locomotor Training allows individuals with certain kinds of spinal cord injuries to repetitively practice standing and stepping using body weight support and a treadmill with manual facilitation from therapists and technicians. The ultimate goal is to re-train patients with spinal cord injuries to sit independently, stand and walk again. Further benefits including improved respiration, bladder control, and sensation have made a significant impact on the quality of life for children. Behrman’s goal is to help children who not only have spinal cord injuries, but also conditions such as head trauma and tumors.

“The generous support we are receiving from the Helmsley Charitable Trust will enable our team to develop equipment that better fits children as they participate in Locomotor Training,” Behrman said. “Also, we now will be able to develop a systematic database for immediate and long-term outcomes for the children who are participating in our program. We also will gain a better understanding of the value of sensory cues such as surface texture, heat/cold or vibrations and their potential impact on the child’s rehabilitation effort.”

Emmalie Smith, 4, patient of Andrea Behrman (2014)

Emmalie Smith, 4
Emmalie Smith, 4, patient of Andrea Behrman (2014)
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UofL's James Graham Brown Cancer Center earns 3-year accreditation from American College of Radiology

UofL's James Graham Brown Cancer Center earns 3-year accreditation from American College of Radiology

The radiation oncology department at the University of Louisville's James Graham Brown Cancer Center, part of KentuckyOne Health, has been awarded another three-year term of accreditation in radiation oncology by the American College of Radiology (ACR).

The ACR is the nation’s oldest and most widely accepted radiation oncology accrediting body, with more than 600 accredited sites and 27 years of accreditation history. The accreditation is awarded only to facilities that meet the ACR's specific practice guidelines and technical standards following a peer-review evaluation by board-certified radiation oncologists and medical physicists who are experts in the field. Patient care and treatment, patient safety, personnel qualifications, adequacy of facility equipment, quality control procedures and quality assurance programs also are assessed by the ACR prior to accreditation.

The radiation oncology department has six board-certified physicians working with board-certified radiation therapists, a team of oncology nurses and a dosimetrist - the professional who determines how to deliver prescribed radiation treatment to a patient - among others.

“Our hospital, doctors and staff work extremely hard to make sure that we are doing everything we can to provide the best outcomes for our patients,” said Donald Miller, M.D., cancer center director. “Continued recognition from the American College of Radiology is an important confirmation that we continue to lead the way in cancer care in the region.”

The James Graham Brown Cancer Center opened on the UofL health sciences campus in 1981 with a $12 million gift from the James Graham Brown Foundation and the citizens of Louisville with a mission of relieving the pain and suffering caused by cancer in Kentucky. The center is a partnership between UofL and KentuckyOne Health and offers robust clinical and basic science research programs. Combining these research elements in a treatment environment provides the best opportunity for discovery of new techniques and therapies for the benefit of patients. It has been ranked as one of the best cancer care hospitals in Kentucky for 2014-15 by U.S. News & World Report, which recognizes hospitals that excel in treating the most challenging patients.

UofL's James Graham Brown Cancer Center is located at 529 S. Jackson St. For information, call 502-562-4158 or toll-free at 1-866-530-5516.

Research!Louisville focuses on research at Louisville Medical Center, Sept. 16-19

Research!America president to speak on federal funding for research
Research!Louisville focuses on research at Louisville Medical Center, Sept. 16-19

Mary Woolley, president and CEO, Research!America

Research in cancer biology, spinal cord injury, birth defects, circulatory support devices and more will highlight Research!Louisville 2014, Sept. 16-19 at various locations in the Louisville Medical Center.

Now in its 19th year, Research!Louisville annually features reports on the latest research underway at the institutions and organizations in the medical center and is sponsored by the University of Louisville; University of Louisville Hospital, Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s Foundation, all part of KentuckyOne Health; and Norton Healthcare.

Also included will be addresses from two internationally known leaders in medical research:

  • Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America, Alexandria, Va., will address “Your Role in Changing Hearts and Minds for Science” at 2 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 18, in Room 101/102 of the Kosair Charities Clinical and Translational Research (KCCTR) building, 505 S. Hancock St. Woolley will discuss the impact of a polarized Congress on federal health research agency budgets, share public opinion poll data and provide insights on how to effectively communicate with policy makers, the public and the media about research during an election year.
  • Stefano Bonassi, Ph.D., head of the Clinical and Molecular Epidemiology Area of Systems Approaches and Non-Communicable Diseases of the Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico, Rome, will speak on “From Exposure Assessment to P4 Medicine” at 1:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 19, in Room 101/102 of the KCCTR. “P4 Medicine” is a term coined by biologist Leroy Hood, M.D., Ph.D., and is short for "Predictive, Preventive, Personalized and Participatory Medicine." The premise of P4 medicine is that, over the next 20 years, medical practice will be revolutionized by biotechnology, to manage a person's health instead of a person’s disease. Bonassi will discuss the scientific and clinical features of several systems medicine platforms.

Featured reports on ongoing research in Louisville include:

  • Cancer Biology and Therapeutics Symposium: 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 16, 101/102 KCCTR – Translational research results on the discovery of novel cancer targets and the development of cancer therapeutics. Chief presenter: Jason Chesney, M.D., Ph.D., Deputy Director, University of Louisville James Graham Brown Cancer Center, a part of KentuckyOne Health
  • Recovery and Repair After Spinal Cord Injury: 2:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 16, 101/102 KCCTR – Issues critical to rehabilitation after spinal cord injury and strategies employed by the UofL Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center, Kosair Charities Center for Pediatric Neurorecovery, Frazier Rehab Institute and Robley Rex VA Medical Center. Presenters: David S.K. Magnuson, Ph.D.; Dena Howland, Ph.D.; and Andrea Behrman, Ph.D., all of the UofL Department of Neurosurgery
  • Molecular Determinants of Birth Defects: 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 17, 101/102 KCCTR – Research supported by the UofL Center of Biomedical Research Excellence with the goal of illuminating the molecular etiologies of developmental defects and disabilities. Presenters: Jun Cai, Ph.D., UofL School of Medicine; Lisa Sandell, Ph.D., UofL School of Dentistry; and Rachel Neal, Ph.D., UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • Symposium: Intravital Imaging and Diseased States: 10:30 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 18, 101/102 KCCTR – Use of state-of-the-art imaging techniques to track biological process in normal, diseased and damaged tissue. Presenters: Bart Borghuis, Ph.D, UofL Department of Anatomical Sciences and Neurobiology, and Lacey McNally, Ph.D., UofL James Graham Brown Cancer Center, a part of KentuckyOne Health
  • Community Engagement and Engaged Scholarship: 3 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 18, 101/102 KCCTR – Four 15-20 minute presentations by faculty from the UofL Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Public Health and Information Sciences and UofL’s Kent School of Social Work followed by a panel discussion moderated by Erica R.H. Sutton, M.D., UofL Department of Surgery. Presenters: Vicki P. Hines-Martin, Ph.D., R.N., School of Nursing; Monica L. Wendel, Dr.P.H., School of Public Health and Information Sciences; and Riaan van Zyl, Ph.D., and Cheri Langley, Ph.D., both of Kent School of Social Work
  • Clinical Translation of Mechanical Circulatory Support Devices for Treatment of Advanced Heart Failure: 10 a.m., Friday, Sept. 19, 101/102 KCCTR – Novel experimental models and innovative approaches for treating advanced heart failure. Presenters: Steven Koenig, Ph.D., UofL Speed School of Engineering; Guruprasad Giridharan, Ph.D., Cardiovascular Innovation Institute (CII), a joint initiative of UofL and Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s HealthCare; Yu Wang, Ph.D., UofL Speed School of Engineering; Leslie Sherwood, D.V.M., CII and UofL Research Resource Facilities; Gretel Monreal, Ph.D., UofL Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery; Kevin Soucy, Ph.D., UofL Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery; and Mike Sobieski, R.N., CII

Other reports focused on research practice will be:

  • Are We There Yet? Personal Reflection on Community-Based Participatory/Translational Research: 1 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 17, 101/102 KCCTR – Perspectives from Ida Johnson-Spruill, Ph.D., R.N., of the Medical University of South Carolina whose research interests include chronic disease management, genetic literacy and reducing health disparities among vulnerable populations
  • Auditing of Clinical Trials – GCP and Billing, a GEAR (Gaining Essentials About Research) symposium presented by Norton University and Norton Healthcare Office of Research Administration: 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 18, Cranmer Auditorium, Norton Healthcare Pavilion, 315 E. Broadway – The combined auditing of clinical trials for both good clinical practice (GCP) and billing compliance leading to capitalization of revenue and ensuring principal investigators and research teams are following GCP guidelines. Presenters: Kelly M. Willenberg, principal of Research Compliance Advocates LLC, Chesnee, S.C., and Kathleen Hurtado, president and CEO of Health Research Association, Los Angeles
  • Super Hero Evidence: Does Your Literature Have the Strength to Support Your Practice Change? Offered twice from 7:30 a.m.-noon and again from 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 19, Rudd Heart and Lung Conference Center, Jewish Hospital, 201 Abraham Flexner Way – An overview of evidence-based practice with a focus on establishing the worth of a study through the critical appraisal process. Organizer: Reeta Stikes, KentuckyOne Health

Also on tap will be scientific poster presentations by summer interns of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center and UofL graduate students, postgraduates, fellows and faculty. Poster presentation awards will be announced at 1 p.m., Friday, Sept. 19, in 101/102 KCCTR.

Admission to Research!Louisville is free. For information, contact Bonnie Dean, 502-852-2647 or bonnie.dean@louisville.edu.

 

Bone marrow registration drive scheduled Sept. 16-18 at UofL

Set for Sept. 16-17 at the HSC, Sept. 18 on the Belknap campus
Bone marrow registration drive scheduled Sept. 16-18 at UofL

Owen is second from left in this portrait of the McMasters family.

The University of Louisville will host a bone marrow drive from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday (Sept. 16 and 17) on the Health Sciences Center campus in the courtyard between Kornhauser Library and Medical School Instructional Building B, and Thursday (Sept. 18) in the Swain Student Activities Center on the Belknap campus.

The drive is being held to highlight the ever-present need for bone marrow donations for patients such as Owen McMasters, the 15-year-old son of Kelly McMasters, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the UofL Department of Surgery. Diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) three years ago, Owen now needs a bone marrow transplant to fight the disease, requiring a donor with similar genetic composition.

The McMasters family has teamed up with Sharing America’s Marrow to host the donor registration events at UofL.  All it takes to sign up to the national marrow donor registry is completion of a short consent form and a cheek swab, which determines donor/recipient matches. Registrants must be between the ages of 18 and 55 and meet other requirements.

The entire registration process takes about 5 minutes and those who sign up could be the cure for Owen or for the thousands of patients like him who are fighting blood cancers.

For more information on the bone marrow donation process, visit https://www.deletebloodcancer.org/en/faq or contact sam@sharemarrow.com.

For information about Owen and his fight against ALL, “like” the Owen’s Wish page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/OwensWish.

UofL medical student earns national award

UofL medical student earns national award

Mickey Ising

Mickey Ising, a student at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and a two-time graduate of the UofL J.B. Speed School of Engineering, is one of 21 fourth-year medical students throughout the nation to earn an American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation Physicians of Tomorrow Award.

Ising was selected to receive this $10,000 national scholarship recognizing academic achievement. After graduating from Elizabethtown (Ky.) High School in 2005, he earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in bioengineering at UofL. He works at the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute at the UofL Health Sciences Center developing and evaluating medical devices and novel therapeutic techniques. Ising has authored eight manuscripts published in peer-reviewed journals and is vice president of the UofL School of Medicine Class of 2015.

Recipients were nominated by their medical schools and chosen based upon academic achievement and financial need.  The AMA Foundation has awarded over $61 million in scholarships to deserving medical students since 1950.

The AMA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt foundation, is dedicated to improving public health by raising funds and providing philanthropic support to high-impact health and medical scholarship programs. Visit www.amafoundation.orgto join the AMA Foundation in improving the health of Americans.

UofL Physicians ALS Clinic named Recognized Treatment Clinic

UofL to launch ALS research program
UofL Physicians ALS Clinic named Recognized Treatment Clinic

UofL President James Ramsey has kicked off the new UofL ALS research fund with a personal donation of $10,000.

The University of Louisville Physicians ALS Clinic, located at Frazier Rehab Institute, part of KentuckyOne Health, was named a Recognized Treatment Clinic by The ALS Association on Tuesday, Sept. 16. The clinic is one of 50 in the United States to earn such a designation.

The designation follows a rigorous clinical and administrative review by the association and a vote of its board. Earning the recognition means the clinic meets a national standard of quality and implements best-practice care for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

In addition to celebrating the designation, the University of Louisville announced the establishment of a research fund to further the activities of the clinic as it pursues its goal of becoming a Certified Center for Excellence. Dr. James Ramsey, president of the University of Louisville, kicked off the new UofL ALS research fund with a personal donation of $10,000, which he announced at the news conference Tuesday.

“For me, ALS is personal,” Ramsey said. “My mother-in-law passed away from ALS, and developing this clinic and an ALS research program at UofL has been a goal of mine for a long time. I hope others will choose to donate to UofL’s ALS research program as well so we might help find the cause and a cure for this devastating disease.”

Ramsey made his donation as part of the “ice bucket challenge” that has swept the nation since July and greatly raised awareness of ALS and contributions to ALS research. He participated in the challenge on Aug. 28 on the UofL Health Sciences Campus. (Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3im8sWo1R3g&feature=youtu.be)

On Tuesday, The ALS Association’s Kentucky Chapter also presented the UofL Physicians ALS Clinic with a $10,000 check.

“We are proud to present this one-time donation to the UofL Physicians ALS Clinic, which is made possible by a gift from Heaven Hill Distilleries through the sale of Parker’s Heritage bourbon to help us continue to fulfill our three mission priorities, one of which is to expand our care services,” said Mari Bacon, executive director of the chapter.

Parker’s Heritage Collection bourbon is named for Parker Beam, a sixth-generation master distiller for Heaven Hill who has ALS. As a way to help The ALS Association raise funds to find a cure, Heaven Hill donates a portion from the sale of every bottle to The ALS Association.

Recognition process

The ALS Association’s Certified Center Program – which includes Recognized Treatment Clinics and Certified Centers of Excellence – selects, recognizes and supports distinguished institutions recognized as the best in the field when it comes to knowledge, skill and experience with ALS; access to care; and neurological diagnostics and imaging. Recognized Treatment Clinics must also have an on-site designated multidisciplinary team.

Other requirements to become a Recognized Treatment Clinic are serving a number of patients living with ALS, and an ongoing relationship with the local chapter to provide programs to assist those with ALS and their families. The primary goal of the ALS recognition process is to ensure each patient receives the best evidence-based care closely linked to positive outcomes.

The designation confirms to patients and families, as well as government institutions and other key stakeholders, the validity and comprehensiveness of the UofL Physicians program.

“We are honored to recognize the University of Louisville Physicians ALS Clinic for the staff’s expertise, and for all they have done and are continuing to do for patients living with the disease,” said Shawn Mullennex, president of the board for The ALS Association’s Kentucky Chapter. “Becoming a Recognized Treatment Clinic is not easy to achieve, and patients who come to the UofL Physicians clinic can feel confident that they are receiving the best care possible, in a compassionate and caring environment.”

Mullennex presented clinic director Dr. Martin Brown with a plaque designating the UofL Physicians ALS Clinic as an ALS Recognized Treatment Clinic, a goal that was years in the making. Brown was joined by Dr. Kerri Remmel, chief of vascular neurology at University of Louisville Physicians, and Randy Napier, president of Frazier Rehab Institute, in receiving the plaque.

Lisa Shannon, chief operating officer of KentuckyOne Health, said the UofL Physicians ALS Clinic at Frazier Rehab “is indeed yet another example of the partnership between UofL, Frazier Rehab and KentuckyOne Health to advance medical care and research in the Commonwealth.”

“It is our mission to bring wellness, healing and hope to all, including the underserved. The ALS clinic and the research that will be done here is part of that mission, and I want to emphasize the word ‘hope,’” Shannon said. “ALS is a devastating disease. But through research, there is hope. Hope for better care and advancements in treatment that can improve quality of life for these patients, and maybe one day find a cure.”

Napier added “We are honored to be the home of the ALS Clinic and the physicians, staff and researchers that will work with us every day to make a difference in the lives of the patients and their families who entrust us for care. The Frazier Rehab team that cares for ALS patients is an incredibly dedicated group of professionals – from physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy to psychology, pulmonary rehab and case management.”

UofL ALS research

Brown said the new UofL research program will have two components: clinical research, which includes trials of possible treatments for existing patients; and basic science research of ALS to try to determine how the disease starts and why it progresses.

“We don’t know what causes ALS, why it starts or how it spreads from one limb to another,” Brown said. “It’s hard to come up with a treatment if we don’t know the underlying cause. Our goal is to try to answer some of those questions, and give patients more hope through clinical trials that might make a difference. Research is the key to fighting ALS.”

For more on the University of Louisville Physicians ALS Clinic and the new UofL ALS research fund, visit www.uoflphysicians.com/als or email fightALS@louisville.edu.

History of the UofL Physicians ALS Clinic

UofL’s quest to serve patients with ALS started with a conversation nearly 10 years ago between Dr. Kerri Remmel, chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and UofL President Dr. James Ramsey. It was an important cause for both – for Remmel as a neurologist, and for Ramsey for his family.

Dr. Martin Brown was then hired in 2007 to help develop the clinic, and in 2011, he met with The ALS Association’s national chief of care services, Kim Maginnis, and the Kentucky Chapter’s executive director, Mari Bacon, to discuss becoming a Recognized Treatment Clinic. He had already begun seeing patients, and he and clinic coordinator Johanna Harris had started working with the association’s Kentucky care services manager, Patricia Peak.

In June 2013, the clinic became a reality, seeing patients on the sixth floor at Frazier Rehab Institute, 220 Abraham Flexner Way. On Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, the clinic became a Recognized Treatment Clinic by the ALS Association.

NIH awards grant to take aim at legal barriers that hinder genetic research

Rothstein awarded $612,000 over two years

University of Louisville law and medicine professor Mark A. Rothstein, J.D., has received a two- year $612,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to foster international collaboration on genetic research while maintaining human rights and privacy.

Rothstein is an expert on the legal and ethical issues raised by genetic research—including compiling large collections of biological specimens.

“International collaboration in genetic research is extremely valuable in advancing understanding and developing new therapies,” Rothstein said. “We need to make sure that essential privacy laws don't unnecessarily interfere with research."

Rothstein has a joint appointment at the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law and the School of Medicine. He holds the Herbert F. Boehl Chair of Law and Medicine and is the founding director of the university’s Institute for Bioethics, Health Policy and Law. He frequently writes and comments on issues of bioethics, genetics and health privacy.

Rothstein will conduct the research with co-investigator Bartha Maria Knoppers, a medicine professor and director of the Centre of Genomics and Policy at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. Legal experts from 26 countries will take part in the research effort.

Their findings and recommendations will take aim at removing legal impediments to international collaboration on health research and be published in the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics in 2016.

Mark Rothstein

Mark Rothstein
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James Graham Brown Cancer Center becomes first site in Kentucky providing Keytruda, newly FDA-approved for advanced melanoma

James Graham Brown Cancer Center becomes first site in Kentucky providing Keytruda, newly FDA-approved for advanced melanoma

Jason A. Chesney, M.D., Ph.D.

A newly FDA-approved treatment for patients with advanced or inoperable melanoma who are no longer responding to other drugs is now available to patients at the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center, a part of KentuckyOne Health. As a site for Keytruda’s research clinical trial, the cancer center is the first in Kentucky to offer the drug now that it is approved.

Keytruda (pembrolizumab) was given accelerated approval by the FDA Sept. 4 and is the first approved drug in the United States that blocks a cellular pathway known as PD-1, which restricts the body’s immune system from attacking melanoma cells. It is approved for use following other treatments if those treatments fail.

Melanoma accounts for approximately 5 percent of all new cancers in the United States and occurs when cancer cells form in skin cells that make the pigment responsible for color in the skin. According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 76,100 Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma and 9,710 will die from the disease this year.

Keytruda represents a new breed of cancer treatment, Jason Chesney, M.D., Ph.D., deputy director of the Brown Cancer Center, said. “Keytruda is designed to galvanize an immune system attack on tumors by blocking the PD-1 pathway,” he said. “Left unchecked, this pathway allows cancerous cells to pass undetected.

“The drug shows greatest promise as a combination therapy, and this approval, handed down almost two months ahead of schedule, clears the drug for use on patients with advanced skin cancers who have already taken Yervoy (ipilimumab).”

“Adding to the body of research on new, advanced treatments exemplifies the James Graham Brown Cancer Center’s leadership on a regional, and even national, level,” said Mark Milburn, vice president, oncology services, KentuckyOne Health.  “The expertise from University of Louisville partnered with the statewide reach of KentuckyOne Health helps citizens all over the Commonwealth and beyond with increased access and new hope to fight cancer.”

The FDA granted Keytruda breakthrough therapy designation because preliminary clinical evidence showed that the drug may offer a substantial improvement over available therapies. It also received priority review and orphan product designation. Priority review is granted to drugs that have the potential to be a significant improvement in safety or effectiveness in the treatment of a serious condition. Orphan product designation is given to drugs intended to treat rare diseases.

The FDA action was taken under the agency’s accelerated approval program, which allows approval of a drug to treat a serious or life-threatening disease based on clinical data showing the drug has an effect on a surrogate endpoint reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit to patients. This program provides earlier patient access to promising new drugs while the company conducts confirmatory clinical trials. An improvement in survival or disease-related symptoms has not yet been established.

Keytruda is manufactured by Merck and Yervoy is from Bristol-Myers Squibb. For information on Keytruda and its use, contact the James Graham Brown Cancer Center toll free at 1-800-333-2230 or at 502-587-4011.

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About the University of Louisville

The University of Louisville Health Sciences Center is the city’s only academic health center with approximately 1,000 faculty members involved in education, research and clinical care.  The UofL HSC is home to more than 650 medical and dental residents, 3,000 students pursuing degrees in health-related fields within the Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Public Health and Information Sciences, as well as 16 interdisciplinary centers and institutes.  Approximately $140 million in extramural funding enables researchers to uncover the causes of disease and better ways to prevent, treat and cure illness and injury. That research is translated into the clinical setting, where evidence-based medical care for patients is provided by UofL faculty through University of Louisville Physicians, our partnership with KentuckyOne Health, and in affiliations with other health systems and clinics throughout Kentucky and southern Indiana.

About KentuckyOne Health

KentuckyOne Health was formed when two major Kentucky health care organizations came together in early 2012. KentuckyOne Health combines the Jewish and Catholic heritages of the two former systems – Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare and Saint Joseph Health System. In late 2012, the organization formed a partnership with the University of Louisville Hospital | James Graham Brown Cancer Center.  The nonprofit system is committed to improving the health of Kentuckians by integrating medical research, education, technology and health care services wherever patients receive care. KentuckyOne Health has more than 200 locations including hospitals, physician groups, clinics, primary care centers, specialty institutes and home health agencies across the state of Kentucky and southern Indiana.

UofL ribbon-cutting ceremony official opens renovated medical school instructional building

Ushering in a new era in medical education, officials with the University of Louisville School of Medicine formally celebrated the completion of a $9 million renovation of the school’s 40-year-old instructional building.

“How we educate our future physicians today barely resembles the methods we used four decades ago,” said David L. Dunn, M.D., Ph.D, UofL executive vice president for health affairs. “Instruction now is much more interactive, peer-to-peer and technologically driven. While we have made ad hoc changes through the years, today we celebrate an intensive transformation of a facility that affords each of our students the opportunity to be successful in earning the privilege of providing health care to the people of Kentucky and beyond.”

“The improvements in how we educate our students demanded a significant change in our instructional spaces,” said Toni Ganzel, M.D., dean of the UofL School of Medicine. “While needing new state-of-the-art lecture halls that support active learning, we also needed smaller study spaces the that allow for small-group learning and interaction.”

In addition to creating teaching environments to support the changing instructional techniques of the program that is focused on student-led dialogue, the renovated facility makes uses of an integrated audio-visual infrastructure that allows for the seamless sharing of information from instructor to student and also from student to instructor. The smaller group study rooms have been configured to support the School of Medicine’s six internal mentoring colleges to foster the support of a community for the students as they move through their years within the school’s programs.

The technology enhancements are among the key and fundamental changes undertaken. The first-floor lecture hall houses 30 tables, seating six students each who have the ability to collaborate using their tablets or laptops to share content locally on a table-mounted monitor. The technology provides the ability to switch to any of the six student’s devices at the touch of a button on the display cable, while reviewing information sent at the selection of the facilitator on a second table mounted monitor.

All the tables have a push-to-talk microphone to facilitate student group reporting to the entire class or for asking questions. Each table has a seventh space for the faculty facilitator to “drop in” and participate in the discussion. Faculty can route student laptop or tablet presentations from their table to all of the other tables, and/or on the six high-resolution, ultra bright, large projected displays that circle the room.

Technology enhancements also have created the ability to route audio, video and presentations to 12 small group break-out rooms per floor, where students have control of a large flat-panel monitor for collaboration, and the faculty facilitator controls a second display. For offline study, students can use both displays for local presentation from their devices.

“My colleagues have shown great excitement and enthusiasm in these new spaces,” said Travis Spaulding, president of the class of 2017. “The technological capabilities of the both the classrooms and study areas allow us to collaborate and share ideas like never before. Our administration has demonstrated a tremendous commitment to providing students with the resources necessary to succeed in an era of medical education that is constantly evolving. The University of Louisville School of Medicine is certainly ahead of the curve.”

Messer Construction served as the general contractor and EOP Architects, the architects for the project.

Tse named director of bone marrow transplantation division at University of Louisville

Tse named director of bone marrow transplantation division at University of Louisville

Williams Tse, M.D.

William Tse, M.D., associate professor of medicine and eminent scholar in hematologic malignancies research at the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center at West Virginia University, has been named the new director of Bone Marrow Transplantation at the University of Louisville James Graham Brown Cancer Center, a part of KentuckyOne Health. Tse will join UofL Nov. 1.

Tse will hold the Marion F. Beard Endowed Chair in Hematology Research and become a member of the cancer center’s Developmental Biology Program.

“Dr. Tse is emerging as one of the thought leaders in bone marrow transplantation,” said Donald Miller, M.D., Ph.D., director of the JGBCC. “He has trained and worked at several of the leading blood cancer programs in the nation. We look forward to his leading our program at UofL.”

Tse has been at West Virginia since 2009, where he also is the co-leader the Osborn Hematologic Malignancies Program. Prior to joining West Virginia, Tse was on the faculty at the University of Colorado Denver, where he was the director of translational research program for bone marrow transplantation and hematologic malignancies. He also previously was with Case Western Reserve University and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/University of Washington Medical Center.

Tse is active in national organizations, serving in several capacities with the American Society of Hematology, including section chair for the annual meeting’s Oncogene Section and bone marrow transplantation outcome section, as well as the American Society of Clinical Oncology as an annual meeting abstract reviewer and the section chair on geriatric oncology. Tse also serves leadership roles on several editorial boards including as the senior editor of the American Journal of Blood Research, stem cell biomarkers section editor for Biomarker Research, senior editor of the American Journal of Stem Cells and the academic editor of PLoS One.

A graduate of the Sun Yat-Sen University School of Medicine in Guangzhou, Guangdong, in China, he did a thoracic surgical oncology residency at Sun Yat-Sen University Cancer Center in Guangzhou before completing postdoctoral research fellowships in medical biophysics, immunology and cancer at the Princess Margaret Hospital/Ontario Cancer Institute and the Hospital for Sick Children in Ontario, Canada. He completed clinical pathology and internal medicine residencies at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Hospital before undertaking a senior medical fellowship in clinical research and medical oncology divisions at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center at the University of Washington Medical Center.

Bone marrow drive nets more than 1,100 registrants

Vote online through Sept. 29 to help group compete for $50,000 grant

More than 1,100 University of Louisville students, faculty, staff and friends turned out last week to register as bone marrow donors, and both participants and non-participants in the drive can continue to support the effort.

Sharing America’s Marrow (SAM) conducted the event earlier this month on both the Health Sciences Campus and the Belknap campus, and 1,153 donors were registered as potential bone marrow donors.

“This is by far the biggest number SAM has seen in a three-day event,” said Kelli Bullard Dunn, M.D., senior associate dean, statewide initiatives and outreach, School of Medicine. “We are sure many patients fighting blood cancer will have a second chance at life thanks to this effort.”

The event was held to highlight the ever-present need for bone marrow donations for patients such as Owen McMasters, the 15-year-old son of Kelly McMasters, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the UofL Department of Surgery. Diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) three years ago, Owen now needs a bone marrow transplant to fight the disease, requiring a donor with similar genetic composition.

“I know our success was very special and inspiring to the McMasters family while Owen continues his search for a match,” Dunn said.

She added that SAM has been named one of the Top 10 finalists to compete for a $50,000 grant from National Geographic. The magazine’s “Expedition+Granted” contest highlights deserving nonprofit efforts. The public is invited to vote for the effort they believe is the most deserving, with the winner receiving the grant.

“A grant such as this would give SAM the support to produce more drives like the one at UofL across the country, and save even more lives,” Dunn said.

One vote per person per day through Sept. 29 is allowed at http://expeditiongranted.nationalgeographic.com/project/sharing-americas-marrow-sam/.

For more information on the bone marrow donation process, visit https://www.deletebloodcancer.org/en/faq or contact sam@sharemarrow.com.

For information about Owen and his fight against ALL, “like” the Owen’s Wish page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/OwensWish.

 

 

Duo explores ‘Storytelling, Cancer and Compassion’

A novelist and a scientist will combine their expertise for “Storytelling, Cancer and Compassion: A Duet Talk and Conversation” at the University of Louisville Oct. 9.

The free, public event at 11 a.m. in Chao Auditorium, Ekstrom Library, will feature Cornell University couple Helena Viramontes, English professor and award-winning author, and Eloy Rodriguez, James Perkins endowed professor of environmental studies.

They will discuss how storytelling is universal among cultures and over time as well as being the conduit across generations for scientific and medicinal information. Viramontes refers to curative, medicinal plants helping characters in her short story “The Moths” and novel “Under the Feet of Jesus”; as a scientist, Rodriguez found that most of those references, common in Chicano culture, extend from Aztec plant knowledge and continue to be medically viable.

The event kicks off a discussion series that inaugurates the chemistry department’s Targeting Excellence: Hispanic-Latino Student Initiative to support opportunities for students. The chemistry and English departments are sponsoring campus visits by prominent Hispanic-Latino scientists and writers, supported by UofL’s Brown & Williamson endowment for distinguished speakers.

Viramontes won the 1995 John Dos Passos Prize for Literature and numerous fellowships from groups including the National Endowment for the Arts. She is former coordinator of the Los Angeles Latino Writers Association and a founder of the Southern California Latino Writers and Filmmakers.

Rodriguez has been director of the National Chicano Council for Higher Education’s science fellowship program and founder of the organization Kids Investigating and Discovering Science. His research interests include plant biology, chemical ecology, medicinal chemistry and environmental toxicology.

Also while at UofL, Rodriguez will speak at a chemistry seminar and Viramontes will lead a creative writing seminar.

For more information, contact GB Hammond at 502-852-5998 or gb.hammond@louisville.edu

PRIDE Blood Drive nets needed units plus call for changes in blood donation policy

PRIDE Blood Drive nets needed units plus call for changes in blood donation policy

The numbers tell the story: 25, 45, 56, 188.

Helping local blood banks rebuild their critical supplies while also drawing attention to the FDA’s lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men (MSM77), was the goal of the Health Sciences Center PRIDE Blood Drive.

During the event, the goal of 25 units was greatly surpassed with 45 units of blood provided by 56 donors, and 188 people signed a petition to abolish the FDA MSM77 blood donation deferral policy. The event was organized by the School of Public Health and Information Sciences (SPHIS), Student Government Association, UofL LGBT Center and the American Red Cross.

SPHIS Dean Craig Blakely, Ph.D., offered remarks and was the first to sign the petition. “As a leading institution of public health, we want to continuously evaluate national public health policy to optimize the ability to provide exceptional health for all of our citizens with maximum participation in the process.

“The concern and initiative that the students of the LGBT Center at the University of Louisville have shown on the MSM 77 lifetime deferral policy is an excellent example of a diverse grass-roots effort to change government policy to improve health in the United States,” Blakely said.

“This lifetime deferral unfairly stigmatizes and discriminates against a large portion of the LGBT community, and keeps many healthy would-be donors from giving blood – creating a negative impact on the nation’s blood supply,” said Dustin Scott, event organizer and a student in the SPHIS master’s in public health program. “The FDA policy, established in 1983 after the onset of the AIDS epidemic, is outdated and needs to be abolished.”

Scott gave blood on a regular basis until his status as an MSM prevented him from continuing to do so.

“My parents were once in a car accident and donated blood saved their lives. This is why I am so passionate about blood donation, and I encourage friends, colleagues, family, and even strangers to donate blood in my place,” Scott said.

Scott plans to present research along with the signed petition to the FDA. He is working with medical student Mellad Khoshnood and Professor of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery and Bioengineering George Pantalos, Ph.D., to provide an analysis of the effectiveness of the MSM blood donation ban.

The team has contacted the 20 countries that spend the most on health care per capita, and has asked for their stance on the MSM donor policy, prevalence of HIV, demographics of those affected, frequency of transfusion of HIV infections, blood screening processes and changes made to their MSM donor policy in the past 10 years.

“We are learning that countries such as the United Kingdom have modified bans, meaning that after an individual engages in risky sexual activity, they are deferred from donating blood for one year to allow for diseases that have prolonged dormant periods to present. We support that,” Scott said. “Our petition to the FDA asks them to rescind the lifetime deferral policy for a more reasonable policy that will permit healthy gay men to contribute to the needs of our society as blood donors.”

“At the LGBT Center, we love connecting students, faculty and the community around us to emerging health issues like this one, and bridging classroom topics with real-world issues. The HSC PRIDE student group expands our capacity to raise awareness and make novel connections to health issues spanning our various disciplines. I’m excited to see them fostering such interprofessional connections and engaging the community,” said Stacie Steinbock, director, LGBT Center Health Science Center satellite office.

 

University of Louisville institute focuses on sustainable health and optimal aging

The societal phenomenon known as the Baby Boom has impacted every aspect of life since it first burst on the scene following World War II. As these people reach what had been called their senior years, their effect on aging and expectations of older citizens is no less dramatic.

Understanding these societal implications, the University of Louisville Board of Trustees recently created the UofL Institute for Sustainable Health and Optimal Aging.

“Through this institute, the University of Louisville will grow the knowledge base related to the aging process, not just biologically, but also in terms of function, environment, culture and socio-economic aspects,” said David L. Dunn, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for health affairs at UofL. “The need for multi-disciplinary approaches to examine issues that our aging population faces is significant because no issue stands on its own; all are inter-related from a health, social science, legal and policy perspective.”

As envisioned, the institute likely will include faculty, staff and students from nearly every school and college comprising the University of Louisville, including arts and sciences, dentistry, engineering, law, medicine, nursing, public health and social work.

The growth in the population over 65 years of age is significant with more than 40 million people in the United States over the age of 65 at the time of the 2010 census. This is a 13.3 percent increase from 2000. However, that number is expected to reach nearly 72 million by 2030, an 80 percent increase over 2010. In Kentucky, the numbers are nearly as dramatic. The Commonwealth is predicted to see a 56 percent increase in people 65 and older by 2030, reaching just more than 900,000.

No less than seven national senior care companies are headquartered in Louisville. Additionally, UofL houses the Commonwealth’s only fellowship program in geriatrics and has a nationally recognized polypharmacy in the elderly education program.

“Louisville is becoming the epicenter of business activity related to the aging population and this offers significant opportunities for collaboration and partnering for the university to address education, research and advocacy programs for the elderly,” Dunn said.

Further, UofL officials have had collaborative discussions with researchers at other leading universities including Duke University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Mt. Sinai Medical Center, among others.

UofL president honored for leadership in employee health management

Ramsey given Jerry Noyce Executive Health Champion Award by Health Enhancement Research Organization
UofL president honored for leadership in employee health management

UofL President James Ramsey, center, accepts the Jerry Noyce Executive Health Champion Award.

University of Louisville President James Ramsey has won a national award for his dedication to improving health and corporate performance.

Ramsey received the award Sept. 30 at the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) forum and meeting in San Diego. The HERO Jerry Noyce Executive Health Champion Award was given to Ramsey because his “personal and professional dedication to health exemplifies what this award seeks to honor” according to Noyce, president and CEO of HERO.

The Executive Health Champion Award recognizes a person of senior leadership status who has made outstanding contributions toward the advancement of employee health management within their company. According to HERO, the award was developed to acknowledge the significant role leadership plays in establishing and maintaining a culture of health in the workplace.

Ramsey is credited with driving year-over-year success for the University’s employee wellness program, “Get Healthy Now,” which has more than 4,000 participants and has been used as a model for a statewide strategic wellness initiative called “Get Healthy Kentucky.”

“Our job as leaders is to do what is right for our employees,” Ramsey said in his acceptance speech. “This is fundamental to effective leadership. Regardless of what our financial statements say, our employees are our most valuable assets.”

Under Ramsey’s leadership, “Get Healthy Now” has helped the university reduce health care claims by $4.3 million, with program participants realizing an average claims savings of $1,300 per person (in 2012). Four years into the program, the University achieved a benefit-to-cost ratio, or return on investment, of 7.16:1.

Ramsey has also used his leadership and influence to drive improvements and growth across campus. For example, the university graduates nearly 1,000 more students each year (a 60 percent increase in its graduation rate), and has become one of America’s fastest-growing research universities, as measured by National Institutes of Health funding.

In addition to driving positive health and academic results for the University of Louisville, Ramsey’s leadership has helped UofL secure several awards and recognitions, including the Business First’s Healthiest Employer of Louisville Award, the American Heart Association Platinum Start! “Fit-Friendly employer,” and the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown Worksite Wellness Award.

Ramsey was nominated for the award by Patricia Benson, director of UofL’s Get Healthy Now program. Benson credits Ramsey for the success and growth of UofL’s health and fitness initiatives for its employees—more than two thirds of the school’s employees are enrolled in the Get Healthy Now program.  “The campus community is very familiar with President Ramsey’s healthy, competitive spirit and the ripple effect it has on his closest advisors and every member of the Cardinal family,” wrote Benson is her nomination letter.

 

UofL medical student leads multi-university research effort showing cost effectiveness of bedside ultrasound in pediatric ER care

Data to be presented at national pediatrics meeting Oct. 10
UofL medical student leads multi-university research effort showing cost effectiveness of bedside ultrasound in pediatric ER care

Using a portable or bedside ultrasound machine in the pediatric emergency room has been proven to lessen the length of stay in the ER and to provide images equal in accuracy to x-ray or CT scan without exposing children to potentially harmful radiation.

A third-year medical student at the University of Louisville has now led a group of researchers from five universities in determining that bedside ultrasound is cost-effective as well.

With colleagues from Columbia University, Northwestern University, George Washington University, Jefferson Medical College and UofL, Alexander Thai will present results from the study, “Cost Effectiveness of Implementation of Point-of-Care Ultrasound in a Pediatric Emergency Department,” at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in San Diego.

Thai will make his presentation at the pre-conference Section on Emergency Medicine on Friday, Oct. 10, at 3:45 p.m. PDT.

The clinical value of bedside ultrasound – known as “point-of-care ultrasound” or POCUS – has long been established. What Thai and his colleagues, including In K. Kim, M.D., of UofL’s Department of Pediatrics Emergency Medicine Division, found is that the high-tech equipment does not have to drain resources but can, in fact, generate positive operating revenue.

Analyzing Medicaid data from Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Thai and his colleagues found that annual average costs of obtaining and using POCUS in the emergency setting total $75,240. The annual average revenue realized from the use of POCUS is $115,969, resulting in a net annual operating revenue of $40,729.

The researchers found that this net revenue can be realized using POCUS for four common pediatric procedures for which the device is indicated: examination after trauma injury, known as Focused Assessment for Sonography in Trauma or “FAST” exam; evaluation of abscesses; use of ultrasound for guidance in draining abscesses; and use of ultrasound for guidance in performing a femoral nerve block as a local anesthetic prior to surgery.

The group based their analysis on the perspective of physician fees, not facility reimbursement fees. “Facility reimbursement rates are not always consistent,” Thai said. “This is another area of interest for our team, and we are already working on it in another multi-center study.”

“It's highly unusual for a medical student to be presenting a platform presentation,” Kim said. “Approximately 90 abstracts are submitted to the section of pediatric emergency medicine each year, and only 14 are accepted for platform presentation. It's a great honor for a faculty member or fellow to be accepted at the platform level. I can't remember seeing a medical student on the platform in the past 15 years, and I don't think a medical student has ever presented who is leading a multi-center collaboration.”

Thai – who also is a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force – is enrolled in the UofL School of Medicine’s Distinction Track in Business and Leadership. Directed by Kim and Brad Sutton, M.D., the Distinction Track in Business and Leadership prepares medical students with a vital set of economic and business skills along with their medical education, integrating business instruction with the medical curriculum throughout the four years of medical school.

“Health care is a complex and dynamic field with many stakeholders and much uncertainty. Now, more than ever, health systems and providers are realigning with a renewed focus on cost reduction and improved outcomes,” said Sutton, who is assistant professor of medicine and assistant dean for health strategy and innovation and holds an MBA degree from the Carey School of Business at Johns Hopkins University. “What’s more, health providers are increasingly held accountable for outcomes and processes that are only partly in their control.”
“Historically, formal business training at the medical student level was lacking, leaving new medical school graduates ill-equipped to address the economic challenges of practicing medicine today,” said Kim, who also holds an MBA degree from UofL. “The UofL Distinction Track in Business and Leadership answers this need by providing a fundamental knowledge base that explores the intersection of business and medicine, and arms trainees with a vital skill set to succeed in our health economy.”

Working with Thai in the study from UofL in addition to Sutton and Kim are Dave McLario, M.D., Keith Cross, M.D., Fred Warkentine, M.D., and fellow medical student Nathan Wiedemann, all from the School of Medicine, and Benjamin Foster, Ph.D., professor of accounting from the College of Business.

Also part of the research team are David O. Kessler, M.D., Columbia University; Russ Horowitz, M.D., Northwestern University; Alyssa Abo, M.D., and Joanna Cohen, M.D., both of George Washington University; and Cheung Kim, M.D., of Jefferson Medical College.

October ‘Beer with a Scientist’ program looks up at the stars

October ‘Beer with a Scientist’ program looks up at the stars

Gerard Williger, Ph.D.

The October Beer with a Scientist program invites participants to look up at the night sky with a discussion on “How and where did stars form in the distant past?” presented by Gerard Williger, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Louisville. The program gets underway at 8 p.m., Oct. 15, at Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St. in Louisville.

Williger also is a visiting professor at the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute of the University of Central Lancashire, Preston, England; an adjunct faculty member in astrophysics at the Institute for Computational and Astrophysical Sciences at Catholic University of America, Washington; and a guest lecturer at the Observatory de la Côte d'Azur, University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, Nice, France.

Beer with a Scientist is a relaxed presentation of scientific information in language that any non-scientist will understand. The program is sponsored by Louisville Underground Science, an informally organized group made up of people who are “passionate about disseminating all things science to the general public of Louisville.”

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, contact Beer with a Scientist founder and organizer Levi Beverly, assistant professor, Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology & Toxicology, at 502-852-8968 or levi.beverly@louisville.edu.

 

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.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Admission is free. Purchase of beer, other beverages or menu items is not required but is encouraged. Organizers add that they also encourage Beer with a Scientist patrons to drink responsibly.

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

Kentucky receives $7 million to lead first-of-its-kind collaboration to reduce burden of lung cancer

University of Louisville, University of Kentucky and Lung Cancer Alliance lead effort with grant from Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation
Kentucky receives $7 million to lead first-of-its-kind collaboration to reduce burden of lung cancer

On Nov. 12, the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville, and Lung Cancer Alliance announce the Kentucky LEADS (Lung Cancer. Education. Awareness. Detection. Survivorship) Collaborative, a project that will focus on reducing the burden of lung cancer in Kentucky.  Kentucky has more cases of lung cancer than any other state and its lung cancer mortality rate is nearly 50 percent higher than the national average.

The Kentucky LEADS Collaborative is a first of its kind project that brings together an interdisciplinary team of community partners and lung cancer prevention and control experts to assess novel approaches for identifying lung cancer earlier to improve survival. The project will also develop and evaluate interventions to improve quality of life and survivorship for individuals with lung cancer and their caregivers. These efforts are supported through a $7 million grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation’s Bridging Cancer Care initiative.

“As Kentucky leads the nation in lung cancer mortality rates, we must step up to be a leader in finding solutions toward preventing, curing and coping with this destructive disease”, said Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear.  “I strongly support this collaborative, wide-ranging effort as it coincides with this administration’s KyHealthNow goals of reducing statewide cancer and smoking rates by 10 percent by 2019.  By working together, we can and will find a way to diminish the burden of this crisis in Kentucky."

Lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide and kills more Americans than breast, prostate and colon cancer combined. In Kentucky, the burden of this illness is even more dramatic and will take over 3,500 lives this year alone.

"Historically there's not been a lot of research or effort put into lung cancer survivorship because, unfortunately, there hasn't been much survivorship," said Jamie Studts, PhD, associate professor of behavioral science at the University of Kentucky and director of the Kentucky LEADS Collaborative. "This project is an effort across several domains to help providers, patients, caregivers and health care programs do the best job possible to achieve better care and increase lung cancer survivorship."

One in two patients diagnosed with lung cancer will die within a year. After five years, only 16 in 100 patients will be alive. "Those are sobering statistics,” said John Damonti, president, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. “The timing of diagnosis is critical. Patients diagnosed at Stage 1 have a 57 percent chance of achieving five-year survival. That drops to 4 percent when patients have a late-stage diagnosis. Early detection and treatment of lung cancer, combined with education and patient support, is key to increased survival for patients living with lung cancer.”

The first component of the program, provider education, led by Connie Sorrell of the Kentucky Cancer Program West and Dr. Goetz Kloecker at the University of Louisville, will review the practice patterns and factors affecting referral and treatment of lung cancer patients across the state. Primary care providers play a key role in the management of lung cancer, and this component of the project will familiarize them with best practices in caring for patients who are at high risk of developing lung cancer or are diagnosed with the disease.

“It is our goal to help primary care providers throughout Kentucky to identify people at high risk of lung cancer and be aware of the significant improvements in diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer,” Kloecker said. “We will give providers evidence-based information that enables them and their patients to receive the best possible care. An important part of this is the detection of cancer at an early stage. Once the cancer is diagnosed it is important for patients to receive the most effective treatments in order to have the best chance of cure, survival and quality of life.”

Studts will lead the second component of the project, which will develop a lung cancer-specific survivorship program that promotes quality of life and well-being for individuals diagnosed with lung cancer, as well as their caregivers, throughout the continuum of the disease. This will include care that addresses a combination of acute and late or long-term effects of the illness and treatment.  Studts and his team will also develop a training program for lung cancer navigators and mental health providers to sustainably administer the survivorship program to patients and caregivers statewide.

Lung cancer screening guidelines have recently changed, creating a unique opportunity to implement rigorous, statewide screening programs that can save lives. The third component of the project, led by Dr. Timothy Mullett and Dr. Jennifer Redmond Knight at the University of Kentucky, will therefore promote evidence-based prevention and early detection of lung cancer. Lung cancer is often diagnosed too late to treat because symptoms tend to emerge only after the disease has spread. For this reason, increasing high-quality lung cancer screening is critical to reducing deaths from the disease.

Lung Cancer Alliance will partner with UK on the survivorship and screening components of the project, contributing to program design, administration, communications support and dissemination.

“We are so thrilled and proud to be a partner in this unprecedented public health coalition intent on bringing heartfelt support and life-saving services to Kentucky citizens impacted by lung cancer,” said Laurie Fenton Ambrose, Lung Cancer Alliance president & CEO.  “Such ‘can do’ attitude not only will lead to a first-ever coordinated plan of action to reduce lung cancer’s foot print in Kentucky – but will stimulate other states to follow in its shoes in the months ahead. It is truly a momentous time worth celebrating.”

Additional collaboration on this project comes from the Kentucky Cancer Consortium, the Kentucky Clinical Trials Network, the Markey Cancer Foundation, the Kentucky Cancer Foundation and a broad range of community-based stakeholder groups, collaborators, partnering organizations, and healthcare systems throughout Kentucky and nationally.

About the James Graham Brown Cancer Center:

The James Graham Brown Cancer Center is a key component of the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center. As part of the region's leading academic, research and teaching health center, the cancer center provides the latest medical advances to patients, often long before they become available in non-teaching settings. The JGBCC is a part of KentuckyOne Health and is affiliated with the Kentucky Cancer Program. It is the only cancer center in the region to use a unified approach to cancer care, with multidisciplinary teams of physicians working together to guide patients through diagnosis, treatment and recovery. For more information, visit www.browncancercenter.org.

About University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center

The Markey Cancer Center is a dedicated matrix cancer center established as an integral part of the University of Kentucky and UK HealthCare enterprise.  In 2013, Markey was designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to receive research funding and many other opportunities available only to the nation’s best cancer centers. Markey is the only NCI-designated center in Kentucky and one of only 68 in the country. The clinical programs and services of the Markey Cancer Center are integrated with the UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital. Markey's cancer specialty teams work together with UK Chandler Hospital departments and divisions to provide primary patient care and support services as well as advanced specialty care with applicable clinical trials. For more information, visit www.markey.uky.edu.

About Lung Cancer Alliance

Lung Cancer Alliance is the leading national non-profit organization dedicated to saving lives and advancing research by empowering those living with or at risk for lung cancer. Recently rated as the highest lung cancer organization in the nation by Charity Navigator, Lung Cancer Alliance offers free personalized support, information and referral from professionally trained and caring staff; advocates for increased research funding and access to treatments and diagnostics; conducts national awareness campaigns about the disease, risk and early detection. For more information, visit www.lungcanceralliance.org.

About the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose mission is to reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes around the world for patients disproportionately affected by serious disease. Focusing on southeastern U.S. states that have the highest lung cancer incidence and mortality rates in the country, the Foundation’s Bridging Cancer Care initiative seeks to transform community-based care and support for lung cancer.  For more information, visit www.bms.com/foundation.

Second protein associated with common cause of kidney failure identified

Blood test should reduce need for kidney biopsies
Second protein associated with common cause of kidney failure identified

An international team of researchers including Jon Klein, M.D., Ph.D., and Michael Merchant, Ph.D., of the University of Louisville has identified a protein that turns a person’s immune system against itself in a form of kidney disease called membranous nephropathy (MN). The findings are published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

This is the second protein associated with MN and the development of an autoimmune response.

Through the identification of this second protein, a new blood test can be developed to diagnose this common form of kidney disease.

Unchecked, MN can lead to kidney failure, or end stage renal disease. In 2011, more than a million people worldwide suffered from kidney failure annually, with more than 570,000 in the United States. Approximately 14 percent of those cases are the result of glomerulonephritis of which MN is a common cause.

“Five years ago this team initially discovered a protein that has led to a blood test identifying between 70 and 80 percent of people with MN,” said Klein, vice dean of research at UofL’s School of Medicine. “We now have found another protein that impacts up to another 5 percent of patients with MN. Once a blood test is available, we will have been able to reduce the number of kidney biopsies necessary for disease detection and to assess the response to treatment by up to 85 percent.”

Membranous nephropathy occurs when the small blood vessels in the kidney that filter wastes from the blood become inflamed and thickened. As a result, proteins leak from the damaged blood vessels into the urine. For many people, loss of these proteins eventually causes signs and symptoms known as nephrotic syndrome.

In 2009, Klein and this team reported the discovery that antibodies to kidney expression of phospholipase A2 receptor 1 (PLA2R1), were diagnostic for MN. That work, also reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, led to an FDA-approved test to diagnose MN. The PLA2R1 antibody test is positive in 80 percent of patients with MN. This week’s disclosure is related to the protein THSD7A. Researchers examined the blood of people known to have MN. Of the 154 people studied, 15 had antibodies to THSD7A, but not PLA2R1.

“This is significant because it provides us with another marker of identification and enables us to lessen the physical burden on our patients and ultimately will decrease the need for kidney biopsy. These MN antibody tests also allow us to monitor disease activity without kidney biopsy as we treat the patient. This allows a more rapid approach to developing new therapies for MN,” Klein said.

As pointed out by senior author Gérard Lambeau, Ph.D., director of research at Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Université de Nice Sophia Antipolis, Valbonne and team leader at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology (Sophia Antipolis), “This week’s disclosure is related to the discovery of the protein THSD7A and the corresponding anti-THSD7A autoantibodies in a group of about 10 percent of MN patients who did not have anti-PLA2R1 autoantibodies.”

“The discovery of this second antigen-antibody system in membranous nephropathy will allow clinicians to diagnose this new form of primary (autoimmune) membranous nephropathy and provides a new method to monitor the disease activity in this subgroup of patients,” said co-lead authors Nicola Tomas, M.D. of University Medical Center Hamburg–Eppendorf and Laurence Beck, M.D., Ph.D., of Boston University School of Medicine.

Catherine Meyer-Schwesinger, M.D., Barbara Seitz-Polski, M.D., Hong Ma, Ph.D., Gunther Zahner, Ph.D., Guillaume Dolla, M.S., Elion Hoxha, M.D., Udo Helmchen, M.D., Anne-Sophie Dabert-Gay, Ph.D., Delphine Debayle, Ph.D., David J. Salant, M.D., and Rolf A.K. Stahl, M.D., are part of the research team.

In addition to the online version of the New England Journal of Medicine, the findings recently were presented at the American Society of Nephrology Kidney Week 2014 in Philadelphia.

UofL James Graham Brown Cancer Center discontinues The Julep Ball

The University of Louisville James Graham Brown Cancer Center today announced it will discontinue The Julep Ball. The gala has been held annually on the evening before the Kentucky Derby since 2009.

“While The Julep Ball has over the course of its history provided great visibility for the James Graham Brown Cancer Center and a wonderful venue for us to thank our supporters, the resources necessary to stage a quality event have grown too great to make it successful as a significant fund-raising effort,” said Michael Neumann, executive director of development for the cancer center.

“We have always worked to make The Julep Ball much more than simply an enjoyable evening for our patrons; it has become the singular premiere Derby Eve ‘Party with a Purpose,’” Neumann said. “Maintaining the standards of quality that we have set for ourselves has required more and more resources, particularly manpower, each year. This means we have to divert those resources away from other projects and activities equally important to our mission to provide world-class clinical care, education and research in the field of cancer.”

Neumann added that The Julep Ball and its predecessor, the Mint Jubilee, have generated over $1.5 million over the past decade to support the work of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center. The resource requirements involved in attracting celebrity guests and providing top-quality entertainment, food and drink in a gala setting, however, has continued to grow as other Derby Week events have mushroomed.

“When we began more than a decade ago, the field of Derby Week parties was quite limited,” he said. “We believe that our success encouraged and even helped give birth to other parties organized by individuals and groups who do not have the mission we do and with whom The Julep Ball now competes.”

Events organized by others in support of the cancer center will continue to receive assistance from university faculty and staff, he said. Art to Beat Cancer is traditionally held each fall and will be held Nov. 21 from 5:30-9:30 p.m. at the Green Building, 732 E. Market St. The Twisted Pink Masquerade Ballsupports metastatic breast cancer research at the cancer center and will be held Feb. 7, 2015, at The Gillespie, 421 W. Market St. Hats for Hope traditionally kicks off the Derby season and will be held April 16, 2015, at the Triple Crown Conference Center.

“We look forward to continuing to support these events in every way we can, and explore new events proposed by our supporters,” Neumann said.

He added that the university has retained ownership of the name and brand of The Julep Ball.

“The Julep Ball grew to become a wonderfully festive Derby Eve gala, and for that, we thank each of the many volunteers over the years who helped it thrive,” Neumann said. “We hope they continue to support the James Graham Brown Cancer Center in the months and years to come.”

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About the James Graham Brown Cancer Center:

The James Graham Brown Cancer Center is a key component of the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center. As part of the region's leading academic, research and teaching health center, the cancer center provides the latest medical advances to patients, often long before they become available in non-teaching settings. The JGBCC is a part of KentuckyOne Health and is affiliated with the Kentucky Cancer Program. It is the only cancer center in the region to use a unified approach to cancer care, with multidisciplinary teams of physicians working together to guide patients through diagnosis, treatment and recovery. For more information, visit our web site, www.browncancercenter.org.

 

 

 

New LGBT training incorporated into medical school curriculum

UofL School of Medicine is first in nation to provide core competencies program
New LGBT training incorporated into medical school curriculum

Toni Ganzel, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine

The University of Louisville School of Medicine will serve as the nation’s pilot site for training future physicians on the unique health care concerns and issues encountered by people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), gender nonconforming or born with differences of sex development (DSD).

“We are very excited to serve as our nation’s learning ground in training the next generation of physicians in meeting the unique health care needs of our LGBT and DSD-affected population,” said Toni Ganzel, M.D., dean of the UofL School of Medicine. “Every segment of our population brings its own set of health care issues and concerns. As we strive to provide the highest quality training possible, it is a privilege to model that educational experience for our colleagues throughout the nation.”

UofL will spend the next few months developing the formal curriculum and begin the pilot program in the 2015-16 academic year, with full integration into the curriculum in 2016-17.

People who are LGBT, gender nonconforming or born with DSD often experience challenges when seeking care in doctors’ offices, community clinics, hospitals and emergency rooms. Research shows that these health disparities result in decreased access to care or willingness to seek care, resulting in increased medical morbidity and mortality for LGBT and DSD-affected patients.

All aspects of patient care, from the intake forms and interaction with caregivers in the outpatient office to interactions during critical illness, require an accepting, informed, patient-centered approach from all physicians in order to improve the adverse health outcomes seen in this patient population.

In early November, the Association of American Medical Colleges identified 30 competencies that physicians must master. These competencies fall under eight domains of care critical to training physicians, including patient care, knowledge for practice, practice-based learning and improvement, interpersonal and communication skills, professionalism, systems-based practice, interprofessional collaboration and personal and professional development.

This competency-based framework will allow medical educators to integrate the new guidelines into existing curricula more easily and encourage faculty and health care professionals to move away from thinking of patients in these groups as separate from the general patient population.

“As a university, we continue to be a leader in recognizing the importance of understanding our diverse population and working to meet the varying needs,” said Brian Buford, assistant provost for diversity and director of the LGBT Center at UofL.

UofL School of Medicine will be assisted in this curriculum integration project by two of the primary authors of the competencies, Jennifer Potter, M.D., Harvard School of Medicine, and Kristen Eckstrand, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and fourth-ear medical student. Additionally, John Davis, M.D. from The Ohio State University and the AAMC Group on Diversity & Inclusion LGBT Issues Representative also will assist in the project.

The Affordable Care Act in Kentucky, One Year Later

UofL physician notes successes in 'New England Journal of Medicine' follow-up article
The Affordable Care Act in Kentucky, One Year Later

One year ago, Michael Stillman, M.D., and his colleague, Monalisa Tailor, M.D., both physicians with the University of Louisville Department of Medicine, wrote a New England Journal of Medicine “Perspective” article about “Tommy Davis,” their pseudonym-named patient who delayed seeing a doctor because he lacked health insurance.

After spending a year experiencing severe abdominal pain and other symptoms, Davis finally sought care in the emergency room. The diagnosis? Metastatic colon cancer.

“If we’d found it sooner,” Davis said to the physicians, “it would have made a difference. But now I’m just a dead man walking,” a phrase so evocative, the physicians chose it as the headline of their article.

Today, however, Stillman and his colleagues are witnessing what another of his patients terms a “sea change in health care” because of the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Kentucky.

Stillman has authored a follow-up “Perspective” article in the New England Journal of Medicine this week that notes the changes brought about by the ACA and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear’s decision to accept federal funding for Medicaid expansion that the act brought about.

One year later, the ACA rollout in Kentucky has been a success, he says. “…Our Commonwealth’s citizens – among the poorest and most (medically) underserved in the country – finally gained broad access to health insurance,” he says. “… allowing us to provide data-driven and thorough care without first considering our patients’ ability to pay.”

The contrast between last year and today is stark, writes Stillman. “Before … Medicaid expansion, the 60 percent of my clinic patients and 650,000 Kentuckians who lacked health insurance received disjointed and disastrous care.” Many avoided routine and preventative care because of worries over cost.

“But during the past year,” Stillman writes, “many of my lowest-income patients have, for the first time as adults, been able to seek non-urgent medical attention.” In Kentucky, 413,000 people gained medical coverage who did not have it prior to the ACA implementation.

The ACA has brought about other unexpected benefits as well. Expanded health care coverage has greatly improved residency training in Kentucky, enabling the doctor to spend more time doctoring and less time serving as a financial advisor.

“One year after the law’s implementation, residents at my hospital can finally provide guideline- and evidence-based care,” without first considering the cost, he writes. “Since 92 percent of our patients are now insured, we no longer receive fretful looks when we recommend laboratory tests; we screen for colorectal cancer with colonoscopies rather than with less sensitive fecal blood cards; and we spend more time examining patients and less time helping them knit together limited public-assistance resources.”

Another unanticipated benefit has been an increase in competition for patients. Before the ACA, patients without health insurance had a limited number of facilities in which they could receive care.

Today, however, “with increased enrollment in Medicaid and commercial (health) plans, these same patients are pursued by medical groups and hospitals and can be selective in choosing their sites of care.”

Stillman notes that the ACA remains threatened, both in Kentucky where its success is verified by data, and in other states throughout the country.

“Some Kentuckians question the adequacy of the newly purchased plans and are concerned that despite being ‘insured,’ people who have bought low-premium, high-deductible plans may (still) wind up accruing substantial medical debt,” he writes.

Also, he notes that 21 states have yet to expand Medicaid eligibility despite the example Kentucky shows of the success in doing so. Physicians, however, can help.

“First, we can challenge our elected officials to do a better job of seeing to their constituents’ needs,” he writes. “Furthermore, we can delineate for our patients the often-subtle links between current affairs and their own health,” including asking them if they are registered to vote and reminding them of candidates’ support of or opposition to the legislation that has palpably benefited them.

“I hope that an increasing number of state legislatures will help their vulnerable citizens receive the services they need and that the next generation of physicians will be shocked that our current efforts at health care inclusion were ever seriously questioned.”

 

Art to Beat Cancer features more than 60 works of art

Art to Beat Cancer features more than 60 works of art

"A Horse" by Ekaterina Ziuzina is among the works of art being auctioned at Art to Beat Cancer to benefit the UofL James Graham Brown Cancer Center.

More than 60 works of art by 18 national and international artists will be featured at Art to Beat Cancer, Friday, Nov. 23. The event kicks off at 5:30 p.m. at the Green Building, 732 E. Market St.

Art to Beat Cancer benefits research being carried out by the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center. Created by artist Doyle Glass, Art to Beat Cancer supports the Kim and Doyle Glass Endowment for Developmental Therapeutics. Doyle’s wife Kim is currently battling Stage IV breast cancer, and the Glasses have established the endowment with a goal of raising $1 million to provide critical funding to move new cancer-fighting drugs from the research stage to the clinical setting.

Bidding is currently open for each work of art on the Bidding For Good website. Additionally, for only $50 you can participate in an art ticket raffle for a 1 in 24 chance to win one of 18 paintings, each valued at up to $4,000. People also are welcome to make a cash donation, which will be matched on the Bidding for Good website. Winning bids will be announced at the event.

In addition to Doyle Glass, artists represented at Art to Beat Cancer are Eric Bowman, Jill Carver, J.M. Culver, Glenn Dean, Patrick Donley, Bato Dugarzhapov, Mark Haworth, Joshua Jenkins, Matthew Katz, Kevin Macpherson, Wanda Macpherson, Denise LaRue Mahlke, C.W. Mundy, Antonio Rodriguez, David Schuster, Michele Usibelli, Dan Young and Ekaterina Ziuzina.

For additional information, contact Michael Neumann, 502-852-4642.

$50,000 childhood cancer research grant awarded to University of Louisville

$50,000 childhood cancer research grant awarded to University of Louisville

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven and donor-centered charity dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research, has awarded a one-year, $50,000 grant to the University of Louisville (UofL). This grant is one of 40 infrastructure grants awarded as part of the foundation’s fall grant cycle, totaling more than $2.5 million and surpassing last year’s total awarded during this same period.

The University of Louisville Department of Pediatrics’ Division of Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation makes approximately 100 new diagnoses per year. One of the primary goals of the division is to offer novel therapies to allow patients to receive treatment within the region and not have to travel elsewhere. This grant will provide support to hire a nurse coordinator for neuroblastoma and sarcoma patients on clinical trials, providing them with additional access to those trials.

“The St. Baldrick’s Foundation grant will help children diagnosed with cancer to receive the best care here in Louisville,” explains Kerry Powell McGowan, M.D., pediatric oncologist at UofL. “With the grant we hope to help more children and their families stay close to home to get the treatment they need.”

The grant to UofL is part of a series of grants that, combined with the more than $24.7 million awarded in July to fund cutting-edge research, brings the St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s funding total to more than $27.2 million awarded in 2014. Grants were awarded based on the need of the institution and its patients, anticipated results of the grant and local participation in St. Baldrick’s fundraising events and activities.

“These grants are critically important to saving children’s lives, and would not be possible without our dedicated volunteers and generous donors who believe kids deserve better than medicine is currently able to provide,” said Kathleen Ruddy, chief executive officer for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

To learn how you can get involved visit www.StBaldricks.org, and connect with St. Baldrick’s on Facebook, Twitter,YouTube and Vimeo

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About St. Baldrick’s Foundation

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives. St. Baldrick’s coordinates its signature head-shaving events worldwide where participants collect pledges to shave their heads in solidarity with kids with cancer, raising money to fund research. Since 2005, St. Baldrick’s has awarded more than $154 million to support lifesaving research, making the Foundation the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants. St. Baldrick’s funds are granted to some of the most brilliant childhood cancer research experts in the world and to younger professionals who will be the experts of tomorrow. Funds awarded also enable hundreds of local institutions to participate in national pediatric cancer clinical trials, and the new International Scholar grants train researchers to work in developing countries. For more information about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation please call 1.888.899.BALD or visit www.StBaldricks.org.

 

 

 

 

Institute of Medicine president to speak at UofL Dec. 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Victor Dzau

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

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

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

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

Rate of prescribing psychotropic drugs to Kentucky kids studied at UofL

Current prescribing rate in Kentucky almost double national average
Rate of prescribing psychotropic drugs to Kentucky kids studied at UofL

Gilbert Liu, M.D.

Researchers with the Child and Adolescent Health Research Design and Support Unit (CAHRDS Unit) at the University of Louisville have begun a study to examine one of Kentucky’s most vexing children’s health issues: the higher-than-average rate of psychotropic medication being prescribed to children in the Bluegrass State.

Psychotropic medications (PMs) alter chemical levels in the brain that impact mood and behavior. Antipsychotics, antidepressants, drugs for attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anti-anxiety medications and mood stabilizers are some of the more commonly used psychotropic drugs. While they produce good results among most patients, they also can cause worrisome side effects in others, and their interactions with each other can create problems as well.

Of the almost 600,000 children receiving Medicaid in Kentucky, one in seven – 14 percent – has been prescribed at least one of these powerful psychiatric drugs. Equally troublesome, almost half – 42 percent – of the children in Kentucky’s foster care system have been prescribed at least one.

Both statistics are almost twice the national average. Nationally, just 7.4 percent of kids receiving Medicaid and 26.6 percent of kids in the foster care system have been prescribed a PM.

An eight-member team at the CAHRDS Unit, a part of the UofL Department of Pediatrics, is working to find out why these drugs are given to Kentucky children at almost twice the national rate.  The team has been awarded a $75,000 Improved Health Outcomes Program grant from Passport Health Plan, the nonprofit community-based health plan administering Kentucky Medicaid benefits to more than 200,000 people statewide.

“Passport Health Plan has a common concern and this grant represents an opportunity, in addition to the programs we already have in place, to address this concerning trend.” said Stephen J. Houghland, M.D., Passport Health Plan’s chief medical officer.

“It’s very concerning to us that the rate of prescribing in Kentucky is higher than the national average,” said Gilbert Liu, M.D., the study’s principal investigator and the chief of the Division of General Pediatrics at UofL. “We also are concerned that children are getting prescriptions for psychotropic medications that are not FDA-approved. Also worrisome is that some children are being prescribed two or more of these very potent drugs.”

“Are these children getting a clear diagnosis?” said Charles Woods, M.D., director of the CAHRDS Unit and vice chair for faculty development of the UofL Department of Pediatrics. “Is there a primary care provider involved? Are they getting the appropriate psychiatric services they need along with these medications? These are the questions we intend to pose in this study.”

Three-phased study will take a year

The year-long study will consist of three phases. The researchers will first assess Kentucky Medicaid claims data to see if prescribing patterns emerge across geographic regions of the state as well as racial, ethnic, gender and socioeconomic class. The first phase also will include an examination of what type of providers are prescribing PMs to children – primary care providers, psychiatrists, pediatricians or others.

During the second phase of the study, the researchers will talk with providers who have higher-than-average rates of prescribing to find out why these higher rates occur. “It could be that in some cases, the higher rate of prescribing is medically warranted,” said Michael Smith, M.D., a clinician and researcher with UofL Physicians-Pediatrics. “However, it also could be that if appropriate psychiatric services are not available, a primary care physician feels this is the only way he has at his disposal to treat children who need these services.”

The third phase of the study will “get to the heart of the matter,” Liu said, in developing informed and thoughtful approaches to correcting overuse of PMs where it occurs. “We do not want to get in the way of providers with their patients,” he said. “However, we believe that with their help, we can provide alternate ways to care for children needing psychiatric services that lessens the need for PMs.”

“In Kentucky, we need to better understand patterns of PM use along with non-drug treatments and monitoring for children receiving Medicaid,” Woods said. Our intent is to develop the best solutions possible for improving the care of these vulnerable children.”

Multidisciplinary team of researchers

In addition to Woods, Liu and Smith, other members of the research team include Deborah Winders Davis, Ph.D., David Lohr, M.D., John Myers, Ph.D., Michelle Stevenson, M.D., and Michael Rowland, Ph.D.

“This is the type of work that calls for a multidisciplinary approach,” Woods said. “Among our group we are fortunate to have clinical and research expertise in general pediatrics, child and adolescent psychiatry, early childhood development, emergency medicine, biostatistics, qualitative data analysis and informatics. We look forward to being able to make a difference for children through our collective efforts on this project.”

Parents with concerns about PM use or those wanting more information about the study can contact Liu at 502-852-3737.

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About Passport Health Plan

Passport Health Plan is a provider-sponsored, non-profit, community-based Medicaid health plan serving more than 200,000 people around Kentucky. Recently named the No. 19 Medicaid health plan in the United States and the top Medicaid plan ranked in Kentucky by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), Passport has been contracted with Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services to administer Medicaid benefits since 1997 and has been serving the entire Commonwealth since Jan. 1, 2014. For additional information about Passport Health Plan, go online to passporthealthplan.com.

 

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 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

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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 www.uoflphysicians.com.

UofL program improves half-century staple for teaching medical students

'Academic Medicine' publishes UofL report on innovative way to utilize standardized patients
UofL program improves half-century staple for teaching medical students

For more than 50 years, standardized patients have been a staple of medical school instruction. These individuals are trained in symptoms and problems associated with disease and act as patients to give medical students hands-on training in the practice of medicine.

Today, the University of Louisville School of Medicine has taken use of standardized patients (SPs) to a new level, allowing more students to achieve learning objectives in a compressed time period and learn more about managing the continuity of care for patients.

The Longitudinal Standardized Patient Project gives students a single SP to see throughout their two-year Introduction to Clinical Medicine course. In the course, students must successfully master the core patient history-taking, examination and communication skills they will need for their future training and ultimately, as practicing physicians.

“In the program, each student only sees ‘their’ patient, one of nine patient characters we have developed, in 19 different patient encounters,” said Charles Kodner, M.D., director of the Introduction to Clinical Medicine course. “This single SP enables the development of a continuity relationship, eliminating the need for the student to review the patient’s history with each encounter. Students gain time to focus on the purpose of the patient visit and the individual learning outcome they are expected to achieve.

“In short, the Longitudinal Standardized Patient Project more closely mirrors what our students will see when they start caring for actual patients later in their training and once they become practicing physicians.”

The ongoing student-SP relationship has strong benefits for the student, said Carrie Bohnert, director of the UofL Standardized Patient Program. “Students begin to realize much earlier in the medical education that patients are real people with potentially complex personal and medical histories,” she said. “They are able to experience a doctor-patient relationship that has continuity – something not otherwise available during the first two years of medical school.”

An unexpected benefit has been the growing role of the SP as teacher as well. “Our SPs have developed personal teaching relationships with their students and are able to identify subtle changes in student skill development or lack of development and other problems that might otherwise be missed without a strong continuity relationship,” Bohnert said.

The program has been well-received, Kodner said. “As we survey students both before and after the Longitudinal Standardized Patient Project, we have observed substantial increases in our students’ perceptions that the cases were realistic and that they could learn about medical problems and their patient as a person in the time available.”

Said Bohnert, “the outcomes of this program have exceeded expectations, allowing our students to experience both the joys and the challenges of a long-term doctor-patient relationship.”

Kodner and Bohnert discuss the program in an article, “The Longitudinal Standardized Patient Project: Innovation from Necessity,” in  Academic Medicine, published online Nov. 18 and scheduled for publication in an upcoming issue of the print version of the journal.

Academic Medicine is the scholarly journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, the accrediting body and professional organization of medical schools in the United States and Canada.

Funding for the Longitudinal Standardized Patient Project was provided in part by a Paul Weber Award of $50,000 for Excellence in Teaching, awarded May 2010 by the University of Louisville.

 

 

 

UofL physiologist wins early career award

Cynthia Miller, Ph.D., assistant professor of physiology in the University of Louisville School of Medicine, recently was awarded the Outstanding Early Career in Post-Secondary Education Superlative at the Centennial Meeting of the Kentucky Academy of Science. She is one of four people to receive this award recognizing her accomplishments in teaching and research as well as service to the university and the community.

Miller also is the course director for physiology in the Prematriculation Program at both the UofL School of Medicine and the School of Dentistry.

Her work with innovative educational programs in and out of the classroom has led to significant increases in the learning and retention of students within the UofL dental program. The lectures and modules she has created through this research have been implanted into the dental physiology curriculum and have increased performance on unit exams.

In the Louisville community, Miller participates in several service activities, including the Louisville Regional Science Fair and Research!Louisville. She also received the Research Recognition Award from the American Physiological Society earlier in 2014.

Miller earned her doctorate degree from UofL in 2008 and joined the faculty in 2011. She focuses her research on how technology and active learning in the classroom impact student performance and motivation.

 

UofL Continuing Medical Education & Professional Development program returns to full accreditation

The University of Louisville School of Medicine Continuing Medical Education and Professional Development program has been notified by its accrediting body, the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) that it is in full compliance with all required standards and has been released from its probationary status.

“We modified our review process within the office to create redundancies to prevent inadvertent errors in oversight, like the one that led to our being placed on probation,” said Dan Cogan, Ed.D., FAODME, assistant dean for continuing medical education and professional development. “Our previous process did not pick up on the single instance of an industry-employed individual providing instruction at a conference. That will not happen again.”

As part of its probationary status, UofL was required to enact new policies and procedures to prevent activities that are outside of the ACCME standards, and to demonstrate that those changes are being followed and are successful. During its probationary status, UofL has offered about 90 educational programs to more than 15,000 health care providers nationwide.

The program’s next periodic accreditation review will be in late 2017.

MD Anderson, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio added as trial sites for ACT’s PFK-158 licensed from UofL’s Brown Cancer Center

Advanced Cancer Therapeutics (ACT), a privately held company dedicated to bringing new anti-cancer therapies to market, announced today that the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio have been added as human clinical trial sites for PFK-158, a first-in-man/first-in-class inhibitor of PFKFB3, an enzyme that controls glycolysis and that is overexpressed in most hematological and solid tumors. The two new clinical trial sites are expected to begin enrolling patients Jan. 1, 2015.

PFK-158 was discovered and developed by ACT and was based on the initial drug discovered at the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center, a part of KentuckyOne Health. The cancer center began recruiting patients for clinical trials in May 2014. Within weeks of opening the first clinical trial site, ACT was able to open the second clinical trial site, Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, also in May 2014.

“We were pleased to partner with MD Anderson and UT Health Science Center at San Antonio to expand the number of clinical trial sites for PFK-158,” said ACT President and CEO Randall B. Riggs. “PFK-158 is a first-in-man, novel anti-cancer drug that prevents tumor cells from using glucose as a fuel source for tumor survival, growth and metastasis and is currently in a Phase 1 clinical study in the United States.”

In November 2014, PFK-158 was chosen by Informa and Kantar Health as one of the “2014 Top 10 Most Interesting Oncology Projects to Watch.”

PFK-158 is a small molecule that inactivates a novel cancer metabolism target never before examined in human clinical trials. Last spring, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a Phase 1 dose escalation study that is evaluating the safety, tolerability and anti-tumor activity of PFK-158 in cancer patients with solid tumors such as prostate, lung, ovarian, melanoma, breast and pancreatic cancer.

PFK-158 is the first 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-biphosphatase 3 (PFKFB3) inhibitor to undergo clinical trial testing in cancer patients. The target, PFKFB3, is activated by oncogenes and the low oxygen state in cancers, stimulates glucose metabolism and is required for the growth of cancer cells.

PFK-158, which has been licensed by ACT from the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, inhibits the substrate binding domain of PFKFB3 causing a marked reduction in the glucose uptake and growth in multiple preclinical cancer models.

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About Advanced Cancer Therapeutics (ACT):

ACT is a privately held company dedicated to advancing novel therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of cancer. ACT has successfully established a unique and innovative business model with the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center (Brown Cancer Center) whereby ACT is able to obtain exclusive worldwide licenses to novel cancer therapeutics discovered at Brown Cancer Center under preset business terms. ACT then fast-tracks these discoveries, including the selection process for partnership, commercialization and manufacture, to the pharmaceutical industry, and ultimately to the patients who need them. For more information, please visit www.advancedcancertherapeutics.com.

About the James Graham Brown Cancer Center:

The James Graham Brown Cancer Center is a key component of the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center. As part of the region's leading academic, research and teaching health center, the cancer center provides the latest medical advances to patients, often long before they become available in non-teaching settings. The JGBCC is a part of KentuckyOne Health and is affiliated with the Kentucky Cancer Program. It is the only cancer center in the region to use a unified approach to cancer care, with multidisciplinary teams of physicians working together to guide patients through diagnosis, treatment and recovery. For more information, visit our web site, www.browncancercenter.org.

 

Suzanne Ildstad, M.D.

Suzanne Ildstad, M.D.
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Kevin Walsh, Ph.D.

Kevin Walsh, Ph.D.
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Two UofL researchers named Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Suzanne Ildstad:

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

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

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

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

About Kevin Walsh:

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

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

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

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

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

University of Louisville Hospital to host bone marrow drive Dec. 17

In partnership with Be The Match (National Marrow Donor Program) and the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA), University of Louisville Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, will host a bone marrow/organ donor registry drive to encourage people to join each registry.
Marrow Registry: Every year, 12,000 people with a blood cancer such as leukemia, or other disease such as sickle cell anemia, need a marrow transplant to live.
Organ Registry: Currently, nearly 124,000 people are awaiting organ transplants in the United States, and many of them would be life-saving transplants.
WHAT:
Bone Marrow/Organ Donor Drive
WHERE:
University of Louisville Hospital
Ambulatory Care Building Basement – outside cafeteria
530 S. Jackson St.
Louisville, KY 40202
WHEN:
Wednesday, December 17
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
David McArthur, Senior Manager
502.587.4230 or 502.648.3411

Postel named permanent CEO of UofL Physicians, vice dean of clinical affairs at UofL School of Medicine

Postel named permanent CEO of UofL Physicians, vice dean of clinical affairs at UofL School of Medicine

Gregory Postel, M.D.

Gregory Postel, M.D., who had been serving as interim CEO of University of Louisville Physicians, has been named permanent CEO of the organization.

Postel was chosen to lead the organization long term by its board.

“I’ve been involved with UofL Physicians since long before it formally existed,” Postel said. “I’ve been at the UofL School of Medicine for 20 years, and I care a lot about the school and the clinical practices. It’s exciting to see how far we’ve come, and what is on the horizon. I’m honored my colleagues have placed their trust in me to lead this effort.”

Along with his appointment as CEO, Postel was named vice dean of clinical affairs at the UofL School of Medicine, a decision approved by the University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees. In that position, Postel is responsible for the clinical faculty at the school.

All UofL faculty perform their clinical duties through UofL Physicians. Research and teaching are conducted through the school, and the chairs of the school’s clinical departments serve on the UofL Physicians board, which manages the clinical practice mission of the faculty. The vice dean of clinical affairs position had remained vacant as UofL Physicians developed.

“With Greg in both positions, it will provide continuity as we see more and more crossover between the school and the clinical practices,” said Toni Ganzel, M.D., dean of the UofL School of Medicine. “He is exceptionally skilled and talented and the right person to lead us in this new era.  He has been instrumental in integrating the practice groups into this new company and in helping to promote a more cohesive strategy and culture.”

Most medical schools have brought their faculty under a single organization for clinical purposes. UofL Physicians was created in 2011, bringing 26 practices affiliated with physicians from the school, which had operated as independent health care companies, into a single entity.

Today, UofL Physicians has about 600 physicians and 1,200 employees. The closer coordination, Postel said, is important amid health care reform.

Postel, who also serves as chairman of the board for UofL Physicians, had served as interim CEO since the departure of the organization’s first CEO, Mike Bukosky, in November 2013. When Postel was named permanent CEO, the UofL Physicians board voted to combine the position of CEO and board chairman.

Postel also leads the radiology practice at UofL Physicians and is chair of the Department of Radiology at the UofL School of Medicine.

“Dr. Postel brings considerable experience and skill to these new roles,” said Gerard Rabalais, M.D., a member of the board’s executive committee who also leads the pediatrics practices for UofL Physicians and is chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the school. “With his experience in integrating the practices for UofL Physicians, he is uniquely poised to lead this new organization forward as its first physician CEO. Having worked closely with him for four years through this process, I have the utmost confidence in Greg’s ability.”

Postel said UofL Physicians has grown and changed since it developed, shifting from a holding company “bringing many businesses together into one new business” to an operating company.

“We realized there was an opportunity, and as we transformed into an operating company, we needed a larger infrastructure. This will give us the scalability to grow and expand as opportunities arise.”

Research to Prevent Blindness awards to UofL reach almost $4 million

Grant of $115,000 in December adds to support of variety of eye research
Research to Prevent Blindness awards to UofL reach almost $4 million

Henry Kaplan, M.D.

Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) has awarded a grant of $115,000 to the University of Louisville Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, bringing the total of grant funding awarded over the past 50 years from RPB to $3,959,800. The latest grant was awarded Dec. 3.

The funding supports research across a variety of eye diseases and conditions, said Henry J. Kaplan, M.D., department chair, Evans Professor of Ophthalmology and director of UofL’s Kentucky Lions Eye Center.

Among research conducted at UofL that RPB helps fund are studies examining the pharmacologic treatment of age-related macular degeneration, gene therapy in retinal degeneration, stem cell therapy in retinal degeneration, genetic mutations in hereditary night blindness, retinopathy of prematurity, autoimmune uveitis and more.

“We are grateful for the support from Research to Prevent Blindness,” Kaplan said. “With this help, we can continue to carry out groundbreaking research on the development, structure and function of the visual system and discover and develop new treatments for ocular disease.”

RPB is the world’s leading voluntary organization supporting eye research. Since it was founded in 1960, RPB has channeled hundreds of millions of dollars to medical institutions throughout the United States for research into all blinding eye diseases. For information on RPB, RPB-funded research, eye disorders and the RPB Grants Program, go to www.rpbusa.org.

UofL researchers are first to discover role of gene mutations involved in more than 75 percent of glioblastomas, melanomas

UofL researchers are first to discover role of gene mutations involved in more than 75 percent of glioblastomas, melanomas

Researchers at the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center have identified for the first time mutations that destabilize a DNA structure that turns a gene off. These mutations occur at four specific sites in what is known as the “hTERT promoter” in more than 75 percent of glioblastomas and melanomas.

The research is published in the online journal PLOS ONE and is authored by Brad Chaires, Ph.D., John Trent, Ph.D., Robert Gray, William Dean, Ph.D., Robert Buscaglia, Shelia Thomas and Donald Miller, M.D., Ph.D.

Telomerase is an enzyme largely responsible for the promotion of cell division. Within DNA, telomerase activation is a critical step for human carcinogenesis through the maintenance of telomeres. However, the activation mechanism during carcinogenesis – why cancer gets turned “on” – is not yet wholly understood. What is known is that transcriptional regulation of the human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) gene is the major mechanism for cancer-specific activation of telomerase.

Miller and his colleagues have been interested in turning genes off therapeutically for some time. “We know that human telomerase is over-expressed in most human cancers, but we’ve never known why,” he said.

In 2013, two studies published in Science and another in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences gave the researchers a direction to explore. “These papers said that in most melanomas, mutations existed in the promoter of this telomerase gene. This was the first time that anyone reported common mutations in these promoters,” said Miller, who is director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center and a specialist in the treatment of melanoma.

The UofL team has now shown that the mutations all occur in a region of the hTERT promoter that previously has been shown to form quadruplex DNA. Using a combination of biophysics and molecular modeling, a new form of a quadruplex transcription regulation element is reported. The formation of these quadruplexes in telomeres has been shown to decrease the activity of telomerase.

“We speculated that the occurrence of these mutations could destabilize or alter the recognition of quadruplexes formed by this sequence,” Miller said. “We found that the mutations inactivate the gene’s ‘off’ switch so it becomes locked on, destabilizing the quadruplex and allowing it to be over-expressed.

“This over-expression then drives the cells to continue to divide, which is the cause of the cancer.”

The researchers are next examining how to unlock the switch from on to off, Miller said. “What we have described in this PLOS ONE article is the on-off switch and provided an entirely new model for that structure. Our next step is to look at how to turn it off that will help lead us to new therapeutics to prevent the occurrence of cancer.”

The paper was posted online Dec. 19 in PLOS ONE.

 

 

 

 

UofL leads new study to map disease genes in horses

UofL leads new study to map disease genes in horses

Ted Kalbfleisch, Ph.D.

Morris Animal Foundation has awarded a three-year, $155,000 grant to a team of Kentucky and Danish researchers to build a new reference genome sequence for the domestic horse. The sequence will be a much needed tool for animal researchers worldwide and the equine industry in particular because it will significantly improve our ability to understand the role of genetics in animal health and well being.

Ted Kalbfleisch, Ph.D., of the University of Louisville Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, is the principal investigator on the grant. He will be joined in the research with Ludovic Orlando, Ph.D., of the Centre for GeoGenetics at the National History Museum, University of Copenhagen; and James MacLeod, V.M.D., Ph.D., of the Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky.

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

“In 2009, Morris Animal Foundation helped fund the first genome reference sequence for the domestic horse,” Kalbfleisch said. “We intend to build on this earlier work. In the past five years, there have been dramatic improvements in sequencing technology as well as the computational hardware and algorithms required to analyze the data generated by the technology. Therefore, we now have the tools necessary to vastly improve the reference genome for the horse.”

The current reference genome for the horse, known as “EquCab2,” has been beneficial in studying horses and their genetic predisposition to disease, but it is not without its shortcomings, Kalbfleisch said.

“The horse research community is working to understand the relationship among genomic structure, variation found within it and complex diseases and traits in the domestic horse,” he said. “The EquCab2 reference genome was developed prior to the development of today’s highly sophisticated technology.

“With the application of new high-throughput technologies we have available today, we will map the genome with a focus on what is known as the ‘GC-rich regulatory regions.’”

These GC-rich regulatory regions control how genes are expressed (turned on) in order to participate in normal cellular processes. This work will enable scientists to better catalog genetic variation in these regions and understand how it affects health and performance.

“We expect our research to have substantial impact because the horse research community has actively moved to the translational application of genomics in examining important questions in equine science,” Kalbfleisch said. “The improved reference genome we will map will directly improve both the quality and productivity of research being carried out in the equine industry.”

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About Morris Animal Foundation
Morris Animal Foundation is a nonprofit organization that invests in science to advance animal health. The Foundation is a global leader in funding scientific studies for companion animals, horses and wildlife. Since its founding in 1948, Morris Animal Foundation has invested more than $92 million toward 2,300 studies that have led to significant breakthroughs in diagnostics, treatments, preventions and cures for animals. Learn more at www.MorrisAnimalFoundation.org.

Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear launches Horses and Hope campaign for new cancer screening van

Churchill Downs, Kroger provide initial gifts totaling $115,000; van based at UofL Kentucky Cancer Program will screen for 7 cancer types

First Lady Jane Beshear on Jan. 6, along with representatives from the Kentucky Cancer Program, the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center and KentuckyOne Health, launched a new Horses and Hope campaign to raise $1 million for a mobile unit to provide free or significantly reduced cost cancer screenings to underserved populations across Kentucky.

To start strong out of the gate, Mrs. Beshear announced a $90,000 commitment from Churchill Downs and a $25,000 donation from Kroger for the new van.

“For years, the Horses and Hope program has been one of the driving forces behind the portable mammography unit that travels throughout the state offering breast cancer screenings and promoting the message that early detection saves lives,” Mrs. Beshear said. “We now have the opportunity to expand these services to screen for six additional forms of cancer, and continue our efforts to improve the health and wellness of Kentuckians throughout the Commonwealth.”

Kentucky has the highest incidence and death rates in the nation for several cancers, with an overall cancer incidence rate that is 14 percent greater than the national average. The new van will focus on educating Kentuckians about cancer prevention, and offer screenings for seven cancer types, including breast, cervical, colon, lung, prostate, skin and head/neck.

“When it comes to cancer, the people of our state suffer dearly,” said Dr. Donald Miller, director of the University of Louisville James Graham Brown Cancer Center, a part of KentuckyOne Health. “Through the First Lady’s leadership with Horses and Hope, we have been able to bring early detection about breast cancer to women throughout the state. Once we have this new van on the road, we will be able to have the same impact on so many more people, with the very achievable goal of reducing cancer deaths in Kentucky.”

“KentuckyOne has made it a priority to transform the health of the communities we serve with a special focus on vulnerable populations,” said Mark Milburn, Vice President of Oncology Services, KentuckyOne Health. “Through our partnership with the First Lady and Horses and Hope, the Kentucky Cancer Program and the University of Louisville, we have the resources available to dramatically reduce disparities in health access and enhance the health of our communities throughout the state.”

The custom-built coach will be 40 feet in length, with an exterior design featuring a Horses and Hope theme and acknowledgment of project partners. The interior will include a reception area with monitors for educational videos, patient changing rooms, a patient examination room with exam table, digital mammography equipment, space for supportive laboratory services and a passenger cab area. A motorized retractable awning on the outside of the coach will provide expanded space for patient reception, registration, and education.

Services and screenings will be delivered through the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, which has a Nationally Accredited Breast Center licensed by the American College of Radiology, KentuckyOne Health, and supported by the Kentucky Cancer Program.

“Our mission is to educate the people of Kentucky about cancer screening and prevention,” said Connie Sorrell, director of the Kentucky Cancer Program at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center. “The expansion of screenings and educational materials that will be available through this new, modern van should significantly enhance the lives of literally thousands of people throughout the Commonwealth.”

Horses and Hope

In 2008, the First Lady’s office partnered with the Kentucky Cancer Program to create Horses and Hope. The program’s mission is to increase breast cancer awareness, education, screening and treatment referral among Kentucky’s horse industry workers and their families.

Horses and Hopehas hosted several breast cancer race days at Kentucky racetracks in the past six years, reaching nearly 1 million race track and horse show fans and educating nearly 16,000 equine employees. The program has screened nearly 700 workers and detected breast cancer in two individuals, both of whom have received treatment.

For more information and donation opportunities, visit the official Horses and Hope website at http://www.horsesandhope.org/.

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About the Kentucky Cancer Program: The Kentucky Cancer Program is the state mandated cancer control program jointly administered by the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville and the Lucille Parker Markey Cancer Center at the University of Kentucky.  The mission of the Kentucky Cancer Program is to reduce cancer incidence and mortality by promoting cancer education, research and service.  For more information, visit our website, www.kycancerprogram.org or call 502-852-6318.

About the James Graham Brown Cancer Center: The James Graham Brown Cancer Center is a key component of the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center. As part of the region's leading academic, research and teaching health center, the cancer center provides the latest medical advances to patients, often long before they become available in non-teaching settings. The JGBCC is a part of KentuckyOne Health and is affiliated with the Kentucky Cancer Program. It is the only cancer center in the region to use a unified approach to cancer care, with multidisciplinary teams of physicians working together to guide patients through diagnosis, treatment and recovery. For more information, visit our web site, www.browncancercenter.org.

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

Horses and Hope logo

Horses and Hope logo
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‘Why be nice?’

Next UofL Beer with a Scientist program looks at evolution of goodness
‘Why be nice?’

Lee Dugatkin, Ph.D.

In a world where the concept of survival of the fittest rules and swimming with the sharks is touted as the way to success, humans and animals alike still perform what only can be described as great acts of kindness and altruism.

The evolutionary aspects of selflessness and doing for others will be explored in the next Beer with a Scientist program, “The evolution of goodness and justice: Why does it pay to be nice?” on Wednesday, Jan. 14, beginning at 8 p.m. at Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St.

Speaking will be University of Louisville Distinguished Scholar and Professor of Biology Lee Dugatkin, Ph.D. A behavioral ecologist, evolutionary biologist and science historian, Dugatkin’s research focuses on the evolution of cooperation, the evolution of aggression and the interaction between genetic and cultural evolution. Dugatkin has authored more than 150 scientific papers and published seven books.

The question about why humans and animals perform acts of goodness has plagued scientists for generations, most notably Charles Darwin in the 1850s as he developed his theory of evolution through natural selection.

“Indeed, Darwin worried that the goodness he observed in nature could be the Achilles’ heel of his theory,” Dugatkin said. “Ever since then, scientists and other thinkers have engaged in a fierce debate about the origins of goodness that has dragged politics, philosophy and religion into what remains a major question for evolutionary biology.”

The Beer with a Scientist program began in 2014 and is the brainchild of University of Louisville cancer researcher Levi Beverly, Ph.D. Once a month, the public is invited to Louisville’s Against the Grain brewpub for exactly what the title promises: beer and science.

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

Admission is free. Purchase of beer, other beverages or menu items is not required but is encouraged. Organizers add that they also encourage Beer with a Scientist patrons to drink responsibly.

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

 

James Graham Brown Cancer Center named charity of Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon, miniMarathon

James Graham Brown Cancer Center named charity of Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon, miniMarathon

The University of Louisville James Graham Brown Cancer Center has been selected as an official charity of choice for the Kentucky Derby Festival’s Marathon and miniMarathon set for Saturday, April 25.

The Marathon covers 26.2 miles while the miniMarathon halves the distance at 13.1 miles. Both courses start and end in Downtown Louisville.

To register, complete the registration form and choose the James Graham Brown Cancer Center as your charity of choice. Funds raised by the Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation are provided to each official charity. Since the program began in 2005, more than $1.75 million has been raised for participating charities.

Non-runners can support the program as well at the donation website.

The James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville is the region’s leading academic, research and teaching center devoted to cancer where patients benefit from the latest medical advances. Proceeds from the Marathon and miniMarathon help the Brown Cancer Center continue its mission of finding answers to cancer.

For additional information, contact Patrick Duerr or Linda Damé at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, part of KentuckyOne Health, at 502-562-8021.

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 crissie.despirito@louisville.edu. Additional information on the LIBERATE study is available on the national clinical trials website, ClinicalTrials.gov, 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.

UofL geriatrics to help co-host free long-term care meeting

UofL geriatrics to help co-host free long-term care meeting

The University of Louisville Division of Geriatrics, a part of the Department of Family and Geriatric Medicine, will help host a town hall meeting on long-term care.

The AMDA Foundation, in partnership with the City of Louisville, Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau and UofL, will host the “AMDA Foundation Town Hall: Learning About Quality Long-Term Care for You & Your Loved Ones,” 12:30-2 p.m., Saturday, March 21, at the Kentucky International Convention Center, 221 S. Fourth St.

Admission is free but RSVPs are required athttp://bit.ly/AMDATownHall.

Individuals interested in learning about taking care of loved ones in long-term care, long-term care for themselves, or caring for elders in general are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to interact with leading health care experts.

A panel of long-term care experts who not only treat patients in long-term care, but have made tough decisions related to long-term care and their families will give brief presentations on their experiences in the roles of both professionals and family members. The panel comprises long-term care medical directors, physicians and nurses from UofL’s Division of Geriatric Medicine and other long-term care providers along with a representative from Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s office. Following brief presentations, the audience will be encouraged to engage panel members and ask questions.

“The key to providing quality long-term care is not solely educated and experienced medical professionals,” said AMDA Foundation President Paul Katz, M.D. “It’s open communication and engagement between those professionals and proactive patients and families. We invite residents of Louisville and the surrounding area to the town hall not only to learn, but to begin the conversations vital to providing our loved ones with the highest quality of care.”

This event is being held in conjunction with AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine’s Annual Conference 2015. The AMDA Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to advance the quality of life for persons in post-acute and long-term care.  For more information, visit the AMDA website.

 

 

Recent journal article echoes UofL professor's concerns on e-cigarettes

A University of Louisville professor who is the lead author of the American Heart Association’s policy statement on e-cigarettes has raised the same type of concerns expressed in a recent New England Journal of Medicine showing that e-cigarette vapor can contain cancer-causing formaldehyde at levels up to 15 times higher than regular cigarettes.

Dr. Aruni Bhatnagar, the Smith and Lucile Gibson Chair in Medicine at the University of Louisville, chaired a 10-member American Heart Association panel of experts in formulating the association's first-ever policy statement on e-cigarettes released in August 2014. The article's findings echo the concerns raised by Bhatnagar and the group over what is still unknown about e-cigarettes.

Bhatnagar's voices his concerns in the video shown here.

"People need to know that e-cigarettes are unregulated and there are many variables that we don’t know about them," Bhatnagar says. "Recent studies raise concerns that e-cigarettes may be a gateway to traditional tobacco products for the nation’s youth, and could re-normalize smoking in our society.”

Because e-cigarettes contain nicotine, they are tobacco products and should be subject to all laws that apply to these products, according to recommendations in the policy statement. The association also calls for strong new regulations to prevent access, sales and marketing of e-cigarettes to youth, and for more research into the product’s health impact.

 

The article, “Hidden Formaldehyde in E-Cigarette Aerosols,” is available at http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMc1413069.