Telepsychiatry program recognized for reducing health care barriers in rural areas

Telepsychiatry program recognized for reducing health care barriers in rural areas

The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Louisville School of Medicine has partnered with a community mental health center to bring telepsychiatry to rural residents, most of whom would otherwise have difficulty obtaining care.

The department and The Adanta Group this month received an honorable mention from the Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center’s Breaking Barriers through Telehealth awards for bridging gaps to mental health care in rural Kentucky and providing an innovative way to train resident physicians.

The collaboration began in 2015, transplanting the well-established model for teaching residents in a clinical setting to a video teleconferencing platform that connects patients at a rural mental health care facility to UofL psychiatrists. Through the partnership, UofL provides telepsychiatry primarily in Casey and Taylor Counties.

“Telepsychiatry often means the difference between care and no care for some rural patients,” said Robert Caudill, M.D., UofL Physicians – Psychiatry, residency training director and associate professor of the UofL Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. “These patients can go long periods of time between appointments because they have to travel far from home for care or available slots are filled. Rural health facilities have a difficult time recruiting and maintaining medical staff.”

UofL has helped maintain Adanta’s staffing level without having to rely on temporary doctors who are typically expensive to employ. In turn, Adanta increased the length of appointments to allow residents time to learn under faculty supervision.

“We provide university-based physicians who are working with the clinics consistently and Adanta didn’t have to hire us at 40 hours a week,” Caudill said. “I could be there for four hours an afternoon in an isolated clinic, and with the click of a mouse, treat patients in a different clinic without having to drive somewhere. The logistics are persuasive.”

Telepsychiatry has other benefits to the patient. Stigma surrounding mental health treatment is reduced because the process of going to appointments is more private. It’s also less intimidating to patients who have experienced trauma to meet with a physician through a video monitor, Caudill said.

As mental health services transition from relying on traditional office visits, UofL psychiatry residency graduates are prepared to integrate technology into their clinical practice.

Timothy Bickel, telehealth director at the UofL School of Medicine, said training resident physicians in telemedicine should expand beyond psychiatry.

“Medical students and residents get attention from prospective employers for being involved in telehealth,” Bickel said. “Students should at least have the opportunity to be exposed to telehealth.”

Amid opioid crisis, new partnership will enhance autopsy services and training

Justice Cabinet teaming up with UofL and UK to strengthen Medical Examiner’s Office
Amid opioid crisis, new partnership will enhance autopsy services and training

The new partnership will broaden education and training opportunities for students, residents and fellows, says Eyas Hattab, M.D., chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

Kentucky Justice Secretary John Tilley, the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville announced a new partnership today that will strengthen the state Medical Examiner’s Office, a vital step amid the deadly opioid epidemic and a national shortage of forensic doctors.

Under the agreement, the Justice Cabinet will contract with the universities for forensic pathology services, combining resources for both autopsies and medical education. The move is expected to boost salaries for doctors, helping improve recruitment and retention, and it will help the cabinet avoid charging counties a fee for autopsies.

“The opioid crisis has placed tremendous strains on our state, and we must take every opportunity to innovate and find efficiencies,” Secretary Tilley said. “By partnering with universities, we can improve the pay and size of our forensics team while also ensuring that families, coroners and police get the answers they need when tragedy strikes.”

The agreement also will help UK and UofL maximize training opportunities for medical students and residents in pathology.

“Our collaboration with the Justice Cabinet and their Medical Examiner’s Office illustrates the University of Kentucky’s desire to take a comprehensive, ‘all hands on deck’ approach to addressing Kentucky’s opioid crisis,” said Dr. Darrell Jennings, chair of the UK Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. “This opportunity will provide our medical students in Lexington, Bowling Green and Northern Kentucky, along with our residents and fellows, with unparalleled training on the front lines, harnessing the power of compassion and commitment to transform the future.”

“Through this strengthened relationship with the state Medical Examiner’s Office, we will broaden the educational and training opportunities for our students, residents and fellows,” said Dr. Eyas Hattab, chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Sciences at UofL. “Our trainees will have access to the number and variety of cases that are invaluable as they prepare for the next steps in their careers.”

UofL will provide up to six pathologists in state medical examiner offices; UK will provide up to four. The cabinet will pay the universities for any services performed by these doctors on a scale similar to current costs. The cabinet and universities will also collaborate on strategies that could possibly lower the overall cost of the program in the long run.

The Medical Examiner’s Office currently employs nine doctors – six in Louisville, two in Frankfort and one in Madisonville. The partnership is expected to provide a net increase of one forensic pathologist immediately with opportunities to add an additional doctor, possibly within two years, thanks to recruitment assistance from the universities.

All doctors have an opportunity to transition into university positions, and those who do are expected to receive a salary increase depending on the individual contracts between doctors and universities. Added salary will compensate for additional responsibilities such as teaching, researching, writing, consulting or other contributions that doctors are interested in pursuing.

While the exact terms of employment will depend on the individual contracts, the higher pay scale is expected to make Kentucky more effective at hiring and keeping new doctors.
Kentucky, like many other states, has struggled to recruit forensic pathologists in recent years due to a national shortage. Only about 500 forensic doctors are currently practicing across the country. At the same time, overdose deaths have continued to climb over the past decade, driving up demand for autopsies and toxicology tests. More than 1,400 Kentuckians died from an overdose in 2016.

In response, enhancing the Medical Examiners’ Office has remained a high priority under the current administration.

In 2016, the office resumed services in Madisonville (following a two-year hiatus), helping coroners and law enforcement agencies across Western Kentucky reduce travel costs and obtain evidence at a faster pace.

Secretary Tilley said he plans to continue looking for ways to improve the office. For instance, the cabinet is aggressively seeking grant funds to expand capacity, reduce caseloads, expand toxicology analysis and enhance data collection.

“We want to consider every option to enhance services while avoiding fees for counties,” he said. “UK and UofL have been excellent partners in this process, and we look forward to continuing our work with coroners to ensure their needs are met.”

Postponed: Ribbon-cutting for Medical Mile walking path at UofL health sciences campus

Due to anticipated inclement weather on Tuesday, April 24, the ribbon-cutting event for the new Medical Mile walking path at the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center campus has been postponed.

The event will be rescheduled for a later date.

Please contact Jill Scoggins at 502-852-7461 or if you have any questions.

About the Medical Mile:

The creation of the Medical Mile walking path is part of the School of Medicine’s SMART Wellness Task Force and the Being Well Initiative. The Medical Mile follows a 1-mile path on the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center campus. A map of the path can be found here.The mile is marked along the way with the Medical Mile graphic image and with one-fourth, one-half and three-quarter mile markers.



$11.2 million federal grant to support microorganism and disease research

$11.2 million federal grant to support microorganism and disease research

Rich Lamont, Ph.D.

It is well-established that the community of organisms inside our bodies perform vital roles in digestion, production of critical metabolites, controlling the immune system and even affecting the brain.

To further understand these associations linking the microbiome - bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses and protozoans - with inflammation and disease, the University of Louisville has received an $11.2 million federal grant over five years to establish an interdisciplinary research program.

The grant, awarded through the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, establishes a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) and pairs well-funded scientists with junior faculty in the Schools of Dentistry, Medicine and Engineering. This arrangement facilitates the career development of junior faculty, and aims to advance the study of the interface between microbiome, inflammation and disease development.

“Although the microbiome contributes to many beneficial aspects of our physiology, when these communities are out of balance, or dysbiotic, they are implicated in an array of diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, periodontitis, vaginosis, colorectal cancer, and distant sites like rheumatoid arthritis, even neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease and autism spectrum,” said Richard Lamont, Ph.D., chair of the School of Dentistry’s Department of Oral Immunology and Infectious Diseases and principal investigator for the grant.

Furthermore, Lamont said, inflammation is a process that provides the mechanism connecting the microbiome and disease.

“The interplay of the pro and anti-inflammatory components of the immune system with microbes often dictates whether a person remains healthy or develops a disease, as well as controls aspects of recovery, chronic infection and the level of tissue destruction,” he said.

Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine is the other primary department participating in the COBRE. Researchers in the J.B. Speed School of Engineering’s bioengineering department will provide expertise as possible new discoveries show potential for new therapeutic technology against disease.

“This program will synergize with, and augment, existing research priorities at UofL centered around microbial community-associated diseases,” said Greg Postel, M.D., interim UofL president. “We are confident that establishing a critical mass of investigators with unique complementary expertise will propel UofL to a position of preeminence in this important field.”

“We are thrilled to add this COBRE multidisciplinary program in research, education and mentoring to facilitate and accelerate the transition of junior faculty to independent extramural funded status, advancing our overall research enterprise,” said T. Gerard Bradley, B.D.S., M.S., Dr.Med.Dent., dean of the School of Dentistry.

The grant will support five junior faculty and their specific research focused on the mouth, GI tract, arthropod (flea) vector environments, vagina and lungs:

  • Juhi Bagaitkar, Ph.D., will study how oxidants change neutrophil, or white blood cell, responses in the mouth. She is focused on inflammatory pathways regulated by Reactive Oxygen Species essential in host responses to oral bacteria. She hopes to provide insights into neutrophil biology, and enhance the understanding of immune pathways related to inflammation of the gums and the interface with microbes.
  • Venkatakrishna Jala, Ph.D., will investigate the beneficial effects of the microbial metabolite, uronlithin A (UroA) and its structural analogue UAS03 in inflammatory bowel disorders. He will examine their impact on both immune responses and maintenance of the epithelial barrier in the gastrointestinal mucosal membrane.
  • Matthew Lawrenz, Ph.D., will study the pathogenic mechanisms of Y. pestis, a bacterium that causes bubonic plague. Humans can become sick after being bitten by a rodent flea. Lawrenz will further investigate several mechanisms, including how Y. pestis evades macrophages, a kind of white blood cell first on the scene of infection. As the project develops, Lawrenz also hopes to explore the relationship of Y.pestis and microbial communities of the flea, which may impact colonization and transmission.
  • Jill Steinbach-Rankins, Ph.D., will investigate a new nanotherapeutic approach to treat bacterial vaginosis (BV), a dysbiotic condition where vaginal microbial communities are disrupted. With expertise in materials science engineering and biomedical engineering, Steinbach-Rankins aims to develop targeted community engineering to restore the balance between the microbiome and host to prevent the manifestation of disease.
  • Jonathan Warawa, Ph.D., will investigate Burkholderia pseudomallei (Bp), the bacterium responsible for respiratory melioidosis, an inflammatory disease of the lungs that progresses into a fatal systemic disease involving major organs. This project drills down into innate immune responses contributing either to protection and resolution of diseases or to increased morbidity. Through greater understanding of immune responses, therapeutic intervention is possible.

The COBRE also helps establish a functional microbiomics core research facility at UofL. The facility will provide germ free animal facilities, oxygen-free culture capability, microbiome sequencing and bioinformatics, assessment of inflammatory markers and pathology services. 

Walk the Line

UofL School of Medicine creates Medical Mile walking path to promote wellness
Walk the Line

Students, faculty, staff, patients and visitors to facilities within the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center now have a marked one-mile path to foster wellness through walking.

The HSC Medical Mile walking path will be dedicated at a ribbon-cutting on Tuesday, April 24, at 11:30 A.M. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer will join UofL School of Medicine Dean Toni Ganzel, M.D., to open the new path.

The event will be held at the Medical Mile’s starting point, on the sidewalk next to the Health Sciences Center Plaza near Kornhauser Library, 500 S. Preston St.

The Medical Mile follows a 1-mile path from the HSC Plaza north to East Muhammad Ali Boulevard, east to South Hancock Street, south to East Chestnut Street, west to South Floyd Street, north to East Muhammad Ali again, and finishing up by going south on South Preston back to the starting point.

The mile is marked along the way with the Medical Mile graphic image and with one-fourth, one-half and three-quarter mile markers as well.

The creation of the Medical Mile was part of the School of Medicine’s SMART Wellness Task Force and the Being Well Initiative, said Chief of Staff Karan Chavis, and is the product of the work of the committee under the leadership of former co-chair Miranda Sloan and current co-chair Tamara Iacono.

“We know that walking is great physical activity that virtually anyone can do, and with the sidewalks we have surrounding our buildings, we have a ready-made way to create a dedicated walking space for people,” Chavis said. “Through the spring and summer, we are encouraging people to create ‘walking trains,’ picking up people along the way and walking together.”

The path of the HSC Medical Mile is shown on the map below:

UofL provides quality, lifelong professional education for physicians

CME office receives full reaccreditation with commendation from ACCME
UofL provides quality, lifelong professional education for physicians

Staying up-to-date on the latest developments in medical research and clinical care is part of every physician’s duty to provide the best care for patients.

The quality and integrity of courses offered through the University of Louisville Office of Continuing Medical Education and Professional Development have been affirmed by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). In March, the ACCME awarded the school Accreditation with Commendation for a six-year accreditation period.

“We were thrilled to receive the notice that we have been reaccredited to continue offering lifelong learning programming for our physicians and physicians all over the U.S.,” said Daniel Cogan, Ed.D., assistant dean for CME and professional development at the UofL School of Medicine.

UofL’s CME office offers continuing education for physicians not only in Louisville, but throughout Kentucky and across the United States. The ACCME Commendation recognized the office’s effectiveness in addressing local and community issues such as the medical needs of diverse groups, including LGBTQ patients and other underserved populations.

“Continuing education for physicians in the community contributes to improved health care and a healthier population in Kentucky as well as throughout the region and the world,” said Toni Ganzel, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the UofL School of Medicine. “The exceptional services provided by this office are a credit to the leadership and dedication of Dr. Cogan and his staff.”

The office provides programming approved by the American Medical Association, AMA PRA Category 1 credit, for more than 40 major CME courses each year, as well as more than 50 regularly scheduled series programs such as Grand Rounds in UofL departments and divisions. The office provides services for local and regional partners, including Jewish Hospital, the Robley Rex Veterans Administration Medical Center, Ireland Army Community Hospital at Fort Knox, and Area Health Education Centers in the western half of Kentucky. They also provide administrative services for third-party CME providers.

“We work with joint providers to offer multi-day courses in many parts of the country and as far away as Hawai’i and the Caribbean,” Cogan said. “We also provide course development services for our partners in India. In 2017, our programs provided CME credit for more than 23,000 practicing physicians, from primary care to the most specialized practitioner, and another 20,000 non-physician health-care providers.”



April 17, 2018

Is there a doctor on board?

Innovative field training prepares future physicians for emergency situations – and allows them to serve as they learn
Is there a doctor on board?

Matthew Wilson practices a cricothyroidotomy in an airline seat

“Odds are that at some point in your flying career, you will have to respond to an overhead page:  ‘Is there any doctor on board the flight,’” Raymond Orthober, M.D., assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Louisville, told 35 second- and third-year medical students.

Orthober, the students and additional instructors were aboard a Delta aircraft, engaged in a training event for treating passengers who have medical issues during a commercial flight. Although the aircraft remained at the gate, the space created a realistic environment for learning to provide medical care in the air.

“One day that’s going to be me who can stand up and say, ‘I’m here.’ This is a chance to have a little background in what to do in those scenarios and to get comfortable managing those things in an airplane setting,” said Matthew Wilson, a third-year UofL medical student who took part in the training.

See a video about in-flight emergency training.

In-flight emergencies are just one of the scenarios Wilson and other medical students experience as part of the Disaster Medicine Certificate Series (DMCS), a program at the UofL School of Medicine that prepares them for a wide variety of emergency situations. More than 65 second- and third-year students have participated in DMCS training events, including mass casualty triage and handling hazardous materials, since the extracurricular program began at UofL last fall. Organizers believe it is the only program in the nation that exposes medical students to this type of training on an ongoing basis.

The DMCS grew out of third-year medical student Madison Kommor’s own desire to help in case of an emergency.

“I hope I never have to respond to a disaster situation, but I was tired of sitting in a library waiting for someone to teach me what to do if something happens,” Kommor said.

DMCS is designed to prepare future physicians in every specialty to put their skills to work in case of natural or man-made disasters such as a flood, hurricane or mass shooting.

“A lot of students got excited about it. They want to be useful, but they need to be trained,” said Bethany Hodge, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of pediatrics at UofL and a faculty advisor for DMCS.

The program’s training sessions, which take place during the students’ free time, familiarize students with emergency response systems and prepare them to provide medical assistance outside of a hospital or clinical environment. During the in-flight emergency training, instructors shared stories of their own experiences with in-flight emergencies, described medical supplies typically found on commercial aircraft, and explained laws and best practices for helping passengers in distress and the use of ground-based medical support. Students then rotated among seven training stations, where they treated simulated in-flight emergencies such as cardiac arrest, drug overdose, turbulence injuries and choking.

“The disaster medicine training provides the opportunity to get hands-on in real-world settings that we really don’t get elsewhere in medical training,” Wilson said.

In addition to the flight emergency experience, the students have received mass casualty training from the United States Army, instruction in medical countermeasures from the Louisville Metro Department of Health & Wellness, and learned about trauma management in a wilderness setting. Once students have accumulated sufficient training points within a two-year period, they will receive a certificate of program completion.

Although the students will not be licensed physicians for a few more years, they are putting their training to work for the community immediately. Program participants are required to enlist in the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), a national network of volunteers organized for emergency response under the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Some of the students have participated with the MRC in response to the Hepatitis A outbreak, assisting the Louisville Department of Health & Wellness with vaccination drives. Other students have joined the Norton Children’s Special Response Team, formed to handle hazardous material decontamination situations at Norton Children’s Hospital.

“I think the real world experience is valuable and you are not just waiting to give back, which is another thing that motivates the students,” Hodge said. “Being able to do something now is really positive.”

The opportunity for immediate application and the ongoing nature of the program, as opposed to a one-time event, give Hodge confidence that the students will retain their involvement in disaster preparedness throughout their careers.

“My hope is that we have people with the mindset for disaster preparedness,” Hodge said. “No matter what type of physician they become, they are able to support the systems that deal with natural and man-made disasters.”



April 16, 2018

The epic battle between superbugs and humans – and our unexpected allies

Hear how we can win the war with drug-resistant bacteria at Beer with a Scientist, April 18
The epic battle between superbugs and humans – and our unexpected allies

Deborah Yoder-Himes, Ph.D.

We have been bombarded with the notion that bacteria are bad for us. You probably also have heard that germs are becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics, leaving us vulnerable to diseases that we thought were conquered. As scientists develop ever-more-powerful medications to fight bacterial infections, the bacteria are fighting back, and sometimes seem to be winning.

Will we eventually enter a post-antibiotic era where simple infections can kill us?

Deborah Yoder-Himes, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Louisville, assures us we are not yet doomed, but we do need to have a battle plan.

“If we take steps now to combat the rising rates of antibiotic resistance, develop new antibiotics and secure these medicines for future use, we can win the war against these bugs,” Yoder-Himes said.

How do we do this?

At the next Beer with a Scientist, Yoder-Himes will discuss how most bacteria are actually good for us, how pathogenic bacteria evolve to resist our most potent medications and how science can preserve our ability to fight illness-causing infections.

The talk begins at 8 p.m. on  Wednesday, Apr. 18, at Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St. in Louisville. A 30-minute presentation will be followed by an informal Q&A session.

Admission is free. Purchase of beer, other beverages or menu items is not required but is encouraged.

Organizers add that they also encourage Beer with a Scientist patrons to drink responsibly.

UofL cancer researcher Levi Beverly, Ph.D., created the Beer with a Scientist program in 2014 as a way to bring science to the public in an informal setting. Once a month, the public is invited to enjoy exactly what the title promises:  beer and science.

Watch for info on the next Beer with a Scientist, scheduled for May 16.

Motor Retraining therapy provides hope for functional movement disorders

Patients find answers through unique, specialized program at UofL Physicians
Motor Retraining therapy provides hope for functional movement disorders

Julia Semple in therapy for functional movement disorders

Julia Semple spent 10 years trying to figure out what was wrong.

“It started with my head sort of twitching back and forth, like when you shake your head ‘no.’ It was completely involuntary,” Semple explained. “It progressed to other areas of my body over time. You know when you relax and you have a little twitch? Imagine that except a hundred times bigger and over and over again so you could never fall asleep. It was horrible.”

The symptoms interfered with Semple’s sleep as well as her work as a massage therapist and dancer. Unable to detect a physical cause for the symptoms, numerous physicians and other health providers in her home state of Delaware told her they likely were caused by stress. Finally, in 2016, a neurologist gave her condition a name:  functional movement disorder.

Internet research led Semple to Kathrin LaFaver, M.D. a neurologist at the University of Louisville and director of the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Clinic at UofL Physicians. LaFaver developed the Motor Retraining program (MoRe), one of only a few such programs in existence for the treatment of FMD. MoRe was modeled after a program at Mayo Clinic and combines neurological treatment, psychological counseling, and physical and occupational therapy during a week-long inpatient therapy at Frazier Rehab Institute, a part of KentuckyOne Health. The program aims to improve patients’ motor symptoms, help them regain control over abnormal movements and develop better coping skills.

Functional Movement Disorders (FMD) are common conditions involving abnormal movements – jerking, tremor or issues with gait or speech. The problems are due to miscommunications in the central nervous system. Patients often complain of fatigue and difficulties with concentration and thinking.

“Functional disorders are in the borderland between neurology and psychiatry, and there is a lack of treatment programs for the conditions. Diagnostic tests do not reveal a cause for the FMD, so patients experiencing symptoms often are told by neurologists that ‘nothing is wrong,’ and may be referred to a psychiatrist,” LaFaver said.

FMD can be triggered by psychological or physical stress or trauma, or may have no obvious trigger. Although it is not revealed in traditional imaging or other diagnostics, the condition is potentially reversible through multidisciplinary therapy. Patients from 25 states have undergone week-long inpatient therapy for FMD in the MoRe program at UofL. More than 85 percent of patients undergoing the MoRe program have shown improvement in their symptoms after one week of treatment, and 69 percent report the improvement of symptoms was maintained after six months.

Semple experienced significant improvement during her week of intensive therapy tailored to her individual needs and symptoms.

“After a decade of people telling me ‘take a vacation,’ or ‘there is nothing wrong with you,’ the care at UofL and Frazier was the best ever. Everyone – whatever their part was – they really cared,” Semple said.

“All of my life was wrapped up in trying to manage these symptoms. The treatment literally gave me my life back.”


International FND Awareness Day, April 13, 2018

FNDHOPE.ORG provides information on functional neurological disorders (including FMD), along with links to resources such as the UofL Physicians MoRe program. Patients, providers and family members are invited to support International FND Awareness Day on April 13 by taking the #LetsTalkFND pledge and share information to increase awareness of the conditions.

To recognize International FND Awareness Day in Louisville, Kathrin LaFaver, M.D., neurologist with UofL Physicians, will host a Lunch & Learn on Friday, April 13, to share some of the latest research on functional movement disorders. The free event is open to patients affected by functional movement disorders and their care partners.

To attend the luncheon, held at Frazier Rehab Institute in the Bill Collins Resource Center, 220 Abraham Flexner Way, call 502-852-7654 or email by April 11.



April 9, 2018

Society of Toxicology recognizes lifetime achievement of John Pierce Wise, Sr.

Society of Toxicology recognizes lifetime achievement of John Pierce Wise, Sr.

John Pierce Wise, Sr., Ph.D., receives the Career Achievement Award

A researcher whose work has substantially advanced the understanding of metals toxicology, John Pierce Wise, Sr., Ph.D., University Scholar and professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, has received the Career Achievement Award from the Society of Toxicology (SOT) Metals Specialty Section.

The award, presented at the SOT’s annual meeting held last month in San Antonio, recognizes the outstanding achievement of a researcher, mentor and leader in the field of toxicology.

Wise was nominated by Max Costa, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Medicine at NYU School of Medicine.

Costa says Wise’s influence in the education, training and mentorship of young scientists in the field of metals toxicology is “unequivocal.”

Wise has served as primary mentor for more than 40 doctoral and masters level students, while guiding nearly 90 undergraduate and  60 high school students in the field of biomedical and environmental research. He received the SOT Education award in 2016.

His research focuses on mechanistic toxicology with an emphasis on metal carcinogenesis and the “One Health” concept that human health, animal health and ecosystem health are intertwined and interdependent.

“Dr. Wise’s work has led to important advances in metal-induced genotoxicity, DNA repair and chromosome instability,” Costa said. “He is leading the effort to understand how metals can induce DNA breaks while suppressing their repair. In addition, he is a pioneer in the effort to understand how metals impact centrosome biology.”

The breadth of Wise’s work is exemplified through research in human cells as well as cells from other species including fish, whales, sea turtles and sea lions. In addition to bench science, Wise has lead field efforts to study the impact of the Gulf of Mexico oil crisis on resident whale species, the impact of metals on whales in the Gulf of Maine, and the conservation of sea turtles in Vieques, Puerto Rico.


The Society of Toxicology (SOT) is a professional and scholarly organization of more than 7,800 scientists from academic institutions, government and industry in the U.S. and abroad. The Metals Specialty Section is one of the organization’s 28 subgroups.

April 9, 2018

Psychiatry residents place 4th in national MindGames competition

Psychiatry residents place 4th in national MindGames competition

Psychiatry resident physicians (from left) Svetlana Famina, Laura Romer and Melissa Sullivan placed fourth in the American Psychiatric Association’s MindGames National Residency Team Competition.

For the first time, resident physicians from the University of Louisville earned a top-10 finish in the American Psychiatric Association’s MindGames National Residency Team Competition.

UofL residents Laura Romer, M.D., Svetlana Famina, M.D., and Melissa Sullivan, M.D., finished fourth out of more than 100 psychiatry programs across the United States that took the hour-long online exam testing knowledge of patient care, medicine and psychiatric history.

The physicians took a no-anxiety, no-expectation approach to the competition, a test similar to the Psychiatry Resident-In-Training Examination (PRITE) that residents take annually, said Romer, a fourth-year resident. They reviewed old PRITE questions, but couldn’t find time in their hectic schedules to prepare as a group.

The strategy worked.

“This is our passion,” Famina said. “All the knowledge we’ve accumulated from daily clinical practice and working with our attending physicians stays with us.”

This was the best finish in the competition of any UofL-sponsored team, said Robert Campbell, M.D., the team's coach and assistant professor of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the UofL School of Medicine.

“With more than 200 programs in the country, our residents showed themselves to be true scholars in the field of psychiatry,” Campbell said.

Sullivan, a third-year resident, said the team’s finish is a testament to the quality of the residency program.

“We have so many clinical sites that we go to. We see so many different types of patients. We learn from many researchers. UofL has a lot to offer its residents,” Sullivan said.

Epidural stimulation shown to normalize blood pressure following spinal cord injury

UofL research supports future study of beneficial effects of stimulation
Epidural stimulation shown to normalize blood pressure following spinal cord injury

Susan Harkema, Ph.D., Glenn Hirsch, M.D.

Patients with severe spinal cord injury (SCI) often experience chronically low blood pressure that negatively affects their health, their quality of life and their ability to engage in rehabilitative therapy.

“People with severe spinal cord injury – especially when it occurs in a higher level in the spine – have problems with blood pressure regulation to the point that it becomes the main factor affecting quality of life for them,” said Glenn Hirsch, M.D., professor of cardiology at the University of Louisville (UofL). “Some cannot even sit up without passing out. They are forced to use medications, compression stockings or abdominal binders to maintain an adequate blood pressure.”

Working with human research participants, Hirsch and researchers at the Kentucky Spinal Cord injury Research Center (KSCIRC) at UofL, have found that spinal cord epidural stimulation can safely and effectively elevate blood pressure in individuals with SCI along with chronic hypotension. The research was reported this month in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (Normalization of Blood Pressure with Spinal Cord Epidural Stimulation After Severe Spinal Cord Injury).

Led by Susan Harkema, Ph.D., associate director of KSCIRC and professor of neurosurgery, the research included four research participants with chronic, motor complete, cervical SCI who suffered from persistent low resting blood pressure. The participants were implanted with an electrode array for epidural stimulation, and individual configurations for stimulation were identified for each participant. During five two-hour sessions, the participants’ blood pressure was elevated to normal ranges. Their blood pressure returned to low levels when stimulation ceased, and was again elevated to normal ranges with stimulation.

Stefanie Putnam was one of the research participants. Following a severe spinal cord injury in 2009, Putnam’s blood pressure was so low she was unable to engage in the simplest of activities without losing consciousness.

“It prevented me from participating in activities, from talking on the phone, from sitting at a table and eating food. I had trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, trouble carrying on a conversation,” Putnam said. “I was passing out periodically – six or more times a day. Then I would have to tilt back in the chair for two hours.”

To help sustain her blood pressure, Putnam took medication, wore an extremely tight corset and drank a large amount of caffeine.

“I would still pass out,” she said.

With epidural stimulation, Putnam said she immediately felt the effects.

“I went from feeling like I was glued to the floor to elevated – as though gravity was not weighing me down. I feel alive!” she said.

Because of the undesirable side effects of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical interventions, Hirsch said epidural stimulation for chronic low blood pressure in SCI could have significant benefits.

“People with severe SCI who have problems with resting hypotension have limited options. This intervention appears to reliably and reproducibly maintain blood pressure,” Hirsch said.

This work builds on previous research at KSCIRC showing benefits of spinal cord epidural stimulation, along with activity-based training, in which individuals with SCI have achieved voluntary movement, standing and stepping, and improved bladder, bowel and sexual function.

Harkema, the publication’s first author, said the blood-pressure research is promising, but must be tested over time and with a larger cohort of study participants.

“We need to see if it will have an impact over months or years,” Harkema said. “It will be very important to determine if these results are sustainable.”

To that end, UofL is screening participants for a six-year study that will further explore the life-enhancing effects of epidural stimulation on people with spinal cord injury (SCI). That study will measure the extent to which epidural stimulation will improve cardiovascular function as well as facilitate the ability to stand and voluntarily control leg movements below the injury level in 36 participants with chronic, complete spinal cord injuries. Individuals interested in being considered for this study can add their information to the university’s Victory Over Paralysis database:  

The published research is supported by the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, University of Louisville Hospital, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and Medtronic Plc.



March 19, 2018


UofL hosts famed trumpeter Doc Severinsen for benefit concert Apr. 7

Concert and gala to benefit Kentucky Lions Eye Center and UofL Jazz students
UofL hosts famed trumpeter Doc Severinsen for benefit concert Apr. 7

Doc Severinsen

"Heeeeere's Johnny!" That lead-in, followed by a big-band trumpet blast, was the hallmark of late-night television for three decades. “Johnny” was Johnny Carson, the announcer was Ed McMahon and the bandleader was Doc Severinsen. Beginning in 1962, “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson ruled the night airwaves for 30 years.

A Louisville audience will have the chance to hear Severinsen’s iconic big band sound next month. UofL’s Department of Ophthalmology and Jazz Studies Program will present “Jazz-4-Sight” featuring Severinsen performing with the UofL Jazz Ensemble at 8 p.m. April 7 at the School of Music’s Comstock Hall, 105 W. Brandeis Ave. Concert tickets are $50 a person, with all proceeds benefiting the Kentucky Lions Eye Center and UofL jazz students.

Doc Severinsen and His Big Band hit the road in 1992, following the final telecast of Carson’s show, and hasn’t stopped touring since. Audiences enjoy Severinsen’s shows not only because he shared their living rooms for so many years but also because of the Big Band repertoire, which includes Duke Ellington and Count Basie standards, pop, jazz, ballads, big band classics and, of course, “The Tonight Show” theme.

Severinsen, 90, can still play hard and hit all the high notes, a result of his continued commitment to studio practice and the refinement of his craft. The trumpeter also surrounds himself with the best in the business and enjoys sharing the spotlight. 

The public also is invited to a 6 p.m. gala that includes dinner and a silent auction at the University Club, 200 E. Brandeis Ave. 

Click to purchase tickets for the concert or gala. For questions or more information, contact the School of Music at 502-852-6907. 

Ravenous Race honors friend, benefits Brown Cancer Center

Save the date: Sept. 22 in Bowling Green, Ky.
Ravenous Race honors friend, benefits Brown Cancer Center

When the husband of a friend and co-worker of Morgan Baer died in January, she wanted to both honor his life and help vanquish the killer that took it.

That’s the inspiration behind the Ravenous Race, a 5K race and 1-mile walk scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 22, in Bowling Green, Ky.

Both events kick off at 6 a.m. with day-of registration followed by packet and bib pick-up. The starter’s gun will fire for both events at 7:30 a.m. The race start and end points are Chaney’s Dairy Barn, 9191 Nashville Rd. in Bowling Green.

Pre-event registration is available on

Proceeds from the event go to support research carried out by the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center where Baer’s friend Dean Valentini was treated. Diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, internal melanoma, Valentini traveled from his home in Bowling Green to Louisville to obtain the specialized care he needed from staff at the Brown Cancer Center.

Valentini lost his fight when he died Jan. 7, but Baer and Valentini’s wife Deana were inspired to do something to honor Dean who was a dedicated marathon runner himself.

“Deana and I are passionate about the research, particularly in melanoma, going on at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center,” Baer said. “I wanted to do something in Dean’s memory, and this race seemed most appropriate.”

The event name reflects another of Dean’s obsessions: A Baltimore native, he was a lifelong fan of the Baltimore Ravens.

Baer is currently signing up race sponsors in several categories to support the event. For details, phone 270-839-1029 or email

Can increasing green space improve our health?

Learn about research into the effects of foliage on health at Beer with a Scientist Mar. 14
Can increasing green space improve our health?

In neighborhoods with poor air quality and many busy streets, residents have a higher risk of heart disease. Researchers at the University of Louisville are studying air quality, innovative landscape design and human health to determine, scientifically, whether planting more trees and adding greenspaces in a neighborhood could increase the health of its residents.

Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D., director of the Diabetes and Obesity Center at UofL, will discuss the research, the Green Heart Project, at the next Beer with a Scientist event.

“No one knows whether and to what extent trees and neighborhood greenery affect human health and why,” Bhatnagar said. “This work will tell us how to design a neighborhood that supports human health and whether an increase in the urban greenspaces and vegetation could enhance physical and mental health by decreasing the levels of ambient air pollution.”

The Green Heart Project is a collaboration of UofL, The Nature Conservancy, Hyphae Design Laboratory, the Institute for Healthy Air Water and Soil, the U.S. Forest Service and the City of Louisville. The goal of the project is to assess how residential greenness and neighborhood greenspaces affect the health of our communities by decreasing the levels of pollution and promoting physical activity and social cohesion.

The talk begins at 8 p.m. onWednesday, Mar. 14, at Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St. in Louisville. A 30-minute presentation will be followed by an informal Q&A session.

Admission is free. Purchase of beer, other beverages or menu items is not required but is encouraged.

Organizers add that they also encourage Beer with a Scientist patrons to drink responsibly.

UofL cancer researcher Levi Beverly, Ph.D., created the Beer with a Scientist program in 2014 as a way to bring science to the public in an informal setting. Once a month, the public is invited to enjoy exactly what the title promises:  beer and science. For more information and to suggest future Beer with a Scientist topics, follow Louisville Underground Science on Facebook.

At the next Beer with a Scientist, Apr. 18, Deborah Yoder-Himes, Ph.D., will discuss super bacteria, antibiotic resistance and why everything is labeled "anti-bacterial."

Age-Friendly Louisville asks community members to give input for more age-inclusive city

Age-Friendly Louisville asks community members to give input for more age-inclusive city

Older adults involved in a discussion.

Creating solutions for affordable, safe housing as Louisvillians age, along with discussion on improving transportation are elements of conversations at workshops taking place throughout the city this spring.

As a part of Age-Friendly Louisville, the University of Louisville’s Institute for Sustainable Health and Optimal Aging joins AARP, the City of Louisville and the Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency to host workshops on what makes the community a better place for people to live, work and play at every stage of life. The events will include small group discussions on housing, mobility, respect and social inclusion, and community support and health services.

Workshop dates are March 7, 14, 21, 28, and April 4, 7, 17 and 24. More information, including times and locations, is available online

Information received from these conversations will help guide an action plan to drive the implementation of age-friendly practices. In October 2016, the City of Louisville became a member of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, an institutional affiliate of the WHO’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities & Communities®.

KIPDA and UofL’s Institute for Sustainable Health and Optimal Aging also are teaming up to host World Café events this month in Jefferson, Bullitt, Shelby and Trimble counties. These events include discussion about the results of the most recent regional needs assessment and how to work together to ensure support for the area’s aging population. More information is available online

Delivering depression treatment through technology

Delivering depression treatment through technology

Jesse Wright, M.D., Ph.D.

Computer-assisted cognitive behavioral therapy effectively treats depression, showing potential to improve access to the treatment and reduce its cost, according to researchers at the University of Louisville and University of Pennsylvania.

Patients experienced a positive and robust response to online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), equaling a traditional in-person CBT treatment course with three times more therapist contact, according to the study, which published in the March issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

While one of the most effective non-pharmacological treatments for depression, traditional in-person CBT poses barriers to those who need treatment.

“Traditional CBT takes a fair amount of time, money and resources, and there aren’t enough cognitive behavioral therapists,” said Jesse Wright, M.D., Ph.D., director of the UofL Depression Center, Gottfried and Gisela Kolb Endowed Chair in Outpatient Psychiatry in the UofL School of Medicine, and an author of the study. “The technology delivers treatment more efficiently and reduces cost by allowing many more people to be treated by the same therapist.”

For the study, more than 150 medication-free patients with major depressive disorder were randomly assigned to 16 weeks of either traditional CBT, which entails up to 20 sessions of 50 minutes each, or computer-assisted CBT using the Good Days Ahead program and 12 abbreviated therapy sessions.

The program, which Wright helped develop, consists of nine Internet-based modules that use video, psychoeducation, mood graphs to measure progress and interactive skill-building exercises that help users apply CBT methods in daily life. A dashboard allows clinicians to assess progress and coordinate aspects of treatment.

Both treatment groups experienced significant improvements and similar rates of symptom reduction across the 16 weeks of treatment. Patients with chronic and severe depression benefitted from both treatment courses.

The research was funded by grants totaling more than $2.5 million from the National Institute of Mental Health, the lead federal agency for research on mental disorders and part of the National Institutes of Health.

Authors of the study are Wright, Michael E. Thase, M.D., Tracy D. Eells, Ph.D., M.B.A., Marna S. Barrett, Ph.D., Stephen R. Wisniewski, Ph.D., G.K. Balasubramani, Ph.D., Paul McCrone, Ph.D., and Gregory K. Brown, Ph.D.

Older adults in rural Ky. to benefit from more behavioral health services

UofL Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging receives nearly $2 million from HRSA
Older adults in rural Ky. to benefit from more behavioral health services

Older adult couple talking with a health care provider

Older adults are often burdened with a variety of health conditions, sometimes coupled with loneliness, anxiety and depression. A strategy to engage primary care practitioners in meeting behavioral health needs of older adults is at the heart of a new federal grant awarded to the University of Louisville Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging (ISHOA).

Nearly $2 million in funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will provide stipends each year over a four-year period to 13 master level social work students, five counseling psychology students, and four doctoral level psychiatric nursing students for a total of 88 students. These students will be part of the Rural Geriatric Integrated Behavioral Health (BH) and Primary Care (PC) Training Network and will complete behavioral health practicums in primary care settings throughout Bullitt, Henry, Oldham, Shelby, Spencer and Trimble counties. They also commit to seek employment in those areas upon graduation.

“Isolation and transportation are big issues for older adults. Often there are limited behavioral health clinicians in rural areas, and it is the perfect marriage to incorporate behavioral health services within the primary care offices where older adults are already seeking care,” said Anna Faul, Ph.D., executive director of ISHOA and associate dean of academic affairs at the
UofL Kent School of Social Work.

Christian Furman, M.D., the institute’s medical director and a professor of geriatric and palliative medicine, said the combination of multiple health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure and hearing or vision loss can be overwhelming for older adults.

“The mind-body connection is so important,” Furman said. “Physicians can write prescriptions but unless a person understands why they have a disease and receives the proper training on how to be resilient, people can feel helpless in their situation. We see a lot of alcohol and drug-abuse, and now the opioid epidemic.”

As the result of a $2.55 million HRSA grant awarded to the institute in 2015 for the creation of the Kentucky Rural & Underserved Geriatric Interprofessional Program, older adults in rural areas already are seeing the benefits of coordinated care.

Former Henry County resident Lynn Retzlaff, 66, has been living with a degenerative bone disease most of his life, resulting in a number of health complications leading to such factors as poor nutrition, reliance on opioids, isolation and despair.

Through meeting with one of the institute’s community health organizers, Retzlaff was able to get connected with multiple services for older adults, including a nutritionist, a student counselor and transportation services. He also learned new techniques for managing pain.

“I am no longer on opioids,” Retzlaff said. “I now use meditation tapes and have found they help me more than the pain medication. Before, I would cycle between relief and suffering.”

Retzlaff says he now eats more balanced meals and is in an overall better mental state.

“Many older people feel they can’t cope – they feel helpless. Without the help of the institute and community health organizers I would have deteriorated and life would be very gray.”

The newest HRSA grant also aims to bring enhanced training to both students and primary care providers. Utilizing the institute’s already established Interdisciplinary Curriculum for the Care of Older Adults, along with development of a curriculum for the Professional Certificate in Rural Geriatric Interdisciplinary Integrated BH-PC and continuing education courses for health care professionals, the initiative hopes to build capacity for the mind-body approach to care for seniors.

“We are thrilled to receive this grant award,” Faul said. “With this funding, we will improve the health outcomes of vulnerable older adults in our rural counties. We also will dramatically increase the interdisciplinary approach to health care education and service delivery, infuse behavioral health into rural primary care, and provide students with increased employment possibilities.”

Furman, who practices geriatric medicine with UofL Physicians, says both older adults and their care-givers stand to benefit from the grant.

“When you look at a disease like dementia, patients deal with many behavioral disorders like paranoia or agitation, and there can be a lot of anxiety on how to problem-solve around those factors. This grant is important in not only getting behavioral health specialists into rural areas but also in opening up opportunities for physicians and nurse practitioners to coordinate with behavioral specialists to improve patient outcomes from a social support stand-point.”

Watch a video about the institute’s work to benefit older adults in Kentucky.

UofL leading nationwide efforts to improve lifelong care for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities

Partnership between UofL and Special Olympics aims to increase physicians’ comfort in treating adult patients with IDD
UofL leading nationwide efforts to improve lifelong care for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities

SOKY Athlete Ambassador Morgan Turner talks with medical students

At one time, people with intellectual/developmental disabilities (IDD) were mostly children. Thanks to medical advances and the deinstitutionalization movement, the number of adults living in the community with IDD has grown dramatically. These individuals require the same health-care services as any adult, but their care may come with added challenges. Most physicians in adult medical specialties have not been trained to work with these patients, and may not be comfortable with the communication challenges or other unique needs they may have.

Priya Chandan, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor in the UofL School of Medicine and in the School of Public Health and Information Sciences, is leading nationwide efforts to help future physicians become more knowledgeable about caring for patients with IDD throughout their lives. Chandan, who has an older brother with Down syndrome, has a personal understanding of the need for physicians who can provide equitable care for people with IDD.

“This patient population is not just a pediatric population. All physicians need to be comfortable serving patients with IDD,” Chandan said.

To achieve that goal, Chandan is leading the National Curriculum Initiative in Developmental Medicine (NCIDM), a partnership between Special Olympics International (SOI) and the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD) to ensure future physicians receive training to care for individuals with IDD across their lifespan. Over four years, 12 medical school partners will design and implement their own curriculum enhancements. UofL is part of the first cohort for this training, along with Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Colorado. The second cohort includes Ohio State, Case Western Reserve and Georgetown Universities.

Chandan also is working with Amy Holthouser, M.D., senior associate dean of medical education, to develop the educational programs at UofL. One program is an elective rotation for fourth-year students at Lee Specialty Clinic, an interdisciplinary clinic that focuses on caring for people with IDD that is funded by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Through working with the patients and staff at Lee Specialty Clinic, the students will become more comfortable treating these patients.

In addition, second-year medical students at UofL are participating in small group discussions led by Special Olympics Kentucky (SOKY) athletes in the Athlete Leadership Program. The goal of these discussions is to help the students better understand the needs of IDD patients by hearing their story and having the athletes express their needs.

Morgan Turner, a SOKY Athlete Ambassador who has met with the second-year students, said the most important message he wants to convey to the students is to include him in communication.

“When working with someone with a disability, be patient and ask questions to the patient and the parent. Don’t just talk to the parent,” Turner said.

“Communication is a big part of it,” Chandan said. “While this is a medical education project, we also see this as a way for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to be self-advocates. Having them speak directly to medical providers about what it is like to be a patient and what they need from us is powerful.”

Chandan recently received two additional grants to expand her work. The first, an SOI Inclusive Health Innovation Grant, aims to improve education for resident and attending physicians regarding care for people with IDD. Chandan will be working with the American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (AAPM&R), leading efforts to educate resident and attending physicians regarding physiatrists’ role in the care of patients with IDD. Darryl Kaelin, M.D., chief, professor and residency director of the UofL Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and president of AAPM&R, also is working on the project.

The second grant is from the Working for Inclusive and Transformative Healthcare (WITH) Foundation to collaborate with the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute to develop a tool to aid with informed consent discussions. The tool will have the look of a graphic novel and will help facilitate conversations between health-care providers, patients with IDD and supporters.

“I went to medical school with the intention of being a physician who serves patients with IDD,” Chandan said. “Along the way, I realized that we have work to do in terms of health education and health-care delivery. My goal with these efforts is to improve care for these patients.”




February 21, 2018

Kentucky Cancer Program teams up with UofL Women's Basketball for 'Play4Kay Pink Out' Thursday

Kentucky Cancer Program teams up with UofL Women's Basketball for 'Play4Kay Pink Out' Thursday

UofL fans will get to see the Horses and Hope pink Mustang and Mobile Screening Unit as the Kentucky Cancer Program teams up with Louisville Women's Basketball this Thursday.

The UofL Women Basketball Cards, ranked fourth in the nation, will offer some health awareness along with the team’s matchup with the University of Virginia, Thursday, Feb. 22, at the KFC Yum! Center. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.

The Play4Kay Pink Out honors the late Kay Yow, a former NC State coach who died from cancer. The Kay Yow Cancer Fund is celebrating its 10th anniversary of providing funding and support for cancer research.

The Kentucky Cancer Program at the UofL James Graham Brown Cancer Center will be on hand at the game with giveaways and educational materials on the importance of early screening and detection of breast cancer. Louisville Women’s Basketball also will recognize breast cancer survivors on the court during halftime.

Fans are encouraged to wear pink, and representatives of Tom Drexler Plumbing and Remodeling will accept $5 donations for a breast cancer awareness t-shirt in the main concourse of the KFC Yum! Center. Proceeds will benefit Gilda's Club of Louisville.

Fans also will get to check out the Horses and Hope Mustang and Mobile Screening Unit, vehicles that are projects of Horses and Hope, an organization that brings cancer screening, detection and treatment services to workers in the equine industry in Kentucky.

Breast cancer survivors are eligible to receive one free ticket and a discounted ticket for $3 for all guests. Call the Louisville Cardinals' Ticket office for this offer at 502-852-5151. Other fans can receive discounted tickets for $3 by visiting My Cardinal Account and using promo code PLAY4KAY.