School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine
Kresge associate Manish Mishra wins $5,000 for diabetic retinopathy research
In Headlines on February 9, 2016
Manish Mishra, Ph.D.

Manish Mishra, Ph.D.

A researcher with the Wayne State University School of Medicine’s Kresge Eye Institute was awarded $5,000 from the Alliance for Vision Research to explore the role of a regulatory protein in the development of diabetic retinopathy.

Research associate Manish Mishra, Ph.D., works in the lab of Renu Kowluru, Ph.D., a professor of Ophthalmology, and of the Department of Internal Medicine’s Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism.

The project, “Novel role of PARP-1 in regulation of MMMP-9 in diabetic retinopathy,” would provide new insight into the molecular mechanism of pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and occurs when blood vessels in the retina change. The vessels swell and leak fluid or close off completely. In some cases, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the retina surface. The condition can cause permanent blindness.

“The main objective of this proposal is to understand the novel role of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 in regulating matrix metalloproteinase-9, an enzyme implicated in mitochondrial damage, in the development of retinopathy. Our research is expected to identify targets for future therapeutic interventions to prevent or retard this sight-threatening disease,” Dr. Mishra said.

The project was chosen for its high relevance, direct correlation and significance in context with the development of diabetic retinopathy.

“The outcome will provide intriguing information about the mechanism of disease development and identify novel therapeutic targets,” he said.

This is Dr. Mishra’s first award from the Alliance for Vision Research, a Michigan nonprofit whose mission is to restore, preserve and improve vision by providing support to state vision researchers and organizations.

Class of 1959 alumna's annual gifts support public health students beyond the classroom
In Headlines on February 8, 2016
Public Health students attend the American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting and Exposition in Chicago last year.

Public Health students attend the American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting and Exposition in Chicago last year.

Ann Lewicki, M.D., M.P.H.

Ann Lewicki, M.D., M.P.H.

Seven students enrolled in the Wayne State University School of Medicine’s Master of Public Health degree program were given the opportunity to attend three national academic conferences in 2015, thanks to annual gifts from Class of 1959 alumna and legacy donor Ann Lewicki, M.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Lewicki’s gifts provided funds for professional memberships and conference fees for students to present at the American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting and Exposition in Chicago, the American Association for Cancer Research Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved, in Atlanta, and the National HIV Prevention Conference, also in Atlanta.

Dr. Lewicki, a retired radiologist, was already ensuring scholarly achievement in Public Health through an estate gift that will establish a generous endowment in support of the Public Health Sciences program, but she wanted to witness the impact her philanthropy could have on WSU students today. Investments like hers provide tangible benefits to students, enhance research and education, spark collaboration and promote an atmosphere of excellence.

Bhavyata Patel, M.D., is one student benefitting from Dr. Lewicki’s commitment.

“Attending the American Public Health Association meeting provided me the wonderful opportunity to broaden my knowledge and network in the public health sciences,” she said.

The Michigan native earned a medical degree from another university, but turned to the School of Medicine’s Public Health Practice concentration to fulfill her dream of serving as a health administrator and practitioner. She expects to graduate in May and hopes to use her public health education to enhance her skills as a physician, understanding the contextual influences of individual and population health, public policy and patient care.

“I am grateful that Dr. Lewicki provided me the opportunity to interact and learn from other public health professionals,” Dr. Patel said.

Dr. Lewicki earned a Master of Public Health degree from Harvard University’s School of Public Health while on sabbatical in 1976.

“That training made it possible for me to serve as a part-time consultant to the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare for a while, work that I enjoyed tremendously,” she said.

She was born in Poland and migrated to the U.S. with her family at age 19. She was one of only two women in her graduating Class of 1959.

“The Wayne State University School of Medicine provided me a strong clinical experience, and I liked that it was an urban environment. I want to do my part to ensure this opportunity for students today, because Wayne State opened a door to a fantastic career,” she said.

During her radiological academic career, Dr. Lewicki worked at Stanford University, Harvard Medical School-Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and George Washington University, always with a focus on gastrointestinal imaging and a special interest in teaching. She was a founding member of the Society of Gastrointestinal Radiologists and of the American Association for Women Radiologists. She was made a Fellow of the American College of Radiology in 1981.

The WSU Master of Public Health program, administered by the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences, prepares graduates to apply evidence-based knowledge from behavioral and social sciences, biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health and health care organization to understand and improve the health of the public, use appropriate research and analytical strategies to address public health issues, and communicate public health principles and findings to professional and community audiences.

Public Health student Fatema Shafie-Khorassani, an inaugural member of the new MPH biostatistics concentration, is especially thankful for opportunities like attending the APHA meeting, letting her apply and expand the theoretical knowledge from her coursework. “After graduating, I hope to continue working in academic public health research, before eventually aiming for a Ph.D. in biostatistics, and attending this conference gave me the opportunity to explore my options and learn more about what I need to do to achieve my goals,” she said.

Dr. Lewicki’s gifts to WSU – and the student beneficiaries – are strong examples of the vital importance of Pivotal Moments: Our Campaign for Wayne State University. Student success and achievement is one of four primary areas of strategic importance for the campaign. Funds raised during the Pivotal Moments campaign provide immediate resources to support students, faculty and research, with an additional goal of securing future moments through permanent endowment funding.

“I cannot say enough how appreciative we are of Dr. Lewicki’s gifts and other donor contributions,” said Tsveti Markova, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences. “No matter how big or small, their investment in our future generation has tremendous impact. It provides our students with opportunities otherwise not available to them. I also believe these donor gifts set an example to not only the beneficiaries, but to all our students, teaching them the spirit of generosity and commitment to the profession.”  

For students at the School of Medicine in particular, giving provides academic and professional enrichment opportunities to help define professional values while gaining knowledge. Elyse Schultz is a M.D./M.P.H. dual-degree student at WSU, and attended the APHA conference and the National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta through Dr. Lewicki’s program gift.

“Both experiences were inspiring. It was exciting to broaden my perspective on what public health is, does and can do. I had my first oral presentation on a panel. I am so grateful for the support that provided me these amazing experiences,” Schultz said. “Knowing how impactful gifts can be for student-learners, I look forward to ‘paying it forward’ when I am in the position to do so.”

Exhibit at Shiffman explores rich history of African-Americans at the School of Medicine
In Headlines on February 8, 2016
Joseph Ferguson, M.D.

Joseph Ferguson, M.D.

Chester Cole Ames, M.D.

Chester Cole Ames, M.D.

Marjorie Peebles-Meyers, M.D.

Marjorie Peebles-Meyers, M.D.

Thomas Flake Sr., M.D.

Thomas Flake Sr., M.D.

“Celebrating Diversity: A History of African-Americans at the Wayne State University School of Medicine” explores the rich history and the significant contributions of African-Americans during the school of medicine’s 148-year history. The exhibit will be displayed in the atrium of the Shiffman Medical Library during February, Black History Month.

“The Wayne State University School of Medicine has a rich and diverse history,” said Anita Moncrease, M.D., clinical associate professor of Pediatrics and a Class of 1984 graduate of the School of Medicine. “This exhibit tells the story of the important role the school played -- and continues to play -- in educating African-American physicians.”

The exhibit includes timeline of African-Americans’ involvement with the School of Medicine. Some points along that timeline include:

* The 1869 graduation of Joseph Ferguson, M.D., who graduated from the Detroit Medical College in 1869 and became the first African-American in Detroit -- and most likely in Michigan -- to earn a medical degree.

* The 1893 graduation of Albert Henry Johnson, M.D., the third African-American graduate of the Detroit College of Medicine. Dr. Johnson was one of the founders of Dunbar Hospital, the first African-American non-profit hospital in Detroit.

* In 1926 Chester Cole Ames, M.D., graduated from the Detroit College of Medicine and Surgery. He was the first African-American to obtain an internship in urology at a white hospital in Detroit, but he was never allowed on staff. He was Detroit’s first African-American intern, resident and member of the Wayne University medical faculty. He cofounded three African-American hospitals in Detroit, but was never granted hospital privileges to practice his specialty.

* In 1943 Marjorie Peebles-Meyers, M.D., graduated from Wayne University College of Medicine, the school’s first African-American female graduate. She became the first African-American female resident and chief resident at Detroit Receiving Hospital.

* In 1960 African-American physicians Thomas Flake Sr., M.D., Class of 1951; Addison Prince, M.D.; William Gibson, M.D.; and James Collins, M.D., were appointed to the staff at Harper Hospital staff, thereby integrating the Detroit Medical Center hospital staff.

“The personal stories of Drs. Joseph Ferguson, Marjorie Pebbles-Meyers and Charles Whitten are very interesting,” Dr. Moncrease said. “Their contributions to medicine in the face of racism, segregation and discrimination are lessons that everyone can learn from.”

Dr. Kamat elected vice chair of ACGME's Pediatric Residency Review Committee
In Headlines on February 5, 2016
Deepak Kamat, M.D., Ph.D.

Deepak Kamat, M.D., Ph.D.

Deepak Kamat, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.A.P., professor of Pediatrics for the Wayne State University School of Medicine, has been elected vice chair of the Pediatric Residency Review Committee of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

The committee is responsible for the accreditation of approximately 9,500 residency and fellowship programs and approximately 700 institutions that sponsor these programs in the United States. Residency and fellowship programs educate more than 120,000 resident physicians in 130 specialties and subspecialties.

“I am honored that my colleagues on the committee, who are nationally renowned educators from across the country, demonstrated their confidence in me by nominating and electing me for this position,” said Dr. Kamat, who is now serving his fifth year on the committee. He will serve two years as vice chair.

The Pediatric Residency Review Committee consists of 15 members appointed to six-year terms. The chair and vice chair are elected by the committee. Members are nationally recognized for their contributions in education.

“This is a really big deal … well deserved … and great for Children’s Hospital of Michigan, the Detroit Medical Center and Wayne State University,” said Steven Lipshultz, M.D., chair of WSU Pediatrics and pediatrician-in-chief for Children’s Hospital of Michigan. “Dr. Kamat’s multiple teaching awards and this recognition support what a nationally recognized leader he is for pediatric medical education.”

Dr. Kamat received the 2010 American Academy of Pediatrics Education Award. The award recognizes an academy member whose career encompasses educational contributions that have had a “broad and positive impact” on the health and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

He also received the 2012 President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching from Wayne State University. The award recognizes faculty who have made outstanding contributions to teaching. Winners demonstrate, to an exceptionally high degree, comprehensive knowledge of their subject, superior classroom performance and high educational standards. They generate enthusiasm and respect for learning, motivate students to excel and are accessible to students.

Dr. Kamat has served as editor in chief of the Pediatric Care Online Quick Reference, a first of its kind in pediatric medicine. The reference is an integrated point of care service available on handheld devices that can be used by physicians at patient bedside. His contributions to that project helped earn him the 2009 Wayne State University Board of Governors Faculty Recognition Award.

Ob-Gyn, CMMG fellow wins accolades for classic galactosemia infertility research
In Headlines on February 5, 2016
Mili Thakur, M.D.

Mili Thakur, M.D.

The research of a Wayne State University School of Medicine fellow was chosen for the Society for Reproductive Investigation’s Pfizer-SRI President’s Award and will be recognized at the society’s annual scientific meeting March 16-19 in Montreal.

Mili Thakur, M.D., a third-year fellow in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics’ combined Medical Genetics and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Fellowship program, will be recognized at a private luncheon March 18 for the abstract, “Galactose and Its Metabolites Deteriorate Metaphase II Mouse Oocyte Quality through a Mechanism that Involves the Generation of Reactive Oxidative Species, Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Apoptosis.”

Her mentor, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Husam Abu-Soud, Ph.D., and colleague Faten Shaeib, Ph.D., will accept the award and present the work on her behalf.

The Pfizer-SRI President’s Presenter’s Award was established in 1996 as the Wyeth President’s Presenter Award to recognize the 25 most meritorious abstracts (either poster or oral presentation) submitted by individuals still in training. Dr. Thakur has been a fellow in Dr. Abu-Soud’s lab for two years.

“It is an honor to have my research recognized by the Society of Reproductive Investigation. This award and the presentation next month will provide a great platform to highlight and educate the health care providers about this rare genetic disease and the challenges faced by the patients,” she said.

Classic galactosemia is a genetic disorder affecting how the body processes galactose, a simple sugar in dairy products, breast milk and many baby formulas.

“If galactose is not withdrawn from the diet of the affected infants in time, they suffer from a range of acute complications and die,” Dr. Thakur said.

Consequently, all states include the metabolic disorder in their newborn screening program. Treatment with immediate lifelong galactose restriction can reverse or prevent the acute complications, but many well-treated patients continue to develop long-term debilitating complications like mild cognitive impairment, growth restriction, premature ovarian insufficiency and other neurological deficits. A majority of females with the disorder – more than half of those being followed at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Metabolic Clinic for example – develop reproductive problems caused by an early loss of ovary function, called premature ovarian insufficiency, she said.

“The cause and treatment of these complications is now the single biggest issue in this field,” she said.

Her research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of premature ovarian insufficiency in women with classic galactosemia by studying the effects of galactose and its metabolites on oocyte quality. The results of the study will contribute to better understanding of the complication and provide insight that could extend the window of fertility for the women, and may further understanding of the intricacies of ovarian function, with broad implications for women’s health.

Dr. Thakur has had a successful year highlighting her research projects, winning the John M. Malone Jr. Best Clinical Science Poster at the Wayne State University and University of Toronto joint scientific symposium: Integrative and Global Approaches in Reproductive Sciences last April. She received second place for her oral presentation, “Galactose and its metabolites disrupt spindle structure in metaphase II mouse oocytes,” and third place for her oral presentation, “Intensive Care Admissions in Pregnancy: Analysis of a Level of Support Scoring System,” at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists 30th annual Michigan Section Junior Fellow Research Day last May.

“Dr. Thakur is a very bright and hardworking asset to our laboratory. She has a passion for improving fertility in women with galactosemia and has worked closely with her patient population,” said Dr. Abu-Soud, also a member of the WSU C.S. Mott Center of Human Growth and Development.

Dr. Thakur’s fellowship program director Elizabeth Puscheck, M.D., and assistant program director Gerald Feldman, M.D. Ph.D., coordinate the only accredited combined REI-Medical Genetics program in the country. Dr. Thakur completed residences in Obstetrics and Gynecology in India and at the WSU School of Medicine.

Drs. Abu-Soud and Thakur thanked the hard work and support of their fellow lab members, and the support of School of Medicine faculty Robert Sokol, M.D., and Bernard Gonik, M.D.
WSU-born Detroit Medical Orchestra wins applause from The American Prize arts competition
In Headlines on February 4, 2016
Medical student Laura Ruble is executive board president of the Detroit Medical Orchestra.

Medical student Laura Ruble is executive board president of the Detroit Medical Orchestra.

Michael Cher, M.D., is an executive board member and founding member of the orchestra.

Michael Cher, M.D., is an executive board member and founding member of the orchestra.

The Detroit Medical Orchestra, formed by a group of Wayne State University School of Medicine student and faculty musicians in 2010, was recognized by The American Prize in Orchestral Performance 2015 national arts competition, receiving second place in the community orchestra division.

The American Prize is a series of non-profit art competitions awarding cash awards, professional adjudication, and regional, national and international recognition. Each year, The American Prize rewards the best recorded performances by individual artists and ensembles in the United States at the professional, community/amateur, college, university, church and school levels.

The placement was based on submitted recordings of the DMO’s performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite and Howard Hanson’s Symphony No. 2.

About one-third of Detroit Medical Orchestra musicians are students attending the School of Medicine, including its president, the Class of 2016’s Laura Ruble. The violinist joined the orchestra in 2011.

In the words of my father, the DMO ‘is no rinky-dink orchestra!’ So I was very pleased, but not necessarily surprised that we won such an honor. Our music director and our members work very hard to make us the best orchestra we can be. We appreciate our audience and are very happy to receive national recognition as well,” Ruble said.

The roughly 60-member orchestra includes faculty, and physicians and nursing staff from surrounding hospitals. Clarinetist and Department of Urology Chair Michael Cher, M.D., has been with the orchestra since its inception and is his instruments’ section chair. He is also on the orchestra’s executive board. “The orchestra has matured over the last few years with increasingly difficult and sophisticated repertoire and a fairly high level of performance,” said Dr. Cher, the Dr. Donald J. and Dorothy Jaffar Endowed Professor of Urology.

The DMO was named a finalist in the same competition last year, but didn’t place. More recently, it was awarded a competitive Fine Arts grant from the Michigan Counsel for Arts and Cultural Affairs in 2015.

“The orchestra started off playing music in its comfort zone, but our music director of four years, Elliot Moore, doesn’t believe in comfort zone music,” Ruble said. “He has pushed us to perform greater music, including pieces that involve large choruses, like Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and dancing with multimedia, like Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. We have also been able to attract virtuosic soloists from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Wayne State University Department of Music faculty.”

DMO performances often benefit local charities. The orchestra will perform at 4 p.m. May 15 at the WSU Community Arts Auditorium, 5401 Cass Ave., Detroit. For more information, including how to join, visit or email

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