School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine
Student organizations' annual ethnic fair celebrates school culture, diversity
In Headlines on October 11, 2013
Students serve and sample Polish cuisine at the 2013 Ethnic Fair. Photo by Malid Karim.

Students serve and sample Polish cuisine at the 2013 Ethnic Fair. Photo by Malid Karim.

Students perform a Bollywood-style dance. Photo by Malid Karim.

Students perform a Bollywood-style dance. Photo by Malid Karim.

The men of the medical school perform in the Bollywood dance. Photo by Malid Karim.

The men of the medical school perform in the Bollywood dance. Photo by Malid Karim.

The Wayne State University School of Medicine’s annual Ethnic Fair attracted more than 150 students, residents and faculty to the Scott Hall Cafeteria on Oct. 3 to celebrate the sights and sounds of the school’s cultural diversity through dance, music, food and presentations.

The event is hosted once per academic year by the Board of Student Organizations.

“Ethnic fair is a popular event because it serves to provide our campus community with an opportunity to embrace the varied cultures we have,” said Rami Al-Aref, a fair co-organizer, second-year medical student and president of the Board of Student Organizations. “Moreover, it also allows students to try different foods and learn to appreciate the unique traditions associated with the different cultures. In today’s world, there is a humanistic aspect of medicine that goes beyond simply treating the disease. It requires you to connect with your patient on a personal level. One of the most important ways to connect with another individual is by being cognizant of the more salient features in that particular person’s culture. That is the essence of Ethnic Fair, and this is why this event is both popular and an important part of our education here at the Wayne State University School of Medicine.”

Guests first enjoyed a variety of globally-inspired cuisine served by several student organizations, including sweet and savory treats from the Jewish Medical Student Association, Black Medical Association, National Arab American Medical Association, Amigos Medicos, The Aesculapians, Gold Humanism Honor Society and the Board of Student Organizations. Organizations are able to purchase food through funding by the Medical School Alumni Association, Al-Aref said.

Later, Assistant Dean of Basic Science Education Matt Jackson, Ph.D., and Associate Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology Dennis Goebel, Ph.D., served as the evening emcees, introducing live performances of Dirbekeeh, a Middle Eastern drum style performed by second-year medical student Khalil Mroue and guest Iman Abutaleb; Bollywood dancing performed and coordinated by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin; Dabkeh, Middle Eastern dancing coordinated by first-year student Firas El-Baba; and songs performed the School of Medicine’s a cappella singing group The UltraSounds.

The fair is one of several organized by the BSO, a group responsible for coordinating events on campus targeted at enhancing student experiences while assisting organizations in recruiting members and future leadership.

“Therefore, most of our events are fairs or leadership workshops,” said Ethnic Fair co-organizer Omar Elmadhoun, a Class of 2016 medical student.  “Ethnic Fair is our largest event, but all of our events are generally quite large. Our purpose is to provide organizations with the tools that they need to help them accomplish their goals and to create an educational environment for our students outside the classroom.”

The Ethnic Fair was sponsored by the Medical School Alumni Association, with additional support from the Office of Student Affairs, the administrator for the Office of Student Organizations and the BSO.
Dr. Powell honored with inaugural Prostate Pioneer Achievement Award
In Headlines on October 7, 2013
From left, keynote Speaker Robert Ginyard is joined by award recipient Manny Rosenbaum, Dr. Elisabeth Heath, M.D,,and award recipient Isaac Powell, M.D.

From left, keynote Speaker Robert Ginyard is joined by award recipient Manny Rosenbaum, Dr. Elisabeth Heath, M.D,,and award recipient Isaac Powell, M.D.

Wayne State University professor Isaac J. Powell, M.D., of Detroit received the inaugural Isaac J. Powell, M.D., Prostate Pioneer Achievement Award from the Karmanos Cancer Institute during the third annual Prostate Cancer Symposium.

The award, named in his honor, recognizes a physician, community volunteer or prostate cancer advocate who continues to demonstrate outstanding leadership, commitment and compassion in their service to prostate cancer survivors while raising awareness of prostate health within the community.

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

Dr. Powell, a surgical oncologist who moved to Detroit with his wife Sandra and their family in 1969, was in private practice for 11 years before joining the WSU-KCI team in 1986. He shows no sign of slowing down. A 16-year prostate cancer survivor himself, his passion to educate men about prostate cancer, as well as encourage early detection, is fueled by his excitement for advancements in prostate cancer screening and treatment; and his quest to help improve the survival outcomes for those at high risk of the disease, including African-American men often diagnosed with advanced stage prostate cancer.

His commitment to prostate cancer research focused on disparities -- comparing the biological and genetic differences among certain ethnic groups -- has attracted the attention of researchers across the globe. His work has affected how other doctors around the world approach prostate cancer research and their interactions with prostate cancer patients to ensure better outcomes.

Dr. Powell has seen significant improvement since the Prostate-Specific Antigen, or PSA, test became available in the late 1980s. The PSA is a blood test that measures the level of protein produced by the prostate gland.

“Prior to the PSA test, 50 to 60 percent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer had metastatic disease. Now, it’s less than 10 percent,” he said.

There have also been new treatments in the last two years, such as ZYTIGA® (abiraterone acetate) and XTANDI (enzalutamide), biological targeted treatments that block pathways to help prevent prostate cancer from spreading. There have also been improvements to surgery with a nerve-sparing procedure to preserve sexual function.

“There are different opinions as to when men should start screening for prostate cancer. This has caused some confusion and men need to be aware, be proactive and discuss with their physician what’s best for them,” Dr. Powell said.

He recommends that men start having PSA screenings at age 50 if they are not considered high risk – don’t have a family history of the disease or are not African-American. He also suggests that men with a higher risk start screening at age 40, including African-American men, who are often detected with advanced stage disease because prostate cancer tends to grow faster in that segment. Men need to discuss with their physician what’s right for them based on their health and risk factors.

“It’s important to educate yourself, know your family history and be an advocate for your own health,” Dr. Powell said. “Early detection saves lives!”

Manuel Rosenbaum, of Oak Park, also received the inaugural Isaac J. Powell, M.D., Prostate Pioneer Achievement Award.  Rosenbaum recently celebrated his 84th birthday and will soon commemorate his 58th wedding anniversary with his wife Regine. A prostate cancer survivor and longtime volunteer prostate health educator, Rosenbaum has selflessly given of his time communicating the importance of prostate screenings and cancer prevention, sharing his story and upbeat attitude to help others.

He uses his first-hand experience to communicate the prostate health message. In 2004, Rosenbaum was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer and was treated at KCI’s Weisberg Treatment Center in Farmington Hills. He knew before his diagnosis that he would be at higher risk for prostate cancer since his brother Irving died from the disease in 2000. Rosenbaum was screened regularly and attributes his survival to early detection.

“The PSA test is not to be ignored and it’s important to also get the rectal exam,” Rosenbaum said. “Us men need to ‘man-up’ and get checked regularly, share the responsibility with our health care provider and advocate for our own health. The chances of surviving prostate cancer are much better if it’s caught early.”

Rosenbaum survived prostate cancer and became a volunteer health educator with Karmanos as a way to honor his brother and share the importance of screening, early detection and prevention of prostate cancer. He has also served on the Karmanos Survivorship University Advisory Committee, assisting in planning programs and events to help cancer survivors and their loved ones.

Rosenbaum received Karmanos’ 2009 Patricia Milner Sachs Heart of a Survivor Award for his outstanding work as a cancer survivor and volunteer. Additionally, he is an active member of US TOO, an international prostate cancer education and support network.

“I would like to think that I’ve given information to help others survive this disease. Even if I helped one person, it’s worth it,” he said.

In addition to the awards presentation, symposium attendees heard from prostate cancer experts and had an opportunity to ask questions. Attendees also heard inspirational keynote speaker Robert Ginyard, entrepreneur, advocate and prostate cancer survivor, who shared his experiences addressing issues such as sex, love and life after prostate cancer.

Nearly 200 people attended the Sept. 28 symposium, titled “What Happens After Diagnosis?” The event, held in collaboration with the School of Medicine, focused 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.

“We know that prostate cancer may not get as much attention as some other cancers, like breast cancer, but we can certainly learn from the awareness progress that’s been made,” said Elisabeth Heath, M.D., F.A.C.P., chair of the Prostate Cancer Symposium, leader of the Prostate Cancer Research team and professor of oncology and medicine for the School of Medicine and KCI. “The mission of the Karmanos Cancer Institute is to eradicate all cancers. It will take all of us collectively to help make a difference – enhancing the awareness and discussion about prostate cancer; and encouraging screening, education and advocacy to help prevent this disease, as well as detect it early so all men, no matter what their ethnicity, survive this disease.”
Crain's names WSU's Doug Skrzyniarz to annual 40 Under 40 awards
In Headlines on October 7, 2013
Doug Skrzyniarz

Doug Skrzyniarz

Wayne State University School of Medicine staff member Doug Skrzyniarz was named to the Crain’s Detroit Business “2013 40 Under 40” honors list for his role in lobbying on behalf of the school for state and federal contracts, including a second 10-year, $165.9 million National Institutes of Health contract awarded earlier this year.

Skrzyniarz, 36, is the associate vice president of Government Affairs at the Wayne State University School of Medicine and Wayne State University Physician Group. He also is an adjunct instructor, leading the Medicine and Political Action in the Community program at the School of Medicine.

He was recognized by Crain’s for creating the Office of Government Affairs soon after he arrived at WSU about seven years ago. He then started sharing with lawmakers in Lansing, Mich., and Washington, D.C., the breakthrough research and discoveries at the National Institute of Child and Health and Human Development Perinatology Research Branch, a contract awarded to WSU and hosted at Hutzel Women’s Hospital since 2002.

The Office of Government Affairs also has directly secured an estimated $30 million in state and federal funding for WSU. Skrzyniarz also assisted in the effort to acquire another $30 million for WSU’s Multidisciplinary Biomedical Research Building, a $93 million construction project slated to open in early 2015.

“I thank all of you for the opportunity to work at such a great place and work with such great people,” Skrzyniarz said. “As the largest single-campus medical school in the country with an amazing history of research breakthroughs and world class medical education, it is a privilege to be part of such a special institution. It is an honor to work with people every day who save lives. To be even a small part of supporting our real health care heroes is something I will always treasure.”

Since 1991, Crain's Detroit Business has honored 40 of the community's high achievers with its 40 under 40 awards based on business achievement and community impact. This year’s class of winners will be honored at a special event at 5 p.m. Nov. 6 at Emagine Theater in Royal Oak. More than 300 nominees were submitted this year. Profiles and photos of all “40 Under 40” honorees are included in the Oct. 7 issue of Crain’s Detroit Business, and online at http://www.crainsdetroit.com/section/forty2013.
College of Nursing's Ramona Benkert appointed to co-lead MI-AHEC grant
In Headlines on October 4, 2013
Ramona Benkert, Ph.D., was appointed co-principal investigator of the Michigan Area Health Education grant.

Ramona Benkert, Ph.D., was appointed co-principal investigator of the Michigan Area Health Education grant.

The Wayne State University College of Nursing’s Ramona Benkert, Ph.D., A.N.P.-B.C., F.A.A.N.P., has joined School of Medicine Dean Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., in leading the Michigan Area Health Education grant.

“I am very excited to be named co-principal investigator of the MI-AHEC grant. It is an honor to be working with Dean Parisi on this project with her extensive experience with AHECs nationwide,” Dr. Benkert said.

Established by Wayne State University in 2010, MI-AHEC strengthens the state’s health care workforce by recruiting, training and retaining health professionals committed to increasing access to primary care. Through a statewide network of regional centers, MI-AHEC prepares underrepresented and disadvantaged youth for health care careers, promotes clinical training opportunities for students in shortage areas and provides continuing education programs for health professionals.

The Detroit native is stepping in for Nancy Artinian, Ph.D., R.N., acting dean of the Wayne State University College of Nursing. Dr. Benkert has worked on the MI-AHEC project since its inception in late 2009, and will continue in her role as MI-AHEC co-program director until a replacement is identified.

“On behalf of the College of Nursing, I am pleased to provide our enthusiastic support for the appointment of Dr. Ramona Benkert as the new co-principal investigator for the MI-AHEC grant,” Dean Artinian said. “I know that Dr. Benkert has been central to MI-AHEC activities and successes since its inception.”

MI-AHEC is funded by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, the Kresge Foundation and Wayne State University. Academic partners include Wayne State University’s College of Nursing, Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, School of Medicine and School of Social Work; the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry; Central Michigan University; Western Michigan University; and Northern Michigan University.

MI-AHEC’s biggest challenge has been creating a statewide database of community-based clinical education sites across universities, schools within universities and the primary care disciplines, Dr. Benkert said.

“I would like to tackle this issue. Without a clear understanding of the current demand for clinical education, we will never be able to expand the current resources for clinical education,” she said. “I am also hoping to expand our three pillars, including increasing the pipeline of underrepresented minority and underserved students into the health careers, increasing the number of community-based clinical education sites in rural and urban underserved areas, and retaining providers in primary care underserved communities,” she added.

Dr. Benkert joined the WSU faculty as an instructor/lecturer in 1987, and was named an assistant professor of nursing in 1998. She received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Mercy College of Detroit in 1981, a master’s degree in science from WSU in 1987 and a doctorate from the University of Michigan in 2002.

She is a nurse practitioner at the Joy Southfield Community Development’s Juanita Reaves Health Center in Detroit and a member of the American Nurses Association and National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties. She was inducted as a fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners in June and was named the University of Detroit Mercy McAuley School of Nursing Alumni of the Year in 2011. She received the Spirit of Detroit Award from the Detroit City Council in 2006.
School of Medicine's Paula Dore-Duffy, Ph.D., to lead WSU Academy of Scholars
In Headlines on October 3, 2013
Paula Dore-Duffy, Ph.D.

Paula Dore-Duffy, Ph.D.

Professor of Neurology Paula Dore-Duffy, Ph.D., was recently chosen to be the 2013-2014 president of the Wayne State University Academy of Scholars.

Following organization tradition, the Bloomfield Hills resident previously served as vice president of the organization for 2012-2013.

Dr. Dore-Duffy was elected to the AOS in 2008.

“It is, really, being inducted that is the honor, as only 77 people have been elected since the inception in the 1970s,” she said.

As president, Dr. Dore-Duffy will oversee the AOS’s regular functions and work to increase the organization’s role in helping to increase perception of the University as well as increase the visibility through a variety of initiatives, including additional student scholarships, undergraduate mentoring, increased presence at WSU athletic and academic events, and several seminars a year hosted by academy members that will be open to the university at large.

The AOS also gives two junior faculty awards yearly at its annual banquet. This year’s recipients are Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery Alana Conti, Ph.D., and Assistant Professor of Anthropology Stephen Crisomalis, Ph.D. New member Paul Karchin, Ph.D., a professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Physics, will be inducted at the event as well, set for Oct. 14.

A month later, the AOS will present two awards at WSU’s Undergraduate Research Day on Nov. 15, at the McGregor Memorial Conference Center.

The organization will give the Bonner Book Award on Dec. 12 to James Ravin and Michael Marmor, ophthalmologists and authors of “The Artist’s Eyes: Vision and the History of Art,” a 2009 book that examines the role of vision and eye disease in art. The award is named after Dr. Thomas N. Bonner, past president of WSU and the AOS. The $2,500 prize is provided through a donation from the Bonner family.

The academy's founding purpose is to raise the scholastic prestige of the university by bringing together the most prominent academic experts on campus to create a community of scholars from among its most celebrated scholars. The AOS promotes achievement in scholarship by recognition and provision of incentives to attract young scholars of promise, bringing in distinguished scholars from other institutions and sponsoring meetings that stimulate interdisciplinary intellectual activity.

Members are selected from the most outstanding and widely recognized faculty members at the university, and appointment to the AOS is the highest recognition that may be bestowed upon fellow faculty members by their colleagues.
Radiation oncology department honors Drs. Maier, Dominello at grad dinner
In Headlines on October 2, 2013
Jordan Maier, M.D., right, receives the Educator of the Year Award at the Department of Radiation Oncology’s resident graduation dinner.

Jordan Maier, M.D., right, receives the Educator of the Year Award at the Department of Radiation Oncology’s resident graduation dinner.

Michael Dominello, D.O., right, is congratulated by Professor Andre Konski, M.D., department chair.

Michael Dominello, D.O., right, is congratulated by Professor Andre Konski, M.D., department chair.

Two Wayne State University School of Medicine physicians were recognized with awards voted on by their fellow physicians at the Department of Radiation Oncology’s annual resident graduation dinner held this summer.

Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology Jordan Maier, M.D., was named Educator of the Year by the Association of Residents in Radiation Oncology. The award recognizes outstanding teachers and mentors of radiation oncology residents. Each radiation oncology residency program may nominate one faculty member for the award, and a total of 56 recipients were selected in the country.

He received his medical degree from WSU in 2001 and completed his residency in the WSU program at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in 2006. He joined the Department of
Radiation Oncology and the Wayne State University Physician Group in 2008.

“I was very honored to be recognized by the residents this year,” Dr. Maier said. “It is very gratifying to help mold future radiation oncologists.  My objective is for residents to learn the science of medicine as well as how to deliver care in a compassionate manner.  We have a tremendous group of residents dedicated to learning and I was overwhelmed by the recognition.”

Michael Dominello, D.O., was given the Radiological Society of North America’s Roentgen Resident/Fellow Research Award for his scholarly activity in the department. The award recognizes and encourages outstanding residents and fellows in radiologic research at participating North American residency programs. Program directors or department chairs choose their own institution’s honoree. Dr. Dominello is the WSU department’s chief resident and is in his fourth year of the five-year residency program.

“Senior residents who have received this award in the past have served as my personal clinical research mentors. To receive this award myself was very special,” he said. “I would like to thank Dr. Andre Konski, our department chair, and Dr. Steven Miller, our program director, for always encouraging resident research initiatives within our program, as well as Dr. Michael Joiner and Dr. Gilda Hillman for their time and assistance in my RSNA grant submission.”

Dr. Dominello was recognized by the Michigan Radiological Society in April for a study on endometrial cancer, and received a scholarship award from the American College of Radiation Oncology in February for his essay on obstacles to outcomes reporting in radiation oncology practices.

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