Shivani Sivasankar has been awarded a travel grant from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry. She is a 2018 graduate of the School of Medicine’s master’s program in biomedical and health informatics.
The honor is a competitive award given to students who are the lead authors of research abstracts accepted for presentation at the association’s annual meeting. The association is an organization of more than 10,000 world-wide scientific and medical professionals dedicated to clinical laboratory science and its application to health care.
Sivasankar will present her research at the organization’s 2018 national meeting in Chicago on July 29. She is one of only 15 students selected from an international pool of applicants for the grant.
Her research abstract is titled “Use of National EHR Data Warehouse to Identify Inappropriate HbA1C Orders for Sickle-Cell Patients.” The project used information culled from Health Facts, a database of big data provided by Cerner in collaboration with UMKC and Truman Medical Centers.
Sivasankar plans to continue her research studies at the School of Medicine in the fall when she enters the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program with a primary discipline in bioinformatics.
The School of Medicine Student Research Program has awarded 11 Sarah Morrison Student Research Awards for the Spring 2018 cycle. Recipients included 10 medical students and one graduate student.
Sarah Morrison awards of up to $2,500 are presented each year in April and October. More than 100 students have received an estimated $104,669 in financial support from the program to conduct research projects at the School of Medicine.
The deadlines for students interested in research who wish to be considered for one of the Sarah Morrison awards are March 1 and September. 1 each year. Applicants are reviewed by a committee of faculty judges and processed through the Office of Research Administration.
Spring 2018 Sarah Morrison Research Award
(Recipient / Faculty Mentor / Project title)
Taylor Carter, MS 5 / Miranda Huffman, M.D., associate professor of community and family medicine / The Need for Diversity: Narrative Review of Learning and Social Environment of Underrepresented Minority Medical Students at an U.S. Medical School
Keerthi Gondi, MS 4 / Sean Gratton, M.D., assistant professor of neurology / Prevalence, Treatment, and Outcomes of Asymptomatic Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension in a Pediatric Population
Rishabh Gupta, MS 3 / Peter Koulen, Ph.D., professor of basic medical science, Sabates Endowed Chair in Vision Research / Disease-mediated changes in Ca2+ channels during optic neuritis
Debolina Kanjilal, MS 3 / Gary Sutkin, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology, Endowed Chair in Women’s Health / The Pursuit of Error-Free Surgery
Shrusti Mehta, MS 3 / Paula Nichols, Ph.D., professor and chair of basic medical science / Molecular and Cellular consequences of Necrotizing Enterocolitis on neurodevelopment
Nikitha Potturi, MS 5, David Mundy, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology / Fetal Structural Cardiac Disease: Maternal & Neonatal Outcomes
Hussain Rao, MS 3, / Peter Koulen, Ph.D., professor of basic medical science, Sabates Endowed Chair in Vision Research / Pharmacological control of oxidative stress-mediated effects on endocannabinoid signaling
Alisha Shah, MS 3 / Peter Koulen Ph.D., professor of basic medical science, Sabates Endowed Chair in Vision Research / The role of MAPKs in innate immune system signaling in age-related macular degeneration pathogenesis
Garth Sherman, MS 5 / Fariha Shafi, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine / The effectiveness of BCG after local radiation therapy for Non-muscle invasive bladder cancer
Siddhant Thukral, MS 4, Paul Reicherter, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine / Serum Zonulin levels as measured during a Psoriasis Flare
Jeremy Provance, I.Ph.D. student / Kim Smolderen, Ph.D., assistant professor of biomedical and health informatics / Studying Amputations in the Cerner Health Facts Database: Overlap with Peripheral Artery Disease, Diabetes, and Prognostic Outcomes
Shui Qing Ye, M.D., Ph.D., chair and professor of Biomedical and Health Informatics, and Daniel Heruth, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics, are co-authors of a paper published in Cell and Bioscience that was selected as one the journal’s outstanding papers published in 2017.
The paper, “Epigenetic regulation of Runx2 transcription and osteoblast differentiation by nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase,” was published in the May 23, 2017 edition of Cell and Bioscience. It was chosen for the 2017 Ming K Jeang Award for Excellence in Cell & Bioscience.
Ye also serves as the William R. Brown Endowed Chair in Genetics and Molecular Medicine at the School of Medicine.
The event also consisted of a series of workshops and talks for faculty on subjects including hospital transitions of care activities, incorporating simulation and human factors analysis into health care training, and making educational and clinical training count twice.
Carolyn Clancy, M.D., Veterans Health Administration Executive in Charge, gave the keynote speech at noon. Clancy talked about the stride the Veterans Administration has made in providing health care for veterans and how it is a leader in health care innovations.
The afternoon sessions were reserved for oral presentations and poster presentations by students, residents and fellows.
The top two student and top two resident/fellow abstracts were selected for oral presentations. Fifth-year students Laura Meidl and Nyaluma Wagala were selected for student oral presentations. Omar Abughanimeh, M.D., and Talal Asif, M.D., gave the oral presenations by a residents/fellows.
The top poster presentation awards were given to Salvador Rios, sixth-year student, for student poster, and Punita Grover, M.D., for resident/fellow poster. Second-place winners were Cindy Jiang, fifth-year student, and Parth Patel, M.D.
Top Prize Oral Presentations Students Laura Meidl, MS5; Ashley Cooper, MD; Kelli Zuckerman, RN; Julia Harris, MD: Improved Influenza Vaccination Rates Among Immunosuppressed Patients in Pediatric Rheumatology Clinic Nyaluma Wagala, MS5; Emily Boschert, MS4: Alcohol Intoxication and Orthopedic Trauma: Who Provides the Counseling? Resident/Fellows: Omar Abughanimeh, MD; Guy Fogg, MD; Bo Song, MD; Laith Numan, MD; Moustafa Younis, MD; Solomon Kim, MD; Ayman Qasrawi, MD; Noel Torres-Acosta, MD; Kristin Gillenwater, MD: Improving Diabetic Retinopathy Screening In Internal Medicine Clinics Talal Asif, MD; Rehman Ukani, MD; Laith Derbas, MD; Ahmed Elkaryoni, MD; Zara Wadood, MD; Lauren Misher, PharmD; Jeane Johnson, PharmD; Julie Banderas, PharmD; David Wooldridge, MD: Reducing 30-Day Readmission Rates of COPD Exacerbations: A Comprehensive Management Approach
Poster Presentations Students First place: Salvador Rios, MS6, Amy Stubbs, MD; Monica Gaddis, PhD; Jason Hurt, MD: Are Women Diagnosed with ACS Under-Triaged? Second Place: Cindy Jiang, MS5, Niraj Madhani, MS5; Binoy Shah, MS5: The Utility Of Procalcitonin Levels in the Detection and Diagnosis of Viridans streptococci Endocarditis Residents/Fellows
First Place: Punita Grover, MD; Eslam Dosokey, MD; Nikita Maniar, MD; Tarana Gill, MD; Siva Taduru, MD; Ashley Tatum, MD; Ginger Jenkins, PhD; Sheena Spielberg, MD; Julie Banderas, PharmD; David Wooldridge, MD; Kristin Gillenwater, DO: Standardizing the Process of Ordering Screening Mammograms in Primary Care Clinics. Second Place: Parth Patel, MD; Walen Bahaj, MD; Badar Hasan, MD; Marjan Nazer, MD; Robin Imperial, MD; Ellen Troudt, MD; Ahmed Elkafrawy, MD, Julie Banderas, PharmD; David Wooldridge, MD, Kristin Gillenwater, DO: Improving Rate of Screening Mammograms Completed at TMC-HH
UMKC medical student Carlee Oakley is one of only five students nationwide to win a TL1 Top Poster Award for her research. It was presented recently in Washington at a meeting of the Association for Clinical and Translational Science.
Patients with chronic kidney disease have an increased risk for heart disease and heart attacks, and Oakley’s research identified a possible factor in that risk. She found that the chemical TMAO, trimethylamine-N-oxide, found in higher concentrations in kidney patients, increases the force and rate of cardiac contractions.
“I used a mouse model in my first series of experiments,” Oakley said. “To see if our findings translated to the human heart, we were able to test human atrial appendage biopsy tissue. This confirmed that TMAO directly influences human cardiac function.”
The Association for Clinical and Translational Science awarded blue ribbons to 60 research projects, and 57 of them were presented and judged at the conference. Oakley and four others were judged the best and received blue ribbon awards, significant of being in the top 10 percent of entrants.
The contest is part of the Frontiers CTSA TL1 program, a research fellowship. CTSA stands for clinical and translational science awards. Oakley took a year off between her fifth and sixth years of UMKC’s B.A./M.D. program for the fellowship.
“The Frontiers TL1 training fellowship seemed like an incredible opportunity to focus on my research and to supplement my traditional medical education with formal training in clinical research methodology, biostatistics and epidemiology through the Master of Science in Clinical Research program at the University of Kansas Medical Center,” Oakley said. “My research mentor, Dr. Mike Wacker, and my docent, Dr. Jignesh Shah, were both very supportive and encouraged me to apply.”
Oakley added, “We are taught that the best physicians practice evidence-based medicine. I hope to not only practice but to also contribute to evidence-based medicine. My goal is to become a clinician-scientist. I hope research is a vital part of my future practice, though I do not foresee ever giving up the clinical aspect.”
Oakley also recently defended her TL1 thesis, completing her fellowship work with honors. She did substantial work on her research with Wacker and other members of his lab team before going into the fellowship. She said David Sanborn, who is set to graduate and start a residency at the Mayo Clinic this summer, helped her with the project along with other members of the Wacker lab. She also collaborated with Dr. Jason Stubbs, a nephrologist and researcher at the University of Kansas Medical Center’s Kidney Institute, and a team of cardiac surgeons at the KU Medical Center’s Cardiovascular Research Institute.
Oakley, who plans a career in neurology, said she was drawn to UMKC from Sioux City, Iowa, because she was impressed by the School of Medicine’s six-year program and docent system. She met Wacker during the Human Structure Function course he helps teach and joined his cardiovascular research lab shortly after.
The other top finishers receiving the poster award are from the University of Michigan, Duke University, the University of Colorado-Denver and Georgetown-Howard Universities.
The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology has recognized Peter Koulen, Ph.D., director of basic research at the School of Medicine’s Vision Research Center, as a member of is 2018 Fellows Class.
Koulen received the honor and was invited to give a research presentation during the organization’s annual meetings April 29-May 3 in Hawaii.
The fellowship recognition acknowledges the accomplishments, leadership and contributions of association members. ARVO Fellows are role models and mentors for scientists pursuing careers in vision research and ophthalmology.
ARVO is a world-wide organization of nearly 12,000 researchers from more than 75 countries. It serves to promote and enhance the understanding of the visual system and the prevention, treatment and curing of its disorders. It is also a leading international forum for the advancement of basic and clinical knowledge among vision researchers.
Koulen serves as the Felix and Carmen Sabates-Missouri Endowed Chair in Vision Research. His studies focus on basic research and therapy development for chronic diseases of the eye and brain.
Third-year pathology resident Farnaz Khalafi, M.D., presented a research poster at a special session of the 2018 Experimental Biology conference that took place in San Diego.
Khalafi’s poster was one of the top 20 posters selected from more than 200 submitted to the American Society for Investigative Pathology for presentation during a session on Next Generation Scientists: New Discoveries of Graduate Students and Post-Doctoral Fellows and Rising Stars.
She is the first-author of “Minimal effect of Aliskiren on mast cells count and renal vascular damage in acute rat model of Triolein induced pulmonary fat embolism.” Co-authors include Elizabeth Onishchenko, Mohammad Pour, Dauod Arif, Paula Monaghan, Alan Poisner and Agostino Molteni.
Experimental Biology is an annual invitation-only meeting of five scientific societies made up of more than 14,000 scientists who focus on anatomy, biochemistry and molecular biology, investigative pathology, pharmacology, and physiology.
Ibezim was among the 50 UMKC School of Medicine students who participated in this year’s summit. They presented 45 of the event’s 87 posters. Students from the health sciences schools of dentistry, nursing and health studies, and pharmacy, as well as the School of Biological Sciences, also presented posters.
The School of Medicine’s Office of Research Administration presented three awards for student presentations and one top prize for graduate student presentations.
Geetha Raghuveer, M.D., served as Ibezim’s faculty mentor on his first-place research project and poster, “Long Term outcomes of Mechanical Mitral Valve Replacement in Children.”
Firas Al Badarin, M.D., M.S.C.R., won the first prize for his graduate student presentation, “Utilization of Radiation-Saving Practices with Myocardial Perfusion Imaging: Temporal.” John Spertus, M.D., was his faculty mentor.
Second prize for a student presentation was awarded to Kelly Kapp, sixth-year student, for “Cardiac Valve Replacement Associated with Higher Values of Glycocalyx Production in Viridan Streptococcal Endocarditis.” She was mentored by Lawrence Dall, M.D.
Mahnoor Malik, a second-year student mentored by Alexey S. Ladokhin, M.D., won the third price for “Purification and Crystallization of Diphtheria Toxin for X-Ray Analysis.”
School of Medicine faculty members served as judges at the event. They included: Darla McCarthy, Ph.D., Jeffrey Price, Ph.D., Maria Cole, Ph.D., Kim Smolderen, Ph.D., R. Scott Duncan, Ph.D., Sean Riordan, Ph.D., Mian Urfy, M.D., Lakshmi Venkitachalam, Ph.D., Nilofer Qureshi, Ph.D., Felix Okah, M.D., Peter Koulen, Ph.D., Bridgette Jones, M.D., Karl Kador, Ph.D., Dan Heruth, Ph.D., Shui Ye, Ph.D., and Gary Sutkin, M.D., M.B.A.
The research office also thanked Tim Hickman, M.D., M.P.H., for conducting student presentation practice sessions. John Foxworth, Pharm.D., was also acknowledged for reviewing posters with students to prepare for the event.
Karl E. Kador, Ph.D., a researcher at the UMKC Vision Research Center, has received a nearly $2-million grant from the National Eye Institute at the National Institutes of Health. The funding will support his work to develop a novel approach for treating patients suffering end-stage glaucoma.
This most advanced phase of glaucoma is an extremely serious condition in which very little healthy retinal tissue remains. This results in a high level of visual damage and a much greater risk of blindness.
Kador’s research focuses on injuries and diseases of the optic nerve that lead to the death of retinal ganglion cells, which connect the retina to the brain. He is using tissue engineering to develop methods of transplanting new cells to replace those dead cells. The aim is to restore vision to patients suffering end-stage glaucoma and other eye disorders.
Kador’s NIH grant will be fully funded at $1,937,500 for a five-year period beginning May 1, 2018.
“The NIH R01 grant is widely considered the gold standard for outstanding biomedical research,” said Peter Koulen, Ph.D., Felix and Carmen Sabates Missouri Endowed Chair in Vision Research and co-director of the Vision Research Center. “Dr. Kador’s grant adds significantly to the national recognition and growth of our ongoing research programs at UMKC School of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Research Center. These programs have been continually NIH-funded since 2009.”
An assistant professor of ophthalmology and biomedical sciences, Kador joined the School of Medicine and the Vision Research Center last March. Koulen said receiving this major NIH funding is an outstanding achievement in light of the difficult funding climate for researchers. He also noted that the grant comes less than a year after Kador joined the UMKC research faculty.
“Dr. Kador’s program, recognized by this highly competitive NIH support, brings the promise for groundbreaking and highly impactful research to Kansas City,” Koulen said. “But also, and more importantly, it brings renewed hope for our patients and the communities we serve.”
Nelson Sabates, M.D., chair of the UMKC Department of Ophthalmology and founder of the Vision Research Center, said there is an urgent need for enhanced research such as Kador’s to battle the adverse effects of glaucoma and similar eye diseases.
“A significant number of people suffer from glaucoma and other debilitating eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy,” Sabates said. “Dr. Kador and his efforts in tissue engineering are another example of the novel work taking place at the Vision Research Center that will benefit individuals in our community and worldwide.”
The program at the Vision Research Center also aligns with the mission of the UMKC Health Sciences District, a cooperative of 12 neighboring health care institutions on Hospital Hill. Formed in 2017, the partnership supports research, grants, community outreach and shared wellness for employees, faculty, students and surrounding neighborhoods.
Sahaja Atluri, a third-year medical student at the UMKC School of Medicine, was just 11 years old when she saw her grandfather die of lung cancer. It was then that she decided to become the first doctor in her family.
“That was when I realized, maybe if we’d detected the signs and symptoms earlier, there would have been something we could have done for my grandfather,” Atluri said.
Now, her passion is orthopaedic surgery and providing orthopaedic care for people in poor and underdeveloped areas of the world.
Atluri conducted an exploratory study of the accessibility of orthopaedic care and the disparities of care in impoverished areas. She put her findings on display in a poster presentation on April 18 at the annual UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit.
She said her study showed a great need for orthopaedic medicine in underserved populations worldwide. It also pointed out that people in those parts of the world run a higher risk of suffering acute traumatic injuries.
“I’m one who likes to see the result of my work and I think orthopaedics is a practice where you can see those results immediately,” Atluri said. “For me, it’s about being able to improve your quality of life rather than your quantity of life. I saw my grandfather suffer, and while I can’t impact that directly, I’d like to make an impact in the long run by saying, ‘Let’s improve your quality of life.’”
Alturi was among the 50 medical students who participated in this year’s research summit at the UMKC Student Union. Med students presented 45 of the event’s 87 posters. Students from the health sciences schools of dentistry, nursing and health studies, and pharmacy, as well as and the School of Biological Sciences also presented posters.
Mark Hecker, director of research administration at the School of Medicine, said a growing number of SOM students this year participated as co-presenters of research posters that they had worked on together.
Sixth-year medical students Cassidy Onukwuli and Juliet Gatiba collaborated to gather data for a survey looking at preventive health screenings conducted in African-American churches. Onukwuli said it began with serving as volunteers on a larger project by Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., associate professor of Biomedical and Health Informatics. That program, called “Taking it to the Pews” (TIPs), is actually taking health education and screenings to African-American church congregations.
“We got involved as volunteers with the TIPs project and were intrigued. That led us to this research project,” Onukwuli said. “We were both interested in prevention.”
Gathi said that having a classmate working beside her on the research made the work less daunting.
“Because I hadn’t done research before, it was easier to bounce ideas off of each other and help each other out,” Gathi said. “When (Onukwuli) was busy, I had free time to work on it and when I was busy, she would have free time. So, it worked out well.”
Second-year student Josh Hill stood in front of his poster that explored two different surgical procedures to treat a bleeding Meckel’s diverticulum. The research sought to highlight which procedure led to fewer complications.
Hill said his role was to read through 249 case files of patients from 2002 through 2017, seeing if they were included in the study. He documented those that were, listing any complications such as bleeding, small bowel obstruction or perforations during the surgery.
As a data collector, Hill said he took his time studying the cases.
“I did this during the summer between my first and second year of medical school,” he said. “All I really knew was general anatomy at that point, so I was reading and not only learning about different procedures but learning what all these abbreviations are. I had Google up and was learning how doctors write notes and thinking, ‘Wow, that’s really interesting.’”
With plans of becoming a surgeon, Hill said he knows that having a research background will give him leg up when Match Day rolls around for his class in four years.
“To get into a good residency, I realize that doing research and having good connections is important,” Hill said. “By the end of my first semester, I was looking into research opportunities. I e-mailed Children’s Mercy Hospital, Truman Medical Center and UMKC to see if I could get on a project. Children’s Mercy had an opportunity doing data collection, so I hopped on.”
Hill said he is already collecting data as part of a new research project.