Kentucky Cancer Program at UofL highlights events throughout October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Kentucky Cancer Program is hosting a series of events throughout October to increase access to screening tests and to ensure women across Kentucky are educated about breast cancer. For more information on any of these events, contact: Pam Temple-Jennings, 502-852-6318,

Mobile Mammography Screenings:


Women aged 40 and over are encouraged to schedule a mammogram at one of the mobile mammography unit stops. Advance appointments required. Proper ID and insurance card are required. All insurance is filed with University of Louisville Hospital. Financial assistance is available for uninsured patients who qualify.

  • Saturday, Oct. 1 – Redeemer Lutheran Church, 3640 River Park Dr., Louisville
  • Thursday, Oct. 6 – Christian County Health Department, 1700 Canton St., Hopkinsville, Ky.
  • Saturday, Oct. 15 – First Baptist Church, Jeffersontown, 10600 Watterson Trail, Louisville
  • Monday, Oct. 17 – Churchill Downs backside, Christ Chapel (employees and family only)
  • Tuesday, Oct. 18 – Centre on Main, 425 S. Main St. Leitchfield, Ky.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 19 – Oxmoor Center, 7900 Shelbyville Rd., Louisville
  • Saturday, Oct. 22 – Think Pink 5K run/walk for Breast Cancer Awareness at James Beville Park Pavilion, 810 Nature Trail, Leitchfield, Ky.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 26 – Sun Valley Community Center, 6505 Bethany Lane, Louisville

All events are 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Schedule an appointment by calling Kentucky Cancer Program at 502-852-6318.

All COVID guidelines followed. If you have tested positive for COVID or been in contact with someone testing positive for COVID, you are not eligible the day of the screening. 


Free Pink Ribbon Tea Party: 

Mothers, daughters, sisters, friends and ladies of all ages are invited to a fun tea party honoring the memory of Harriett B. Porter, who loved to bring people together to socialize and share information to help others. The event honors Porter whose husband, Woodford Ray Porter established the Harriet Bibb Porter Cancer Education and Prevention Endowment at the UofL Health – Brown Cancer Center. The tea party will include special guests, artists Elmer Lucille Allen and Sandra Charles, refreshments, a breast cancer update and special gifts.

Saturday, Oct. 8, 1:30-2:30 p.m., 1720 W. Broadway, Suite 205, Louisville

Reservations: Call the Kentucky Cancer Program, 502-852-6318.

Sista Strut 3K Breast Cancer Awareness Walk:

Sista Strut's mission is to increase awareness of breast cancer and provide information on community resources and funding to area programs. A portion of the proceeds from the Sista Strut 3k will benefit Kentucky African Americans Against Cancer. Sponsored by REAL 93.1 the Beat of Louisville and Kentucky Association of Health Plans and presented by Baptist Health Cancer Care and Humana Health Horizons in Kentucky.

Saturday, Oct. 15, 8 a.m. - noon.

3029 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd., Louisville

Register at: 

Horses and Hope Pink Mustang Tour across Western Kentucky:

Horses and Hope was started in 2008 by former First Lady Jane Beshear and the Kentucky Cancer Program, University of Louisville, with the support of the Pink Stable, a committee of Kentucky horse owners, riders, trainers, farm owners, jockeys, and others. The mission is to increase breast cancer awareness, education, screening and treatment referral among Kentucky's signature horse industry workers and their families, many of who are uninsured and underserved. Special events are held throughout the state to honor breast cancer survivors and to raise funds for Horses and Hope. Friends of Horses and Hope including Churchill Downs, Keeneland, the North American Championship Rodeo and others who continue to support programs. Today, Horse 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.

The Horses and Hope Pink Mustang was the pace car for the World Sprint Cup.

  • Saturday, Oct. 8 – Twisted Pink Tennis Tournament at Ruff Park, 831 North Dr., Hopkinsville
  • Friday, Oct. 14 – Pink Night in the Park at Calvert City Memorial Park, 1072 5th Ave. SE, Calvert City
  • Thursday, Oct. 20 – Breast Cancer Screening & Awareness Event at Deaconess Henderson Hospital, 1305 N. Elm St., Henderson
  • Friday, Oct. 21 – Horses and Hope at Ohio County HealthCare, 1211 Old Main St., Hartford
  • Monday, Oct. 24 – Breast Cancer Survivors’ Luncheon at Texas Roadhouse, 2900 James Sanders Boulevard, Paducah (RSVP Required)
  • Tuesday, Oct. 25 – Western Kentucky Diagnostic Imaging, 1635 Scottsville Rd., Bowling Green
  • Friday, Oct. 28 – Christian County Pink Out, WKDZ Radio, 19 D.J. Everett Dr., Cadiz

For more information about all events, visit or call 1-877-326-1134.

About the Kentucky Cancer Program

Kentucky Cancer Program is the state-mandated cancer control program administered jointly by the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky Lucille Parker Markey Cancer Center. KCP has 13 offices across the state, staffed by cancer control specialists who coordinate cancer prevention and early detection programs, patient and family services, professional education and training and who mobilize communities through coalitions and partnerships to address local cancer problems. Learn more at


UofL research extending usable life of heart tissue could speed medical innovation

UofL research extending usable life of heart tissue could speed medical innovation

Jessica Miller, a UofL graduate student researcher, works on methods and cultures that could extend the shelf life of tissue for cardiotoxicity testing of new drug candidates.

University of Louisville research could help spur new medicines by extending the usable life of test heart tissue from one day to 12. The findings were published in the journal Nature - Communications Biology.

Biomedical researchers use slices of heart tissue to test the effectiveness and toxicity of new drugs, drug candidates and gene therapies. Until recently, the limited, 24-hour usable life of those slices created a major barrier to drug discovery, slowing down the development of new, potentially life-saving medications.

UofL methods, developed by a multidisciplinary team from the School of Medicine and J.B. Speed School of Engineering, extended the tissue’s usable life first to six days with a discovery in 2019, and now to 12 days, by mimicking the conditions experienced by a living heart. The tissue ‘lives’ in a pneumatic chamber, receiving electrical stimulation and nutrition and pumping air instead of blood.

“We’ve created a complete cardiac cycle within the chamber, so the heart tissue stays pumping and viable for longer,” said Tamer M. A. Mohamed, an associate professor of medicine who led the research. “This system will save time and costs of clinical trials during Phase 1 research, which includes testing for toxicity and proof of efficacy.”

Because of the short shelf-life of human heart tissue, many drug candidates today are tested in ways that poorly emulate living heart tissue or use tests that otherwise don’t show the full range of potential side effects related to cardiotoxicity. This causes some drug candidates to fail Phase 1 clinical trials or, worse, be taken off the market after being launched for clinical use. The UofL team believes their method can help solve this problem, potentially leading to better, safer medications.

“A longer shelf-life, as using our method, gives them more time for proper testing and access to the right materials,” said Jessica Miller, a graduate student researcher and an author on the paper. “That could lead to faster advancements in how we treat heart-related conditions.”

The UofL methods and culture device are patent-pending and available for license through the university’s Office of Research and Innovation. The researchers also have been working with the entrepreneurs in residence team — part of the office’s entrepreneurial arm, UofL New Ventures — to explore potential paths to market.

School of Medicine Welcomes New Faculty

Each new academic year brings new opportunities for advancement in education, research, and patient care. The addition of our new faculty members creates additional excitement for the School of Medicine, and this year the school welcomed 65 new faculty members to its Basic and Clinical departments.

Dr. Gerard Guillot and Dr. Les Gilmer are two of the newest members to the Departments of Anatomical Sciences and Neurobiology, respectively.

Both Dr. Gerard Guillot and Dr. Les Gilmer have national reputations in the field of teaching with unique backgrounds and experiences.

Beyond his training in medicine, Guillot has a robust history in the arts; notably, a degree in medical illustration. Guillot has a large grant sponsored by the American Anatomical Association designed to provide anatomical images of different ethnicities, races, and genders. It is the first of its kind and will create opportunities for the School of Medicine to further its mission to create an equitable healthcare system in our Commonwealth. Understanding patients from different backgrounds will better prepare our students for a lifelong career in medicine.

Gilmer was raised in the rural Appalachian area and has a deep commitment to providing educational opportunities for those in marginalized parts of Kentucky. As an institution, we are being intentional about recruiting diverse faculty to expand our perspective and promote our new vision of health. Gilmer will help amplify our presence in underserved areas, shrinking the equity gap in healthcare.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the team at the University of Louisville School of Medicine,” Gilmer said. “This position offers another opportunity to funnel resources into reaching unmet needs in populations typically underrepresented in medicine. Beyond helping and educating those in Appalachian Kentucky, UofL School of Medicine students can learn from a new perspective to better prepare a responsible workforce.”

The University of Louisville strives to increase representation in the workplace and classroom. “Our faculty help to shape the future generation of physicians,” said Dr. Chris Seals, assistant dean for Faculty Affairs and Advancement, “by increasing the diversity in our faculty presence, we are in turn, changing the landscape of medicine.” Seals recently teamed with the local Fall City Medical Society to host a welcome event titled “Cookout for the Culture.” This event particularly welcomed all new underrepresented minorities in medicine faculty, trainees, students, and postdocs to the School of Medicine community.

“Bringing our faculty together outside the workplace is extremely important to the School of Medicine,” said Dr. Toni Ganzel, dean of the School of Medicine. “It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations; it’s easy to feel isolated, especially if you’re new here. The work Dr. Seals brings to the School of Medicine improves the faculty experience ten-fold, thus improving the overall health and vitality of the community.”

All faculty hired between October 1, 2021-September 30, 2022, will be welcomed at an in-person workshop on September 29. 

UofL awarded $3.7 million for research to fight future pandemics

UofL awarded $3.7 million for research to fight future pandemics

Donghoon Chung, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at the University of Louisville, will lead the NIH Midwest Antiviral Drug Discovery Center for Pathogens of Pandemic Concern.

The University of Louisville has been awarded $3.7 million from the National Institutes of Health to further innovative research that could help combat future pandemics.

Infectious disease researcher Donghoon Chung will lead the work at UofL as part of the newly created NIH Midwest Antiviral Drug Discovery (AViDD) Center for Pathogens of Pandemic Concern. The multi-institution center, led by the University of Minnesota, is one of nine across the U.S.

At UofL, Chung’s research will target the viruses’ genome – viral RNA. Inside the body, viruses use this RNA as a blueprint to create copies of themselves, spreading the infection. Chung hopes that by finding a way to stop this process, new therapeutics to fight potential pandemics can be developed.

“Once inside the body, viruses ‘commandeer’ host cells as factories and the viral genome becomes manufacturing instructions on how to make more Zika virus, for example,” said Chung, an associate professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology. “The goal is to stop them from successfully copying that genome.”

As part of this research, Chung will work closely with UofL’s Center for Predictive Medicine and its Regional Biocontainment Laboratory, one of only 12 regional and two national biocontainment labs in the United States and the only one in Kentucky. Established with support from the NIH to conduct research with infectious agents, the lab includes Biosafety Level 3 facilities built to the most exacting federal safety and security standards.

The new funding supporting Chung’s work is part of a $577 million effort by NIH to develop antiviral candidates to combat COVID-19 and other viruses with higher potential to cause a future pandemic. Researchers like Chung will identify and validate the candidates, with the most promising moving toward late-stage preclinical development.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for new antiviral drugs, especially those that could easily be taken by patients at home while their symptoms are still mild,” Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said in a release. “Decades of prior research on the structure and vulnerabilities of coronaviruses greatly accelerated our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we hope that similar research focused on antivirals will better prepare us for the next pandemic.”

Students Compete in Annual School of Medicine College Cup

Students Compete in Annual School of Medicine College Cup

Medical students participating in rock-paper-scissors tournament

Friendly competition ensued as students competed in the annual College Cup on August 6 at the Student Recreation Center on the Belknap Campus. Tony Simms, director of student wellness for the School of Medicine, stated this was the 11th year the event took place. Teams were divided up based on the student’s assigned Advisory College, which is determined upon matriculation to the School of Medicine.

“The Advisory Colleges are a unique aspect of the School of Medicine. Few other universities offer such programs, so when we started it here in 2011, it was a big draw for students to have an automatic built-in support system,” said Simms. Each college is named after either a past Dean of University of Louisville School of Medicine or a significant historical member of the medical community.

“The Advisory Colleges are great because they focus on connecting our incoming students with upperclassmen. It fosters strong relationships and reminds students that wellness is extremely important while in medical school,” said Simms.

College Cup is one of several events over the course of the academic year involving the Advisory Colleges. The event itself contains few events requiring serious athleticism, but instead focuses on activating the mind, creativity, and spirit. “We try to host multiple events that aren’t reliant entirely on physical strength and are welcoming to all sorts of people,” said Cynthia Morse, coordinator of student programs. This year’s events included dodgeball, tug of war, rock-paper-scissors tournament, art competition, relay race, capture the flag, musical chairs, and eating competitions.

Morse said College Cup reminds students to have fun, take care of themselves, be social, be a part of a community, be a whole person, and take breaks from studies to avoid burn out. “The event is a comradery building event to foster community among the [advisory] colleges that students are assigned to when they enter their M1 year.  It is a great way to get to know people and share in a common goal.”

“College Cup is a great way to showcase all the various talents and enthusiasm that ULSOM students have to offer, but more than this, College Cup is a time for first-year medical students to continue meeting their classmates be encouraged by upperclassmen to remember there's a work-life balance to value when entering medical school,” said Alexis Harris (M2).

Participation in College Cup is voluntary, but this year saw nearly a quarter of the SOM student body population compete. “My favorite part of College Cup is when there are events that widdle down to only a few participants (musical chairs/paper-rock-scissors tournament) and so the entire focus of all attendees shifts to one place and a few people.  Everyone circled around a small group of people.  It is really fun to see the entire crowd cheering on the remaining participants, start chants, and cheer on someone they just met a week prior,” said Morse.

The winning team takes home the College Cup trophy and receives bragging rights for the year. Looks like this year bragging rights will be shared amongst two colleges as there was a tie! Congratulations to Fitzbutler and Moore colleges on winning the Cup!

UofL researcher receives $2 million to find ways to reduce liver inflammation caused by high-fat diet

UofL researcher receives $2 million to find ways to reduce liver inflammation caused by high-fat diet

Zhong-bin Deng, Ph.D.

It is estimated that about one in four individuals worldwide have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), in which fat builds up in the liver. NAFLD can advance to inflammation and damage in the liver, a condition known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH.

University of Louisville researcher Zhong-bin Deng has received a new grant from the National Institutes of Health to investigate how a high-fat diet contributes to these conditions and identify processes that may reduce liver inflammation and lead to new treatments.

Deng’s previous research revealed mechanisms in which dietary fat causes changes in the structure of epithelial cells, which comprise the lining of the walls of the intestines. When gaps form between these cells, toxins are allowed to move directly from the gut to the liver, where they cause an immune response and inflammation.

Building on this work, Deng, assistant professor in the Division of Immunotherapy, within the Department of Surgery in the UofL School of Medicine, has been awarded $2 million from the NIH over five years to further investigate how these toxins cause the immune response in the liver, as well as test interventions that may reduce it.

“We are looking at how a high fat diet affects epithelial cells, allowing toxins to escape the gut and travel to the liver, leading to an immune response by macrophages in the liver and inflammation,” Deng said. “Also, we are trying to find a new therapy that could modulate the gut environment to control fatty liver disease.”

Deng’s research seeks to further understand the mechanism that leads to the gaps in the epithelial cells, which allow toxins produced by bacteria in the gut to move to the liver via the portal vein, known as the gut-liver axis. Deng and his team believe that the toxins cause the immune response of inflammation by changing Kupffer cells, white blood cells that reside in the liver. That inflammation can lead to liver cell damage.

“We propose that gut microbiota or the gut epithelial cells produce a signal that affects the Kupffer cells, causing inflammation in the high fat condition and may damage hepatocytes,” Deng said.

As part of the project, the researchers also will test whether an oligosaccharide found in human breast milk can be used to regulate the gut environment and mitigate the impact of the high fat diet on liver inflammation.

“We are trying to find out how to regulate this macrophage condition from an inflammation condition to an anti-inflammation condition,” Deng said.

"Dr. Deng's new research evaluates highly novel aspects of nutrition in NAFLD,” said Craig McClain, professor and associate vice president for health affairs/research at UofL.

Jun Yan, director of the Division of Immunotherapy, said the research may lead to increased understanding of the causes of liver cancer.

“The research findings from this grant may also help understand how this type of liver inflammation leads to hepatocellular carcinoma, which causes approximately 30,000 deaths annually in the U.S.,” Yan said.

Results from Deng’s previous research were published in the journal Hepatology in 2021.

Class of 2026 School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony

Class of 2026 School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony

SOM Class of 2026

The University of Louisville School of Medicine continued its 185th anniversary year with the orientation and induction of the class of 2026. On Sunday, July 31, the students were officially welcomed into the School of Medicine at the annual White Coat Ceremony.

The ceremony marked the official start of the students’ medical education. Each of the 159 students was welcomed individually by faculty, staff and other respected school leaders and a white coat was placed on their shoulders. As part of the ceremony, the students recited the Declaration of Geneva, a commitment to the humanitarian standards of medicine.

Joseph Holland, a second-year medical student, offered seven points of advice to the incoming class.

“Do not listen to everyone all at once; find a dedicated study space; practice questions make perfect; do not panic, channel your anxiety; always ask for help; failure sets you up for success; and, to build endurance, you must endure. Remember, you’re in this for the long haul. This was never a sprint; it’s a marathon,” Holland said.

For the School of Medicine, the event represents another opportunity to cultivate the next generation of health care professionals.

“We are thrilled to welcome our new class of medical students,” said Toni Ganzel, dean of the School of Medicine. “The White Coat Ceremony is a momentous occasion that signifies the hard work these students have put into their studies already and the opportunities they have to look forward to with a life in medicine.”

Christopher M. Jones, endowed professor in transplant surgery and the event’s keynote speaker, advised the students, “to innovate, collaborate and deliver care with the highest integrity.” He implored them to, “strive for mastery, humbly learn from our shortcomings, seek self-improvement and build mutual trust with all of our patients, especially those in marginalized communities.”

The White Coat Ceremony was the culmination of a week-long orientation for the students, which included basic life-support training, student wellness sessions, the introduction of the curriculum and course directors, lunch with the Advisory Colleges and a session led by Ganzel on the joy of medicine.

The class of 2026 represents 21 states, 62 colleges and universities and 30 undergraduate majors. It is one of the most diverse cohorts in the school’s history, with 61% of the class identifying as female, 22% from groups underrepresented in medicine, 16% from rural counties in Kentucky and 14% age 27 and older.

“The variety of backgrounds shared in the classroom will offer an unparalleled educational experience for all of our medical students, better preparing them for a lifelong career in medicine,” said Ann Shaw, vice dean for undergraduate medical education.

Welcome, class of 2026!

View photos from White Coat Ceremony here.

UofL Health Named Official Health Care Provider of the Louisville Cardinals

University of Louisville student-athletes will benefit mightily with a new, comprehensive medical partnership between Cardinal Athletics and an impressive local health provider. UofL Health, a fully integrated regional academic health system affiliated with the University of Louisville School of Medicine, has been named as the Official Health Care Provider for the Louisville Cardinals.

“This is an exciting day for the University of Louisville,” Vice-President/Director of Athletics Josh Heird said.  “Our number one priority will always the well-being of our student-athletes and whenever we can create a partnership that provides our student-athletes with world-class services, we want to celebrate it. The commitment UofL Health is making to our student-athletes and our department will allow us to be a national leader in the medical and mental health care we provide our student-athletes.”

The new partnership that extends for eight years addresses medical coverage for all 23 UofL sports programs, plus basic training coverage for the Cardinals’ cheer and dance teams.   There will be a comprehensive brand presence for UofL Health throughout Louisville Athletics facilities.

“Academic health care offers unique advantages, especially for world-class athletes like those at UofL. Our sports medicine team understands the complexities needed to keep athletes at the top of their game,” said Tom Miller, UofL Health CEO. “We have been taking care of the Cardinal athletes since the 1980’s, starting with the innovative sports medicine program developed by Dr. Raymond Shea. There was a brief hiatus from the sidelines for some of our providers, but we never stopped providing care and this agreement formally puts us all back on one team for the benefit of the athletes, our university and our community.”

The level of support for Cardinal student-athletes will significantly increase with added personnel as well as health and performance equipment upgrades.  UofL Health will provide access to its network of sports health physicians, orthopedic surgeons, neurologists and primary care providers.

“Maintaining good health is essential for any athlete, especially student-athletes,” said Dr. Jennifer Daily, medical director of UofL Heath Sports Medicine. “We have the expertise, and we have technology, such as DARI which provides movement data analytics to help athletes regain their game. We also have the comprehensive resources to make sure they never lose ground in the classroom.”

Mental health services were a point of emphasis with the new partnership, with at least 10 dedicated mental health and mental performance professionals planned for UofL student-athletes, in addition to other generally available mental health services.  Two dedicated staff members were in that role previously.

Also included are additional services and equipment for injury rehabilitation, medical coverage at athletics events, and supporting UofL’s new sports science department within athletics.

UofL Health is a fully integrated regional academic health system with six hospitals, four medical centers, 200+ physician practice locations, 700+ providers, Frazier Rehab Institute, Brown Cancer Center and the Eye Institute.

With more than 12,000 team members—physicians, surgeons, nurses, pharmacists and other highly skilled health care professionals—UofL Health is focused on one mission: delivering patient-centered care to each and every patient each and every day.

UofL School of Medicine Professor awarded 2022 Michael Russell Award

UofL School of Medicine Professor awarded 2022 Michael Russell Award

Professor Brad Rodu

Professor Brad Rodu of the department of Medicine was recently awarded the 2022 Michael Russell Award during the Global Forum on Nicotine in Warsaw, Poland. The prestigious award is presented in memory of Professor Michael Russell, a psychiatrist and research scientist who was a pioneer in the study of tobacco dependence and the development of treatments to help smokers quit.

Rodu was awarded for the recognition of his substantial and innovative contribution to the science and understanding of safer nicotine products and tobacco harm reduction. Rodu has been involved in research and policy development regarding tobacco harm reduction since 1994 and has authored 70 medical publications about tobacco (Global Forum on Nicotine, 2022).

Professor Gerry Stimson, Emeritus Professor at Imperial College London and co-founder of the Global Forum on Nicotine, who presented the award, said: “Brad’s ethical and thorough approach, together with his critical analysis of others’ work make him a very deserving recipient of the 2022 Michael Russell Award. His work on smokeless tobacco, its relative safety and his studies involving the use of new products to help smokers switch have advanced the knowledge and understanding of tobacco harm reduction in a significant way.”

Rodu has been appointed the first holder of the Endowed Chair in Tobacco Harm Reduction Research at the University of Louisville’s Brown Cancer Center. Prior to joining UofL in 2005, Rodu served on the faculty of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where most of his research was conducted. Rodu earned his D.D.S. at the Ohio State University, completed a residency in oral pathology at Emory University in Atlanta, and was awarded NCI and ACS fellowships at UAB.

UofL researchers discover protein changes that could lead to new treatments for alcohol-associated liver diseases

UofL researchers discover protein changes that could lead to new treatments for alcohol-associated liver diseases

Irina Kirpich

UofL researchers have discovered four significant alterations in proteins involved in alcohol-associated hepatitis and alcohol-associated cirrhosis, common forms of alcohol-associated liver disease that have poor prognosis and for which standard treatments offer limited effectiveness. Identification of these changes may present opportunities for new treatments for these conditions.

Alcohol-associated liver disease (ALD) contributes to more than 500,000 deaths worldwide annually. Two types of ALD, alcohol-associated hepatitis (AH) and alcohol-associated cirrhosis (AC), have a particularly poor prognosis and few treatment options.

The researchers analyzed liver tissues and liver biopsies from AH and AC patients and observed four significant changes in the proteins involved in biological processes associated with liver disease, including liver fibrosis or scar tissue, low albumin levels, white blood cell function and production of cardiolipin. These alterations may be adapted to serve as biomarkers to diagnose these conditions, assess the level of severity of AH and used as targets to develop new treatments.

“Many patients with ALD are unaware of the severity of their condition, and there are very few medical treatment options available,” said Irina A. Kirpich, associate professor of medicine at UofL, who led the study along with Jon Jacobs of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. “This problem has intensified over time and the COVID-19 epidemic has exacerbated alcohol-related hospitalizations. There is a real necessity for the identification and development of biomarkers and treatments.”

Results of the study, which involved UofL researchers Kirpich, Professor Craig McClain, postdoctoral associate Josiah Hardesty and researcher Dennis Warner, were published in the July issue of the The American Journal of Pathology.

“This one-of-a-kind study and its novel proteomic dataset will provide a roadmap for the development of novel biomarkers and therapies for AH and AC,” Kirpich said. “We are optimistic that findings from this study will be utilized by investigators in the field for years to come and could help enhance current treatment strategies to improve patient outcomes and open the door to new paradigms and ideas to improve patient care.”

New UofL Health – Eye Institute elevates ophthalmology care

New UofL Health – Eye Institute elevates ophthalmology care

UofL Health Eye Institute ribbon cutting

Offering a unique combination of advanced diagnostics, treatment and research, the UofL Health – Eye Institute offers increased access – and hope – to the estimated 2.7 million Kentuckians in need of vision care, plus more from southern Indiana.

“We already see more than 32,000 patients here each year, and we anticipate that number growing,” said Joern Soltau, chair of the UofL Health – Eye Institute and the University of Louisville Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. “The best part about having such a variety of expertise with our physicians is that no matter your vision issue, we have an expert to help and it’s all here under one roof.”

The newly formed institute is located within the Kentucky Lions Eye Center building and expands on the 50-plus-year legacy started by the Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation to improve eye care access and make vision services affordable to all.

“UofL Health and the Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation share a passion for serving our community and breaking down barriers to care,” said Tom Miller, chief executive officer of UofL Health. “This eye institute is another example of our commitment to increase access and grow points of care. We’ve done that for emergency care, cancer care, heart care and many more. Today we dedicate this institute because healthy vision is such an important part of healthy living.”

The Eye Institute is home to nationally renowned eye care specialists who are dedicated to serving their patients, from routine eye care, glasses and contact lenses with the assistance of Korrect Optical, to treatment for complicated eye diseases or conditions.

Some of the key services and treatment options provided include:

  • Cornea and external disease
  • Refractive surgery (laser vision correction)
  • Contact lenses
  • Advanced cataract surgery
  • Glaucoma
  • Retina and vitreous
  • Electrophysiology
  • Uveitis
  • Oculofacial and plastic surgery
  • Neuro-ophthalmology
  • Optical shop
  • Ocular prosthetics

Located within UofL Heath’s downtown academic medical campus, the Eye Institute serves as the hub for today’s vision care and the treatments of future. In partnership with the UofL School of Medicine Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, nearly 300 residents and fellows train here to care for patients across the state.

“We are advancing a facility that has been and will continue to be on the forefront of ocular health for decades to come,” said Toni Ganzel, dean of the UofL School of Medicine. “I view milestones such as this through the lens of how we extend the education and training of our students, residents and fellows. And by extension, how these efforts contribute to the care of our patients through clinical care and research.”

The UofL Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences currently has basic science research grants totaling $3.14 million from sources that include:

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • S. Department of Defense (DOD)
  • Research to Prevent Blindness Foundation
  • Foundation Fighting Blindness
  • Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence
  • Robert W. Rounsavall, Jr. Family Foundation

Gibbs Foundation grants UofL $1.5 million to expand clinical trials for cancer immunotherapy

Funds will allow UofL Health – Brown Cancer Center to treat additional patients using TILs technology
Gibbs Foundation grants UofL $1.5 million to expand clinical trials for cancer immunotherapy

George Gibbs

More individuals will have access to new treatments for cancer at UofL Health – Brown Cancer Center thanks to a new gift supporting immunotherapy clinical trials.

The Gibbs Foundation Inc. is giving $1.5 million to the University of Louisville over three years to fund additional research staff and faculty time dedicated to clinical trials, increasing capacity for trial participants in the tumor infiltrating lymphocytes program, or TILs.

“We are so very grateful to the Gibbs Foundation for this gift. By allowing the Brown Cancer Center to expand this clinical trial and treat more patients with this innovative therapy, it provides hope for more families who are battling cancer and advances these therapies, potentially benefitting even more cancer patients and families,” said Lori Gonzalez, UofL’s interim president.

In clinical trials at the Brown Cancer Center (BCC), therapy known as tumor infiltrating lymphocytes, or TILs, has been shown to be effective in treating advanced melanoma patients, for whom the median survival is only eight months. TILs treatment involves removing one of a patient’s own tumors, preserving, activating and expanding immune cells from the tumor, then administering these immune cells into the patient. As a result of its success in melanoma patients, BCC is expanding the TILs program to test the therapy for the treatment of other cancers.

TILs patients face a long wait time due to the complex and time-consuming nature of the therapy and demands on clinical research staff. The gift from the Gibbs Foundation will allow UofL to hire additional nurses and coordinators and dedicate more of the oncologists’ research time to support TILs, a complex inpatient procedure. The gift is expected to result in the treatment of at least 25 additional patients.

“The Gibbs Foundation Board of Directors has been dramatically impressed with the success of the Brown Cancer Center’s immunotherapy work conceived and spearheaded by Dr. Jason Chesney.  We look forward to continuing the vision of our founder George Gibbs in helping to facilitate this great effort,” said Ivan J. Schell, Gibbs Foundation board member. “The Gibbs Foundation supports the BCC and its dedicated team of physicians as they gain ground in the search for a cure for all cancers.”  

The Gibbs Foundation, Inc. was established in 2014 by George Gibbs of Louisville who died in January of pancreatic cancer at age 87. The Gibbs Foundation previously supported health research at UofL through gifts of more than $2.5 million to create and expand the lung research program.

Cancer remains one of the most difficult and deadly challenges in health care, killing more than 600,000 people each year in the U.S. and nearly 10 million worldwide. Kentuckians are affected at a higher rate than residents of any other state. BCC serves more than 26,000 cancer patients every year and has the largest early-phase cancer trials program in the region. BCC is a global leader in the clinical testing of new immunotherapies, treatments that activate the body’s immune system to fight cancer and is an early adopter of these treatments.

“My goal is to help make cancer something that people one day study in history classes instead of medical schools, and I truly believe we are getting closer to that day,” said Jason Chesney, chief of the UofL Division of Medical Oncology and Hematology and director of the Brown Cancer Center. “This gift allows us to increase the number of patients and advance this lifesaving technology.”

UofL receives $3.6 million to research health effects of vaping flavorings

UofL receives $3.6 million to research health effects of vaping flavorings

UofL researchers Matthew Nystoriak, left, and Alex Carll, right, have received a $3.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration to study the effects of flavorings used in vapes and electronic cigarettes.

The University of Louisville has received a $3.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration to study the effects of flavorings like mango and bubblegum used in vapes and electronic cigarettes.

Researchers in the UofL Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute, which recently inaugurated  the university’s New Vision of Health campus in downtown Louisville, aim to better understand the short-and long-term impacts of these flavorings, specifically on the heart, and catalog which are potentially harmful.

“E-cigarettes are still relatively new, and we don’t yet fully understand what their health effects are,” said Alex Carll, an assistant professor in the Department of Physiology and co-lead on the project. “Understanding this could help us make better purchasing and regulatory decisions.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned the use of unauthorized flavors used in disposable e-cigarette cartridges, saying some could appeal to kids and help fuel rising rates of youth vaping. However, a wide variety of flavors are still available in liquid form.

Matthew Nystoriak, an associate professor of medicine and co-lead on the project, said some flavors may seem harmless because they taste like or use the same ingredients as in food. But while those ingredients are safe to eat, they may not be safe to inhale.

Some flavors used in vapes, like cinnamon or diacetyl (artificial butter flavoring), have been linked to serious and even deadly health conditions like cell death and “popcorn lung” — damage caused by airway inflammation.

“Our goal is to understand how individual flavoring chemicals impact the heart,” Nystoriak said. “There are many flavor chemicals used in e-cigarettes and if we know which are potentially more harmful than others, it’s possible for people to make more informed decisions about which products they use.” Identifying their biological effects also is likely to help the FDA in regulating flavoring additives in e-cigarettes in the future.

This work builds on significant research already being conducted by UofL and its Envirome Institute that examines environmental factors affecting human health, including the trends and impacts of vaping and e-cigarettes. In 2020, the American Heart Association invested nearly $1.7 million to fund work to better understand the drivers behind youth vaping, the health effects of this use and how to motivate young people to stop using these products.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2022, 4 percent of American middle school students (470,000) and 13.4 percent (2.55 million) of high school students reported recently using e-cigarettes. Nearly 85% of youth who report using e-cigarettes say they use flavored e-cigarettes.

School of Medicine Celebrates its URM Graduates

School of Medicine Celebrates its URM Graduates

Faculty members and trainees from the School of Medicine gathered to celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of the University of Louisville’s graduating minoritized House Staff trainees and Doctoral students. The inaugural event, hosted by the Office of Faculty Affairs and Advancement, the Office of Graduate Medical Education and the HSC Office of Diversity and Inclusion, celebrated 26 URM trainees and six PhD graduates. 

“The medical school accrediting bodies have asked medical schools, nationwide, to focus on increasing the faculty recruitment and retention of underrepresented minoritized (URM) faculty,” said Chris Seals, PhD, assistant dean of faculty affairs and advancement. “The Dean and leadership, at our School of Medicine, are committed to doing so and realize that the pursuit of this goal starts with creating an inclusive cultural environment that celebrates the accomplishments of our own URM faculty, staff, and students. While URM medical students have been recognized and celebrated, this celebratory event honors an additional group that we want to celebrate: residents, fellows, PhD students, and postdoctoral fellows.”

The graduating honorees were each gifted items from the Office of Graduate Medical Education and the Office of Faculty Affairs and Advancement.

“We are proud of the success of each of our graduates and take great joy in celebrating their accomplishments. This group of scholars are on the trajectory to becoming faculty members and building a culture that embraces their success might encourage them to return to UofL and join our Cardinal family as faculty members,” said Toni Ganzel, MD, dean of the School of Medicine.

The School of Medicine has witnessed a slow but steady growth of minority faculty in recent years. At count, seven of the honoree graduates will be staying in the area and four of which will add to the school’s minority faculty members.

Seals summed up perfectly the reason for the event: “This event is just one small step toward building a culture of inclusivity which embraces and celebrates diversity and belongingness for residents, fellows and PhD graduates who are of marginalized identity groups.”

The graduate honorees included:

  • Andrew Selk, Department of Emergency Medicine
  • Aaron Kuzel, Department of Emergency Medicine
  • Phillip Giddings, Department of Emergency Medicine
  • Monica Chamorro, Department of Family and Geriatric Medicine
  • Lauren Miller, Department of Family and Geriatric Medicine
  • Diana Otero Mostacero, Department of Medicine
  • Samantha Sears, Department of Medicine
  • Mohamed Eisa, Department of Medicine
  • Cristian Rios, Department of Medicine
  • Chanelle Benjamin, Department of Medicine
  • Armando Bosch, Department of Medicine
  • Laura Sims, Department of Medicine
  • Cristina Salmon, Department of Medicine
  • Meena Vessell, Department of Neurosurgery
  • Zebulun Cope, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Women’s Health
  • Tawana Coates, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Women’s Health
  • Terri Mason, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
  • Stephanie Battistini, Department of Pediatrics
  • Dominique Elmore, Department of Pediatrics
  • Mobolanle Elder, Department of Pediatrics
  • Caroline Jackson, Department of Pediatrics
  • Lauren Hernandez, Department of Pediatrics
  • Mara Harris, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
  • Raymond McDermott, Department of Radiology
  • Christina Warner, Department of Surgery
  • Michael Keyes, Department of Surgery
  • Andre Richardson, PhD Candidate
  • Sabryna Robbins, Pediatrics
  • Luis Alvarado, Anatomical Sciences and Neurobiology
  • Timothy Audam, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
  • Henry Nabeta, Microbiology and Immunology
  • Hazel Ozuna, Microbiology and Immunology
  • Samiyyah Sledge, Physiology

In first in-human use, UofL & Norton physicians implant tiny pacemaker, saving infant’s life

Patient born at 28 weeks with slow heart rate and congenital heart disease receives never before used pacemaker implant
In first in-human use, UofL & Norton physicians implant tiny pacemaker, saving infant’s life

X-ray shows the chest cavity of a patient too small for traditional care, driving the UofL-Norton team to perform the first known U.S. human implantation of a novel-designed tiny pacemaker in a premature infant.

A multidisciplinary team within Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, worked together to save the life of an infant born with congenital structural heart defects and complete atrioventricular block (CCAVB) that led to a slow heart rate. The patient was too small for the traditional path of care, driving the innovative team to perform the first known human implantation of a novel-designed tiny pacemaker in a premature infant.

“It is remarkable how our team of pediatric specialists came together with the device company to offer a resolution for such a small patient weighing less than three pounds at the time of implant,” said Soham Dasgupta, M.D., pediatric electrophysiologist, Norton Children’s Heart Institute, and UofL assistant professor of pediatric cardiology. “This case is unlike any other and we are so pleased to see this patient thriving as a result of the innovative approach.”

Approximately 1 in 22,000 infants are born with CCAVB. Untreated, the condition has a high incidence of prolonged illness or death. The usual treatment involves implantation of a pacemaker once the patient meets a minimum body size, typically 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 pounds, to accommodate the implantable device. Taking time for the baby to grow while being otherwise treated is strongly preferred for this situation. With this patient, however, the traditional plan was not working.

“In this instance, the patient was not of the optimal size and medical/conservative management was unsuccessful, so a specially modified pediatric-sized pacemaker also known as an implantable pulse generator (IPG) created by Medtronic was used,” Dasgupta said.

Dasgupta and his colleague, Christopher L. Johnsrude, M.D., director of pediatric and adult congenital electrophysiology at Norton and UofL associate professor of pediatric cardiology, reviewed the relevant preclinical data from a procedure where a similar tiny pediatric IPG had been implanted in an adult Yucatan miniature pig, an animal with a heart that resembles a child’s heart.

Once it was determined the pediatric IPG was potentially compatible with the patient at Norton Children’s, Dasgupta worked with Norton Children’s Research Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, and the manufacturer, to obtain local Institutional Review Board approval and emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

The procedure to place the implant was completed over the course of a two-hour open-heart surgery. The tiny device measures 1.16 by 0.65 by 0.38 inches and weighs 0.18 ounces.

“While the operative steps might be comparable to the usual pacemaker implantation surgery, this surgery was especially delicate due to the very small size of the baby,” said Bahaaldin Alsoufi, M.D., chief of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery, co-director of Norton Children’s Heart Institute, and UofL professor of cardiothoracic surgery. “This tiny pacemaker generator was positioned in the abdominal wall on the right side and was connected to the usual leads that were attached to the heart.

"This novel device will provide the necessary support that the baby currently needs. At time of repair of the patient’s congenital heart defect in the future, we will be able to utilize these same leads and likely connect them then to a traditional larger pacemaker generator.”

To date, the patient is doing well and continues to be cared for by cardiac and neonatal specialists across Norton Children’s Heart Institute.

UofL to create New Vision of Health Campus for pioneering work to increase health equity

New downtown Louisville location will house research to advance knowledge of environmental factors affecting health
UofL to create New Vision of Health Campus for pioneering work to increase health equity

Rendering of the New Vision of Health Campus.

The University of Louisville is creating a new campus in downtown Louisville to be known as the UofL Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute - New Vision of Health Campus, where study will focus on health as a shared community resource, incorporating environmental and cultural factors. The campus will be both a world-class research center and a nexus for community engagement, spawning citizen scientists and making health equity everyone’s pursuit. It will consist of two historic buildings on West Muhammad Ali Boulevard totaling 133,000 square feet and an adjacent garden space.

The launch of the New Vision of Health Campus is made possible by a commitment from health advocate Christina Lee Brown of Louisville valued at $47 million by the university. Brown is providing $30 million over 20 years to support the UofL Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute and is giving rent-free use of the buildings to the university, equating to a $17-million in-kind donation. In a special meeting earlier today, the UofL Board of Trustees approved a lease granting UofL use of the property, which is owned by Brown. The university plans to seek additional partnerships and financial support for the campus and its mission.

“We are incredibly grateful to Mrs. Brown for this generous gift of support and this special space in the heart of the city,” said Lori Stewart Gonzalez, interim president of UofL. “On this new campus, UofL researchers will increase our understanding of the many aspects of our environment that contribute to optimum health for everyone, here and beyond. It embodies our commitment to health equity.”

“To grow from our past and promote long, fulfilling lives, we shouldn’t chase any single cause. We live in a complex, interdependent world where history is our shared legacy and health is our shared aspiration,” Brown said. “By honestly recognizing our common stories, we can frame a new vision of health which unifies us. It can inspire healthier lives, healthier communities and a healthier world.”

The New Vision of Health Campus will include specially designed laboratories and offices for the UofL Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute that will engage researchers and community members to learn how natural, cultural and personal environments impact health. Institute researchers work with community partners to discover how to build healthier cities, creating insights and models to improve health in Louisville and around the world.

The research will be directed by Aruni Bhatnagar, director of the UofL Envirome Institute, professor of medicine and chief of the UofL Division of Environmental Medicine.

“Our quest is to pursue the new vision that health is a resource that needs to be cultivated through conducive physical and environmental conditions,” Bhatnagar said. “Health is more than the absence of disease. Health is a resilience that helps individuals withstand all forms of stress. We want to move the discussion of health away from disease and instead focus on actively promoting health before disease occurs.”

The UofL Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute was created in 2018 with a $5-million gift from Brown that charged UofL researchers to take a holistic, multidisciplinary approach to understanding how the human-environment interrelationship affects peoples’ lives and to convert that knowledge to actionable steps to promote human health. This research and the new funding announced today support the university’s grand challenge strategic research priority of “Advancing Our Health,” an initiative to lead a transformative shift in how we understand, promote and recover health through all stages of life.

Research highlights from the Envirome Institute include the Green Heart Project, documenting the health impacts of living among greater levels of vegetation, the Co-Immunity Project, tracking the presence and spread of COVID-19 in the community through testing of individuals and wastewater, and research to document the effects of smoking and vaping on health. Bhatnagar is co-director of the American Heart Association’s Tobacco Center for Regulatory Science, and the center’s research was employed as key evidence for ending the sale of flavored vaping products in California. The institute also houses the only NIH Superfund Research Center devoted to studying the effects of superfund chemicals on cardiovascular health, diabetes and obesity.

“This is UofL research that could transform the way we promote well-being by revealing and decoding the factors that affect it,” said Kevin Gardner, UofL’s executive vice president for research and innovation. “We are proud to work with Christina Lee Brown and appreciate her continued support to further this important effort in advancing our health. Together, we will help people here in Louisville and around the world live lives that are not just longer, but healthier and more resilient.”

The gift announced today is the single largest philanthropic gift in the university’s history.

UofL alumnus wins Kentucky Oaks with home-bred Secret Oath

UofL alumnus wins Kentucky Oaks with home-bred Secret Oath

Secret Oath as foal on Briland Farm, owned by Robert and Stacy Mitchell

Growing up in Frankfort, Robert O. Mitchell never dreamed of owning racehorses. Riding his pony on his grandparents’ farm was as close as the UofL School of Medicine alumnus came to the horse business until after graduating from medical school and training at UofL in general and cardiovascular surgery.

“Drs. Hiram Polk and J. David Richardson always took the fifth-year general surgery residents to Churchill Downs,” Mitchell said. “That was my first trip to Churchill Downs. Even if you had asked me then, I would never have thought I would own a horse or have a Kentucky Oaks winner that was born on my farm.”

Yet on May 6, Secret Oath, a filly that Mitchell and his wife Stacy raised on their farm, out of a mare that they also raised, won the Kentucky Oaks. While many high-performing racehorses are owned by groups of investors, having a home-bred horse win the prestigious Oaks is a bit unusual.

“I live on the farm. We have never put a horse on the racetrack that wasn’t born here,” Mitchell said. “I have never bought a racehorse.”

In 2002, the Mitchells purchased Briland Farm in Lexington, where he practices as a heart surgeon. They bought a mare for $1 and began a small-scale Thoroughbred breeding operation.

“I’m not a typical doctor type. I don’t play golf. I get my relaxation by driving the tractor and delivering foals. We had one born 48 hours ago,” Mitchell said. “We mostly breed horses and sell them, but in the breeding business you tend to get in the racing business by default if horses don’t sell.”

Such was the case with Secret Oath. When buyers showed little interest in her as a yearling, the Mitchells withdrew her from the Keeneland sale and put her in training with a successful Thoroughbred trainer, D. Wayne Lukas. The move paid off as Secret Oath proved her ability with four wins leading up to the Oaks.

Although he was introduced to Churchill Downs by Hiram Polk and J. David Richardson, chair and vice chair of surgery at UofL at the time, Mitchell said that for him, horses and medicine are very distinct endeavors. Nevertheless, both are knowledge-based and involve a lot of data – and both are serious business.

“You have to be very objective when you’re in the horse business. It’s easy to fall in love with these animals and think of them as pets. It is easy for the emotions to take over and for you to lose your objectivity,” Mitchell said. “And you have to be objective and analytical to be a heart surgeon.”

Mitchell, who strategically plotted the best match for Secret Oath’s dam, Absinthe Minded, said he enjoys the analytical aspect of breeding.

“I like trying to find the breedings and the matings and the genetics. It’s like trying to play chess with Mother Nature. Every now and then, Mother Nature lets you win.”

Secret Oath followed her Oaks win with a fourth-place finish in the Preakness Stakes on May 21.

Medicine and miles: UofL med student celebrates mini-marathon success

Medicine and miles: UofL med student celebrates mini-marathon success

Caroline Gosser, second-year medical student

As if being a medical student isn’t enough of a challenge, second-year student Caroline Gosser recently became the first female to finish the 2022 Mini-Marathon. She began running competitively during her freshman year of high school.

“I didn’t know anyone in my class, so my parents signed me up for summer camps,” said Gosser, “Little did they know, this would lead to them driving overnight to meets in other states as I competed for the University of Louisville.”

Gosser now meets with various running clubs throughout the week as a part of her training regimen. “Making plans to meet someone for a run when the weather is awful or you feel unmotivated is a good trick for getting the run in, anyways,” said Gosser, “There’s a fine line between productive training and overtraining. Most of the time, the extra five miles to get a certain weekly mileage isn’t worth it, but the extra rest is beneficial.” Gosser found that in medical school, 70 miles a week is all she can handle both mentally and physically.

“Some days it does feel very overwhelming to balance school, research, projects, running, and being a good friend or family member,” Gosser mentioned, “Getting enough sleep definitely helps. I also always take Saturday afternoons and evenings off to do something fun that is not running or school related.” She says seven and a half hours of sleep per night helps her stay on track.

We are so proud of Caroline for her dedication to her training both inside the classroom and out. She’s currently preparing for Step One and will be taking some time to relax before her third year begins. When asked what her future running aspirations were, she said, “I am saving the marathon debut for a few years down the road.”

UofL med students run KDF races for kids in a tougher race

UofL med students run KDF races for kids in a tougher race

Seth Walsh, who received a Kentucky Derby Festival miniMartahon medal from med student David Means as part of the Medals4Mettle program.

For the first time in three years, University of Louisville medical, dental and other students who ran the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon or Marathon on April 30 were able to present their race medals in person to their race buddies, children battling a critical illness.

This year marks the 15th UofL Medals4Mettle event, which pairs the UofL students with children battling critical illness who are patients of Norton Children’s Cancer Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine. The students presented medals they earned for running the 13.1-mile mini marathon or 26.2-mile marathon earlier in the day to the kids at a socially distanced, outdoor party at the Health Sciences Center Courtyard.

This was the third time that fourth-year medical student David Means has run the KDF miniMarathon in honor of Seth Walsh, a 7-year-old battling leukemia.

“I’ve gotten to see Seth grow year by year,” Means said. “I’ve actually seen him at a UofL game and we’ve done a few other events. Just to meet him and his family and see what a cool family they have – so much support for this little man.”

Walsh has his collection of the medals hanging on his bedpost, said his mother, Michelle.

“It’s a great way for the students to learn what these children are going through, but fun for the children to realize that people are there for them,” she said.

The UofL Medals4Mettle event is part of an Indianapolis-based nonprofit organization that links athletes and critically ill individuals. The pandemic prevented the traditional in-person medal ceremony for the last two years, so students running in 2020 and 2021 sent their medals to the kids with a personal note, connecting virtually over Facetime or Zoom when possible.

This was the third Medals4Mettle run for Madi Harley, a third-year medical student who plans to practice pediatrics. While her buddy was unable to attend Saturday’s medal exchange, she enjoyed the smiling faces of the kids who were there.

“I hope we are able to serve as a bright light for each kid, reminding them they are rockstars and we are rooting for them,” she said.

Big hats are more than a Derby fashion statement

Big hats are more than a Derby fashion statement

Jeffrey Callen, M.D., and chief of division of Dermatology

It’s officially Derby week in Louisville, which means the sun shines bright on our Kentucky home. Big hats and fascinators will crowd Churchill Downs as spectators gather to watch the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby. Regardless of your outfit choice, the School of Medicine wants to remind you that your Derby hat is more than a fashion statement: it’s a chance to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. Jeffrey Callen, M.D., and chief of our division of Dermatology weighed in with his suggestions for sun protection this Derby season.

Q. In terms of sun protection, what is the general rule of thumb in terms of exposure and sunscreen application?

A. Sunscreens are imperfect in their protective effects for several reasons. First, is that as their name suggests they are a screen. Think of a screen door, depending on the weave of the metal used to make the door, a person might see through the door relatively unimpeded or if the weave is really tight, it might be impossible to see much. Sunscreens are tested and given a number indicating their Sun Protective Factor (SPF), the higher the number, the higher the protection. However, an SPF 60 does not represent double the protection of an SPF 30 sunscreen. The second issue is adequacy of application which in many clinical settings is inadequate and thus the sunscreen might not function as its SPF suggests. Thirdly, the SPF only measures the effect of Ultraviolet B (UVB) light and Ultraviolet A (UVA) is not measured by this designation. Although in general UVA does not cause sunburn, it enhances the effects of UVB. The fourth issue is the length of time that an individual is exposed to UV light. During day-long events like the Derby it becomes necessary for reapplication of sunscreen to have continued benefit, and this is less frequently applied in the necessary amount than the first application.

Bottom line - don't depend on sunscreens as a sole method of protection. Use good sense in avoiding direct exposure by staying in shaded areas, as well as wearing clothing that protects against the sun including hats with a wide brim.

Q. What is the best sunscreen I can purchase from a drug store?

A. There is no single "best" sunscreen. Look for products that are labeled with an SPF of 30 or more, are broad spectrum and are water resistant.

Q. Scenario: It’s too late. I didn’t apply sunscreen in time, and I’ve burned myself. Now what?

A. Burns from sun come in degrees. For mild redness, only symptomatic treatment is needed including cool compresses, topical emollients, and an oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (e.g., naproxen or ibuprofen). If the sunburn is severe, which would be indicated by blistering and systemic symptoms, (e.g., fever, nausea, vomiting, etc.) you might need to be hospitalized.

Severe blistering sunburns have been linked to an increased risk of melanoma. If you have had such a burn, you should see a physician (preferably a dermatologist) with some regularity (depends on your skin type, how many burns you have had and your age among other factors). 

Q. Any other sun safety tips?

A. Limit your exposure to direct or reflected sunlight. You can get adequate levels of Vitamin D through diet and supplements.

He leaves us with this last statement of wisdom: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of treatment.” Bet wisely on your health this Derby weekend and best of luck at the races!