Tag Archives: Awards

School of Medicine receives NIH grant to continue cardiovascular outcomes research program

Spertus, John
Dr. John Spertus

The UMKC School of Medicine has received a nearly $400,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue and build upon a successful two-year training program in clinically-oriented cardiovascular disease outcomes research through the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics and UMKC’s new Healthcare Institute for Innovations in Quality (HI-IQ).

The funding covers the first of five years of support through the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, bringing the total grant funding to just less than $2 million.

Immense research investments have improved the care of patients afflicted with cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death and disability in the United States. But continued evaluation of patient-centered outcomes, including patient symptoms, function and quality of life, and how to apply that knowledge in clinical settings is needed, said John Spertus, M.D., professor, clinical director and endowed chair in metabolic and vascular disease research.

“Collectively, our committed team will provide formal training, mentorship and research experiences for trainees to make significant contributions to the scientific literature, embark on successful academic careers, and improve the value and patient-centeredness of medical care,” Spertus said.

Hands-on research is one of the key components of the program that provides a basic foundation in clinical research, including a master’s degree in bioinformatics with a clinical research emphasis, and specialized skills for outcomes research, coupled with academic survival skills.

Hallmarks of the research experiences include multi-disciplinary group and individualized mentorship to meet each trainee’s needs, as well as access to numerous existing data. Clinical populations for primary data collection and implementation, training in entrepreneurship, and highly experienced statistical support are provided to support trainees’ success.

Program enhancements are also planned that include a more robust collaboration with the University of Missouri system, increased engagement in clinical trial design and a growing focus on implementation science with access to HI-IQ’s multistakeholder collaboration of 19 regional hospitals.

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.

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.

Grant Helps Take the Lead Out of KC Homes

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded $700,000 to the University of Missouri-Kansas City to explore and evaluate best practices for identifying and removing lead paint hazards from Kansas City homes.

The grant is in partnership with the Kansas City, Missouri Health Department’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program and Lead Safe KC Project, which helps remove lead paint hazards in homes of families with young children; and Children’s Mercy Environmental Health Program, which has assessed more than 1,400 homes for environmental risks and supports allergen research.

Homes that were built before 1978 might contain lead paint, which could put residents, especially young children and pregnant women, at risk for lead poisoning. Lead poisoning can cause speech delays, brain damage and other health effects.

Using Kansas City and Children’s Mercy data, the UMKC Center for Economic Information will perform a comparative impact analysis of the specific lead hazard control treatments used in the intervention in terms of blood-lead levels and social costs.

“The goal will be to develop a data-driven quality improvement evaluation model that HUD-sponsored lead-hazard control programs will be able to use in the management and performance evaluation of their own programs,” said Doug Bowles, Ph.D., director of the UMKC Center for Economic Information, co-principal investigator on the grant.

“An additional goal will be to develop a data-driven, housing-based index that lead-hazard control programs can use to select the homes most in need of lead-based hazard remediation,” said Steve Simon, Ph.D., of the School of Medicine and co-principal investigator on the grant.

The study will examine data from the Kansas City Health Department, comparing lead poisoning information with home repair strategies to determine the most effective, sustainable and cost-efficient methods of protecting families.

SOM research office taking applications for SPiRe Grant

The School of Medicine Office of Research is seeking applications for the Sarah Morrison Pilot Research Fund (SPiRe), an internal grant for clinical and basic scientists. Application deadline is noon, March 1.

The grant provides support to develop preliminary data or pursue high-risk innovative research that will enable submission of highly competitive applications to national funding sources.

To be considered, research must either be performed at the School of Medicine or be in collaboration with faculty at the school where at least 50 percent of the research is performed. Tenure-track, tenured, research and clinical faculty are eligible to apply for the grant.

Standard awards are $15,000 to be spent during the course of two years. If a compelling case can be made for additional funding, up to $20,000 may be requested.

Full application guidelines and the application packet are available online.

Questions prior to preparing and submitting applications may be directed to Paula Monaghan-Nichols, associate dean for research, at nicholsap@umkc.edu or 816-235-6663. Questions about applications should be directed to Mark Hecker, director of research administration, at heckerm@umkc.edu or 816-235-6015.

Beams of Light to Treat Diabetes: UMKC Invention Gets Federal Funding Boost

The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy has been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue work on an important advancement to help treat the tens of millions of people who have diabetes.

The lifetime burden of constantly checking blood sugar and injecting insulin is significant. UMKC research has developed a way of delivering insulin to diabetics that eliminates pumps and most injections.

“We’re aiming to improve the lives of diabetics all over the world,” said UMKC pharmacy professor Simon Friedman, the principal investigator on the grant.


Normally, diabetics must inject themselves with insulin numerous times per day to enable the body to absorb blood sugar. The amount of insulin needed and timing vary with what an individual eats and their activity level. With blood glucose continuously varying, the insulin requirement parallels the amount of glucose in the blood.

The only clinically-used method to permit continuously variable delivery of therapeutic proteins like insulin is a pump. But they do so at a high cost: a physical connection to the outside of the patient, where the drug reservoir resides, and the inside of the patient, where drug absorption will ultimately take place. This connection in insulin pumps is a cannula — or needle — which can be dislodged, crimped, snagged, infected and most importantly, rapidly gets biofouled from moisture after implantation. This leads to variable and unpredictable delivery.

For several years, Friedman and his lab associates have been developing a method in which a single injection of a material called a PAD (photo-activated depot) can take the place of multiple normal insulin injections and allow for minute-by-minute automatic updating of insulin release. The material is injected into the skin like insulin, but lies dormant until a beam of light stimulates release of insulin, in response to blood sugar information.

The new grant will help make the technology more reliable for someone to use and easier to manage.

“With the improvements, we anticipate creating a new and revolutionary approach to continuously variable protein delivery, one that minimizes invasiveness and maximizes the close matching of therapeutic with patient requirements,” Friedman said.

Karen Kover, associate professor of pediatrics at the UMKC School of Medicine and Children’s Mercy, has been an integral member of the research team for years, and Friedman is grateful for her collaboration.

Reviewers of the grant application praised the work, and Friedman, who has won previous NIH funding, said this was his highest rated grant award.

“We are grateful for the enthusiastic response from the NIH study section, given the very competitive nature of funding at this time during the pandemic,” said UMKC Vice Chancellor for Research Chris Liu.

The project is supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the NIH.

In people with type 1 diabetes, the pancreas no longer makes insulin. Patients need insulin to process sugar from meals.

People with type 2 diabetes make insulin, but their bodies don’t respond well to it. At first the pancreas produces extra insulin to make up for it. But over time it isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep blood sugar at normal levels.

About 34.2 million children and adults in the U.S. — 10.5% of the population — have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 25 percent use insulin shots. About 86 million people ages 20 and older in the U.S. have prediabetes.

Complications from diabetes include heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system damage and amputation.

People with diabetes risk more serious complications from COVID-19 than others who do not have the disease.

“Through research at UMKC, we strive to improve the health of not just our community but our entire population,” said Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “We are proud of Dr. Friedman and his team’s innovation, which could significantly benefit people around the world.”

SOM announces research winners from annual Quality and Patient Safety Day

Tara Krishnan and Cynthia Liu received the top student honors for their research abstracts at the School of Medicine’s annual Vijay Babu Rayudu Quality and Patient Safety Day. The top resident/fellow awards went to Dr. Heather Morgans and Dr. Anas Al Bawaliz.

The four were chosen from a record 53 submitted abstracts and invited to make oral presentations of their research in this year’s virtual, online event on May 29. More than 100 people participated in the seventh annual event. It included an executive panel discussion of  continuing challenges from the COVID-19 crisis and how it has changed the future of health care.

The School of Medicine presents the annual patient safety day program to provide an opportunity for students, residents and fellows to display their work in quality improvement and patient safety to the entire medical school community.

Both the panel discussion and the oral presentations can be viewed online.

Krishnan, a fourth-year medical student, received a top student award and presented her work on “Beeps, Squeals, and Drones: Reducing the Impact of Noise Pollution in the Operating Room.” Dr. Gary Sutkin served as her research mentor. Liu, a sixth-year medical student, was also mentored by Sutkin and presented “Semantically Ambiguous Language in the Teaching Operating Room.”

Morgans earn one of the top awards for residents and fellows with her abstract, “A Systematic Approach to Improving Metabolic Acidosis in Patients with Stage 3-5 Chronic Kidney Disease in the Nephrology Clinic at Children’s Mercy Hospital.” Dr. Darcy Weidemann served as her faculty research mentor. Bawaliz, mentored by Dr. David Wooldridge, presented on “Reducing Unnecessary Inpatient Laboratory Testing at Truman Medical Center.”

Students, residents and fellows submitting the remaining abstracts were invited to create posters along with 5-minute audios, which were posted online in a virtual poster showcase.

The panel discussion, moderated by School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., included six health care leaders from the QIPS Consortium Hospital Affiliates. The group included Mark Steele, M.D., chief operating officer, chief medical officer, Truman Medical Centers; Peter Holt, M.D., vice president of medical affairs, Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City; Robert Lane, M.D., MS, executive vice president and physician-in-chief, Children’s Mercy Hospital; Timothy Dellenbaugh, M.D., assistant medical director, Center for Behavioral Medicine; Ahmad Batrash, M.D., chief of staff, Kansas City Veterans Affairs Medical Center​; and Olevia Pitts, M.D., chief medical officer, HCA Research Medical Center.

 

Three UMKC faculty receive Fulbright Scholar Awards

Three University of Missouri-Kansas City faculty members, Charlie Inboriboon, M.D.; Brian Frehner, Ph.D.; and Clara Irazábal-Zurita, Ph.D.; received prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar Awards.

The Fulbright program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational program. Award recipients teach, conduct research and provide expertise abroad in a program designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and other countries.

Charlie Inboriboon, M.D.

Inboriboon, director of International Emergency Medicine Programs at the School of Medicine and associate professor of emergency medicine, received an award to Thailand where he spend six months teaching at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. His project was designed to enhance emergency medicine education by incorporating active learning into the didactic curriculum. He will also developed online learning resources to enhance individual learner feedback.

Inboriboon has led several programs in Thailand during the country’s transition to competency-based medical education.

Frehner, associate professor in the UMKC History Department, received an award to Germany where he plans to teach and conduct research for three months. Much of his time will be spent working with colleagues at the University of Hamburg to expand upon an online course that examines themes in transatlantic history and German migration from Hamburg to St. Louis, Missouri.

He will also travel to Munich to review documents in the Deutsches Museum relating to the acquisition of oil exploration technology related to geophysicial oil exploration. The research is for a book he is working on that details the science and technology of exploration geophysics that seres as the basis for oil discovery throughout the world.

Clara Irazabal-ZuritaIrazabal-Zurita, director of the Latinx and Latin American Studies program and professor of planning in the Department of Architecture, Urban Planning + Design, received an award to lecture and conduct research at the Universidad de Costa Rica. She will focus on selective (dis)affiliations and (sub)urban implications of middle-class Venezuelan migration to Costa Rica.

The project is an extension of her study of migration and urban planning in U.S. Latinx/immigrant communities and in Latin America, including Costa Rica and Venezuela. Irazabal-Zurita plans to conduct her work in Costa Rica during the summers of 2021 and 2022.

Fulbright award recipients are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields. Funded through the U.S. Department of State, the program is also supported by and operates in more than 160 countries throughout the world.

UMKC Researcher Awarded $3.3 Million Grant to Prevent Diabetes

The National Institutes of Health awarded a $3.3 million grant to Jannette Berkley-Patton, professor, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, to help improve diabetes prevention outcomes with African Americans.

“This is an extension of what we’ve been doing in the School of Medicine with Project FIT, which stands for Faith Influencing Transformation” says Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., director of the UMKC Health Equity Institute and the Community Health Research Group. With Project FIT, nearly 900 people have participated in the program and more than 200 medical, physician assistant, nursing and health studies and psychology students have been trained as FIT health coaches to help deliver the program.

At UMKC, Berkley-Patton has won other significant grants that focus on improving the health of African Americans, and each centers on health inequities and community-engaged research with African American community-based organizations, including places of worship because of their cultural importance. This new five-year grant, which starts on April 1, will include similar strategies. To date, Berkley-Patton’s work has been supported by more than $10 million in federal grants over the past 14 years.

The grant will tailor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Diabetes Prevention Program, an evidence-based lifestyle change intervention, with 360 African American pre-diabetic participants recruited from Truman Medical Centers. The program includes 22 group sessions that take place over one year and primarily focuses on eating healthier and exercising regularly.

Preventing diabetes can help stave off other associated chronic health issues including blindness, kidney failure and heart disease.

People who participate in the CDC program aim to lose 5 to 7 percent of their body weight and exercise 150 minutes per week, which have been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes by up to 60 percent. The program has also been found to outperform pre-diabetes drugs such as Metformin.

However, African Americans typically don’t fare as well, especially women and those with low incomes. Some of the issues include barriers such as cost of the program, transportation, childcare, access to healthy food and places to exercise. These barriers are often referred to as social determinants of health.

“With the grant, we’re trying to address every barrier related to social determinants,” Berkley-Patton said. “The most successful outcomes are correlated with attending the sessions – the more sessions attended, the better the outcomes.”

The grant will support linking Truman Medical Centers patients to FIT Diabetes Prevention Program classes in their home communities via church, community center or neighborhood association settings. The program will be culturally-tailored for African American adults. The program is at no cost to the participant – typically it costs $450 per year. In addition to Truman Medical Centers, program partners include several urban Kansas City churches, Calvary Outreach Network, YMCA, Chestnut Resource Center, KC Care Health Center, Children’s Mercy and the University of Kansas.

Although the grant begins this week during a pandemic that has Americans sheltering in place and working from home, the first year of the grant is a planning year.

“With this grant, we are looking forward to further refining our current Project FIT program to have trained UMKC students and community members working side-by-side as FIT coaches,” says Carole Bowe Thompson, project director, UMKC Community Health Research Group.

The program will be launched by this time next year.

“We are looking forward to getting started,” Berkley-Patton said. “We want to show participants that here’s a premiere program designed just for you.”

Community and Family Medicine residency director receives Women of Distinction honor

Beth Rosemergey, M.D., is being honored as a Woman of Distinction.

School of Medicine faculty member Beth Rosemergey, D.O., associate professor and director of the Community and Family Medicine Residency program, was honored recently as one of the outstanding women of Eastern Jackson County, Missouri.

For the past five years, the Independence Examiner newspaper has sponsored the annual Women of Distinction Awards. Women from the fields business, government, education and non-profit are honored based on their accomplishments and community involvement in Eastern Jackson County.

Rosemergey is the third honoree nominated by Truman Medical Center-Lakewood. Last year, Laura Doan, M.D., a 1984 UMKC School of Medicine graduate and University Health women’s care provider, was a Women of Distinction honoree. Lynette Wheeler, TMC Lakewood chief operating officer, was honored as Outstanding Woman of the Year in 2018.

An awards ceremony was to have been taken place on March 13. The event and announcement of this year’s Outstanding Woman of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award have been postponed until the end of April.

The mother of an autistic child, Rosemergey is passionate in her advocation for special needs children and their families. She has worked with local schools to develop programs that address the needs of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and was instrumental in developing state guidelines for the care of autism patients.

Rosemergey also serves as vice chair of the Department of Community and Family Medicine and medical director of the Bess Truman Family Medicine Center.

A graduate of the University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kansas City, she completed her family practice residency at UMKC and Truman Medical Center Lakewood and joined the School of Medicine faculty in 1992.