Tag Archives: Bioinformatics

School of Medicine recognizes first I-Ph.D. graduate

Jeremy Provance was always interested in both health care and computers but wasn’t sure how to fit them together. The UMKC School of Medicine provided his answer.

As graduates of the School of Medicine took part in a commencement ceremony at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium on May 15 and 16, Provance became the first Ph.D. graduate from the medical school earning an interdisciplinary doctorate in biomedical and health informatics.

He describes the field as taking the enormous amount of health data that is generated every day and “making sense of all of those data points and telling the story about what is happening with our health.”

Provance didn’t know bioinformatics and data science existed until he found them as part of UMKC’s interdisciplinary Ph.D. program. The program allows students to work across disciplines to develop an individual academic plan geared to their specific interest.

Through collaboration with UMKC’s School of Graduate Studies, the School of Medicine started offering bioinformatics as a co-discipline in 2014 and as a primary discipline in 2017. Studying this emphasis, students like Provance primarily focus on biomedical data and knowledge, using that information in problem solving and decision making to develop technology and processes that will shape the future of health care.

Provance earned his master’s degree in bioinformatics at the School of Medicine in 2017.  He then continued in the I-Ph.D. program where he found several appealing factors during his studies, including the school’s quality of faculty, research opportunities and interdisciplinary aspect.

“My mentors were so critical to my success, and the faculty were such excellent people both in and out of the classroom. And bioinformatics is a such broad discipline – you can specialize in many different areas.”
– Jeremy Provance

“My mentors were so critical to my success, and the faculty were such excellent people both in and out of the classroom,” he said. “And bioinformatics is a such broad discipline – you can specialize in many different areas.” Provance’s studies focused primarily on cardiovascular outcomes research through the Mid America Heart Institute at Saint Luke’s Hospital.

Fostering collaborations with area institutions and corporations and across disciplinary boundaries are the program’s strengths, according to Jenifer Allsworth, Ph.D., and the bioinformatics department vice chair. “Through these partnerships, our students work with and alongside people from different organizations and backgrounds. We are training students to have the skills to best contribute in a rapidly evolving field.”

Provance says his overall goal is to understand “what we do well as individuals, doctors and health systems, and to encourage those practices and to identify areas for improvement to change them for the better.” Soon, he’ll be doing just that at the Yale School of Medicine, where he’s accepted a research position with its Vascular Medicine Outcomes Group.

“I would not have been successful without the guidance of my research advisor, Dr. Kim Smolderen, and my dissertation chair, Dr. John Spertus. And certainly there are so many others – brilliant researchers, administrators, clinicians, fellow students and more – that helped me find my way through this program,” he said.

Though he was familiar with bioinformatics through his master’s degree, Provance says it’s hard to anticipate doctoral work until you are going through it. His advice to others considering the I-Ph.D. program? Find a strong mentor and understand the importance of collaboration and networking. “It makes all the difference when you are identifying the path forward,” he said.

And though it was four years of hard work, overall, Provance says he’d do it all again. “But I’m glad I don’t have to!”

Bioinformatics grad wins travel grant to present research at clinical chemistry meeting

Shivani Sivasankar

Shivani Sivasankar has been awarded a travel grant from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry. She is a 2018 graduate of the School of Medicine’s master’s program in biomedical and health informatics.

The honor is a competitive award given to students who are the lead authors of research abstracts accepted for presentation at the association’s annual meeting. The association is an organization of more than 10,000 world-wide scientific and medical professionals dedicated to clinical laboratory science and its application to health care.

Sivasankar will present her research at the organization’s 2018 national meeting in Chicago on July 29. She is one of only 15 students selected from an international pool of applicants for the grant.

Her research abstract is titled “Use of National EHR Data Warehouse to Identify Inappropriate HbA1C Orders for Sickle-Cell Patients.” The project used information culled from Health Facts, a database of big data provided by Cerner in collaboration with UMKC and Truman Medical Centers.

Sivasankar plans to continue her research studies at the School of Medicine in the fall when she enters the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program with a primary discipline in bioinformatics.

UMKC bioinformatics degree propels Mir to prominent fellowship

Fahad Faisal Mir, M.D., says earning a master’s degree in bioinformatics at the UMKC School of Medicine helped him land a fellowship in advanced endoscopy at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Three years ago, Fahad Faisal Mir, M.D., decided to follow his internal medicine residency at the UMKC School of Medicine and Truman Medical Center with a three-year fellowship in gastroenterology. He didn’t stop there.

When Mir completes his fellowship in May, he will also graduate from the School of Medicine’s Master of Science in Bioinformatics program with an emphasis in clinical research.

It’s an added touch that he believes gave him the advantage in landing a one-year fellowship in advanced endoscopy at the prestigious Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston beginning in July.

“Programs like these, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, they’re looking for people who are good at what they do clinically,” Faisal said. “But they’re also looking for someone who has an extra edge, and I think having this degree and background gave me that extra edge that I needed.”

His experience in the bioinformatics program has helped Mir to look at research projects and their results with a more critical eye. He is confident that will help him become a better physician going forward.

“Physicians who aren’t trained in bioinformatics or biostatistics read research differently,” he said. “They’re looking at the results, the conclusion and the applicability. I feel like I can look at the research methods that were used and see how the study was done; what populations it was done on; does it apply to the patients I see; are the results accurate in what they’re describing?”

The research training worked hand in hand with his gastroenterology fellowship.

“Our bioinformatics program is structured very well,” Mir said. “I did it over three years. They worked with me to where I could do classes online as much as possible and do group discussions. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on much by not physically going to classes.”

Mir said he was able to incorporate the gastroenterology research studies he worked on throughout his fellowship into his work in the bioinformatics program. That research training, Mir said, has given him the confidence to design his own studies. He has designed and worked on three randomized control trials, two multi-center trials, and several other retrospective studies during the past year.

And that has him thinking to the future of returning to his native country to begin his own research program. Mir came to Kansas City six years ago for post-graduate medical training after earning his medical degree in Pakistan.

“I want to start a research institute there and I think this is going to help form a foundation for that,” he said. “There is a need for medical research in Pakistan. If I can go into an established system that doesn’t have a really well established research arm, I can start doing high-quality research and be known for that. I’m at the early stages of that now.”

School of Medicine to honor degree, graduate certificate recipients

UMKC-SOM-LogoEleven students from School of Medicine programs will be honored during the UMKC Mid-Year Commencement ceremony on Dec. 17 at Swinney Recreation Center.

Students graduating with their M.D. degrees are Gabrielle Curry, Amit Roy, Mark Spaw and Joshua Williams. Five students receiving their Master of Science in Biomedical and Health Informatics are Noshaba Bakht, Tazim Dowlut-McElroy, Michael Nassif, Megha Shah, Xi Wang.

Two students, Melanie Ellsworth and Jacqueline Walker, are graduating with a Masters of Health Professions Education. Walker will also receive a graduate certificate in Health Professions Education.

Center for Health Insights launches new web tool for research data management

CHI logoThe School of Medicine’s Center for Health Insights (CHI) is pleased to announce the availability of REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) to enhance biomedical and health research initiatives at UMKC. REDCap is a secure web application for managing research, including observational studies, clinical trials and online surveys. The CHI and UMKC Information Technology Services implemented REDCap to provide a secure, centralized environment to document, store, manage and analyze research data. It is highly adaptable and can be customized by the research team for each project. Two pilot projects have successfully used REDCap, and it is now available to all UMKC faculty, students and staff who are participating in health and biomedical research. Attend a REDCap overview session to learn more. Two overview sessions will be held on May 14 and 20 at the School of Medicine in Theater C. Click here To register for one of these sessions and to learn more about training session options. (Use your UMKC SSO to sign in.) REDCap designer sessions begin in June. To learn more about the Center for Health Insights and REDCap, visit http://chi.umkc.edu or contact us at redcap@umkc.edu.REDCapPRN

School of Medicine students take part in annual Student Research Summit


Twenty-one BA/MD students and six graduate students from the School of Medicine’s Master of Science in Bioinformatics program took part in the Health Sciences Student Research Summit on April 17 at the UMKC Student Union.

Jacob Voelkel, MS 4, won the School of Medicine’s first prize for BA/MD students with his poster on “FGF and Notch Signaling Hierarchy in Sensory Neurogenesis.” Tim Fendler, M.D., was the winner of the School’s graduate student division with his presentation on “Provider Variability and Characteristics Associated with Bivalirudin Use for Bleeding Avoidance in Percutaneous Coronary Intervention after Implementation of a Decision Support Tool.”

Eleven faculty judges from the School of Medicine evaluated the med student poster presentations and two additional judges from the School evaluated posters presented by the graduate students.

Second prize in the BA/MD division went to Jeet Mehta, MS 5, with a presentation on “Comparison of Echocardiographic Methods to Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Survivors of Pediatric Cancer.” Two presentations tied for third place: Keliang Xiao, MS 4, and a joint presentation by Apurva Bhatt, MS 4, and Peter Lazarz, MS 2, tied for third place. Xiao presented “Do Outcomes of Surgical Treatment for Achalasia Depend on the Manometric Subtype?” Bhatt and Lazarz presented a poster on “An Evaluation of the Control of Diabetes at the Sojourner Free Health Clinic.”

Anna Grodzinsky, M.D was the second-prize recipient in the graduate student division with her presentation on “Relationship between Prescription of Diabetes Friendly Beta-Blockers and Glucose Control after an Acute Myocardial Infarction.”

It was the second year that students from the School of Medicine have joined those from the schools of Biological Sciences, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy for a joint research summit. This year’s event included 27 poster presentations from the School of Medicine.

UMKC Health Sciences Student Research Summit
School of Medicine Poster Presentations

Rohan J. Bandara, MSB, “Understanding the Relationship between Barriers to Timely Primary Care and Emergency Department Utilization across Insurance Categories – Report from the 1999-2011 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)”

* Apurva Bhatt, MS 4, Peter Lazarz, MS 2, “MAKING THE CHANGE! An Evaluation of the control of diabetes at the Sojourner Free Health Clinic” (Tie-Third place — BA/MD Students)

Brandon Carney, MS 5, “Fibroblast Growth Factor 23 Directly Increases Intracellular Calcium in Adult Cardiomyocytes“

Caroline Doo, MS 5, Sahar Safavi, MS 4, “Pathological Changes in the Lungs of Cux1 Transgenic Mice”

* Timothy Fendler, MD, “Provider Variability and Characteristics Associated with Bivalirudin Use for Bleeding Avoidance in Percutaneous Coronary Intervention after Implementation of a Decision Support Tool” (First place — Gaduate Students)

Ashley Fletcher, MS 5, “Pyoderma gangrenosum: the hazards of polypharmacy in patients with impaired clearance mechanisms”

* Anna Grodzinksky, MD, “Relationship Between Prescription of Diabetes Friendly Beta-Blockers and Glucose Control after an Acute Myocardial Infarction” (Second place — Graduate Students)

Vritti Gupta, MS 5, “Viewing blood pressure through the eyes of a patient: a mixed-method study at a student-run safety-net clinic”

Susamita Kesh, MS 3, “The pulmonary vessel adventitia: role in pathology of fat embolism”

Stephanie Koch, MSB, “A Qualitative Investigation of Patients’ Transitional States of Engagement in HIV-Related Medical Care”

Shreya Lankala, MS 5, “Cytokines in Asthma: Effects on Human Pulmonary Fibroblasts”

McKenzie Lutz, MS 4, “The Effect of Intention and Desirability on Preterm Birth”

* Jeet Mehta, MS 5, “Comparison of Echocardiographic Methods to Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Survivors of Pediatric Cancer” (Second place — BA/MD Students)

Nishika Muddasani, MS 5, “Localization of ATP sources in the mammalian retina”

Amit Nanda, MS 3, “The Influence of Radial vs. Femoral Access on Acute Blood Loss in Patients Undergoing Percutaneous Coronary Intervention”

Janessa Pennington, MS 4, “Examining the carcinogenic potential of pancreatic inflammation in obese mice with maspin staining”

Niharika Rath, MS 6, “The Period of PURPLE Crying: Assessment of Parental Knowledge of Infant Crying Before and After Education in the NICU”

Janet Ross, MSB, “Depo Provera and Weight Gain: A cross-sectional study of the association of DMPA use on in reproductive-aged Non-Hispanic White and Non-Hispanic Black women”

Furqaan Sadiq, MS 5, “Do we understand our data? Evaluating comprehension and usefulness of statistical methods for continuous outcomes in meta-analyses”

Vidhi Shah, MS 4, “Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia as a result of medications and supplements”

Katherine Shortt, MSB, “Identification of Three Novel SNPs Associated With ARDS by Exome-Seq”

Jasmine Singh, MS 4, “Vitamin D Does Not Correlate With Inflammation or Vascular Markers in High-risk, 9-11 Year Old Children”

Andrew Thome, Jr., MS 5, “The Safety and Effectiveness of Convex Anterior and Posterior Hemiepiphysiodesis for the Treatment of Congenital Scoliosis”

* Jacob Voelkel, MS 4, “FGF and Notch signaling hierarchy in sensory neurogenesis” (First place — BA/MD Students)

* Keliang Xiao, MS 4, “Do outcomes of surgical treatment for Achalasia depend on the manometric subtype?” (Tie-Third place — BA/MD Students)

Keliang Xiao, MS 4, “Pulmonary Function after Laparoscopic Anti-Reflux Surgery in Patients with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis”

Laalasa Varanasi, MS 5, “Relationship Between Asthma and IgG Response to Helicobacter pylori”