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Archive for November, 2009

Satellites, Student Service Club team up to help troops

’Tis the season to give. And the Satellites Auxiliary and the College of Medicine Student Service Club are collecting items to help members of the 983rd Engineering Battalion.

“We’re helping the contingent in Monclova that has 120 soldiers,” said Lynn Brand, president of the Satellites. “Some 70 soldiers recently returned from deployment to find that their jobs no longer existed due to businesses closing.”

Suggested items to help the soldiers and their families diapers, wipes, formula and cereal for babies, as well as paper towels, toilet paper, tissues, bath soap, powder, deodorant, lip balm, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, hairbrushes and combs, mouthwash, razors, shaving cream, aftershave, feminine hygiene products, hand sanitizer, nail clippers and files, bandages, aspirin, ibuprofen, sunscreen, lotion, phone cards and gum.

Donation boxes will be placed in the lobbies of buildings on Health Science Campus Monday, Nov. 30.

“We’ll collect items through Dec. 15 and then deliver everything to the base,” Brand said.

“This project is a wonderful opportunity for us to be able to partner with our students for such a great cause,” Brand said. “We collected items for the troops a few years ago and needed a pickup truck to deliver everything. That was awesome!”

“Times are tough in one way or another for everyone in Toledo, and I can’t think of a better place to start making a difference than with the folks who fight for our country,” said Benjamin Jacobs, second-year medical student and president of the Student Service Club. “The men and women of the 983rd battalion — and their families — have earned the UT community’s enthusiastic support.”

The mission of the 983rd Engineering Battalion is to maintain combat readiness and proficiency in the engineering skills necessary for the support of combat operations. In addition to Monclova, the battalion has companies in Bryan and Lima.

For more information on the collection drive, contact Brand at lynn.brand@utoledo.edu or Peg Simon at 419.491.1665.

Poet to help honor National American Indian Heritage Month at UT

Deer Cloud

Deer Cloud

Writer and poet Susan Deer Cloud will speak in honor of National American Indian Heritage Month Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m. in the Student Union Auditorium.

A reception for Deer Cloud will begin at 6 p.m.

According to the Web site foothillspublishing.com, which published her newest book titled I Was Indian, Deer Cloud writes about the traditions of Blackfoot, Mohawk and Seneca Indians and has published books of poetry that include The Broken Hoop and In the Moon When the Deer Lose Their Horns. Additionally, she is the editor of Confluence, a multicultural anthology.

Deer Cloud was raised in the Catskills Mountains and is an alumna of Bingham University, where she teaches creative writing on occasion, according to the site. She is in the Master of Fine Arts Program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

She is a recipient of a New York State Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellowship and a Chenango County Council for the Arts Individual Artist’s Grant, and is the founder of Binghamton Underground Poets, Wild Indians & Exuberant Others, Unc. (Unincorporated). In 2007, she was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship in Poetry, according to the Web site.

The free, public event is sponsored by the offices of Multicultural Student Services and Equity and Diversity and the departments of Sociology and Anthropology and English.

Glacity Theatre Collective to offer spirited reading of ‘Santaland Diaries’

Dave DeChristopher, UT instructor of theatre, as Crumpet the Elf

Dave DeChristopher, UT instructor of theatre, as Crumpet the Elf

Leave the young ones at home with a sitter and a “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” DVD, and join the Glacity Theatre Collective for an alternative tradition of Christmas crimes and misdemeanors.

“The Santaland Diaries” will open Friday, Nov. 27, at 8 p.m. at the Valentine Theatre, 410 Adams St. Performances continue Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 28 and 29, and Friday through Sunday, Dec. 4-6, and Dec. 11-13. Curtain time will be 8 p.m. except for Sunday matinees, which will take place at 2 p.m.

Noted humorist David Sedaris first came to prominence on NPR with his wickedly funny story of playing Crumpet the Elf in the holiday extravaganza known as “Santaland” at Macy’s. Now adapted into a play by Joe Mantello, “The Santaland Diaries” has become a new, subversive Christmas classic with its backstage exposé of that seamy underbelly of the holidays known as Elf School.

“The story, when first read by Sedaris on NPR, quickly became the second-most requested piece in Morning Edition’s history,” said Glacity Theatre Collective Executive Director Holly Monsos, UT associate professor and chair of theatre and film. “And it’s not surprising. All too often the stress of trying to make the holidays perfect can drive people a little crazy. Crumpet the Elf deals with such craziness — and we’ve all been there — with wit, subtle anarchy and something that almost, but not quite, resembles compassion.”

Dave DeChristopher, one of Glacity Theatre Collective’s founding members, will play the acerbic Crumpet. He is an instructor in the UT Department of Theatre and Film.

Glacity Theatre Collective Artistic Director Cornel Gabara, UT assistant professor of theatre, is directing the production. James S. Hill, UT professor of theatre and film, designed the set and lighting, and Monsos created the costumes.

Ticket prices are $20 and are available in person at the Valentine Theatre Box Office, online at www.valentinetheatre.com/boxoffice.html or by phone at 419.242.2787.

The Sunday, Dec. 6, matinee will be a “pay what you can” show, and tickets will be available at the door only.

The Glacity Theatre Collective is a company comprised of professional local theatre artists, including UT faculty, staff and students. In September, it became a new resident company in the Valentine Theatre’s studio spaces.

For more information, go to www.glacity.org.

UT Matters looks at sustainability

UT graduate student Matthew Neilson and Dr. Carol Stepien, director of the Lake Erie Center, identified potential specimens for a research project.

Dr. Matthew Neilson, who received a doctorate from UT this year and teaches at the University of Florida, and Dr. Carol Stepien, director of the Lake Erie Center, identified potential specimens for a research project.

UT Matters is a partnership with The Blade and Buckeye CableSystem to bring the community health science education and the latest news about how University faculty, staff and students are changing Toledo and how the community can be a part of it.

This month’s topic is UT going green.

Everyone knows the benefits of going green. Now the new word being used by experts is sustainability — the ability to meet the needs of today without compromising the needs of the future.

According to Dr. Ashley Pryor, UT associate professor of women’s and gender studies, sustainability involves protecting natural, social and economic environments. From alternative energy and recycling to sinking poverty and improving human health, becoming more sustainable requires a delicate balance of merging human development with nature conservation.

UT is decreasing its own negative impact on the environment while researching and developing technology that will help the world become more sustainable.

To become part of the go green team at UT, or to find out what you can do to help the sustainability of the region, visit utoledo.edu/sustainability.

College of Medicine department changes name

After The University of Toledo merged with the Medical University of Ohio in 2006, the Department of Public Health and Homeland Security found a new home in the College of Medicine.

Three years later, the Department of Public Health and Homeland Security has received a new name, the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.

Dr. Sheryl Milz, associate professor and interim chair of the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, said the faculty wanted a name that was identified more closely with the work within the department.

The name was unanimously approved by department faculty and Dr. Jeffrey P. Gold, Health Science Campus provost, executive vice president for health affairs and dean of the College of Medicine.

Milz said the faculty felt the new name would provide a more direct link with their colleagues in the College of Medicine.

“The faculty felt that since both public health and preventive medicine were focused on preventing disease, that name described the vision and goals of the department,” she said.

UT Police and Residence Life offer students holiday safety reminders

The University of Toledo Police Department and Office of Residence Life offer the following advice to help ensure everyone has a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday:

• When driving, slow down, consider the weather and road conditions, and wear your seatbelt. Get home safely. If alcohol is part of your holiday plans, make sure a designated driver is used. Never drink and drive.

• Unfortunately, at this time of year, the number of thefts increase. Students living on campus should take extra precautions and keep doors locked when visiting friends next door, going to the dining hall or sleeping. As always, do not let people you don’t know trail you into the building, and never sign people in as your guests that you aren’t familiar with.

• Students living off campus should be sure doors and windows are secure. Ask a trusted neighbor to watch over your house or apartment and report anything unusual. Do not advertise vacation plans on Facebook or MySpace. Take all valuables, especially all electronic devices such as laptops, MP3 players, game systems and GPS units, with you.

• When shopping, place valuables in the vehicle’s trunk, and be sure to use secure Web sites when making purchases online.

• When on campus, report anything unusual to UT Police at 419.530.2600

Main Campus community asked to vote on tobacco use

The University’s Main Campus community has an opportunity to shape future policy regarding tobacco use.

About 22,000 students and 2,500 faculty and staff received surveys by e-mail last week. Each survey consists of one statement with three possible “votes” regarding tobacco use on Main Campus:

• Establish a tobacco-free campus;

• Designate four outdoor areas for tobacco use; or

• No change from UT’s current policy affecting Main Campus, which prohibits tobacco use in buildings but allows it outdoors, 30 feet from these structures.

Links to the surveys will be available through myUT accounts until Friday, Dec. 18. Each respondent can vote only once.

“This is about being healthy,” said Jo Campbell, director of residence life and a member of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention Committee, which is sponsoring the survey. “If we’re going to have changes to our tobacco policy, we’d like our student population to have a leadership role.”

The surveys were distributed in conjunction with the Great American Smokeout, which takes place in mid-November each year. All members of the Main Campus student body, as well as its full-time faculty and staff members, are eligible to participate.

Any change in policy will be based on survey results and additional data, and take effect for the 2010-11 academic year.

“We’re giving this a long lead time in case the survey indicates the Main Campus community would like a change,” Campbell said. Feedback, she noted, has been mixed.

“I’ve gotten one response that asked why UT would encroach on a personal freedom. Another supported the ban, but wondered how it would be enforced.”

The committee will reconvene in January to discuss survey results and craft a recommendation for Main Campus leadership. Campbell and other members of the committee previously have met with several student organizations, including Undergraduate Student Government and the Resident Student Association, to discuss students’ attitudes toward tobacco use on Main Campus.

“The reality is four-fifths of the population doesn’t smoke,” Campbell said. “Tobacco is completely banned on the Health Science Campus, and I predict the majority of our voters will vote for some restriction on Main Campus.”

In 2006, Health Science Campus joined 22 fellow members of the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio in banning tobacco use.

Krystal Weaver, Student Government president, said, as a private citizen, she’d support a ban of tobacco products. “But as a representative of the student body, I prefer a compromise,” she said. “I expect there to be some type of change to UT’s current policy, but it all depends on the survey results.”

Campbell said tobacco use is considered a major health concern by the American College Health Association, a federal agency that tracks health trends in institutes of higher education. She noted that 365 universities in the United States have some type of restrictions on campus use, and one Ohio institution, Hocking College, is entirely tobacco-free.

‘Man of Nitinol’ engineering new accelerator to help with medical procedures

Superman is known to be faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

That’s nice and all, but what can “the Man of Steel” do about drop-foot syndrome, a spine in need of stabilization, or moving an esophagus out of harm’s way during medical procedures?

That’s where Dr. Mohammad Elahinia, assistant professor of mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering, comes in.

Posing by a high-frequency temperature-controlled test instrument that is used to characterize thermomechanical and fatigue behavior of nitinol devices are, from left, Dr. Mohammad Elahinia; Majid Tabesh and Walter Anderson, master’s students in mechanical engineering; Shuo Wang, an electrical engineering doctoral student; and Minal Bhadane, a biomedical engineering doctoral student.

Posing by a high-frequency temperature-controlled test instrument that is used to characterize thermomechanical and fatigue behavior of nitinol devices are, from left, Dr. Mohammad Elahinia; Majid Tabesh and Walter Anderson, master’s students in mechanical engineering; Shuo Wang, an electrical engineering doctoral student; and Minal Bhadane, a biomedical engineering doctoral student.

Elahinia is “the Man of Nitinol.” He’s been working with nitinol, an alloy made of nickel and titanium, since his grad school days at Virginia Tech and during his five years in UT’s Dynamic and Smart Systems Laboratory.

Due to nitinol’s ability to accommodate large strains and its physiological and chemical compatibility with the human body, the alloy is one of the most used materials in medical devices.

“Nitinol alloys have two advantages,” Elahinia said. “It’s super elastic, which means it can be deformed significantly more than steel and it still remains functional. It also has shape memory, which means it can ‘remember’ and return to its original shape by exposing it to heat.”

Elahinia is the principal investigator from UT on a new three-year, $3 million grant through Ohio’s Third Frontier Program to create a nitinol commercialization accelerator to help develop the next-generation of biomedical devices. Drs. Sarit Bhaduri, professor of mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering and surgery, and Vijay Goel, endowed chair and McMaster-Gardner Professor of Orthopedic Bioengineering, are co-investigators.

Institutions partnering on the grant are Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Clinic, NASA Glen Research Center and Norman Noble Inc., a Cleveland-based maker of nitinol devices.

Elahinia believes UT received the Third Frontier grant because its current research with nitinol shows great potential for commercialization.

For example, Elahinia and Drs. Chuck Armstrong, professor and chair of kinesiology, and Samir Hefzy, professor of mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering, received a National Science Foundation grant to develop an active ankle-foot orthosis device to help people with drop-foot condition. The device will be put on the leg to enhance function.

“Because of nitinol’s flexibility and memory properties, it can compensate for the loss of muscle force in drop-foot patients,” Elahinia said. “We plan to use our new nitinol commercialization accelerator facility to make a prototype of the device.”

UT also has a patent pending and is actively seeking a licensee for a nitinol screw designed for affixing rods and plates to the spine to stabilize it or correct deformations. The screw was designed in collaboration with Dr. Ashok Biyani, associate professor of orthopedics and chief of the Division of Spine Surgery at University of Toledo Medical Center.

The screw is expected to be especially useful with patients who have osteoporosis.

“Regular screws can loosen as bones deteriorate due to osteoporosis; however, the nitinol screw reacts to body heat when inserted to engage the screw further in the bone as it degrades, to ensure it remains anchored,” Elahinia explained.

Also awaiting a patent is a nitinol-based esophagus positioner, designed to protect patients during an ablation procedure, which is used to treat an abnormal heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation.

During ablation, low voltage electricity is delivered at high frequencies to the two upper chambers of the heart in an attempt to correct its rhythm. However, due to the esophagus’ proximity to the heart, it is susceptible to being burned during the procedure.

Weekly meetings with Drs. Carlos Baptista, associate professor of neurosciences, Haitham Elsamaloty, associate professor of radiology, and Khalil Kanjwal, a cardiology research fellow, helped Elahinia’s group to design the new device that moves the esophagus out of harm’s way during ablation.

The hope is that the nitinol commercialization accelerator will result in even more interdisciplinary projects.

“The nitinol commercialization accelerator will provide technical help in analysis and fabrication of nitinol devices. If faculty members have any ideas they’d like to explore or need to fabricate devices out of nickel titanium, we are here to help,” Elahinia said.

Just like “the Man of Steel.”

UT physician, kidney donation chain featured in People Magazine

webreesp48p072_073_herPeople Magazine, one of the most widely read periodicals in the country, has a story and photos in its Nov. 30 issue about the groundbreaking approach to increasing the quantity and quality of kidney transplants across the country developed by Dr. Michael Rees, UT professor of urology and kidney transplant surgeon.

The feature includes photos and interviews of donors and recipients involved in the world’s first and longest chain of kidney transplants made possible by maximizing the good that can come from an altruistic, or Good Samaritan, kidney donor. The chain was coordinated through Rees’ nonprofit organization Alliance for Paired Donation.

The five-page story, which mentions UT Medical Center, leads off a special section titled “Heroes of the Year.” The issue hit newsstands last week and has actor Johnny Depp, the “sexiest man alive in ’09,” on the cover. Click here to see the story.

A People editor and photographer spent a weekend in October at UT meeting, interviewing and photographing Rees and the kidney chain participants.

People has a weekly circulation of 3.75 million.

“The University of Toledo and its people are doing so many wonderful things, and this People Magazine feature just underscores the fact that our university and medical center are on the move,” said Lawrence J. Burns, vice president for external affairs and interim vice president for equity and diversity. “Our Office of University Communications is continually working to garner national recognition for UT, and this is the result of several months of work.”

The kidney chain has been featured on CNN, “NBC Nightly News,” “ABC World News Tonight” and in USA Today.

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iCARE notes that stick

Every day people who work at The University of Toledo Medical Center go out of their way to make their hospital and clinics the safest places for patients and a pleasant place for their colleagues to work.

webutmc-icare-sticky-notesWhether it’s helping a visitor find her way, giving a medical student a hand, or triple-checking a medication to make sure it’s the correct dose, it’s all important, and all worthy of a thank-you.

“Tough times abound, there’s no question,” said Esther Fabian, UT director of health-care marketing. “Let’s be honest — it can be a challenge to rise above the woes of the economy and other stressors in our lives. Those who make the effort are worth recognizing.”

To that end, a new way to thank faculty and staff for their efforts has been developed.

iCARE “sticky notes” were distributed to members of UTMC’s Operations Leadership Team last week. Each page is easily filled in with the employee’s name and what he or she did that was worth recognizing.

“We wanted to make it easy to show appreciation,” Fabian explained. “And we didn’t want to impede on any future developments of more formal service recognition programs.”

Department managers can post their notes of recognition wherever is appropriate, whether it is in the break room, on a locker, at the nurses’ station or on a computer monitor.

“I think positive affirmation of recognizing people’s ideas, hard work, dedication and willingness to put self aside is the most worthy endeavor we could have,” said Hollis Hamilton, one of UTMC’s nursing directors.

iCARE is the UT Medical Center’s initiative designed to transform health care. It’s a commitment to view everything through the eyes of a patient and his or her family members and visitors, and use that perspective to provide distinctive and exemplary health care.