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Academic Affiliation investment: Labs receive new equipment

Biomedical researchers at The University of Toledo are working with substantially greater support thanks to a significant investment in new laboratory equipment from ProMedica through the Academic Affiliation with the College of Medicine and Life Sciences.

University and ProMedica leaders joined faculty and staff Oct. 11 for tours of renovated laboratories on Health Science Campus and to celebrate the investment. The new state-of-the-art equipment encompasses 11 instruments across three labs in the Health Education and the Block Health Sciences buildings.

Allen Schroering, histology lab manager in the Advanced Microscopy and Imaging Center in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, discussed lab improvements with ProMedica President and CEO Randy Oostra.

“The new technologies will equip our expert researchers with the tools they need to advance knowledge and develop better therapies to treat our loved ones,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “These state-of-the-art research facilities also are critical in attracting and retaining the talent needed to elevate Toledo as a leading academic medical community.”

Signed in 2015, two major goals of the Academic Affiliation are to recruit and retain top talent to the region and to grow biomedical research. The University additionally seeks to increase external research funding to support ongoing discovery. Leaders of both institutions believe that first-class research capabilities will support both goals.

“We should invest in the capabilities of the people who are here today, but also plan for the people we want to attract in the future,” Randy Oostra, president and chief executive officer of ProMedica, said. “We’re very serious about changing the trajectory of our two organizations by working together.”

Dr. William Maltese, professor and McMaster Endowed Chair of Biochemistry and Cancer Biology, expressed appreciation on behalf of University researchers for the investment, and assured University and ProMedica leaders that the new equipment was selected after careful consideration of the resources needed to support and grow biomedical research at UT.

Many of the new instruments replace antiquated equipment with updated techniques and newer technology, and high-throughput systems improve speed and efficiency by producing results and analysis in just days for tests that previously took months. The investment additionally includes instruments new to the University, providing technology and capabilities previously unavailable in the research enterprise.

“This investment from ProMedica in our research facilities is matching words with deeds for progress in the Toledo community,” Dr. Christopher Cooper, executive vice president for clinical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, said. “It’s a tangible example of what we set out to do with the [Academic] Affiliation.”

Cancer research topic of Oct. 12 lecture

“History of Cancer Research: Why Patients Are Still Dying for a Cure” will be discussed Thursday, Oct. 12, at 5 p.m. in Health Education Building Room 110 on UT’s Health Science Campus.

Dr. Azra Raza, Chan Soon-Shiong Professor of Medicine and director of the Myelodysplastic Center at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, will deliver the ninth annual S. Amjad Hussain Lecture in the History of Medicine and Surgery.

Her research focuses on myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia. In 1984, she started a tissue repository that now contains 60,000 samples from thousands of patients.

“This repository has helped my colleagues and me define the molecular and genetic milestones that must be covered for pre-leukemia cells to cross over into leukemia cells,” Raza said during a 2016 TEDx talk in New York. “It will also help us define potential therapeutic targets that could be used to intercept the disease before it is too late. This work will likely apply to the evolution of other cancers as well.”

She was part of President Barack Obama’s the Cancer Moonshot Program.

“Cancer is slated to become the leading cause of death in the coming decade, with one in two men and one in three women suffering from the disease at some point in their lives,” she said during the Tedx talk. “Over the next 10 years, the number of new cancer cases in the United States will increase by 42 percent, and the number of cancer survivors will rise from 15.5 million to 20.3 million. During the same period, the number of oncologists will increase by only 28 percent.”

Raza’s research has appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine, Nature, Blood, Cancer, Leukemia, and Cancer Research.

In 2012, she was a Hope Funds for Cancer Research honoree. Two years later, Raza received the Distinguished Services in Field Research and Clinical Medicine Award from Dow Medical College.

This annual lecture was created in honor of Hussain, professor emeritus of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, and humanities, and columnist for The Blade. The free, public event is designed to highlight Hussain’s interest in many diverse fields, including the history of medicine.

Alumni to be honored at annual Homecoming Gala Oct. 6

This week The University of Toledo Alumni Association will recognize the winners of its most prestigious awards: the Gold T, Blue T and Edward H. Schmidt Outstanding Young Alum Award.

These three recipients will be recognized — along with distinguished alumni from each UT college — at the Homecoming Alumni Gala and Awards Ceremony Friday, Oct. 6, at 6 p.m. in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium.

Tickets for the gala are $30 each, $10 for children, and may be purchased by calling the Office of Alumni Relations at 419.530.ALUM (2586) or by visiting toledoalumni.org.

The Gold T is presented to a UT graduate in recognition of outstanding achievement in his or her field of endeavor while providing leadership and noteworthy service to the community.

Kim

The 2017 winner of the Gold T is Dr. Julian Kim of Shaker Heights, Ohio. Kim, a renowned expert in the treatment of patients with melanoma, breast cancer, soft tissue sarcomas and gastrointestinal malignancies, graduated from the College of Medicine and Life Sciences in 1986. Chief of oncologic surgery and chief medical officer at the Seidman Cancer Center of University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and the Charles Hubay Professor of Surgery at Case Western Reserve University, Kim holds the U.S. patent for novel research discovery in adoptive immunotherapy of cancer. His breakthrough process takes immune cells from a cancer patient and activates them in a laboratory in order to infuse them back into the patient to treat the cancer. Clinical trials in patients with advanced melanoma have proven successful, with the treatment helping to slow the advancement of the cancer. His treatment process is being used to assist pancreatic cancer patients. Prior to joining the Seidman Cancer Center in 2006, Kim served as director of the Melanoma Program at the Cleveland Clinic. Seidman Cancer Center is one of only 42 cancer hospitals nationwide.

The Blue T is presented to a UT Alumni Association member and UT graduate who has made outstanding contributions to the progress and development of the Alumni Association and University.

Miller

The Hon. Nancy Miller, of Sylvania, Ohio, is the 2017 honoree. Chief magistrate of Lucas County Probate Court, Miller holds three degrees from The University of Toledo: a bachelor of arts in psychology/sociology in 1977, a master of education in community agency counseling in 1979, and a juris doctor from the College of Law in 1988. A member of the executive committee of the Alumni Association’s Board of Trustees where she serves as secretary, Miller is also chair of the policy and procedures committee for Women & Philanthropy at UT. Recipient of the Henry Herschel Commitment Award in 2015 from the College of Law Alumni Affiliate, she is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board in the College of Law. Miller is a major donor to numerous campus organizations, including the Medical Research Society, Women & Philanthropy, and the College of Law. A past president of the Lucas County Bar Association and the Toledo Women’s Bar Association, Miller was the first ombudsman for Lucas County Children Services. She has received national acclaim for her work in protecting children.

The Edward H. Schmidt Outstanding Young Alum Award is presented to a University graduate who is 35 years or younger in recognition of outstanding achievement in her or his field of endeavor, while providing leadership and noteworthy service to the Alumni Association, University or community. This award is named in memory of Ed Schmidt, a 1942 alumnus and a longtime supporter of the University and its Alumni Association.

Carey

The 2017 recipient of this award is Dr. Michelle Carey, of Temperance, Mich. Carey earned a bachelor of science degree from the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2011 and was awarded the doctor of pharmacy degree from that college in 2013, when she was the class valedictorian. Clinical pharmacist for St. Luke’s Hospital Anticoagulation Service, Carey is an active community volunteer. Secretary of the Toledo Academy of Pharmacy, she is a member of the American Pharmacists Association national new practitioner communications and networking committee. A member of the UT Alumni Association’s Board of Trustees, she is a regular volunteer at the University community care clinic, Notre Dame Academy, Blessed Sacrament Church and Bedford Goodfellows.

UT to honor three for contributions to emergency medicine

The University of Toledo will recognize three local individuals for their work and dedication to the field of emergency medicine at the seventh annual Emergency Medicine Wall of Honor Induction Ceremony.

A reception will be held Tuesday, Oct. 3, at 11:30 a.m. in the Jacobs Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center on Health Science Campus. The program will start at noon with a welcome from UT President Sharon L. Gaber followed by remarks from Dr. Christopher Cooper, executive vice president for clinical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, and Dr. Kristopher Brickman, professor and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine.

“This ceremony celebrates individuals who have demonstrated a passion for the field and epitomize what emergency medicine is all about,” Brickman said. “Through their leadership and commitment, each has helped advance the field to the next level.”

The Emergency Medicine Wall of Honor, made possible through funding from IPI Insta-Plak Inc. and The Blade, was established in 2011 to celebrate the achievements of those who committed to service within the emergency medicine community.

Each year, nominations are submitted by a committee of community stakeholders and reviewed by a multidisciplinary selection committee.

This year’s honorees are:

• Dr. Todd Brookens, emergency medicine physician. Considered a favorite among hospital staff at ProMedica Toledo Hospital for his approachability, enthusiasm to teach and outgoing nature, Brookens earned his doctorate of medicine at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences and completed his internship and residency in emergency medicine at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo. The emergency department physician also is the associate medical director of the ProMedica Transportation Network and medical director for many EMS agencies in the northwest Ohio region.

• Marja Soikkeli-Dooner, registered nurse. Soikkeli-Dooner developed extensive experience in nursing and administration throughout her career at Mercy St. Vincent and ProMedica Toledo hospitals, where she was director of emergency services. Prior to her retirement, Soikkeli-Dooner served as the vice president and chief nursing officer at ProMedica Wildwood Orthopaedic and Spine Hospital. She earned her associate’s degree in nursing from Pen Valley Community College in Kansas City, Mo., followed by a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s in liberal studies at UT. She is regarded as an exceptional mentor who has helped mold many of the great leaders in emergency medicine.

• Heidi Hess, emergency medical technician. Hess served 22 years in the Springfield Township Fire Department, before retiring as captain of the EMS department in 2014. She began her career in 1978 as an EMT-basic, and by 1981 had earned her paramedic certificate licensure. Hess played an integral role in EMS education by providing training to thousands of firefighters, EMTs, nurses and physicians throughout her career.

UT algae, health experts reassure residents on safety of drinking water

Water quality experts at The University of Toledo are working with city of Toledo leaders and water treatment plant operators to help keep the public drinking water supply safe.

Dr. Tom Bridgeman, UT algae researcher and professor of ecology, and Dr. David Kennedy, assistant professor in the UT Department of Medicine, participated in a news conference Thursday with Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson.

Watch the video here.

Despite the algal bloom visible in the Maumee River, Bridgeman said, “The Maumee River is over 10 miles away from where we get our drinking water. Our water intake is in Lake Erie. Right now, the water quality at the intake is very good. There is almost non-detect toxins at the intake. And the peak of toxins was over two weeks ago, almost three weeks ago. Toxin levels dropped steadily over the last two weeks.”

“There is a disconnect between the harmful algae that we see and the toxins that the algae produce,” Kennedy said. “Just because you have harmful algal blooms does not mean that they are producing toxin, that they have released toxin, that there is toxin.”

Internal medicine residents rank in top 5 percent for medical competency

The UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences’ internal medicine residents outscored 95 percent of their peers on a national exam by the American College of Physicians.

The 2016 Internal Medical In-Training Exam, which is modeled after the American Board of Internal Medicine Certification Exam, is an annual self-assessment available to residents to assess their progress.

“To achieve these high of marks is a real testament to the outstanding internal medicine residents we have here at UT,” said Dr. Ragheb Assaly, UT professor of medicine and director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program. “They have proven their academic capability through their exam scores and are able to apply this knowledge and effectively treat the patients they see every day.”

UT’s Internal Medicine Residency Program is a three-year, fully accredited program designed to provide the best of academic medicine with community-based clinical training for a high-quality education for future physicians. Residents receive hands-on experience in a variety of medical specialties.

The 2016 internal medicine residency graduating class matched to many different specialty fellowships at Johns Hopkins University, Mayo Clinic, the University of Michigan, Case Western Reserve, Baylor College, Georgetown University, George Washington University and the University of California.

UT’s internal medicine residents also have shown tremendous dedication to teach and conduct research. During the past four years, the internal medicine residents have published more than 100 articles in medical journals and made numerous presentations at local and national conferences such as the American College of Physicians, the American College of Gastroenterology, Digestive Diseases Week, American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology. 

Surgeon named director of cancer program

With nearly 30 years of experience in cancer-related care, it comes as no surprise that Dr. F. Charles Brunicardi has been named director of the cancer program in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences.

This administrative role oversees the coordination of the three key components of the cancer program — clinical, education and research studies in affiliation with ProMedica.

Brunicardi

“I am honored to be here and enjoy working with President [Sharon L.] Gaber, Dean [Christopher] Cooper, and UTMC CEO Dan Barbee,” Brunicardi said. “In this administrative role, I really aim to focus on enhancing relationships between clinical staff, clinical and basic science faculty, as well as the learners, in order to take the cancer program to its next level of excellence. The ultimate goal is to build a precision medicine program for targeted cancer therapy in affiliation with ProMedica.”

A practicing general surgeon specializing in personalized surgery and precision medicine, Brunicardi joined UT in 2016 as chair of the Department of Surgery and chief of academic surgery for ProMedica.

Prior to this, he was a member of the Department of Surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California in Los Angeles, where he served as professor in residence and vice chair of surgery since 2011 and the Moss Foundation Chair in Gastrointestinal and Personalized Surgery since 2012.

“Dr. Brunicardi was an ideal choice for this role because of his vast experience in translational cancer research, surgical oncology and his strong leadership skills,” said Cooper, dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences and executive vice president for clinical affairs. “This role is critical for the integration of high-quality patient care, state-of-the-art research, and education. Dr. Brunicardi has the skills and experience to accomplish this.”  

In addition to his impressive experience, Brunicardi’s clinical interests include pancreatic cancer neuroendocrine tumors, as well as breast surgery. His research focuses on translation precision medicine and personalized surgery, specifically pertaining to pancreatic cancer. He has published 284 papers, seven books and 38 book chapters, and is the lead editor of Schwartz’s Principles of Surgery.

After receiving his medical degree from Rutgers School of Medicine in 1980, he graduated the surgery residency program at State University of New York Downstate, where he also spent three years as a research fellow in pancreatic diseases. He served as an assistant and associate professor at UCLA, then served as professor and chairman of the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston for 12 years.

He has designed and founded three breast cancer centers and served on boards of three cancer centers. He has served as the first vice president for the Texas Surgical Society, as a member of the board of directors for the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, and on the board of trustees at the Mary Crowley Medical Research Center. He is a member of the Committee on Technology and Communications Association for Academic Surgeons, American College of Surgeons, and is a charter member of the Cure Focus Research Alliance. He has held several positions within the Association for Academic Surgery; these include president, recorder and historian.

Brunicardi also dedicates time to editorial services for medical publications, including the Journal of Translational Medicine; American Journal of Surgery; Cancer Management and Research; Clinical and Translational Science; Pancreas; and World Journal of Surgery.

UT celebrates fusion of art and science with Toledo CellulART Sept. 29

Scientists by trade. Artists by association.

Biologists breaking down the building blocks of life to find a cure for cancer and other diseases fuse science and art every day, turning the laboratory into a studio.

This cytoskeletal art was created by Dr. Rafael Garcia-Mata, UT assistant professor of biological sciences.

This week The University of Toledo is hosting a one-day conference to celebrate and explore the creative side of cytoskeletal research.

Toledo CellulART will take place Friday, Sept. 29, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the UT Center for the Visual Arts, a building designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry and attached to the Toledo Museum of Art.

“Much of what we do is microscopy-based, which takes a certain level of artistic expertise,” said Ashtyn Zinn, UT PhD student researcher in the Department of Biological Sciences.

Zinn organized the free, public event with the help of a grant from the American Society for Cell Biology. She works in the cancer research laboratory of Dr. Rafael Garcia-Mata, UT assistant professor of biological sciences.

Toledo CellulART’s keynote speaker will be Dr. Keith Burridge, Kenan Distinguished Professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He will speak at 3:30 p.m.

“Dr. Burridge is a modern scientist and pioneer in the field of cytoskeletal research,” Garcia-Mata said. “Among a very long list of seminal contributions, he provided key early insights into the mechanisms of cell attachment and adhesion as one of the very first to characterize focal adhesions and the contractile nature of stress fibers. He discovered and characterized many of the key molecular components of the complex now known as the adhesome.”

The event also will feature a talk and artwork by Dr. Dylan Burnette, assistant professor of cell and developmental biology at Vanderbilt University, at 1:30 p.m.

Oral and poster presentations by students and faculty are scheduled throughout the day. Pieces by past winners of the Nikon Small World Challenge will be on display at 4:30 p.m.

Registration is required for the event, which brings together the regional art and scientific communities. In addition to UT faculty and students, researchers from 15 other universities will attend the conference from Michigan, Indiana and Illinois, including the University of Michigan, Notre Dame and the University of Chicago.

For more information, go to https://toledocellulart.wixsite.com/home.

UT College of Medicine students to receive white coats at ceremony

The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences will recognize first-year medical students during its official white coat ceremony Thursday, Aug. 3, at 10 a.m. in Nitschke Hall Auditorium. 

The ceremony, held during the week of orientation, welcomes medical students to the college and prepares them for undertaking a medical career. Highlights of the event include a welcome from the dean of the college, a keynote address on humanism in medicine, and the presentation of white coats and recitation of the Medical Student Pledge of Ethics.

Dr. Christopher Cooper, executive vice president of clinical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, will officiate the ceremony in which 175 medical students will receive their white coats. More than 75 percent of the new students are Ohio residents, and about 20 percent are from northwest Ohio.

“This traditional ceremony really underscores the foundation of the medical profession for first-year medical students,” Cooper said. “The white coat serves as a symbol of their achievement of being selected to medical school. Secondly, it reiterates their commitment to professionalism, continuing education, and their service to others through medical care.”

The annual ceremony will conclude orientation week for the medical students.

In addition to College of Medicine and Life Sciences, the UT College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences holds a white coat ceremony for third-year PharmD students, and the UT College of Health and Human Services presents white coats to first-year physical therapy and occupational therapy doctoral students and respiratory care students in their junior year, which is the first year of their professional program.

Associate professor emeritus sketches Louie the elephant

On a recent Monday morning, Dr. Paul Brand found inspiration in the wise eyes of Louie, an elephant that was at the time housed at the Toledo Zoo.

“I belong to an informal group of artists, the Monday Morning Painters. We meet every Monday for breakfast and then sketch or paint in different venues around northwest Ohio,” explained the associate professor emeritus of physiology and pharmacology.

Dr. Paul Brand, who drew this sketch of Louie the elephant, will have a booth at Art on the Mall Sunday, July 30.

Though Brand was able to expertly capture Louie in his sketch, he pointed out that wild animals don’t always make the easiest subject matter: “Sketching at the zoo is fun, but challenging. Subject matter is mostly the interesting architecture; the animals would make great pictures if they would hold still. Happily, Louie held still for about 30 minutes while eating an enormous amount of hay.”

While Louie ate his breakfast, Brand studied the elephant’s features.

He described his artistic process: “I set up opposite him and laid out a sketch as usual, using a 2B drawing pencil, first noting the length and height of his body, the relative sizes of his head, ears and trunk, and the length of his legs compared to his height at his shoulder. Then I carefully outlined his body shape and used shading to give volume and character. I paid special attention to his face as that is where character is. Last, I made fine lines to show the creases around his eyes that give him the appearance of wisdom.”

Louie, born in 2003 at a whopping 275 pounds, recently was transferred to Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Neb. He resides with a herd of six other elephants rescued from Africa amid a severe drought. Zoo staff are hopeful that transfers such as these will serve a large role in saving the endangered species.

Though visitors aren’t able to visit Louie at the Toledo Zoo, they can still pick up greeting cards made from Brand’s sketch, and the original sketch, at Art on the Mall. The juried art fair will be held Sunday, July 30, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Centennial Mall. Brand will be at booth No. 98, located near the Health and Human Services Building.

“I enjoy showing my work at art fairs; Art on the Mall is one of the best: well-organized; friendly, competent volunteers; and an excellent location on campus,” he said. “This is my fourth year at Art on the Mall.”