Tag Archives: Awards

SOM Grad Linda Siy, M.D., Selected Texas Family Physician of the Year

UMKC School of Medicine alumna Linda Siy, M.D., ’90, was awarded the 2022 Texas Family Physician of the Year award by the Texas Academy of Family Physicians.

She received the highest honor among Texas family doctors during TAFP’s Annual Session and Primary Care Summit in Grapevine, Texas, on Oct. 29.

Patients and physicians nominate extraordinary family physicians throughout Texas who symbolize excellence and dedication in family medicine each year. A panel of TAFP members chooses one as the family physician of the year.

“It truly is an honor to join the ranks of those who have received this distinction, and I’m very humbled to be considered with those distinguished colleagues who previously were Family Physicians of the Year,” Siy said in accepting the award.

Siy, a family physician for more than 30 years, practices at John Peter Smith Health Network at the Northeast Medical Home in Tarrant County, a practice she’s been a part of since 1995. She is also faculty at the University of Texas Southwestern School of Medicine, the University of North Texas Health Science Center/Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, and the Texas Christian University Burnett School of Medicine.

Throughout her years in organized medicine, Siy has served on many committees and councils for both TAFP and the American Academy and has been president of the TAFP Foundation since 2017. She serves on the Acclaim Multispecialty Group’s Physician Board of Directors, and previously served as president of the Tarrant County Medical Society and TAFP’s Tarrant County chapter.

Siy has spent her career in medicine treating her loyal and multi-generational families of patients, many of whom are underserved, suffer from housing and food insecurity, and struggle with mental health and substance abuse. Many of her nominators mentioned her willingness to speak up and ask the questions others are too afraid to ask, as well as her dedication to teaching the next generation of family physicians.

“I think what’s kept me in the game for so long at the place where I work now are those rewarding relationships with your patients, with your staff, with your colleagues,” Siy said. “It’s really not a job. It’s a calling.”

 

UMKC Researcher Receives $2.2 Million NIH Grant to Explore Expanded COVID-19 Testing

Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D., director of the UMKC Health Equity Institute and a professor in the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics at the School of Medicine, has received a nearly $2.2 million, two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health for a project designed to increase testing and treatment for COVID-19 by partnering with African American churches and health agencies. 

The effort is part of an NIH initiative called Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics-Underserved Populations (RADx-Up); a consortium of community-engaged research projects designed to increase access to COVID testing in underserved communities.  

The randomized trial will study the effectiveness of a religiously tailored intervention in motivating adult African American church and community members to be tested and to seek treatment for COVID-19.  

“We will work collaboratively with our churches to encourage people to not only get the rapid COVID test, but to get treatment that could potentially help reduce their symptoms and likely keep them out of the hospital.” – Jannette Berkley-Patton, Ph.D.

Working with 12 community churches in the Kansas City area, the program will engage the help of pastors to promote testing and demonstrate to their congregations how testing works. Among other services, the churches will also offer rapid COVID testing and provide support and referrals to treatment to those who test positive. 

“Our project will examine whether people really want to get tested and seek treatment if we use a religiously tailored approach,” Berkley-Patton said. “We will work collaboratively with our churches to encourage people to not only get the rapid COVID test, but to get treatment that could potentially help reduce their symptoms and likely keep them out of the hospital. 

“We’re hoping this approach can be informative not only for this study but for other types of rapid diagnostics that can lead to treatment, especially if the referral is made quickly and support is provided.”  

The new grant-funded study is a continuation of Berkley-Patton’s Faithful Response to COVID-19 project, a two-year, NIH-backed clinical trial that started in January 2021 to promote COVID-19 testing with the African American community with the support of churches and other faith-based and community organizations. 

Those efforts were so successful in testing and raising awareness that the Jackson County Legislature awarded a $5 million grant to support Our Healthy Kansas City Eastside, another UMKC Health Equity Institute project that administered nearly 13,000 COVID vaccinations to members of Kansas City’s minority and underrepresented communities in just 18 months. The county recently extended that program as well with the support of an additional $5 million grant. 

“In the early days of the pandemic, COVID testing was not available to everyone. Access to testing was particularly limited in underserved communities, which led to the NIH initiative RADxUP,” Berkley-Patton said. “In the initial project, we are demonstrating that people will take the test at a church site – and even more so when the efforts are religiously and culturally tailored.” 

The new study will examine the beliefs and practices of those in underserved communities toward rapid COVID-19 self-testing. Researchers also will study the effectiveness of contact tracing as well as care services such as referrals to treatment, health insurance and community resources. 

“With this model, many of our Faithful Response materials are packaged in an easy-to-use toolkit that our community partners helped to create, and can be disseminated in print or electronic formats,” Berkley-Patton said. “We’re hoping the toolkit can be widely disseminated across the country if we can show that the first Faithful Response project was effective and double that up with efficacy of the second project.”

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

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.