School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine
Professor's charity to save babies with weak lungs launches online fundraising campaign
In Headlines on September 6, 2013
Nitin Chouthai, M.D., F.A.A.P.

Nitin Chouthai, M.D., F.A.A.P.

Instead of complaining about a harrowing situation he witnessed first-hand during a visit to an ill-equipped neonatal intensive care unit in India, Nitin Chouthai, M.D., F.A.A.P., did something about it.

Dr. Chouthai, an assistant professor of pediatrics in the Wayne State University School of Medicine’s Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, co-founded the Pioneer Medical Research Foundation in August 2010 to build and deliver machines that support breathing to Indian hospitals, and hopefully decrease India’s infant mortality rate of as many as 75 deaths per 1,000 live births. India makes up 30 percent of all infant deaths in the world, according to the World Health Organization.

The foundation’s effort is officially dubbed Project Palav, and is a certified nonprofit organization in India, with 501c status pending in the United States. Its title is derived from Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language, and means young budding leaf or sprout.

Project Palav was launched only a few months after Dr. Chouthai, an Indian native, visited the same hospital where he trained in pediatrics almost a decade earlier, in the Indian state of Maharashtra.

“I was in tears when I saw that there were several newborns with breathing difficulties and there was only one ventilator, no saturation monitors, no blood pressure monitors,” he said. “The doctors were still trying to work hard to provide as much as they could. Several of those newborns were likely to die because their parents could not afford intensive care in private institutions. This center is in the middle of a huge city with more than three million (people).”

If implemented, Phase I of Project Palav will provide at least 1,000 portable humidified heated high flow nasal cannula systems to 400 NICUs in rural and semi-urban India. The systems deliver compressed air to open newborn lungs. Dr. Chouthai estimates that 1,000 systems would save up to 10,000 infants a year.

A life can be saved using tubing worth $40. Equipment for a trained midwife can be provided for $250 and a section of a peripheral health center can be equipped to provide respiratory care of three newborns at a time for $2,000.

To meet these goals, the organization launched a fundraising campaign Aug. 20 on, an international crowd-funding platform where the group hopes to raise $300,000. When coupled with a possible $1 million grant, the online funds would be enough to cover the project’s estimated $1.3 million cost. Donation incentives include photos of the Indian hospital you’re helping to support ($10) and personalized thank you letters ($25), as well as name listings on the website ($200 to $600) and a plaque at the hospital helped ($1,600).

Any additional support would go toward training 1,000 health care providers who are traditional birth attendants that can carry the system in their back packs in rural and tribal places.

Volunteers and equipment donations are always needed as well, Dr. Chouthai said. He has visited India twice a year since 2010, and the organization has already provided ventilators and training to Yashwantrao Chavan Memorial Hospital in Pune, India, and JSS Medical College in Mysore, India. Most delivery hospitals in the developing world do not have the minimal equipment needed to keep lungs open, according to Project Palav materials.

”I recently revisited the center and the situation is far better in that particular center,” he said. “However, there are several tribal and rural areas where newborn mortality is as high as 75 per 1,000 live births, compared to the United States, where it is 6.8 per 1,000 live births.”

Phase I will run through 2014 and includes collecting and sending old equipment from the U.S. to semi-urban and rural hospitals in developing areas, and installing the equipment for free at government hospitals. Dr. Chouthai’s team would like to expand the project beyond India to other developing countries beginning in 2014.

For more information on Project Palav, visit
WSU ResearchConnect, the latest in research collaboration and networking tools
In Headlines on September 5, 2013
When research opportunities arise, researchers need an efficient way to identify the right collaborators. But personal connections can sometimes be too narrow, word of mouth too slow, and collecting and maintaining a centralized system too expensive and time consuming.

The Wayne State University Division of Research, in collaboration with the University Library System, now offers a new tool for a quick solution, WSU ResearchConnect. Through visualization of relevant concepts, ResearchConnect makes available a searchable database of the distinctive expertise of hundreds of researchers across the university.


* Delivers a searchable database of research profiles from across most WSU disciplines, making it easier to find experts and enable collaboration.

* Explores profiles developed and pre-populated with publication histories from the Scopus® database that can be integrated with additional content such as grants, patents, book s and creative works reflecting the expertise of WSU faculty.

* Makes researchers’ output and expertise more discoverable within the institution, throughout the SciVal Experts Community and nationally to the DIRECT2experts and VIVO networks.

* Provides answers to questions like: What new publications have been produced at WSU and by whom? Who is working together? With which internal and external organizations are we collaborating?

For more information about WSU Research Connect, contact Sarah James at or Sandra Martin at
WSU and Karmanos present 'What Happens After Diagnosis?' Prostate Cancer Symposium
In Headlines on September 4, 2013
Isaac Powell, M.D.

Isaac Powell, M.D.

Elisabeth Heath, M.D.

Elisabeth Heath, M.D.

Robert Ginyard

Robert Ginyard

The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and the Wayne State University School of Medicine will present the third annual Prostate Cancer Symposium, “What Happens After Diagnosis?,” on Sept. 28 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.

The symposium is free but registration is required.

The symposium, which will run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., will focus on survivorship – what happens after a cancer diagnosis and how patients and their loved ones deal with the physical, mental and emotional aspects of survivorship. Attendees will hear about new advancements in prostate cancer and have an opportunity to ask questions of a panel of experts consisting of a physician, social workers, legal advisor and patient.

The luncheon keynote address will be given by Robert Ginyard, an inspirational speaker, entrepreneur, advocate and prostate cancer survivor, who will present ““Beyond Prostate Cancer: Taking Survivorship, Advocacy and Empowerment to New Heights.” Once hesitant to speak about his cancer, Ginyard now welcomes opportunities to share his experiences with other men and their families, addressing issues such as sex, love and life after prostate cancer. He spoke before Congress, advocating for more funding for prostate cancer, and has been interviewed by national media regarding his journey with the disease. He is the creator of DiBi DiBi – Dream it. Believe it. Do it. Be it.– an awareness campaign encouraging others to live their dreams.

Other speakers include Elisabeth Heath, M.D., F.A.C.P., of the WSU School of Medicine and the Karmanos Cancer Institute; Alicia Gardner of the American Cancer Society; Jordan Maier, M.D., and Michael Cher, M.D., both of the WSU School of Medicine and Karmanos; Clara Hwang, M.D., of Henry Ford Hospital; Kristen Kingzett, M.D., of the WSU School of Medicine; Kathy Smolinski, M.S.W., J.D., of the WSU Law School and Karmanos; Ruthie Maples, M.S.W., L.M.S.W., A.C.S.W., of Karmanos; Isaac Powell, M.D., of the WSU School of Medicine and Karmanos; and Alanzo McCann, a prostate cancer survivor.

During the symposium, the Karmanos Cancer Institute will present its inaugural Isaac J. Powell, M.D., Prostate Pioneer Achievement Award, which recognizes a physician, community volunteer and/or prostate cancer advocate who continues to demonstrates outstanding leadership, commitment and compassion in service to prostate cancer survivors while raising awareness of prostate health within the community. This year’s awardees are:

Isaac Powell, M.D., professor of urology for the WSU School of Medicine and Karmanos. Dr. Powell is a tireless advocate who has dedicated his career caring for patients and educating others about prostate cancer prevention, as well as helping to eliminate cancer disparities within the African-American community. He is the namesake of the award.

Manuel Rosenbaum, a prostate cancer survivor and longtime volunteer prostate health educator who has selflessly given of his time communicating the importance of prostate screenings and cancer prevention, sharing his story and upbeat attitude to help others.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. Sessions begin at 8:30 a.m.

Free valet or self-parking will be available.

While the symposium and parking are free, registration is required due to limited space. To confirm registration and see the full agenda, visit or call 1-800-KARMANOS. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.
Palliative Care Support workshop planned for Sept. 11
In Headlines on September 4, 2013
­The Detroit Medical Center and Wayne State University will present a special evening workshop, “Palliative Care Support in Changing Times,” at the Townsend Hotel on Sept. 11.

The workshop will feature palliative care experts providing updates on what palliative care consists of, the impact of palliative care clinically and financially, and the value palliative care adds to patients and a physician’s practice.

Speakers include Afzal Beemath, M.D., medical director of Palliative Care Medicine for DMC Harper University Hospital and DMC Hutzel Women’s Hospital; Michael Stellini, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of internal medicine for the Wayne State University School of Medicine and medical director of Palliative Care Medicine for Detroit Receiving Hospital; and Robert Zalenski, M.D., the Brooks F. Bock Professor of Emergency Medicine for the WSU School of Medicine and director of Wayne State University’s Center to Advance Palliative Care Excellence, and director of Palliative Care Development for Vanguard Health Systems.

The program runs from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the Townsend, located at 100 Townsend St. in Birmingham, Mich. Dinner will be provided.

Three Continuing Medical Education credits will be provided for those completing the program.

Seating is limited. Please RSVP by Sept. 9 to Tonita Cheatham at 313-966-4012 or
Scientists receive Strategic Research Initiative Grants for promising research
In Headlines on September 3, 2013
The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute has announced the winners of its 2013 Strategic Research Initiative Grants, which fund innovative intra- and inter-programmatic projects that exhibit potential in leading to multi-investigator grants.

A total of four $50,000 grants have been given to researchers. These grants last for one year.

Winners of the grants include:

Rafael Fridman, Ph.D., professor in the Cancer Biology Graduate Program at the Wayne State University School of Medicine and Karmanos, and Bonnie Sloane, Ph.D., distinguished professor and chair of Pharmacology at WSU and KCI, for their project, “Discoidin Domain Receptors and Collagen Density: Unveiling the Biological Bases for the Relationship between Mammographic Density and Breast Cancer Risk.”

Aliccia Bollig-Fisher, Ph.D., assistant professor of oncology at WSU and KCI, and Sandeep Mittal, M.D., F.R.C.S.C., co-leader of the Neuro-oncology Multidisciplinary Team at Karmanos and WSU, for their project, “Identification of candidate driver oncogenes from cytogenomic analysis of metastatic brain tumors.”

Larry Lum, D.Sc., professor of medicine and immunology and of microbiology at WSU and Karmanos, and Shelley Seward, M.D., member of the Gynecologic Oncology Multidisciplinary Team at Karmanos and WSU, for their project “Vaccinating with Targeted T-cells, Deleting Tregs, and Boosting with Immune T-cells for Optimizing Immunotherapy Against Ovarian Cancer.”

Elisabeth Heath, M.D., F.A.C.P., director of Prostate Cancer Research and professor of oncology and medicine at WSU and KCI, and Avraham Raz, Ph.D., professor of oncology at WSU and Karmanos, for their study, “A Pilot Study of the Role of Galectin-3 in Prostate Cancer Screening and Diagnosis.”

“These studies are just a few examples of the truly dynamic and innovative work that takes place every day between our clinical researchers and basic scientists at Karmanos Cancer Institute and Wayne State University School of Medicine,” said Gerold Bepler, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO of Karmanos. “These projects are truly collaborative and pave the way to new therapies that will bring hope to cancer patients in the future.”
Zewail Lecture features Dr. James A. Spudich of Stanford University
In Headlines on September 3, 2013
James Spudich, Ph.D.

James Spudich, Ph.D.

Faculty, staff and students are invited to the 2013 Ahmed H. Zewail Lecture, set for Sept. 10.

This year’s presenter is James Spudich, Ph.D., the Douglass M. and Nola Leishman professor of Cardiovascular Disease in the Department of Biochemistry at Stanford University’s School of Medicine.

Dr. Spudich is best known for his trailblazing investigations of the molecular motors that drive skeletal muscle contractions and heartbeats, enable cells to divide and power patrolling immune cells through our tissues. Current clinical trials of several drugs based on his understanding of exactly how muscles contract offer hope for people prone to heart failure, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and perhaps even the frailties of old age.

The lecture will take place in the Marvin I. Danto Engineering Development Center Auditorium, located at 5050 Anthony Wayne Drive, Room 1507, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. A 1 p.m. poster session will kick off the event in the EDC lobby and activity center areas, followed by an introduction and presentation of the Zewail Medal at 2 p.m. in the EDC auditorium, and concluding with Dr. Spudich’s lecture at 2:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required by visiting

Dr. Spudich is the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship, the American Heart Association Basic Research Prize, the Alexander von Humboldt Research Award, the Biophysical Society Lifetime Research Career Award, the Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Outstanding Research Achievement in the Field of Basic Medical Studies, the American Chemical Society’s Award for the Investigator in the Field of Single Molecule Biology, the E.B. Wilson Medal, the Arthur Kornberg and Paul Berg Lifetime Achievement Award in Biomedical Sciences, the Wiley  Prize in Biomedical Sciences and the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

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