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Posts Tagged ‘College of Medicine and Life Sciences’

Global Medical Missions Hall of Fame induction ceremony set for March 17

The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Science’s Global Medical Missions Hall of Fame will induct a new class of honorees Saturday, March 17. 

Inductees will be recognized during a ceremony at 7:30 p.m. in Collier Building Room 1000 on UT’s Health Science Campus. 

Members of the 2018 class are Dr. Diane Cappelletty, Dr. Ziya Celik and International Samaritan.

Dr. Diane Cappelletty

Cappelletty is a professor and chair of pharmacy practice in the UT College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. The Monclova, Ohio, resident and UT alumna has been involved with medical missions and local medical clinics for 15 years. 

Her mission work began in 2003 when she worked with a team in Peru. Since then, Cappelletty has been on numerous missions to Guatemala and Honduras, and has inspired students to serve alongside her. She compounds medications in the field, comes up with innovative techniques to provide meds during the missions, and mentors students, showing them the humanistic side of pharmacists in trying conditions. Her work has been recognized by the Ohio Society of Health System Pharmacists. 

In Toledo, Cappelletty volunteers at the free Community Care Clinic, which, thanks to her efforts, was licensed by the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy.   

Dr. Ziya Celik

Celik is a surgeon who has participated in medical missions for more than three decades. He has worked with Midwest Medical Missions, Medishare and Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders, serving in the Dominican Republic, Kenya, Haiti and Nigeria.

Born in 1941 in Rize, Turkey, Celik moved to the city of Erzurum to complete his early education. In 1960, he started medical school at the University of Istanbul, completed a surgery residency, and was an instructor at the University of Ataturk in Erzurum until 1971.  In 1976, he completed a residency in general surgery at the former Medical College of Ohio.

In addition to medical missions and earthquake relief, Celik maintained a general surgery private practice in Oregon, Ohio, for 30 years, retiring in 2006. Affiliated with St. Charles Hospital, he was a 20-year member of its Executive Committee, director of surgery for 10 years and chief of staff while volunteering his surgical skills around the globe. He lives in Pompano Beach, Fla. 

 International Samaritan is a ministry based in Ann Arbor, Mich., which serves more than 13,000 people each year. For nearly two decades, this nonprofit organization has established programs to alleviate severe poverty and health issues in numerous countries. 

In 1994, Rev. Donald Vettese, a Jesuit priest who was then president of St. John’s Jesuit High School in Toledo, founded this ministry after a trip with students to an orphanage in Guatemala City. In 16 years, the ministry has started programs in Guatemala, Egypt, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Haiti. The organization also is conducting feasibility studies for similar efforts in Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and the Philippines. Oscar Dussan, president of International Samaritan, will attend the ceremony to accept the award. 

Dr. Andrew Casabianca

In addition, Dr. Andrew Casabianca, associate professor and chair of anesthesiology in the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences and medical director of operative services at UT Medical Center, will receive the Dr. Lawrence V. Conway Lifetime Distinguished Service Award. He also is associate professor of surgery and dentistry. 

Since traveling to the Dominican Republic on his first medical mission trip in 1994, Casabianca has returned every year. A member of the Midwest Medical Missions, he has participated in more than 30 trips, conducting primary care, anesthesia and dentistry. Casabianca has been the faculty adviser for UT Students for Medical Missions and is on the missions committee at Calvary Church in Maumee. He also was on the planning committee for Serve Week, participated in medical clinics for Vision Ministries and Convoy of Hope, and is a board member for Midwest Medical Missions. 

RSVPs are requested for the free, public induction ceremony. Call 419.530.2586 or 1.800.235.6766, register online or email medmissionhof@utoledo.edu. 

In conjunction with the induction ceremony, the College of Medicine Students for Medical Missions will host a symposium from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 17 in Health Education Building 110.

Speakers will include Cappelletty, Celik, Dussan and Casabianca. Register for the free symposium here.

Dr. Lawrence V. Conway, UT professor emeritus of finance, founded the Global Medical Missions Hall of Fame in 2004 to honor individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to advancing the medical well-being of people around the world. In 2006, the Global Medical Missions Hall of Fame became affiliated with the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences. The hall of fame can be seen in the lobby of the Jacobs Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center. 

 


UT researchers to lead 38% of Ohio’s new water quality research projects, including ‘impairment’ criteria

The University of Toledo is slated to lead eight out of the 21 new research projects to be funded with $3.5 million from the state of Ohio to address water quality and algal bloom toxicity.

UT, situated on the western basin of Lake Erie, is to receive nearly $1 million of the $3.5 million dedicated by the Ohio Department of Higher Education for these additional projects in the ongoing, statewide Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative, which began three years ago after the city of Toledo issued a Do Not Drink advisory for half a million water customers due to the level of microcystin detected in the water.

UT is one of the lead universities in the Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative, which consists of ten Ohio universities and five state agencies.

The selected projects focus on reducing nutrient loading to Lake Erie; investigating algal toxin formation and human health impacts; studying bloom dynamics; better informing water treatment plants how to remove toxin; and aiding the efforts of state agencies.

Dr. Tom Bridgeman, professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences, will lead a project to develop sampling protocols and collect samples to assess listing criteria that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency may use to monitor the water quality of the open waters of the western basin of Lake Erie and to potentially assign official designations such as “impaired” or “unimpaired.”

“Although it is obvious to nearly everyone that harmful algal blooms are impairing Lake Erie each summer, we need to develop objective scientific criteria that can be used to list the open waters of the lake as officially ‘impaired,’ and to remove an ‘impairment’ designation in the future if conditions improve sufficiently,” Bridgeman said.

UT researchers also to receive some of the $988,829 in state funding for their projects are:

  • Dr. Jason Huntley, associate professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, will be developing and testing biofilters – water filters containing specialized bacteria that degrade microcystin toxins from lake water as it flows through the filter. These biofilter studies are aimed to develop cost-effective, efficient and safe drinking water treatment alternatives for the city of Toledo and other Lake Erie water municipalities.
  • Dr. Steven Haller and Dr. David Kennedy, assistant professors in the Department of Medicine, will investigate how cyanotoxins such as microcystin damage organs not only in healthy settings, but in settings that may increase susceptibility such as diabetes, obesity and inflammatory bowel disease. Their research teams are working in concert with experts in medicine, pathology, physiology, pharmacology and chemistry to not only to learn how microcystin affects organ function in these settings, but also to create new therapies to prevent and treat organ damage, especially in vulnerable patient populations.
  • Dr. Patrick Lawrence, UT professor in the Department of Geography and Planning, will use a transportation model to simulate potential distribution of volume of agricultural manure from permitted livestock facilities to surrounding farmland for application as a nutrient. The results will assist in determining the estimated acreage of land within the Lake Erie western basin where manure application could be undertaken and examine associated crop types, farming practices, soil types, drainage and other environmental conditions in those areas.
  • Dr. Saatvika Rai, assistant professor of environmental policy in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, and Dr. Kevin Czajkowski, professor in the Department of Geography and Planning, will use GIS and remote sensing to assess the implementation of agricultural and farming practices in three sub-watersheds of the Maumee River Basin – Auglaize, Blanchard and St. Joseph – to identify where best management practices are being implemented. These maps will then be correlated with perceptions of farmers through surveys and interviews to identify hotspots and priority areas for policy intervention in the region.
  • Dr. April Ames, assistant professor in the College of Health and Human Services, will apply an industrial hygiene technique to the exploration of the presence of microcystin in the air using research boats on Lake Erie. Simultaneously, residents who live on or near Lake Erie will be surveyed about their recreational use and self-reported health.

“I am proud of the work that is being done, and that researchers from our public and private higher education institutions continue to work together to address this issue,” said Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor John Carey. “Using the talent of Ohio’s researchers and students to solve pressing problems makes perfect sense.”

The Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative is funded by the Ohio Department of Higher Education with $7.1 million made available for four rounds of research funding since 2015. Matching funding from participating Ohio universities increases the total investment to almost $15.5 million for more than 50 projects, demonstrating the state’s overall commitment to solving the harmful algal bloom problem.

Water quality is a major research focus at UT. With more than $14 million in active grants underway, UT experts are studying algal blooms, invasive species such as Asian carp, and pollutants. Researchers are looking for pathways to restore our greatest natural resource for future generations to ensure our communities continue to have access to safe drinking water.

The UT Water Task Force, which is comprised of faculty and researchers in diverse fields spanning the University, serves as a resource for government officials and the public looking for expertise on investigating the causes and effects of algal blooms, the health of Lake Erie and the health of the communities depending on its water. The task force includes experts in economics, engineering, environmental sciences, business, pharmacy, law, chemistry and biochemistry, geography and planning, and medical microbiology and immunology.


ARC-PA reinstates accreditation for PA program

The University of Toledo received today the decision from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for Physician Assistants (ARC-PA) to reinstate accreditation for UT’s Physician Assistant Studies Program.

Statement
“We are pleased the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for Physician Assistants has decided to reinstate accreditation of our Physician Assistant Studies Program, effective immediately. During this probationary period, we will work with ARC-PA to demonstrate how our program, curriculum and processes meet or exceed current standards.

This is good news for our students, whose success remains our top priority. The University is committed to providing a high-quality physician assistant education and training program. We will continue our work to enhance the quality of our PA program.”

Christopher J. Cooper, M.D.
Dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences and
Executive Vice President for Clinical Affairs

Letter from the President
UT President Sharon L. Gaber sent a letter to campus this afternoon. It is available online here.


Cancer Research topic of Oct. 12 lecture

“History of Cancer Research: Why Patients Are Still Dying for a Cure” will be discussed Thursday, Oct. 12, at 5 p.m. in Health Education Building Room 110 on UT’s Health Science Campus.

Dr. Azra Raza, Chan Soon-Shiong Professor of Medicine and director of the Myelodysplastic Center at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, will deliver the ninth annual S. Amjad Hussain Lecture in the History of Medicine and Surgery.

Her research focuses on myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia. In 1984, she started a tissue repository that now contains 60,000 samples from thousands of patients.

“This repository has helped my colleagues and me define the molecular and genetic milestones that must be covered for pre-leukemia cells to cross over into leukemia cells,” Raza said during a 2016 TEDx talk in New York. “It will also help us define potential therapeutic targets that could be used to intercept the disease before it is too late. This work will likely apply to the evolution of other cancers as well.”

She was part of President Barack Obama’s the Cancer Moonshot Program.

“Cancer is slated to become the leading cause of death in the coming decade, with one in two men and one in three women suffering from the disease at some point in their lives,” she said during the Tedx talk. “Over the next 10 years, the number of new cancer cases in the United States will increase by 42 percent, and the number of cancer survivors will rise from 15.5 million to 20.3 million. During the same period, the number of oncologists will increase by only 28 percent.”

Raza’s research has appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine, Nature, Blood, Cancer, Leukemia, and Cancer Research. In 2012, she was a Hope Funds for Cancer Research honoree. Two years later, Raza received the Distinguished Services in Field Research and Clinical Medicine Award from Dow Medical College.

This annual lecture was created in honor of Hussain, professor emeritus of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, and humanities, and columnist for The Blade. The free, public event is designed to highlight Hussain’s interest in many diverse fields, including the history of medicine.


UT College of Medicine students to receive white coats at ceremony

The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences will recognize first-year medical students during its official White Coat Ceremony 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 3 in Nitschke Hall Auditorium.

The ceremony, held during the week of orientation, welcomes medical students to the college and prepares them for undertaking a medical career. Highlights of the event include a welcome from the dean of the college, a keynote address on humanism in medicine and the presentation of white coats and recitation of the Medical Student Pledge of Ethics.

Dr. Christopher Cooper, executive vice president of clinical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, will officiate the ceremony in which 175 medical students will receive their white coats. More than 75 percent of the new students are Ohio residents and about 20 percent are from northwest Ohio.

“This traditional ceremony really underscores the foundation of the medical profession for first-year medical students,” Cooper said. “The white coat serves as a symbol of their achievement of being selected to medical school. Secondly, it reiterates their commitment to professionalism, continuing education and their service to others through medical care.”

The annual ceremony will conclude orientation week for the medical students. In addition to College of Medicine and Life Sciences, UT’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences holds a white coat ceremony for third-year PharmD students and the UT College of Health and Human Services presents white coats to first-year physical therapy and occupational therapy doctorate students and respiratory care students in their junior year, which is the first year of their professional program.


2017 report for Ohio’s Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative highlights UT water quality research

Ohio Sea Grant released today its 2017 update on the statewide Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative documenting two years of progress seeking solutions for harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie.

The University of Toledo, situated on the western basin of Lake Erie, is one of the lead universities in the initiative, which consists of ten Ohio universities and five state agencies and is funded by the Ohio Department of Higher Education and matching funds from participating universities.

Dr. Tom Bridgeman

The 54-page report features a variety of important research activity underway by members of the UT Water Task Force to protect the public water supply and public health, including:

  • Early warning system for toxic algae in Lake Erie’s Maumee Bay by Dr. Tom Bridgeman, professor in the UT Department of Environmental Sciences, and Dr. Ricky Becker, associate professor in the UT Department of Environmental Sciences;
  • Developing methods to help water treatment plant operators make decisions on lake water pumping rates according to time of day and weather conditions in order to reduce exposure to algal toxins at the Lake Erie water intake, also by Bridgeman and Becker;
  • Transport and fate of cyanotoxins in drinking water distribution systems, such as pipes and storage tanks, by Dr. Youngwoo Seo, associate professor in the UT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering;
  • Investigating alternative biological filtration for algal toxin removal in water treatment through better understanding of microcystin-degrading bacteria, also by Seo;
  • Investigating the influence of potassium permanganate treatment on algal cell integrity and toxin degradation, also by Seo;
  • Developing microcystin-detoxifying water biofilters to upgrade water treatment filters with friendly bacteria through the discovery of enzymes and pathways responsible for microcystin degradation, by Dr. Jason Huntley, associate professor in the UT Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology;
  • Studying the accuracy of ELISA, the standard test measuring harmful algal toxins, in comparison to a more time-consuming but reliable method, liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS), by Dr. Dragan Isailovic, associate professor in the UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry;
  • Developing lab tests for detecting microcystin exposure through biological samples and measuring how much remains inside the body, also by Isailovic;
  • Evaluating the ability of commercially available home purification systems to remove algal toxins from tap water, by Dr. Glenn Lipscomb, professor and chair of the UT Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering;
  • Reconsidering recommended healthy exposure limits by studying the impact of algal toxins in experimental models of pre-existing liver disease, by Dr. David Kennedy and Dr. Steven Haller, assistant professors in the UT Division of Cardiovascular Medicine;
  • Studying health effects of recreational and work exposure to harmful algal blooms through fishing, swimming or boating, by Dr. April Ames and Dr. Michael Valigosky, assistant professors in the UT Department of Occupational and Public Health; and
  • Creating an online database to help inform public about harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie, by Dr. Patrick Lawrence, UT geography professor and associate dean of the College of Arts and Letters.

Ohio Sea Grant, which manages the statewide Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative, is soliciting proposals for a third round of funding to continue the efforts underway to address toxic algae in Ohio’s Great Lake.

Participating universities include UT, The Ohio State University, Bowling Green State University, Central State University, Defiance College, Heidelberg University, Kent State University, Sinclair Community College, University of Akron and University of Cincinnati. UT and OSU serve as leaders of the university consortium.

To view the full report, go to http://ohioseagrant.osu.edu/p/ib57m/view.

For Ohio Sea Grant’s news release, go to http://ohioseagrant.osu.edu/news/2017/gz884/habri-report-year-2.

The UT Water Task Force, which is comprised of faculty and researchers in diverse fields spanning the University, serves as a resource for government officials and the public looking for expertise on investigating the causes and effects of algal blooms, the health of Lake Erie and the health of the communities depending on its water. The task force includes experts in economics, engineering, environmental sciences, business, pharmacy, law, chemistry and biochemistry, geography and planning, and medical microbiology and immunology.

Water quality is a major research focus at UT. With $12.5 million in active grants underway, UT experts are studying algal blooms, invasive species such as Asian carp, and pollutants. Researchers are looking for pathways to restore our greatest natural resource for future generations to ensure our communities continue to have access to safe drinking water.

Researchers and students help to protect the public drinking water supply for the greater Toledo area throughout summer algal bloom season by conducting water sampling to alert water treatment plant operators of any toxins heading toward the water intake. UT’s 28-foot research vessel and early warning buoy enable UT to partner with the city of Toledo and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to monitor the health of Lake Erie and provide real-time data.


UT research shows cigarette smoke exposure increases scar tissue in kidney, heart

Smoking cigarettes leads to fibrosis in the kidneys and heart and accelerates kidney disease, according to research at The University of Toledo.

“Smoking is bad for the kidneys and heart together,” said Dr. Christopher Drummond, post-doctoral fellow in the cardiovascular division of the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences. “Tobacco and nicotine increase the formation of injury or scarring called fibrosis. That reduces cardiac function, so your heart isn’t operating as efficiently. It also makes it so your kidneys can’t filter toxins from your blood as effectively.”

Dr. Christopher Drummond

Dr. Christopher Drummond

His research titled “Cigarette Smoking Causes Epigenetic Changes Associated With Cardiorenal Fibrosis,” which was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health and done in collaboration with the University of California at San Diego, was recently published in the journal Physiological Genomics.

“The results of this study are a public health concern because a significant portion of the U.S. population suffers from kidney disease and heart-related side effects,” Drummond said. “When you smoke, you’re speeding up the development of kidney disease.”

An estimated 26 million Americans have chronic kidney disease, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

Drummond exposed two groups of rats to cigarette smoke five days a week for four weeks. One group had chronic kidney disease. The other group had normal renal function. Drummond compared those two groups with two control groups of rats – one with chronic kidney disease and one with normal kidney function – that were kept in a room with no smoke.

“We designed and built a system to expose rats to a constant concentration of smoke from cigarettes,” Drummond said. “Those were lit and the animals inhaled around five cigarettes worth of combustible smoke a day.”

In the smoke groups, researchers found a decrease in the genetic material called microRNA associated with slowing or preventing fibrosis in the organ tissue.

Smoking alone drove the rats into renal dysfunction, according to Drummond. Also, blood pressure increased, the heart enlarged and scar tissue developed in the heart muscle and kidneys.

“If you are concerned or have a preexisting condition, quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do to improve your health,” Drummond said.

Drummond is currently investigating the effects of e-cigarettes on the kidney and heart.


UT selected to participate in program to support minority doctoral students enrolled in STEM fields

The University of Toledo is one of seven Ohio universities participating in a project designed to optimize career outcomes for minority students who choose to pursue doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

With $3.1 million in support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Northern Ohio Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (NOA-AGEP) was created to increase the number of underrepresented minority students completing STEM doctoral degrees and prepare them for entry into the professoriate.

The NOA-AGEP project is led by Case Western University with UT, Bowling Green State University, Cleveland State University, Kent State University, the University of Akron and Youngstown State University serving as contributing members.

UT will receive $288,164 to support its role in the program.

La’Nese Lovings, chemistry; Cora Lind-Kovacs, professor and associate chair of chemistry and biochemistry; Maura Graves, cell and molecular biology; W. Scott Crawley, assistant professor of biological sciences; Tomer Avidor-Reiss, associate professor of biological sciences; David Baliu-Rodriguez, chemistry

La’Nese Lovings, chemistry; Cora Lind-Kovacs, professor and associate chair of chemistry and biochemistry; Maura Graves, cell and molecular biology; W. Scott Crawley, assistant professor of biological sciences; Tomer Avidor-Reiss, associate professor of biological sciences; David Baliu-Rodriguez, chemistry

“Collaborating with the other universities to develop this project over the past four years has laid a solid foundation for the networking and mentoring of the AGEP Scholars selected to participate in this program,” said Dr. Patricia Komuniecki, the initial primary investigator of the grant who retired this year as vice provost for graduate affairs and dean of the College of Graduate of Studies “Each university will contribute to the project in its own unique way, sharing its strengths with the other participating members. UT will host all the NOA-AGEP participants next spring at the annual Midwest Graduate Research Symposium.”

Thirty students across northern Ohio have been selected to participate. Six new doctoral students were selected as AGEP Scholars at UT and enrolled in the cohort with the start of the fall 2016 semester.

The 42-month research project entitled, “Collaborative Research: Northern Ohio AGEP-T: A Racially and Ethnically Inclusive Graduate Education Model in Biology, Chemistry and Engineering” will explore best practices for supporting the cohort through a variety of activities.

“We are studying a model that includes a variety of mentoring, networking, diversity and professional development activities designed to optimize the academic success of our scholars and explore pathways into the professoriate,” said Dr. Susan Pocotte, associate dean for Academic Affairs and current principal investigator of the grant. “Through this program, NOA-AGEP is developing best practices and creating new benchmarks that provide support for underrepresented minority students and can be expanded to the entire graduate community.”

The AGEP scholars have received tuition scholarships and will receive stipends for completing training activities and attending mentoring workshops. Each has been paired with a professor who serves as a mentor in the student’s field of study.

Shermel Sherman, molecular medicine; Kandace Williams, professor, associate dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences Graduate Program and director of cancer biology track; Ethel Tackie-Yarboi, medicinal chemistry; Isaac Schiefer, assistant professor of medicinal and biological chemistry

Shermel Sherman, molecular medicine; Kandace Williams, professor, associate dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences Graduate Program and director of cancer biology track; Ethel Tackie-Yarboi, medicinal chemistry; Isaac Schiefer, assistant professor of medicinal and biological chemistry

“I think the mentoring relationship is going to be the most valuable part of the program for me,” said Ethel Tackie-Yarboi, second year doctoral student in medicinal chemistry.  “I’m still fine-tuning my educational pathway and now I don’t feel like I have to go it alone. I have a dedicated faculty member to guide me through the process and help me explore my options.”

Students also will participate in professional development training activities throughout the length of the program.

“We will teach them how to build relationships and network in their field,” said Teresa Green, COGS graduate academic services specialist and site coordinator for NOA-AGEP. “They will also receive coaching to hone their writing and publishing skills in preparation for grant writing and research reporting, which are important skills to develop in those considering a career in the professoriate.”

These relationships have already proven invaluable to the program’s participants.

“Chemists spend a lot of time alone in the lab,” said La’Nese Lovings, first year doctoral student in chemistry.  “NOA-AGEP has given me the opportunity to meet other students and introduced me to other disciplines. We share our research, question each other’s methods and debate our work. I’m looking forward to meeting other researchers in the chemistry field when we attend conferences.”

Lovings will present her research, “Synthesis and Characterization of AlxSc2-xMo3O12 Using Non-Hydrolytic Sol-Gel Methods” at the Louis Stokes Midwest Center of Excellence Conference and the National Organization for Professional Development of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers.

“I am excited to share my work and to learn from others,” she said. “I am hopeful that the connections I make will lead to lifelong mentorship opportunities and give me a multitude of people to and share ideas with as I move forward in my career.”


UT researchers explore connection between kidney and heart disease

Chronic kidney disease affects nearly 25 percent of the adult population in the United States. It is closely associated with cardiovascular disease and can lead to a patient requiring dialysis or kidney transplant.

Dr. Steven Haller, Dr. David Kennedy and Dr. Jiang Tian

Dr. Steven Haller, Dr. David Kennedy and
Dr. Jiang Tian

Researchers at The University of Toledo are researching the connection between the kidney and heart in an effort to understand the molecular mechanisms, which can help develop new treatments to improve patient outcomes.

A recent study entitled, “Attenuation of Na/K-ATPase Mediated Oxidant Amplification with pNaKtide Ameliorates Experimental Uremic Cardiomyopathy,” was published in “Scientific Reports” earlier this month.

UT researchers, in collaboration with Marshall University and New York Medical College, identified a peptide that could reduce kidney disease related cardiac fibrosis in mice, which could potentially lead to the development of new treatment options for patients diagnosed with kidney disease.

“We know patients with kidney disease often develop cardiac fibrosis, which is a condition where their heart tissue becomes damaged and scarred,” said Jiang Tian, associate professor of medicine and lead co-author of the study. “Cardiac fibrosis was previously thought to be untreatable, but this new discovery shows promise for reversing or preventing the condition.”

The research builds upon pioneering work by co-author Dr. Zijian Xie, director of the Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research, who discovered a new function of the Na/K-ATPase during his tenure at UT. Xie found that the Na/K-ATPase can mediate cell signaling in addition to its role in regulating the potassium and sodium level in each cell of the body.

The research team subsequently learned that dysfunction of kidneys signals the body to produce steroids that bind to the Na/K-ATPase, but that a long term “off-target” effect of this causes scarring to develop in the heart.

“We discovered that these sodium-potassium pumps don’t just move sodium and potassium around, but they are multitasking proteins that are involved in other functions as well,” said David Kennedy, assistant professor of medicine and co-author of the study. “It’s like finding out your car is a spaceship and you didn’t even know it.”

When the team introduced a peptide called pNaKtide in a mouse model with kidney disease, the associated cardiac fibrosis was reduced.

“We are excited about these findings and will further explore the possibility to use this peptide as a therapeutic treatment for cardiac fibrosis,” Tian said.

In a related UT study, Dr. Steven Haller, assistant professor of medicine discovered use of the immunosuppressant drug Rapamycin also helps in reducing cardiac fibrosis in animal models with kidney disease.

“Given that we now know Na/K-ATPase signaling is known to initiate events that leads to cardiac fibrosis, we can look at ways to interrupt this sequence,” he said. “Rapamycin inhibits an enzyme implicated in the progression of many different forms of kidney disease and we now know it also regulates a pro-fibrotic steroid which binds the Na/K-ATPase and causes fibrosis.”

The study, “Rapamycin Attenuates Cardiac Fibrosis in Experimental Uremic Cardiomyopathy by Reducing Marinobufagenin Levels and Inhibiting Downstream Pro-Fibrotic Signaling,” was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.


History of medicine lecture to explore work of early bacteriologist

The human body’s relationship with bacteria is complex. The microscopic organisms can help us live a healthy life or harm us by causing myriad diseases.

Researchers have long been fascinated by bacteriology, the study of bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms. Dr. F. G. Novy, a world renowned bacteriologist and former dean of the University of Michigan Medical School, is credited for putting the field of bacteriology on firm scientific foundations. He investigated how microbes survive in nature, spread in the environment and cause disease in animals.

Novy’s work and accomplishments in this field of science will be the focus of the Eighth Annual S. Amjad Hussain Visiting Lecture in the History of Medicine and Surgery at The University of Toledo.

Dr. Powel Kazanjian

Dr. Powel Kazanjian

Dr. Powel Kazanjian, professor and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and professor of history at the University of Michigan, will present a lecture entitled, “The Origins of Bacteriology in America: Life and Works of Frederick Novy” at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2 in the Health Education Building Room 100 on UT’s Health Science Campus. The event is free and open to the public.

“Novy was an organic chemist who is known as the father of bacteriology. He was instrumental in the understanding of how microorganisms cause disease,” said S. Amjad Hussain, professor emeritus of thoracic cardiovascular surgery and humanities and former member of the UT Board of Trustees. “His work helped to define bacteriology as a distinct discipline in America and laid much of the groundwork for studying the interactions between bacteria and the human body.”

Kazanjian was selected to speak at this year’s lecture by a committee that included Hussain, Howard Newman, retired associate vice president of development; Dr. Steven Selman, professor emeritus of medicine; and Dr. Peter White, professor emeritus of medicine and Dr. Thomas Sodeman, division chief of gastroenterology at the University of Toledo.

“Dr. Kazanjian is well respected as an expert in the field of infectious diseases. He has written nearly 100 research publications,” Hussain said. “His interest in the history of bacteriology, epidemics and sexually transmitted diseases fits nicely with the goals of our lecture series.”

Hussain said researchers and physicians are continually building on historical concepts in medicine to find new ways to cure disease.

“When penicillin was discovered in the 1940s, we thought it was the silver bullet,” he said. “What we learned in time is that microorganisms are vigilant and have learned how to develop resistance to available antibiotics, therefore we are continually on a quest to find and develop new antibiotics.”