Friday, September 14, 2012

Vote 'YES' on Tuesday

Owen Bailey
On September 18, the people of Alabama will vote on a state Constitutional Amendment that could seriously affect the financial stability of the University of South Alabama and its health care system.

"Most employees who work at the University have answered a call either to care for patients or to teach students," said Owen Bailey, hospital administrator at USA Children's & Women's Hospital. "A 'YES' Vote on Amendment One supports our collective mission at USA. I would encourage everyone to vote 'YES' on Amendment One and also encourage friends and family to do the same."

Amendment One would allow the state to transfer $148.5 million per year for three years from the Alabama Trust Fund (some call it Alabama's saving account) to the General Fund to avoid statewide layoffs, reduction in essential state-provided services, and the release of at least 9,500 state prisoners back into our community. Click here to learn more about Amendment One.

Particularly important to USA is state funding for Medicaid, which makes up the largest part of the state's health care delivery system and supports the infrastructure of hospitals, pediatricians, physicians, nursing homes and pharmacies.  Medicaid cuts would not only reduce the care provided to Medicaid patients, but would reduce health care access for any of us who needs a doctor or visits a hospital, regardless of health insurance coverage.  Financial failure of Alabama's Medicaid program would especially disrupt the finances of USA's health system and reduce the ability to meet the needs of all patients.

"A significant percentage of our patient population at USA Children's & Women's Hospital has Medicaid coverage," said Bailey. "But, this vote impacts healthcare for everyone in our community regardless of your insurance provider."

The outcome of this election will also impact USA employees who work outside of the health system. If the amendment fails, there will be great pressure to shore up the state's General Fund budget (which pays for Medicaid and other state services) by taking funds from the state's Educational Trust Fund, which supports public K-12 schools and higher education. This would result in devastating additional reductions in funding for USA's academic programs.  The failure of Amendment One represents a great financial risk to both our health care and academic programs.

For more information, visit

September Med School Cafe - 'Cadaver Cartilage Transplantation'

The September Med School Café lecture will feature Dr. Albert Pearsall, professor of orthopaedics and director of sports medicine at the USA College of Medicine.

His lecture, titled “Cadaver Cartilage Transplantation,” will take place Sept. 19, 2012, at the Via! Health, Fitness & Enrichment Center in Mobile. Lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m., and the presentation begins at noon.

Dr. Pearsall will lecture on meniscal transplant surgery, a procedure that transplants a cadaver meniscus from a tissue bank into patients who have had their meniscus removed. This procedure helps alleviate pain and prevent arthritis.  He will also provide general information on arthritis and the various treatment options available for this disabling problem.

Dr. Pearsall earned his medical degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, completed orthopaedic surgery residency training at University of Chicago Hospitals, and a sports medicine fellowship at Duke University.

The Via! Health, Fitness & Enrichment Center is located at 1717 Dauphin St. in Mobile.

The Med School Café lecture and lunch are provided free of charge, but reservations are required.
For more information or to make reservations, please call Kim Partridge at (251) 460-7770 or e-mail

Med School Café is a free community lecture series sponsored by the USA Physicians Group. Each month, faculty from the USA College of Medicine share their expertise on a specific medical condition, providing insight on the latest treatment available.

Clyde Huggins Recipients Announced for 2012 Medical Student Research Day

From left to right: Hayden Hundley, Christopher Smith, and Jonathan Wolfe
The University of South Alabama College of Medicine hosted its 39th annual Medical Student Research Day on Aug. 3, 2012. Dr. David Robertson, the Elton Yates Professor in Autonomic Disorders and professor of neurology, medicine, and pharmacology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn., was the keynote speaker.

The Clyde G. “Sid” Huggins Medical Student Research Awards, honoring the memory of Dr. Huggins who served as the first dean of students for USA’s medical school, were presented to Christopher Smith, Jonathan Wolfe and Hayden Hundley.

Smith, a sophomore medical student, was recognized for his oral presentation, titled “Disrupting ICOS: ICOS ligand interaction in lupus prone mice.” Smith was sponsored by Dr. Robert Barrington, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology.

Wolfe, another sophomore medical student, was also recognized for his oral presentation, titled “Compensatory movement strategies of walking in multiple sclerosis.” Wolfe was sponsored by Drs. Anthony Martino (neurosurgery), Christopher Eckstein (neurology), and Wei Liu (physical therapy).

Hundley, also a sophomore medical student, was honored for the best poster presentation, titled "Reverse toilet training pattern in children with higher functioning autism.” Hundley was sponsored by Dr. Hanes Swingle in the department of pediatrics and Dr. Donna Wooster in the department of occupational therapy.

Smith’s project focused on a new potential lupus therapy that involves disrupting ICOS:ICOS ligand interactions.  These interactions are required for a conventional germinal center response and the production of antibodies against a foreign antigen.

Smith says the experience taught him a lot, and he was most interested in finding out about immunology and how the research process works.  “Actually applying some of the concepts that I learned during my first year of medical school to the research I was doing really helped to solidify those concepts,” he said. “Firsthand use of information learned in the classroom to answer a practical scientific question allows one to reach a level of understanding that simply cannot be achieved through reading textbooks.”

Hundley’s project focused on a reverse toilet training pattern in children with autism. The goals of this research were to investigate factors that contribute to delayed toilet training in the population and determining which methods parents found to be the most effective.

Hundley said he was exposed to new concepts during the project, and he now has a better understanding of the curriculum, thanks to Dr. Swingle. “This was the first opportunity I had working closely with a mentor, which I found to be one of the most invaluable aspects of the program,” he said. “The summer research program was a wonderful opportunity to supplement my medical education and provide a unique learning opportunity in a clinical setting.”

Medical Student Research Day is the culmination of the summer’s work with the presentation of oral and poster presentations. During the 10-week program, 20 first- and second-year medical students participated in research projects with basic science and clinical faculty in the College of Medicine. A weekly seminar series introduced the students to important research related areas. The program highlights the relationship between scientific discoveries and their application in clinical medicine.

Dr. Troy Stevens Speaks at USA Board of Trustees Meeting

Dr. Troy Stevens, professor of pharmacology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, spoke at the USA Board of Trustees Meeting on Sept. 10, 2012.

At the meeting, Dr. Stevens gave an update on progress at the USA Center for Lung Biology. To learn more about the USA Center for Lung Biology, click here.

Next Week's DSS - Dr. R. Daniel Beauchamp

The next Distinguished Scientist Seminar at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine will be presented by Dr. R. Daniel Beauchamp, the John Clinton Foshee Distinguished Professor & Chair of Surgery, Chair of the Section of Surgical Sciences, and Surgeon-in-Chief of Vanderbilt University Hospital. He has also served on the faculty at Vanderbilt since 1994.

Dr. Beauchamp's talk, titled “Attacking EMT in Colorectal Cancer,” will take place on Sept. 20, 2012, at 4 p.m. in the Medical Sciences Building auditorium on USA's main campus. The lecture honors the memory of Dr. Valentina Grishko, associate professor of orthopaedics and cell biology and neuroscience at USA who recently died of colon cancer.

Dr. Beauchamp holds joint appointments as professor in the departments of cell and developmental biology and cancer biology. He also serves as deputy director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

Dr. Beauchamp has two active R01 grants from NIH, and leads one of the main projects in the GI Cancer SPORE. His primary area of research interest has been in colorectal carcinogenesis, the biology of cancer cell invasion and metastasis, and in the identification of novel molecular biomarkers and therapeutic targets in colorectal and other alimentary tract malignancies.

His research applies DNA microarray and proteomic technology to identify novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets in human colorectal cancer samples. Dr. Beauchamp also uses molecular genetics, chemical biology and cell biological approaches to examine mechanistic questions in cancer biology in both cell culture and mouse models. In addition to the basic cancer research, Dr. Beauchamp works in collaboration with his medical oncology and radiation oncology colleagues to accrue cancer patients to approved clinical trials.

He has trained and mentored numerous junior faculty members, physician scientist fellows, medical students, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in his laboratory.

Dr. Beauchamp is one of the few surgeon members of the American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI). He has a B.S. degree from Texas Tech University and a M.D. degree from University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

For more information on Dr. Beauchamp’s research, click here.

Dr. Bernard Eichold Receives NASA Award

Dr. Bernard H. Eichold,  health officer at the Mobile County Health Department and adjunct professor of internal medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, was recently awarded NASA's Exceptional Public Achievement Medal, recognizing his efforts to engage students as they use information about the planet for community education.

To read the full story published in the Sept. 8 issue of the Press-Register, click here.