By Lisa Brown

Upward Movements at the School of Medicine

March 19th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Full professorships to six, two join faculty

Full professorships have been given to six MED faculty members. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky 

Six School of Medicine faculty members, whose areas of expertise range from post-traumatic stress disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome, and pediatric development to cardiovascular disease, traumatic brain injuries, and cardiothoracic surgery, have been promoted to the rank of full professor.

“We are delighted to recognize the accomplishments of these exceptional senior faculty,” says Karen Antman, dean of MED and provost of the Medical Campus. “The vigorous promotions process requires national and international recognition of a faculty member’s contributions.”

Antman says faculty promotions are awarded for the quality of both laboratory research and classroom scholarship.

Denise Sloan, formerly an associate professor of psychiatry, has been promoted to full professor. Sloan is researching more efficient ways to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. “We do have effective treatments for PTSD,” she says, “but they are typically quite time-consuming, with at least 12 one-hour sessions, and they require intensive training for therapists.”

Sloan is intrigued by the resilience of some people in the face of a traumatic event, while others develop PTSD. She believes a better understanding of that difference will inform PTSD treatment approaches.

She points to “the limited number of women at this academic rank,” saying she finds mentoring students extremely rewarding. “I have had outstanding mentors throughout my career, and I view mentorship as my chance to give back to the next generation of clinical scientists. I am particularly committed to encouraging more women to pursue academic careers.”

Sloan is the associate director of education, Behavioral Science Division, National Center for PTSD, at the VA Boston Healthcare System. She is the associate editor of Behavior Therapy and is on the editorial boards of five other scientific journals, including, Behaviour Research and Therapy, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, and Psychosomatic Medicine. Her research has received funding from several organizations, among them the National Institute of Mental Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Rhoda Au (GSM’95), formerly a research professor of neurology, has been promoted to full professor. Au, an internationally recognized leader in neuropsychology research in cognition, has directed the collection, interpretation, and publication of neurocognitive performance of Framingham Heart Study subjects for two decades. By integrating digital technology into the evaluation process analyzing brain MRI images, she has developed novel cognitive biomarkers, new scoring methods, and standardization of cognitive measures correlated to vascular risk factors. Au, who is taking a leadership role in the study of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, has been a consultant to China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, advising on a national plan for research on Alzheimer’s disease. She is currently exploring collaborations for the study of nutritional variables involved in brain function and cognition.

Marilyn Augustyn, previously an associate professor of pediatrics, who developed an online training document for Boston Medical Center’s Reach Out and Read program, has been promoted to full professor of pediatrics and division chief of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. Her curriculum, which has won international awards, is the core of a training program offered in multiple venues on DVD and as an online CME course.

Michael E. Charness, chief of staff at the VA Boston Healthcare System, has been promoted to full professor of neurology from associate professor. Charness is an expert on the neurotoxicity of alcohol and has defined some of the molecular changes that occur in fetal alcohol syndrome. He developed the first cell culture models to study alcohol’s effects on neural signaling and demonstrated molecular adaptations associated with chronic alcohol exposure. Charness codeveloped and codirects The Other Side of the Bed, an innovative interdisciplinary training program that allows medical students to work as health techs and nurses aides at the West Roxbury Campus of the VA Boston the summer after their first year. The program has been adopted by other VA-medical school affiliations around the country. Charness is scientific director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

Hiran Fernando, a nationally recognized leader in thoracic surgery, has been promoted to full professor of surgery and division chief of cardiothoracic surgery. Fernando, who was formerly an associate professor of surgery, is known for developing new surgical procedures and for leadership in clinical trials and protocol development. His research focuses on minimally invasive CT surgery, including esophagectomy, treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease, thermal ablation for lung cancer, and robotic surgery.

Olga Gursky, director of the department of physiology and biophysics Spectroscopy and Bio-Calorimetry Core Facilities, has been promoted from associate professor to full professor of physiology and biophysics. Gursky leads a research program on the structure-function relationships involved in lipid transport that underlie cardiovascular disease. A highly regarded teacher who developed and teaches a major component of the core graduate level course Foundations of Biophysics and Structural Biology, she has led the Special Topics/Student Seminar, both mandatory components of the Physiology and Biophysics Graduate Training Program. She is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Lipid Research and a peer reviewer for the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the American Heart Association study sections.

In addition to those promoted above, two medical experts have joined the School of Medicine faculty as full professors.

Jeffrey Miller, who comes to BU from the Boston Biomedical Research Institute, is a full professor of neurology and of physiology and biophysics. He and his colleagues hope to develop new therapies for currently untreatable muscle diseases. By identifying the molecular changes that cause the loss of muscle function, and then testing methods to restore those pathways to normal, Miller’s lab focuses on finding novel treatment targets or ways to prevent neuromuscular disorders.

“BU provides an excellent combination of intellectual depth, collaborative environment, and support for research,” he says. “I hope that we will contribute to BU’s research excellence.”

Before joining MED, Miller was an associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School.

Hemant Roy is a full professor of gastroenterology as well as chief of the section of gastroenterology at Boston Medical Center. Before coming to BU, Roy was a clinical associate professor at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. He is noted for fostering collaboration between basic scientists and clinicians on the development of noninvasive screening tools for gastrointestinal cancer. Roy’s research focuses on cancer risk stratification and prevention using new approaches to cancer screening, such as optical sensing of tissue to detect colon, lung, and ovarian cancers. He recently completed a National Cancer Institute investigator-initiated Phase 2b grant on the ability to predict the outcome of chemoprevention therapy.

Tomorrow BU Today will publish a story about Charles River Campus faculty promoted to full professor.

Kira Jastive can be reached at kjastive@bu.edu.

 

BMC Construction Project Begins March 17; Note Campus Changes

March 13th, 2014 in Uncategorized

In fall 2013 Boston Medical Center announced plans to redesign its clinical footprint and consolidate inpatient operations to the west side (Menino Pavilion) of campus. This multi-year redesign project will feature a number of improvements including an expanded Emergency Department (ED) unified with Urgent Care and with a separate Behavioral Health area; a consolidated state-of-the-art Radiology Department next to the ED; centralized, modernized Operating Rooms; a new women’s and children’s facility in the Yawkey Ambulatory Care Center; Intensive Care Units in one location; and a new bridge to transport helipad patients to the ED. As part of the redesign, patient services will be transitioned out of Newton Pavilion in 2017.

View down Albany Street

Future view down Albany Street

The month of March will bring much construction activity to the campus and will result in wayfinding changes.

March 17: Alperin Garden Closes
The Alperin Garden located next to the Moakley Building will close, enabling the start of the Moakley addition construction.

Week of March 17: E. Concord Street MBTA Bus Stop Moves
During the week of March 17, the bus stop on E. Concord Street will move 50 yards north of its current location in order to enable construction to begin on the addition to the Moakley Building. Several parking meters will be removed from the street to accommodate the new bus stop location. Pedestrian access will be redirected and new crosswalks will be paved.

This move was originally scheduled for March 14, but has been delayed pending city and state regulatory approval.

March 21: BMC Occupational and Environmental Medicine Moves
On Friday, March 21, BMC’s Occupational and Environmental Medicine Clinic will move from Yawkey Ambulatory Care Center 1 to Doctors Office Building 7. The office will close at noon that day in preparation for the move and reopen Monday, March 24, in its new space for normal business hours. The department’s phone numbers will remain the same. Patients have been notified of the move and campus signage will be updated to reflect the new location. Please direct questions about the move to 638-4144.

March 22: Emergency Department Walk-In Entrance Relocates to Harrison Avenue
At 5 a.m. Saturday, March 22, the walk-in entrance to the Emergency Department will relocate from Albany Street to the main entrance of the Menino Pavilion on Harrison Avenue. From this date forward all patients, staff and visitors will only be able to enter the Menino Pavilion from Harrison Avenue.

If you have questions or concerns about construction activity, such as noise, report them to construction@bmc.org or call 638-4144. Emailed questions will be responded to the same day.

BUSM Faculty Advocates for Increased Federal Funding for Basic Science Research

March 7th, 2014 in Uncategorized

(l-r) Joe McInerney , Shoumita Dasgupta, Doug Rosene and Dan Remick advocating for science

(l-r) Joe McInerney , Shoumita Dasgupta, Doug Rosene and Dan Remick advocating for science on Capitol Hill

Every year the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biologists (FASEB) brings scientists to Washington DC as part of Capitol Hill Day. Scientists from across the country meet with Congressional staff to discuss the importance of federal research funding. On March 5, 2014 scientists from 21 states met with their representatives. FASEB’s specific recommendations for funding included $32 billion for the National Institutes of Health and $7.6 billion for the National Science Foundation. The $32 billion recommendation for NIH funding represents fewer actual dollars (not inflation adjusted dollars) compared to 2010. More information about federal funding for basic science research is available on the FASEB website.

Three scientists from Boston University formed the State of Massachusetts delegation for Capitol Hill Day: Shoumita Dasgupta, PhD, Department of Medicine, Biomedical Genetics Section; Daniel Remick, MD, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; and Douglas Rosene, PhD, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology. They were escorted by Joseph McInerney, Executive Vice President, American Society of Human Genetics. The group visited the offices of Senators Warren and Markey as well as Representatives Tierney and Kennedy.

At each office the group gave specific information about how reduced funding for science was having multiple negative impacts. Individual stories were told including:

  • Scientists no longer doing research because of lack of funding.
  • Increased scientific publications from other countries in the Journal of Immunology compared to publications from the United States.
  • International genomic sequencing initiatives (e.g. Beijing Genomics Institute) surpassing efforts at the NIH.
  • Loss of funding for the Framingham Heart studies and missing a generation of data.
  • Decreased funding resulting in fewer experiments to examine the devastating effects of aging. These studies require a long term, consistent commitment since aging takes place over decades and it is difficult to start and stop science.

All of the staff assured the delegation that the senators and representatives were highly supportive of increased funding for basic science research. Each agreed to submit programmatic requests to the budget committees. This will ensure that funding for basic science will be considered as an integral part of the budget process and not as a separate earmark. They also agreed to sign a “Dear Colleague” letter to be circulated to other senators and representatives advocating increased funding for NIH research. On behalf of Provost Antman, the Boston University faculty invited Massachusetts senators, representatives and their staff to come and visit the basic science labs at Boston University, and thanked them for their continued support.

 

 

Faculty, Staff and Students Invited to Milunsky Professorship Lectures 3/11-3/27

March 5th, 2014 in Uncategorized

BUSM has established a new endowed professorship, the Aubrey Milunsky Professor of Human Genetics. Faculty, staff and students are invited to attend the following lectures related to this opportunity.

March 11, 11 a.m.-noon, L-110
“Adam and Eve seek NextGen sequencing and functional variant analysis”
Harry Ostrer, MD, Professor of Pathology, Genetics, and Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

March 13, 11 a.m.-noon, L-110
“Genetic alterations in CARD14 in inflammatory diseases of the skin and joints: A paradigm for complex disease genetics?”
Anne Bowcock, PhD, Imperial College, London, UK

March 14, 11 a.m.-noon, L-110
“Blueprint for the genetic architecture of Alzheimer Disease: Combine big data, multidisciplinary science, and smart thinking”
Lindsay Farrer, PhD, Chief, Biomedical Genetics section, Professor, Medicine, Neurology, Ophthalmology, Epidemiology, and Biostatistics, BU Schools of Medicine and Public Health

March 26, 11 a.m.-noon, L-112
“Genetics and epigenetic markers of psychiatric conditions”
Edwin van den Oord, PhD, Professor and Director Center for Biomedical Research and Personalized Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University

March 27, 11 a.m.-noon, L-110
“Mineralized tissue development, disease and regeneration using zebrafish and tissue engineering approaches”
Pamela Yelick, PhD, Professor, Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Tufts University School of Medicine

BUMC Art Days March 31-April 1

March 4th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Art Days 2013

Art Days 2013

Submissions due Friday, March 28

Exhibit: Monday-Tuesday, March 31-April 1
BUSM Instructional Building, 14th Floor Hiebert Lounge

All students, faculty and staff at the Boston University Medical Campus are encouraged to submit artwork of any medium to the 24th annual “Art Days”, founded by former BUSM Dean Aram Chobanian to foster the support and growth of the creative arts at BUMC. The exhibition is mounted by the Creative Arts Society. See images from Art Days 2013

This is the third year of a university-wide arts initiative with an annual keyword to be used as a thematic organizer for various courses and events. The Keyword for this year is “transformation”. Transformation is marked by metamorphosis or a process of profound or radical change. See http://www.bu.edu/cfa/about/initiatives/keyword/. While there may be a special section at Art Days for display of works addressing transformation, it is also fine to submit work not related to the keyword.

Submissions are due Friday, March 28. Paintings, photos, poetry, sculpture, needlework, etc. will be accepted. Pieces should be framed if possible. Security will be provided. Works will be returned April 2. Specific instructions will be sent at a later date to those who respond to this announcement.

To be placed on the submit list or if you have any questions please contact Keith Tornheim, PhD, 638-8296 or tornheim@bu.edu.

Lessons on Protecting Patient Data

March 3rd, 2014 in Uncategorized

Leaders at Boston University and Boston Medical Center have collaborated to produce a new guide to protect patient data. The full article, by Thomas J. Moore, MD; Quinn R. Shamblin, CISM, CISSP, PMP, GIAC GCFA; Sumit Sehgal, CISSP, CISA; Robert Sprinkle, MS; Stanley M. Hochberg, MD; and Ravin Davidoff,MBBCh; can be found at https://dcc2.bumc.bu.edu/ocr/ClinicalResearchNewsletter/article.aspx?article=484.

Data breaches have made big news in recent months, and Boston-area hospitals are not immune. It is well known that hackers stole personal financial data, including credit card numbers, for millions of customers at Target and Neiman Marcus. The threat to private medical information, however, often comes from low-tech carelessness, not hackers – lost smartphones, laptops or paper documents. In 2009, a Mass General Hospital employee misplaced paper records on the MBTA with information on 192 MGH patients, which subjected the institution to $1 million in federal fines.

Tracking patient data in databases and spreadsheets is an essential part of both clinical practice and biomedical research. Even when used for legitimate purposes, however, all protected health information (PHI) is subject to HIPAA Privacy and Security rules. Databases revealing PHI must be on an encrypted, passport-protected device. PHI identifiers range from the person’s name and phone number to his fingerprints and facial photo.

CR TimesWays to Protect Sensitive Information:

1. Once all identifiers have been stripped from a dataset, it is no longer HIPAA-protected. Consider labelling patients with unique identifying numbers that are not part of PHI, linked to a master code stored on a separate, secured computer.

2. Nowadays, much work time is spent on portable devices: easy to use, easy to lose. Tablets, laptops, flash drives, and smartphones with access to PHI must be password-protected and encrypted, which greatly reduces the risk of a breach.

3. Email containing PHI must be sent securely. BU provides a secure email solution known as DataMotion SecureMail. BMC email automatically detects and encrypts BMC email containing PHI, but users should add the word “secure” to the subject line before sending PHI outside BMC.

4. When off-site, use only an approved secure remote access method when accessing sensitive information, especially when logged onto public wi-fi or travelling abroad.

5. Finally, training colleagues in proper security techniques is essential to protecting valuable and private patient data.

When patients and research subjects allow us to collect and store private information about themselves, they have a right to expect that we will keep those data secure and use them only for clinical and research purposes. Following these simple steps will help all of us adhere to this responsibility.

For additional information on how to secure devices visit http://www.bu.edu/infosec/howtos/securing-your-devices/

BUSM Researchers Find Virtual Computer-based World an Effective Learning Environment

February 28th, 2014 in Uncategorized

John Wiecha

John Wiecha

Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) researchers have demonstrated the potential of using a virtual computer environment for distance healthcare education for an international audience that often has limited access to conventional teaching and training. In this pilot project led by John Wiecha, MD, corresponding author of the study and associate professor of family medicine at BUSM, a virtual world was created in which participants engaged in a learning activity by creating virtual avatars of themselves to navigate through a three-dimensional computer environment and engage in educational activities. This study currently appears online in BMC Medical Education.

In many developing nations, access to traditional health care education can be limited as professionals may lack financial resources and live and work in remote areas with poor infrastructure or in a conflict zone. However, with the increase in Internet coverage in the past few years, distance learning has become an important way to offer health care professionals in these areas the opportunity to increase their clinical and research skills.

However, many current online platforms for training and exchanging ideas like webinars and online discussion boards are two dimensional and limit the way educational information can be designed according to the researchers.

A virtual world (VW) is an immersive, online environment that functions in real time for shared experiences and the exchange of ideas and information. Participants in the project navigated the VW as avatars or three-dimensional representations of themselves. They were able to follow the course director through a series of learning stations with questions and discussions occurring in real time.

“We created and delivered, in collaboration with the World Health Organization and the Geneva Foundation for Medical Educational Research Foundation, an interactive lecture on population control, for students from around the world,” says Wiecha. “The easy exchange of ideas with people from all over the globe gave the course a uniquely collaborative feeling. The program was successful and highly rated by participants, demonstrating the great potential for this new mode of highly interactive distance education pedagogy,” he added.

Also contributing to this study were Marloes M. Schoonheim, PhD, from the Geneva Foundation for Medical Education and Research and Robin Heyden from the education consulting company Heyden Ty.

Learn All About Renting in Boston, Feb. 27

February 19th, 2014 in Uncategorized

BUSM students: Do you have questions about renting an apartment?

Join BUMC Housing Resources Manager Barbara Attianese and Steve Handler from Beacon Realty Properties as they provide an overview on how to rent an apartment and information on housing resources.

All About Renting in Boston

  • Thursday, Feb. 27
  • Noon-1:30 p.m., L-112 or
  • 5:30-7 p.m., Keefer Auditorium

Steve has worked in his family business, Beacon Realty Properties LLC, in Boston since graduating from Syracuse University in 1988. He estimates to have signed over 4,000 residential leases in the City of Boston and will discuss the current rental housing market, what to expect and the process you will need to go through in order to secure housing.

After the presentation Barbara and Steve will answer questions about renting in Boston.

Learn more about BUMC Housing Resources .This event is sponsored by BUMC Housing Resources. Pizza served, RSVP OHR@bu.edu by 5 p.m. Feb. 25.

Life and Times as a Physician According to Former U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary

February 13th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Dean Karen Antman, MD; Louis Sullivan, MD '58, and Aram Chobanian, MD

Dean Karen Antman, MD; Louis Sullivan, MD ’58, and Aram Chobanian, MD

Louis Sullivan, MD, BUSM Class of 1958, knows what it means to “break ground,” the title of his recently published autobiography. His journey took many twists and turns beginning as an African-American growing up in segregated Georgia, coming north for medical school in predominantly white Boston, becoming chief of hematology on the Medical Campus, serving as founding dean and first president of Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, all the way to being named U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services, Dr. Sullivan has been a pioneer.

“Lou Sullivan is an intellectual giant,” said BU President Emeritus and BUSM Dean Emeritus Aram Chobanian, MD, introducing Dr. Sullivan. “He is also a giant at bringing people together to improve and advance health care and the medical profession.” Dr. Sullivan, a member of BUSM’s Dean’s Advisory Board, read passages from his book describing his early years in Blakely, Ga. and his years at the School of Medicine as well as when he was a faculty member leading the section of hematology.

“When I came to medical school my plan was to be a family doctor like my hero Dr. Griffiths in Georgia,” he recalled. “But like most medical students my plans changed from year to year based on my contact with the many outstanding faculty at the School. I thought I wanted to be a surgeon after spending time with Lamar Soutter (BUSM professor of surgery), but then I held a retractor to a liver for three hours during an operation and decided that was not for me.”

He talked of his plan to become chair of the Department of Medicine at BUSM, but was recruited back to Atlanta to help establish a medical school for poor and minority students at Morehouse College his undergraduate alma mater. He shared how he developed a relationship with George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, which resulted in his being asked by President Bush to join his cabinet.

Dr. Sullivan currently serves as chair of the National Health Museum in Atlanta and of the Washington, DC-based Sullivan Alliance to Transform America’s Health professionals.

Following Dr. Sullivan’s talk he signed copies of his book and joined by his wife, Ginger, was greeted by students, faculty, staff and former colleagues and classmates at a reception.

Researchers Find Changes to Protein SirT1 Can Prevent Excess Metabolic Stress Associated with Obesity, Diabetes, Aging

February 12th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Richard Cohen

Richard Cohen

Studies have suggested that the protein SirT1 may be protective in metabolic diseases and the effects of aging, and diminished SirT1 activity has been reported in various disease models including diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Maintaining a normal level of this protein may be effective in preventing obesity- and age-related diseases.

Metabolic stress caused by obesity, diabetes and aging increases a small molecule, glutathione that reacts with SirT1, inhibiting its activity. In a recent paper published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, BUSM researchers have demonstrated that by changing three of the amino acids on SirT1 they could produce a “super-sirt” which functioned normally despite the metabolic stress.

“In the process of preventing the effects of the stress occasioned by metabolic excess typical of obesity, diabetes and aging, the enzyme function of SirT1 can be destroyed by the very metabolic stress it is trying to overcome,” says Richard Cohen, MD, professor of medicine and director of the section of vascular biology at BUSM. “This study establishes that stresses associated with excess metabolism can be circumvented by changing the protein, or by preventing the glutathione reaction with the protein.”