All posts by Kelly Edwards

UMKC researcher part of $1.5-million NIH grant-funded project on novel tissue-preservation technique

A new technique of crypreservation being studied by UMKC researcher Peter Koulen, Ph.D., could make human cell tissues such as the cornea tissues pictured more readily available for transplant.

Surgeons world-wide currently perform more than 240,000 corneal transplants a year to address a wide range of eye diseases. Researchers and physicians, however, estimate as many as 10 million patients could benefit from the procedure if enough viable tissue was available.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City Vision Research Center is part of a $1.5-million National Institutes of Health grant-funded project exploring the capability of a novel, ultra-fast technique of cryopreservation that could help meet those far-reaching clinical needs in ophthalmology and a number of other fields of medicine.

The NIH awarded a phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to CryoCrate, a Columbia, Missouri-based company active in biomedicine working with the University of Missouri-Kansas City Vision Research Center. The new two-year award is for $1,566,168 and includes a subcontract of $722,870 to UMKC’s Vision Research Center. It is a follow-up grant to previous phase I SBIR funding from the NIH for earlier collaborative work between CyroCrate and UMKC.

With current techniques, many types of cells and tissues, including cornea tissues, cannot be preserved at all or lose their function when subjected to the freeze-thaw process of cryopreservation. Peter Koulen, Ph.D., professor of ophthalmology, endowed chair in vision research at the UMKC School of Medicine and director of basic research at the UMKC Vision Research Center, and Xu Han, Ph.D., president and Chief Technology Officer of CryoCrate, jointly developed a new cryopreservation technique to preserve the viability and functionality of cornea and bioartificial ocular tissues. The new phase II SBIR funding will allow Han and Koulen to extensively test and refine the technology before taking it to the clinics.

Thus far, traditional methods of cryopreservation have been unsuccessful to preserve and store human corneas for use in patients due to the fact that cells critical for cornea function are lost during freezing. Corneas need adequate numbers of such cells to be present and properly functioning in the grafted tissue for the surgery to be successful. This currently limits storage of corneas to refrigeration, which is insufficient in delaying the deterioration of cornea tissue beyond a few days and creates numerous clinical challenges shared by other areas of transplantation.

CryoCrate is headquartered at the Missouri Innovation Center. It commercializes a new cooling method that better preserves tissue in a frozen state with only negligible mechanical damage to the tissue. The technology is co-developed and co-owned by CryoCrate and UMKC. It also eliminates the need for so called cryoprotectants, chemicals that facilitate successful recovery of live tissue from freezing, but pose a range of medical and regulatory challenges. International patents pending and patents by CryoCrate and UMKC protect the technology and will enable CryoCrate and Koulen’s team at UMKC to address the urgent worldwide clinical needs and rapidly evolving fields of transplantation medicine.

The new NIH SBIR phase II grant allows Han and Koulen to further develop an upgraded system that is equally effective in the cryopreservation of whole corneas and large bioartificial tissue. This would enable long-term storage of the tissues and could make them more readily available when and where needed for clinical use and research.

Early tests at the UMKC Vision Research Center detected no statistical difference in the number and quality of the cells that determine cornea health and function, when comparing corneas cryopreserved using the new technology with fresh cornea tissue. This level of efficiency in preserving corneal tissue has not been achieved previously with traditional corneal cryopreservation techniques.

If further tests prove to be equally effective, the goal is to introduce the new cryopreservation products for clinical use in patients following completion of the new NIH SBIR phase II grant and subsequent regulatory steps of product development.

 

 

 

 

School of Medicine a leader in medical education learning communities

When it opened nearly 50 years ago, the UMKC School of Medicine was something of a pioneer in medical education with learning communities made up of docent teams and peer-mentorship groups. Today, learning communities are becoming more commonplace in medical education and the School of Medicine is still leading the charge.

Faculty and students presented the merits of the school’s learning communities during a three-day national conference of the Learning Communities Institute held Oct. 11-13 in Kansas City.

Louise Arnold, Ph.D., former associate dean and director of the Office of Medical Education and Research at the School of Medicine from 1971 through 2012, was one of the founders of the institute in 2004.

“We at UMKC were instrumental in spreading the word about learning communities to medical schools such as the University of Washington and Harvard,” Arnold said. “We were also instrumental in organizing informal meeting of schools with learning communities. We met during the national meeting of American medical schools for several years. That led to the formation of the national group, the Learning Communities Institute.”

That group is now made up of leaders of medical school learning communities from across that country that value and support the active presence of those communities within health professions schools. As many as 50 medical schools in the United States have incorporated learning communities into their programs.

At the organization’s national meeting, School of Medicine docent and chair of the docent council, Emily Haury, M.D., lead a presentation she designed on the role of peer mentors within the school’s docent teams. Brenda Rogers, M.D., associate dean for student affairs, served as moderator during the session that also offered docent and student perspectives. School of Medicine docents Molly Uhlenhake, M.D., and Nurry Pirani, M.D., spoke from the docent point of view, while medical students Saber Khan, sixth-year, and Megan Schoelch, fourth-year, presented the students’ perspective on the school’s learning communities.

“I had more than one person from other schools come up to me after their presentation to say how helpful it was and how they so deeply wished their school had such a super program,” Arnold said.

Jennifer Quaintance, Ph.D., assistant dean for assessment and quality improvement, presented a research project on professional identity formation that is being conducted with support from the Learning Community Institute Research Network. Connor Fender, coordinator for the Council on Evaluation, gave a presentation on the school’s peer assessment program. And Cary Chelladurai, Ed.D., assistant dean of student affairs, presented a poster on the role of the Education Team Coordinator within the docent team.

 

School of Medicine recognizes faculty for achievements and service

The School of Medicine recognized faculty members who have recently received promotions and tenure and presented special awards for faculty achievements during a reception on Oct. 15 at Diastole.

This year’s list included 11 faculty who have been promoted to the rank of professor, 27 to the rank of associate professor, 12 to clinical associate professor, three associate teaching professors and one to the rank of clinical professor.

Special Awards Recognitions

Kathy Ervie, M.P.A.S., PA-C, received the Excellence in Diversity and Health Equity in Medicine Award.

Excellence in Diversity and Health Equity in Medicine Awards
Kathie Ervie, M.P.A.S., PA-C,
assistant teaching professor and founding director of the Master of Medical Science-Physician Assistant program, received the award that recognizes an individual or organization that has demonstrated sustained and impactful contribution to diversity, inclusion and cultural competency or health equity. Ervie has actively engaged in efforts to create a more inclusive culture since joining the School of Medicine faculty in 2012. She is a trailblazer in curriculum innovation and creating developmental opportunities to advance the understanding of health equity, health disparities, and cultural competency among students, staff and faculty and an involved leader in university programs that promote health equity.


Michael Wacker, Ph.D., received the Christopher Papasian, Ph.D., Excellence in Teaching Award.

Christopher Papasian Excellence in Teaching Award
Michael Wacker, Ph.D.,
associate professor of biomedical sciences, received the third-annual award recognizing a faculty member who excels in medical student education through innovative contributions to the educational mission. Wacker is also vice chair of biomedical sciences and associate dean for academic affairs. He has served a member of the School of Medicine’s biomedical sciences faculty since 2007, teaching physiology. He is also a member of the Muscle Biology Group at UMKC with expertise in cardiac muscle physiology. Wacker embraces the qualities and lessons learned from his most successful teachers to create a teaching style that incorporates advancing technology and addresses challenges facing students in their future professions.


Jennifer Quaintance, Ph.D., received the Louise E. Arnold Ph.D., Excellence in Medical Education Award.

Louise E. Arnold Excellence in Medical Education Research Award
Jennifer Quaintance, Ph.D
., associate professor of biomedical and health informatics and assistant dean for assessment and quality improvement, received the fourth-annual award that recognizes one who has contributed to innovation and scholarship in medical education. Responsible for oversight of assessment metrics used to monitor the quality of the school’s educational program, Quaintance has made an impact on the medical education research community through formal teaching and the scholarship of teaching and learning, one-on-one mentoring, and conducting educational research. Her instruction of faculty in medical education has served many to develop into leadership as course and clerkship directors, residency program leaders and assistant/associate deans roles.


The sixth-annual Betty M. Drees, M.D., Awards for Excelling in Mentoring were presented to faculty members for their excellence in mentoring, guiding, coaching and sponsoring students, trainees, staff and peer faculty.

David Wooldridge, M.D., received the Betty M.Drees, M.D., Excellence in Mentoring Award.

David Wooldridge, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine and director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program, received the Excellence in Mentoring Award, presented each year to an assistant or associate professor. A 1994 graduate of the School of Medicine, he embodies the essential attributes of an outstanding mentor including being a thoughtful listener and counselor. Wooldridge joined the School of Medicine faculty in 1998 after completing his internal medicine residency and chief residency at UMKC. He also served as a docent and regularly stays in contact with and mentors students and residents under his tutelage.

Christine Sullivan, M.D., received the Betty M. Drees, M.D., Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award.

Christine Sullivan, M.D., professor of emergency medicine and associate dean for professional development, received the Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award. The award is given annually to a full professor. Sullivan, a 1985 graduate of the School of Medicine, has been a member of the faculty since 1988 and served as residency program director before taking on a new role focused on developing a formal faculty mentorship program. In addition to her distinguished faculty mentorship, she also served just more than a decade as director of the Emergency Medicine Residency Program and used her “open door” policy to mentor numerous students and residents throughout her career.

 

 

 

 

SOM grad Adam Algren, M.D., appointed interim chair of Department of Emergency Medicine

Adam Algren, M.D.

Adam Algren, M.D., a 2001 graduate of the UMKC School of Medicine, has been appointed as interim department and academic chair for Department of Emergency Medicine.

An associate professor of emergency medicine and pediatrics, Algren joined the School of Medicine faculty in 2007. He currently serves as chair of the school’s Council on Curriculum.

Algren completed his emergency medicine residency at Truman Medical Center and the UMKC School of Medicine followed by a year as a chief resident. He completed his fellowship training in medical toxicology at the Emory University/Centers for Disease Control program. During his training, Algren served as a clinical instructor in the Emory Department of Emergency Medicine.

“I am deeply appreciative to be considered for the interim chair position and I look forward to being able to serve the faculty, hospital, and School of Medicine,” Algren said. “I am excited about the opportunity to grow and develop the department. I also look forward to being able to contribute to the School of Medicine expansion.”

Gratton, Matthew
Mattew Gratton, M.D.

Matthew Gratton, M.D., will step down as chair of emergency medicine on December 31. Following a six-week sabbatical, Gratton will assume an enhanced role at Truman Medical Center as associate chief medical officer. The role will include serving as the primary administrative liaison to the new TMC Medical Staff Wellness Committee. In this regard, he will work collaboratively with the UMKC Professionalism and GME Wellness committees.

Gratton was appointed chair of Department of Emergency Medicine in 2007, leading the department to national recognition as a “state-of-the-art, compassionate provider of emergency care in an environment of academic excellence.” In 2018, he was recognized with the Missouri College of Emergency Physicians’ Lifetime Achievement Award.

American Academy of Pediatrics to honor SOM’s Dr. Mary Anne Jackson

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

The American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Infectious Diseases Executive Committee has chosen to recognize UMKC School of Medicine Interim Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., with the 2019 Award for Lifetime Contribution in Infectious Diseases Education.

The award recognizes her outstanding commitment to educating pediatricians in infectious diseases, her work as associate editor of the Red Book, the foremost source on pediatric infectious disease, and her efforts on a national level with groups such as the National Vaccine Advisory Committee.

Jackson is recognized locally, regionally and nationally as a master clinician and educator on the topic of pediatric infectious diseases. A pediatrician at Children’s Mercy Kansas City for 35 years, she is widely recognized for developing one of the nation’s leading and most robust infectious diseases programs. The division focuses on research to prevent antibiotic resistance, judicious use of antibiotics, and optimal use of vaccines.

She is also passionate about medical education including developing a fellowship program to train pediatric infectious diseases doctors. And she is active in research collaborations with foundations including the CDC and the NIH to investigate the impact of new vaccines. Among her many achievements while division director has been the description of a national outbreak of the polio-like virus called enterovirus D68.

A mentor to many residents, fellow trainees and others in pediatric fields, Jackson often guides others to access leadership roles in the fields of pediatric infectious diseases, child abuse and mistreatment, and general pediatrics.

She was appointed interim dean of the School of Medicine in June 2018, becoming the first graduate of the program to become dean and one of only 26 female medical school deans in the nation. In that role, she has begun a transformation of programs to enhance student and faculty engagement, worked to find solutions to ongoing issues, and has continued her commitment to pediatric infectious diseases at Children’s Mercy. She was also recently appointed the Special Advisor to the Chancellor on Health Affairs and will assist in the current search for a new dean.

The American Academy of Pediatrics honored Jackson with the lifetime achievement award on Oct. 28 during its national conference and exhibition in New Orleans.

UMKC begins School of Medicine dean search

Committee announced;
Final candidates expected by spring 2020

UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal has appointed a committee to lead a nationwide search for a new dean for the UMKC School of Medicine.

Barbara Bichelmeyer, provost and executive vice chancellor, will chair the committee. The search committee will work with Isaacson Miller, an executive search firm specializing in academic medical centers and healthcare institutions. The committee will begin the search process in October, considering local candidates and those from across the country, with the goal of holding interviews with final candidates in spring 2020. Conducting a search in this fashion is considered a best practice for senior leadership positions at a university.

Mary Anne Jackson, who has served as interim dean since July 2018, will continue to serve as interim dean during the search process. She was appointed the Special Advisor to the Chancellor on Health Affairs, and will assist in the search process. The American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Infectious Diseases will present Jackson with a Lifetime Achievement award on Oct. 28. Read a Children’s Mercy article about her career.

The search committee represents campus and community leaders in the health professions – people who understand the vital role that the UMKC School of Medicine plays in the overall health of our community and region, and the importance of strong, visionary leadership for the school.

The committee is searching for a leader to build on the school’s reputation for innovative and highly effective medical education.

Founded in 1971, the UMKC School of Medicine is a docent model of medical education in which students begin training directly after high school, completing a combined baccalaureate/Doctor of Medicine program, which allows students to graduate in six years with their medical degree prior to beginning residency. The school’s innovative curriculum provides students with early and continuous patient-care experience and fully integrates liberal arts/humanities, basic sciences and clinical medicine. Students begin learning about medicine and interacting with patients from the first day of class. They also learn the skills and attitudes that foster compassion, honesty and integrity. Hands-on learning and clinical experience are integrated throughout all the years of the program.

Search Committee

Barbara Bichelmeyer, chair, provost and executive vice chancellor, UMKC
Jannette Berkley-Patton, professor, UMKC School of Medicine
Denise Bratcher, physician, Children’s Mercy, and professor of pediatrics, UMKC School of Medicine
Diana Dark, physician, and associate dean of Saint Luke’s Health Programs and professor, UMKC School of Medicine
Marc Hahn, president and CEO, Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences
Jani Johnson, CEO, Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City
Peter Koulen, professor, UMKC School of Medicine
Kamani Lankachandra, president, Truman Medical Centers medical staff, and professor and chair of pathology, UMKC School of Medicine
Chris Liu, vice chancellor for research, UMKC
Russell Melchert, dean, UMKC School of Pharmacy
Paula Monaghan Nichols, professor and associate dean, UMKC School of Medicine
Marion Pierson, physician, Village Pediatrics
Megan Roedel, chief operating officer, Center for Behavioral Medicine of the Missouri Department of Mental Health
Charlie Shields, president and CEO, Truman Medical Centers
Gary Salzman, professor, UMKC School of Medicine
Nathan Thomas, associate dean of diversity and inclusion, UMKC School of Medicine
Kevin Truman, dean, UMKC School of Computing and Engineering
Timothy Weber, student, UMKC School of Medicine

Curriculum Council welcomes Jaqueline Walker, M.D., as vice-chair

Jacqueline Walker, M.D.,

Jacqueline Walker, M.D., M.P.H.E., F.A.A.P., associate professor of pediatrics, has been appointed vice-chair clinician of the School of Medicine Council on Curriculum. She will also serve as chair of the Clerkship Directors Subcommittee.

A pediatric hospitalist and academic medical educator at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, Walker serves as Pediatric Hospital Medicine Fellowship Director and is vice-chair of the national Pediatric Hospital Medicine Fellowship Directors Executive Council. She was elected to the School of Medicine Council on Curriculum in 2017 and joined the council’s steering committee the following year.

Walker is a graduate of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and completed her residency and chief residency at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. She then joined the Pediatric Hospital Medicine Division at Children’s Mercy. She has since served in multiple educational leadership roles on local and national levels across the spectrum of undergraduate and graduate medical education.

With scholarly interests including faculty development and implementation of academic medical curricula, Walker earned an advanced degree in education from the School of Medicine’s Master of Health Professions Education program in 2017.

Prarthana Patel to present rare case study after winning clinical case competition

Prarthana Patel

Sixth-year medical student Prarthana Patel turned a rare opportunity to be involved in a unique patient case into an award-winning case study that she will present at a national conference in October.

Patel submitted her winning abstract to the National Med-Peds Residents’ Association 2019 Medical Student Clinical Case Competition after working a case on her rheumatology rotation with Amar Edrees, M.D., docent and associate professor of internal medicine, and Med-Peds resident Oliva Kwan, M.D.

“I really enjoy learning about various autoimmune conditions and their evolving treatment options,” Patel said. “It was an incredible experience to have been able to participate in this case and learn more about clinical presentation and management of a rare rheumatological condition.”

Her abstract focuses on a female patient diagnosed with Macrophage Activation Syndrome (MAS), a potentially fatal complication of a rare system inflammatory disorder known as Adult Onset Still’s Disease (AOSD). The exact pathogenesis of AOSD is still unknown and MAS typically presents during the course of the illness. It can be difficult to identify because of a lack of diagnostic criteria. In her case study, however, the patient was not diagnosed with a rheumatological condition and AOSD until after being diagnosed with MAS.

Patel will present her case at the National Med-Peds Residents’ Association 2019 national conference in New Orleans.

“I am grateful to Dr. Edree and Dr. Kwan for giving me an opportunity to be involved with this case,” Patel said.

Thirty Million Words initiative founder presents annual Sirridge Lecture

Dana Suskind, M.D., presented the 2019 William and Marjorie Sirridge Lecture on Sept. 19.

One of the best things parents can do for their young children to help them succeed in life is to talk to them. A lot.

Dana Suskind, M.D., has spent much of the past nine years advocating for early childhood development by focusing on the importance of language and the power of parent-talk and interaction to build children’s brains. The 1992 graduate of the UMKC School of Medicine discussed her career path at the 2019 William and Marjorie Sirridge Lecture on Thursday, Sept. 19, at the School of Medicine.

A professor of surgery and pediatrics at the University of Chicago and director of the Pediatric Cochlear Implantation, Suskind is founder and co-director of TMW (Thirty Million Words) Center for Early Learning + Public Health. The program offers evidence-based interventions to optimize brain development in children from birth to five years of age, particularly those born into poverty. It combines education, technology and behavioral strategies for parents and caregivers to enhance the verbal interactions with their children.

As a cochlear implant surgeon, Suskind realized vast differences in her patients after undergoing the implant. Some grew to talk and communicate well while others didn’t. The gap resulted not only in some children having a much smaller vocabulary, but also impacted their IQ and test scores in the third grade.

While cochlear implants brought sound to a child’s brain, Suskind found that something else was needed to make that sound have meaning.

“I came to realize that during their first three years, the power of language is the power to build a child’s brain,” she said.

Suskind pointed out that most of the organs in the human body are fully formed at birth. That’s not so with the brain, which doesn’t fully develop for many years after birth. She said the brain is particularly active and rapidly developing during the first three years, making it important for young children to grow up in a language-rich environment.

“At no other time in life will brain development be so robust and active,” Suskind said.

In 2014, she wrote Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain. The book describes her study of how children develop communication skills and how those who thrive live in households where they hear millions of spoken words. Her book reached the number one spot on Amazon’s best-seller’s list for parenting and family reference.

Following medical school, Suskind completed her residency at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital and a fellowship at Washington University Children’s Hospital.

She has received many awards for her work including the Weizmann Women for Science Vision and Impact Award, the SENTAC Gray Humanitarian Award, the LENA Research Foundation Making a Difference Award, the 2018 Chairman’s Award from the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and the John D. Arnold, M.D., Mentor Award for Sustained Excellence from the Pritzker School of Medicine.

The Sirridge Lecture is named for William T. Sirridge, M.D., and his wife, Marjorie S. Sirridge, M.D., two of the UMKC School of Medicine’s original docents. The Sirridges viewed the humanities as an essential part of a students’ medical training. In 1992, they established the Sirridge Office of Medical Humanities and Bioethics to merge the humanities with the science of medicine. Today, the school recognizes their dedication, compassion and advancement of patient care and medical education in Kansas City with the William and Marjorie Sirridge Lecture.

Subhjit Sekhon awarded fellowship in tropical medicine

Subhjit Sekhon

Through a previous medical outreach journey to Nicaragua, Subhjit Sekhon saw first-hand the dire need for health care services in some of the remote and underserved areas of the world.

The UMKC School of Medicine sixth-year medical student recently received a travel fellowship award from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene to go back to Latin America to study the risk factors and sociodemographics associated with women suffering from cervical cancer.

“During a medical outreach trip to Nicaragua, I had the privilege of serving more than 900 patients from several remote and under-resourced villages,” Sekhon said. “For many it was their first experience with a health care professional. A majority wanted help for common complaints. By meeting basic health care needs, I developed a passion to help medically underserved areas and create sustainable health care solutions.”

Guatemala suffers one of the highest rates of cervical cancer among women in Latin America with more than 22 in every 100,000 women diagnosed and more than 12 in every 100,000 women who die of the disease each year.

Sekhon will travel with colleagues from Washington University in St. Louis to work at La Liga Nacional Contra el Cancer (INCAN) in Guatemala City, the largest cancer referral center in the country. It is the only comprehensive cancer treatment center in the region for the poor and underserved and provides care for more than one-fourth of all cancer patients in the country.

She said her research study will explore characteristics associated with noncompliance to treatment or follow up among women with a diagnosis of cervical dysplasia or cervical cancer. She will also assess barriers to treatment and analyze outcomes of treatment in patients treated at INCAN.

Sekhon was one of 26 students from 21 medical schools across the country to receive  the 2019 Benjamin H. Kean Travel Fellowship in Tropical Medicine. The annual award is the only medical student fellowship dedicated to promoting a career path in tropical medicine.

“My primary interest in tropical medicine is to understand the disease in totality of circumstances,” Sekhon said.

An exact time frame for her travel has yet to be worked out, but Sekhon said wants to learn more about the intersection between infection, biology, the patient and society.

“As a future physician-scientist, tropical medicine appeals to me because it equally weighs social determinants of health with the microbiological basis of disease, which I believe is the true way to treat a patient, conduct meaningful research, and implement health care change,” she said.