The Scoop: A Publication of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston

CCTS focus of Faculty Senate meeting

Dr. Peter Davies, executive vice president for research, gave an update on the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS) as the featured speaker at the Nov. 20 Faculty Senate.

“The CCTS is the infrastructure for new initiatives, and there is new leadership in place to build upon advances,” Davies said.

Dr. David McPherson, chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, recently was named the executive director of the center and Dr. Roberta Ness, dean of the School of Public Health, was named as co-director.

There are two goals of the CCTS:

  • “T1” — taking the research from the bench to the bedside
  • “T2” — translating the research into the community to improve health

The CCTS, one of 12 first funded by the National Institutes of Health, is a collaboration between The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, and the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System.

Davies encouraged faculty to seek help from the CCTS and to acknowledge the center in research it supported.

Dean Giuseppe Colasurdo gave some insight into a trip he had taken with Memorial Hermann leadership to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

“This is a fresh way of looking at partnership between an academic medical institution and a hospital,” Dean Colasurdo said. "Their hospital supports a substantial amount of academic activity, and there is a tight link between compensation and productivity.”

He added that other trips are planned to review how other medical schools partner with clinical operations.

Faculty senators were encouraged to sign up for one of three new subcommittees established by Chair Dr. Jamie McCarthy: Faculty Rights and Responsibilities, Administration, and Finance.

In other news, a faculty equity survey will be distributed by the Health Science Center in the spring, and the Interfaculty Council met with President Larry Kaiser to discuss issues raised in the most recent faculty satisfaction survey.

The next meeting of the Faculty Senate will be held at 4:30 p.m., Dec. 18 in MSB 2.103.

-D. Brown

Researchers to study seizure medications under emergency conditions

Dr. Elizabeth Jones

Dr. Elizabeth Jones

In a medical emergency, every second is vital, especially for patients suffering seizures, which could result in brain damage, organ injury, or even death.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston may soon launch a clinical trial to determine the best medication available for alleviating seizures before a patient even reaches the hospital. Rapid Anticonvulsant Medication Prior to Arrival Trial, or RAMPART, is a national study that will test the drugs Midazolam and Lorazepam, which are commonly used for treating seizures.

The study also will test the reliability of a new injector designed to administer drugs such as Midazolam into muscle tissue. Midazolam, which may work faster than Lorazepam, is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for sedation but also has been used by doctors for treating seizures. If Midazolam proves to be more effective than Lorazepam, the muscle injector would be a quick way to give the drug while avoiding a needle stick risk to emergency personnel. Lorazepam requires an intravenous injection.

“If this study shows that Midazolam given in the muscle works as well as standard intravenous treatment for seizures, it will give all emergency personnel an easier and safer method for treating active seizures,” said Dr. Elizabeth Jones, assistant professor of emergency medicine and principal investigator for the study in the Houston area.

In the study, patients will receive Lorazepam, Midazolam, or a placebo. (The emergency personnel will not know which injections contain active medication.)

Because of the immediacy of the emergency, a patient who is seizing will be unable to give consent, and there may not be enough time to reach a family member for consent, which is normally a requirement. Instead, Jones’ research team will talk to community organizations, focus groups, churches, and others about the study. If these community consultations reveal that the community does not support the research, then the study will be modified or not conducted.

If the community is in support of the study, an implied consent would be assumed. People would be able to decline participation in the study before it begins by sending an e-mail to Misty Ottman. They would be issued a bracelet that reads “RAMPART declined,” and it would need to be worn at all times during the study. The study is expected to last three years.

RAMPART is sponsored by the Neurological Emergencies Treatment Trials Network (NETT), created by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NETT was created to conduct trials that could help lessen the severity of acute injuries and illnesses that affect the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system. It provides the basis for studies that involve rapid intervention, both in the field and in emergency department situations.

For information about RAMPART, go to www.nett.umich.edu and click on Community, or call 734.232.2142.

-D. Denton

Nephrology topic of Molony's book

Dr. Donald Molony

Dr. Donald Molony

After four years of collaboration half a hemisphere away, Dr. Donald Molony of The University of Texas Medical School at Houston and Dr. Jonathan Craig of the University of Sydney in Australia have published their new book, Evidence-Based Nephrology.

The book, now available through Wiley-Blackwell, functions both as a traditional textbook for medical students and as a reference for practicing physicians. Experts in the field have contributed papers covering all facets of nephrology: epidemiology of kidney disease, acute kidney injury, various types and stages of kidney disease, transplants, and pediatric renal disease. As the title indicates, the book examines and instructs using the evidence-based approach.

“If it worked in a rat, it worked in patients,” said Molony, professor of internal medicine, as he explained the traditional, biological approach to medicine. Evidence-based medicine is more human-centric. It involves finding out what works in humans and why, and then adding these findings to the medical body of knowledge so that practitioners and patients alike can make decisions with facts in hand. The term was coined at McMaster University in Canada, and it was at a McMaster University conference on the subject where Molony met fellow nephrologist and future co-author Craig.

According to Molony, evidence-based medicine is brutally honest medicine for both practitioners and patients. It relies less on experts and more on empirical evidence. It lays bare what is and what is not known, which not only helps doctors and patients make important decisions, but informs future research as well. In Evidence-Based Nephrology Molony marries this honest, data-intensive approach with the management of renal disease.

As the population ages, the incidence of kidney disease is increasing. Hypertension and diabetes, which are also on the rise as the population ages, can cause kidney disease or worsen already existing kidney problems. In fact, the expense of providing dialysis for patients with end-stage renal disease has put such a strain on the Medicare budget that the federal government has recognized the need to manage kidney disease so that it does not reach this point. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has included the careful management of renal disease in its national set of goals for American health, the Healthy People 2010: Understanding and Improving Health initiative.

Kidney disease is not only expensive, it is insidious. Signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease do not usually occur until the disease is very advanced. Therefore, it is especially important for primary care physicians and other specialists, like cardiologists and endocrinologists, to be aware of the kidney connection with conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and premature cardiovascular disease.

About 10 years ago, Molony inaugurated the NKF-K.E.E.P., the National Kidney Foundation Kidney Early Evaluation Program, which provides kidney disease screenings for at-risk individuals nationally. According to Molony, 70-80 percent of those screened had chronic kidney disease. Molony’s advice for patients? Communicate with your doctor; reveal all of your medical problems, even the ones another doctor is treating; and ask your doctor to screen you for kidney disease if you think you’re at risk. Chronic kidney disease can be managed so that you can preserve your quality of life and keep off of dialysis.

“Knowledge is power in this case, it really is,” Molony said.

Evidence-Based Nephrology, available for purchase at Wiley-Blackwell, provides an evidentiary base on which medical students and practicing physicians can learn, think, talk, and act out loud to fight the too quiet progression of chronic kidney disease.

-D. Heeth

Hardwicke receives national HIV/AIDS Educator Award

Dr. Robin Hardwicke

Dr. Robin Hardwicke

Dr. Robin Hardwicke, assistant professor of medicine, received the 2008 HIV Educator Distinguished Service award at the National Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC) conference in Tucson, Arizona, Nov. 7.

The ANAC HIV/AIDS Educator Award recognizes an outstanding ANAC member who, through HIV/AIDS education, has impacted the lives of those they have instructed, whether it be patients/clients and/or families, health care providers, community groups, or the general public.

Over the past 10 years, Hardwicke has been involved in a variety of HIV prevention and education programs as well as numerous publications, presentations, and clinical research projects. Her role is to not only provide clinical care to those infected with HIV and AIDS, but also to mentor and educate others who are coming into the medical field, be it in nursing or medicine.

Hardwicke is involved in the Houston ANAC chapter in addition to currently serving as the national president of the HIV/AIDS Nursing Certification Board, which is the organization that certifies nurses as AIDS care specialists.

Hardwicke is preparing to go to Guatemala in January 2009 where she can continue to educate those in need of basic health care. There she will continue to have the opportunity to actively teach nurses, medical students, and residents, as well as the patient to whom she is providing care.

Hardwicke continues to accept new patients at both the UT Professional Building on Fannin as well as UT Physician’s Health Center in Bellaire.

Goldschmidt receives national microbiology award

Dr. Millicent Goldschmidt

Dr. Millicent Goldschmidt

Dr. Millicent Goldschmidt, professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, has been named the recipient of the 2009 Roche Diagnostics Alice C. Evans Award.

The award was established by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) to recognize the participation and advancement of women in microbiology. Recipients must demonstrate major contributions toward “fostering the inclusion, development, and advancement of women in careers in microbiology” and achieving scientific and professional achievement. It is named for the first woman to be elected president of the ASM in 1928.

“I felt very honored indeed to receive this national award from the American Society for Microbiology and be ranked with the outstanding women who have received it,” Goldschmidt said. “This award was not only for mentoring but it is also for professionalism and achievement in one’s field of science. In addition to mentoring, I have also tried to help women by indicating that recognition of my professionalism and achievements should be positively related to the fact that I was a woman accomplishing these things. In far too many of these instances, early on, the environment was not that favorable for women. In a very small and humble way, I hope that I have been able to help change this arena for the better.”

Goldschmidt received her Ph.D. in microbiology/biochemistry/mycology from Purdue University. She joined the staff of the UT Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, UT M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, and The University of Texas General Faculty in Houston in 1967. She joined the Dental Branch’s faculty in 1979, where she became a tenured professor in 1995, and became a professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at the Medical School in 2003.

She has received numerous accolades, including the Distinguished Service Award for Contributions of the Advancement of Microbiology in Texas, Outstanding Woman in Science Award from the Gulf Coast Chapter of the Association for Women in Science, Outstanding Alumna Award from the Department of Basic Sciences at Purdue University in 2006, and the Texas Woman’s Achievement Award in Science from the Woman’s Hospital System of Texas.

Goldschmidt will receive her latest award at the society’s 109th General Meeting in Philadelphia in May.

-D. Brown

NRC awards top research at poster session

Members of the Medical School’s Employee Relations Committee work to put the Medical School in a holiday mood.

Wade Kothmann, from left, Fred Lorenzetti, Chirag Patel,
and Sachin Deshmukh take home first-place ribbons at
the Neuroscience Research Center’s annual poster session.

The Neuroscience Research Center (NRC) hosted its 15th Annual Neuroscience Poster Session Dec. 16, which highlighted current neuroscience research at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Participants from various departments within the Health Science Center were given an opportunity to become better acquainted with one another and current neuroscience research at UT-Houston.

The event included awards for the best poster presentations made by a graduate student and postdoctoral fellow. Wade Kothmann (Dr. John O’Brien’s student) and Chirag Patel (Dr. Ponnada Narayana’s student) tied for best poster by a graduate student and will receive the Dee S. and Patricia Osborne Endowed Scholarship in the Neurosciences. Dr. Sachin Deshmukh (Dr. James Knierim’s postdoctoral fellow) and Dr. Fred Lorenzetti (Dr. John Byrne’s postdoctoral fellow) tied for best poster by a postdoctoral fellow and will receive the Outstanding Postdoctoral Research in the Neurosciences Award. All four awards will be presented at the NRC’s Annual Public Forum for Brain Awareness Week Saturday, March 6.

-A. Concha

 

Holiday goodies

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Chocolate and cookies were on the agenda at the annual Dean's Cookie Reception Dec. 11.

 

 

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Events to Know

December 24-26

Full closure for holidays

December 29-31

Skeleton holidays

January 1

Full closure holiday

January 2

Skeleton holiday

January 7

Family & Community Medicine Grand Rounds: Dr. Sandeep Agarwal, assistant professor of internal medicine, presents “Rheumatology.”
1-2 p.m., MSB 2.135.

Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Seminar Series: Faculty candidate Dr. Robin Stephens (National Institute for Medical Research, London) presents “Protective memory T cells remain activated in chronic malaria infection.”
4 p.m., MSB 2.103.

January 9

Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Seminar Series: Dr. Alfredo Torres presents “Minotaur and Chiron, tales of the zoonotic pathogens Escherichia coli and Burkholderia mallei.”
4 p.m., MSB 2.103.

January 13

Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Seminar Series: Dr. Stanley Watowich (UTMB) presents “Functional genomic and mechanistic approaches to antiviral drug discovery.”
4 p.m., MSB B.645.

January 14

Family & Community Medicine Grand Rounds: Dr. John Reveille, holder of the George S. Bruce, Jr. Professorship in the Department of Internal Medicine, presents “Spondyloarthritis.”
1-2 p.m., MSB 2.135.

January 15

Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Seminar Series: Faculty candidate Dr. Luisa Figueiredo, Ph.D. (The Rockefeller University) presents “The structure and function of chromatin during antigenic variation in African trypanosomes.”
4 p.m., MSB 3.301.

January 19

Full closure holiday — Martin Luther King Jr.

UTMost

Office of Communications closes for holidays

The Medical School’s Office of Communications will close Dec. 24 and re-open Jan. 5 in observance of the upcoming holidays. Scoop will return with the Jan. 8 issue.

If you need immediate assistance during this time, please call 713.444.5623.

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Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, M.D.
Dean

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Director of Communications

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