Tag Archives: PhD

Heart Health, WEB

UA Sarver Heart Center scientists earn NIH grant

image003The Gregorio Lab in the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center’s Molecular and Cardiovascular Research Program (MCRP) was awarded $1.77 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a study called “Deciphering the Role of Lmod2 in Thin Filament Length Regulation and Dilated Cardiomyopathy” (NIH Grant 1R01HL123078).

“This award demonstrates the value of Sarver Heart Center’s Investigator Awards Program, which provides seed funding for promising research ideas,” said Carol C. Gregorio, PhD, head of the UA College of Medicine – Tucson Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, director of the MCRP and co-director of the UA Sarver Heart Center. She is the principal investigator on the NIH grant.

Under Gregorio’s mentorship, Christopher Pappas, PhD, a postdoctoral research associate, obtained a Sarver Heart Center Investigator Award funded by the Steven M. Gootter Foundation. With the funding, Pappas studied the role of the protein Lmod2 in cardiac development and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). The Investigator Award enabled Pappas to jump-start his path to career independence by obtaining the data necessary to compete successfully for the NIH grant as a co-investigator, said Gregorio.

Dilated cardiomyopathy causes the heart to become weakened and enlarged, frequently leading to heart failure and sudden cardiac arrest. It affects about 1 million people, making it the second most common cause of heart failure, behind heart failure due to heart attacks.  More than 6 million people in the United States have heart failure.

“Cardiac muscle is composed of thick and thin protein filaments. In studying the heart’s mechanism of contraction, we found that the filaments have to be precisely organized for efficient beating. Proper contraction requires filaments of the proper length. We found that Lmod2 is an actin filament elongation protein that regulates the lengths of thin filaments in heart muscle,” said Pappas.

UA researchers have identified the connection between thin-filament length and cardiac function, as well as the role thin-filament length dysregulation plays in cardiomyopathies. Their goal is to uncover insights into novel therapeutic targets for dilated cardiomyopathy.

“We know that without Lmod2, hearts become enlarged and do not pump well. We can observe at very high magnification that heart muscle lacking Lmod2 is extremely disrupted. These data indicate that the absence of Lmod2 leads to dilated cardiomyopathy in animal models,” said Pappas.

Future directions for the research team include determining how short thin-filament lengths lead to dilated cardiomyopathy and if Lmod2 mutations are present in human patients with dilated cardiomyopathy.

The University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center Investigator Award Review Committee is meeting this week to select the next round of research award recipients. The Center’s 135 members, including faculty from cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery, pediatric cardiology, neurology, vascular surgery, radiology, endocrinology, emergency medicine, nursing, pharmacy and basic sciences, are eligible to apply for investigator awards each year. The UA Sarver Heart Center emphasizes a highly collaborative research environment, fostering innovative translational or “bench-to-bedside” research and working toward a future free of heart disease and stroke.

AHCCCS Alternative - AZ Business Magazine July/August 2011

Will Humble joins University of Arizona Center

image005Will Humble, MPH, longtime director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, has been appointed division director for health policy and evaluation at the Center for Population Science and Discovery at the Arizona Health Sciences Center.

A Tucson native, Humble is scheduled to join the UA April 13 and will report to Elizabeth Calhoun, PhD, MEd, associate vice president for population health sciences and executive director of the Center for Population Science and Discovery.

“The Center for Population Science and Discovery Center is well-positioned to bring the kind of analytical depth needed to catalyze improvements in population health in Arizona,” said Dr. Calhoun. “Will brings unique skills and strong relationships to the center – a perfect fit for our strategic goal to create linkages among researchers, public health organizations, health providers, health systems and payers to improve population health and reduce health-care costs,” she added.

“Bringing together interdisciplinary partners across a range of organizations, from academia to city planning, to classic public health rapidly is becoming the new model for improving population health,”said Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, MD, UA senior vice president for health sciences. “We’re delighted to bring Director Humble on board to develop intervention partnerships across population health sectors, including state, federal and local public health departments, community and non-profit organizations, tribal and border organizations, the local and Arizona media and academia.”

The AHSC Center for Population Science and Discovery was developed in response to the recommendations of the faculty-led AHSC Population Health/Health Outcomes Advisory Council to further leverage AHSC’s established strengths in population health and health outcomes, health-care policy and health disparities research. The center rapidly is becoming Arizona’s “go-to” clearing house for identifying evidence-based solutions and best practices to improve population health and promote health equity throughout Arizona.



UA grant will boost Native American healthcare workforce

One of only two university programs selected for the grant nationwide, the Native American Research and Training Center(NARTC) at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, was awarded a five-year, $975,000 Indians into Medicine (INMED) grant from the Indian Health Service. 
“According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, Arizona will suffer a shortage of 40,000 physicians by 2020 and the hardest hit will be rural and tribal communities,” said Teshia Solomon, PhD, associate professor in the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine and co-director of NARTC.
The UA historically has ranked among the top schools nationally in recruiting Native American applicants to medical school, and to other health professions schools, but more work needs to be done, said Karen Francis-Begay, MA, assistant vice president of tribal relations at the UA. 
“Although first-year retention rates of Native American students has increased significantly to 70 percent, four- and six-year graduation rates remain disappointing,” said Francis-Begay. 
The  Arizona Indians into Medicine (AZ INMED) program recruits, supports and encourages American Indians and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) students to enter and succeed in health professions. The federally funded INMED grants support Native American pre-medicine/pre-health professions students, as well as graduate and professional students pursuing advanced degrees in medicine, public health and pharmacy, providing academic, career, cultural and personal support within a cultural context. 
The AZ INMED program will collaborate with Tribal Nations, K-12 school districts, community colleges, tribal colleges, universities and established AI/AN health professionals and collaborate with academic and student service departments at the UA to provide enrichment efforts in math and science.
AZ INMED is co-sponsoring the 2015 NARTC Winter Institute today and will feature a review of the AZ INMED program and a discussion of new opportunities to support STEM training, including other UA-based programs aimed at increasing the number of AI/AN students interested in the health professions. The institute will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Room 122 of the UA College of Nursing, 1305 N. Martin, and is open to the public. 
The institute is designed to inform UA faculty, students and tribal communities of the opportunities to strengthen the diversity of the AI/AN health and science workforce and to determine the gaps in the training pipeline and needs of AIAN students and junior faculty. 
On Tuesday, March 24, NARTC faculty and students will present their research in an oral report to the represented tribal communities. 
Located within the UA College of Medicine’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion, the INMED team includes:
·         Principal investigators Solomon and Francis-Begay;
·         Recruitment and retention team member Linda Don, assistant dean for outreach and recruitment at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson;
·         Physician-mentor Carlos Gonzales, MD, professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, assistant dean of medical student education;
·         Program coordinator Agnes Attakai (Navajo) and outreach coordinator Justin Hongeva (Hopi), who share programmatic, outreach and recruitment responsibilities;
·         Learning specialist Alberta Arivso, PhD, who provides academic and social support services for students.

UA Arthritis Center gets $6.1M grant

Researchers at  the University of Arizona Arthritis Center at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson are working to identify treatments to slow the progression of osteoarthritis (OA), supported by a recent $6.1 million, five-year grant from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases of the National Institutes of Health.
The most common cause of disability in the aging population, OA is a complex condition involving not only the breakdown of cartilage in joints but also changes in adjacent soft tissue and bone beneath the cartilage, leading to debilitating joint pain and stiffness and often pain in surrounding muscles and ligaments. The public health impact of knee OA, in particular, is expected to increase dramatically. No cure exists and no FDA-approved drugs are available to prevent development or halt the progression of the condition.
The study, “Risk of Incident Knee OA & Clinical Outcomes Based on Imaging Biomarkers,” builds on two ongoing studies, the Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI) and the Pivotal OAI MRI Analyses (POMA), an ancillary proposal to the OAI. The OAI was designed to address the lack of biomarkers (biologic features that can be used to measure the presence or progress of a disease or the effects of treatment) for the development and progression of knee OA. The POMA utilized the OAI MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) to identify imaging biomarkers of knee OA development and progression as long as 48 months prior to the onset of radiographic knee OA (ROA).
ROA symptoms may not correlate with joint damage shown by X-ray or MRI. People with ROA may have little or no pain, yet joint function still may be significantly impacted, causing difficulty performing activities of daily living.
“Recent advances in magnetic resonance imaging have improved our understanding of the relationship between pathology and the structural changes to cartilage, subchondral bone and the surrounding soft tissues of the joint in OA,” said study Principal Investigator C. Kent Kwoh, MD.
An internationally recognized expert in osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and other joint diseases, Dr. Kwoh is director of the University of Arizona Arthritis Center; professor of medicine and medical imaging at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson; the Charles A.L. and Suzanne M. Stephens Chair of Rheumatology; and chief of the Division of Rheumatology, UA Department of Medicine.
“The overall objective of this proposal is to take advantage of a time-limited opportunity to build on our prior work and leverage the wealth of longitudinal data, including high-resolution MRI imaging at 3 Tesla, which already has been accumulated in the OAI,” Dr. Kwoh continued. “We will be able test whether structural changes detectable by MRI predict the onset of ROA and the development of important clinical outcomes 24 months to 120 months later, and therefore much earlier in the disease course than currently established. A 120-month visit will be added to the OAI for participants with knees that did not have ROA at baseline.”
The 3T MRI data is a critical feature of the study. MRI—magnetic resonance imaging—scanners come in different magnetic field strengths measured in Teslas, or “T.” A 3T MRI is stronger than a usual MRI used for clinical care and provides extremely sharp images with minute details to better visualize joint structures.
“The specific aims of this study are to identify imaging biomarkers of the development of incident ROA earlier in the disease course – and to identify the association of imaging biomarkers with changes in pain, function and performance associated with the onset of ROA,” said study Co-PI Ali Guermazi, MD, PhD, professor of radiology, section chief of musculoskeletal imaging and director of the Quantitative Imaging Center at Boston University School of Medicine.
Noted for his contributions in the diagnosis and disease progression assessment of osteoarthritis using MRI, Dr. Guermazi’s work focuses on identifying structural risk factors for developing and worsening osteoarthritis. He has been involved in developing several radiological methods to assess osteoarthritis disease risk and progression, and has been involved as an MRI reader in several large NIH-funded studies, including the OAI.
Dr. Kwoh said, “Ultimately, this line of research will help to identify key risk factors for the development of OA and OA structural disease progression, and to identify potential targets for preventative and/or therapeutic interventions.”
Study collaborators include researchers with four OAI clinical centers: University of Pittsburgh, University of Maryland, Ohio State University and Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, as well as with Northwestern University and Boston University. The University of San Francisco is providing data management.
This research is supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases of the NIH under Award Number R01AR066601. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.
Epicuriad 2012 friends; Photo by: Sherry L. Butler | Sherry L. Butler Communications

Beer for Brains’ event to benefit Barrow children

The Beer for Brains Foundation’s EPICURIAD 2015 Food, Wine & Craft Beer Pairings Event includes an exciting face-off event between two local celebrity chefs, plus a large sampling of food, craft beer and wine from sixty chefs, breweries and vineyards in a wonderfully intimate setting.
The Epicuriad VIP Chef Face-Off event begins at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 24th – the evening before the Pro Bowl – at the Musical Instrument Museum 4725 E Mayo Blvd Scottsdale, Arizona followed by the public Epicuriad event at 7:30 p.m.
VIP tickets cost $150, regular admission tickets cost $95. Proceeds to benefit pediatric brain tumor research at Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Limited tickets available at www.bfbf.org.
Epicuriad 2015 is anticipated to include twenty local chefs, plus twenty vineyards and craft beer breweries, competing to win. Voting will include the category of “Best Pairing,” with medals (and prizes) up to third place, based on whether craft beer or wine is the attendee-preferred pairing with each dish, and “Best Entrée,” based on taste and presentation. Both attendees and chefs can meander the museum at no extra cost during the event, pausing to sample the food and pairings, then placing their vote as the evening winds down. Once the votes are tallied, the winning chef will receive a three-day trip to New York City, NY to cook at James Beard House, one of culinary’s most prestigious honors.
As an exclusive pre-event benefit for VIP ticket holders, who are welcome to come as early as 5:00 p.m. to enjoy the museum, the 6:30 p.m. chef face-off event starts the evening with an extra frisson of excitement and tantalized taste buds. Flipping a coin for whether they will cook with beer or wine, each face-off chef will have thirty-five minutes to quickly create a delicious entrée using the spirits and ingredients provided. Limited to a small handful of VIP participants to keep the face-off intimate and conversational, attendees will watch the competition and sample the finished entrees, voting to determine who the winner will be.
Event Details:
Date:                       Saturday, January 24, 2015
Cost:                       $95 per person, $150 per VIP ticket
Time:                      6:30 – 7:30 p.m. VIP Pre-Event Chef Face-Off
                                7:30 – 10:30 p.m. General Admission
Location:                Musical Instrument Museum
                                 4725 E Mayo Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85050
Contact BFBF:        epicuriad@bfbf.org
Benefiting the Barrow Neurological Institute branch of Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH), all proceeds from this event will help fund pediatric brain tumor research. Clinical Pediatric Neurosurgeon Ratan Bhardwaj, M.D., PhD. and his lab at PCH are devoted to combat aggressive, malignant brain tumors at the molecular level, including the development of a vaccine that will allow the immune system to combat tumors directly. Brain cancer is the second leading type of cancer in children under age five and the third most common in young adults. This year alone, 22,070 new patients in the United States will be diagnosed and nearly 13,000 – slightly more than one-third of all brain cancer patients – will die from it.

UA doctor will direct new biorepository

image003David T. Harris, PhD, professor of immunology at the University of Arizona, has been appointed executive director of the new Arizona Health Sciences Center Biorepository.
Following a national search, Dr. Harris was selected to establish and lead the AHSC Biorepository, which will provide centralized, state-of-the-art specimen collection infrastructure and offer concierge-level technical and regulatory expertise to principal investigators engaged in research biospecimen activities.
Dr. Harris brings more than 20 years of experience in biobanking to the repository, including establishment of the first cord blood stem cell bank in the United States in 1992. He also has extensive experience in adult stem cell banking, as well as the banking of other cells and tissues.
“I am excited by the opportunity to position my scientific research and technical and regulatory knowledge in the area of biospecimen collection and biobanking toward the development of a critical research resource for AHSC faculty and trainees,” said Dr. Harris. “The AHSC Biorepository will be a catalyst for research by providing the strategic collection and timely dissemination of biospecimens to investigators.”
Dr. Harris joined the UA faculty in 1989 after four years at the University of North Carolina. He has been actively involved in stem cell research and has received extramural funding from the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society and the U.S. Department of Defense.
Dr. Harris will bring an experienced team of scientists to the AHSC Biorepository, including Michael Badowski, PhD, associate research professor, and Angela Muise, research specialist senior. Dr. Badowski has 10 years of experience in biobanking, while Muise has three years of laboratory experience in the field.
“It is wonderful to have a faculty member with David’s technical expertise and applied approach to biobanking agree to lead the AHSC Biorepository,” said Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, MD, UA senior vice president for health sciences and interim dean of the UA College of Medicine – Tucson. The AHSC Biorepository is a critical resource to the success of our translational research enterprise, our Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA) grant application and the growth of our sponsored research portfolio.”

Bioscience innovators will pitch at White Hat Investors

Bioindustry Associations from across the Rocky Mountain Southwest Region are coming together to present an opportunity for Angels, Venture Capitalists and Strategic Investors to connect with the biotech and healthcare investment opportunities from across the Rocky Mountain Southwest states at White Hat Investors 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona on September 17 and 18, 2014.

“The West was won by innovators, investors, and prospectors who understood the value of discovery and accepted the challenge of investing in new frontiers,” shared Joan Koerber-Walker, president and CEO of the Arizona Bioindustry Association (AZBio). “Now, industry leaders and accredited investors have the opportunity to meet a new generation of biotech and healthcare pioneers at White Hat 2014, the first annual biotech and healthcare investor conference that showcases the best of the Rocky Mountain Southwest Region.”

White Hat Presenting Companies were selected from the region’s emerging innovation leaders in the fields of Diagnostics, Therapeutics, Medical Devices, and Health IT. Presenting companies are developing lifesaving and life improving innovations that will benefit people today and for generations to come while addressing some of our greatest health challenges including cancer, cardiovascular and pulmonary disease, neurological disorders, infectious disease, and more.

On September 17th, over 400 life science industry leaders will gather to view a company showcase, browse a student discovery zone and listen to presentations from local life science entrepreneurs on the BioAccel Best of the Best Stage from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. in the North Ballroom of the Phoenix Convention Center. Free and open to the general public, it presents an opportunity for members of the community to connect with the region’s fastest growing innovation sector. The public pre-event will be followed at 6:00 p.m. by the AZBio Awards gala (registration required) honoring life science pioneer Roy Curtiss, III, PhD; Charles Arntzen, PhD, the Arizona State University Researcher who, with his team, played a key role in the development of ZMAPP, the experimental Ebola drug given to two health workers who were sickened by the deadly virus earlier this year; W.J. “Jim” Lane, Mayor of the City of Scottsdale for his work in developing the Scottsdale Cure Corridor; innovative educator Miles Orchinik, PhD of the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University; Jack B. Jewett of the Flinn Foundation for leadership of the longest running statewide bioscience development initiative in the United States; emerging technology leaders SenesTech, Pinnacle Transplant Technologies, and Cancer Prevention Pharmaceuticals along with the 2014 Arizona Bioscience Company of the Year, Insys Therapeutics, Inc.

White Hat events continue on September 18th at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Phoenix with presentations by privately-held life science companies presenting to attending representatives of family offices, investment funds, corporate investment/business development professionals for life science oriented firms (strategic investors), granting foundations, venture capital firms, and accredited investors. In addition to great company presentations in the areas of Medical Devices, Diagnostics, Therapeutics and Health IT, White Hat includes THREE general sessions featuring panel discussions on the investment environment from the perspective of Angels, Strategic Investors, and VCs.
Presenting Companies were selected from the Rocky Mountain Southwest’s emerging innovator leaders in the fields of: Diagnostics, Therapeutics, Medical Devices and Health IT and include:

• Aviratek, LLC
• Breezing
• Calimmune, Inc.
• CardioCreate, Inc.
• Convoy Therapeutics
• DiscGenics
• Elutin Vascular Inc.
• EndoShape, Inc
• Fluonic
• Imagenonics LLC
• Iron Horse Diagnostics
• INanoBio
• Kalos Therapeutics
• Kulira Technologies
• Meditope Biosciences, Inc.
• MSDx
• NeuroRecovery Technologies, Inc.
• NuvoMed
• NuvOx Pharma
• Pediatric Bioscience, Inc
• Portable Genomics, Inc.
• MedTalk Companion (Real Phone Corp)
• Recursion Pharmaceuticals
• RiboMed Biotechnologies
• Savoy Pharmaceuticals
• SenesTech
• Skylit Medical
• Sonoran Biosciences
• T-MedRobotics
• Valley Fever Solutions
• ValveXchange
• ViroCyt
• VisionGate
• Yolia Health


Arizona Telemedicine Program names advisory board

The award-winning Arizona Telemedicine Program (ATP) at the Arizona Health Sciences Center of the University of Arizona has announced the appointment of the National Advisory Board of the Telemedicine and Telehealth Service Provider Showcase (SPSSM), to be held Oct. 6-7 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Phoenix.

The 24 nationally recognized thought leaders and health-care innovators have made major strides in the telemedicine arena. Members of the board are:

• Joseph S. Alpert, MD, professor of medicine, University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson; editor-in-chief, The American Journal of Medicine

• David C. Balch, MA, chief technology officer, White House Medical Group, Washington, D.C.

• Rashid Bashshur, PhD, senior adviser for eHealth, eHealth Center, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor

• Anne E. Burdick, MD, MPH, associate dean for telehealth and clinical outreach, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

• Robert “Bob” Burns, commissioner, Arizona Corporation Commission, Phoenix

• Daniel J. Derksen, MD, director, Center for Rural Health; professor of public health policy; University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, Tucson

• Charles R. Doarn, MBA, editor-in-chief, Telemedicine and e-Health Journal, family medicine, University of Cincinnati, Ohio

• Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, MD, UA senior vice president for health sciences; interim dean, UA College of Medicine – Tucson; professor of medicine, Arizona Health Sciences Center, University of Arizona

• Robert A. Greenes, MD, PhD, professor of biomedical informatics, College of Health Solutions, Arizona State University, Phoenix

• Paula Guy, chief executive officer, Global Partnership for Telehealth, Inc., Waycross, Ga.

• Deb LaMarche, associate director, Utah Telehealth Network, Salt Lake City

• James P. Marcin, MD, MPH, professor, pediatric critical care, University of California – Davis Children’s Hospital, Sacramento

• Ronald C. Merrell, MD, editor-in-chief, Telemedicine and e-Health Journal, emeritus professor of surgery, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond

• Thomas S. Nesbitt, MD, MPH, associate vice chancellor and professor, family and community medicine, University of California – Davis Health System, Sacramento

• Marta J. Petersen, MD, medical director, Utah Telehealth Network, Salt Lake City

• Joseph Peterson, MD, chief executive officer and director, Specialists On Call, Reston, Va.

• Ronald K. Poropatich, MD, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh

• Lisa A. Robin, MLA, chief advocacy officer, Federation of State Medical Boards, Washington, D.C.

• Brian Rosenfeld, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer, Philips Telehealth, Baltimore, Md.

• Jay H. Shore, MD, MPH, associate professor, Centers for American Indian & Alaska Native Health, University of Colorado, Aurora

• Joseph A. Tracy, MS, vice president, telehealth services, Lehigh Valley Health Network, Allentown, Pa.

• Wesley Valdes, DO, medical director, Telehealth Services, Intermountain Healthcare, Salt Lake City, Utah

• Nancy L. Vorhees, RN, MSN, chief operating officer, Inland Northwest Health Services, Spokane, Wash.

• Jill M. Winters, PhD, RN, FAHA, president and dean, Columbia College of Nursing, Glendale, Wisc.

“This is the first national meeting addressing telemedicine service provider issues. It’s long overdue!” said Ronald S. Weinstein, MD, ATP director and SPS honorary co-chair.

SPS will focus on building partnerships for bringing quality medical specialty services directly into hospitals, clinics, private practices and even patients’ homes. The goals are to improve patient care and outcomes and to increase market share for both health-care providers and telehealth service providers they partner with.

The convention is co-hosted by the ATP, the Southwest Telehealth Resource Center and the Four Corners Telehealth Consortium, which includes the Arizona Health Sciences Center at the University of Arizona, the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and the Utah Telehealth Network.

More information about SPS is at www.TTSPSworld.com.