The School of Medicine has announced Tyler Smith, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of pediatrics, as the new Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion beginning April 6, 2020. She is the first physician to hold this role.
Smith takes over for Nate Thomas, Ph.D., who served in that role from December 2017 to March 2020. She joined the Children’s Mercy Department of Pediatrics and UMKC faculty in February, 2018. In addition to her role as associate dean, she will continue to serve at Children’s Mercy as the General Academic Pediatrics Fellowship program director.
A graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Smith completed her pediatric residency at the University of Maryland Medical System in 2008.
Smith completed her M.P.H. and fellowship in general academic pediatrics at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and School of Medicine. She was recognized as mentor of the year by Hampton University, where she completed her undergraduate work.
A member of the National Medical Association Editorial Board, Smith is nationally known for her work in medical education, mentorship, diversity, health care disparities and physician wellness.
In August 2019, she was appointed by the Governor of Kansas to the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund. The initiative assists children and families in Kansas by developing and implementing a service delivery system.
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.”
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.”
“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.”
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.
The 2020 issue the UMKC School of Medicine publication, Human Factor, is now available online. Human Factor celebrates the connection between art, humanities and the practice of medicine.
The publication showcases the creativity, imagination and talent of our students, alumni, residents, faculty and staff. All of the printed words and images featured in this publication make the important link between an appreciation of art and compassionate patient care — illustrating the significant role of medical humanities.
This year’s issue features poetry, short stories, photos, drawings and and other original artwork including the cover image created by fifth-year medical student Rachana Kombathula.
Watch for a call for submissions to the 2021 edition of the Human Factor early next next fall.
Students, residents and faculty from the UMKC and University of Kansas schools of medicine are invited to the final event in a series of salons on arts and medicine.
The event will take place from 4-6 p.m. on March 4 at Unity Temple on the Plaza. Led by Paul Rudy, DMA, the session, “Listen! Yes, Really Listen,” offers an experience of the impact sound and vibration has on our ability to really listen to each other.
The series of salons are a collaborative effort spearheaded by UMKC faculty members Stuart Munro, M.D., and Jennifer Martin, Ph.D., and Bradley Barth, M.D., at the KU medical school. It is funded by a grant from “Frontiers of Arts and Medicine.”
The overarching theme is “What If: The Healing of Art and Medical Humanities.” The events are open to art and medicine students, residents and faculty from both institutions to foster dialogue between disciplines.
The first salon was a new play at The Living Room Theatre called “DNR” that explored the implications of “Do Not Resuscitate.” The second featured an evening of films, hors d’oeuvres and a lively discussion of how medicine has impacted art in films. Others included “Sharing Your Stories,” led by poet laureate of Kansas Huscar Medina, and “Music in Medicine: How Music Adds Meaning to your Lives,” led by Dr. Stuart Munro and Dr. Jennifer Martin.
The UMKC School of Medicine has announced that it will welcome Nihar Nayak, M.D., as a tenured professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology to lead the UMKC Perinatal Institute beginning April 1, 2020.
Nayak is currently a tenured professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and director of the Reproductive Sciences Graduate Program at the Wayne State University School of Medicine. Prior to joining WSU, he was an associate professor and director of translational research in maternal fetal medicine for nine years in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Stanford University. Additionally, he served as a tenured assistant professor for nine years in a school of veterinary medicine in India and as a research faculty at the Oregon Health and Science University.
A translational researcher in the field of pregnancy and women’s health, he has received national and international recognition. His research addresses the understanding of the defects in implantation and early placental development that result in pregnancy complications, mostly manifested in later stages of pregnancy.
It is expected that his research will provide specific guidance for the development of diagnostics and targeted therapies for a range of pregnancy disorders.
In another upcoming leadership transition, Michael Artman, M.D., noted pediatric cardiologist, professor, and Joyce C. Hall Endowed Chair in Pediatrics and chair, Department of Pediatrics, has announced his retirement effective, April 2020. The School of Medicine announced that it will welcome Mary Ann Queen, M.D., as the interim Chair.
Queen currently serves as division director of pediatric hospital medicine, one of the first and largest hospitalist programs in the country. She completed her pediatrics residency and a chief resident year at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and has been a faculty member there her entire career. A professor of pediatrics, she will continue in her role as the division director and as the associate chair of Inpatient Services & Faculty Engagement for the Department of Pediatrics.
“Dr. Queen is a well-respected clinician and educator and we look forward to welcoming her as academic chair in pediatrics,” said School of Medicine Interim Dean Mary Ann Jackson, M.D.
Three sixth-year medical students from the School of Medicine this past fall were the first to participate in a unique elective experience bringing together the medical school and a leading baby food manufacturer.
The Infant and Toddler Nutrition Experience is a collaboration between UMKC and Nestle Nutrition North America, which produces Gerber baby foods and formulas.
Emily Haury, M.D., docent and chair of the School of Medicine Docent Council, is one of the faculty members overseeing the course elective. She said one goal of the program is to expose students to the corporate world of health care. It also offers a glimpse of how corporations work with the medical field to produce the best products for their customers.
“In addition to gaining clinical knowledge and studying evidence-based guidelines, the students also gained practical knowledge and resources that they can use to counsel families about nutrition as they continue their training in pediatrics,” Haury said.
Madeline Harris, Valerie Hummel and Brandon Trandai began the class with reading assignments and participating in small group discussions on basic and clinical sciences related to infant and toddler nutrition.
After completing the preliminary work, the students spent 10 days at the Nestle facilities in Michigan and the company’s headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. Their travel took in tours of a baby food factory, a farm and a consumer testing center. They also attended sessions with marketing, human resources and regulatory staff to learn about the business side of the industry.
“It was unique and a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Trandai said. “I was able to see another facet of pediatrics. We don’t typically focus on nutrition as much as treating illnesses and disease.”
Trandai said the experience enlightened the students about the amount of research done at Gerber and the innovation taking place to promote infant and toddler nutrition.
Hummel said, “This rotation was incredibly rewarding. I would highly recommend it for any students interested in learning more about nutrition and the intricate world of the business industry surrounding nutrition.”
The elective is overseen by Haury, Darla McCarthy, Ph.D., assistant dean for curriculum, and Joel Lim, M.D., adjunct professor pediatrics, who now serves as vice president of the Medical and Scientific Regulatory Unit at Nestle Nutrition North America. Funding for the students’ travel and lodging was provided by Nestle.
Haury said the elective will be offered again during several blocks in the 2020-21 academic year, providing students unique learning opportunity that they can share at their residency interviews.
The School of Medicine’s chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) inducted 21 new members on January 25 during a ceremony at Diastole.
This year’s GHHS induction class includes 19 students and two faculty physicians. Each was chosen for their exemplary care of patients and their humanistic approach to clinical practice. Students and faculty make nominations each year based on the individual’s excellence in clinical care, leadership, compassion and dedication to service.
Carol Stanford, M.D., Gold 5 docent and GHHS faculty sponsor, welcomed the new members and presented each with a certificate of induction during the program.
The GHHS began in the late 1990s. It now has more than 160 medical school and residency program chapters across the United States. The program is supported in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Berry Foundation.
Medical students: Suma Ancha
Paramdeep Baweja, M.D.
Jignesh Shah, M.D.
Backed by a $1.16 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, UMKC School of Medicine vision researcher Peter Koulen, Ph.D., is studying new chemical compounds to treat and prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
AMD is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss and blindness among older adults. As many as 11 million people in the United States have some form of age-related macular degeneration.
“AMD affects a significant and increasing portion of the U.S. population, with age being a predisposing factor,” said Koulen, director of basic research at UMKC’s Vision Research Center. “This research will contribute to improving health care and the prevention of blindness.”
His project, funded by the NIH National Eye Institute, will focus on the preclinical development of novel antioxidants that have the potential to be both preventative and therapeutic in nature. The compounds could prevent the deterioration and death of retina nerve cells and supporting cells. The retina cannot regenerate these cells, therefore, their loss as a result of AMD leads to irreversible damage to one’s vision.
If successful, these new antioxidants being developed by Koulen’s research would be effective in both preventing the disease from progressing and treating already existing damage.
The research focuses on dry AMD, a form of the disease that affects the majority of patients. Effective therapies are lacking for this form of the disease, in which cells are gradually lost over time resulting in blindness.
Medications developed as a result of the study could also complement existing treatment designs for the wet form of AMD that is more aggressive and affects a smaller number of patients.