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Archive for July, 2016

UT, City to announce Toledo Talent Keeps Toledo Great internship program

The University of Toledo and City of Toledo are expanding an internship program to allow all students the opportunity to earn valuable experience working in city offices and provide local government with additional talent to serve our community.

The Toledo Talent Keeps Toledo Great program will be announced by UT President Sharon L. Gaber and Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson at 2 p.m. Monday, Aug. 1 in the Center for Experiential Learning and Career Services located in Student Union Room 1533 of the UT Main Campus. Students who have interned with the city also will participate.

“Internships are critical for our students to learn how to apply what they learn in the classroom and gain experience working in their field of study so that they are better prepared for career success upon graduation,” Gaber said. “Students who have interned with the city have gone on to do great things and we are excited to expand this program to allow more students from across campus to benefit from these experiences.”

“We’ve had excellent results with the caliber of University of Toledo interns,” Hicks-Hudson said. “Our workforce is strengthened as interns perform meaningful work, and the program enhances our ability to hire select graduates because relationships have already developed.”

Toledo Talent Keeps Toledo Great builds upon an existing summer research program that began in 2007 that has placed students in the city’s finance, neighborhoods, plan commission, law, parks, human resources, community relations, fleet and facility, youth commission and health departments. More internship opportunities will now be available throughout the year in even more city departments and divisions.

The program is open to all UT undergraduate students in good academic standing who are interested in spending a semester gaining practical knowledge, skills and abilities in a professional work environment. The University will assist students with their resumes, cover letters and applications to be able to take advantage of this opportunity.

The City of Toledo will identify internship opportunities in areas throughout the local government where students can provide valuable assistance serving the citizens of Toledo. Students will be matched with internships according to their major, skills and interests.

The interns will work up to 20 hours per week during the academic year and up to 30 hours per week in the summer and students in many degree programs will have the option to earn course credit for the experience.

Media Coverage
NBC 24 (August 2, 2016)

UT researchers test new experimental drug to treat diabetes and increase bone mass

Researchers from The University of Toledo, in collaboration with chemists from The Scripps Research Institute, have discovered a compound that normalizes glucose levels while increasing the mass and quality of bone.

Body processes that regulate energy metabolism and bone mass are closely intertwined and numerous studies have shown individuals with Type 2 diabetes are at increased risk for bone fractures. Additionally, some current anti-diabetic drugs work well to regulate insulin levels, but can cause further bone damage.

Dr. Beata Lecka-Czernik and her lab team.

Dr. Beata Lecka-Czernik and her lab team.

“Our data demonstrate the regulation of bone mass and energy metabolism share similar mechanisms,” said Dr. Beata Lecka-Czernik, professor in UT’s Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Physiology and Pharmacology and a member of the faculty in the Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Research. “This suggests a new pharmacologic agent could be developed to treat both diabetes and metabolic bone diseases.”

Targeting PPARγ, the protein in the body that regulates energy use and bone cell differentiation and function, Dr. Patrick Griffin and researchers from The Scripps Research Institute developed a series of new insulin sensitizers.

“Our multidisciplinary chemical biology team at Scripps Florida had spent many years developing precise structure activity relationships around many chemical scaffolds that alter the shape and behavior of PPARγ,” Griffin said. “These efforts were then combined with the bone biology expertise of Dr. Lecka-Czernik to explore whether we have compounds that maintain excellent insulin sensitization efficacy but are positive on bone health.

Lecka-Czernik and her team at UT then tested these compounds for bone safety.

“During the course of our experiments we discovered that a compound called SR10171 normalizes glucose levels in Type 2 diabetes, prevents associated weight gain and increases the mass and quality of bone,” she said. “Remarkably, this experimental drug also maintains its positive effect on bone in non-diabetic conditions and acts as insulin sensitizer only on demand when normal glucose and insulin becomes imbalanced.”

SR10171 supports bone formation by directly regulating bone cells that work together to break down, build and protect bone.

The results also suggest the bone remodeling properties of this compound also could be used to treat osteoporosis, Lecka-Czernik said.

The team’s findings, PPARG Post-Translational Modifications Regulate Bone Formation and Bone Resorption, will be published in the August issue of EBioMedicine. This team science was funded in part on a collaborative grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The full report may be read by clicking here.

Students search to understand the power of Pokemon Go

Researchers at The University of Toledo are working to be among the first to provide data on why so many Pokemon Go players are so dedicated to catching ‘em all.

In a survey of players of the incredibly popular Nintendo augmented reality smart phone game, doctoral students in UT’s health education program are working to add some quantitative data about those who spend hours and walk miles playing the game.

“You see the snapshots in the news about the good and the bad stories about individual people playing the game, but it is so new we don’t have data on the players,” said Victoria Wagner-Greene, the UT doctoral student who came up with the research project. “We’re working to be among the first to share who is playing this game and how it is impacting their lives.” Pokemon Go

To play Pokemon Go, players create an avatar that searches for and catches Pokemon characters out in the community using GPS on their mobile devices. PokeStops are landmarks where you can find characters and equipment, such as the Poke Balls you use to catch them, that are in popular public locations including several on UT’s campus, making it an ideal location to survey a large number of players.

It was seeing students on campus from the University of Michigan who had traveled to Toledo specifically to catch more characters here that inspired Wagner-Greene, who plays the game herself, to create this research project to learn more about that dedication.

Because she studies public health, of particular interest is how has playing Pokemon Go impacted the player’s physical activity. As players catch more characters and earn more steps, they move up through the levels of the game. Additional data on the safety concerns and social aspects of the game also will be gathered.

The survey asks players questions about how many hours per day they play the game, has it increased their physical activity, have they trespassed or run into people or objects while playing, do they play after dark and have they played with strangers. It also gathers demographic information, such as age, race, gender, marital status and education level.

“Right now the news about this game is anecdotal. We are working to get the data to back it up to be a reference for what is going on with Pokemon,” said Joseph Dake, chair of the UT School of Population Health, who also is a Pokemon player with his family often going on “Poke walks” as a group to catch characters together. “By quantifying with data, recommendations can be made on how to engage more young people in physical activity through the game or ways to ensure the safety of the players who, as the headlines have shown, get too focused in the game and ignore their surroundings.”

Wagner-Greene and her colleagues Amy Wotring and Tom Castor, also UT doctoral students in the health education program, began surveying players Tuesday night on the UT campus. They hope to get more than 500 players completing the paper survey and an additional insight from 1,000 more players contacted through online forums.

The UT researchers will survey players tonight (Thursday, July 28) at Wildwood Preserve Metropark near the Manor House from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Students to share water research findings at UT Lake Erie Center

Undergraduate students from across the country who spent the summer researching water health at The University of Toledo will share their findings today during a poster gala at the UT Lake Erie Center.

The students enrolled in UT’s National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) summer program “Using the Lake Erie Sensor Network to Study Land-Lake Ecological Linkages” will display their work 2-4 p.m. this afternoon (Wednesday, July 27) at the Center, located at 6200 Bayshore Rd. in Oregon.

University of Toledo Lake Erie Center

University of Toledo Lake Erie Center

The program places undergraduate science and engineering students in UT laboratories to provide mentoring in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) research and careers. Topics explored this summer include a performance assessment of green storm water infrastructure, detection and prevention of invasive species from retail stores, using geographic information system (GIS) to characterize water usage in the Lake Erie western basin, water treatment options for the removal of cyanotoxins, VHS fish virus in the Great Lakes, analyzing historical microcystin data and improving the ELISA method for measuring microcystin concentrations.

The research projects were conducted by students from UT, Bowling Green State University, Cheyney University, Iowa State University, Pitzer University, University of South Carolina, University of Colorado, Central State and Hanover College.

Ryan White Program to share local mother’s story during forum

The Ryan White Program at The University of Toledo Medical Center is encouraging families to openly discuss HIV/AIDS prevention and care.

The program’s support group, Young, Gay and Empowered is sponsoring a speaker and forum entitled “A Mother’s Story” at 6 p.m. Monday, July 25 at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 1201 Madison Ave. The event is free and open to the public.

According to the Lucas County Health Department the number of HIV/AIDS infections among young people ages 15-24 has significantly and consistently increased during the last eight years. This age group accounted for 42 percent of the HIV/AIDS cases in 2014.

“The largest growing demographic for new HIV infections is young African-American men and men of all races and ethnicities who have sex with other men,” said Richard Meeker, manager of fundraising and special projects. “We need to encourage these young men to talk to their families and seek the care they need to live healthier lives.”

Kennyetta White, minority outreach coordinator, agreed saying many young people face social stigmas that keep them from seeking help.

“It is our goal to reach beyond these stigmas to encourage young men to get tested and if they are diagnosed with HIV, link them to support and health services and retain them in the support program long term,” she said.

Toledoan Toni Epperson will serve as keynote speaker. She will share the story of her son, David, who kept his HIV diagnosis a secret until it was too late.

“We had a close relationship and I thought he would tell me anything,” she said. “What I later learned was he was too afraid to come forward. He thought he would be shamed for his diagnosis and wanted to protect me from that. My son’s secret killed him.”

Epperson said she wants to tell young men that their lives matter and they don’t need to die needlessly.

“There is help out there,” she said. “I want them to know they are not alone and that they do not have to go through what David went through. I want them to know I care.”

Media Coverage
The Blade (July 26, 2016)

UT Human Donation Science program celebrates milestone

The only academic program in the country designed to prepare individuals to coordinate and oversee the organ and tissue donation and transplantation process will graduate its 100th student in August.

The graduation celebration and awards night will be 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 26 at Heatherdowns Country Club and earlier that day the senior capstone case studies will be presented 9 a.m. in Collier Building Room 1050 on UT’s Health Science Campus.

The University of Toledo’s Master of Science in Biomedical Science Human Donation Science program prepares individuals to facilitate the organ donation process from beginning to end. They serve as a liaison between the donor’s family, medical staff, organ procurement organization and transplant center.

“It’s the best job in the world,” said Rachel Baczewski, certified procurement transplant coordinator at Life Connection of Ohio and 2013 graduate of the program. “It’s so rewarding to know that I’m providing comfort to families who have lost a loved one and assisting in saving the lives of other patients. Each family gets a piece of my heart.”

Coordinators must pull together a team of medical professionals, facilitate medical testing and ensure all laws are followed while compassionately and diplomatically communicating with the donor’s family.

“It’s a tough job and organ procurement organizations were seeing a high level of turnover among their coordinating staff,” said Linda Miller, assistant professor and director of UT’s Human Donation Science Program. “We wanted to see better training programs and higher retention rates. We developed this program as a result.”

Students enrolled in the Human Donation Science Program receive a multidisciplinary education covering all components of organ donation and complete coursework in medical science, management, human resources and law. They also receive clinical training and complete two internships prior to graduation.

“I wanted the opportunity to advance in the field of organ donation, so I left my job in North Carolina to come to UT for this program. It was the best decision I ever made,” said Lori Rankin, a student in the program. “I feel I have an even better educational foundation and I have received excellent training for every aspect of the job.”

Ali Morgillo, senior coordinator at Life Connection of Ohio agreed. She said students who have graduated from UT’s program are better equipped to handle the challenges of the position.

“The program really prepares students for the realities of the job. They have critical clinical background and relationship-building skills and are flexible and driven to do well. They are more successful as a result,” she said.

Eighty percent of the graduates from the program, now in its 13th year, remain employed in the field. Many have been promoted to leadership and research positions. There are only 58 organ procurement organizations in the United States, resulting in a small network of coordinators who come to know each other well.

“When an employer sees that someone is a graduate of UT’s program, they take notice. It makes us very marketable,” said Rankin, who is already pursuing new employment leads.

“Half of our coordinators graduated from the Human Donation Science program,” said Kara Steele, director of community services for Life Connection of Ohio. “We are seeing a continual increase in the number of registered donors, which should translate into an increase in transplants, and that ups the demand for highly skilled coordinators to facilitate the donation process.”

Ohioans can make the decision to be an organ donor when obtaining or renewing their driver’s license.

“It’s the best way for someone to make their final wishes known,” Morgillo said. “It makes the donation process easier on families when they know it was part of their loved one’s plan to donate their organs.”

It makes it easier on the coordinators as well who see a lot of sadness as a part of consulting with donor families.

“Before I go to work my daughter tells me to make people happy and fix them,” said Samantha Muir, certified procurement transplant coordinator at Life Connection of Ohio and 2013 graduate. “Getting a letter of appreciation from a donor or recipient family, to hear how you have made an impact on their life, makes the long hours and emotional days worthwhile.”

UT to host International Youth Academy

The UT Center for International Studies and Programs, in conjunction with Toledo Sister Cities, will welcome students from around the world for the 2016 International Youth Academy, which will take place from Sunday, July 24, through Saturday, Aug. 6, on Main Campus.

This summer’s program will host 32 students: 16 from Pakistan, 10 from Japan and six from China.

“The high school students have the opportunity to experience campus life by residing in one of our residence halls and engaging with The University of Toledo students,” said Sara Clark, director of global initiatives in the UT Center for International Studies and Programs. “We have two full weeks planned; program highlights include targeted English second language instruction and development of cultural awareness through outings to Toledo Mud Hens games and the Toledo Art Museum, to name a few.

“We are pleased to continue this partnership with Toledo Sister Cities International,” Clark said. “There is no better way to showcase what our city has to offer than allowing young people to experience it firsthand.”

A two-week cultural program for high school-aged youth from around the world, the International Youth Academy allows participants to improve their conversational English while having fun, developing new understanding of teens from different cultures, and gaining lifetime friendships.

“The University of Toledo and Toledo Sister Cities International have a long-standing relationship; this relationship has evolved into a partnership to implement the International Youth Academy program,” said Dr. Sammy Spann, UT assistant vice provost for international studies and programs. “This program provides us the opportunity to showcase the city of Toledo, as well as The University of Toledo. The city of Toledo has a great wealth of opportunities to offer the international community, and this program allows us to gain exposure in the international arena.”

“Toledo Sister Cities International is proud of its nationally acclaimed alliance with The University of Toledo’s Center for International Studies and Programs,” said James Hartung, vice president of the Toledo Sister City Board of Trustees. “In my mind, there is no greater pride than the pride I ascribe to our UT/Sister Cities co-sponsorship of the International Youth Academy. Our shared commitment to creatively foster the development of a corps of young citizen-of-the-world diplomats through the International Youth Academy exemplifies the synergy between UT and Sister Cities.”

International Youth Academy is designed for students to share their thoughts and experiences with teenagers from other countries. American youth diplomats work side by side with students to assist them with English, learn about the students’ traditions and culture, and share interests. English classes, language games, cultural activities, field trips and hands-on team-building events all aid in improving students’ conversational English.

For the second year, The Blade is supporting the International Youth Academy. The Blade staff will provide education on the concept of free press and teach interviewing and reporting skills.

UT receives $151,100 grant to study how cancer spreads

The migration of cancer cells away from the primary tumor and their subsequent metastasis to distant organs is the leading cause of mortality among breast cancer patients.

A University of Toledo biologist is the recipient of a two-year, $151,100 grant from The National Institute of Health’s National Cancer Institute to study how cancer cells spread in the body.

Dr. Rafael Garcia-Mata, assistant professor of biological sciences, will lead a UT Department of Biological Sciences research laboratory to conduct new cancer research entitled, “A Novel RhoG Protein Interaction Network in Invadopodia.”

Cancer cells gain the ability to invade other tissues and enter the bloodstream by forming actin-rich membrane protrusions called invadopodia that degrade the extracellular matrix (ECM).

Dr. Rafael Garcia-Mata

Dr. Rafael Garcia-Mata

“This study is one of three our lab is currently conducting to learn more about how triple negative breast cancer metastasizes in the body,” Garcia-Mata said. “It is our goal to learn more about how these protrusions form and to identify the upstream regulators and downstream effectors of the formations. Once we understand how these invadopodia form, we can begin to research treatments to prevent or slow their progress.”

“There is exciting medical research ongoing at The University of Toledo,” said Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. “This new two-year award is a credit to UT’s high-quality basic research which is typically unheralded work requiring several years of diligence and persistence. But this research often results in powerful breakthroughs that benefit untold millions. It is important that federal funds continue to support such basic medical research.”

Kaptur is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, which has oversight over the National Cancer Institute.

Media Coverage
13 ABC (July 22, 2016)

Art on the Mall juried show coming to campus July 31

The 24th annual Art on the Mall will take place Sunday, July 31, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Centennial Mall on The University of Toledo Main Campus.

The juried art show will have more than 100 booths featuring mediums such as acrylic, glass, jewelry, watercolor, woodwork, photography, oil, mixed media and more. Each booth will have artwork available for sale by cash or credit. 

“The quality of our artists’ work is outstanding, and there is something for everyone. We have a diverse and eclectic mix sure to excite art lovers of all kinds,” said Ansley Abrams-Frederick, director of alumni programming in the UT Office of Alumni Relations.

The artists’ work will be juried by representatives from the Dayton Art Institute. Prizes will be given to the top artists, and UT’s Best of Show award will be presented to an artist who is affiliated with the University.

Food and beverages will be for sale from Karen Anne’s Kettle Corn, Opa! Gyros, Java Sensations, K & K Concessions, Jeanie’s Weenies and Let’s Go Nuts. There also will be a children’s area where young artists can make their own creations, as well as a beer garden for attendees 21 and older.

Music will be peformed by UT student groups, Minor Frett and The Cosmonauts throughout the day.

There will be free parking in Lot 1 South, Lot 1 North and Lot 13, as well as free admission and golf cart shuttles to and from Centennial Mall.

Art on The Mall is sponsored by The Blade, Huntington, 13ABC, Buckeye Broadband, 101.5 The River and Homewood Press.

Media Coverage
WTOL 11 (July 29, 2016)

Helicopter to complete steel delivery to University Hall tower Saturday morning

The helicopter delivering structural steel to reinforce the University Hall tower will complete its work Saturday morning.

Crews with UT and W.R. Meyers, Co., of Napoleon, Ohio, will return to campus at 6:30 a.m. Saturday, July 16 with the helicopter crane back in the air at 7 a.m. to deliver the final steel beams.

The helicopter delivered most of the steel Friday evening, but was not able to complete the project before sunset. The remaining work should take no more than one hour.

During the delivery of steel University Hall will again be vacant and the helicopter landing areas in front of the building and in the field south of the Memorial Field House also will need to remain clear. In addition, no traffic will be allowed on Centennial Mall.

Four tons of structural steel is being installed inside the 205-foot-tall tower of University Hall to reinforce the 85-year-old structure. Following the initial delivery, the steel will then be permanently installed to the inside tower throughout the month. The project is expected to be complete by Friday, Aug. 12.