UofL awarded $11.5 million for research to prevent and treat eating disorders

Posted by UofL News November 29, 2023
UofL awarded $11.5 million for research to prevent and treat eating disorders

From left: Kevin Gardner, Executive Vice President for Research and Innovation; Dayna Touron, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Cheri Levinson, associate professor; and Kim Schatzel, president

A University of Louisville researcher has been awarded $11.5 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to better understand and address some of the most devastating effects of eating disorders.

Eating disorders affect an estimated 9% of Americans — nearly 30 million people — and can impact a person’s eating behaviors and perceptions about food and their bodies. The UofL research, backed by three grants, will investigate how eating disorders may develop in childhood and adolescence, their contribution to suicidal behaviors and how innovative personalized treatment may offer hope.

“UofL has made a longstanding commitment to groundbreaking research and discovery that makes a positive impact on our world,” said President Kim Schatzel. “This is research that can save and improve the lives of millions of Americans and many, many more around the world impacted by eating disorders.”


The work is led by researcher Cheri Levinson, who specializes in the study and intervention of eating and anxiety disorders. The key, she said, is a personalized approach to diagnosis and treatment, recognizing that these disorders affect people of all different ages, ethnicities, gender identities and backgrounds, and individualizing treatment to each specific person.

“Despite the high prevalence of these conditions, there are few available treatment and prevention options,” said Levinson, an associate professor in the UofL College of Arts and Sciences and director of the Eating Anxiety Treatment (EAT) Lab. “This work not only will create options, but opens this whole possibility for treatments that are personalized based on the individual. Because eating disorders don’t just affect one kind of person and there are a multitude of different factors that can influence them.”

Through an NIH research project grant totaling nearly $4 million, Levinson’s team will study how eating disorders develop in childhood and beyond, with the hope their findings can help avert the large personal and societal costs associated with childhood onset and chronic disorders. Recent studies show more than one in five kids worldwide may show signs of disordered eating.

A second project grant, also nearly $4 million, will identify patterns of anorexia nervosa — an eating disorder characterized by a fear of gaining weight — that contribute to suicide risk, with data providing a model of personalized psychiatric medicine and new methods of prevention and treatment. Currently, patients with anorexia have a suicide risk 18 times higher than those without an eating disorder.

The third grant, a prestigious NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, also worth nearly $4 million across two phases, will further the creation and dissemination of a novel personalized treatment for eating disorders and integrate social determinants of health (food insecurity, racism) into treatment. The New Innovator Award, part of NIH’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research program, supports unusually innovative research from early-career investigators who are within 10 years of their final degree or clinical residency. Levinson is the first from UofL and the first studying eating disorders to receive this award.

“Our mission at the College of Arts and Sciences is to improve life in the Commonwealth, including by creating new knowledge through groundbreaking research and innovation,” said Dana Touron, the college’s dean. “Dr. Levinson’s work will undoubtedly improve the lives of millions living with eating disorders, and we are very proud to count her among our faculty.”

These grants are the culmination of years of groundbreaking work by Levinson and her team, for which they earned a UofL Trailblazer Award in early 2023. The research has also received support through UofL’s Office of Research and Innovation, including mentoring through the Ascending Stars Fellows Program for promising mid-career faculty. 

Work to develop a companion personalized treatment application and virtual reality technology has also been supported by the office’s Innovation and Commercialization and UofL New Ventures teams. This includes patenting, entrepreneurial coaching and training and financial support through two innovation development programs: KYNETIC, focused on furthering biomedical technologies, and PRePARE, focused on technologies that address a health or societal problem resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“UofL has built a strong and vibrant ecosystem and supports for important research, like this, that can improve and save lives,” said Kevin Gardner, UofL’s executive vice president for research and innovation. “We’re so proud of the work Dr. Levinson and her team are doing and the positive impacts it will have across the U.S. and the globe.” 

University of Louisville School of Medicine Honors Exceptional Faculty

Posted on November 28, 2023
University of Louisville School of Medicine Honors Exceptional Faculty

Image of 2023 Faculty Excellence Awards

The University of Louisville School of Medicine held its 5th Annual Celebration of Faculty Excellence on November 16, 2023, to acknowledge and celebrate the remarkable contributions of its faculty members in the areas of service, teaching, and research. The event took place at the Kosair for Kids Clinical and Translational Research (CTR) building from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM. Over 100 people gathered to celebrate the event, including Provost Gerry Bradley.

Jeffrey Bumpous, MD, interim dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for academic medical affairs, expressed his admiration for the faculty's dedication to shaping the future of healthcare and making a significant impact on the Commonwealth of Kentucky. "The commitment our faculty have to educating the next generation of physicians and scientists, advancing the future of healthcare, and improving the conditions of the Commonwealth is astounding," Dr. Bumpous remarked. "It is an honor to recognize the achievements of our faculty."

The 2023 Faculty Excellence Awards honored individuals in the following categories:

Outstanding Scholarship, Research, and Creative Activity Awards:

  • Basic & Applied Sciences Award: Sanjay Srivastava, PhD
  • Career Achievement in Research Award: Steven C. Koenig, PhD

Distinguished Service Awards:

  • Service to UofL Award: Raymond Orthober, MD
  • Service to Profession Award: Gary Vitale, MD
  • Service to the Community, Commonwealth, or Region Award: Keith Miller, MD
  • National/International Service Award: John Wise, Sr., PhD
  • Career of Service Award: Ronald Paul, MD

Educator Awards:

  • Gratis Faculty Teaching Award: Arthur Malkani, MD
  • Outstanding Educator Award: Nicole Herring, PhD
  • Career Achievement in Education Award: Aaron Calhoun, MD

Multicultural Teaching Award: Luis Marsano, MD

Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award: Corrie Harris, MD

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champion Award: Jennifer Porter, MD

Each of these awards recognized exceptional faculty members who have shown exemplary dedication and commitment to their respective fields. The University of Louisville School of Medicine takes pride in its faculty's outstanding contributions to medical research, education, and service, and these awards aim to acknowledge their hard work and dedication.

In addition to the regular awards that are given, this year the School of Medicine recognized:

  • 21 promotions from assistant professor to associate professor
  • 14 promotions from associate professor to professor
  • 11 newly tenured appointments
  • 11 Endowed Chairs

The 5th Annual Celebration of Faculty Excellence at the University of Louisville School of Medicine is a testament to the institution's ongoing commitment to fostering excellence in medical education, research, and service, and it serves as a reminder of the significant role the school plays in advancing the healthcare landscape both locally and globally.

View photos from the event here.

Horses and Hope celebrates 15 years of breast cancer education and screening

Posted by UofL News on November 17, 2023
Horses and Hope celebrates 15 years of breast cancer education and screening

Former Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear, second from left, with breast cancer survivors and friends honored at a Horses and Hope event.

Horses and Hope will celebrate 15 years of cancer education and screening and honor breast cancer survivors with a special day of racing at Churchill Downs on Sunday, Nov. 19. Race day festivities will include remarks by Former First Lady Jane Beshear, founder of Horses and Hope, Gov. Andy Beshear, a performance by D’Corey Johnson, 2023 America’s Got Talent participant and emcee Heather French Henry, Miss America 2000 at 1 p.m.

“Britainy and I were honored to join Horses and Hope to celebrate 15 years of this amazing program,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “Horses and Hope is close to my heart because it was created by my mom, Jane Beshear. I am so proud to see her mission to increase access to cancer screenings for Kentucky women being carried out. I want to congratulate everyone at Horses and Hope and celebrate the incredible survivors and warriors who are fighting and beating cancer. Together, we can make a difference in this fight.”

“We are so proud to join Horses and Hope to celebrate 15 years of amazing work on behalf of cancer survivors,” said First Lady Britainy Beshear. “Since Andy’s mom created this program, it has helped countless Kentucky women receive breast cancer screenings and saved lives. I’m so glad this important work will continue.”

Horses and Hope℠ began in 2008 to increase breast cancer awareness, education, screening and treatment referral among Kentucky’s horse industry workers and other special populations. The program has hosted screenings and events honoring cancer survivors across the state in collaboration with the Horses and Hope/UofL Health Brown Cancer Center Screening Van and the Horses and Hope Pink Ford Mustang. Former First Lady Jane Beshear and the Kentucky Cancer Program at the University of Louisville were instrumental in the program’s launch, along with the Pink Stable, a committee of Kentucky horse owners, riders, trainers, farm owners, jockeys and others.

Operated by the UofL Health – Brown Cancer Center, the Horses and Hope van launched in 2016 has screened more than 17,000 women for breast cancer. Through breast cancer race days at Kentucky racetracks, Horses and Hope has reached more than a million racing fans.

Today, Horses and Hope has been expanded to offer cancer prevention and early detection programs along with screening and treatment referrals for many different cancers through the mobile van. Special events are held throughout the state to honor breast cancer survivors and to raise funds for Horses and Hope, including events at Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Ellis Park, the North American Championship Rodeo and others.

For more information, contact the Kentucky Cancer Program 1-877-326-1134 or email Horses and Hope.

Michelle Stevenson M.D., M.S., appointed vice dean of Faculty Affairs and Advancement

Posted on November 9, 2023
Michelle Stevenson M.D., M.S., appointed vice dean of Faculty Affairs and Advancement

Michelle Stevenson, M.D., M.S.

The University of Louisville School of Medicine is pleased to announce the appointment of Michelle Stevenson, M.D., M.S., to vice dean of Faculty Affairs and Advancement effective January 4, 2024. Stevenson will work closely with current vice dean Ron Paul, MD, to ensure a smooth transition when Paul begins his retirement in early January.

“Dr. Stevenson’s commitment throughout her career to supporting her fellow School of Medicine faculty in their career confirms that she possesses the qualities necessary to be successful in her new role,” said Jeffrey Bumpous, M.D., interim dean and vice president for Academic Medical Affairs. “We are fortunate to now have Dr. Stevenson among our leadership ranks.”

Stevenson brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her appointed role. She has taught at the undergraduate and graduate level of medical education for nearly 20 years and has authored 62 peer-reviewed publications in her field. She has served as director of research development for the Department of Pediatrics at the UofL School of Medicine and Norton Children’s Research Institute since 2020 and is an elected member of the American Pediatric Society and Society of Pediatric Research.

Stevenson embodies the mission of the Office of Faculty Affairs and Advancement, as she is tremendously passionate about supporting her peers’ professional success at the School of Medicine. She has served on the Promotion, Appointment, and Tenure Committee of the UofL School of Medicine since 2018, previously serving as chair and vice-chair, and has received eleven Faculty Peer Clinician-Teacher or Faculty Peer Mentorship awards from the Department of Pediatrics since 2010, for her work in mentoring her fellow faculty members.

“I am honored to take on this new role, and I am deeply committed to the success of our faculty and staff that continue to foster innovation at the UofL School of Medicine,” said Stevenson.

 Stevenson received a B.S. in Biochemistry from Indiana University in 1993. She graduated in 1997 from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. Returning to her hometown, she completed the residency program in pediatrics at the University of Louisville in 2000. She completed a fellowship in Pediatric Emergency Medicine (PEM) at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 2003 and later completed a Master of Science in Molecular Epidemiology and Children’s Environmental Health from the University of Cincinnati and has served as a faculty member at the U of L School of Medicine since 2008.

Heartwheels interactive display at Maker Days this weekend

Posted on November 8, 2023
Heartwheels interactive display at Maker Days this weekend

Dr. Koenig and students during previous Heartwheels event

Heartwheels! STEM Mobile Outreach— an experiential educational initiative designed to engage young people in the local community and throughout Kentucky in STEM fields and inspire them to pursue their interests in related fields—is participating in the Kentucky Science Center’s Maker Days event on November 10-11 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Heartwheels! was founded and developed by faculty members Gretel Monreal, PhD and Steven C. Koenig, PhD from the Advanced Heart Failure Research (AHFR) Program at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. They bring a portable version of their laboratory out into schools and communities, many of which are underrepresented with limited resources and/or access to STEM faculty and technologies, and create innovative cardiovascular-based learning opportunities and fun hands-on activities for learning about heart health

Monreal and Koenig founded Heartwheels! to share their expertise, experience, and passion in developing and testing cardiovascular medical devices. They use these events as a vehicle to engage and inspire young minds to envision themselves as scientists, clinicians, and/or engineers with future productive and rewarding careers in emerging STEM fields. 

“Harnessing young people’s interests in science, technology, engineering, and math at a young age allows them to envision themselves in STEM careers in their future,” said Monreal and Koenig, “Our participants’ eagerness to join in on our learning activities shows that young people’s STEM interests are there they just need opportunities for exploration.”

The Kentucky Science Center’s Maker Days has a similar mission as Heartwheels! in encouraging the local community to partake in learning about STEM-related topics. Makers Days is an exemplary event designed to allow students to gain knowledge on STEM careers with local professionals and gain hands-on experience with a variety of engaging Maker activities.

Visit Heartwheels! at the Kentucky Science Center’s Maker Days this Friday and Saturday and experience fun and interactive educational engagements, observe an assortment of cardiovascular devices used in clinical treatment, and learn more about STEM fields.

ULSOM Basic Sciences department chair announces retirement

Posted on October 31, 2023
ULSOM Basic Sciences department chair announces retirement

William Guido, PhD

It is with deep gratitude that we announce the retirement of William Guido, PhD, chair of the department of Anatomical Sciences & Neurobiology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, effective July 1, 2024. We are thankful for his 12 years of academic service at the UofL School of Medicine and all the work he has done to elevate the department to a nationally recognized center for research and education. 

Guido’s passion for neuroscience touched every aspect of his career, and his research in the field is vast. Guido co-authored87 peer-reviewed papers on the development, form, and function of the thalamus and has been invited to speak on his findings at 89 national and international meetings. He assisted in establishing the bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience at the University of Louisville and served as President for the Association for Medical School Neurosciences Directors and Chairs from 2018-2020.   

“We are so grateful to Dr. Guido for his commitment to his field and his students,” said interim dean Jeffrey Bumpous, MD. “His relentless dedication to advancing the activities of the department of Anatomical Sciences & Neurobiology during his time as chair has shaped the department into a model learning and research environment that we are extremely proud of.” 

Guido has been a strong advocate for his students and the importance of diversity in the medical field. He supported many departmental initiatives while serving as chair and helped establish an endowedexcellence fund for diversity. Guido’s commitment to his students has been profound, mentoring dozens of M.S. and Ph.D. students during his career as a professor that spanned nearly 30 years. 

“My time at the University of Louisville School of Medicine has been incredibly rewarding,” said Guido. “Expanding the field of Neuroscience has been a career-long effort and I am proud to pass on the role to the next generation of scientists and researchers.” 

Guido completed his PhD at the University of North Carolina in physiological psychology followed by a Postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Wisconsin in Neuroscience. He has held faculty positions at LSU HSC and VCU School of Medicine. 

University of Louisville School of Medicine's S.M.A.R.T. Staff Program Enhances Wellness and Professional Development for Staff

Posted on October 25, 2023

The School of Medicine Advancement, Retention, and Training, or S.M.A.R.T. Staff, provides opportunities for professional and personal development for more than 900+ staff members working in all areas of the School of Medicine through recurring monthly programs and educational programming. As one of this year’s RaiseSomeL priority initiatives, the University of Louisville School of Medicine interviewed Glenn Gittings, Ph.D., chief of staff in the Office of the Dean, to learn more about S.M.A.R.T. Staff’s programming and initiatives.

Q. What are S.M.A.R.T staff’s initiatives?

A. S.M.A.R.T. Staff originated from the Office of the Dean as a way for University of Louisville SOM staff to have opportunities for development, camaraderie, and communication. Its design is structured to offer staff professional and personal development opportunities throughout the workday.  The S.M.A.R.T. initiative features recurring monthly programs will be offered both virtually and in-person to stimulate, motivate, and continue innovation at the SOM to achieve commitment to our mission, vision, and goals.

Q. What kind of programs does S.M.A.R.T staff have to offer to School of Medicine staff?

A. Staff training and development, staff wellness programming (mental health and physical); staff networking; financial education programming; technology development programming; and community engagement opportunities.

Q. How does being involved with S.M.A.R.T staff effect the wellness and professional performance of staff at the School of Medicine?

A. S.M.A.R.T. staff engagement can have a multi-faceted impact on the wellness and professional performance of staff at the School of Medicine. By creating a positive, supportive, and engaging work environment, these programs contribute to helping staff feel valued and supported which in turn impacts the overall satisfaction and effectiveness of the staff; it provides networking and collaborative activities to help build camaraderie and a sense of belonging; it offers professional development opportunities to enhance staff skills and knowledge; and finally SMART staff provides recognition and appreciation programming to further demonstrate the appreciation we have for the dedicated staff of the School of Medicine.  All of this therefore develops the staff member and contributes to the overall environment and success of the School of Medicine as a whole.

Q. Who is encouraged to join S.M.A.R.T staff?

A. All 900+ School of Medicine staff are encouraged to register for any of our monthly programming events and can visit the website to learn more on those events:

Q. Why should someone donate to S.M.A.R.T staff’s program?

A. Donating money to support S.M.A.R.T. Staff not only benefits the employees directly but also has a ripple effect on the School of Medicine's overall success, culture, and reputation. It's an investment in both the well-being of our staff and the health of the organization as a whole.

Q. What sort of programs will donations go to fund?

A. Programs that support physical wellness, mental health wellness, social wellness, financial education, community engagement, professional development, safety/awareness, and staff belonging.

S.M.A.R.T. Staff is designed to support our staff’s overall health and wellness, create awareness on financial, professional, and safety topics, and foster a sense of belonging for working within the School of Medicine. These initiatives take root in UofL’s commitment to making UofL a great place to work. Donations to S.M.A.R.T. Staff directly impact our employees and in turn contribute to the overall success and culture of the School of Medicine that is reliant on the efforts of our committed staff to continue to foster innovation, pave the way in scientific and medical research, and educate the next generation of future physician scientists.

If you are interested in giving to our S.M.A.R.T. Staff program, please consider donating during RaiseSomeL 2023!

Support the School of Medicine's Mission to Shape the Future of Healthcare

Posted on October 24, 2023

RaiseSomeL, the University of Louisville’s annual day of giving kicks off tonight, October 24 at 6:02 p.m. For 1,798 minutes, the cardinal community will come together to celebrate its rich history and thriving future by giving back to the university.

This year, the School of Medicine is focused on supporting programs that will continue to move our mission forward in education, research, and clinical care, including: our 23 academic departments, our learners, our leaders, our scientists, and our staff. The support of each of these initiatives ensures our students, faculty, and staff have the resources needed to prepare future physicians and physician scientists to improve the health of our campus, our community, and our commonwealth.

Initiatives like S.M.A.R.T. Staff and FLIGHT give our staff and leaders a place to reflect on experiences, recharge their energy, and renew their commitment to work while increasing diversity amongst one another. These initiatives help faculty and staff feel supported in their roles, thus leading to them providing more support to our students, departments and programs.

Our learners are the reason our school exists – to educate the future generations of medical professionals and scientists. Our MD-PhD program strives to prepare future scientists and physician scientists to advance the human experience. The program allows students to receive a dual program degree from the School of Medicine. During this time, students may elect to use our Academic Support Services, which helps students navigate the challenges that arise throughout their education. The Academic Support Services office provides services to students such as academic coaching, tracking, peer learning programs, and referrals to outside resources to help students feel supported in their journey.

Supporting the School of Medicine not only transforms lives but provides the opportunity for something much larger – to make a positive impact here in our community and our commonwealth. Your contributions are the key to advancing medical care, educating future medical professionals, and supporting key innovations.

“To keep serving our community in the way the School of Medicine has done for more than 185 years, we need your help supporting these critical programs and initiatives,” said interim dean and vice president of academic medical affairs Jeffrey Bumpous, MD. “I challenge you to Raise Some L by joining my dean’s donor match and pledge your support of our learners, leaders, scientists and staff to unlock a $10,000 gift from me and help shape our future.” 

Help us continue our mission and RaiseSomeL with the School of Medicine!

Official giving begins this evening at 6:02 p.m. Please consider giving a gift to the School of Medicine.

UofL awards celebrate year of research, scholarship and creativity

Posted by UofL News on October 20, 2023
UofL awards celebrate year of research, scholarship and creativity

More than 80 honorees, representing nine UofL schools and colleges, include researchers, scholars and artists, along with those who provide critical support as administrators at the 2023 Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities Awards.

The University of Louisville celebrated more than 80 faculty and staff for their work to expand knowledge and understanding at its 2023 Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Awards, held Oct. 19.

This year’s honorees, representing nine UofL schools and colleges, include researchers, scholars and artists, along with those who provide critical support as administrators. Their work over the past year helped to advance health, grow our technology workforce, improve equity and more.

“I continue to be impressed by the bold and dauntless sense of curiosity and exploration that’s so foundational to our campus and what it means to be a Cardinal,” said UofL President Kim Schatzel, speaking at the event. “Each and every one of you here tonight brings a passion and energy to that work, and it’s just incredible.” 


At the event, hosted by the Office of Research and Innovation, several major awards were presented to: 

    • Patrick Possel, of the College of Education and Human Development, for his work to shape mental health practice, especially for adolescent trauma-informed care and treatment;
    • Center of Biomedical Research Excellence in Functional Microbiomics, Inflammation and Pathogenicity, of the Schools of Dentistry and Medicine, which won Center of the Year in part for its recent $12 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study links between the human microbiome and disease, which could lead to better treatments for a range of conditions; 
    • Tiffany Calvert, of the College of Arts and Sciences, who won the inaugural Creative Works Award for her innovative work to marry technology and art, via an artificially intelligent painting collaborator;
    • Cheri Hildreth, of Environmental Health and Safety, who won the Unsung Hero Award for leading the launch and growth of the environmental health and safety programs over her 30-plus years of service to UofL;
    • Natalie Christian, of the College of Arts and Sciences, who won Early-Career Researcher of the Year for her work to harness plant-associated microbiomes to improve crop health;
    • Jennifer Middleton and Shantel Crosby, of the Kent School of Social Work, who won the Grand Challenger Award in Empowering our Communities for their work to create supports for youth and their families most impacted by community violence and racial trauma;
    • Hermann Frieboes, of the J.B. Speed School of Engineering, who won the Grand Challenger Award in Advancing our Health for work to integrate biological and clinical information, paving the way for personalized medicine;
    • Sharon Kerrick, of the College of Eduacation and Human Development, who won the Grand Challenger Award in Engineering our Future Economy for her commitment to workforce up/re-skilling in the field of technology, including via innovative badging programs; and
    • Joan Scott, of the School of Dentistry, who won Research Administrator of the Year for providing integral research support to her school and department for more than 20 years. 

In the past year, UofL researchers and scholars submitted 1,075 proposals and received nearly $176 million in external grant funding to support groundbreaking discovery and exploration. 

“I believe what we celebrate is what we value as an institution,”  said Kevin Gardner, UofL’s executive vice president for research and innovation. “With awards like these, we show that we value research, scholarship and creative activity. And, that we value you. The work you do is the backbone of UofL’s knowledge enterprise.”

View photos from the event on Flickr.

Research!Louisville announces 2023 winners, explores role of UofL research

Posted by UofLNews on October 16, 2023
Research!Louisville announces 2023 winners, explores role of UofL research

UofL student Leshaia Davis-Johnson and judges Faye Jones and Ryan Simpson.

The 28th-annual Research!Louisville (R!L) symposium, sponsored by the University of Louisville, School of Medicine, the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Innovation and Norton Healthcare, took place the week of Oct. 2-6. The symposium offers valuable opportunities to research scholars to improve essential presentation skills, gain experience, meet scholarship requirements for faculty ranking and promotion, build peer networks and receive valuable feedback from research scientists in a wide range of disciplines.

“Research!Louisville is a great opportunity to explore the important role UofL research plays in our day-to-day lives,” said Kevin Gardner, executive vice president for research and innovation. “That work positively impacts our world, from creating meaningful educational experiences and career pathways for students to developing innovative new technologies and companies.”

This year, R!L highlighted 365 abstracts for presentation. Among the scientific poster competition participants represented were masters and doctoral engineering students, NCI R25 undergraduate students, cancer and health disparity Summer Bridge Program students, Brown Cancer Center high school scholars, dental students, masters and doctoral basic science students, medical students, distinction tract medical students, case reports, postdoctoral scholars, research associates, research staff, PharmDs, masters and doctoral public health students, nursing students, medical residents, clinical fellows and faculty.

A full list of award winners and their slide presentations, as well as photos/recording of the closing ceremony are available on the R!L webpage.

Richard Woychik, director of the National Institute of Environmental Science and the National Toxicology Program delivered the keynote address, “Looking to the Future of Environmental Health Sciences.” Woychik oversees federal funding for biomedical research to discover how the environment influences human health and disease. His lecture drew a full house and was preceded with an introduction by UofL President Kim Schatzel.

R!L’s symposium featured seminars, presentations and lectures on a variety of subjects, including nursing research, environmental health sciences, anti-racism research, IRB protocol and more.

The event schedule included a Q&A forum with renowned medical ethicist and author, Harriett Washington. The School of Nursing presented Imelda Wright, assistant professor of nursing, whose research focuses on the effects of perioperative nurse practice and the environment on patient safety in the operating room. UofL’s Social, Educational and Behavioral IRB presented a workshop to provide an overview of the UofL SBE IRB and HSPP Office. The IRB also hosted a workshop geared toward biomedical researchers from the UofL Health Sciences and Shelby Campuses. The Research Integrity Office presented Leslie Hollie, a distinguished expert in health care fraud and economic crimes, including grant fraud with a concentration in foreign influence/interference and administrative conflict of interest investigations.

The Center for Integrative Environmental Health Sciences (CIEHS) hosted two forums of presentations by Pilot Project awardees and Research Voucher awardees highlighting their accomplishments from their third-year awards. The Office of HSC Diversity and Inclusion hosted a panel discussion, “The Past is Present: Slavery & Medicine in Louisville History” and an anti-racism program which supports anti-racism research occurring at the University of Louisville which encourages further research aimed at impacting racial inequities.

Juw Won Park, director of the Center for Integrative Environmental Health Sciences Biostatistics and Informatics Facility Core, director of Brown Cancer Center Bioinformatics Core, and colleagues discussed their research interest in bioinformatics and computational genomics which requires high-performance computing. Finally, R!L sponsored a seminar at the Kentucky Science Center for students in grades 7-12 with a biomedical focus. The day also included a “Pulse of Surgery” program, a real-time, open-heart surgery. The full schedule of 2023 events are on the R!L webpage.

The co-chairs of R!L, Jon Klein, vice dean for research, and Chris States, associate dean for research, along with the R!L Steering Committee, look forward to R!L 2024. Look for announcements of dates/agenda in UofL Today.

Dr. Jordan Hilgefort to Share Insights on Athlete Injury Prevention at 'Beer with a Scientist'

Posted on October 17, 2023
Dr. Jordan Hilgefort to Share Insights on Athlete Injury Prevention at 'Beer with a Scientist'

Jordan Hilgefort, MD, MBA, CAQSM, assistant professor of Family and Geriatric Medicine at the School of Medicine and medical director for University of Louisville Physicians Family Medicine

Jordan Hilgefort, MD, MBA, CAQSM, assistant professor of Family and Geriatric Medicine at the School of Medicine and medical director for University of Louisville Physicians Family Medicine, will be featured at “Beer with a Scientist” on October 19th to discuss the importance of mental, physical, and nutritional components in injury prevention for today’s athlete.

Hilgefort often counsels athletes to not only train their bodies physically for competition, but also to intentionally develop mental resilience to support their mental health as a critical measure for injury prevention. “Day-to-day stressors, social and family dynamics, and other influencers of our mental well-being don’t disappear just because we step onto a field or court,” says Hilgefort. “To compete at our best, we have to exercise tactics to optimize our mental health to develop healthy responses to struggles and failures.” He notes the University of Louisville has invested in athlete well-being by creating the largest team of mental health professionals available to student athletes within the ACC conference. 

Much like other sports medicine physicians, Hilgefort said his passion for working with athletes is driven by being involved in athletics in his youth. “The nostalgia brings back memories of your own experiences and makes the job enjoyable,” said Hilgefort. “You have an opportunity to help people become the best version of themselves by educating them on preventative health measures, examining and diagnosing injuries, or guiding them through recovery. There’s satisfaction in knowing a small portion of their success was predicated upon your efforts.”

Hilgefort is a huge proponent of preventive health and takes pride in explaining to patients why taking certain steps can prevent a problem before it exists. Injury prevention saves the patient from added investments of time and money, as well as discomfort. Preventative education can shape how athletes train and prepare to meet their goals, allowing them to pursue a healthier and more successful path towards achieving the goals they’ve set out for themselves. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said Hilgefort.

Mental, physical, and nutritional health are key components of health and wellness in athletes. A combination of these factors is needed to create a healthy foundation to decrease opportunities for injury and optimize athletes’ performance. The absence of any of them leads to a drop in performance and an increased risk for injuries.

“Beer with a Scientist” is a 30-minute presentation, hosted by Holsopple Brewery and Louisville Underground Science, geared to educate the general public on a diverse array of topics.

Join the discussion on October 19 from 7-8 p.m. to learn more.

UofL-led research shows immune response may come down to genetics

Posted by UofLNews on October 5, 2023
UofL-led research shows immune response may come down to genetics

Melissa Smith, left, director of the UofL Sequencing Technology Center, was a lead author on research published in Nature Communications that reveals an underappreciated connection between genetics and our antibodies.

New research led by the University of Louisville shows that differences in our DNA can drastically impact our bodies’ immune response. 

The work, recently published in the journal Nature Communications, reveals an underappreciated connection between genetics and our antibodies. Antibodies are key players in our immune system, with important roles in human health and disease, including in infection, autoimmunity, cancer and even vaccine responsiveness.

“Our work demonstrates that not everyone has the same capacity to generate certain types of antibodies due to genetics,” said Oscar Rodriguez, a post-doctoral fellow at UofL, and the first author of the study. “This could have critical implications for how we assess outcomes related to treatments and vaccines that depend on the antibody response.”

Vaccines, for example, work by simulating a viral infection and triggering an immune response — a sort of drill that teaches the body what a virus looks like and how to fight it. While it’s commonly known that individual response to vaccines can vary from person to person, this work shows more clearly than ever that these variations may depend on the antibody genes a person has inherited.

“For a long time, we’ve assumed vaccines could be designed using a one-size-fits-all approach,” said Melissa Smith, director of the UofL Sequencing Technology Center, and lead author of the study. “This research shows that genetics predisposes us to qualitatively and quantitatively different antibody responses. If this information could be used to understand when individuals will or won’t respond to a given vaccine or treatment, that could be hugely impactful.”

The research also revealed that differences in our antibody responses could be linked to broader patterns of genetic diversity across human populations. This stresses the need to better characterize diversity in the genes that encode antibodies, and specifically increase the sampling of understudied populations. This is one of the driving forces behind research being conducted by this team.

Critical for advancing this effort is the recent acquisition of a new state-of-the-art genomic Revio sequencing system by the Sequencing Technology Center. UofL is one of only a handful of service providers in the country to offer access to this technology. Its use by this team could help improve our understanding of ancestry-specific immune gene-associated disease through the characterization of antibody genes in thousands of individuals worldwide, leading to improved and more equitable patient care. 

“We are currently building the most comprehensive catalogs of human antibody genetic variation from diverse genetic ancestries,” said Corey T. Watson, associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, and senior author of the study. “By studying a greater number of populations across the globe, we will be able to clarify the contribution genes make in positioning our immune systems to respond in a variety of disease contexts, and hopefully inform next-generation treatments.”

UofL gets $16 million to increase supply of primary care doctors in underserved areas

Posted by UofL News on October 9, 2023
UofL gets $16 million to increase supply of primary care doctors in underserved areas

UofL medical students participate in a Compassion Clinic at Redeemer Lutheran Church in West Louisville.

The University of Louisville has received $16 million to help increase Kentuckians’ access to health care, particularly in underserved rural and urban areas. The UofL School of Medicine will use the funds from a four-year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to train more primary care physicians and encourage them to practice in underserved communities where they are needed.

Kentucky has a severe shortage of health care providers, with at least some portion of 113 of the state’s 120 counties designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas, including parts of Jefferson County. Recent projections rank Kentucky lowest among the states in meeting the need for primary care physicians by 2025.

To attract and train medical students with an interest in practicing primary care in medically underserved communities, the School of Medicine will enhance existing programs that train students in the underserved rural environments, assist individuals from other careers who want to prepare for medical school, create a new program to train medical students in an urban environment and provide scholarships to support students financially in all of these programs.

“The UofL School of Medicine is honored to have been selected as a recipient of the HRSA grant and is committed to creating pathways that support workforce development for primary care careers in medically underserved regions,” said Jeffrey Bumpous, interim dean for the UofL School of Medicine and vice president of medical affairs. “University leaders recognize the projects and programs supported by this funding are critical to the institutional mission of both the university and the School of Medicine and aim to sustain the efforts beyond the four-year term.”

UofL has a long history of preparing physicians for practice in rural and smaller communities through the UofL School of Medicine Trover Campus, started in 1998 with the goal of increasing the number of physicians practicing in rural areas, and in existing UofL family medicine residencies in Glasgow and Owensboro.

“Students tend to practice what they are taught and where they learn it. Our idea is to enhance our training programs with a focus on improving their educational experience in primary care, particularly in underserved communities,” said Kelli Bullard Dunn, vice dean of community engagement and diversity for the UofL School of Medicine, who leads the project. “At the UofL School of Medicine, we are in a unique position in that not only do we serve rural parts of the state, but we have an urban, underserved core right in our backyard. We would like to take what we have learned from the Trover Campus and replicate part or all of that in the urban environment here in West Louisville and other underserved areas.”

Medical students in the UofL Trover Rural Track complete their final two years of medical school at Trover Campus, located in Madisonville, Kentucky, hosted by Baptist Health Deaconess Madisonville. Of the 170 physicians who have graduated from the Trover Rural Track so far, 75% practice primary care and 43% practice in rural communities.

“The Trover Campus has been successful because we are able to get more rural students into medical school and then into rural practice by supporting them all the way through the process, starting with high school,” said William J. Crump, associate dean of the UofL School of Medicine Trover Campus. “This grant holds the promise of enlarging our campus, but most importantly building an urban underserved counterpart.”

Three programs to achieve the grant goals

The grant project focuses on three programs aimed at increasing the number of physicians who choose primary care specialties of family medicine, general internal medicine, pediatrics and internal medicine-pediatrics and encouraging them to practice in underserved communities.

First, UofL will increase participation opportunities for students in the Trover Rural Track and expand primary care clinical training for students in conjunction with the UofL family medicine residency programs at Glasgow and Owensboro.

Second, a new urban training program will be created, modeled on the Trover program, that provides medical students opportunities to train in medical facilities in West Louisville and other communities that provide care for underserved populations. This project will involve partnerships with community health systems such as UofL Health, Family Health Centers and others.

In addition, the project calls for enhancement of the UofL Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program, which prepares individuals who have a bachelor’s degree in another field to enter medical school. Of the 114 students who have completed the Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program since it began in 2009, 98% have been accepted into a medical school and 36% of those who have completed residency programs now practice in primary care fields.

The new funding will allow this program to recruit more students from medically underserved communities who are interested in practicing in those areas after completing residency training and to improve access to medical school for them with scholarships and additional academic support.

“This new grant allows us to help even more people fulfill their dream of becoming a physician. A lot of the postbaccalaureate premedical students have come from underserved populations or underserved areas, including rural areas. Having more folks from rural areas and underserved communities going into medicine is a great thing for Kentucky,” said V. Faye Jones, UofL Health Sciences Center associate vice president for health affairs and diversity initiatives and co-lead for the grant project.

Students in each of the three programs will receive academic and financial support with coaching and scholarships to help ensure their success in applying to and completing medical school.

“Everyone deserves the best quality health care we can provide, and that means having the best quality of talent in the medical school pipeline,” said Rep. Morgan McGarvey, who supported the grant proposal. “I’m excited for UofL and for the future of Kentucky health care with this HRSA Medical Student Education Program grant to address the primary care provider shortage. We need to be doing everything we can to ensure we are supporting the primary care providers of tomorrow, and I’m proud UofL is leading the way.”

Stambaugh Lecture Series brings Compassionomics to UofL

Posted October 2, 2023
Stambaugh Lecture Series brings Compassionomics to UofL

Stephen Trzeciak, MD, MPH, and author of Compassionomics: The Revolutionary Scientific Evidence that Caring Makes a Difference, was featured during the James L. Stambaugh, Jr., MD, Lectureship in Humanities in Medicine. The lecture, held on September 26, was attended by over 120 learners, faculty members, and hospital specialists to inquire: can implementing compassion in healthcare save lives? Does compassion in healthcare really matter?

“Through curating evidence from more than 1000 scientific abstracts and over 250 original peer reviewed journal science research papers we have evidence-based confirmation that compassion matters in meaningful and measurable ways for patients, for patient care, and for those who care for patients,” said Trzeciak.

Trzeciak addressed the "Compassionomics" of which compassion can be used to improve the delivery of healthcare, the effects of compassion on physician health and burnout rates, and the opportunity to reduce healthcare disparities using compassion.

“Dr. Trzeciak’s visit emphasized that there is an evidence-based case for compassion,” said Jeffrey Bumpous, MD, interim dean of the School of Medicine. “Compassion improves medical outcomes and reduces burnout of health professionals. Compassion must be intentional and can be learned and improved.”

Trzeciak, a specialist in intensive care medicine, focuses his research on “Compassionomics” the study of the scientific effects of compassion on patients, patient care and those who care for patients.

“I only wish that more students and faculty could have heard the lecture on compassion in healthcare,” said Chris Seals, PhD, MEd, assistant dean and assistant professor for the School of Medicine. “Spending literally 40 additional seconds of compassionate and genuine dialogue with a patient makes a significant difference in health outcomes for the patient. This wasn’t just a warm and fuzzy opinion piece. The lecture referenced numerous pieces of research that supported the argument. This was for doctors and patients but I also hope that people use this knowledge with their families, teammates, and coworkers.”

The Stambaugh Lecture Series was made possible by a generous donation from the Stambaugh family. The $75,000 donation was used to establish the James. L. Stambaugh, Jr., M.D. Humanities Lectureship in Humanities in Medicine, which seeks to educate on subjects directly related to the humane and benevolent aspects of professional medical care and medical ethics.

See photos from the event here.

UofL strengthens Ghana pediatric partnership

Posted by UofL News on September 7, 2023
UofL strengthens Ghana pediatric partnership

Dr. Jackson Williams (left), division chief of pediatric global health and Humana Endowed Chair in International Pediatrics at the University of Louisville, works with colleagues in Tamale, Ghana, as part of the AMPATH partnership.

The University of Louisville recently joined the AMPATH Consortium of academic health centers around the world with a focus on enhancing pediatric care in the AMPATH Ghana partnership.

“Our University of Louisville Pediatric Global Health team has been working with partners in Tamale, Ghana, for the last 14 years,” said Jackson Williams, MD, FAAP, DTM&H, division chief of pediatric global health and Humana Endowed Chair in International Pediatrics. “When we learned that AMPATH would also begin working at the same hospital and medical school in Northern Ghana, our group was thrilled at the idea of partnering with a consortium which has such a strong track record of effective global health collaboration.”  

AMPATH is the Academic Model Providing Access to Health Care. UofL joins 14 other universities and medical schools around the world working in partnership with public sector hospitals and medical schools in Ghana, Kenya, Mexico and Nepal.

In Ghana, the partnership is led by University for Development Studies School of Medicine (UDS-SoM) Tamale Teaching Hospital (TTH) and NYU Grossman School of Medicine. The partnership launched in early 2019 with support provided to Indiana University from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and Eli Lilly and Company Foundation.

As part of the AMPATH Ghana partnership, UofL will embrace the AMPATH philosophy to “Lead with Care” by continuing to provide pediatric clinical care that supports research and education in child health. This will include augmenting sub-specialty care in pediatrics, hosting two-way exchange of learners, initiating research grants focused on child health and broadening UofL’s institutional support with partners in Tamale, Ghana.

“The AMPATH Consortium welcomes the University of Louisville and we look forward to working together to both enhance their existing work in Ghana while learning from their expertise in international pediatrics to grow all of the AMPATH partnerships,” said Adrian Gardner, MD, MPH, executive director of the AMPATH Consortium.

“We are very excited to work with our colleagues at University of Louisville to grow pediatric medicine education, research and care in Tamale, Ghana,” said Professor Stephen Tabiri, MD, PhD, FGCS, FACS, FWACS, MEd (Adm.) dean of UDS-SoM.  “We are looking forward to a very fruitful partnership.” 

Dr. Adam Atiku, CEO of Tamale Teaching Hospital added, “We are looking forward to further collaborating with our colleagues from the University of Louisville, with whom we have had over a decade-long partnership, as they join the AMPATH Consortium to continue in our collective quest to improve pediatric and child healthcare to clients within northern Ghana and beyond. We are very excited to see what we can achieve together for children in northern Ghana.”

The AMPATH Ghana partnership is based on a collaborative model that has helped to build a sustainable healthcare system over the past three decades in western Kenya.

“AMPATH Ghana’s long-term partnership model presents a unique opportunity for University of Louisville faculty and trainees. We look forward to building relationships with our counterparts to strengthen pediatric care delivery in Tamale and northern Ghana,” Rajesh Vedanthan, MD, MPH, MS, director of the Section for Global Health at the Institute for Excellence in Health Equity and associate professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone.

In April, UofL faculty and residents traveled to Ghana and stayed in the AMPATH Ghana House with full-time faculty from NYU Grossman School of Medicine while working and training alongside Ghanaian faculty and residents.

“That experience further solidified our strong desire to be a part of the AMPATH Consortium. Seeing first-hand the projects which have already been started, how well they are partnered with our colleagues in Ghana, and how smoothly they managed the logistics in Ghana sealed the deal for our plans to join AMPATH,” said Williams. 

The AMPATH Consortium is led by Indiana University and includes Brown University, Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin, Duke University, Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine, Linköping University (Sweden), Mount Sinai, NYU Langone Health, Purdue University, Stanford University Center for Innovation in Global Health, University of Alberta, University of California San Francisco, University of Toronto and the University of Virginia.

The division of pediatric global health at UofL was established as the international pediatrics division by George Rodgers, MD, more than 25 years ago with a partnership in Romania and other eastern European countries. The Humana Foundation generously provided funding for the division’s creation. Faculty in the division include Jackson Williams, MD; Nicole Bichir, MD; Sheridan Langford, MD; Bethany Hodge, MD, MPH (completed a rotation in AMPATH’s Kenya partnership in 2009); Dan Stewart, MD; Dan Blatt, MD; Mirzada Kurbasic, MD; and Kelly Frazier, MD. The division also has a partnership in Ecuador.

UofL Trager Institute helps older adults get moving

Posted by UofL News on September 1, 2023
UofL Trager Institute helps older adults get moving

Mary Furlong Coomer, an 82-year-old West Louisville resident, takes tai chi class at UofL’s Trager institute. UofL photo.

We all know that getting enough physical activity is good for our health, but for older adults, especially those who have chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, getting active can be difficult.

According to experts at the UofL Trager Institute/Republic Bank Foundation Optimal Aging Clinic, the benefits of movement for older adults are worth the effort. Activity can help them maintain physical and cognitive abilities, allowing them to continue to do the things they enjoy.

“Our bodies are very adjustable, and exercise is so beneficial. Older adults have a high risk of dying because they fall. They fall because they have lost muscle strength and they lose their balance,” said Anna Faul, executive director of the institute. “In order to improve muscle strength and improve balance, you need to do cardiovascular exercise and you need to do strength training.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends that older adults get 150 minutes of activity each week, along with two sessions of strength training. For people who have not been active in recent years or who may have conditions that make movement more challenging, that target can seem overwhelming.

The Trager Institute offers several opportunities to help older adults in the community get moving, including some recommended in a recent report published by HHS that focuses on strategies to help them get the recommended amount of exercise each week.

Among these are yoga and tai chi, which can help increase strength and balance. The institute offers hour-long yoga and tai chi classes two days a week. Classes are just $5 per session (or free for those who cannot afford the fee). The classes not only increase strength and balance, but provide social engagement, another important factor in healthy aging.

Mary Furlong Coomer, an 82-year-old West Louisville resident, has been participating in exercise classes and more at Trager Institute since late 2022. Although she was active for many years prior, she has found the art and fitness activities at Trager suit her needs well now as she returns to activity from pandemic lockdown and multiple joint surgeries.

“I have played tai chi and done yoga for decades, but I wanted to be sure not to overdo. The beginning tai chi and gentle yoga have helped me stay motivated,” she said.

Another strategy used at the Trager Institute is motivational interviewing, helping patients connect the desire to be active with things that matter to them, such as the ability to spend time with grandchildren.

As a former fitness instructor and through her own experience, Coomer said it helps to focus on the benefits.

“I found it boils down to one thing: Do what you will do and don’t kid yourself you have to like it. It’s discipline,” Coomer said. “You have to rewind back to that tiny pinhole of willingness and do the very least you can manage and still look yourself in the mirror. Experience has taught me that by trusting the process and pushing my sorry self out the door, I will be happy afterwards.”

Faul agrees that it’s OK to start slow in making changes to your activity level, but the important thing is to start.

“Small steps lead to bigger steps. Why don’t you just for today go and get the mail in the mailbox. And then why don’t you maybe walk two times around the mailbox before you pick up the mail? Little things that help people build some confidence that they can actually do something like this are really important,” Faul said.

Exercising with others is helpful for many people. Previously, LeRoy Chittenden taught yoga daily, but to regain his capacity after pandemic lockdown, he has been taking tai chi and yoga at Trager for the last several months and teaches chair yoga on Fridays. He said having others in class with him helps him stay on track.

“The only exercise I do by myself is walk. I need other people to make things easy,” he said. “To paraphrase Kermit — It’s not easy being old. Everything is twice as hard.”

It’s never too late to start moving more, Faul said, and small efforts can yield great benefits.

“You can start at 90 years old. Take the stairs – even if it’s slow, park further from your destination to increase steps,” Faul said. “It will be very helpful for your personal health and your mental health. You will not believe how valuable exercise is for mental health.”

An even more robust activity program is expected to be available at Trager Institute later this fall. Justin Dials, an exercise physiologist and assistant professor in the UofL Department of Health and Sports Sciences, is building an exercise-based program similar to cardiac rehabilitation, which he plans to launch later this year. The program will be a structured exercise plan designed as preventive medicine for older adults who are at risk for various age-related disorders, including but not limited to traditional risk factors for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Dials also plans to document changes in participants’ health over time.

“We want to see the effect of exercise training on limiting the natural effects of aging that we as humans experience. As we age, the chances for both physical and psychological disorders increase and can be improved with evidence-based practice, which will be the cornerstone of this new and unique program.”

ULSOM G.E.M.S. student receives Fulbright award

Posted on August 28, 2023
ULSOM G.E.M.S. student receives Fulbright award

Sarah Belcher, rising junior and G.E.M.S. Scholar

Sarah Belcher, a rising junior at the University of Louisville, was recently awarded a Fulbright US-UK Summer Institute Award. She is only the second UofL student to receive this award. In addition to receiving this prestigious award, Belcher is also a G.E.M.S. (Guaranteed Entrance to Medical School) student.

Being a G.E.M.S. student has been one of the greatest blessings to Belcher. The G.E.M.S. program allowed Belcher to become a more well-rounded student. “Because of the security G.E.M.S. brings, I have been able to explore my interests outside of medicine, such as studying abroad with the US-UK Fulbright Commission,” said Belcher.

The US-UK Fulbright Commission expanded her perspective on how to serve her community through medicine. “The city of Glasgow where I studied had many initiatives focused on the social determinants of health I would like to work with here too,” said Belcher.

Belcher fell in love with medicine while volunteering with her local hospital in high school; she began to feel at home in the hospital environment. Belcher’s comfortability in the hospital environment continues to grow as a G.E.M.S. participant by shadowing medical professionals and establishing a deeper commitment to medicine. “Having the opportunity to work with faculty and staff at the School of Medicine has made me feel more at home on the Health Science Campus,” said Belcher, “I am excited to be a medical student there.”

Belcher’s advice to other undergraduate students looking to pursue a career in medicine is to, “Do research, learn about health policy, study abroad, work with public health initiatives – these interests are not distractions from medicine but can make us more well-rounded physicians as we step into our careers.”

Helping Hometown Health Care Heroes, UofL and Anthem Kentucky Medicaid Launch New Rural Medicine Scholarship Program

Posted by UofL News August 25, 2023
Helping Hometown Health Care Heroes, UofL and Anthem Kentucky Medicaid Launch New Rural Medicine Scholarship Program

Three students at the UofL School of Medicine Trover Campus received scholarships for 2023 thanks to a gift from Anthem Medicaid to support rural medicine.

The University of Louisville and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Medicaid in Kentucky recently announced an endowed scholarship to increase access to care and improve health equity in Kentucky’s rural areas. The Anthem Medicaid Rural Medicine Scholarship will support up to four students at the UofL School of Medicine Trover Campus through a $100,000 gift from Anthem Medicaid that will serve students for years to come. A photo from a recent announcement event can be accessed here

The 2020-2022 University of Louisville School of Medicine Trover Campus Biennial Report found that all or part of 102 Kentucky counties are considered to be “health professional shortage areas.” Moreover, health care access researchers estimate more than 102,000 Medicaid beneficiaries in Kentucky lack sufficient access to a primary care provider. Moreover, according to the Kentucky Hospital Association’s 2022 Workforce Survey Report, Kentucky hospitals reported more than 13,000 vacancies across 13 professional groups in 2021. Shortages such as this, coupled with the state’s high prevalence of multiple chronic conditions, reinforce the need to expand the number of health care professionals in the Commonwealth.

This partnership between UofL and Anthem Medicaid will address Kentucky’s shortage of health care professionals and benefit the Commonwealth long-term.

“Anthem Medicaid recognizes the importance of reducing health care inequities by investing in the future health care workforce to ensure that communities across Kentucky have access to essential health services,” said Leon Lamoreaux, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Medicaid President in Kentucky. “We are proud to work alongside the University of Louisville School of Medicine and the Trover Campus to improve lives and communities, and to ensure institutions on the front lines of health care education and training – especially in rural and underserved communities of greatest need – are equipped to continue to develop high-quality, hometown health care heroes.”

In 1998, the University of Louisville partnered with the Trover Foundation to establish the regional rural Trover Campus. For the first 15 years, the campus was one of only two regional U.S. medical school clinical campuses in towns less than 150,000 population. Fast forward to today, and the Trover Campus is ranked second among 40 rural programs by the Health Resources and Services Administration.

“The best way to get a doctor to a small town is to get a medical student from a small town and then train them in a small town,” said William J. Crump, associate dean of the UofL School of Medicine Trover Campus, summarizing the philosophy behind the program.

State Representative Wade Williams (R-KY) and State Senator Robby Mills (R-KY) joined in lauding the Anthem Medicaid Rural Medicine Scholarship.

“I’m excited by this groundbreaking partnership between Anthem Medicaid and the University of Louisville,” said Senator Mills. “Our state is in desperate need of new health care heroes, and this is but one innovative solution to help my constituents get the care they deserve.”

“Between a devastating tornado and extreme flooding, the Commonwealth has been through so much recently,” said Representative Williams. “It warms my heart to know partners like Anthem Medicaid and the University of Louisville are finding ways to not only solve the shortage of health care professionals needed before, during and after trying times, but also empowering the next generation of hometown health care heroes.”

Three students were selected for this year’s Anthem Rural Medicine Scholarship based on academic excellence and enrolled in the Rural Medicine Accelerated Track (RMAT). RMAT enables medical 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.

The 2023 recipients of the UofL-Trover Anthem Medicaid Rural Medicine Scholarship are Caitlan Jones, Bradley Watson and Emily Amyx.

“RMAT has afforded me the opportunity to return home sooner and start giving back to the community where I first fell in love with medicine,” Amyx said. “I am so grateful to Anthem Medicaid for the scholarship, their support and their commitment to RMAT.”

“I come from a family of farmers and coal miners, with some of the most humble and kind parents. It’s only fitting that I end up in rural medicine, and scholarship programs like this and RMAT are helping me get there,” Jones said. 

This announcement builds on Anthem Medicaid’s recent partnerships with several other institutions, including Eastern Kentucky University, Hazard Community & Technical College, Murray State University and Western Kentucky University. Since 2021, Anthem Medicaid has awarded more than $500,000 to higher education institutions to expand rural health care access across the Commonwealth.

Currently, Anthem Medicaid serves more than 178,285 individuals in the Commonwealth, including 42% of whom live in rural areas.

UofL researchers land nearly $12 million to study microorganisms and disease

Posted by UofL News on August 24, 2023
UofL researchers land nearly $12 million to study microorganisms and disease

Research by Kevin Sokoloski, left, was funded through the UofL Center of Biomedical Research Excellence in Functional Microbiomics, Inflammation and Pathogenicity. Richard Lamont, center, leads the project, which has received an additional grant of nearly

University of Louisville researchers have received $11.7 million to study microorganisms throughout the body, including the mouth. What they find could lead to better understanding and treatment of a range of chronic conditions.

The five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is an extension of a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant awarded in 2018 to study the connection between those microorganisms — such as bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses and protozoans — and disease. The work could lead to discoveries in, among others, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, diabetes, periodontitis and colorectal cancer.

The grant will support research by three faculty members focused on microorganisms in the mouth, GI tract and the blood-brain barrier, said Richard Lamont, principal investigator for the grant and chair of School of Dentistry Department of Oral Immunology and Infectious Diseases.

“Collectively, these three projects provide innovative approaches to an increased understanding of the host-microbe interface as it defines health and disease and these advances will establish the basis for new therapeutic approaches,” Lamont said.

The School of Medicine’s Department of Microbiology & Immunology also is involved in the COBRE research, including interim chair Haribabu Bodduluri, the center’s co-director.

“An essential feature of these awards is the support of shared resources for development of new research areas,” said Bodduluri. “In the past few months since the renewal, we were awarded supplemental funding to the COBRE that enhances the research core facilities and initiates a novel ‘Team Science’ project.”

Gerry Bradley, interim university provost, said the NIH grant allows UofL to further the COBRE’s groundbreaking research, development of new innovations and training the next generation of scientists.

“This huge commitment from the government reinforces that UofL is one of the top dental schools in the United States in terms of the value of research work conducted here and research funding dollars,” he said.

The original COBRE grant allowed UofL to establish an interdisciplinary research program to study associations linking microbiome with inflammation and disease. The grant provides junior research faculty with seed funding to build potential for independent research funding. The first five faculty researchers involved are successfully continuing their research with other financial support.

“As a top-tier research institution, UofL works to expand understanding and find solutions to important problems,” said Kevin Gardner, executive vice president for research and innovation. “The work of Drs. Lamont and Bodduluri, along with their team, for example, could lead to life-changing therapies, treatments and more that could dramatically improve the lives of people living with numerous conditions.”

Kevin Sokoloski, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology and participant in UofL’s initial COBRE grant, said the program helped his research by connecting him with a robust scientific community focused on inflammation and pathogenesis.

“Our ongoing involvement in the COBRE program has accelerated our success and continues to enhance our scientific mission,” Sokoloski said.

The newly funded researchers are:

  • Fata Moradali, (Oral Immunology and Infectious Diseases), who will address periodontitis, a common condition driven by a synergistically virulent bacterial community that triggers destructive inflammatory responses in the periodontal, or gum tissues.
  • James Collins, (Microbiology & Immunology), who will investigate the GI tract pathogen C. difficile, an evolving organism whose ability to cause disease can be enhanced by the nutritional microenvironment. 
  • Yun Teng, (Department of Medicine), who will focus on the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Increased permeability of the BBB accelerates the aging process and the progression of age-related diseases.

University of Louisville Recognized for Exemplary Community Engagement Project

Shared by UofL News August 23, 2023

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) on Wednesday recognized the University of Louisville for its exemplary community engagement project Age-Friendly Louisville, a partnership of UofL’s Trager Institute, Metro Louisville, AARP and the Kentuckiana Regional Planning & Development Agency Area Agency on Aging (KIPDA).

“UofL is committed to its role as an engaged institution passionate about partnering and collaborating with external constituencies and communities. This partnership between the university’s Trager Institute and its partners is a win-win for both UofL and the community,” said Douglas Craddock Jr., UofL’s vice president for community engagement. “The university benefits from engaged scholarship, and our elderly citizens receive necessary services that help them live their best lives.”

In 2015, the Trager Institute led efforts to support Louisville's participation in the Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities by AARP and the World Health Organization (WHO), resulting in Louisville becoming the 120th U.S. Age-Friendly city.

With 40 percent of Louisville’s population projected to be 60 years or older by 2050, creating an environment where seniors could age well in place was essential to promoting well-being and ensuring the city continues to thrive. The Trager Institute guided the creation of a strategic plan using a needs assessment and participatory community engagement approaches, including listening sessions, concept mapping methods and presentations to the public.

“The Trager Institute started on this journey in 2015 to engage community partners in the vision of Age-Friendly Louisville. Community-based organizations, local government and residents across Louisville have worked tirelessly on the strategic plan to realize the dream of becoming age-friendly for all regardless of one’s age or abilities. It has been such an honor to engage in this collaborative leadership,” said Anna Faul, executive director of the Trager Institute.

The Trager Institute partnered with Metro Louisville, AARP and KIPDA to successfully implement Age-Friendly Louisville’s long-term plan to address the needs of the aging population and promote inclusive and accessible communities for people of all ages and abilities.

The internal nominating process for the award was coordinated by UofL's Office of Community Engagement, which provides coaching and mentoring to faculty prior to final submission. UofL has been recognized for all five award nominations submitted in the past. These awards help to enhance UofL's national profile in community-engaged scholarship.

APLU also announced that four of its member universities have been selected as regional winners of the 2023 W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award. North Carolina State University, The Ohio State University, the University of Pittsburgh and Texas A&M University will compete for the national C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award, which will be announced at the 2023 APLU Annual Meeting in November.

Since 2007, APLU and the Engagement Scholarship Consortium, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, have partnered to honor the engagement scholarship and partnerships of four-year public universities. The award recognizes programs that demonstrate how colleges and universities have redesigned their learning, discovery, and engagement missions to deepen their partnerships and achieve broader impacts in their communities. The national award is named for C. Peter Magrath, APLU president from 1992 to 2005.

“Congratulations to the regional winners of the Kellogg Community Engagement Scholarship Awards and exemplary projects,” said APLU President Mark Becker. “Community engagement is a critical part of public universities’ mission and we’re pleased to highlight the work of institutions that are engaging communities to solve challenges. From the underserved areas of their communities and states to overlooked regions of the world, public research universities are engaging communities to solve the most pressing problems they face.”

A team of community engagement professionals from public research universities judged this round of the award. A second team will pick the national winner following presentations at the 2023 National Engagement Scholarship Conference.