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Archive for October, 2018

State honors UT algae expert for leadership of Ohio Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative

Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor John Carey visited The University of Toledo Lake Erie Center Oct. 22 to honor UT’s harmful algal bloom expert for his role leading the state’s Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative, which consists of more than 30 science teams at universities across the state seeking solutions to address toxic algae in Lake Erie.

Carey recognized Dr. Tom Bridgeman, ecology professor and director of the UT Lake Erie Center, with the Chancellor’s Award, which honors exemplary faculty, administration and students who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in using the power of higher education to impact the communities where they are located and for the greater good of all of Ohio.

Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor John Carey, left, presented Dr. Tom Bridgeman, ecology professor and director of the UT Lake Erie Center, with the Chancellor’s Award for his role leading the state’s Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative.

“I’m proud of the work that has been done thus far, and of the example of effective collaboration that has been set thanks to Dr. Bridgeman’s leadership and expertise,” Carey said.

“It has been an honor to help lead the Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative for the Ohio Department of Higher Education,” Bridgeman said. “The chancellor recognized that Ohio’s university researchers had the potential to contribute to solving the harmful algal bloom problem. Since the start of the initiative, researchers have been working hard to provide science that can be used by state agencies in designing solutions. Not only are we providing answers to the pressing questions on how to manage and prevent harmful algal blooms now, we are training the next generation of scientists who will be called upon to help solve future environmental problems.”

Bridgeman has monitored, tracked and studied algae in the Great Lakes for nearly two decades. He created a new method to measure how much harmful algae there is in the lake during the course of the summer and has compared the bloom from one year to another since 2002.

He helps sound the early warning for water treatment plant operators throughout algal bloom season, which recently ended for the year.

Bridgeman also connects with legislative policymakers to raise awareness about his research exploring ways to protect the lake and ensure communities continue to have access to safe drinking water.

The Lake Erie Center is UT’s freshwater research and science education campus focused on finding solutions to water quality issues that face the Great Lakes, including harmful algal blooms, invasive species and pollutants.

Day of Giving raises more than $700,000 in second year

The number of donors who participated in the second annual University of Toledo Day of Giving Oct. 16-17 more than doubled 2017’s participation, with 3,156 donors giving this year.

Alumni and friends, faculty and staff members, and students came together to support Rocket Forward: You Launch Lives, contributing a total of $717,375.

The goal of the 36-hour campaign was to create awareness of the impact of philanthropy at UT and to increase private support among UT students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends.

This year, activities took place on both Health Science Campus and Main Campus, including a carnival-style event on Centennial Mall with student organizations providing games and activities to raise money for the Student Activities Fund. President Sharon L. Gaber visited Health Science Campus for selfies with nursing students and to spread the word about the Day of Giving campaign.

Gifts, designated for a wide variety of uses, were made to this second annual Day of Giving, during which, campaign advocates took to social media to encourage giving.

“We want to thank all of our University of Toledo students, alumni and friends who participated in Day of Giving 2018,” said Cheryl Zwyer, senior associate vice president for development at The University of Toledo Foundation. “Every person’s gift makes a difference. It is wonderful to see Rockets come together to support so many important programs across campus.”

Contributions will help students launch college careers and complete their degrees through scholarships; help faculty continue research that impacts the northwest Ohio region and beyond; fund new drug therapies and medical advancements to improve patient care; and support many UT programs across campus.

American Red Cross needs blood donors

Hurricane Michael is the second large-scale relief effort the American Red Cross is responding to in less than a month.

Severe weather forces the cancellation of blood drives and decreases donor turnout in the affected areas, which results in thousands of blood donations going uncollected, according to Angie O’Brien, account representative with the American Red Cross.

The University of Toledo Medical Center is answering the call for help and will host an American Red Cross blood drive Wednesday, Oct. 24, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Morse Center, located on the third floor of Dowling Hall.

“Hurricane Michael’s impact will be felt for weeks to come,” O’Brien said. “We are counting on sponsors like The University of Toledo in unaffected areas to ensure we have enough blood products to support patient needs.”

Along with the Oct. 24 blood drive, UT will host several blood drives over the next six weeks.

“Every drop counts,” O’Brien said. “Our goal is to fill all available appointment slots and make sure those who schedule in advance keep their appointments or reschedule for another time if there is a conflict.”

To schedule an appointment, visit redcrossblood.org and enter the sponsor code UTMED. Or call 1.800.RED.CROSS (733.2767) for further information and scheduling.

Use new software for research with human subjects beginning Oct. 29

Beginning Monday, Oct. 29, all new Institutional Review Board protocol applications should go through a new software system, IRB Manager, which is replacing Kuali Coeus.

The new software will be used for the entire lifecycle of research with human subjects — from the development and submission of protocol applications by researchers, to the review of the applications by the Institutional Review Board through approval, amendment, renewal and eventual closure.

Although the IRB Manager software is intuitive, faster and easy to use, the following two informational sessions are planned to assist users:

• Monday, Oct. 22, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the Research and Technology First-Floor Conference Room on Main Campus; and

• Wednesday, Oct. 24, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the Center for Creative Education Room 0111.

Despite its name, IRB Manager allows for the full suite of compliance processes to be handled in one system. After the rollout of IRB is complete, implementation for the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and Institutional Biosafety Committee processes will begin.

“While the rollout of IRB Manager was set to begin in January, we recently learned that support for Kuali Coeus was ending in October,” Dr. Rick Francis, director for research advancement and information systems, said. “Therefore, we accelerated the timeline and certainly appreciate the initial enthusiasm of those using this new software system, which is easy to navigate and offers significant benefits.”

More information about the software, including frequently asked questions, is available here.

Additionally, IRB staff members may be contacted as questions arise, and system administrators Jamie Van Natta (jamie.vannatta@utoledo.edu) and Francis (rick.francis@utoledo.edu) are available to answer questions about the implementation.

Open enrollment assistance available

As a reminder, all benefit-eligible employees should plan to complete open enrollment by midnight Wednesday, Oct. 31, with elections becoming effective Jan. 1.

If you have questions about specific plan options or need help with enrolling, Kate Johnson, manager of benefits planning and administration in Human Resources, will be available to provide personal assistance:

• Monday, Oct. 22, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Four Seasons Bistro in UT Medical Center on Health Science Campus; and

• Tuesday, Oct. 23, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Thompson Student Union in front of the Huntington Bank entrance on Main Campus.

By completing open enrollment, you will ensure you have proper medical, pharmacy, dental and vision coverage for next year.

Flexible Spending and Health Savings Account information will not roll over to 2019. Also, the spousal coverage affidavit must be completed again for most plans. Dependents ages 19 to 26 will be removed if open enrollment is not completed by Oct. 31. Employees must verify child dependent status in the open enrollment tool and all documentation must be provided by Friday, Nov. 30.

To complete open enrollment, log in to your account on myUT using your UTAD and password. In the Employee tab at the top of the screen, under My Toolkit on the left side, scroll down to Benefits Information and click on 2019 Open Enrollment.

If you have questions or need help completing your 2019 Open Enrollment, you also may contact benefits@utoledo.edu or 419.530.1470.

UT professor honored for technology commercialization efforts

Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor John Carey presented the 2018 Ohio Faculty Council Technology Commercialization Award to The University of Toledo’s Dr. Vijay Goel in Columbus Oct. 12.

Goel was recognized for his accomplishments toward the development and commercialization of the Libra Pedicle Screw System, which is being used in a growing number of hospitals and spinal surgery centers.

Goel

He has been a professor of bioengineering at the University since 2001 and has demonstrated outstanding success in translating his research into patented technologies that serve as a foundation for commercial ventures. He directs the Center for Orthopaedic Research Excellence that brings together UT faculty from a number of disciplines, such as engineering, medicine, kinesiology and physical therapy. He is an inventor on 42 invention disclosures at the University, has 25 issued patents, and the Libra pre-sterilized pedicle screw system is being widely used in trauma, deformity and degenerative applications in the spine.

In nominating Goel for the award, UT Provost Andrew Hsu wrote, “He contributes to the UT mission in many ways, but he is exceptional in his ability to translate his funded research into licensing and commercialization opportunities.”

“I am honored to receive this Technology Commercialization Award on behalf of UT and my bioengineering colleagues and collaborators, Dr. Anand Agarwal, Dr. Sarit Bhaduri and several others,” Goel said. “As faculty researchers, we look for opportunities to solve problems. I am proud we were able to do that with LIBRA to combat contamination in the operating room and a few other FDA-approved products, the bases for the two startups, Spinal Balance Inc. and OsteoNovus Inc.”

Dr. Jay Lee from the University of Cincinnati also was recognized as the runner-up for this year’s award. He was honored for his development of Watchdog Agent — a collection of machine learning and artificial intelligence software tools that can be customized for predictive health monitoring and diagnosis of equipment and systems in many diverse applications.

The Ohio Faculty Council launched its annual Technology Commercialization Award in 2016 to recognize a faculty member in the state university system for exceptional research discoveries and the role they have played in supporting the translation of those discoveries into marketable products and/or services.

“The public university system of Ohio is a critical incubator for innovation and the Ohio Faculty Council embraces the opportunity to recognize the role that our world-class faculty play in economic development,” said Dan Krane, chair of the Ohio Faculty Council. “Dr. Goel’s and Dr. Lee’s work are outstanding examples of the ingenuity and entrepreneurship taking place on campuses across the state that are greatly facilitated by our institution’s investment in higher education and commitment to academic freedom.”

The Ohio Faculty Council represents the faculty at all of the four-year public universities in the state. It addresses concerns common to faculty members across Ohio and presents a faculty perspective on major issues affecting higher education. It is committed to supporting and bringing attention to the critical role that Ohio’s institutions of higher education play in revitalizing the economy of the state and the nation by attracting and training an educated workforce. Learn more at ohiofacultycouncil.org.

Lake Erie Center photo contest seeking submissions

The Lake Erie Center’s ninth annual photo contest is accepting entries through Friday, Nov. 2.

Amateur photographers of all ages and skill levels are invited to share their nature photographs featuring the beauty of the region extending from Oak Openings to Maumee Bay.

“We host this contest every year because we feel it is important to mesh art and science, and we enjoy showcasing the amazing photographs we receive each year,” said Rachel Lohner, education program manager at the Lake Erie Center.

The theme of the contest is “The Nature of Our Region: From Oak Openings to Maumee Bay.”

Color and black-and-white photographs will be accepted. Entries are limited to three per person.

Prizes will be awarded in multiple age categories. First-place winners in each category will take home $25, and the grand-prize winner will receive $100.

Winners of the contest will be invited to attend an awards reception and receive their prizes in January.

Read more about the contest and enter photos at utoledo.edu/nsm/lec/webforms/lec-photo-contest.html.

UT research discovers link between refined dietary fiber, gut bacteria and liver cancer

Many of the processed foods we find on grocery store shelves have been loaded up with highly refined soluble fibers such as inulin, a popular probiotic that recently received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to be marketed as health-promoting.

But a new study from The University of Toledo’s College of Medicine and Life Sciences is raising serious questions about whether the risks of adding refined fiber to processed foods may significantly outweigh the benefits.

Dr. Vishal Singh, center, a Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation Fellow at the University, recently authored a study published in the journal Cell that found a link between highly refined soluble fibers and liver cancer. He is pictured with fellow researchers Beng San Yeoh, left, a PhD student, and Dr. Matam Vijay-Kumar, director of the UT Microbiome Consortium and associate professor of physiology and pharmacology.

Dr. Matam Vijay-Kumar, director of the UT Microbiome Consortium and associate professor in the UT Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, and his research team recently investigated if a diet enriched with refined inulin might help combat obesity-associated complications in mice.

While the inulin-containing diet did stave off obesity in 40 percent of mice, many of those same mice went on to develop liver cancer at the end of the six-month study.

“The findings shook us,” Vijay-Kumar said, “but at the same time we recognized their potential importance and accepted the challenge of exploring how processed dietary soluble fiber was inducing liver cancer.”

Although this study was performed in mice, it has potential implications for human health. It also suggests, researchers say, that enriching processed foods with refined, fermentable fiber should be approached with great caution.

“We fully appreciate that the fibers present in whole foods like fruits and vegetables are healthy,” Vijay-Kumar said. “Because of that, fortifying or adding purified fiber to processed food sounds logical. However, our results suggest it may in fact be dangerous.”

The findings were published in the Oct. 18 issue of Cell, one of the world’s leading biological journals.

There are two basic types of naturally occurring dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers are fermented by gut bacteria into short-chain fatty acids. Insoluble fibers pass through the digestive system unchanged.

While both types are beneficial, the concern raised in the study relates to how gut bacteria break down the highly refined fiber that is added to some processed foods as a dietary supplement.

Dr. Vishal Singh, a Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation Fellow at The University of Toledo and lead author of the paper, said refined fiber is a new addition to our diets and we are in the very early stages of understanding the risks and benefits it may present.

“Soluble fibers added to processed foods are not part of a natural meal,” Singh said. “The inulin used in this study is from chicory root, which is not a food we would normally eat. In addition, during the extraction and processing of the fiber, it goes through a chemical process. We don’t know how the body responds to these processed fibers.”

Chicory root is used as a source of inulin to fortify fiber in processed foods.

The mice that developed liver cancer in this study had altered and elevated gut bacteria, a condition known as dysbiosis. Intriguingly, the researchers observed no evidence of liver cancer in inulin-fed mice that were treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics to deplete gut bacteria.

The UT team collaborated with researchers at Georgia State University who performed a similar study in germ-free mice that completely lack gut bacteria. The absence of liver cancer in those mice further confirmed the contributory role of gut bacteria.

The bacteria collectively known as gut microbiota degrade and digest soluble fibers via fermentation. To inhibit that fermentation process, the UT researchers fed mice beta acids derived from Humulus lupulus — a plant more commonly known for producing the hops that go into beer to prevent spoilage from fermentation.

“Strikingly, feeding beta-acids to inulin-fed mice averted liver cancer, which further reinforce our hypothesis that gut bacterial dysmetabolism primarily driving liver cancer in these mice,” Singh said.

Researchers also found they could halt the development of liver cancer by intervening to replace inulin with the insoluble fiber cellulose.

“Cellulose could not be fermented by gut bacteria present in mice or humans. This finding again highlights the link between bacterial fermentation of soluble fiber and liver cancer development in these mice,” said Beng San Yeoh, a graduate student in Vijay-Kumar’s lab and another lead author of this study.

Researchers said their findings suggest the need for more studies that look at human consumption of the type of refined fiber found in processed foods.

“Our study is going against the conventional wisdom of what people think, that fiber is good, no matter how they get it,” Vijay-Kumar said. “We do not want to promote that fiber is bad. Rather, we highlight that fortifying processed foods with refined soluble fiber may not be safe or advisable to certain individuals with gut bacterial overgrowth or dysbiosis, whose abnormal fermentation of this fiber could increase the susceptibly to liver cancer.”

The study was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health.

Bancroft Street construction nears completion

The Bancroft Street road replacement project is in the home stretch.

Miller Bros. Construction Inc. of Archbold, Ohio, and the city of Toledo will begin final paving Friday, Oct. 19.

That means there will be intermittent lane shifting during this portion of the project.

In addition, the parking bay area in front of University Hall will be closed Friday, Oct. 19, and again late next week, Thursday or Friday, Oct. 25 or 26, according to Doug Collins, director of grounds and transportation.

“We ask that motorists and pedestrians continue to use extreme caution as construction winds down,” Collins said. “We appreciate everyone’s patience during this project.”

Department of Theatre and Film to hold auditions for two productions

The University of Toledo Department of Theatre and Film will hold two sets of auditions this fall.

The first auditions, for the play “The Pillowman,” will be held Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 22-23.

The second set will be for the musical “Into the Woods” and will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 13-14.

All auditions will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Center for Performing Arts Studio Theatre.

Auditions are open to everyone, including members of the community. Cast members do not need to be UT students. Parking is free during the auditions.

For the play auditions, participants should prepare a one-minute monologue that must be memorized. For the musical, they must prepare a theatre song.

Scripts are available for a 24-hour loan period and are in the department office. Sign-up sheets and audition forms are posted on the production call board near the dressing rooms in the Center for Performing Arts. Audition forms can be filled out in advance, but they must be brought to the audition. Additional audition forms will be available the evening of tryouts.

Performances for “The Pillowman” will be held Feb. 1-10. Performances for the “Into the Woods” are April 5-20. Rehearsal schedules will be determined after the shows are cast.

Written by Martin McDonagh, “The Pillowman” will be directed by Quincy Joyner, UT assistant lecturer of theatre. The play is about a fiction writer who is interrogated by police because the content of his stories is horrifyingly similar to a string of recent child murders.

“Into the Woods” will be directed by Dr. Edmund Lingan, UT professor and chair of theatre. Based on the book by James Lapine, the production features music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Four fictional characters are taken out of their fairy tale stories and given the chance to make their deepest wishes come true. The characters find themselves on a quest that somehow becomes intertwined with the other characters’ journeys.