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Symposium on Research in Psychiatry, Psychology and Behavioral Science this week

The 26th Annual Symposium on Research in Psychiatry, Psychology and Behavioral Science will be held Thursday, April 18, in the Mulford Library Café.

From 11 a.m. to noon, the poster session will take place. There are 37 posters this year with research topics ranging from cognitive factors that influence sexual behaviors and social factors that affect weight loss, to the impact of hearing aid use and object recognition in children.

Hyde

Dr. Luke Hyde, associate professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, will present a keynote address titled “The Long Reach of Early Parenting: A Neurogenetics Approach to the Development of Antisocial Behavior” at noon.

Along with The University of Toledo departments of Psychiatry and Psychology, the symposium is sponsored by the Bowling Green State University Department of Psychology and the University of Michigan- Dearborn Department of Behavioral Sciences.

The principal goal of the symposium is to showcase the basic and applied behavioral research being conducted by faculty members and students in the region, according to Dr. Michele Knox, professor of psychiatry at the University.

For more information on the free event, contact Carol Brikmanis at carol.brikmanis@utoledo.edu.

UToledo develops precise method to test for exposure to toxic algae

Researchers at The University of Toledo have developed a highly accurate method to test for microcystin in blood or urine samples, an advancement that could provide clinicians a powerful new tool in assessing a patient’s exposure to the dangerous toxin.

The discovery is a continuation of the work UToledo has done around harmful algal blooms since the 2014 Toledo water crisis that temporarily left the city without drinkable water.

Dr. David Kennedy, left, and Dr. Dragan Isailovic have developed a test for microcystin in blood or urine samples that could prove to be a powerful new tool to assess a patient’s exposure to the toxin.

“We don’t want to just be known as the people who turned off the tap, we want to be known as the people who come up with the solutions,” said Dr. David Kennedy, assistant professor of medicine in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, and one of the researchers involved in the project. “We’re leading in that area, and the way we’re leading isn’t just going to help northwest Ohio — it’s going to help the world.”

Kennedy’s lab collaborated with Dr. Dragan Isailovic, associate professor of chemistry in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Dr. Steven Haller, assistant professor of medicine, to develop and test the method. The research was funded from grants awarded from the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative.

UToledo’s microcystin test combines a method for separating the toxic compounds out of blood or urine samples by liquid chromatography with further examination using mass spectrometry.

The test can identify various microcystins and quantify concentrations of six common microcystins, including the types most often found in Lake Erie.

“Together, we have created a reliable tool that hasn’t existed before. From a clinician’s point of view, you can’t underestimate the importance of having certitude in your diagnosis. We’re helping to provide new diagnostic methods for clinicians to rule in or rule out exposure to microcystin,” Haller said.

Most other attempts at testing blood or urine samples for microcystin have relied on the ELISA test, which is the standard method for quantifying microcystins in water but isn’t as effective in biological samples.

“Our method is very sensitive and reproducible for identification and quantification of microcystins in biological fluids,” Isailovic said. “It would be difficult to do this with the same sensitivity and specificity using any other method.”

The findings were published in the Journal of Chromatography A. Other UToledo contributors on the paper were Dr. Dilrukshika S.W. Palagama, David Baliu-Rodriguez, Apurva Lad and Dr. Bruce S. Levison. A provisional patent on the testing method has been filed.

The researchers are exploring opportunities to use the lab’s technology to offer testing of samples to outside entities.

Accreditation restored to UToledo’s Physician Assistant Program

The University of Toledo’s Physician Assistant Studies Program has been granted full accreditation in recognition of the high-quality education provided to students in a program that meets or exceeds national standards.

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) notified the University in a letter sent April 11 that its accreditation has been restored. The program is now on accreditation-continued status, which is in effect until its next review in September 2027. The program had been on accreditation-probation status.

“We are proud [the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant] recognized our efforts to enhance the quality of our PA program and continually improve on our processes and procedures,” said Dr. Christopher Cooper, dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. “We have remained committed to our students in the program throughout this process and are happy to share this positive outcome with them.”

“We are pleased with this outcome, and I want to thank the leadership from the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, College of Graduate Studies, and the Provost’s Office for their efforts to develop and implement an action plan focused on enriching the academic experience for the students in our Physician Assistant Studies Program,” UToledo President Sharon L. Gaber said.

The University’s accreditation status is:

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant Inc. (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to The University of Toledo Physician Assistant Program sponsored by The University of Toledo. Accreditation-Continued is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards.

Accreditation remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards. The approximate date for the next validation review of the program by the ARC-PA will be 2027 September. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.

UToledo med students biking across country before graduation to raise money for Community Care Clinics

The sun rising over Los Angeles March 20 signaled the start of a 50-day adventure for a pair of fourth-year medical students at The University of Toledo who are bicycling more than 3,200 miles across the country.

The trip is raising money for UToledo’s Community Care Clinics, a student-run organization that provides free medical care to those with limited or no health insurance.

UToledo medical students Ricky Voigt, left, and Bobby Easterling began their cross-country bike trip by dipping their rear tires in the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, Calif. They are raising funds for UToledo’s Community Care Clinic.

“This is a way to give back on our way out from Toledo,” Ricky Voigt said. “In my eyes, this is one last thank-you to the community.”

Voigt, an Eagle Scout who will soon embark on an emergency medicine residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., is joined on the trip by Bobby Easterling, who matched with Ohio State University for his residency in internal medicine.

The pair set a goal of raising $3,267 — one dollar for every mile of their journey — but more than $6,000 was pledged to the Community Care Clinics before they rode their first mile.

“It’s a good cause and a lot of our classmates are really dedicated to it. We know they do good work out there,” Easterling said. “We’re thrilled that people are supporting this.”

Voigt and Easterling left Toledo just days after Match Day. They’ll need to reach the East Coast in time to return to Toledo for their May 10 graduation from the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, giving them just over a month-and-a-half to cross the country.

To do that, they’ll need to average about 70 miles a day. They’ve scheduled a handful of rest days in major cities, but they won’t have time to linger much along the route or to have the luxury of packing it in if it rains.

In spite of that, they’re both eager to complete this journey.

“I think the hardest part is going to be just being on the bike for 45 days. I think physically it’s going to be tough at first, but you kind of get used to it,” Easterling said.

Bobby Easterling, left, and Ricky Voigt took a UToledo flag on their 50-day bike ride across the country. The medical students started their trek in Santa Monica, Calif., and will pedal more than 3,200 miles to the Atlantic Ocean.

Avid runners, Easterling and Voigt came up with the idea to do a cross-country bicycle tour after they ran the Flying Pig Marathon together last spring in Cincinnati. One of Voigt’s Scouting friends had previously done a similar trip, and he helped them decide if the trek was feasible in their time frame and develop the initial plan. Easterling, the more serious cyclist of the two, also drew on his experience participating in the 100-mile Pelotonia charity bike ride in Columbus.

Since the fall, Voigt and Easterling have been sketching out the route and ramping up their indoor training on stationary cycles.

“We’ve probably been riding about four days a week. We started out an hour or two at a time. Now we’re riding 60, 70, 80 miles, which is about four or five hours on the trainer,” Voigt said. “It takes up a lot of time. We just set up Netflix in front of the bike and go.”

Starting from Los Angeles, they are following the historic U.S. Route 66 to cut across Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri into St. Louis. From there, they’ll travel east through Indianapolis, Columbus and Pittsburgh before continuing on through Washington, D.C., and on to the Atlantic Ocean.

Each is carrying about 50 pounds of gear on his bike, including camping equipment. The pair elected not to book any accommodations before the trip began to give them some flexibility in where they stop for the night.

Easterling and Voigt weren’t heavily involved in the Community Care Clinics during their time at the University, but they each have been impressed by the organization’s reach.

Nate Locke, a first-year medical student and director of administration for the Community Care Clinic, said the organization is heavily reliant on donations.

“Health care is expensive, so to have somebody who just wanted to help us out in this way was such a blessing,” he said. “Without the clinics, a lot of the people we see wouldn’t have any access to health care whatsoever. We also provide food and clothing. We try to take care of the entire person, not just the patient.”

The clinics served nearly 5,000 patients last year. Locke said the board is hoping the funds raised by the “Ricky Bobby Bike America for Community Care Clinic” campaign might be enough to cover a larger project, such as adding electronic health records.

Voigt will post updates to his Instagram, @therickyvoigt. Donations can be made on the Ricky Bobby Bike America for Community Care Clinic website.

Former NSF director, water quality expert to speak at University

A former director of the National Science Foundation who is known worldwide for her work in addressing water quality issues will visit The University of Toledo next week as part of the Jesup Scott Honors College Distinguished Lecture Series.

Dr. Rita Colwell was the first scientist to discover cholera can enter a dormant state and lurk in water until conditions are again favorable for it to grow. Her finding opened the door to new research about the link between the natural environment, climate, and the spread of infectious diseases.

Colwell

She is working with the British government on a project to track and better respond to likely cholera outbreaks.

“Dr. Colwell is one of the most influential and well-known life scientists in the world today,” said Dr. Heidi Appel, dean of the Jesup Scott Honors College. “She is a leader not only in her academic discipline, but in pulling people together from many academic disciplines to focus on water quality and interdisciplinary approaches to solve major societal challenges.”

Colwell is scheduled to present a pair of lectures at the University:

• A public presentation of how connections between climate and oceans affect human health on Monday, March 25, at 6 p.m. in Doermann Theatre on Main Campus.

• A technical talk about how next-generation DNA sequencing has revolutionized the study of the relationship between microbial communities and how that new knowledge can be used in diagnostics, drug development, public health and water safety Tuesday, March 26, at noon in Radisson Hotel Suite C on Health Science Campus.

Both lectures are open to the public, but reservations are requested to the technical talk luncheon; go to the Distinguished Lecture Series website.

Much of Colwell’s six decades of research has been dedicated to understanding and preventing cholera outbreaks. Among her many discoveries, she demonstrated how algal blooms, spurred by high nutrient loads and warming ocean waters, increases the population of cholera-carrying zooplankton.

Though Lake Erie’s algal blooms raise concerns of microcystin — not cholera — Colwell’s innovative research methods and multidisciplinary way of developing solutions could prove a helpful roadmap to addressing the problem in northwest Ohio.

“We believe the kinds of tools she’s developed and the way of thinking about interdisciplinary research-based problem solving will be of interest and value to the people in our region who are dedicated to protecting water quality,” Appel said.

Colwell was the first woman to lead the National Science Foundation, serving as director from 1998 to 2004. She was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2006 and the Stockholm Water Prize in 2010.

She has a bachelor’s degree in bacteriology, master’s degree in genetics and doctorate in oceanography. She holds distinguished professorships at both the University of Maryland at College Park and Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Match Day brings joy, excitement as medical students learn their residency placements

Some of Christian Siebenaler’s earliest memories were of his father, a Toledo-area physician, going off to help people.

“It sounds cliché, but since I was 5 years old seeing him go to work every day in his white coat, I knew I wanted to be a doctor,” Siebenaler said.

Kevin Litzenberg showed his match to Ohio State University Medical Center to his fiancee, Shireen Desai, as his brother, Joshua, watched Friday during the Match Day ceremony. Litzenberg will specialize in internal medicine.

He got his own white coat four years ago when he entered The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences. Now, as he prepares to graduate with his medical degree, he knows he’ll begin practicing right where he wanted.

Siebenaler, who is specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation, was one of 20 UToledo students who paired with the University’s residency program at this year’s Match Day event.

The annual celebration is a seminal event for next-generation physicians. At exactly noon, an eager swarm of fourth-year medical students received envelopes that revealed where they will spend the next three to seven years in residency as they train in their chosen specialties.

“The faculty and staff really look forward to Match Day,” said Dr. Christopher Cooper, dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. “It is an opportunity to see how much the students have grown intellectually and professionally over their four years of intensive training, and where that training will lead them next. Some will stay at UT for their residencies, which is an absolute delight. Others will train in Ohio or elsewhere across the country. For all of our students, we always hope the very best.”

A total of 165 UToledo medical students matched this year. Notably, there was a 33 percent increase in the number of students who matched with UToledo over last year.

Mariah Truscinski was one of them.

Truscinski, who grew up just a couple of miles from Health Science Campus and completed her undergraduate degree at UToledo, matched in emergency medicine. Already involved in community volunteer work, she was thrilled to open her envelope and see she matched with UToledo.

Archit Sahai, left, and Samuel Ivan showed off their letters during the March 15 Match Day ceremony. Sahai matched in pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hopsital, and Ivan matched in urology at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C.

“It was a pretty amazing feeling. It was a little overwhelming, and there were a lot of thoughts about what the future holds, also just pure excitement. I couldn’t be happier,” she said. “I just feel like I’m really connected to this area and wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.”

In all, UToledo’s fourth-year medical students matched in 23 specialties at institutions in 28 states. Forty-four percent of UToledo’s students matched in primary care specialties.

Archit Sahai, who was born in central India, moved with his parents to Cincinnati when he was 3, and became a U.S. citizen in September, matched with the University of Cincinnati in pediatrics.

“There’s a lot of emotions,” he said of Match Day. “You’re anxious, you’re excited, scared a little bit. I probably can’t put words to describe it. As soon as I saw the letters, that’s just pure joy.”

Sahai, whose father is a neurologist at UC, had high praise for both Toledo and the College of Medicine, saying he’d like to return here eventually.

“I’ve never met a more collaborative group of people, whether it’s my classmates or the faculty,” he said. “Everyone genuinely wants everyone to do well here. It’s been an incredible four years. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Among the other institutions where UToledo students will do their residency work were the Mayo Clinic, Massachusetts General, the University of Michigan and the Cleveland Clinic. Ohio was the most popular state, followed by Michigan, Pennsylvania, California, Indiana and New York.

Watch the Match Day video.

UToledo medical students to learn residency placements at Match Day event

More than 150 fourth-year medical students at The University of Toledo will learn on Friday, March 15, where they will carry out their residencies on the way to becoming attending physicians.

The annual Match Day event is a highly anticipated ceremony for graduating medical students across the country. At precisely noon, UToledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences students will join thousands of students from other medical schools across the country in tearing open envelopes that contain their match.

“Match Day is very exciting for our students and the faculty and staff who support them,” said Dr. Christopher Cooper, dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. “It is the culmination of four years of intense training and now the graduating seniors find out where their next phase of residency training will occur.”

The 2019 Residency Match Reception will begin at 11 a.m. at the Stranahan Theater’s Great Hall. The event is by invitation-only.

Medical students spend months interviewing with hospitals and universities across the country to determine where they want to spend the next three to seven years of their medical training.

Students rank their top institutions, and academic and community-based health systems rank their top student choices. A computer algorithm administered by the National Resident Matching Program then matches students and residency programs together.

Residents are licensed physicians who care for patients under the supervision of attending physicians while they continue to train in their chosen specialties.

Last year, 157 UToledo fourth-year medical students matched into positions in 23 medical specialties.

Celebrated animator/illustrator to speak at Graduate Research Forum

Dr. Janet Iwasa, award-winning artist, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Graduate Research Forum.

She will discuss “Animated Biology” Thursday, March 21, at 3 p.m. in Collier Building Room 1000A/B.

Iwasa is an assistant professor of biochemistry at the University of Utah and is known for her molecular and cellular visualizations. Her illustrations and animations have appeared in scientific journals including Nature, and Science and Cell, as well as in The New York Times. She is also a 2014 TED Fellow and 2017 TED Senior Fellow.

“Her illustrations and 3D animations have earned her publications in high-impact scientific journals,” said Kelsey Murphy, a member of the Council of Biomedical Graduate Students. “In addition, she will be the first woman keynote speaker [for this forum].”

The event will begin at the Mulford Library Café Wednesday, March 20. Poster presentations will take place from 10 a.m. to noon, then there will be lunch from noon to 1 p.m., with oral presentations taking place from 1 to 4 p.m.

Final presentations will take place Thursday, March 21, from 9:30 to 11:45 a.m. in the Mulford Café, followed by lunch with Iwasa from noon to 1 p.m.

Those who wish to have lunch with Iwasa are asked to RSVP to councilgraduatestudents@utoledo.edu by Friday, March 15.

UT researchers develop new mouse model for Type I diabetes that mimics full scope of the human disease

Researchers at The University of Toledo have found a new way to replicate in lab mice the development and progression of Type I diabetes, a breakthrough that has the potential to reshape how the chronic disease is studied.

An estimated 1.25 million Americans are living with Type I diabetes. While the condition can be managed with insulin, finding a treatment or cure for the disease has been elusive — in part because scientists have not had a reliable animal model that mimics the full scope of human Type I diabetes.

Dr. Shahnawaz Imam, left, and Dr. Juan Jaume display an array of diabetes management tools that patients rely on to control their disease. A new mouse model developed at UT may open the door to research that finds new therapies.

“We see these patients every day. We see them come to the hospital, we see how they struggle,” said Dr. Juan Jaume, professor of medicine in UT’s College of Medicine and Life Sciences, and senior author of the new invention. “Unfortunately, research has been held back because the scientific community didn’t have a good model to study the disease and its progression. Now we do. We have developed a mouse model that is a step forward toward finding a cure.”

The first peer-reviewed study using the UT-developed mouse model was published Feb. 7 in the natural sciences journal Scientific Reports.

In that study, Jaume, who is also chief of the Division of Endocrinology and director of UT’s Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Research, and co-collaborator Dr. Shahnawaz Imam, a senior researcher in the Department of Medicine and an associate member of the Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Research, looked at how a certain protein can influence T-cells in the pancreas to delay the onset of diabetes.

While the study adds to the overall knowledge about diabetes, it is the mouse model that holds the real potential.

In the new model, mice spontaneously develop Type I diabetes and, importantly, the full range of complications experienced by diabetes patients. That allows study of the disease and its natural progression in a way not previously possible.

“Our model is showing exactly the same physiopathology that humans with diabetes suffer,” Imam said. “Our mice are getting eye problems, they are getting kidney problems and also neuropathy. That’s a very important part of this — they have the same human complications that all diabetes patients have, not just those with Type I.”

The laboratory mice were developed through a series of selective breeding experiments and genetic modification that included adding human genes to the mice.

A provisional patent on the Spontaneous Type I Diabetes Mouse Model was filed last year.

Type I diabetes, formerly known as juvenile diabetes, results from an autoimmune attack on cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Without insulin, the body cannot process the sugars in food, leading to dangerously high blood sugar.

Though many species develop diabetes, Jaume said the process of Type I diabetes seems to be unique to humans. And while scientists have frequently used other specially bred mice, including what’s known as the non-obese diabetic mouse, to study diabetes and test treatments, those lab animals don’t mimic the exact human pathophysiology of the disease.

“The existing non-obese diabetic mouse model does not completely resemble the human condition,” Jaume said. “There are more than 125 different therapies that cure Type I diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice. Clinical trials were developed because of that model, but none have worked in humans. Everybody has been searching for a better model.”

Jaume and Imam have been working on their model for more than a decade. It is already showing research promise.

Using the same idea behind CAR T-cell therapy for cancer, in which certain immune system cells are taken from a patient and paired with an artificial receptor that once reintroduced into the body homes in on the tumor, the team is developing cellular therapies for diabetes that use the mice’s regulatory cells to cool down the immune response.

The University also has filed a provisional patent on the treatment method, and Jaume and Imam soon will begin a more in-depth study of its effectiveness.

UT to develop training tool to better care for patients who are homeless

The University of Toledo is developing a virtual reality training to improve Ohio Medicaid providers’ cultural competency and reduce implicit bias as a way to better understand the patients they serve. The virtual reality training focuses on the barriers to health care faced by those without stable, permanent housing.

UT faculty from the College of Medicine and Life Sciences and the College of Health and Human Services will conduct interviews and observe interactions in an area homeless shelter to build a realistic portrait of the health-care struggles experienced by individuals who depend on urban homeless shelters for their housing.

A multidisciplinary team from UT is building a virtual reality training program to help Ohio Medicaid providers better treat patients without stable, permanent housing. The investigators are, from left, Dr. Thomas Papadimos, medical director and associate dean for immersive and simulation-based learning; Dr. Shipra Singh, assistant professor of health education and public health; Dr. Lance Dworkin, professor and chair of medicine; and Dr. Scott Pappada, assistant professor of anesthesiology and bioengineering.

From that data, faculty and staff from the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, the School of Population Health in the College of Health and Human Services, and the Jacobs Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center will create an interactive experience that will electronically place clinicians into a model homeless shelter as fly-on-the-wall observers.

“There’s a lot of attention nowadays to how one’s background and social structure impact not only their health, but also how successful they are in using the health-care system,” said Dr. Lance Dworkin, professor and chair of the UT Department of Medicine, and the primary investigator for the project. “If we understand that, we can integrate that knowledge into the care we provide so it’s more effective.”

The University also is building a robust evaluation component into the program that will monitor physical biomarkers such as heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate while participants are engaged in the simulation. Using assessment software developed by Dr. Scott Pappada, UT assistant professor of anesthesiology and bioengineering, and a co-investigator on the project, researchers will collect data before and after the simulation to learn how the program affects clinicians and whether it helps them connect with individuals who are marginalized by society.

The project is funded by a $1.24 million grant from the Ohio Department of Medicaid.

UT’s work is part of a larger partnership between the Ohio Department of Medicaid and Ohio’s medical schools, administered by the Ohio Colleges of Medicine Government Resource Center. Like many projects managed by the center, the Medicaid equity simulation project is aimed at reducing health disparities, addressing the social determinants of health, and improving patient care and health outcomes for Ohio’s Medicaid population.

During the course of the homeless shelter simulation, health-care providers will see rudimentary sleeping quarters, dining and social areas, observe the interactions between guests and staff, and listen in on conversations gleaned from the real-life interviews.

“The big message here is how does one change clinical decision making based on what is learned about an individual in this environment,” said Dr. Shipra Singh, UT assistant professor of health education and public health, and a co-investigator on the project.

Singh, who is directing the scripts that will be used in the simulation, said those changes could be as simple as not forcing someone who has no access to reliable transportation to go to the back of the line if they’re late for an appointment, or understanding that immediate lifestyle changes may not be possible.

“You need to listen to the patient rather than just look at them and understand the cultural context they’re coming from and what really matters to them,” Singh said.

The program is expected to be ready to launch to Ohio Medicaid providers within The University of Toledo Medical Center in May and disseminated throughout the community by June.