School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine
WSU, Detroit's Make Your Date program gives moms-to-be and babies help and hope
In Headlines on November 12, 2014

In observance of November as Prematurity Awareness Month and World Prematurity Day (Nov. 17), Wayne State University and the Detroit Medical Center are encouraging area mothers-to-be to take advantage of a powerful and free nonprofit program that is helping mothers throughout Detroit deliver healthy full-term babies on or after their due date.

Premature babies can face serious health challenges throughout their lives. The city’s Make Your Date program provides a consistent approach among local health care providers in how they deliver support and care to expectant mothers to help them carry their babies to full term. The initiative was launched in May by Mayor Mike Duggan, Wayne State University, Detroit’s leading health systems and other key partners.

Sign up is easy: Visit or call 313-577-1000.

The Make Your Date campaign asks expectant mothers to do three simple things:

• Make a doctor’s appointment to begin regular checkups.

• Work with their Make Your Date health care provider to develop a healthy mother, healthy baby plan, which includes everything from testing and treatment to nutrition and rest.

• Join group prenatal care or pregnancy education classes, where they can share questions, ideas and concerns, and learn more about their pregnancy.

In celebration of Prematurity Awareness Month, individuals and organizations are encouraged to further the mission and donate to Make Your Date. Go to to make a tax-deductible contribution.

"The Make Your Date program already has shown its effectiveness in getting women connected to help them carry their babies to full term. Every at-risk expectant mother should take advantage of the medical and peer support this wonderful program provides," Duggan said.

“Being born full term is critical to long-term health,” said Sonia Hassan, M.D., associate dean for Maternal, Perinatal and Child Health for the Wayne State University School of Medicine and co-leader of the Make Your Date program. “Babies born preterm have a higher risk of breathing complications, cerebral palsy and difficulty in school. We want Detroit moms to know they can get the care they need, to give their babies the greatest chance at a healthy start.”

In Detroit, 18 percent of babies are born prematurely, a rate nearly 6 percent higher than the state average. Studies show that low birth weight accounts for almost 50 percent of the city’s infant mortality rate of 14 deaths in every 1,000 births, twice the national average.

Researchers at the Perinatology Research Branch of the of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health, which is housed at Wayne State University and Hutzel Women’s Hospital in the Detroit Medical Center, have made seminal discoveries in the prevention of preterm birth during the past 22 years.

“The prevention of preterm birth is a major priority for the PRB,” said Roberto Romero, M.D., D.Med.Sci, chief of the branch. “We are committed to supporting the efforts to reduce preterm birth in the city of Detroit and abroad.”

Learn how your business or organization can get involved to make a real difference to our mothers, families and neighborhoods. Inquire at

The mission of the Make Your Date campaign is to implement evidence-based strategies to reduce the rate of preterm birth. This strategy is executed through education, collaboration and partnerships with health care systems, universities and other established programs. For more information, visit or call 313-577-1000.
Researcher publishes study showing effectiveness of heart-protecting drug for kids who undergo chemo
In Headlines on November 10, 2014
Steven Lipshultz, M.D.

Steven Lipshultz, M.D.

After nearly three decades of continuing research into how chemotherapy frequently causes toxicity-related damage to the hearts of children who survive cancer, Steven Lipshultz, M.D., Wayne State University chair of pediatrics and pediatrician-in-chief at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, part of the Detroit Medical Center, has published a breakthrough study demonstrating that a key drug designed to prevent such damage works effectively and safely.

Described by Dr. Lipshultz as “a significant step forward in helping children avoid the heart-damaging side effects that often accompany cancer chemotherapy,” the study in the authoritative Progress in Pediatric Cardiology journal is based in large part on numerous animal model and human clinical trials he performed or directed during the past 25 years.

The article ( answers a recently debated question about the efficacy of the drug dexrazoxane in suppressing the toxic effects of chemotherapy. The bottom-line conclusion: “Studies published since 2011 have confirmed the efficacy of dexrazoxane in preventing or reducing anthracycline-related cardiotoxicity in children with cancer. As a result, we believe that dexrazoxane should be available to children with high-risk cancers to reduce the risk of cardiotoxicity associated with high-dose anthracycline treatment.”

The study findings – many of them obtained by Dr. Lipshultz and his colleagues during their intensive research on cardiac ailments triggered by cancer therapy – also played a large role, he said, in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recent decision to award “Orphan Status” to the drug for the prevention of cardiomyopathy for children and adolescents through 16 years of age treated with anthracyclines. That designation is “extremely important,” he added, in accelerating the process through which major pharmaceutical companies decide to seek FDA approval for and manufacture of the compound.

“I think our study is encouraging because of the way it will help to eventually bring the drug into the clinical setting, where it can protect the hearts of children who are undergoing cancer chemotherapy,” he said.

Dr. Lipshultz, a veteran pediatric cardiologist who 20 years ago led the effort to found the nation’s only registry of pediatric cardiomyopathy cases (the National Institutes of Health-funded North America Pediatric Cardiomyopathy Registry, or PCMR), also noted that the nation’s largest organization of pediatric oncologists, the Children’s Oncology Group, has now recommended the drug to offset toxic effects of chemotherapy in childhood cancer survivors.

Dr. Lipshultz said the study offers “new hope” to the approximately 12,000 American children diagnosed with cancer and treated with chemotherapy each year. About half of those children receive chemotherapy that may eventually result in the development of significant heart problems that can lead to shortened lifespans and reduced quality of life.

“We’ve made terrific progress in the battle against childhood cancer during the past 40 years,” he added, “and the survival rate has more than doubled. But at the same time, we don’t want to be curing these kids of cancer only to see them develop heart problems because of their chemotherapy.

“Unfortunately, there is no other drug to protect the hearts of children with cancer, which is why it’s so important that we develop dexrazoxane as a powerful tool that can accomplish that task. And it’s very encouraging to know that much of the research allowing that to happen has been performed by investigators right here at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan and Wayne State University. This new study provides a perfect example of how research conducted at the bedside, in a clinical setting, is crucial to accomplishing our mission of providing the very best possible care for patients.”

Said Dr. Lipshultz, who has received commendations from both the NIH and the U.S. Congress for his research in pediatric cardiology. “For a pediatrician whose passion is helping sick kids get better and go on to healthy lives, the publication of a study like this one is very rewarding indeed.”

Kresge's vision workshop highlights research, engages vision community
In Headlines on November 7, 2014
Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, M.D., presented the Clinical Translational Lectureship.

Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, M.D., presented the Clinical Translational Lectureship.

Renu Kowluru, Ph.D., led the organizing committee.

Renu Kowluru, Ph.D., led the organizing committee.

The Kresge Eye Institute, in association with the Wayne State University School of Medicine’s Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, presented its inaugural Vision Research Workshop on Oct. 15 at the Robert S. Jampel, M.D., Ph.D., Auditorium in Detroit to highlight the research accomplishments of KEI’s graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, residents and clinical fellows.

The workshop, a by-product of a vision research retreat held last March, provided an opportunity for Wayne State’s vision community to interact with each other and exchange ideas for possible collaboration. Sessions on inflammation and eye diseases, ocular diseases and retina pathophysiology were presented.

Seventeen abstracts were accepted for oral presentations and 15 for poster presentations, with the top three presentations receiving awards. Deepa Talreja won first place for “Toll-like Receptor 2 Mediates Retinal Pigmented Epithelial (RPE) Cell Innate Responses to Candida Albicans." Cui Li received second place for "IL-17 Regulates MerTK+ Cells in P. aeruginosa Keratitis," tying with Pawan Kumar Singh for "Bioactive lipid mediator resolvin D1 (RvD1) promotes the resolution of inflammation in bacterial endophthalmitis via TLR2-signaling." "Intracellular Ca++ Shapes Transient Signaling in a Subset of Depolarizing Bipolar Cells in the Mouse Retina," by C.B. Hellmer, and "Characterization of the Müller glial response during adult retinal regeneration,” by Alexandra H. Ranski, placed third.

“The faculty was happy to learn what others are doing, and how they can collaborate with others, and our trainees were happy to get a platform to present their work,” said Renu Kowluru, Ph.D., chair of the organizing committee and professor of Ophthalmology, Endocrinology and of Anatomy and Cell Biology.

Dr. Kowluru was supported by co-committee members Linda Hazlett, Ph.D., distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology; KEI Director Mark Juzych, M.D., M.H.S.A., the David Barsky, M.D. Endowed Chair and professor of Ophthalmology; Ophthalmology clinical fellow Sonia Rana, M.D.; postdoctoral fellow Pawan Kumar Singh, Ph.D.; and doctoral student Bing Xu.

The event was organized and run by trainees, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, giving them additional experience in the defense and presentation of their research at local, national and international meetings, and hands-on training in organizing and running scientific meetings.

“Overall, the presentations were thorough and the discussions were constructive. Our trainees really worked hard in putting on a great show,” Dr. Kowluru added. “A number of participants have already indicated that they are looking forward to next year’s conference.”

As part of the workshop, adult and pediatric retina surgeon Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, M.D., presented “Retinopathy of Prematurity: The Effects of VEGF in Health and Pathology,” the second annual Kresge Eye Institute Clinical Translational Lectureship. Dr. Hartnett is a professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Utah and the John A. Moran Eye Center. Her research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of aberrant angiogenesis in age-related macular degeneration and retinopathy of prematurity. She is chair of the Diseases and Pathophysiology of the Visual System Study Section of the National Eye Institute. Dr. Hartnett is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.

Sandberg Travel Award winner Andrej Nedic, Class of 2017, presents research in Germany
In Headlines on November 6, 2014
Andrej Nedic, Class of 2017

Andrej Nedic, Class of 2017

Sophomore medical student Andrej Nedic traveled to Hamburg, Germany, in August, utilizing the Dr. Hershel and Lois Sandberg Travel Award he received at the Wayne State University School of Medicine’s Medical Student Recognition Program last April for his first-place finish in the Basic Science Poster Presentation session at the school’s Medical Student Research Symposium held last January.

Nedic presented “Reliability and Validity of RPNI Signaling of Gait Phases during Voluntary Walking” at the European Plastic Surgery Research Council annual meeting held Aug. 21-24 in Cap San Diego, a Hamburg harbor.

The travel award from the School of Medicine was unexpected. “I am honored that the faculty at WSU thought I should receive it. The award was a great opportunity, which allowed me to present my work and learn about other cutting-edge research from experts in the field at an international meeting,” he said.

In Germany, he won third place in the best oral presentation competition.

“The overall goal of the research is to create an interface between the body and a prosthesis,” Nedic said. “Ultimately, we want to give patients the ability to control a prosthesis like they would their own natural hand. We want to provide both fine motor control and sensory feedback for the patient.”

He has worked on the project for three years at the University of Michigan’s Neuromuscular Lab, where a Regenerative Peripheral Nerve Interface, or RPNI, was developed. The RPNI is capable of using electrical signals produced by residual nerves – those left behind after an amputation or injury – to control a prosthesis. ​

“The lab has tested the RPNI extensively but prior to my study we have never looked at the RPNI signaling during voluntary use,” he said.

Nedic received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from U of M.

​His study was designed to observe and characterize the RPNI signal during voluntary use.​

“The RPNI shows reliable signals during voluntary use. Ultimately, we were able to show that the signals from this interface are suitable for prosthesis control,” he said.

They implanted RPNIs in the hind limbs of rats and trained them to walk on a treadmill, simultaneously recording the RPNI signals and videotaping the animals. He then analyzed the data. Observed signals were 10 to 100 times the magnitude of other interfaces.

Nedic, who is expected to graduate from WSU in 2017, is interested in exploring new technologies to help patients improve their quality of life. “If I have the opportunity to continue with my work, I will have a better understanding of whether medical research will be an important aspect of my career,” he said.

School's 2014 faculty awards honor excellence in teaching, research, mentoring
In Headlines on November 5, 2014
Linda Roth, Ph.D., from left, with Bernard Gonik, M.D., and Virginia Delaney-Black, M.D., M.P.H.

Linda Roth, Ph.D., from left, with Bernard Gonik, M.D., and Virginia Delaney-Black, M.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Roth, Willane Krell, M.D., and Dr. Delaney-Black.

Dr. Roth, Willane Krell, M.D., and Dr. Delaney-Black.

Dr. Roth, Adhip Majumdar, Ph.D., and Dr. Delaney-Black.

Dr. Roth, Adhip Majumdar, Ph.D., and Dr. Delaney-Black.

Karin Przyklenk, Ph.D., winner of the Outstanding Faculty Mentor award.

Karin Przyklenk, Ph.D., winner of the Outstanding Faculty Mentor award.

The Wayne State University School of Medicine celebrated and honored its faculty at the annual Faculty Recognition and Awards Ceremony on Oct. 30 in the school’s Margherio Family Conference Center.

Director of Faculty Affairs and Professional Development Linda Roth, Ph.D., and Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs and Professional Development Virginia Delaney-Black, M.D., M.P.H., welcomed the award winners and their guests before distributing the awards.

“It is both a great pleasure and a great honor to provide the setting in which we can acknowledge these gifted, devoted faculty members who foster excellence in education and research and bring recognition to the School of Medicine,” Dr. Delaney-Black said.

The College Teaching Award is given to faculty based on instructional expertise as evaluated by students in the undergraduate medical education program, residents in the graduate medical education programs and graduate students, as well as the annual department chairs' evaluation and other factors. The Research Excellence Award recognizes research excellence and achievement by the faculty, and is distributed among assistant professors, associate professors and professors from clinical and basic science departments.

After several promotions for voluntary faculty and awards for college teaching and research excellence were distributed, four special faculty awards were announced. The special awards were created in 2012. The awards are given only when an outstanding candidate surfaces in each category.

“We receive multiple nominations for these awards that describe outstanding work being done by faculty members at the School of Medicine,” Dr. Delaney-Black added. “Each recipient is determined by a committee of talented, knowledgeable peers who often report to us that the decision is very difficult, given the impressive accomplishments described in each nomination packet.”

The Fann S. Srere Chair of Perinatal Medicine and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology Bernard Gonik, M.D., received the Excellence in Clinical Teaching Award. “Dr. Gonik embodies the award description: through long and meritorious service he has ‘left a mark of excellence and provided learners with a critical understanding of clinical medicine.’ Those who nominated Dr. Gonik describe him as patient, approachable and closely attentive to each learner’s needs and potential. He is an excellent role model who effectively facilitates each student to develop critical thinking skills in order to serve patients most effectively. He motivates, inspires, and above all, empowers learners to reach their potential,” Dr. Delaney-Black said.

Professor of Physiology Karin Przyklenk, Ph.D., received the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award. As the founding director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute, Dr. Przyklenk has mentored numerous junior faculty in basic and clinical science research to publish first-authored, peer-reviewed papers in top-tier journals, present at major scientific conferences and become independent investigators. “Mentees report that she effectively capitalizes on her vast store of knowledge and experience and remarkable insight into new areas of investigation. Dr. Przyklenk is an understanding and empowering mentor who selflessly puts forth extraordinary effort to support faculty members to reach their highest potential for productivity,” Dr. Delaney-Black added.

Associate Professor of Internal Medicine Willane Krell, M.D., was selected for the Women in Medicine and Science Leadership Award for outstanding performance in the educational, clinical, scholarship and service areas of her faculty role. “In each of these areas she serves as a sought-out role model for students, residents, fellows and junior faculty members. Her intensive commitment to and involvement in education and clinical work leads her to not only excel in these areas, but to continuously improve them,” Dr. Delaney-Black said.” She combines these skills as an outstanding liaison between clinical and basic science components of the Pulmonary and Critical Care fellowship program. Many women who have worked with Dr. Krell have chosen a career in academic medicine as a result of her role modeling and guidance.”

Dr. Krell’s department colleague, Adhip Majumdar, Ph.D., received the Outstanding Research Achievement Award, presented to a faculty member in a basic science or a clinical department who has made significant and career-long contributions to the advancement of an area of biomedical, behavioral, clinical or medical research. “Dr. Majumdar is an outstanding scientist and leader in the field of aging gut and colon cancer therapy. During his 45-year academic career, he has made cutting-edge scientific discoveries that have revolutionized these research areas,” Dr. Delaney-Black said.

Dr. Majumdar has been continually funded since 1986 by National Institutes of Health and Veterans Affairs grants, has published nearly 200 original research papers and 40 related book chapters and reviews. “In addition to his own research, he prioritizes training and advancement for young investigators, and is known as a humble, approachable and generous colleague and mentor,” she added.

All award winners were nominated by faculty peers, and received a plaque and monetary award. Committees consisting of faculty members for each of the awards considered the nominees and selected the winners.

The following voluntary faculty members were promoted to clinical associate professor:


Nikhil Goyal, M.D.


Denise White-Perkins, M.D., Ph.D.


Kimberly Baker-Genaw, M.D.

Michael P. Mendez, M.D.

Mariella Ortigosa-Goggins, M.D.

David Paje, M.D.

Mohammed Mukarram Ali Siddiqui, M.D.

Sandeep Soman, M.D.

Rabih Touma, M.D.


Robert R. Johnson II, M.D.


Eileen Hug, D.O.

The following voluntary faculty members were promoted to clinical professor:


Martin Bermann, D.O.

Jeffrey Zaks, M.D.


Geoffrey Seidel, M.D.


James O. Peabody, M.D.

Winners of the 2014 College Teaching Awards include:


Angela Trepanier, M.S.

Kezhong Zhang, Ph.D.


Trifun Dimitrijevski, M.D.

Kerin Jones, M.D.

Margit Chadwell, M.D.


Philip Pellett, Ph.D.


Daoud Abu-Hamden, M.D.

Fadi Antaki, M.D.

Graciela Conley-Rojas, M.D.

Leonard Johnson, M.D.

Anupama Kottam, M.D.,

Linea Rydstedt, M.D.

Abdulghani Sankari, M.D., Ph.D.

Manmeet Singh, M.D.

Gerald Turlo, M.D.


Maysaa Basha, M.D.


Pooja Gupta, M.D.

Bhanumathy Kumar, M.D.

Eric McGrath, M.D.

Shashi Sahai, M.D.

Elizabeth Secord, M.D.


John Reiners, Ph.D.

Sokol Todi, Ph.D.


Leslie Lundahl, Ph.D.

Jeffrey Stanley, Ph.D.


Judith Abrams, Ph.D.

Jennifer Beebe-Dimmer, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Elisabeth Heath, M.D.

Louis Penner, Ph.D.

Malathy Shekhar, Ph.D.

Michael Simon, M.D., M.P.H.

Ulka Vaishampayan, M.D.

Winners of the 2014 Research Excellence Awards include:


David Kessel, Ph.D., Pharmacology

Lobelia Samavati, M.D., Internal Medicine and Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics

Izabela Podgorski, Ph.D., Pharmacology


Keith Kaye, M.D., Internal Medicine

Vaibhav Diwadkar, Ph.D., Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences

Alana Conti, Ph.D., Neurosurgery

Wayne State's Michigan Area Education Center receives $1.1 million grant to enhance statewide network
In Headlines on November 3, 2014
Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A.

Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A.

Ramona Benkert, Ph.D.

Ramona Benkert, Ph.D.

The Michigan Area Health Education Center, a Wayne State University program that seeks to increase access to quality primary care providers in underserved communities, has been awarded a one-year, $1.16 million grant from the United States Health Resources and Services Administration. Michigan AHEC will use the funds to continue developing its infrastructure — which includes maintaining its four existing regional centers and launching a fifth — and to promote and provide health care career preparation initiatives, clinical experiences and continuing education programs across Michigan.

“Working in partnership with community organizations, health providers and government agencies, Michigan AHEC promotes health career opportunities to students and underrepresented minorities, encourages students and health professionals to work in areas with limited primary care providers, and enhances the knowledge and skills of a diverse workforce of health professionals throughout Michigan,” said Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and co-principal investigator of the Michigan AHEC grant. “This is critical to our state, which faces a dire shortage of physicians at a time our population is aging and needs more health care and more health care providers.”

According to the federal and state government, 79 of Michigan’s 83 counties have at least partial designation as primary care health professional shortage areas, 76 have a shortage of dental professionals and 45 are designated as mental health care professional shortage areas. Michigan AHEC strives to address these shortages by working with schools, community organizations, government agencies and health providers to prepare underrepresented and disadvantaged youth for health care careers, promote clinical training opportunities for students in shortage areas and provide professional development programs for health professionals. Five regional centers will manage these efforts: the Southeast Regional Center (Detroit), Mid-Central Regional Center (Mount Pleasant), Western Regional Center (Grand Rapids), Upper Peninsula Regional Center (Marquette) and the Northern Lower Regional Center, slated to open in 2015.

“Now, all 83 counties in Michigan will have access to a regional center. Federal funding for all five centers will allow us to expand our work to correct the maldistribution of primary care providers in underserved communities, particularly rural underserved areas,” said Ramona Benkert, co-principal investigator of the Michigan AHEC grant and interim associate dean for academic and clinical affairs and associate professor in the WSU College of Nursing. “AHECs nationwide have been able to increase and diversify the health care workforce. HRSA’s support will allow us to achieve similar results in the state of Michigan.”

The Wayne State University School of Medicine and College of Nursing established Michigan AHEC in 2010 through a federal grant from HRSA. Additional program partners include the WSU Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, WSU School of Social Work and the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry. Host partners that help manage the regional centers include the Central Michigan University Dow College of Health Professions, Greater Detroit Area Health Council, Northern Michigan University School of Health and Human Performance and the Western Michigan University College of Health and Human Services.

Some of Michigan AHEC’s major accomplishments since 2010 include:

·         Exposing more than 5,300 students to health care careers through enrichment, outreach and informational activities

·         Introducing 1,013 teens and young adults to health care careers through 18 regional AHEC activities

·         Assisting more than 100 students perform more than 200 rotations, contributing more than 20,000 training hours

·         Training more than 175 individuals who work with young people in Youth Mental Health First Aid through a partnership with the WSU School of Social Work and AmeriCorps

·         Working with the Michigan Department of Rural Health to create a physician retention plan that was distributed to 200 community clinics

·         Offering 25 continuing education programs that served 1,170 participants who earned more than 140 hours of training

“Michigan AHEC has made great progress in terms of exposing young people to health care careers, engaging health profession students in clinical experiences and developing continuing education programs for health professionals,” said Dennis Tsilimingras, M.D., M.P.H., co-program director of Michigan AHEC and assistant professor in the WSU School of Medicine. “We look forward to expanding our reach and working with more schools, professional associations, health centers and health providers so that we are able to build upon our efforts to recruit, train and retain primary care providers and expand access to care in Michigan.”

Congress created the national AHEC program in 1971. Nationally, more than 50 community-based AHECs build partnerships with more than 120 medical schools, over 600 nursing and allied health schools, and hundreds of health care employers. These partnerships enhance access to quality care by improving the supply, distribution and diversity of the nation’s health workforce.

“Communities across the state are the heart of our work,” said Wanda Gibson-Scipio, co-program director of the Michigan AHEC and assistant professor in the WSU College of Nursing. “Our efforts are focused on making connections with communities to support efforts to improve recruitment and retention of a diversified health care workforce, access to care and the achievement of quality health outcomes. We are excited to have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the citizens of the great state of Michigan.”

Created in 1982, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The primary federal agency for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated or medically vulnerable, HRSA’s mission is to improve health and achieve health equity through access to quality services, a skilled health workforce and innovative programs. For more information, visit

The award number for this grant is 5 U77HP26852-02-00.

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