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.

Ophthalmology professor earns MBA and wins “Shark Tank” contest

Posted by UofL News on August 8, 2023
Ophthalmology professor earns MBA and wins “Shark Tank” contest

Ophthalmology Professor Richard Eiferman

University of Louisville Ophthalmology professor and lifelong learner Richard Eiferman recently launched a new and unexpected chapter in his career prompted by an unlikely catalyst – his Bernese Mountain dog, Teddy. The one hundred pound-plus dog needed ear drops for an infection, and it took three people to corral him to give him the medication.

“I just thought there has to be a better way,” said Eiferman.

In his seventies, Eiferman made the decision to embark on an online MBA program at the UofL College of Business to link his 40-year career in ophthalmology with his longtime research interest in developing a new medication delivery system.

“I’ve always been very interested in the business aspects of things, and we always had these research ideas that we’d never had the chance to bring to fruition, so I thought maybe we could put two birds together in one,” he said.

From his decades of experience with eye ailments, Eiferman recognized that a sustained delivery system was needed. “It’s particularly important in ophthalmology, because for example, if you have glaucoma, you have to take drops once or twice a day for the rest of your life, and compliance can be the biggest problem.”

Eiferman connected with a PhD chemist and the two investigated a long-acting sustained release way to deliver medication.

“We discovered a way to put drugs in a wafer that slowly dissolves over two-to-three months, so no drops,” said Eiferman. “It’s a totally new concept. We conducted tests on rabbits and sure enough, it worked beautifully.”

With the help of College of Business faculty, he submitted a proposal and won the top prize of $25,000 in a “Shark Tank” style contest sponsored by the American Academy of Ophthalmology in November 2022. That success led him to present at another contest in April 2023 at Yale University, and again he won the top prize, this time $265,000.  

Eiferman said that the UofL MBA faculty were incredibly receptive and supportive, teaching him a novel approach for his presentation to the Yale panel.

“This was different than any paper or lecture I’ve ever given,” he said. “Five slides and five minutes. I was fixated on the science and the chemistry, but they told me the panelists would want to know about  the market and how to make money from this idea,” he said. “They were 100 percent correct.”

With the patent and his newly formed company, Sustained Drug Delivery, Eiferman plans to use the prize money to fund a study at Michigan State involving beagles that have congenital glaucoma since the FDA requires two species studies, rabbits and dogs in this case. The experiments need to demonstrate the wafers are equivalent in efficacy to the traditional drops.

“We believe it will work and we can then ask for permission to test in humans and evaluate a certain number of people for a certain length of time,” he said. Once Eiferman completes that hurdle, the drug delivery system could be marketed as a device and not a drug, which can reduce the time between testing and approval.

Eiferman said he believes it could be a multi-million-dollar idea because of the technology’s broad applicability.

“In dentistry, for example, they could pack a socket following a tooth extraction or put it in sutures,” explained Eiferman. The other huge market is veterinary medicine to address a severe eye ailment that can make horses go blind.

In May 2023, Eiferman got to wear his green hood and walk at the university’s online MBA graduation ceremony.

“I never expected to be getting an MBA or starting a company in my 70s, but I wanted to prove I could still go to school and learn.”

Renowned Pediatric Emergency Medicine pioneer announces retirement after 33 years of service at the School of Medicine and Norton Children’s Hospital

Posted on August 9, 2023
Renowned Pediatric Emergency Medicine pioneer announces retirement after 33 years of service at the School of Medicine and Norton Children’s Hospital

Ron Paul, MD, vice dean of Faculty Affairs and Advancement

It is with deep gratitude that we announce the retirement of Ron Paul, MD, vice dean of Faculty Affairs and Advancement, effective January 2024. We are very thankful for his nearly 33 years of academic service at the UofL School of Medicine and Norton Children’s Hospital, including over 25 years developing the Pediatric Emergency Medicine program and 8 years in the Office of Faculty Affairs. 

Paul has been a professor of Pediatrics at the ULSOM since 1991, serving as the Pediatric Emergency Medicine division chief for 25 years and the medical director of Norton Children’s Hospital Emergency department for 14 years. He established the Pediatric Emergency Medicine fellowship program at Norton Children’s Hospital and was chair of the Pediatric Emergency Medicine fellowship directors national committee. Paul sat on the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Emergency Medicine executive committee for 12 years and was chair of the committee from 2020-2022.

A strong advocate and instrumental in achieving many changes for the betterment of the ULSOM faculty, Paul’s commitment was undeniable. His efforts include a newly revised Personnel Document, expanding promotion pathways, meeting LCME accreditation requirements for faculty policies and procedures, creating more efficient Annual Work Plans and Performance Reviews and enhancing the award nomination processes for faculty awards. During his years of academic service, he produced 27 peer-review publications, 60 non-peer reviewed publications, 25 scientific presentations at national meetings and 66 invited presentations.

“Dr. Paul’s commitment to our faculty has been unrelenting throughout his time leading our faculty affairs team,” said interim dean Bumpous. “We will miss his thoughtful leadership and extraordinary ability to operationalize strategic endeavors that create a lasting impact on the lives of our faculty .”

Paul completed medical school at the University of Louisville in 1983, he completed a residency in Pediatrics followed by a Pediatric Emergency Medicine fellowship program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Children’s Memorial Hospital. He will be requesting both an Emeritus Professor Appointment and a (gratis) Clinical Professor appointment with the ULSOM department of Pediatrics in order to continue teaching on a voluntary basis.

“I am very grateful for all the opportunities I have been given working at the University of Louisville School of Medicine,” said Paul. “Anything that I have accomplished in my leadership roles in Pediatric Emergency Medicine or in the Office of Faculty Affairs has been because I have had a great team working with me to meet the needs of our pediatric community and our faculty.”

Due to the important nature of his role as vice dean of Faculty Affairs and Advancement and the constituents it serves, the School of Medicine will be advancing an internal search immediately. The first step in this process is to develop a comprehensive search committee. Once a search committee has been formed, notification for application will be sent. The anticipated date of replacement is November 2023.

UofL research shows existing drug improves cancer immunotherapy effectiveness

Posted by UofL News on August 2, 2023
UofL research shows existing drug improves cancer immunotherapy effectiveness

Study team members Kavitha Yaddanapudi, associate professor of surgery (center), with co-first authors Omar Sarkar, UofL graduate student, (left) and Howard Donninger, UofL assistant professor (right). UofL photo.

Cancer patients may have a better chance of recovery thanks to a discovery by a research team at the University of Louisville. In a new preclinical study, they have found that an existing drug, approved by the Food and Drug Administration for another disease, also may improve success rates for cancer immunotherapy when the two are used in combination.

Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) are a promising form of cancer immunotherapy, treating cancer by activating the patient’s own immune system. While patients whose cancer responds to ICI treatment experience excellent results, a large percentage of patients fail to respond to the therapy. One of the causes of poor response is due to the presence of certain immune cells within the tumor that lead to elevated levels of adenosine, a compound found naturally in cells that causes immune suppression when present in high levels.

In the new study, the UofL researchers have enhanced the response to ICI therapy by combining it with PEGylated adenosine deaminase, a drug already approved by the FDA that reduces levels of adenosine. The study, led by Kavitha Yaddanapudi, associate professor in the Division of Immunotherapy, the Hiram C. Polk, Jr., MD Department of Surgery and researcher with the UofL Health – Brown Cancer Center, was published June 30 in Science Advances.  

Using lung, melanoma and breast cancer animal models and patient cell samples from the Brown Cancer Center biorepository, the team showed that when PEGylated adenosine deaminase is used in combination with ICI therapy, cancer-fighting T cells become more active, thereby attacking the tumor.

“This is a very exciting discovery. We found one particular mechanism by which the adenosine levels were going up in the tumors and what we can do to mitigate it,” Yaddanapudi said. “And when we combine this drug with immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy, we get a very nice synergistic effect in the tumor control.”

PEGylated adenosine deaminase is FDA approved for lifelong use in children with immunodeficiency to increase their immune function.

“This is a drug that has been FDA approved for use in kids for a different disease and now we are repurposing it for cancer, so we hope it can quickly go into the clinic to confirm its ability to enhance immunotherapy in patients,” Yaddanapudi said.

“If it turns out to be an effective drug, it subverts both a natural defense mechanism against inflammation (elevated adenosine) and is an already approved agent (by the FDA),” said John Eaton, professor emeritus in UofL’s Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology & Toxicology and study team member and co-author.

The discovery has the potential to further reduce deaths from cancer, according to Jason Chesney, director of the UofL Health – Brown Cancer Center.

“ICIs have markedly improved the long-term survival of certain cancer patients and have reduced cancer death rates across the world,” Chesney said. “Many cancer patients do not respond to ICIs, but Dr. Yaddanapudi’s exciting discovery opens the door for human trials combining ICIs with PEGylated adenosine deaminase to overcome this resistance.”

UofL School of Medicine Welcomes Class of 2027 with Time-Honored White Coat Ceremony

July 31, 2023
UofL School of Medicine Welcomes Class of 2027 with Time-Honored White Coat Ceremony

Image of class of 2027 students during White Coat Ceremony

The University of Louisville School of Medicine welcomed its newest class of aspiring physicians during its annual White Coat Ceremony on July 30 at the Galt House Hotel. The ceremony, a time-honored tradition, marked the official start of the incoming first-year medical students into the medical profession.

Jeffrey Bumpous, MD, interim dean of the School of Medicine, addressed the eager crowd of students, faculty, and family members, emphasizing the significance of the White Coat Ceremony in their educational journey. "Today marks a pivotal moment in the lives of our remarkable students. The white coat symbolizes not only the commencement of their medical education but also their dedication to the well-being and care of others,” said Bumpous. “As they embark on this incredible journey, we encourage them to always remember the profound responsibility they have undertaken."

Reflecting on the importance of the White Coat Ceremony, class president and second-year medical student Roland Le said, "This ceremony signifies the trust bestowed upon us as future physicians. The white coat is a tangible reminder of the immense privilege we have to make a positive impact on people's lives. It serves as a reminder to approach our studies and future patient interactions with humility, empathy, and the highest level of professionalism."

The University of Louisville School of Medicine prides itself on its comprehensive curriculum and commitment to producing highly skilled and compassionate physicians. The incoming class, filled with a diverse group of talented individuals, is expected to contribute immensely to the future of healthcare.

As the incoming class of medical students embarks on their educational journey, the University of Louisville School of Medicine wishes them success and encourages them to embrace their roles as future healers and advocates for the well-being of their patients. Welcome, class of 2027!

View photos from the ceremony here.

Is it a healthy day in the neighborhood?

Posted by UofL News on July 28, 2023
Is it a healthy day in the neighborhood?

Simmons College of Kentucky students conducted neighborhood asset mapping surveys in Louisville in 2021 as part of a pilot study. (Simmons College Photo)

What characteristics of a neighborhood contribute to the health of its residents – or reduce it?

The University of Louisville and Simmons College of Kentucky are embarking on a new project to answer that question and discover how changing a place can improve the health of its residents. A $500,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will fund an 18-month study to identify the features all neighborhoods should have in order to promote the health of all residents.

Researchers from Simmons’ Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr. Center for Racial Justice and UofL’s Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute, along with urban studies expert Michael Emerson of Rice University and legal scholar Shavonnie Carthens of the University of Kentucky, will survey residents of two Louisville neighborhoods, review existing data on environmental factors that affect health and consider legal aspects of neighborhood development, all with the goal of defining a “universal basic neighborhood” (UBN). A universal basic neighborhood is one that has all the necessary community assets that help residents thrive in their place.

The most recent Health Equity Report from the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, published in 2017, highlights stark differences in morbidity and mortality of those living in different neighborhoods across the city. For example, in Louisville’s predominantly Black communities, life expectancy is as much as 12.6 years less than in the most affluent, predominantly white communities. Black babies born from 2011-2015 have a death rate 1.95 times higher than the Louisville Metro average and 2.31 times higher than white babies. Diabetes, heart disease and cancer rates vary by location, race and income.

“We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world and we still have places where living conditions contribute to diseases that are entirely preventable,” said Ted Smith, director of the UofL Center for Healthy Air, Water and Soil, part of the Envirome Institute. “This work is about diagnosing and treating places so that the health benefits are shared by many.”

Most existing efforts to address health inequities focus on providing health resources to eligible individuals. This study instead looks for ways to improve health at the neighborhood level by providing resources that make it easier for residents to make healthy choices.

“Neighborhoods, no matter where they are, are not inherently bad or good. They're just neighborhoods. However, one thing that makes neighborhoods different from each other is access to health-supportive resources,” said Nancy Seay, chair of the James R. L. Diggs Department of Sociology at Simmons. “We know that every neighborhood has a rich fabric of local resources that residents access, and we want to uncover these and promote their utilization. Everyone, no matter where they live, wants and deserves to enjoy good health and a long life. This project can be a game changer for the way we think about designing and supporting neighborhoods and their residents.”

The scope of the research

The research team, led by Seay and Smith, will assemble evidence for place-based factors that are associated with good health, identify and map assets in two demographically distinct Louisville neighborhoods, examine the history of civic investment in Louisville and determine how to develop and implement city policy that supports health.

In the same vein as historic efforts to ensure clean drinking water and waste removal for entire communities, the UBN project will assess and rank factors that contribute to longer, healthier lives, such as opportunities for exercise and recreation, greenness and access to healthy food and transportation. This project approaches health equity with the idea that it is more efficient to invest in resources that benefit the health of all residents of underserved neighborhoods than in health interventions for individuals.

In the first stage of the project, set to start in September, Seay will lead work to map assets of Louisville’s Crescent Hill and California neighborhoods. Students in her Participatory Action Research class at Simmons will conduct door-to-door surveys, interviews and focus groups in those neighborhoods to reveal how residents of those communities find good health, what aspects of their environment they believe contribute to health and how empowered they feel to make changes. They also hope to identify important assets related to the specific interests and culture of those living in the neighborhoods that have not been studied previously. UofL students also may take the class through a reciprocal agreement with Simmons.

At UofL, Smith will lead a review of published studies that can help justify components of a UBN and provide criteria for weighting those components. Factors evaluated will include those that contribute to disease and those that promote health, such as access to parks, forms of transit and the variety of educational, recreational and entertainment venues.

Carthens, a legal scholar at the UK’s J. David Rosenberg College of Law and formerly at UofL’s Brandeis School of Law, will delve into the deep drivers of policies that must be reformed in order to achieve an optimal neighborhood environment. She will identify the legal framework required to support the public provision of a UBN and sectors of society best positioned to provide these resources.

The project also includes Emerson, Chavanne Fellow in Religion and Public Policy at Rice University’s Baker Institute and co-founder of Rice’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

At the project’s completion, the team expects to have a "playbook" that will assist communities in defining their own neighborhood needs and outline steps toward implementing the plan.

For more information:

Residents of the California and Crescent Hill neighborhoods who are interested in participating in surveys or focus group interviews for the project may contact Patricia Reeves at

Community Partners who are interested in learning more about the project and opportunities for collaboration may contact Lauren Anderson at

Project updates will be shared on social media at Simmons College and the Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute.

Orientation week fosters smooth transition for new medical students

July 20, 2023

As the academic year approaches, the University of Louisville School of Medicine eagerly welcomes its incoming class of first-year medical students with an invigorating Orientation Week. Aimed at fostering a smooth transition into their medical journey, this week-long event has been designed to equip students with the necessary tools, connections, and experiences that will shape their future success as healthcare professionals.

Orientation Week begins July 24 at the School of Medicine and proves to be an extraordinary opportunity for matriculating medical students to begin acclimating to their new academic home, making lifelong friendships, and igniting their passion for medicine. Under the guidance of esteemed faculty and staff, this immersive experience serves as a steppingstone towards realizing their dreams of healing and saving lives.

Jeffrey Bumpous, MD, interim dean of the University of Louisville School of Medicine, expressed his enthusiasm for the significant role Orientation Week plays in a medical student's journey. He stated, "Orientation Week serves as a foundation for our students, allowing them to develop a sense of belonging and community. It is a time for them to embrace the challenges and triumphs they will encounter over their next four years."

One of the highlights of Orientation Week is the much-anticipated Trivia Night, where the students can showcase their knowledge, teamwork, and competitive spirit. This event will allow them to bond with their peers and create lasting connections, emphasizing the importance of collaboration in the medical field.

Another memorable event during the week is the enchanting Belle of Louisville Cruise, where students will experience the beauty of Louisville while cruising along the Ohio River. This relaxing evening fosters a sense of camaraderie amongst the students, offering them a chance to unwind and create cherished memories outside of the classroom.

The pinnacle of Orientation Week is the highly revered White Coat Ceremony slated for July 30. This significant rite of passage symbolizes the transition from aspiring medical students to professionals. With their families and loved ones in attendance, the new students will don their white coats for the first time, affirming their commitment to patient care, compassion, and lifelong learning.

“Both the White Coat Ceremony and Orientation Week are pivotal milestones that unite individuals from diverse backgrounds who share a profound passion for medicine,” said Monica Ann Shaw, MD, MA, vice dean of undergraduate medical education. “We are committed to the success of our students and are excited to accompany them on their journey to becoming physicians.”

The University of Louisville School of Medicine looks forward to witnessing the growth and accomplishments of these promising medical students as they contribute to the field of healthcare, making a positive impact on the lives of countless individuals in the years to come.


UofL School of Medicine hosts future healthcare scholars

July 13, 2023

The summer of 2023 marks the 18th year of the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP) at the University of Louisville. Each summer, 80 future healthcare professionals gather on the Health Science Campus for six weeks. The program is used to help scholars develop team-based learning to apply basic and social sciences centered on two major themes: Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease. Students with future plans in dentistry, medicine, nursing, and pharmacy are welcome to participate in this experience.

“We believe in the power of diversity and the transformative impact it has on healthcare,” said Dwayne Compton, Ed.D., chief diversity officer for the School of Medicine. “Our SHPEP serves as a platform to empower our underrepresented students and enhance their academic and professional development to cultivate a diverse healthcare workforce reflecting the communities we serve.”

SHPEP emphasizes personal and professional development including study strategies, career planning, and clinical exposure in the health care profession. Its primary goal is to strengthen the academic proficiency and career development of students underrepresented in health professions and prepare them for successful application and matriculation to health professions schools. Scholars will gain exposure to advanced levels of science through participating in Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Physiology. Health policy and equity are interwoven into the core of the program to ensure that each participating scholar with leave the program with a clear mindset of how to be a compassion and understanding health care profession.

“I am thrilled to participate in SHPEP and have the chance to learn from professionals in diverse healthcare fields” said Cheyla Tabares Cuesta, incoming scholar for SHPEP. "Learning networking skills and being exposed to opportunities will provide the necessary tools to confidently advance in my desired career. This opportunity will undoubtedly shape my understanding of healthcare and inspire me to make a meaningful impact in communities in need.”

The University of Louisville School of Medicine congratulates the 2023 cohort of SHPEP Scholars on completing the program. We look forward to the next generation of brilliant minds going into the healthcare profession.

ULSOM selected as Winn CIPP partner site

July 11, 2023
ULSOM selected as Winn CIPP partner site

Winn CIPP participants 2023

The University of Louisville School of Medicine was selected as one of only nine nationwide site partners to host the 2023 Robert A. Winn Diversity in Clinical Trials: Clinical Investigator Pathway Program (Winn CIPP). Led by La Creis Kidd, PhD, MPH, assistant dean of Research Diversity, this summer service-learning externship is designed to expose talented medical students of diverse backgrounds to community-engaged clinical and translational research. Co-investigators and champions of this program include Dr. V. Faye Jones, Dr. Christopher Seals, Dr. Barbara Clark, Dr. Susan Sawning, Sharon Gordon and Dr. Dwayne Compton.

“We could not be more thrilled to be selected as a site partner for the Winn CIPP,” said Kidd. “This program brings great opportunity for our research and training opportunities for the next generation of clinical scientist at the University of Louisville.”

The Winn CIPP offers a distinctive approach to increasing diversity in clinical trials by offering medical students a six-week intensive and immersive summer service-learning experience in underserved communities where underrepresented patients receive care. Pathway students gain exposures to clinical research, acquire community engagement and leadership skills, and are mentored by early-stage clinical investigators participating in the Winn Career Development Award (CDA).

In addition to Louisville, Winn CIPP Site Partners are located in the following cities: Chicago, IL, New Orleans, LA, New York, NY, Richmond, VA, Atlanta, GA, Los Angeles, CA, San Antonio, Tx, and Seattle, WA.

As a site partner, the School of Medicine commits to providing immersive community-based experiences in clinical trial research to four rising second-year medical students from various medical schools in the U.S. who are committed to increasing inclusion, equity, and diversity in the conduct of clinical and translational research. Each medical student scholar receives a $7,500 stipend to cover travel, living and lodging expenses during the six-week service-learning period.

Winn CIPP scholars that are currently training at the School of Medicine from June 5 to July 14 include:

  1. Yosef Ansarizadeh, DO Candidate, University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth – Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, Faculty Mentors: Dr. Redman and Dr. Kidd.
  2. Iyabo Erinkitola, MD Candidate, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Faculty  Mentor: Dr. Vatsalya Vatsalya
  3. Brianna Guillen, MD Candidate, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, Faculty Mentor: Dr. Martin
  4. Brian Wadugu, MD Candidate, Carle Illinois College of Medicine, Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kellen Choi

“Being awarded the WINN CIPP fellowship at the Louisville site has been so positive for my professional development at this stage of my medical career,” said Erinkitola. “The University of Louisville School of Medicine has provided an abundance of support and encouragement as I learn to screen patients for more equitable clinical trials, perform biostatistics for relevant biologic investigations, and sharpen my goals in medical science.”