Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mark Your Calendar: Alabama Gulf Coast Heart Walk

The 2014 Alabama Gulf Coast Heart Walk will be held in Mobile County on Saturday, Sept. 13, on the University of South Alabama’s main campus. Festivities begin at 8 a.m. and are followed by the Heart Walk at 9 a.m.

Because heart disease is the number one killer of Americans, this event encourages exercise as part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. It is the American Heart Association’s (AHA) signature fundraising affair, in which the proceeds from more than 1,500 local walkers from businesses, schools, organizations, family, and friends, as well as people across the country raise funding for lifesaving research, educational programs and advocacy component of the AHA.

Teams of businesses or organizations are encouraged to participate. A team is comprised of 15 or more registered walkers or runners. Another way to support the Heart Walk is to become a sponsor by providing donations.

To register online, or join one of the College of Medicine or Health System teams, visit the Heart Walk Website at the following address -

1. Click “Register” at the top of the page and then “I Agree”
2. Click “Join a Team”
3. Select “University of South Alabama”
4. Scroll down to find a team and Click “Join Team”
5. Fill in all necessary information and remember to write down your username and password for future logins

Free USA Health System walk t-shirts will be given to all who join our team and walk.

For additional information about the USA Physicians Group team, contact Paul Taylor at (251) 470-1682 or

Dr. Batten Participates in Heart Screening Event for High School Athletes

Daphne High School Swim Team member David Wildebrandt receives a heart screening Aug. 16, 2014. 
Dr. Lynn Batten, director of the division of pediatric cardiology at the University of South Alabama, recently partnered with Heart for Athletes to conduct a free heart screening event for high school athletes.

"We screened 62 athletes with no significant abnormalities found," Dr. Batten said. "It ran very smoothly, and we do plan to host another event this fall."

The Heart for Athletes heart screening included a health history form, blood pressure check, an EKG, and a brief echo. The EKG is a recording of the electrical activity of the heart, and the echo captures images of the heart with ultrasound. All EKG's and echos were read by Dr. Batten. Other demonstrations, such as CPR and AED (automated external defibrillator) training, were also provided.

"We'd like to especially thank our USA volunteers, Gretchen Dempsey, Margaret Johnston, Iris Fulton, Dr. Lamya Mubayed, Katie Laycock, Matt Cauley, Mary Emily Davidson, Sheri Fisher, Howard Holcomb, and Donna Copeland," Dr. Batten said. "And, of course, none of it would've happened without Amy Cockrell, who did an amazing job of organizing the event."

To learn more about the event and to view more photos, click here.

USA College of Medicine Alum to Present Grand Rounds

Dr. Monica Williams-Murphy, an award-winning writer and board-certified emergency physician at Huntsville Hospital in Huntsville, Ala., will be giving a presentation during the Internal Medicine Department Grand Rounds.

The presentation, titled “American Beliefs about the End of Life and the Importance of Advanced Care Planning,” will take place Sept. 4, 2014, at 8 a.m. in the University of South Alabama Medical Center Conference Room.

Dr. Williams-Murphy is a passionate author, blogger and public speaker whose focus is empowering patients and families in critical and end-of-life decision-making. Her book, "It's OK to Die™" and companion website are tools devoted to transforming the end of life into a time of peace, closure and healing.

She also serves as a medical expert and writer for, the leading online Baby Boomer lifestyle site; and is guest faculty for the University of Alabama at Birmingham's School of Medicine where she lectures on ethics and end-of-life decision-making.

Dr. Williams-Murphy earned her medical degree at USA and completed her residency in emergency medicine at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.

Support for Dr. Williams-Murphy’s presentation and visit is provided by the Dr. Richard Goldhamer Endowment. The lecture is open to all faculty, residents, students and hospital staff.

For more information about Dr. Williams-Murphy, click here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Clyde Huggins Recipients Announced for 2014 Medical Student Research Day

University of South Alabama College of Medicine student Haylie Reed poses for a picture with biochemistry professor Dr. Richard Honkanen. Reed was one of the winners of the 41st COM Summer Medical Student Research Program Clyde Huggins Award.
University of South Alabama College of Medicine student James White poses for a picture with physiology professor Dr. Michael V. Cohen (left), and retired physiology professor Dr. James Downey (right). White was one of the winners of the 41st COM Summer Medical Student Research Program Clyde Huggins Award.
The University of South Alabama College of Medicine hosted its 41st annual Medical Student Research Day on Aug. 1, 2014. Dr. Arthur Grollman, distinguished professor of pharmacological sciences, Evelyn G. Glick Professor of Experimental Medicine, and director of the Zickler Laboratory of Chemical Biology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, gave the key note address during the summer research day.

The Clyde G. “Sid” Huggins Medical Student Research Awards, honoring the memory of Dr. Huggins, were presented to James White and Haylie Reed. Clyde G. “Sid” Huggins served as the first dean of students for USA’s College of Medicine.

Reed, an incoming freshman medical student, was recognized for the best oral presentation, titled “Mutation of Human Phosphatases.” Reed was sponsored by Dr. Richard Honkanen, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology.

Reed’s project helped her gain knowledge about cloning, the cas9 CRISPR system, and phosphatases. Not only could information learned during the course of this project lead to future developments in cancer research, but the same technology could potentially be utilized to alter other genes.

“I was originally interested in this project because it dealt with a relatively new technology that I didn’t have any prior experience with, yet it still incorporated some of my previous experience with cell culture work and seemed to tie in some of my biomedical engineering background,” said Reed.

According to Reed, one of the most valuable elements of her research project was the amount of time that Dr. Honkanen, in particular, put in to make sure that she understood concepts addressed in lab work.” It reassured me that the faculty here is dedicated to helping students succeed. This experience primarily benefited me by allowing me to orient myself with this university before the stresses associated with starting medical school set in,” said Reed.

James White, a rising sophomore medical student, was recognized for the best poster presentation, titled “P2Y12 receptor antagonists postcondition the heart through release of sphingosine from platelets.” White was sponsored by Dr. Michael V. Cohen, professor of physiology and internal medicine and mentored by Dr. James M. Downey, professor emeritus in the department of physiology.

White’s project examined the mechanism by which P2Y12 receptor antagonists provide protection against cardiac cell death in hearts subjected to a period of ischemia, or lack of blood flow.

“Over the course of the summer I gained a greater appreciation for medical research and everything that is involved. It requires patience as well as passion, and can be frustrating one day and rewarding the next,” explained White.

The regular interaction with professional mentors can be considered an invaluable component of the 10-week program. “I really enjoyed working with my mentors, Dr. Cohen and Dr. Downey. We talked about the project every day and they taught me a lot about research in general as well as the specific science that was central to the project,” White said.

During the 10-week summer program, first- and second-year medical students participate in research projects with basic science and clinical faculty in the College of Medicine. Students present their research projects either orally or on poster at the culmination of the summer research program where they are judged by COM faculty on the presentations. Winners are given a plaque and a cash award of $100 each.

Haylie Reed from USA Health System on Vimeo.