By Lisa Brown

BUSM Faculty Named Top Docs

November 25th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Boston_Mag_BhadeliaBoston Magazine has released its annual Top Docs issue.

Sixty-two BUSM faculty and BMC physicians from 29 specialties are listed as “tops” in their respective fields, and Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, assistant professor of medicine and director of infection control at the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory (NEIDL) at Boston University is featured on the cover with a story about her recent work caring for Ebola patients in Sierra Leone.

In addition, Dr. Thea James, associate professor of emergency medicine and assistant dean for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs at BUSM, was featured in a story titled “A Day in the Medical Life,” which tracked personal health stats of five health care workers in 24 hours.

 

Addiction Psychiatry
Domenic Ciraulo, MD
 
Allergy and Immunology
Helen Hollingsworth, MD

 

Cardiac Electro-Physiology
Kevin Monahan, MD, FACC

 

Cardiovascular Disease
Eric Awtry, MD
Gary Balady, MD
Sheilah Bernard, MD

 

Dermatology

Tania Phillips, MD

 

Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

Alan Farwell, MD

Michael Holick, PhD, MD

Stephanie Lee, MD, PhD

James Rosenzweig, MD

 

Family Medicine
Thomas Hines, MD
Brian Jack, MD

 

Gastroenterology
Francis Farraye, MD, MSc, FACP, FACG
David Lichtenstein, MD
Robert Lowe, MD
David Nunes, MD

 

Geriatric Medicine
Heidi Auerbach, MD
Serena Chao, MD, MSc
Eric Hardt, MD
Sharon Levine, MD
Daniel Oates, MD, MSc

 

Hand Surgery
Andrew Stein, MD

 

Internal Medicine
Thomas Barber, MD
Elaine Hylek, MD
Jeffrey Samet, MD
Charles Tifft, MD
Robert Witzburg, MD

 

Interventional Cardiology
Alice Jacobs, MD

 

Maternal and Fetal Medicine
Jodi Abbott, MD

Robert Blatman, MD

Aviva Lee-Parritz, MD

 

Medical Oncology
Kevan Hartshorn, MD

Nephrology
David Salant, MD
 
Neurology
Carlos Kase, MD

 

Neuroradiology
Alexander Norbash, MD

 

Orthopaedic Surgery
Paul Tornetta III, MD

 

Otolaryngology
Anand Devaiah, MD
Gregory Grillone, MD
Kenneth Grundfast, MD
Scharukh Jalisi, MD

 

Pediatric Infectious Disease
Stephen Pelton, MD

 

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Susan Bergman, MD

 

Pulmonary Disease
John Berk, MD
Harrison Farber, MD

 

Radiation Oncology
Lisa Kachnic, MD

 

Reproductive Endocrinology
Robert Weiss, MD

 

Rheumatology
David Felson, MD
Eugene Kissin, MD
Robert Simms, MD

 

Surgery
Peter Burke, MD
Gerard Doherty, MD
Donald Hess Jr., MD
Maureen Kavanah, MD
David McAneny, MD

 

Thoracic & Cardiac Surgery
Hiran Fernando, MBBS, FRCS
Harold Lazar, MD

 

Urology
Richard Babayan, MD
Ricardo Munarriz, MD
Robert Oates, MD
David Wang, MD

 

Vascular Surgery
Alik Farber, MD

BUSM’s Thea James Receives 2014 Schwartz Center Compassionate Caregiver Award

November 21st, 2014 in Uncategorized

Photo courtesy of Schwartz Center.

Photo courtesy of Schwartz Center.

Thea James, MD, associate professor of Emergency Medicine at BU School of Medicine, is the recipient of the 2014 Schwartz Center Compassionate Caregiver Award, which recognizes health care providers who demonstrate extraordinary compassion in caring for patients and families.

One of the region’s most prestigious honors, recipients are chosen based on how well they embody the characteristics of compassionate care, including effective communication, emotional support, mutual trust and respect, involving patients and families in health care decisions, and treating patients as people, not just illnesses.

James is an attending physician in Boston Medical Center’s (BMC) Emergency Department and Director of BMC’s Violence Intervention Advocacy Program (VIAP). She also cofounded Unified for Global Healing, an organization that seeks to improve health outcomes across the globe.

“Dr. James interacts with patients in a truly authentic and compassionate manner. She sees the person behind each injury and searches for that person’s story. Her sensitivity, communications skills, optimism and kindness have deeply impacted the lives of her patients and families. We’re so pleased to honor her and our extraordinary finalists,” said Schwartz Center Executive Director Julie Rosen when presenting James with the award.

Creating a Vaccine Against Canine Gum Disease

November 20th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Paola Massari

Paola Massari

Gum disease, also known as gingivitis, is one of the most prevalent medical conditions in adult dogs. It is so common, most dogs will start to show signs of damage to their teeth and gums by three years of age. If this disorder is left untreated, it can lead to pain, gum damage and even tooth loss. This past month, the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) awarded two research grants for the improvement of oral health in dogs. One of the research grants was awarded to Paola Massari, PhD, a research assistant professor in the Section of Infectious Disease at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM).

Image courtesy of dogvacay.com

Image courtesy of dogvacay.com

Currently treatment for dogs with gum disease is manual removal of plaque and tartar. This method does not provide a cure and only delays the disease progression. Massari’s research focuses on prevention, stopping the disease before it has a chance to cause damage. She will be using the grant to develop a vaccine against the most common types of bacteria that lead to periodontal disease in dogs.

Massari received her PhD and post-doctoral training at the University of Naples “Federico II” and Chiron-Biocine in Siena, Italy. She is the author of numerous publications in the field of Infectious Diseases, with a special interest in understanding how interactions between bacteria and their hosts lead to the manifestation of disease. She chose to expand her research into companion animal health, in order to help fill the gap that currently exists in veterinary research.

Submitted by Amanda Macone, MD.

BUSM’s Ramachandran Recognized by AHA

November 18th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Vasan Ramachadran

Vasan Ramachandran

The American Heart Association (AHA) awarded its 2014 Population Research Prize to Vasan R. Ramachandran, MD, at Scientific Sessions 2014 in Chicago. Ramachandran is the Chief of the Section of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology and Cardiology in the Department of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), Professor of Medicine at BUSM and Senior Investigator of the Framingham Heart Study.

Ramachandran was recognized, “for brilliantly seizing upon opportunities to translate cutting-edge bench science into an epidemiological context, thereby making fundamental contributions to identifying systemic markers for cardiovascular risk, both here and in developing countries.”

His award was presented by Association President Elliott Antman, MD, who said Ramachandran “is widely admired as a role model for trainees and early career faculty as well as for his many important findings in translational epidemiology. “ His numerous contributions include the publication of approximately 560 peer-reviewed articles in high-impact journals and in 2013, his work was cited 6,145 times.

Throughout his career, Ramachandran has made a significant impact in the field of cardiovascular epidemiology. His work is focused on systemic markers of cardiovascular risk, hypertension, congestive heart failure, risk re-classification and diseases in developing countries. He has conducted research in both the U.S. and India and his work has provided valuable insight into heart failure and its progression – a step that is required in moving forward with medical therapies focused on prevention.

Submitted by Amanda Macone, MD.

 

BUSM’s Honeyman Blogs at NEJM

November 17th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Brian Honeyman

Brian Honeyman

As if the fourth year of medical school is not busy enough, Brian Honeyman, (MED’15) chose to spend October interning at the editorial office of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

This four-week elective, offered by NEJM for medical students from Massachusetts medical schools, exposed Honeyman to the world of medical publishing and allowed him to learn how editorial decisions are made. Honeyman wanted to get a sense of how novel and innovative medical findings are reviewed and disseminated to the medical community.

During his internship Honeyman supported individual NEJM editors, worked on a number of pieces including a letter to the editor, summaries and critiques of potential articles, and a decision letter. He also prepared a piece for NEJM’s online blog “Vaccination and Pneumococcal Disease in South Africa,” which reviewed the importance of vaccination in US communities through the lens of pneumococcal vaccination in South Africa.

Submitted by Adil Yunis, MD

Study Identifies Pre-symptomatic Markers for Hemorragic Viruses Like Ebola

November 17th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Colorized electronic micrograph of Marburg virus

Colorized electronic micrograph of Marburg virus

A new study has found it is possible to distinguish between different hemorrhagic fevers, including Marburg (Ebola cousin) and Lassa before the person becomes symptomatic.

The study, which appears in the journal BMC Genomics, will allow for the development of better diagnostics, especially during the early stages of disease, when treatments have a greater chance of being effective.

Hemorrhagic fevers include Lassa, which is endemic in Western Africa and Marburg, which causes sporadic outbreaks in Africa associated with high rates of mortality. The early symptoms of these viruses (fever, flu-like symptoms) are not unique, making it difficult to diagnose properly. More disease-specific symptoms and the ability to spread the virus from person to person, do not begin until virus has accumulated in the blood. Current diagnostics detect the virus after it spills out of primary sites of infection into the blood. The ability to identify the infection prior to this point would significantly aid early intervention and containment, and could improve outcomes.

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) approached the diagnostic dilemma by trying to “see” infection prior to the point where viruses enter the blood stream. Collaborating with researchers at the U.S. Army Medical research Institute (USAMRIID), they used two experimental models: one that had involved Lassa virus, and one that involved Marburg virus infection. The researchers extracted genetic material (RNA) from a sample of white blood cells from each infection group at multiple times after the models were infected. Using next-generation sequencing techniques, gene expression changes in hosts cells that “recognize” early stages of infection were identified. This was seen prior to clinical symptom onset and before the models became infectious.

Lassa virus particles

Lassa virus particles

According to the researchers, distinguishing between these viruses early can guide treatment and containment efforts. “The ability to distinguish between different types of infection before the appearance of overt clinical symptoms has important implications for guiding triage and containment during epidemics,” explained corresponding author Nacho Caballero, a PhD candidate at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM). “We hope that our study will help in the development of better diagnostics, especially during the early stages of disease, when treatments have a greater chance of being effective,” he added.

As exciting as the prospect of this testing is, the research team is setting a realistic time line. “We want to stress that this is not a finding that can be translated into a test tomorrow. This study supports the idea that early markers of infection are there, but significant work will still need to be done to extend these findings,” said Caballero.

This work was supported by the United States Army contracts W81XWH 100-02-0008 and 11-02-0130. NC was supported in part by the Fulbright Commission Spain and the Regional Government of Andalusia.

Oct. 16-17 Evans Research Days Feature Lectures and Presentations

October 10th, 2014 in Uncategorized

This year marks the 26th Evans annual research celebration, which was established in 1985 to acknowledge and foster the research activities of the Evans Department of Medicine. This two-day event features distinguished clinical and basic science lectures (Ingelfinger Visiting Professor and Wilkins Visiting Professor respectively), and poster and oral presentations of ongoing research.  Faculty, students and staff are invited to attend these events.

Thursday, Oct. 16

Research Poster Session, 9 a.m.- noon,  Hiebert Lounge

Wilkins Visiting Professor Lecture, 3:30 p.m., Keefer Auditorium
“Genetic Determinants of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis”
David A. Schwartz, MD
Professor of Medicine and Immunology, Robert W. Schrier Chair of Medicine
University of Colorado

Friday, Oct. 17

Ingelfinger Visiting Professor – Grand Rounds, noon, Keefer Auditorium
“Joy in Practice: Innovations in Ambulatory Care”
Christine Sinsky, MD, FACP
Internist
Medical Associates Clinic and Health Plans

BUSM Researcher Receives Inaugural Yoga Research Grant

October 2nd, 2014 in Uncategorized

Jennifer Johnston

Jennifer Johnston

The Kripalu Institute for Extraordinary Living (IEL) of the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, Mass., selected Jennifer Johnston, PhD, clinical psychologist and Kripalu Yoga instructor, as the first recipient of the Samuel B. Hanser Visionary Award for her research on the effects of yoga on people with epilepsy, a stress-aggravated disease. Dr. Johnston will be conducting her research under the guidance of Chris Streeter, MD, associate professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at BUSM.

The Hanser Award is the first endowed annual research award, bestowed by IEL. It is designed to foster yoga research and further the goal of making yoga a more accessible and accepted modality for health and well-being across all facets of society. An inaugural award of $10,000 was presented in September at the Symposium on Yoga Research, the leading academic conference on yoga.

“I feel honored to have been conferred the Hanser Award, and am very excited about the work we will be doing in Samuel Hanser’s name,” said Johnston. “It is my wish that our research will not only demonstrate the potential yoga has to provide people with epilepsy an inexpensive, easily accessible treatment with few side effects for seizure control, it will also help clarify the mechanisms through which yoga can influence brain function, and inform future research, treatment, and self-care strategies.”

The Hanser Award is a mentored research award that aims to advance innovations in yoga research by fostering collaborations between creative scientist-practitioners in the early stages of their careers and experienced research mentors. Applicants are required to partner with seasoned professionals who have the resources, expertise and experience to guide and support the research process.

The award honors the spirit and vision of the late Samuel B. Hanser, a healer who believed that every person holds the wisdom and power to lead a happy and healthy life. After Sam’s death at the age of 28, his family established a memorial trust in his name and, in collaboration with the IEL, seeks to support like-minded visionaries enabling the understanding and dissemination of yoga.

Researchers Find Promise in New Treatments for GBM

October 1st, 2014 in Uncategorized

Glioblastma multiforme (GBM) is one of the most lethal primary brain tumors, with median survival for these patients only slightly over one year. Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), in collaboration with researchers from the City of Hope, are looking toward novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of GBM in the form of targeted therapies against a unique receptor, the interleukin-13 receptor α chain variant 2 (IL13Rα2).

Neuonc_16_10_Cover_Neuonc_16_10_CoverIn a review paper published in the October issue of Neuro-Oncology, the researchers discuss various targeted therapies against IL13Rα2 and early successes of clinical trials with these therapies in the treatment of GBM. The paper also highlights the need for future trials to improve efficacy and toxicity profiles of targeted therapies in this field.

Targeted therapies, which are drugs that interfere with specific molecules involved in cancer growth, have been successfully used in the treatment of many cancers, including breast and blood cancers. Successful targets for therapies are specific to tumor cells and not found on normal cells. Selectively expressed on GBM and absent on surrounding brain tissue, the interleukin-13 receptor α chain variant 2 (IL13Rα2) was identified as a potential target for therapy for GBM two decades ago. IL13Rα2 also plays an important role in the growth of tumors. In normal physiologic conditions, IL-13 binds to the receptor IL13Rα1 and helps regulate immune responses. In cancer cells, IL-13 binds to the receptor IL13Rα2 and, through a series of steps, prevents cancer cells from undergoing normal cell death. Increased expression of IL13Rα2 promotes the progression of GBM.

Since its discovery, IL13Rα2 has provided a target for therapies in GBM. These therapies have ranged from fusion proteins of IL-13 and bacterial toxins, oncolytic viruses, and immunotherapies. A phase I clinical trial and a phase III clinical trial have been completed for a T-cell based immunotherapy and IL-13/ bacterial toxin fusion protein respectively, both with promising outcomes.

“The field of targeted therapies in gliomas holds a lot of promise, and IL13Rα2 is in an optimal position to materialize these promises,” explained corresponding author Sadhak Sengupta, PhD, assistant professor of neurosurgery at BUSM and principal investigator of the Brain Tumor Lab at Roger Williams. “While early trials are encouraging, we need further research to achieve better targeting of the receptor and improved safety profiles of the treatments.”

Funding for this research was provided by the Roger Williams Medical Center Brain Tumor Research Fund.

MED’s Corley Appointed NEIDL Director

September 23rd, 2014 in Uncategorized

Takes charge at critical moment in research into infectious diseases

One of Ronald Corley’s first tasks as NEIDL director will be to identify the top three areas to focus recruiting efforts on. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

One of Ronald Corley’s first tasks as NEIDL director will be to identify the top three areas to focus recruiting efforts on. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

Ronald Corley, whose five years as associate director of BU’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) saw the lab overcome several legal and political challenges, has been appointed NEIDL director, effective October 1. Corley will continue as a School of Medicine professor and chair of microbiology, but will no longer be Medical Campus associate provost for research.

Announcing Corley’s appointment in a message to the Boston University community, President Robert A. Brown describes the new director as “an outstanding scientist and a collaborative leader.”

Corley succeeds John R. Murphy, a MED professor of medicine and microbiology, who had been NEIDL interim director since 2011. Brown says he is grateful to Murphy, “who has been instrumental in bringing the laboratories through the arduous regulatory processes and the initial launch of operations.”

“Dr. Corley’s leadership and vision will allow the NEIDL to reach its potential of being one of the premier centers for research on emerging and deadly infectious diseases,” says Gloria S. Waters, vice president and associate provost for research. “His experience as the associate director over the past five years will ensure a smooth transition and has shown that he has the collaborative style necessary to run a center like this and strengthen this area of research excellence at BU.”

Corley takes the helm of NEIDL at a critical time, as the worst Ebola virus outbreak in history continues to sweep across Central Africa.

“With Ebola, you can’t diagnose somebody until they’re already symptomatic,” he says. “Think how beneficial it would be if you had a tool that could diagnose people earlier. That alone would be a game changer. It’s imperative for us to learn to understand these emerging viruses and also to develop the diagnostics, the therapeutics, and the vaccines. That’s what the NEIDL is about.”

Construction of the NEIDL, on the Medical Campus in Boston’s South End, was completed in 2008 at a cost of $200 million, with the majority of the funding—$141 million—provided by the National Institutes of Health. The 192,000-square-foot laboratory is part of a national network of secure facilities dedicated to the development of diagnostics, vaccines, and treatments to combat emerging and reemerging infectious diseases.

The NEIDL has faced opposition from community activists expressing concern over safety and security, worries heightened by recent breaches at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where scientists were accidentally exposed to potentially viable anthrax bacteria.

“The recent events at the CDC have done nothing to dampen people’s concerns,” says Corley. “Those were horrible events—they were outrageous. The first thing we do when events like that happen is review all our processes and ask, could that have happened here? And if the answer is no, we make sure everyone understands why. And if we need to change something, we change it.”

Corley says he is committed to open communication with the public regarding the lab’s operations, safety protocols, and research goals.

“One of the things that former director Jack Murphy has been adamant about—and I have absolute, full intention to continue—is to be as open, direct, and transparent with the community as possible,” Corley says. “We want to address any questions that come our way and meet with anyone who wants to meet with us. We will continue our public outreach, because communication with the public is absolutely critical.”

The lab has been approved for some Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) research and is currently working to secure the necessary permits and approvals for BSL-4 research from the Boston Public Health Commission and the CDC. Corley’s goal is to begin BSL-4 research in the NEIDL in 2015. He also plans to begin a significant recruitment campaign across a number of different disciplines.

“We already have a small but outstanding group of scientists here,” he says. “What we want to do is build critical mass in certain areas that will raise everybody’s game.”

One of his first tasks will be to identify the top three areas to focus recruiting efforts on. These areas are still under discussion, but zoonosis (the spread of infectious disease between species) and pathogenesis (the mechanism by which microbes cause disease) will certainly be top priorities at NEIDL, he says. Tuberculosis and other respiratory pathogens are also likely areas of focus.

“The advantage of having the NEIDL in an academic, research-intensive institution is that it gives us the ability to address broad questions about infectious diseases,” he says. “That means we are going to be recruiting people from a variety of disciplines: engineers, chemists, biologists, ecologists. Emerging infectious diseases are about humans encroaching on animal territories, and it’s about global warming and changes in habitats. We’re not just doing research on individual pathogens and how they function, but also trying to globally understand where these diseases come from and how we can model, predict, and prevent their spread to humans.”

Corley earned a BS in zoology and a PhD in microbiology and immunology from Duke University. He has been MED’s microbiology chair since 1994, a position he says taught him to work across disciplines and build broad collaborations between the Charles River and Medical Campuses.

“We want to be a premier emerging infectious diseases institute, not only in the United States, but in the world,” he says. “And I think we have the potential for doing exactly that.”

This BU Today article was written by Barbara Moran