Inside the School of Medicine Archive

Robert Van Citters, M.D. '53 and University of Washington School of Medicine dean emeritus, dies at 87

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.

Neurobiologist leads effort to develop device that restores motor function in rats after brain injury

December 10, 2013

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 >>

KU and Swope Health Services collaborate on clinical trial recruitment

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 >>

Seasonal affective disorder is more than the winter blues

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 >>

Professor emeritus of toxicology tapped for lifetime achievement award

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 the 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.

Researchers collaborate to better understand diabetes and its complications

November 22, 2013

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 >>

Alumni Association seeks nominations for awards

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.

Researchers show connection between bisphenol A and migraines

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 >>

Pathology journal highights research by Liver Center members

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.

E. Grey Dimond, former medicine chair and founder of UMKC medical school, dies at 94

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.

Nobel Prize winners build on discovery made by professor emeritus of pathology 

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. 

KU participates in NIH study of vitamin D's potential role in preventing type 2 diabetes

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 >>

New associate dean for faculty affairs and faculty development appointed

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.

Google Glass tested in Clinical Skills Lab

October 15, 2013

Google Glass puts many of the capabilities of a smart phone — the ability to shoot video, take pictures and connect to the Internet — into a hands-free device. Worn like spectacles, the device reacts to head movements and voice and touch commands.

Medical educators are beginning to think about ways to use the technology. At Ohio State University, for instance, a surgeon operated on a knee while wearing Google Glass. The glasses transmitted video to medical students who were in another building.

Pam Shaw, M.D., professor of pediatrics, recently tested the glasses while examining a standardized, or simulated, patient in the Neis Clinical Skills Lab.

Google Glass is not yet available for consumer use. Ann Alexander, a technology manager in the Office of Medical Education, coordinated a visit by someone who is testing a beta version of the headgear. Chris Shaw (no relation to Dr. Shaw) is the director of innovation and strategic partnerships at Think Big Partners, a business incubator in Kansas City, Missouri. He is making a film, "Tech Trek," which has been described as a "Glass-enabled documentary that explores the different startup hubs, technologies and innovations throughout the country."

Alexander asked Chris Shaw to visit the School of Medicine after seeing his film featured on the news. A videographer who is working with Shaw on the documentary filmed Dr. Shaw as she examined the standardized patient. When the mock exam was complete, Dr. Shaw said she was surprised by how unobtrusive the glasses were. "I even forgot I had them on," she said.

Alexander said she hoped to use the raw video captured by the glasses Dr. Shaw wore in a grant application. The money would help the medical education program purchase the glasses and design ways to incorporate them into teaching.

"I think there are all kinds of different things you could do with it," Dr. Shaw said. "It's just fascinating."

Faculty, staff recognized at Faculty Research Day

October 5, 2013

The annual Faculty Research Day provides researchers with an opportunity to share their work with their colleagues. During the event, individuals are recognized for excellence in research and contributions to research administration. Several faculty and staff members in the School of Medicine were recognized at this year's Faculty Research Day:

Chancellors Club Research Award
Charles Little, Ph.D., professor of anatomy and cell biology

Thomas L. Noffsinger Investigator Award
Robert De Lisle, Ph.D., associate professor of anatomy and cell biology

Faculty Investigator Research Awards
Warren Nothnick, Ph.D., professor of molecular and integrative physiology
Sheldon Preskorn, M.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences in Wichita

Research Grant Administrator Awards
Susan Harp, assistant director for education and research resources at The University of Kansas Cancer Center
Shari Standiferd, operations manager in the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology

Faculty honored at University of Kansas Medical Center Alumni celebration

October 5, 2013

Two School of Medicine faculty members were honored at the annual University of Kansas Medical Center Alumni Awards.

Kathy Davis, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics, received the Distinguished Health Professions Alumna Award. Davis, a "triple alumna" of KU, is the director of KU Kids Healing Place, which provides services to children facing chronic, life-limiting or life-threatening illnesses and their families.

Roy Jensen, M.D., the William R. Jewell Distinguished Kansas Masonic Professor of Pathology, received the Honorary Medical Alumnus Award. Jensen, a Kansas native who received his medical degree from Vanderbilt University, is director of The University of Kansas Center.

Two School of Medicine alumni were also honored. Richard Weinshilboum (M.D. '67), a Mayo Clinic professor of molecular pharmacology and experimental therapeutics, received the Distinguished Medical Alumnus Award in recognition of his work in the field of pharmacogenomics. Ted Burns (M.D. '94), a University of Virginia professor of neurology who studies and treats patients with myasthenia gravis and other neuromuscular diseases, received the Early Career Achievement in Medicine Alumnus Award.

KU researchers contribute to pain response study published in Science

October 1, 2013

Kenneth McCarson, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics, and Michelle Winter, core manager of the rodent behavior facility in the Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center, have contributed to a study that was recently published in Science.

McCarson and Winter were part of a team led by Bradley Taylor, Ph.D. of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine Department of Physiology. By demonstrating a surprisingly long-lasting opioid mechanism of natural chronic pain control, the researchers uncovered groundbreaking new information about how the body responds to painful injury.

The study found that the opioid receptors act as “brakes” on the pain system, and work through G-proteins in cells in the spinal cord. McCarson and Winter used GTPγS binding assays to measure G-protein coupling and the intracellular signals that opioids send throughout spinal cells. Their measurements provided evidence that the opioid receptors’ ability to inhibit pain activity is enhanced after inflammatory pain, and that the receptors act on their own, in the absence of stimulation by neurotransmitters, long after the inflammation is gone.

Several media outlets, including Nature and Bloomberg, have covered the covered the story.

Celebration of Stata Norton Ringle and David Ringle to take place Oct. 4

September 30, 2013

The lives of Stata Norton Ringle and David Ringle will be celebrated at a 3 p.m. reception on Friday, Oct. 4, in the School of Nursing Atrium. Executive Vice Chancellor Douglas Girod, M.D., and KU Endowment are hosting the event.

The couple left a $10 million estate gift to create scholarships for students in the University of Kansas Medical Center’s School of Health Professions and provide support for libraries at the medical center and on KU’s Lawrence campus. The gift will be divided equally for these three purposes: student scholarships, the Clendening History of Medicine Library and the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. The library gifts will support acquisition of books and manuscripts, and maintenance of existing collections.

"Stata Norton Ringle was a pioneer in her field and a role model for generations of students at the medical center,” Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said when the gift was announced. “She and David were devoted to each other and to their scientific endeavors. Through this generous gift, they have left an enduring legacy that will benefit KU students and help the university educate the health professionals Kansas communities need.”

Stata Norton Ringle, Ph.D., served in various capacities at the medical center from 1962 until 1990. She was emerita professor of pharmacology, toxicology and therapeutics; professor in the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition; and dean of the School of Allied Health (now the School of Health Professions). She wrote more than 150 research articles and was internationally recognized for her work on the effects of drugs and toxins on animal behavior.

David Ringle, Ph.D., was a research physiologist at the Midwest Research Institute until his retirement. He was awarded the prestigious New York University Founders Day Award. Former residents of Leawood, the Ringles were married for more than 62 years and died within three months of each other in 2012.

Blood and Marrow Transplant program opens new lab space

September 30, 2013

The Blood and Marrow Transplant program has opened a dedicated laboratory.

The lab, located in Wahl Hall East, will be used primarily by oncologists Omar Aljitawi, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, and Tara Lin, M.D., assistant professor of medicine.

During a Sept. 11 open house, Joseph McGuirk, D.O., professor of medicine and director of Blood and Marrow Transplant, said the new lab represents the third phase of the program's vision: Develop a translational science research arm. "We must continue to expand our research efforts to identify innovative and novel treatment therapies for our patients," he said. "I take great pride in telling patients our BMT team and The University of Kansas Cancer Center are committed to developing personalized treatment strategies that will provide them the best care possible."

Lin plans to look for ways to improve chemotherapy's effectiveness, and she hopes to design post-transplant interventions that prolong remission. Aljitawi's research will focus in part on bringing discoveries related to umbilical cord blood to the bedside in the form of medical interventions.

The lab also will support BMT's mission of increasing the number of patients participating clinical research trials. In 2013 to date, 145 BMT patients are projected to be enrolled in clinical trials, up from 91 last year.

Chancellors Club honors two School of Medicine faculty members

September 24, 2013

Charles Little, Ph.D., professor of anatomy and cell biology, has received the Chancellors Club Research Award, and John Wood, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular and integrative physiology, has been named a Chancellors Club Teaching Professor. They will be honored at a Chancellors Club celebration Friday, Oct. 4, in Lawrence.

Little has taught at KU Medical Center since 2000. He has trained 12 post-doctoral fellows, 11 doctoral students and served on dissertation committees of an additional 35 doctoral students. He has served on dozens of peer review panels and committees, including the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, the American Heart Association and other national and international funding agencies. He has participated on editorial boards for multiple journals and is a frequent manuscript reviewer for many more. He has presented nearly 150 seminars worldwide, and he has received numerous national and international academic honors. He is a former recipient of a faculty investigator research award and the Dolph Simons (Higuchi) Award in Biomedical Sciences. He has a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh. In 2008, he was elected a fellow of the American Association of Anatomists.

John Wood has taught at KU Medical Center since 1994. In 2006, he received a joint appointment as a member of the Department of Surgery. His research focuses on the mechanisms responsible for microvascular inflammation in various clinical settings. Wood has received teaching awards from the medical students, as well as the William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence, the Ruth Bohan Teaching Award and the Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award. He received his doctorate from the University of Michigan.

The Chancellors Club is a community of KU alumni and friends who care deeply about this university and who have made a commitment to invest in its greatest needs. The club recognizes both donors of major gifts designated for specific purposes on any of KU's campuses and annual donors to the Greater KU Fund, which is flexible and serves many purposes to benefit the entire university. read more >>

Robert Manning, professor emeritus and former residency chairman, dies at 85

September 23, 2013

Robert T. Manning, M.D., a professor emeritus who was a member of the faculty in Kansas City and Wichita, died on September 10. He was 85.

Dr. Manning was a professor of internal medicine and associate dean for student affairs when, in 1971, he was named the first dean at Eastern Virginia Medical School. He served as dean until 1975 and continued as the chair of internal medicine at Eastern Virgina when, in 1977, he re-joined the KU School of Medicine faculty. He was chair of residency education at Wesley Hospital (now Wesley Medical Center) in Wichita until 1992. He was named professor emeritus in 1994.

Dr. Manning was a fellow in the American College of Physicians and his honors included membership in Alpha Omega Alpha and Sigma Xi. Liver disease was his primary research interest.

Born in Wichita, Dr. Manning served in the Army Air Corps before obtaining a bachelor's degree from Wichita State University (1950) and a medical degree from KU ('54). He completed an internal medicine residency at KU and trained at the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolism. He studied biochemistry under Santiago Grisolía, Ph.D., before joining the faculty as an instructor in 1958.

Preceded in death by his wife, Jane, Dr. Manning is survived by three children, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. A celebration of life will take place in Texas on November 9. More information is available in this newspaper obituary.

Elective enables rising second-year medical students to experience life as rural physicians

September 20, 2013

Scott Rempel, a second-year student at the KU School of Medicine–Salina, has always thought he wanted to be a rural primary care physician. So this past summer he went to Quinter — a northwest Kansas town of about 1,000 — for a firsthand look at what it's like to be a small-town primary care doctor. After six weeks of working alongside Shelly Gruenbacher, M.D., and Doug Gruenbacher, M.D., both family physicians at Bluestem Medical and Gove County Medical Center, Rempel left knowing what his future holds.

"After this summer, I hope that my future wife — wherever she may be — is OK with living in a nice, quiet rural town somewhere in Kansas because that's where we'll end up!" Rempel says.

Rempel and 28 other M.D. students signed up for the summer Rural Primary Care Practice and Research Program, an elective rotation for medical students between their first and second years that helps them experience life as rural Kansas physicians.

Now in its 21st year, the program involves clinical training and academic research in rural primary care settings throughout the state. This summer, students traveled to 26 communities — as far west as St. Francis and Meade and as far east as Marysville and Pittsburg. read more >>

Jacob Frenkel, pathologist who studied toxoplasma, dies at 92

September 19, 2013

Jacob K. Frenkel, M.D., Ph.D., professor emeritus of pathology, died at his home in Sante Fe, New Mexico, in August. He was 92.

Frenkel studied toxoplasma, an infection caused by a parasite. At KU, he led a study showing conclusively that a new infectious stage of toxoplasma appeared in cat feces. Today the Centers for Disease Control warns cat owners that a toxoplasma infection can be transmitted through their pets' feces.

Frenkel joined what was then known as the Department of Pathology and Oncology as an assistant professor in 1952. He became a full professor in 1960. He as a Fulbright Fellow and visiting professor in pathology at the National University of Mexico from 1963 to 1964. He was also a visiting professor at universities in Colombia and Costa Rica.

Frenkel was a member of a number of scientific societies, including the Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society for the Psychologic Study of Social Issues and the National Research Council. He often lectured on the negative aspects of atomic energy and the dangers of radioactivity.

Born in Darmstadt, Germany, Frenkel moved to the United States in 1940 and became a citizen in 1944. He received a bachelor's degree in zoology and a Ph.D. in comparative pathology from the University of California–Berkeley and a medical degree from the University of California–San Francisco. He was a member of the Army Specialized Training Program during World War II and, later, was an officer in the U.S. Public Health Service.

Frenkel is survived by his wife, Rebecca, three children and six grandchildren. At his request, there was not a public service.

Hypoxia researcher contributes to study describing potential diabetes treatment

September 16, 2013

Adam Krieg, Ph.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, is a co-author of a new study describing a potential new treatment for type 2 diabetes.

Researchers at the University of Stanford School of Medicine are the lead and senior authors of two papers published online Sept. 15 in Nature Medicine. In a news release, Stanford said the studies "identified a molecular pathway — a series of interactions among proteins — involved in the development of diabetes. Furthermore, they have found that a drug already approved for use in humans can regulate the pathway.

"The studies, done in mice, identify a previously unexpected link between a low-oxygen condition called hypoxia and the ability of cells in the liver to respond to insulin. The drug, aflibercept (marketed as Eylea or Zaltrap), is used to treat metastatic colorectal cancer and a form of macular degeneration. Aflibercept is a member of a family of proteins that inhibit the vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF, pathway."

Krieg, a member of the Institute for Reproductive Health and Regenerative Medicine in the School of Medicine, contributed to a study that identified a protein, PhD3, involved in the "cross-talk" between hypoxia and insulin signaling.

Krieg was a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford from 2003 to 2010. read more >>

School of Medicine graduate plays crucial role in successful trial of malaria vaccine

September 6, 2013

When the journal Science reported last month that an early stage clinical trial of a malaria vaccine had been found to be safe protection against malaria in healthy adults, it was big news.

CNN reported that it was "first time any vaccine trial has shown 100% success in protecting subjects from the mosquito-borne tropical disease, which sickens more than 200 million a year and killed about 660,000 in 2010." Of course, CNN noted, more research is needed. But according to The Washington Post, "If the vaccine works as promised, it would be an extraordinary scientific milestone: the first highly effective vaccine against a parasite. And this particular parasite has been living in human hosts — and killing them — since humans evolved."

Though his name didn't make headlines, one of the key figures in the discovery and co-senior author on the manuscript is a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Medicine. Barney S. Graham, M.D., Ph.D., is chief of the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory and Clinical Trials Core at the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases, and supervised the conduct of the trial at the NIH Clinical Center in collaboration with investigators at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and the Naval Medical Research Center. Graham earned his medical degree from the KU School of Medicine–Wichita in 1979, and went on to earn a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 1991. read more >>

Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic to benefit from tailgating fundraiser

September 4, 2013

The Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic, a collaboration between the School of Law and the Department of Family Medicine, will benefit from the 2013 Proud To Be A Jayhawk tailgating fundraiser. The KU football season kicks off Saturday, Sept. 7, when the Jayhawks take on the University of South Dakota at Memorial Stadium.

The law school launched its Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic — the first in Kansas — in January 2008. The clinic is a health care delivery model that integrates legal services into comprehensive patient care. Working with health care providers and under the supervision of licensed attorneys, law students provide free legal assistance to the low-income patients of the KU Medical Center, JayDoc Free Clinic and Health Care Access.

The Big Event, which began in 2010, connects University of Kansas students, faculty and staff with the Lawrence community by recruiting volunteers to work at hundreds of local job sites during one day of service. read more >>

Mitochondria genome might cause susceptibility in some complex diseases

September 2, 2013

Most elementary school students know that mitochondria are the powerhouses that supply cells with their energy. But mitochondria contain their own set of genetic instructions completely separate from the rest of a cell's DNA.

Now a University of Kansas Medical Center researcher and his colleagues at the University of Alabama–Birmingham have discovered that mitochondrial DNA might play a role in whether certain people are more susceptible to diseases than others. They have published their work in the August 2013 issue of Biochemical Journal. "A question that has long perplexed scientists," says Danny Welch, Ph.D., founding chair of the Department of Cancer Biology in the School of Medicine, "is why, of two individuals who are the same age and in the same environment, does only one develop cardiovascular disease or metastatic cancer?"

With just 37 genes, the mitochondrial genome seems so small as to be irrelevant, particularly when compared to the nuclear genome's 30,000 genes. Welch says. "But we think it may well be a co-pilot, in terms of predisposition toward some complex diseases." read more>>

Physiology professor named to KU's Women of Distinction list

September 2, 2013

The 2013-14 University of Kansas Women of Distinction calendar honors 24 female students, staff and faculty and alumnae for outstanding achievements. Paige Geiger, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular and integrative physiology, is included in the group.

Geiger, who received her bachelor's degree from KU, earned Association of American Medical Colleges’ Early Career and Mid-Career Women Faculty Professional Development Conference scholarships in 2008. She was president of the Women in Medicine and Science, an organization at the medical center, for the 2012-13 year.

Geiger studies the effects of exercise and age on muscle metabolism and insulin resistance. She serves as a regular member of the NIH Integrative Physiology of Obesity and Diabetes Study Section.

Ob-gyn chair writes medications guide for pregnant, breast-feeding women

August 24, 2013

One of the most notorious prescription drug debacles in recent history involved the German-developed medication thalidomide. Doctors in Europe first prescribed thalidomide in the late 1950s to treat anxiety, insomnia and, in pregnant women, morning sickness. Thalidomide was withdrawn from the market in the early 1960s when doctors discovered that it caused devastating birth defects. About 10,000 children around the world were born with major malformations because their mothers had taken the drug during early pregnancy.

In the wake of the disaster, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) created a "Pregnancy Risk Factor" grading system for medications. Drugs now receive one of five grades — A, B, C, D or X — based on what's known about the risk they pose to a developing fetus. These grades are typically assigned when the drug is first released onto the market.

The system has limits. Two-thirds of all drugs sold in the United States are classified as Category C. The FDA says drugs in this category should be taken if the benefits outweigh the risk — a not particularly helpful recommendation.

In addition to carrying vague warnings, drugs can be slow to find their way into Category X, considered to be the most potentially harmful (thalidomide is Category X). For example, this past spring, the FDA advised that pregnant women should not take the anti-seizure medication valproic acid. But obstetricians have been warning of the dangers of valproic acid for years.

"We've known for decades that this drug causes birth defects," says Carl Weiner, M.D., an obstetrician and expert in maternal-fetal medicine. read more>>

With 2,000 tissue samples, Liver Bank allows researchers to rapidly test ideas

August 19, 2013

It stands to reason that the human body's largest internal organ — the liver, responsible for myriad functions necessary to our survival — is correspondingly complex. Ancient Greek philosophers, including Plato, thought it housed greed, jealousy and other dark emotions. It's considered vital for the free flow of qi, or life energy, a key tenet of Chinese traditional medicine.

"Strangely subtle and underappreciated" is how Steven Weinman, M.D., Ph.D., describes the liver. "Its importance is often realized only in the wake of liver failure," he says. "You don't kick off suddenly, like you might with a massive heart attack. You waste away — it's a living death and terrible to watch."

Weinman is the director of the University of Kansas Liver Center, founded in 2007 to stimulate collaborative research on various liver-themed mysteries: for instance, why only 15 percent of alcoholics suffer from cirrhosis, or liver scarring, while the majority are unscathed. Another puzzle is why, in patients with hepatitis C who have undergone a liver transplant, the disease frequently recurs and is much more aggressive the second time around. Instead of being a stealthy, decades-long process, cirrhosis — also a hepatitis C trademark — can destroy a transplant patient's supposed new lease on life in as little as three years. A recent, intriguing observation from one of the Liver Center's researchers may shed new light on this particular question. read more>>

Faculty recognized at School of Medicine's annual retreat

August 16, 2013

Eight faculty members were recognized for teaching, mentorship and leadership at the School of Medicine's 2013 Faculty Retreat. Douglas Girod, M.D., exeutive vice chancellor and interim executive dean, presented the awards.

Ruth T. Bohan Teaching Professorship
Tomas Griebling, M.D., M.P.H., the John P. Wolf 33° Masonic Distinguished Professor of Urology
Michael Werle, Ph.D., associate professor anatomy and cell biology

Lifetime Achievement Award for Mentoring ("The Jawyhawk")
Sheldon Preskon, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavorial sciences (Wichita campus)

Excellence in Mentoring Award
Randolph Nudo, Ph.D., professor of molecular and integrative physiology

Achievement in Mentoring Post-Doctoral Fellows
Nancy Berman, Ph.D., professor of anatomy and cell biology

Achievement in Mentoring Residents Award
John Calkins, M.D., professor obstetrics and gynecology
Richard Dubinksy, M.D., M.P.H., professor of neurology

Glendon G. Cox Leadership Award
Steven Stites, M.D., Peter T. Bohan Professor and Chair of Internal Medicine

More information on these and other faculty honors can be found at the Office of Professional Development and Faculty Affairs website.

U.S. News identifies M.D. program as 'most popular'

August 11, 2013

The M.D. program at the University of Kansas enrolled 83.4 percent of the students it accepted into the Class of 2016, the highest "yield rate" of any medical school in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report.

U.S. News looked at the classes that entered medical schools last year. KU enrolled 211 of 253 accepted students in 2012. The University of Washington ranked second, enrolling 220 of 265 accepted students (83.0 percent).

The ranking of the "most popular" medical schools appeared as a U.S. News Short List, which is separate from the publication's overall rankings of graduate schools.

Neurology professor works to improve stroke response in less populated areas

August 1, 2013

Patients in rural areas of Kansas are receiving better stroke care because of a statewide initiative that is helping train health care professionals on the most effective ways to respond to and treat a stroke.

Colleen Lechtenberg, M.D., an assistant professor of neurology and the director of The University of Kansas Hospital's Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center, serves as the director of the Kansas Initiative for Stroke Survival, an initiative supported by the American Heart Association.

The high quality stroke care is usually available for patients in metropolitan areas in Kansas. The University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas, for example, has been recognized as an Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center by The Joint Commission. But Lechtenberg says patients who live in more rural areas of the state often aren't so fortunate, especially in a situation where time is extremely critical.

"With a stroke, time is brain," Lechtenberg says. "We're dealing with a situation where two million brain cells are dying every minute." read more >>

Midwest Cancer Alliance helps rural Kansans see specialists without going far from home

July 31, 2013

Ed Olejniczak has lived in the small Kansas town of Wilson for close to 50 years. He owned a small business, raised his family there, caught countless fish in the town lake and retired there with Berniece, his wife of 54 years.

Ed likes staying put in Wilson. The quaint streets of the small farm town are where he has formed deep friendships and lasting memories. But last year, when tests run during his annual visit to the VA Clinic in Hays, Kan., indicated that he had leukemia, he worried that staying close to home might not be an option.

His doctor in Wilson, Ronald Whitmer, DO, encouraged him to see Mark Fesen, M.D., an oncologist at St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center's Heartland Cancer Center in Great Bend, about 45 minutes outside of Wilson. Fesen looked over Ed's tests and felt the results required further review. He recommended a consultation with an oncologist at The University of Kansas Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center based in Kansas City.

Normally, this would involve a roundtrip drive of six hours, along with several hours of appointments. Ed and Berniece rarely drive outside of city limits so they would have to rely on family and friends to help out. The Olejniczak's daughter, Elaine Simmons, explains, "Long distance travel is a challenge for my parents. It causes a lot of discomfort and anxiety." read more >>

Class of 2017 begins medical education

July 29, 2013

Today is the first day of classes for the 211 medical students who make up the Class of 2017.

Last Monday through Thursday, the students participated in various orientation activities at the campuses in Kansas City, Wichita and Salina. On Friday, the students were inaugurated into the profession at a White Coat Ceremony at Memorial Hall in Kansas City. Douglas Girod, M.D., executive vice chancellor of KU Medical Center and interim executive dean of the School of Medicine, delivered the keynote address.

The new students hail from 13 states, but the vast majority are Kansans. Of the 211 students, 193 are Kansas residents; half of the remaining 18 have Kansas ties. Other facts about this year's class:

Total applicants: 2,899

Average age: 23.5

Kansas counties represented: 37

Undergraduate colleges represented: 65

Students who have graduate degrees: 18

Mean undergraduate GPA: 3.72

Mean science GPA: 3.66

Mean score on biological sciences section of MCAT: 10.1

Mean physical sciences score: 9.5

Mean verbal reasoning score: 9.5

Estate of emerita professor of pharmacology leaves $10 million gift for scholarships, libraries

July 18, 2013

A $10 million estate gift from Stata Norton Ringle and David Ringle will create scholarships for students in the University of Kansas Medical Center's School of Health Professions and provide support for libraries at the medical center and on KU's Lawrence campus.

The gift will be divided equally for these three purposes: student scholarships, the Clendening History of Medicine Library and the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. This more than doubles the amount of scholarship support available for students in the School of Health Professions. The library gifts will support acquisition of books and manuscripts, and maintenance of existing collections.

"Stata Norton Ringle was a pioneer in her field and a role model for generations of students at the medical center," said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. "She and David were devoted to each other and to their scientific endeavors. Through this generous gift, they have left an enduring legacy that will benefit KU students and help the university educate the health professionals Kansas communities need."

Stata Norton Ringle served in various capacities at the medical center from 1962 until 1990. She was emerita professor of pharmacology, toxicology and therapeutics; professor in the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition; and dean of the School of Allied Health (now the School of Health Professions). She wrote more than 150 research articles and was internationally recognized for her work on the effects of drugs and toxins on animal behavior. read more >>

University of Kansas Cancer Center joins Brain Tumor Trials Collaborative

July 16, 2013

The University of Kansas Cancer Center is the newest member of the Brain Tumor Trials Collaborative (BTTC), a 10-year-old national organization based in Houston.

"BTTC comprises clinicians from multiple institutions who work together to devise clinical trials investigating new drugs, or new combinations of existing drugs, against brain tumors," says Sarah Taylor, M.D., who is KU Cancer Center's sole neuro-oncologist, a professor of medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center, and the driving force behind this new membership. "It's similar to cancer clinical trials cooperative groups such as the Southwest Oncology Group, except no federal funds or oversight are involved — which I think is unique."

Instead, since its genesis in 2003 — with Mark Gilbert, M.D., a neuro-oncologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center, at the helm — the BTTC has been funded entirely by Head for the Cure, a foundation established that same year to raise awareness of brain cancer. Head for the Cure is based in Kansas City, Mo., and led by Matt Anthony, global chairman of and a key figure behind VML's transformation from a small advertising agency to one that counts Kellogg's, Microsoft and the English Premier League among its clients. read more>>

Medical student tapped for hematology society's summer scholars program

July 11, 2013

Sarafina Kankam is one of 15 medical students in the United States participating in a program designed to nurture the next generation of young physicians interested in the field of hematology.

Kankam, who will begin her second year of medical school on July 29, is spending eight weeks this summer in Nashville, where she has been paired with a Michael Rutledge DeBaun, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of pediatrics and medicine at Vanderbilt Medical Center. DeBaun, a renowned researcher of sickle cell disease, is advising Kankam on the design of a study to evaluate a new standard of treatment intended to decrease the rate at which sickle cell patients are readmitted at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.

Kankam is studying at Vanderbilt through the American Society of Hematology’s Minority Medical Student Award Program. The program provides promising minority medical students with an opportunity to design and implement a hematology-related research project. The students are paired with both a research and career-development mentor.

Kankam says she has always had an interest in hematology and oncology. She lost four aunts and uncles to sickle cell disease, a genetic disorder that affects red blood cells. A majority of patients are of African descent, but the disease also affects people of Indian, Middle Eastern, Hispanic and Mediterranean heritage.

"Sadly, there is a lot of unequal treatment when it comes to research, government funding, health care delivery and advocacy for sickle cell disease, compared to other genetic disorders — even some that affect far fewer people," Kankam says. "Being awarded this award has allowed me to address many of these issues."

While at Vanderbilt, Kankam is also mentoring high school students who are working on research projects related to sickle cell disease disparity.

In her application to the program, Kankam was able to highlight a long record of leadership and service. She is the president of two student organizations at the medical center. She volunteers at a refugee clinic. She served as a Kansas Health Foundation Undergraduate Fellow in Community Health for 2011-'12. A charity she co-founded, KU Project Africa, has raised money for orphanages and hospitals in Africa. While an undergraduate at KU, she received the 2012 Campanile Award, which is given to a single graduating senior who has displayed remarkable leadership, character and respect for KU, and the Dorothy Shaw Leadership Award, the highest honor given to a collegiate member of Alpha Delta Pi.

Kankam will present her sickle cell research in December at the American Society of Hematology annual meeting in New Orleans.

Retired and semi-retired physicians volunteer at student-run JayDoc Free Clinic

July 10, 2013

The student and the physician are considering the case of the patient with brown urine.

The patient, a 30-year-old male, had described an isolated incidence of brown urine to a University of Kansas School of Medicine student minutes earlier during his exam at the JayDoc Free Clinic, a student-run clinic that provides health care to uninsured and underinsured residents in greater Kansas CIty. The student leaves the exam room to discuss the patient's case with Fred Gilhousen, M.D.

"Painless," the student says. "No fevers, no chills, no pelvic pain. He said his diet hadn't changed."

"And it never happened before?" Gihousen asks. "Just the one episode? But he must have been worried about it, or he wouldn't have come in. Or somebody made him come in."

The student says the patient has been using methadone to stay off heroin. Gilhousen prompts the student to think about a possible link between drug use and the discolored urine. read more >>

Faculty selected for Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award

July 9, 2013

Three faculty members at the University of Kansas Medical Center have been selected to receive the 2013 Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, which recognizes outstanding classroom teaching. Winners are selected by a committee of faculty and students.

This year’s winners:

  • Kathleen Davis, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics, who specializes in teaching health care professionals about the educational and psychosocial needs of children with chronic and frequently life-threatening illnesses.
  • Diane Ebbert, Ph.D., assistant professor of family medicine and assistant professor of nursing, who sees patients in a collaborative clinic that is a model for family medicine residents and medical students, while also teaching multiple courses in the School of Nursing.
  • Edward Ellerbeck, M.D., M.P.H., professor and chair of preventive medicine and public health, who developed and leads the Health of the Public course, a four-week clerkship for fourth-year medical students.

The award includes a one-time stipend of $1,000. Winners will be recognized at the Annual Teaching Summit on Aug. 22 in Budig Hall in Lawrence.

George Sheldon, M.D. '61 and a leader in surgery, dies at 78

July 8, 2013

George F. Sheldon, M.D., a School of Medicine graduate who led several major surgical organizations, died June 16 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He was 78.

The chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of North Carolina from 1984 to 2001, Dr. Sheldon built a reputation that reached far beyond the Southeast. He was president of the American College of Surgeons, the American Surgical Association and the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma and chair of the American Board of Surgery. In 2012, the American College of Surgeons presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award, only the second in the college's history.

A third-generation physician who grew up in Salina, Dr. Sheldon earned his bachelor's and medical degrees from the University of Kansas. Following an internship at KU, he spent two years in military service in the the medical branch of the U.S. Coast Guard. He completed a fellowship in medicine at the Mayo Clinic followed by surgical residency at the University of California–San Francisco. His training continued with fellowships at the National Heart Institute and Harvard Medical School. While a member of the faculty at the University of California–San Francisco, he participated in the founding of one of the nation's first trauma centers and became the chief of trauma service at San Francisco General Hospital.

Dr. Sheldon left San Francisco to lead the surgery department at the University of North Carolina. He continued as the Zack D. Owens distinguished professor of social medicine and surgery after retiring as chair. He taught a popular history of medicine course and studied health policy.

In 2011, the University of North Carolina presented Dr. Sheldon with its prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award. He is remembered by the UNC community for being a champion of graduate medical education and for his ability to recruit talented young surgeons, particularly women and minorities. The University of Kansas recognized his accomplishments with the Distinguished Medical Alumnus Award (2000) and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award (2008).

Dr. Sheldon authored more than 400 articles and book chapters and was editor-in-chief of, the web portal of the American College of Surgeons. A student of history, he co-authored "The Pictorial History of Kansas Medicine" (1961) and was sole author of "Hugh Williamson: Physician, Patriot, and Founding Father" (2010).

Colleagues recall that Dr. Sheldon spoke frequently of his Kansas roots. "He was from Salina, and he was probably one of the greatest men who ever walked out of the city," Tyler Hughes, a surgeon in McPherson, told the Salina Journal. "Few, if any, Kansas-born and -trained surgeons have reached such heights of service to humankind."

Burial will be in Salina. A memorial will be held at UNC–Chapel Hill in the fall. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations be made to the George F. Sheldon Distinguished Professorship at UNC–Chapel Hill, to the Richard and Helen Sheldon Fund at KU or to the SPCA.

Residents, fellows to graduate on June 30

June 27, 2013

On Sunday, 128 residents and fellows will complete their training at the School of Medicine in Kansas City.

Residency is a period of specialized training for graduates of allopathic and osteopathic medical schools. Fellowships provide training in a sub-specialty. An individual who completes a residency in internal medicine may go on to complete a fellowship in infectious disease, for instance.

The Office of Graduate Medical Education in Kansas City oversees 43 accredited residency and fellowship programs and 14 non-accredited fellowship programs. The school has 530 residents and 98 fellows at the present time. Internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, anesthesiology, psychiatry and emergency medicine are among the largest programs.

Not all programs end at the same time. An additional eight graduate medical students are scheduled to complete their medical training between July 12 and October 31.

Seventy-one residents and fellows will graduate from the University of Kansas School of Medicine–Wichita between June 30 and October 21.

Congratulations to the graduates and welcome to the students who are beginning their graduate medical education or have transferred to KU from other programs.

Medical Alumni Innovative Teaching Fund awards presented to faculty

June 26, 2013

Now in its third year, the Medical Alumni Innovative Teaching Fund awards grants to School of Medicine faculty members to encourage innovation in teaching and evaluation in medical education. The KU Medical Alumni Association provided $100,000 for this year's grant cycle, which begins on July 1.

The Office of Medical Education and the Academy of Medical Educators manage the call for proposals, advise faculty on development of proposals and, with participation from the KU Medical Alumni Association, review proposals and notify recipients of their awards, which are as much as $10,000. For more information on the fund, visit the Medical Alumni Innovative Teaching Fund webpage.

"Our faculty have a lot of innovative ideas but they don't always have the funds to support them," Kim Huyett, director of Alumni and Community Relations, says. "Providing support like this is really at the core of what we're doing as the alumni association."

The 2013 Medical Alumni Innovative Teaching Fund recipients are:

The PAIRS Program: Partnering First Year Medical Students with Early-Stage Alzheimer's Disease Patients for Improved Dementia Education
Heather Anderson, M.D.
Department of Neurology (Kansas City)

Integrating Basic Science Concepts with Clinical Fundamentals for M1/M2 Students Using a Modified Question and Concept Connection Group Format Facilitated by M3/M4 Students and Smoky Hill Family Practice Residents
William Cathcart-Rake, M.D.
Department of Internal Medicine (Salina)

Internet-Enhanced Simulation for Pre-Clinical Medical Students
Emily Diederich, M.D.
Department of Internal Medicine (Kansas City)

Development of Case-Based Computer Simulation to Teach Medical Students Differentiation of Dementia, Delirium, and Depression
Jessica Kalender-Rich, M.D.
Department of Internal Medicine (Kansas City)

Simulation for Teaching Pelvic Anatomy, Surgical Concepts in Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Treatment of Common Obstetrical Emergencies
Zachary Kuhlman, M.D.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology (Wichita)

Using Student-Centered, Simulation-Based Training to Improve Medical Students' Patient Care and Procedural Skills
Robert McKay, M.D.
Department of Anesthesiology (Wichita)

Patient Video Cases for Phase I Brain and Behavior and Infectious Disease Modules
Jessica Newman, D.O.
Department of Internal Medicine (Kansas City)

What Are the Best Educational Practices for Teaching Simulated Auscultatory Findings
Jon Schrage, M.D.
Department of Internal Medicine (Wichita)

Bootcamp: Intensive Program for Medical Students Needing Remediation in Taking Histories, Physicals and Developing Problem Lists, Differential Diagnoses and Plans
Pam Shaw, M.D.
Department of Pediatrics (Kansas City)

Meeting Milestone One
Carrie Wieneke, M.D.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology (Kansas City)

The Interprofessional Standardized Patient Encounter: Preparing Medical, Nursing, and Pharmacy Students to Join Forces!
Jana Zaudke, M.D.
Department of Family Medicine (Kansas City)

Cancer researcher says nature is the 'best combinatorial chemist all around'

June 20, 2013

What might bitter melon, magnolia tree bark and a fruit called stone apple have in common? Therapeutic potential in colon cancer, suggests Shrikant Anant, Ph.D., associate director of Cancer Prevention for The University of Kansas Cancer Center and a firm believer in nature as “the best combinatorial chemist all around” where drug discovery is concerned.

Over the years, Dr. Anant has carved his research niche on two levels: experimenting with the anticancer activity of assorted natural compounds and zeroing in on cancer stem cells, a small group thought to play critical roles in maintaining or forming new tumors. Researchers in the field often liken cancer stem cells to queen bees: a hive collapses only if the queen is destroyed; if she isn’t, the colony readily reforms. For this reason, and because these cells resist standard therapies, Anant considers them an important therapeutic target.

Cancer stem cells are found across a broad spectrum of cancers, and Anant is sure that they exist in colon cancer — one of his main research interests — based on their protein “fingerprint.” At the University of Oklahoma, he and Courtney Houchen, M.D., discovered that the protein DCLK-1 is a molecular marker of cancer stem cells in the colon. read more >>

Unraveling the mysteries of the oocyte

June 18, 2013

David Albertini, Ph.D., has spent most of his career trying to understand one of life's most mysterious cells: the oocyte, which eventually matures into an egg cell.

Albertini, who is a professor of molecular and integrative physiology and a member of the University of Kansas Medical Center's Institute for Reproductive Health and Regenerative Medicine, is using the most advanced technology to shed new light on precisely what happens when an oocyte divides and how the oocyte receives support from other ovarian cells. Albertini's research is contributing to scientists' understanding of human embryo development and may guide future approaches for treating infertility and enhancing the use of stem cells in regenerative medicine.

Oocytes first arise in the fetal ovary and remain in an immature state for many years in most female mammals. They mature within a structure known as the ovarian follicle, which resides along the outer boundary, or cortex, of ovaries. During each reproductive cycle, several follicles begin to develop. In humans, only one oocyte per menstrual cycle will become a mature egg to be ovulated from its follicle.

Early on in a woman's reproductive life, most oocytes have chromosomes in pristine condition, resulting in eggs that have the correct chromosomal complement. But as women age, the quality of their eggs deteriorates, and an increasing number carry chromosomal abnormalities, leading to increases in birth defects such as Down's syndrome. read more >>

Vitamin B3 holds promise for treating polycystic kidney disease, research suggests

June 17, 2013

Despite decades of research, treatments for polycystic kidney disease remain elusive. Now a new study by KU Medical Center researchers suggests that one mechanism for controlling the ravages of the disease might be found in vitamin B3.

Polycystic kidney disease is one of the most common life-threatening genetic diseases, affecting 600,000 Americans and 12.5 million people worldwide. People who inherit PKD develop kidney cysts that grow and multiply slowly over time - patients in their 20s might have few symptoms, but by the time they are into their 40s or 50s, norally fist-sized kidneys containing these fluid-filled sacs can grow to the size of a football, causing pain and destroying kidney function. With a research program dating back to the 1950s, KU Medical Center scientists are internationally recognized experts on the disease — and acutely aware that there is still no cure.

Recently, however, Xiaogang Li, Ph.D., an associate professor of Nephrology and Hypertension and a member of the KU Kidney Institute, found that vitamin B3 naturally inhibited the activity of a protein called Sirt1 that influences the formation and growth of cysts. Li and colleagues were able to show that vitamin B3 slowed the creation of cysts and restored kidney function in mice with PKD. The results were published in the June 17, 2013 Journal of Clinical Investigation. read more >>

Gerald Kerby, professor of pulmonary medicine, dies at 80

June 17, 2013

Gerald R. Kerby, professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care who served on the faculty for 46 years, died on June 12. He was 80.

Dr. Kerby pioneered multiple aspects of pulmonary medicine, including the nasal approach to bronchoscopy and the application of noninvasive positive pressure ventilation by mask. He did groundbreaking work on tubercular lung disease as a staff physician at the Muirdale Sanatorium in Milwaukee in the 1960s.

Among his honors and awards, Dr. Kerby received a Pulmonary Academic Award from the National Heart and Lung Institute in 1974. He also served as an honorary senior fellow at Royal Brompton Hospital in London under the tutelage of Dr. Margaret Turner-Warwick, a thoracic specialist and the first woman president of the Royal College of Physicians. He was presented with a Mastership in the American College of Physicians as well as a Laureate Award from the Kansas chapter of the American College of Physicians. He was particularly proud of the Mahlon H. Delp Award for Clinical Excellence he received in 2008. He held leadership positions in a number of organizations and committees, including the American Thoracic Society, the American College of Chest Physicians, the Kansas Thoracic Society and the American Lung Association of Kansas.

Dr. Kerby had recently attempted to retire, but he continued to come to work, maintain a clinic and be available to discuss difficult cases with fellows, housestaff and faculty. On May 15, he spoke to the KU chapter of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, which he joined in 1957, about his experiences in pulmonary medicine. The lecture was followed by the dedication of the Gerald and Arlis Bergsten Kerby Conference Room.

Dr. Kerby was born in Wakefield, Kansas. He graduated from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 1958. He entered the Navy and completed an internship at the U.S. Naval Hospital Bethesda, Maryland. He returned to KU to complete to a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in pulmonary medicine. In 1967, after working as an instructor at the Marquette University School of Medicine, he accepted a position as an associate professor at KU, quickly moving through the ranks to full professor. During his tenure, he served as a mentor for more than 150 pulmonary fellows and innumerable students and housestaff.

He is survived by Arlis, his wife of 55 years, three children and seven grandchildren. Services for Dr. Kerby will be at 11 a.m. on Thursday, June 20, at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, 6630 Nall Avenue in Mission. The family requests that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Gerald and Arlis Kerby Fund in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.

Researchers identify a new target for treating pain

June 14, 2013

A hormone that has been used to control blood pressure may hold the key to a new approach for treating pain, according to research at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

The hormone, angiotensin II, constricts blood vessels and releases a substance that causes the body to retain salt and water. KU neuroscientist Peter Smith, Ph.D., and his colleagues have found that blocking angiotensin II receptors prevents the increase in sensitivity that normally accompanies inflammation. The mechanics of the angiotensin II system's ability to regulate pain pathways was not appreciated before, Smith says.

The study has been published online in The Journal of Pain.

The finding is based on a previous study of estrogen that Smith, professor of molecular and integrative physiology and director of the Institute for Neurological Discoveries at KU, published in 2008. "We know that the hormone estrogen makes women more prone to many painful conditions, and we found that estrogen actually caused some pain-sensing nerve cells to grow," he says, adding that many chronically painful conditions are accompanied by an increase in pain-sensing nerves. read more >>

Landon Center on Aging receives $1 million Reynolds Foundation grant

June 14, 2013

The Landon Center on Aging at the University of Kansas Medical Center has received a $ 1 million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to help improve the ability of medical students, resident physicians, and faculty to work with professionals in other health disciplines in teams to provide better care for older adult patients. The four-year "Next Steps in Physicians' Training in Geriatrics, II" grant will build on the Landon Center's original 2006 Reynolds Foundation funding that established the Kansas Reynolds Program in Aging. KU Medical Center has strong institutional support and broad organizational commitment for the new program, including a match exceeding the $ 1 million in funding available from the Reynolds Foundation.

The program will provide geriatrics training to all KU School of Medicine students; all family medicine and internal medicine resident physicians; many of the undergraduate students in the School of Nursing; and graduate students in the Schools of Nursing, Health Professions, Social Welfare, Pharmacy and Law.

"This program is allowing our institution to progress beyond silo-based geriatric health care education to a focus on interprofessional team-coordinated care," says Daniel Swagerty, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Chair for Geriatrics and Palliative Care, Department of Family Medicine and Associate Director for Education, Landon Center on Aging. read more >>

Faculty members encouraged to attend Medical Education Retreat on June 12

June 9, 2013

As the School of Medicine prepares for its accreditation site visit in October, it's crucial for faculty to attend the annual Medical Education Retreat on Wednesday, June 12, in Rieke Auditorium. Glex Cox, M.D., M.B.A., M.H.S.A., senior associate dean for medical education, will provide an update on the site visit after a welcome and update from Doug Girod, M.D., executive vice chancellor and interim executive dean. Faculty in Wichita and Salina may participate in the retreat via ITV.

11:45-Noon Pick up lunches (Kansas City only)
Noon-12:15 Welcome and Leadership Update | Dr. Girod

12:15-12:35 LCME | Dr. Cox

12:35-12:55 Education Council Update, Curriculum Review | Dr. Opole

1:00-1:30 Workshops: First Session

  • Competency-based Education | Dr. Minns, Dr. Opole | Rieke Auditorium
  • Active Learning | Dr. Fishback, Dr. Klein
 | 2004 Orr Major
  • Medical Education Technology: JayDocs and JayLog | Ms. Alexander, Mr. Berardo, Ms. Quearry | 2008 Orr Major

1:30-2:00 Workshops: Second Session

  • Competency-based Education | Dr. Minns, Dr. Opole
 | Rieke Auditorium
  • Active Learning | Dr. Fishback, Dr. Klein | 
2004 Orr Major
  • Medical Education Technology: JayDocs and JayLog | Ms. Alexander, Mr. Berardo, Ms. Quearry | 2008 Orr Major

Contact Connie Kramer for more information.

Stanley Nelson, professor emeritus of anatomy and cell biology, dies at 84

June 4, 2013

Stanley R. Nelson, M.D., professor emeritus of anatomy and cell biology, died in his Fairway home on May 29. He was 84.

Dr. Nelson joined the faculty in 1966 as an instructor in pharmacology and neurosurgery. He was a professor of pharmacology and an associate professor of neurosurgery when, in 1981, he was named chair and professor of anatomy. He served as chair until 1987 and became an emeritus professor in 1994.

His early research centered on the changes in energy metabolism associated with brain damage. This extended into methods of measuring brain edema and the effectiveness of drugs in treating this condition. Later, he studied the role of free radicals in brain damage, in particular the manner in which transition metals (iron and copper) propagate free radicals in these injuries. "Stan loved to go to the laboratory and develop novel, inexpensive methods to further advance the understanding of neurochemistry associated with brain injury," Thomas Pazdernik, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology, toxicology and therapeutics and a frequent colloborator, says.

Pazdernik recalls a graduate student who was using salicylate to trap free radicals in the brain. Dr. Nelson spent several weeks at the bench, modifying the technique using the power of cycling of chemical reaction components. "I still get numerous requests for this article now more than 10 years after his original publication of the technique," Pazdernik says.

Dr. Nelson was born in Kidder, South Dakota. After receiving a bachelor of science in chemistry from the University of South Dakota, he enlisted in the Air Force and became a jet fighter pilot. With the help of the GI Bill, he returned to the University of South Dakota and obtained a bachelor of science of medicine before entering medical school at Tulane University. He completed a neurosurgical residency at the University of Mississippi and trained as a postdoctoral student in neurochemistry at Washington University.

Dr. Nelson was a member of American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, the American Association of Anatomists, the Society for Neuroscience, Sigma Xi and Alpha Omega Alpha. In his spare time, he enjoyed ham radio and bicycling. He was a founding member of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church, a cofounder of the Northeast United Soccer Club and helped develop the Johnson County Soccer League.

Survivors include his wife Ann Nelson, three children and three grandchildren. The family invites friends to attend a memorial service with coffee, bagels and conversation at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 7, at the Simpson House at 4509 Walnut, Kansas City, Missouri. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorials be made to the Dr. Stanley R. Nelson and Ann Nelson Chemistry Faculty Support Fund, University of South Dakota Foundation, P.O. Box 5555, Vermillion, S.D., 57069, or a charity of your choice.

Ph.D. candidate to serve on biology organization's grad student committee

June 1, 2013

A Ph.D. student has been chosen to serve on a professional society's committee of postdoctoral fellows and graduate students.

Kellyann Jones, who is working toward a Ph.D. in microbiology, molecular genetics and immunology, has been selected as a member of the American Society for Cell Biology's committee of post-docs and graduate students. The committee will work with society leadership to promote a strong workforce, shape career development initiatives at the society's annual meeting and contribute to the society's website.

Jones studies the hepatitis C virus and hepatocellular carcinoma as member of the lab of Steven Weinman, M.D., Ph.D., professor of internal medicine and director of the Liver Center. She developed an interest in microbiology when she was an undergraduate student at Duke University.

Jones has been active in student leadership since transferring to KU from the University of Miami. She is the vice president of the Student Governing Council after having served as a graduate student senator from 2009 to 2011.

As a student government representative, Jones has worked to implement a new childbirth accommodation policy. Rachel Olsen, a former vice president of the Graduate Student Council, wrote the initial draft of the new policy while she was expecting a child. "The reality is, people are going to have babies in graduate school," Jones says.

Jones says she will continue to work with faculty members and administrators on the new childbirth policy, which she believes will help the institution become more family-friendly. "The great thing about KUMC is they listen to their students," Jones says. "They do take their concerns seriously."

Members of the American Society for Cell Biology's committee of post-docs and graduate students serve one-year renewable terms. In addition to that honor, Jones recently learned that she had won the Student Diversity Award from the Office of Student Life.

Sterling Williams, former chair of obstetrics and gynecology, dies at 72

May 23, 2013

Sterling B. Williams, M.D., Ph.D, former chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, died after a brief illness on May 19. He was 72.

Dr. Williams was the vice president of education the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in Washington, D.C., at the time of his death. He went to work at the membership organization after serving as the Kermit E. Krantz Professor and chair of obstetrics and gynecology from 1997 to 2001. He was a driving force behind ACOG's effort to build international collaborations and for more than a decade helped organize and run the organization's annual meeting.

Dr. Williams joined the School of Medicine faculty after completing a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at KU in 1976. While at KU, he founded a program to use music therapy in the delivery room. A singer who performed with the Kansas City Philharmonic and the Kansas City Civic Chorus, he came up with the idea after a strenuous rehearsal. "I was tired, but I was also very relaxed," he said in 1980. "I started wondering if there were some way it could be applied to my medical practice."

Dr. Williams worked with music therapists to develop the program, which was believed to be the only one of its kind. Leading up to the due date, expectant mothers would meet with the therapists to build a list of songs — mostly instrumental, with faster beats when the patient's energy needed to be mobilized — for playback during delivery. "It's been a very beautiful experience," Dr. Williams said. "The parents are happier and finding it much more pleasant. The nurses enjoy it, and I like having music play while we work."

Dr. Williams was an assistant professor in obstetrics and gynecology and associate professor of family practice when, in 1986, he left to teach at Columbia University and to serve as the ob-gyn director at Harlem Hospital. He returned to KU in 1997 as chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Long after he moved to Washington, Dr. Williams remained an active supporter of the ob-gyn program at KU Medical Center, providing sound advice on a number of topical issues, according to Carl Weiner, M.D., M.B.A., the current Kermit E. Krantz Professor and chair of obstetrics and gynecology. The annual resident research day was named the Sterling Williams Research Forum five years ago. Weiner says Williams was expected to attend this year's event. "His absence will be felt by all," he said.

Born and raised in Little Rock, Ark., Dr. Williams earned a bachelor's degree in zoology from the University of Illinois, a master's degree in physiology from Northern Illinois University and his doctor of medicine and Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas.

Dr. Williams published an extensive list of articles and book chapters and received many honors including Alpha Omega Alpha Scholastic Honorary Society membership, induction into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame (2008), the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Distinguished Alumnus Award (2012) and the Castle-Connelly Lifetime Achievement Award (2013).

His many educational leadership positions led to national initiatives. He served on the board of directors of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education. He also served as secretary of the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, president of the Kermit E. Krantz Obstetrical & Gynecological Society, and vice president of the New York Gynecological Society.

Dr. Williams is survived by his wife, Joice, and three children.

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Last modified: May 02, 2014
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