School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine
Annual Golden Gala honors five, celebrates scholarship and student organization donations
In Headlines on October 20, 2014
From left are Dr. Lawrence Crane, Dr. John Carethers, Dr. Beth Ann Brooks, Dean Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and James Haveman, A.C.S.W.

From left are Dr. Lawrence Crane, Dr. John Carethers, Dr. Beth Ann Brooks, Dean Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and James Haveman, A.C.S.W.

Media personality Cynthia Canty emceed the event.

Media personality Cynthia Canty emceed the event.

The Wayne State University School of Medicine held its fourth annual Golden Gala on Saturday, honoring five leaders in the fields of medicine and public policy, and thanking hundreds of donors for their contributions to medical student scholarships and student organizations.

“It is my great privilege to lead a school that attracts students who want to do more for others even before receiving their medical degree,” Dean Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., told the audience of more than 570 during the event at the MGM Grand Detroit Hotel. “Witnessing their dedication and their actions makes the heart soar and leads me to believe that we and our descendants will be in good hands in many ways.”

She announced that in the past year donors contributed more than $3.4 million to support student scholarships and the school’s more than 60 student organizations.

“Tonight is a thanksgiving of sorts,” Dean Parisi told the crowd. “We gather here to celebrate giving, and to thank you for helping others to achieve their dreams.”

Longtime Detroit media icon Cynthia Canty served as emcee for the Roaring Twenties-themed gala, which included a plated dinner, live music and dancing, vintage car displays and a silent auction. Canty also produced a video honoring the evening’s five honorees, who received the annual Ambassador, Trailblazer and Distinguished Service Awards for contributing to the school’s legacy and commitment to the community. WSU President M. Roy Wilson, M.D., reflected on the world of medicine in the era of the theme. Several major medical discoveries were made in the 1920s, including the first use of insulin to treat diabetes, the first vaccine for whooping cough and the discovery of penicillin.

“When you think about it, the genesis of scientific discoveries and medical advances stem from inquisitive, agile minds that are nurtured in an environment that encourages and supports innovative thinking and research – an environment like that found at the Wayne State University School of Medicine,” he said.

The WSU Board of Governors was represented in the formal program by board member Sandra O’Brien, who spoke about the importance of the School of Medicine’s community partnerships, designed to improve the lives of the area’s residents and neighbors, and to assist those most in need. “This is the spirit of the Wayne State University School of Medicine and it’s a vitally needed spirit and institution as we work toward the newest renaissance of the city of Detroit,” she said. “It’s also the spirit reflected in the dedication, compassion and deeds of the honorees we recognize this evening.”

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow received the Distinguished Community Service Award for making access to quality, affordable health care a top priority. She ensured that the landmark Affordable Care Act protected comprehensive health coverage for women, including maternity care, and has been recognized for her efforts to make prescription drugs more affordable. She was instrumental in getting hospitals and providers to adopt electronic medical records to reduce medical errors and save money in the health care system, and is a leading advocate of community health centers, which provide affordable, high-quality care in more than 180 communities in Michigan.

Grand Haven resident James Haveman, A.C.S.W., the former director of the Michigan Department of Community Health, received one of the evening’s two Distinguished Service awards, given to physicians, researchers, non-medically related individuals or alumni who have made major contributions to humanitarian causes or community participation. Haveman has had a strong relationship with the School of Medicine for more than 20 years, collaborating in the early 1990s with the WSU Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences to ensure patients in Detroit received the best mental health care possible. He also worked to provide annual funding to support academic and community-based programs.

His co-honoree, former St. Clair Shores resident Beth Ann Brooks, M.D, earlier this year retired from her position as resident mentor and director of the department’s general psychiatry program and child and adolescent psychiatry residency programs. She has been named to the peer-reviewed Best Doctors in America 10 times. She is nationally recognized for her contributions to resident education, and now lives in Nebraska.

The Ambassador Award honors individuals and corporations who, through acts and deeds, epitomize the spirit of Wayne State University and the School of Medicine. The 2014 honoree was Ann Arbor resident John Carethers, M.D., a 1989 graduate of the Wayne State University School of Medicine. Dr. Carethers, who called himself “just a kid from Detroit” in his remarks Saturday, is the John G. Searle Professor of Gastroenterology and chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School. He is the 10th of 12 children and grew up on Detroit’s northwest side. After graduating from the School of Medicine with honors, he completed his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1992. Dr. Carethers was elected to the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine in 2012.

The Trailblazer Award went to Dearborn resident Lawrence Crane, M.D., ’66, F.A.C.P., F.I.D.S.A., a professor of medicine in the WSU Department of Internal Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases. In the early 1980s, Dr. Crane changed the lives of thousands living with HIV when he decided to provide medical care to those with Gay-Related Immune Deficiency, later renamed AIDS. He has been a vocal advocate for patients, championing access to HIV care regardless of insurance status, race or sexual identity. He was instrumental in getting local patients the first antiretroviral AIDS drug, zidovudine, or AZT, which was discovered at the School of Medicine. Dr. Crane directs Wayne State’s Adult HIV/AIDS Programs and Infectious Diseases Outpatient Clinic, the largest of its kind in Michigan.

Students present safety exercise to demonstrate Interprofessional Team Visit program at state conference
In Headlines on October 17, 2014
From left, Briana Rosinski, Claude Leblanc, Jennifer Mendez, Ph.D., and Huixia Sharon Wei, at the conference.

From left, Briana Rosinski, Claude Leblanc, Jennifer Mendez, Ph.D., and Huixia Sharon Wei, at the conference.

Session members participate in the Mr. Potato Head activity led by Wayne State University.

Session members participate in the Mr. Potato Head activity led by Wayne State University.

Three Wayne State University students led a workshop at the Northern Michigan Interprofessional Conference held Sept. 26-27 at Treetops Resort in Gaylord, Mich., outlining the school’s Interprofessional Team Visit Program.

School of Medicine third-year medical student Huixia Sharon Wei, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences occupational therapy student Briana Rosinski and College of Nursing student Claude LeBlanc, R.N., along with Assistant Professor Jennifer Mendez, Ph.D., the School of Medicine’s director of co-curricular programs, presented the hour-long “Delivering Value” session to 85 health care professionals, including nurse practitioners, specialty and primary care physicians, public health workers, community health workers, dentists, dental hygienists, optometrists and more.

The IPTV program, which is a collaboration between WSU's medicine, pharmacy, nursing, social work, physical therapy, occupational therapy and physician assistant programs, serves 450 older adults in the Detroit area annually, and introduces 750 medicine, nursing, pharmacy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician assistant and social work students to the demands of assessing older adult health and social needs in a home environment.

View a video about the Interprofessional Team Visit Program here.

“When professionals from all walks of health care work together, with exceptional patient outcomes as the ultimate goal, great things can, and do, happen,” Leblanc said. “I truly believe the goals of IPTV were demonstrated at the seminar, based upon the enthusiastic response from the audience. As seasoned health care veterans, they too grasped the concept of cooperatively and collaboratively working together, as a health care team, to provide compassionate and effective care.”

The students discussed how to create a valuable interprofessional education experience, shared their experiences with the IPTV program and led the audience in an interactive Mr. Potato Head activity to emphasize teamwork and quality improvement in urgent situations. The unconventional teaching tool, suggested by Department of Medicine Vice Chair for Education Diane Levine, M.D., is the same exercise used for the “Better Docs” seminars held earlier this year, Wei said.

“Dr. Diane Levine asked me to be part of this and wanted me to be in charge of running the Mr. Potato Head activity because of my previous experience organizing the Better Docs seminar in which the Mr. Potato Head activity was featured,” Wei added. “It was a confidence booster to be given the autonomy to deliver the content on interprofessional education and values of teamwork from my perspective as a medical student. I was able to share with the audience my personal experiences working on teams in the hospital setting for the first time fresh out of the water as a third year.”

The workshop was noted in follow-up surveys as one of the best at the event, said David Miller, program manager for Interprofessional Education Michigan Health Council, the conference organizer.

“This presentation would not have been successful without students sharing how important it is to learn to work together as a team,” Dr. Mendez said. “They used examples of what they do when they conduct the team visits with older adults; the types of assessment tools they used and how the visits are organized. They were very explicit when responding to audience questions. It was an honor to present with them.”

Public health student earns spot in national policy program
In Headlines on October 15, 2014
Samantha Iovan

Samantha Iovan

The National Association of County and City Health Officials selected Wayne State University graduate student Samantha Iovan as a 2014 Public Health Policy and Practice Scholar.

The competitive scholar program is a guided, academic, practice-based opportunity for graduate-level students to impact public health locally. Iovan is a master’s of public health student in the Wayne State University School of Medicine Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences.

 NACCHO’s members are the 2,800 local health departments across the United States.

"I am pleased to be selected for the NACCHO Policy and Practice Scholars Program. It is very exciting to have the opportunity to work with national public health experts on issues that are relevant to Southeast Michigan. I am looking forward to participating in the program and seeing how public health is practiced at the national level,” Iovan said.

She will work in the area of Environmental Health Practice, specifically on water issues, including drafting and refining policy statements on water and conducting key informant interviews with health departments in making the connection between environmental health and public health accreditation.

"Our program’s mission is to develop future public health leaders prepared to address the health challenges of an increasingly urbanized world. It is recognition of Samantha’s talent and potential that she has been invited to participate in NACCHO’s Public Health Policy and Practice Scholars program,” said WSU Program Director Kimberly Campbell-Voytal, Ph.D., M.S.N. “Her interests in water policy are particularly relevant to the Great Lakes region and to local public health in Detroit. We look forward to supporting her continued development in environmental health practice.”

Iovan will receive academic credit for completing a minimum of 100 hours of public health policy and practice experience with specific assigned tasks.

“Acceptance in this national practicum is a testament to the quality of students enrolled in the master of public health program at the Wayne State University School of Medicine. Practical knowledge and skills are essential to a successful career in public health and a requirement of all public health students,” said Dana Rice, Dr.PH, the program’s practicum director. “Samantha will gain real-world experience from national leaders in environmental health and will bring back this important knowledge to local health departments as well as fellow students, faculty and staff.”

WSU study may lead to use of smart phones to ease stress in the workplace
In Headlines on October 14, 2014
Bengt Arnetz, M.D., Ph.D.

Bengt Arnetz, M.D., Ph.D.

Although studies of the health effects of stress have been published for years, few have examined how chronic and momentary -- or acute -- stress influences health while people go about their daily lives.

Researchers at Wayne State University recently published the study, “The Relationship of Chronic and Momentary Work Stress to Cardiac Reactivity in Female Managers: Feasibility of a Smart Phone-Assisted Assessment System,” in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine. The study looked at how both chronic work stress and momentary stress during the day influenced cardiac reactions in a cohort of women who were managers at various companies or institutions in Sweden. The team also took advantage of technological innovations: They used wireless sensors to assess the women’s heart rates throughout the day. When a women’s heart rate became elevated, the system prompted a smart phone to alert the participant to rate her momentary stress.

“Our study sheds light on the various forms of stress experienced by women in positions of responsibility and authority, and how the combination of acute and chronic stress can have a particularly negative health effect,” said Bengt Arnetz, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., professor of family medicine and public health sciences for the WSU School of Medicine and the team’s leader. “This cohort of women is rarely studied, yet they have unique challenges and risks, including work-family balance, workplace discrimination and increased risk of burnout. We found that these women had elevated heart rates at work on multiple occasions throughout the day, and subjective stress was experienced routinely at these times. This suggests that the stress from managerial positions for women may have negative mental and physical health implications.”

The study highlights the important value of assessing both chronic and momentary stresses, and demonstrates that women who report elevated chronic work stress may be particularly at risk for cardiovascular reaction from acute stress experiences.

“The new wireless technologies can track subtle physiological signals in daily life and alert the individual when physiological anxiety occurs,” added Mark Lumley, Ph.D., WSU professor of psychology and the article’s lead author. “These findings are not only useful in the research lab, but also in clinical practices, where technology can be easily modified to educate people about their physiology in daily life, and alert them to take corrective actions when they have unhealthy or abnormal psychophysiological reactions, such as an increased heart rate.”

In addition to Drs. Arnetz and Lumley, Wayne State faculty members Weisong Shi, Ph.D., professor of computer science, and Richard Slatcher, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology, collaborated on the project, along with colleagues from several universities in Sweden.

The study was funded by the Office of the Vice President for Research at Wayne State University and the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare. Nokia Corp. supplied the smart phones for the study.

WSU researchers secure grant to study long non-coding RNA role in MS
In Headlines on October 13, 2014
Leonard Lipovich, Ph.D.

Leonard Lipovich, Ph.D.

Omar Khan, M.D.

Omar Khan, M.D.

Leonard Lipovich, Ph.D., associate professor of the Wayne State University Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics and of Neurology, and Omar Khan, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Neurology, received a pilot grant from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to investigate long non-coding ribonucleic acids in multiple sclerosis.

“Long non-coding RNAs have never been investigated in multiple sclerosis,” Dr. Lipovich said. “Despite a plethora of work investigating the complex interaction between the genes and immune regulation, genomewide analysis and microRNA research, little is known about the role of long non-coding RNAs in multiple sclerosis. RNA, rather than being a mere messenger in the flow of information from DNA to protein, is now recognized as a molecule that directly performs important, even essential, functions in cells and organisms, independently of its protein-coding potential.”

Long non-coding RNAs, or lncRNAs, are non-protein coding transcripts longer than 200 nucleotides. At the close of the first post-genomic decade, the international Encyclopedia of DNA Elements Consortium demonstrated that most human genes do not code for proteins, and that the majority of human non-coding RNA genes yield transcripts belonging to a vast but still poorly characterized class known as lncRNA.

“These lncRNAs may be uniquely present in the blood of multiple sclerosis patients. These lncRNAs, whose MS-specific expression may be an indicator of MS-specific function, can be developed into disease biomarkers and, potentially, into new drug targets for the treatment of MS,” said Dr. Lipovich, principal investigator of this study.

Dr. Khan said that it is worth noting that there has not been a study conducted investigating the role of lnc-RNA in multiple sclerosis.

“Our center has been actively contributing to the decade-long and still ongoing African-American Simplex Study in collaboration with the University of California San Francisco and the Massachutsetts Institute of Technology, funded by the National Institutes of Health for more than a decade,” said Dr. Khan, principal investigator of that study and member of the International MS Genetics Consortium. The results have been published in high impact journals such as Nature, Nature Genetics and Journal of Immunology.

“With Dr. Lipovich’s expertise, we will not only explore the role of lncRNA in multiple sclerosis, we also will perform complex correlational analysis that will include brain magnetic resonance imaging, cerebrospinal fluid immunology and retinal structure injury in well-characterized patients at our center,” Dr. Khan said. “This approach enriches the study led by Dr. Lipovich, which may open the door to larger studies involving multiple sites. Wayne State University is the only institution in the world investigating lncRNAs in multiple sclerosis and continues to build on its leadership in the field of multiple sclerosis and related research.”

The Wayne State University Multiple Sclerosis Center is one of the largest MS centers in the United States, and is home to the leading neuroimmunological and genetics research, drug development and clinical trial research, and highly regarded advanced magnetic resonance imaging and retinal biology program in multiple sclerosis.

New book offers hope for adolescent chest pain sufferers
In Headlines on October 13, 2014
Richard Humes, M.D.

Richard Humes, M.D.

A team of veteran pediatric researchers of the Wayne State University School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Michigan, part of the Detroit Medical Center, have come up with some surprising insights that offer new hope for teenagers who struggle with chest pain.

Contained in a recently published book, “Adolescent Cardiac Issues”, the insights are based on earlier research that found that only 6.5 percent of chest pain patients referred to pediatric heart specialists by the nation’s 57,000 pediatricians each year actually struggle with potentially dangerous congenital heart disease.

“I think the good news in our book is that the vast majority of adolescents with chest pain are not experiencing heart pain, and their symptoms have nothing to do with the heart,” said Richard Humes, M.D., professor of Pediatrics for the Wayne State University School of Medicine and chief of the Division of Cardiology for Children’s Hospital of Michigan. “As the research in our book shows, most chest pain is simply musculoskeletal pain of one kind or another. Nonetheless, (teenagers with chest pain symptoms) quite often get sent to the cardiologist.

“Our findings are very hopeful in this regard, and they are directed toward the pediatricians who are referring these patients to cardiologists,” he added. “In essence, we’re telling them that a lot of these cases are a lot simpler than they think.”

Based on several years of research by the Children’s Hospital of Michigan and Wayne State University team, “Adolescent Cardiac Issues” also has the potential to help reduce the soaring cost of U.S. health care, Dr. Humes said. The savings would result mainly from reducing the number of expensive cardiac tests given to children who complain of chest pain.

“There’s no doubt that sending adolescents for test after test after test is contributing to the increasing cost of care,” said Dr. Humes, noting that health care costs now account for about 17 percent of the annual Gross Domestic Product of the United States.

“I think the take-home message from our book is clear,” said Dr. Humes, who recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Heart Association for his nearly three and a half decades of service as a pediatric cardiologist. “What we’re telling the pediatricians is that most of the cardiac symptoms they’re seeing in adolescents (children 11 to 18 years old) are benign, and they don’t have to refer so many of those patients to (heart specialists). We also help define those signs and symptoms that should be referred. This book is a very practical guide for pediatricians, and our hope is also that it will spare parents and kids some of the anxiety that often accompanies the concern about a possible heart problem.”

Describing the new book as “an important contribution” to pediatric cardiac studies, Children’s Hospital of Michigan Pediatrician-in-Chief and Wayne State University Chair of Pediatrics Steven E. Lipshultz, M.D., said that it also serves as “a very encouraging example of the vital importance of clinical research in achieving the best possible care for pediatric patients.

“The Children’s Hospital of Michigan is a regional and national leader in pediatric health care research,” said Dr. Lipshultz, who last April made headlines by publishing a study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showing that a surprisingly high percentage of children with once-dreaded dilated cardiomyopathy are able to regain their health and live normal lives, after appropriate medical care.  “For all of us at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, clinical research goes hand in hand with excellent care and education – and all three are absolutely essential in delivering world-class health care for kids.”

Five of the 13 chapters in the new book were written by pediatric heart specialists affiliated with the Wayne State University School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital of Michigan:

Pooja Gupta, M.D., also a co-editor, outlined strategies for helping adolescents cope with congenital heart disease in the chapter titled “Caring for a Teen with Congenital Heart Disease.”

Preetha Balakrishnan, M.D., explored the relationship between obesity and premature cardiovascular disease in the chapter “Identification of Obesity and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Childhood and Adolescence.”

James Galas, M.D., discussed helpful approaches to identifying cardiac diseases in adolescent athletes in “Sports Participation During Teenage Years.”

Heather Sowinksi, D.O., and Peter Karpawich, M.D., assessed techniques aimed at effective management of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in adolescents in their chapter, “Management of a Hyperactive Teen and Cardiac Safety.”

Harinder Singh, M.D., analyzed clinical strategies for helping adolescents with abnormal electrocardiograms but without symptoms of heart disease or disorder in “The Asymptomatic Teenager with an Abnormal Electrocardiogram.”

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