School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine
NIH awards Berkowitz lab $1 million to improve retinal disease treatment efficacy using novel imaging tool in vivo
In Headlines on May 5, 2016
Bruce Berkowitz, Ph.D.

Bruce Berkowitz, Ph.D.

Supported by a new $1 million, four-year grant from the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health, scientist Bruce Berkowitz, Ph.D., a professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, is launching a series of experiments testing his lab’s novel imaging technique for earlier and more effective treatment of retinal disease.

Dr. Berkowitz is the principal investigator of the project “Novel imaging of rod oxidative stress in retinal disease and treatment in vivo.”

The lab’s goal is to prevent vision loss and blindness due to diabetic retinopathy using functional magnetic resonance imaging methods to detect the effectiveness of a treatment earlier in the course of the disease.

His research team designed a novel non-invasive imaging diagnostic, that, when announced in 2015, was expected to clinically impact untreatable neurodegenerative diseases of the retina, as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. The newly funded project brings that possibility into the present, focusing on retinitis pigmentosa, or RP.

RP is a group of inherited diseases that cause retinal degeneration. The retina lines the back wall of the eye and is responsible for capturing images. People with RP experience a gradual decline in their vision because their eye photoreceptor cells – rods and cones – die, according to the Foundation Fighting Blindness. It is typically diagnosed in adolescents and young adults, and progresses over time, with many people with RP being legally blind by 40 years old.

“The results of the proposed experiments will directly and unambiguously measure rod oxidative stress burden in incipient RP in vivo, and this will enable earlier evaluation of disease progression and antioxidant treatment efficacy than is currently possible,” Dr. Berkowitz said.

Decades of research on post-mortem tissue suggest a pathogenic role of rod cell oxidative stress in blinding disorders like RP. “Confirming this hypothesis in vivo, and demonstrating clinical potential in experimental models, requires the currently unrealized ability to noninvasively measure rod cell oxidative stress using endogenous contrast mechanisms in vivo,” Dr. Berkowitz.

In a disease linked with rod oxidative stress, rod free radical productions is greater than normal and is associated with co-localized MRI measures of rod dysfunction in vivo. They hypothesize that measuring both rod free radical production and several essential rod functions in vivo provides an index of the severity of rod oxidative stress over time in RP, which will be predictive of disease progression, and will allow assessment of the efficacy of antioxidant therapy on the disease outcome.

The research is supported by grant R01-EY026584-01.
WSU residents take top honors at Michigan Radiological Oncology meeting
In Headlines on May 5, 2016
Arun Paul, M.D., Ph.D.

Arun Paul, M.D., Ph.D.

Mark Zaki, M.D. ’12

Mark Zaki, M.D. ’12

Wayne State University School of Medicine Radiation Oncology resident physicians Arun Paul, M.D., Ph.D., and Mark Zaki, M.D. ’12, took two of the top three awards at the Michigan Radiological Society’s annual Radiation Oncology Resident Meeting held April 21 in Plymouth, Mich.

The meeting included 10 abstract presentations from residents affiliated with the WSU School of Medicine and Detroit Medical Center, Henry Ford Health System, the University of Michigan and Beaumont Health.

“Dr. Zaki and Dr. Paul have been very hardworking residents in the Radiation Oncology department and are well-liked by the staff,” said Steve Miller, M.D., the residency’s program director and an assistant professor in the Department of Oncology’s Division of Radiation Oncology. “They have both had several poster presentations and several articles published that they have written. We are all very proud of their accomplishments.”

Dr. Paul was awarded second place for his oral presentation of “Dosimetric Evaluation of Point A and Volume Based HDR Plans: A Single Institution study on Adaptive Brachytherapy Planning for Cervical Cancer.” He is mentored by Dr. Miller.

“We studied the role of CT-mediated adaptive radiation treatment planning for treating cervical cancer patients with brachytherapy to minimize doses to organs at risk, such as rectum and bladder, and therefore improve the morbidity, as opposed to the historical approach of treating patients to an anatomic point,” Dr. Paul said, a native of India who earned his M.D. and Ph.D. from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in Chicago.

“I was happy to represent the Detroit Medical Center and Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center and the outstanding mentoring we received from our faculty,” he said.

Dr. Zaki, chief resident, received third place for “Rates of Clinical Radiation Pneumonitis Following Taxane-Based versus Non-Taxane Based Chemoradiotherapy for Locally Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.”

“A significant side effect of chemotherapy and radiation treatments for non-small cell lung cancer is radiation pneumonitis, which is a clinical syndrome consisting of shortness of breath, cough and fever. It is thought that taxane-based chemotherapy can increase the risk of this side effect,” Dr. Zaki said. “In our project we explored how different chemotherapy regimens, given with radiation, contribute to the radiation pneumonitis risk.”

They found no increased risk when taxanes were given, but did note an increased risk with higher doses of radiotherapy to the lung. Elderly patients and non-smokers were also more likely to suffer from pneumonitis. The results can help clinicians estimate the risk of pneumonitis in their patients.

“I would like to thank the Michigan Radiological Society for choosing me as one of the winners of the resident research meeting. It was such an honor to be recognized,” Dr. Zaki said. “I am grateful to all my co-investigators who helped me with this research project, particularly my mentor, Peter Paximadis, M.D.”

Medical students shine at 2016 recognition program
In Headlines on April 29, 2016

Wayne State University School of Medicine medical students gathered with faculty, family and friends in WSU’s McGregor Memorial Conference Center in Detroit April 21 to celebrate the outstanding achievements of the Classes of 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

The annual Medical Student Recognition Program honors students with awards based on academic and clinical success, community service and leadership.

School of Medicine Dean Jack D. Sobel, M.D., Vice Dean of Medical Education Richard Baker, M.D., and Medical Alumni Association President Lawrence Blaty, M.D. ’86, spoke at the event, which was emceed by Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Career Development Lisa MacLean, M.D.

The following honors were announced:

The Golden Apple Awards: Student recipients – Alexander Wester and Abigail Entz; Faculty recipient – Christopher Steffes, M.D.; Staff recipient – Ronald Spalding

Mort Harris Endowed Scholarship: Philip Jackson, Adam Milam and Allison Springstead

Board of Visitors Annual Scholarship Award: Jacob VanderStarre

Michigan Association of Physicians from India Annual Award: Kamya Sankar

Janet M. Glasgow Memorial Achievement Citation: Ashley Anderson, Kayla Berigan, Jennifer Brady, Jacqueline Brand, Jessica Campf, Lauren Corona, Kimberly Coughlin, Catherine Edgell, Jamie Everett, Amanda Goldstone, Hannah Harmsen, Clara Hildebrandt, Taryn Huizenga, Marcella Kaddoura, Jennie Meier, Lea Monday, Melissa Neuman, Shannon Neville, Regina O’Brien, Kate Petty, Molly Roseland, Kamya Sankar, Kelsey Serfozo, Erin Shea, Carlen Smith, Sarah Stern, Monika Toton, Marlisa Wolf and Hanhan Zhang

Dorothy and Charles Pokriefka Scholarship: Aharon Feldman

Raymond R. Margherio, M.D. Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund: Patrick Nolan

Detroit Receiving Hospital Medical Staff Senior Award: Charles Frank

2016 Dean’s Distinguished Leadership Awards: Sarah Atkinson, Lauren Corona, Cecily Dubusker, Clara Hildebrandt, Phillip Kucab, Adam Milam, Patrick Nolan, Laura Ruble, Abdala Sirajeldin and Julie Weber Childers

Distinction in Biomedical Research Awards: Sarah Atkinson, David Broome, Jeena Chorath, Lauren Corona, Taneev Escamilla, David Hoogstra, Taryn Huizenga, Pranav Jagtap, Timothy Jelsema, Matthew LaVelle, Adam Milam, Craig Tschautscher, Brandon Twardy and Michael Twiner

Departmental Awards:


Dr. Morris S. Brent Senior Medical Student Award: Brandon Jarvis


Senior Award in Dermatology: Taryn Huizenga

Emergency Medicine

Society for Academic Emergency Medicine 2016 Excellence in Emergency Medicine Award: Craig Tschautscher

John Skjaerlund M.D. Endowed Fellowship: Douglas Stayer

Family Medicine

The George Mogill, M.D. Endowed Award for Family Medicine: Amrit Basi, Kayla Berigan, Melissa Jennings, Christopher LaJeunesse, Melissa Neuman, Carlen Smith, Phillip So and Amanda Truer

Frederick Maynard, M.D., and Mrs. Ruth Maynard Endowed Scholarship: Christopher LaJeunesse and Mariam Saleh

Dale L. Williams, M.D. Endowed Award in Family Medicine: Amanda Truer

Bruce Carl Endowed Scholarship in Family Medicine: Joshua Frederick

Medical Students Specializing in Family Medicine Award: Colleen Harkreader

John R. Manis, M.D. and Arpie Manis Endowed Scholarship: Taneev Escamilla

2016 Excellence in Public Health Award: Taneev Escamilla

Internal Medicine

Gordon B. Myers Memorial Award: Kamya Sankar

Dr. A. Ashley Rousuck Award in Internal Medicine: Kathryn Rice

Emanual Graff Endowed Memorial Award: Graham McGee

Oliver J. Marcotte, M.D., Endowed Humanitarian Award: Lea Monday

Internal Medicine/Pediatrics

Internal Medicine/Pediatrics Student Scholar of the Year Award: Curtis Hanba, Jane Philip, Kathryn Rice and Peter Xie


American Academy of Neurology Medical Prize for Excellence in Neurology: Jessica Johns


Karl G. Pinckard Scholarship: Joseph Domino

Obstetrics and Gynecology

David S. Diamond Memorial Award: Ruchi Amin


Dong H. Shin Outstanding Ophthalmology Research Award: Aws Hasan, Daniel Malach, Brett Malbin and Abdala Sirajeldin

Robert C. Fraser, M.D. Endowed Scholarship: Class of 2016, Tahsin Khundkar, Abdala Sirajeldin, Daniel Malach; Class of 2017, Shruti Agrawal, Kevin Lodewyk, Michael Gemayel; Class of 2018, Emily Armstrong, Xiaofan Mi, Jordan Huang, Nilesh Raval, Fareea Khaliq, Bruce Rottmann, Jamie Leong; Class of 2019, Joshua Barbosa, Ankur Patel, Hai Hoang, Janine Preble, Jenny Jan, Mark Pressprich, Nikita Khetarpal, Victoria Sattarova, Frank Mei

Orthopaedic Surgery

Palmer Award in Orthopaedic Surgery: Aws Hammad and Toufic Jildeh


The Robert Rutzky Award: Molly Roseland

The Saul Brown Award: Hannah Harmsen

The Frank B. Walker, M.D., Endowed Memorial Prize in Pathology: Tom Hu


The Anna Rutzky Memorial Award: Marissa Coury

The Jeffrey Farkas Memorial Award: Kathryn Rice

The Cheryl Hack, M.D., Pediatric Award: David Hoogstra

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

The Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Student Achievement Award: Joshua Startup


The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences Achievement Award: Kara Hunter and Sarah Bommarito


Zimmerman Endowed Radiology Fellowship: Payam Lahiji


Junior Scholarship Award in Surgery: Jennie Meier

Charles L. Huang, M.D. Award: Benjamin Johnson

John E. Hauser M.D. Endowed Scholarship: Jane Cheng


Roger V. Walker Sr. Memorial Scholarship: Lauren Corona

Time selects Flint pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha for '100 Most Influential' list
In Headlines on April 29, 2016
Mona Hanna-Attisha, M.D., M.P.H., speaks about the Flint water crisis at a seminar held March 7 in Scott Hall.

Mona Hanna-Attisha, M.D., M.P.H., speaks about the Flint water crisis at a seminar held March 7 in Scott Hall.

Time magazine has named pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.P., to its 100 Most Influential People list, which is included in the May 2, 2016 issue.

In 2015, the Wayne State University School of Medicine residency graduate and former faculty member discovered the elevated lead levels in the blood of children living in the city of Flint. Dr. Hanna-Attisha, is director of the Hurley Children’s Hospital Public Health Initiative.

She is listed in the “Pioneers” category alongside Virginia Tech Professor of Civil and Environmental Professor Mark Edwards, who blew the whistle on lead in the water that year.

Dr. Hanna-Attisha completed her Wayne State University residency at the Detroit Medical Center Children’s Hospital of Michigan, serving as chief resident in 2006, and was an attending physician with the Department of Pediatrics’ Division of Ambulatory Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine before joining Flint’s Hurley Medical Center in 2011.

The Time list features a variety of people from various industries, including politics, film and television, music, science, visual art and more.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, one of the media’s most visible and outspoken critics of the government’s handling of the Flint water crisis, wrote Time’s article about the duo.

“Up against official ignorance and indifference, Edwards and Hanna-Attisha were right, they were brave, and they were insistent,” Maddow wrote. “Flint is still a crime scene, but these two caring, tough researchers are the detectives who cracked the case.

Read the full article here.
NIH awards Jin lab $1.5 million to target, treat heart failure
In Headlines on April 29, 2016
Jian-Ping Jin, M.D., Ph.D.

Jian-Ping Jin, M.D., Ph.D.

Jian-Ping Jin, M.D., Ph.D., a professor and the William D. Traitel Endowed Chair of Physiology, will lead a study on a regulatory protein in heart muscle using a new $1.57 million, four-year grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Jin is the principal investigator of the project “Regulation of Troponin I in Cardiac Adaptation and Failure.”

Contraction of the cardiac muscle is the basis of heart function, and cardiac troponin I is a key regulatory protein in cardiac muscle.

The Jin lab researches the regulation and function of myofilament and cytoskeleton proteins, using heart failure, myopathy and cell motility models.

“We are excited because this added support permits us to explore an exciting new area of heart failure research with a high translational potential,” Dr. Jin said.

The team recently discovered that the N-terminal extension of cardiac troponin I can be removed by restrictive proteolysis in a normal heart and up-regulated in cardiac adaptation to hemodynamic stresses and heart failure. The N-terminal truncated cardiac troponin I facilitates the filling of heart chambers to increase cardiac output, suggesting an attractive new target for the treatment of heart failure, especially diastolic heart failure -- a major health challenge with no effective treatment, Dr. Jin said.

“Our research project combines the complementary expertise of several research laboratories to study the function and production of N-terminal truncated cardiac troponin I for the ultimate goal of translating this novel molecular mechanism into the development of a new treatment for diastolic heart failure,” he said.

Heart failure is the most common cause of morbidity and mortality of heart diseases. Approximately 5 million people in the United States have it, with nearly 300,000 annual deaths, Dr. Jin said. More than 500,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.

“Despite continuing improvement in the treatment of heart diseases, heart failure remains a major medical challenge and an economical burden on health care. More effective treatments are urgently needed,” he said.

The grant, R01-HL127691, is one of four the National Institutes of Health has awarded to faculty in the Department of Physiology for 2016 to date.

Dr. Jin also is the principal of another NIH R01 grant on troponin mutations in nemaline myopathy; principal investigator and project director of the Detroit Cardiovascular Training Program, a NIH T32 training grant; and co-principal investigator of an NIH multi-PI R21 project on novel diagnosis of C. difficile infections.
Wayne State professors receive $1.1 M grant to study sickle cell disease
In Headlines on April 25, 2016
E. Mark Haacke, Ph.D.

E. Mark Haacke, Ph.D.

Paul Swerdlow, M.D.

Paul Swerdlow, M.D.

With the help of a $1.1 million grant from Biogen Idec MA Inc., two Wayne State University professors hope to make great strides in understanding sickle cell disease.

The grant, “A study of noninvasive methodologies to measure blood flow and oxygenation as potential biomarkers in adult sickle cell disease patients,” aims to better understand perfusion and blood flow issues in the disease using a variety of imaging methods, including Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

The project will be led by Paul Swerdlow, M.D., professor of Oncology, Medicine and Pediatrics, and E. Mark Haacke, Ph.D., professor of Radiology, in Wayne State’s School of Medicine. Dr. Swerdlow specializes in hematology and sickle cell disease, and previously chaired the National Institutes of Health’s Sickle Cell Advisory Committee. Dr. Haacke is known for the development and implementation of advanced MRI techniques, specifically in developing susceptibility weighted imaging and MR angiography, both of which are used extensively to study neurovascular diseases.

More than 3 million people have sickle cell disease, and an additional 43 million are carriers of the sickle-cell trait. The oxygen-carrying protein hemoglobin, found in red blood cells, contorts into a sickle shape, causing cells to die early, leaving a shortage of healthy red blood cells, ultimately blocking blood flow and leading to pain, anemia, bacterial infections and stroke.

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