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Professor named vice chair of American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

Passing board certifications can be a daunting experience for any new physician, but psychiatry and neurology residents can rest assured they are in good hands.

Dr. Noor Pirzada, professor of neurology and the neurology residency program director at The University of Toledo, has been named vice chair of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, which oversees the certification exam for all psychiatrists and neurologists in the United States.



“I’m really happy,” Pirzada said. “It’s the culmination of many years of working with them, and it’s gratifying. I feel happy that, being part of The University of Toledo, I’m able to put Toledo on the map because my colleagues there are from many prestigious institutions throughout the country.”

The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology is under the American Board of Medical Specialties, the largest physician-led specialty certification organization in the country. Because it is tasked with administering the board certification exams for all neurology and psychiatry residents in the nation, the board has an immense impact on those professions.

“The residents take the exam to get certified, but it’s important that the board keeps track of what people are doing after they’re in practice,” Pirzada said. “Are they keeping up with recent advances? Are their skills or knowledge declining? In a way, we’re measuring and ensuring quality of care.”

Pirzada has been involved with the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology for years. For quite some time, the certifying examination was a live exam where the residents saw patients; for eight years, he served as an examiner who would sit in and observe and evaluate those taking the exam.

Pirzada also has served on the board of directors for the last seven years. Though he will continue to serve on several committees within the organization, his year as the vice chair will be his last on the board of directors.

As vice chair, Pirzada will coordinate all policy meetings, which are an important aspect of the organization because they discuss all issues in regard to certification and maintenance of certification.

“This mostly has to do with the examinations, like how we should modify the examination, how is the question writing process, is it going well, is it statistically valid and reliable, what’s the feedback from the field,” Pirzada said. “There’s a lot of controversy in every specialty about maintenance of certification.”

Pirzada also will assist the board as a liaison to other professional organizations and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education with financial matters, hiring new directors, and serving on several committees. He said that he’s excited to take on this responsibility and make a real impact on the field.

“This was a great opportunity because it’s a chance to influence education — not just for residents, but even for practicing neurologists and psychiatrists by incorporating their feedback,” he said. “I encourage maintenance of certification because I strongly feel that your initial certification is only the start of a lifetime of learning. Medicine is a fast-changing profession, and people need to be up-to-date.”

UT names faculty member to newly created vice president for diversity role

Dr. Willie McKether, who had been serving in a temporary role this spring as special assistant to the president for diversity, has been named vice president for diversity and inclusion, UT President Sharon L. Gaber announced today, pending approval by the UT Board of Trustees. McKether also will hold a vice provost appointment.

Since her arrival at The University of Toledo last July, Gaber has been working to promote diversity throughout the culture of the institution.



“The strengthening of a campus culture that is inclusive, values diversity and uniqueness, and celebrates that we can learn from our differences is a responsibility we all share,” Gaber said. “Dr. McKether’s job is to help coordinate our efforts, to push us forward, and to provide the expertise and guidance that ensures we are moving toward a better future. He has the right skill set, passion and drive to do just that.”

McKether’s professional background and training in cultural anthropology and multicultural retention efforts over the past 10 years have helped provide a world view that will aid him in this new role, Gaber said.

“This role is about creating an environment where all members of the UT community, and all those who visit our campus, feel like they belong,” McKether said. “I look forward to helping advance some of the great work already underway to increase our recruitment and retention of minority students, faculty and staff.”

Much of the work McKether will take on has been outlined in the draft strategic diversity plan he led the coordination of this spring as special assistant to the president for diversity. Trustees will consider the plan in the months ahead.

“The road map is nearly there and it was created thanks to input from hundreds of members of the UT and Toledo communities,” said McKether, who will start July 1 and report to Gaber. “I can’t wait to get started.”

McKether said he’s also planning to increase UT’s outreach to advocacy groups in the community and ensure there is an ongoing dialogue.

In addition to his faculty position in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, McKether has served as associate dean in the College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences. He is also a leader in the organization Brothers on the Rise and an advisor to the Black Student Union. He is co-founder and co-director of the Multicultural Emerging Scholars Program, designed to retain students at The University of Toledo.

Dr. Shanda Gore will serve as associate vice president of the Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women and the Minority Business Development Center, working across UT to advance these organizations.

Campus and Community Reaction:

“I am pleased with the announcement by Dr. Sharon Gaber and The University of Toledo. For as long as I have known and worked with Dr. Willie McKether, I have been impressed by his scholarship, integrity, and commitment to diversity, the University and our community.” — Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson

“Dr. Willie McKether is the right person, at the right time, working under the right president to further elevate diversity as a priority for The University of Toledo and for northwest Ohio.” — John C. Moore, community leader

“Dr. Willie McKether has been outstanding during this last year as The University of Toledo transitions to a truly diverse institution. I am very excited to see him step into the role of vice president for diversity and inclusion because he will unlock the potential of the Rocket community to be a diverse and inclusive home for everyone.” — Alexandria Hetzler, UT student and president of Spectrum

“Dr. Willie McKether is an inspirational figure in the African-American community. He has a contagious passion for education that has proven to be transformative for young people and especially young men. He possesses the strong moral values needed to inspire young people to believe in themselves and the possibilities for a bright future.” — The Rev. Otis J. Gordon Jr.

“Differences make communities stronger. The Disability Studies Program looks forward to partnering with Dr. McKether to advocate on behalf of persons with disabilities to break down barriers and celebrate those distinctions that make us all unique.” — Dr. Jim Ferris, chair of the UT Disabilities Studies Program and Ability Center Endowed Chair in Disability Studies

“UT plays an important diversity role in our community. A number of area high school students attending UT are the first in their families to achieve the goal of a college degree. An investment in diversity is an investment in a strong community for years to come. I look forward to the continued partnership between UT, Toledo Public Schools and this community.” — Bob Vasquez, board of education president, Toledo Public Schools

Assistant professor gets $10,000 New Investigator Award to help kickstart research

One assistant professor at The University of Toledo is a step closer to solving one of the mysteries of the human body with the help of an award and some seed grant money.

Dr. Wissam AbouAlaiwi, assistant professor in the UT Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, recently received the New Investigator Award from the American Association for Colleges of Pharmacy. The award, worth $10,000, is given to faculty members in the early stages of their career.

Dr. Wissam AbouAlaiwi performed experiments on cells from mice and humans with polycystic kidney disease to confirm studies performed on patients.

Dr. Wissam AbouAlaiwi performed experiments on cells from mice and humans with polycystic kidney disease to confirm studies performed on patients.

“This is a very prestigious award,” AbouAlaiwi said. “Only 13 people received this award in the United States this year, and I was one of them. I feel very proud of this.”

The $10,000 will go toward funding his research on primary cilia, organelles that were originally thought to have no function, but that AbouAlaiwi and his colleagues believe play a role in cardiovascular and polycystic kidney diseases. They already have found that when the cilia are not present or not functioning, it can cause cardiovascular and developmental problems in the heart.

Though the amount of this particular award is not enough to fully fund his lab’s research, getting some data will open doors for AbouAlaiwi to earn larger grants such as those from the National Institutes of Health. He will present his initial findings at the American Association for Colleges of Pharmacy’s annual meeting in July in Nashville, Tenn.

“This is a small study, but hopefully the data that we will generate will allow us to take this project and confirm our results in animal models and, in the future, humans,” AbouAlaiwi said.

UT’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences is no stranger to the American Association for Colleges of Pharmacy; each year, a group of deans, faculty, staff and students attend the organization’s annual meeting. AbouAlaiwi also is the second faculty member who has won this award; Dr. Isaac Schiefer, UT assistant professor in the Department of Medicinal and Biological Chemistry, received it in 2014.

“It’s very good for our university and college because it raises the level of presence of our university among other top colleges of pharmacy in the United States,” AbouAlaiwi said.

AbouAlaiwi gives much of the credit for his success to his college, his department and his students. He said that Dr. Johnnie Early, dean of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, as well as his colleagues, have supported and encouraged him to be active in organizations like the American Association for Colleges of Pharmacy.

He runs his lab with his students, whom he shares credit with for this success, saying that the research would not be possible without them.

Guinness World Record holder for pizza-making to open Domino’s at Gateway

The man who set the Guinness World Record for number of pizzas made in one hour is opening a Domino’s Pizza at the Gateway.

Brian Edler owns more than a dozen franchise stores in Ohio, including the Domino’s in Findlay, where he baked and boxed 206 medium cheese pizzas in 60 minutes in December 2010 while raising $37,000 for charity. Three years ago, he also created Domino’s parmesan bread bites that are now on menus nationwide.

Brian Edler will open a Domino’s Pizza at the Gateway this summer.

Brian Edler will open a Domino’s Pizza at the Gateway this summer.

“The University of Toledo is likely the largest college campus in the United States that does not have a Domino’s,” Edler said. “Somebody had to do it. I am happy to fix that. Plus, we’ve put enough ovens in the restaurant design to go for another world record.”

The restaurant at the Gateway is expected to open its doors in July next to Jimmy John’s at the retail center on the corner of the UT Main Campus at Secor Road and Dorr Street.

Edler’s business partner is Brent Medders, another Domino’s franchise owner out of Arkansas. They plan to open 10 stores in the Toledo area in the next three years under their corporation Rocket Pizza.

“Domino’s restaurants across the country are doing well, especially in the online orders. That bodes well when serving college students,” Edler said. “But we’re also eager for customers to dine in. This location will feature our pizza-theater design. It’s an open kitchen where you can watch us make pizzas. Plus, we’ll have seating for up to 40 people and half a dozen TVs.”

Edler is hiring for the Gateway Domino’s. To apply, go to jobs.dominos.com.

“Gateway continues to grow since breaking ground five years ago,” Brenda Lee, president of the UT Foundation, said. “We are proud to welcome another business to enhance the Dorr Street corridor and our bustling campus.”

Gateway opened three years ago and features restaurants, stores and loft-style apartments. Businesses include Barnes & Noble University Bookstore, Gradkowski’s, Starbucks, Rice Blvd., Verizon Wireless Zone, Huntington Bank, Great Clips, Jimmy John’s and Bubble Tea.

New sculptures blossom on campuses

As the spring air fills with fragrant lilacs and honeysuckle, like clockwork, new works of art dot the grounds of The University of Toledo.

Ready to share a secret, blooms adorn a bench wrapped by a twining vine and heart-shaped leaves near the north entrance of UT Medical Center. A figure leaps skyward toward a sphere on the west side of Savage Arena. And north of Libbey Hall, a silver flower sparkles as it pays tribute to an acclaimed American artist.

Jim Gallucci's “Listening Whisper Morning Glory Bench” beckons near the north entrance of UT Medical Center.

Jim Gallucci’s “Listening Whisper Morning Glory Bench” beckons near the north entrance of UT Medical Center.

Jim Gallucci’s “Listening Whisper Morning Glory Bench,” Mike Sohikian’s “Reaching for the Moon” and Douglas Gruizenga’s “Georgia on My Mind” are three of the new works featured in the 11th annual Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition.

Gallucci, and artist in Greensboro, N.C., said his benches are whimsical, playful pieces that invite the public to sit and talk. “Good art challenges us, can make us feel righteous, moves us, soothes us, and can bring us peace,” he said.

Mike Sohikian's “Reaching for the Moon” is located on the west side of Savage Arena.

Mike Sohikian’s “Reaching for the Moon” is located on the west side of Savage Arena.

A retired ironworker, Sohikian has a reputation for taking salvaged steel to new heights. The Genoa, Ohio, artist assembles and reworks industrial materials into riveting creations.

Paintings inspired Gruizenga of Interlochen, Mich. “I am impressed with Georgia O’Keeffe’s floral paintings as well as her lust for life,” he said. “This sculpture is a tribute to her.”

The trio are among more than 50 who submitted proposals for consideration to the Midwest Sculpture Initiative. The UT Campus Beautification Committee reviewed the entries and selected pieces that recently were installed.

“It’s an honor to have the chance to be part of this annual exhibition, which brings exciting pieces of art to the University,” said Dr. Steve LeBlanc, executive associate dean of fiscal affairs in the College of Engineering and chair of the Campus Beautification Committee. “I love this time of year when all the new pieces arrive.”

More than 100 sculptures have rotated through the display at the University since the exhibit began, and 11 have become part of UT’s art collection thanks to the generosity of campus benefactors, colleges and departments, according to LeBlanc.

North of Libbey Hall, “Georgia on My Mind” by Douglas Gruizenga honors artist Georgia O'Keeffe.

North of Libbey Hall, “Georgia on My Mind” by Douglas Gruizenga honors artist Georgia O’Keeffe.

Other new works on campus this year:

• “Metropolis” is a 250-pound steel geometric piece featuring an eye-catching blue orb. Forged by the Nordin Brothers, the sculpture sits atop the hill west of University Hall.

• Todd Kime’s “The Joneses” offers some splashes of color in the center of Centennial Mall.

• “Ashes III,” Sam Soet’s intricate slice of ash wood, is located between University Hall and the Student Union.

“Ashes III” by Sam Soet sits between University Hall and the Student Union.

“Ashes III” by Sam Soet sits between University Hall and the Student Union.

• The Nordin Brothers weigh in again with “Time Series Calendra,” a hot-rolled steel work located on the west side of the Health and Human Services Building.

In addition, three sculptures from last year’s exhibit remain: Virginia Kistler’s 500-pound piece of Extira and steel, “Ad Infinitum,” appears to rotate between Nitschke and Palmer halls; Ric Leichliter’s steel red buds,“Promise to Flower,” sprout on the east side of the Health and Human Services Building; and Tom Rudd’s 9-foot, 1,000-pound “Whitefish” still swims south of Carlson Library near the Ottawa River.

Artists receive stipends for the sculptures, which will be on display for the next year.

LeBlanc said gifts from donors make the annual exhibition possible.

“Those who enjoy the sculptures are asked to consider a donation to the Campus Beautification Committee through the UT Foundation,” he said.

Go to https://give2ut.utoledo.edu.

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.

Professional Staff Association to hold annual meeting May 25

The University of Toledo’s Professional Staff Association aims to act as a liaison between professional staff at the University and the administration.

Since its beginning in 1992, the PSA has established a variety of committees, including a Professional Development Committee and Sick Leave Bank Committee, created and revised a staff handbook, and instituted a scholarship fund.

web PSA general meeting May 25This year’s PSA Annual Meeting is open to all UT professional staff members and will begin at noon on Wednesday, May 25, in Health Education Building Room 100.

The meeting will highlight the year in review with an introductory statement from Elissa Falcone, chair of the Professional Staff Council and manager of graduate academic affairs in the College of Graduate Studies, followed by updates from committee chairs and discussion of upcoming events.

“This year, PSA has been very active through hosting several brown-bag workshops such as ‘Office Qi Gong for Stress Management and Your Well-Being’ and ‘New Year, New You: Refreshing Your Professional Profile,’” said Kari Dilworth, member of the Professional Staff Council and UT success coach. “We have also held social events, including a football tailgate. In addition to the annual meeting, we have elections and a social event at the Mud Hens still ahead for this summer.”

Wednesday’s meeting will include a silent auction and 50/50 raffle with proceeds going toward the PSA Scholarship Fund. The meeting will begin with opportunities to socialize and lunch while bidding on silent auction items.

PSA also has partnered with Reach Out and Read, an organization working to ensure children do not grow up without books. Attendees are encouraged to bring a book to donate to the organization.

“It is a great program that supports literacy for young children and their families,” Dilworth said. “In addition, UT staff member Lori Legendre is associated with this program, which makes it even more appealing for PSA to support.”

Lunch will be provided. Parking is available in Lot 43, and there is also a shuttle available.

To register for the meeting, click here.

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.

Assistant to chair receives Hymore Award

Lisa Akeman, assistant to the chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, is the 2016 winner of the Diane Hymore Exemplar of Excellence Award.

She received the honor named for the longtime executive secretary to former President Lloyd Jacobs May 3 during the Employee Service Recognition Program. The award is presented annually to an individual whose work defines the core values of the University in Hymore’s spirit of support, encouragement and service. Hymore, 58, passed away in 2015.

Lisa Akeman received the Diane Hymore Exemplar of Excellence Award from President Sharon L. Gaber, left, and Jovita Thomas-Williams, vice president and chief HR officer for human resources and talent development.

Lisa Akeman received the Diane Hymore Exemplar of Excellence Award from President Sharon L. Gaber, left, and Jovita Thomas-Williams, vice president and chief HR officer for human resources and talent development.

Akeman joined the University staff in 1989 as a clerk in the Records Management Department. She served as a technical typist in the Department of Medical Records and the Department of Medicine. Prior to her current position, she was an administrative assistant in the Department of Surgery and later in the Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Research.

“Lisa consistently promotes kindness and positivity throughout her daily activities and encounters in the department,” one nominator wrote. “Her positive and upbeat personality is contagious, and we have all benefited greatly from her kind example.”

Another noted, “She has a high level of compassion and integrity that matches no other.”

“I am impressed with the quality and quantity of work that Ms. Akeman gets done in short amounts of time,” a nominator wrote. “She handles difficult situations with an impressive calm and composed nature that stimulates positivity even during stressful conditions.

“Ms. Akeman is indeed a role model for her demonstration of professionalism. She is calm and composed and in that sense exemplary to our students in particular.”

“Although I did not have the opportunity to know Ms. Hymore, this award attests to the type of person she was and the outstanding service she provided to the UT community. It was a privilege to meet members of her family and learn more about her and her service to our institution,” Akeman said.

“I am very grateful for this award and the recognition I have received, and I feel incredibly blessed to be able to work in such an outstanding environment surrounded by such wonderful faculty, staff and students,” she added. “I have worked at UT for almost 27 years and have formed great relationships along the way. I enjoy coming to work every day and take pride in being part of such an exceptional community.”