Can nature thrive in the city? Beer with a Scientist, Nov. 16 with Margaret Carreiro

Learn how you can help conservation and urban development co-exist
Can nature thrive in the city? Beer with a Scientist, Nov. 16 with Margaret Carreiro

Margaret Carreiro, Ph.D.

From bees to birds to bats, species around the world are threatened at unprecedented rates. Many people feel powerless to help preserve local species because they think “real” nature can only be sustained in parks and reserves, but local urban park systems cannot do the job of maintaining native biodiversity alone.

About 120 square miles of plantable land in Jefferson County is residential property. However, much of this green space is planted in lawn, which is a food desert for many species of wildlife.

At the next Beer with a Scientist, Margaret Carreiro, Ph.D., will explain how residents in cities and suburbs can protect native species by weaving local nature into the very places where they live and work. She will describe Reconciliation Ecology, a concept in which habitats for wildlife are created within urban and suburban areas.

“I want people to know they can make a large difference in conservation of local species through their plantings at home,” Carreiro said. “They can use native plants to create food webs and friendly habitat for desired species, especially pollinators and birds. It's about keeping our common species common.”

Carreiro is associate professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Louisville. Her work focuses on understanding how urban environments interact with natural components of cities and suburbs. This includes studying the effects of atmospheric nitrogen from fossil fuel combustion and other sources, invasive species, habitat fragmentation, restoration management and socio-cultural legacies in affecting plant and soil communities and ecosystem processes.

The event begins at 8 p.m. onWednesday, Nov. 16, at Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St. in Louisville. A 30-minute presentation will be followed by an informal Q&A session.

The Beer with a Scientist program began in 2014, the brainchild of UofL cancer researcher Levi Beverly, Ph.D., who hoped to make science accessible to the public in an informal setting. Once a month, the public is invited to enjoy exactly what the title promises:  beer and science.

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.

For more information and to suggest future Beer with a Scientist topics, follow Louisville Underground Science on Facebook.



November 7, 2016

Explore myths, realities of national health insurance Nov. 9

Explore myths, realities of national health insurance Nov. 9

From left, Syed Quadri, Kay Tillow and Edgar Lopez will tackle the myths and realities of a national health insurance program at a presentation on Nov. 9, sponsored by the Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging.

For the final Optimal Aging Lecture for the fall semester, the Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging and the UofL Alumni Association present a panel discussion entitled “Expanded Medicare: A Single Payer Alternative.” This lecture will unpack the myths and realities of developing a national health insurance program. The lecture will be held on Nov. 9 from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the University Club, 200 E. Brandeis Ave.

The panel presenters for this exploration of available health care options are Syed Quadri, M.D., Kay Tillow and Edgar Lopez, M.D., all from the national organization Physicians for a National Health Program. The PNHP is a non-profit research and education organization consisting of 20,000 physicians, medial students and other health professionals who support single-payer national health insurance.

The panelists will discuss their common belief that too many working individuals are unable to afford health care. In addition to their roles with PNHP, the speakers are Kentucky-based professionals with expertise and experience in the state’s health system. Quadri is the co-medical director of the Hardin County Free Clinic in Elizabethtown. Tillow is the coordinator of the All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care, a Kentucky advocacy organization. Lopez is a Louisville-based plastic and reconstructive surgeon. 

Admission is $30 per person and includes lunch. Reservations are required online. Click here to register. For information, call 502-852-5629 or email

Second annual conference on caring for adults with IDD set for Nov. 12 at UofL

Goal to improve health care for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities
Second annual conference on caring for adults with IDD set for Nov. 12 at UofL

Steven Haburne

Thanks to advances in medical science and a highly developed network of specialized pediatric health care services, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are much more likely to live into adulthood than they were several decades ago. However, once they reach age 18, they may find a limited number of providers available to address their unique and specialized health care needs.

To improve access to quality health care for adults with IDD, the University of Louisville School of Medicine, UofL School of Dentistry and the Lee Specialty Clinic are sponsoring the Second Annual Caring for Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Conference on Saturday, Nov. 12 at UofL. The conference will inform physical, occupational and speech therapists, physicians, dentists, social workers, patients and their caregivers about best current practices and future treatment directions for adults with IDD and address the multidisciplinary approach needed for their care.

“These are individuals with neurologically based conditions who require interdisciplinary care from a variety of health care providers, including primary care, dentistry, cardiology, pulmonary, neurology, psychiatry and psychology, as well as physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy,” said Michael Sowell, M.D., professor in the Department of Neurology at UofL and co-director of the conference.

One such individual is Steven Haburne, described by his mother as, “a 41-year-old man with a pleasant personality who was born with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and developmental disability.” He moves in a wheelchair, is non-verbal and has a seizure disorder. Haburne’s mother, Shirley Haburne, said they have met with physicians over the years who did not speak to Steven directly or who made assumptions about his condition without listening to Shirley’s description of his individual needs. When Haburne was very young, his family’s dentist told Shirley he was not comfortable treating Steven.

“It did hurt my feelings, but I understand. He is not the same as other patients,” Shirley said. “It has taken a lifetime of finding doctors. It takes time to find a doctor who will listen to you and trust what you say.”

Steven now receives dental care at Lee Specialty Clinic in Louisville, which offers medical, dental, psychiatric and general health care services for patients with IDD, and he receives medical care from several specialists at University of Louisville Physicians. Shirley hopes the conference will help make optimal health care available for her son and others with IDD.

The conference will cover autism outreach, mobility and assistive technology, cognitive decline, advocacy for adults with IDD, and understanding the barriers in transitioning a child with neurodevelopmental disabilities into the adult provider network. Afternoon breakout sessions include topics in medicine, dentistry, developmental psychiatry and psychology, therapeutics and social work and are designed to stimulate discussions among health care providers, patients and their families that will lead to an improved standard of care in the region.

The event also is designed to support the physician specialty of adult developmental medicine.

“Developmental medicine as an emerging specialty pulls together a formal curriculum and training pathway to prepare physicians to provide the comprehensive care that these individuals need,” Sowell said. Learn more about this specialty at the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry.

CONFERENCE DETAILS:  The Second Annual Caring for Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) Conference is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 12, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the UofL School of Medicine, Instructional Building B - Room 115, 500 S. Preston St., Louisville, Ky. Continuing education credit is available. Register for the conference at or call 502-852-5329.

REMOTE ATTENDANCE: This conference also is available via a LIVE interactive video conference for all persons interested in caring for adult individuals with a diagnosis of an intellectual or a developmental disability. Register in advance of the conference at



November 1, 2016

Air pollution linked to blood vessel damage in healthy young adults

UofL research team co-authors American Heart Association Rapid Access Journal Report
Air pollution linked to blood vessel damage in healthy young adults

Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D.

 Fine particulate matter air pollution may be associated with blood vessel damage and inflammation among young, healthy adults, according to new research in CirculationResearch, anAmerican Heart Association journal.

“These results substantially expand our understanding about how air pollutioncontributes to cardiovascular disease by showing that exposure is associated with a cascade of adverse effects,” said C. Arden Pope, Ph.D., study lead author and Mary Lou Fulton Professor of Economics at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

“These findings suggest that living in a polluted environment could promote the development of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke more pervasively and at an earlier stage than previously thought,” said Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D., study co-author and the Smith and Lucille Gibson Chair in Medicine at the University of Louisville. “Although we have known for some time that air pollution can trigger heart attacks or strokes in susceptible, high-risk individuals, the finding that it could also affect even seemingly healthy individuals suggests that increased levels of air pollution are of concern to all of us, not just the sick or the elderly.”

Air pollution is known to contribute to cardiovascular disease and related deaths. In 2004, the American Heart Association released a scientific statement, updated in 2010, warning of the risk and recommending that people talk to their doctor about avoiding exposure to air pollution specific to their area. What remained unclear, however, was how air pollution actually affects the blood vessels to increase the risk of disease.

For this study, investigators analyzed the component of air pollution known as fine particulate matter (PM2.5) — the tiny pieces of solid or liquid pollution emitted from motor vehicles, factories, power plants, fires and smoking. They found that periodic exposure to fine particulate matter was associated with several abnormal changes in the blood that are markers for cardiovascular disease. As air pollution rose, they found:

  • small, micro-particles indicating cell injury and death significantly increased in number;

  • levels of proteins that inhibit blood vessel growth increased; and

  • proteins that signify blood-vessel inflammation also showed significant increases.

Study participants included 72 healthy, nonsmoking, adults in Provo, Utah. Their average age was 23, most were white and more than half were male. During the winters of 2013, 2014 and 2015, participants provided blood samples, which researchers then tested for markers of cardiovascular disease. Due to the unique weather and geographical features of Provo, they were able to evaluate these informative blood markers with various levels of air pollution.

However, researchers noted that the third study year, 2015, was relatively unpolluted, which could have affected the results.

Other co-authors are James P. McCracken, Ph.D.; Wesley Abplanalp, Ph.D.; Daniel J. Conklin, Ph.D.; and Timothy O’Toole, Ph.D., all of UofL. The National Institutes of Health funded the study.

Additional Resources:


Statements and conclusions of study authors published in American Heart Association scientific journals are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the association’s policy or position. The association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at


New robotic device to boost balance in spinal cord injury patients at UofL

$5 million grant awarded to UofL and Columbia University researchers to develop Tethered Pelvic Assist Device
New robotic device to boost balance in spinal cord injury patients at UofL

Tethered Pelvic Assist Device (TPAD)

Spinal cord injury researchers at the University of Louisville pioneered activity-based interventions that have helped individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) improve mobility. The addition of epidural stimulation to the lumbosacral spinal cord has allowed individuals with SCI to stand without assistance. Susan Harkema, Ph.D., who leads this research at UofL, Claudia Angeli, Ph.D., Enrico Rejc, Ph.D., and Sunil Agrawal, Ph.D., an engineer at Columbia University, have won a $5 million grant to develop a robotic device that will aid individuals with SCI further by helping them regain balance. The Tethered Pelvic Assist Device (TPAD) will provide stimulation and feedback to aid in the recovery of balance, and will be integrated with activity-based training and epidural stimulation research at UofL.

Harkema, Angeli and Rejc, faculty members in the Department of Neurological Surgery at UofL, are working with Agrawal, professor of mechanical engineering and of rehabilitation and regenerative medicine at Columbia Engineering, to develop TPAD. Agrawal specializes in the development of novel robotic devices and interfaces that help patients retrain their movements.

The project has won a five-year, $5 million grant from the New York State Spinal Cord Injury Board. The project also includes Joel Stein, chair of the Department of Rehabilitation and Regenerative Medicine, and Ferne Pomerantz, M.D., assistant professor in that department at Columbia University Medical Center.

TPAD is a wearable, light-weight cable-driven device that can be programmed to provide motion cues to the pelvis and corrective forces to stabilize it. It consists of a pelvic belt with multiple cables connected to motors, a real-time motion capture system, and a real-time controller to regulate the tensions in the cables. The UofL researchers will incorporate the device into the training of SCI patients during standing.

“Our stand and step training, combined with epidural stimulation, have shown success in enabling individuals with SCI regain the ability to stand. We hope the integration of the TPAD device will help these individuals with balance, further improving their functional ability and quality of life,” said Harkema, who also is Director of Research at Frazier Rehab Institute, part of KentuckyOne Health.

In their work with the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center (KSCIRC), the UofL researchers have studied the effects of stand and step training along with epidural stimulation in adults with spinal cord injury. Epidural stimulation involves surgically implanting an electrode array over the lower spinal cord to activate the neural circuits.


October 24, 2016

Indiana woman undergoes double hand transplant

Louella Aker, 69, becomes first female hand transplant recipient in Kentucky; video of the procedure can be found at
Indiana woman undergoes double hand transplant

Louella Aker is seated with from left, Christine Kaufman, Ph.D., Stuart Williams, Ph.D., and Tuna Ozyurekoglu, M.D.

A Jeffersonville, Ind., woman has become the first female hand transplant recipient in Kentucky and the 10th patient to receive a hand transplant from the Louisville Vascularized Composite Allograft (VCA) program, a partnership of physicians, researchers and health care providers from the University of Louisville, Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, the Christine M. Kleinert Institute for Hand and Microsurgery (CMKI) and the Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center.

During a 17-hour procedure on Sept. 17, Louella Aker underwent a double hand transplant at Jewish Hospital. The 69-year-old acquired an infection while involved in the cleanup of Henryville, Ind., after an EF4 tornado hit the area on March 2, 2012. Aker was later diagnosed with septicemia and underwent a bilateral, below-the-knee amputation on her legs, left forearm amputation, and right partial hand amputation. Aker was added to the organ donor registry in September 2015.

“There are so many things you cannot do without your hands. This will change my life and allow me to do the things I miss, like holding my granddaughter’s hand,” Aker said at a news conference on Oct. 19. “I spent many days praying for a donor, but also crying for the donor’s family for their loss. This is such a huge and exquisite gift they have given me and I thank and bless them for their sacrifice. I also want to thank the surgeons, my family and my church for their support.”

Twenty surgeons from UofL, CMKI and Kleinert Kutz performed the procedure. Fourteen staff members and six anesthesiologists also assisted with the surgery.

“Although a little slow, we are pleased with the progress that Louella has been making,” said Tuna Ozyurekoglu, M.D., lead surgeon on the procedure and assistant clinical professor of orthopedic surgery at UofL. “She is truly a fighter who has continued to grow stronger each day following this surgery. We look forward to watching her return to her normal activities, as she shows the world how successful transplantation can be.”

“Operations such as this help demonstrate the enormous importance of organ and tissue donation,” said Christopher Jones, M.D., associate professor of surgery at UofL and director of abdominal transplantation at Jewish Hospital. “If it were not for the donor family graciously agreeing to limb donation, the efforts of Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates and neighboring organ procurement organizations, this certainly would not have been possible.”

Aker was placed on immunosuppressive medications to prevent rejection of the new hand.

“She is tolerating her medications, and to date, has no signs of clinical rejection,” said Jones, who is overseeing the patient’s immunosuppressive therapy by closely monitoring her for signs of rejection and adverse reaction to medications.

“It is amazing to be part of an extraordinary team, performing procedures such as this double hand transplant,” said Stuart K. Williams, II, PhD, director, Bioficial Organs Program, Cardiovascular Innovation Institute. “New innovations developed by investigators at the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute are being translated to help patients recover more quickly from transplant surgery.”

The Louisville team developed the pioneering hand transplant procedure and has performed hand transplants on 10 patients since 1999. The clinical trial is led by Ozyurekoglu with research at the CMKI and the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute, a partnership of UofL and the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence.

Funding for the surgical procedure was provided by the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation, part of KentuckyOne Health.

The success of the Louisville VCA program has led to additional funding for ongoing transplantation and research. Early funding for research on composite tissue allotransplantation and immunotherapy from the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation helped bring about the nation’s first hand transplant. Other hand transplants were funded by the Department of Defense.

In late 2012, the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation allocated $1.5 million for the Louisville VCA program to bring potential hand transplant recipients to Louisville for screening, hand transplantation surgery and patient therapy and rehabilitation after surgery.

In 2013, the Louisville VCA program was awarded $850,000 to fund a clinical trial of a new treatment that will help prevent rejection of hand transplants as part of the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM) research program. AFIRM II is a five-year, $75 million federally funded project that will focus on applying regenerative medicine to battlefield injuries. Results of this trial will be far-reaching and benefit not only military patients, but all hand transplant recipients.

The AFIRM II funding enables Louisville VCA researchers to explore the potential for a cell-based therapy to help control the immune system’s response to a hand transplant, with a goal to lessen or eliminate the need for immune-suppressant drugs.


UofL neurosurgeons now providing robotic laser therapy for brain tumors, lesions

Laser can help remove some lesions that were once considered inoperable
UofL neurosurgeons now providing robotic laser therapy for brain tumors, lesions

Neurosurgeons with UofL now provide minimally invasive, image-guided laser therapy with the NeuroBlate system.

Two University of Louisville neurosurgeons are now providing image-guided laser technology to help patients with brain tumors and lesions. According to the National Brain Tumor Society, more than 688,000 Americans are living with a brain tumor. In the past, some tumors were considered too difficult to reach. However, the minimally invasive NeuroBlate laser is now allowing neurosurgeons to remove tumors and lesions that would traditionally be considered inoperable.

NeuroBlate laser therapy can be precisely controlled to kill abnormal tissue while doing as little harm as possible to surrounding healthy tissue. It also can be used in patients who have lesions in areas of the brain that are difficult to access by traditional open surgery without harming essential functions like speech, vision and muscle control. The procedure is performed at Jewish Hospital, a part of KentuckyOne Health.

The NeuroBlate® System from Monteris Medical® is a robotic laser technology that uses real-time magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to precisely guide a laser probe. The laser applies heat to the growth, in controlled amounts, until the diseased tissue is destroyed. It can be used on tumors and lesions in many locations in the brain, near the surface or deep inside.

Neurosurgeons performing the procedure are Joseph S. Neimat, M.D., chair of the Department of Neurosurgery, and Brian J. Williams, M.D., assistant professor and director of the Brain Tumor Program. Both practice with University of Louisville Physicians.

“The procedure is performed while the patient is in an MRI machine, so physicians can see the lesion and surrounding healthy tissue to apply laser energy where it is needed. The temperature of nearby healthy tissue is monitored to help ensure that it is protected as much as possible,” Neimat said. “We are thrilled to have this technology at our fingertips, to be able to help more people suffering from brain tumors and lesions.”

“Laser interstitial thermal therapy or ‘LITT’ offers patients suffering from difficult-to-access or recurrent brain tumors a minimally invasive option for local treatment of their disease,” Williams said. “Because the recovery is quite a bit quicker than with traditional open surgery, patients are able to expeditiously move on to radiation and chemotherapy.”

Rather than making a large opening in the skull, the NeuroBlate laser technology requires just a small hole, about the diameter of a pencil. The procedure is considered minimally invasive surgery, a type of procedure that generally involves less pain, discomfort and scarring than traditional surgery, and allows patients to go home and resume normal activity sooner.

The NeuroBlate System was cleared by the FDA in April 2013 and is in use at more than 20 of the nation's leading health care institutions. It also was licensed by Health Canada in September 2014 as the first and only minimally invasive robotic laser thermal therapy tool available in that country.

Patients seeking appointments with Neimat and Williams should contact UofL Physicians-Neurosurgery at 502-588-6000.


Risk Statement about the NeuroBlate® System
As with any surgical procedure, the NeuroBlate System involves some risks. The technology is not appropriate for every lesion type and location. For example, it may be difficult to use the technology on certain large or irregularly shaped tumors. Certain placements of the laser probe into the brain, or too much heat applied, may cause bleeding or permanent brain damage. Some patients have temporary swelling after the procedure that may cause short-term abnormal brain or nervous system function. Any medical situation, including NeuroBlate, which requires a patient to stay still for long periods can cause dangerous blood clots (deep venous thrombosis). Talk to your physician about the risks of the procedure.

About Monteris Medical®
Monteris Medical (Plymouth, Minn.) is a privately held company developing devices for minimally-invasive, MR-guided neurosurgery. Monteris markets the NeuroBlate® System for controlled, volumetric ablation of brain lesions. Monteris also offers the various Stereotactic anchoring devices for image-guided trajectory alignment, and the AtamA™ Stabilization System for MR-based procedures requiring versatile head fixation. For more information on Monteris Medical, visit or the company’s patient information site

About KentuckyOne Health
KentuckyOne Health, the largest and most comprehensive health system in the Commonwealth, has more than 200 locations including, hospitals, physician groups, clinics, primary care centers, specialty institutes and home health agencies in Kentucky and southern Indiana. KentuckyOne Health is dedicated to bringing wellness, healing and hope to all, including the underserved.  The system is made up of the former Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare and Saint Joseph Health System, along with the University of Louisville Hospital and James Graham Brown Cancer Center. KentuckyOne Health is proud of and strengthened by its Catholic, Jewish and academic heritages.




Bullitt County invited to ‘Think Pink’ Oct. 18

Bullitt County invited to ‘Think Pink’ Oct. 18

Shepherdsville and Bullitt County, Ky., are invited to “Think Pink” for breast cancer awareness at an event featuring the stories of three breast cancer survivors and recognition of everyone who has battled the disease.

“Think Pink: An Evening to Educate and Celebrate” will be held Tuesday, Oct. 18, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Paroquet Springs Conference Centre, 395 Paroquet Springs Drive, Shepherdsville. Admission is free.

Emcee Bryan Shaw of WHAS11-TV will introduce three survivors who will share their individual journeys and accomplishments since being diagnosed: Lara McGregor, Mary Lee Edwards and Alana Auslander Price, all of Louisville.

Both McGregor and Edwards became activists as a result of their experience with breast cancer. McGregor is founder of Hope Scarves, a non-profit organization based in Louisville that raises funds for research and provides scarves to patients with breast cancer as a way to show support. Edwards is an instructor of LIVESTRONG classes at the Louisville YMCA. LIVESTRONG is a non-profit organization, based in Austin, Texas, that provides services, raises funds and advocates for patients and families.

Participants at “Think Pink” are invited to wear pink to show support for survivors and in recognition of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Only 200 seats are available for the event so reservations in advance are required by calling 502-955-5355.

Breast cancer continues to plague the United States: One in eight American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

Great strides in fighting the disease have been made, however. In 1980, the five-year relative survival rate for women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer -- cancer confined to the breast -- was 74 percent. Today, that number is 99 percent.

“Think Pink” is sponsored by the Kentucky Cancer Program at the University of Louisville, Bullitt County Health Department and Bullitt County Cooperative Extension Service.

For information, contact Pam Temple-Jennings of the Kentucky Cancer Program, 502-852-6318,






The intricate web of environment and health is keynote topic at Research!Louisville

Director of National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to speak at Research!Louisville on the institute’s role in human health
The intricate web of environment and health is keynote topic at Research!Louisville

Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D.

Research at the University of Louisville and throughout the nation continually improves our understanding of how exposures to metals and other substances in the environment affect people’s health across their lifespan. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) aims to enhance society’s ability to maintain healthy environments by ensuring that individuals and communities have access to the best scientific information. Linda S. Birnbaum, Ph.D., director of the NIEHS and the National Toxicology Program, will discuss environmental research and the role of the NIEHS in human health at UofL on Oct. 14 at 1 p.m. as the keynote speaker of Research!Louisville.

Research!Louisville is the annual exposition of health-related research in the Louisville Medical Center. The 2016 event, scheduled for Oct. 11-14, will include showcases of scientific research, lectures and activities for scientists of all ages.

Investigators from high school through professional faculty will present their research in five poster sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Awards for top research presentations will be announced on Friday following the keynote address by Birnbaum.

Other events during the week include:

  • Kentucky Science Center – S.T.E.M. careers – More than 200 high school students will be introduced to science careers through interactive sessions in which they will take a patient history, engage in patient-interaction role-play with standardized patients, and practice suturing in a workshopcourtesy of the UofL School of Medicine Standardized Patient Program and the Paris Simulation Center. Students also will have the opportunity to interact with the operating room at KentuckyOne Health in "Pulse in Surgery,” in which students observe a live-streamed open-heart surgery while asking questions of the operating room staff in real time. Sessions are Wednesday, Oct. 12, 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m at the Kentucky Science Center.
  • Beer with a Scientist – The leading-edge ways researchers and clinicians are diagnosing and curing cancer right here in Louisville. Wednesday, Oct. 12, 8 p.m. at Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St.
  • Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Children's Health – Health inequities among children result in poorer quality of life for individuals in our nation. Glenn Flores, M.D., Distinguished Chair of Health Policy Research at the Medica Research Institute, a Research Affiliate in the Department of Health Sciences Research at the Mayo Clinic, will speak on “Racial and ethnic disparities in children’s health and health care and their successful elimination.” Thursday, Oct. 13, noon-2 p.m. in room 101 of the Kosair Charities Clinical and Translational Research Building (KCCTRB).
  • InNet – The new online matchmaking tool to help UofL investigators match their skills with potential collaborators in industry and research will host a launch party on Tuesday, Oct. 11, from 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. in room 101 of KCCTRB.
  • Science and Innovation in the Public Interest - Karen Kashmanian Oates, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and dean of Arts & Sciences at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, will discuss science and innovation in the public interest. She will explore the role of educators in not only imparting knowledge to students, but helping them understand how to use that knowledge to benefit society. Thursday, Oct. 13, at 10:30 a.m. in room 124 of KCCTRB.
  • Clinical/Translational Research Summit – A dozen areas of clinical and translational research will be highlighted with 10-minute presentations. Areas include cancer, cardiology, cardio-thoracic surgery, biomarkers, personalized medicine, gastro-intestinal metabolism, dentistry, infectious diseases, public health, nursing, neurosciences/spinal cord injury and transplant. The event is sponsored by UofL, KentuckyOne Health, Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) and the Chi Institute for Research and Innovation (CIRI). Friday, Oct. 14, 8 a.m. – noon in room 101 of KCCTRB.

For additional information, poster abstract booklet and a program of events for the 21st annual Research!Louisville, visit

Study demonstrates role of gut bacteria in neurodegenerative diseases

Research at UofL funded by The Michael J. Fox Foundation shows proteins produced by gut bacteria may cause misfolding of brain proteins and cerebral inflammation
Study demonstrates role of gut bacteria in neurodegenerative diseases

Robert P. Friedland, M.D.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD) and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) are all characterized by clumped, misfolded proteins and inflammation in the brain. In more than 90 percent of cases, physicians and scientists do not know what causes these processes to occur.

Robert P. Friedland, M.D., the Mason C. and Mary D. Rudd Endowed Chair and Professor of Neurology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and a team of researchers have discovered that these processes may be triggered by proteins made by our gut bacteria (the microbiota). Their research has revealed that exposure to bacterial proteins called amyloid that have structural similarity to brain proteins leads to an increase in clumping of the protein alpha-synuclein in the brain. Aggregates, or clumps, of misfolded alpha-synuclein and related amyloid proteins are seen in the brains of patients with the neurodegenerative diseases AD, PD and ALS.

Alpha-synuclein (AS) is a protein normally produced by neurons in the brain. In both PD and AD, alpha-synuclein is aggregated in a clumped form called amyloid, causing damage to neurons. Friedland has hypothesized that similarly clumped proteins produced by bacteria in the gut cause brain proteins to misfold via a mechanism called cross-seeding, leading to the deposition of aggregated brain proteins. He also proposed that amyloid proteins produced by the microbiota cause priming of immune cells in the gut, resulting in enhanced inflammation in the brain.

The research, which was supported by The Michael J. Fox Foundation, involved the administration of bacterial strains of E. coli that produce the bacterial amyloid protein curli to rats. Control animals were given identical bacteria that lacked the ability to make the bacterial amyloid protein. The rats fed the curli-producing organisms showed increased levels of AS in the intestines and the brain and increased cerebral AS aggregation, compared with rats who were exposed to E. coli that did not produce the bacterial amyloid protein. The curli-exposed rats also showed enhanced cerebral inflammation.

Similar findings were noted in a related experiment in which nematodes (Caenorhabditis elegans) that were fed curli-producing E. coli also showed increased levels of AS aggregates, compared with nematodes not exposed to the bacterial amyloid. A research group led by neuroscientist Shu G. Chen, Ph.D., of Case Western Reserve University, performed this collaborative study.

This new understanding of the potential role of gut bacteria in neurodegeneration could bring researchers closer to uncovering the factors responsible for initiating these diseases and ultimately developing preventive and therapeutic measures.

“These new studies in two different animals show that proteins made by bacteria harbored in the gut may be an initiating factor in the disease process of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and ALS,” Friedland said. “This is important because most cases of these diseases are not caused by genes, and the gut is our most important environmental exposure. In addition, we have many potential therapeutic options to influence the bacterial populations in the nose, mouth and gut.”

Friedland is the corresponding author of the article, Exposure to the functional bacterial amyloid protein curli enhances alpha-synuclein aggregation in aged Fischer 344 rats and Caenorhabditis elegans, published online Oct. 6 in Scientific Reports, a journal of the Nature Publishing Group. UofL researchers involved in the publication in addition to Friedland include Vilius Stribinskis, Ph.D., Madhavi J. Rane, Ph.D., Donald Demuth, Ph.D., Evelyne Gozal, Ph.D., Andrew M. Roberts, Ph.D., Rekha Jagadapillai, Ruolan Liu, M.D., Ph.D., and Richard Kerber, Ph.D. Additional contributors on the publication include Eliezer Masliah, M.D., Ph.D. of the University of California San Diego.

This work supports recent studies indicating that the microbiota may have a role in disease processes in age-related brain degenerations. It is part of Friedland’s ongoing research on the relationship between the microbiota and age-related brain disorders, which involves collaborations with researchers in Ireland and Japan.

“We are pursuing studies in humans and animals to further evaluate the mechanisms of the effects we have observed and are exploring the potential for the development of preventive and therapeutic strategies,” Friedland said.



October 6, 2016

Beating cancer with leading-edge research right here in Louisville

Learn how UofL researchers and clinicians are diagnosing and curing cancer at the next Beer with a Scientist, Oct. 12
Beating cancer with leading-edge research right here in Louisville

Levi Beverly, Ph.D.

Clinicians using a person’s breath to detect cancer. Computers helping identify the best cancer therapies. Researchers testing ways to activate a patient’s own immune cells to find and kill cancer cells. Scientists using tobacco plants to produce vaccines against cancer-causing viruses. These and other promising and interesting techniques for beating cancer will be discussed at the next Beer with a Scientist event. Levi Beverly, Ph.D., will present, “Cutting-edge ways that researchers and clinicians are diagnosing and curing cancer right here in Louisville,” at the free, public event, which also is part of Research!Louisville.

Beverly is an assistant professor in the University of Louisville School of Medicine Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology and Toxicology, and is a researcher at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center. His research focuses on understanding the biology of lung cancer and leukemia. In addition, his group is trying to find new therapies for treating cancer and new drugs to protect patients from the detrimental side effects of common cancer treatments.

The event begins at 8 p.m. onWednesday, Oct. 12, at Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St. in Louisville. A 30-minute presentation will be followed by an informal Q&A session. This edition of Beer with a Scientist is part of Research!Louisville, an annual week-long festival of health-related research being conducted at the Louisville Medical Center.

The Beer with a Scientist program began in 2014, the brainchild of Beverly, who hoped to make science accessible to the public in an informal setting. Once a month, the public is invited to enjoy exactly what the title promises:  beer and science.

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.

For more information and to suggest future Beer with a Scientist topics, follow Louisville Underground Science on Facebook.


More about Research!Louisville

An annual conference highlighting health-related research in the Louisville Medical Center, Research!Louisville features four days of showcases and events sponsored by the University of Louisville, University of Louisville Hospital/KentuckyOne Health, Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation/KentuckyOne Health and Norton Healthcare. Find the full schedule for this year’s Research!Louisville at


October 5, 2016

Instructors trained in Koru Mindfulness at UofL School of Medicine

Meditation program proven to reduce stress among students
Instructors trained in Koru Mindfulness at UofL School of Medicine

Trainees in the Koru Mindfulness instructor workshop at UofL

As young adults leave high school and become more independent, they may experience stress, difficulty sleeping and anxiety related to life choices, academics and new responsibilities. Koru Mindfulness is a meditation method specifically designed to help these emerging adults cope with these stresses.

At the University of Louisville, Koru Mindfulness classes have been available to students, staff and faculty for more than a year through Health Promotion Wellbeing Central and Get Healthy Now. To expand the opportunities for students, as well as staff and faculty, 15 individuals from UofL and more than 30 around the nation received Koru Mindfulness instructor training at the UofL School of Medicine. Over three days, the trainees advanced their understanding of Koru and practiced teaching it to others.

The course was led by Holly Rogers, M.D., founder of the Center for Koru Mindfulness and a psychiatrist at Counseling and Psychological Services at Duke University. Rogers and her colleague, Margaret Maytan, developed Koru Mindfulness to help the students she encountered in the counseling center at Duke. Rogers defines mindfulness as paying attention without judgment to the present experience, and she said it is a very important skill for emerging adults – anyone age 18-29.

“Mindfulness helps them get in touch with what is authentically true and meaningful so they can make these decisions not based on what their peers say, what the media says or what their parents say, but they can figure out what is meaningful to them,” Rogers said. “They are at a time of life where self-knowledge is really useful and mindfulness is most important for self-knowledge. I’ve been teaching Koru for 10 or 11 years. I have so many stories of students who come back and say, ‘This really changed my life.’”

Rogers and a researcher formerly at Duke, Jeffrey Greeson, Ph.D., conducted a randomized trial of 90 university students in 2012 and 2013 to determine Koru’s effectiveness in improving the students’ stress levels, sleep and self-compassion. Students who took the course reported less stress, better sleep, and improved self-compassion compared with those who had not yet attended the classes.

Rogers believes Koru appeals to individuals in this age group thanks to a relatively short program of four weekly classes of just 75 minutes. Although meditation has its origins in Buddhism, Rogers said Koru is a secular approach to mindfulness, and does not include a spiritual component. However, she said many students incorporate the techniques into their own spiritual practice.

The UofL School of Medicine hosted the training program in conjunction with “Being Well,” amultifaceted initiative for members of the UofL School of Medicine community that includes resources and programs to promote health, resiliency and compassion for oneself and others. Trainees included 15 faculty, staff and students from both campuses of UofL, as well as individuals from the University of Kentucky, Berea College and Bellarmine University in Kentucky, and from 13 other states and Canada.

Susan Sawning, M.S.S.W., director of Undergraduate Medical Education Research at the UofL School of Medicine, attended the instructor training after she found mindfulness personally helpful for fostering resilience and decreasing stress.

“Self-care is an essential part of leadership development and is important in each of our various roles. When we are not in tune with our wellbeing, it is very challenging to lead, to teach, to be fully present in our care for others,” Sawning said.

She hopes to teach mindfulness courses for faculty and staff as well as students in the school of medicine to help them cope with the stresses of varied obligations and the demands of medicine.

“A culture change is needed in medicine. We must cultivate an environment that promotes wellness and community. I am grateful to our leadership for making Being Well a top priority for our faculty, staff and students and am pleased to see Koru Mindfulness offered at our school of medicine,” Sawning said.

Students register for Koru classes at

Faculty and staff members register at


October 4, 2016

Abstract submissions open Sept. 30 for aging conference

Second annual UofL/KAG Optimal Aging Conference to be held June 11-13, 2017
Abstract submissions open Sept. 30 for aging conference

The call for abstracts opens Friday, Sept. 30, for the second annual Optimal Aging Conference, hosted by the University of Louisville Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging in partnership with the Kentucky Association for Gerontology (KAG). The conference will be held June 11-13, 2017, at the Galt House Hotel, 140 N. Fourth St.

The Optimal Aging Conference brings together academics, professionals and older adults across a variety of disciplines who are united by a view that aging is an opportunity, not a disease. Institute Executive Director Anna Faul, Ph.D. said, “This conference is unique in that it emphasizes the potential when diverse individuals come together united in a common commitment to transforming our current aging paradigm, including participation and input from older adults and caregivers.”

Abstract submissions for the conference open Sept. 30 and close Friday, Dec. 16at 11:59 p.m. Practitioners and academicians in any field related to aging care can submit an abstract as the conference will examine service delivery complexities and burdens through both academic and professional workforce perspectives.

Abstracts can be submitted here. More detailed information can be accessed here. The opening of the abstract submissions is the finale of the Institute’s Optimal Aging Month observance.

The Optimal Aging Conference supports the dissemination of biopsychosocial aging research, age-friendly product innovation, and evidence-based practice and education models and social service delivery. Past President of KAG Barbara Gordon said, “We are excited to announce that our theme this year is ‘Approaching Aging as a Life-Long Journey.’ For optimal aging to be realized, we must infuse a lifespan approach into our work, practice, and research.”

Early-bird registration for the conference will open Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. The early-bird registration fee for students, medical residents and senior citizens (age 65 and older) is $100; $240 for KAG Members; and $260 for all other academics and professionals. After Feb. 15, registration will be an additional $10 per category.

For more information about the conference, visit or call 502-852-5629.

Mayor’s forum on possible e-cigarette, hookah ban features UofL researchers

Mayor’s forum on possible e-cigarette, hookah ban features UofL researchers

UofL researchers Aruni Bhatnagar and Robert Jacobs will participate in a public forum discussing a possible Metro Louisville ban on use of hookahs (shown at left) and e-cigarettes in public places.

A community educational forum convened by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer on the possibility of expanding activities covered by Metro Louisville’s smoke-free ordinance will feature two University of Louisville researchers who study the effects of environmental factors on health.

The forum will be held at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 28, at the Department of Public Health and Wellness, 400 E. Gray St. It will address the possible addition of bans on e-cigarette and hookah use in public places. Louisville enacted its smoke-free ordinance in 2008, prohibiting smoking tobacco products in indoor public places and worksites.

 Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D., the Smith and Lucille Gibson Chair in Medicine and director of the American Heart Association Tobacco Research and Addiction Center (ATRAC) in the School of Medicine, and Robert Jacobs, professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences in the School of Public Health and Information Sciences, will participate in the forum.

Bhatnagar won a grant of $20 million from the NIH and FDA in 2013 to establish the ATRAC. It conducts multidisciplinary research to help inform the manufacture, distribution and marketing of tobacco products as they are regulated by the FDA. In 2014, he chaired a 10-member panel of fellow national experts that developed the American Heart Association’s first-ever policy statement on e-cigarettes, citing the paucity of research that has been conducted on the effects of e-cigarettes on health and the need for continued rigorous research.

 Jacobs researches the health effects associated with indoor air and exposures to organic dust in agricultural and industrial environments, inhalation toxicology and international environmental and occupational health practices. He has published research on the health effects associated with specific components of inhaled organic dust and on the development of methods for exposure assessment of specific biological airborne contaminants in both the work and non-work environments.

Also on the panel will be Paul Kiser, Ph.D., assistant professor at Bellarmine University; Carol Riker, M.S.N., R.N., associate professor emeritus, University of Kentucky; and Monica Mundy, M.P.H., community advisor, Kentucky Center for Smoke-Free Policy.

More than 500 communities across the country, including 13 in Kentucky, already include e-cigarettes or hookah use in their smoke-free laws. Many local businesses, health care facilities and educational institutions in Louisville also include e-cigarettes or hookah in their own wellness policies.

For additional information, visit the Mayor’s website.




Unique program for medical students and Parkinson’s disease patients to be presented at World Parkinson Congress

Unique program for medical students and Parkinson’s disease patients to be presented at World Parkinson Congress

Kathrin LaFaver, M.D.

Students at the University of Louisville School of Medicine learn about Parkinson’s disease by spending personal time with patients who have the condition. Patients enjoy social engagement and the chance to help future physicians learn about their disease. The benefits resulted from the Parkinson’s Disease Buddy Program, a unique opportunity for UofL students and Louisville area Parkinson’s patients.

Kathrin LaFaver, M.D., the Raymond Lee Lebby Chair for Parkinson’s Disease Research in the Department of Neurology at UofL, designed the program and will present results from its first year in three poster sessions, Sept. 21-23, at the 4th World Parkinson Congress (WPC 2016) in Portland, Ore. More than 4,000 health professionals, researchers and advocates from around the world are expected at WPC 2016. The four-day event is organized every three years by the World Parkinson Coalition to share information on the latest science, clinical research and health care related to Parkinson’s disease. Denise Cumberland, Ph.D., assistant professor of organizational leadership and learning at UofL, and Erika Branch, executive director of the Parkinson Support Center of Kentuckiana, also will be presenting the posters, which feature both the patients’ and students’ perspectives.

The PD Buddy Program, the only one of its kind for patients with Parkinson’s disease, was launched in September 2015, a partnership between the UofL School of Medicine and the Parkinson Support Center. Twenty-five first-year students from the UofL School of Medicine were matched with patients served by the center. The students and patients met one-on-one monthly for nine months for activities and to allow the patients to share their experience in living with Parkinson’s with the students. The students kept a journal of their interactions with the patients and attended monthly lectures and mentoring sessions about Parkinson’s disease.

Participating patients were surveyed following the program and indicated they enjoyed interacting with the students and appreciated the opportunity to help them learn about Parkinson’s disease. The students’ knowledge scores about Parkinson’s disease rose 20 percent following the program, compared with their scores before the program.

“I got to learn about Parkinson’s and I got to take a break and spend some time with them. We mutually got something big out of it. It is a great program and a great setup,” said Megan Good, a second-year medical student who participated in the program’s first year.

The PD Buddy Program kicked off its second year on August 30.

At WPC 2016, LaFaver also will present a poster on unmet needs experienced by Parkinson’s disease patients based on research conducted at UofL. Surveys revealed that Parkinson’s patients and their caregivers find the most troublesome symptoms of PD are tremor, walking/balance problems and fatigue. These symptoms represent the greatest need for new therapy development.

Melvyn Koby, M.D., establishes award to encourage compassion among physicians

Melvyn Koby, M.D., establishes award to encourage compassion among physicians

Melvyn Koby, M.D., right, with Henry Kaplan, M.D., chair the UofL Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Melvyn Koby, M.D., a University of Louisville alumnus and innovator in ophthalmology in Louisville for more than 40 years, has established an award to promote compassion among the physicians training at UofL. The Dr. Melvyn Koby Educational Excellence Award will be presented annually to a resident physician in the Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences in recognition of clinical and surgical expertise, as well as compassion for patients.

Koby grew up in Louisville, where he attended Atherton High School and worked as a clerk in his father's drug store, Koby Drug Company. He earned a B.A. in chemistry from Vanderbilt University and attended the UofL School of Medicine. After training for two years in internal medicine at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Koby served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War. He returned to Barnes Hospital to complete his ophthalmology residency in 1971 and opened his practice in Louisville the same year.

Koby introduced radial keratotomy, the predecessor of LASIK, to the Louisville area in the early 1980s after spending time in Russia with the inventor of the technology, Svyatoslav Fyodorov. Koby also was the first ophthalmologist in Kentucky to insert an intraocular lens during cataract surgery.

Since retiring from practice in 2013, Koby has volunteered his time at the UofL Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, teaching and mentoring the residents training to become tomorrow’s ophthalmologists.

To encourage compassion among these young physicians, Koby has established an endowment to support the Dr. Melvyn Koby Educational Excellence Award. The award will be presented to the third-year ophthalmology resident at UofL who displays not only clinical and surgical excellence but shows the most compassion toward patients and families. The first award will be announced in June 2017.

To honor Dr. Melvyn Koby by to making a donation to the fund, please contact:  Telly McGaha at or 502-852-7448.

Tierney joins University of Louisville

Will lead facilities planning and management for health sciences center
Tierney joins University of Louisville

UofL Health Sciences Center

Nancy Tierney has been named the interim associate vice president for facilities planning and management for the UofL Health Sciences Center. Most recently, Tierney was the director of facilities for the Cantor Center for Visual Arts and Anderson Collection at Stanford University. She has extensive experience in academic health care facilities planning and management, serving in leadership roles at the University of Arizona, Stanford University, the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago.

“Nancy brings to UofL nearly 35 years’ experience meeting the challenges of the facility needs in an ever-changing environment associated with how we educate the next generation of health care providers, conduct the research that molds how we deliver clinical care and the physical environment for provision of the care,” said Gregory C. Postel, M.D., UofL interim executive vice president for health affairs. “We continue to face those challenges at UofL and will draw upon Nancy’s experience to meet the needs of our faculty, staff, students and patients.”

Tierney will be responsible for developing and coordinating a process of facilities planning designed to determine the facility needs of the health sciences center, as well as to evaluate the condition of current space and make recommendations for any changes that may be necessary. She also will have responsibility for space planning and management for the health sciences center.

In addition to her immediate past position at Stanford University, Tierney was the Associate Dean for Facilities and Planning at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. Prior to that she was the associate director, then director of facilities planning and management at the Stanford School of Medicine.

Tierney is a member and past president of the Society for College and University Planning, member and past chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges Group on Institutional Planning, and the American Planning Association. She is a certified planner through the American Institute of Certified Planners. She has received the Distinguished Service Award from both the Society for College and University Planning and the AAMC Group on Institutional Planning.

She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky and her master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati.

Diane Harper named ‘Thought Leader-Plus’ by

Diane Harper named ‘Thought Leader-Plus’ by

Diane Harper, M.D.

Diane Harper, M.D., the Rowntree Professor and Endowed Chair of Family and Geriatric Medicine of the Department of Family and Geriatric Medicine, has been named a “Thought Leader-Plus” by

Considered a trusted and reliable source for clinical and policy news coverage that directly affects the lives and practices of health care professionals, has 1,076,142 unique visitors per month, according to its Cision media database profile.

As a Thought Leader-Plus, Harper is called upon to provide expert commentary on topics in her field -- primarily health care for women -- as well as topics that do not have a strict medical focus. Most recently, Harper was asked to comment on physicians making diagnoses of famous people without seeing them face-to-face.

“(Physicians) have trained powers of observation to aid us in diagnosing illnesses. But powers of observation alone can be inaccurate or inaccurately interpreted. Without having the person be a part of the shared person-doctor relationship, harmful misdiagnoses will occur. Speculation about someone's health, in the parlance of physicians, often causes more harm than benefit," she said in the article posted Sept. 13 in the wake of news reports about the pneumonia and dehydration diagnoses of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

In addition to holding an endowed professorship and chair, Harper also serves as a professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health; a professor of bioengineering at the Speed School of Engineering; and a professor of epidemiology and population health and of health promotion and behavioral health sciences in the School of Public Health and Information Sciences. Her expertise and primary research focus is prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases related to human papillomavirus. She joined the UofL faculty in 2013.

Harper was one of the United States clinician scientists leading the global research effort for prophylactic human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines to control cervical cancer.  She has been a lead author in the multiple Lancet publications and co-author of more than 100 additional articles on cervical cancer prevention.  She has helped establish U.S. national guidelines for the nomenclature of cervical cytology and the screening and management strategies for women with abnormal cytology and histology. She also has consulted for and published with the World Health Organization on the use of prophylactic HPV vaccines. 

She is currently a member of the NIH’s Population Sciences and Epidemiology Integrated Review Group of the Epidemiology of Cancer Study Section and an active grant reviewer for many national organizations. In February, she was appointed to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an appointed panel that issues evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services such as screenings, counseling services, and preventive medications.


UofL researchers take lead role in exploring liver disease

UofL researchers take lead role in exploring liver disease

Craig McClain, M.D.

Photos from the news conference announcing the grant are available here.


Liver diseases are clinically important health problems and are generally underappreciated.  The University of Louisville has brought together a critical mass of investigators to study liver diseases in a comprehensive fashion.  These studies include a unique focus on environmental exposure and subsequent liver injury.  Craig McClain, M.D., associate vice president for health affairs/research, is the principal investigator and head of the team that has received a Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant from the National Institutes of Health to explore diseases of the liver—hepatobiology and toxicology.

“Dr. McClain and his team are among not only that nation’s leaders, but the world’s leaders when it comes to researching liver diseases,” said Gregory C. Postel, M.D., UofL interim executive vice president for health affairs. “Receipt of this grant demonstrates the breadth of the program Dr. McClain has developed through the years and the importance of that work in our understanding the liver function, liver disease and how to combat it.”

The grant, which totals more than $11.5 million over five years, bring together experienced senior mentors and promising junior investigators from across the university  in collaboration with scientists throughout the nation and world to perform cross-cutting research on the unique topics of hepatobiology and toxicology. The research will evaluate clinical barriers in the understanding of the development and progression of liver diseases. Additionally, they will define targets for prevention and treatment that may transform current medical practice.

The researchers have four current areas of interest:

  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, a major cause of cirrhosis of the liver,

  • Alcoholic liver disease,

  • Environmental toxicology and liver disease, and

  • Liver cancer.

Future areas of research include infectious and viral liver disease and drug induced liver injury.

The liver is the largest internal organ. It plays a vital role in protein, carbohydrate, and fat, as well as micronutrient metabolism and it is the major site for drug and toxicant metabolism/detoxification.

Liver diseases are some of the most common health programs afflicting Americans. Approximately one-third of American adults and 10-12 percent of children in the United States have fatty liver disease as a consequence of overweight/obesity.  This is by far the most common cause of abnormal liver tests in the nation. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) represents a spectrum of diseases involving hepatic fat accumulation, inflammation with the potential progression to scarring and cirrhosis over time. Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) remains a major cause of mortality and morbidity in the United States, and ALD and NAFLD can proceed through the same pathway from simple fatty liver to cirrhosis in some patients. Importantly, there is no FDA-approved therapy for NAFLD or ALD. Liver cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide and is the fifth most common cause of cancer deaths in men in the United States.

“This effort will help ensure a pipeline of new investigators into liver biology and disease, as well as stimulate research into the field,” McClain said. “We will build upon the broad body of knowledge already existing, take that information into novel areas to create new methods for the prevention and treatment of liver disease.”


Forging a new PATH to optimal aging

Second year of Optimal Aging Lecture Series kicks off Sept. 14 with examination of new intervention for improved quality of life
Forging a new PATH to optimal aging

Valerie Lander McCarthy, Ph.D., R.N.

Exploring a new intervention to help older adults age optimally is the focus of the Sept. 14 lecture to kick off the second year of the Optimal Aging Lecture Series, sponsored by the University of Louisville Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging and the UofL Alumni Association This lecture is part of the Insitute’s Optimal Aging Month observance.

Valerie Lander McCarthy, Ph.D., R.N., associate professor at the UofL School of Nursing, will present a conversation entitled “Which PATH Will You Choose?” The event will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the University Club, 200 E. Brandeis Ave.

McCarthy will share a new intervention called the Psychoeducational Approach to Transcendence and Health (PATH) Program. Developed by McCarthy and her colleagues, the program fosters self-transcendence to help older adults improve well-being, life satisfaction and health-related quality of life. The program utilizes mindfulness experiences, group processes, creative activities and brief independent at-home practice.

McCarthy teaches community health nursing and evidence-based research in the undergraduate program of the School of Nursing. Her research is focused on successful aging and increasing well-being, life satisfaction and health-related quality of life in older adults through promoting the late-life developmental process of transcendence.

Admission is $30 per person and includes lunch. Reservations are required online. Click here to register. For information, call 502-852-5629 or email