School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine
WSU to host interdisciplinary Society for Neuroscience annual meeting May 13
In Headlines on April 29, 2013

Wayne State University will host the 44th annual meeting of the Michigan Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience on May 13 at the Michigan Science Center in Detroit. Registration is open online at

“The meeting allows neuroscientists from throughout the state to interact. The hope is that this can stimulate greater interaction and collaboration across the state,” said Thomas Fischer, Ph.D., WSU associate professor of Psychology, Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience and president of the Michigan Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience.

The meeting will include talks; a general poster session; poster competition for undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and technicians; paper competition presentation and banquet lunch.

This year's keynote speaker is Claudia Robertson, M.D., professor of Neurosurgery at the Baylor University College of Medicine and medical director of the Center for Neurosurgical Intensive Care at Ben Taub Hospital, in Houston. Dr. Robertson is known for her research on the mechanisms of brain damage and neuroprotection following traumatic brain injury.

Guests also will have the opportunity to attend a private showing of the "Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion" exhibit at a discounted rate of $10.

A variety of WSU departments and centers will be represented, including the School of Medicine’s Departments of Anesthesiology, Anatomy and Cell Biology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences and its Translational Neuroscience graduate program, and the Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics; the Graduate School’s Institute of Gerontology; the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Departments of Psychology, Biological Sciences and Chemistry, and the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute; the College of Engineering’s Department of Biomedical Engineering; and the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Science’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Late registration will be open through the day of the event. Abstract and poster submission is closed.

For information, visit the chapter website at
Crain's Detroit honors medical student John Purakal for public health initiative
In Headlines on April 29, 2013
John Purakal, Class 0f 2014, was named to the Crain's Detroit Business 2013 20 in Their 20s.

John Purakal, Class 0f 2014, was named to the Crain's Detroit Business 2013 20 in Their 20s.

Crain’s Detroit Business has named Wayne State University School of Medicine student John Purakal to its annual “Crain’s 20 in their 20s” awards list, released April 29.

(Click here for the magazine’s story and photos).

The weekly news magazine recognizes the Class of 2014’s Purakal, 27, for his work as co-founder of Raising Our Community’s Knowledge, a public health education initiative and lecture series that educates Detroit residents of all ages about chronic health problems and encourages them to take charge of their own health and the health of their families.

The “Crain’s 20 in their 20s” program honors success at a young age, from enterprising entrepreneurs to young professionals making an impact at established organizations while contributing to a new energy in southeast Michigan. Purakal and his fellow honorees will be recognized at a Crain’s Detroit Business special event, set for 5 p.m. May 8 at Buffalo Wild Wings in Detroit.

“I was very surprised to find out I had been selected for an honor of this distinction. Once I saw the list of other honorees, I realized that Crain’s Detroit Business was selecting people making an impact in Detroit in a multitude of ways, not only in business,” Purakal said. “ROCK has been working on setting up a workshop with the women of ‘The Empowerment Plan,’ whose founder, Veronika Scott, was also selected for the honor. Similarly, many School of Medicine students who have worked with ROCK have volunteered with Derek Weaver, another honoree, and his Grand River Creative Corridor project.  While it’s very humbling to be selected alongside such ambitious people, I realize it’s not just about me. It serves as further recognition of what we have accomplished as an organization.”

ROCK was launched in 2011 and now has five board members and more than 25 medical and nutrition graduate students who speak at community centers, schools, churches, clinics, refugee homes, homeless shelters and military bases. Topics include hypertension, atherosclerosis, diabetes, depression, obesity, drug and alcohol use, prevalent cancers and risk factors, vaccinations, sexually transmitted diseases and more.

“I wouldn't have been considered if it weren't for the work of Joe Tsao, Jakub Sikora, Andreea Geamanu, Hoda Kadouh, Clare Porter Park and all the other students who gave their time to help establish our organization,” Purakal said. “Hopefully this award opens up opportunities for other students and for ROCK as an organization.”

The organization has reached an estimated 3,000 people so far.

Purakal, a Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich., native, told Crain’s health reporter Jay Greene why he decided to stay at home instead of attending medical school in another city. “I chose to go to medical school here instead of Portland because there is a revolution happening downtown with many fields and professions,” he said. “A new generation of young people want to change Detroit for the better, and I want to be part of that."

WSU names Dr. Dawn Misra a Gershenson Distinguished Faculty Fellow
In Headlines on April 29, 2013
Dawn Misra, Ph.D., received the Charles H. Gershenson Distinguished Faculty Fellow Award at WSU’s Academic Recognition Ceremony.

Dawn Misra, Ph.D., received the Charles H. Gershenson Distinguished Faculty Fellow Award at WSU’s Academic Recognition Ceremony.

Epidemiologist Dawn Misra, Ph.D., was selected by a committee of her Wayne State University colleagues as one of the 27th group of Charles H. Gershenson Distinguished Faculty Fellows, an honor established by the university’s Board of Governors to recognize and provide support for faculty whose achievements and activities in scholarship, research and artistic performance and creativity continue to hold national distinction.

Dr. Misra is associate professor and associate chair for Research in the WSU School of Medicine Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences. Her work focuses on how factors in a woman’s life, beginning as early as her own in utero experiences, and the trajectories of those factors across the course of her life, may influence her own birth outcomes and explain racial and socioeconomic disparities in preterm birth, infant mortality and childhood health.

She received the award with other recipients at the Academic Recognition Ceremony held April 25 at WSU’s McGregor Memorial Conference Center in Detroit. The award includes two $6,500 stipends given in 2013 and 2014 to support research.

“I am considering developing a research symposium with outside speakers focused on methods to study life course predictors of health,” she said.

Dr. Misra received a bachelor’s degree and master of Health Sciences degree from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and her doctoral degree, in Epidemiology, from Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in New York. She joined the WSU faculty in 2008.

“Research is very competitive, especially in today’s funding climate. Awards like this, while small, can encourage faculty as they face these challenges,” she said.

Support for the fellowships was created by a special action of the Board of Governors designed to recognize and assist the intellectual pursuits of selected senior faculty members.

Receiving her first Distinguished Faculty Fellowship award is “very gratifying,” Dr. Misra said. “(It’s) nice to be recognized for my work.”

She also appreciates the ongoing support of her research team, “but especially Dr. Rhonda Dailey, my project manager and my postdoctoral fellows, Dr. Jennifer Straughen, Dr. Jaime Slaughter and Dr. Shawnita Sealy-Jefferson, as well as the support of the senior faculty in my department, especially Drs. Linda Roth, Kendra Schwartz and Rick Severson,” she said.

Expert in youth brain imaging to give grand rounds presentation May 1
In Headlines on April 26, 2013
Frank MacMaster, Ph.D.

Frank MacMaster, Ph.D.

A former research assistant for the Wayne State University School of Medicine will return for a grand rounds presentation sponsored by the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences.

Frank MacMaster, Ph.D., will present “Brain Imaging in Youth with Bipolar Disorders” at 1 p.m. May 1 in the Margherio Family Conference Center.

Dr. MacMaster is assistant professor of Psychiatry and of Paediatrics at the Calgary University School of Medicine in Alberta, Canada. He holds the Cuthbertson and Fischer Chair in Paediatric Mental Health at the university. His core area of research focuses on the neurobiology of mental health in children and adolescents, with a focus on mood disorders. He is investigating the neurobiology of emotional regulation and the interplay with stress in these populations using functional magnetic resonance imaging, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, anatomical MRI, and diffusion tensor imaging and cortisol concentration.

He will present “Brain Imaging in Youth with Bipolar Disorders.”

Dr. MacMaster worked as a research assistant and post-doctoral fellow in the lab of David Rosenberg, M.D., chair of the WSU Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences.

Among his many accomplishments, Dr. MacMaster's biologically-based research is the first in the world to result in the application of a new class of medications for children and adolescents with certain mental health disorders. He conducts his research in the Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute for Child and Maternal Health.
MI-AHEC appoints Western Regional Center executive director
In Headlines on April 26, 2013
The Western Regional Center of the Michigan Area Health Education Center recently selected Lori Stegmier to serve as executive director. In this role, Stegmier will design, direct and assess all aspects of the Western Regional Center, including financial administration, program planning and development, personnel management, fundraising, and public relations and marketing.

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 areas facing a shortage of health care providers and provides continuing education programs for health professionals. The Western Regional Center services residents of 19 counties: Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Hillsdale, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lake, Lenawee, Mason, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Ottawa, St. Joseph and Van Buren.

Since 1984, Stegmier has held a number of positions in health care and program management, including director of health and safety services for the American Red Cross of West Central Michigan and chief health educator for the Kent County Health Department. Most recently, she served as an adult viral hepatitis prevention coordinator for the Michigan Department of Community Health, where she conducted needs assessments, developed viral hepatitis programming, provided training and technical assistance to community organizations, and prepared grant applications.

A resident of Grand Rapids, Stegmier earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from Central Michigan University. A certified health education specialist, she earned a master’s degree in Health and Safety from Ball State University.

Western Michigan University is the hosting partner of the Western Regional Center. The university’s College of Health and Human Services will play an integral role in teaching and training the next generation of health professionals.

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, School of Medicine, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and the School of Social Work; the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry; Central Michigan University; Western Michigan University; and Northern Michigan University.
Dean's chief of staff named chair-elect of AAMC's Deans' Assistants Group
In Headlines on April 25, 2013
Julie Serdar

Julie Serdar

Julie Serdar, M.B.A., chief of staff to Wayne State University School of Medicine Dean Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., has been elected chair-elect of the Association of American Medical Colleges Deans’ Assistants Group.

“I was pleased and surprised to hear I was elected to the chair-elect position of the board of the Deans’ Assistants Group,” said Serdar, who lives in Farmington Hills, Mich. “I am grateful to Dean Parisi for supporting me as a member of this group, and am honored and humbled that my fellow members have the confidence in me to fill such an important role. I look forward to this new challenge.”

As chair-elect, Serdar will serve one year. Her duties include serving as liaison to regional representatives, maintaining an ongoing interaction with the current chair, coordinating arrangements with the site coordinator for meetings over which the chair-elect will preside and assuming duties of the chair in the chair’s absence.

The Deans' Assistants Group is comprised of and represents the administrative/executive assistants to deans in colleges of medicine. The membership represents more than 100 medical schools in the United States. Its mission is to improve communication among medical schools through networking and the Internet, as well as enable the deans to better achieve their goals. Members assist each other in project planning, curriculum changes, faculty appointments and legal matters through the exchange of information online between meetings.

While Serdar has been in her current position since August 2011, she has worked for medical schools for almost 20 years. Before joining the administrative team at the WSU School of Medicine she served as the administrative director for the dean of the School of Medicine at the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science Chicago Medical School in North Chicago, Illinois, where she was employed for 18 years.

While there, she was awarded the Exceptional Customer Service Award in 2007 and recognized for outstanding service as chair of the Administrative Staff Assembly in 2009. She has staffed and chaired numerous committees and, on several occasions, has been asked to present on topics related to inspirational leadership, including at that university’s annual employee recognition program and the leadership series group.

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