Researchers recommend human clinical trials for CBD to prevent COVID-19 based on promising data

Researchers recommend human clinical trials for CBD to prevent COVID-19 based on promising data

Kenneth Palmer, Ph.D.

An interdisciplinary team of researchers from several institutions headed by the University of Chicago and including the University of Louisville has found evidence that cannabidiol (CBD), a product of the cannabis plant, can inhibit infection by SARS-CoV-2 in human cells and in mice.

The study, published Jan. 20 in Science Advances, found CBD showed a significant negative association with SARS-CoV-2 positive tests in a national sample of medical records of patients taking the FDA-approved drug for treating epilepsy. The researchers now say that clinical trials should be done to determine whether CBD could eventually be used as a preventative or early treatment for COVID-19.

They caution, however, that the COVID-blocking effects of CBD come only from a high purity, specially formulated dose taken in specific situations. The study’s findings do not suggest that consuming commercially available products with CBD additives that vary in potency and quality can prevent COVID-19.

Scientists have been looking for new therapies for people infected by the coronavirus and emerging variants, especially those who lack access to vaccines, as the pandemic continues across the country and world and as breakthrough infections become more common.

“The Commonwealth of Kentucky has a robust hemp agriculture, so we were pleased to find that pharmaceutical grade CBD is worth testing in future human clinical studies,” said Kenneth Palmer, study coauthor who headed the UofL research team. “In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our team developed expertise in SARS-CoV-2 infection models and we welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with the University of Chicago team to confirm the efficacy of CBD treatment against SARS-CoV-2.” 

Palmer is director of the Center for Predictive Medicine for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust Endowed Chair in Plant-based Pharmaceutical Research at UofL. The center houses the Regional Biocontainment Laboratory, one of only 12 regional and two national biocontainment labs in the United States and the only one in Kentucky. Established with support from the NIH to conduct research with infectious agents, the lab includes Biosafety Level 3 facilities built to the most exacting federal safety and security standards.

Researchers from the University of Louisville co-authoring the study with Palmer are Divayasha Saxena, Jon D. Gabbard, Jennifer K. Demarco, William E. Severson and Charles D. Anderson. The research was directed by the University of Chicago and other scientists involved are from the National Argonne Laboratory, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the National COVID Cohort Collaborative Consortium.

CBD: An unexpected avenue for fighting COVID-19

The idea to test CBD as a potential COVID-19 therapeutic was serendipitous. “CBD has anti-inflammatory effects, so we thought that maybe it would stop the second phase of COVID infection involving the immune system, the so-called ‘cytokine storm.’ Surprisingly, it directly inhibited viral replication in lung cells,” said Marsha Rosner, PhD, Charles B. Huggins Professor in the University of Chicago’s Ben May Department of Cancer Research and a senior author of the study.

To see this effect, UofL researchers first treated human lung cells with a non-toxic dose of CBD for two hours before exposing the cells to SARS-CoV-2 and monitoring them for the virus and the viral spike protein. They found that, above a certain threshold concentration, CBD inhibited the virus’ ability to replicate. Further investigation found that CBD had the same effect in two other types of cells and for three variants of SARS-CoV-2 in addition to the original strain.

CBD did not affect the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to enter the cell. Instead, CBD was effective at blocking replication early in the infection cycle and six hours after the virus had already infected the cell.

Like all viruses, SARS-CoV-2 affects the host cell by hijacking its gene expression machinery to produce more copies of itself and its viral proteins. This effect can be observed by tracking virus-induced changes in cellular RNAs. High concentrations of CBD almost completely eradicated the expression of viral RNAs. It was a completely unexpected result.

“We just wanted to know if CBD would affect the immune system,” Rosner said. “No one in their right mind would have ever thought that it blocked viral replication, but that’s what it did.”

The researchers showed that the mechanism by which CBD blocks SARS-CoV-2 replication involves CBD activation of one of the host cell stress responses and generation of interferons, an antiviral cell protein.

Real world data: Patients taking CBD test positive for COVID-19 at lower rates

The researchers wanted scientific data to show that CBD prevents viral replication in live animals. The team showed pretreatment with CBD for one week prior to infection with SARS-CoV-2 suppressed infection both in the lung and the nasal passages of mice. “These results provide major support for a clinical trial of CBD in humans,” said Rosner.

And the success of CBD wasn’t limited to the laboratory: An analysis of 1,212 patients from the National COVID Cohort Collaborative revealed that patients taking a medically prescribed oral solution of CBD for the treatment of epilepsy tested positive for COVID-19 at significantly lower rates than a sample of matched patients from similar demographic backgrounds who were not taking CBD.  

The potential for CBD to treat patients recently exposed to or infected by SARS-CoV-2 does not precede the first lines of defense against COVID-19, which are to get vaccinated and follow existing public health guidelines for masking in indoor spaces and social distancing. But the published results offer a potential new therapeutic, something still needed as the pandemic rages on.

“A clinical trial is necessary to determine whether CBD is really effective at preventing or suppressing SARS-CoV-2 infection, but we think this may have potential as a prophylactic treatment,” said Rosner. “Maybe you’re in a hot spot or you think you might have been exposed or you’ve just tested positive — that’s where we think CBD might have an effect.”

Not your dispensary’s CBD

The research team emphasized that the COVID-blocking effects of CBD were confined strictly to high purity, high concentrations of CBD. Closely related cannabinoids such as CBDA, CBDV and THC, the psychoactive element enriched in marijuana plants, did not have the same power. In fact, combining CBD with equal amounts of THC actually reduced the efficacy of CBD.

“Going to your corner bakery and buying some CBD muffins or gummy bears probably won’t do anything,” said Rosner. “The commercially available CBD powder we looked at, which was off the shelf and something you could order online, was sometimes surprisingly of high purity but also of inconsistent quality. It is also hard to get into an oral solution that can be absorbed without the special, FDA-approved formulation,” Rosner said.

Furthermore, CBD use is not without potential risks. It appears to be extremely safe when consumed in food or drink, but methods of use such as vaping can have negative side effects, including potential damage to the heart and lungs. It’s also not well studied in certain populations, such as pregnant people, and so should be used only under the supervision of a physician and with caution. 

While the study’s results are exciting, additional study is needed to determine the precise dosing of CBD that is effective at preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection in humans as well as its safety profile and any potential side effects.

“We are very eager to see some clinical trials on this subject get off the ground,” Rosner said. “Especially as we are seeing that the pandemic is still nowhere near the end — determining whether this generally safe, well-tolerated, and non-psychoactive cannabinoid might have anti-viral effects against COVID-19 is of critical importance.”

Rosner was also pleased that this research project was a case study in the power of scientific collaboration by bringing together a highly interdisciplinary group of researchers. Senior authors listed on the paper came from three different research universities and from departments as diverse as microbiology, molecular engineering, cancer biology and chemistry.

“This was truly a team-science effort, and that’s something that really excites me,” said Rosner. “From clinicians to David Meltzer’s group who did the patient analysis to virologists like Glenn Randall, and it goes on and on. This is the way science should be carried out.” 

UofL researchers develop gene therapy to regenerate heart cells

Therapy is ready for trial in humans
UofL researchers develop gene therapy to regenerate heart cells

Study authors in the UofL Institute of Molecular Cardiology, (l. to r.) Qinghui Ou, Xian-Liang Tang, Tamer Mohamed, AbouBakr Salama and Riham Abouleisa

A University of Louisville research team has refined a process in which specific genes administered to heart muscle cells stimulate the cells to divide, with the goal of restoring heart function following a heart attack. Tamer M.A. Mohamed, assistant professor of cardiology, along with colleagues in UofL’s Institute of Molecular Cardiology and elsewhere, have completed preclinical testing that will allow this therapy to be tested in humans as a treatment for certain types of heart failure.
“By inducing proliferation in cardiac heart muscle cells, we hope to be able to treat this deadly disease.” Mohamed said. “In this study, we have demonstrated preliminary efficacy of the transient gene therapy we call 4F in the treatment of ischemic heart failure.”  
The most common form of heart disease, ischemic heart disease affects about 18.2 million adults in the United States and caused 360,900 deaths in 2019. Also called coronary heart disease, it is characterized by reduced blood and oxygen flow to the heart due to narrowed arteries, usually caused by a buildup of plaque. When the blood flow to the heart muscle is completely blocked, the patient experiences a heart attack and millions of heart muscle cells die. 
Since heart muscle cells do not reproduce readily and limited medical options exist to repair heart muscle, a heart attack often leads to progressive heart failure. 
The therapy developed by Mohamed’s team involves a combination of four cell-cycle regulator genes, cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (CDK1), CDK4, cyclin B1, and cyclin D1, known collectively as 4F, or four factors. Using 4F, the UofL-led team was able to stimulate the proliferation of heart muscle cells in the lab, leading to improved heart function in animal models for up to four months. 
In addition, the proliferation was limited to onecycle, avoiding adverse effects resulting from uncontrolled proliferation, thereby increasing clinical feasibility of the process. 
Mohamed was part of a team that first identified the potential of the four genes for inducing efficient proliferation of heart muscle cells in 2018. In this most recent work, he and his team further refined the process to use these genes, bringing the technology to treat ischemic heart disease closer to testing in humans. “Transient Cell Cycle Induction in Cardiomyocytes to Treat Subacute Ischemic Heart Failure” was published Jan. 21 in the journal Circulation.
In October, Mohamed and Bradford Hill, professor in the Division of Environmental Medicine, led a team that published research showing that two common food supplements, Nicotinamide (Vitamin B3) and N-acetyl glucosamine (GlcNAc), are essential for heart cell division and improve cardiomyocyte proliferation when included as part of treatment with 4F.
“This discovery will facilitate new avenues to use metabolites which are naturally in our food to regenerate the diseased heart and treat heart failure,” Mohamed said.
The study utilized a biomimetic culture system developed at UofL by Mohamed that keeps slices of human hearts alive for a longer period of time for research. The system mimics the environment of a living organ through continuous electrical stimulation and oxygenation, maintaining viability and functionality of the heart segments for six days, allowing more extensive testing. The heart culture system is available for use by researchers outside UofL.

UofL physiatrists provide key role in RETAIN Kentucky, a service to help people return to work after injury or illness

University of Louisville physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians Matthew Adamkin and Priya Chandan are helping lead a new initiative in Kentucky, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, to help people with illnesses or injuries keep working and avoid long-term disability.

The program, RETAIN Kentucky, which stands for Retaining Employment and Talent after Injury/Illness Network, is a free service for Kentucky residents who have experienced an illness or injury outside the workplace to help them obtain services or accommodations so they can continue working.

“The benefits of maintaining or going back to work are immense beyond the financial – psychosocial, physical, mental – so it’s much better than ending up on long-term disability,” Adamkin said. “We have had stroke patients who otherwise would have gone on disability who now are returning to work. We have folks who have had COVID who were hospitalized or had prolonged illness who are working on getting back to work.”

Once an individual is enrolled in RETAIN, a return-to-work coordinator helps them access existing resources, such as workplace accommodations or assistance with transportation, rent or utilities. The coordinator will help the individual develop a return-to-work plan that provides personalized support including assistance with health care and employer communications.

In the pilot phase of the program, Adamkin and Chandan, faculty members with the UofL School of Medicine, advised program leaders and were responsible for more than 60% of referrals to the program through UofL Health – Frazier Rehab Institute. Now, Kentucky is one of only five states to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Labor to expand the program in its second phase.

“At Frazier we see such a wide variety of patients – stroke, spinal cord injury, COVID patients – but regardless of their diagnosis, whether they rolled their ankle playing flag football over the weekend or had a stroke, everybody benefits because there are so many resources available,” Adamkin said.

RETAIN Kentucky is led by Kentucky’s Department of Workforce Investment in the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. Implementation is overseen by the University of Kentucky, with a subaward to UofL and Frazier Rehab Institute. UK Healthcare and UofL Health are the leading health organizations for the project, which aims to enroll 3,200 people over four years from across the state. Adamkin and Chandan also are working to educate faculty, residents and medical students in the UofL School of Medicine about the program and the benefits of these services on patients’ quality of life and conducting research to determine how the program performs in terms of both health and employment outcomes.

If you or someone you know has experienced an injury or illness outside the workplace and would benefit from assistance in returning to work, visit or call 859-562-3251.

Graduating UofL residents roll to another successful fellowship match

Another year of the COVID-19 pandemic doesn't slow down the Class of 2022
Graduating UofL residents roll to another successful fellowship match

UofL Internal Medicine Residency Program Class of 2022

Despite having to battle through the upheaval of another year of a global pandemic, several future residency graduates of the University of Louisville Internal Medicine Residency Program and Med-Peds Residency Program persevered and recently learned their future destinations in the annual fellowship match.

Five of those will continue their education at UofL.

"Can you imagine building a fellowship application while training in residency during a global pandemic?," Dr. Jennifer Koch, director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program said. "Well, these amazing physicians have done just that!  We are absolutely thrilled to see their investment of time and energy result in these amazing fellowship opportunities. And I would like to say thank you to our Department of Medicine faculty as well, who have provided invaluable mentorship for these residents throughout the application process."

Those from The University of Louisville who matched for 2022 include:



BJ Aladili

Rishi Charate

Viral Desai

Ishan Parikh

Steve Pokrywa

Jeffrey Spindel

Chanelle Benjamin

Armando Bosch

Mohamed Elmasry

Dylan Gerlach

Nishant Patel

Laura Sims

Sudeepthi Bandikatla

Harsimran Brar

Dipan  Karmali











Infectious Diseases



Pulmonary/Critical Care

Pulmonary/Critical Care

University of Louisville

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota

University of Louisville

University of Louisville

University of Kentucky

University of Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin

University of Florida

University of Louisville

Vanderbilt University

University of North Carolina

University of South Florida

University of Louisville

University of Miami

ULSOM 3rd Annual Faculty Excellence Awards

The University of Louisville School of Medicine held its 3rd annual Celebration of Faculty Excellence on Tuesday, November 30. More than 80 people were in attendance and more joined virtually to learn of the 2021 award winners. The ULSOM Faculty Excellence honors those who bring distinction to our institution through Outstanding Scholarship, Research and Creative Activity Awards, Distinguished Service Awards, and Educator Awards.

Faculty Excellence 1

Faculty Excellence 2

Faculty Excellence 3

Faculty Excellence 4

Faculty Excellence 5

Faculty Excellence 6

Faculty Excellence 7

Faculty Excellence 8

Faculty Excellence 9

Faculty Excellence 10

School of Medicine appoints Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs & Advancement

School of Medicine appoints Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs & Advancement

Christopher Seals, Ph.D.

Christopher Seals, Ph.D., has been selected by the University of Louisville School of Medicine as the new Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs & Advancement. In addition, Seals has been appointed as Assistant Professor in the School of Medicine Dean’s Office.

“We are excited for Dr. Seals to be joining our team. His professional experience brings a history and passion for diversity, equity and inclusion work. He is a distinguished collaborator and communicator that will provide our faculty, residents and fellows with a culture that empowers all,” said Toni Ganzel M.D., M.B.A., dean of the School of Medicine.

In this position, Seals will function as an advocate for under-represented faculty in the School of Medicine. He will work collaboratively with the Vice Dean of Faculty Affairs and Advancement to support and expand initiatives with faculty diversity, inclusion and recruitment, and retention. He will also collaborate with the Vice Dean for Graduate Medical Education and the Assistant Dean for CME and Professional Development to provide a strong infrastructure of innovative resident and fellow programs and services that promote resident and fellow retention as faculty members, as well as work with the Chief Diversity Officer for the School of Medicine and other Offices of Diversity and Inclusion at the Health Sciences Center and the main campus of University of Louisville.

“The Assistant Dean position will allow me to apply my knowledge in an administrative role that will directly impact faculty and their ability to serve the medical community and advance their own careers. As a Kentucky native, I am excited for the opportunity to return to my alma mater and use my considerable experience in diversity and inclusion, collaborating, and professional development to assist the SOM in meeting its goals,” Seals said of accepting his new role.

Seals has twelve years of leadership in higher education, most recently at the University of Illinois where he served as the Coordinator of Curriculum and Assessment for the College of Veterinary Medicine and a Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Education in the Veterinary Clinical Medicine (VCM) department. He received his PhD in Education Psychology & Educational Technology from Michigan State University in 2018.  He completed his Master of Education in Education & Counseling Psychology and Personnel Services in 2011 and a Bachelor of Arts in 2008 from the University of Louisville.

Seals will begin his new role March 1, 2022.

2021 Research!Louisville Award Winners

NCI Cancer Education Program Norbert J. Burzynski Award Professional Student Category

  • Lakynkalina McCaffrey (first place);  Faculty mentor Dr. Christopher States
  • Jenny Chen (second place); Faculty mentor Dr. Wenke Feng
  • Noela Botaka (third place); Faculty mentor Dr. Paula Bates

 NCI Cancer Education Program Norbert J. Burzynski Award Undergraduate Student Category 

  • Dietrich Sears (first place);  Faculty mentor Dr. John Trent
  • Joanna Feng (second place); Faculty mentor Dr. Leah Siskind
  • Julie Corman (third place); Faculty mentor Dr. Joshua Fuqua
  • Luke Schroeder (third place); Faculty mentor Dr. Joshua Hood 

The black death still has lessons to share

UofL research into bacterium causing bubonic plague yields clues to fighting pneumonia, sepsis
The black death still has lessons to share

A live microscopy image of macrophages, white blood cells that mediate innate immunity, infected with Yersinia pestis, shown in red. UofL photo by Matthew Lawrenz and Tiva VanCleave, a former doctoral student in Lawrenz’s lab.

Bubonic plague may not seem like a significant problem in the world today. While it killed millions of people in Europe in the Middle Ages and was known as the “black death,” it mostly has faded from public concern.

Microbiologists at the University of Louisville study Yersinia pestis, the bacteria that causes bubonic plague, however, because it has the potential to be used as a bioweapon and it provides knowledge that may apply to efforts to defeat other bacteria. Through this work, they have made an important discovery about a molecule secreted by Y. pestis and other bacteria that helps defeat the host’s immune defenses, allowing the bacteria to infect its hosts.

Sarah Price, a doctoral student researcher, and her mentor, Matthew Lawrenz, associate professor of microbiology and immunology, have found that yersiniabactin, a small molecule secreted by Y. pestis, gathers zinc, a necessary element for bacterial replication. This discovery may have implications in other infections as well since bacteria causing pneumonia, sepsis and other illnesses also are known to release yersiniabactin.

“While yersiniabactin’s role in iron acquisition has been well known for over 30 years, we were surprised to see its significant impact on zinc acquisition during Y. pestis infection,” Price said “This is very exciting because it helps us understand how Y. pestis and other bacteria acquire nutrients that allow them to cause disease.”

Invading bacteria as well as the hosts they infect all require iron, zinc and other metals in order to grow. The host’s immune system employs a strategy called nutritional immunity to protect against these bacterial infections, sealing the metals away from the bacteria.

It has been known for many years that yersiniabactin defeats this defense by stealing away iron and delivering it into the bacterial cells. Price and Lawrenz have discovered that the molecule also is involved in securing zinc and perhaps even other metals to assist Y. pestis infection.

Yersiniabactin also is used by Escherichia coli, which causes a multitude of infections such as intestinal illness and kidney infections, and Klebsiella pneumoniae, which causes pneumonia and sepsis. These more common diseases can be life-threatening and multidrug-resistant infections. The new understanding may lead to additional strategies for controlling infection by all of these bacteria.

An article describing the research published Oct. 29 in PNAS provides details about how the researchers determined that yersiniabactin was responsible for the collection of not only iron, but zinc. Price is first author on the publication, “Yersiniabactin Contributes to Overcoming Zinc Restriction during Yersiniapestis Infection of Mammalian and Insect Hosts.” Lawrenz, associate professor of microbiology and immunology, is senior author, and researchers from the University of Kentucky, Washington State University and the University of Illinois also contributed to these studies.

“With this understanding of the broader role of yersiniabactin in plague infection, we can explore further to understand its role in enabling other bacteria to infect a human or other host,” Lawrenz said. “If this mechanism holds true across these bacteria, it may be possible to develop a drug or vaccine that could inhibit yersiniabactin’s effectiveness, thus preventing all of these infections.”

Bubonic plague most often is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected flea, usually carried by a rodent. By not handling animal carcasses, preventing flea bites and avoiding contact with bodily fluids of those infected, the spread of bubonic plague is largely controlled. However, since human-to-human transmission is possible, mortality from an infection ranges from 30-90% and no vaccine is available to prevent the infection, it remains an important pathogen for research. In addition, Y. pestis, has the potential for weaponization and is considered a bioterrorism threat.

Lawrenz, Price and their colleagues conduct research within the UofL Center for Predictive Medicine for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, which focuses on the development of prevention and treatment strategies for infectious diseases and other harmful pathogens. Its researchers utilize the UofL Regional Biocontainment Laboratory, a member of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases network of 12 regional and 2 national biocontainment laboratories for studying infectious agents. The lab includes Biosafety Level 3 facilities built to the most exacting federal safety and security standards to protect researchers and the public from exposure to the pathogens being investigated. 

The center’s researchers were called upon in early 2020 to develop tests and prevention and treatment strategies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This work continues.

UofL Department of Medicine members shine in return of Research!Louisville

Annual research event made its return in 2021 after COVID-19 pandemic closed it down in 2020
UofL Department of Medicine members shine in return of Research!Louisville

Researchers present their projects at the 2021 Research!Louisville event at the University of Louisville

Members of the University of Louisville Department of Medicine made up for lost time as the annual Research!Louisville event was back for 2021.

Celebrating its 25th year after taking a break in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Research!Louisville is an annual celebration of health-related research aimed at promoting excellence and public awareness in health sciences research in Louisville while also generating additional funding for health sciences research.

A panel of university faculty judges selected the winners of this year's contest from hundreds of entries in the categories of professional/clinical students, basic science grad students, postgraduates and faculty.

Here's a look at finished at or near the top in their respective categories:

Doctoral Basic Science Graduate Student Award

  • 2nd placeAaron Whitt - "Investigating the role of Paraoxonase 2 in non-small cell lung carcinoma"
    Mentor: Chi Li, Ph.D.

Rhonda A. Hoffman Medical Student Award

  • 1st Place: Madelaine Stanback - "Understanding the Metabolic and Transcriptional Processes that Contribute to Pregnancy-Induced Cardiac Growth"
    Mentor: Helen Collins, Ph.D.
  • 3rd Place: Manasaa Kannan - "Development of a testing protocol to evaluate the efficiency of a microfluidic blood plasma preparation device as part of a novel DSC point-of-care diagnostic system"
    Mentor: Nicola Garbett, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow Award

  • 1st Place: Josiah Hardesty - Hepatic cardiolipin biosynthesis is compromised in alcohol-associated hepatitis"
    Mentor: Irina Kirpich, Ph.D.

Research Associate/Research Scientist Award

  • 1st Place: Shah Parag - "Identification of a new gene that blocks breast cancer metastasis"
    Mentor: Levi Beverly, Ph.D.
  • 2nd Place: Jianzhu Luo - "Evaluating the sex-dependent effects of chlordane exposure in the context of fatty liver disease, energy metabolism and endocrine disruption"
    Mentor: Banrida Wahlang, Ph.D.

Research Staff Award

  • Winner: Megan Bezold - "Serological analysis of immunocompromised and healthy patients following mRNA COVID-19"
    Mentor: Krystal Hamorsky, Ph.D.

School of Medicine Clinical Research Fellow Award

  • Winner: Simone Chang - "Targeting Mechanisms of Resistance in Medulloblastoma"
    Mentor: Sucheta Telang, MBBS

Faculty Award in Basic Science

  • Winner: Banrida Wahlang, Ph.D. - "Sex-dependent effects of vinyl chloride on the hepatic transcriptome: implications on toxicant-associated steatohepatitis"

NCI Cancer Education Program Norbert J. Burzynski Award

Undergraduate Student Category

  • 1st Place: Dietrich Sears - "Unique Avenues for the Inhibition of Telomerase Activity in Cancer:  Selective Targeting of Higher Order G-quadruplexes"
    Mentor: John Trent, Ph.D.

Professional Student Category

  • 2nd Place: Jenny Chen - "Deficiency of Antimicrobial Peptide Cathelicidin Attenuated High Fat Diet plus Alcohol-induced Liver Injury through Regulation of FGF21/Adiponectin Signaling and Lipolysis in Adipose Tissue in Mice"
    Mentor: Wenke Feng, Ph.D.
  • 3rd Place: Noela Botaka - "Similar but different: Antiproliferative activity and cancer-selectivity of two copper complexes"
    Mentor: Paula Bates, Ph.D.

Kosair Charities grants $6.4 million to UofL for children’s health programs

Funding continues work that helps families go ‘from feeling hopeless to hopeful’
Kosair Charities grants $6.4 million to UofL for children’s health programs

Luke Madson on a specially designed pediatric treadmill for therapy at the Kosair Charities Center for Pediatric Neurorecovery

The Kosair Charities Center for Pediatric NeuroRecovery at the University of Louisville brings about recovery for children with spinal cord injuries through therapies developed by the center’s director, Andrea Behrman, professor in the UofL Department of Neurological Surgery, and her team within the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center.

Kosair Charities, which supported the program at its inception in 2014, has extended that support through 2026 with a new grant for $5.5 million over five years.

Children in the clinical and research programs of the Center for Pediatric NeuroRecovery are treated with innovative, science-based therapies such as activity-based locomotor training, neuromuscular electrical stimulation and transcutaneous spinal stimulation. These therapies have led to improved strength, abilities and overall health for the children in ways their families thought would not be possible.

“We went from feeling hopeless to hopeful after just one conversation with Dr. Behrman,” said Kylee Hoelscher who, with her husband and older daughter, moved from California to Louisville in 2016 so their then-six-year-old daughter Eden could continue therapy.

“This is the only program in the world that offers hope for children with a spinal cord injury,” Hoelscher said. “When she started, Eden could not even sit up on her own and attended school at home. Now she goes to school independently and has sleepovers with friends. She rock climbs. She plays tennis. What they’re doing for her is life-changing.”

“We are grateful to Kosair Charities for their continued support for the Center for Pediatric NeuroRecovery, a remarkable program that gives hope for recovery to children with spinal cord injuries – hope and care they can find almost nowhere else,” said UofL President Neeli Bendapdudi. “This support, along with that of other pediatric research and clinical care programs at UofL, will help us fulfill our commitment to advancing our health, not only for children in Louisville and Kentucky, but the world over.”

In addition to the multi-year $5.5 million in new funding for pediatric neurorecovery, Kosair Charities has designated $900,000 this year for other pediatric programs at UofL:

  • $475,000 for the Kosair Charities Division of Pediatric Forensic Medicine, led by Melissa Currie, professor of pediatrics, to support education, research and advocacy to help curb all forms of child maltreatment.
  • $225,000 to purchase cardiorespiratory monitors at the UofL Health – UofL Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, led by Tonya Robinson. These cardiorespiratory monitors provide real-time and trended vital signs, allowing for a comprehensive evaluation of an infant’s current status and of changes occurring before a devastating event. The monitors assist in determining the causes of medical events and help prevent them from happening again.
  • $200,000 for pediatric cancer immunotherapy research at UofL Health – Brown Cancer Center, directed by Jason Chesney, that will allow the center to build on the cancer immunotherapy drug discovery work begun in 2020 that already has revealed new small-molecule inhibitors.

“Everything we do is for children, whether it be with spinal cord injuries, cancer, those born prematurely, or vulnerable – every child who has specialized needs – they are the motivation behind everything we do,” said Keith Inman, president of Kosair Charities. “There’s no better investment than the children in our community, and we simply cannot do this work without partners like the University of Louisville. The partnership of UofL and Kosair Charities helps ensure so many children have the healthiest lives possible.”

At the Center for Pediatric NeuroRecovery, the funding from Kosair Charities will support further advances in therapy for children with spinal cord injury, as well as research and training for future researchers and providers. It also will enable the program to accept younger and medically complex children, develop a teen-focused recovery-based program and study neuromodulation, a way to stimulate the spinal cord and improve mobility and health.

“Children with spinal cord injury are at risk for multiple medical and health complications. This grant from Kosair will allow us to expand our focus to improve areas of their health beyond movement,” Behrman said. “This will not only get these children physically better but help them have a healthy life.”

The Madson family also relocated to Louisville for this program, moving from the Minneapolis area to ensure their son Luke could continue the therapy, based at UofL Health – Frazier Rehab Institute.

“The more Luke moves, the more alive he is,” Sarah Madson said of her now-two-year-old son, who was the youngest child to start the program at 15 months. “When we arrived, he was crawling on the ground, maybe doing little circles, with no forward movement. He is now walking in a walker everywhere and engaging with the world. This program has meant everything to us.”

The grant announced today brings Kosair Charities’ total support for the center to $13 million.

In April, UofL and Kosair Charities celebrated a milestone of topping $50 million in gifts from Kosair Charities to UofL since 1982. The grants announced today bring that total to $56.8 million.

Richard Redinger, former chairman of the UofL Department of Medicine, passes away

Accomplished gastroenterologist served 20 years as leader of internal medicine department
Richard Redinger, former chairman of the UofL Department of Medicine, passes away

Richard N. Redinger, M.D.

Richard N. Redinger, M.D., former Chair of the University of Louisville Department of Medicine, passed away on October 19, 2021.

Dr. Redinger served as Chief of Gastroenterology from 1981 until he was appointed as Chair from 1989-2009. He was a very dedicated faculty member serving as a teacher, researcher and clinician during his tenure at UofL.

Earning his MD from the University of Western Ontario, Dr. Redinger served medical residencies at Canada's old Victoria Hospital in London, the University of Michigan and Tufts University.

While in Boston, he secured an Ontario Department of Health Traveling Scholarship for three additional years as a research fellow at Boston University which produced seminal papers defining the physiology of biliary lipids in primates.

He continued research on the pathophysiology of gallstone disease upon his return to the University of Western Ontario for seven years and developed the only Biliary Research Laboratory in Canada at that time.

After returning to Boston University as Associate Professor of Medicine at the Evans Memorial and Chief of Gastrointestinal Research, he came to the University of Louisville in 1981 as Professor of Medicine and the first academic chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

He became the Executive Vice Chair in the Department of Medicine and was asked to continue his chiefship while serving as acting chairman and Training Program Director for the department for three years. He was named permanent Chairman of the department in 1992.

Under his leadership the department grew from 43 to 146 faculty members.

He served as service chief of medicine at University of Louisville Hospital, an officer and founding member of multiple School of Medicine Boards including University Physicians Associates, University Health Care and was President of the Medical School Fund.

Dr. Redinger lived in Shelbyville, Kentucky and faithfully cared for over 250 acres of farmland.

He leaves behind his lovely wife, Arlene, three sons, Matthew, Mark and David along with a daughter, Heather.

A private funeral and memorial service is being planned.

First-in-world heart implant: Woman receives novel type of artificial heart at UofL Health – Jewish Hospital by University of Louisville physicians

First-in-world heart implant: Woman receives novel type of artificial heart at UofL Health – Jewish Hospital by University of Louisville physicians

Cardiothoracic surgeons with UofL Health – Jewish Hospital and the University of Louisville performed the world’s first Aeson® bioprosthetic total artificial heart implantation in a female patient on Sept. 14, 2021. Photo by UofL Health.

A cardiothoracic surgical team with UofL Health – Jewish Hospital and the University of Louisville has performed the world’s first Aeson® bioprosthetic total artificial heart implantation in a female patient. The investigational device, currently intended as a bridge to heart transplant, is part of an Early Feasibility Study (EFS) sponsored by CARMAT, a French medical device company, in partnership with UofL, UofL Health – Jewish Hospital and the UofL Health – Trager Transplant Center.

Led by cardiothoracic surgeons Mark Slaughter, M.D., and Siddharth Pahwa, M.D., both of UofL Health - UofL Physicians and the UofL School of Medicine, the team performed the implant of the device on Sept. 14, 2021 at UofL Health – Jewish Hospital. The same team completed the nation’s second implantation in a male patient last month, also at Jewish Hospital.

“For the other half of the world’s population, completion of this procedure by the Jewish Hospital team brings new hope for extended life,” said Slaughter, UofL Health surgical director of heart transplant and professor and chair of the Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery in the UofL School of Medicine. “Size limitations can make it harder to implant artificial hearts in women, but the Aeson artificial heart is compact enough to fit inside the smaller chest cavities more frequently found in women, which gives hope to a wider variety of men and women waiting for a heart transplant and increases the chances for success.”

More than 3,500 individuals are awaiting a heart transplant in the U.S. and 900 of them are women. There are few treatment options for patients with biventricular heart disease, meaning both the left and right sides of the heart are not pumping blood adequately. The Aeson device is designed to solve the limitations of current left-ventricular assist devices (LVAD), which pump blood in just one chamber, by pumping blood in both heart chambers. Aeson also contains pressure sensors that estimate the patient’s blood pressure and automatically adapts cardiac output according to the sensor information. It is fully implanted as a heart replacement and powered by a portable external power supply.

During this procedure, the Aeson total artificial heart was implanted into a 57-year-old Kentucky woman with severe biventricular heart failure during an eight-hour surgery. The recipient, whose identity is being withheld upon request, was referred to the Advanced Heart Failure Therapies Program at Jewish Hospital earlier this year with end-stage heart failure and had undergone cardiac surgery years before. The patient is recovering well in the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU). Jewish Hospital is just one of four programs in the nation approved to perform this clinical trial procedure.

“The varying pumping ability of the Aeson device increases its viability among more patients,” said Pahwa, UofL Physicians cardiothoracic surgeon and assistant professor in the UofL Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. “While other devices are set at a fixed rate or create a continuous flow, CARMAT has developed the Aeson to automatically adjust the flow, creating an improved performance to meet the body’s changing blood flow needs.”

Currently, the Aeson artificial heart is tested as a bridge to transplant for patients with end-stage biventricular heart failure, allowing more time for the patient to receive a permanent heart organ transplant. The device already has been approved for such use in Europe, where approximately 20 devices have been implanted. It currently is being tested in the U.S. as part of a feasibility study approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The first Aeson artificial heart in North America was implanted in a male patient in July at Duke University Medical Center. The second implantation, also in a male patient, was performed at Jewish Hospital in August. This third North American implantation is the first to involve a female patient.

“Even as we have fought this deadly pandemic, our researchers and health care providers have also been on the front lines of improving care and quality of life for not only Kentuckians, but for people around the world,” said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. “I am proud that UofL, Jewish Hospital and their doctors are leading the world in implanting this promising and innovative device that could offer hope and time to thousands of people, including our wives, mothers and other loved ones, in coming years.”

Stéphane Piat, chief executive officer of CARMAT, said, “This third implant in the U.S. was a landmark event not only because it allowed us to finalize the enrollment of the first cohort of patients of the EFS, but very importantly because it is the first time ever that our device has helped a woman suffering from heart failure. This achievement confirms that the size limitations for adults are minimal, which makes us very confident in Aeson’s potential to become a therapy of choice for a broad patient population.”

Preclinical research for CARMAT’s artificial heart began at UofL more than five years ago. Researchers at UofL’s Cardiovascular Innovation Institute (CII) tested Aeson’s autoregulation capability, which allows the device to adapt its flows according to the patient’s needs by detecting changes of pressure in the device. UofL researchers have conducted preclinical testing of artificial heart components and mechanical assist devices at CII for many years, testing some portion of nearly every mechanical assist device that is commercially available today.

Jewish Hospital and the University of Louisville share a storied history in advancing heart care. Highlights include:

  • Aug. 24, 1984: Kentucky’s first heart transplant performed at Jewish Hospital by UofL physicians
  • July 2, 2001: The world’s first AbioCor® artificial heart was implanted at Jewish Hospital by UofL physicians, led by cardiothoracic surgeon Laman Gray, M.D.
  • Dec. 21, 2011: Kentucky’s first transcatheter aortic-valve replacement (TAVR) performed at Jewish Hospital by UofL physicians
  • Jan. 18, 2015: Kentucky’s first HeartMate 3TM left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implanted at Jewish Hospital by UofL physicians
  • Feb. 21, 2018: UofL Health - Trager Transplant Center’s 500th heart transplant performed at Jewish Hospital
  • June 14, 2019: The first EvaHeart®2 LVAD implanted as bridge to transplant at UofL Health - Trager Transplant Center
  • April 22, 2021: UofL Health - Trager Transplant Center’s 1000th TAVR performed at Jewish Hospital

“This world-first artificial heart implant into a female patient is another demonstration of UofL Health’s commitment to provide both the world-class care of today and develop the world-class standards of tomorrow,” said John Walsh, chief administrative officer of Jewish Hospital. “We celebrate this first as a milestone and recognize the hard work of Drs. Slaughter and Pahwa and the entire team. The true impact of their work will be measured in the dozens, hundreds and thousands of lives improved in the years to come.”

The patient who received the nation’s second Aeson implant, on Aug. 20, 2021, continues to improve at Jewish Hospital. An update is expected in the coming weeks.

UofL Health – Frazier Rehab Institute to celebrate new location for unique Louisville accessible fitness gym

UofL Health and Louisville leaders are celebrating the new home of UofL Health – Frazier Rehab Institute's Community Fitness and Wellness gym, now located on the ground floor of Medical Plaza II, 250 E. Liberty Street. The UofL Health – Frazier Rehab Institute team provides rehabilitation services through a wide-variety of inpatient and outpatient programs for adults and children with disabling conditions including, but not limited to brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, and movement disorders.

“Quality care for those living with physical impairments is now even more accessible,” said Tom Miller, CEO of UofL Health. “Our mission is to build a stronger community by improving the health and quality of life for everyone we serve. This is yet another example of our commitment to do just that.” 

The CFW is a fully wheelchair-accessible community gym with state-of-the-art equipment and professional staff trained to provide specialized activity-based exercise interventions for people with disabilities. Individualized exercise plans are developed to meet each client’s personal fitness goals.

“Over the past seven decades, Frazier Rehab has become a recognized leader in rehab care both regionally and nationally,” said Cathy Spalding, Chief Administration Officer of Frazier Rehab Institute. “Frazier Rehab has helped thousands of people regain both mental and physical strength that they thought would be nearly impossible to get back after their illness or injury.”

In 2006, Elizabeth Fust suffered a spinal cord stroke that left her paralyzed. She has been a member of the CFW gym since it first opened back in 2007. Fust is also currently serving on the UofL Health - Frazier Rehabilitation Institute Board of Trustees and is the founder of the 501(c)(3) charity,  Gathering Strength, Inc., in Louisville.

“The CFW gym has been vital to maintaining and improving my health because it is the only place in Louisville that has wheelchair accessible exercise equipment and specially trained staff who are not afraid to work with people like me, who have disabling conditions,” Fust said. “It is unique also because it offers an opportunity for me to be around many people who have similar injuries and challenges, and we can support each other.”

This year the CFW moved to the ground floor of Medical Plaza II from Frazier Rehab’s 9th floor gym, located at 220 Abraham Flexner Way. The new location is not only more accessible, but also offers opportunities to grow and expand services. Thanks, in part, to a $190,000 dollar grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation the CFW is upgrading equipment, further marketing the program, and growing its membership through a partnership with Gathering Strength, Inc.

“Through our Creating Opportunity & Independence (CO&I) portfolio, the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation is proud to support UofL Health – Frazier Rehab Institute’s Community Fitness and Wellness gym and the vital opportunities it provides to enhance the health and wellbeing of people living with spinal cord injury,” said Darrell Musick, CO&I Program Officer.

To learn more about UofL Health – Frazier Rehab Institute's Community Fitness and Wellness gym, visit or call them at 502-582-7411.

Neal Dunlap tapped to lead Department of Radiation Oncology

Neal Dunlap tapped to lead Department of Radiation Oncology

Neal Dunlap, M.D.

Neal Dunlap, M.D., on October 1 will become the new Chair of the University of Louisville Department of Radiation Oncology.

Dr. Dunlap served as Vice Chair and Professor of the Department of Radiation Oncology before accepting his new role. In addition, he serves as the Residency Program Director for the department since 2017 and Associate Director of the Head & Neck Multidisciplinary Clinic. Previously, he held an academic endowed chair appointment through Humana Professorship in Clinical Trials Research at the UofL Brown Cancer Center.

"The Department of Radiation Oncology consists of a group of dynamic faculty and staff who are committed to the advancement of cancer care in Louisville and the Commonwealth.  I am excited by the prospect of deepening our relationship with this community to expand access to advanced cancer care and clinical trials, train the next generation of physicians, and promote patient health and dignity," Dunlap said of accepting his new role.

Dr. Dunlap earned his medical degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. He completed his internship at University of Cincinnati’s University Hospital, and his residency at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville. His clinical focus is primarily on multidisciplinary approaches to the treatment of lung cancer, esophageal cancer, head & neck cancers, and liver cancers. His research interests include the application of new treatment technologies in treatment of lung, liver, and head & neck malignancies to improve outcomes and reduce side effects. He currently has investigator-initiated trials open for the re-treatment of lung cancers after previous radiation and the evaluation of early radiation-induced lung injury with 4-dimensional CT. He is currently the institutional principal investigator for multiple national cooperative group studies through NRG/RTOG in the treatment of lung and head & neck cancers. He is member of the American Society for Radiation Oncology.

“I am confident that Dr. Dunlap has the leadership skills, experience and expertise to build on current strengths of the department and to also move it forward in innovative ways,” said Toni Ganzel, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the School of Medicine.

Faculty Position in Tumor Immunology Announced

Department of Microbiology & Immunology and J.G. Brown Cancer Center announce a new tenure-track Assistant Professor position. Click here to apply.

Long-time UofL staff and faculty member joins School of Medicine as Chief of Staff

Long-time UofL staff and faculty member joins School of Medicine as Chief of Staff

Glenn Gittings, Ph.D.

The University of Louisville School of Medicine has named Glenn Gittings, PhD., as its new Chief of Staff.

In this position, Gittings will provide support with planning, monitoring and implementing the strategic agenda for the school, serving in the capacity of advisor to Dean Toni Ganzel in interactions with colleagues across the schools and institution to ensure institutional alignment with strategic initiatives. He will collaborate with senior leaders and executives, external affiliate leadership, and other external partners on projects that support the missions and strategic priorities, including enterprise alignment, strategic planning, security and other compliance initiatives. Gittings will also lead the School of Medicine Advancement, Retention and Training (SMART) Staff Development Program designed to engage staff in professional and personal development efforts through a number of new initiatives such as mentoring, professional development, community outreach and engagement, recognition and reward, wellness, and a staff retreat.

“I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Gittings to our administrative team. He brings a great deal of experience in the areas of strategic planning, staff development and stakeholder relations, which will provide tremendous support to the School of Medicine priorities of supporting our faculty, residents, staff and students,” said Toni Ganzel, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the School of Medicine.

A long-time staffer and faculty member, Gittings has spent the last 19 years in progressive higher education and the nonprofit sector with experiences at multiple institutions and organizations. He previously served as the Director of the Student Activities Center & Special Programs on the Belknap campus at the University of Louisville where he fulfilled the role of student union management, First Year Initiative programming, Parent & Family Relations, and External Relations for the division of Student Affairs. Gittings has previous higher education experience in Advancement/Development, Alumni Relations, Assessment, Diversity & Inclusion, Educational Nonprofits, Enrollment Management, External Relations, Event Planning, HR, International Service Learning Program Faculty (Philippines, Trinidad & Tobago), Parent & Family Relations, SACS Accreditation, Sponsorships, Staff Senate, Strategic Planning, Student Union Mgmt., VPSA Special Projects, and Welcome Week/First Year Experience. He also served as a UofL Staff Senator including a role on the Staff Senate Executive Committee.

Gittings is very active in regional and national professional organizations through research opportunities, publications, committee membership, conference presentation, and conference attendance. He served nationally as chair of the NASPA Student Affairs Fundraising and External Relations Knowledge Committee, publishing books, articles, online short courses, and conference presentations on the topic of higher education fundraising. For more than 10 years, he has been a long-standing graduate Adjunct Faculty member for UofL’s College of Education in both the Higher Education Administration program and the College Student Personnel program.   

Gittings earned both his bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. from University of Louisville and master’s degree from Western Kentucky University and his dissertation research highlighted key student and institutional factors affecting doctoral student persistence.  He and his spouse, Jennifer, have two daughters ages 10 and 7.

Gittings began his new role August 2.

Superfund Program announces KC Donnelly Externship Award Winner and Posts Information Film


The Superfund Research Program congratulates Breandon Taylor on receipt of a K.C. Donnelly Externship Award.  Breandon is enrolled in the pharmacology and toxicology PhD program working in the laboratory of Professor Sanjay Srivastava.  With funds awarded through the externship, he will travel to Louisiana State University to continue his studies into the role of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) on cardiovascular disease.  Specifically he will assess the toxicity of 1,3-butadiene using a state of the art air-liquid cell interface exposure system.

The UofL Superfund's focus on VOCs is unique among the national Superfund Research Centers.  It includes biomedical, environmental, detection, and remediation research as well as extensive community engagement, translation, and predoctoral and postdoctoral training.  A superb video describing the UofL Superfund Research Program is available on its website at

NIEHS T32 and T35 training grants in environmental health sciences receive 5 year funding renewals

UofL T32 and T35 training grants in environmental health sciences were both recently awarded funding by the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) for an additional five years. 

The T32 training grant which began in 2004 funds six pre-doctoral and three post-doctoral fellowships as well as their tuition and travel support.   The multi-PI's for the program are Professors David Hein and John Wise Sr. in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.  Further information is available here

The T35 training grant which began in 2006 provides stipends for six medical students to pursue research projects during the summer following their first year of medical school.  The PI for the program is Professor J. Christopher States in the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology.

Dinesh Kalra set to lead UofL cardiology division

Renowned expert on cardiovascular imaging tabbed as new chief of the UofL Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
Dinesh Kalra set to lead UofL cardiology division

Dinesh Kalra, M.D.

Dinesh Kalra, M.D., FACC, FSCCT, FSCMR, FNLA, on September 1 joined the faculty of the University of Louisville Department of Medicine as the new Chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. He will also serve as Professor of Medicine and Endowed Chair of Cardiovascular Innovations.

Dr. Kalra comes to UofL from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, where he was Director of Advanced Cardiac Imaging, Director of the Infiltrative Cardiac Disease Program, and Director of the Lipid Clinic.

He is internationally renowned for his work in advancing the understanding of cardiac CT and MRI and lipidology, especially as it relates to finding new ways to prevent atherosclerosis.

"I am proud to be part of an exceptional institution like UofL with a rich history and tradition of excellence, innovation, and research," Kalra said of accepting his new role at UofL. "Their consistent goal to deliver the best care for our patients and the strong emphasis on academics are inspirational. This Division is poised to be a nationally recognized cardiovascular program and top-tier division in all areas and will be supported with the funds necessary to meet a high standard of excellence in clinical care, research, and education.

"It is my mission to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health for Kentuckians and the greater Louisville community. We have the talent, resources, and institutional commitment to become national leaders in this area again. All the elements of a successful transition are here including our academic, clinical, industry, and technology partners and we will bring to bear all these resources to propel the science and practice of cardiovascular medicine to the top-most tier.

"The program has a very strong reputation for clinical training and outstanding patient care. The resident and fellow teaching and the service to the community are outstanding. With my clinical operations, leadership, and education background, the opportunity to lead such an outstanding Division was appealing, and I have no doubt it will achieve national excellence in multiple areas over the next few years."

Prior his arrival at UofL, Dr. Kalra served at many top-tier institutions, including the Baylor College of Medicine, Lahey Clinic, and his recent stint at Rush University Medical Center. His unique and multimodal expertise is expected to play an instrumental role in supporting the UofL cardiology faculty and staff as well as growing and leading the Cardiovascular Medicine Service Line across the entire UofL Health system.

Dr. Kalra's recruitment was made possible through the trust and dedication of UofL senior leadership and colleagues in other departments and programs.

"With Dr. Kalra at the helm of the UofL Cardiology team, I am confident that we will deliver on building upon our successful history of cardiovascular care and scale new heights of innovative and accessible care for our patients," Dr. Kristine Krueger, Professor and Interim Chair of the Department of Medicine who spearheaded the search committee said. "He is an experienced physician with a demonstrated history of building successful programs in academic cardiology. Skilled in patient-care delivery, change leadership, and lean management processes, his arrival at UofL will catalyze our progress forward in transitioning cardiology to meet our future needs.

"He has the ability to set a vision, effectively inspire, manage and mentor. He is passionate about building collaborative research programs of excellence, mentoring outstanding junior faculty, and continuing to advance cardiovascular medicine on the national and international stage."

Dr. Jason Smith, Chief Medical Officer of UofL Health, noted Dr. Kalra's vision and vigor will infuse new energy and talent into the varied ranks within Cardiology and related disciplines at UofL health.

"He is uniquely well suited to lead UofL Cardiology academic group during this unprecedented time," Smith said. “His clinical and leadership experience will be invaluable in optimizing interdisciplinary care along the continuum, as consumers and clinicians navigate new paradigms in healthcare stemming from the recent COVID-19 pandemic and new models of cardiovascular care delivery. The new Chief will shape the growth of cardiovascular services and, in collaboration with community cardiology leaders, will be intimately involved in developing and executing a strategic plan for integrated cardiovascular care across the UofL System."

Dr. Kalra is a graduate of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences where he completed his MD with honors. He then completed his residency in Internal Medicine in the MERIT pathway at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and stayed on to do his fellowship in Cardiology at Baylor graduating with advanced training in cardiac imaging (echocardiography and nuclear cardiology). He is board-certified in cardiology, cardiovascular CT and MRI, echocardiography, nuclear cardiology, and lipidology.

The Division of Cardiovascular Medicine is one of 10 divisions of the Department of Medicine and comprises its most extensive service line. The core mission of the Cardiovascular Medicine Division is to provide the highest standard of cardiovascular clinical care to the community, while also promoting scientific discovery and training for the next generation of leaders in Cardiovascular Medicine.

UofL researchers find more health benefits of living in a greener environment

UofL Green Heart Project needs new participants from South Louisville neighborhoods for study on how greenness affects health
UofL researchers find more health benefits of living in a greener environment

Trees are planted in South Louisville for the UofL Green Heart Project, an ongoing assessment of the effects of neighborhood greenness on individual health.

Evidence is growing that living in areas of high greenness, surrounded by trees, shrubs and other vegetation, has beneficial effects on human health. Researchers at the University of Louisville’s Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute and other colleagues recently published two studies showing positive effects of greenness: one on cancer survival and the other on depressive symptoms.

In the first study, UofL researchers Aruni Bhatnagar, professor of medicine and director of the Envirome Institute, Ray Yeager and Daniel Riggs, with Carver Coleman and Arden Pope of Brigham Young University and others, analyzed retrospective data from more than 5.5 million cancer patients and survivors from 2003 to 2016. They found that cancer patients in greener counties lived longer than those in counties with less greenness. The protective effects of greenness against cancer mortality were seen with both males and females and individuals of all ages, but were more pronounced at urban locations. Individuals with cancers that were highly survivable – such as breast, prostate and skin cancer – benefitted more from greenness than those with cancers with low survival rates such as brain, esophageal, liver, lung and pancreatic cancer.   

The study, “Greenness, air pollution, and mortality risk: A U.S. cohort study of cancer patients and survivors,” published in the journal Environment International, evaluated associations between greenness and fine particulate matter in the air on causes of death in a large group of cancer patients and survivors in the United States.

“This is the largest study of the relationship between greenness and cancer mortality, and it provides clear evidence that living in green areas is beneficial to cancer patients,” said Bhatnagar “However, we do not yet understand why greenness protects against cancer mortality. Much more remains to be done to see whether greenness benefits cancer patients by lowering mental stress and anxiety or by reducing the levels of air pollutants or whether some other mechanisms are at play.”

The study also found that cardiopulmonary disease, but not cancer, was associated with higher levels of fine particulate air pollution. Mortality from cardiopulmonary causes – stroke, heart attack or COPD – was not affected by county greenness, except in rural locations.  

Greenness and depression

A second study, led by Kandi Walker and Joy Hart, professors in the UofL Department of Communication, Bhatnagar and other researchers in the Envirome Institute, found that people’s satisfaction with levels of greenness in their neighborhood was associated with lower levels of self-reported depressive symptoms.  

The researchers surveyed participants about their perceptions of greenness in their neighborhoods and their mental health symptoms and found that those who were more satisfied with the greenness surrounding their homes also reported lower depression symptoms on a health survey, the Patient Health Questionnaire-9.

The 44.5% of survey participants who reported they were satisfied with the level of greenness in their neighborhood collectively scored better on the health questionnaire for depression.

“Given the pervasiveness of depression in the U.S. population, any changes that can reduce depression are essential, particularly those that can affect a large number of people,” Hart said. “The findings of this study suggest that greening interventions that focus on greenness satisfaction may be a strategy to reduce depression in urban populations.”

The study, “The importance of urban planning: Views of greenness and open space is reversely associated with self-reported views and depressive symptoms,” was published in July in the journal Population Medicine.

South Louisville study participants needed

Participants in the greening satisfaction study were part of the Health, Environment and Action in Louisville (HEAL) study of the Great Heart Project, which is an ongoing assessment of the effects of neighborhood greenness on individual health. Additional participants are needed for the HEAL Study by the end of September. More information is available on the HEAL Study website.

“Together, these studies add weight to the importance of trees, shrubs and other vegetation in urban areas in benefitting and nurturing human health. Accumulation of such evidence strengthens the case that increasing greenness in urban locations can decrease the high rates of non-communicable diseases in cities,” Bhatnagar said. “And since greenness improves health in general, it may also be effective against infectious disease.”