March 7, 2014
The international medical fraternity Phi Delta Epsilon has named the Beta Gamma chapter at the University of Kansas School of Medicine a 2013 Chapter of Excellence.
The Award of Excellence was started in 2007 to recognize chapters which excel in all areas of fraternity life and which promote positive change within their university and chapter. Chapters must meet all Phi Delta Epsilon expectations: host a values-based recruitment, retain 95 percent of all members after graduation, raise a minimum of $1,000 for their local children’s hospital, host regular meetings, social and educational events, as well as participate in community service projects. Chapters must also exceed expectations by developing their chapter and raising their member and chapter expectations to the highest level.
In announcing the chapter of excellence recognition, Phi Delta Epsilon noted the Beta Gamma chapter's participation in many philanthropic events, including Miracle Jeans Day and KU Dance Marathon, events which benefit KU Pediatrics. "Beta Gamma was creative with events to ensure students have opportunities that fit the needs of practicum and service mandates as well as ensuring their members receive a balanced week of study support and stress relief," the news release said. "They did this while increasing recruitment numbers and almost doubling the size of their chapter."
The Beta Gamma chapter holds recruitment events during orientation week, offering all medical students the opportunity to join the "commitment to supporting a new generation of health care professionals and addressing the complex agendas of today’s men and women seeking careers in medicine.” The chapter's brochure (PDF) describes the mentoring, networking, philanthropy and service, and social opportunities.
The Beta Gamma chapter of Phi Delta Epsilon was originally chartered at KU in 1926. The chapter was inactive before being revived in 2012 by five students, some of whom were involved in the Kansas Alpha chapter of Phi Delta Epsilon at KU–Lawrence. Josh Mark, Robbie Harriford, Mary Thibault, Michael Tetwiler and Marc Roth led the rechartered chapter in its first year. Current officers Ross Miller, Michelle Sommer, Micah Levine and Tequilla Manning accepted the Chapter of Excellence award at the Phi Delta Epsilon convention in Las Vegas on Feb. 22.
March 5, 2014
Lowell Tilzer, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, will retire at the end of June, Doulgas Girod, executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center and interim executive dean of the School of Medicine, announced today.
Girod's message continued:
A lifelong Jayhawk, Dr. Tilzer earned his undergraduate degree, his M.D. and his Ph.D. at KU. By the time he completed his residency here in 1979, he had already joined the faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Pathology. Dr. Tilzer ventured out from KU for a decade beginning in the mid-1990s, when he served as medical director for the Community Blood Centers in Springfield and Kansas City, and then in leadership positions with the American Red Cross. As chief executive officer of the American Red Cross’s Southwest Region in the early 2000s, he was responsible for the safety, purity and potency of blood donations throughout Texas and Oklahoma. He returned in 2004 to serve as medical director of our clinical laboratories, and was named chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in 2009. The next year, he was named the Russel Jay Eilers Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.
Under Dr. Tilzer’s leadership, the Department of Pathology enjoys a spirit of camaraderie, built over decades of growth and stability. The department shows an enthusiastic commitment to teaching, with dedicated instructors who are popular among medical students, graduate students, residents, and fellows; it has recently expanded its continuing education efforts to enhance physician education throughout Kansas. Research activity is at an all-time high, with faculty and support staff in the research division having grown from three people seven years ago to more than one hundred today; young researchers are flourishing and faculty is widely published in top-notch scientific journals. Ever-increasing efficiency in the clinical laboratory has improved the department’s finances and, more important, patient care. In addition to the extremely productive faculty, Dr. Tilzer credits the department’s stellar administrative staff for these successes.
We have now begun a national search for a successor to Dr. Tilzer. Radiology chair Phil Johnson, M.D., is chairing the search committee, whose members are listed here. Dr. Tilzer will remain on the faculty full-time for a year, then move into a half-time position. Dr. Tilzer reports that the most rewarding aspect of his career has been witnessing the success of his department, KU Medical Center and The University of Kansas Hospital, and that he is proud to have been part of that success. That success would certainly not have been possible without his contributions, for which we are most grateful.
Douglas Girod, M.D.
Executive Vice Chancellor, University of Kansas Medical Center
Interim Executive Dean, University of Kansas School of Medicine
More information about the position is available at the Leadership Searches webpage.
March 2, 2014
The Kidney Institute will present the inaugural Jared J. Grantham Symposium on future directions of polycystic kidney disease (PKD) research May 7–9, 2014.
The symposium's name recognizes the contributions of Jared Grantham, M.D., University Distinguished Professor Emeritus and an internationally recognized expert in kidney research. The symposium will feature 12 former recipients of the Lillian Jean Kaplan International Prize for Advancement in the Understanding of Polycystic Kidney Disease, including Grantham and James Calvet, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and the deputy director of the Kidney Institute.
In the United States, about 600,000 people have PKD, a genetic disorder characterized by cysts that form and enlarge in the kidneys. About one-half of people with the most common type of PKD progress to kidney failure.
The symposium will be held at the InterContinental Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri. Information about the format and registration is available at www.kumc.edu/school-of-medicine/kidney-institute/jared-j-grantham-symposium.html.
February 11, 2014
A University of Kansas School of Medicine student spent the break between her first and second years of medical school working at a women's clinic inside a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. She wrote a powerful account of her experience, and it was published recently in The Atlantic online.
The student, Hannah Myrick Anderson, traveled to Mafraq, a city in Jordan at the center of the refugee crisis, last June. Most days, she hailed a taxi or traveled with aid workers to Zaatari, a refugee camp near the Syrian border. She worked alongside a midwife at a reproductive health clinic much of the time.
The Department of History and Philosophy of Medicine provided a fellowship that enabled Anderson to travel to Jordan. The Clendening Summer Fellowship is open to first-year medical students. Many fellowship recipients use the $2,500 award to pursue international projects.
For Anderson, the six weeks she spent in Jordan was a sort of homecoming. read more >>
February 6, 2014
Scientists at the University of Kansas Medical Center have determined that high doses of vitamin C, administered intravenously with traditional chemotherapy, helped kill cancer cells while reducing the toxic effects of chemotherapy for some cancer patients.
By evaluating the therapy in cells, animals, and humans, the researchers found that a combination of infused vitamin C and the conventional chemotherapy drugs carboplatin and paclitaxel stopped ovarian cancer in the laboratory, and reduced chemotherapy-associated toxicity in patients with ovarian cancer. The results of their study have been published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
"In the 1970s, ascorbate, or vitamin C, was an unorthodox therapy for cancer. It was safe, and there were anecdotal reports of its clinical effectiveness when given intravenously. But after oral doses proved ineffective in two cancer clinical trials, conventional oncologists abandoned the idea. Physicians practicing complementary and alternative medicine continued to use it, so we felt further study was in order," explains the study's senior author, Qi< Chen, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics and the Department of Integrative Medicine. "What we've discovered is that, because of its pharmacokinetic differences, intravenous vitamin C, as opposed to oral vitamin C, kills some cancer cells without harming normal tissues."
The researchers' clinical trial involved 27 patients with newly diagnosed Stage 3 or Stage 4 ovarian cancer. All of the participants received conventional therapy with paclitaxel or carboplatin, while some were also treated with high-dose intravenous vitamin C. Researchers monitored the participants for five years. Those patients who received vitamin C tended to experience fewer toxic effects from the chemotherapy drugs. In laboratory rodents, the scientists observed that vitamin C was able to kill cancer cells at the concentrations achievable only by intravenous infusion, with no observable toxicity or pathological changes in the liver, kidney or spleen. read more >>
January 31, 2014
Cinema pioneer Georges Méliès used time-lapse photography to send a rocket to the moon in a film released in 1902. More than 110 years later, University of Kansas School of Medicine scientists are using time-lapse movies to unlock the mysteries of early cardiovascular development.
Developmental biologists Charles Little, Ph.D., and Brenda Rongish, Ph.D., are working with biological physicist András Czirók, Ph.D., to produce the movies. Dynamic imaging has enabled the team to study how the heart and vessels form in quail embryos. Quail heart development looks similar to heart development in humans.
Time-lapse imaging is helping the team make observations that elude researchers working with simpler tools. "As a developmental biologist, taking static pictures of embryos viewed under a microscope at multiple time points is time-consuming," says Rongish, an associate professor of anatomy and cell biology.
In addition, a lot happens in the life of an early embryo. The time-lapse movies paint a more detailed picture in three-dimensional space and are less labor intensive.
"If you just have a starting point and an end point, you don't know what happened in between," Rongish says. "We now actually know what happens in between, because we have many more data collection points." read more >>
January 24, 2014
Steven Stites, M.D., will begin serving a dual role as vice chancellor for clinical affairs for KU Medical Center and senior vice president for clinical affairs for The University of Kansas Hospital Authority. The announcement was made today by Douglas Girod, M.D., executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center and interim executive dean of the University of Kansas School of Medicine, and Bob Page, president and chief executive officer The University of Kansas Hospital.
In a broadcast message, Girod and Page said the appointment "marks a milestone in our ongoing efforts to become a more fully integrated academic and clinical enterprise, on which teams of faculty and staff from all three entities have been working diligently since the effort was announced over a year ago."
The message continued:
As Vice Chancellor for Clinical Affairs, Dr. Stites will report to the university’s Executive Vice Chancellor, working to fully integrate our clinical departments into a wider-reaching health system and ensuring we have a strong strategic plan for educating future physicians and growing the academic strength of our clinical programs. As Senior Vice President for Clinical Affairs, Dr. Stites will report to The University of Kansas Hospital Authority’s Chief Executive Officer and have responsibilities especially in the area of clinical programs and practice development, as well as strategic planning and education. He will work closely with other members of the hospital’s executive team, and with The University of Kansas Physicians, to implement the next phase of our clinical enterprise, which includes the creation of a wider health system.
As we announced last January, our clinical enterprise effort is intended to more closely align the hospital and physicians, allowing us to develop a more streamlined model for healthcare delivery that will further enhance quality of care and the overall patient experience. This clinical structure will also allow us to grow our academic enterprise through new investments and more efficient funding of medical education. It will lead to more opportunities for health education, patient care and research for the benefit of patients and communities as we continue to distinguish ourselves as one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers.
“I am thrilled at the opportunity to work more closely with hospital leadership and continue to improve clinical performance around quality and cost, and to begin looking at how we can build a health system which is, not only a local leader, but throughout the region,” says Dr. Stites says. “It is incredibly exciting, because we can really do great things for the state.” Dr. Stites will stay active in his clinical practice, especially with his cystic fibrosis patients.
Amy O’Brien-Ladner will become acting chair of the Department of Internal Medicine. We would like to express our ongoing gratitude to the many people who continue to work toward our full clinical enterprise. We congratulate Dr. Stites for inaugurating this important new role as together, we work to shape the future of health care.
Douglas Girod, M.D.
Executive Vice Chancellor, University of Kansas Medical Center
Interim Executive Dean, University of Kansas School of Medicine
President and Chief Executive Officer, The University of Kansas Hospital
January 17, 2014
A University of Kansas School of Medicine physician-scientist contributed to one of the 100 most cited pediatric articles since 1945.
Merlin G. Butler, M.D., Ph.D., a professor and clinical geneticist who holds appointments in the departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Pediatrics, co-authored a 1993 manuscript establishing the diagnostic criteria for Prader-Willi syndrome.
Prader-Willi syndrome is a rare non-inherited genetic disorder of chromosome 15 which causes children to have a constant sense of hunger and slower metabolic rates leading to obesity in early childhood which can be life threatening; learning disabilities, speech issues; and weak muscle tone. The syndrome occurs in approximately one out of every 12,000 to 15,000 births.
Butler worked with other clinicians experienced with the syndrome to develop the criteria. Their 1993 paper ranked No. 53 on the list of most cited pediatric publications. The number of citations, 618, is striking number given how rare Prader-Willi syndrome is.
The authors of the top 100 most cited list said there were 497,240 articles published in 191 pediatric journals between 1945 and 2010.
Butler continues to conduct extramurally funded genetics and clinical research on Prader-Willi syndrome, Angelman syndrome, fragile X syndrome, autism and obesity.
January 17, 2014
Researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center will use more than $10 million from the new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to conduct three projects that will help deliver new cures and therapies to patients faster. PCORI is an independent organization authorized by the U.S. Congress in 2010 as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
"These three projects are all outstanding examples of how translational research can benefit patients and health care providers by coming up with new and innovative ways to address some of our society's most important health issues," said Richard J. Barohn, M.D., chair of KU Medical Center's Department of Neurology and director of Frontiers: The Heartland Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, a KU Medical Center-based institute that will support each project.
Projects approved for funding include:
$7 million for a project that will establish a new network of nine medical centers in seven states committed to building a data set from electronic medical records that will be used to contribute to new research in the fields of breast cancer, obesity and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease);
$1.5 million for a new clinical trial that will evaluate four different drugs for the treatment of pain associated with neuropathy — a disabling condition in which a patient complains of pain, numbness and tingling in the arms and legs;
$1.5 million for a trial that will examine the effectiveness of long-term nicotine replacement therapy for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) read more >>
January 10, 2014
George J. Farha, M.D., a founder of the School of Medicine–Wichita and former chair of The University of Kansas Hospital Authority Board, died Jan. 7. He was 86.
Farha was first chair of the surgical residency program at the School of Medicine–Wichita. The George J. Farha Medical Library at the School of Medicine–Wichita is named in his honor for excellence in teaching and his substantial contribution to the medical community. Among his many teaching awards, Farha was the first recipient of the Thor M. Jager Award for excellence in clinical teaching in 1976.
Farha chaired The University of Kansas Hospital Authority Board from 1999 to 2008, and continued to serve as a member of the board. The hospital honored him by creating the George J. Farha Patients First Fund to address the needs of patient care.
"George Farha deserves a lot of credit for the dramatic turnaround of The University of Kansas Hospital over the 10 years' history of the authority," Bob Honse, current chair of the hospital authority, said at the time he succeeded Farha. "He was a powerful voice that the hospital's focus should be on the patient, even in those early days of financial challenges."
Services to be held at St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral as follows: Trisagion 7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10. Funeral 10 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 11. Burial will follow at Kensington Gardens. In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established at St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral, 7515 E. 13th St, Wichita, Kansas, 67206.
January 7, 2014
Robert D. Simari, M.D., a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, has been named executive dean of the University of Kansas School of Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center Executive Vice Chancellor Douglas Girod, M.D., announced today.
“Robert Simari is an accomplished clinician and researcher who has served in several leadership roles at the Mayo Clinic,” Girod said. “He brings a diverse set of skills and a record of innovation to his new position. He is also an alumnus of the KU School of Medicine with a deep commitment to improving the state of health in Kansas.”
Simari received his medical degree from the University of Kansas in 1986.
Simari said the School of Medicine he remembers “no longer exists.” He noted the role the school has played in The University of Kansas Cancer Center’s National Cancer Institute designation, the Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health and the reputation of The University of Kansas Hospital.
“Kansas University Medical Center has undergone one of the most impressive trajectories in academic medicine,” he said.
Simari will transition March 24, 2014. read more >>
January 6, 2014
Children's Mercy, The University of Kansas Hospital and the University of Kansas Medical Center announced today Michael Artman, M.D., pediatrician-in-chief and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Children's Mercy and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, also will serve as chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Kansas School of Medicine.
In addition, the institutions announced Children's Mercy is now designated a Principal Pediatric Teaching Hospital for the University of Kansas Medical Center. The designation is a recognition of the institutions' growing collaborations in pediatric medical education, and signifies their joint commitment to further enhance the quality and scale of pediatric medical education in the Kansas City area.
The announcement marks completion of the initial phase of plans, announced in December 2012, to develop a single, integrated pediatric program.
"This announcement shows the hospital is absolutely committed to this collaboration with Children's Mercy. It also clearly demonstrates The University of Kansas Hospital will continue to provide pediatric medical services, in both primary and advanced care. We expect to serve more children than ever before," said Bob Page, president and chief executive officer of The University of Kansas Hospital. read more >>
January 6, 2014
Cells have their own miniaturized postal service in the shape of vesicles, or tiny bubbles through which molecules crucial for biological processes like communication and food intake are sorted, packaged and delivered. Aside from the 2013 Nobel Prize in Medicine going to the discoverers of this highly organized transport system, scientific interest in a particular group of vesicles called exosomes has accelerated over the last several years. Andrew K. Godwin, Ph.D., professor and director of molecular oncology at the University of Kansas Medical Center, is among the researchers studying the potential clinical applications of these specialized structures.
Exosomes are found in blood, urine and many other biological fluids, with contents that, while varied according to the cells from which they bud off, generally comprise proteins, DNA and assorted RNA molecules. The latter include messenger RNA, or transcripts dictating protein production; and microRNAs, short strings of bases that help regulate gene expression. Typically no more than 100 nanometers in size, these vesicles may be minute — about one-thousandth of a human hair's average width — but they pack a punch. read more >>
December 16, 2013
Robert Van Citters, M.D., a School of Medicine graduate who went on to become dean of the University of Washington School of Medicine, died Dec. 7 in Edmonds, Washington. He was 87.
Van Citters was a member of the M.D. program's Class of 1953. After an internship and service in the U.S. Air Force as a medical officer, he returned to the School of Medicine as a research fellow and, later, a cardiovascular trainee. He arrived at the University of Washington in 1958 as a special research fellow in the cardiovascular training program.
Dr. Van Citters was appointed associate dean for research and graduate programs at the University of Washington School of Medicine in 1968. He was named the school's dean in 1970 and continued in that role until 1981. Named dean emeritus, he continued as a professor of physiology and biophysics.
Dr. Van Citters served on several NIH task forces and committees. He served KU as a member of the Self Graduate Fellowship Committee and on review groups for the School of Medicine and the heart transplant program. In the 1990s, he was a member of the executive committee for the Scientific Education Partnership between KU and the Marion Merrill Dow Foundation.
He was named a KU Medical Center Distinguished Medical Alumnus in 1979.
No public memorial service is planned, according to a newspaper obituary.
December 10, 2013
|Randolph Nudo holds the microdevice|
Scientists at the University of Kansas School of Medicine and Case Western Reserve University have developed a lightweight, battery-powered device that appears capable of repairing damaged pathways in the brain. The technology holds promise for the millions of individuals suffering from the damage left by stroke or head injuries.
Neurobiologist Randolph J. Nudo, Ph.D., is the senior author of the study, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Nudo says the project represents an important step toward developing devices that can be implanted in the brains of stroke patients, soldiers with traumatic brain injuries and others with abnormal brain function.
Nudo, a professor of molecular and integrative physiology and director of the Landon Center on Aging at the University of Kansas Medical Center, worked on the design of a brain prosthesis with Pedram Mohseni, Ph.D., an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. The idea behind the prosthesis, or microdevice, is similar to defibrillators implanted into heart patients. But instead of monitoring the heart, the microdevice monitors neurons firing in the brain. The aim is to restore communication patterns that have become disrupted by injury or disease.
"We're basically trying to reproduce the process that the brain uses during development, and that it tries to accomplish after injury, but with electronic components that will artificially bridge these areas," Nudo says. read more >>
December 5, 2013
Researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center are continuing to build on a longstanding partnership with Swope Health Services to help involve minority populations that are often vastly underrepresented in clinical and translational research studies. Swope serves as a safety net clinic for people who may have very low or no income. About 80 percent of the patients are African-American.
Those patients are able to benefit from the 16-year-old partnership by receiving drugs and treatment that they may not otherwise be able to afford. When minority populations are included in research, it expands the usefulness of that research to a greater population, says Tricia Snow, project director for KU Medical Center's Department of Preventive Medicine. She coordinates many of the Swope programs and works out of that office.
"If you want to generalize your results to the general U.S. population, you can't just study one racial or ethnic group," she says. "If there is a difference between groups, we want to know why that is."
Recruiting patients from minority populations to participate in clinical and translational research trials can be difficult for a variety of reasons, Snow says. Transportation can be a big issue. While Swope is easily accessible on a major bus route, KU's Clinical Research Center in Fairway isn't.
"It's extremely convenient for Swope's clientele," Snow says of the Swope facility at 3801 Blue Parkway in Kansas City.
Nikki Nollen, Ph.D., an associate professor of preventive medicine and public health at KU Medical Center, is leading the fourth in a series of smoking cessation trials at Swope. Working with collaborators, Lisa Sanderson Cox, Ph.D. , associate professor of preventive medicine and public health, and Jas Ahluwalia, M.D., the former chair of preventive medicine and public health and now the executive director at the Center for Health Equity at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Nollen has been able to nurture long-term ties with the patient population there. read more >>
December 5, 2013
As the days get shorter and the weather turns colder, many people develop the "winter blues." While most just feel nostalgic for long warm summer days, there are others who are more severely affected by the darkness and could be suffering from a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Matthew Macaluso, D.O. is an assistant professor and director of clinical trials research in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Kansas School of Medicine–Wichita. We talked to Dr. Macaluso recently about seasonal affective disorder, its symptoms and treatment.
Q: How does seasonal affective disorder differ from the run-of-the-mill winter blues that many people suffer from?
Matthew Macaluso: Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD as it's often called, is a variation of clinical depression. One of the hallmarks of the disorder is its onset during the fall months when the days get short and then its departure when the spring arrives. Clinical or major depression is different from "having a bad day" because its symptoms persist and it interferes with an individual's ability to function in life. read more >>
November 22, 2013
The American Academy of Clinical Toxicology has identified John Doull, M.D., Ph.D., professor emeritus of pharmacology, toxicology and therapeutics, as the recipient of its 2014 Career Achievement Award.
Doull is founding co-editor of "Casarett and Doull's Toxicology: The Basic Science of Poisons," a textbook now its in eighth edition. He is a past president of the Society of Toxicology and the American Board of Toxicology. He served on the Toxicology Study Section of the National Institutes of Health and the National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council. He also served on the Presidential Clean Air Commission and chaired a committee that set limits for exposure to chemicals in the workplace, among other important advisory positions. A more detailed record of Doull's recognition and service appears in the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology's November newsletter.
Doull's lifetime achievement award was announced at a members and fellows reception at the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology's annual conference on Sept 30. The formal presentation of his award will take place at the 2014 conference in New Orleans.
Earlier this year, Doull received the Mildred S. Christian Career Achievement Award from the Academy of Toxicological Sciences.
November 22, 2013
|Doug Wright, Patricia Kluding and Mamatha Pasnoor|
Translational medicine is the process of turning biological and epidemiological discoveries into cures and treatments. The approach has been described as taking research from the "bench to bedside."
A team at the University of Kansas Medical Center is studying peripheral neuropathy, one of the major complications of diabetes. But in this instance, discovery is moving in more than one direction. Results from a human exercise study informed the way basic scientists designed a study in mice. The "bedside to bench" approach, as it were, has helped add to the understanding of various pain syndromes.
Doug Wright, Ph.D., is a neuroscientist who researches sensory nerve disorders. A professor of anatomy and cell biology, Wright has studied diabetic peripheral neuropathy, a collection of symptoms caused by nerve damage, in rodents for 15 years.
Patricia Kluding, Ph.D., is an associate professor of physical therapy and rehabilitation science. Her interest in ankle joint mobility led her into diabetes research. High blood sugar can injure nerve fibers throughout the body, particularly in the legs and feet.
Mamatha Pasnoor, M.D., is an assistant professor of neurology and co-director of the University of Kansas Neuropathy Center. An expert in peripheral nerve disease and pain, she sees many patients suffering from diabetic neuropathy.
Wright works with mice. Kluding and Pasnoor organize human studies. Though they work with different models, each is interested in how exercise might improve diabetic peripheral neuropathy, which affects 70 percent of individuals with diabetes. read more >>
November 17, 2013
The KU Medical Center Alumni Association is seeking nominations for the 2014 Alumni Awards. These are the highest honors the KUMC Alumni Association bestows upon graduates of the schools of Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions and those who have made outstanding contributions to the health care professions. Faculty and staff are urged to nominate a worthy colleague, classmate or health care professional for these prestigious awards.
The nomination deadline is February 5, 2014. Click here for a nomination form or contact the KUMC Alumni & Community Relations Office at 913-588-1255.
Submit completed nomination forms by email, mail (KUMC Alumni, 3901 Rainbow Blvd. Mailstop 2017, Kansas City, KS, 66160) or fax (913-588-1465).
The awards will be presented during Alumni Reunion Weekend Oct. 10–11, 2014.
November 13, 2013
Researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center have shown that a compound frequently found in plastics, bisphenol A (BPA), can worsen migraine headache-related symptoms. The findings suggest that migraine sufferers might be able to reduce the frequency and severity of their headaches by changing their diets.
Nancy Berman, Ph.D., a professor of anatomy and cell biology at KU Medical Center, is one of the country's leading experts on migraine. Building on her previous research showing a connection between migraines and the hormone estrogen, Berman developed a way to test potential headache drugs in laboratory rats. The discovery was significant because, while potential treatments are frequently tested first in animals, there had been no definitive test to determine whether a rat had a headache.
"Currently, migraine has no specific biomarker test, and analysis of symptoms is the only way to diagnose this disorder," Berman says. In conjunction with Kenneth E. McCarson, Ph.D., and the staff of the KU Medical Center's Rodent Behavior Facility, she discovered that rodents with headaches behave much the same as humans: they avoid light, sound, grooming, and routine movements. These studies open the door for testing new treatments for migraine, and for identifying factors that may worsen it.
BPA is considered an "environmental estrogen" because it mimics the hormone estrogen in the body. It is estimated that greater than 90 percent of the U.S. population has BPA in their bodies. The effect of BPA exposure on cancer has been widely studied, but little is known about the role of BPA in worsening migraine and other pain syndromes.
Berman and Lydia Vermeer, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in Berman's lab, studied the behavior of rats after they were exposed to BPA. "We hypothesized that BPA exposure would activate estrogen receptors, exacerbating migraine symptoms," says Vermeer, lead author on the study, which was recently published in the journal Toxicological Sciences. In a group of rodents with migraines, those that had been exposed to BPA showed significantly worsened migraine symptoms than those that had not. read more >>
November 12, 2013
The American Journal of Pathology has highlighted research by members of the Liver Center.
Steven Weinman, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine and director of the Liver Center, is the senior author of a paper describing the role of transcription factor FOXO3 and liver injury. The journal sent out a news release about the study on Monday:
New data suggest that the transcription factor FOXO3 may protect against alcohol-induced liver injury. Researchers determined that alcohol given to mice deficient in FOXO3 caused severe liver injury resembling human alcoholic hepatitis. Further they found that although hepatitis C virus (HCV) and alcohol independently activated FOXO3, in combination they suppressed FOXO3, reduced expression of cytoprotective genes, and worsened liver injury. The results are published in The American Journal of Pathology.
"There is emerging evidence that the FOXO transcription factor family plays a critical role in metabolic, antioxidant, and cell death responses in the liver. The role of FOXO in injury processes is complex as FOXO transcription programs can either be cytoprotective or cytotoxic, and well-documented examples of both phenomena are numerous," says Steven A. Weinman, MD, PhD, Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center.
Based on such emerging evidence, Dr. Weinman's group fed alcohol to FOXO3-deficient mice for three weeks. One third of these mice developed severe hepatic steatosis (infiltration of liver cells with fat), neutrophil infiltration, and necrosis, similar to that seen in patients with alcoholic hepatitis. In some mice, levels of the liver enzyme alanine aminotransferase (ALT) increased tenfold compared to controls.
Investigators also induced severe liver injury with alcohol in a mouse model of HCV (transgenic HCV/Sod2+/-). These animals had elevated ALT; increased ICAM-1 expression and caspase 3 cleavage, and severe steatosis, lobular inflammation, and ballooning degeneration of liver cells. In these mice, degree of liver injury correlated with levels of the mitochondrial antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD2). (SOD2 is also thought to play a part in protecting the liver from alcoholic injury.) Alcohol-treated HCV/Sod2+/- mice also showed a greater concentration of FOXO3 in the cytosol of the cell compared to the nuclear location found in other types of mice.
Weinman continues, "One of the important unanswered questions about alcoholic liver disease has been why only a minority of those who drink, including those who drink heavily, ever develop liver disease. In most people, the liver has efficient protection mechanisms against alcohol. Our results indicate that FOXO3 is a novel alcohol protection factor that is disrupted by the HCV-alcohol combination. We therefore think that modulation of the FOXO3 pathway is a potential therapeutic approach for HCV-alcohol-induced liver injury."
The news release goes on to note that a team led by Wen-Xing Ding, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology, toxicology, and therapeutics, also has a study of FOXO3 in the same issue of the American Journal of Pathology.
The Liver Center was featured in the most recent issue of the medical center's magazine, Kansas Medicine + Science.
November 5, 2013
E. Grey Dimond, M.D., a former department chair who later founded the University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Medicine, died Nov. 3 at his home. He was 94.
Dr. Dimond joined the faculty at the KU School of Medicine in 1950. During his first year, he established the school's first division of cardiology and began the process of setting up a cardiac catheterization laboratory. Three years later, he was appointed chair of the Department of Medicine. He was at the time the youngest chair of medicine in the country.
After a decade of service, Dr. Dimond left the School of Medicine to become the director of the cardiovacular center at the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California. He returned to the Kansas City are in 1971 to establish a medical school at UMKC. Dr. Dimond introduced a six-year intensive program that was considered a radical departure from the traditional four-year degree followed by four years of medical school. The school has trained more than 3,000 physicians.
Dr. Dimond spread his passion for medicine and education across the globe. He first visited China in 1971 and would make more than 40 trips to Asia in his career. He was the author of 18 books.
The KU Medical Alumni Association honored Dr. Dimond's 50-year legacy of innovative medical education, research and clinical practice by naming him an Honorary Medical Alumnus in 2011.
The Kansas City Star has more on Dr. Dimond's life and work.
November 1, 2013
The 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine went to three scientists who study vesicles, small bubbles that cells use to organize molecules. The Karolinska Institute in Stockholm recognized James Rothman, Randy Schekman and Tomas Südhof for their work in establishing how vesicles work and the role they play in disease. From the press release announcing the the prizes:
Randy Schekman discovered a set of genes that were required for vesicle traffic. James Rothman unraveled protein machinery that allows vesicles to fuse with their targets to permit transfer of cargo. Thomas Südhof revealed how signals instruct vesicles to release their cargo with precision.
A University of Kansas professor emeritus helped build the foundation of knowledge on which the Nobel winners made their discoveries. Using an electron microscope, pathologist H. Clarke Anderson, M.D., discovered vesicles outside the cell and identified their role initiating biomineralization.
Anderson was on the faculty of State University of New York in Brooklyn at the time he made the discovery, which he described in a paper published in 1967. He joined the faculty at KU in 1978 and continued to study what came to be known as matrix vesicles, eventually characterizing their biochemical and structural components. He was named professor emeritus in 2006.
Anderson left a lasting mark in his field. In 2012, the newly formed International Society for Extracellular Vesicles celebrated his 1967 discovery at the opening of its general meeting. For more on Anderson's esteemed work, please see this news story and video the Office of Communications produced last year.
October 21, 2013
The University of Kansas Medical Center is looking for volunteers to take part in the first definitive, large-scale clinical trial to investigate if a vitamin D supplement helps prevent or delay type 2 diabetes in adults who have prediabetes, who are at high risk for type 2 diabetes. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the study is taking place at about 20 study sites across the United States.
The multiyear Vitamin D and Type 2 Diabetes (D2d) study will include about 2,500 people. Its goal is to learn if vitamin D — specifically D3 (cholecalciferol) — will prevent or delay type 2 diabetes in adults age 30 or older with prediabetes. People with prediabetes have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes.
"People in the Kansas City region have an important opportunity to be part of a national effort to determine whether simple vitamin D might help address the public health crisis of diabetes," said David C. Robbins, M.D., director of the KU Diabetes Institute. KU Medical Center is one of 20 academic medical centers conducting the study. Other sites include Baylor College of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Northwestern University and Stanford University Medical Center.
"Past observational studies have suggested that higher levels of vitamin D may be beneficial in preventing type 2 diabetes, but until this large, randomized and controlled clinical trial is complete, we won't know if taking vitamin D supplements lowers the risk of diabetes," said Anastassios G. Pittas, M.D., the study's principal investigator at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. read more >>
October 18, 2013
Dianne Durham, Ph.D., has been named associate dean for faculty affairs and faculty development in the School of Medicine.
Durham succeeds Robert Klein, Ph.D., who in July was named vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean of graduate studies at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Durham moves into her new role on November 1.
As associate dean for faculty affairs and faculty development, Durham will be responsible for ensuring the effective and successful appointment and promotion of faculty members. She will work closely the Office of Faculty Affairs and Professional Development at the School of Medicine–Wichita and Dr. Klein’s office in Kansas City to help faculty members reach their potential as educators, investigators and clinicians.
Durham is currently a professor and the director of research in the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery. Her research involves the central nervous system response to hearing loss, including neuronal cell death and the maladaptive plasticity associated with tinnitus. She is a long-standing member of the Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (KIDDRC).
A dedicated educator, she has directed the Brain and Behavior module in the medical education program since 2007 in addition to her work with graduate students and otolaryngology residents. She has won several teaching awards, including the Ruth Bohan Teaching Professorship Award (2001), the Chancellor¹s Distinguished Teaching Award (2006) and the Student Voice Teaching Awards on behalf of the Brain and Behavior module (2012, 2013).
Durham received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Purdue University. She completed a Ph.D. in neural science at Washington University in St. Louis and a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Virginia. She was a research assistant professor at the University of Washington in Seattle when, in 1991, she joined the Department of Otolaryngology at KU as an associate professor.
In announcing Durham's promotion, Douglas Girod, M.D., executive vice chancellor of KU Medical Center and interim executive dean of the School of Medicine, thanked John Sutphin, M.D., chair of the Department of Ophthalmology, for leading the selection committee. Many outstanding candidates were considered for the position of associate dean for faculty affairs and faculty development, he said.