School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine
American College of Surgeons honors Ingida Asfaw, M.D., for humanitarian work in Ethiopia
In Headlines on December 11, 2013
Ingida Asfaw, M.D.

Ingida Asfaw, M.D.

The Wayne State University School of Medicine’s Ingida Asfaw, M.D., F.A.C.S., recently received the American College of Surgeons’ 2013 Pfizer Surgical Volunteerism Award for his outreach to the medically underserved in developing countries.

“It was an honor and I feel fortunate to have been recognized,” Dr. Asfaw said.

A surgeon, Dr. Asfaw joined the Wayne State University School of Medicine faculty in 1974 as an assistant professor of surgery. He is now a clinical associate professor in the Department of Surgery, and was one of four surgical award recipients honored at the 2013 ACS Clinical Congress, which took place Oct. 6-10 in Washington, D.C.

The awardees are determined by the ACS Board of Governors’ Surgical Volunteerism and Humanitarian Awards Workgroup. School of Medicine alumnus Jerone Landstrom, M.D., Class of 1981 and a student of Dr. Asfaw’s at one time, also received one of the four awards given, for his military outreach.

Dr. Asfaw, a Grosse Pointe Park, Mich., resident, was born in Ethiopia, and moved to the United States at age 16. He received his medical degree from Indiana University Medical School in 1967, and completed residencies in general surgery and thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at WSU and the Detroit Medical Center.

After graduation, Dr. Asfaw intended to return to Ethiopia to provide health care services, but couldn’t because of political unrest. Instead, he arranged for Ethiopians in need of cardiac surgery and other non-cardiac medical procedures not available in Ethiopia to be flown to Detroit, where he provided free medical services and covered hospital costs out of his personal funds, the ACS said in a news release about the awards.

In 1999, he founded the Ethiopian North American Health Professionals Association, and is still president. The group was created to improve health care access, delivery and quality of care for the country’s citizens, specifically related to surgery, HIV/AIDS and maternal-child health.

In 2003, Dr. Asfaw and ENAHPA’s team helped perform Ethiopia’s first open-heart operation, cardiac pacemaker implant and laparoscopic cholecystectomy, a surgery to remove the gallbladder and gallstones.

The group also played an important role in developing programs such as sponsorship of orphans affected by and infected with HIV/AIDS and more than 40 medical and surgical missions to Ethiopia. The ENAHPA care team has performed more than 3,000 procedures.

Dr. Asfaw is a member of the Academy of Surgery of Detroit, American College of Emergency Physicians, American Heart Association, Ethiopian Medical Association and International Association for Cardiac Biological Implants and a Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Surgeons, Society of Thoracic Surgeons, Wayne County Medical Society, Michigan State Medical Society and Michigan Society of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons. He also has received the Volvo for Life America’s Greatest Hometown Hero Award, the Eastern Mennonite University Alumnus of the Year award and The Michigan Chronicle’s Distinguished Detroiter award for his humanitarian work.

Dr. Asfaw has three children, including daughter Zewditu Asfaw, M.D., a surgeon who recently completed her WSU/DMC general surgery residency.
Breakfast featuring American Idol finalist caps World AIDS Day Detroit events
In Headlines on December 6, 2013
American Idol singer Kimberley Locke, left, WSU medical student Phil Kucab and WJBK-TV reporter Amy Lange all spoke at the World AIDS Day Detroit Mayors Breakfast.

American Idol singer Kimberley Locke, left, WSU medical student Phil Kucab and WJBK-TV reporter Amy Lange all spoke at the World AIDS Day Detroit Mayors Breakfast.

WSU medical students organized a series of World AIDS Day Detroit events inspired by the theme “Getting to Zero.”

WSU medical students organized a series of World AIDS Day Detroit events inspired by the theme “Getting to Zero.”

Max M. and Marjorie S. Fischer Foundation Executive Director Doug Stewart, speaks at the Dec. 6, 2013 event in front of several AIDS quilt panels.

Max M. and Marjorie S. Fischer Foundation Executive Director Doug Stewart, speaks at the Dec. 6, 2013 event in front of several AIDS quilt panels.

“It always seems impossible until it is done.”

That message, a quote from South African civil rights leader Nelson Mandela, was the takeaway message at the third annual World AIDS Day Detroit Mayors Breakfast at the Fillmore Theater in Detroit, held Dec. 6, the day after Mandela’s death.

It also was the 42nd birthday of Ryan White, an Indiana boy with hemophilia who became a national poster child for HIV/AIDS in the United States after being expelled from his middle school because of his infection, which he contracted via a contaminated blood transfusion. He died in 1990, and the Ryan White Care Act is the largest provider of services for people living with the disease in the U.S.

WADD founder and Wayne State University medical student Phil Kucab spoke with Ryan’s mother, Jeanne White-Ginder, that morning.

“She said, ‘I’m so happy that you’re taking the time to remember him so well,’” he said.

The breakfast was emceed by WJBK-TV Fox 2 Detroit reporter Amy Lange, and attended by service organizations; legislators from Detroit, Ferndale and other cities; and by people affected and infected with HIV and AIDS. Donations raised at the event will benefit the Hemophilia Foundation of Michigan.

WADD was launched in 2011 by Kucab, a third-year medical student, to coincide with the global awareness day established in 1988 by the World Health Organization.

“It’s a tremendous way to make a difference in Detroit and in the HIV world, and it gives the students something good too,” he said. “It’s a way for students to make an immediate impact.”

Kucab’s multimedia talk at the event cemented the need for continued awareness, especially in Detroit, where HIV rates are three times the state average. “The reason why I’m so passionate about this is it’s a problem we can do something about,” he said.

Medicine made major strides in successfully treating AIDS and prolonging the lives of those with HIV in the 1990s. The first federally approved drug to treat the disease was developed at the WSU School of Medicine. Because of the success, the public grew fairly complacent when AIDS became manageable and stopped being a death sentence. But prevention and treatment disparity continues. Only one in four people with HIV take the necessary one to two pills a day to virally suppress the disease, which means it can’t be detected in their blood or spread to another person. Just 66 percent of people diagnosed find care and only 37 percent of people retain that care, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at a July 2012 AIDS conference. The CDC released a report in 2012 chronicling the impact of HIV on the country’s youth. An estimated 1.1 million people are living with HIV in the United States, and about 50,000 people contract HIV each year, the report stated. About one in four of new infections occur in 13- to 24-years-olds. About 60 percent don’t know they are infected, the CDC said, and 54 percent of new infections are among young gay and bisexual African-American males.

This year’s events were organized by the WADD committee, along with the School of Medicine’s STI/AIDS Education Initiative, LGBT People in Medicine and the American Medical Student Association.

“I think it is vitally important here to have this week and this day, to raise public awareness,” said WSU medical student Brooke Henderson, who co-organized the WADD events related to the medical school, including student-organized events that night and Dec. 7. “I think it is a very important (topic) for us to be involved in, because it’s about social injustice and it’s a medical issue.”

Kucab took solace in one anecdote he shared. In his first year at WSU, he remembers HIV was the topic of just one lecture. The other day, he walked by several classrooms in the Mazurek Medical Education Commons, where HIV discussions were scheduled for the entire day.

“That’s how we’re fighting HIV, by talking about it,” he said. “It will be discussed in our high schools, our middle schools, it will be everywhere.”

Kimberley Locke, a former “American Idol” contestant who placed third in the second season behind winner Ruben Studdard and runner-up Clay Aiken, was the morning’s special guest, singing two songs and speaking about why she continually advocates for HIV/AIDS education, programming and awareness.

Since appearing on the show, Locke, a Nashville native, has been actively involved with One Heartland, a national non-profit organization committed to improving the lives of children and families impacted by HIV/AIDS. She worked with the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation shortly after her “Idol” stint. It was at that event she befriended an HIV positive man who has had the virus for 27 years. She traveled to South Africa with her friend and the organization soon after.

“It changed my entire life. When I came back, I was never the same,” she said. “We’re all here because we can make a difference. We’re all connected. The real job is to go out and preach to someone who’s not in the church. When we leave here today, let’s not stop the conversation.”

To learn more, or to donate to the cause, visit or

Experts site ranks WSU one of world's leading diabetic retinopathy institutions
In Headlines on December 6, 2013
Mark Juzych, M.D.

Mark Juzych, M.D., a website that ranks people and institutions according to their demonstrated expertise in specific medical diseases, conditions and treatments, has named the Wayne State University School of Medicine the world’s second top leading institution in diabetic retinopathy.

WSU placed second only to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

The other ranked institutions, in order, include Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, University of Sydney in Australia, University of Heidelberg in Germany, Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, the University of Wisconsin, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona in Spain and Kurume University School of Medicine in Japan.

“This recognition is well deserved because the Kresge Eye Institute and the School of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology for years have been known as a key center of eye care,” said Mark Juzych, M.D., chair of the WSU Department of Ophthalmology and director of the Kresge Eye Institute. “Exceling at research, quality faculty and staff, and the high quality of patient care have been our hallmark for years, and continue to be.”

Diabetes is a leading cause of acquired blindness in young adults. Almost 50 percent of diabetes patients have some form of retinopathy -- not necessarily blindness -- nine years after diabetes onset. That figure increases to 95 percent after 20 years of the disease. Retinopathy is the most common cause of acquired blindness in diabetic patients. The condition is a result of damage to the small blood vessels in the retina, the layer of cells in the back of the eye that is responsible for sending signals to the brain. The condition’s onset can begin with no or few symptoms.

The medical search and ranking solution uses objective algorithms to identify the most knowledgeable and experienced physicians, clinicians and researchers in more than 26,000 topics. The site allows health care consumers to find the top experts within their travel area. defines an expert as someone who has published peer-reviewed research in the science, therapies and complications a specific medical topic. The site ranks experts and institutions according to their demonstrated expertise in specific medical diseases, conditions and treatments.

Bonner Book Award Lecture set for Dec. 12
In Headlines on December 6, 2013
James Ravin, M.D.

James Ravin, M.D.

"The Artist's Eyes: Vision and the History of Art."

"The Artist's Eyes: Vision and the History of Art."

The biennial Thomas N. Bonner Book Award Lecture will be presented Dec. 12  in the Community Room of the David Adamany Undergraduate Library.

The award is given every two years for the best book published during that interval that deals with the conjunction of the humanities and the sciences. The Bonner Book Award is sponsored by Wayne State University’s Academy of Scholars, and the Award Committee is composed of members of the academy from the School of Medicine and from the liberal arts faculties.

This most recent award was presented to Michael Marmor, M.D., and James Ravin, M.D., for their book, “The Artist’s Eyes: Vision and the History of Art,” published by Abrams Press. The book focuses on the vision problems of the great artists and how these may have influenced their paintings.

Dr. Ravin, who will give the 3 p.m. lecture, is an ophthalmologist who practices in Toledo, Ohio, at TLC Eyecare & Laser Centers. He is a contributor to a textbook soon to be released titled “Doctors of Another Calling,” and is a clinical associate professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toledo College of Medicine.

Dr. Marmor is a professor of Ophthalmology at Stanford University.

A reception in the adjoining Rare Book Room will follow Dr. Ravin’s lecture.
WSU wins 'Movember' White Coat Mustache Challenge, project raises $13K for men's health
In Headlines on December 3, 2013
WSU medical students Adam Russman, left, and Arjun Gowda, show off their Movember moustaches.

WSU medical students Adam Russman, left, and Arjun Gowda, show off their Movember moustaches.

Despite a hair-raising back and forth near the end, Team WSUSOMoustaches remains champion of the White Coat Mustache Challenge, contributing $3,466 of the $13,413 raised in November for Movember.

Men were encouraged to shave Nov. 1, then grow full moustaches for the 30 days in November, turning themselves into walking conversation starters and collecting donations for charity. No goatees or beards were allowed.

The challenge was created by WSU medical students three years ago to up the ante (and the subsequent amount raised) for Movember, the international annual campaign that unites men and women in a month-long charity effort to benefit men’s health initiatives.

The 10 participating medical schools included University of California at Irvine (in second place) and Michigan State University (in third place), Oakland University and others. (View all team results on the Movember network page here.)

WSU medical student Arjun Gowda captained the School of Medicine’s Movember fundraising team.

“It’s pretty awesome that we won this year's competition, but that said, I'm really just happy with the turnout and enthusiasm we had from all the participants, both at Wayne and from the other competing schools,” Gowda said.

The third-year student co-founded the challenge with 2013 School of Medicine graduate Andrew Vollman, M.D., and fourth-year medical student Adam Russman, who has been involved with Movember since starting at the School of Medicine in 2010.

“Movember definitely plays an important role in raising money to help fund research in men's health, but for me it has always been a fun way to spread awareness about men's-related illnesses like prostate cancer by making yourself look like a goofball. I'm just happy that there are other med students out there that feel the same way,” Gowda said.

The first White Coat Mustache Challenge included medical students only at WSU, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. But the WSU team increased participation in 2012 by contacting medical schools across the country.

“Spreading the word to other schools was mostly by recruiting schools who were already participating in Movember, or former participants in the White Coat Mustache Challenge,” Gowda said.

At WSU, money was raised by word of mouth and “a few absurd emails to the school to get people in involved,” he said.

Movember was started in 2003 by a group of Australian friends. The proceeds, collected by independent teams like the one at WSU, benefit the Movember Foundation, Prostate Cancer Foundation and LiveStrong Foundation.

Kresge Eye Institute unveils tactile art mural for vision-impaired patients
In Headlines on December 3, 2013
From left, Canton residents Christopher and Jackie Kight, and artist Laurie Eisenhardt, meet at the mural unveiling. Photo by Millard Berry.

From left, Canton residents Christopher and Jackie Kight, and artist Laurie Eisenhardt, meet at the mural unveiling. Photo by Millard Berry.

WSU Professor of Ophthalmology James Puklin, M.D., checks out the art. Photo by Millard Berry.

WSU Professor of Ophthalmology James Puklin, M.D., checks out the art. Photo by Millard Berry.

Rainbow Man by Laurie Eisenhardt. Photo by Richard Doyle.

Rainbow Man by Laurie Eisenhardt. Photo by Richard Doyle.

The Wayne State University School of Medicine’s Kresge Eye Institute in Detroit recently hosted a reception to celebrate the unveiling of a new mosaic mural in its third floor pediatric waiting room.

The installation, “Rainbow Man,” is 13 feet wide by 7 feet tall and includes more than 1,000 hand-sculpted clay pieces. It features three-dimensional details, allowing visually impaired children and adults to experience art by touch. One section features a quote by Helen Keller in Braille type.

“Kresge Eye Institute is more than just the home of excellent eye care,” said Mark Juzych, director of KEI and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at WSU. “We now have a unique space where visually impaired young people can use their sense of touch to interact with a work of art through an installation made especially for them. It’s a good example of the way we at Kresge care for the whole person.”

The mural, unveiled Nov. 6, was created by Royal Oak artist Laurie Eisenhardt, with funding from the Sara Williams Parish Foundation. The project was completed with volunteers from Art & Soul, a mission of Birmingham First United Methodist Church, in cooperation with the Networking, Organizing and Advocating for the Homeless program at Detroit’s Central United Methodist Church. Art & Soul is designed to inspire pride and purpose in the homeless through self-expressive art. Many Art & Soul members also are patients at Kresge.

“The inspiring collaboration with the folks at Art & Soul on ideas for the imagery led to the development of ‘Rainbow Man,’” Eisenhardt said. “Two main considerations in designing the mosaic were planning spaces in the piece that many people with varying skill levels could contribute to and, of course, the design challenge to create art that would be accessible for the visually impaired.”

The pediatric waiting area is called “Christopher’s Corner,” to honor a former patient, Christopher Kight, who lost sight in one eye as a result of an injury as an infant. Christopher is now 11 years old and lives in Canton with his family.

“A few years ago, we were able to make a small donation and direct some additional funding to Kresge,” said Jackie Kight, Christopher’s mother. “This helped create a waiting area for the children. When Christopher was being treated, I noticed that there was not a space for the children to play quietly while they waited. Christopher’s Corner was our contribution to give back to Kresge and provide a place for the kids to wait to see the wonderful doctors.”

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