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UT Health physician receives career achievement award

Before Dr. Blair Grubb became a doctor, he was an electrician.

Now as a Distinguished University Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at The University of Toledo, he is the College of Medicine and Life Sciences’ most recent recipient of the Career Achievement Award.

: Dr. Blair Grubb posed for a photo with his daughter, Helen, after receiving the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences’ Career Achievement Award in January.

: Dr. Blair Grubb posed for a photo with his daughter, Helen, after receiving the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences’ Career Achievement Award in January.

“It’s nice to be recognized for having chosen to spend my career here,” Grubb said. “As you get older, you always wonder how you’ve spent your life, so it’s a nice feeling to say that I did the right thing.”

This award arrives on the heels of two other large accolades he received in 2015: He is Dysautonomia International’s Physician of the Year as well as the British Heart Rhythm Society and Arrhythmia Alliance’s Medical Professional of the Decade.

But to look at Grubb’s success, it’s important to understand how he got here. A native of Baltimore, he began his career as an electrician before deciding to go into medicine.

Grubb earned a degree in biologic sciences from the University of Maryland in Baltimore County and his doctor of medicine from the Universidad Central del Este in the Dominican Republic. He completed his residency at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, where he also was chief resident.

It was because of a mistaken rotation at Johns Hopkins Hospital that he found his passion. He was supposed to complete a rotation in general cardiology, but because there were too many people in the rotation, he was placed in a rotation for a new field at the time — cardiac electrophysiology.

Soon after, he completed a fellowship in cardiology and cardiac electrophysiology at Pennsylvania State University.

In 1988, Grubb and his wife of 38 years, Dr. Barbara Lynn Straus, moved to Toledo along with their daughter, Helen. Shortly afterward, Straus gave birth to their son, Alex.

“By the time I finished my fellowship at Penn State in Hershey, I was older, and Toledo offered me the opportunity to start an electrophysiology program,” Grubb said. “The opportunity to start a program from scratch and build whatever I wanted was a unique opportunity.”

Today, Grubb leads the Electrophysiology Program as well as UT Medical Center’s Syncope and Autonomic Disorders Clinic, where he sees patients from all over the United States and the world. He has helped develop the field of autonomics and has pioneered many of the diagnostic and treatment modalities that are in common use today.

“People with autonomic disorders frequently come to us in wheelchairs,” Grubb said. “The most rewarding thing for me is to take people whose lives have been taken from them and restore them to something resembling a normal life. And not only doing that on a personal basis, but also helping build the structure of a new specialty of medicine, which is really what autonomics has become.”

Though Grubb has worked tirelessly for years, he credits most of his success to his wife, who passed away in 2015 at the age of 64. He said that without her, he wouldn’t have succeeded in academia, having come from a vocational school.

“I freely admit that if I’ve had any success in life it’s because of my wife,” Grubb said. “I was truly a diamond in the rough, and my wife was the exact opposite. She really provided a structure to my life that I needed.”

Lecture to address how nutrition affects cardiovascular disease

Author and physician Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. will visit The University of Toledo to discuss how nutrition affects cardiovascular disease.

His lecture, “The Nutritional Reversal of Cardiovascular Disease: Fact or Fiction,” will take place Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 5 p.m. in Collier Building Room 1000A on UT’s Health Science Campus.



Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined, according to the American Heart Association.

“Toledo is a great place for Dr. Esselstyn to come and educate the community about heart disease prevention through nutrition,” said Sophie Tuthill, a second-year UT medical student and one of the program organizers.

Esselstyn, a former general surgeon who directs the cardiovascular prevention and reversal program at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, was featured in the Netflix documentary “Forks Over Knives.” He is the author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease (2007).

His research supports a plant-based diet to prevent and reverse cardiovascular disease. The diet includes fruits, vegetables, tubers and starchy vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

book_preventThe diet prohibits all meat, fish, dairy and oils — foods that damage the inner lining of the artery, according to Esselstyn’s research.

Esselstyn said his patients “rejoice” at learning the impact of nutrition on their cardiovascular health. “They become empowered to halt their disease,” he said.

“It’s important for citizens to take an active stance in their health,” Tuthill said. “If you change your lifestyle and diet, you can reverse your illness.”

Esselstyn emphasized the importance of medical students learning how poor nutrition leads to heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes.

“I really applaud UT for offering this lecture,” he said.

The free, public lecture is sponsored by the following UT student organizations: Student Health and Wellness Organization, Community Health for the Underserved, Internal Medicine Club and Surgery Club.

Master planning team shares analysis findings at forum

The University of Toledo’s master planning team today began to share findings of the initial analysis of campus facilities and amenities.

The brown-bag forum was the first of three scheduled sessions where the master planning team will share the results of its focus groups, interviews, community forums and building and facility evaluations. The process is looking at each of UT’s campuses to fully understand the resources and land use available for classroom and laboratory instruction, residential life and recreational activities.

“We have never done a campus master plan since combining [Main Campus] with the Health Science Campus, so this is a very important initiative,” said Jason Toth, UT associate vice president for facilities and construction.

Throughout fall semester, the planning team examined building conditions, utilization of classroom spaces and teaching laboratories, and the educational adequacy of campus facilities. Those factors will provide the decision-making criteria informing SmithGroupJJR’s recommendations for the master plan regarding the University’s multiple campuses.

Through their analysis, the planners noted a clear division in the layout of Main Campus facilities. Academic facilities are located mostly north of the Ottawa River, while residential facilities are south of the river, with few outliers in either group. They also noted a change in the character of campus moving from older areas along Bancroft Street toward the newest parts along Dorr Street. Moving around Main Campus is easy by bike with many paths, racks, and a shared bike system, but Douglas Road and the rail line are barriers for pedestrians and bikes.

Some older buildings on Main Campus are in need of investment, such as University Hall, but analysis of Health Science Campus showed that most buildings are in good condition and require continued regular maintenance. Parking is in demand for patients, visitors, students and employees, while there is confusion for patient/visitor parking.

The master planning team is still assessing the use of Scott Park Campus along with major change drivers that impact the facilities on all of the University’s campuses.

The team is coordinating its planning with the strategic enrollment planning study to anticipate future demand for academic spaces, residential beds, dining facilities and recreation spaces. Also important to the process, the team is assessing the potential impact of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences’ affiliation with ProMedica.

Following the presentation, the planners asked for feedback and encouraged questions about the analysis to date from those in attendance, fielding inquiries about consideration of alternative energy, future plans for vacant University-owned property, pedestrian rights of way and historic preservation.

“This is about having many voices heard,” Toth said. He added, “We want to hear what you have to say.”

The forum was attended by approximately 25 people representing students, faculty, staff, collective bargaining units, alumni and University neighbors.

The next session will be Wednesday, Feb. 3, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the Driscoll Alumni Center Auditorium on Main Campus.

An additional session has been scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 4, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Collier Building Room 1200 on Health Science Campus.

The community can continue to offer feedback and suggestions through utoledomasterplan.org.

Later in the year, the group will present potential master plan scenarios.

UT names finalists for provost

The University of Toledo announced Wednesday four finalists for the position of provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

“We are excited to announce four outstanding finalists who will be visiting The University of Toledo in the coming weeks to interview for the position of provost and executive vice president for academic affairs,” wrote Dr. Kaye Patten, senior vice president for student affairs, and Dr. Christopher Ingersoll, dean of the College of Health Sciences and interim dean of the College of Social Justice and Human Service, in a letter sent to the campus community.

In addition to meeting with faculty, administrators and academic leaders, the candidates will each participate in two open forums — one on Main Campus and one on Health Science Campus — to provide an opportunity for the UT community to offer input.

Listed by visit date, the candidates are:

Wednesday, Feb. 10 — Dr. Christopher Keil McCord, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Northern Illinois University. Open forums for McCord will be:
— 1:15 to 2:15 p.m. — Student Union Room 2592 on Main Campus
— 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. — Health Education Building Room 100 on Health Science Campus

Friday, Feb. 12 — Dr. Andrew Hsu, dean of the College of Engineering at San Jose State. Open forums for Hsu will be:
— 10 to 11 a.m. — Health Education Building Room 105 on Health Science Campus
— 3 to 4 p.m. — Student Union Room 2592 on Main Campus

Wednesday, Feb. 17 — Dr. Donald Siegel, dean of the School of Business at the University of Albany. Open forums for Siegel will be:
—1:15 to 2:15 p.m. — Student Union Room 2582 on Main Campus
—4:45 to 5:45 p.m. — Health Education Building Room 100 on Health Science Campus

Thursday, Feb. 18 — Dr. Charles Robinson, vice chancellor for diversity and community at the University of Arkansas. Open forums for Robinson will be:
— 1:15 to 2:15 p.m. — Student Union Room 2592 on Main Campus
— 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. — Health Education Building Room 100 on Health Science Campus

Finalists’ curricula vitae are available at the provost search website. Additionally, all of the open forums will be streamed live at video.utoledo.edu and archived on the provost search website for those unable to watch live.

UT Health doctors push for multiple arterial coronary bypass grafting as a life-saving treatment

The University of Toledo Medical Center continues to offer cutting-edge treatment for those suffering from coronary artery disease.

Cardiovascular disease, including atherosclerotic coronary artery disease, remains a significant public health challenge and is the No. 1 killer in the developed world.



Coronary artery bypass surgery and stenting are the two principal treatment options for coronary artery disease.

Dr. Thomas A. Schwann, professor of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, in collaboration with investigators from Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and the American University of Beirut, published a paper in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology on the effectiveness of each of these treatment options in a study involving more than 8,000 patients.

The investigators determined that a new form of coronary artery bypass surgery, using multiple arteries, as opposed to the standard coronary artery bypass surgery, in which only one artery and additional vein grafts are used, is the best treatment for patients with the most complex coronary artery disease. Using multiple arteries in coronary surgery resulted in a statistically significant increase in patient survival compared to stents that release medication.

The paper concluded that multi-arterial coronary artery bypass surgery is the optimal treatment for the most complex patients and “should be enthusiastically adopted by practicing cardiac surgeons and members of a multidisciplinary heart team as they strive to implement best evidence-based therapy.”

UT Health cardiac surgeons are on the forefront of multi-arterial coronary artery bypass surgery and have published extensively on the subject with the same consistent message that compared to traditional surgery, multi-arterial surgery saves lives. With the current publication, they have further extended the value of multi-arterial coronary surgery showing improved outcomes compared to coronary stents.

“Traditional single arterial coronary artery bypass surgery is the ‘Chevy’ of cardiac surgery, while multi-arterial coronary artery bypass surgery is the ‘Porsche’ of cardiac surgery,” Schwann said. “By using multi-arterial coronary artery bypass surgery we extend patients’ lives for up to 15 years post-operatively.”

Despite this compelling data, Schwann said only 10 percent of all coronary artery disease patients in the United States receive more than one arterial graft during their operations, while 70 percent to 80 percent of UTMC patients receive multi-arterial coronary artery bypass surgery.

“Cardiac surgeons and cardiologist work collaboratively at UTMC as part of an integrated heart team to choose the best treatment option for our patients,” Schwann said.

“We are working with our professional societies to influence our colleagues nationally to adopt a similar strategy. One artery is good, but using two or more is clearly a superior treatment strategy.”

He said future investigations are needed to delve deeper into patients who benefit most from multi-arterial coronary artery bypass graft.

“In conjunction with the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, we are trying to secure grant funding to study this issue on a nationwide basis to fundamentally change the surgical treatment of coronary artery disease,” Schwann said.

Black History Month to celebrate student activism

The University of Toledo’s celebration of Black History Month will inspire students to be active in shaping the world they want to live in.

This year’s theme is “Live for the Moment, not for the Movement: Black Activism in the 21st Century” and will kick off with a keynote address by Tuskegee University President Brian J. Johnson.



The kickoff luncheon will be Saturday, Feb. 6, from noon to 2 p.m. in the Student Union Auditorium when Johnson will discuss recent events happening around the country and the need for action to address issues continuing to impact the African-American community.

“UT students want to get involved. As a college student, this is the time to learn, to grow, to develop, and to do your part to shape the world you will live in,” said Henderson Hill III, UT assistant dean of multicultural student success. “Be part of the conversation, but also be intentional and mature in how you handle activism.”

Henderson joined UT in January from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn., where he was the director of the Wilbur N. Daniel African American Cultural Center. In the newly created position, Henderson leads the UT Office of Multicultural Student Success in the Division of Student Affairs.

Johnson has served since 2014 as the seventh president of Tuskegee University, one of the nation’s leading historically black institutions of higher education founded in 1881 by Booker T. Washington.

“We are honored to have Dr. Johnson begin our celebration of Black History Month that gives us the opportunity to recognize cultural history and honor the contributions of African Americans who have contributed to our global society,” Hill said.

This event is free to all UT students, faculty and staff, and community members can reserve tickets for $20 by contacting the Division of Student Affairs at 419.530.2665.

Listed by date, additional Black History Month events will include:

Wednesday, Feb. 10
“We’ll Have No Race Trouble Here: Memphis Politics and the 1940 Reign of Terror” by Dr. Jason Jordan, UT visiting assistant professor of history, 4:30 p.m., location to be determined.

Wednesday, Feb. 17
“We Are STEMM: A Celebration of African-American Accomplishments in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine” by Dr. Emanuel Rivers, vice chair and research director of Henry Ford Hospital’s Department of Emergency Medicine, 6 p.m., Health Education Building Room 110.

Friday, Feb. 19
African-American Children’s Books Read-In, noon, Robinson Elementary, 1075 Horace St.

Saturday, Feb. 20
Student trip to the Motown Museum in Detroit sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Student Success. Open to the first 42 UT students to RSVP to omss@utoledo.edu or 419.530.2261.

Thursday, Feb. 25
Africana Studies Brown-Bag Lecture, 12:30 p.m., location to be determined. Dr. Rubin Patterson, professor and chair of sociology and anthropology at Howard University, will present “Preparing African Americans for Environmental and Climate Stabilization Leadership.”

— Screening of the film “Fruitvale Station,” 5:30 p.m., location to be determined.

Monday, Feb. 29
The Men of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. (Lambda Epsilon) and the Ladies of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. (Alpha Pi) will present “We Shall Overcome,” 7 p.m., Student Union Room 2582.

Throughout the month of February, The University of Toledo Libraries will have displays of books by African-American authors in Carlson Library and Mulford Library. To view the “Activism and Civil Rights: 20th Century Activism” library guide, click here.

For more information, contact the Office of Multicultural Student Success at 419.530.2261 or omss@utoledo.edu.

Rocket football to hold signing day event Feb. 3

The University of Toledo football coaching staff will host a special presentation of its 2016 recruiting class Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 5:30 p.m. in Savage Arena.

Doors will open at 5 p.m. The event is free for all Rocket fans.

Head Coach Jason Candle and his assistant coaching staff will review their 2016 recruiting class and show video highlights of each signee at the event.

web football signing dayFeb. 3 is the first day that high school seniors are allowed to sign national letters of intent.

Following the presentation, Rocket fans will have a chance to meet the coaches at a reception and sign their own “letter of intent” with the football team. Fans who sign a letter committing to purchase season tickets for the 2016 season can get their “signing day” photo taken with Candle. Season ticket information will be available. Current season ticket holders may renew their season tickets at the event.

“While we celebrate the signing of our 2016 football recruiting class, we thought it would be appropriate to celebrate the commitment our fans have to the Toledo football program,” said Senior Associate Athletic Director Dave Nottke. “Fans who get a photo of themselves signing their ‘letter of intent’ with Coach Candle will have a great memento for their office or home.”

Free soft drinks and snacks will be available at the event. There also will be a cash bar and the concessions stands will be open.

In addition, free Marmot Boca Raton Bowl Championship posters will be distributed at the event.

The Rockets will open the 2016 season at Arkansas State Saturday, Sept. 3. The home opener is Saturday, Sept. 10, vs. Maine.

For season ticket information, call 419.530.GOLD (4653).

Law lecture on admissions preferences to take place Feb. 3

Stuart Taylor Jr., journalist and co-author of the book Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It, will deliver a lecture Wednesday, Feb. 3, at noon in the Law Center McQuade Law Auditorium.

The free, public lecture is a part of the Stranahan National Issues Forum and is sponsored by the UT College of Law and its chapter of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies. Food and drink will be provided.



“Affirmative action is perennially front-page news, and the Supreme Court this term once again has a case challenging it,” said Lee Strang, the John W. Stoepler Professor of Law and Values at the College of Law. “Taylor’s argument is potentially powerful because it takes affirmative action proponents’ key argument at face value and uses it against affirmative action. Taylor’s lecture is sure to spark thought and conversation on this important topic.”

Taylor is an author and freelance writer focusing on legal and policy issues, and a Brookings Institution senior fellow. In 2012, Richard Sander and Taylor co-authored Mismatch. In 2007, Taylor and KC Johnson co-authored the book Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Fraud.

Taylor was a reporter for The New York Times from 1980 to 1988, for The American Lawyer, Legal Times and their affiliates from 1989 to 1997, and for National Journal and Newsweek from 1998 through 2010. He also has written for The Atlantic, The New Republic, National Review, Slate, The Daily Beast, Harper’s, Reader’s Digest and other magazines, plus op-eds for The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times and USA Today.

He is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School. Read more about Taylor at stuarttaylorjr.com.

The Stranahan National Issues Forum is made possible by an endowment from the Stranahan Foundation. The forum’s purpose is to address issues of national importance through the lens of the American legal system, and Taylor joins a long list of high-profile speakers who have delivered the Stranahan Lecture at the UT College of Law.

Recreational therapy recognized as a best value degree program

The University of Toledo offers the country’s best value degree in recreational therapy, according to College Values Online.

UT’s bachelor of science degree in recreational therapy is listed No. 1 by the website in its rankings of the 30 best parks, recreation and leisure degree programs in the United States.

College-Values-Online-Top-Degree-Programs-2016-300x292UT ranked highest based on the criteria of low tuition, high return on investment, high percentage of students receiving financial aid, and the number of minors, concentrations and areas of emphasis offered within the program.

“Parks, recreation, tourism and hospitality is a massive global industry, and a degree from a reputable university in your specific area of interest can get you off to a great start,” College Values Online editors wrote. “In today’s economy, with student debt piling up ever higher on graduates, value is an important consideration. Cost, financial aid, program flexibility, and return on investment are all major concerns. That’s why we focus not just on the quality, but the value of the degree programs in our ranking.”

The editors noted UT’s Recreational Therapy Program is accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions, and offers concentrations in pre-occupational therapy, therapeutic arts, geriatrics, pediatrics and communication.

College Values Online’s mission is to provide assistance in selecting the best college for each individual situation by offering rankings of schools and various degree programs.
Visit collegevaluesonline.com for additional information.

Ice age science: UT geologist receives national fellowship for glacier, climate change research

For 26 years, Dr. Timothy Fisher has clocked countless helicopter hours flying to frozen lakes across Canada and the northern United States to study the effects of ancient glaciers.

“We are learning from past global climate change to predict what might happen in the future,” Fisher said. “I have disproven common assumptions in the scientific community by coring into the bottom of snow and ice-covered lakes for sediment samples to reconstruct and understand conditions on planet Earth more than 10,000 years ago.”



One of the world’s largest geological societies recently honored The University of Toledo geology professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Sciences as one of the best in his profession by electing him as a Fellow of the Geological Society of America (GSA), an association with more than 26,000 members in 115 countries. The association promotes geoscience research, discovery and stewardship of the Earth.

“This is quite an honor,” Fisher said. “The GSA fellowship carries weight over the quality of my work to reconstruct past positions of receding glaciers and glacial lake levels to decipher whether there is a relationship with climate records in the Greenland ice cores. This adds more confidence to what I do, and perhaps I will be more aggressive applying for research grants.”

Fisher was nominated for his “significant contributions to the understanding of Glacial Lake Agassiz, the Great Lakes and associated environments,” according to the GSA award. “His field work, which spans several Canadian provinces and northern states, has led to publications that change the way we think about the history of some of the predominate landscapes of North America.”

“I am very pleased to congratulate Dr. Fisher on his election as a Fellow of the Geological Society of America,” Dr. Karen Bjorkman, dean of the UT College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, said. “His selection is a recognition of his outstanding work in improving our understanding of glacial landscapes, including our own Great Lakes. It also provides additional evidence of the excellent faculty members we are fortunate to have here at The University of Toledo.”

Dr. Timothy Fisher and fellow researchers used a hydraulically assisted Livingstone corer to recover sediment cores from lake ice on Skeptic Lake in Ontario. Conducting the work were, from left, Dr. Tom Lowell, professor of geology at the University of Cincinnati; Fisher; and UT graduate students Henry Loope and Bruce Skubon.

Dr. Timothy Fisher and fellow researchers used a hydraulically assisted Livingstone corer to recover sediment cores from lake ice on Skeptic Lake in Ontario. Conducting the work were, from left, Dr. Tom Lowell, professor of geology at the University of Cincinnati; Fisher; and UT graduate students Henry Loope and Bruce Skubon.

Fisher has written 67 peer-reviewed publications to argue ideas in his areas of specialty, including the history of Great Lakes sand dunes and how they serve as a record of climate variability. One article published in the Journal of Paleolimnology recently was named one of the top 10 most cited papers in the scientific publication in 2014.

Fisher’s main research focus has been on the problems of a long-gone glacial lake in north-central North America known as Lake Agassiz, which filled with meltwater at the end of the last glacial period over an area more than three times larger than the modern Great Lakes combined.

“Lake Agassiz doesn’t exist anymore. Remnants of the glacial lake are in Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba,” Fisher said. “The controversy lies in where all of that freshwater went at the end of the last ice age. Did it drain into the Arctic or North Atlantic oceans, slow down the Gulf Stream and trigger rapid climactic shifts in the Northern Hemisphere? That’s now unlikely because the drainage outlet routes are too young. My age control data from coring lakes leads me to believe it’s possible that much of the freshwater from Lake Agassiz evaporated.”

The scientist is working to document a chronology of when and how glaciers retreated to understand the relationship between lake levels and past climate changes.

“I am working on big questions, such as if that relationship is cause and effect,” Fisher said. “This is background for trying to understand climate change in the future.”

As debate rages worldwide over warming temperatures, Fisher said. “We won’t see a similar glacial cycle again. The chemistry of Earth’s atmosphere has forever changed with the steady influx of greenhouse gases.”

Click here to read more about Fisher and his research.