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Professor’s anatomy series to be translated for international audience

A series of anatomy books written by Dr. Ben Pansky, professor emeritus in the Department of Surgery in the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences, will be published in multiple languages and distributed worldwide this year.

Lippincott’s Concise Illustrated Anatomy is a series of three volumes presenting human gross anatomy in full digital color and providing clinical considerations for each region of the body. Featured in the series are Back, Upper Limb and Lower Limb; Thorax, Abdomen and Pelvis; and Head and Neck.



The books contain numerous illustrations based on Pansky’s original drawings.

First published in English in 2013, the series is co-authored by Dr. Thomas R. Gest and will be translated to Spanish, Chinese, Turkish, Greek and Japanese starting this year.

“I was thrilled to hear the books would be used by students and physicians in other countries,” Pansky said. “I am pleased to know The University of Toledo will be recognized internationally through these books.”

Pansky also is the author of numerous books including Gross Anatomy, now in its sixth edition, Embryology and Neuroscience. His work has been widely adopted in medical schools in the United States and around the world and is considered authoritative texts in their respective fields of study. He said he is approached frequently by physicians who thank him for his work.

“They will stop me to say they have the books in their libraries and reference them often. It’s satisfying to know what started as a hobby has made a difference for these physicians,” Pansky said.

Pansky began his career as an associate professor at New York Medical College, where he taught and conducted research. He then continued as a professor of anatomy with the first class at the Medical College of Ohio in 1970. In the evenings, he would work on the books, writing and drawing the structures of the body in pen and ink in exacting detail. Those drawings would later serve as the illustrations for his books.

“Over time, color has been added to the drawings and, with today’s technology, my drawings have been converted to full-color digital renderings for this series,” he said.

His medical illustration talents also were an intriguing feature of his lectures.

“I would tell students to put down their pens and just listen and watch,” Pansky said. “Then I would take them on a tour of a part of the body by drawing it on the chalkboard in three dimensions with fluorescent chalk under UV lighting. We would discuss each structure as the image took shape and relate it to the clinical perspective. I think they learned better that way.”

In addition to his books and anatomy lectures, Pansky helped to organize the anatomy and nursing departmental courses and conducted research in diabetes and immunology. He was one of the first professors to receive the University’s Golden Apple Award for Teaching Excellence and has received 11 of them since that time.

Seven home soccer matches to be streamed live on ESPN3

Seven of the Toledo women’s soccer program’s nine home matches will be streamed live on ESPN3 in the 2016 campaign, the UT Athletic Department announced Monday.

Last year, The University of Toledo launched a production operation that provided significant exposure and learning opportunities for UT students.

thumb-rocket-color-logoThe Rockets’ home contests against Northern Kentucky (Sept. 2), Detroit (Sept. 4), Indiana State (Sept. 18), Ohio (Sept. 25), Northern Illinois (Oct. 20) and Western Michigan (Oct. 23) will be produced and streamed live by ESPN3 from Scott Park.

In addition, the Rockets’ home match against Central Michigan (Oct. 6) will be produced by BCSN and also streamed live on ESPN3. 

Last weekend, UT (1-1-0) opened its 2016 campaign by splitting a pair of road contests. The Rockets lost to Quinnipiac in their season opener, 2-1, before rebounding with a convincing triumph against Wagner, 5-1.

Toledo is back in action at Atlantic Coast Conference member Louisville Sunday, Aug. 28, at 3 p.m. at Ulmer Stadium.

Crews clean up University Hall flooding

A ruptured steam line in an office on the sixth floor of University Hall set off the fire suppression system Monday evening causing flooding to that area.

No classrooms were impacted by the flooding, which also extended to the fifth and fourth floors of the building; however, a number of office areas were damaged.

Crews with the University worked throughout the evening and continue this morning to clean up the water damage.

Normal operations will continue today in University Hall.

UT medical faculty, students studying effects of algal bloom toxins on liver

A research team in The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences is taking an in-depth look at Lake Erie algal bloom toxins and the impact they can have on your liver.

“No one knows what safe limits are for a large segment of the public,” said Dr. David Kennedy, assistant professor in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. “Previous studies only focused on healthy animals.”

Andrew Kleinhenz, biomedical research assistant, and Dalal Mahmoud, UT junior majoring in biology, thawed plasma samples from mouse blood for molecular analysis to measure liver damage.

Andrew Kleinhenz, biomedical research assistant, and Dalal Mahmoud, UT junior majoring in biology, thawed plasma samples from mouse blood for molecular analysis to measure liver damage.

During the heart of this algal bloom season, researchers are using mice as a model to study the impact of microcystin exposure on patients who have the most common and often undiagnosed form of liver disease that is tightly linked to obesity.

“Microcystin is a toxin that specifically targets the liver, a vital organ that needs to be healthy in order to process the food you eat,” Kennedy said. “And non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the most prevalent type of liver disease nationally — particularly in northwest Ohio. Whether diagnosed or undiagnosed, a third of northwest Ohioans have this disease that is silent at first, but predisposes you to big problems down the road, such as the liver becoming scarred and inflamed.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, obesity is a major risk factor for the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which causes the organ to swell with fat. Unchecked, the disease can lead to liver failure and the need for a transplant.

“There is a large population of people who may be susceptible to the effects of microcystin exposure, whether it’s swallowed while swimming at the beach or through the tap should toxic algae once again contaminate the public water supply,” said Dr. Steven Haller, assistant professor in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and co-leader of the project that began in the spring. “The Toledo water crisis inspired us to re-evaluate what levels we’re calling safe.”

Taking a closer look at how algal bloom toxins affect the liver are, from left, Dr. David Kennedy; Dr. Steven Haller; Dalal Mahmoud, junior undergraduate student; Aaron Tipton, second-year medical student; Erin Crawford, research assistant; Andrew Kleinhenz, research assistant; Dr. Fatimah Khalaf, second-year graduate student; Shungang Zhang, second-year graduate student; Dr. Paul M. Stemmer, associate professor and director of the Proteomics Facility at the Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at Wayne State University; and Dr. Johnna A. Birbeck, ‎senior research scientist at Wayne State University.

Taking a closer look at how algal bloom toxins affect the liver are, from left, Dr. David Kennedy; Dr. Steven Haller; Dalal Mahmoud, junior undergraduate student; Aaron Tipton, second-year medical student; Erin Crawford, research assistant; Andrew Kleinhenz, research assistant; Dr. Fatimah Khalaf, second-year graduate student; Shungang Zhang, second-year graduate student; Dr. Paul M. Stemmer, associate professor and director of the Proteomics Facility at the Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at Wayne State University; and Dr. Johnna A. Birbeck, ‎senior research scientist at Wayne State University.

Two years ago this month, the city of Toledo issued a Do Not Drink advisory for half a million water customers due to the level of microcystin detected in the drinking water.

The state awarded UT researchers a $45,000 grant, which is matched by the University, for the project to discover if a pre-existing liver disease makes a person more susceptible to damage from the toxin released by algal blooms.

The goal is to help inform local, state and international health organizations as they form guidelines for safe limits of exposure.

“By focusing on people who may be at risk, we feel we are doing something beneficial to protect them if, in fact, we detect a damaging connection where microcystin causes the liver disease to progress,” Haller said.

“A healthy animal wouldn’t produce symptoms of liver failure at this level of exposure,” Kennedy said.

Haller and Kennedy have enlisted the help of several UT students in their experiments that use a breed of mouse predisposed to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Second-year medical student Aaron Tipton helped develop the standards to measure liver function after injecting mice with low doses of microcystin through a tube in their stomachs over the course of a month.

“We developed that from scratch because a big issue that came to light during the water crisis is that the only validated way to measure microcystin is expensive and takes a long time,” Tipton said. “Our work is one of the many ways that University of Toledo researchers are attacking the water quality issue to protect our community.”

“I’m honored to be involved in water quality research that is so important for the health and safety of families not only in our community, but in other places across the world also affected by toxic algal blooms,” said Dalal Mahmoud, a UT junior majoring in biology. “It’s a great opportunity to expand my studies and what I want to do in the future.”

Mahmoud and Tipton were the inaugural beneficiaries of a recent philanthropic gift to the lab, the David and Helen Boone Research Award, which helped fund their summer research.

The toxicity project is expected to be completed next June, but Kennedy and Haller hope this is only the first phase.

“Over the long term, we want to come up with a better diagnostic test that patients can take at the emergency room or doctor’s office — such as a simple blood test — to measure the microcystin levels in the body, for example, if you get sick after swimming in the water during algal bloom season,” Haller said. “Even further, we want to find out if there is a preventative or therapeutic strategy where someone can be treated so they don’t keep going down the road of liver disease progression.”

Former Rocket quarterback moving to radio booth

Former University of Toledo quarterback Austin Dantin will move to the radio booth this fall as the color commentator for UT football games on the Rocket Sports Radio Network.

UT and its exclusive multimedia rights holder, Learfield, recently announced.



Dantin, who played for the Rockets from 2009 to 2012, ranks third in UT history in completion percentage (65.1 percent), fourth in passing efficiency (135.54) and ninth in touchdown passes (31). He started in 25 games in his four-year career, completing 382 of 587 passes for 4,159 yards. One of the biggest games of his career came in a 31-20 win at Purdue in 2010, as he completed 24 of 31 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns.

“I am extremely honored and grateful to Learfield and the University for giving me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Dantin said. “I am looking forward to being back around this incredible program and hopefully being a part of the broadcasting team that is able to announce that the MAC Championship is coming back to where it belongs.”

Dantin will join new play-by-play announcer Brent Balbinot, who comes to the Rockets after 12 seasons of calling Iowa women’s basketball and baseball, as well as veteran sideline reporter Jim Heller, who enters his eighth season covering the Rockets.

UT research group contributes to international study on itch sensation

Researchers at The University of Toledo are investigating what makes us itch.

Dr. Ajith Karunarathne, assistant professor in the UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and his research group recently completed a collaborative, interdisciplinary study of the body’s itch response.



“While itchiness is not a life-threatening health concern, it is uncomfortable and can be a quality of life issue for some people,” Karunarathne said. “Our lab worked with researchers nationally and internationally to explore how the body interprets the itch sensation.”

Led by Dr. Zhou-Feng Chen in the Center for the Study of Itch at Washington University School of Medicine, researchers explored the cell’s sensory neuron response to itch-inducing stimuli. Karunarathne’s research group was selected to participate due to its expertise in subcellular optogenetics, which is live cell imaging and signaling.

“Our lab designs and uses light-sensitive signaling proteins and precisely targeted light beams to control signaling in specific regions in single cells,” Karunarathne said. “This way, we can use light for both controlling and monitoring cellular activities and understanding pathologically important cell behaviors such as cancer cell migration.”

Imaging fluorescence biosensors help to capture activities in various cellular compartments. However, scientists do not have a precise way of controlling signaling activities in these subcellular locations.

In the body, a cell’s transient receptor potential (TRP) channels transmit the sensation of pain, itch, temperature and touch to the brain. One channel, named TRPV1, responds to histamine signals, and another channel, TRPA1, responds to the itch-inducing chemical chlorquine.

Using their confocal subcellular fluorescence resonance energy transfer techniques, Karunarathne and his colleagues at UT were able to extract data that helped the team to identify a third member of the TRP family that also plays a role in the body’s itch response.

“We examined the role TRPV4 plays in itch and tested the hypotheses that TRPV1 and TRPV4 cooperate to relay itch information in sensory neurons,” Karunarathne said. “The study suggested that TRPV4 is required for cells to form complexes that relay itch signals.”

This new discovery could lead to new pharmaceuticals that target TRPV4 to provide relief to chronic itch.

The team’s work was published in Science Signaling online last month.

Associate professor selected as Health Law Scholar

Elizabeth McCuskey, an associate professor at the UT College of Law, recently was selected as one of four 2016 Health Law Scholars by the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics and Saint Louis University Law School’s Center for Health Law Studies.

The society’s Health Law Scholars are chosen using blind selection by a nominating committee composed of nine health law and bioethics scholars from across the country. Scholars are selected based on the originality of their articles and likelihood of making a significant contribution to health law scholarship.



McCuskey will participate in Scholars Weekend in September and present her work to an audience of distinguished health law professors.

Her article is titled “Affordable Care Preemption.” The work “examines preemption doctrine in the light of health reform, focusing on the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance provisions,” McCuskey explained. “This project illuminates the novel ways that the Affordable Care Act deploys preemption and scrutinizes its implications for the development of preemption doctrine and the implementation of health reform.”

McCuskey joined the UT law faculty in 2012 to coordinate the college’s health law concentration and direct the University’s JD/MD and JD/MPH joint-degree programs. In particular, the new JD/MPH joint-degree program can be completed in three and a half to four years and offers graduates a unique, interdisciplinary perspective on law and its role in promoting public health.

Additionally, McCuskey teaches Civil Procedure, Jurisdiction, Health Law, and Food and Drug Law, and was the winner of the Beth Eisler First-Year Teaching Award in 2014.

“It is an honor to be named a 2016 Health Law Scholar,” McCuskey said. “I am thrilled that the nominating committee found ‘Affordable Care Preemption’ so promising, and I look forward to sharing my work with this esteemed group.”

“Health law is an extremely hot topic in legal education,” said Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Geoffrey Rapp. “Legal and compliance jobs in the health field represent a major growth area, and we’re lucky to have a rising star in the field like Professor McCuskey leading our interdisciplinary efforts in the area.”

UT researchers test new experimental drug to treat diabetes and increase bone mass

Researchers from The University of Toledo, in collaboration with chemists from the Scripps Research Institute, have discovered a compound that normalizes glucose levels while increasing the mass and quality of bone.

Body processes that regulate energy metabolism and bone mass are closely intertwined, and numerous studies have shown individuals with Type 2 diabetes are at increased risk for bone fractures. Additionally, some current anti-diabetic drugs work well to regulate insulin levels, but can cause further bone damage.

Dr. Beata Lecka-Czernik, right, posed for a photo with her team, from left, Shermel Sherman, Faiz Tausif, Amit Chougule, Lance Stechschulte, Matthew Mazur, Zachary Rotter and Ali Eltatawy.

Dr. Beata Lecka-Czernik, right, posed for a photo with her team, from left, Shermel Sherman, Faiz Tausif, Amit Chougule, Lance Stechschulte, Matthew Mazur, Zachary Rotter and Ali Eltatawy.

“Our data demonstrate the regulation of bone mass and energy metabolism share similar mechanisms,” said Dr. Beata Lecka-Czernik, professor in UT’s departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Physiology and Pharmacology, and a member of the faculty in the Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Research. “This suggests a new pharmacologic agent could be developed to treat both diabetes and metabolic bone diseases.”

Targeting PPARγ, the protein in the body that regulates energy use and bone cell differentiation and function, Dr. Patrick Griffin and researchers from the Scripps Research Institute developed a series of new insulin sensitizers.

“Our multidisciplinary chemical biology team at Scripps Florida had spent many years developing precise structure activity relationships around many chemical scaffolds that alter the shape and behavior of PPARγ,” Griffin said. “These efforts were then combined with the bone biology expertise of Dr. Lecka-Czernik to explore whether we have compounds that maintain excellent insulin sensitization efficacy but are positive on bone health.”

Lecka-Czernik and her team at UT then tested these compounds for bone safety.

“During the course of our experiments, we discovered that a compound called SR10171 normalizes glucose levels in Type 2 diabetes, prevents associated weight gain, and increases the mass and quality of bone,” she said. “Remarkably, this experimental drug also maintains its positive effect on bone in non-diabetic conditions and acts as insulin sensitizer only on demand when normal glucose and insulin becomes imbalanced.”

SR10171 supports bone formation by directly regulating bone cells that work together to break down, build and protect bone.

The results also suggest the bone remodeling properties of this compound could be used to treat osteoporosis, Lecka-Czernik said.

The team’s findings, “PPARG Post-Translational Modifications Regulate Bone Formation and Bone Resorption,” was published in the August issue of EBioMedicine. This team science was funded in part on a collaborative grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Longtime UT game-day staffer passes away

Chester A. “Chet” Sullwold, a former Toledo Blade sports editor who worked at Toledo Rocket basketball and football games for the past 67 years, died Aug. 11 at his home in Toledo at the age of 91.

Sullwold originally attended The University of Toledo before serving in the military during World War II. After he returned, he attended and graduated from Ohio State University, accepting a position as a sports reporter with The Blade in 1948. A year later, he began working at the scorer’s table at UT basketball games. In 1956, Sullwold joined the game-day crew at UT football games, as well. In recent years, he served as the public address announcer for the press box at Rocket football games. He stepped down from that role at the end of 2013 season, marking 58 years on the game-day crew at the Glass Bowl.



“Rocket Nation has lost a true legend with the passing of Chet Sullwold,” said UT Vice President and Athletic Director Mike O’Brien. “Chet was a wonderful person who always had a smile and a kind word for everybody. His dedication to the Rockets was unparalleled. All of us in the Rocket family will miss Chet very much.”

Sullwold worked on the stats crew at UT men’s and women’s basketball games this past season, his 67th covering the Rockets on the hardwood. He was honored as the football team’s “12th Man” at a game in 2010, and was presented with the Distinguished Service Award by the Varsity T Club in 2015.

In 2012, he retired as a part-time staffer at The Blade, giving him 64 years on the sports staff.

Sullwold created a UT Foundation account that helped fund student employees in the UT Athletic Communications Office, and he also contributed to the renovation of the Savage Arena Media Room.

A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 3, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 428 N. Erie St., Toledo. Details, including time, are pending.

UT student helps Toledo Zoo secure grant money to restore sturgeon to Lake Erie

The Toledo Zoo secured approximately $90,000 in federal grant money to re-establish ancient lake sturgeon to Lake Erie with the help of a PhD student researcher at The University of Toledo.

The Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act Grants Program recently approved the funding proposal to build a sturgeon rearing facility at the Toledo Zoo along the Maumee River, which flows into Lake Erie.

UT graduate student Jessica Sherman held a lake sturgeon at the Black Lake Fish Hatchery near Onaway, Mich.

UT graduate student Jessica Sherman held a lake sturgeon at the Black Lake Fish Hatchery near Onaway, Mich.

Jessica Sherman, PhD student researcher in UT’s Department of Environmental Sciences, assisted the project by verifying that spawning and nursery habitat still exists in the Maumee River to sustain a population of the fish that can live to be 150 years old and grow up to 300 pounds and nine feet long.

“The new lake sturgeon rearing facility to be built at the Toledo Zoo will be a starting point for rebuilding the population that was once an important part of Lake Erie’s ecology,” Sherman said. “As a graduate student, it has been an incredible opportunity for me to work with partners at the zoo, as well as state and federal agencies to give these large and ancient fish a chance to thrive in Lake Erie once again. This is an instance when scientists and natural resource managers have the opportunity to improve the state of an ecosystem by restoring a species that belongs there and to learn a good lesson about our actions in the past.”

The addition of the grant brings the total funding for the project to $170,000.

Construction of the trailer-sized streamside fish hatchery is slated to begin next year. The goal is to release 3,000 juvenile fish into the Maumee River every year starting in 2018.

“The Toledo Zoo is proud to work with our partners: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, University of Toledo, Ohio Department of Natural Resources-Division of Wildlife, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to re-introduce a historical fish back to our area waterways,” said Jeff Sailer, executive director of the Toledo Zoo. “This project fits well with the zoo’s mission of inspiring others to join us in caring for animals and conserving the natural world. Humans caused the demise of this species, and it is most appropriate that we work together to bring it back.”

Lake sturgeon, which existed with dinosaurs, are no longer in the Maumee River. They’re believed to exist in small numbers in Lake Erie.

According to the zoo’s conservation director, lake sturgeon were abundant in the Maumee River in the 1800s, but the demand for caviar and fuel, as well as commercial over-fishing, caused the population to decline and ultimately disappear.

“Ohio doesn’t have a current reproducing lake sturgeon population,” said Kent Bekker, director of conservation and research for the Toledo Zoo. “This facility is a huge step for the reintroduction of this species in our state and for the Lake Erie basin.”