School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine
WSU department wins multiple awards at statewide research day
In Headlines on May 28, 2015
Graduate public health student Elyse Reamer and Jinping Xu, M.D.

Graduate public health student Elyse Reamer and Jinping Xu, M.D.

Medical student Albert Ma and mentor Dr. Xu.

Medical student Albert Ma and mentor Dr. Xu.

From left are Family Medicine residents Linu Samuel, Matthew Clifford and Katharine Lounsberry.

From left are Family Medicine residents Linu Samuel, Matthew Clifford and Katharine Lounsberry.

Faculty, residents and students representing the Wayne State University School of Medicine’s Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences won four first place awards at the 38th annual Michigan Family Medicine Research Day Conference, held May 21 at Cleary University in Howell, Mich.

“It was a fantastic day for our department, and a testament to our commitment to academic pursuits and successful collaborations at all levels, including medical students, graduate public health students, residents and faculty,” said Professor and Chair of Family Medicine Tsveti Markova, M.D., F.A.A.F.P. “Congratulations to the winners and to all presenters."

The event was well-attended by students, residents, faculty and staff from throughout the state, Dr. Markova said. Hosting responsibilities rotate yearly among the Family Medicine departments within Michigan’s universities. The University of Michigan hosted the 2015 conference, in collaboration with WSU, Michigan State University, Oakland University Beaumont School of Medicine, Western Michigan University and the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians Foundation. WSU Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences conference assistant Rose Moschelli, Assistant Professor William Murdoch, M.D., and Professor Victoria Neale, Ph.D., M.P.H., represented WSU on this year’s planning committee, with Assistant Professor Joseph Giannola, M.D., Professor John Porcerelli, Ph.D., and Associate Professor Jinping Xu, M.D., representing the university on the judging panel.

Wayne State’s winners, out of 61 total entries in the oral and poster presentation categories, included Assistant Professor and Director of Patient Safety Dennis Tsilimingras, M.D., M.P.H., who won first place in the Best Faculty Oral Presentation category for “Post-Discharge Adverse Events Among Urban and Rural Patients of an Urban Community Hospital: A Prospective Cohort Study.” The report revealed that adverse events after discharge from the hospital were common in urban and rural patients, and many were preventable or ameliorable, yet urban adverse events were more often associated with hypertension, type 2 diabetes and some secondary discharge diagnoses.

Master of Public Health student Elyse Reamer and her mentor, Associate Professor Jinping Xu, M.D., won in the Best Student Oral Presentation category for “Prostate Cancer Knowledge, Information Sources and Qualities of Treatment Decisions for Localized Prostate Cancer.” The study found that for patients with localized prostate cancer, African-American men had a much greater knowledge gap about their disease than Caucasian men. Increased knowledge can help both groups make informed decisions about their care, increasing treatment satisfaction and decreasing treatment conflict and regret.

Dr. Xu also mentored fourth-year medical student Albert Ma, who won the Best Student Poster Presentation category for “Left Lower Limb Weakness as the Initial Presentation of Glioblastoma Multiforme: A Case Report with Literature Review.” GBM is the most prevalent and malignant adult primary brain neoplasm, and is characterized by rapid progression and ultimately poor diagnosis, Ma wrote. The case report described a 56-year-old female patient who initially presented with symptoms suggestive of a lumbosacral radiculopathy, nerve damage that often causes chronic lower back pain.

Third-year resident Katharine Lounsberry, M.D., and second-year resident Matthew Clifford, M.D., won first place for Best Resident Poster Presentation, for “Rhabdomyolysis in Collegiate Swimmers: A Case Series.” The residents were mentored by Dr. Porcerelli and Assistant Professor John Otremba, M.D., Pharm.D. The series involved male and female competitive NCAA Division II swimmers who initially presented to the Emergency Department with complaints of myalgia, muscle stiffness, decreased range of motion at the elbow and brown urine following a new and challenging circuit training workout.  Rhabdomyolysis causes damaged skeletal muscle tissue to break down rapidly, and can be harmful to the kidneys.

Student Joshua Rivers wins American Medical Association scholarship
In Headlines on May 28, 2015
Joshua Rivers, Class of 2018.

Joshua Rivers, Class of 2018.

Wayne State University School of Medicine Class of 2018 medical student Joshua Rivers will receive one of only two $1,000 American Medical Association Minority Scholars Physicians Loan Awards, given nationally by the American Medical Association Foundation’s Minority Scholars Selection Committee.

“I felt blessed and very grateful. I felt truly inspired to be recognized on the national level,” he said.

The AMA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American Medical Association, advances public health and medical scholarship through philanthropic support of physician-directed initiatives.

“Joshua is extremely hardworking and an amazing young man. He is an inspiration to us all. I am so happy that the committee selected him as a recipient,” said Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Career Development Lisa MacLean, M.D.

Rivers, of Detroit, is active in several student organizations and projects through the school’s Co-Curricular Programs, which requires 75 hours of volunteer service during the first and second years of medical school.

“Through this program I have become part of some longstanding organizations, such as Street Medicine Detroit, a student-based free clinic that provides health care to the homeless population; Fit Kids 360, a health-based program that provides children with medical students as mentors and coaches to help guide them on their path to become healthier through diet and exercise; and Code Blue,  a health-based program where medical students teach children about various important aspects of their health, including dental hygiene, general hygiene and diet, just to name a few,” he said.

He also is a student instruction leader for the school, responsible for tutoring and leading academic discussion for first-year medical students. He is president of the school’s chapter of the Black Medical Association.
Demyelinating disease expert publishes national guidelines for Neuromyelitis Optica research
In Headlines on May 28, 2015
Omar Khan, M.D.

Omar Khan, M.D.

Omar Khan, M.D., professor and chair of Neurology and director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center for the Wayne State University School of Medicine, published national guidelines on conducting research in a rare and potentially devastating neurologic disorder known as Neuromyelitis Optica or Devic’s Disease.

Dr. Khan, a member of the International Clinical Consortium and the Neuromyelitis Optica Clinical Council organized by the Guthy Jackson Charitable Foundation, published “Challenges and Opportunities in Designing Clinical Trials for Neuromyelitis Optica” in Neurology, the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Neuromyelitis Optica, or NMO, is rare disorder that can be fatal, Dr. Khan said. The condition has a predilection for optic nerves and the spinal cord. In 2004, a specific biomarker, anti-aquaporin-4 IgG, or AQP4-IgG, was developed and is now accepted worldwide. Detection of AQP4-IgG facilitates NMO diagnosis, however, an important proportion of cases is seronegative. "Acute NMO attacks, while variable, are generally more severe than those of multiple sclerosis and have higher mortality rates,” Dr. Khan said. “Historically, reported NMO mortality rates range between 10 percent and 30 percent five years after diagnosis. Thus, minimizing the frequency and consequences of attacks are primary therapeutic goals.”

The national guidelines published also noted that no drug has been proved to be safe and effective in NMO in randomized, controlled studies, and none has received regulatory approval. Opinions among investigators vary widely regarding ethics of placebo-controlled studies for maintenance treatment of NMO.

“As a result of these guidelines, which included input from internationally recognized experts in the field as well as from regulatory authorities, we have developed ethical and rational clinical trial design that will promote the development of efficacious and safe therapies in this rare but devastating disorder,” Dr. Khan said.

Since the guidelines were developed, three large international randomized controlled trials are under way. “We are now able to investigate whether depleting B cells by targeting CD19 or interleukin-6 receptors or complement pathways with novel monoclonal antibodies will lead to dramatic reduction or even elimination of NMO disease activity. This is remarkable progress in NMO research and Wayne State University is leading cutting-edge translational research,” Dr. Khan said.

The Wayne State University Multiple Sclerosis Center is one of the largest MS centers in North America, with nearly 5,000 patients. The center also conducts research in other neuroimmunologic disorders, including Neuromyeltis Optica.

First Friends of MI-AHEC Dinner set for June 5
In Headlines on May 26, 2015

The Michigan Area Health Education Center will host its first Friends of MI-AHEC Dinner on June 5, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Wharton Center for the Performing Arts in East Lansing, Mich.

The event is a celebration of the successful creation of MI-AHEC’s statewide network and the kickoff for the Friends of MI-AHEC fundraising campaign. During the dinner scholarships will be presented to students from across the state in honor of Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., former dean of the Wayne State University School of Medicine and co-founder of MI-AHEC.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley will give the keynote address and television personality Lila Lazarus will serve as emcee.

Tickets are $150, $250 for two or $1,000 for a table of eight. To purchase tickets, go to http://events.wayne.edu/rsvp/miahecdinner2015.

The Michigan Area Health Education Center, a program of Wayne State University, strengthens the state’s health care workforce by recruiting, training and retaining health professionals committed to increasing access to primary care.

Wayne State professor's book examines Abraham Lincoln's post-assassination treatment
In Headlines on May 26, 2015
Ernest L. Abel, Ph.D.

Ernest L. Abel, Ph.D.

There are enough books written about Abraham Lincoln to erect a tower measuring eight feet around and 34 feet high. The tower, at the Ford’s Theatre Center for Education and Leadership in Washington, D.C., holds 7,000 books – less than half of the total tomes about Lincoln, according to a 2012 National Public Radio article.

Wayne State University Professor Ernest Abel, Ph.D., says none of them look at the medical treatment the president received after being shot by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865.

His does.

“A Finger in Lincoln’s Brain: What Modern Science Reveals about Lincoln, His Assassination and Its Aftermath” ($48, Praeger Press) by Dr. Abel, writing as E. Lawrence Abel, explores the president’s medical treatment, the science of embalming and more. The book, released in January on the 150th anniversary year of Lincoln’s death, is available for hardcover and ebook purchase on Amazon.com and through Barnes and Noble and BarnesandNoble.com

The book is already getting attention. He was invited to speak April 18 at the United States National Archives End of Civil War Book Fair, will travel to Massachusetts for book signings next month and is slated to speak to Mensa’s Southeast Michigan chapter in September.

“Most people who write about this are historians and they’re more into when it happened, where it happened and why, not how it happened,” said Dr. Abel, a dual-appointed professor in the School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychology. “I deal with subjects like ballistics, forensics, aspects of the assassination, where the assassin was standing, what kind of gun he used, how it killed him.”

The author carefully scrutinizes the medical treatment Lincoln received, including reviewing the standards of care of the time, and examines the debate about whether the three doctors who inserted their fingers into the bullet hole enlarged the wound and increased the internal bleeding that eventually killed their patient. Dr. Abel asks whether Lincoln have been saved if he had been shot today.

He also explores how assassin John Wilkes Booth’s syphilis may have played a role in the assassination, and the effect of Lincoln’s funeral and a multi-city tour of his body on the American public.

“They wanted people to be upset. They wanted to make sure the Democrats didn’t have any sympathy. The more they showed the body, the more people didn’t like anything that didn’t support what he did while in office,” he added.

Dr. Abel began gathering information for the book 10 years ago, at first setting out to write a psychological analysis of the 16th president of the United States. The West Bloomfield resident would wake as early as 5 a.m. to write, then spend nights and weekends on the project, interviewing physicians, dermatologists, ophthalmologists and mortuary science experts at Wayne State. “I rewrite at least 10 or 20 times. I can’t even estimate how many hours I put into it,” he said. “I’ve always had this dual interest in history and science, and I’ve always wanted to find a way to put the two together.”

“A Finger in Lincoln’s Brain” is Dr. Abel’s third book in the historical genre. He also wrote 1982’s “Marijuana: The First Twelve Thousand Years,” a complete history of the cannabis plant and its relationship to mankind, and 2000’s “Singing the New Nation: How Music Shaped the Confederacy,” which explores the effect of music on confederate nationalism.

He has written 42 books as Ernest L. Abel, including many on fetal alcohol syndrome, one of his research foci at Wayne State. Dr. Abel formerly directed the school’s C.S. Mott Center for Human Growth and Development, and was the scientific director of its Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Center.
Ambassador's Top Docs list honors five WSU faculty physicians
In Headlines on May 21, 2015
Sonia Hassan, M.D.

Sonia Hassan, M.D.

Lawrence Lum, M.D.

Lawrence Lum, M.D.

Elisabeth Heath, M.D.

Elisabeth Heath, M.D.

Dena Nazer, M.D.

Dena Nazer, M.D.

Scott Dulchavsky, M.D., Ph.D.

Scott Dulchavsky, M.D., Ph.D.

Five of the 13 physicians named to Ambassador magazine’s 2015 Top Docs list published this month are Wayne State University School of Medicine faculty members. They include Associate Dean of Maternal, Perinatal and Child Health Sonia Hassan, M.D., Class of 1994, who is honored for her ongoing work to reduce preterm birth rates in Detroit, including her leadership role with the City of Detroit’s Make Your Date campaign, which provides free prenatal care and education to women across Detroit’s major health systems.

Dr. Hassan led a 2011 study that found the use of progesterone gel in mothers who were identified to be at risk for premature birth due to a short cervix – found by ultrasound – cut that risk by nearly half. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s Infant Mortality Reduction Plan promotes the adoption of universal cervical length screening by ultrasound and progesterone use for women identified as high risk.

“There are so many factors that will influence a person’s health while they’re in utero,” she told the magazine. “It’s a unique chance to affect someone’s life in the beginning, which is very rewarding.”

Dr. Hassan is director of the Center for Advanced Obstetrical Care and Research at the National Institutes of Health’ s Perinatology Research Branch, hosted by Wayne State University and housed at the Detroit Medical Center. She sees patients through the Wayne State University Physician Group Obstetrics and Gynecology clinic at Hutzel Women’s Hospital in Detroit.

Professor of Oncology Lawrence Lum, M.D., is recognized as a Top Doc for his research focused on complex treatments that enhance the body’s own immune system to attack and disarm cancerous cells. His passion for treating disease started in junior high school, when he learned about the work of physician and philosopher Albert Schweitzer, he tells the magazine. The Wayne State University Physician Group doctor sees patients at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center in Detroit.

His Karmanos colleague, Professor of Oncology Elisabeth Heath, M.D., is also named a Top Doc by Ambassador. She directs prostate cancer research at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute. She is also a member of the Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials Program, a 13-member top academic center consortium of research leaders working to further translational prostate cancer research and clinical trials.

Top Doc and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics Dena Nazer, M.D., is chief of the child protection team at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, treating children who have been victims of mental, physical and sexual abuse or neglect. “I always think about how they should be treated, not how they’re mistreated,” she told Ambassador. “I remember them as children, not as victims.”

Dr. Nazer completed her residency in general pediatrics and a year of chief residency at Children’s with the School of Medicine. She is the first and only person in the state to complete a two-year fellowship in child abuse pediatrics, and was named to Gov. Rick Snyder’s new Human Trafficking Health Advisory Board earlier this year.

Professor of Surgery, Molecular Biology and Genetics Scott Dulchavsky, M.D., Ph.D., Class of 1983, was recognized by the magazine for his role in creating the Henry Ford Innovation Institute, which he now heads as its chief executive officer. The space, inside Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, is designed for creativity and inventive thinking, two of Dr. Dulchavsky’s career hallmarks. He works with NASA, serving as a principal investigator for the agency and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute in Houston to help provide medical care to astronauts via telemedicine.

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