Category: Uncategorized

Training Medical Professionals to Teach

December 4th, 2014 in Uncategorized

New online program now open for registration

Gail March, a MED assistant professor and director of instructional design and faculty development, says Teaching and Learning is one of several courses she plans to offer through the BUSM+ Medical Education Badge Program. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

Gail March, a MED assistant professor and director of instructional design and faculty development, says Teaching and Learning is one of several courses she plans to offer through the BUSM+ Medical Education Badge Program. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

Many medical students dream of being able to teach one day, but the intensive rigors of their curriculum leave them little time to acquire the skills that would prepare them to do so. The same is often true for doctors and nurses who have developed areas of expertise and are interested in teaching, but lack the requisite teaching background.

Gail March (CFA’73) has witnessed this firsthand as a School of Medicine assistant professor and director of instructional design and faculty development. For the past decade, March has run a faculty development program at MED. But she realized she wasn’t reaching everyone, particularly busy health care providers who have dedicated their professional lives to caring for patients and suddenly find themselves asked to teach. That led March to propose and create a new program, the BUSM+ Medical Education Badge Program through a Digital Learning Initiative (DLI) seed grant for online innovation in higher education.

The program’s first course, Teaching and Learning, will provide health care professionals with a foundation in students’ learning styles, give them tools to design an interactive course, and teach them how to evaluate students. Registration is open now through December 15. Sessions begin January 15 and run through March 30.

“It’s a very new concept,” says March. The program is designed for health care providers of all stripes—including doctors, nurses, chiropractors, and dentists—who are preparing to enter the classroom as instructors. March says the pilot program is also ideal for health care providers already teaching who want to enhance their skills. “We wanted to introduce some new ideas in medical teaching because there have been so many advances in medical technology,” says March.

“There is growing demand for nontraditional professional development programs,” says Chris Dellarocas, director of the DLI. “Such programs are typically short, highly targeted, and do not culminate in traditional degrees, but rather in micro-credentials, such as certificates and badges. Beyond the merits of its excellent content, the MED badge program is especially interesting because it is Boston University’s first experiment with badges.”

Registrants complete up to 10 online sessions to receive the badge level that corresponds with the number of sessions they complete: competent (5 sessions), exemplary (7 sessions), or master (10 sessions). Single sessions are also an option for those not looking to earn a badge.


Each session features a video with tips from MED’s leading faculty—such as Anna Hohler, associate professor of neurology; Robert C. Lowe, associate professor of medicine; and Wayne LaMorte, professor of surgery and School of Public Health professor of epidemiology—on topics such as facilitating small-group learning, developing interactive lectures and presentations, designing multiple-choice assessments, and identifying the neurological basis for the adult learner. Participants will have a week to complete each session, which can be accessed 24/7. Those electing to take all 10 sessions will be given 12 weeks to complete the program.

Registrants receive their digital badges once they’ve completed the requisite number of sessions. March says they can use Mozilla’s Open Badge infrastructure to create a “backpack” to store their new accolades. Or, if they prefer, they can attach them to their electronic portfolio, CV, or social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

Each badge is embedded with the professional’s name and the sessions he or she completed. “No one else can claim it,” March assures. “It’s your badge.” For those who prefer recognition the old-fashioned way, physical badges and pins can be requested at registration.

March has already heard from health care professionals interested in taking the sessions from as far away as India, Armenia, and Russia. She says the program is designed to be of use to fellows, residents, medical students, physician assistants, nurses, physical therapists, and many other health care professionals—especially considering that the sessions count toward required continuing medical education credits.

Registrants who teach at MED can take the sessions for free, while those affiliated with BU or the Boston Medical Center will receive a 50 percent discount. All other students will pay a fee of anywhere from $60 to $450, depending on whether they are taking a single session or acquiring a master-level badge, or something in between. March says she chose this pay structure because she wants students to be committed to the program and not drop out, which can occur in free massive open online courses. All profits from the program will go toward funding additional courses.

If all goes well, March envisions running the course again in the summer. She also plans to launch 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.

Visit this site for more information about the BUSM+ Medical Education Badge Program.

Institutions and schools outside of Boston University registering more than 10 people can email for discounts.

This BU Today story was written by Leslie Friday.

BUSM Research Featured at Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting

December 3rd, 2014 in Uncategorized

Tsuneya Ikezu

Tsuneya Ikezu

The latest research from the Laboratory of Molecular NeuroTherapeutics of Tsuneya Ikezu, MD, PhD, from the Departments of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and Neurology, was featured as a “Hot Topic”  for press conference at the recent Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington, DC.

Ikezu’s latest work entitled “Microglia and exosome-mediated spread of pathogenic tau in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) attempts to further the understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and how brain damage caused by AD spreads from one portion of the brain to the next. According to Ikezu it is now thought that by understanding and eventually preventing this progression one may limit the effects and impact of this devastating disease. Ikezu’s team looked at the role of a specific brain cell known as microglia as a possible “shuttle” for one of the presumed culprit molecules in AD’s tau protein.

Comprising more than 40,000 members, the Society for Neuroscience is the world’s largest organization of scientists and physicians dedicated to nervous system research.

Meniscal Surgery Markedly Increases Risk for Osteoarthritis and Cartilage Loss

December 3rd, 2014 in Uncategorized

Joint pain brings thousands of people to doctors’ offices each year. Surgery is often used as a form a treatment, aimed to fix the underlying cause in hopes to relieve the pain and problem. But what if surgery is instead, predisposing some people to developing osteoarthritis?

Frank Roemer

Frank Roemer

Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) investigated the relationship of meniscus surgery and the development of knee osteoarthritis and found patients undergoing this procedure developed osteoarthritis (OA) and were at higher risk for cartilage loss as detected on an MRI compared to knees with prevalent meniscal damage but no surgery.

According to the researchers one can postulate that meniscal surgery has deleterious effects on joint structure in knees at risk of developing OA. “The pros and cons of meniscal surgery need to be carefully considered for every patient in order to avoid accelerated disease onset and progression,” explained corresponding author Frank Roemer, MD, co-director of the Quantitative Imaging Center and associate professor of radiology at BUSM.

These findings were presented at the Radiological Society of North American annual meeting held recently in Chicago.


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



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


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

David Salant, MD
Carlos Kase, MD


Alexander Norbash, MD


Orthopaedic Surgery
Paul Tornetta III, MD


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


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


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


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


Vascular Surgery
Alik Farber, MD

NEJM Editor Delivers Annual Kirshenbaum Lecture

November 25th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Jennifer Kirshenbaum ( Law ’05); Elaine Kirshenbaum (CAS’71, SED’72, SPH’79);  David Coleman, MD;  Jeffrey Drazen, MD; Daniel Kirshenbaum (MED ’11); and Laura Kirshenbaum.

Jennifer Kirshenbaum ( Law ’05); Elaine Kirshenbaum (CAS’71, SED’72, SPH’79); David Coleman, MD;
Jeffrey Drazen, MD; Daniel Kirshenbaum (MED ’11); and Laura Kirshenbaum.

The lecture, named in honor and memory of prominent cardiologist Howard Kirshenbaum, offered a history of known Ebola outbreaks in central Africa and an overview of the current outbreak in West Africa.

“The current West Africa Ebola outbreak has been more extensive than the cases in Central Africa for a number of reasons,” said Drazen, also a pulmonologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Distinguished Parker B. Francis Professor Medicine at Harvard Medical School, professor of physiology at Harvard School of Public Health and adjunct professor of medicine at BUSM. “With no previous experience with Ebola, the health care systems in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia do not have the knowhow or capacity to effectively deal with and contain the disease.

Drazen, who referenced several recent NEJM articles on the Ebola outbreak, noted the differences between the two regions. The Ebola virus variant or strain evident in West Africa differs from the Central African region. He also said that some of the cultural and behavioral customs in Central African countries with outbreaks, exclusive of burial rites, carry a lower risk of infection. The West African outbreaks occurred in more densely populated areas with a more extensive road network making transmission of the virus more likely.  Drazen concluded his remarks encouraging health care workers to volunteer to care for patients in West Africa.

Elaine Kirshenbaum, BU Board of Overseers and BUSM Dean’s Advisory Board member, established the lecture. “My husband was an exceptional physician and it is an honor to support this lecture in his memory,” said Kirshenbaum. “I am honored that Jeff Drazen is this year’s lecturer, and I am grateful to BU who has been here for me.”

BUSM Hosts Meeting of First Regional Chapter of Association of Spanish Scientists in the USA

November 25th, 2014 in Uncategorized

Cristina Vazquez-Mateo, PhD speaking at the inaugural ECUSA-Boston event

Cristina Vazquez-Mateo, PhD speaking at the inaugural ECUSA-Boston event

The Association of Spanish Scientists in the USA (ECUSA) established its first regional chapter in Boston and celebrated the event, “From Spain to Boston:  A Road to Success,” at BUSM on Nov. 21.  

 ECUSA is a network of professionals related to science and innovation that helps its members to develop their careers and create bonds between Spain and the United States.

“The goal of ECUSA-Boston is to bring together the Spanish community of scientists, technologists and science/technology teachers, communicators, administrators and advocates working in the United States,” said Cristina Vazquez-Mateo, PhD, president and co-founder of ECUSA-Boston, who also is a postdoctoral associate in the Rheumatology Section of the BUSM Arthritis Center. “We want to raise awareness of the high-impact work being done by Spanish professionals in this country and establish collaborations with Spanish institutions here and in Spain.

With 200 scientists, engineers, educators and other professionals in attendance, a panel of Spanish professionals including Isabel Dominguez, PhD, BUSM assistant professor of Medicine and co-founder of ECUSA-Boston, discussed their experience in the U.S. system of innovation and research, and offered advice to those interested in developing their careers in the country.

Since its creation in March 2014, ECUSA has organized numerous events related to science and technology. ECUSA also offers an International Mentor Program, in which Spanish scientists living and working in the United States provide professional development advice to Spanish students. For more information on ECUSA, visit




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

Image courtesy of

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.

Alzheimer’s Drug May Reduce the Urge to Binge Eat

November 19th, 2014 in Uncategorized

(Flickr User Steven Depolo)

The neuroprotective drug memantine, used to treat Alzheimer’s Disease, may reduce the addictive and impulsive behavior associated with binge eating.

Binge eating disorder is a prevalent illness in America, affecting more than 10 million people. It is characterized by periods of excessive uncontrolled consumption of food, followed by uncomfortable fullness and feelings of self-disgust. New evidence indicates that changes in brain chemistry reflecting the addictive nature of binge eating may parallel drug and alcohol addiction.

Boston University School of Medicine’s Pietro Cottone, PhD, led a group of researchers who used an experimental model to simulate binge-eating behavior. They identified the nucleus accumbens as the area of the brain associated with binge eating and then suppressed the behavior by applying memantine directly.

“We found that memantine, which blocks glutamate NMDA receptors, blocks binge eating of junk food, blocks the strength of cues associated with junk food, and blocks the compulsivity associated with binge eating,” explained Cottone, an associate professor of pharmacology and psychiatry at BUSM and co-director of the Laboratory of Addictive Disorders.

This research opens new avenues for binge eating treatment especially since memantine is a drug already approved for other indications. “Individuals with binge eating disorder have a very poor quality of life and decreased lifespan. Our study gives a better understanding of the underpinning neurobiological mechanisms of the disorder,” added coauthor Valentina Sabino, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology and psychiatry at BUSM and co-director of the Laboratory of Addictive Disorders.

The study appears in the journal Neuopsychopharmacology.

BUSM’s Ramachandran Recognized by AHA

November 18th, 2014 in Uncategorized

(l to r) AHA President Elliott Antman, MD, Vasan Ramachadran, MD, BUMC Provost and BUSM Dean Karen Antman, MD

(l to r) AHA President Elliott Antman, MD, Vasan Ramachandran, MD, BUMC Provost and BUSM Dean Karen Antman, MD

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.