Student organization empowers students' creative expression

The Medical Humanities and Social Justice in Healthcare student organization has recently reestablished itself after a period of inactivity. Its mission remains focused on bringing light to social justice issues in healthcare through the perspective of the medical humanities and provides the opportunity for medical students to reflect on the intersection of societal factors and health. One way the organization reflects is through Systole, a journal comprised of works from various students attending the School of Medicine.

Systole is an opportunity to celebrate the creativity of our peers and shine a light on their unique talents,” said Fariha Rashid, co-president of the organization. “It gives students a chance to express their feelings through creativity and share it with the ULSOM community; it brought great comfort and affirmation in the sacrifices and endurances this line of work often requires of us to better the lives of others.”

Students have contributed works in various mediums, including painting, audio, photography, sculpting, and more. “There are limited opportunities for medical students to publish creative work, so we wanted to ensure an accessible way for students to do so. Our student body is diversely talented, and we wanted to showcase all the different ways students express their talent,” said Rashid.

The group is led by faculty advisor, Susan Sawning, associate professor, undergraduate medical education. “I am so very proud of them,” said Sawning, “Our students care so much about things that are important to the world and our community. More people need to hear about our special students here at the School of Medicine.”

The ULSOM community can support the organization by viewing Systole on the School of Medicine website and sharing it with others. The co-presidents also hope that students will continue their enthusiasm for Systole by submitting their work for future editions. Through their efforts, Medical Humanities and Social Justice in Healthcare and Systole are promoting creativity and social justice in the ULSOM community.

LOUMED announces ambassador program for downtown medical and education district

LOUMED announces ambassador program for downtown medical and education district

Representatives of LOUMED partners UofL Health Sciences Center, UofL Health, Norton Healthcare and JCTC, along with Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg announced new ambassador program

The Louisville Medical & Education District, also known as LOUMED, has announced its new ambassador program in partnership with Block by Block. Block by Block is the nation’s leading provider of safety, cleaning and hospitality services for districts across the U.S. LOUMED includes the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center and downtown facilities of UofL Health, as well as Jefferson Community and Technical College and Norton Healthcare.

The ambassador program will provide concierge, cleaning and safety services to this vital downtown district.

“We are looking forward to having our LOUMED Ambassadors be additional positive representation for the employees, patients and students that call LOUMED home,” said Nadareca Thibeaux, executive director LOUMED. “It’s important for visitors and locals alike to experience a friendly, clean and safe downtown, and we expect this program to amplify those efforts.”

The LOUMED ambassadors play an important role in improving the experience of the public spaces within the district for visitors, employees, students and patients. The LOUMED ambassadors will be responsible for the following:

  • Visible Presence – Ambassadors will circulate throughout the district daily to create a highly visible, accessible, outgoing and inviting presence, with an attitude of friendly professionalism, superior customer service and hospitality. Ambassadors will be on foot and will be deployed in a manner that ensures resources are placed strategically to address critical issues or needs at key times of day, days of the week and as needed. All ambassadors are trained in ‘situational protocol’ to handle situations appropriately and courteously.
  • Reduced Impact of Quality-of-Life Issues & Safety Risk Aversion – Ambassadors will discourage aggressive solicitation and other prohibited behaviors, report crimes to the proper authority and provide information and support as it relates to improper behavior in the district. Ambassadors will build respect-based relationships with all persons to educate on ordinance violations, discourage problematic behavior and serve to connect individuals to available resources and assistance.
  • Hospitality and Wayfinding – Ambassadors will actively greet pedestrians and provide general assistance, wayfinding/directions, information on historic sites, shops, restaurants, public transportation, other places of interest and general information that may be helpful and welcoming. They will provide help and support to the public to address a wide range of situations and needs, such as assistance with the use of parking meter stations, repairing a flat tire, opening a door, escorting employees to parking garages and by offsetting any potentially negative experience with a positive interaction.
  • Property/Business Owner Networking & Cross Communication – Ambassadors will interact directly with property and business owners, managers and security personnel to build a network, provide and receive information relevant to LOUMED safety and hospitality and to raise public awareness of the program.

For more information about the LOUMED District, visit

School of Medicine celebrates graduating class

On May 13th, the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville was filled with heartwarming celebrations as 142 medical students crossed the stage and graduated from the University of Louisville School of Medicine. The ceremony recognized the invaluable contributions the students have made to the school and to the Louisville community.

The students participated in the time-honored tradition of the hooding ceremony. It officially marks their transition from graduates into the medical profession as physicians. Each student had the opportunity to select a medical physician who had a profound impact on their medical school journey to administer the hooding. 

“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to study amongst my amazing peers at the School of Medicine,” said Ryan Anderson, class president. “I feel privileged to have learned from our dedicated faculty members, and I look forward to serving my community as a physician. 

The evening’s celebrations included awards such as the Thomas B. Calhoon Teaching award, which was presented to Steven Ellis, PhD., professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, for his contributions to the field. Additionally, 32 honors and awards were presented to the medical graduates, including the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine award which was given to Karen Tachi Udoh.

“I am incredibly proud of our graduates and the work they have accomplished during their time at the School of Medicine,” said Toni Ganzel, dean of the School of Medicine. “I am excited to see where their careers take them and know they will continue to make a positive impact in the medical field.”

View the photo gallery here.

Music to medicine – the unique pathway father of three takes to becoming a physician

Music to medicine – the unique pathway father of three takes to becoming a physician

Matthew Miracle, class of 2023

Congratulations to Matthew Miracle on this monumental occasion of his graduation from the University of Louisville School of Medicine! His hard work and dedication have paid off, and we are proud of all he has accomplished.

As a non-traditional medical student, Miracle overcame many challenges to reach this milestone in his life. As a former musician, he didn’t have any science-related background to speak of; the last biology class he had taken was years prior and he hadn’t had a chemistry class since high school. “I wanted to find a career where I could use some of the skills I’d gained through my experiences in business, the arts, and technology, and medicine seemed like the perfect place to do that,” said Miracle.

Switching from music to medicine was a challenge, but Miracle’s philosophy was always that if he could learn to be great at one thing, he could apply that same dedication and work ethic to become the excellent physician that his future patients deserve. Fortunately, the Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Med program at the University of Louisville is designed with career changers, like Miracle, in mind. The program guided him through the process of prerequisite coursework and applying to medical school.

Being a father of three added an extra layer of complexity to medical school but Miracle managed it with grace. During the pandemic, he had to balance his own classes with assisting his oldest in their virtual school. There were evenings during his clinical years that he had to FaceTime with his family at bedtime and then leave the house the next morning before his kids were awake. He credits his wife for being his rock during this time and getting his children involved in fun activities as much as possible.

Miracle’s advice to other non-traditional students is invaluable. “It's easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of work and information to learn but thinking of medical school as a new job helped a lot,” said Miracle. “I tried to be efficient and get my studying done during my childrens’ school day so that when they came home, I was able to put my work aside and spend the evening with my family. Time with your family is precious, so protect your weekends from work as much as you can and turn the usually boring trip to Costco into a way to get extra time with your family.”

As a medical student, Miracle had opportunities to participate in clinical activities and procedures that he would never have expected medical students could be part of and helped to push him outside of his comfort zone to become a better physician. “The faculty were some of the most invested in their students' education that I have seen in all my years of education,” said Miracle, reflecting on his time at UofL. “From the pre-clinical classroom teachers to the clinical physician faculty, I have always felt supported throughout an incredibly stressful process.”

Once again, congratulations to Matthew Miracle on his graduation from the University of Louisville School of Medicine. His achievements will undoubtedly inspire future medical students, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors. Miracle will be continuing his medical career as a resident in Family Medicine at the University of Virginia.

In the pursuit of medicine

In the pursuit of medicine

Jordan Swindle, class of 2023

Congratulations to Jordan Swindle on his graduation from the University of Louisville School of Medicine! It's inspiring to see how his passion for science and the human body has led him to pursue a career in medicine, despite taking an unconventional path. Swindle's dedication and hard work have paid off, and we are proud of all that he has accomplished.

Swindle’s pursuit of medicine began when he fell in love with the science of the human body in undergraduate education at the University of Kentucky. However, his path to medicine did not begin there. After graduation, Swindle spent a brief period training in the NFL and CFL and later had a short career selling life insurance. After realizing his true calling for helping people, he returned to school to finish three semesters of pre-med requirements.

“I knew I wanted to return to medicine,” said Swindle. “My peak athletic ability was limited to a certain number of years. Turning to medicine where I could use my knowledge and skills was a more secure career choice for myself. In my opinion, there’s no better career combining the ability to help people with the science of the human body than becoming a physician.” 

For Swindle, there were similarities in playing a professional sport and pursuing a medical degree. Both required hard work, dedication, teamwork, and the ability to be coached. 

Swindle said the cadaver lab was his one of his favorite classroom activities during medical school. “I am so thankful for the cadavers’ gift to the School of Medicine because it allowed us to get a better understanding of the human body and the way the various parts relate to each other as a whole.”

The advice Swindle gives to non-traditional students pursuing medicine is that it is never too late to begin your career in medicine. “In my personal experience, it has given me a leg-up in certain situations,” said Swindle. “It is not a negative thing to be a non-traditional medical student, but it is more of an advantage.”

Swindle spends his free time with his wife and son, John, who was born during his third year of medical school. They enjoy being outdoors and watching great movies together. “Spending time with family and friends is a great way to destress after a long day of classes and clinical,” says Swindle.

After graduation, Swindle will continue pursuing his path to medicine as a resident in orthopedic surgery at the University of Chicago Medical Center. His dedication to science and medicine will aid him in a long, fulfilling career as a physician.

UofL Telemedicine Program Revolutionizes Mental Health Care in the Commonwealth

UofL Telemedicine Program Revolutionizes Mental Health Care in the Commonwealth

Robert Caudill, MD, DLFAPA, FATA

The University of Louisville School of Medicine is dedicated to implementing innovative technology to improve the lives of those in the community and the Commonwealth. Implemented by Robert Caudill, MD, professor and Residency Training Director in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, the UofL Telemedicine program has revolutionized mental health care in Louisville. By creating a more accessible communication platform between patients and physicians, Telehealth has allowed medical care to be more easily obtained by people who may have otherwise gone without. As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, the University of Louisville School of Medicine interviewed Dr. Caudill to learn more of his contributions to the field of psychiatric medicine.

UofL School of Medicine: What has been your role in implementing telemedicine and information technology at the University of Louisville?

Dr. Caudill: I saw clearly the potential medical applications of video teleconferencing in 2001 after experiencing high-definition, real-time, videoconferencing conducted over the internet.  This followed the experience of having witnessed high-definition television transmissions replacing the previous standard definition resolution. In 2005, I developed a business plan and in 2009 brought the model to the UofL Department of Psychiatry, relocating my practice back to the medical school campus. I have sought to pioneer areas involving technology and mental health, volunteering to try new technologies and advocating for their mainstream adoption. In 2014, my role shifted from clinical innovation to also include an educational role as program director for the UofL psychiatry residency program. Before COVID-19, Telehealth technology was already mature enough to envision a larger role for it in healthcare. UofL psychiatry residents have been receiving this training for years. I promote the message that “telemedicine is medicine” through practice and education.

UofL School of Medicine: Explain the importance of Telehealth services for the general public?

Dr. Caudill: Patients have been way ahead of clinicians in terms of interest in and acceptance of Telehealth. Without Telehealth, most of the inconveniences associated with healthcare were borne by patients. At one point it might have been about bringing access to medical care to those who could otherwise not obtain it. Increasingly, it will be about bringing health care to the general public in a more patient friendly and cost-effective manner. We have required patients to make unnecessary and inconvenient trips to receive care that could easily have been rendered more efficiently via telehealth. “In-person” care has been held out as the “gold-standard” and of course it is the model against which alternative approaches must be measured. However, in-person care has its own drawbacks and a subset of patients who lacked the physical or emotional resources to access it has been uncovered and now is also eligible to receive high quality healthcare for the first time. It was never about replacing “in-person” care; Telehealth is simply another tool.  

UofL School of Medicine: How have Telehealth services changed modern day healthcare?

Dr. Caudill: I was highly influenced by the writings of Nicholas Negroponte and his exhortation to "Move bits not atoms." One need not have been terribly observant to live through and witness the fates of local bookstores, record stores, and video rental businesses to recognize that many of the cognitive services provided in healthcare were similarly situated. My hope would be that in the future we are not going around needlessly “moving atoms” when the same results can be obtained by “moving bits.” I hope that patients will not accept a future where their healthcare options are limited to those facilities to which they might easily drive which also coincidentally have an appointment available at a time and place where both clinician and patient can materially intersect in a timely fashion. Telehealth opens a wide array of options that would not have previously existed.

UofL School of Medicine: What are the benefits of having same day appointments with patients?

Dr. Caudill: Timeliness of the intervention has always been a factor in terms of outcomes. Telehealth is an amazing resource, yet it is not truly disruptive as the term is applied to technology innovations. That is to say that Telehealth does not allow a clinician to see more patients during a given unit of time – only different patients (often geographically distanced). Telehealth certainly offers the potential for gains in efficiency that are not possible in an exclusively “in-person” environment. Late cancelations are hard to replace if the waiting list patient must also arrange for transportation at the last minute. Telehealth can bring a patient into the virtual presence of a clinician with little more than a preparatory phone call. Time otherwise lost to practices can be gainfully recovered with this ability to rapidly fill vacated spots with patients hoping to be worked into such an opening in the schedule.  

UofL School of Medicine: What inspired you to create a partnership with PeaceNow?

Dr. Caudill: The planets just happened to align at the right time. The university now has a large referral base of primary care providers to complement its specialists and sub-specialists. I saw the potential to fill in a missing section in the continuum of care. The Covid response demonstrated the utility of Telehealth, and I have been doing Telehealth work with various rural community mental health centers in Kentucky since 2009. One of my contracts was up for renewal around the same time that PeaceNow was starting to take shape, and I saw the opportunity to play a role in creating a new virtual clinic. While PeaceNow can now efficiently direct patients from primary care to behavioral health services, there remains a great unmet need for skilled mental health care clinicians in the community. PeaceNow can be a highly effective endpoint for some, but its promise will be less than fully realized if it ceases to function as a conduit for moving patients from primary care into more definitive, long-term, behavioral health endpoints.

UofL School of Medicine: Who are the target populations for the Telehealth services? How has your program benefited these populations?

Dr. Caudill: While Telehealth enables the medical industry to serve certain populations better, there is still a small subset of patients who are not appropriate for virtual care. This group has historically been poorly managed, as they often self-selected their way out of existing health care systems. Telehealth has provided an opportunity to reach this elusive group. Certain populations, including those with mobility limitations, trauma issues relating to trust and travel, and many adolescents, are proving to be better served through virtual care. In the end, it is not about “either/or” but “both/and” as community-based, in-person interventions are still needed for some patients.

UofL School of Medicine: When working with people that lack resources such as a computer or internet, how do you see them coming to receive Telehealth services?

Dr. Caudill: This is a problem but the solution for it is bigger than the programs discussed here can solve. Telehealth doesn’t “replace” in-person care. Patients who struggle to receive Telehealth are also challenged when attending in-person care for many of the same reasons. The minimal point of entry increasingly appears to be the mobile phone. While I had been initially enticed about the potential of Telehealth after witnessing HD images transmitted over the internet and dreaming of the impending arrival of full-size 3-D hologram encounters, the introduction of the smart phone and its rapid rise to ubiquity took us in a different direction. At one distant time, not everyone had access to land line telephones. National, wireless networks and the widespread availability of internet-enabled smart phones are rapidly reducing the number of geographical locations inaccessible to virtual health care. Promising efforts to identify the barriers to care through use of digital health readiness screeners tied to systematic programs possibly offered through public health entities can help find, enroll, and socialize patients to virtual care.  

UofL School of Medicine: What advice would you give to someone dealing with mental health issues, but cannot afford a therapist? 

Dr. Caudill: Untreated mental health comes with its own associated costs, and sadly patients often prioritize activities of questionable benefit over addressing their mental health needs. Technology, including social media and Telehealth, has led to increased awareness of mental health concerns and the availability of definitive treatments. However, there is still a bewildering array of individuals and services offering mental health care, and not everyone has access to the necessary resources to obtain help through traditional mechanisms. Some options for those lacking resources include Seven Counties Services (our local public mental health center) and the teaching clinic at the University of Louisville Department of Psychiatry. While insurance often provides additional options, true parity of coverage with physical illness has not yet been achieved. Good clinicians motivate patients and help them achieve results that over time often offset the expenses incurred while working through difficulties. Telehealth reduces logistical requirements associated with in-person care, benefitting both patients and clinicians. Telehealth has rightfully taken its place in this group of options for care.

The University of Louisville School of Medicine recognizes Dr. Caudill and his revolutionary practices for providing more accessible mental healthcare to the Louisville community. If you or someone you know is struggling, we encourage you to reach out for help and seek treatment.  

UofL to host planting event for Arbor Day; honors late LGBTQ+ supporter

UofL to host planting event for Arbor Day; honors late LGBTQ+ supporter

The late Sarah McKinney was a staff member in the Department of Pediatrics and a longtime supporter of the Health Sciences Center's LGBT Center.

A planting event on the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center campus will observe Arbor Day 2023 as well as honor a late Department of Pediatrics staff member who was a strong supporter of the LGBTQ+ community.

The event will be held from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., April 28, at the Kosair Charities Clinical and Translational Research Building, 505 S. Hancock St.

At 11:30 a.m., volunteers will help plant native plants in the building’s planter bed. At 12:30 p.m., a memorial tree planting will be held in honor of Sarah McKinney who died in 2022 and was employed as a senior technology specialist and facilities coordinator in the School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics.

The event is sponsored by the university’s Sustainability Council, S.M.A.R.T. Staff (School of Medicine Advancement, Retention and Training), Department of Pediatrics, LGBT Center, Physical Plant and HSC Green Team. For more information and to volunteer, contact Glenn Gittings at 502-852-0141.

About Sarah McKinney

McKinney was known for her strong support of the Health Sciences Center’s LGBT Center and the people it serves. A trans individual herself, McKinney also was known in the Louisville community as an advocate for LGBTQ+ individuals. “In high heels and tool belt,” as she liked to express it, McKinney helped keep organizations in Louisville communicating with each other and provide a safe and thriving community for LGBTQ+ people.

McKinney restarted UofL’s LGBTQ+ Faculty Staff Association after it was dormant for 12 years and grew it to more than 100 members. She chaired the Transgender Wellness Summit and was one of the co-founders of the Kentuckiana Transgender Support Group. Additionally, she mentored several transgender individuals to help them through their transition. For her efforts, she was awarded the UofL LGBT Center’s Advocate Award in 2021.

Reduced sleep linked to air pollution, heat, carbon dioxide and noise

Reduced sleep linked to air pollution, heat, carbon dioxide and noise

Participant data from the Green Heart Project at UofL’s Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute, led by director Aruni Bhatnagar, were utilized in the new sleep study.

  • Penn, UofL study finds drop in sleep efficiency for high exposures to environmental factors
  • Study published in Sleep Health is one of the first to measure multiple variables on sleep
  • Participant data from UofL’s Green Heart Project utilized to obtain results

Air pollution, a warm bedroom and high levels of carbon dioxide and ambient noise all may adversely affect our ability to get a good night’s sleep, suggests a study from researchers with the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Louisville’s Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute (CLBEI).

The study, published April 18 in Sleep Health, is one of the first to measure multiple environmental variables in the bedroom and analyze their associations with sleep efficiency—the time spent sleeping relative to the time available for sleep. The analysis found that in a group of 62 participants tracked for two weeks with activity monitors and sleep logs, higher bedroom levels of air pollution (particulate matter <2.5 micrometers or PM2.5), carbon dioxide, noise and temperature were all linked independently to lower sleep efficiency.

The study was a collaboration between Penn Medicine and UofL’s CLBEI which is led by Aruni Bhatnagar. The researchers recruited participants from the CLBEI’s National Institutes of Health-funded Green Heart Project that investigates the effects of planting 8,000 mature trees on the cardiovascular health of Louisville residents.

“These findings highlight the importance of the bedroom environment for high-quality sleep,” said study lead author Mathias Basner, professor and director of the division of Sleep and Chronobiology in the department of Psychiatry at Penn Medicine.

The researchers suggest that more research is needed now on interventions that could improve sleep efficiency by reducing exposures to these sleep-disrupting factors.

“This could be as simple as leaving a bedroom door open to lower carbon dioxide levels, and using triple-pane windows to reduce noise,” Bhatnagar said. “We also applied for (future) funding that will allow us to investigate whether planting trees can improve sleep and cardiovascular health through improving health behaviors and the bedroom environment.”

About the study

In addition to work and family obligations that compete with sleep for time, a quickly changing environment due to growing urbanization and climate change seems to have made it harder to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep that is of inadequate duration, or inadequate efficiency due to frequent disruption (“tossing and turning”), affects work productivity and quality of life. It also has been linked to a higher risk of chronic diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression and dementia.

This research is among a limited number of studies that looked at associations between multiple objectively measured factors in the sleep environment—such as noise and temperature—and objectively measured sleep.

For each of the environmental variables measured, the researchers compared sleep efficiency during exposures to the highest 20 percent of levels versus lowest 20 percent of levels. Through this analysis, they found that high noise was associated with a 4.7 percent decline in sleep efficiency compared to low noise, high carbon dioxide with a 4.0 percent decline compared to low levels, high temperature with a 3.4 percent decline compared to low temperature, and high PM2.5 with a 3.2 percent decline compared to low PM2.5. Two other sleep environment variables, relative humidity and barometric pressure, appeared to have no significant association with sleep efficiency among the participants.

Interestingly, only bedroom humidity was associated with sleep outcomes assessed with questionnaires, such that higher humidity was associated with lower self-reported sleep quality and more daytime sleepiness. This suggests that studies based on questionnaires may miss important associations readily detected by objective measures of sleep. This is not surprising as humans are unconscious and unaware of themselves and their surroundings during large portions of their sleep period.

Also, most study participants rated humidity, temperature and noise levels in the bedroom as “just right” regardless of the actual exposure levels.

“We seem to habituate subjectively to our bedroom environment, and feel there is no need to improve it, when in fact our sleep may be disturbed night after night as evidenced by the objective measures of sleep we used in our study,” said Basner.

University of Louisville's Alcohol Research Center Leads the Way to Recovery

University of Louisville's Alcohol Research Center Leads the Way to Recovery


April is alcohol awareness month, and the University of Louisville Alcohol Research Center (ULARC) is paving the way to recovery with novel findings. The ULARC was created to serve as a regional and national resource to investigate interactions of nutrition and alcohol on alcohol-induced organ injury and to develop new agents/interventions to prevent/treat this organ injury, both of which represent important unmet research needs.

Led by Craig McClain, MD, director of the NIH-funded Alcohol Research Center and professor of Medicine and Pharmacology and Toxicology at the School of Medicine, the ULARC hopes to influence the commonwealth by addressing the effects alcohol has on a person’s body. Alcohol affects multiple organs and organ systems.  The ULARC studies the liver and the gut:liver:brain axis as well as fetal alcohol syndrome and lung injury through multidisciplinary research.

“Alcohol abuse, alcoholism and alcohol use disorder kill over 3 million people each year, accounting for up to 6% of global deaths,” said McClain. “During the COVID pandemic, we saw an increase in alcohol usage that has persisted since. One of our recent projects studies the effects of alcohol on COVID-19 infection. We are also in the process of publishing some of our findings as they relate to novel therapies for alcohol-associated hepatitis, including the use of a specific probiotic and a type of omega-3 fat supplementation.”

McClain’s passion for research in alcohol-associated liver injury and disease started at the University of Minnesota. His mentor was an expert on the subject which gave McClain an opportunity to work hands-on with this vulnerable patient population. As noted, alcohol effects the brain and other organs; it is associated with cancers, heart disease, premature aging, and dementia; and alcohol use can lead to automobile accidents, homicides, and suicides.

McClain was the first to find an association between pro-inflammatory cytokines and alcohol-associated liver injury. His group of researchers specialize in nutritional therapies for alcohol-associated liver injury/disease (ALD) and have used funding from the NIH to study the therapeutic effects of probiotics and over-the-counter nutrition supplements for ALD.

McClain’s advice for alcohol consumption is to “not exceed moderate drinking limits which is two standard drinks a day for men and one standard drink a day for women. A standard drink is 14 grams of alcohol.” He references the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as a resource to help rethink drinking for anyone struggling with addiction.

Brain-penetrating drug candidate shown to be effective against deadly encephalitis viruses

Brain-penetrating drug candidate shown to be effective against deadly encephalitis viruses

University of Louisville researcher Donghoon Chung examines specimens in his lab in this April 2023 photo.

A new antiviral compound that was designed, synthesized and tested by researchers at the University of Louisville, the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s School of Pharmacy and the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center (UTHSC) has been shown to be highly effective against two types of devastating encephalitis viruses that cause harm to humans. The multidisciplinary team found that BDGR-49 protects against the deadly eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) or Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV).

The researchers described BDGR-49 and its efficacy against lethal infections of EEEV or VEEV in animal models in a study published April 12 in Science Translational Medicine.

“Collaboration across disciplines and capabilities was key to this discovery,” said Jennifer E. Golden, an associate professor in the UW–Madison School of Pharmacy and synthetic medicinal chemist who led the discovery and optimization effort.

Chemical virology studies were led by Donghoon Chung, an associate professor in the UofL Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the Center for Predictive Medicine, and animal efficacy studies were performed by Colleen Jonsson, a professor at UTHSC.

The team found that BDGR-49 potently inhibited EEEV and VEEV and was well tolerated. The compound provided significant protection to EEEV-infected animals. Meanwhile, it not only fully protected VEEV-infected animals, but could also be used as a therapeutic treatment days after infection.

An important feature of this antiviral compound is its ability to access the brain where these viruses cause damage, while other critical attributes include its improved stability, potency and efficacy compared to earlier prototypes. Based on resistance studies, BDGR-49 efficiently prevents these viruses from copying themselves, meaning it operates by disrupting the viral machinery needed for replication.

Classified as New World alphaviruses, equine encephalitis viruses are transmitted by the bite of a mosquito and can infect the brain, causing neurological effects, serious illness and death in humans as well as horses. There currently are no FDA-approved vaccines or treatments available specifically for preventing or treating alphavirus infection in humans.

Symptoms of EEEV infection include fever, headache, chills and vomiting. Severe infection can result in seizure, coma and death. About one-third of individuals who develop encephalitis (brain inflammation) from EEEV infection die, and many of those who do recover suffer permanent neurological effects.

Although, outbreaks of eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) are rare, with an average of 11 cases per year in the United States, in 2019 an outbreak of EEE across nine states resulted in 38 confirmed cases, 19 deaths and neurological effects in survivors.

VEE has a much lower mortality rate of 1%, but outbreaks can affect thousands of people, most often occurring in Central and South America. While insect bites are the typical cause of these infections, there is also concern the viruses could be leveraged as bioweapons.

“What we are trying to do is to develop a drug that can be used to treat infected people or as a prophylactic in case of bioterrorism,” Chung said. “Now we are seeing that it therapeutically protects from lethal infection. This is a big milestone in terms of the therapeutic development.”

The team has been developing and optimizing chemical structures against VEEV and EEEV for more than a decade. Golden, Jonsson and Chung are co-investigators in the Center of Excellence for Encephalitic Alphavirus Therapeutics, based at UTHSC. The center was created to refine the properties and activity of early-stage small molecule compounds discovered in the Golden lab and to develop them into clinical candidates for VEEV and EEEV that could be studied in humans. This work was funded with a five-year, $21-million grant from the National Institutes of Health in 2019.

The team is evaluating BDGR-49 in advanced preclinical studies while expanding the understanding of its antiviral properties. As RNA viruses such as EEEV and VEEV are prone to develop mutations, they can potentially evolve into more lethal or transmissible versions without warning, resulting in widespread infections.

“It is essential that we develop these countermeasures for viruses of pandemic potential so we don’t find ourselves unprepared to respond to an outbreak,” Golden says. “We can do better, and we intend to leverage this discovery as broadly as possible with respect to VEEV, EEEV and other viruses of concern.”

This research was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (U19AI142762 and R01AI118814) and by a grant (S10OD016226) from the Office of the Director of the NIH. 

Paving the Way: A Doctor's Journey in Obstetrics and Gynecology to Improve Healthcare for Minority Women

Tanya Franklin, MD MSPH, is an associate professor for the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Women's Health. She serves as an advocate for mentorship in the medical field, and is a proud mentor for the Central High School Pre-Med program in the West Louisville Community. The University of Louisville School of Medicine interviewed Franklin to get insights on her life as a person of color within the medical field and her passions that persuaded her to pursue medicine.

UofL School of Medicine: What inspired you to pursue the area of General Obstetrics and Gynecology?

Dr. Franklin: As an adolescent I was surrounded by so many examples of unhealthy relationships, teen pregnancy, and missed potential of young women. I knew that these situations were avoidable with education, access to healthcare, and having a trusted doctor.  

UofL School of Medicine: What are some issues minority women face within OBGYN Health Care?

Dr. Franklin: Black women die in childbirth at rates 3-4x higher than their white counterparts. Some Black women enter the medical system with reluctance and mistrust. They may not see anyone at any level in the healthcare system who looks like them. They may feel guarded and unable to experience and express their vulnerability during a life-changing vulnerable time.

UofL School of Medicine: How does the University of Louisville School of Medicine and UofL Health address these issues?

Dr. Franklin: The University of Louisville has worked to diversify our medical school and faculty in addition to hiring a more diverse hospital staff. The goal is to have the healthcare staff represent the diversity of the patient population. During the first and second year of medical school, the curriculum includes clinical cases and discussions about their own personal bias and how it can impact the care is delivered and how race and racism negatively impacts the outcomes of black patients.

UofL School of Medicine: What challenges did you overcome when pursuing your field of study?

Dr. Franklin: When I joined the OBGYN residency program at UofL, I was the first black resident in 30 years. This position came with a lot of pressure, that I placed on myself, to represent myself and represent my community in the most positive light. It did not allow me to show much vulnerability and, at times, made me feel isolated. Knowing that my purpose was bigger than me helped me to overcome the pressure and sometimes unrealistic expectations I placed on myself. Knowing that I was paving the way for more residents of color, more faculty of color to come after me has been worth it all.  

UofL School of Medicine: What programs have you been a part of to advance OBGYN healthcare in Louisville, Kentucky?

Dr. Franklin: We have invested in the Central High School Pre-Medical Magnet Program, which launched in the Fall semester of 2022. This relationship gives West Louisville high school students an up-close and personal experience with a career in medicine. I was fortunate to take part in the White Coat Ceremony on Feb 26, 2023. As we placed white coats on each of the 33 students, their dreams of becoming doctors became a more tangible goal. They were able to show the community and their families that they were committed to being a part of the changing healthcare landscape. The energy in the room that day was powerful.  

UofL School of Medicine: As a woman of color, how do you use your background to show compassion and understanding to your patients?

Dr. Franklin: I understand what it was like to be an adolescent that had little knowledge about my body and felt like I had no power to advocate for myself. Every young woman needs someone in her life to tell her and remind her that she is powerful, smart, and in control of her own destiny. Medical decisions can be overwhelming when you don’t have the medical knowledge base to understand. With each patient, I try to serve as their doctor, their guide, and partner in all their healthcare decisions.

UofL School of Medicine: What are your favorite aspects of working in the medical field?

Dr. Franklin: I love being a doctor. I love building relationships with people and am seeing some of my relationships reach almost a decade and a half now. I am also mentoring a Central High School student who was one of the first babies I helped deliver while I was in residency! I know I have a unique role in people’s lives. I get the honor to be a part of very intimate moments with people. Some of these moments are very special and joyful like the birth of a child. Some moments are difficult like a cancer diagnosis or a miscarriage. I am grateful for the opportunity to support my patients through the brightest times and the darkest times of their lives.

UofL School of Medicine: What advice would you give to a student wanting to pursue a medical degree to become an OBGYN?

Dr. Franklin: Many students feel overwhelmed with the amount of time required to become a physician. My advice is always that time is going to pass anyway. The question is, will you be doing what you love during that time or wasting your time doing something else? The time goes by so fast and before you know it you will be mentoring those babies you delivered 17 years ago. Also, this is not meant for everyone to do. This is meant for YOU to do. At the white coat ceremony, the constant theme was that this white coat is like a cape. You do have superpowers when you put it on. You are able to diagnose and treat disease. You are able to remove a cancer from someone’s body and extend their lives. OBGYN is such a unique field because it combines primary care and surgery. You build long-lasting relationships with women across the entire life span and that is so special.  

The University of Louisville School of Medicine thanks Dr. Franklin for her insight into the medical field and her valuable work at UofL and within our community.

Shaping the next generation of physicians through student-led service

Shaping the next generation of physicians through student-led service

Project HEAL

With the support of Dwayne Compton, EdD, chief diversity office at the School of Medicine and Eddie Miller, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health, nine first-year medical students are providing avenues for experiencing science education for Louisville-area high school students.

Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy, and Leadership) is a recently founded student-led organization created to reduce barriers for high school students accessing science education with a pre-medicine focus at Louisville’s Title 1 schools. The program allows students an opportunity to meet current medical students and healthcare providers that share similarities and gain mentors who have a robust set of resources for the student to explore. The program currently serves 10th and 11th grade students at Pleasure Ridge Park High School and Moore High School.

“The goal of the program is to provide high school students with exposure to different healthcare fields and mentorship before applying to college,” said Jennifer Kreinik, a first-year medical student and executive director of Project HEAL. “My hope is to get kids excited about science and healthcare in general. By getting them excited and having the opportunity to learn from healthcare professionals, they will be more interested in exploring those career paths. That’s what Project HEAL is all about.”

Before coming to the UofL School of Medicine, Kreinik worked as a high school science teacher at a Title 1 school in Bronx, NY. “So many of my students did not realize the career possibilities in healthcare, and they never had people who looked like, or came from a similar background as them to model from. When starting medical school, I realized I was in a unique position to create a program that could really change the trajectory of young students’ lives.”

Kreinik and the other medical student leaders look forward to expanding their program to reach more schools in the Louisville community while working to expand the School of Medicine’s mission of educating the next generation of scientists and physicians. Project HEAL is helping to bridge the gaps for children who have been historically underrepresented in healthcare by providing them early access and exposure to what a career in those fields might look like.

The most rewarding part of the program, Kreinik said, is “witnessing all of the ideas and passion that my peers bring to our meetings and how quickly the group has grown.” To get involved in Project HEAL, UofL medical students should contact Kreinik or Cameron Stephens, director of recruitment, to be added to an email list that provides details of upcoming events throughout the semester, including information on monthly meetings.



Women’s History Month Spotlight: Dr. Kimberly Boland and Dr. Kerri Remmel

Women’s History Month Spotlight: Dr. Kimberly Boland and Dr. Kerri Remmel

Drs. Boland and Remmel

In US medical schools, only 23% of department chairs are women. In recognition of Women’s History month and National Doctors Day, the School of Medicine highlights its female department chairs that are paving the way for women in medicine.

Kimberly Boland, MD, a native Louisvillian, received her medical degree from the University of Louisville in 1987. She serves as a professor, chair of the Billy F. Andrews Endowed Chair of Pediatrics, and chief of staff of Nortons Childrens Hospital and Nortons Childrens Medical Group. Boland’s philosophy in life is to, “encourage people to say, ‘yes’ to opportunities that intrigue them because it will open doors and provide paths you never thought you would find.” This advice has led Boland throughout her career and landed her the astounding positions she holds today.

Training at Washington University in St. Louis at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital reaffirmed Boland’s ability to lead and reach for bigger things, pushing her outside her comfort zone. Boland’s advice for women pursuing medicine is taken from Sheryl Sandberg to “really lean in, speak up, and make sure you have a place at the table. Don’t sit in the second row. And get rid of that imposter syndrome, you deserve to be there.” To Boland, an empowered woman is a person who feels successful and supported in their role and knows they can make a difference. Her goal is to ensure all women she works with are empowered to advocate for themselves and find joy in their successes.

Kerri S. Remmel, MD, PhD, is a nationally recognized physician. She holds many titles including chair of the University of Louisville Department of Neurology and Director of the University of Louisville Stroke Center. She received her PhD in Communications Disorders and Linguistics at Louisiana State University. Remmels philosophy in her career and in life is to “do what you love, love what you do and always give more than you promise.”

Remmel’s advice for women pursuing a career in medicine is to, “Prepare and persevere. Through the ages women have been revered as healers. In modern times woman have contributed to and led medical teams in substantive ways. Numerous studies have shown improved patient outcomes when patients are cared for by women physicians, however I feel a collaborative team of women and men providers gives us a broader perspective. My advice to all students has been first and foremost to care, to collaborate with everyone and to tirelessly pursue your goals.”

The University of Louisville School of Medicine recognizes the contributions that women make to the medical field on a daily basis. We thank Drs. Boland and Remmel for their hardwork and dedication to our school and the Louisville community.

Celebrating excellence in service through community engagement

Celebrating excellence in service through community engagement

HERO Run Starting Line

Jason Beare, research manager in the department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, was awarded the 2023 Outstanding Community Engagement Award in the staff category at the 8th Annual Engaged Scholarship Symposium sponsored by the University of Louisville Office of Community Engagement on March 24, 2023. The intent of the Community Engagement Award is to recognize exemplary contributions that impact the well-being of the community or individuals in the community. Beare received a monetary award and his name added to a permanent recognition display in Ekstrom Library on UofL’s Belknap campus.

A 14-year employee of the University and longstanding UofL Staff Senator, Beare and his wife, Melissa, created the Louisville Honor Earned, Remembrance Owed (H.E.R.O.) Run/Walk/Ruck 5K to honor military personnel while supporting Kentuckiana-area veterans and dependent students. The event was first held in June 2022 with nearly three hundred participants, including virtual runners from Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Kosovo, and Horn of Africa.

Through the inaugural event, Beare raised more than $12,000 to benefit veterans and veteran dependents. A $7,500 donation was awarded to Veterans Club, Inc. to assist local veterans who have fallen on financial hardships. Numerous local veterans received life-changing support thanks to the donation, including a new HVAC unit for a disabled veteran caring for his spouse with severe asthma, housing assistance for a veteran and his family living in a storage unit, and food assistance for an elderly disabled veteran.

“What is more amazing,” said Kyle Hurwitz, director of the Center for Military-Connected Students, “is the enduring impact their actions will have on UofL students through their $5,000 H.E.R.O. Run/Walk/Ruck 5K contribution to UofL’s Salute to Service scholarship fund for veteran and dependent students.” Awarded for the first-time in fall 2022, the scholarship is changing lives. The first recipient was a Freshman Music Therapy major, and youngest daughter of a deceased veteran. The student is a Type 1 Diabetic, struggling to afford insulin and continuous glucose monitoring. The scholarship is allowing her to not have to choose between medical care and tuition bills and is enabling her to continue her education.

Beare was also able to bring positive attention to the University of Louisville campus, partnering with various offices in support of the event. University Athletics were involved in hosting the Start/Finish line at Cardinal Track Stadium. UofL Police provided security officers and police officers for road closures and overall safety. UofL Parking provided the barricades for road closures, and also offered free parking in the Floyd Street garage for all race participants.

“Melissa and I had no idea what to expect when we started talking about creating a charity 5K event for veterans,” said Beare. “We thought we’d be lucky to get 100 participants and donate a couple thousand dollars. The support of the UofL community has been a humbling and rewarding experience, and truly helped grow the Louisville H.E.R.O. Run beyond our wildest expectations. The 2023 event will be even bigger and better.”

The School of Medicine recognizes the importance of supporting our community, and we are proud of the engagement that Jason Beare has achieved through his service to veterans in the city of Louisville. The next Louisville H.E.R.O. Run/Walk/Ruck 5K will occur on June 3, 2023 to close out Memorial week.


First-gen American celebrates dream come true

First-gen American celebrates dream come true

Rachelle Alexander

As a first-generation American of immigrant parents from Jamaica, Rachelle Alexander's story is a testament to the power of hard work and determination. Despite facing adversity and doubters, she never lost sight of her goal of becoming a doctor and has become a trailblazer for other minority women pursuing medicine. “Pursing medicine has been a dream of mine since I was an adolescent and, from watching my parents, I learned what it meant to have a heart to help others.” Her parents instilled in her the passion to advocate for individuals with cultural and socioeconomic differences through her service as a physician.

Alexander was inspired to study medicine by her pediatrician and parents. Her pediatrician noticed how curious she was during all the routine procedures, and even offered to walk her through each step to ensure she understood. Alexander’s pediatrician left a great impact on her after expressing that she indeed would become a doctor one day. Her pediatrician's encouragement and willingness to walk her through procedures helped spark her interest and set her on the path to pursue medicine.

Alexander’s journey didn’t just comprise of a deep interest in medicine; service and volunteering were also key elements of her childhood, thanks to her parents love for giving back to the community. Growing up, she and her parents often went to serve food on Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings at the local shelter. Her parents’ dedication to help others with their hands and their time inspired Alexander to help people using similar tools. She combined her love for medicine with a passion for service and decided to pursue a career in General Surgery.

Alexander recalls her own admissions cycle to the School of Medicine and names Student Success Coordinator, Sharon Gordon, in her decision making process. "She wanted to make sure I felt prepared and she was willing to answer any questions I had about the medical school,” says Alexander. “I was amazed at how much they seemed to care about me as an individual even before I stepped foot on the campus. Upon my arrival, everyone was so kind and welcoming. I felt that if I came to this medical school, I would find family away from my family.”

Alexander's advice for those pursuing medicine: remember your “why.” “Working towards any goal often comes with struggles and going through medical school was one of my biggest challenges. Every step towards success came with another mountain I had to climb, but there is beauty in perseverance,” says Alexander. “At each stage of medical school, especially when dealing with COVID-19 and the racial injustices across America, I continued to tell myself that though I struggle I will proceed, and God has taken me through.”

The University of Louisville School of Medicine is proud to honor Rachelle Alexander for her contributions to our school and our city. She recently matched into her General Surgery residency at University of Alabama - Birmingham. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors and are confident she will continue to make a difference in the lives of her patients and community.

Potential recognized through a unique support system

Potential recognized through a unique support system

John Bowling, ENS, MC, USNR

John Bowling’s childhood was a struggle. At the age of nine, he was placed in a children’s home due to his mother’s cerebral palsy. He lived there until his junior year of high school when he relocated with foster parents, staying with them through high school graduation. Supported by his foster family and his biological mother and sister, he attended Lee University and graduated in 2013 with a degree in broadcast journalism. “I’m living proof that there are lots of kids out there who have so much potential but, due to circumstances out of their control, are unable to realize it.”

Unsure of his next step, he accepted a position through Teach for America as a high school biology and chemistry special education teacher in Hawaii. It was during his time on the Islands that he was inspired to pursue medicine. While working there, he felt a draw towards science and as much as he loved teaching, he felt a call elsewhere. Bowling spent a great deal of time with a physician mentor who encouraged him to consider medicine.

When he made the difficult decision to move back to the mainland and pursue medicine, Bowling searched for programs that would help him obtain his pre-requisite courses for medical school and found the University of Louisville School of Medicine. The Post Baccalaureate Pre-Med program offers individuals with a bachelor’s degree looking for a career change to enroll in a two-year preparation program to gain pre-med science coursework and offers assured admission to the UofL School of Medicine.

Bowling has been an active student leader during his time at the School of Medicine. He served as Historian and used his technical skills in digital media as well as his interest in social media to help document and promote the activities of his classmates. In addition, he was elected President of the Medical Student Council. During his time as president, he led a complete renovation of the medical student lounge, spearheaded initiatives to support and uplift our diversity groups, and contributed to several social events that brought all four classes together despite the COVID pandemic.

As a former teacher, Bowling brings a unique perspective to his medical practice that will undoubtedly benefit his patients. His advice for students pursuing medicine is insightful and emphasizes the importance of following one's passions. “Be sure of yourself and your decision; it will require effort and commitment beyond what you could ever expect,” says Bowling. “Surround yourself with people who encourage you and build you up, but also those who will hold you accountable. Always take time for yourself and do the things that make you happy.”

Upon graduation, Bowling will begin his career in Family Medicine with the Naval Medical Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. “It is an honor to be able to serve in the US military and I’m beyond excited to get started this summer.” The Military Match allows medical students to practice medicine in a variety of ways across the globe. “I love traveling and adventure. My communications with the Navy confirmed my decision! I’ve made some amazing friends through boot camp and cannot wait to go active duty in May!”

Though Bowling already received his Match, the School of Medicine celebrates his accomplishments and wishes him the best in his residency and future career with our US Military!

Kentucky native has a vision for the future

Kentucky native has a vision for the future

Cameron Garner

Congratulations to Cameron Garner on his match with the University of Louisville School of Medicine Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences! It is always inspiring to see individuals who have a passion for helping others pursue a career in medicine, and Garner's dedication to his patients is truly admirable.

Garner is a native Kentuckian and knew he wanted to go to into medicine. Growing up surrounded by physicians, he was inspired by the amazing care and respect they have for their patients. He began his journey to medical school early as one of 10 Kentucky high school students accepted into the UofL School of Medicine Guaranteed Entrance to Medical School (GEMS) program. After completing the GEMS program, students are automatically admitted into the School of Medicine by maintaining a 3.4 cumulative and science grade point average in undergraduate work, scoring at or above the national mean on each section of the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), and participating fully in program activities.

At a young age, Garner’s mother was diagnosed with macular degeneration and as he observed her ophthalmologist, his inspiration for pursuing Ophthalmology only grew. With each visit they would carefully and patiently care for his mother. Garner wants to help patients in the same way physicians in his life have continued to help his mother.

For anyone interested in pursuing medicine, Garner’s advice is “to find a mentor who you trust to help you along your journey. Having someone that you feel comfortable getting advice from is crucial, because the journey to medicine is not easy, and the road does not end once you are accepted to medical school.”

Garner has already begun in his career of service to others. During his time at the University of Louisville, Garner served as a math tutor, teaching assistant in undergraduate studies, and a tutor in the medical school. As a participant in the Medical Education Distinction track, he created a Math Refresher pre-quiz module for first-year medical students to complete prior to their biostatistics course to address medical students’ anxiety surrounding mathematics.

We are proud of Cameron Garner for his hard work and dedication to the University of Louisville School of Medicine. We wish him luck on his residency and future endeavors!

Q&A: UofL environmental health researcher on leave to serve the White House

Q&A: UofL environmental health researcher on leave to serve the White House

Natasha DeJarnett

Natasha DeJarnett, assistant professor of medicine and researcher with the Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute, is spending a year away from UofL to devote her skills to improving environmental justice for the federal government.

DeJarnett has accepted a one-year fellowship as deputy director for environmental justice data and evaluation for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. The council coordinates the federal government’s efforts to improve, preserve and protect public health and the environment. It also advises the president and develops policies on climate change, environmental justice, federal sustainability, public lands, oceans and wildlife conservation.

DeJarnett is on leave from UofL for the one-year fellowship, but she will be working remotely, so she will remain in Louisville and stay connected with her UofL colleagues.

UofL News talked with DeJarnett about the fellowship and what she hopes to gain from the experience that she can bring back to UofL.

UofL News: What will be your role as deputy director for environmental justice data and evaluation?

DeJarnettThe White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has created the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool. Version 1.0 was released in November 2022, and we’re continuing to mold it with input from stakeholders across the U.S. and experts in the field. I will continue that process and engage people and experts around the tool. We are also developing an Environmental Justice Scorecard that will track government agencies’ progress on environmental justice.

I’m very excited to see how the information from these environmental justice tools will be used to identify communities across the U.S. that are disadvantaged and thereby uniquely susceptible to the health hazards of climate and environmental exposures, but ultimately how climate and environmental justice investments in these communities will benefit health.

My interest is in advancing environmental health for everyone, particularly the populations that have borne the greatest burden, that have frequently experienced these exposures and communities that may be less resilient to these health threats. I want to help equip those communities and ensure that future actions and activities and efforts to protect health do not leave certain groups behind. If marginalized communities do not benefit from these actions, then injustice continues to perpetuate.

UofL News:  What is environmental justice?

DeJarnett: According to the Environmental Protection Agency, environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies. This goal will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and have equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn and work.

UofL News: What are some examples of environmental injustice?

DeJarnett I have a personal example. I’m from here in Kentucky, but the greater portion of my family is from Birmingham, Alabama, where my parents and my grandparents lived in an area of environmental injustice.

Their community was home to numerous steel mills. Some still are in the neighborhood today. Also, a major interstate runs right through their community, another interstate is south of it, the airport is just south of their neighborhoods, there were hazardous waste sites and so forth. There was documented soil contamination in their community that has been remediated. But the community continues to deal with poor air quality and there are a number of health disparities present – cardiovascular disease, low birth weight and other chronic conditions.

We have similar experiences right here in Louisville in Rubbertown, which at its height, had 11 to 13 chemical manufacturers in a community that’s largely populated by low-wealth individuals and people of color. Another example is in southeastern Louisiana in an area known as cancer alley.

Flint, Michigan’s water crisis and formerly redlined communities that have warmer surface temperatures, poorer air quality and are more flood prone are other examples.

You have places where there are large industrial exposures, hazardous waste sites or other environmental toxins that people are being exposed to and we often find that those happen to certain segments of our population. It could be on tribal lands; it could be communities of low wealth.

UofL News: What do you hope to contribute to the council’s mission?

DeJarnett: My interest overall is to contribute to the advancement of environmental justice for the advancement of public health. I am super excited that I may be able to contribute to actions, activities, resources and tools that could contribute to improved health across our nation, particularly for communities that bear a heavier burden and that have higher risk.

I hope to be able to make a difference for communities like that of my family in Birmingham and Rubbertown here in Louisville, in Mossville, Louisiana and all across the nation. These and other communities have not always been given a voice in their exposure to environmental burdens and are not able to – nor should they have to – just up and move.

We all deserve clean air to breathe, we all deserve safe water to drink, and I hope to contribute to activities that support upholding those rights.

UofL News: What in your previous experience makes this a perfect position for you?

DeJarnett: At UofL, I was doing research on climate change and health and was looking at extreme heat exposure and cardiovascular disease risk as well as poor air quality and cardiovascular disease risk. In addition, I was examining environmental health disparities.

Before I came to UofL, I worked at two national nonprofits, the American Public Health Association and the National Environmental Health Association. There I did a lot of work building partnerships and facilitating opportunities for multiple people to weigh in with their expertise and contribute to an end product.

I have appreciated opportunities to build consensus among national leaders and to identify emerging trends and share environmental health resources.

In this role I’ll need to work between agencies and be able to put on multiple hats and speak to multiple audiences. I love opportunities to try to meet people where they are, find what we have in common, what values we share and how can we move from there with shared vision.

UofL News: How will this experience be helpful to you and the mission of the Envirome Institute once you return to UofL?

DeJarnett: I will get a national picture of the current state of environmental justice research and data that exists and a deeper understanding of the gaps in knowledge in environmental health and environmental injustice across the U.S. This will help me understand where academic research may be able to fill those gaps.

In addition, this opportunity will expose me to environmental justice data tools that our communities can utilize to inform local action.

Our center is committed to human health, to improving, advancing and protecting health in our communities. Environmental justice is a key aspect of health in our community. Plus, I’ll get a lot of experience with data and analysis, and that always benefits in environmental epidemiologist.

I love being at the University of Louisville. I love the expansion and direction that’s happening right here within the Envirome Institute, so I’m grateful for the support to have this life-bridging opportunity and to be able to bring that back here.

University of Louisville Appoints School of Medicine Interim Dean

University of Louisville Appoints School of Medicine Interim Dean

Jeffrey M. Bumpous, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Jeffrey M. Bumpous, MD, has been appointed to serve as interim dean of the University of Louisville School of Medicine effective July 1, 2023. Bumpous will work closely with current dean Toni Ganzel, MD, MBA, for the remainder of the semester to ensure he is thoroughly onboarded before Ganzel begins her retirement at the end of June. 

“Dr. Bumpous possesses many qualities that School of Medicine faculty, staff and students expressed wanting in an interim dean at listening sessions hosted earlier this year,” said UofL Executive Vice President & University Provost Lori Stewart Gonzalez in announcing the appointment to the UofL community. “We plan to start a formal dean search in the fall 2023 semester to fill the dean position permanently.”

Bumpous brings a wealth of experience to the appointed role. He has served as the chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and Communicative Disorders at the UofL School of Medicine since 2015. He has also served as president of the Association of Academic Departments of Head and Neck Surgery (AADO-HNS), president of the Society of University Otolaryngologists (SUO), member of the Board of Directors of the American Board of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery and in a variety of other leadership roles with the American Academy of Otolaryngology, the American Head and Neck Society, the Kentucky Society of Otolaryngology, the Louisville Otolaryngologic Society and other professional organizations. 

 “I am committed to our excellent learners, staff, faculty and community and look forward to working with an outstanding and growing medical school and health system,” Bumpous said of the new role.  

Ganzel announced her retirement in early January after serving as dean of the School of Medicine for more than 10 years and serving in other leadership positions at the university for 30 years. Ganzel was the first woman in the school’s history to serve as dean.

“I have had the privilege of knowing and working with Dr. Bumpous for over 25 years and I am confident he will be extraordinarily effective in the role,” Ganzel said. “It will be an honor to pass the baton to him as I leave.”

Women’s History Month Spotlight: Dr. Shorye Durrett

Women’s History Month Spotlight: Dr. Shorye Durrett

Shorye Durrett, M.D.

The University of Louisville School of Medicine recognizes the importance of Women’s History Month and takes pride in highlighting faculty members going above and beyond for the school and the Louisville community. Shorye Durrett, MD, assistant dean for Medical Student Affairs, has been a part of the University of Louisville family since enrolling in its pre-matriculation program in 1993.   

Her passion for Ophthalmology began at a young age. In the 8th grade, her stepfather helped make an eye model using clay and a yarn spool. She entered the project in a science fair at a local university. Judges of the fair asked her to explain how the eye works internally, and thus created a ‘spark’ in her own eye. “I am humbly grateful to not only be an ophthalmologist, but actually a retina specialist,” said Durrett.

Durrett is a part of a small community of African American ophthalmologists in the U.S., where less than 5% of the country’s ophthalmologists identify as African American. In 1997, she became the second African American graduate from the University of Louisville School of Medicine to match in ophthalmology and the first African American woman resident at the University of Louisville Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.

Durrett’s legacy of gratitude continues today. She started a non-profit called Vision Ambassadors (VisAmb) to provide “educational assistance to help students obtain terminal graduate degrees with the intent of community wealth building and service.” Durrett’s aim is to continue to build upon the rich legacies of many others, for others.  Thus, she’s busy helping establish the Mary S. Joshua Endowment Fund, Portnoy-Berberich-Payne ‘Vision Heirs’ Endowment Fund, and Dr. Delores Gordon Allyne Lecture Series to honor their legendary contributions in medical progress for all.

The School of Medicine is honored to have Dr. Shorye Durrett as a part of its faculty and a greater part of the Louisville community.