School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine
Black Medical Association graduation banquet returns May 9 after four-year hiatus
In Headlines on April 24, 2015
The graduation banquet will honor 19 Class of 2015 graduates.

The graduation banquet will honor 19 Class of 2015 graduates.

The Wayne State University School of Medicine’s Black Medical Association Graduation Banquet, a fundraiser celebrating the student organization and its graduating medical students, will return next month after a four-year hiatus.

The banquet will be held at 6:30 p.m. May 9 at the Detroit Yacht Club, 1 Riverbank Drive, Detroit.

Speakers will include WSU President M. Roy Wilson, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Meds-Peds Program Director Eric Ayers, M.D. ’89, and Anita Moncrease, M.D. ’84.

“Congratulations to these wonderful students on a job well done. We are so proud of all of our Class of 2015 graduates and know they will provide outstanding health care to their future patients,” said Vice Dean for Medical Education Maryjean Schenk, M.D., M.P.H., M.S.

Founded in 1969, the Black Medical Association is the local affiliate of the Student National Medical Association. The BMA is one of the oldest and most active student organizations at the School of Medicine, and supports the development of academic excellence and professionalism among African-American and minority students, and encourages communication between the school's student organizations and the student body. The BMA participates in a variety of outreach programs aimed at youth development, including the annual “Reach Out to Youth” event for urban schoolchildren interested in medical careers.

“The banquet is an opportunity for the students to celebrate their accomplishments and obtaining their goal of becoming a physician, and to say goodbye to people they have been with almost daily for the past four years,” Dr. Moncrease said. “The banquet also serves as a fundraiser for the Black Medical Association Scholarship (Endowment) Fund, which was started by the Wayne State University School of Medicine BMA Class of 1977 as a way to leave a gift to BMA students coming along behind them. The BMA alumni are very excited to see the seniors instituting this function again. The banquet gives the alumni the opportunity to interact with the students, other alumni and the university again.”

The banquet was revived after Class of 1989 alumnus John Carethers, M.D., mentioned the traditional event during the BMA’s Black Men in Medicine session last year. The 34th banquet, the BMA’s last before the hiatus, was held in 2010.

“I think the banquet and other functions of the alumni and the BMA, to support and celebrate success now and for the next generation, is paramount. This is truly exciting,” Dr. Carethers said.

Tickets are $65 per person and can be purchased via PayPal here.

Full-page program advertisements can be purchased here. The program book will be distributed to faculty, staff, students, family members, private practitioners, community leaders and the faith-based community. The program book will also be available on the BMA website.

For more information on tickets and advertising in the program booklet, contact the Class of 2016’s Adam Milam at

The event will recognize the following BMA Class of 2015 members: Ashley Berry, Lakisha Burton Willis, Erica Call, Justin Carroll, Melissa Chamberlain, Nejlah Clark, Shamaya Creagh, Aida Girma, Osamuedemen Iyoha, Jennifer McCaskill, Randall McPherson, Sameen Farooq, Joi Moore, Eniye Odigie, Lauren Robinson, Aaron Stubbs, Etsegenet Tizazu, Lauren Uroda and Delon Wilson.

“I think this banquet is important because it allows the graduating BMA members to celebrate their time together at the school of medicine. Family, friends, students and faculty members can highlight some of the memories they have with students. This event will encourage underclassmen to continue to work hard to achieve their goal at becoming a successful physician,” said Lauren Robinson, who served as BMA president during the 2013-2014 academic year.

Researchers find no increased lung cancer risk in postmenopausal women treated with hormone therapy
In Headlines on April 24, 2015
Ann Schwartz, Ph.D., M.P.H,

Ann Schwartz, Ph.D., M.P.H,

A study led by a Wayne State University School of Medicine and Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute researcher found no increase in lung cancer risk in postmenopausal women treated with hormone therapy.

The study’s lead author, Ann Schwartz, Ph.D., M.P.H, professor of Oncology for the School of Medicine and deputy center director and executive vice president for Research and Academic Affairs at KCI, said results from the Women's Health Initiative clinical trials demonstrated no increase in the risk of lung cancer in postmenopausal women treated with hormone therapy. The findings were released in “Hormone use, reproductive history and risk of lung cancer: The Women’s Health Initiative Studies,” published this month in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, the official publication of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer.

The research team conducted a joint analysis of the WHI observational study data and clinical trials data involving the reproductive history, oral contraceptive use and postmenopausal hormone therapy in 160,855 women. For all lung cancers, women with previous use of estrogen plus progestin of less than five years were found to be at reduced risk of lung cancer.

“Indirect measures of estrogen exposure to lung tissue, as used in this study, provide only weak evidence for an association between reproductive history or hormone therapy use and risk of lung cancer,” the researchers wrote.

The conclusions found that this large, prospective study of lung cancer in women did not find strong associations with specific reproductive variables and lung cancer risk, and provided only weak support for a role of hormone use in the development of lung cancer. The team said questions remain about estrogen and that studies focusing on hormone use will not easily answer those questions about lung cancer development.

“The interplay between cigarette smoking, estrogen, genetic susceptibility and lung cancer is complex, and continued study is necessary to tease apart these relationships,” Dr. Schwartz said.

Her co-authors include Michele Cote, Ph.D., M.P.H. and Michael Simon, M.D., M.P.H., members of the Population Studies and Disparities Research Program at KCI and the Department of Oncology at the WSU School of Medicine, and Judith Abrams, Ph.D., professor of Oncology at both entities, and Robert Sokol, M.D., director of the C.S. Mott Center for Human Growth and Development and professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology for the School of Medicine.

The authors collaborated with researchers from St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital in Pontiac, Mich.; the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle; Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute; the University of California; Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School; the University of Miami; Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Stanford University School of Medicine; and the University of Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions.

DMC's Graduate Medical Education Research Day rewards medical student projects
In Headlines on April 24, 2015
Medical student Mariam Diskina and Detroit Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Joseph Mullany.

Medical student Mariam Diskina and Detroit Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Joseph Mullany.

Third-year medical student Gregory Messenger presented a psoriasis project at the DMCís annual poster competition.

Third-year medical student Gregory Messenger presented a psoriasis project at the DMCís annual poster competition.

Two Wayne State University School of Medicine students were recognized by the Detroit Medical Center as winners of the fourth annual Quality Education and Safe Systems Training Graduate Medical Education Research Day Poster Competition.

The event, held April 15 at the University Health Center in Detroit, showcased resident and student research projects that tackled the topics of patient safety and quality improvement in clinical settings.

The WSU medical student winners were the Class of 2017’s Mariam Diskina, who received second place, and the Class of 2016’s Gregory Messenger, who received third place. Both students were mentored by WSU School of Medicine faculty.

Diskina’s project, “Impact of volunteering with Street Medicine Detroit on medical students’ attitudes toward homeless individuals,” used a survey to evaluate the student-run organization’s unique learning environment of mobile medical clinics and homeless shelters.

“One of our goals is to positively impact the attitudes of medical students, to reduce the stigmatization and marginalization that homeless individuals often encounter from health care providers,” Diskina said. “We found that at baseline, students who later volunteered were more positive, interested and confident than students who did not volunteer, suggesting that they are motivated to seek out such experiences. After volunteering, attitudes and interest remained high but did not increase substantially. Volunteering was correlated with increased confidence.​”

She was mentored by Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences Assistant Professor Victor Ajluni, M.D., and Professor Cynthia Arfken, Ph.D., and was surprised and honored by the award.

“I think Street Medicine provides such an important service in the community, and it really is a team effort between students, our community partners and other supporters. It is encouraging to get such positive feedback on the work we've done so far,” Diskina said. “Based on discussions with participants, we had expected to see improvement. Volunteers describe SMD as an eye-opening experience that positively impacts their understanding of the challenges that individuals experiencing homelessness face, as well as teaching them how to interact with vulnerable patients. In order to capture this, we would like to design a new survey.”

Messenger was honored for “Antioxidants and lifestyle modification used as treatment for psoriasis benefits patients while decreasing health care costs,” which looks at treating the inflammatory skin disease that causes scaly plaque.

“The goal of our therapy is to reduce the inflammation seen in psoriasis in a more natural and patient-friendly way,” Messenger said. “This therapy has seen great success, especially in the psoriasis patients who are overweight and obese. The cool thing about this treatment is that not only have patients with psoriasis gotten better, but there are no side effects, it is cost effective to both patients and health institutions, and patients improve their overall general well-being. Many patients have gone through years of dealing with their psoriasis and have tried treatment after treatment without any prevail. For some, our treatment therapy has been the answer they have been waiting for.”

He especially appreciates that the event helped him spread the word about the treatment. “I met one person who said she is going to join our study and tell her two friends who also have psoriasis about our treatment. She was excited and said she would be willing to try anything at this point. To me, that is what it’s all about and why I decided to go into medicine – helping patients get better so they can enjoy and live their lives to the fullest. That is better than any certificate, reward or recognition.”

Messenger was mentored by Assistant Professor of Dermatology Chen Young, Ph.D., and dermatologist Leonard Savoy, M.D.

Dr. Mathur will speak on multiple career opportunities for biomedical researchers at ARVO
In Headlines on April 24, 2015
Ambika Mathur, Ph.D.

Ambika Mathur, Ph.D.

Ashok Kumar, Ph.D.

Ashok Kumar, Ph.D.

Ambika Mathur, Ph.D., professor of Pediatrics for the Wayne State University School of Medicine and dean of the WSU Graduate School, has been invited to speak at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the world’s largest and most respected eye and vision research organization.

“Dr. Mathur will speak at the career forum organized by the Members-in-Training Committee of the ARVO,” said Ashok Kumar, Ph.D., assistant professor of WSU Ophthalmology and of Anatomy/Cell Biology. Dr. Kumar is a member of the MIT Committee and the organizer of the workshop. Members-in-training are ARVO members who are students and/or trainees in the early stages of their career.

ARVO has nearly 12,000 members from more than 75 countries. The annual meeting will take place May 3-7 in Denver, Colo.

“The committee monitors the issues facing members-in-training and recommends ways for ARVO to respond. Our goals are to enhance the experience of MITs at ARVO and to help provide avenues for them to learn about ways in which they can build successful careers in ophthalmology and vision research,” Dr. Kumar said. “This includes targeted events and workshops at the annual meeting, opportunities for networking with colleagues, and information about funding and professional development.

“The career forum is a very popular event among the MITs, and every year we invite both ARVO and non-ARVO members to speak on different topics relevant to career development,” Dr. Kumar added. “Dr. Mathur’s nomination as a potential speaker was unanimously approved by the committee as we felt that she will bring different perspective to our trainees when choosing their career paths. I had several opportunities to work with Dr. Mathur in organizing workshops and symposiums for WSU trainees and postdocs when she was the director of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. I really appreciate that Dr. Mathur accepted our invitation despite her busy schedule, especially at the end of the academic year.”

“I’m very pleased to have this opportunity to share my ideas of diversifying the biomedical research workforce among vision researchers, as well as providing multiple career opportunities for researchers both in and beyond academia,” Dr. Mathur said. “I am grateful to the MIT Committee and Dr. Kumar for extending the invitation. I very much look forward to attending the ARVO.”

Dr. Mathur secured a five-year, $1.8 million grant as part of the National Institutes of Health’s Broadening Experience in Scientific Training, or BEST, awards. The grant will create training programs to prepare biomedical pre- and postdoctoral trainees for careers outside of traditional tenure-track, faculty positions. The goal of WSU’s BEST program is to broaden the research scientific careers of graduate students to include industry, government and entrepreneurial pursuits.

Most research programs have traditionally focused on preparing students for postdoctoral training and careers in academia. National trends, however, indicate that less than 25 percent of doctoral students obtain tenure-track faculty positions. The BEST program seeks to place students in diverse careers in addition to academia, and to educate the biomedical community that such diverse careers are viewed as desirable and successful outcomes of doctoral research training.

The BEST grant is one of only 10 awarded nationwide.

Dr. Mathur also received the NIH Director’s Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity Award. She is the only principal investigator to hold both the BUILD and the BEST grants in the country.

“I will be sharing our strategies and early outcomes of the BEST and BUILD grants at ARVO,” she said.

The $21.2 million Research Enhancement for Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity program — known as REBUILD Detroit —aims to create a program that will encourage more undergraduate students from underrepresented and economically disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue careers in biomedical research. The program involves a consortium that includes Marygrove College, University of Detroit Mercy and Wayne County Community College District.

Dr. Berman named interim chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology
In Headlines on April 24, 2015
Jay Berman, M.D.

Jay Berman, M.D.

Associate Professor Jay Berman, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., was named interim chair of the Wayne State University School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dean Jack D. Sobel, M.D., made the announcement April 24, and said the appointment takes effect immediately.

A 1977 graduate of the WSU School of Medicine, Dr. Berman completed a residency and internship in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Sinai Hospital of Detroit. He became a member of the faculty as a clinical instructor in 1983, was appointed assistant professor in 2001 and associate professor in 2009.

Dr. Berman serves as director of the WSU Division of Gynecology, chief of Gynecology Services for Hutzel Women’s Hospital, associate chief medical officer for Clinical Operations and medical director of Obstetrics and Gynecology for the Wayne State University Physician Group, and medical director of the Kenneth J. Ryan Family Planning Residency Training Program at the School of Medicine.

A board-certified gynecologist, Dr. Berman has been in clinical practice for 33 years. He has a special interest in the management of abnormal uterine bleeding, minimally invasive surgery, endometrial ablation, treatment of fibroids and alternatives to hysterectomy.

He was the principal investigator on the new Acessa procedure for uterine fibroids and performed the first commercial Acessa case in the United States after Food and Drug Administration approval, at the Berry Surgery Center in Farmington Hills, an outpatient facility affiliated with the Detroit Medical Center’s Sinai-Grace Hospital.

He has won the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics Excellence In Teaching Award (2008), the Blue Care Network of Michigan Patient Satisfaction Award - Excellence in Specialty Care (2004), the Milton H. Goldrath, M.D., Award for Excellence in Teaching Hydrothermal Ablation from BEI Medical Systems Inc. (2002), the Sinai Hospital of Detroit Alumni Association Award for Resident Contributing Most to House Staff Education (1981) and the Morris E. Bachman Award for Resident of the Year in Obstetrics and Gynecology from Sinai Hospital of Detroit (1981).

Michigan AHEC launches Northern Lower Regional Center
In Headlines on April 23, 2015
Present at the contract signing for MI-AHECís fifth regional center are, from left, Darrell Milner, president, MidMichigan Community Health Services; Maryjean Schenk, M.D., M.P.H., M.S., dean of Medical Education, Wayne State University School of Medicine; Ramona Benkert, Ph.D., A.N.P., associate dean for Academic and Clinical Affairs of the Wayne State University College of Nursing and co-principal investigator of the Michigan AHEC program; Diane Nielsen, administrative assistant, MidMichigan Community Health Services; James Raschke, executive director, MidMichigan Community Health Services; and Wanda Gibson-Scipio, Ph.D., co-program director, Michigan AHEC.

Present at the contract signing for MI-AHECís fifth regional center are, from left, Darrell Milner, president, MidMichigan Community Health Services; Maryjean Schenk, M.D., M.P.H., M.S., dean of Medical Education, Wayne State University School of Medicine; Ramona Benkert, Ph.D., A.N.P., associate dean for Academic and Clinical Affairs of the Wayne State University College of Nursing and co-principal investigator of the Michigan AHEC program; Diane Nielsen, administrative assistant, MidMichigan Community Health Services; James Raschke, executive director, MidMichigan Community Health Services; and Wanda Gibson-Scipio, Ph.D., co-program director, Michigan AHEC.

The Michigan Area Health Education Center today announced the launch of its Northern Lower Regional Center. Located in Houghton Lake, Mich., the center will be responsible for implementing AHEC goals in Alcona, Alpena, Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Crawford, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Iosco, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Manistee, Missaukee, Montmorency, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Otsego, Presque Isle, Roscommon and Wexford counties.

Established by Wayne State University in 2010, Michigan AHEC seeks to enhance access to quality health care, particularly primary and preventive care, by improving the supply and distribution of health care professionals through community and educational partnerships. Through a statewide network of regional centers, Michigan AHEC prepares underrepresented and disadvantaged youth for health care careers, promotes clinical training opportunities for students in shortage areas and provides continuing education programs for health professionals. Congress created the national AHEC program in 1971.

“Michigan AHEC is excited about extending our reach and resources to northern lower Michigan,” said Ramona Benkert, Ph.D., A.N.P., B.C., F.A.A.N.P., associate dean for Academic and Clinical Affairs of the Wayne State University College of Nursing and co-principal investigator of Michigan AHEC. “The northern lower region of Michigan has a severe shortage of primary care and other health professionals. We are pleased that Mid-Michigan Community Health Services has joined the Michigan AHEC team and look forward to working with them and the community to identify and address northern Michigan’s health care workforce needs.”

Mid-Michigan Community Health Care Services is a federally qualified health center and is the host partner for the Northern Lower Regional Center. FQHCs serve underserved areas or population, provide comprehensive services and have a governing board of directors.

“The northern regions of our great state are underserved areas in terms of access to health care,” Benkert said. “Mid-Michigan Community Health Services is acutely aware of this need as a FQHC and we are pleased that they will be joining us in this effort.”

The center is the fifth of Michigan AHEC’s five regional centers. The Southeast Regional Center, established in 2011, is located in Detroit and hosted by the Greater Detroit Area Health Council. Opened in 2012, the Mid-Central Regional Center is hosted by Central Michigan University. The Western Regional Center, launched in 2013 and located in Grand Rapids, is hosted by Western Michigan University. The Upper Peninsula Regional Center, located in Marquette, was launched in 2014 and is hosted by Northern Michigan University.

Michigan AHEC is funded by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration and Wayne State University. Academic partners include Wayne State University’s College of Nursing, School of Medicine, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and School of Social Work; the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry; Central Michigan University; Western Michigan University; and Northern Michigan University.

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