All posts by Kelly Edwards

SOM researcher receives NIH grant to study treatment for chronic lung disease

UMKC School of Medicine researcher Paula Monaghan Nichols, Ph.D., has received a $867,000 National Institutes of Health grant to look into a treatment that minimizes neurological side effects for a chronic lung disease that affects a significant number of premature babies.

The project is part of a multi-principle investigator initiated proposal between Monaghan Nichols, Dr. Venkatesh Sampath from Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas City, and Dr. Donald DeFranco at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania, that totals more than $3 million in NIH funding over a 5-year period.

The research will explore the use of Ciclesonide (CIC), an inhaled steroid currently used to treat asthma, as an alternate therapy for bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). BDP causes tissue damage in the tiny air sacs of the lung leading to severe respiratory distress. It is often the result premature birth and mechanical oxygen ventilation. The disease touches nearly seven of 10 infants born before 28 weeks of gestation. In the United States, that is an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 babies a year.

There is currently no cure for BPD but clinical treatments to limit inflammation and the progression of BPD include long-acting synthetic drugs such as dexamethasone. Those drugs, however, also come with a significant risk of adverse effects on a child’s systemic growth and neurodevelopment that can lead to long-lasting changes in brain structure and function.

Monaghan Nichols, associate dean for research, professor and chair of Biomedical Sciences, said infants that acquire BPD face significant mortality rates. Survivors often have recurrent hospital visits, need for respiratory therapies and persistent limitations in pulmonary function.

“Therefore, there remains a need for a pharmacotherapy for BPD in neonates that will have beneficial anti-inflammatory and lung maturation effects, but limited adverse neurological side effects,” Monaghan Nichols said.

Preliminary studies have found that Ciclesonide, even with intermittent doses, can suppress acute lung inflammation with limited neurological alterations in rat models.

“Given the established safety of CIC in very young children, the clinical translation of our proposed studies to human neonates could be expedited, particularly given the limited, safe and effective therapeutic options available for treating or preventing BPD in susceptible premature infants,” Monaghan Nichols said.

School of Medicine students recognized as Dean of Students Honor Recipients

Five sixth-year School of Medicine students have been recognized as fall semester Dean of Students Honor Recipients for their scholastic performance, community leadership and service.

Because of the ongoing pandemic, students were recognized online with short videos introducing the recipients and those who nominated them.

“Every semester, it is our pleasure to host a breakfast in celebration of the accomplishments of the Dean of Students Honor Recipients,” co-interim Dean of Students Keichanda Dees-Burnett said in an online presentation. “While this semester has been a bit different, we wanted to continue this tradition by virtually celebrating your achievements.”

The program distinguishes exceptional students who maintain high scholastic performance while actively participating in University and community leadership and service activities outside of the classroom.

This semester’s School of Medicine recipients include:

 

 

Dr. Beth Rosemergey chosen as new chair of Community and Family Medicine

The UMKC School of Medicine and University Health have announced the appointment of Beth Rosemergey, D.O., as the new chair of the Department of Community and Family Medicine. Her appointment takes effect Jan. 10, 2022.

Rosemergey, an associate professor of community and family medicine, currently serves as vice chair of the department. She is also medical director of the Bess Truman Family Medicine Center at University Health Lakewood Hospital and director of the Family Medicine residency program and will continue in those roles as well.

A 1988 graduate of the Kansas City University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine, now Kansas City University, Rosemergey completed her community and family medicine residency, including a year as chief resident, at UMKC before joining the School of Medicine faculty in 2016.

“I am honored to be appointed as chair of the Department of Community and Family Medicine and work with an amazing group of faculty, fellows and residents,” Rosemergey said. “I hope to partner with our patients, learners, healthcare system, medical school and community to develop innovative ways to serve our patients by expanding primary care access, educational endeavors and scholarship.”

Rosemergey is an active member of many committees and boards. She is on the Physician NTT Initial Academic Appointment and Promotion Committee, the Professional Development Committee, Graduate Medical Education Committee and Honor Council.  She is also a co-faculty advisor for the School of Medicine chapter of Gold Humanism Honor Society and a mentor in the Faculty Mentor Program. With University Health, she serves on the Physicians Board of Directors and Finance Committee. She is also a board member on the Kansas City and Missouri Academies of Family.

In 2020, the Independence Examiner honored Rosemergey with a Woman of Distinction Award. The award recognizes outstanding women of Eastern Jackson County, Missouri, in in the fields of business, government, education and non-profits based on their accomplishments and community involvement.

Stephen Griffith, M.D, professor and past chair of community and family medicine, has served as interim department and academic chair since April. Beginning Jan. 10, he will serve as vice chair for the department.

Noback-Burton lecturer discusses physician challenges during COVID pandemic

The challenges of being a physician during the time of COVID-19 are nothing new to medical professionals said Kevin Churchwell, M.D., president and chief executive officer of Boston Children’s Hospital. The ongoing pandemic has increasingly brought those issues to light.

Churchwell delivered his remarks to faculty and staff of the UMKC School of Medicine as the keynote speaker for the annual Noback-Burton Lectureship held virtually on Dec. 9.

He outlined four particular challenges physicians have faced that include information overload, dealing with shift work, time commitment and finding an adequate work-life balance.

“I hope you realize that it’s not just in a time of COVID that these challenges are presented to us,” he said. “These are challenges that have faced us since the beginning of time. It’s really a challenge of how do we continue to see medicine as a profession.”

At the children’s hospital in Boston, Churchwell said, leaders have addressed the issues by creating the Boston Children’s Hospital academy for teaching education, innovation and scholarship. It is a program that explores how to help physicians, practitioners and residents with the information overload, while promoting excellence in innovation and offering mentorship and support to help with career development.

“No matter what, in the time of COVID or outside of COVID, I believe the issues that we’re facing now are the issues that we will continue to face,” Churchwell said. “The solution will be to start by treating medicine as a profession.”

The Noback-Burton Lecture series is endowed by James Riscoe, M.D., ’75, a member of the school’s third graduating class. Riscoe started the event in 2016 to honor Richardson K. Noback, M.D., the first dean of the School of Medicine, and the late Jerry Burton, M.D., ’73, a classmate who is recognized as the first graduate of the medical school.

SOM researcher receives NIH grant to study treatment for chronic lung disease

Monaghan-Nichols, Paula
Paula Monaghan-Nichols, Ph.D.

UMKC School of Medicine researcher Paula Monaghan Nichols, Ph.D., has received a $867,000 National Institutes of Health grant to look into a treatment that minimizes neurological side effects for a chronic lung disease that affects a significant number of premature babies.

The project is part of a multi-principle investigator initiated proposal between Dr. Monaghan Nichols, Dr Venkatesh Sampath from Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas City, and Dr. Donald DeFranco at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania, that totals more than $3 million in NIH funding over a 5-year period.

The research will explore the use of Ciclesonide (CIC), an inhaled steroid currently used to treat asthma, as an alternate therapy for bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). BDP causes tissue damage in the tiny air sacs of the lung leading to severe respiratory distress. It is often the result premature birth and mechanical oxygen ventilation. The disease touches nearly seven of 10 infants born before 28 weeks of gestation. In the United States, that is an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 babies a year.

There is currently no cure for BPD but clinical treatments to limit inflammation and the progression of BPD include long-acting synthetic drugs such as dexamethasone. Those drugs, however, also come with a significant risk of adverse effects on a child’s systemic growth and neurodevelopment that can lead to long-lasting changes in brain structure and function.

Monaghan Nichols, associate dean for research, professor and chair of Biomedical Sciences, said infants that acquire BPD face significant mortality rates. Survivors often have recurrent hospital visits, need respiratory therapies and experience persistent limitations in pulmonary function.

“Therefore, there remains a need for a pharmacotherapy for BPD in neonates that will have beneficial anti-inflammatory and lung maturation effects, but limited adverse neurological side effects,” Monaghan Nichols said.

Preliminary studies have found that Ciclesonide, even with intermittent doses, can suppress acute lung inflammation with limited neurological alterations in rat models.

“Given the established safety of CIC in very young children, the clinical translation of our proposed studies to human neonates could be expedited, particularly given the limited, safe and effective therapeutic options available for treating or preventing BPD in susceptible premature infants,” Monaghan Nichols said.

Alumni updates

Dr. Lynette Watkins, M.D., 94, and Dr. Emily Volk, M.D., 93

Lynnette Watkins, M.D., M.B.A., ’94, is the new president and CEO of Cooley Dickinson Health Care in Northampton, Massachusetts. A highly respected ophthalmologist, health care administrator and leader, previously served as the group chief medical officer for Baptist Health System/Tenet Healthcare in Texas. After earning her medical degree at the UMKC School of Medicine, she completed her ophthalmology residency at the Massachusetts General Bingham health system’s Mass Eye and Care.

Emily Volk, M.D., F.C.A.P., ’93, has been selected to serve as the 37th president of the College of American Pathologists. It is the world’s largest organization of board-certified pathologists with an estimated 18,000 members. Volk has been a member of the organization since 1999 and has served on the board since 2013. She is the chief medical officer for Baptist Health Floyd in New Albany, Indiana.

Health Sciences District Satellite Food Pantry needs your help

Check out our flyer

Did you know:

  • That UMKC has a Health Science District Satellite Food Pantry housed in the UMKC School of Medicine?
  • That it serves all of our UMKC Health Science professional students and undergraduate and graduate students staying at the Hospital Hill Student housing?
  • That we stock daily?
  • That we stocked and distributed more than 1,200 pounds of food in August, more than 1,400 pounds of food in September and nearly 1,600 pounds of perishable and nonperishable food in October?
  • That we have a refrigerator and a freezer to help supply healthy food items to our professional students in need?

We are seeing an increased need for our health professions students and we need your help. You can donate in the following ways:

  1. Send a monetary donation using this link to support the purchase of fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, cheese, hummus, yogurt, guacamole and frozen fruit, vegetables, beef and turkey.
  2. Drop-off the needed food items in the Yellow UMKC Satellite Pantry Bins in each of our UMKC Health Science Buildings.  Our needs are (see attached list):   Peanut butter, protein bars, granola bars, dry pasta, microwavable meals, individually wrapped peanut butter pretzels and dried fruit and nuts, crackers, applesauce, pop top canned goods, oatmeal cups and packets, Keurig coffee and shelf stable protein drinks. We also stock hygiene items such as deodorants, feminine hygiene products and individually wrapped toilet paper.

Your support of our students is greatly appreciated!

New year, pandemic trend offer reasons for optimisim

As cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 continue to trend down, we anticipate that with the coming new year SARS CoV-2 will become an endemic infection. With a combination of high vaccine coverage affording protection for most, we will hopefully no longer see the virus continue to widely circulate and cause severe disease where lockdowns, masks and/or social distancing are required. However, we know that periodic boosters may be necessary as immunity can wane and new variants could arise.

Meanwhile, our students continue with in person classwork. Our junior and senior students are in clinical clerkships and electives. And we are grateful to our clinical partners and our SOM staff and faculty for their engagement and support throughout the pandemic.

This fall, we’ve seen a successful recruitment of our 2022 physician assistant, anesthesia assistant and MD track students with upcoming interviews for our BA/MD class. During our faculty awards event at Diastole on October 28, we recognized 60 faculty who were promoted, with 14 to professor rank. We also honored six faculty who received awards in diversity and health equity (Dr. Liset Olarte Carhuaz), the Christopher Papasian, PhD, excellence in teaching award (Dr. James Wooten), the Louise E. Arnold, PhD, excellence in medical education research (Dr. Angellar Manguvo), the faculty researcher award (Dr. John Spertus), the Betty M. Drees, MD, excellence in mentoring award (Dr. Michael Wacker) and the clinical affiliate teaching award (Dr. Stacey Algren).

We also celebrated the 2021 class of top doctors recognized in the medical edition of Ingram’s magazine, where 12 of the 25 honorees selected by their peers were either our medical school alumni or our faculty. And Dr. Michael Weaver, ’77, the School of Medicine’s first African American BA/MD student received the Kansas City Medical Society Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his extraordinary career. Our research enterprise continues to grow. Our St. Joseph campus has successfully completed its first year and we look forward to graduating 110 students who will join our alumni ranks this spring, right ahead of our 50th year anniversary celebration on June 4, 2021, at the Loews Hotel in Kansas City.

All in all, we have many reasons to be optimistic as we move forward!

Mary Anne Jackson, M.D. ’78
Dean, School of Medicine

SOAP Notes

SOAP Notes
For October 2021

The School of Medicine Council on Curriculum has selected its new student ambassadors. Ambassadors represent the Health Sciences District and the St. Joseph campus to provide input on curriculum development and change and communicate student concerns and needs. This year’s ambassadors:
Council on Curriculum Members – Erin Galakatos, MS 5; Neal Shah, MS 5; Kevin Varghese MS 5
Year 1 Ambassadors – Cameron Quick, Brandon Park
Year 2 Ambassadors – Khyathi Thallapureddy, Bailey Whithaus
Year 3 Ambassadors – Safa Farrukh, Sameer Khan (STJ), Katie Long
Year 4 Ambassadors – Karishma Kondapalli, Erik Way
Year 5 Ambassadors – Herschel Gupta, Sidharth Ramesh
Year 6 Ambassadors – Megan Schoelch, Shubhika Jain

Josephine Nwanko, MS 4, took first place in the research category of this year’s Missouri ACP (American College of Physicians) Student Poster Competition during the organization’s annual meeting in September. She will be invited to present her winning presentation, “Increasing representation of Black women in orthopediacs starts with medical students,” at the 2022 ACP Internal Medicine Meeting next April in Chicago.

The UMKC School of Medicine’s Missouri Delta chapter of the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society announced 13 sixth-year students who will be inducted into the society next May. The inductees include Lauren Gresham, Rishabh Gupta, Shubhika Jain, Varsha Kandadi, Morgan Kensinger, Valerie Kirtley, Vijay Letchuman, Leilani Mansy, Caroline Olson, Michael Oyekan, Geethanjali Rajagopal, Megan Schoelch and Jacob Williamson. Selection to the organization recognizes a student’s dedication to the profession and art of healing and excellence in academic scholarship. Next spring, the AOA chapter will also welcome fifth-year students, alumni, residents and faculty inductees. This year’s student officers are: Andrew Peterson, student president; Kartik Depala, student vice-president; Madhavi Murali, student secretary; and Yen Luu, student treasurer.

We want to know what is going on at the UMKC School of Medicine. Send us your story ideas and we will consider them for publication in “SOAP Notes,” a new feature on our School of Medicine PRN news page that will include short, interesting tidbits about our students, faculty and staff.

To submit a note or story idea, email edwardske@umkc.edu:
Your name:
Your email:
Student ___ / Faculty ___ / Staff ___
Story idea or note (150 words or less):

 

UMKC physician assistant student focuses on treating the underserved

Kevin Du, a first-year physician assistant student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, has experienced patients at their worst while working in the emergency room at University Health Truman Medical Center.

“I see the impact the social determinants of health have on certain populations,” Du said. “In the emergency room, we see a lot of immigrants and persons of color and that really resonated with me coming from a first-generation family.”

It made such an impact that Du is now part of a unique Area Health Education Centers Scholars program that helps prepare health professions students to care for rural and urban underserved patients in small interprofessional teams.

Throughout the two-year program, students take part in didactic and community activities that focus on areas such as quality improvement and patient-centered care, as well as cultural competency and emerging issues in health care. Interprofessional education events that bring together students from differing health care fields are also part of the curriculum.

Du is taking part in the scholars program in conjunction with his physician assistant studies at the School of Medicine. Much of the coursework for the AHEC program is done individually but participants also work interprofessionally once or twice a year with others throughout the state.

“My biggest reason for doing this program is to become more culturally competent and to be able to recognize any biases I may have so that I can be a more understanding patient care provider in the future,” Du said.

Before starting the physician assistant program at UMKC, Du served as an emergency room technician at Truman Medical Center, now University Health Truman Medical Center, as well as a technician in the cardiovascular ICU at St. Louis Barnes Jewish Hospital and as an EMT/technician with an urgent care center also in St. Louis.

Now, he says his goal is to work in an urban core medical center where he can reach those in need of help.

“I have seen the struggles that my parents went through and how they were treated regarding health care,” Du said. “I truly want to help the underserved population when I graduate from UMKC.”