UMKC’s Som Singh invited to present research on sports injuries at international conference

Med student Som Singh, left, is helping lead a study group that monitors injuries to U.S. rugby players. He is pictured with Dr. Victor Lopez Jr., Dr. Alex Metoxen (UMKC Orthopedic Surgery Resident), Dr. Sean Bonnani (UMKC Orthopedic Surgery Resident), and Chizitam Ibezim (2020 UMKC medical school graduate).

Like many young, aspiring athletes, Som Singh saw his football career end early with an injury during high school. Yet, his love for sports never waned. Now, it could be taking the fourth-year UMKC medical student to the European College of Sports Science in Spain next fall to present as lead author of a research project on rugby player injuries.

His work is part of a project affiliated with the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York and the Rugby Research and Injury Prevention Group (RRIPG) that has been monitoring U.S. Rugby Club-Sevens player injuries and performance.

“The culture of sports has always had an impact on me and I wanted to stay around sports,” Singh said.

When he first came to the School of Medicine, Singh used what free time he had to help as a volunteer assistant football coach at a local high school. While coaching, he realized the hunger to be connected to sports still burned.

“Coaching players was cool, teaching, talking to the players,” Singh said. “That aspect of teaching sports was unique and it led me to seek out other things I could do to combine sports and medicine.”

About a year ago, a national rugby tournament came to Kansas City. Dr. Victor Lopez Jr., founder and executive director of the RRIPG in New York, arrived as well to study the players on the field, monitoring their injuries and the effects on their performance. Lopez was also looking for medical students and residents to help with his project. A UMKC orthopaedic surgery resident who knew both Lopez and Singh introduced the two.

Singh began working on the sidelines in the medical tents and soon became the assistant national study coordinator for the group, attending countless rugby matches and collecting injury data.

His report, which was based on a five-year analysis of medical costs related to player injuries sustained in U.S. Rugby-Sevens regional tournaments, caught the eye of the European College of Sports Sciences.

He said his findings could serve as a profile of the financial impact that sports injuries have on both men and women players. Much like the National Football League has done in developing its concussion protocols, Singh said his data could also serve as a tool for national U.S. Rugby-Sevens to improve player welfare and safety.

“It is a growing collision sport,” Singh said of rugby.

Singh also is co-author of two other group abstracts that were selected for presentation at the international conference in Seville, Spain – assuming limitations brought by the novel coronavirus are lifted and allow the conference to take place.

In addition to Lopez, the project has Singh working closely with Dr. Richard Ma, Gregory L. and Ann L. Hummel Distinguished Professor in Orthopaedic Surgery Missouri Orthopaedic Institute at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and Dr. Answorth Allen, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York and team doctor for the NBA’s New York Knicks.

Singh said he doesn’t plan to let up on his injury prevention research with the group anytime soon.

“We have plenty of studies coming up,” he said. “I’m booked for the next couple of years. We’re continuing to grow and understand more about sports injuries.”

For UMKC medical student and entrepreneur Fahad Qureshi, health care connects it all

Driven. Creative. Optimistic. Curious. Determined. Smart. Happy. These are common traits found in successful entrepreneurs. All of them are found in Fahad Qureshi.

A third-year medical student at UMKC, Qureshi took third place in the UM System Entrepreneurship Quest Pitch Competition, where 20 student teams from across the four campuses presented innovative business ventures.

Qureshi is the founder and creator of Vest Heroes, which uses a system of pulleys and levers in the operating room to relieve surgeons from bearing weighted lead X-ray skirts and vests during long procedures. Wearing the vests are required by law and protect health care professionals from radioactive exposure. But they are heavy – between 30 and 69 pounds – and can hinder mobility.

Qureshi wasn’t nervous during the final rounds of competition, as he’s had the idea for a long time and knows the product well. In fact, his invention is patent-pending, and he’s launched a company to fulfill orders for 100 vests that will be used throughout the country. “I strongly believe in the idea,” he said, “and it was great to get affirmation from the judges. To know it’s real and it’s working – I feel good about that.”

As a child, Qureshi had a good friend who died during an operation following a bad accident. He heard the surgeon say that wearing his 60-pound vest made it hard for him to make movements during his friend’s operation – and that’s something he never forgot.

While finding a way to reduce the weight of these vests has been in his head for a long time – “10 to 12 years, maybe more” – he didn’t have the background needed to solve it … until medical school.

Once at UMKC, he gained academic understanding, expanded his medical knowledge, got into the operating room and participated in an engineering apprenticeship, completely independent of the School of Medicine.

“Just because you are practicing medicine doesn’t mean you can’t do anything else,” he said. “I wasn’t looking for credit, I was looking for knowledge.”

He also found a local engineering firm to help out.

“When you have an interdisciplinary approach, that’s when you can really solve problems. Without medicine, I wouldn’t know what to build,” he said. “Without engineering, I wouldn’t know how to build it.”

In addition, Qureshi reached out to various physicians to get their opinions – how to improve the vest, how to grow consumer interest, what did and didn’t work well. His biggest support has come from Bogdan Derylo, M.D., a nephrologist from his hometown of Chicago and Akin Cil, M.D., UMKC professor and the Franklin D. Dickson/Missouri Endowed Chair in orthopaedic surgery.

“All of the feedback received was terrific,” Qureshi said. “The final model is a culmination of all the suggestions they provided.”

Qureshi, who worked minimum-wage jobs to fund the company so he can retain full equity, says mass distribution is his ultimate goal. He’s currently working with a Chinese manufacturer to help produce large numbers of the Vest Heroes, although that is sidelined now due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Any doctor or health care professional that uses radiation has a need for this,” he said. “There’s really no downside to using it – it’s a necessity, as I see it.”

There’s no doubt that Qureshi’s entrepreneurial spirit motivates him, but he sees health care connecting it all. As for his future, he plans “100 percent to practice medicine.” And part of that plan includes research, his company and teaching the next generation of doctors.

“When you choose what you do every day, it should be something that makes you happy. Going to work shouldn’t be scary or dreaded. If your work makes you happy, you’re doing something right.”

In addition to Qureshi, the UMKC teams presenting pitches during the final competition were Greyson Twist, Ph.D., bioinformatics and computer science major presenting his Genalytic project; and Kyle McAllister, business administration graduate student presenting his company Compost Collective KC.

UMKC researcher helped lead studies published in New England Journal of Medicine

UMKC School of Medicine researcher John Spertus, M.D., M.P.H., is part of two large NIH-funded clinical studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Monday, March 30. The studies indicate eliminating unnecessary revascularization treatments for cardiac patients could save the United States hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Spertus serves as professor of medicine and Daniel J. Lauer, M.D., Endowed Chair in Metabolism and Vascular Disease Research at the School of Medicine, and Clinical Director of Outcomes Research at Saint Luke’s Hospital.

The studies looked specifically at coronary artery disease patients who had high-risk blockages with least 10 percent or more of the heart muscle being at risk. One focused on patients with preserved kidney function and the other targeted patients with end-stage kidney failure. That latter group has largely been excluded from almost all cardiovascular trials, despite having a high prevalence of coronary artery disease and death, Spertus said.

Both studies, conducted in unison, examined the most important outcomes for patients, clinical events (e.g. heart attacks, death) and patients’ symptoms, function and quality of life. Participants were randomized to undergo invasive angiography and revascularization with aggressive medical therapy or aggressive medical therapy alone. The goals of the medical treatment were cholesterol reduction, blood pressure control, aspirin and medications to treat chest pain.

The studies in patients with preserved kidney function showed that invasive medical procedures provided no reduction in clinical events, but did improve patients’ symptoms and quality of life, if they had chest pain within a month of entering the trial. These health status benefits were evident within three months and sustained out to four years.

“Importantly, this benefit was only observed in patients who had angina, chest pain, and not in asymptomatic patients,” Spertus said. “There is no indication for these procedures in patients whose symptoms are well-controlled with medications alone. If we avoided revascularization in asymptomatic patients, we could potentially save about $500 million to $750 million a year in the United States alone.”

Among patients with very severe kidney disease, there was no significant difference in clinical events or in patients’ symptoms and quality of life.

“While disappointing, this is a very ill patient population for whom an aggressive, invasive treatment strategy does not seem to offer much benefit,” Spertus said.

The NEJM is publishing four papers from these studies on March 30, one for each trial focusing on the clinical events and another for each trial focusing on the quality of life outcomes. Spertus was involved in writing all four and is the lead author on the two quality of life papers. He and his team designed, analyzed and led the health status, quality of life components of both trials.

Spertus is the author of the Seattle Angina Questionnaire (SAQ) that used in the studies. It is widely recognized throughout the world as the gold standard for quality of life measurement in cardiac medicine.

“Our group has led its use and analyses in multiple studies and quality improvement efforts,” Spertus said. “In light of these findings, the SAQ may start becoming a routine part of clinical care in cardiology.”

Spertus involved in big stent study

A leading UMKC and Saint Luke’s Health System researcher, John Spertus, M.D., M.P.H., was heavily involved in important heart-procedure research that was published earlier this month and presented at the annual conference of the American Heart Association.

You can read an interview with Spertus about the research here.

A Washington Post story said the study, called ISCHEMIA, found that invasive procedures to unclog blocked arteries — in most cases, the insertion of a stent, a tiny mesh tube that props open a blood vessel after artery-clearing angioplasty — were no better at preventing heart attacks and death in patients with stable heart disease than were pills and improvements in diet and exercise. Overall, the study results suggest that invasive procedures, stents and bypass surgery, should be used more sparingly in patients with stable heart disease and the decision to use them should be less rushed, experts said.

Spertus is a UMKC professor of medicine and Daniel J. Lauer Endowed Chair in Metabolism and Vascular Disease Research. At Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, as clinical director of outcomes research, he developed technology that guides physicians and patients in medical-decision making by using models to measure and predict the risk factors of various procedures. Many experts cite two tools he created — the Seattle Angina Questionnaire and the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire — as the gold standards for measuring symptoms, function and quality of life in treating coronary artery disease and heart failure. Both have been translated into more than 95 languages.

A year ago he received the American Heart Association’s 2018 Distinguished Scientist Award. He previously received the association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015 and the Council on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Distinguished Achievement Award in 2013.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

 

Med students present record number of posters at 2019 Health Sciences Research Summit

Fifth-year medical student Kizhan Muhammad presented her poster at the 2019 UMKC Health Sciences Research Summit.

Kizhan Muhammad knows an opportunity when she sees one. The fifth-year medical student used a particularly rare case that appeared during her critical care rotation in the hospital’s intensive care unit to produce a research poster for the annual UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit.

Muhammad was one of 59 students from the School of Medicine who presented a record 66 posters at the research summit on April 17 at the UMKC Student Union. Both medical students and students from the school’s graduate programs — bioinformatics, anesthesiologist assistant, physician assistant and health professions education — participated in the summit.

Med School announces student research summit winners

“I always have my eyes and ears open for an opportunity to do research,” Muhammad said. “We happened to have a case with a rare syndrome. My mentor had me read about previous cases. My role was to do a literature review, extrapolate the data and then write a manuscript on our own patient.”

The patient, a 73-year-old man, had come to the hospital with a rapid heartbeat. When mild electrical shock, or cardioversion, was applied to bring the heartbeat to a normal rhythm, the man experienced Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Also known as broken-heart syndrome, the condition is a ballooning of the left ventricle that produces chest pain and shortness of breath. It’s typically a stress-related condition seen in older women.

“It’s a very benign disease that can be very scary,” Muhammad said. “It’s pretty rare, not something you’d typically see when you’re rounding.”

Muhammad produced a case report that compared her patient’s case with other recorded cases of the disease. The report was published in the Society of Critical Care Medicine journal and presented at the organization’s national convention.

She said her experience provided a good learning experience in the basics of conducting medical research as well as how to create and publish a manuscript and present the findings in a public forum such as the research summit.

“Research is a vital part of medicine,” Muhammad said. “It’s what gives us the potential to do better for our patients. I’m looking forward to doing more in our research program.”

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.

A team of medical school faculty served as judges for the medical student posters and will select the top three poster presentations among medical students for awards and the top graduate student presentation.

 

Research Summit posters, abstracts due March 27

Organizers of the annual UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit are encouraging students to submit their abstracts and posters to participate in this year’s event.

The 2019 summit will take place from 3-5 p.m. on April 17 at the UMKC Student Union, Room 401. Deadline for submissions is March 27.

The research summit fosters research collaborations across disciplines and school that will produce economic, health, education and quality-of-life benefits for the greater Kansas City community. It is an opportunity for students to present their research to School of Medicine faculty.

Students must submit  their abstracts through the REDCap Submission Portal at https://is.gd/2019HSSRS. Posters must be submitted by email to the School of Medicine’s Office of Research Administration at hsdresearch@umkc.edu.

A School of Medicine poster template and complete poster guidelines are available online through the Office of Research Administration. Students may have their poster layouts reviewed by John Foxworth, Pharm. D. prior to submitting their poster to the research office. He can be contacted at FoxworthJ@umkc.edu.

Students can also sign up for a time to practice their presentations by sending an email to the research office at hsdresearch@umkc.edu.

The School of Medicine sponsors individual awards for medical students and its graduate students.

This is the seventh year that the schools are participating in the program at one venue on the Volker Campus. Last year, 50 students from the School of Medicine’s M.D. and Allied Health programs presented 45 posters at the research summit.

Health Sciences
Student Research Summit
Important links

Submissions Due: March 27
REDCap Submission Portal: https://is.gd/2019HSSRS

Research Poster Template: https://med.umkc.edu/docs/research/HSSRS_2019_poster_template.pptx
SOM Office of Student Research: hsdresearch@umkc.edu
Poster review with Dr. Foxworth: FoxworthJ@umkc.edu
Additional information: Courtney Dixon / 816-235-5366 /hsdresearch@umkc.edu

 

Researcher Karl Kador receives Research to Prevent Blindness award

Karl Kador, Ph.D.

School of Medicine researcher Karl Kador, Ph.D.,  has received a $75,000 award from the Research to Prevent Blindness/Stavros Niarchos Foundation International Research Collaborators.

The grant is intended to support and promote international collaborations among researchers in the United States and abroad to gain new scientific knowledge and skills through activities within the department of ophthalmology. A researcher at the UMKC Vision Research Center, Kador has been working to develop a novel approach for treating patients suffering end-stage glaucoma.

Last year, Kador received a nearly $2-million National Institutes of Health grant to explore tissue engineering that could one day lead to a method of transplanting new retinal ganglion cells to replace old, dead cells.

The Research to Prevent Blindness award allows researchers to spend time working with one another to advance specific research goals. These international collaborations can have a positive impact on a world-wide population. They have the potential to speed the development of treatments for illnesses that lead to blindness.