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UofL names new chief of pediatric cardiac surgery division

Alsoufi also will serve in same role at Norton Children’s Hospital
UofL names new chief of pediatric cardiac surgery division

Bahaaldin Alsoufi, M.D., comes to UofL from Emory University.

Bahaaldin Alsoufi, M.D., has joined the Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at the University of Louisville and Norton Children’s Hospital as the new chief of the Division of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery. He will practice with UofL Physicians - Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. Alsoufi joins UofL after being on staff at Emory University.

“In Bahaaldin Alsoufi, we have an accomplished teacher, researcher and clinician,” said Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery Chair Mark Slaughter, M.D. “His expertise will be a great asset in contributing to our continued success in providing best-in-class care to our pediatric patients.”

“We’re excited to have Dr. Alsoufi join Dr. Erle H. Austin III and Dr. Deborah J. Kozik in helping us provide the most advanced care for children at the Norton Children’s Heart Institute,” said Steven T. Hester, M.D., division president, Provider Operations, and system chief medical officer, Norton Healthcare “Dr. Alsoufi will be part of a team that includes many heart specialists from UofL Physicians. This group collectively performs more than 17,500 procedures annually including heart transplants, open heart surgeries, catheterizations, electrophysiology and noninvasive tests, such as echocardiograms.”

Alsoufi is board-certified by the American Board of Surgery, American Board of Thoracic Surgery, American Board of Congenital Cardiac Surgery and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. He has served as associate professor in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery’s Section of Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery at Emory in Atlanta since 2013. Prior to his appointment at Emory, Alsoufi served in a number of positions at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Alsoufi is lead or co-author on 150 peer-reviewed journal articles and has presented at more than 100 international, national, regional and institutional conferences. His clinical interests include neonatal cardiac surgery, single ventricle palliation, valvular heart disease in children and adults with congenital heart disease and pediatric heart transplantation. His research interests include clinical outcomes research, valvular heart disease, heart transplantation and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, known as ECMO, which is the process of providing prolonged cardiac and respiratory support to persons whose heart and lungs are unable to provide an adequate amount of gas exchange to sustain life.

Additionally, he serves on the editorial board of multiple international journals including the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery and the World Journal of Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery. He is interested in quality, teaching and clinical outcome research and has received a number of teaching and academic rewards.  

Alsoufi is a native of Syria where he earned his M.D. degree from Damascus University. He completed a general surgery internship at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore and a general surgery residency at the University of Massachusetts in Worcester. He completed a cardiothoracic surgery residency at Oregon Health Science University, Portland; a fellowship in adult cardiac surgery at Toronto General Hospital, University of Toronto, Canada; and a fellowship in congenital cardiac surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children also at the University of Toronto.

 

UofL cardiology team’s editorial stresses need for more accurate heart disease risk-prediction models

Widely used scoring system may inaccurately estimate risk
UofL cardiology team’s editorial stresses need for more accurate heart disease risk-prediction models

Andrew DeFilippis, M.D., director of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at the UofL School of Medicine and a cardiologist with UofL Physicians.

A University of Louisville cardiologist and data scientist stressed the need for more accurate heart disease risk-prediction models in an editorial published in the Annals of Internal Medicine this week.

The editorial by Andrew DeFilippis, M.D., director of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at the UofL School of Medicine and a cardiologist with UofL Physicians, and Patrick Trainor, a data scientist on DeFilippis’ research team, accompanied a study of a new risk prediction model that could improve the guideline-recommended scoring systems for who is at risk.

That study, by a group of researchers from Stanford University, the University of Michigan, the University of Washington, the University of Mississippi and Harvard Medical School, showed a widely used scoring system that helps physicians identify who is at risk for heart disease may inaccurately estimate risk, especially for certain patients, such as African-Americans. The scoring system, last updated in 2013, is recommended by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association.

DeFilippis said that accurate risk predication is needed to effectively balance the risks and benefits of medicines used to prevent heart disease, and is important to help doctors decide who needs a statin, blood pressure medications or aspirin.

“Doctors must balance the risk of medication side effects with the risk of disease,” DeFilippis said. “Medications are expensive, and unnecessary treatment also costs the healthcare system, which is not an endless resource.”

DeFilippis has led efforts to evaluate cardiovascular disease risk prediction scoring systems, analyzing how they perform using data from clinical studies. He said the while this new study is helpful, risk scoring must continue to evolve based on demographic and societal trends and the availability of new biomarkers for assessing cardiovascular disease.

“Risk prediction is of tremendous benefit,” DeFilippis said. “The guideline-recommended scoring models were created from data collected from groups of patients decades ago. This new study used more modern patient groups and new methods for making the risk calculations.”

He noted that as heart disease is the leading killer of Americans, assessing risk is a critical issue. And while the calculator isn’t perfect, “there is no question these calculators are better than the eyeball test and certainly outperform a physician just saying ‘I think this person is high or low risk’ after looking at them.”

In previous studies, DeFilippis and other researchers at the University of Louisville, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Washington looked at the 2013 scoring system, along with three others, in a study of different ethnic groups. They collected information on patients who began participating in 2000-2002 and followed them for 10 years, evaluating the accuracy of the 2013 scoring model and publishing the results in 2015 in the Annals of Internal Medicine. That study found that the guideline-recommended calculator overestimated a person’s risk.

A 2017 study in the journal The BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) noted more than one in five Americans between the ages of 40 and 75 takes a statin. It has been hotly debated who should take statins, and several studies have questioned the accuracy of the risk calculator.

DeFilippis said the new study published this week rebuilds the risk score using a different statistical approach. It re-analyzed data from participants in multiple large studies. The new risk prediction model was shown to make more accurate predictions of risk for many patients, especially for some ethnicities, though further validation is needed.

Because of the need to continually update data, the team in the study that was published this week made the statistical model and computer code public so other scientists could evaluate them.

DeFilippis said that ultimately, “the decision on who should take statins or other medications to reduce risk should be a conversation between doctor and patient.”

While the guidelines still generally recommend them for some groups with a particular score, he said treatment should be individualized.

Biomaterial particles educate immune system to accept transplanted islets

Team of researchers, including those from UofL, open potentially new pathway for treating type 1 diabetes
Biomaterial particles educate immune system to accept transplanted islets

Haval Shirwan, Ph.D., the Dr. Michael and Joan Hamilton Endowed Chair in Autoimmune Disease at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and director of the Molecular Immunomodulation Program at the Institute for Cellular Therapeutics at UofL.

By instructing key immune system cells to accept transplanted insulin-producing islets, a team of researchers including those from the University of Louisville have opened a potentially new pathway for treating type 1 diabetes. If the approach is  successful in humans, it could allow people with type 1 diabetes to be treated without the long-term complications of immune system suppression.

The technique, reported this week in the journal Nature Materials, uses synthetic hydrogel particles (microgels) to present a protein known as the Fas ligand (FasL) to immune system T-effector cells along with the pancreatic islets being transplanted. The FasL protein “educates” the effector cells – which serve as immune system watchdogs – causing them to accept the graft without rejection for at least 200 days in an animal model.

The FasL-presenting particles are simply mixed with the living islets before being transplanted into the mice, which suffer from chemically-induced diabetes. The researchers believe the FasL-presenting hydrogels would not need to be personalized, potentially allowing an “off-the-shelf” therapy for the transplanted islets.

Researchers from the University of Louisville, Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan collaborated on the work, which was supported by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

“We have been able to demonstrate that we can create a biomaterial that interrupts the body’s desire to reject the transplant, while not requiring the recipient to remain on continuous standard immunosuppression,” said Haval Shirwan, Ph.D., the Dr. Michael and Joan Hamilton Endowed Chair in Autoimmune Disease at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and director of the Molecular Immunomodulation Program at the Institute for Cellular Therapeutics at UofL.

“We anticipate that further study will demonstrate potential use for many transplant types, including bone marrow and solid organs,” he said.

In the United States, some 1.25 million persons have type 1 diabetes, which is different from the more common type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is caused by immune system destruction of the pancreatic islet cells that produce insulin in response to glucose levels. Current treatment involves frequent injection of insulin to replace what the islets no longer produce. There is no long-term cure for the disease, though persons with type 1 diabetes have been treated experimentally with islet cell transplants – which almost always fail after a few years even with strong suppression of the immune system.

“Drugs that allow the transplantation of the islet cells are toxic to them,” said Andrés García, the Rae S. and Frank H. Neely Chair and Regents' Professor in Georgia Tech’s George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. “Clinical trials with transplantation of islets showed effectiveness, but after a few years, the grafts were rejected. There is a lot of hope for this treatment, but we just can’t get consistent improvement.”

Among the problems, García said, is toxicity to the islet cells from the immune system suppression, which also makes patients more susceptible to other adverse effects such as infections and tumors. Other researchers are exploring techniques to protect the islets from attack, but have so far not been successful.

The research reported in Nature Materials takes a totally different approach. By presenting the FasL protein – which is a central regulator of immune system cells – the researchers can prevent the immune system from attacking the cells. Once they are educated at the time of transplantation, the cells appear to retain their acceptance of the transplanted islet cells long after the FasL has disappeared.

“At the time of transplantation, we take the islets that are harvested from cadavers and simply mix them with our particles in the operating room and deliver them to the animal,” García explained. “We do not have to modify the islets or suppress the immune system. After treatment, the animals can function normally and are cured from the diabetes while retaining their full immune system operation.”

The hydrogels can be prepared up to two weeks ahead of the transplant, and can be used with any islet cells. “The key technical advance is the ability to make this material that induces immune acceptance that can simply be mixed with the islets and delivered. We can make the biomaterial in our lab and ship them to where the transplantation will be done, potentially making it an off-the-shelf therapeutic.”

In the experimental mice, the islets were implanted into the kidneys and into an abdominal fat pad. If the treatment is ultimately used in humans, the islets and biomaterial would likely be placed laparoscopically into the omentum, a tissue with significant vasculature that is similar to the fat pad in mice. Garcia’s lab has previously shown that it can stimulate blood vessel growth into islet cells transplanted into this tissue in mice.

In future work, the researchers want to see if the graft acceptance can be retained in more complex immune systems, and for longer periods of time. By reducing damage to the cadaver islets, the new technique may be able to expand the number of patients that can treated with available donor cells.

García’s lab uses polymer hydrogel particles that are about 150 microns in diameter, about the same size as the islet cells. They engineer the particles to capture the FasL – a novel recombinant protein developed by Shirwan and Esma S. Yolcu, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Louisville – on the particle surface, where it can be seen by the effector cells.

Thousands of women diagnosed with breast cancer might not need chemotherapy, study shows

UofL doctor says study of women with most common type confirms what many had believed
Thousands of women diagnosed with breast cancer might not need chemotherapy, study shows

Elizabeth Riley, M.D., FACP, a breast cancer expert at UofL’s Brown Cancer Center and deputy director of the center.

Thousands of women diagnosed with the most common type of breast cancer can now skip chemotherapy and still have the same outcome, according to a new study presented this week.

The long-awaited study, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting over the weekend in Chicago, confirmed what many breast cancer specialists, including those at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville, had already believed.

For women with this common type of cancer - early stage estrogen-receptor positive - anti-estrogen treatment alone provide the same benefit as chemotherapy, without the harsh and sometimes devastating side effects. Chemotherapy can cause hair loss, a weakened immune system and heart problems, among other issues. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide.

“The name of the study is TAILORx, which is perfect, because what this means is that for a large group, treatment can be truly tailored to a woman’s circumstances,” said Elizabeth Riley, M.D., FACP, a breast cancer expert at UofL’s Brown Cancer Center and deputy director of the center. “We now have solid data that chemotherapy is not needed for many in this group and helps validate what many specialists already knew.

“For years, physicians made treatment decisions solely based on a woman’s stage of breast cancer. TAILORx now confirms the biology of the tumor may be more important. This study should reassure a woman with very early stage, estrogen-driven breast cancer that chemotherapy can be avoided without increasing her risk of breast cancer,” Riley said.

The study, published Sunday in the New England Journal of Medicine, analyzed how well a widely used genetic test called the Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score assessed the risk of breast cancer returning. The Oncotype DX test looks at 21 genes linked with a likelihood of recurrence. The test has a range between 0 and 100, and determines whether these genes are turned off or on, or are over expressed.

The study’s lead author, Joseph Sparano M.D., associate director for clinical research at the Albert Einstein Cancer Center and Montefiore Health System in New York City, said the data confirms women can be spared “unnecessary treatment if the test indicates chemotherapy is not likely to provide benefit.”

Riley noted there are multiple types of breast cancer, with multiple genes involved in the growth of tumors. She said those patients who will benefit from the study’s findings are estrogen sensitive, test negative for HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2), a gene that can play a role in the development of breast cancer, and have early-stage tumors below 5 centimeters that have not spread to lymph nodes.

They also have what is considered an intermediate score on the OncotypeDX test, one between 11 and 25.

Riley said that past research has shown women with scores between 0 and 10 could safely forego chemotherapy, while those with scores over 25 were best treated with a combination of chemotherapy and anti-estrogen hormonal treatment, as the cancer recurrence risk in this group was high.

“There have been clear guidelines on treatment for woman with a high or low score OncotypeDX score. It was the group in the intermediate range, from 11 to 25, that the degree of benefit of chemotherapy was not well established,” Riley said.

The study followed over 10,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer between 2006 and 2010. Of those, 6,711 had intermedia scores between 11 and 25. That group was split into two: one receiving hormone therapy and chemotherapy, and the other only hormone therapy.

The women were followed for an average of nine years, and researchers found the outcome in recurrence and survival was virtually the same.

“If you are seen by a doctor tomorrow and have a low to intermediate score on the test, you should expect not to be offered chemotherapy, unless you are under the age of 50,” Riley said.

That is the caveat, she said. Breast cancer in younger women is biologically different, and typically comes with a poorer prognosis. In premenopausal women and those younger than 50, the TAILORx results suggested that hormonal therapy alone may not be enough and chemotherapy may still be needed, she said.

While these patients should discuss their options with their doctor, they would be likely candidates for the more aggressive combination therapy, she said.

“In that case, the treatment decisions are going to depend on more than just the test, such as a thorough analysis of a patient’s particular tumor type. We can’t say that everyone under 50 needs chemotherapy, but future studies may be necessary to interpret the test in this age group,” Riley said.

Breast cancer in younger women is a focus of Riley’s. At the Brown Cancer Center, she also leads the HER Breast Cancer Program, which addresses the challenges this group faces with regional experts in the management of breast cancer in young women. The program also addresses the impact of treatment on fertility, the patient’s young children, and her career. HER stands for Hope, Empower and Restore.

A new era in medical care for children begins

The Novak Center for Children’s Health represents paradigm shift in pediatric care
A new era in medical care for children begins

David and Wendy Novak, left, and their family stand with the architect's rendering of the Novak Center for Children's Health in July 2017.

A new era in medical care for children will begin this June when the Novak Center for Children’s Health at the University of Louisville opens to patients and their families.

A preview of the new 176,000-square-foot facility was held Thursday evening (May 31) for supporters and friends of the university, including the building’s namesakes, David and Wendy Novak, their family and their foundation, the Lift-A-Life Foundation.

The retired CEO of Louisville-based Yum! Brands, David Novak headed the lineup of dignitaries launching the building’s debut, including University of Louisville Board of Trustees Chair David Grissom, UofL President Neeli Bendapudi, Ph.D., and UofL Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Gregory Postel, M.D. Honored among the group were the Novaks’ daughter, Ashley Novak Butler, for her leadership with the project along with others who played a role it: Tony and Lisa Christensen, the WHAS Crusade for Children, Bruce Henderson and Henderson Services, Lynnie Meyer and Emmett Ramser of Norton Healthcare, and the former vice president of advancement at UofL and current Kosair Charities President Keith Inman.

David Novak lauded the facility for creating the environment where a new paradigm of health care for children will be fostered. The Novak Center will house all general, specialty and subspecialty pediatrics services in a single eight-story building, meaning patients and their families will be able to have all their needs handled in one convenient location.

An anticipated 135,000 patient visits will occur annually in the new center – now one of the largest and most technically advanced pediatric outpatient centers in the United States.

David Novak noted the vision of the center: “UofL has the world-class minds; it needed a world-class center. It is so gratifying to be here tonight and see that we are on the cusp of opening a building that has the potential to impact generations to come.”

“This magnificent facility promises to change how health care is delivered to our children with no child turned away from that care,” Grissom said. “Its design for efficiency of care was not by accident; a number of UofL staff spent a tremendous amount of time exploring the best practices from throughout the nation and took the best of those to implement here in Louisville.”

Bendapudi reminded the crowd that implementing such change takes ongoing support. “Progress cannot occur without generous support from our community,” she said. “We could not be able to improve how health care is delivered to every child who comes to our door if it were not for the generosity of supporters such as the Novak family and the Lift-a-Life Foundation.”

Postel outlined many of the building’s features: “For too long, we have required our children and their families to move from building to building, office to office, to see all the providers who meet their health care needs. This facility changes that,” with:

  • All pediatric providers in a single building to ensure a multidisciplinary approach in providing care
  • Innovative clinical and research programs that not only provide the latest advances in treatments and cures but also create and develop them
  • An environment that enables staff to explore new initiatives, including holistic life style approaches to diseases and conditions that impact children
  • A site where both basic and clinical research will be carried out and will help UofL attract new researchers as faculty
  • Enhancement of the education provided to medical students, residents and fellows, giving them first-hand experience with interdisciplinary learning they can take directly into the patient exam room

The total patient experience was at the forefront of the facility’s design, Postel said. “In addition to the excellence in patient care provided here, we looked at the ‘softer’ touches – light-up benches along the skybridge (connecting the building to the parking garage); using colors to identify floors so that no matter what language people speak, they can find the right floor; coding the floors with animals representing regional and Kentucky wildlife to pique children’s interest; and much more.”

Designed in kid-friendly colors, the facility features several public areas with soft seating and interactive screens to entertain children while they wait to see providers. But the waiting shouldn’t be long, say UofL Department of Pediatrics providers: The latest in technological advances, the Real Time Locator System, will help move patients and providers to their appointments without lengthy wait times.

Also included in the facility will be the Wendy Novak Diabetes Center, created in 2015 with support from the Novaks and currently housed in the Children’s Hospital Foundation Building. The Wendy Novak Diabetes Center provides comprehensive diabetes care as well as access to clinical research trials that sometimes are patients’ only chance at diseases management and survival.

The services of the Wendy Novak Center will be augmented in the new facility with the addition of an up-to-date kitchen. “We are going to bring in the world-class chefs we have in Louisville to teach families how to prepare menus and foods that are diabetic-friendly and can actually improve lives,” Novak said. “Some these chefs have diabetes themselves so they can speak and teach from first-hand experience.”

The Novak Center for Children’s Health will be staffed by faculty physicians practicing with UofL Physicians and will open for patient appointments in June. To learn more about the scope of pediatric health care at UofL, visit www.UofLPhysicians.org.

The Novak Center for Children's Health is located at 411 E. Chestnut St. Budget to construct the new facility was $79 million. Messer was construction manager for the project.

'Match Madness' once again a success for UofL Internal Medicine residency programs

Internal Medicine, Combined Med-Peds residency groups both fill their available spots with another set of strong incoming classes
'Match Madness' once again a success for UofL Internal Medicine residency programs

UofL fourth-year medical students celebrate Match Day 2018, when they found out where they will continue the residency portion of their medical education.


VIEW A PHOTO GALLERY FROM UofL MATCH DAY

Who said the madness of March was confined to the basketball court?

March 16 was Match Day for University of Louisville medical students, and others nationwide, as they opened their envelopes from the National Residency Match Program to find where they had been matched for their future training as residents.

"I would like to welcome an excellent group of young doctors to the internal medicine residency program," Jennifer Koch, M.D., FACP, Director of the UofL Internal Medicine Residency Program said. "We are honored to train this accomplished and diverse class of interns."

Conducted annually by the NRMP, The Match uses a computerized algorithm designed to the best results by aligning the preferences of applicants with the preferences of residency programs. The results are used to fill thousands of training positions available in the United States.

The UofL Internal Medicine Residency Program successfully filled all of its 24 categorical and 12 preliminary positions.

In addition the Combined Internal Medicine-Pediatrics Residency Program, under the direction of Laura Workman, M.D., added five new members.

Our incoming Class of 2021 includes:

Categorical Residents

  • Agastaya Nelur - Seth G.S. Medical College
  • Thomas Bierman - University of Louisville
  • James Bradley - University of Louisville
  • Wenjing Cai - Indiana University
  • Aaditya Chandramouli - Indiana University
  • Rishi Charate - University of Missouri-Kansas City
  • Sirmad Chaudhary - East Tennessee State University
  • Scott Diamond - Nova Southeastern College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Mohamed Elmasry - Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Khusboo Gala - Grant Government Medical College
  • Katherine George - Nova Southeastern College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Margaux Hetzman - Central Michigan University
  • Parth Jadav - University of Louisville
  • Yiran Jiang - Indiana University
  • Bokhodir Mamedov - University of Louisville
  • Leondrus McIver - Morehouse School of Medicine
  • Kyle Mills - University of Pikeville
  • Cody Moore - Indiana University
  • Chris Moser - Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Sahil Patel - Drexel University
  • Gayatri Suresh Kumar - University of Arkansas
  • Ashley Twyman - Louisiana State University Shreveport
  • Pradheep Vermula - The Ohio State University
  • James Vernace - Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

 

Preliminary Residents

  • Ali Cohen - University of Iowa
  • Michael Del Busto - University of Cincinnati
  • Bryan Edwards - Indiana University
  • Collin Gamble - University of Louisville
  • Brian Gordon - University of Louisville
  • Dagan Kaht - University of Louisville
  • Aleksander Krazinski - Medical College of South Carolina
  • Samantha Sears - University of Louisville
  • Laura Taylor - George Washington University
  • Graham Trent - University of Maryland
  • Razvan Turcu - University of Louisville
  • Mengmeng Zheng - Indiana University

 

Combined Med-Peds Residents

  • Ariel Carpenter - University of Missouri
  • Caitlin McKenzie - Loyola University Chicago
  • Adam Neff - University of Louisville
  • Jonathan Phillips - Kansas City University
  • Kasey Reed - University of Louisville

University of Louisville and Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center achieve 500th heart transplant

Celebration commemorates milestone
University of Louisville and Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center achieve 500th heart transplant

UofL's Mark Slaughter, M.D., performed the 500th heart transplant for the UofL and Jewish Hospital transplant team.

The University of Louisville and the Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center marked an important milestone on Wednesday – the 500th heart transplant performed at the hospital since the heart transplant program began there nearly 35 years ago.

“As we end American Heart Month, it’s the perfect time to share this wonderful news,” said Mark Slaughter, M.D., surgical director of heart transplant for University of Louisville Physicians and Jewish Hospital, and professor and chair, Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, UofL School of Medicine.

Dr. Slaughter performed the 500th transplant on Wednesday, Feb. 21, on a 59-year-old man who had a left ventricular assist device implanted to support his heart until the donor heart was available for transplant. An LVAD is a surgically implanted mechanical pump attached to the heart.

The first heart transplant at the hospital, which was also the first heart transplant in Kentucky, took place on Aug. 24, 1984, performed by the University of Louisville’s Laman Gray Jr., M.D. The state and region waited in suspense as 40-year-old Alice Brandenburg received a new heart. The surgery, which took seven hours, was groundbreaking at the time. The UofL and Jewish Hospital transplant team is one of the leading providers of organ transplantation in the country.

“Jewish Hospital is a place where miracles happen every day and patients’ lives are changed forever,” said Ronald Waldridge II, M.D., president of Jewish Hospital. “Five-hundred hearts is much more than a milestone. It represents the life-changing impact on our patients, their families and the entire region. Together, with UofL, Jewish Hospital’s Trager Transplant Center is investing in research, technology and advance procedures to increase access to transplant services.”

On Wednesday, doctors and heart transplant recipients gathered at the Jewish Hospital Rudd Heart and Lung Center to celebrate the 500th milestone and the many lives that have been saved over the years thanks to heart transplantation. 

“The 500th heart transplant is a reminder of the commitment by Jewish Hospital and the University of Louisville to provide advanced therapies for patients with advanced heart failure,” said Dr. Slaughter. “We’ve come a long way since Dr. Gray broke ground with that first heart transplant more than 30 years ago. Every day, we continue to advance the science of heart transplantation here at UofL and Jewish Hospital. I’m excited about the future of this program, and I’m confident that we’ll mark a lot more milestones over the next 30 years.”

For Dr. Gray, Wednesday’s celebration marked decades of dedication to the heart transplant program.

“After performing the first heart transplant, it means a lot to me to see the 500th and where we are today,” said Dr. Gray.

Gray continues to research new ways to help patients with heart disease at UofL’s Cardiovascular Innovation Institute, a center focused on bio-adaptive heart innovations, including the integration of heart-assist device, biodfeedback sensors and related technologies. In 2001, Gray and the Trager-UofL surgical team implanted the first fully implantable replacement heart, the AbioCor™.

Today, patients like Jeffrey McMahan continue to benefit from the heart transplant program. McMahan was the center’s 479th heart transplant, and he attended the celebration on Wednesday along with other recipients.

Before his heart transplant, McMahan, 61, was no stranger to the procedure – it had helped save many of his family members. The Memphis, Indiana, resident had four family members receive heart transplants - two by University of Louisville surgeons at Jewish Hospital. In 2015, McMahan learned he, too, needed one.

“I was serving in the military at Fort Knox when I developed a cough,” said McMahan. “It finally got bad enough that doctors flew me to Jewish Hospital, where I was diagnosed with a cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart muscle is weakened. I learned that I would need a transplant in the next 10 years, but that timeframe quickly changed to 10 months after my condition worsened.”

On Aug. 15, 2015, McMahan was added to the organ donor transplant list. A month later, he received the transplant that forever changed his life.

“I wouldn’t have lived without the transplant,” McMahan said. “It means a lot to be here to celebrate the 500th. I’m forever thankful to the transplant team that helped save my life and gave me more time with family.”

It has been an exciting year for the Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center and University of Louisville team. In December 2017, the center – a joint program with the UofL School of Medicine and KentuckyOne Health – broke its all-time record for number of organs transplanted in the center’s 53-year history, with 175 organs transplanted in a year. The center also achieved several other milestones in 2017, including its 5,000th transplanted organ, its 3,000th kidney transplant and its 900th liver transplant. In addition to Kentucky’s first heart transplant, the program is known for performing Kentucky’s first adult pancreas, heart-lung and liver transplants.

But the 500th heart transplant and other milestones wouldn’t have been reached without organ donors, noted David Lewis, director of Transplant Services at the Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center.

“We often encourage people to sign up as organ donors to help save lives. The need for organ donors is unfortunately greater than the number of people who donate, so each day, an average of 20 people pass away while waiting for a transplant in the United States,” Lewis said. “Knowing that we have helped save 500 people in need of a new heart is a wonderful feeling, and it would not be possible without the donors and their families.”

For information on the Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center, visit www.kentuckyonehealth.org/transplant-care.

For video of the first heart transplant at Jewish Hospital, visit https://youtu.be/b8AFYN-TsDY.

Dr. Julio Ramirez Presents at Department of Medicine Grand Rounds

February 15, 2018 - "Clinical Research: From Idea to Publication"
Dr. Julio Ramirez Presents at Department of Medicine Grand Rounds

Julio A. Ramirez, M.D., FACP, Professor of Medicine/Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology; Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases; Director, Infectious Diseases Fellowship Training Program and Founding Director, Global Health Initiative at The University of Louisville, presented "Clinical Research: From Idea to Publication" at University of Louisville Department of Medicine Grand Rounds on February 15, 2018. The talk focused on performing an overview of clinical study designs, describing the planning and performing of a clinical study, reviewing the process for statistical and clinical analysis, and presenting the structure of a Clinical Research Coordinating Center.

A recording of the presentation may be viewed at the following link: UofL Dept. of Medicine Grand Rounds: Dr. Julio Ramirez

Dr. Julio Ramirez Presents at Department of Medicine Grand Rounds

February 15, 2018 - "Clinical Research: From Idea to Publication"
Dr. Julio Ramirez Presents at Department of Medicine Grand Rounds

Julio A. Ramirez, M.D., FACP, Professor of Medicine/Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology; Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases; Director, Infectious Diseases Fellowship Training Program and Founding Director, Global Health Initiative at The University of Louisville, presented "Clinical Research: From Idea to Publication" at University of Louisville Department of Medicine Grand Rounds on February 15, 2018. The talk focused on performing an overview of clinical study designs, describing the planning and performing of a clinical study, reviewing the process for statistical and clinical analysis, and presenting the structure of a Clinical Research Coordinating Center.

A recording of the presentation may be viewed at the following link: UofL Dept. of Medicine Grand Rounds: Dr. Julio Ramirez

It’s Heart Month. We know smoking is bad. So why don’t we quit?

New UofL treatment program addresses why our relationship with tobacco is ‘complicated’
It’s Heart Month. We know smoking is bad. So why don’t we quit?

The University of Louisville’s Rachel Keith, Ph.D., APRN, is a specialist in cardiovascular medicine and tobacco treatment and runs the new UofL Physicians Tobacco Treatment Clinic.

Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body. It causes about 1 in every 5 deaths in the United States each year, and is the main preventable cause of death and illness. We know the harmful effects of tobacco, so why is it so hard for people to quit?

“The benefits of not smoking, in particular to the heart, are huge. And with February being American Heart Month, it’s a good time to think about quitting,” said the University of Louisville’s Rachel Keith, Ph.D., APRN, a specialist in cardiovascular medicine and tobacco treatment. “But it’s a lot more than just halting a bad habit. That’s why we can say our relationship with tobacco is, ‘complicated.’”

Keith, who runs the new UofL Physicians Tobacco Treatment Clinic, said there are “strange dynamics” with tobacco.

“Smoking cessation is hard in general,” she said. “Helping patients to quit smoking often involves a lot of talking and figuring things out.

“We have to really get at WHY they smoke. Perhaps their grandmother died at age 100 even though she smoked, so they don’t believe there’s a connection. Or, she got them smoking and that’s their connection to her now that she’s gone.”

She said many people who come to the clinic have smoked for 30 or 40 years, and they are hesitant to quit. “That’s because it’s almost a part of them. In their view, you are taking away something they don’t know how to replace.”

She said she encourages patients to try different things and look for healthier alternatives when they have the urge for a cigarette.

“But when I ask them, ‘What are some other things you like to do for 10-15 minutes?,’ a whole lot of people can’t name those things. Many don’t have anything else. We try to help them find them, whether it’s a hobby or something like taking a walk,” she said.

But again, it’s complicated.

“A lot of patients feel sick, so they think they can’t get out and walk, even though they know it will be easier when they quit. There’s just a lot that goes into smoking, culturally and hormonally.”

People “can’t see the immediate effects of quitting, but they can quickly gain the rewards of smoking, because it’s almost instant. The body actually gets hard-wired to anticipate the effects from tobacco.”

That’s why the new clinic approaches all the factors that make it hard for people to stop, making it Louisville’s only comprehensive tobacco treatment program.

Keith meets with patients and develops a personal, individualized approach that best suits each patient’s needs. During sessions, Keith and patients discuss the benefits of stopping smoking, medication options, and different skills, such as mindfulness and relaxation, to help overcome anxiety.

Medications to treat withdrawal symptoms are paired with the cognitive-behavioral therapy to help patients sustain attempts to quit. Any medical issues also are addressed. One treatment Keith is studying is how to increase people’s motivation with virtual reality therapy, where an immersive session allows patients to imagine what life will be like once they’ve quit.

“The good news is, this type of program has been proven over and over as the most effective method for long-term cessation,” Keith said. “But until we opened, it was hard to find one in this area to get into.”

She said those who try to quit on their own have about a 6 percent chance of succeeding. If they work with a health provider, their chances improve to 10 percent to 15 percent. But with the comprehensive program, patients see a success rate of 30 percent and above.

“Those who have come through the program have done really well,” she said. “Almost everyone who comes through has quit.”

It generally takes about six sessions, usually once a week or every other week, to complete. Afterward, patients return on a more limited basis, and Keith follows up by phone.

Anyone who wants to quit smoking can come to the clinic, and many insurance plans will cover the program at little or no cost to the patient. It is located in Suite 310 of the UofL Physicians Health Care Outpatient Center, 401 E. Chestnut St.

To make an appointment, call 502-588-4600.

Valentine’s Day: For a healthy heart, strengthen your relationships

Risk factors for heart disease now include loneliness
Valentine’s Day: For a healthy heart, strengthen your relationships

University of Louisville cardiologist Lorrel Brown, M.D.

According to The Beatles, love is all you need. While it may not be all you need, there’s evidence it makes the heart healthier.

On Valentine’s Day, people may find themselves celebrating their relationships, or contemplating their lack of one. However, it’s not just love in the traditional sense that affects the heart, but also social bonds with friends and family.

University of Louisville cardiologist Lorrel Brown, M.D., studies the heart and says there is definitely a correlation between heart attacks, heart failure and other cardiac problems and loneliness, depression and anxiety.

While doctors know about the effects of diet, blood pressure and cholesterol on the heart, “now the medical community is interested in other components of heart health, that whole body connection,” Brown said. “Emotions are definitely part of this new way of understanding the body. Ideal cardiovascular health is now going beyond things you’ve already heard.”

In fact, some experts – including former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, M.D. - are calling loneliness and social isolation a sort of epidemic, noting the increased risk for cardiovascular disease, among other health problems. Last month, the United Kingdom even appointed a “Minister for Loneliness” to address the finding that 9 million British people often or always feel lonely.

In an article in the Harvard Business Review in September, Murthy wrote, “Loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity.

“But we haven’t focused nearly as much effort on strengthening connections between people as we have on curbing tobacco use or obesity.”

Brown said Eastern medicine has long correlated the connection between emotions, love and health, and Western medicine is now starting to apply science to those observations.

“There’s ongoing research now into the question, ‘Is there some way to intervene?’” Brown said.

She said “Broken Heart Syndrome” (clinically named stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy) is the most clear and dramatic example of the effect of the emotions on heart health.

The phenomenon, where people actually suffer from a broken heart, is common in medical literature, and named after a Japanese takotsubo, a ceramic pot used to trap octopus, as the stressed heart takes on the pot’s shape. The condition was first identified in Japan.

It starts abruptly, with chest pain and often shortness of breath, usually triggered by an emotionally stressful event, Brown said, and it is not uncommon to see after spouses argue or one passes away. People experiencing Broken Heart Syndrome often end up in the emergency room because they think they are having a heart attack, which is caused by a blocked coronary artery.

Tests will show an unusual shape of the heart’s left ventricle (the pumping chamber), with a narrow neck and ballooned lower portion, giving the condition the “takotsubo” name. While cause is still unknown, it may be due to an increase in stress hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine, and is treated with medication to block those hormones.

While all of our social bonds are important, “it does seem that married people live longer than those who aren’t,” Brown said.

There are a few small studies that show the benefits of traditional love on the heart, and “we do know that people react most positively to stress when they are in love,” she said. The hormone released in love is the powerful oxytocin, which also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. When oxytocin levels go up, blood pressure goes down, and the heart rate slows. Inflammatory markers also tend to go down.

“However, love can apply to other types of relationships as well,” Brown said. “Happiness and companionship are an important part of heart health. People with strong bonds, whether it’s a spouse, many friends, or a close family, tend to have healthier hearts. While we don’t understand yet the nuances, there’s certainly a significant connection.”

UofL study finds Medicaid expansion in Kentucky improves breast cancer care for women ages 20-64

A University of Louisville study has found a connection between Medicaid expansion and improved quality of breast cancer care, including an increase in the early-stage diagnosis of the disease and greater utilization of breast-conserving surgery.
UofL study finds Medicaid expansion in Kentucky improves breast cancer care for women ages 20-64

University of Louisville surgeon and researcher Hiram Polk, Jr., M.D.

A University of Louisville study has found a connection between Medicaid expansion and improved quality of breast cancer care, including an increase in the early-stage diagnosis of the disease and greater utilization of breast-conserving surgery instead of more invasive treatments, such as mastectomy. 

The study, “Evaluating the Early Impact of Medicaid Expansion on the Quality of Breast Cancer Care in Kentucky,” appears today on the website of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons in advance of print publication.

“We found several good things happened by the expansion of Medicaid,” said the study’s senior author, Hiram C. Polk, Jr., M.D., of the division of surgical oncology in the Department of Surgery at the UofL School of Medicine. “It really did work. The care was better because people were getting what they need.”

Since passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, 32 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid coverage, with the federal government covering the increased costs. Kentucky is one of the Medicaid expansion states, and the study looked at the effects of the expansion here.

“What we learned is that the expansion of some form of third-party coverage for health care leads to people doing more things that are intrinsically good for their health,” said Polk, who also has served as Kentucky’s public health commissioner.

UofL researchers who were co-authors on the study were Nicolas Ajkay, M.D., as first author; Neal Bhutiani, M.D.; Jeffrey Howard, M.D.; Charles Scoggins, M.D.; and Kelly McMasters, M.D., Ph.D. Also involved were researchers from the University of Kentucky.

The researchers looked at breast cancer as a marker of the impact of Medicaid expansion as it is “a very common cancer,” Polk said. “Our goal was to get an early measure of what really happened with Medicaid expansion.”

The study evaluated measures related to breast cancer from 2011 to 2016, using 2014 - the year Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion went into effect- as the cutoff between pre- and post-expansion.

“We knowingly took on the possibility of making too early of an observation on Medicaid expansion, but the degree of change that occurred so promptly in two years surprised me,” Polk said. “It’s amazing these changes happened in just two years.”

Researchers examined the Kentucky Cancer Registry for all women ages 20 to 64 who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 2011 and 2016.

From 2011 to 2013, 635,547 screening mammograms were performed in the state. That number increased to 680,418 from 2014 to 2016.

In 2011, 208,600 screening mammograms were performed, compared with 234,315 in 2016.

The number of screening mammograms covered by Medicaid increased from 5.6 percent before expansion to 14.7 percent after, and the number of women who had screening mammograms and were uninsured declined almost tenfold, from 0.53 percent before to 0.05 percent after expansion.

Breast cancer incidence and treatment rates did not vary significantly from year to year. But the changes in the rates of early-stage vs late-stage disease treated in the pre- and post-Medicaid expansion periods were statistically significant. 

Early stage (stage I-II) breast cancers accounted for 64.5 percent of the diagnoses in 2011-2013, compared with 66.7 percent in 2014-2016. Late-stage (III-IV) cancers accounted for 15 percent, compared with 12.9 percent.

Rates for breast-conserving surgery increased significantly after Medicaid expansion, from 44 percent pre-expansion to 48.8 percent, while rates of other resections, including mastectomy, declined, falling from 50.5 percent to 44.5 percent.

While the time from diagnosis to surgical treatment for the disease was shorter before expansion, an average of 28.6 days compared with 36, two other key treatment variables were either unchanged or improved after expansion:  time from the operation to chemotherapy (47.5 days before, and 46.6 days after); and time from the operation to radiation (96.4 days before, and 91.5 after).

“Chemotherapy and radiation didn’t happen as quickly as we’d like,” Polk said.

The study noted the findings were mirrored by experiences in other states, but Polk said a thorough analysis of the Medicaid expansion in Kentucky requires longer-term study. 

“Two years is a very short run,” Polk said. “But on the other hand, it’s a very pure study.”

UofL heart researcher receives highest honor from state chapter of the American College of Cardiology

Roberto Bolli, M.D., to receive Honorable Maestro Award for work
UofL heart researcher receives highest honor from state chapter of the American College of Cardiology

University of Louisville cardiologist and researcher Roberto Bolli, M.D.

University of Louisville cardiologist and researcher Roberto Bolli, M.D., has been awarded the 2018 Honorable Maestro Award by the Kentucky Chapter of the American College of Cardiology, the chapter’s highest honor.

Bolli is director of UofL’s Institute of Molecular Cardiology and serves as scientific director of the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute at UofL. He is also a professor and chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at the School of Medicine.

The Maestro Award recognizes achievements in the field of cardiology and medicine, leadership in the regional and national cardiology community, charity work, mentorship and vigilant care of the sick.

In the past year, Bolli received one the largest grants ever for medical research at the University of Louisville, saw the impact factor jump on a major medical journal he edits, and led the Stem Cell Summit at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Anaheim, Calif.

The $13.8 million grant Bolli and his UofL team received from the National Institutes of Health is to study a promising new type of adult cardiac stem cell that has the potential to treat heart failure.

Bolli’s research focus has been on how to repair the heart and cure heart failure using a patient’s own stem cells. It is an approach that could revolutionize the treatment of heart disease.

He also serves as editor of the journal Circulation Research, which achieved its highest-ever “impact factor,” a measure of its importance in the medical field, last year. Circulation Research is an official journal of the American Heart Association and is considered the world’s leading journal on basic and translational research in cardiovascular medicine.

Bolli will be recognized and presented with the Maestro Award on stage at the Kentucky chapter’s annual meeting at the Lexington Center in Lexington, Ky., on Oct. 13, 2018.

A national talk the following year will be named in his honor.

Eleven students receive graduate degrees in pharmacology & toxicology at December 15 commencement

Eleven students (see table below with student, degree, faculty mentor, and thesis/dissertation title) received their graduate degrees in pharmacology and toxicology at the December 15, 2017 commencement ceremony.  Among the student graduates was Tuo Shao, the first graduate of the Wenzhou Medical University Partnership.  The number of student graduates of the pharmacology and toxicology graduate program now exceeds 300.                                                                                       

J. Caleb Greenwell

Ph.D    

Jessie Roman, M.D.

 

Age-related host factors regulate lung cancer progression

Marcus W. Stepp

Ph.D.

David W. Hein, Ph.D.

 

Role of human arylamine N-acetyltransferase 1 in tumorigenesis and cancer biology

Lauren G. Poole-Hardy

Ph.D.

Gavin E. Arteel, Ph.D.

 

Novel insight into the liver-lung axis in alcohol-enhanced acute lung injury

Zimple D Kurlawala

Ph.D.

Levi J. Beverly, Ph.D.

 

UBQLN1: A multi-domain protein with multiple functions

Tuo Shao

Ph.D.

Wenke Feng, Ph.D.

 

The role of HIF-1α in intestinal epithelial barrier function in alcoholic liver disease

Laila Al-Eryani

Ph.D.

J. Christopher States, Ph.D.

 

miRNA expression changes in arsenic-induced skin cancer in vitro and in vivo  

J. Mason Hoffman

M.S.

J. Christopher States, Ph.D.

 

Targeting the major regulator of mitosis 

Ashley M. Mudd

M.S.

Ramesh C. Gupta, Ph.D.

 

Prevention and treatment of familial adenomatous polyposis and colorectal cancer by bilberry-derived anthocyanidins

Divya Karukonda

M.S.

Ramesh C. Gupta, Ph.D.

 

Advances in tumor-targeted therapy using nanomedicine

Rachel M. Speer

M.S.

John P. Wise, Sr., Ph.D.

 

The comparative cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of hexavalent chromium in humans and sea turtles

Tess V. Dupre

Ph.D.

Leah J. Siskind, Ph.D.

 

Sphingolipids in models of kidney injury and disease


Fellowship match successful again for UofL residents

Trend of near perfection in fellowship matches for UofL internal medicine residents continues with the Class of 2017
Fellowship match successful again for UofL residents

Several members of the of the UofL Internal Medicine Residency Program seeking fellowship appointments were matched successfully for the 2018-2019 academic year.


The quest for fellowship matches was successful again for several members of the University of Louisville Internal Medicine Residency Program following their graduation in 2018, including three who will continue their training at UofL.

"UofL internal medicine residents have once again shown that hard work, careful preparation, and demonstration of intellectual curiosity and scholarly productivity result in amazing professional opportunities," Jennifer Koch, M.D., director of the UofL Internal Medicine Residency Program said. "Congratulations to our residents on an outstanding fellowship match!"

Over the past six years, nearly all of the program's internal medicine residents have successfully matched into their choice of fellowship.

Those from The University of Louisville who matched for 2018-2019 include:

Doctor
Specialty
Institution

Alok Bhatt

Dhruv Chaudhary

Monika Darji

Rahul Dhawan

Brian Dong

Syed Hussaini

Natalie Kelsey

Yash Kothari

Ninad Maniar

Taku Mkorombindo

Drew Murray

Nevin Murthy

Alex Pontikos

Nelson Seabrook

Srividya Srinivasamaharaj

Chandra Vethody

Pulmonary/Critical Care

Gastroenterology

Endocrinology

Cardiology

Hematology/Oncology

Hematology/Oncology

Cardiology

Pulmonary/Critical Care

Pulmonary/Critical Care

Pulmonary/Critical Care

Hematology/Oncology

Nephrology

Gastroenterology

Gastroenterology


Hematology/Oncology

Allergy

New York University

Allegheny College

University of Chicago

University of Nebraska

University of Louisville

Western University of Health Sciences

University of Louisville

University of Southern California

Baylor University

University of Alabama at Birmingham

University of Louisville

University of Chicago

Case Western Reserve University

Medical University of South Carolina


Allegheny College

Vanderbilt University

M&I Faculty Awarded Multiple NIH/NIAID Grants in 2017

M&I Associate Professor Matthew Lawrenz was recently awarded a National Institute of Health R21 grant entitled "Zinc Acquisition in Yersinia pestis".  The major goal of this project is to define the contribution of the yersiniabactin synthase-dependent zinc acquisition system on the virulence of Yersinia pestis.  This NIH funded project is budgeted from 11/24/2017 - 10/31/2019 for $437,080.


M&I Professor Dr. Esma Yolcu recently awarded a National Institute of Health SSRT grant to study “SA-FasL-engineered human islets as a novel product for the treatment of type 1 diabetes."  The major goal of this phase I STTR application is to develop SA-FasL-engineered human islets as a novel immune privileged product for the treatment of type 1 diabetes (T1D).  This NIH funded project is budgeted from 07/01/2017 – 03/30/2018 for $224,529.00.

 

M&I Professors Drs. Thomas Mitchell and Carolyn Casella were recently awarded a National Institute of Health R01 grant to study “Mechanisms of successful vaccine adjuvants." This NIH funded project is budgeted from 06/26/2017 – 05/31/2022 for $1,925,000.

     Casella

 

Drs. Haval Shirwan and Esma Yolcu have been awarded a multiple PI NIH/NIAID UO1 grant with Andres Garcia from Georgia Institute of Technology. The grant is entitled “Targeted delivery of immunomodulatory biologics for induction of immune privilege to allogeneic pancreatic islet grafts”.  The major focus of this project is to develop immunomodulatory biomaterials for induction of tolerance to allogeneic islets as a cure for type 1 diabetes.  The award amount of $1,954,270 is budgeted for 06/20/20176 – 05/31/2022

      

 

M&I Professor and Vice Chair, Haribabu Bodduluri, PhD was awarded a grant titled ‘Innate immune mechanisms regulating silicosis”. This NIH/NIAID funded project is budgeted from 6/6/2017 - 5/30/2019 for $423,500. This research is important to explore the mechanisms of their recent work on silicosis and lung cancer; https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150429084837.htm

Hari Bodduluri

 

M&I Associate Professors Drs. Jon Warawa and Matt Lawrenz were recently awarded an NIH/ NIAID grant contract to study “Therapeutics Testing In a Murine Model of Multiple Drug Resistant (MDR) Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Lung Infection.” This NIH/ NIAID funded project is budgeted from 03/2017 – 11/2018 for $729,174.

Jonathan Warawa     Matthew Lawrenz

 

M&I Assistant Professor Dr. Krishna Jala was recently awarded a National Cancer Institute of National Institute of Health R21 grant to study “PQ-10:  Microbial metabolite, Urolithin A is a potent immunomodulator and chemosensitizing adjuvant in treating color cancer.” This NIH funded project is budgeted from 04/12/2017 – 03/31/2019 for $368,445.

 

M&I Associate Professor Dr. Jon Warawa was recently awarded an NIH/ NIAID grant contract to study “HHSN272201000033I/HHSN2720005 / Task A91- Mod #1.” This NIH/ NIAID funded project is budgeted from 03/21/2017 – 05/25/2018 for $508,703.

 

M&I Professor Dr. Nathan Schmidt was recently awarded an NIH/ NIAID grant contract to study “Role of gut microbiota in shaping severity of malaria.” This NIH/ NIAID funded project is budgeted from 01/11/2017 – 12/31/2021 for $2.6M.  http://uoflnews.com/post/uofltoday/uofl-researcher-awarded-2-6m-nih-grant-to-study-links-between-gut-microbiota-and-disease/

Student Highlights

M&I Graduate Student Receives Commencement Honor 

Henry NabetaHenry Nabeta, a Microbiology and Immunology graduate student and a Fulbright fellowship recipient, was selected to bear the School of Medicine banner at the 2021 Fall commencement ceremony. Congratulations Henry! 


M&I Graduate Student Publishes New Findings in Frontiers 

Hazel OzunaHazel Ozuna, M&I PhD candidate in the lab of Dr. Silvia Uriarte, was recently featured in the American Society for Microbiology's blog "Small Things Considered" for her paper titled "The Hunger Games: Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans Exploits Human Neutrophils As an Epinephrine Source for Survival." Read the blog here. Image: Hazel Ozuna


M&I Graduate Student Publishes New Findings in PNAS

Sarah Price Sarah Price, M&I PhD candidate in the Lawrenz Lab, recently published a paper in PNAS. Read more about the paper titled "Yersiniabactin contributes to overcoming zinc restriction during Yersinia pestis infection of mammalian and insect hosts" hereImage: Sarah Price 


M&I Graduate Students Recognized at Research! Louisville 2021

Congratulations to three students in our department who were selected for the second round of judging for Research! Louisville 2021. Amanda Brady ("yersinia pestis inhibits host synthesis of Leukotriene B4, a potent mediator of inflammation") and Sarah Price ("novel Tn-seq approach identifies the primary secretion system for yersiniabactin in yersinia pestis"), PhD candidates in the laboratory of Dr. Lawrenz, work on yersinia pestis. Erika Figgins, a MS student in Dr. Diamond's lab, works on herpes simplex virus. Erika won the second place for Research! Louisville in category MS of basic science for her work "Therapeutic effectiveness of antimicrobial peptoids against herpes simplex virus-1". Congrats to all! Images: From left to right: Amanda Brady, Sarah Price, Erika Figgins

Amanda Brady  Sarah Price  Erika Figgins


M&I Graduate Student Publishes New Findings in Microbiology Spectrum 

Henry NabetaHenry Nabeta, M&I PhD candidate in the lab of Dr. Kenneth Palmer, recently published a paper in Microbiology Spectrum. His study has identified Q-GRFT, a broad-spectrum antiviral protein that harbors growth-inhibitory activity against several Candida strains, as a potential candidate for the prevention and treatment of fungal infections. The paper, titled "Novel Antifungal Activity of Q-Griffithsin, a Broad-Spectrum Antiviral Lectin" can be found hereImage: Henry Nabeta



M&I Graduate Student Publishes New Findings in Frontiers 

Hazel OzunaHazel Ozuna, M&I PhD candidate in the lab of Dr. Silvia Uriarte, recently published a paper in Frontiers in Immunology showing that A. actinomycetemcomitans promotes azurophilic granule exocytosis by neutrophils as an epinephrine source to promote bacterial survival. The paper, titled "The Hunger Games: Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans Exploits Human Neutrophils As an Epinephrine Source for Survival" can be found here. Image: Hazel Ozuna


 

M&I Graduate Student Recognized at FASEB Conferences 

Sarah PriceSarah Price, M&I PhD candidate in the Lawrenz Lab, won a Top Poster Award at the FASEB Microbial Pathogenesis Conference: Mechanisms of Infectious Disease held July 13-15, 2021 on her work to define the secretion system for the metalophore yersiniabactin. Sarah was also chosen to give an oral presentation at the FASEB Nutrition, Immunity, and Inflammation Conference: From Model Systems to Human Trials to be held July 27-29. She will present her work defining an iron independent role for yersiniabactin in plague virulence. Image: Sarah Price 


M&I Graduate Student Publishes New Findings in mBio 

Hannah HanfordHannah Hanford, Microbiology and Immunology PhD Candidate in the lab of Dr. Yousef Abu Kwaik, recently published a paper in mBio. The paper, titled "Dot/Icm-Dependent Restriction of Legionella pneumophila within Neutrophilscan be found here.  Image: Hannah Hanford

 


M&I Graduate Student Receives 2021 School of Medicine Student Diversity Award 

Hazel OzunaMicrobiology and Immunology graduate student, Hazel Ozuna, was awarded the 2021 School of Medicine Student Diversity Award in May, a deserved recognition for her continuous effort and commitment for diversity and inclusion among the student's population and beyond. Image: Hazel Ozuna 

 


M&I Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellow Present at the American Association for Immunologists 2021 National Research Meeting 

The M&I Department was recognized at the American Association for Immunologists (AAI) national meeting held May 10-15, 2021. Jing Ma and James Harder, graduate students in the laboratory of Dr. Kosiewicz, gave one and two oral presentations, respectively, on their Dissertation projects. Dr. Sweta Ghosh, a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Jala, gave an oral presentation on her project. Congratulations to all for receiving an AAI Trainee Abstract Award for their presentations! Images: From left to right: Jing Ma, James Harder, and Sweta Ghosh

Jing Ma James Harder Sweta Ghosh


M&I Students Publish New Findings in JCI Insight 

Dr. Anne Geller and Dr. Samantha Morrissey, Microbiology and Immunology PhD graduates formerly in the lab of Dr. Jun Yan, recently published a paper in JCI Insight. The paper, titled "A specific low-density neutrophil population correlates with hypercoagulation and disease severity in hospitalized COVID-19 patientscan be found here. Images: Anne Geller (left) and Samantha Morrissey (right) 

 Anne Geller   Morissey


M&I Student Wins the Richard and Mary Finkelstein Award from the American Society for Microbiology

Sarah PriceSarah Price was awarded the Richard and Mary Finkelstein Award for the upcoming 2021 World Microbe Forum. In addition to travel support for the meeting, the award also includes an invitation for Sarah to give an oral presentation on her research during this international meeting. Sarah’s virtual presentation will be on June 22, 2021.

 

 


M&I Graduate Students Present at American Society for Microbiology Spring 2021 Research Meeting

The M&I Department was well represented at the KY/TN Branch of the American Society for Microbiology Spring 2021 Research Meeting on April 17. Kelley Cooper (Bagaitkar Lab), Trey Landers (Sokoloski Lab), Autumn LaPointe (Sokoloski Lab), Sarah Price (Lawrenz Lab), Carlos Rodriguez (Bagaitkar Lab), and Claire Westcott (Sokoloski Lab) were among 21 participants invited to give oral presentations on their research projects. Congratulations to Sarah, Autumn, and Carlos for receiving “Top Presentation Awards” at the meeting!

(From left to right: Kelley Cooper, Trey Landers, Autumn LaPointe, Sarah Price, Carlos Rodriguez, Claire Westcott)


M&I Student Publishes New Findings in mBio

 Bethany Vaughn, Microbiology and Immunology PhD Candidate in the lab of Dr. Yousef Abu Kwaik, recently published a paper in mBio. The paper, titled "An Indispensable Role for the MavE Effector of Legionella pneumophila in Lysosomal Evasion" can be found here.  Image: Bethany Vaughn 



 


M&I Student Publishes New Findings in Viruses

Trey LandersM&I Ph.D. Candidate, V “Trey” Landers (in the Sokoloski Lab) has recently published a paper regarding his dissertation research in the journal Viruses. The paper, titled “The Alphaviral Capsid Protein Inhibits IRAK1-Dependent TLR Signaling” reports the identification of a novel host / pathogen interaction, and can be found hereImage: Trey Landers 

 

 

 


M&I Students Publish New Findings in PLOS Pathogens 

Hannah Hanford

Current M&I Ph.D. student, Hannah Hanford (AbuKwaik lab) and M&I graduate Dr. Juanita von Dwingelo (AbuKwaik lab) have jointly published a paper in PLOS Pathogens. The paper, titled "Bacterial nucleomodulins: A coevolutionary adaptation to the eukaryotic command center" can be found here.   Image: Hannah Hanford

 

 

  


M&I Graduate Students Present at American Society for Microbiology Fall 2020 Research Meeting

The M&I Department was well represented at the KY/TN Branch of the American Society for Microbiology Fall 2020 Research Meeting on December 5th. Trey Landers (Sokoloski Lab), Autumn LaPointe (Sokoloski Lab), Sarah Price (Lawrenz Lab), Drew Skidmore (Chung Lab), and Claire Westcott (Sokoloski Lab) were invited to give oral presentations on their thesis projects. Congratulations to Sarah and Trey for receiving the top awards at the meeting for their presentations!

 Trey Landers Autumn LaPointe Sarah Price Drew Skidmore Claire Westcott Jones

(From left to right: Trey Landers, Autumn LaPointe, Sarah Price, Drew Skidmore, Claire Westcott) 




M&I Graduate students win University doctoral awards

Dylan Johnson and Irina Miralda received University’s Guy Stevenson Award and the John Richard Binford Memorial Award, respectively.

Please click here to view Dylan Johnson's virtual Graduate School Graduation speech.

The Guy Stevenson Award recognizes an outstanding doctoral degree recipient who has demonstrated excellence in both scholarship and leadership within the discipline, and has made significant contributions to teaching and service. This award is the highest award given by the Graduate School and the winner carries the graduate school banner at both the Doctoral Hooding and Commencement Ceremonies, and provides remarks during the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony.  The Binford Award is presented to a doctoral degree recipient who excels in scholarship, and has contributed to other areas within the discipline such as leadership, teaching, or service.  The winner receives special recognition at the Doctoral Hooding and Graduation ceremony.  Congratulations Dylan and Irina!




Autumn LaPointe wins presentation award at Viruses 2020 conference in Barcelona

Autumn LaPointe, PhD candidate, received the best oral presentation award, elected by the scientific committee and sponsored by the journal Microorganisms, for her talk entitled “Noncapped genomic RNA are critical for Alphaviral infection and pathogenicity”. LaPointe is a PhD candidate in the lab of Dr. KevinSokoloski. Read more at https://blog.mdpi.com/2020/02/13/viruses-2020-novel-concepts-in-virology-another-success/

 

 

 






M&I students receive 1st and 2nd place for doctoral dissertation at Research! Louisville

Congratulations to Autumn LaPointe on receiving 1st place and Samantha Morrissey on receiving 2nd place for the 2019 Research!Louisville Doctoral Basic Science award. Autumn is a doctoral candidate in the lab of Dr. Kevin Sokoloski and Samantha is a doctoral candidate in the lab of Dr. Jun Yan. Read more at: https://louisville.edu/researchlouisville/r-l-2019-award-winners-and-photos/r-l-2019-award-winners/view

 


 

2019 T32 Awardees announced

The Inflammation and Pathogenesis T32 Training Grant is excited to announce its newest PhD graduate student fellows: Drew Skidmore, laboratory of Dr. Donghoon Chung, Trey Landers, laboratory of Dr. Kevin Sokoloski, and Sarah Price laboratory of Dr. Matthew Lawrenz. These students will join 2018 fellow Autumn LaPointe, laboratory of Dr. Kevin Sokolowski, in the program. 

 This year M&I’s summer high school program MISTRE merged with Louisville Science Pathways, which is the Science Policy and Outreach Group’s University-wide internship program. This merger expanded the opportunities to include weekly career seminars, and how to apply to two- and four-year colleges, with emphasis on careers in the biomedical field. Altogether, seventeen 10th and 11th graders experienced hands on research projects.  M&I provided stipends to two of the seventeen participants, Awa Koita from Central High, and Osazuwa Omoruyi from St. Francis; who were hosted in the labs of Drs. Venkatakrishna Jala and Sylvia Uriarte, respectively. During their internship, the students participated in mentored biomedical research, focused on the roles of microbial communities inhuman disease.

MISTRE is coordinated by Claire Jones, and Louisville Science Pathways is coordinated by Dylan Johnson and Sarah Price. Claire, Dylan and Sarah are all PhD candidates in the Department.

The Microbiology and2018 SLB Group Immunology Department was well represented by its graduate students at the 2018 Joint Meeting of the Society for Leukocyte Biology and International Endotoxin and Innate Immunity Society in October. Amanda Pulsifer (laboratory of Matthew Lawrenz) was one of three finalists for the SLB Presidential Award, which included the opportunity to present her research at a plenary session during the first day of the meeting. Katlin Stivers’ research (laboratory of Jay Hoying) was also highlighted and she was chosen to give a “Poster Flash Talk”. Irina Miralda (laboratory of Silvia Uriarte) won a SLB travel Award for her poster presentation. Finally, Hazel Ozuna (laboratory of Don Demuth) was selected to present her research at the Late Breaking Research Poster Session. Congratulations to all of the students!

Tiva Vancleave, a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Matthew Lawrenz, has been awarded the 2018 University of Louisville School of Medicine Student Diversity Award.  This award acknowledged Tiva’s commitment to the educational and societal needs of underrepresented minorities through mentorship and service during her PhD career. Tiva was recognized for this award during the 2018 PhD Commencement Ceremony, where she also received a Dean’s Citation for her PhD research on the YapE protein of Yersinia pestis.

 

Hazel Ozuna


Hazel Ozuna, a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Donald Demuth, has been awarded a five year F31 Research Fellowship from the National Institiute of Dental & Craniofacial Research for her project entitled: "Exploitation of the host response by Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans mediated by QseBC".

  

  

Katlin Stivers, a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. James Hoying, has been awarded a predoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association for her project entitled "Regulation of Adipose Tissue Inflammation by Resident Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells". The two year award will fully support her research investigating the role of tissue resident, immunosuppressive myeloid cells in promoting immune homeostasis in healthy, lean adipose tissue and preventing the chronic inflammation that can lead to the development of obesity.

Earlier this year, Katlin also received a travel award to give an oral presentation on her current work "Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells in Adipose Tissue Homeostasis" as  part of the Kaley Lecture featured topic session, "The Complications of Diabetes and the Role of Inflammation: Mechanisms and Therapeutic Opportunities" at the Experimental Biology 2017 Conference, April 22-26, Chicago, IL.

Amanda Pulsifer was awarded a “Best Poster Presentation” prize at The Yin and Yang of Phagocytes: Regulators of Human Health and Disease Gordon Research Conference, June 11-16, Waterville Valley, NH for her work entitled “Exploitation of Host Rab GTPases by Yersinia pestis Facilitates Intracellular Survival”. Amanda is a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Matthew Lawrenz.

 

 

M&I Faculty Receive Excellence in Education Awards

Methods of CPR training vary among U.S. high schools, study by UofL doctor finds

State laws don’t ensure high-quality training; hope is to standardize process
Methods of CPR training vary among U.S. high schools, study by UofL doctor finds

While CPR instruction in high school is required by law in a growing number of states, there is no standard method of implementation, according to a study by a University of Louisville doctor published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The study by Lorrel Brown, M.D., an assistant professor at the UofL School of Medicine and physician director for resuscitation at UofL Hospital, is titled “CPR instruction in U.S. high schools: What is the state in the nation?”

In the U.S., 350,000 people suffer cardiac arrest outside a hospital each year. Only 30 percent get bystander CPR, which affects survival, Brown said. Only 11 percent of those 350,000 survive.

“If we improve survival by just 1 percent, that’s 3,500 more people who will live,” Brown said.

The American Heart Association wants to double the percentage of cardiac arrest victims who receive bystander CPR by 2020, and CPR training in high schools has been endorsed by a variety of organizations. Thirty-nine states have passed laws requiring the training before graduation, including Kentucky, which passed a law last year. Similar laws in the remaining 11 states are being considered.

For the study, Brown examined the state laws and characterized them based on stringency of training. 

“We know high school students can learn CPR. However, we have found CPR skill retention in high schoolers is poor, with only 30 percent performing adequate CPR six months after training,” she said. “We wanted to know, is there a better way to do it? How can we make the best use of this opportunity?”

The study had two parts: 1) what the law in each state requires and 2) how the laws are being implemented in schools.

To find out, Brown sent a survey to schools in the 39 states. She asked how CPR was being taught, who was doing the teaching and at what grade level.

“We found a wide degree of variability from state to state, and even school to school,” she said. “While the laws all have some similar features, such as teaching the hands-only method, they still leave a lot to the individual schools to decide.”

Most laws don’t recommend a specific program. Some require the training take place in a specific grade, while others don’t.  Most training was being taught as part of a physical education class, but it varied widely who taught it, from a firefighter, a nurse, to the American Red Cross. Most laws don’t require the instructor to be certified to teach, an important distinction, Brown said, since not everyone who is certified in CPR will necessarily be a good instructor.

She said a major barrier for schools is the cost of CPR training.  Certified instructors are not always readily available, and most states don’t provide funding for CPR training, leaving it to individual schools and districts.  And high-quality mannequins, which are important for a more realistic experience and muscle memory, are expensive, Brown said. Thirty-six percent of schools surveyed were using a low-quality, inexpensive inflatable one.

She said the study “hopefully will help standardize the process to provide high-quality training.” Brown was assisted in the study by two UofL medical students, third-year Carlos Lynes, and fourth-year Travis Carroll, with Henry Halperin, M.D., of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, advising on the study.

She said it’s too early to tell whether the training in U.S. high schools has been effective in saving lives, but in some places such as Denmark, similar laws lead to increased rates of bystander CPR and survival.

“We’re still about 10 years out in the U.S.,” she said. With about 4 million students per year now graduating with CPR training, “by then we’ll have an army of people trained in CPR.”

Expanding CPR training has been especially important to Brown, who has worked for several years on unique approaches such as halftime demonstrations at UofL men’s basketball games.  She founded and directs a program called “Alive in 5” (alivein5.org), a five-minute method of teaching CPR she developed that could become a standard for training. She studied the method at the Kentucky State Fair and found adults could learn high-quality CPR in just 5 minutes.

“We are still investigating the best method that is effective and efficient,” she said.  

Professor Steven Myers (in memoriam) recognized as faculty favorite by UofL students

This past academic year, the Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning solicited nominations from students for the UofL faculty member they would like to recognize for making a significant impact on their learning and intellectual development.  Through a link on the Delphi Center website, students submitted 701 nominations for 308 faculty members.

Professor Steven Myers, who passed away suddenly in December 2016 has been named among the "top six" and will be recognized for this achievement with a ceremony scheduled in February 2018.  Information about the faculty favorites and the student nominations are available at http://louisville.edu/delphi/awards/facultyfavorites