Category: Uncategorized

BU Community Performs Impromptu Concert for BMC Caregivers

April 15th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Concert crowdApproximately 40 students, staff and faculty from Boston University’s Charles River and Medical Campuses performed an impromptu lunchtime concert today for the caregivers at Boston Medical Center to commemorate the anniversary of Marathon tragedy.

Choir singing

Choir singing

The event was personal; some of the musicians were friends with BU student Lu Lingzi, who died from injuries sustained from the bombings and others who were injured at the Finish Line, many from the College of Fine Arts.

The performance, which lasted approximately 15 minutes, included an instrumental performance of Danzon no. 2 by composer Arturo Marquez and a musical and choral performance of “You Raise Me Up.”

According to Moisès Fernández Via, Arts Outreach Program director, “The goal of the event was to provide the BMC community with an unexpected moment of collective shared beauty.”

April 17 BUMC Earth Day Festival

April 10th, 2014 in Uncategorized

All BU Medical Campus faculty, staff and students are encouraged to stop by Talbot Green for the fun, interactive BUMC Earth Day Festival.

  • Bring hard-to-recycle items: batteries, Styrofoam, printer ink and toner cartidges, etc.
  • Bring your bike for a tune-up and free lights
  • Bring your old clothes and help us reach our 100 ton donation goal of clothing to Goodwill

Cheer on BMC’s Marathon Team
At noon there will be a Team BMC pep rally for the 104 BMC runners participating in the 2014 Boston Marathon. Don’t miss free food (while supplies last)! Test drive a new Lincoln automobile, receive a gift card and BMC will receive a donation from Lincoln.

BUMC Earth Day Festival

  • Thursday, April 17
  • 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
  • Talbot Green

Researchers Identify Specific Causes of Brown Fat Cell “Whitening”

April 9th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Boston University researchers have learned new information about the consequences of overeating high-calorie foods. Not only does this lead to an increase in white fat cell production, the type prominent in obesity, but it also leads to the dysfunction of brown fat cells, the unique type of fat that generates heat and burns energy.

This study is the first to describe how overeating causes brown fat cells to “whiten.” Published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the results illustrate the important role that a healthy diet plays in overall health and the pivotal role that brown fat plays in metabolism.

Using experimental models, the researchers demonstrate that over-nutrition leads to a cellular signaling dysfunction that causes brown fat cells to lose neighboring blood vessels, depriving the cells of oxygen. In turn, this causes the brown fat cells to lose their mitochondria, which leads to their inability to burn fatty acids and produce heat. This collapse can have far-reaching effects on the development of metabolic conditions, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

Kenneth Walsh

Kenneth Walsh

“If we go back to when humans were hunter-gatherers, days could pass between when they could eat, so it was a survival advantage to be able to store excess energy in white fat cells,” said Kenneth Walsh, PhD, director of the Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and the study’s senior author. “What served us so well as primitive organisms is now hurting us because we have a continuous food supply and are accumulating too many white fat cells.”

The study results highlight the important relationship between fat tissue and the cardiovascular system and indicates that the cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension and high cholesterol that contribute to blood vessel damage, could also lead to the dysfunction of brown fat cells.

“In addition to the expansion of white fat cells, our study shows that overeating causes brown fat cells to get locked into a death spiral, leading to their ultimate dysfunction,” said Walsh, who also is professor of medicine at BUSM. “More research needs to focus on whether stopping these activities from happening in brown fat cells could help combat obesity.”

This study was led by Ippei Shimizu, MD, PhD, an instructor of medicine in the Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute. Funding for this study was provided in part by the National Institutes of Health under grant award numbers HL081587, HL68758, AG034972, HL116591 and HL120160.


Diabetes Drug Shows Promise in Reducing Alzheimer’s disease

April 7th, 2014 in Uncategorized

BUSM researchers have found that the diabetic drug, pramlintide, reduces amyloid-beta peptides, a major component of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in the brain and improves learning and memory in two experimental AD models. These findings, which appear online in Molecular Psychiatry, also found AD patients have a lower level of amylin in blood compared to those without this disease. These results may provide a new avenue for both treatment and diagnosis of AD.

Using AD models, the BUSM researchers investigated the effects of amylin on the pathogenesis of the disease. “Surprisingly, injections of amylin or pramlintide into the AD models reduced the amyloid burden as well as lowered the concentrations of amyloid-beta peptides (Aβ), a major component of AD in the brain,” said senior author Wendy Qiu, MD, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at BUSM. Pramlintide is an analog of a natural occurring peptide, amylin, produced by the pancreas. “It can easily cross the blood/brain barrier and has shown favorable safety profile for diabetes patients,” she added.

According to the researchers, including lead author Haihao Zhu, MD, PhD, from the department of pharmacology & experimental therapeutics at BUSM, these results argue for a therapeutic application of amylin-class peptides for AD.

“There is broad agreement that more therapeutic avenues need to be explored in addition to targeting Aβ for the treatment of AD,” said Qiu. “Amylin-class drugs not only remove Aβ from the brain, as demonstrated by our study, but also can improve glucose metabolism and cerebrovasculature in the AD brain. Based on their findings the researchers propose that amylin-class peptides have potential to become a new avenue as a challenge test for diagnosis of AD and as well as a therapeutic for the disease. If the clinical trial proves the effect of pramlintide for Alzheimer’s disease, Qiu believes this drug can be applied to Alzheimer’s patients in only three to five years.

This work was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging, AG-022476, an Ignition Award and a BU ADC pilot grant. Support was also provided through P30 AG13864.

Qiu and her team recently received an investigator –initiated grant from the Alzheimer’s Disease Association to further pursue this study.


BUSM Study Finds Increasing Health Coverage Does Not Improve Readmission Rates

April 7th, 2014 in Uncategorized

In a first of its kind retrospective study, BUSM researchers have found that providing health insurance coverage to previously uninsured people does not result in reducing 30-day readmission rates. The study, which appears in the British Medical Journal, used data on actual versus self-reported use of care and found no change in racial/ethnic disparities in this outcome, despite a markedly higher baseline of un-insurance among African-American and Hispanics in Massachusetts.

Hospital readmissions have been the focus of health policy interventions to reduce costs with particular focus given to uninsured and minority populations who are at increased risk for frequent readmissions. In March 2010, President Obama signed comprehensive health reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, into law. The law established a Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, which requires the United States Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to reduce payments to hospitals with excess readmissions, effective for discharges beginning on October 1, 2012.

Prior studies suggest that when individuals have insurance, they are more likely to have a usual source of care and to utilize medical care, which can prevent unnecessary and costly hospitalizations. However, it is unknown whether expanding health insurance coverage can reduce the risk of readmissions in the overall population, specifically among minority populations.

“Among African-Americans and Hispanics, we found the odds of readmission did not decrease in Massachusetts relative to control states, and there was no change in the magnitude of the white-black and white-Hispanic difference in readmission rates,” explained lead author Karen Lasser, MD, MPH, an associate professor of medicine at BUSM.

The researchers believe that in order to reduce readmissions and disparities in readmissions, states in the US like Massachusetts need to go beyond simply expanding insurance coverage.

Funding for this study was provided by the U.S. National Institutes of Health grants (1R21NS062677, A. Hanchate, PI & 1U01HL105342-01, N. Kressin, PI) and a grant from the Rx foundation. Dr. Kressin is supported in part by a Senior Research Career Scientist award from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Health Services Research & Development Service (RCS 02-066-1).


BUSM Faculty Member Honored as 2014 Community Clinician of the Year by Suffolk District Medical Society

April 7th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Dr. Judith Linden cited for her efforts for survivors of sexual assault


Dr. Judy Linden

BU School of Medicine Vice Chair for Education and Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine Judith A. Linden, MD, has been honored as the 2014 Community Clinician of the Year by the Suffolk District Medical Society, one of the district societies of the Massachusetts Medical Society, the statewide professional association of physicians. She received the award at the district society’s annual meeting on April 3.

The Community Clinician of the Year Award was established in 1998 by the Massachusetts Medical Society to recognize a physician from each of the Society’s 20 districts who has made significant contributions to his or her patients and the community and who stands out as a leading advocate and caregiver. The Suffolk District comprises nearly 4,000 physicians who live and work in Boston and adjacent communities.

Board certified in emergency medicine and a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians, Dr. Linden also is an attending physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Boston Medical Center. She received her BA from Brandeis University, MD from the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, DC, and completed her residency at the Georgetown/George Washington University Emergency Medicine Residency Program.

In nominating her for the honor, her colleagues noted that “She has been a mentor for many medical students and residents over her career, and has focused her research and professional activities on improving the care for survivors of sexual assault. She has provided care as a certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE), and has gone above and beyond one’s expectations taking call on her own time responding to emergency departments to provide compassionate care to sexual assault survivors.”

A widely published author and frequent presenter on the topic of sexual assault, Dr. Linden is the only non-RN certified SANE in Massachusetts and is a member of the Advisory Board of SANE, representing the Massachusetts College of Emergency Physicians. Among several honors, her most recent awards include a Champion for Change Award from the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and the Emergency Medicine Chair’s Award from Boston University School of Medicine. 

Faculty, Staff Win Grants for Innovative Online Education

April 3rd, 2014 in Uncategorized

Projects will increase academic flexibility, raise global signature

Stephen Quigley, a COM associate professor of public relations, will launch an online summer orientation course for entering Chinese graduate students with Micha Sabovik, a COM assistant dean. Photos by Jackie Ricciardi

Stephen Quigley, a COM associate professor of public relations, will launch an online summer orientation course for entering Chinese graduate students with Micha Sabovik, a COM assistant dean. Photos by Jackie Ricciardi

Geography and time are playing less of a role than they once did in higher education, and the Digital Learning Initiative’s first seed grants for online innovation are taking full advantage of the trend.

Thanks to these EdTech grants, medical professionals will soon earn microcredits for skills they didn’t have time to learn in their graduate school years. Dozens of Chinese graduate students will attend orientation before, not after, they arrive in Boston. Students of Korean, Hindi, and Urdu will be able to access grammar lessons on their smartphones, and undergraduates considering study abroad will get a firsthand view of life in Italy, Spain, and England before they get on a plane.

“Education is a process that prepares people for success and happiness in life,” says Chris Dellarocas, director of the DLI, which develops BU’s MOOCs (massive open online courses) and which awarded the University’s first EdTech grants last semester. “Every single dimension of this process has room for innovation and improvements through technology. BU needs to be on the forefront of innovation on all those dimensions.”

BU’s Council on Educational Technology & Learning Innovation (CETLI), which established the DLI last year, sent out the first call for distance learning proposals last spring to gather ideas from faculty and staff. Applicants were asked to consider three focus areas: expanding academic flexibility for University students, leveraging assets unique to BU, and supporting or extending BU’s global signature. Since choosing the awardees late last fall, Dellarocas, who is also a School of Management professor of information systems, DLI associate director Romy Ruukel, and members of a selection committee have been working with faculty and staff to develop their visions.

 Gisela Hoecherl-Alden, a CAS professor and assistant dean and director of language instruction, will use her grant to make Korean, Hindi, and Urdu accessible online.

Gisela Hoecherl-Alden, a CAS professor and assistant dean and director of language instruction, will use her grant to make Korean, Hindi, and Urdu accessible online.

EdTech grants provide faculty with an opportunity to develop ideas that are out of the box or that push the envelope beyond traditional education methods, says CETLI cochair Azer Bestavros a College of Arts & Sciences professor of computer science and director of the Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering. Bestavros says online technology encourages “flexibility on both sides: for the teacher to try pedagogies that are impossible to do face-to-face…and for students to be flexible about when and where they take courses.”

Faculty at the College of Communication were among those who welcomed the grant announcement. For the past five years, COM has seen a steady increase in the number of Chinese graduate students applying to its programs, quadrupling from 10 registered students in 2009 to 44 in 2013. The faculty welcomed the students, but saw that many struggled with the cultural nuances or classroom expectations taken for granted by native-born colleagues.

“We felt that we have an obligation to do all we can within reason to ensure success,” says Stephen Quigley, a COM associate professor of public relations. Along with Micha Sabovik (COM’96,’06), a COM assistant dean, Quigley is co–principal investigator of the college’s seed grant. “We saw this as an amazing opportunity to erase the geography” and facilitate Chinese graduate students’ transition to BU, he says.

COM will use its EdTech grant to pilot a series of summer online workshops and a weekly webinar that give entering Chinese graduate students an opportunity to ask questions about anything from culture and the English language to internships and professions. When they arrive in the fall, students will attend monthly seminars that focus on English writing and speaking. Current students and alumni from China will help faculty plan and present material. The experience is free and is optional for this year’s incoming class, but Quigley says it could someday become a two-credit course.

Gail March, a MED assistant professor and director of instructional design and faculty development, created the BUSM+ Medical Education Badge Program with her grant.

Gail March, a MED assistant professor and director of instructional design and faculty development, created the BUSM+ Medical Education Badge Program with her grant.

Gail March (CFA’73), a School of Medicine assistant professor and director of instructional design and faculty development, proposed the creation of the BUSM+ Medical Education Badge Program. The EdTech program would award digital badges—similar to Boy Scout and Girl Scout merit badges—to medical professionals who complete up to 10 online sessions covering lifelong learning skills. Enrollees would display their badges in electronic portfolios, CVs, or on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

March’s pilot course, Teaching and Learning, will be available in October, and she envisions three more courses—Curriculum Design, Academic Leadership, and Medical Education Research—covering skills, she says, that medical students and professionals want to learn, but often don’t have time to pursue in traditional classes.

Gisela Hoecherl-Alden, a CAS assistant dean, director of language instruction, and a professor of the professional practice in German, will use her EdTech grant to reimagine how languages can be taught online. “Up until now, there’s been no real technology platform to replicate what we do in a classroom,” she says.

Working with an Information Services & Technology team, Hoecherl-Alden plans to identify software that facilitates oral and written instruction in a virtual classroom, with enrollment held to a maximum of 16 students. Beginner Korean, Hindi, and Urdu will be the trial courses, but Hoecherl-Alden believes many others could follow once the technology is perfected. Fall classes will feature some online segments, and—if the template works well—spring classes might be fully online. The EdTech project will allow more students from around Boston, and around the globe, to access the University’s language courses.

“Once the beginning levels have usable templates,” she says, “it will be much easier to move advanced courses online.”

Global Programs team members, David Lamitie (from left), Jill Costello, Amala Perez-Juez, Michael Peplar, Elisabeth Convento, Debra Terzian, and Willis Wang are developing online courses that smooth students’ transitions through study abroad.

Global Programs team members, David Lamitie (from left), Jill Costello, Amala Perez-Juez, Michael Peplar, Elisabeth Convento, Debra Terzian, and Willis Wang are developing online courses that smooth students’ transitions through study abroad.

Willis Wang, vice president and associate provost for global programs, and his team of Charles River Campus and international colleagues will use their EdTech grant to develop online courses that enhance study abroad students’ predeparture preparation, in-country experience, and reentry to the United States.

Using technology that will be available as early as spring 2015, the courses will also provide students with a “platform to reflect on what they’ve learned and measure it,” Wang says.

Ruukel points out that each of the projects is still an experiment. “We want them to be successful experiments,” she says, “but they can also be a proof of concept.” She says the COM course could someday become required curriculum for Chinese graduate students, or serve as a template for other schools and colleges welcoming international students into their degree programs.

Dellarocas and Ruukel are now sorting through the second round of EdTech grant proposals, which have a new set of focus areas: potential MOOCs, how to enhance the residential experience, and how to reduce the cost of a BU education or increase the University’s revenue stream.

Although the latest round of grants was officially due by January 31, Dellarocas says, “if people really have some ideas and they have a burning desire to implement them, they can approach us at any time.”

This BU Today story was written by Leslie Friday. She can be reached at; follow her on Twitter at @lesliefriday.


2014 BUSM Student Award Recipients Announced

March 28th, 2014 in Uncategorized

The 2014 BU School of Medicine Student Awards were presented on Friday, March 21 by leaders and faculty who have been instrumental in students’ successful experiences at BUSM. “Please join me in congratulating these deserving students for their hard work and accomplishments,” said BUSM Associate Dean, Student Affairs Angela Jackson.

Alumni Association Award Alan Hoang
Neil Datta
American Academy of Neurology Medical Student Award Fay Gao
 Henry J. Bakst Award in Community Medicine Katrina Weed
Boston Medical Center Student Prize Lindsey Storer
Geoffrey Boughton Award Chad Farris
Joseph Cochin Award in Pharmacology and Medical Ethics Rebecca Burke
Contribution to BUSM Community Award Kristin Schwarz
 Sidney Cooperband Award Amelia Baker
 Dr. John Dittmer and Dr. Linda Wright Award for Excellence in Teaching Anthony Esposito
 Kenneth C. Edelin Prize in Obstetrics and Gynecology Samantha Fernandes
 Richard J. Elkort Memorial Award Vincent Storie
Excellence in Pediatrics Award Gayatri Boddupalli
Family Medicine Leadership Award Jonathan Lichkus
Family Medicine Research Award Kirsten Lyman
Excellence in Public Health Award* Sandra Valenciano
 Robert G. Feldman, MD Prize in Neurology Kaylyn Duerfeldt
 Christopher G. Gaposchkin Prize Fund Rima Rindler
 Thomas T. Gilbert, MD Award for Excellence in Family Medicine Amelia Baker
 Anthony L.F. Gorman Prize in Physiology Pat Whitworth
 Leonard and Julius Gottlieb Prize in Pathology Education Edelva Williams
Internal Medicine Award Evan Shalen
Lauren Collins
Lindsey Warner
 The Masakichi and Mitsuko Itabashi Award (Oncology) Amelia Baker
 Dr. David R. Iverson Student  Award Katrina Weed
 Ruth Hunter Johnson Prize Kristen Guilford
Julie Prize Fund in Nutrition Sandra Valenciano
William Kahn  and Albert Kahn Award David Robinson
Malamud Prize Emily Holick
Massachusetts Medical Society Scholarship Jamie Sparling
Alec Peniche
Kaylyn Duerfeldt
Lauren Collins
 William F. McNary, Jr. Award from the Class of 1991 Jennifer Newcomb
Medical School Student Prize Stephanie Feldman
 Pauline Millstein Family Fund Award Joshua August
 Anne and David Mishel Cancer Research Award Jacob Shin
 Peter J. Mozden, MD Cancer Award Danielle Salazar
 John M. Murray Prize Layna Glenn
New England Pediatric Society Award Jonathan Gall
 John F. O’Connor, M.D. Radiology Award Lindsey Storer
 Peter E. Pochi, MD Award for Excellence in Dermatology Joyce Wang
Timothy Pollard Humanism Award in Family Medicine Anna Jack
Caroline Mullin
 Dr. Samuel and Helen Poplack Student Award Adil Yunis
 Stephen R. Preblud, MD Memorial Award for Pediatrics Kristina Brumme
Melanie Gelfand
Kristin Schwarz
 Diana Radkowski Award Marissa Schwartz
 David Rothbaum, MD Award in Obstetrics and Gynecology Esther Han
 Dora Savenor Memorial Prize for Excellence in Surgery Nicole Croteau
 Eli Shapiro Award (Established by the Dept. of Medicine) Jared Walsh
 Robert Slater, MD Prize in Anesthesiology Claudia Sotillo
Society of Academic Emergency Medicine’s Excellence in Emergency Medicine Award Michael Hwang
 Edward L. Spatz, MD Award for Excellence in Neurosurgery Rima Rindler
Raed Moustafa
Brian Curry
 Benjamin Tenney Prize in Obstetrics and Gynecology Erin Krizman
Sarah Lambeth
 The Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Student Award Raagini Jawa
 Dean Eleanor Tyler Memorial Award Tejaswi Kompala
Joyce Wang
 The Wein Student Research Award Praveen Sridhar

Annual Mark A. Moskowitz Memorial Lecture Series

March 28th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Russ Phillips Head Shot

Please join the Section of General Internal Medicine in welcoming Dr. Russell S. Phillips, MD as the annual Mark. A. Moskowitz Visiting Professor. Dr. Phillips will present at General Internal Medicine Grand Rounds, as well as the Department of Medicine Grand Rounds. Dr. Phillips is the Director of the Center for Primary Care, William Applebaum Professor of Medicine and Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Friday, March 28
“Strengthening our Primary Care Community: Sharing Stories”
8 a.m.
FGH Building, First Floor Carter Conference Room
“Transforming Practice and Education in the Academic Health Center”
BUSM Evans Building, Keefer Auditorium

The annual Mark A. Moskowitz Memorial Lecture series was created in 2004 to honor Dr. Moskowitz. Dr. Moskowitz joined the faculty at BUSM in 1981. He was appointed Chief of the University Hospital Section of General Internal Medicine in 1988. He became Chief of the combined Sections of General Internal Medicine after the merger of University Hospital and Boston City Hospital in 1997. He led numerous research projects in a broad range of areas. His studies included measuring the severity of illness for hospitalized patients, evaluating the appropriateness of coronary artery bypass surgery in the Medicare population, disseminating and feeding back information on medical care practice patterns to physicians and measuring quality in ambulatory care. An eloquent advocate for using large administrative databases to study the practice and consequences of medical care, Dr. Moskowitz was a caring role model for students and residents. He mentored scores of General Internal Medicine fellows and junior faculty who have gone on to become national and international leaders in general internal medicine and health services research. The Visiting Professor Lecture series includes the General Internal Medicine Grand Rounds, as well as the Department of Medicine Grand Rounds.

“You are Amazing” BUSM Class of 2014 Match Day

March 24th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Match Day 2014

Amid the balloons and cameras snapping, the Class of 2014 received their National Residency Matching Program letters with family, friends, faculty and staff joining in the excitement. Watch the video!

“You are amazing,” said Angela Jackson, MD, associate dean for student affairs to the class. “You have worked hard for this day, and we congratulate you.”  Also congratulating the class was Robert Witzburg, MD ’77, associate dean for admissions. “We are proud of you and salute you for not only what you have accomplished but for who you are.”

Dean Karen Antman led a toast to the class noting that, “You will remember this day long after you even remember your graduation day.” She highlighted some of the 2014 residency statistics including that 175 members of the class matched in residencies across the country with 44 staying in Massachusetts. Thirty-seven percent of the class are entering primary care residencies in internal medicine, family medicine and pediatrics. Eighteen graduates will stay on the medical campus training at Boston Medical Center (BMC) and two are in the combined BMC/ Boston Children’s Hospital pediatrics program. Surgical residences surged this year to nine percent of the class from three percent in 2013, and emergency medicine remains of high interest with seven percent of the class matching in this specialty.

This year, for the first time, students joined with friends and family to commemorate the day in pictures participating in a photo booth using signs indicating where they had matched. Other members of the class of 2014 were filmed for a video on BUSM Match Day.

“You will be ours soon, and we will love having you as alumni,” said Jean Ramsey, MD, associate dean for alumni affairs to the class. “We will work with you to help keep you in contact and keep your class together.”