School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine
American College of Nutrition honors Dr. Prasad for zinc studies
In Headlines on July 1, 2014
Ananda Prasad, M.D., Ph.D.

Ananda Prasad, M.D., Ph.D.

The American College of Nutrition will honor Ananda Prasad, M.D., Ph.D., Wayne State University distinguished professor of internal medicine, with its 2014 Alexander and Mildred Seelig Magnesium Award.

Dr. Prasad, a world-renowned expert in zinc as a mineral essential to human life, will receive the honor Oct. 16 during the 55th annual ACN conference in San Antonio, Texas. The award includes a plaque and a $500 honorarium.

The award recognizes outstanding contributions defining the role of metals in nutrition. The award was established by Mildred Seelig, M.D., Ph.D., after her husband, Alexander Seelig, died in 1990. Dr. Mildred Seelig, who died in 2005, was one of the world's foremost magnesium researchers.

"I am very pleased and honored to receive this award,” Dr. Prasad said. “Dr. Seelig served the ACN in a different capacity for many years and was truly instrumental in its growth and reputation both nationally and internationally. She was indeed responsible for my joining ACN, and I enjoyed working with her for many years. Her contribution to the college was truly outstanding, and I am very honored to receive this award honoring Mildred Seelig."

Dr. Prasad has made important strides researching the mineral zinc, as well as contributing significantly to the field of hematology and sickle cell disease. His work with zinc began when one of his former professors received an invitation from the Shah of Iran to establish a medical curriculum at the University of Shiraz Medical School and invited Dr. Prasad to accompany him. Two weeks after his arrival, a 21-year-old man who looked like an 8-year-old boy came to see Dr. Prasad. The patient lacked secondary male characteristics, was considered mentally lethargic and ate clay. Dr. Prasad diagnosed the man's condition as extreme anemia, but couldn't understand how such a condition came about because most males do not develop anemia without bleeding.

The condition was so prevalent in Iran that it was considered an epidemic. Dr. Prasad studied the condition and hypothesized that because plants do not grow without sufficient zinc, perhaps people do not either.

In the developed world, zinc abounds in a variety of food sources, such as fresh fish, red meat, oysters and dairy products. In developing countries, diets primarily consist of breads and grains, which contain phytate, a substance that binds zinc and iron and prevents both minerals from being absorbed by the human body.

In 1961, Dr. Prasad published an article in the American Journal of Medicine suggesting for the first time that zinc deficiency could account for human growth retardation. In a subsequent paper based on studies done in similar patients from Egypt, Dr. Prasad established the study subjects suffered zinc deficiency. That study was published in The Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine in 1963 and later was republished in 1990 as a landmark article in the same journal.

After the publication of these papers, Dr. Prasad started administering zinc through clinical trials, and his subjects began growing taller and developing male characteristics. In 1975, he suggested the National Research Council set the Recommended Daily Allowance for zinc at 15 milligrams per day.

His zinc studies have saved countless lives in African and Asian countries, including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In these areas, the mortality rate from infantile diarrhea approached 85 percent. When the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization adopted zinc supplements to combat infant diarrhea in these regions, the mortality rate dropped to 15 percent.

Dr. Prasad received a congressional commendation for his lifelong studies involving zinc in 2011.
New study shows huge health care savings while protecting child cancer survivors
In Headlines on June 30, 2014
Steven Lipshultz, M.D.

Steven Lipshultz, M.D.

Recently published findings in Annals of Internal Medicine by Steven Lipshultz, M.D., Wayne State University professor and chair of pediatrics and pediatrician-in-chief at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, part of the Detroit Medical Center, and colleagues could help to reduce health care charges while also protecting childhood cancer survivors from heart ailments caused by drug therapy.

That’s the “very exciting and very hopeful” bottom line of the recently published study, said co-author Dr. Lipshultz, who has spent more than 30 years studying the potential harmful impact -- or cardiotoxicity -- of drug therapies on the hearts of children who have survived cancer.

The study, “Cost-Effectiveness of the Children’s Oncology Group Long-Term Follow-up Screening Guidelines for Childhood Cancer Survivors at Risk for Treatment-Related Heart Failure,” reviewed data from patient histories to show that current standard medical guidelines for protecting childhood cancer survivors from drug treatment-related heart disease and heart failure later in life through periodic heart scans called echocardiographs are overly cautious.

According to the data, the frequency of such post-cancer screenings can be safely reduced for low-risk patients – with large cost-savings and little reduction in overall quality of patient care.

“The potential savings to be earned by reducing the frequency of echocardiographic screenings in patients who have survived childhood cancer seem quite promising,” Dr. Lipshultz said. “The data in our study on the cost-effectiveness of such screenings suggest that we could save 50 percent of the charges for this heart care screening, while also sparing these children from the rigors of needless heart scanning.”

While pointing out that total U.S. spending for health care exceeds $3 trillion a year and amounts to nearly 17 percent of the entire U.S. gross domestic product, Dr. Lipshultz described the breakthrough findings as “a classic example of how effective research in pediatric medicine can both assure the quality of patient care and help in the effort to keep medical costs under control.”

According to the findings, the guidelines for the frequency of heart scans among childhood cancer survivors – as devised in 2003 by the nation’s standard-setting Children’s Oncology Group – could be safely revised, so that instead of undergoing the scans every one, two or five years (depending on pertinent health factors), childhood cancer survivors would be scanned every two, four, five or 10 years.

While praising the study --  -- for its wide-ranging exploration of the issue, an accompanying AIM editorial noted that the new recommended frequency-of-scan schedule would lower “charges by 50 percent.”

The editorial went on to point out that “screening can be done cost-effectively and is highly likely to improve the quality and quantity of the patient’s life.” 

The study has “important implications,” Dr. Lipshultz said, for the approximately 400,000 survivors of childhood cancer in the United States in 2014.

“The National Cancer Institute has estimated that one in every 530 young adults (ages 20 to 45) is a survivor of childhood cancer,” said the veteran researcher, who has published frequently over the years on the subject of cardiotoxic effects from cancer-related drug treatment in pediatric cancer survivors. “For these patients, making sure the long-lasting impact of drug therapy doesn’t lead to heart disease and heart failure later in life is vitally important.

“For childhood cancer survivors and their families, this new study is very good news, indeed – because it shows that many of them in the low-risk category can safely reduce the frequency of their heart screenings, with a significant reduction in accompanying costs.”

Dr. Lipshultz pointed out that asking childhood cancer survivors to undergo too-frequent heart scans also carries “a social cost.”

“The risk you run, if you ask these patients to have frequent scans, is that they may start to be seen by their friends and their families and their teachers at school as ‘different’ from the other kids around them. If that happens, these cancer survivors can even become youngsters whose lives are dominated by an exaggerated focus on their heart health.”

Dr. Lipshultz also said that the new study underlines the importance of “connecting research to clinical care in everything we do.

“If you want to see why that connection is so important,” he added, “just look at the ‘miracle’ in the treatment of pediatric leukemia care in this country during the past few decades. In 1970, only about 4 percent of childhood leukemia patients survived (the most prevalent form of the disease). But today, that same survival rate is over 90 percent.  That’s been one of the biggest miracles in modern medicine – and it happened in large part because of a seamless connection that was achieved between research and clinical care.”

“As the pediatrician-in-chief, I feel very passionate about trying to connect research, education and quality patient care in every single thing we do at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan.”

Dr. Hayley Thompson accepts role shaping scientific research at NIH
In Headlines on June 27, 2014
Hayley Thompson, Ph.D.

Hayley Thompson, Ph.D.

Hayley Thompson, Ph.D., associate professor of oncology for the Wayne State University School of Medicine and the Population Studies and Disparities Research Program at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, has accepted an invitation from the National Institutes of Health to serve as a member of the Societal and Ethical Issues in Research Study Section, Center for Scientific Review.

Study sections at the Center for Scientific Review evaluate approximately 70 percent of the research grant applications submitted to the NIH and represent a unique opportunity to contribute to the national biomedical research effort.

“It is a privilege to be a part of the SEIR study section and review grant proposals on topics that are of critical importance to Karmanos as a comprehensive cancer center,” Dr. Thompson said. “This study section evaluates proposals to investigate processes and policies that support the most effective and responsible conduct of research with human participants, including patients, and clinical trials. It also reviews proposals to study research procedures and clinical practices in human genetics and genomics. In light of recent advances in these areas, it is an exciting time to be a part of this group.”

The invitation to join the study section recognizes Dr. Thompson’s scientific stature and contributions to medical research. Members of the study section are chosen based on their demonstrated competence and achievement in their scientific discipline as well as on their research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals and other significant scientific activities and honors.

“Dr. Thompson is a highly experienced researcher and her work within the Population Studies and Disparities Research Program will support her judgment and objectivity in the grant review process,” said Terrance Albrecht, Ph.D., WSU professor of family medicine and public health sciences and associate center director or Population Sciences at the Karmanos Cancer Institute.

Dr. Thompson is the recipient of a five-year, $1,271,000 grant from the American Cancer Society to study ways to improve resources for post-treatment Latina breast cancer survivors. In addition, Dr. Thompson has recently completed studies examining breast cancer survivorship and quality of care among African-American breast cancer survivors.  She is co-principal investigator of an NIH-funded R01 study to increase colorectal cancer screening among African-American men.

“As a member of the SEIR study section, I hope I can provide meaningful feedback on the potential of projects to address and reduce racial and ethnic cancer-related disparities,” Dr. Thompson said, “as this is the focus of all of my work.”

Wayne State welcomes 51 new residents to its Graduate Medical Education program
In Headlines on June 27, 2014
In "Competency Pyramid," modeled after the game show, one resident tries to identify core competencies used to measure resident training.

In "Competency Pyramid," modeled after the game show, one resident tries to identify core competencies used to measure resident training.

Residents enjoy dinner at Traffic Jam & Snug in Detroit.

Residents enjoy dinner at Traffic Jam & Snug in Detroit.

The Wayne State University School of Medicine’s Department of Graduate Medical Education welcomed 51 new physicians to its sole-sponsored residency programs with orientation June 24 in the Margherio Family Conference Center in Detroit.

The new physicians hail from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine in Cleveland, University of Illinois College of Medicine, University of Toledo College of Medicine, University of Baghdad College of Medicine, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Kalamoon University Faculty of Medicine in Syria and 25 other colleges in the United States, Jordan, Pakistan and more. While Detroit was a new destination for most, 12 of the 51 new residents are graduates of the Wayne State University School of Medicine. Sixteen residents will participate in a transitional year at Wayne State before moving to another program.

Orientation day was organized to explain the intricacies of a residency at Wayne State while also providing a central location for all new residents to meet and greet each other and GME faculty and staff, said Martha Jordan, GME administrative director.

In July, the physicians will formally begin residency training in Wayne State’s dermatology, family medicine, internal medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, orthopaedic surgery, otolaryngology and urology programs located at some of Wayne State’s partner hospitals, including Crittenton Hospital Medical Center, Oakwood Hospital and Medical Center, and the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center.

Orientation activities included a “$10 Competency Pyramid” game, an introduction to the Shiffman Medical Library and its electronic resources, and a “Resource and Knowledge Bazaar,” featuring frequented School of Medicine vendors and offices. At the end of the day, the Graduate Medical Education department’s Resident Quality Council hosted a new resident welcome dinner at the Traffic Jam and Snug restaurant in Detroit.

“Orientation is such an important event for everyone. They have to be familiarized with the system and gain some basic knowledge about Graduate Medical Education, including the evaluation system, accreditation standards, the emphasis of patient quality improvement and safety, and more,” said Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education Tsveti Markova, M.D. “We also are fully aware that in addition to their residency responsibilities, some residents are facing new issues, like family relocation, and having to learn about benefits and direct deposits. It’s all about making this transition easier for them so they can successful.”
Dr. Mattingly inducted into Academy of Pharmacology Educators
In Headlines on June 25, 2014
Carol Beck, Ph.D., of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and chair of the Division for Pharmacology Education at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, presents Raymond Mattingly, Ph.D., with a certificate marking his induction into ASPETís Academy of Pharmacology Educators.

Carol Beck, Ph.D., of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and chair of the Division for Pharmacology Education at the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, presents Raymond Mattingly, Ph.D., with a certificate marking his induction into ASPETís Academy of Pharmacology Educators.

A Wayne State University School of Medicine faculty member has been recognized for his devotion to teaching by the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

Raymond Mattingly, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology, has been inducted into ASPET’s Academy of Pharmacology Educators. The academy recognizes instructors who have made exemplary contributions to pharmacology education.

“I have been committed to the field of pharmacology since I was an undergraduate student,” Dr. Mattingly said. “As a faculty member I have been particularly concerned to provide the best possible teaching to all of our students, in both the classroom and the laboratory, and so it is a special honor for me to be recognized by our major professional society.”

Dr. Mattingly, a member of the faculty since 1998, is the course director for Medical Pharmacology and Therapeutics and deputy director of the School of Medicine’s Cancer Biology Graduate Program, which is funded by a T32 training grant from the National Cancer Institute. The nomination recognized him for playing an important role in developing and modernizing the basic science curriculum in pharmacology, and said he is “regarded as an excellent scientist-educator” who has directly mentored 30 graduate students and five postdoctoral trainees.

A winner of three WSU College Teaching Awards, he is a longtime member of the Initiative for Minority Student Development, mentoring three students in the program in the last 10 years and serving as a committee member.

“I was the first member of my family to go to university and so I really wanted to contribute to programs, like the IMSD, that are successful in expanding access to biomedical education and research careers,” Dr. Mattingly said. “Many of these students are excellent, and so greatly benefit from the opportunities provided. For example, Ryan Jackson, an IMSD undergraduate student currently working in my lab, won the Outstanding Presentation Award at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Nashville, Tenn., in November 2013.”

In addition, he trains high school students in his lab.

“I think it is important to provide opportunities to people when they are young and have the chance to make decisions,” said Dr. Mattingly, who on Wednesday was scheduled to meet with another high school student interested in a summer internship experience. “This is particularly important for pharmacology, which often has a low profile for students compared to other biomedical sciences.”

Members of ASPET conduct basic and clinical pharmacological research and work for academia, government, large pharmaceutical companies, small biotech companies and non-profit organizations.
DMC's Graduate Medical Education Research Day rewards two medical student projects
In Headlines on June 24, 2014
Leslie McDonough

Leslie McDonough

Kevin Onofrey

Kevin Onofrey

Darshan Patel

Darshan Patel

Three Wayne State University School of Medicine students were recognized by the Detroit Medical Center as winners of the third annual Quality Education and Safe Systems Training Quality Improvement Research Day Poster Competition.

The event, which took place in April, showcased resident and student research projects that tackled the topics of patient safety and quality improvement in a clinical setting.

This year’s first place winners, in a tie, are medical students Leslie McDonough, Kevin Onofrey and Darshan Patel.

McDonough and Onofrey, a fourth-year student, teamed to present “Impact of equipment delay in the operating room of a busy tertiary medical center: A prospective study.” Their faculty mentor is David Edelman, M.D., a surgical resident at the DMC.

Patel’s winning entry was titled “Meeting screening guidelines: A quality improvement project to increase HIV screening and testing.” His mentor is Diane Levine, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine.

“This was a wonderful opportunity to get my feet wet in research. Even more exciting was being part of a student team that came up with their own project idea and then saw it all the way to the end,” said McDonough, a third-year medical student planning to go into general surgery. “Winning this award was wonderful recognition of our hard work. It showed us that these types of projects matter to the hospital and have a real impact on efficiency and patient safety.”

McDonough said she and Onofrey examined delays in the operating room related to equipment delays, such as broken equipment, wrong equipment or unsuitable equipment due to a surgeon preference. They then asked how often such delays occur and what their impact was in terms of prolonged anesthesia for patients, inefficiency in the operating room and funding losses. “The idea came about when a few of us were doing our surgery rotation earlier this year,” she said. “We noticed a great deal of surgeries were delayed because of equipment problems, and these delays keep the patient under anesthesia longer and put a great deal of stress on the OR staff and surgeons.”

Patel, a third-year student, plans a career in radiation oncology, but is keeping his options open.

“I couldn't have done anything without the hard work and support of our inter-professional team and of my mentor, Dr. Diane Levine, who has inspired me to keep working hard and to keep achieving despite the heavy workload and the various other activities I am involved in,” he said.

While shadowing Dr. Levine at the ambulatory internal medicine resident training clinic, Patel noticed what he thought was no appreciable difference in the HIV screening rates between African-American patients and Caucasian patients. He brought this to the attention of Dr. Levine, and they agreed the issue needed to be quickly remedied.

“We realized that there wasn't an appreciable difference between screening rates of African-Americans and Caucasian patients,” Patel said. “The overall screening rate was just abysmal, thus providing an excellent opportunity for a quality improvement project.”

After creating an integrated team consisting of an undergraduate student, a medical student (Patel), a resident and attending physicians, medical assistants and the clinic manager, the team initially set out to double the HIV screening rate for African-American patients, but then broadened its scope to increase screening rates across the board by 300 percent.

Patel’s team then implemented a three-pronged approach. First, they created posters and pamphlets to increase patient awareness and to include them in their health care, hoping that would lead to patients asking their physicians about HIV if the physicians didn't bring it up. They then trained medical assistants as the first points of care in the screening process by educating them about the disease and the necessity of increased screening. Finally, the team worked with the resident and attending physicians to have them document patient HIV screening in the "physician comments" section since the electronic medical records system did not have a dedicated place for HIV screening. During the first three months, the team sent members to the clinic every weekday to provide support and encouragement.

“After our five-month intervention, we saw our screening rate improve by nearly 400 percent,” Patel said. “When we started, the screening rate was only around 5.5 percent. We realized the necessity for creating local champions for these changes to be sustainable and meaningful. Thus, the next phase of our project will be to identify local champions, create ownership, empower them to make changes and provide positive reinforcements for a sustained increase in overall HIV screening rates.”

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