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Events to Know

May 22
Neurosurgery Grand Rounds: Dr. Jaroslaw Aronowski (Department of Neurology) presents, “Experimental Intracerebral Hemorrhages.” 7:30 a.m. MSB 7.037.

Microbiology & Molecular Genetics Seminar Series: Dr. M. Gabriela Bowden (Texas A&M University Health Science Center) presents “The Panton Valentine Leukocidin is a virulence factor in S. aureus necrotizing pneumonia.” 4 p.m., MSB 2.103. Reception to follow in MSB 1.180.

May 27
Department of Pediatrics Research Conference: Dr. Katarzyna Cieslik, Department of Pediatrics, presents “14-3-3e knockout leads to cardiac defect and inhibition of cell cycle progression in the developing heart.” Noon MSB B.100.

May 29
Microbiology & Molecular Genetics Seminar Series: Dr. Kim Orth (UT Southwestern) presents “Black Death, Black Spot, Black Pearl: Tales of Bacterial Effectors.” 4 p.m., MSB 2.103. Reception to follow in MSB 1.180.

June 5
Microbiology & Molecular Genetics Seminar Series: Dr. Jun Liu (Dept. of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine) presents “A tale of two pathogens: HIV and Borrelia burgdorferi.” 4 p.m., MSB 2.103. Reception to follow in MSB 1.180.

June 12
Retirement planning Q&A session. UT HCPC first floor auditorium. 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

June 26
Presidential Update from Dr. James Willerson. 11:30 a.m. MSB 3.001.

June 26
Presidential Update from Dr. James Willerson. 11:30 a.m. MSB 3.001.

Microbiology & Molecular Genetics Seminar Series: Dr. Barrett R. Harvey (Institute of Molecular Medicine) presents “Passive protection from enterococcal infection.” 4 p.m., MSB 2.103. Reception to follow in MSB 1.180.


Texas Ignition Fund

Take advantage of a funding opportunity from the Office of Technology Management and the University of Texas System. The Texas Ignition Fund (TIF), a $2 million UT System grant program sponsored by the Board of Regents, is designed to stimulate commercialization of research discoveries at the 15 UT institutions.
For more information refer to the Office of Technology Management Web site.

Scoop is a weekly electronic newsletter providing timely information to the Medical School.

Submit event items or news tips for Scoop by noon on Thursday preceding the week of publication in which you would like your event or news to appear (seven days in advance).

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Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, M.D.

Brian Minton
Web Developer II

Darla Brown
Director of Communications

March 20, 2008
Produced by the Office of Communications

$33M awarded for traumatic brain injury research

Dr. Alex Valadka

Dr. Alex Valadka

Of the more than 1.5 million people who suffer a traumatic brain injury each year in the United States, as many as 75 percent sustain a concussion, a brain injury that is classified as mild yet can lead to long-term or permanent impairments and disabilities. A consortium of physicians and scientists in the Houston region is now undertaking a research initiative to improve the diagnosis of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) and develop innovative treatment strategies.

This month, the Department of Defense Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury Research Program of the Office of Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs named the Mission Connect Mild TBI Translational Research Consortium the awardee of a grant totaling approximately $33.6 million to support the research. The consortium includes research teams from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University, and the Transitional Learning Center in Galveston. The work will be done within the existing framework of Mission Connect, a consortium established by the TIRR Foundation in 1997 to facilitate research to improve outcomes for patients with brain and spinal cord injuries and neurological disorders.

“Our goal is to make discoveries that will ultimately allow us to intervene with the most effective early therapy before a mild traumatic brain injury results in a chronic problem,” said Dr. Alex Valadka, the consortium’s principal investigator and vice chair of the Department of Neurosurgery. “There is a high prevalence of mild traumatic brain injury in soldiers, and the consortium’s work is driven by that. We believe the conclusions of our research also will benefit civilians, including athletes, who have suffered concussions.”

The consortium’s members will collaborate on basic and clinical research to develop new diagnostic methods, including sophisticated imaging techniques, and evaluate new therapeutic interventions. For clinical trials, the researchers plan to recruit patients with mild TBI who are receiving care at Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center, Ben Taub Hospital, and Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center.

 “Congratulations to Dr. Valadka and the team for receiving this very prestigious and competitive funding, which will improve our knowledge of the complex mechanisms involved in traumatic brain injury. The awarding of this grant validates our national stature in the neurosciences and will improve patient care and clinical outcomes for many patients,” said Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo.

In total, 20 researchers are part of the consortium. From the Medical School, they include Valadka, Dr. Ponnada Narayana, Dr. Paul Swank, Dr. Raymond Grill, Dr. Pramod Dash, and Dr. Andrew Papanicolaou.

-M. Raine

For more Headlines, see Page 2 Stories

Dr. Levine Recognized as a “Hero of Emergency Medicine”

Dr. Robert L. Levine

Dr. Robert L. Levine

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) has recognized Dr. Robert L. Levine, associate professor of neurosurgery and emergency medicine, as a “Hero of Emergency Medicine.” The campaign, which is part of ACEP’s 40th anniversary, recognizes emergency physicians who have made significant contributions to emergency medicine, their communities and their patients.

“Emergency physicians are on the front lines of America’s health care system, providing the essential community service of emergency care,” said ACEP President Dr. Linda Lawrence. “The dedication, passion and commitment Dr. Levine has shown embodies the vision of ACEP’s founders and the ideals of our specialty.”

Levine has worked for more than 20 years to promote emergency medicine. Research published by Levine and others on cardiac arrest and resuscitation in journals such as The New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA helped move emergency medicine to the academic forefront. As part of the initial group of Emergency Medicine-Critical Care Medicine specialists, he has worked and continues to work with ACEP/ABEM to advance the case for CCM board eligibility for emergency medicine trainees.

One of Levine’s most significant contributions has been to stimulate young people to pursue emergency medicine as a career and to help train emergency medicine residents to care for the sickest patients. He said he enjoys watching the residents he trains become masters of their craft, though his ultimate accomplishment is one that he shares with all who practice emergency medicine — to have truly saved lives. 

ACEP is a national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine with more than 25,000 members. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.


For more Headlines, see Page 2 Stories

CLI Receives $2.6 Million Federal Grant to Improve Academic Achievement

Dr. Jason Anthony

Dr. Jason Anthony

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded the Children’s Learning Institute (CLI) a $2.6 million, four-year grant aimed at improving students’ reading and math skills.
With the federal funding, researchers will evaluate the effectiveness of computer-based tutoring programs, including one called Earobics.

“I am thrilled to get the opportunity to pilot and evaluate novel approaches of using technology in the classroom. These programs make learning fun, as they use video game-like interfaces to teach children letters, numbers, counting, and how to play with sounds. Right now, educators believe that children who can master these computer games have a better chance at succeeding in their math and reading classes. Hopefully, our study will show this to be the case,” said Dr. Jason Anthony, assistant professor of pediatrics.

The funds will target kindergarteners from economically-disadvantaged communities who attend school in the Houston Independent School District (HISD). “We want to see if these programs can give these students a better foundation for their education. These educational computer games may not only be able to help children who are struggling with reading and math, but also children with learning disabilities and those who come from primarily Spanish-speaking homes,” Anthony said.

According to the publisher of Earobics, 8,000 schools and districts nationwide use these computer programs as a teaching tool.

“This is a prestigious award in a competitive field with limited funds. I am proud that Dr. Anthony was able to secure this grant. This funding is going to enable us to gain insight into what programs really work in schools,” said Dr. Susan Landry, director of the CLI.
The grant will come from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Research (NCER). The NCER engages in research activities to provide high quality education for all children, enhancement in student academic achievement, and increased access to postsecondary education.

-M. McDonald