School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine
Class of 2016 needs support for annual charity hair-shaving event
In Headlines on April 17, 2014
The Class of 2015's Hieu Nyugen got his hair cut at last year's event.

The Class of 2015's Hieu Nyugen got his hair cut at last year's event.

Katie Thompson showed off her donated hair in 2013.

Katie Thompson showed off her donated hair in 2013.

Angela Wagner from the Douglas J. Aveda Institute buzzed Nick Robell's hair.

Angela Wagner from the Douglas J. Aveda Institute buzzed Nick Robell's hair.

The Class of 2016 wants you to buzz (it) off.

The Wayne State University School of Medicine’s Class of 2016 will uphold the tradition of shaving their heads for good cause at the annual Buzz it for Boards, set for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 1 in the alcove of the Scott Hall cafeteria.

Organizers are encouraging faculty, staff and students to show support before May 1 by either signing up as a fundraiser (yes, you have to cut your hair or shave your head) or donating directly to the campaign (no cutting required) here:

The annual fundraiser is a second-year tradition established in 2009 by the School of Medicine’s Class of 2011. Students can use the event to let loose and cheer on friends who buzz, cut or donate their hair to charity before taking the United States Medical Licensing Examination Step I in June.

“I believe this event has sustained for so long because of the strong presence and positive influence from the M3 and M4 class,” said Class of 2016 Student Senate Representative Patrick Nolan. “They are constantly setting the bar higher for us, driving us to do more, work harder and make the biggest impact we can. The strong mentoring spirit at Wayne medical is one of our school’s best assets.”

This year’s event will benefit Camp Casey, a Royal Oak-based nonprofit that provides horseback riding camps, outings and even horse house calls to children with cancer and their families. The charity is popular with the School of Medicine’s medical students – it was the charity of choice for Buzz it for Boards in 2010 and 2012. Molly Reeser, co-founder of Camp Casey, will give a brief presentation about her organization and talk about how students can Camp Casey events throughout the year.

“Camp Casey was picked this year because of the positive impact it has on the pediatric cancer patients, most of whom are treated right here at the Detroit Medical Center,” Nolan said.

Most of the students will spend their summer studying for the USMLE, a comprehensive national medical exam that tests medical students on everything they’ve learned during years one and two of medical school.

UltraSounds to perform April 18 in Scott Hallís Green Auditorium
In Headlines on April 16, 2014

The UltraSounds will ring in spring at a concert from noon to 1 p.m. April 18 in Scott Hall’s Green Auditorium.

The Wayne State University School of Medicine students will perform a capella renditions of songs by pop artists Maroon 5, Swedish House Mafia and Sara Bareilles.

The concert is part of the school’s Arts in the Atrium, an ongoing series sponsored by Shiffman Medical Library and the School of Medicine to highlight the artistic talents of students, staff and faculty at seasonal lunch time performances.

Lunch will be provided.

School of Medicine students honored in campus-wide research exhibition
In Headlines on April 11, 2014
Brianne Mohl is a fourth-year doctoral student.

Brianne Mohl is a fourth-year doctoral student.

Six Wayne State University School of Medicine graduate students received awards at the 2014 Graduate Exhibition held March 18 at the McGregor Memorial Conference Center on WSU’s main campus.

The annual event celebrated the diversity of research among doctoral students from the university’s schools and colleges. Eighty-nine posters were presented, including 21 from the School of Medicine.

Doctoral candidate Brianne Mohl won the School of Medicine’s only first place award, for her poster presentation on a study that used functional magnetic resonance imaging and a simple rhyming task to prove a reading disability is a legitimate second diagnosis for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

“Children with ADHD and reading disabilities would, therefore, likely benefit from educational interventions or remediations, which address both attentional and phonological deficits,” she said.

Mohl was surprised and encouraged by the Graduate Exhibition honor.

“I spoke with many talented students from other departments, so it was incredible to receive the award,” she said. “We actually get many chances to showcase our work in the Translational Neuroscience Program, but the exhibition was nice because it made you step back and explain your work to people who were very talented, but less familiar with your specific area or project. It was nice to hear their feedback and field their thought-provoking questions.”

Mohl is in her fourth year of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience’s Translational Neuroscience Program, and was mentored by Associate Professor Jeffrey Stanley, Ph.D., for the winning project, “Interactions of Attention and Reading Areas in ADHD using a Novel Task.”

Other School of Medicine winners in the poster presentation category included:

Second place:

Dhruman Goradia, “Evidence of Pronounced Surface Deformation of the Caudate Nucleus in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Boys with Comorbid Reading Disability.” Advisor: Jeffrey Stanley, Ph.D.

Brittany Haynes, “Involvement of Rad6 Pathway in Triple Negative Breast Cancer Response to Platinum DNA Damage.” Advisor: Malathy Shekhar, Ph.D.

Third place:

Neha Aggarwal, “Effects of Photodynamic Therapy on Inflammatory Breast Cancer Cells.” Advisor: Bonnie Sloane, Ph.D.

Andria Rodrigues, “Role of the c-terminus of Iron Sulfur Cluster Scaffold Protein Isu in Iron Binding and Interaction with Iron Chaperone Frataxin.” Advisor: Timothy Stemmler, Ph.D.

Jennifer Thomas, “Shh Signaling Differentially Effects Retinal Neuron Regeneration in the Adult Zebrafish.” Advisor: Ryan Thummel, Ph.D.
Resident wins grant to explore antibody to provide greater protection against pertussis
In Headlines on April 10, 2014
Jacqueline Guterman, M.D., Ph.D.

Jacqueline Guterman, M.D., Ph.D.

A first-year resident with the Wayne State University School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology has received a grant to explore whether a different antibody in the bodies of pregnant mothers holds the possibility of greater protection against pertussis for newborns.

Jacqueline Guterman, M.D., Ph.D., has secured a one-year, $20,000 grant from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Research Fellowship Program for her study, “Immunoglobulin D response to antepartum pertussis vaccination and its role in neonatal protection.”

Despite routine vaccinations against pertussis since the 1940s, whooping cough, as it is commonly known, has made a comeback in the United States. Cases have been steadily increasing, causing significant illness and death in infants younger than 1 year.

The disease is more common in infants and young children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of U.S. infants infected before the age of 1, about half are hospitalized. One in four of those will develop pneumonia, and between one and two in every 100 infected will die.

Health officials report that worldwide an estimated 300,000 annual deaths can be traced to whooping cough. The CDC received 48,000 reports of cases nationwide in 2013, the largest single-year number since vaccinations became available.

The Michigan Department of Community Health has previously reported a “worrisome steady increase” in pertussis cases in the state. In 2010, the department recorded 1,500 reported cases. In just the first six months of 2012, the department received 847 reports of pertussis cases,  including one death – a 21 percent increase over the 691 cases in 2011. A provisional report by the CDC showed Michigan with 858 reported cases in 2013.

“I am very excited to start on the project,” said Dr. Guterman, an ACOG junior fellow who received her medical degree from State University of New York, Upstate Medical University. “This study will provide novel insights into the mechanisms underlying the immune protection against pertussis induced by antepartum vaccination and direct the design of more efficient maternal vaccines for pertussis and other respiratory pathogens.”

In an effort to reduce infant pertussis infection, Dr. Guterman said, the ACOG recommends tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis vaccinations during every pregnancy. The rationale behind that recommendation is the belief that the maternal antibody isotope Immunoglobulin G, or IgG, developed by the vaccinations provides passive immunity in infants until they can receive routine childhood vaccinations.

However, the mechanism of pre-birth vaccine-induced protection again pertussis is not completely understood, Dr. Guterman said. Experiments with animal models have shown that pertussis-specific IgG is only detectable in the serum when the infection is cleared from the respiratory tract, a finding that argues against the role of IgG in preventing a primary infection.

Dr. Guterman and her colleagues recently found that another antibody known as Immunoglobulin D, or IgD, present in large amounts in the human upper respiratory system, displays “potent functions” in respiratory immune defense. The IgD activates antimicrobial, pro-inflammatory and antibody-inducing functions of basophils, a type of white blood cell. The antibody also binds to respiratory pathogens, and could transfer across the placenta, providing an early form of protection against pertussis in newborns.

The study will set out to determine maternal IgD response to pre-birth pertussis vaccination and its role in newborn protection. Dr. Guterman hypothesizes that pre-birth pertussis vaccination in mothers induces maternal IgD, which can be transferred to their infants, contributing to protection against neonatal infection.

In the study, Dr. Guterman will work with her mentors, Kang Chen, Ph.D, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, whose lab developed the preliminary research on IgD; and Bernard Gonik, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology and the Frann S. Srere chair of Perinatal Medicine, who will oversee the clinical/patient aspect of the project.

Pertussis made national headlines in 2010 when a spike in cases was reported in California. That outbreak – which affected more than 9,000 people and killed 10 infants – rated as the Golden State’s worst outbreak in 60 years. Closer to home, in 2013 Washtenaw County recorded almost 200 cases of pertussis. Washtenaw County Public Health reports that this year as many as two new cases are being reported each week.

Among the reasons for the outbreaks and the resurgence of the disease, researchers say, is the fact that pertussis strikes cyclically every five years or so, and a newer vaccine decreases in potency faster than previous versions. New findings also point to a philosophical factor as well: the movement among some parents to refuse to have their children vaccinated.

National Academy of Sciences selects Dr. Noa Ofen as Kavli Frontiers Fellow
In Headlines on April 9, 2014
Noa Ofen, Ph.D., presented her research as a Kavli Frontiers Fellow at a recent symposium in California.

Noa Ofen, Ph.D., presented her research as a Kavli Frontiers Fellow at a recent symposium in California.

Dr. Ofen discusses her work with an attendee.

Dr. Ofen discusses her work with an attendee.

A Wayne State University faculty member presented her research on capturing episodic memory development at the 19th German-American Kavli Frontiers of Science Symposium, a prestigious biannual meeting held April 4-6 in Irvine, Calif.

Noa Ofen, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics and WSU’s Institute of Gerontology, was among the 70 researchers competitively selected and invited to present as Kavli Frontiers Fellows, a scholarship co-sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences.

Attendees are selected by academy members from a pool of young researchers who have already made recognized contributions to science and have been identified as future leaders in science.

“The Frontiers of Science experience was incredible,” Dr. Ofen said. “It is a great honor to be recognized as one of the top young scientists in my field. The opportunity to discuss major scientific issues across a broad range of disciplines with bright scientists who work in the frontiers of each discipline was extremely energizing. The symposium reminded me how exciting science exploration is, not only within my field, and motivated me to look more broadly at conducting impactful research.”

The meeting allowed participants like Dr. Ofen to explore innovative research ideas across a wide variety of fields and develop new networks that will serve them as they progress in their careers.

“This meeting took me back to my high school days, when I was selected to represent Israel -- where I then lived -- at the International Youth Science Meeting in the United Kingdom. It was wonderful experience then and a good reminder now of how fascinating science is,” she added. “It was a great opportunity to represent Wayne State University and our strength as a research university.”

She presented “Development of Memory Systems in the Human Brain” in a poster as part of the meeting’s formal session on neuroplasticity and development.

“Episodic memory – the ability to encode, maintain and retrieve information – is critical for everyday functioning at all ages, yet little is known about the development of episodic memory systems and their brain substrates,” Dr. Ofen said. “The use of neuroimaging methodologies, including MRI, in the study of episodic memory development is providing new insights into the neural underpinnings that support improvements in episodic memory.”

She presented data on these neural mechanisms, highlighting evidence that demonstrates how functional and structural brain development underlies changes in memory functioning throughout childhood and adolescence. She leads the Ofen Lab for Cognitive and Brain Development, which investigates structural and functional brain development across a wide age range of typically developing children and adults. Using tests of cognitive abilities combined with neuroimaging techniques, she probes how brain structure and function shape human cognitive functioning across development. She has worked to explore the structure and function with a neurodevelopmental basis of the hippocampus, a crucial brain structure for learning and memory that is altered in a number of psychiatric disorders.

Michigan AHEC launches Upper Peninsula Regional Center
In Headlines on April 8, 2014
The Michigan Area Health Education Center has announced the launch of its Upper Peninsula Regional Center, partnering with Northern Michigan University. Located in Marquette, the center will be responsible for implementing AHEC goals in 15 counties: Alger, Baraga, Chippewa, Delta, Dickinson, Gogebic, Houghton, Iron, Keweenaw, Luce, Mackinac, Marquette, Menominee, Ontonagon and Schoolcraft.

Established by Wayne State University in 2010, Michigan AHEC seeks to enhance access to quality health care, particularly primary and preventive care, by improving the supply and distribution of health care professionals through community and educational partnerships. Through a statewide network of regional centers, Michigan AHEC prepares underrepresented and disadvantaged youth for health care careers, promotes clinical training opportunities for students in shortage areas and provides continuing education programs for health professionals.

“We are very happy to have Northern Michigan University serve as our host partner in the state’s AHEC network,” said Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., dean of the WSU School of Medicine and co-principal investigator of the Michigan AHEC program. “The northern regions of our great state also are underserved areas in terms of access to health care. Having NMU join us in this effort will be crucial to further addressing this issue.”

Northern Michigan University is the host partner for the Upper Peninsula Regional Center. The university offers medical pre-professional programs as well as certificate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in nursing, clinical lab sciences and allied health. Students also have the opportunity to participate in the Early Assurance Program, an initiative that targets students from underserved rural or urban areas, first-generation college students, graduates from low-income high schools, students who are Pell grant-eligible or those interested in practicing medicine in a high-need specialty in areas where there are health care shortages.

“Michigan AHEC is excited about extending our reach and resources to the Upper Peninsula,” said Dr. Ramona Benkert, Ph.D., A.N.P.-B.C., F.A.A.N.P., associate dean for Clinical and Academic Affairs for the WSU College of Nursing and co-principal investigator of the Michigan AHEC program. “The Upper Peninsula has a severe shortage of primary care and other health professionals. We are pleased Northern Michigan University has joined the Michigan AHEC team and look forward to working with the university and the community to identify and address northern Michigan’s health care workforce needs.”

The Upper Peninsula Regional Center is the fourth of Michigan AHEC’s five regional centers. The Southeast Regional Center, established in 2011, is located in Detroit and hosted by the Greater Detroit Area Health Council. Opened in 2012, the Mid-Central Regional Center is hosted by Central Michigan University. The Western Regional Center, launched in 2013 and located in Grand Rapids, is hosted by Western Michigan University. The Northern Lower Regional Center is expected to open in 2015.

Mary Jane Tremethick, Ph.D., R.N., assistant dean and director of the NMU School of Health and Human Performance, was appointed interim executive director of the Upper Peninsula Regional Center. In this role, she will plan, organize, direct and evaluate all aspects of the center, including financial administration, program planning and development, personnel management, fundraising, and public relations and marketing. Before becoming a professor at NMU in 2000, she served as assistant professor in the department of Health Education and Promotion at Western Illinois State University, and she worked for several years as a registered nurse at Marquette (Mich.) General Hospital.

Cindy Noble was named program manager for the Upper Peninsula Regional Center. She will manage programs, coordinate data collection, and develop public relations, marketing and community engagement strategies. Noble previously served as parks and recreation coordinator for the city of Marquette. She taught courses in health promotion and personal training as an adjunct instructor at NMU, where she earned her master’s degree.

Michigan 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, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, School of Medicine and School of Social Work; the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry; Central Michigan University; Western Michigan University; and Northern Michigan University.

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