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Biomedical company created by UT faculty celebrates FDA clearance, first product launch

Two local bioengineers are officially in the business of back pain relief.

A new medical device developed by researchers at The University of Toledo to help reduce infections from spinal surgery is making its market debut.

Spinal Balance created Libra, a pre-sterilized, individually packaged screw system designed to combat contamination in the operating room.

Spinal Balance created Libra, a pre-sterilized, individually packaged screw system designed to combat contamination in the operating room.

Spinal Balance will celebrate the launch of its first locally grown product called the Libra Pedicle Screw System Wednesday, May 25, at 6 p.m. at the Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex on UT’s Main Campus.

Libra is a pre-sterilized, individually packaged screw system designed to combat contamination in the operating room as a result of contact with people, containers or surfaces. The product will help surgeons at hospitals worldwide improve patient care and reduce costs.

“Deep bone infections are a serious problem,” said Dr. Anand Agarwal, CEO of Spinal Balance and UT professor of bioengineering. “Keeping anything from touching or contacting the threads of a screw is very important. Our aim is to provide the surgeon with technically advanced implants that are easy to handle and can be implanted using improved aseptic technique.”

“We reduce the variables in the operating room that contribute to infections,” said Don Kennedy, director of sales and marketing for Spinal Balance. “No one ever has to touch the implant prior to it being placed into a patient.”

spinal balance logoThe Food and Drug Administration cleared the Libra system last year to be used for spine fusion and to treat back pain in cases of degeneration, trauma and deformity.

Agarwal and Dr. Vijay Goel, UT Distinguished University Professor and the McMaster-Gardner Endowed Chair of Orthopedic Bioengineering, launched Spinal Balance in 2013 and developed the Libra technology through support from the state of Ohio’s Third Frontier Program, Rocket Innovations and UT’s LaunchPad Incubation program.

“We value, foster and invest in the entrepreneurial spirit here at The University of Toledo,” said Jessica Sattler, UT director of economic engagement and business development programs. “Our LaunchPad Incubation program provides faculty members and community entrepreneurs intensive entrepreneurial assistance and state-of-the-art facilities for research, development, manufacturing and storage as they navigate the long road from concept to commercialization. The success of Drs. Agarwal and Goel also is a proud accomplishment for our program.”

The celebration of the Libra product launch will begin with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by presentations at 6:15 p.m. and a dinner at 7:15 p.m.

Spinal Balance is one of three private companies Agarwal has located in the LaunchPad Incubation program with other UT research faculty members.

Agarwal’s company called IntelliSenze recently received $150,000 in state funds to help commercialize microprocessor chips under development that can detect the presence of bacteria and viruses.

Global Health Forum welcomes students to share international experiences

Students in The University of Toledo Medical Center’s Global Health Program have a unique opportunity presented as part of their medical school curriculum. During their time at UT, these aspiring physicians have the requirement of an international medical experience to bring to life what they learn in the classroom.

Students, faculty and staff are welcome to hear about the trips taken by fourth-year UT students at this year’s Global Health Forum, which will start at 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, in Collier Building Room 1200.

PowerPoint Presentation“It’s a forum in which the students actually talk about their global health experience,” said Dr. Kristopher Brickman, professor and chair in the Department of Emergency Medicine. “It’s a combination of both academic rotations — they will spend a month at different locations across the world in areas that are different than ours — and also mission activities where they will go on a trip with one of our faculty members one of our faculty members taking care of patients for a more limited time frame of five to 10 days.”

At this year’s forum, students will present on their global health electives from the 2015-16 school year, with rotations that included Haiti, China, India and many others. Students will have up to 10 minutes to talk about their particular elective experience, what affected them, how the trip helped them develop culturally and professionally, and more.

The overall aims of UT’s Global Health Program include developing an international curriculum for UTMC that encompasses academic, clinical and research experiences over a span of one to three months. Academic centers range from rural populations to major cities around the world.

Brickman himself recently returned from a trip to San Salvador, El Salvador, where he began working with one of the local church organizations to set up the next possible medical mission site for the program.

Brickman said these experiences are crucial for the fulfillment of the Global Health Program. The level of education reached by traveling outside of the United States accomplishes two goals, the first of which is better preparedness for the medical profession today.

“Everybody on the planet can get virtually anywhere within 24 hours, for the most part, which means literally any disease anywhere in the world can basically be in your clinic, in your emergency department, at any time,” Brickman said. “Because of that, there’s a relevance factor in that we need to know what’s going on in the rest of the world.”

The second major key that makes global experiences important, according to Brickman, is the ability to connect with patients on a level far deeper than can be achieved by simply reading pages of a textbook.

“You have to live it — you have to embrace that culture, and you have to be part of that culture,” Brickman said. “That’s what we try to make happen with our Global Health Program.”

Light snacks will be provided. Those interested are encouraged to RSVP by contacting Deborah Krohn at deborah.krohn@utoledo.edu.

Associate professor to screen film in England

Holly Hey, UT associate professor and head of film, has been invited to screen her film, “the dum dum capitol of the world,” at Future Now: The Aesthetica Art Prize Symposium in York, England,Thursday and Friday, May 26-27.

“the dum dum capitol of the world” will be shown as part of the specially curated selection of artists’ films and moving image works selected from the winners of the Aesthetica Short Film Festival over the last several years.

Hey stillsHey’s film screened at the 2015 Aesthetica Short Film Festival and will be showcased with high honor among the best at the Future Now: The Aesthetica Art Prize Symposium. “the dum dum capitol of the world” received the LEF Moving Image Award.

She said the first-person experimental documentary is a moving-image meditation that contemplates landscape, home, recollection, queerness and time.

“The project uses personal history to reflect on universal themes about home, life, love, parenting, memory and death,” she said.

Hey began the project in 2005 when she received funding from the LEF Moving Image Foundation. She later received funding from The University of Toledo in 2012 and completed the film in 2014.

Future Now: The Aesthetica Art Prize Symposium is an extension of Aesthetica Magazine, a British art and culture publication that covers photography, visual art, music, film and theater. It has a readership of more than 284,000 and national and international distribution.



The symposium will consist of more than 40 speakers who will address diverse art topics. It also offers learning and networking opportunities through the industry sessions for artists.

Hey, who holds a master of fine arts degree in filmmaking from the Art Institute of Chicago, makes a broad range of work that can be seen in galleries, film festivals, live performances and on television. Her works have screened both nationally and internationally, and the National Educational Telecommunications Association distributed her major release, “Rat Stories,” which aired on PBS affiliates in the United States, British Columbia and Puerto Rico.

For more information on the event, click here.

UT grad student travels to Guatemala for vaccination research before graduation [video]

“This has been my first official full day in Guatemala,” said Jessica Schulte in a cell phone selfie video while resting on the front steps of a medical clinic in a remote village of Central America.

The master of public health student, who will graduate May 27 from The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences, recently journeyed 3,000 miles to Petén for a research project to earn her global health certificate.

Jessica Schulte held a child she met during a weeklong trip to conduct research at an OB/GYN clinic in Petén, Guatemala.

Jessica Schulte held a child she met during a weeklong trip to conduct research at an OB/GYN clinic in Petén, Guatemala.

The 24-year-old set up shop for about a week in Petén at an OB/GYN clinic founded by Toledo doctors and UT alumni Anne and Dr. Randy Ruch.

Randy, an associate professor of biochemistry and cancer biology, is Schulte’s faculty advisor at UT.

“They asked if I wanted to go down to Guatemala and actually gather data for my project instead of just reading other studies,” Schulte said.

“We’ve brought many types of students, from undergraduate students to medical students to physician assistant students and physical therapy students,” Randy said.

“I’m sure we’ve seen at least 20,000 patients over the years,” said Anne Ruch, a gynecologist who first visited Petén during a mission trip nearly 20 years ago. “We saw these people living in a garbage dump in the middle of the city and it was so overwhelming to me. The women will often come four or five hours to get to the clinic in a morning. They’ll leave their house at three or four o’clock in the morning.”

Schulte, an epidemiology major who studies the distribution of disease in large groups, surveyed mothers to learn firsthand the barriers to vaccinations for women and children living in poverty in Third-World countries.

Jessica Schulte interviewed a patient, left, with the help of her translator in Petén, Guatemala. The master of public health student conducted research at an OB/GYN clinic during a recent trip.

Jessica Schulte interviewed a patient, left, with the help of her translator in Petén, Guatemala. The master of public health student conducted research at an OB/GYN clinic during a recent trip.

“Before they went to the doctor to get a pap smear or other exam, I was at a table interviewing them,” Schulte said.

Schulte has participated in several medical mission trips as a UT college student.

“The University of Toledo is very diverse,” Schulte said. “Seeing the diversity on campus has opened my eyes into the rest of the world. We’re in this bubble of Toledo, Ohio, and the United States, but what is happening outside of the United States, especially in Third-World countries?”

Every year UT awards more than $100,000 in travel grants to students who study abroad, whether it be for a semester in major cities or a few weeks in remote villages like Petén.

“Meeting everyone has been wonderful,” Schulte narrated in her cell phone video from the clinic steps. “The people are so willing to take part in my survey. They line up before we even get to the clinic. They wait hours if there are tons of people, and they don’t complain.”

“I hope not only that students see what the rest of the world looks like, and they understand that being an American has tremendous privilege and therefore they need to give back,” Randy said.

“Every person that comes on a trip, I say, ‘You know why I brought you here … because I’m counting on you guys to change the world,’” Anne said.

“I have this passion for global health,” Schulte said. “I have this passion to bring back my knowledge to the underserved in the Toledo area. It’s a passion I’m going to have for the rest of my life.”

The College of Medicine and Life Sciences commencement ceremony will be held Friday, May 27, at 2 p.m. at the Stranahan Theater.

After graduation, Schulte plans to go back to school in UT’s physician assistant graduate program to earn a master of science in biomedical sciences.

UT College of Medicine to host commencement May 27

Retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Susan Desjardins will serve as the commencement speaker for The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences graduation ceremony Friday, May 27, at 2 p.m. at the Stranahan Theater.

There are 254 candidates for degrees: 169 who will receive doctor of medicine degrees; five who will receive doctor of philosophy degrees; 65 who will receive master’s degrees; and 15 who will receive graduate certificates.



Desjardins will receive an honorary doctor of public service degree.

“We are honored to have General Desjardins speak to our graduating class,” said Dr. Christopher Cooper, senior vice president for clinical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. “Her professional accomplishments and commitment to community exemplify the leadership traits we desire to see in all of our graduates.”

“Public service takes many forms, and it is gratifying that an institution dedicated to public service through teaching the healing arts and sciences has recognized that serving in the military also enhances the well-being of our fellow citizens,” Desjardins said. “I am humbled by the great honor bestowed upon me by the College of Medicine and Life Sciences.”

A command pilot with more than 3,800 flying hours, Desjardins retired after a 32-year career in the Air Force. Her final active duty assignment was as the director of plans and policy for U.S. Strategic Command.

Desjardins received her commission from the U.S. Air Force Academy and her bachelor of science degree in international affairs/political science. She also holds master of arts degrees in industrial psychology and human relations from Louisiana Tech University and national security and strategic studies from the Naval Command and Staff College.

Currently, Desjardins is a consultant for Project Air Force with RAND Corp., and is a trustee and nominating committee member of the Falcon Foundation, which supports military prep school scholarships for those who desire to attend the Air Force Academy. She also serves as president of the Board of Governors of the Independence Museum and as the national defense committee chair of the Exeter Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Exeter, N.H. She recently was selected to the Board of Trustees of Exeter Health Resources.

Five student-athletes qualify for NCAA East Primary Championships

Five Toledo student-athletes will continue their season at the NCAA East Regional Preliminary Meet on the campus of the University of North Florida in Jacksonville beginning Thursday, May 26.

“It’s great for the program to have five athletes in,” Head Coach Linh Nguyen said, “especially across the different event groups. It shows we can nationally compete in a number of events.”

NCAA outdoor track and field qualifiersThe top 48 competitors from each event throughout the east region qualified for the meet. Senior Kyesha Neal, junior Madeline Pacella, senior Brooke Tullis, freshman Jennifer Lichter and senior Liz Weiler qualified for the NCAA meet.

Neal qualified in two events, the shot put and the discus, with marks of 15.47 meters and 49.55 meters. Neal ranks 30th in the region in the shot put and 41st in the region in the discus.

Pacella also will represent the field events in the high jump. Pacella sits in 31st with a mark of 1.76 meters, which she earned at the Hillsdale College Gina Relays.

“Our field events have gotten stronger,” Nguyen said. “The throws have taken a big step forward, and Madeline in the high jump has done tremendous. It shows the development of the program.”

Tullis and freshman Jennifer Lichter will compete in the 10,000-meter. Tullis ranks 17th in the region with a time of 34:11.33, and Lichter ranks 35th with a time of 34:38.83. Tullis earned his best time at the Stanford Invitational, while Lichter earned her time at the Raleigh Relays.

At the Mid-American Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Tullis and Lichter ran the 5,000-meter in preparation for the 10,000-meter.

“The MAC 5K was a very tactical championship race, and I think it gave them solid preparation for Jacksonville,” Nguyen said. “They had to hang tough in the 5K, and having the practice will help them.”

Lichter will run her second career 10,000-meter race at the NCAA meet.

“She’s pretty tough mentally,” Nguyen said. “Brooke has run this race here before, and Jennifer can lean on her for advice.”

Weiler will return to the NCAA meet in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Weiler sits 15th in the NCAA East Region with a time of 10:10.89 and earned that mark at the Virginia Challenge.

“Liz knows what she is capable of,” Nguyen said. “This is her third time running this in Jacksonville, and she has done better in each race.”

The top 12 from each event will move on to the NCAA Outdoor Championships June 8-11.

For updates, go to http://utrockets.com.

Admission-only tickets still available for May 21 reverse raffle

All tickets are sold-out for The University of Toledo Athletic Department’s annual Reverse Raffle and Auction Fundraiser on Saturday, May 21, at Savage Arena.

Admission-only tickets are still available for $40 per ticket. These tickets may be purchased ahead of time by calling 419.530.5087 or purchased at the check-in table in the Sullivan Athletic Complex when doors open at 7 p.m.

thumb-rocket-color-logoOne admission only ticket includes the following:

• Admission for one to the event;

• All you can eat and drink (draft beer, wine, soda and water included);

• The ability to partake in the silent and live auctions, as well as the horse race;

• Optional facility tours throughout the evening; and

• Ability to purchase 50/50 tickets and “get back in” tickets for a chance to be put into the raffle’s Final 25 drawing.

In addition, attendees of the event should be aware that the David Leigh Root Bridge, located on Stadium Drive behind the Snyder Memorial Building, is closed for construction. Please use the Douglas Road entrance at Savage Arena for Lots 3 and 4, and the Douglas Road entrance at East Rocket Drive for Lots 5, 6 and 10.

Rocket Summer Liftoff Series to debut May 21 at Franklin Park Mall

Toledo Head Football Coach Jason Candle, along with junior quarterback Logan Woodside and senior offensive lineman Storm Norton, will appear at the Franklin Park Mall Saturday, May 21, in the debut of the Rocket Summer Liftoff Series.

Candle and the players will be at the mall from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to sign autographs and meet Rocket fans. Rocky the Rocket also will make an appearance. Free Toledo football posters will be available for Rocket fans, and the first 100 fans will receive a free pair of replica Toledo player gloves.

web Summer Liftoff-3As a special offer to Rocket football fans, the Rocky’s Locker in the Franklin Park Mall will offer a 25 percent discount on all UT gear during the event from 11 a.m. to 1 Saturday.

Fans may purchase Rocket football season tickets at the event. Fans also can enter to win great prizes, including free Rocket football tickets and Kids Club memberships.

Other events in the Rocket Summer Liftoff Series will include:

• Saturday, June 18 — Books 4 Buddies at Franklin Park Mall from 1 to 4 p.m.

• Thursday, July 21 — Girls Night Out: Football 101 with Jason and Nicole Candle from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Glass Bowl.

• Friday, Aug. 19 — Movie Night and Autographs with the Rockets in the Glass Bowl; time to be announced.

Eberly Center for Women serves up some summer sun

From swimming lessons and ballroom dancing to classes and a walking club, the Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women’s summer programming focuses on the social, educational and wellness aspects of life.

Classes will feature relevant topics, such as Women in Islam and the Disability Rights Movement, and will be taught by UT faculty members Dr. Asma M. Abdel Halim, associate professor and interim chair of women’s and gender studies, and Dr. Ally Day, assistant professor of disability studies.

center for women logo“There are a number of opportunities at UT this summer to be healthy, have fun, and relax while getting our work done,” said Dr. Shanda Gore, chief diversity officer and associate vice president for equity, diversity and community engagement. “We are all building a culture that everyone enjoys working in, and the Eberly programming is another option.”

Also new this summer is Crafternoons! This is a summer version of Adventure Fridays! Participants can stop by the Eberly Center, located in Tucker Hall Room 0168 any time during the extended session, whether it’s just for lunch or a break in the afternoon, and tap into their creative sides while making crafts to take with them. The sessions will include decorating flower pots, creating themed accessories for summer picnics, and completing fun coloring pages that will be displayed as the center’s fall art.

The complete listing of classes can be found at the Eberly Center website, utoledo.edu/centers/Eberly, or on its Facebook page.

The center asks all participants to call 419.530.8570 to pre-register for classes, as space is limited.

Speaker from Nature’s Nursery to kick off 2016 UT Naturalist Series

A naturalist-themed event at The University of Toledo Lake Erie Center this Thursday may include visits from a large bird of prey, a large mammal, a reptile and a smaller bird.

“This event is part of our Naturalist Series,” said Kathy Sullivan, communication and technology specialist at the center. “During the summer, we try to hold events that highlight something to do with the naturalist scope.”

may 19 flyer natures nurseryThe first event in this year’s series is titled “Naturalist Night Presents: Marquita Tillotson From Nature’s Nursery,” and it will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 19, in the Lake Erie Center.

“With this event, I am hoping to teach the audience about the wildlife in the area, while also spreading the love for animals and understanding that we all need to learn to live together and respect all living things,” said Tillotson, education coordinator at Nature’s Nursery.

This free, public event is family-friendly; both children and adults are welcome to attend. Along with a collection of animals, Tillotson will bring artifacts such as feathers, pelts and bones.

Nature’s Nursery Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation Education is a nonprofit organization based in Whitehouse, Ohio, that provides medical care to injured, orphaned or ill wild animals. Rehabilitation of wild animals and public education are two of the main goals of the organization, which serves the surrounding region of 18 counties in northwest Ohio. The center provides care to more than 2,500 native animals per year and release more than 50 percent of those animals back into the wild.

The rehabilitation center also leads outreach programs for both children and adults on many topics, from conservation to the importance of wildlife to how to minimize conflict when humans interact with the natural world.

“These animals are all around us, whether we live in cities or in the country,” Tillotson said. “So it is important that people learn to respect them and, hopefully, grow to love them like we do here at Nature’s Nursery.”

“Naturalist Night Presents: Marquita Tillotson From Nature’s Nursery” will take place at the Lake Erie Center, located at 6200 Bayshore Road, Oregon.

To learn more about Nature’s Nursery, click here.

For more information about the UT Lake Erie Center and its events, go to utoledo.edu/nsm/lec.