- Fallscheer named director of planned gifts at the School of Medicine
In Headlines on April 3, 2012
The Wayne State University School of Medicine has announced the appointment of Michelle Fallscheer as the director of planned giving. Fallscheer assumed her new responsibilities effective April 1. She has served as the director of planned gifts for the university’s main campus development operations since 2010.
“I am thrilled to welcome Michelle Fallscheer to the School of Medicine,” said Tracy Muscat, associate vice president for Development and Alumni Affairs. “Her extensive knowledge of planned giving and her enthusiasm for Wayne State will be tremendous assets as we continue to encourage private funding to support our vision for excellence in medical education and research.”
While the director of planned giving position is an existing and budgeted position within the WSU Division of Development and Alumni Affairs, it has been reallocated to the School of Medicine to focus exclusively on the school’s planned giving program. This shift reflects the significant role the School of Medicine has in the university’s overall fund-raising program. Historically, nearly half of all university giving is to the School of Medicine.
Fallscheer brings to the role extensive fund raising and planned giving knowledge. Before joining the development team at WSU, she served as the community development director for the American Cancer Society. In this position she was responsible for fund raising, advocacy and volunteer coordination. In 2005, Fallscheer joined Wayne State’s development team as a planned gifts officer. A major contributor to Wayne First, the university’s first-ever comprehensive capital campaign, she helped raise $10 million per year in new planned gift pledges. In recognition of her work, she earned two promotions, most recently to serve as the director of planned gifts for the Division of Development and Alumni Affairs.
Fallscheer received a bachelor of business administration degree from Walsh College and a master of business administration degree from WSU. She is pursuing a master of public health degree in the WSU School of Medicine and a certificate in gerontology from the WSU School of Social Work. Fallscheer also is a graduate of the Inforum Class 16 SE Executive Leadership Program.
- Dr. Norman named a Detroit 'Everyday Hero'
In Headlines on April 3, 2012
Silas Norman Jr., M.D.
A longtime faculty member of the Wayne State University School of Medicine has added another honor to his resume.
Silas Norman Jr., M.D., associate dean of Admissions, Diversity and Inclusion, was named a Detroit Everyday Hero at a reception held March 27 at Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The awards were presented by Verizon Wireless, which partnered locally with 100 Black Men of Greater Detroit and the Urban League of Detroit & Southeastern Michigan, to Dr. Norman, two other Detroit-area men and one woman.
The wireless voice and data company expanded its regular Everyday Heroes Initiative to Detroit this year, and through an online competition asked participants to nominate Detroit residents making a difference in the lives of others.
From a group of 40 nominees, online voters selected Dr. Norman to represent the health care category. Other winners were honored for their work in business and technology, community service and education.
“It’s gratifying for anyone to acknowledge you for the work that you do,” Dr. Norman said of the honor.
Aside from the accolades, Dr. Norman received $500 and an Android tablet, courtesy of Verizon. He plans to donate the $500 to a student in the near future. “It will go a long way toward helping a student who needs it,” he said.
Dr. Norman has been recognized as a role model for diversity, fairness and compassion for the underserved before. He received the School of Medicine’s Distinguished Service Award last May, presented to him by Dean Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., M.B.A., M.P.H.
“Dr. Norman stands as an example for all us,” Dean Parisi said. “He has a heart and a dedication to helping others as deep as his voice.”
In addition to his role as associate dean, he is an assistant professor of Internal Medicine, and a Class of 1976 alumni. Dr. Norman has been involved in admissions for the School of Medicine for more than 25 years.
He received the School’s Trailblazer Award in 2010. The award honors outstanding alumni and faculty who have made substantial contributions and demonstrated courage, initiative, innovation, risk-taking and leadership.
Dr. Norman believes the Detroit Everyday Hero award is the first to recognize his public service efforts in the field of health care. A medical suite at the State Prison of Southern Michigan in Jackson is named after Dr. Norman, who served as the facility’s medical director. His commitment to social and humanistic medicine also led him to serve as chief medical officer for the Michigan Department of Corrections and medical director for Wayne County jails.
He has served as a consultant to the Detroit Health Care for the Homeless project and the Detroit Department of Health & Wellness Promotion, working to see that thousands of uninsured and underserved people received much-needed health care.
He is board chairman of the Detroit-based Community Health Awareness Group Inc., an organization dedicated to supporting individuals affected and infected with HIV and AIDS.
“I think the opportunity to do this work is really a privilege. The community has a right to expect us to give some service,” he said.
In 2000, Dr. Norman received the Alumni Achievement Award from the United Negro College Fund. That same year the Wayne State University Organization of Black Alumni selected him for its Alumni Achievement Award. The Michigan Department of Community Health presented him with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials Vision Award in 2000.
- Dr. Ference proves lowering 'bad' cholesterol earlier reduces coronary disease
In Headlines on April 3, 2012
Brian Ference, M.D., M.Phil.
Initiating therapies to lower low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, earlier in life could reduce the risk of the world’s most common cause of death and disability.
The threat in question is coronary heart disease, caused by coronary atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries due to a build-up of fat and cholesterol, which can lead to heart attacks. Lowering LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, or CHD.
Brian A. Ference, M.D., M.Phil., M.Sc., F.A.C.C., director of the Cardiovascular Genomic Research Center at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, presented the findings at the 61st annual Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology in Chicago recently.
Researchers led by Dr. Ference, the principal investigator, found that lowering LDL beginning early in life resulted in a three-fold greater reduction in the risk of CHD than treatment with a statin – a class of drugs used to lower cholesterol – started later in life.
Dr. Ference is an assistant professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Cardiology at WSU and associate chief of Translational Research and Clinical Epidemiology.
The Scientific Session, the premier cardiovascular medical meeting, brings cardiovascular professionals together from around the world each year to share the newest discoveries in treatment and prevention.
“From my standpoint, this was a fancy genetic analysis in which low cholesterol from birth showed a marked reduction in cardiovascular events – more than if we start treatment at age 65 or so. This has incredible public-health implications,” said moderator Rick Nishimura, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Conference designated discussant Noel Bairey Merz, M.D., of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles said, "The big public-health question is whether it is better to start early and lower LDL in everyone rather than to wait to find the high-risk subjects and just treat them later. And these data suggest it is better to go for the first option; you get three times more bang for your buck that way."
Early in life means before coronary plaque develops, Dr. Ference said.
“Coronary plaque typically begins to develop into atherosclerotic lesions in the 20s and 30s. Because coronary atherosclerosis is a chronic progressive disease that begins early in life and then slowly develops over several decades before becoming clinically manifested, a healthy diet and exercise should be emphasized beginning in childhood and extending throughout the whole of one’s lifetime,” he added.
For people who cannot maintain ideal LDL levels, introducing a medication in the 20s and keeping LDL low throughout their lifetime has the potential to dramatically reduce the risk of coronary artery disease.
The researchers sought to test this hypothesis by using genetic data to conduct a series of "natural" randomized controlled trials involving more than 1 million study participants.
The study, “A Mendelian Randomized Controlled Trial of Long Term Reduction in Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Beginning Early in Life,” states that lowering LDL cholesterol at an early age, before the development of atherosclerosis, makes sense, but testing it is difficult. A conventional randomized trial would have to follow a very large number of young, asymptomatic people for several decades to test this hypothesis. As an alternative, researchers used a novel study design called a Mendelian randomized controlled trial to study the effect of nine single-nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, single-letter changes in DNA sequence, each of which is associated with lower levels of LDL cholesterol. Because each of these SNPs is allocated randomly at the time of conception, inheriting one is akin to being randomly allocated to a treatment that lowers LDL cholesterol beginning at birth. The researchers found that all nine SNPs were associated with a consistent 50 percent to 60 percent reduction in the risk of CHD for each 1 mmol/L lower lifetime exposure to LDL cholesterol. Lowering LDL by 2 mmol/L could reduce the risk of CHD by almost 80 percent.
“Indeed, the benefit of lowering LDL beginning early in life, or equivalently maintaining low LDL levels throughout one’s life, can dramatically reduce the risk of heart disease. The benefit is linear and continuous, which means that the greater the reduction in LDL, the greater the benefit,” Dr. Ference said.
Coronary heart disease is the most common cause of death and disability throughout the world. Treatment of CHD and its risk factors is costly and consumes a large proportion of health care expenditures.
“A public health policy that promotes sustained and prolonged low levels of LDL beginning early in life has the potential to dramatically reduce the global burden of coronary heart disease. Indeed, this policy has the potential to improve outcomes (by dramatically reducing the risk of CHD) while at the same time reducing health care costs by preventing most cases of coronary artery disease,” he said.
Dr. Ference is now working on a portfolio of “natural” randomized trials to test the benefit of early as compared to later treatment of LDL, HDL, blood pressure and other risk factors for coronary disease as well as to identify who is vulnerable to these risk factors. “Identifying and treating the risk factors to which each person is most vulnerable based on their genomic background may be a practical strategy to personalize medicine and substantially reduce the risk of coronary disease,” he said.
- Future Docs 2012 is a hit with up and coming physicians and scientists
In Headlines on March 31, 2012
Malik Daye tries his hand at tying surgical knots with help from Jack Wecowski.
Medical student Brian Haber helps Elliot Slater explore the workings of his heart.
Nic Helmstetter helps Azra Tokovic locate just the right spots for the body's main organs.
Malik Daye is keeping his options open.
If his future career in the NBA doesn’t pan out, he’d be interested in becoming a doctor.
“That’s definitely one of my options,” the 12-year-old seventh-grader from Oak Park said while taking in tips on how to tie surgical knots from fourth-year medical student Jack Wecowski.
The two were introduced during the 2012 Future Docs event at the Wayne State University School of Medicine on March 31.
Future Docs, sponsored by the School of Medicine’s Alumni Association, saw more than 400 children, parents, grandparents and other family members explore the first two floors of Scott Hall and the Kado Clinical Skills Center in the Mazurek Medical Education Commons. They engaged in hands-on activities at 16 stations to examine various facets of medicine. The event is designed to instill children with an early interest and appreciation for science that may eventually blossom into a desire for a medical career.
Wecowski showed Malik how to manipulate ropes in a demonstration of surgical knots that would test the dexterity of the finest sleight-of- hand artist at the Surgical Skills 101 station. “It’s important to get the kids involved, especially if they have an interest in it,” said Wecowski, who donned scrubs for the day.
Down the hall, Elliot Slater, and 8-year-old whose parents are missionaries in Uganda, viewed his heart pumping and his hand tendons pulling through the magic of ultrasound at the Matters of the Heart exhibit.
“I volunteered last year. It gives you a chance to meet the kids and get them interested in medicine,” said second-year medical student Brian Haber as he moved the ultrasound wand over Elliot’s chest, showing him the pumping chambers of his heart.
Elliot, who is in the United States for a year, wants to become a physician.
“We need to give children an early interest in science, medicine and medical careers,” said Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., dean of the School of Medicine. “Future Docs helps us get them interested, and if we do that early, they can stay on track for any number of health care or medical research careers.”
In addition to exploring the world of medical science, each child received a goodie bag and T-shirt sporting the words “Doctors Come in All Shapes and Sizes.” Attendees also enjoyed lunch in the Scott Hall cafeteria.
A station popular with younger children, “Pin the Organs on the Body,” had future physicians and scientists like Azra Tokovic, 8, do just that through placing stickers of major organs on the outline of a body.
Azra, who wants to become a doctor or a chemist, received some hints – when she needed them – from Nic Helmstetter, a second-year medical student and member of the School of Medicine’s chapter of the ARIE Foundation.
The foundation, new to the SOM campus this year, is dedicated to helping children with cancer. The WSU chapter works closely with Children's Hospital of Michigan. ARIE fundraises on campus and in the community, purchasing toys, books and games for children at CHM. Members also visit with pediatric patients regularly.
“We’re a new organization, but we’re all about kids,” Helmstetter said. “It’s fun and interesting for them, and it’s fun for us. It’s a nice break from all the studying.”
- Student wins Outstanding Community Impact Award for World AIDS Day Detroit effort
In Headlines on March 30, 2012
A Wayne State University School of Medicine student is one of only six college students in Michigan to be recognized with the Outstanding Community Impact Award from the Michigan Campus Compact.
Phillip Kucab, a second-year medical student, will receive the award at an April 14 banquet in East Lansing, Mich. His work in developing World AIDS Day Detroit, held Dec. 1, 2011, earned him the honor. Kucab was largely responsible for the regional reawakening of the threat that AIDS still holds, and for bringing perhaps the nation’s most famous face of the fight against AIDS – Jeanne White-Ginder, the mother of Ryan White -- to Detroit for the event.
“I think this is great,” Kucab said. “This will be a great opportunity to network with each other and meet others doing this kind of work. It will be a time to celebrate the good things that are happening across Michigan that don’t always get major media attention.”
A non-profit organization, Michigan Campus Compact is a coalition of college and university presidents committed to fulfilling the public purposes of higher education, including the development of personal and social responsibility as integral to education. The Compact sees itself as a leader in building civic engagement into campus and academic life. Its stated purpose is to build and sustain a network of colleges and universities to strengthen student engagement through sharing and expanding knowledge and resources, fostering community partnerships and celebrating service leaders.
The MCC annually recognizes college students with three awards. The Heart and Soul Award goes to undergraduate and graduate students for their time, effort and personal commitment to the community. The Commitment to Service Award goes to two students per MCC member university for the breadth and depth of the student’s community involvement and service.
The Outstanding Community Impact Award, which Kucab has won, is awarded annually to five undergraduate students and one graduate student who have made service an integral part of their college experience “by their significant contribution to community resources.” The winners, the MCC said, must demonstrate efforts to “build partnerships between their campuses and communities, and demonstrate personal reflection and a commitment to lifelong engagement.” The winners of this award are selected by an outside review panel and receive $200 to donate to the service organization of their choice.
Kucab, originally of Sterling Heights, Mich., said he will donate his $200 to the Hemophiliac Foundation of Michigan, which was instrumental in making World AIDS Day Detroit successful.
“Phil, who is quick to deflect attention and credit from himself, poured his heart and soul into making World AIDS Day Detroit the success that it was,” said Maryjean Schenk, M.D., M.P.H., M.S., vice dean of Education for the School of Medicine. “While there were many medical school students and outside organizations that subsequently became involved, it was Phil who was the spark. He effectively mobilized the medical school community, the medical community engaged in caring for HIV-positive individuals, community organizations and affected individuals to gather and have a dialogue about how to continue to eradicate this infection and disease through prevention, early detection and treatment. Though Phil’s work, we are a community reunited around ‘getting to zero.’ He is a shining example of the type of caring and community-minded student we seek to become physicians, and is more than deserving of this award.”
World AIDS Day Detroit began with a mayors’ breakfast at The Fillmore Detroit theater. There, stakeholders and elected officials from southeast Michigan, including Detroit Council President Charles Pugh, heard from White-Ginder about the story of her son and her own fight. Amy Lange of WJBK-TV FOX 2 Detroit served as emcee. The breakfast kicked off a daylong schedule of events, including a Michigan Department of Community Health World AIDS Day Meeting, featuring education sessions and workshops for Detroit area schools and community members; a screening of “Bad Blood,” a film that chronicles how HIV entered the blood supply, with the producer, director and cast members at The Fillmore; and a community program in the evening featuring a keynote address by White-Ginder.
- WSU, VA team up to support nation's Joining Forces Initiative
In Headlines on March 30, 2012
The Wayne State University School of Medicine is among 100 medical schools across the country to commit to supporting the ideals behind the United States’ Joining Forces Initiative.
The government initiative was created by President Barack Obama to enhance the wellness of America’s veterans, service members and their families by mobilizing all segments of society to give them the opportunities and support they have earned.
WSU will join with others to strengthen the supportive community of physicians and health care professionals dedicated to improving the health of the military and its members. The announcement was made earlier this month in Richmond, Va., at an event attended by first lady Michelle Obama.
The John D. Dingell Veteran Affairs Medical Center in midtown Detroit participates as an affiliated hospital in many of WSU’s residency programs, said VA Chief of Staff Scott Gruber, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.S., F.C.P., F.A.C.H.E., who is also associate dean for Veterans Affairs and Professor of Surgery for the WSU School of Medicine.
The combined VAMC and Oakwood Hospital and Medical Center offers third-year medical students clerkship rotations in Medicine, Surgery, Psychiatry and Neurology.
“Our medical students gain additional knowledge about caring for the special needs of our veterans during their clinical time at the VAMC, under the supervision of knowledgeable and caring VA physicians,” said Maryjean Schenk, M.D., M.P.H., M.S., vice dean of Medical Education and professor of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences.
Participating medical schools have committed to enhancing medical education to ensure that all physicians are trained in the unique clinical challenges of caring for military service members, veterans and their families.
The most common, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ War Related Illness and Injury Study Center, include traumatic brain injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, mental illnesses such as depression, chronic pain, occupation and environmental exposures such as anthrax and exposure to asbestos, hearing loss and vision loss.
As part of the national partnership, WSU will share the most up-to-date diagnostic and therapeutic information on TBI and PTSD, as well as expand the body of knowledge leading to improvements in health care and wellness for this group. Joint research is being performed in the areas of TBI and PTSD, with joint recruitment of researchers under way.
The VAMC and WSU have already spearheaded joint recruitment of academic faculty in various clinical departments, most notably in the current rejuvenation and expansion of the Department of Anesthesiology. It included the appointment of Douglas Bacon, M.D., M.A., to chair the department in November 2011.
Dr. Bacon came to WSU from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where he was professor of Anesthesiology and History of Medicine for the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. He also served as chief of Anesthesiology Service at Veterans Affairs Healthcare Network Upstate New York at Buffalo, N.Y.