Tag Archives: Faculty

Vision researcher receives grant to look at technology to detect traumatic brain injury

A diagnostic process used in routine eye exams could hold a key to early stage detection and long-term monitoring of subclinical and clinical traumatic brain injury.

The Leonard Wood Institute awarded a $383,837 grant to the UMKC School of Medicine to explore the use of microperimetry to detect changes in visual function that are the result of traumatic brain injury. The project’s principal investigator is Peter Koulen, Ph.D., director of basic research at the UMKC School of Medicine’s Vision Research Center in the Department of Ophthalmology.

Microperimetry measures the light sensitivity of the central retina. It is currently used in ophthalmology to identify damage to the retina and vision loss due to eye diseases.

“We’re not looking for treatments for traumatic brain injury. We’re looking for a quantitative method to detect the disease that tells the patient, your disease severity is a 9 out of 10 or a 2 out of 10,” Koulen said. “Being able to quantify the disease will help physicians to better evaluate their patients. And then, when there is a treatment, it will help evaluate the treatment as well.”

Interventions to prevent or stop traumatic brain injuries are most effective early in the disease, but are not possible without reliable and easily repeatable early stage identification and diagnosis.

Current tests to conclusively show subclinical, or non-recognizable, forms of traumatic brain injury and the degree of acute and long-term damage are typically costly and often imprecise without accurate baseline data.

Using the microperimetry technology, Koulen’s research will sample mild to moderately concussed patients, subclinical traumatic brain injury and non-concussed patients to achieve a baseline. That data will then be used to create a defined number of quantitative parameters and produce a specific fingerprint of functional changes in vision that allow the researcher to optimally perform early stage detection, grading and long-term monitoring of subclinical and clinical traumatic brain injury.

Koulen said the UMKC School of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology and its Vision Research Center are uniquely positioned to conduct research on the new diagnostic technique because their faculty includes nationally recognized experts in the retina and neuro-ophthalmology sub-specialties.

If successful, the technology will ultimately enable diagnosis without invasive or subjective measures and will likely also enable an assessment of the severity and long-term impairment resulting from traumatic brain injury.

“Our technology will address this urgent clinical need,” Koulen said.

Grant-funded project will help Kansas City community take charge of its own vascular health

School of Medicine researcher Kim Smolderen, Ph.D., is leading a grant-funded project to raise community awareness of peripheral arterial disease.

A few years ago, Kansas City received the federal CHOICE grant to revitalize one of the city’s most underserved neighborhoods. Now, an effort by UMKC School of Medicine researcher Kim Smolderen, Ph.D., will support residents of the Paseo Gateway and surrounding neighborhoods to build on existing efforts to flourish in their communities.

With the backing of a new two-year, $300,000 Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute grant, Smolderen, is leading a project to raise community awareness of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and the cardiovascular risks associated with it.

More than 8.5 million Americans live with PAD, a narrowing of the peripheral arteries that occurs most commonly in the legs and often causes pain while walking. African Americans particularly are at risk of late diagnosis and related leg amputations in part because of a low awareness of the disease.

The project focuses on the Gateway Plaza area, specifically the Pendleton Heights, Paseo West and Independence Plaza neighborhoods that have some of the lowest life expectancy rates in Kansas City and Jackson County with their widely diverse communities including a growing immigrant population.

“These are the areas where people have to grapple with financial hardship,” said Smolderen, an assistant professor of Biomedical and Health Informatics. “Violence is a factor, poor housing conditions. These are typically overlooked areas that are dealing with a lot of challenges at the same time.”

Previous data from the American Heart Association also shows that knowledge and resources to improve vascular health are not widely accessible in inner-city neighborhoods characterized by these challenges, further predisposing them to PAD complications such as amputations.

The plan is to increase the awareness of PAD by presenting information to the community through a multi-faceted dissemination campaign including seminars and artwork by neighborhood artists promoting vascular health. Symposiums with community members will also serve to determine what issues impacting vascular disease are most concerning to those in their neighborhoods. Project and neighborhood leaders will then work together to create a list of available community resources that address the identified barriers. Common issues include insufficient resources to stop smoking, which is the leading risk factor for the disease, and needed exercise programs and facilities.

“We’re going to work with the community, not telling them what to do, but sharing with them what we have found and then let them tell us how we can help make connections in the community to implement that knowledge and do something with it that serves their needs,” Smolderen said.

The project will begin this summer with a workshop bringing together a steering committee that includes an array of collaborators from UMKC, Saint Luke’s Hospital, the UMKC Health Sciences District, Storytellers, Inc., the Paseo Gateway Initiative, the local American Heart Association, and PAD experts.

Students interested in community outreach activities are also being invited to contact Smolderen about potential research internships regarding the program.

She said the project will work in lockstep with the city as it continues to implement resources from the stimulus grant it received in 2015 to transform the neighborhood.

In addition to creating awareness and promoting cardiovascular health, Smolderen said the program could also become a template for those in other cities and neighborhoods to engage their city stakeholders and public health officials to focus on health problems facing their communities.

“If you enforce things on people, you only create resistance,” she said. “This is really to help people discover their own autonomy, creativity, and to find needed resources in their own community.”

Former faculty member Dr. Joseph Parker Jr. dies

Dr. Joseph Parker

Dr. Joseph C. Parker Jr. passed away May 3 at the age of 81. His survivors include Dr. John Parker, M.D. ’93, with whom he practiced the last 10 years of his career.

From 1986 to 1992, he served as professor and chairman in the Department of Pathology for the UMKC School of Medicine and Truman Medical Center. He also served on the Board of Directors at Truman Medical Center from 1989 to 1992.

After leaving UMKC, he was the chairman of pathology at the University of Louisville for many years. He then was director of Louisville’s pathology residency program until he retired in 2014. He co-wrote more than 130 journal articles, 95 abstracts and 10 book chapters, often with his son. Dr. John Parker said his father’s “knowledge and wisdom will live on in the hundreds of students and residents he enjoyed teaching over his long medical career.”

School of Medicine welcomes new class of 22 into AOA honor society

The School of Medicine Alpha Omega Alpha honor society inducted its 2019 class of students, residents, alumni and faculty during a banquet at Diastole on May 2.
Michael Bamshad, M.D., chief of genetic medicine at the University of Washington, presented the annual AOA lecture.

The School of Medicine chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha welcomed 22 new inductees into the medical honor society during a banquet on May 2 at Diastole.

This year’s list of new members includes 17 students, four junior members and 13 senior members, three residents, one alumna and one faculty member from the med school.

Two senior student members, Sara Pourakbar and Vidhan Srivastava, were elected this spring to join the class. Senior members elected to this year’s AOA class last fall include: Ahmed Elbermawy, Julia Esswein, Ella Glaser, Usman Hasnie, Cindy Jiang, Niraj Madhani, Raksha Madhavan, Grant Randall, Grace Rector, Kale Turner and Vivek Vallurupalli.

Junior student members who were elected this Spring are Karen Figenshau, Komal Kumar, Daniel O’Toole and Anthony Oyekan.

Also elected to the AOA this spring were School of Medicine alumna Emily Volk, M.D., a 1993 graduate; faculty member Julie Banderas, Pharm.D., chair of graduate studies; and residents/fellows Omar Abughanimeh, M.D., internal medicine, Mohamed Omer, M.D., cardiovascular medicine, and Katelyn Smelser, M.D., internal medicine.

Selection to AOA membership is considered an honor recognizing one’s dedication to the profession and art of healing. It is based on character and values such as honesty, honorable conduct, morality, virtue, unselfishness, ethical ideals, dedication to serving others and leadership. Membership also recognizes excellence in academic scholarship.

This year’s AOA student officers are Jonah Graves, Imran Nizamuddin, Taylor Carter and Miracle Amayo. Fohn Foxworth, Pharm.D., professor of medicine and associate dean, and David Wooldridge, M.D. ’94, internal medicine residency program director, serve as faculty officers.

Michael Bamshad, M.D., a 1989 graduate of the School of Medicine, was the keynote speaker at this year’s AOA lecture on May 3. Division chief and a professor of genetic medicine at the University of Washington, Bamshad spoke on the genetic basis of Mendelian conditions.

Upcoming changes announced in GME, faculty development

School of Medicine Interim Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., has announced changes within the dean’s office that will take effect July 1.

Dr. Christine Sullivan, Dr. Sara Gardner, Dr. John Foxworth

Christine Sullivan, M.D., associate dean for graduate medical education for the past five years, will transition to a new role as associate dean for professional development. Sara Gardner, M.D., assistant dean for graduate medical education for the past two years, will assume the role of associate dean. John Foxworth, Pharm.D., who has served as associate dean for faculty development for the past 10 years, will become associate dean of academic enrichment.

Sullivan’s new role will focus on the development of a formal faculty mentorship program. She will work to expand resources for development training, including those that foster career progression, professionalism and physician well-being.

In her previous role with graduate medical education, Sullivan was responsible for implementing a GME Ombudsman program and establishing an annual Resident/Fellow Appreciation Day.

“It has been my great honor to serve in the role of associate dean for GME over the past five years,” said Sullivan, a professor of emergency medicine. “I truly have enjoyed advocating for our wonderfully talented residents and fellows who are the future in medicine.”

Gardner, associate professor of internal medicine/pediatrics, served as program director for the Internal Medicine-Pediatrics residency program prior to assuming the role of assistant dean.

“It’s been a privilege to work with Dr. Sullivan in the GME office,” Gardner said. “I look forward to collaborating with her in her new role in the faculty development office to support our program leaders and enhance our clinical learning environments.”

The associate dean for GME serves as the Designated Institutional Official for the school’s 35 Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited programs and as the chair of the school’s Graduate Medical Education Council.

In his new role, Foxworth, a professor of medicine, will focus more narrowly on supporting faculty, student and trainee success in academics and research. He will also oversee a new grant writing program.

He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and a fellow in the American College of Clinical Pharmacology. He has been with the School of Medicine since 1974.

“It has been a pleasure working with the school’s talented faculty, students and residents and I look forward to supporting their ongoing academic and research efforts in this new role,” Foxworth said.

Med School announces student research summit winners

Keerthi Gondi presents his winning poster to John Foxworth, Pharm.D., director of research at the 2019 UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit.

Keerthi Gondi, a fifth-year medical student, and Kathryn Kyler, a bioinformatics student, were selected as the School of Medicine’s winners of the 2019 Health Sciences Student Research Summit. This year’s research event on April 17 at the UMKC Student Union drew a record 66 student posters from the medical school.

A panel of faculty judges selected the top three poster presentations among BA/MD students and chose the top two presentations from School of Medicine graduate students.

Gondi presented the winning poster, Symptomatic Versus Asymptomatic Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension in Children. The second-place award for BA/MD students went to Nikhil Havaldar, fourth-year student,  with a poster presentation on Epidemiology of Human Rhinovirus in School-Aged Children and Adolescents with Medically Attended Acute Respiratory Infection. Yicheng Bao, fourth-year student,  was the third-place winner with a poster on Visual Field Loss in Patients with Diabetes in the Absence of Clinically-Detectable Vascular Retinopathy.

In the graduate student category, Kyler presented the winning poster, The Association of Weight with Drug Dosing Variation in Children Hospitalized with Asthma. Second place went to Poghni Peri-Okonny, a graduate student in cardiovascular outcomes research, with the poster presentation, Blood Pressure Variability and Cardiovascular Outcomes in Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction.

This year’s faculty judges included Sarah Nyp, MD; Jessica Markham, MD; Maria Cole, PhD; Jennifer Qayum, MD; Amanda Montalbano, MD; Sean Riordan, PhD; Janelle Noel-Macdonnell; PhD; Jennifer Dilts, MD; Nilofer Qureshi, PhD; Alain Cuna, MD; Peter Koulen, PhD; Bridgette Jones, MD; Jared Bruce, PhD; Dan Heruth, PhD; Rosa Huang, PhD; Kamani Lankachandra, MD; Xiangping Chu, PhD; Wail Hassan, PhD; Jannette Berkley-Patton, PhD; and Mike Wacker, PhD.

The research summit also  included students from the health sciences schools of dentistry, pharmacy, nursing and health sciences, as well UMKC’s School of Biological Sciences. This year’s summit drew a record 100 research posters.

 

Discounted registration available for 2019 Hospital Hill Run

The UMKC Health Sciences District is once again pleased to serve as an event sponsor for one of the oldest and most-storied races in Missouri: the 46th Annual Hospital Hill Run, which returns to Kansas City on Saturday, June 1.

This year’s race event will take place on one day, with the starting and finishing lines for all three race distances – 5K, 10K, and half marathon – set up at Kansas City’s Crown Center.

Through the sponsorship, all UMKC running enthusiasts, faculty, staff, students and alumni may receive a 20 percent discount on registration for any race distance. Just use the code: UMKCDISC19. Register here.

Over the years, more than 170,000 athletes of all levels from across the world have participated in this event. Originated by UMKC School of Medicine founder Dr. E. Grey Dimond, M.D., the Hospital Hill Run served as host to the first USATF National Championship half marathon in 2002. In 2013, the race was recognized by Runner’s World Magazine as the 11th best half marathon in the United States.

UMKC faculty, staff, students and alumni who aren’t participating in the races may serve in one of many volunteer roles. Volunteers are the backbone of the Hospital Hill Run. Individuals and groups are needed to help unwrap medals; pack post-race food packets; sort, stack, and pass out t-shirts; distribute race bibs; set up and staff aid stations; cheer and steer participants on course; award medals; hand out wet towels, food, and hydration at the finish line; and help with event clean up. Volunteers may register here.

Dr. Waldman appointed vice dean for strategic initiatives and stewardship

Waldman, SteveThe School of Medicine announced that Steven D. Waldman, M.D., JD, has been appointed vice dean for strategic initiatives and stewardship. In this role, he will be involved in all initiatives with a major strategic importance to the School of Medicine.

The appointment, announced by School of Medicine Interim Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., took effect on April 15.

Waldman is a 1977 graduate of the School of Medicine. His roles will include developing new strategies for increasing student enrollment and furthering collaborations with regional partners. He will also coordinate new innovative infrastructure projects within the school.

As physician liaison to the UMKC Foundation, he will facilitate closer relationships with School of Medicine alumni and increase opportunities to enhance UMKC branding and fundraising in surrounding areas. He will also serve as the School of Medicine partner to the newly appointed president of the UMKC Foundation.

“All of these functions will serve to elevate the academic reputation of the medical school,” Jackson said.

Waldman previously served as associate dean and chair of the Department of Medical Humanities and Bioethics and professor of anesthesiology.  He was also part of an integral team that led the school’s preparation for a successful 2018 LCME survey visit.

A prolific writer and author of more than 36 books and numerous scientific publications, he will continue to maintain his clinical practice in pain management.

It’s an active spring in the Health Sciences District

The warm weather is here – and the UMKC Health Sciences District has a number of upcoming healthy initiatives for staff, students and faculty. Whether it’s an e-bike rental or a walking group, the District is working to get everyone active and outdoors.

The Health Sciences District Run/Walk club has begun again this year. Each weekday over the lunch hour, you can join fellow students, faculty, staff and friends from throughout the district to run or walk the 2.5-mile route. If you’re interested in participating, the group meets at 24th St. and Charlotte – just look for the Run/Walk sign. New this year: the group is putting together a team to participate in the Hospital Hill Run.

Unlike past year’s, this year’s race will take place on Saturday, June 1. The starting and finishing lines for all three race distances – 5K, 10K, and half marathon – will be set up at Kansas City’s Crown Center. All UMKC running enthusiasts, faculty, staff, students and alumni, may receive a 20 percent discount on registration. To sign up for any of the day’s races, use the code UMKCDISC19. Register at  hospitalhillrun.com. If you’re not participating as a runner but would still like to get involved, the event is looking for volunteers. Contact Alison Troutwine at alison.troutwine@tmcmed.org for more information.

On April 24, the District will be host to a free pop-up yoga class. Start time is at 5:15 pm. The class will be held outdoors in the green amphitheater space on the NE Corner of 25th St. and Holmes Rd. All registered participants will be entered to win a free yoga mat and a gift card from Ruby Jean’s Juicery. If interested, bring your own mat and register at umkchealthsciencesdistrict.org.

And if you need help getting around to all these fun activities, the District has you covered. RideKC Bike has released a new fleet of smart, electric-assisted bikes housed in the district for bike share users. They are already available just outside the UMKC Health Sciences Bookstore, and you can start or end your trip at any RideKC Bike hub around the city. To. Get started, download the Drop Mobility app to find bikes and hub locations near you. Your first ride is free.

The district is committed to encouraging a healthy lifestyle throughout our District community. It’s a perfect time to enjoy this beautiful weather and take advantage of these great offerings.

In Memoriam: Dr. Lynn DeMarco

Demarco, LynnLong-time UMKC School of Medicine faculty member and docent Lynn DeMarco, died on Feb. 15 in Leawood, Kansas. He was 85.

Dr. DeMarco joined the School of Medicine and the internal medicine staff at Truman Medical Center in 1977. He served as a docent for 10 years and continued on the School of Medicine faculty as a professor of medicine.

Interim Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., was a member of Dr. DeMarco’s docent unit as a student at the School of Medicine.

“As one of the first students on his docent unit in 1977, I remember him as positively engaged with students, a wonderful clinician who always had a smile on his face.”

Jim Wooten, Pharm.D., said he remembered how years ago Dr. DeMarco helped him fit in as a new member of the School of Medicine faculty.

“At least once a week, when he used to have a clinic at TMC, I would drop by for a visit,” Wooten said. “I would get lots of clinical questions from him when he had a clinic here and at TMC Lakewood although I believe many questions were more to make me feel good about myself rather than me helping him much.  He was a good man and extremely bright.  I have no doubts that his patients will miss him and so will I.”

Before coming to Kansas City, he was in private practice at the Donahoe Clinic, later Central Plains Clinic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

A graduate of Creighton University and the Creighton University School of Medicine, Dr. DeMarco interned at Harbor General Hospital in Torrance, California. He completed his internal medicine residency at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Dianne Markell DeMarco, daughters, Gini Collins, Theresa DeMarco, Paula (Fritz) Long, Sons, Romano (Melissa), Lynn (Nick), John (Erika) and 10 Grandchildren, Virginia, Laura, John, Dianne, and Maria Collins, Henry, Walter, and Veronica Long, Oscar and Andrew.