KU Medical Center year-in-review

January 09, 2017

The work being done by faculty, researchers and students at the University of Kansas Medical Center made headlines all around the world this past year. Cancer, obesity, Alzheimer's disease and medical research are just a few of the areas that saw noteworthy advancements at KU Medical Center. Here are some of the accomplishments that made headlines globally, nationally and locally in 2016.


Immunotherapy: In a Washington Post story, The list of cancers that can be treated by immunotherapy keeps growing, Roy Jensen, M.D., director of The University of Kansas Cancer Center, cautioned that researchers are just beginning to understand the potential immunotherapies and have a long way to go before achieving viable treatments for patients.  

Injectable targeted chemotherapy: The success of research being done at the University of Kansas and the University of Kansas Medical Center using pet dogs with existing cancers to test a new targeted injectable chemotherapy treatment that could one day help with cancer treatments in humans was highlighted by several media outlets, including Science Daily: Successful targeted injectable chemotherapy treatment for dogs could lead to human trials and Fox4News: KU Medical Center drug shows promise in treating dogs with cancer.  

Comprehensive cancer designation: In KU submits application for next-level NCI cancer designation the Kansas City Business Journal featured The University of Kansas Cancer Center's bid to gain the National Cancer Institute's Comprehensive Center designation. The designation would put the KU Cancer Center in the highest echelons of cancer research. In KCUR's KU Cancer Center stresses broad effort in bid for federal recognition, reporter Mike Sherry looked at the scope of the KU Cancer Center's research.

Triple-negative breast cancer: Research conducted by Priyanka Sharma, M.D., associate professor of medical oncology, on triple-negative breast cancer was featured in Cancer Today: Fine-tuning treatments for triple-negative breast cancer. Sharma and fellow cancer researcher Carol Fabian, M.D., professor of medical oncology, were highlighted in a KSHB story on the quest to cure and prevent cancer.

Smoking cessation: Kimber Richter, Ph.D., MPH, professor of preventive medicine and public health and director of UKanQuit, shared insights about smoking cessation with the Kansas City Business Journal in Ten years in, KU program yields new insights on how to quit smoking. The joint effort between The University of Kansas Hospital and KU Medical Center was also featured on the Business News Network.  

Cutting cancer risk: Women who get their fill of omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish enjoy a lower risk of breast cancer according to KU Medical Center researchers, whose findings were listed in U.S. News and World Report: 15 foods that cut your cancer risk.  

Party in pink: Fabian shook things up in a Zumba video benefiting the Susan G. Komen Foundation and cancer research: The fight ain't over; so the party don't stop.

Alzheimer's disease  

Exercise therapy: Research suggesting exercise as a way to prevent Alzheimer's disease made the rounds of several publications across the country as part of an article by the Kansas City Star/McClatchy News Service. It's not a cure, but now there's hope you can prevent Alzheimer's featured Jeffrey Burns, M.D., co-director of the KU Alzheimer's Disease Center, and his team. The connection between heart health and brain health suggested by the KU study was also featured in a Reuters article: Healthy heart may also mean healthy brain.  

Understanding Alzheimer's origins: Russell Swerdlow, M.D., director of the KU Alzheimer's Disease Center, laid out some of the complications in the path to a cure for Alzheimer's disease in an International Business Times story: Alzheimer's disease: Why is it so hard to find a treatment? In addition, his new study exploring how to fight Alzheimer's through boosting cell metabolism was featured on Fox 4: KU researcher tests different approach to fighting Alzheimer's.

Music therapy: In a KCUR story, Kansas community hit hard by Alzheimer's finds help in music, Swerdlow weighed in regarding a special music program that seems to be having good effects on patients in Clay County, Kansas - an area with one of the highest rates of people on Medicare who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  

Crowd pleaser: The American Cancer Society tagged a KU Medical Center researcher to be its first crowdfunded scientist. Rebecca Wates, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in pathology and laboratory medicine and an ovarian cancer researcher, appeared on Cancer.org: Meet Rebecca Wates, our first crowdfunded cancer scientist and in The Kansas City Star: KC area residents turn to crowdfunding.


TV dinners: Research by Amanda Bruce, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics, showing how TV commercials can influence the brain activity in children, garnered a great deal of attention after being published in the Journal of Pediatrics. Bruce's work was featured in several publications worldwide, including Science Daily: Study of brain activity shows that food commercials influence children's food choices and the Food Network's Healthy Eats blog: Nutrition News: Healthy eating and teens, TV ads and kids. Another of Bruce's studies also made a splash in the September issue of Prevention magazine.   Rural health: Obesity is poised to overtake tobacco use as the leading preventable cause of cancer, so a study by The University of Kansas Cancer Center focused on weight management. NPR's Heartland Health Monitor, Science Daily and KSHB highlighted RE-POWER, a $10 million study looking at weight-management models in 36 rural primary care clinics in four states.  

Promising results: Merlin Butler, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, talked with the Boston Globe about a promising new treatment for Prader-Willi syndrome: Zafgen reports promising results from weight-loss drug study.

Other research in the news  

Girl power: Research by Rene Jamison, Ph.D., associate professor at the Center for Child Health and Development (CCHD), and Jessica Schuttler, Ph.D., clinical associate professor at the CCHD, exploring the way girls and boys with autism differ in behavior was published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders: Overview and preliminary evidence for a social skills and self-care curriculum for adolescent females with autism: The Girls Night Out model. Their work also was featured in Scientific American: Autism-It's different in girls.

Power to the people: A Reuters story circulated by the Huffington Post and numerous other outlets touted research done by Jean Hall, Ph.D., tying Medicaid expansion to an increase in the number of people living with disabilities who are able to get jobs. Medicaid expansion tied to employment among people with disabilities.

Food fight: Daniel Aires, M.D., director of dermatology, was cited in the New York Times: Yes! Foods may fight acne.

Of mice and men: Joseph Tash, Ph.D. professor of molecular and integrative physiology, was cited in an Inverse.com article about his NASA studies on how near-zero gravity causes sperm levels to drop and ovaries to wither in mammals: Mice breeding Chinese scientists say making babies in space is possible.  

The Graduate: The KU School of Nursing made a splash throughout the industry when it announced the new KU-Community College Nursing Partnership, which allows students to complete their Bachelor of Science and Associate Degrees in nursing simultaneously. See Hutchinson News: HCC, other colleges create link with KU Nursing.

Last modified: Jun 19, 2018