School of Medicine Dean Steven Kanter, M.D., has announced the appointment of Shui Qing Ye, M.D., Ph.D. as chair of the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics. The appointment will take effect January 1, 2018.
A professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine, Ye will continue to occupy the William R. Brown / Missouri Endowed Chair in Medical Genetics and Molecular Medicine.
As department chair, he will work closely with faculty, staff, and students to help position the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics as a catalyst of innovation and creativity. Ye is an expert in genomics and translational bioinformatics, which will help foster important collaborations with other units throughout the university and with School of Medicine clinical partners. He has a strong track record of using new-age tools to gather and explore Big Data, and of partnering with researchers locally and worldwide in an effort to pinpoint new diagnostic biomarkers and therapeutic targets for human diseases.
Ye is the author of two highly acclaimed books on bioinformatics and Big Data in addition to extensive research experience. He served previously as director of the Gene Expression Profiling Core at the Center of Translational Respiratory Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Additionally, he served at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine as director of the Molecular Resource Core.
Ye earned his medical degree from Wuhan University School of Medicine at Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in lipid metabolism at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in Oklahoma City, and received his Ph.D. in molecular mechanisms of disease from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.
Four graduate students in UMKC’s Interdisciplinary Ph.D. (I-Ph.D.) program have begun working toward their doctorate degree with a primary emphasis on bioinformatics through the School of Medicine’s Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics.
The four started their coursework this semester, becoming the first students to pursue a Ph.D. through the School of Medicine.
The I-Ph.D. program allows students to work across disciplines to develop an individualized academic plan requiring a primary discipline and at least one co-discipline. In collaboration with the university’s School of Graduate Studies, the medical school has offered bioinformatics as a co-discipline since the fall semester of 2014. Bioinformatics has two co-discipline students who are on track to complete their degrees next May; one with a primary discipline in molecular biology and biochemistry, and the other with a primary discipline in engineering.
The School of Medicine also offers a master’s degree in bioinformatics and a graduate certificate in clinical research through the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics.
“I feel like our co-discipline program has been successful because we have had students from so many different primary disciplines,” said Mary Gerkovich, Ph.D., associate professor and coordinator for the I-Ph.D. discipline.
Through the bioinformatics emphasis, the students primarily focus on biomedical data and knowledge, with an emphasis on how to use that information in problem solving and decision making to develop the technology and processes that will shape future health care.
Gerkovich said the program helps students think about biomedical research in the context of interacting with people.
“We’re very excited with our initial group,” Gerkovich said. “We think they’re really strong students and it’s perfect that they all have different co-disciplines because it points out the intersection between what we’re doing and so many different units within the university.”
The students with primary disciplines in bioinformatics are studying co-disciplines in mathematics and statistics, cellular biology and biophysics, entrepreneurship, and computer sciences.
“In our little cohort of four students, we have a diverse mix of what they’ll be doing and the kind of research they’ll be working on,” Gerkovich said.
Jeremy Provance is a software analyst in the School of Medicine’s Center for Health Insights. He completed his master’s degree in bioinformatics last May and decided to continue in the I-Ph.D. program. He will be working largely in cardiovascular outcomes research with the Mid America Heart Institute at Saint Luke’s Hospital.
Provance said a number of factors made the program appealing. The quality of faculty and the research at UMKC were the major factors, as well as the interdisciplinary aspect of the program.
“It ensures that I’m going to interact with related but separate disciplines to really dig deep and draw connections between bioinformatics and, in my case, entrepreneurship and innovation,” Provance said. “Being at the medical school means I have access to a lot of health science faculty in addition to everyone on the Volker campus. Biomedical and health informatics itself is largely interdisciplinary, so it’s a big plus to know faculty with a lot of varying expertise, even outside the department.”
David Walsh, another I-Ph.D. student, worked at the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab at Kansas State University for three years before moving to Kansas City about a year ago and discovering the program at UMKC. With a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology, Walsh began learning more about the relationship between genomics and bioinformatics. Now, he hopes to incorporate his interest in computer programming with finding process improvements for tracking samples and controls, and checking results.
“Using the tools of informatics, it’s possible to develop the targeted treatments that we need, and I want to be involved in helping our species overcome disease,” said Walsh.
Gerkovich said the I-Ph.D. program benefits both the university and the community. While it helps provide graduate students to support faculty research endeavors throughout UMKC and the School of Medicine, it is also developing a community resource.
“Our department has really put an emphasis on trying to develop collaborations with area institutions,” Gerkovich said. “One of our goals is to do exactly that, develop collaborations with corporations such as Cerner and our affiliate hospitals so that we have students working with people in those organizations. We’re training students to have the skills to contribute to those types of environments.”
The University of Missouri-Kansas City, Truman Medical Centers (TMC) and Children’s Mercy have won a quality-improvement grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for diagnostic laboratory testing at TMC. The three-year grant, which will use Cerner Health Facts data, is funded up to $930,000.
“The methods developed through this project will demonstrate value of both local and national medical data warehouses to inform quality improvement initiatives related to laboratory medicine,” said Mark Hoffman, primary investigator on the grant. Hoffman is chief research information officer at Children’s Mercy and is a faculty member in biomedical and health informatics and pediatrics at the UMKC School of Medicine. Kamani Lankachandra, chair of pathology at UMKC and the director of the pathology lab at TMC, is a co-investigator.
Diagnostic laboratory testing results are used in 60 to 70 percent of all clinical decisions. While laboratories have strong procedures to manage process-quality concerns within the lab, they often do not have access to reliable information related to test ordering or the use of test results to inform patient treatment.
Electronic health record data is increasingly used to populate local data warehouses, including those implemented using the National Institutes of Health-funded “informatics for integrating biology and the bedside” application, often shortened to i2b2. Some electronic health record vendors, including Cerner, manage national data warehouses populated with de-identified data from contributors that have provided data rights. Electronic health record data merged with laboratory information system data can provide diagnostic laboratories with information needed to better understand quality gaps, especially those related to test ordering and patient treatment informed by laboratory results.
TMC and their primary academic partner, UMKC, have collaborated with Cerner to implement i2b2 as a de-identified analytical data warehouse reflecting local clinical processes at TMC. And through this collaboration, UMKC has received a full copy of the Cerner Health Facts national data warehouse; few academic research centers in the world have access to this vast amount of medical data.
The de-identified data in Health Facts represents more than 600 inpatient and outpatient facilities and health care decisions for more than 47 million unique patients. Significantly, Health Facts includes more than 3 billion diagnostic laboratory results and more than 350 million medication orders.
UMKC will use the combination of i2b2 and Health Facts to prioritize up to 10 laboratory- related quality gaps, informed by insights from the practice-based evidence in Health Facts. TMC’s i2b2 data will be utilized to evaluate baseline status for candidate quality improvement projects. The prioritization phase will use Health Facts to characterize the severity of the quality gaps at TMC.
This project will provide methods that will enable TMC to develop quality improvement initiatives that are prioritized and designed using these data sources.
The School of Medicine has announced the appointment of An-Lin Cheng, Ph.D., as director of the Research and Statistical Consult Service in the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics.
A tenured faculty member in the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies for the past 10 years, Cheng has also held a joint appointment at the School of Medicine in Biomedical and Health Informatics since 2011.
Her primary roles will be to lead the Research and Statistical Consult Service and collaborate with researchers on the UMKC Hospital Hill Campus. She will provide expertise and advice on proper research design and assistance to researchers in ethical and accepted methods of data analysis and interpretation.
Cheng has extensive experience handling large data sets and conducting secondary data analyses. Her primary research interests have involved the development of statistical methods for the design and analysis of data in clinical trial studies. She has collaborated with researchers from a wide range of disciplines including medicine, dentistry, nursing, biomedical engineering, environmental sciences, statistics and biostatistics.
Faculty, residents, fellows and students are invited to contact Cheng early in their research process to request support. Guidelines and an application for the Research and Statistical Consult Service can be found on the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics website at http://med.umkc.edu/dbhi/consultation/.
The Dean’s Office has announced the appointments of three faculty members to key positions at the School of Medicine.
Lawrence Dall, M.D., professor of internal medicine and docent, and Michael Wacker, Ph.D., associate teaching professor of physiology, will each serve as assistant dean for student medical research. Mark Hoffman, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical and health informatics and pediatrics, and director of the Center for Health Insights, will assume the additional role of assistant dean for educational innovation.
These individuals will work in their new roles to enhance the continued development of research and education opportunities at the School. Dr. Dall and Dr. Wacker will ensure that medical students who want to do research while in medical school have the best experience possible. They also will assist in the development of student research-related policies and a database of student research activity. Dr. Hoffman will work with faculty and students to explore innovative ideas in medical education, especially those that exploit new technology.
Dr. Dall joined the School of Medicine faculty in 1982, serving as a docent through 1998, and rejoining the faculty as docent again in 2013. He also was physician group leader for IPC/Providence Medical Center, and was associate medical director for Midwest Hospital Specialists in Kansas City. At the School of Medicine, he has been chief of the section of infectious diseases, and served as chair of the Council of Docents.
Dr. Wacker has been a faculty member in the Department of Basic Medical Science since 2007. He was selected as winner of the 2015 Elmer F. Pierson Good Teaching Award and consistently has received high marks from students for his teaching. Dr. Wacker has authored many peer-reviewed publications, received extramural grants in cardiovascular research, and has served as a mentor for many student research award winners. Prior to joining the School of Medicine, Dr. Wacker was an instructor and academic program coordinator for the NIH Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program in molecular biosciences at the University of Kansas.
Dr. Hoffman joined the School of Medicine in 2013. He spent 16 years leading genomics, public health, and research initiatives at Cerner Corporation. He has 17 issued patents, was the principal investigator on a University of Missouri System interdisciplinary-intercampus grant, and has written peer-reviewed publications.
A UMKC School of Medicine researcher is working to understand why people diagnosed with HIV may not stick with their treatment.
An estimated 1.2 million Americans live with HIV infection. The disease is treated with antiretroviral therapy, a combination of medicines that reduces the amount of HIV in the bloodstream, which helps the body fight off infections and cancers. It also reduces the risk of transmitting the virus.
“We’ve gotten to the point where in some respects being HIV-positive is a chronic condition,” said Mary Gerkovich, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical and health informatics. “We now have HIV-positive patients who are developing all the naturally occurring aging conditions.”
Gerkovich works with the Infectious Diseases Clinic at Truman Medical Center Hospital Hill to identify participants in her research. “How do you get people to make behavior changes and then stick with them, is the question I keep going back to,” said Gerkovich, who collaborates with colleagues in the departments of Biomedical and Health Informatics, Medicine and Psychology.
According to Gerkovich, people who are diagnosed with a chronic condition first have to come to terms with it. “Often when people get a diagnosis that’s a serious diagnosis, they can sometimes shut down and say, ‘I can’t deal with this right now. I’m not willing to acknowledge it and accept it,’” she said.
In one instance, Gerkovich interviewed a patient who was diagnosed with cancer around the time he found out he was HIV-positive. “He spent a lot of time just trying to figure out what in the heck is going on in terms of, ‘What can I do and what can I look forward to?’” she said. “It took him a while to get to the point where he was able to say, ‘OK, I’m now ready to do something to fight these or address these.’”
Helping patients with HIV find reasons to stay healthy increases the likelihood they will follow the prescribed treatment, Gerkovich said, noting that many chronic conditions require people to take medications for the rest of their lives. “You can get to a point where you’re just sick and tired of it,” she said. “Every time you take these pills, it reminds you that you have a condition that you’re having to deal with.”
Peer systems may also help patients find the motivation they need to stay on track. Gerkovich said that in her studies, patients have talked about how important it was to see someone else with the same condition living well. It allowed them to see their diagnosis was not a death sentence.
Still, the stigma around HIV weighs on patients. In one study, Gerkovich and colleagues interviewed hospitalized patients who had not been receiving care for their HIV status. Some said they did not take their medication or failed to keep clinic appointments to avoid questions from loved ones and employers.
Mental health issues and substance abuse also present obstacles to treatment. “They may fall out of care because they’re not managing their life,” Gerkovich said.
One positive development in HIV care has been the advancement of drug treatments. Some patients may need to take only one pill once a day. “The medications now have much reduced side effects,” Gerkovich said. “They’re much easier to take in terms of the timing and the regimen.”
Gerkovch’s HIV research is not limited to patients at Truman Medical Center. Along with Kathy Goggin, Ph.D., professor of pediatrics and director of health services and outcomes research at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, and Karen Williams, Ph.D., Olson Professor of Biomedical and Health Informatics, she contributed to a study to evaluate the safety of a plant widely used in South Africa to treat people infected with HIV. The study appeared in the journal PLOS One earlier this year.
Tickets are on sale for TEDxUMKC. Speakers at the event, to be held Dec. 5 at the National World War I Memorial and Museum, include Mark Hoffman, Ph.D., director of the UMKC Center for Health Insights, and Sly James, the mayor of Kansas City, Missouri.
TEDx events are offshoots of the TED conferences, which started in California 26 years ago.
UMKC medical students Rahul Maheshwari and Ryan Sieli are co-curators of this year’s event, themed “Big Challenges, Small Solutions.” Harika Nalluri, a sixth-year medical student, organized the first TEDxUMKC event in 2012.
In addition to Hoffman and James, speakers at the 2015 TEDxUMKC event include Reza Derakshani, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering at UMKC; Terri Friedline, Ph.D., assistant professor in the School of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas; and Dakota Rosenfelt, a UMKC pharmacy student, hemophilia advocate and entrepreneur.
In a press release, the organizers of the 2015 TEDxUMKC event explained why they chose the “Big Challenges, Small Solutions” theme:
Although our society has made much progress, there are still major challenges facing us today. Some of these challenges are well known, while many are not. However, there are those among us that recognize, react and resolve those problems. These pioneers, acting in the spirit of ingenuity and altruism, have paved a path to help make the world a better place. They bring awareness to unseen obstacles, and offer creative solutions to tackle them. Innovational in nature and quick in thinking, these individuals strive to expand our horizons by breaking the facade for others to follow and demonstrating that one individual can make a difference.
Tickets to TEDxUMKC cost $5 for UMKC students and $10 for the general public and usually sell out. Visit www.tedxumkc.com for more information.
Megan Litzau, MS 6, presented two posters at the 2015 Student Research Summit on April 2. Each represented something of a milestone for the budding physician with interests in research and academic medicine.
Research drew Litzau’s interest during her second year of medical school and she took on small roles of data collection in a pair of studies. “It’s something that I just wanted to try,” Litzau said. “I had never tried doing research before.” By her third project, Litzau was in the position of helping write the grant proposal.
All of which led to the posters from two research projects she was presenting at the research summit. One project had an emergency medicine focus, which is in line with her residency choice — Litzau matched to an emergency medicine at the University of Indiana School of Medicine on Match Day just two weeks earlier.
“This is the first study that I’ve been the first author on,” Litzau said.
Around the corner was another poster from her fifth research project, this one focusing on medical education.
“That one was something of a milestone as well because it was the first time that I was actually invited to be part of a research team,” Litzau said. “A lot of times before, it was me asking someone, ‘Can I join the project? Do you have any use for a student?’ This was the first one where someone came to me and said, ‘We think you could be a valuable asset, will you come and join our team?’”
Litzau said she is already involved with another research project that she will continue to work on when she begins her residency training this summer in Indiana.
Thirty-four students from the School of Medicine, including three graduate students from the school’s graduate programs, participated in presenting 29 posters at Pierson Hall. Students from the schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing, Biological Sciences and Engineering and Arts and Sciences presented 89 research posters overall at the annual summit.
Each of the posters presented by medical students were judged by at least three School of Medicine faculty judges. Kayla Briggs, MS 4, received for the first prize for her poster, Enterovirus D68 Illness in Hospitalized Children under 24 Months of Age. Litzau’s poster, Medical Students’ NBME Subject Exam Preparation Habits and Their Predictive Effects on Actual Scores, tied for second place with a poster by Supriya Dasari, MS 4, and Susamita Kesh, MS 4, Smooth Muscle Actin (SMA1) Stain Lungs and Heart on Strains of CUX-1 Transgenic Mice.
Tim Fendler received the first prize for a poster presented by a graduate student with his poster, Alignment of Do-Not-Resuscitate Status with Patients’ Likelihood of Favorable Neurological Survival after In-hospital Cardiac Arrest.
Agostino Molteni, M.D., Ph.D., director of student research, said he was pleased with the collection of presentations and the collaboration that took place in producing many of the projects.
2015 Health Sciences Student Research Summit School of Medicine Presentations
(Student, research poster, faculty mentor)
Farhan Raza, MS 4, Pathological Changes in the Heart of CUX-1 Transgenic Mice. Dr. Agostino Molteni
Kayla Briggs, MS 4, Enterovirus D68 Illness in Hospitalized Children under 24 Months of Age. Dr. Jennifer E. Schuster (First Prize – BA/MD Student)
Vijit Chouhan, MS 5, Anatomic Description of the Oblique Bands of the Annular Ligament in the Human Elbow. Dr. Akin Cil
Vijit Chouhan, MS 5, Patterns of Empiric Antimicrobial Usage for Febrile Infants Between the Emergency Department and Inpatient Settings. Dr. Russell McCulloh
Seenu Abraham, MS 4, Polypharmacy and Distinctive Demographics of Congestive Heart Failure Patients. Dr. Lawrence Dall
Kavelin Rumalla, MS 1, Antonio Petralia, MS 1, and Adithi Reddy, MS 1, Student-Run Free Clinics: An Equitable Local Solution to National Healthcare Disparities. Dr. Valerie Rader
Scott Helgeson, MS 6, Incidence of Pulmonary Fibrosis in Lungs of CUX-1 Transgenic Mice, Dr. Agostino Molteni
Dilreet Rai, MS 5, A mouse model of diabetes-accelerated atherosclerosis exhibits elevated endothelial cell Vcam1, Icam1 and Ccl2 expression: Possible role for hyperglycemia in combination with inflammation. Dr. Jenny E. Kanter
Amina Qayum, MS 5, The Heat is On! Reducing Hypothermia During Delivery of High Risk Infants in a Children’s Hospital. Dr. Eugenia K Pallotto
Comron Hassanzadeh, MS 4, Regulation of locomotor activity to amphetamine injection by acid-sensing ion channel 1a and 2 in adult mice. Dr. Xiangping Chu
Keliang Xiao, MS 5, Primary Coarctation of the Aorta Diagnosed in the Older Patient: Endovascular Treatment with Thoracic Covered Stents. Dr. Keith B. Allen
Janessa Pennington, MS 5, Mariah Gawlik, MS 5, Maspin Expression of Pancreatic Inflammation in an Obese Strain of Mice. Dr. Agostino Molteni
Kaitlin Vogt, MS 6, Chris Schiavo, MS 6, Does lemon or cucumber juice inhibit the growth of Propionibacterium acnes in an anaerobic in vitro environment and does it improve the papule count in a preliminary clinical trial? Tim Quinn and Dr. Carol Stanford
Ingrid Hsiung, MS 4, Renal effect of triolein in a rat model of fat embolism syndrome. Dr. Molteni
Amneet Hans, MS 5, Faheem Mahomed, MS 5, Epidemiology of Pediatric Ophthalmic Trauma. Dr. Joshua Schliesser
Navya Reddy, MS 4, Endovenous Ablation Therapy for Treatment of Venous Insufficiency Comparative Study Evaluating the Efficacy of Laser and Radio Frequency in Symptomatic Venous Insufficiency. Dr. Molteni
Gautam Anand, MS 5, Effects of Second-Hand Tobacco Smoke Exposure on Vasculature in High-Risk Children. Dr. Geetha Raghuveer
Megan Litzau, MS 6, Medical Students’ NBME Subject Exam Preparation Habits and Their Predictive Effects on Actual Scores. Dr. Angellar Manguvo (Second Prize tie — BA/MD student)
Megan Litzau, MS 6, Universal Intimate Partner Violence Screening in the Pediatric Emergency Department and Urgent Care Setting: A Retrospective Review. Dr. Kimberly A. Randell
Rohit Saha, MS 5, Baseline knowledge, skills, and attitudes in quality improvement and patient safety (QIPS) among Years 1 students. Dr. Lawrence Dall
Will Enochs, MS 6, Exploring Paramedic-Physician Handoff Communication: A Mixed Methods Study. Dr. Emily Hillman
Timothy Fendler, graduate student, Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics, Alignment of Do-Not-Resuscitate Status with Patients’ Likelihood of Favorable Neurological Survival after In-hospital Cardiac Arrest. Dr. Donna Buchanan (First Prize — Graduate Student)
Anna Grodzinsky, graduate student, DBHI, Bleeding Risk Following PCI in Patients with Diabetes Prescribed Dual Anti platelet Therap. Dr. Donna Buchanan
Supriya Dasari, MS 4, Susamita Kesh, MS 4, Smooth Muscle Actin (SMA1) Stain Lungs and Heart on Strains of CUX-1 Transgenic Mice. Dr. Molteni, Dr. Betty Herndon (Second place tie — BA/MD Student)
Ali Shafiq, graduate student, DBHI, Likelihood of Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting in Patients with non-ST-Elevation Acute Coronary Syndrome: Finding the Best Model. Dr. Donna Buchanan
Jonah Graves, MS 2, Developing an ACE-27 form in REDCap for quantitative analysis of co-morbidities and their effect on cancer outcomes. Dr. Mark Hoffman
Lisa Brown, MS 6, Ayesha Murtuza, MS 6, Measuring the Efficacy of Introductory Pamphlets on Patient Satisfaction. Dr. Carol Stanford
Isadore Tarantino, MS 5, Does the Modified Mallampati Scoring Method Effectively Screen for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)? Dr. Nurry Pirani
Azka Afzal, MS 5, Patient discharge instructions: Factors that improve patient understanding and compliance. Dr. Josh Honeyman
Kim Smolderen, Ph.D., a distinguished researcher who has collaborated with the Mid America Heart Institute, will join the School of Medicine’s Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics faculty in February to work with program development and teaching and mentoring students and faculty.
After receiving her master’s degree and a Ph.D. in medical psychology from Tilburg University, The Netherlands, Smolderen completed two internships and a post-doctorate fellowship in outcomes research at the Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute working closely with John Spertus, M.D., Lauer/Missouri Endowed Chair in Metabolism and Vascular Disease Research. She will continue to work under his scientific mentorship.
With the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics, Smolderen will work to develop a sustained, extramurally-supported research program, while also teaching graduate level courses and mentoring students and faculty in research. She will also work with Mark Friedell, M.D., chair of the Department of Surgery, in developing the department’s research initiatives, said Karen Williams, professor and chair of Biomedical and Health Informatics.
Smolderen has received a number of awards and honors for her extensive research activities and her work has garnered many research grants, including a current $1.8 million grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.
A member of many professional committees and associations, Smolderen currently serves as associate editor of BMC Cardiovascular Disorders and is a member of the editorial board for Cardiovascular Quality of Care and Outcomes.