School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine
Karmanos secures 2016 Women’s Choice Award® as one of America's best hospitals for cancer care
In Headlines on February 12, 2016
Gerold Bepler, M.D., Ph.D.

Gerold Bepler, M.D., Ph.D.

The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute has received the 2016 Women’s Choice Award® as one of America’s Best Hospitals for Cancer Care for the third consecutive year. Karmanos received the award in 2011 and 2012, as well as 2014 and 2015.

The evidence-based designation is the only cancer care award that identifies the country’s best health care institutions based on robust criteria that considers female patient satisfaction, clinical excellence and what women say they want from a hospital.

The 366 award winners represent hospitals that have been accredited by the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer, signifying Karmanos’ commitment to meeting the highest standards in cancer care.

“Patients deserve to know where they can go for the highest quality cancer care,” said Gerold Bepler, M.D., Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of Karmanos and associate dean of Cancer Programs for the Wayne State University School of Medicine. “We recognize that patients thrive with the most advanced cancer options from an organization rooted in delivering a caring patient experience.”

The 2016 America’s Best Hospitals for Cancer Care must have received accreditation from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer as any of the following: a National Cancer Institute Designated Comprehensive Cancer program, a Comprehensive Community Cancer Program, an Integrated Network Cancer Program or an Academic Comprehensive Cancer Program. The selected hospitals were then give a score based on their patient recommendation rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Hospital Consumer Assessment for Healthcare Providers and Systems survey.

Additional criteria considered whether a hospital offered on-site chemotherapy, radiation or hospice, and cancer research activities. Hospitals were penalized for having high infection rates.

“Women have many choices when it comes to cancer care, but now they can make informed choices based on rigorous, evidence-based criteria. As a cancer survivor who faced a challenging journey to recovery, I wish I had the Women’s Choice Award as a resource to spare me unnecessary fret and error,” said Delia Passi, founder and CEO of the Women’s Choice Award.

For more information on the 2016 America’s Best Hospitals for Cancer Care visit

Dr. Ramalingam, Res. '97, named deputy director of Winship Cancer Institute at Emory
In Headlines on February 10, 2016
Suresh S. Ramalingam, M.D.

Suresh S. Ramalingam, M.D.

Suresh S. Ramalingam, M.D. Res. ’97, an internationally recognized lung cancer physician-investigator, has been named deputy director of Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. He also will serve as assistant dean for Cancer Research for the Emory School of Medicine.

In his role as Winship’s deputy director, Dr. Ramalingam will lead the integration of the research, clinical and educational components within Winship.

“Dr. Ramalingam is an extraordinary leader and will advance Winship’s efforts to lessen the burden of cancer through greater integration of research with the care of our patients,” said Walter Curran Jr., M.D., executive director.

Dr. Ramalingam, a professor in Emory’s Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, now serves as Winship’s director of Medical Oncology and its Lung Cancer Program. He co-leads Winship’s Discovery and Developmental Therapeutics Program.

Board certified in medical oncology and internal medicine, he chairs the Thoracic Malignancies Committee and serves as deputy chair for the Therapeutics Program within ECOG ACRIN Cancer Research Group, a National Cancer Institute-supported national clinical trials group. His research focuses on agents that inhibit pathways for specific lung cancer mutations. He also investigates ways to individualize therapies in patients with small-cell and non-small-cell lung cancer.

Dr. Robert A. Welch named a top reviewer by Obstetrics & Gynecology
In Headlines on February 10, 2016
Robert A. Welch, M.D.

Robert A. Welch, M.D.

Professor Robert A. Welch, M.D., Wayne State University and the Detroit Medical Center’s vice chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinical Operations and WSU’s chief and division director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, has been ranked among the top 10 percent of peer reviewers for the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The journal utilizes 1,144 referee reviewers who are evaluated annually based on the number, quality of reviews and the time taken to complete reviews.

“The role of the peer reviewer is absolutely critical in the dissemination of new knowledge in medicine. To be an excellent peer reviewer requires a high level of knowledge of the subject matter, scientific method, statistical analysis, and an ability to communicate one’s critical thinking about a particular paper without prejudice or conflict,” Obstetrics & Gynecology Editor in Chief Nancy Chescheir, M.D., wrote to Dr. Welch. “And peer reviewers do this voluntarily on their ‘free time’ even though this work is so critical to scholarly activity.” She called Dr. Welch a member of an “elite group.”

The American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology last year recognized Dr. Welch as a top 5 percent reviewer for that journal. The two journals combined have the greatest impact factors of any journals in the specialty.

“I have been invited to review submitted manuscripts since 1984, when I was a senior resident in the Wayne State University/Detroit Medical Center program,” Dr. Welch said. “In 1982, I had presented an abstract about low birth weight twins that was picked up in Williams Obstetrics. Somehow the journal editors began to invite me to review, and I've been doing it since. I review 30 to 60 manuscripts annually, and try to do it in an organized and timely fashion. It also helps me to stay a leg up on the fellows and residents, as I have often seen the manuscript before it appears in a journal.”

Also, the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology last year recognized Dr. Welch as the District V mentor of the year. The accolade is given to one obstetrician/gynecologist out of several thousand in the district, which includes Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Ontario, and recognizes mentorship of junior colleagues, fellows, residents and medical students.  “I wear the pin proudly on my lab coat,” Dr. Welch said.

He focuses on the continued growth and development of obstetrics and gynecology specialty services, and the development of strategic partnerships with physicians to provide advanced medical and surgical care for women. He works closely with other DMC and WSU leaders on women’s health and academic-related enterprises.

Dr. Welch is active in local, regional and national quality improvement activities in the field of obstetrics and gynecology. His research focuses on measurement of a specific cell-free fetal RNA in amniotic fluid and maternal circulation, and utilizing this portion of the fetal transcriptome for future clinical applications in perinatal medicine.

Kresge associate Manish Mishra wins $5,000 for diabetic retinopathy research
In Headlines on February 9, 2016
Manish Mishra, Ph.D.

Manish Mishra, Ph.D.

A researcher with the Wayne State University School of Medicine’s Kresge Eye Institute was awarded $5,000 from the Alliance for Vision Research to explore the role of a regulatory protein in the development of diabetic retinopathy.

Research associate Manish Mishra, Ph.D., works in the lab of Renu Kowluru, Ph.D., a professor of Ophthalmology, and of the Department of Internal Medicine’s Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism.

The project, “Novel role of PARP-1 in regulation of MMMP-9 in diabetic retinopathy,” would provide new insight into the molecular mechanism of pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and occurs when blood vessels in the retina change. The vessels swell and leak fluid or close off completely. In some cases, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the retina surface. The condition can cause permanent blindness.

“The main objective of this proposal is to understand the novel role of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 in regulating matrix metalloproteinase-9, an enzyme implicated in mitochondrial damage, in the development of retinopathy. Our research is expected to identify targets for future therapeutic interventions to prevent or retard this sight-threatening disease,” Dr. Mishra said.

The project was chosen for its high relevance, direct correlation and significance in context with the development of diabetic retinopathy.

“The outcome will provide intriguing information about the mechanism of disease development and identify novel therapeutic targets,” he said.

This is Dr. Mishra’s first award from the Alliance for Vision Research, a Michigan nonprofit whose mission is to restore, preserve and improve vision by providing support to state vision researchers and organizations.

Class of 1959 alumna's annual gifts support public health students beyond the classroom
In Headlines on February 8, 2016
Public Health students attend the American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting and Exposition in Chicago last year.

Public Health students attend the American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting and Exposition in Chicago last year.

Ann Lewicki, M.D., M.P.H.

Ann Lewicki, M.D., M.P.H.

Seven students enrolled in the Wayne State University School of Medicine’s Master of Public Health degree program were given the opportunity to attend three national academic conferences in 2015, thanks to annual gifts from Class of 1959 alumna and legacy donor Ann Lewicki, M.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Lewicki’s gifts provided funds for professional memberships and conference fees for students to present at the American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting and Exposition in Chicago, the American Association for Cancer Research Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved, in Atlanta, and the National HIV Prevention Conference, also in Atlanta.

Dr. Lewicki, a retired radiologist, was already ensuring scholarly achievement in Public Health through an estate gift that will establish a generous endowment in support of the Public Health Sciences program, but she wanted to witness the impact her philanthropy could have on WSU students today. Investments like hers provide tangible benefits to students, enhance research and education, spark collaboration and promote an atmosphere of excellence.

Bhavyata Patel, M.D., is one student benefitting from Dr. Lewicki’s commitment.

“Attending the American Public Health Association meeting provided me the wonderful opportunity to broaden my knowledge and network in the public health sciences,” she said.

The Michigan native earned a medical degree from another university, but turned to the School of Medicine’s Public Health Practice concentration to fulfill her dream of serving as a health administrator and practitioner. She expects to graduate in May and hopes to use her public health education to enhance her skills as a physician, understanding the contextual influences of individual and population health, public policy and patient care.

“I am grateful that Dr. Lewicki provided me the opportunity to interact and learn from other public health professionals,” Dr. Patel said.

Dr. Lewicki earned a Master of Public Health degree from Harvard University’s School of Public Health while on sabbatical in 1976.

“That training made it possible for me to serve as a part-time consultant to the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare for a while, work that I enjoyed tremendously,” she said.

She was born in Poland and migrated to the U.S. with her family at age 19. She was one of only two women in her graduating Class of 1959.

“The Wayne State University School of Medicine provided me a strong clinical experience, and I liked that it was an urban environment. I want to do my part to ensure this opportunity for students today, because Wayne State opened a door to a fantastic career,” she said.

During her radiological academic career, Dr. Lewicki worked at Stanford University, Harvard Medical School-Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and George Washington University, always with a focus on gastrointestinal imaging and a special interest in teaching. She was a founding member of the Society of Gastrointestinal Radiologists and of the American Association for Women Radiologists. She was made a Fellow of the American College of Radiology in 1981.

The WSU Master of Public Health program, administered by the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences, prepares graduates to apply evidence-based knowledge from behavioral and social sciences, biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health and health care organization to understand and improve the health of the public, use appropriate research and analytical strategies to address public health issues, and communicate public health principles and findings to professional and community audiences.

Public Health student Fatema Shafie-Khorassani, an inaugural member of the new MPH biostatistics concentration, is especially thankful for opportunities like attending the APHA meeting, letting her apply and expand the theoretical knowledge from her coursework. “After graduating, I hope to continue working in academic public health research, before eventually aiming for a Ph.D. in biostatistics, and attending this conference gave me the opportunity to explore my options and learn more about what I need to do to achieve my goals,” she said.

Dr. Lewicki’s gifts to WSU – and the student beneficiaries – are strong examples of the vital importance of Pivotal Moments: Our Campaign for Wayne State University. Student success and achievement is one of four primary areas of strategic importance for the campaign. Funds raised during the Pivotal Moments campaign provide immediate resources to support students, faculty and research, with an additional goal of securing future moments through permanent endowment funding.

“I cannot say enough how appreciative we are of Dr. Lewicki’s gifts and other donor contributions,” said Tsveti Markova, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences. “No matter how big or small, their investment in our future generation has tremendous impact. It provides our students with opportunities otherwise not available to them. I also believe these donor gifts set an example to not only the beneficiaries, but to all our students, teaching them the spirit of generosity and commitment to the profession.”  

For students at the School of Medicine in particular, giving provides academic and professional enrichment opportunities to help define professional values while gaining knowledge. Elyse Schultz is a M.D./M.P.H. dual-degree student at WSU, and attended the APHA conference and the National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta through Dr. Lewicki’s program gift.

“Both experiences were inspiring. It was exciting to broaden my perspective on what public health is, does and can do. I had my first oral presentation on a panel. I am so grateful for the support that provided me these amazing experiences,” Schultz said. “Knowing how impactful gifts can be for student-learners, I look forward to ‘paying it forward’ when I am in the position to do so.”

Exhibit at Shiffman explores rich history of African-Americans at the School of Medicine
In Headlines on February 8, 2016
Joseph Ferguson, M.D.

Joseph Ferguson, M.D.

Chester Cole Ames, M.D.

Chester Cole Ames, M.D.

Marjorie Peebles-Meyers, M.D.

Marjorie Peebles-Meyers, M.D.

Thomas Flake Sr., M.D.

Thomas Flake Sr., M.D.

“Celebrating Diversity: A History of African-Americans at the Wayne State University School of Medicine” explores the rich history and the significant contributions of African-Americans during the school of medicine’s 148-year history. The exhibit will be displayed in the atrium of the Shiffman Medical Library during February, Black History Month.

“The Wayne State University School of Medicine has a rich and diverse history,” said Anita Moncrease, M.D., clinical associate professor of Pediatrics and a Class of 1984 graduate of the School of Medicine. “This exhibit tells the story of the important role the school played -- and continues to play -- in educating African-American physicians.”

The exhibit includes timeline of African-Americans’ involvement with the School of Medicine. Some points along that timeline include:

* The 1869 graduation of Joseph Ferguson, M.D., who graduated from the Detroit Medical College in 1869 and became the first African-American in Detroit -- and most likely in Michigan -- to earn a medical degree.

* The 1893 graduation of Albert Henry Johnson, M.D., the third African-American graduate of the Detroit College of Medicine. Dr. Johnson was one of the founders of Dunbar Hospital, the first African-American non-profit hospital in Detroit.

* In 1926 Chester Cole Ames, M.D., graduated from the Detroit College of Medicine and Surgery. He was the first African-American to obtain an internship in urology at a white hospital in Detroit, but he was never allowed on staff. He was Detroit’s first African-American intern, resident and member of the Wayne University medical faculty. He cofounded three African-American hospitals in Detroit, but was never granted hospital privileges to practice his specialty.

* In 1943 Marjorie Peebles-Meyers, M.D., graduated from Wayne University College of Medicine, the school’s first African-American female graduate. She became the first African-American female resident and chief resident at Detroit Receiving Hospital.

* In 1960 African-American physicians Thomas Flake Sr., M.D., Class of 1951; Addison Prince, M.D.; William Gibson, M.D.; and James Collins, M.D., were appointed to the staff at Harper Hospital staff, thereby integrating the Detroit Medical Center hospital staff.

“The personal stories of Drs. Joseph Ferguson, Marjorie Pebbles-Meyers and Charles Whitten are very interesting,” Dr. Moncrease said. “Their contributions to medicine in the face of racism, segregation and discrimination are lessons that everyone can learn from.”

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