University of Louisville announces two new endowed chairs in neurological surgery

The University of Louisville Department of Neurological Surgery has established two endowed chairs focused on physical medicine and rehabilitation, underscoring the department’s commitment to patient healing and quality of life.

Darryl L. Kaelin, M.D., has been named the University of Louisville Endowed Chair for Stroke and Brain Injury Rehabilitation. Kaelin specializes in neuro-rehabilitation with a focus on traumatic brain injury and stroke. He serves as chief of the division of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Kaelin obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame and his medical degree from the University of Louisville School of Medicine. He completed his specialty training at the Medical College of Virginia where he was chief resident. Prior to assuming his current positions at UofL, Kaelin served as medical director of the Acquired Brain Injury Program at Atlanta’s Shepherd Center, a catastrophic care hospital for people with spinal cord and brain injuries. While at the Shepherd Center, he also served as the medical director of Brain Injury Research in Emory University’s School of Medicine.

Steven R. Williams, M.D., has been appointed The Owsley Brown Frazier Endowed Chair in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Williams specializes in spinal cord medicine including activity-based therapies and functional recovery, prevention of secondary effects of paralysis, consumer education, advocacy and emerging technologies. He is director of the spinal cord medicine program.

Williams was previously chairman of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine. He received his medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk and completed his residency at the Rusk Institute for Rehabilitation at New York University School of Medicine.

“The expertise that Dr. Kaelin and Dr. Williams bring to the department is of great benefit to our patients and patient families across the country who will be positively influenced by their work. The endowed chairs will advance the valuable research and education into rehabilitation of spinal cord and head injuries that is ongoing at University of Louisville and Frazier Rehabilitation and Neuroscience Center,” said Warren Boling, M.D., interim chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery.

Both endowed positions became effective Dec. 1, 2014.

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


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 at

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.



UofL sole site in Kentucky testing investigational device for emphysema

UofL sole site in Kentucky testing investigational device for emphysema

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

‘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.


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



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, 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,

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.

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.”


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

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.





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

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.”

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.
Bone Marrow/Organ Donor Drive
University of Louisville Hospital
Ambulatory Care Building Basement – outside cafeteria
530 S. Jackson St.
Louisville, KY 40202
Wednesday, December 17
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
David McArthur, Senior Manager
502.587.4230 or 502.648.3411

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.”

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.


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

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,


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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


About University of Louisville Physicians
University of Louisville Physicians isthe largest multispecialty physician practice in the Louisville region, with nearly 600 primary care and specialty physicians in more than 78 specialties and subspecialties. Our doctors are the professors and researchers of the University of Louisville School of Medicine, teaching tomorrow’s physicians and leading research into medical advancements. For more information, visit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


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