Noted mental health expert to present 2019 Shannon Lectureship in Minority Health

Altha Stewart, M.D.

Mental health expert Altha J. Stewart, M.D., president of the American Psychiatric Association, will be the keynote speaker for the Dr. Reaner and Mr. Henry Shannon Lectureship in Minority Health on Feb. 22 at the School of Medicine.

Stewart has spent decades as chief executive officer and executive director of large public mental health systems in Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan. She currently serves at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center as associate professor and chief of social and community psychiatry. She is also director of the school’s Center for Health in Justice Involved Youth.

Before going to the University of Tennessee, Stewart was the executive director of a federally funded system of care program in Memphis  for children with serious emotional disorders and their families.

An experienced health care administrator and nationally recognized expert in public sector and minority issues in mental health care, Stewart also worked as executive director of the National Leadership Council on African-American Behavioral Health.

The annual Shannon Lectureship takes place each February to create awareness about health disparities. It has welcomed such distinguished national speakers as former U.S. Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders and former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis Sullivan, as well as noted local leaders in minority health.

Med school faculty lead local summit on lung cancer

School of Medicine faculty members led a local summit on advanced non-small cell lung cancer, discussing novel treatments for patients with lung cancer on Dec. 11.

The State of the Science Summit brought together academic and community-based physicians and health care professionals across disciplines from clinical and surgical oncology to hematology.

Janakiraman Subramanian, M.D., M.P.H, assistant professor of medicine and director of thoracic oncology at Saint Luke’s Cancer Institute chaired the event. Additional faculty members J. Russell Davis, M.D., cinical assistant professor of surgery; Vinay Gupta, M.D., clinical assistant professor of medicine; Timothy Saettele, M.D., assistant professor of medicine; and internal medicine fellow Brandon Weckbaugh, M.D., made up a panel of expert presenters.

The panel discussed topics such as advances in robotic thoracic lung cancer surgery, bronchoscopies and biopsies, immunotherapy, targeted therapies and emerging biomarkers in NSCLC.

The State of the Science Summit series is sponsored by OncLive, a digital resource for practicing oncologists.

Class-wide exercise builds research skills

Jennifer Bickel, M.D. ’01, one of the professors who designed the research exercise last year, judged posters again this year.

One mark of a good experiment is that its results can be replicated. By that standard, a required research project for third-year School of Medicine students appears to be a success.

The research exercise was introduced a year ago in the medical neuroscience course and drew positive comments from the students and the faculty members who judged their projects. The reactions were much the same for the assignment’s second go-round, the results of which were presented Dec. 4 in the school lobby.

“We wanted to give students an early research experience, to raise the bar of their baseline research knowledge,” said Jennifer Bickel, M.D. ’01, associate professor of pediatrics and director of the Comprehensive Headache Clinic at Children’s Mercy Hospital.

Whether or not conducting research becomes a part of their careers, Bickel said, it’s vital for all physicians to know how to use research.

“All research has some weakness, and without understanding of the process, you can’t properly interpret results,” she said.

In the exercise, teams of four students used data from the Cerner HealthFacts database, a nationwide compilation of data made available by Cerner Corp., one of the largest health care software companies in the world. The student teams, with the help of a faculty mentor and a supporting biostatistician, answered a unique question they identified related to a serious medical condition. The databases used this year covered such conditions as dystonia, migraines, catatonia, stroke and seizures.

After analyzing the data and drawing conclusions, each team made a poster displaying its question and hypothesis, telling how the team members went about testing their hypothesis, explaining their findings, and identifying questions for further study.

Agostino Molteni, M.D., Ph.D., is a research leader at the school and was one of the contest judges.

For many students it was their first medical research, and several of them said the assignment was helpful in many ways. Some said that before the exercise they were worried about how difficult it would be to do research, but now they looked forward to being able to do more.

“There was a first-time learning curve,” said one student, Michele Yang. “It was a good challenge to organize our information and narrow the focus of our project.”

One of her teammates, Courtney Dorris, said she was motivated to do more research and was looking into other opportunities with faculty.

“It was a good change of pace from the classroom to have real patient data and think about how to apply it,” she said.

Other students said they found value in learning more about how to use statistics; about the need for teamwork in research; about how to present data and frame conclusions; and how to think about research that could follow up on their projects.

The exercise was devised in 2017 by Bickel; Julie Banderas, Pharm.D., BCPS, professor of pharmacology in the Department of Internal Medicine and assistant dean for Graduate Studies and Allied Health; and Paula Monaghan-Nichols, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences and associate dean for research.

The teams were judged for poster content, clarity, appearance and organization; their oral presentations; and demonstration of critical thinking.

 

Patel lands speaking spot, promotes social media mentoring at radiology convention

Amy Patel, M.D. ’11, addressed the radiologists’ convention in Chicago.

Social media can play a crucial role in mentoring and sponsoring young radiologists, Amy Patel, M.D. ’11, recently told the 2018 convention of  the Radiological Society of North America.

Patel was one of only five radiologists worldwide chosen to make a 5-minute “Fast 5 Session” presentation at the radiologists’ Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting in Chicago. The convention, billed as the largest meeting of radiologists in the world, this year drew 60,000 people.

Patel is medical director of women’s imaging at Liberty Hospital and a clinical assistant professor at the UMKC School of Medicine. She told the gathering that Twitter and other social media made it possible to connect medical students, residents and fellows to practicing physicians. The hashtags #RADxx (for female radiologists) and #RADxy (for male radiologists) make it easier to connect on Twitter, she said, and as a result she is now mentoring or sponsoring many radiology trainees across the country who have sought her out.

“Social media has the opportunity to become the great equalizer,” Patel said.

The Fast 5 Session presented five radiologists each addressing a non-clinical topic. Competition for the speaking spots was heavy, and Patel said it was an honor to be chosen.

The full 2018 Fast 5 Session can be viewed here. Patel is the last of the five speakers and is introduced at the 22:50 mark. Her presentation begins at 23:45.

 

School of Medicine welcomes new staff

Rachel McCommon, Allan Davis

The School of Medicine has recently welcomed two new staff members in the offices of Diversity and Inclusion, and Admissions.

Rachel McCommon is coordinator of diversity and strategic initiatives. She will focus on multicultural affairs to support student and resident success and strategic planning to support faculty and staff working with a diverse student population.

Allan Davis serves as coordinator of diversity programs and recruitment. He will coordinate the school’s high school pipeline programs, Summer Scholars and the Saturday Academy.

McCommon joins the School of Medicine with more than 10 years of experience addressing areas of multicultural programing, student success, recruitment and community outreach. Her efforts have also focused on issues that impact access to higher education for underrepresented K-12 students and supporting current college students.

McCommon graduated from Emporia State University with a degree in rehabilitation service education and a minor in leadership. She received her master’s degree in higher education administration from UMKC and previously worked in the university’s undergraduate admissions office as the multicultural recruiter. She also taught college prep and life-after-college classes at Alta Vista Charter High School in Kansas City.

She has been particularly involved in issues that impact the success of women and Latinx students. McCommon actively participates in Cuerpo de Areito, a Puerto Rican folkloric dance group to support and educate others on Puerto Rican culture and traditions.

McCommon said she is excited to add to the culture and environment of the School of Medicine and values the importance of supporting students with an open-door policy. She can be reached at 235-6251 or at mccommonr@umkc.edu.

Davis joins the School of Medicine with experience as a recruiter and instructor. A graduate of Brigham Young University with degrees in American studies and theater history, he also received a Ph.D. in theater and performance study from the University of Maryland with a research focus on whiteness in the United States.

He served as a course instructor for eight years at BYU, American University in Washington, D.C., and at Maryland, and has served as a recruiter for undergraduate and graduate programs. He also managed a living-learning community at the University of Maryland. After moving to Kansas City, Davis worked at the Office of Academic Affairs at the UMKC School of Pharmacy before joining the School of Medicine.

Dedicated to cultivating a diverse student body, Davis will lead the School of Medicine’s pipeline programs to provide enriching experiences for the next generation of medical professionals. He can be reached at 235-5434 or davisall@umkc.edu.

American Heart Association honors Dr. John Spertus with Distinguished Scientist Award

John Spertus, M.D., M.P.H., professor of medicine and Daniel J. Lauer, M.D., Endowed Chair in Metabolism and Vascular Disease Research, was honored with the American Heart Association’s 2018 Distinguished Scientist Award.

John Spertus, M.D., M.P.H., professor of medicine and Daniel J. Lauer, M.D., Endowed Chair in Metabolism and Vascular Disease Research, received the American Heart Association’s 2018 Distinguished Scientist Award on Nov. 11 at the AHA Scientific Sessions in Chicago.

The award recognizes prominent scientists and clinicians who have made significant and sustained contributions to advancing the understanding, management and treatment of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

As clinical director of outcomes research at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, Spertus developed technology that guides physicians and patients in medical-decision making by using models to measure and predict the risk factors of various procedures. Many experts cite two tools he created — the Seattle Angina Questionnaire and the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire — as the gold standards for measuring symptoms, function and quality of life in treating coronary artery disease and heart failure. Both have been translated into more than 95 languages.

“I am humbled by the honor to be recognized by the AHA for our work to improve the patient-centeredness of care,” Spertus said. “While traditionally the basic sciences are prioritized, to see the work of our community to improve care and outcomes is a terrific validation of the collective efforts of my entire team and colleagues.”

Spertus is the founder of two outcomes research organizations. The Cardiovascular Outcomes Research Consortium and CV Outcomes is a non-profit corporation dedicated to advancing health care quality and outcomes research in cardiovascular disease. The Health Outcomes Sciences is an information technology company that implements precision medicine in clinical care.

He is currently leading a regional effort with BioNexus KC and the Frontiers CTSA to bring local hospitals together in collaboration to improve the value of health care in Kansas City.

This is Spertus’ third major award from the AHA. He previously received the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015 and the Council on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Distinguished Achievement Award in 2013.

Dean Jackson helps address reappearance of polio-like disease

Cases of acute flaccid myelitis, which mainly affects children and can cause lasting paralysis, continue to be reported this fall across the U.S. When two possible cases of the polio-like disease were reported in Kansas City, people looking for answers turned to Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. ’78, an expert in pediatric infectious diseases at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City.

Jackson, Mary Anne
Mary Anne Jackson, M.D.

Jackson, of course, is also the interim dean of the UMKC School of Medicine, so she didn’t need a recurrence of the disease to keep her busy. But she took the news in stride, offering parents reassurance and colleagues expert advice.

The disease is extremely rare, Jackson said, with one-in-a-million odds of contracting it. So parents shouldn’t be alarmed, she said, even though reports of the disease, often referred to as AFM, have been occurring in two-year cycles since 2014.

Jackson said AFM, which appears to develop after a viral illness, could have several possible causes. Enterovirus D68 has been getting attention as a possibility, because respiratory problems from EV-D68 were widespread in 2014 when 120 cases of AFM were reported. But that virus didn’t spike in fall 2016 or this year, and other possible causes are being studied, too.

The number of AFM cases dropped to 22 in 2015 and spiked again, to 149, in 2016. The pattern continued with just 38 cases in 2017 but 90 confirmed so far this year by the Centers for Disease Control, and more than 160 other cases still being investigated.

Jackson said symptoms are easy to recognize because AFM attacks regions of the spinal cord known as grey matter. “If your child develops profound weakness, especially involving limbs, make sure to see your physician,” she said.

Jackson also recently prepared an update on the disease for physicians. Besides acute limb weakness, Jackson said, a review of AFM reports also found signs of cranial nerve involvement, such as facial weakness, in more than one-fourth of cases. She said that examining cerebrospinal fluid and doing an MRI of the brain and spine were key to diagnosing AFM, and that all cases should be reported to the CDC.

As for prevention, she said, nothing has been identified beyond the usual emphasis on hand washing and covering coughs to disrupt any viral illness that could be related. Though most AFM patients survive, weakness and paralysis can persist. Jackson said nerve transfer surgery – at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Washington University in St. Louis and Shriners Hospital for Children in Philadelphia – showed some promise in cases of isolated limb disease. One Wash U patient, an 8-year-old boy whose legs were paralyzed in 2016, recently started walking again after the nerve transfer surgery.

Besides keeping good track of cases the rest of this fall, Jackson said, “We will have to stay tuned to see how effective new research is in uncovering the etiology of this disease.”

Michael Weaver’s health equity efforts, school’s diversity achievements recognized

Dr. Michael Weaver, M.D. ’77, has been recognized by the Black Health Care Coalition of Kansas City for his efforts to narrow the equity gap in health care for African Americans.

Dr. Michael Weaver

At Saint Luke’s Health System, Weaver is vice president for clinical diversity and chairman of the Healthcare Equity Council. At the UMKC School of Medicine, he is a clinical associate professor of emergency medicine, chair of the Minority Faculty Recruitment and Retention Committee and a longtime member of the school’s Diversity Council.

“There’s a mantra among leaders in health care equity and diversity: To have quality, you must have equity,” Weaver said. “That means looking at factors such as mortality, morbidity and readmission rates across patient populations, and striving for consistent outcomes.”

He said it was gratifying that Saint Luke’s for several years has had a Healthcare Equity Council to promote top-quality patient care regardless of demographics such as race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, language or socioeconomic status. The council also addresses issues related to population health, social health determinants, health literacy and LGBTQ issues.

Weaver’s equity work includes a grant he secured from the Healthcare Foundation of Kansas City to provide training at the School of Medicine and Truman Medical Centers and throughout the Saint Luke’s system to recognize unconscious bias.

“I think everyone needs to recognize and speak up about how unconscious bias and the social determinants of health can influence the creation of health care and health disparities,” he said.

The Black Health Care Coalition strives to eliminate health disparities through advocacy, access to care and health promotion activities. Its award to Weaver, a School of Medicine alumnus and faculty member, was one of several recent recognitions for the school regarding diversity and inclusion:

— The national magazine INSIGHT Into Diversity recently announced that it was honoring the school with a 2018 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award.

— The School of Medicine, along with the School of Pharmacy and the School of Dentistry, received a five-year, $3.2 million federal grant for efforts to recruit students from economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds and improve their academic success rates in health care fields.

— The school’s associate dean for Diversity and Inclusion, Nate Thomas, was among the administrators praised in Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal’s first State of the University address for helping bring true excellence to UMKC. Thomas plays a critical role in implementing programs to support students and help them stay in school, overcome obstacles and succeed.

— Three leaders of the UMKC chapter of the Student National Medical Association also have taken national or regional leadership positions in the association, which supports medical students from underserved populations.

Sekhon selected to post with AMWA student organization

Sekhon, SubhijtSubhjit Sekhon, a fifth-year medical student, has been appointed to serve on the National Committee for the American Medical Women’s Association’s Medical Student Division.

Serving as the recruitment chair for the medical student division, Subhjit will work with regional directors to identify schools that currently don’t have an AMWA student chapter, establish new chapters of the organization and work on updating recruitment materials for the student group.

AMWA is the oldest multispecialty organization dedicated to supporting women in medicine and women’s health.

Sekhon was chosen for the post from a pool of applicants from across the country. She has been a member of the UMKC chapter of the medical women’s organization for three years and has served as co-treasurer and co-community service chair.

She also serves as an ambassador of the Centennial Congress for the Medical Women’s International Association. An offshoot of AMWA, the organization represents women doctors from all six continents.

 

 

 

Student research office announces 12 Sarah Morrison awards

Top row: Yicheng Bao, Shannon Demehri, Abygail Dulle, Ankit Kadakia. Middle row: Cynthia Liu, Andrew Peterson, Amber (Lelia) Sarvestani, Som Singh. Bottom row: Kevin Varghese, Firas Al-Badarin, Kathryn Kyler, Ali O. Malik

The School of Medicine Student Research Program has awarded 12 Sarah Morrison Student Research Awards for the Fall 2018 cycle. Recipients included nine medical students and three graduate students.

Sarah Morrison awards of up to $2,500 are presented to School of Medicine students each year in April and October. The awards help students become involved in and learn about a wide variety of research activities based on their interests. The research may be in the basic sciences or in clinical medicine.

Students may develop their own hypothesis and work plan or work on an established research project with their mentor. Winners of the awards are expected to present the results of the research at a School of Medicine student research event such as the UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit) or a similar venue as recommended by Research Administration.

More than 100 students have received Sarah Morrison awards since 2013 with an estimated $155,000 of financial support provided from the program to conduct research projects at the School of Medicine.

The next application deadline for students interested in receiving a Sarah Morrison research award is March 1 for the April award. Applicants are reviewed by a committee of faculty judges and processed through the Office of Research Administration.

For complete application information, visit the student research website.

Fall 2018 Sarah Morrison Research Awards
(Recipient / Faculty Mentor / Project title)
  • Yicheng Bao, MS 4 / Betty Drees, M.D., Professor, Dean Emerita / Prevalence and Risk Factors of Depression Among Patients with Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Shannon Demehri, MS 6 / John Wang, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Westport Anesthesia/Missouri Endowed Chair for Research / Regulation of Src Family Kinases in the Rat Brain by Adenosine
  • Abygail Dulle, MS 5/ Paula Monaghan-Nichols, Ph.D., Professor, Associate Dean for Research Administration / Prenatal Glucocorticoid Exposure for Preterm Birth: Investigating The Role Of Glucocorticoid Receptor Phosphorylation In The Development Of Neuropathology
  • Ankit Kadakia, MS 4 / Paula Monaghan-Nichols, Ph.D., Professor, Associate Dean for Research Administration / Role of Synthetic Glucocorticoid Exposure in Ocular Development and Pathology
  • Cynthia Liu, MS 4/ Gary Sutkin, M.D., Professor and Associate Dean of Women’s Health, Victor and Caroline Schutte Chair in Women’s Health / The Prevalence and Effects of Ambiguous Language on Communication Errors in the Operating Room
  • Andrew Peterson, MS 5 / Xiangping Chu, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences / Modulation of Heteromeric Acid-Sensing Ion 1 a/3 Channels by Zinc
  • Amber (Lelia) Sarvestani, MS 6 / Geetha Raghuveer, M.D., M.P.H., Professor of Pediatrics / Long Term Outcomes and Survival Following Repair of Truncus Arteriosus With and Without Interrupted Aortic Arch Utilizing Linkage of the Pediatric Cardiac Care Consortium with the National Death Index and Organ Procurement Transplantation Network Datasets
  • Som Singh, MS 2 / Li Zhang, M.D., Professor of Biomedical and Health Informatics / The Effect of GM26870 Gene Expression on Acetaminophen Hepatotoxicity
  • Kevin Varghese, MS 2 / Alain Cuna, M.D., Assistant Professor of Pediatrics / Effectiveness and safety of repeat use of postnatal steroids for bronchopulmonary dysplasia
  • Firas Al-Badarin, grad student / Tim Bateman, M.D., Professor of Internal Medicine and Radiology / Cardiovascular Outcomes of Patients with Normal Positron Emission Tomography and Single Photon Computed Tomography Myocardial Perfusion Imaging
  • Kathryn Kyler, grad student / Kim Smolderen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biomedical and Health Informatics / Variation in medication dosing and guideline adherence by weight status for commonly prescribed medications during pediatric asthma hospitalizations
  • Ali O. Malik, grad student / Paul Chan, M.D., Professor of Internal Medicine / Association between hospital reimbursement models and rates of normal elective coronary angiograms