UofL receives $13.8 million to study use of promising new adult stem cell to treat heart failure

Award is one of university’s largest-ever federal grants for medical research
UofL receives $13.8 million to study use of promising new adult stem cell to treat heart failure

The research team on the Program Project Grant is shown on the steps of the Abell Administration Center at the UofL Health Sciences Center in October 2016, with principal investigator Roberto Bolli, M.D., at front center.

The University of Louisville has received one of its largest grants for medical research in the school’s 219-year history, a $13.8 million award from the National Institutes of Health to study a promising new type of adult cardiac stem cell that has the potential to treat heart failure.

The announcement on Friday was made by Gregory Postel, M.D., interim president of UofL, and the study’s principal investigator, Roberto Bolli, M.D., director of UofL’s Institute of Molecular Cardiology. Bolli also serves as scientific director of the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute at UofL and as a professor and chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at the School of Medicine.

“This is a prestigious grant reflecting the magnitude of the work being conducted here,” Postel said. “Being awarded this grant is a huge, huge accomplishment.”

Bolli thanked the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the NIH for their support. “It is critical that we have this type of support for the important research programs that we carry out, which can help patients around the world,” he said.

Heart failure affects millions of people, and the most common cause is a heart attack. When a person suffers a heart attack, part of the heart muscle dies from lack of oxygen and is replaced with scar tissue, which does not contract. Because of the loss of muscle, the heart becomes weaker and less able to pump.

Until now, conventional treatments for heart failure have consisted of surgery or medications, which can alleviate symptoms but do not cure the disease. In contrast, Bolli’s focus has been on how to repair the heart itself and actually cure heart failure using a patient’s own stem cells. It is an approach that could revolutionize the treatment of heart disease.

The NIH grant is a continuation of a Program Project Grant (PPG) that Bolli and his team were originally awarded in 2005. The overall goal of this PPG is the use of stem cells to repair the damage caused by a heart attack by regenerating heart muscle in the area that died, replacing the scar tissue with new muscle and thereby making the heart stronger and able to pump more blood.

A PPG is a cluster of several projects with a common focus relating to one theme, in this case, the use of adult stem cells to repair the heart. It involves a collaboration among different investigators working as a team, a collaboration that otherwise might not be able to occur without funding.

The latest round of funding comes after Bolli and his colleagues discovered a new population of adult stem cells, called CMCs, in the heart three years ago.

“CMCs seem to be more effective,” Bolli said. “In addition to showing more promise than those we have used in the past, these cells also offer several advantages in that they can be produced more easily, faster, more consistently and in larger numbers than other adult stem cells, which have proven tricky.”

He said this would make them easier to apply for widespread use, as specialized labs to isolate the cells would not be needed as with other types of adult stem cells.

Bolli and his team want to find out what CMCs will do when transplanted into a diseased heart in mice and pigs, ultimately laying the groundwork for clinical trials in patients.

On Friday, Postel noted that the NIH didn’t just approve UofL’s grant application - a long, multistep process involving more than a dozen reviewers who are experts in the field - it funded the project with a perfect score and rare high praise. In fact, the committee reviewing the application concluded Bolli’s program was, quote “exceptional,” with “significant translational impact, an exceptional leader and investigative team and an exceptional environment.”

“We are continually striving for new and better ways to treat heart disease,” Bolli said. “I’m confident we are not that far from a cure.”


Let's do the time warp again

Rocky Horror Halloween Party honors breast cancer survivors Oct. 10
Let's do the time warp again

The Kentucky Cancer Program at the University of Louisville invites breast cancer survivors to do the time warp again in celebration of survivorship at “The Rocky Horror Halloween Party,” an event to commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The event will be held Tuesday, Oct. 10, at Buckhead Mountain Grill, 707 W. Riverside Dr., Jeffersonville, Ind. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and dinner will be served at 6 p.m. Admission is free and open to breast cancer survivors only. Participants must register to attend by calling 502-852-6318.

Attendees are invited to dress for the occasion with prizes for the best Halloween costume and the best “Rocky Horror Picture Show” costume.

Rachel Platt of WHAS11’s “Great Day Live!” will emcee. The nonprofit theater company Acting Against Cancer will present “The Rocky Horror Halloween Party,” marking the fourth consecutive year the company has staged the production for Kentuckiana audiences.

The event is made possible with support from Buckhead Mountain Grill, Anthem BlueCross BlueShield and Rocky’s Italian Grill.

The Kentucky Cancer Program is the state mandated cancer control program jointly administered by the University of Louisville (West Region) and the University of Kentucky (East Region). At UofL, the program is sponsored by the James Graham Brown Cancer Center. The mission of the Kentucky Cancer Program is to reduce cancer incidence and mortality by promoting cancer education, research and service.

UofL developing leaders in academic medicine

School of Medicine launches Leadership and Innovation in Academic Medicine program with 16 faculty members
UofL developing leaders in academic medicine

2017 Class of LIAM

The University of Louisville School of Medicine is training its future leaders.

Sixteen members of the UofL School of Medicine faculty began a 10-month training program on Sept. 21, aimed at developing future leaders for academic medical institutions. Leadership and Innovation in Academic Medicine (LIAM) is designed to develop innovative thinking skills in early to mid-career faculty who may be interested in pursuing leadership roles in the future.

“This program will equip the future leaders of the UofL School of Medicine with the foundational platform to build their leadership skills for the rest of their careers,” said Gerard Rabalais, M.D., M.H.A., associate dean of faculty development.

Participants will attend monthly three-hour meetings, work independently and prepare interdisciplinary projects designed to improve some aspect of the school. Leaders in the UofL School of Medicine, as well as faculty from the UofL College of Business, College of Education and Human Development and members of the business community, will lead the monthly meetings. The curriculum will address leading oneself, leading others and leading an organization, all focused on leadership challenges specific to academic medicine.

“I hope they gain an appreciation for the importance of emotional intelligence, and an understanding that the key role of the leader is to provide more than operational effectiveness, but to cast the vision and devise the innovation strategy that provides new and sustainable value to the academic medical center and the communities we serve,” Rabalais said.

The 2017-18 participants, below, were selected from 54 applicants. Rabalais and Staci Saner, M.Ed., program manager of faculty development, part of the Office of Faculty Affairs and Advancement, developed the curriculum.

“We anticipate that the innovative solutions they develop as part of their projects will be directly applicable to current challenges in the School,” Rabalais said.


The 2017 class of LIAM

Christine Brady, PhD                            Pediatrics

Elizabeth Cash, PhD                              Otolaryngology-HNS & Communicative Disorders

Jeremy Clark, MD                                 Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Luz Fernandez, MD                              Family Medicine

Brian Holland, MD                                Pediatric Cardiology

Adrienne Jordan, MD                          Pathology

Farid Kehdy, MD                                   Surgery

Kathrin LaFaver, MD                            Neurology

Sara Multerer, MD                               Pediatrics

Alexander V. Ovechkin, MD, PhD     Neurological Surgery

Sara Petruska, MD                                Ob/Gyn and Women's Health

Carolyn Roberson, PhD                       Microbiology and Immunology

Tyler Sharpe, MD                                  Internal Medicine

Hugh Shoff, MD                                     Department of Emergency Medicine

Leah J. Siskind, PhD                              Pharmacology and Toxicology

Laura Workman, MD                           Internal Medicine-Pediatrics

Leadership and Innovation in Academic Medicine

Department of Medicine's Carrico named president-elect of Kentucky Nurses Association

Department of Medicine's Carrico named president-elect of Kentucky Nurses Association

Ruth Carrico, PhD, RN

Ruth Carrico, PhD, RN, associate professor of medicine at the University of Louisville Department of Medicine and the associate founding director of UofL’s Global Health Initiative, has been named president-elect of the Kentucky Nurses Association.

Each year, the members of the KNA elect nurses to leadership of the premier nursing nonprofit professional association in the Commonwealth. The candidates will be inducted into office on Friday, Nov. 3, during the bi-annual KNA Education Summit in Lexington, Ky.

The following nurses filed to be candidates and were elected to leadership positions:

KNA Board of Directors: President-Elect, Ruth Carrico, PhD, MSN, FNP-C, RN; Vice-President, Beverly Rowland, PhD, RN; Secretary, Misty Ellis, MSN, APRN-PC/AC; and Directors, Ann W. Christie, MSN, RN, and Jodie V. Rogers, MSN, RN, NEA-BC

Education & Research Cabinet: Nurse Administrator, Karen Newman, EdD, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, Nurse Faculty, Kimberly Tharpe-Barrie, DNP, RN; and Staff Nurse, Loretta Elder, DNP, RN, CNE

Governmental Affairs Cabinet: Staff Nurse, Michael D. Gordon, MSN, ARNP, RN, CNS, Adult Health ANCC Certified,

Professional Nursing Practice & Advocacy Cabinet: Clinical Practice, Lisa Lockhart, MSN, MHA, RN, NE-BC, Traci L. Lorch, MSN, APRN, ACNS-BC, RNC-OB, and Danielle Angeli House, RN, HN-BC; Clinical Practice Staff Nurse, Stephanie J. Fugate, MSN, ARNP-ACNP-BC; Administration, Michelle Speicher, MBA, BSN, RN, FACHE, ME-BC; and Education, Jessica Wilson, PhD, APRN, RN

Ethics & Human Rights Committee: Secretary, Angela Combs, BSN, MSNED, RN; and  Members, Rhonda Vale, MSN, RN, and Pam Azad, MBA, Ph.D, RN

Nominating Committee: Members, Deb Chilcote, DNP, RN, RNC-MN, Leslie Jeffries, MSN, BSN, RN; Lynn Roser, Ph.D, RN, CIC; and Maribeth Wilson, Ph.D (c), MSN, MSPH








Improved DBS device offers a better solution for tremor

UofL, Jewish Hospital physicians first in region to offer refined DBS technology
Improved DBS device offers a better solution for tremor

Kathleen Prezocki with Joseph Neimat, M.D.

Kathleen Prezocki finally had enough.

Her essential tremor had progressed to the point that writing was nearly impossible, she always ordered sandwiches instead of soup or salad when eating out, and she was forced to use a card-holder so she could continue to play bridge.

“It was affecting me in eating, in writing and in speech. The medicine was not allowing me to control the symptoms anymore,” Prezocki said. “Trying to put a necklace on and trying to get that hook in there – my goodness that was frustrating!”

Prezocki’s UofL physicians suggested deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy, in which surgeons implant in the brain a wire lead that is attached to a battery controller, similar to a pacemaker used for the heart. The lead provides electrical stimulation to a precise point in the brain to mitigate the tremor. DBS has been in use for nearly 20 years, but a new device allows more precise control over the stimulation, avoiding side effects, and is controlled with an iPod touch, a more intuitive control device than previous DBS technology.

The St. Jude Medical Infinity™ DBS system was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for patients with Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor. The St. Jude system is the first in the United States to feature a directional lead designed to precisely customize therapy to help maximize patient outcomes and reduce side effects. The more precise control of the direction of the electrical stimulation allows for reduced strain on the battery, leading to longer battery life. In addition, the iPod Touch controller is more intuitive and familiar for patients.

When Prezocki learned of this improved DBS device, she decided it was time to take the next step, and was the first patient in the region to receive the St. Jude device. Joseph Neimat, M.D., a neurosurgeon with UofL Physicians, recently provided the implant for Prezocki at Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, to control tremor in her right hand. Neimat, also chair of the UofL Department of Neurological Surgery, has implanted several hundred DBS devices.

“This therapy can make a dramatic difference in a patient’s quality of life, particularly if they like to write, to play piano, to eat soup,” Neimat said. “And even though it is brain surgery, it’s a relatively low-risk surgery.”

Neurologist Victoria Holiday, M.D., clinical director of the Deep Brain Stimulation Program at UofL Physicians, has monitored Prezocki’s condition for several years and programmed her Infinity system to provide the proper stimulation. Holiday said the ability to more precisely control the stimulation allows doctors to achieve stimulation in the desired location while avoiding side effects.

“Think about a wire inside the brain and electricity is surrounding that wire in a ball shape. With this device, we can cut that ball into pie pieces. It allows us to steer away from areas of the brain that may be causing trouble,” said Holiday, also an assistant professor in the UofL Department of Neurology.

Since activating the device, Prezocki has been able to stop taking tremor medications. Her ability to write is improved and she is able to play bridge without a card-holder.

“I can write again!” Prezocki said.

“Her handwriting is much better than expected. Ms. Prezocki was not able to write at all prior to surgery and is now scrutinizing how her Zs look,” Holiday said. “She is successfully using the patient programmer at home and seems very pleased with how the system works.”

Culinary medicine program gives future doctors hands-on skills to help patients eat better

UofL’s Eat 2B Well provides in-the-kitchen instruction to guide medical students in improving health with food
Culinary medicine program gives future doctors hands-on skills to help patients eat better

Eat 2B Well

A doctor, a dietitian and a chef walk into a kitchen …

No joke. They are there to teach medical students about choosing and preparing food that will sustain their own health as well as give them the tools to talk about food realistically with their patients.

The Eat 2B Well culinary medicine program is a new eight-week elective for students at the University of Louisville School of Medicine designed to help future physicians understand the challenges their patients face in obtaining, selecting and preparing foods. Eat 2B Well was conceptualized by Toni Ganzel, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the school of medicine, Jon Klein, M.D., Ph.D., vice dean for research, and Karan Chavis, the dean’s chief of staff. UofL nutritionist Diana Pantalos, Ph.D., R.D.N., developed the curricular content. Eat 2B Well was modeled on The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University, developed by Timothy Harlan, M.D.

With increasing evidence that a poor diet causes or exacerbates many chronic diseases, it is more important than ever for physicians to help their patients eat well. However, physicians traditionally learn about nutrition in terms of science and clinical impact, which doesn’t always translate to helping patients eat better. Eat 2B Well is aimed at helping future doctors understand the issues their patients face in terms of resources, time and food preparation skills.

“Many of the chronic health problems that burden the Commonwealth, such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, can be prevented through good nutrition. The goal of Eat 2B Well is to equip UofL medical students with the real-world practical knowledge of nutrition and healthy cooking so that they can best help their future patients,” Klein said.

Each Eat 2B Well class includes instruction on practical nutrition, disease association, and food preparation from a team that includes a registered dietitian/nutritionist, a professional chef and a member of the medical school faculty. Local chefs, including Anoosh Shariat of Anoosh Bistro and Noosh Nosh, Kathy Douglas of the Fresh Chef Experience and Bobby Benjamin of Butchertown Grocery provide instruction for the food preparation portion of the class.

Joining the medical students in the classes are students from the culinary track of YouthBuild Louisville, an education, job training and leadership program for low-income young adults ages 18-24.Classes include discussion of issues associated with food insecurity and the health problems resulting from poor nutrition. Class groups will then prepare meals utilizing cost-conscious ingredients readily available at grocery stores and markets in West Louisville, and prepared with equipment available in low-income homes.

“To talk comfortably about food, medical professionals need to be respectful of individuals’ food cultures, to understand how complex social factors influence food habits and to have hands-on experience preparing food themselves,” Pantalos said.

In the near future, organizers are planning to extend the program to include community engagement activities, providing at-risk families with food preparation education.

Whole Foods Market is providing food for the classes, which take place at Cooking at Millie’s, 340 W. Chestnut St. Additional sponsors include Gordon Food Service (GFS) and Save-A-Lot Grocery. New Roots, Inc. and the Sullivan University and Jefferson Community and Technical College culinary arts programs have provided logistical support.


Celebrity Chefs:

Eneitra Beattie, Brown Forman Corporation, Bourbon Street Café

Bobby Benjamin, Butchertown Grocery

Kathy Douglas, Fresh Chef Experience

Tina Lee, Fresh Stop Market, Dare to Care

Lorita Rowlett, Fresh Stop Market

Anoosh Shariat, Anoosh Bistro, Noosh Nosh

Gabe Sowder, Wiltshire Pantry

Andrea Wells, Farm to Baby Louisville


More about The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine

Developed in 2012 by Timothy Harlan, M.D., at Tulane University, The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine is directed by Chef Leah Sarris. Support for the center includes a director for research and development and the Teaching Kitchen Medical Student Club, which coordinates community outreach, medical student service learning and children’s programming.

UofL lecture will help you ‘Maintain Your Brain’

  UofL lecture will help you ‘Maintain Your Brain’

David Casey, M.D.

A healthy body’s connection to a healthy mind will be the topic of the next “Building Hope” lecture on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

David A. Casey, M.D., chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Louisville, will present “Maintaining Your Brain: Tips on preserving thinking and memory with the aging process.” The event is part of the “Building Hope” public lecture series sponsored by the UofL Depression Center and will be held at 7 p.m. at Second Presbyterian Church, 3701 Old Brownsboro Road.

Casey will discuss lifestyle changes that can be helpful to maintain brain processes. He also will explain how optimal management of medical conditions can help preserve brain power.

Board-certified in both general psychiatry and geriatric psychiatry, Casey joined the UofL faculty in 1985 and was named chair in 2015. His research interests are focused on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, geriatric depression, psychiatric education and the history of psychiatry. He practices with UofL Physicians-Psychiatry.

The University of Louisville Depression Center is Kentuckiana’s leading resource for depression and bipolar disorder treatment, research and education. It is a charter member of the National Network of Depression Centers, a consortium of leading depression centers that develops and fosters connections among members to advance scientific discovery and provide stigma-free, evidence-based care to patients with depressive and bipolar illnesses.

For more information, contact the Depression Center at 502-588-4886.

UofL hosting international meeting on health effects of histidyl dipeptides carnosine and anserine

Relatively new field of study holds potential in variety of diseases, conditions
UofL hosting international meeting on health effects of histidyl dipeptides carnosine and anserine

Presentations for the 4th Annual International Congress on Carnosine and Anserine will be held at UofL's Cardiovascular Innovation Institute, 305 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd.

The 4th Annual International Congress on Carnosine and Anserine will meet in Louisville Sept. 12-14, drawing participants from around the globe.

The Diabetes and Obesity Center at the University of Louisville organized the congress to share new research on the health effects of histidyl dipeptides such as carnosine and anserine. It will be held at UofL’s Cardiovascular Innovation Institute, 302 E. Muhammad Ali Blvd., and the Brown Hotel, 335 W. Broadway.

Carnosine is known as an endogenous dipeptide that is naturally produced in the body. It is concentrated in skeletal muscles, the heart, the brain and other parts of the body. Carnosine is thought to prevent aging,  alleviate diet-induced metabolic syndrome, nerve damage, eye disorders and kidney problems.

Anserine is a derivative of carnosine and is normally absent from human tissues and body fluids. Anserine is present in the skeletal muscle of birds and certain species of mammals, notably the rabbit, rat and whale. It is an antioxidant and helps reduce fatigue. 

The conference will draw leading scientists as presenters from four continents, with countries such as Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, Russia, Slovakia and the United Kingdom represented as well as the United States.

The conference oral  presentations will cover the impact of carnosine and anserine in exercise and sports,  chronic metabolic diseases, cardiovascular disease, cancer, the nervous system, renal disease and the biochemical pathways of carnosine and its derivatives.

Carnosine and anserine are referred to as novel dipeptides in science – meaning they consist of two amino acids and exhibit multifunctional properties. Recent clinical trials demonstrate that  these dipeptides enhance the walking ability of patients with heart failure and alleviate metabolic syndrome in patients with diabetes.

“This congress  provides an opportunity for researchers and scientists from around the world who are working in this area to interact and forge new collaborations,” said Assistant Professor of Medicine Shahid Baba, Ph.D., who is congress chair. “It allows investigators to interact with one another and forge collaborations that will help us advance research in this field.”

For details about the conference, contact Baba at 502-852-4274 or

NIH institute director George F. Koob, Ph.D., to speak on neurobiology of addiction at Research!Louisville

NIH institute director George F. Koob, Ph.D., to speak on neurobiology of addiction at Research!Louisville

George F. Koob, Ph.D.

A greater understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying addiction could help communities such as Louisville and Southern Indiana cope with the opioid crisis, alcoholism and other problems related to substance use. George F. Koob, Ph.D., an internationally-recognized expert on alcohol and stress and the neurobiology of alcohol and drug addiction, will discuss his research on this topic in the keynote address for Research!Louisville.

Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one of the National Institutes of Health, will discuss “The Neurobiology of Addiction: View from the Dark Side,” on Friday, Sept. 15, at 1 p.m. in the Kosair Charities Clinical and Translational Research Building (KCCTRB) at the University of Louisville.

Koob’s talk will address how addiction is perpetuated by the motivation to alleviate emotional and physical distress created by abstinence from the drug. Addicted individuals compulsively use the drug in order to reduce the hypohedonia, anxiety, irritability and other symptoms of drug abstinence. Such negative reinforcement is known as the “dark side of addiction.” Koob’s research presents compelling evidence that plasticity in the brain’s emotional systems adapts to repeated drug taking and contributes to the development and persistence of compulsive drug seeking.

Research!Louisville is the annual exposition of health-related research in the Louisville Medical Center. The 2017 event, scheduled for Sept. 12-15, showcases 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. Research!Louisville is co-sponsored by UofL, Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation/KentuckyOne Health and Norton Healthcare.

Events during the week include:

  • Women innovators – A panel of women entrepreneurs and innovators will discuss their experiences with the commercialization of university research by licensing to an established company and/or forming a new start-up company.  Panelists will share lessons they have learned and will discuss the "commercialization culture shift" of moving from academic research to working with industry. Tuesday, Sept. 12, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. in KCCTRB, 550 S. Hancock St., Room 124.
  • Kentucky Science Center – A preview in health-care training for biomedical-focused middle and high school students. Co-sponsored by UofL and Jewish Hospital and St. Mary's Foundation/KentuckyOne Health and in collaboration with the Greater Louisville Medical Society and Louisville Women in Medicine and Science (L-WIMS), students will work in sessions and hear from leaders in the science community. Students will be introduced to alternative science career opportunities and educational advancements with a biomedical focus. Pulse of Surgery will be one of the highlights, providing students the opportunity to observe a live-streamed open-heart surgery while asking questions of the operating room staff in real time. Pre-registration is required. Sessions are Wednesday, Sept. 13, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Kentucky Science Center, 727 W. Main St.
  • Beer with LOTS of Scientists – This evening gathering will be a get-to-know-you event, with seven or more UofL researchers introducing themselves and their work, then mixing and mingling with guests. Topics will include 3-D printing, pain, nanoparticles, cancer, aging and precision medicine. Wednesday, Sept. 13, at 8 p.m. at Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St.
  • Translational Research Symposium – Seven areas of translational research will be highlighted with 10-minute presentations. Areas include cancer, environmental health, neurosciences and spinal cord injury, digestive health, cardiovascular disease, the microbiome, and clinical trials research and services. Thursday, Sept. 14, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. in room 124 of KCCTRB.
  • Across Sectors, Across Generations:  Achieving Health Equity for All – Rachel Thornton, M.D., Ph.D., is an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and holds a joint appointment in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her research focuses on childhood obesity and cardiovascular disease risk, health disparities and social determinants of health. She has expertise in racial/ethnic disparities in health and health care. Thornton is committed to informing the development of novel interventions to eliminate health disparities by addressing individual, family and community level factors that contribute to disparities in child and adolescent obesity and cardiovascular disease risk. Thursday, Sept. 14, at noon in room 101/102 of KCCTRB.

For additional information, poster abstract booklet and a program of events for the 22nd annual Research!Louisville, visit

University Writing Center ready to help in new HSC location

University Writing Center ready to help in new HSC location


No matter what kind of writing project you may have this year, the University Writing Center can help you make your writing stronger. The University Writing Center’s Health Sciences Center campus office is now in K-Wing, Room 2028 and is open for appointments on Tuesdays from 10-4 and Thursdays from 9-1.

The University Writing Center works with all members of the UofL community – students, faculty, and staff – to improve their writing. Writing Center consultants provide one-on-one consultations that help writers address concerns about their drafts and provide strategies for improving writing skills. Consultants work with writers at any point in the writing process, from planning and organization to revision. At the HSC office, consultants work with writers on science and technical writing, including research articles, grant proposals and dissertation chapters and proposals, as well as IRB applications and other professional and scholarly work. Consultants can help writers with personal statements, job letters, CVs and other genres of writing. The Writing Center is not an editing service, but works with writers to offer responses to their drafts and suggestions for revision.

To make an appointment through the online scheduling system, log in to the University Writing Center website using your UofL user name and password, and click on “Appointments.” To make an appointment in our HSC location, select that schedule in the drop-down menu at the top of the schedule page. You also are welcome to make appointments at our Ekstrom Library location.

In addition to consultations, the University Writing Center offers workshops on writing through courses, campus organizations and online. You also will find handouts and videos about common student writing issues and answers to common writing questions.

If you have questions or want to know more, visit the website, email, or call 852-2173.


Image by Pete O'Shea.

August 30, 2017

UofL faculty member named ‘Research Exemplar’

Bhatnagar among 28 nationwide named by P.I. Program at Washington University in St. Louis
 UofL faculty member named ‘Research Exemplar’

Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D.

The director of the Diabetes & Obesity Center at the University of Louisville has been named one of just 28 “Research Exemplars” in the biomedical field by the P.I. Program through the Center for Clinical and Research Ethics at Washington University in St. Louis and in collaboration with St. Louis University.

Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D., the Smith and Lucille Gibson Chair in Medicine, was cited for conducting high-quality, high-impact research and exemplifying professionalism and integrity in research. The Research Exemplars were selected for their leadership and management skills in successfully running research laboratories and mentoring junior faculty.

“Aruni Bhatnagar’s commitment to research and to the development of the next generation of researchers is well known within the University of Louisville community,” William Pierce, Ph.D., executive vice president for research and innovation, said. “For his efforts to be distinguished by the Exemplar Project solidifies his place as one of the standard-bearers of research quality and integrity.”

UofL’s director of research integrity concurred. “Washington University in St. Louis and St. Louis University have a position of national leadership in the area of research professionalism. This award recognizes decades of Aruni's work and affirms the critical role mentoring plays in the responsible and successful conduct of research,” Allison Ratterman, Ph.D., said.

About Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D.

Aruni Bhatnagar, Ph.D., holds dual professorships in medicine and in biochemistry and molecular biology. He joined UofL in 1998. Bhatnagar is a Distinguished University Scholar, director of the UofL Diabetes and Obesity Center and a Fellow of the American Heart Association.

Bhatnagar is a leading environmental health scientist who led the creation of the field of environmental cardiology. Through multidisciplinary approaches, he has identified the influence of environmental factors that contribute to systemic inflammation and cardiovascular disease risk. His work has extended from basic bench research to national and global policy.

With more than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles and $100 million in research support, colleagues hold him in the highest esteem an intellectual leader and as an exemplary mentor, teacher and public servant. He has been a member of more than 50 review panels of the National Institutes of Health, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Defense. He currently serves as the deputy editor of the journal, Circulation Research. Under his mentorship, more than 15 junior investigators have obtained independent funding.

Colleagues describe Bhatnagar as an innovative, productive scientist who is extraordinarily skilled at leading large research programs and who ensures the highest standards of scientific integrity.

“I am honored to join my peers from across the United States as a Research Exemplar,” Bhatnagar said. “This program focuses on the intersection of leading a research lab and conducting high-quality, high-impact research with integrity and professionalism.

“To be included among this group is extremely gratifying and reaffirms my commitment to the role of research scientist.”


Baby boom comes to UofL Center for Women & Infants in July

Birthing center sees highest number of deliveries for a single month in 10 years
Baby boom comes to UofL Center for Women & Infants in July

Giving babies such as sleeping Fred Crosthwaite IV the best possible start in life is the goal of the Center for Women & Infants. In July, the center witnessed the highest number of deliveries for a single month – 200 – in a decade.

The final numbers are in, and oh, baby, July was booming at the Center for Women & Infants at University of Louisville Hospital.

The center witnessed its highest number of deliveries for a single month in 10 years – 200 in the month of July alone.

CWI Director Libby Smith said the last time the center witnessed that level of deliveries was in July 2007, when 211 babies were delivered.

She attributes the high number of deliveries to the high quality care provided by the staff and to the number of birthing options offered by providers who deliver at the Center for Women & Infants.

“We offer expectant moms more choices than virtually any other birthing facility in our region,” Smith said. “Women can receive prenatal care and have their babies delivered by an obstetrician or a certified nurse midwife. They can experience labor in or out of water. They can receive traditional individual care or be part of our new centering groups in which expectant moms receive support from other expectant moms.

“And if a cesarean birth is medically called for, our family-centered cesarean delivery with the clear drape option allows moms and dads to see their little ones as they are born.”

The center also provides evidence-based care for high-risk pregnancies and deliveries. “We have exceptional maternal-fetal specialists – doctors who specialize in high-risk pregnancies – leading our multidisciplinary teams who are ready and able to handle virtually any situation,” Smith said. 

The center also practices Kangaroo Care, the placing of newborns skin-to-skin with moms and dads to comfort baby and foster bonding. The Center for Women & Infants has earned Baby-Friendly Designation by Baby-Friendly USA, for providing an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding. Also, La Leche League of Louisville meets monthly at the center, giving new moms support in breastfeeding, and the center’s Beautiful Beginnings prenatal care classes help expectant moms and dads prepare for their new baby.

Even with July’s record number of births, the center is ready to accommodate even more expectant families and bring new lives into the world, Smith said. “Delivering babies and giving them the best possible start in life is what we are all about,” she said.

For details about the Center for Women & Infants at UofL Hospital, visit the center website or call 502-562-3325.

UofL goes to the fair

Variety of health services, information offered at the Kentucky State Fair
UofL goes to the fair

Health care providers with the University of Louisville will be featured at the Kentucky State Fair, Aug. 17-27. All services will be provided at the UofL booth in the Health Horizons Pavilion. Most services will be provided between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on the days shown, but fair-goers should check the booth for exact scheduling. Some services require that participants meet certain criteria; staff in the booth can provide information.


    University of Louisville health care providers will be on-site in the Health Horizons Pavilion at the Kentucky State Fair, Aug. 17-27, at the Kentucky Expo Center, and three programs will be available each day of the fair:

    • Mammogram screenings: Providers affiliated with the UofL James Graham Brown Cancer Center and Kentucky Cancer Program will provide mammograms. All screenings will take place in the privacy of the Horses and Hope Cancer Screening Van. For more than 25 years, the Brown Cancer Center and Kentucky Cancer Program have brought the mobile van to the fair to remove barriers to screening, providing women a key service in early detection. Mammogram screenings will be billed to insurance, so participants should have their health insurance verification and photo identification handy. Yearly mammograms are covered by Medicare and most private insurance providers for women over 40. Special discounted rates are available to those without insurance.
    • Vascular screenings, including carotid artery screen and ankle brachial index: Provided daily at the fair, Aug. 17-27. A carotid artery screen is ideal for anyone with dizziness, ringing in the ears or anyone with a family history of carotid artery disease. It also is indicated for smokers and people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes or is over the age of 50. The test is administered by a registered technologist and uses ultrasound technology. The ankle brachial index screening is ideal for anyone with leg pain while walking or resting or anyone with a family history of peripheral arterial disease. It also is indicated for smokers and people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or is over the age of 50. This test utilizes blood pressure cuffs to determine the amount of blood flow to your legs.
    • Education, prevention and survivorship information from the Kentucky Cancer Program: The Kentucky Cancer Program is a statewide cancer prevention and control program, bringing together local organizations, providers and other partners in planning, implementing and evaluating cancer prevention and control efforts. The KCP staff and volunteers will be on-site providing information and giveaways to fair-goers with the goal of reducing cancer incidence and cancer death in Kentucky.


    Staff from UofL Hospital’s Center for Women & Infants and UofL Physicians-Ob/Gyn & Women’s Health will be on hand at the fair to help women of all ages. The Center for Women & Infants specializes in both high-risk obstetrics and general maternity services and gives expectant families their choice of care from board-certified obstetricians and certified nurse midwives who practice with UofL Physicians-Ob/Gyn & Women’s Health.

    At the fair, staff will be on hand to discuss urogynecology with providers  from the Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery practices, fertility specialists in reproductive endocrinology and infertility, the certified nurse midwifery program, family planning services, and our newest offering – Centering Prenatal Care. Women enter centering groups of 8-10 other expectant mothers and they receive both individualized care as well as the benefits of group discussion.

    Women’s health services will be offered each day beginning Thursday, Aug. 17 through Saturday, Aug. 26.


    The UofL Hospital Level I Trauma Center and the Burn Unit will both provide a variety of services at the fair.

    The Trauma Center is the region’s only Level I trauma unit. Staff will train fair-goers to “Stop the Bleed” on Friday, Aug. 18. This innovative program uses a lifelike replica of the human thigh – complete with faux blood – to train participants in handling bleeds from wounds at the scene where they occur. On Tuesday, Aug. 22, the Trauma Center will participate in Senior Day at the Fair, and feature a walk-through demonstration to help older adults identify potential hazards, help prevent falls and improve balance. The Trauma Center staff will return on Saturday, Aug. 26, with more trauma prevention activities.

    The UofL Burn Unit is the region’s only dedicated adult burn unit and will provide safety information and fun for the entire family. Fair-goers can spin a prize wheel to learn about fire safety and burn care. They also will be able to see the “smoking house” – an animated educational tool with tips on how to keep homes safe from fire. Burn Unit personnel will be at the fair on Wednesday, Aug. 23.


    Senior Day at the Fair will feature two programs that will only be available to fair-goers on that date, Tuesday, Aug. 22:

    • UofL Hospital Pharmacists will share information of interest to older adults, including diabetes, vaccinations, pharmacy services at UofL facilities and more. They also will be available to answer questions one-on-one with fair-goers about their medications and treatments.
    • UofL Hospital Volunteers will be at the fair to provide information on how fair-goers can serve others as a hospital volunteer. Each year, volunteers gain pride in providing meaningful service through their collective thousands of hours of service, helping the staff provide high quality care to patients, their families and the community. A wide array of service opportunities are available, from greeting guests to clerical service and more.

    Also on Senior Day, the UofL booth will provide mammogram screenings, vascular screenings, colon cancer screenings, blood pressure checks, stroke assessments, women’s health information and a walk-through demonstration for older adults to help them avoid falls.


    Several specialty services will be provided by UofL staff at the fair:

    • UofL Physicians-Pediatrics will be at the fair Saturday, Aug. 19, offering vision and blood pressure screenings and a child safety demonstration. UofL Pediatrics provides children and their families with doctors and other providers to see them through the milestones of childhood.
    • UofL Physicians-Diabetes & Obesity Center will be at the fair Wednesday, Aug. 23, providing screenings for prediabetes and diabetes. The screening requires a finger stick and the participant does not have to be fasting.
    • UofL Hospital Infection Control will be at the fair Thursday, Aug. 24, with information on the importance of hand hygiene in preventing the spread of disease. The staff also will show fair-goers the benefits of getting annual flu vaccinations and provide information on when antibiotics should be used and when they should not.
    • Carbon monoxide screening will be available during the final four days of the fair, Thursday, Aug. 24 through Sunday, Aug 27. The carbon monoxide breath test shows the amount of carbon monoxide in the lungs and blood in an indirect, non-invasive manner. Breath carbon monoxide also is an indicator of the levels of approximately 7,000 toxic substances present in cigarette smoke, 69 of which are known to cause cancer. Participants will blow into a small handheld device for several seconds.


    Staff with UofL’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center, the Kentucky Cancer Program and the UofL School of Dentistry will be on hand to provide information, screenings and more:

    • Education, prevention and survivorship information from the Kentucky Cancer Program: Provided daily at the fair. The Kentucky Cancer Program is a statewide cancer prevention and control program, bringing together local organizations, providers and other partners in planning, implementing and evaluating cancer prevention and control efforts. The KCP staff and volunteers will be on-site providing information and giveaways to fair-goers with the goal of reducing cancer incidence and cancer death in Kentucky.
    • Mammogram screenings: Provided daily at the fair. Providers affiliated with the Brown Cancer Center and Kentucky Cancer Program will provide mammograms. All screenings will take place in the privacy of the Horses and Hope Cancer Screening Van. For more than 25 years, the Brown Cancer Center and Kentucky Cancer Program has brought the mobile van to the fair to remove barriers to screening, providing women a key service in early detection. Mammogram screenings will be billed to insurance, so participants should have their health insurance verification and photo identification handy. Yearly mammograms are covered by Medicare and most private insurance providers for women over 40. Special discounted rates are available to those without insurance.
    • Head and neck cancer screenings: Provided Saturday, Aug. 19, Sunday, Aug. 20, Tuesday, Aug. 22, Saturday, Aug. 26 and Sunday, Aug. 27. The UofL School of Dentistry and the Kentucky Cancer Program are observing the 25th anniversary of their collaboration in providing head and neck assessments at the fair. Dental students and faculty have conducted more than 3,800 screenings since the collaboration began. This oral head and neck exam is painless and quick, and open to everyone. Participants wearing dentures will be asked to remove them during the 10-minute exam.
    • Prostate cancer screenings: Provided Saturday, Aug. 19-Sunday, Aug. 20. Prostate screenings are recommended for men with average risk starting at age 50. African-American men and anyone with a brother, father or son who had prostate cancer before age 65 should begin getting screened for prostate cancer at age 45. Testing will involve a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test that involves taking a small amount of blood. A digital rectal exam also will be performed in the privacy of the Horses and Hope Cancer Screening Van to feel for any lumps, bumps or other abnormalities. The results of the PSA will be mailed about two weeks after the fair ends. The entire testing process takes approximately 20 minutes.
    • Colon cancer screenings: Provided Monday, Aug. 21 through Sunday, Aug. 27. Colon cancer screenings with FIT kits are available to anyone over 50 who has not had a colonoscopy within the past 10 years or a stool test in the past year. A free take-home kit will be available for men and women 50 and older and to younger participants who are cancer survivors or have a history of cancer in close relatives. The participant will complete stool collection at home and then mail it to UofL Hospital in special packaging provided.
    • Cancer resources and Reiki demonstration from the M. Krista Loyd Resource Center at the Brown Cancer Center: Provided Thursday, Aug. 24. The Krista Loyd Center provides a peaceful environment for patients with cancer to learn, relax and heal emotionally. A wealth of support services is available along with cancer education and information. One service provided is the Japanese technique of Reiki for stress reduction and healing promotion. Personnel from the Loyd Center will demonstrate the technique.


    A variety of screenings and information will be provided to help fair-goers lessen their risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke:

    • Vascular screenings, including carotid artery screen and ankle brachial index: Provided daily at the fair, Aug. 17-27. A carotid artery screen is ideal for anyone with dizziness, ringing in the ears or anyone with a family history of carotid artery disease. It also is indicated for smokers and people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes or is over the age of 50. The test is administered by a registered technologist and uses ultrasound technology. The ankle brachial index screening is ideal for anyone with leg pain while walking or resting or anyone with a family history of peripheral arterial disease. It also is indicated for smokers and people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or is over the age of 50. This test utilizes blood pressure cuffs to determine the amount of blood flow to your legs.
    • Coronary artery disease screenings:Provided Thursday, Aug. 17. This simple blood test is ideal for individuals with a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, heartburn or high cholesterol. This test measures to see if you have blockages in your coronary arteries, the vessels that supply blood to your heart.
    • Hands-only CPR: Provided Thursday, Aug. 17. This award-winning program trains fair-goers to be lifesavers in the event of cardiac arrest. UofL staff will train participants in hands-only cardiac pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) which is pushing fast and hard in the center of chest. For every minute’s delay in starting CPR, a cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival decrease by 10 percent. Hands-only CPR helps beat those odds.
    • Stroke risk assessments and blood pressure screening: Provided Tuesday, Aug. 22 and Saturday, Aug. 26. The UofL Hospital Comprehensive Stroke Center was the first certified stroke center in Kentucky. Staff will provide free stroke risk assessment and blood pressure checks to fair-goers.

    UofL’s Bolli helps raise profile of major medical journal

    Impact factor of 'Circulation Research' jumps
    UofL’s Bolli helps raise profile of major medical journal

    Roberto Bolli, M.D.

    A University of Louisville physician and researcher has helped raise the profile of a leading medical journal to an all-time high.

    The journal Circulation Research, edited by UofL’s Roberto Bolli, M.D., has achieved its highest-ever “impact factor,” a measure of its importance in the medical field. Circulation Research is an official journal of the American Heart Association and is considered the world’s leading journal on basic and translational research in cardiovascular medicine. Its impact factor, calculated yearly and just announced for 2016, places it among the top 2 percent of medical journals.

    Bolli, chief of Cardiovascular Medicine at the UofL School of Medicine and UofL Physicians, took over as editor of the journal in 2009, and has worked to raise the journal’s profile since. He also serves as director of UofL’s Institute of Molecular Cardiology and scientific director of the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute.

    The impact factor (IF) is a measure of the frequency with which the average article in a journal has been cited in other articles and medical literature in a particular year. The more cited a journal is, the more “impact” it has on the community. The impact factor for Circulation Research is 13.96. When Bolli took over as editor-in-chief, it was 9.4. From 2015 to 2016 alone, the impact factor jumped 2 points.

    “Just as a major newspaper helps shape public opinion, the journal Circulation Research has an impact on what is considered important,” Bolli said. 

    Impact factors are calculated by the Institute for Scientific Information and tracked by the Journal Citation Reports for more than 12,000 journals. Factors range from 0 to more than 10; only 2 percent of journal titles have a 2016 impact factor of 10 or higher.  Approximately two-thirds have a 2016 impact factor equal to or greater than 1. Those with very high impact factors include such notables as The New England Journal of Medicine and Science.

    Since becoming editor-in-chief, Bolli and the Circulation Research editorial board have made dozens of changes at the journal to help increase its quality and impact factor.

    “That’s a huge jump,” he said. “Four-point-five points in seven years is unprecedented. It’s very hard, as there are an increasing number of medical journals competing for articles.”

    Bolli noted that the jump is even more meaningful given that Cardiovascular Research only publishes research into the cardiovascular system, where other journals publish multiple or all areas of medical research. “Our focus is much narrower, yet despite this the impact factor has gone up,” he said.

    He said the impact factor of a journal is one of the main elements authors look at when deciding where to submit their best work. A journal’s ability to receive high-quality work for publication depends on how high its impact factor is, he said.

    “It is a big deal to have a paper published in Circulation Research, and it is considered a significant achievement,” Bolli said.

    The journal is widely read in the field, and its website receives more than 10 million hits per year. It receives approximately 2,000 submissions of articles per year, he said.

    Bolli was selected as the journal’s editor-in-chief from more than 40 candidates, all leading scientists from top medical schools around the country. He called his selection an “incredible honor.”

    He said that not only was it an honor for him personally, it was notable for the University of Louisville, as having the editor of a leading medical journal housed at the School of Medicine raises its profile internationally.

    “I view it as my most important contribution to science, more than anything else I’ve done,” he said. “The journal helps steer the field of cardiovascular research.”

    Membership on the journal’s editorial board is also very competitive, and is reserved for the top cardiovascular researchers in the world.  “It is an honor just to be included,” Bolli said.

    One of the changes he and the board made was raising the bar for article acceptance. Only 7 percent of articles submitted are now accepted, compared with 16 percent before.

    “If we select an article to be published, it is truly novel, methodologically immaculate, and likely to be important for others,” Bolli said.

    Another change was an acceleration of the review process, making acceptance of articles more efficient. He said the journal now has the shortest turnaround time in the field. The journal also was opened up to clinical studies involving patients, and has launched more than 20 new article categories.

    For Bolli, seeing the journal rise in prominence after years of hard work is meaningful not just for himself, but for the patients that ultimately benefit from research in the field.

    UofL researchers discover procedure to regenerate dormant cone cells, potentially to improve vision in retinitis pigmentosa

    Henry Kaplan, M.D., presenting findings at national and international medical conferences
    UofL researchers discover procedure to regenerate dormant cone cells, potentially to improve vision in retinitis pigmentosa

    Henry J. Kaplan, M.D.

    Researchers at the University of Louisville have discovered a way to revitalize cone receptors that have deteriorated as a result of retinitis pigmentosa (RP). Working with animal models, Henry J. Kaplan, M.D., and a group of researchers in the UofL Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences discovered that replenishing glucose under the retina and transplanting healthy rod stem cells into the retina restore function of the cones.

    The research, conducted by Kaplan, chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Douglas Dean, Ph.D., and Wei Wang, Ph.D., and published in December in Cell Reports, could lead to therapies for preserving or recovering central vision in patients with RP. Kaplan will present the research findings at five conferences in the United States and abroad beginning this month.

    Retinitis Pigmentosa is an inherited disease in which the photoreceptor cells in the retina – rods and cones – deteriorate over time. Photoreceptors absorb and convert light into electrical signals, which are sent through the optic nerve to the brain. Rods, located in the outer regions of the retina, allow peripheral and low-light vision. Cones, located mostly in the central part of the retina, allow perception of color and visual detail.

    In RP, rods deteriorate first, causing the peripheral and low light vision loss typically associated with the disease. In later stages, the cones also deteriorate. Without cone function, RP patients lose the high-resolution daylight vision necessary for reading, facial recognition and driving. As a result, this stage of RP vision loss is more debilitating than the loss of nighttime or peripheral vision. RP affects 1 in 4,000 people globally.

    Recent research has shown that as the rods deteriorate, the cones are no longer able to access glucose, which becomes trapped in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). As a result of glucose starvation, the cones go dormant and eventually die.

    The UofL researchers found that the cones remain dormant for a period of time before they are completely lost, and if the glucose supply can be replenished during dormancy, the cones can be regenerated. The researchers were able to successfully restore cone access to glucose in either of two procedures. First, by transplanting rod-specific induced pluripotent stem cells beneath the retina, and second by injecting glucose directly into the subretinal space.

    “Following rod stem cell transplant, we observed reassembly of the cone inner segments, regeneration of cone outer segments and increased electrophysiologic function within 1,000 microns from the transplant margin for at least three months after the transplantation in all directions,” Kaplan said. “However, the recognition that glucose starvation of cones occurred because of the trapping of glucose in the RPE provides multiple new possible treatments to restore lost central vision including drug therapy, gene editing and regenerative medicine.”

    Kaplan will present these findings at the 6th China Ocular Microcirculation Society Annual Meeting - International Ophthalmology Conference, Beijing, China, and the American Society of Retina Specialists, Boston, this month, at the Indiana Academy of Ophthalmology, Carmel, in September, the Retina Society, Boston, in October, and the5th World Integrative Medicine Congress, Guangzhou, China in December.

    This research has the potential to lead to therapies that preserve or restore central vision for individuals with RP.

    “If therapy can prevent or reverse the onset of cone degeneration within the macula, most patients would be immeasurably helped and able to live a normal life despite the loss of peripheral vision and decreased dark adaptation,” Kaplan said.

    This research is supported by grants from the National Eye Institute (RO1 EY026158), Research to Prevent Blindness and KY Research Challenge Trust Fund.


    August 15, 2017

    UofL Hospital emergency nurses take first place in competition

    ‘SIMS WARS’ judges skills
    UofL Hospital emergency nurses take first place in competition

    UofL Hospital emergency nurses, from left, Frankie Parra, Beth Sum, Nate Davison and Bridget Genardi won the SIMS WARS emergency simulation competition at a conference held by the Kentucky State Council of the Emergency Nurses Association in Lexington.

    A team of emergency nurses from University of Louisville Hospital took first place in a state competition of emergency medical skills.

    UofL Hospital beat six other teams from hospitals in the region to take top honors in the “SIM WARS” emergency simulation competition. The competition took place this month at a continuing education conference held by the Kentucky State Council of the Emergency Nurses Association at The Campbell House in Lexington. 

    Each team of four emergency nurses was presented with an emergency scenario in which they had to apply their skills to save a patient. The patient was a life-like mannequin programmed to talk and interact with the team, telling them what was wrong and where he was hurt. The mannequin had a heartbeat and was breathing as a person in distress would.

    The team made an assessment and treated the mannequin in detail, just as they would a real patient that was brought in by EMS. The competition took place in front of a panel that was in the room, judging their skills and timing.

    The team from UofL Hospital included Frankie Parra, Beth Sum, Nate Davison and Bridget Genardi, all BSN. “I have to say I am really proud of these guys,” said Patricia “Trish” Higgins, interim director of emergency services for UofL Hospital. “It meant a lot for them to win.”

    The Emergency Nurses Association was formed for nurses in emergency health care to pool resources, set standards and improve emergency nursing, and currently has more than 40,000 members in more than 35 countries. Its mission is to advocate for patient safety and excellence in emergency nursing. The association has chapters in each state, and three chapters in Kentucky.

    SIMS WARS was sponsored and judged by Air Evac Lifeteam, an air ambulance company.

    Parra, who is the emergency nurse educator at UofL Hospital responsible for training new nurses, said he had attended the conference last year and wanted to return home this year with a win. Parra has been an emergency nurse for seven years, and at the hospital for nine. 

    “It’s neat to put our name out there and what we do,” Parra said. “We focus our training on what it would be like in real life.”

    He said it takes a special type of person to be an emergency nurse. “You have to be flexible, and handle whatever comes at you,” he said. “It can start as an easy day, but very quickly turn around. It’s all about being ready. You have to be prepared for the worst.”

    While he trains new nurses, he said the rest of the team would have been just fine in the competition without him.

    “They are very talented,” he said.

    Higgins said Parra and the team are part of a younger, up-and-coming generation of emergency nurses.

    “This is how we work every day,” said Higgins, who has worked in emergency medicine for 17 years. “There is a lot of teamwork in the emergency department. I’ve worked in a lot of other emergency departments, and I’ve really noticed the teamwork here. The ER nurses here are a special group.”

    Sum has been an ER nurse for a year after graduating from college. Parra said that speaks to Sum’s talents. 

    “To work at a Level 1 trauma center as a new graduate is quite a challenge and accomplishment,” Parra said. “Those like Beth who do really have what it takes, it’s an elite group of nurses.”

    Sum said she loves her job.

    “You never know what you are going to get. It’s a lot of variety, but you have to be able to handle the stress.

    “It’s a great group of people to work with. Just when you think you’re flooded, there are three people behind you saying, ‘How can I help?’ That’s what makes us different.”

    She and Parra said that in the end, it’s all about the patient. 

    “We have to be prepared - for them,” Parra said. “They are the motivation for the good work we do here.”

    UofL medical student wins essay contest for perspective on patients with mental illness

    UofL medical student wins essay contest for perspective on patients with mental illness

    Natalie Spiller

    Natalie Spiller, a fourth-year student at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, believes patients with mental health disorders need a physician’s empathy, compassion and best medical attention. In her experience, they do not always receive it.

    Spiller’s essay on the topic won the Physician-in-Training/Student category in the eighth annual Richard Spear, M.D., Memorial Essay Contest, sponsored by the Greater Louisville Medical Society. This year’s theme was:  “What Drives you Crazy in Health Care?”

    In her essay, Spiller calls attention to discrimination shown by health-care professionals toward patients with mental health disorders. Spiller opens her piece by describing a situation in which a woman arrives alone in an emergency room with incoherent speech and disheveled appearance, along with a history of drug abuse and mental illness. While the physician-narrator assumes her symptoms were due to drugs or mental illness, it turns out the woman is suffering from a stroke. The patient dies.

    “While our society is making its way to de-stigmatize the diagnosis of mental health disorders, we in the medical community have a long way to go in creating comprehensive medical care for those suffering from ‘invisible illness,’” Spiller wrote.

    For the winning essay, published in the July issue of Louisville Medicine, Spiller received a plaque and $750 award at the 2017 GLMS Presidents’ Celebration in May.

    The awards are named for Richard Spear, a respected Louisville general surgeon who also served on the faculty of the UofL School of Medicine. When he died in 2007, Spear left GLMS a bequest to fund the annual essay contest. Spear wished to support high quality writing about the practice of medicine.


    Photo courtesy GLMS.

    August 11, 2017

    Spike it to Cancer sand volleyball event benefits UofL cancer center, Aug. 12

    Spike it to Cancer sand volleyball event benefits UofL cancer center, Aug. 12

    2016 Spike it to Cancer tournament

    Benefactors of a fund to support patients at the University of Louisville James Graham Brown Cancer Center are sponsoring their fifth annual sand volleyball event to raise money for the fund.

    The Mary Jane Gift Quality of Life Fund was established in 2013 by Alex and Tommy Gift in honor of their late mother, who passed away from breast cancer in 2010. The fund helps patients and their families enjoy life while facing a cancer diagnosis. For the past four years, the fund has provided Thanksgiving turkeys for patients at the cancer center.

    To benefit the fund, the Gifts are sponsoring the Fifth Annual Spike it to Cancer Sand Volleyball Tournament at Baxter Jack’s sand volleyball complex, 427 Baxter Ave. on Saturday, Aug. 12. Player or spectator admission is $20 per person. The Open Pro division (co-ed quads) play starts at 8 a.m. (check in at 7:30 a.m.). The Fun division (co-ed sixes) play will start at about 2 p.m. (check in at 1:30 p.m.).  

    To register a team, purchase admission or make a donation, go to the event’s online link. All registration fees go directly to the fund. Last year’s event raised $13,466 for the fund.

    Additionally, Ward 426 on Baxter Ave., directly across the street from Baxter Jack’s, has once again agreed to donate a portion of all food and beverage sales throughout the day to the fund.

    “Mary Jane taught us countless lessons throughout the course of her life. Stay Positive. Be thankful. Step away from it all,” Alex Gift said. “The fund can help do this by providing simple gifts to patients that could help improve their quality of life, even if it’s for a short period of time.”

    The event has brought in more than $45,000 over five years.

    For additional details, contact Lisa Ward at 502-852-2794.

    So, why haven’t we cured cancer yet?

    Get the lowdown at Beer with a Scientist, Aug. 9
    So, why haven’t we cured cancer yet?

    Levi Beverly, Ph.D.

    With all the research and effort that has gone into it, why does it seem we still are so far from finding a cure for cancer?

    Levi Beverly, Ph.D., a cancer researcher with the UofL James Graham Brown Cancer Center, will attempt to answer that question at the next Beer with a Scientist, August 9.

    Beverly will provide a brief history of cancer and cancer research and discuss recent breakthroughs in our understanding of cancer research. He also will answer the questions he is asked most frequently about cancer:  "What exactly is cancer?" "Is cancer a ‘new’ disease?" "Why can't we cure cancer?" "Do other animals get cancer?" "Is there a cure for cancer that the government doesn't want us to have?"  "Why do some cancers have such high death rates?"

    Beverly, an associate professor at UofL in the Department of Medicine, studies lung cancer and leukemia. He talked on this topic at the first Beer with a Scientist event in 2014. This month’s edition will include a look at the progress cancer researchers have made in the past three years. The talk begins at 8 p.m. on  Wednesday, August 9, 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.

    In 2014, Beverly created the Beer with a Scientist program 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 or email Beverly.

    Next Beer with a Scientist:  Sept. 13



    August 3, 2017

    UofL physicians explain why you need certified eclipse glasses when viewing the eclipse

    UofL physicians explain why you need certified eclipse glasses when viewing the eclipse

    Photo showing solar photo-toxicity in the central retina, the yellow-white pigment irregularity highlighted by the arrow. Image © 2017 American Academy of Ophthalmology.

    It may be tempting to take a peek at the August 21 eclipse without eye protection. After all, we are told it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event. However, a University of Louisville ophthalmologist says that peek could leave you with a not-so-pleasant, permanent reminder of the event.

    “You may have heard that you can do a lot of damage to your eyes when viewing an eclipse, and it’s true,” said Mark Mugavin, M.D., M.P.H., of the UofL Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. “During an eclipse, our normal reflexes that protect us from sun damage, such as blinking and pupil constriction, are more relaxed because the sun’s light intensity is significantly reduced.”

    During the August 21 total eclipse, the moon will directly block all or part of the sun for up to three hours and will be visible across the United States. The “Path of Totality,” in which the entire sun will be covered, cuts across the southwest corner of Kentucky, but does not include the Louisville area.

    "At no point should solar filter glasses be removed when you are looking at the eclipse in Louisville,” said Patrick A. Scott O.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the UofL Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences. “Although the sun may appear completely blocked, observers in Louisville will still be exposed to the sun's harmful rays, which can cause damage to the eyelids, ocular surface and internal structures of the eye."

    Looking directly into the sun causes a condition known as “solar retinopathy.” The increased UV light exposure creates toxic free radicals that damage the photoreceptors and specialized pigment of the eye. This damage can leave a person with a mild to moderate reduction in vision, as well as central blind spots. Those most at risk for solar retinopathy are younger people, those with an intraocular lens implanted after cataract surgery and patients who are on photosensitive drugs such as tetracycline and amiodarone. Even though the Louisville area will see approximately 96 percent of the sun blocked, the remaining 4 percent can cause damage.

    “The UofL Department of Ophthalmology sees approximately 10 cases a year of patients with solar retinopathy from high intensity laser pointers or high intensity sunlight exposure, such as viewing an eclipse,” Mugavin said, adding that he expects more cases this summer from people viewing the eclipse without proper eye protection.

    There is no treatment available for solar retinopathy so the best strategy is to avoid it.

    To safely view the eclipse, use glasses with special purpose solar filters. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) website reviews the various “eclipse glasses” that are available. Approved glasses should meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard and be manufactured by a U.S. manufacturer.



    August 2, 2017