Thursday, October 23, 2014

USA Medical Student Peter Soh Wins First Place in Lasker Foundation 2014 Essay Contest

Peter Soh, a second-year medical student at the University of South Alabama, recently won first place in the Lasker Foundation 2014 Essay Contest: Supporting Medical Research.

This summer, the Lasker Foundation asked the people whose future professional lives will be devoted to health and the development of new disease therapies and cures to propose innovative ways to build support and ensure funding for medical research.

The contest was open to medical school students and fellows; doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows in biomedical research; graduate students in public health programs; and graduate students in other health professions programs, at U.S.-accredited institutions.

The Foundation received a total of 167 essays. “I felt honored that my essay was selected by the Lasker Foundation board members,” Soh said. “I hope that my idea initiates a conversation among those who are in the position, or will be in the position, to make policy changes regarding medical research funding. Once funding issues are addressed from a higher level, specific issues have a much better chance of resolving.”

Soh’s essay, titled “Offering Incentives for Future Scientists,” focused on increasing medical research opportunities for science students early in their education. The mechanism for this would be through research scholarships or tax incentives by the government.

“Long-term benefits can result from increased student-research experiences that would yield net benefit from these tax incentives,” Soh said. Soh also wrote on tax breaks for medical research groups to reduce financial barriers in research. “Reducing financial barriers would diversify the types of medical research foci and spur research initiatives in under-researched areas,” he said.

It was a combination of his work and educational experiences – including his research experience this past summer on stroke risk in children with sickle cell disease – that compelled Soh to write about this topic. “My experience with the USA College of Medicine’s Summer Medical Student Research Program was enriching for my education,” he said. “I appreciate that the medical school ensured the sponsorship of students who participated and that Dr. Abdul Hafeez Siddiqui, a pediatric hematologist/oncologist, mentored me during my summer research.”

Soh, a native of Detroit, Mich., who hails from Dothan, Ala., received both a bachelor of arts degree in economics and a master of public health degree in health management and policy from the University of Michigan. He completed a post-baccalaureate program in pre-medicine at Northwestern University. Prior to medical school, he worked as a health care consultant and in finance.

It was later that Soh chose to pursue a medical degree at USA. “USA has a student-centered approach to learning and the curriculum focuses on integrating clinical experience with basic science starting from the first semester.”

“My religious faith has always played a role in shaping my path, and medicine is no exception,” he added. “Past medical treatment has restored my health and improved my quality of life allowing me to be more productive and ultimately happier. I want to provide this service to others,” he said. “The responsibility and autonomy that is given to physicians to treat patients is fulfilling as a career, and it is a privilege.”

Soh said he was proud to represent USA at the Lasker Awards, where he met young researchers, Lasker award winners, and other professionals in the health care industry.

Click here to view Soh’s winning essay.

Dr. Ponnambalam to Speak at Crohn's, Colitis Foundation of American Patient Education Program

Dr. Anathasekar M. Ponnambalam, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and a pediatric gastroenterologist with USA Physicians Group, will be the featured presenter at the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America Patient Education Program in November.

The program, titled “Treatment Approaches in IBD: Finding Your Best Path,” will be held at the Gulf Cost Science Exploreum Center on Nov. 1, 2014, at 10 a.m.

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America will be hosting the program for patients, families, and caregivers living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) affect 1.4 million Americans. They are painful, medically incurable diseases that impact the gastrointestinal tract. This program is designed to help patients through the different treatment options available so that they understand the risk and benefits associated with available therapies.

The educational program will consist of a live and interactive presentation and question-and-answer session by Dr. Ponnambalam. Dr. Ponnambalam earned his medical degree at Stanley Medical College in Chennai, India. He completed his residency in pediatrics at Madras Medical College in Chennai, India, as well as State University of New York-Downstate in Brooklyn, N.Y.

To register for the program, visit or for more information, contact the CCFA Alabama/NW Florida Chapter at (646) 387-2149.

USA Center for Strategic Health Innovation Awarded Two Grants

The USA Center for Strategic Health Innovation recently was awarded two grants. Dr. David Wallace (shown above), director of preparedness training, said this award will allow the Center to continue to provide some of the best healthcare emergency preparedness training in the country.
The University of South Alabama Center for Strategic Health Innovation recently was awarded two grants totaling $1,194,997.

The grants – Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Training (ARRTC) and Alabama Incident Management System (AIMS) – are a continuation of a ten-year relationship with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Housed in the College of Medicine at USA, the Center for Strategic Health Innovation (CSHI) is a nationally recognized leader in the delivery of advanced healthcare emergency preparedness teaching and training, as well as innovative healthcare technology applications and the development and deployment of healthcare technology platforms.

Dr. David Wallace, director of preparedness training at USA’s Center for Strategic Health Innovation, said this award will allow the Center to continue to provide some of the best healthcare emergency preparedness training in the country.

The Advanced Regional Response Training Center (ARRTC), is a Center for Strategic Health Innovation healthcare emergency preparedness training program that offers both on campus and on site courses throughout Alabama designed to train healthcare facility personnel on emergency preparedness and response. Topics covered include patient surge capacity and capability preparedness, management of biological/infectious disease outbreaks, decontamination of patients, chemical exposures, evacuation of healthcare facilities and numerous other subjects.

Dr. Wallace said an online, distant learning course is being developed to train health care emergency professionals to effectively manage a health care facility emergency management program. It is a four-module program to include: leadership and administration; planning elements for emergency operations during disaster response; external/governmental resource management; and practical application in disaster planning.

The USA Center for Strategic Health Innovation also manages the Alabama Incident Management System (AIMS).  AIMS was created in-house at USA in 2003 and first deployed during Hurricane Ivan in 2004. This data capture software employs Healthcare Incident Command System (HICS) principals and community collaboration relationships to capture real-time information about healthcare facility resources and activities. It allows and encourages ongoing, real-time communication between healthcare facilities and State Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs), tracking staff, facilities and supplies in times of normalcy and for distribution in times of stress.

“Our format is unique and extremely effective,” Dr. Wallace said. “By managing AIMS – Alabama's healthcare information software – we will continue to provide the Alabama Department of Public Health the ability to have situation awareness throughout the state. AIMS is essential for good communication and effective response during disasters in Alabama.”

Author, Pulitzer Prize Winner to Present Lecture

Dr. Sheri Fink, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting and author of the New York Times bestselling book, Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital, will speak by video connection on Oct. 27, 2014, at 7 the Health Sciences Building Auditorium/HAHN 101. This lecture is free and open to the public.

In this talk, Dr. Fink recounts the events at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005. Drawing audiences into the lives of the doctors and nurses who struggled to save lives amidst chaos, she raises the central question of the nation's preparedness for rare but foreseeable events. Her research and remarks on the tragedies that occurred at Memorial - and the ensuing investigation - raise ethical and legal questions, and throw into sharp relief some of the current issues around healthcare reform, justice, and liability.

Dr. Fink is winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction, the Ridenhour Book Prize, the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Fink's news reporting has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the National Magazine Award, and the Overseas Press Club Lowell Thomas Award, among other journalism prizes. A former relief worker in disaster and conflict zones, Fink received her M.D. and Ph.D. from Stanford University. Her first book, War Hospital: A True Story of Surgery and Survival, is about medical professionals under siege during the genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina. She is a correspondent at the New York Times.

This event is co-sponsored by Phi Kappa Phi, Jaguar Productions, the College of Nursing, the College of Allied Health Professionals, the College of Engineering, Sigma Xi, the English Department, and the Psychology Department.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

USA Welcomes Dr. William Barber

Dr. William Henry Barber IV was recently appointed professor of surgery at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and will serve as a trauma/critical care surgeon at USA Medical Center. Prior to his appointment at USA, Dr. Barber was a surgeon at Delta Regional Hospital in Greenville, Miss.

From 1993 to 2010, Dr. Barber was professor of surgery and microbiology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Miss., where he served as the surgical director of renal transplantation and director of the general surgery residency program.

Dr. Barber earned his medical degree from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla., and his doctor of philosophy at Oxford University in Oxford, England. He completed an internship and residency in surgery at UAB. He also completed a research fellowship at Oxford University and a fellowship in transplantation at UAB. Dr. Barber was a Sandoz Fellow for the American Society of Transplant Surgeons.

Dr. Barber is board certified by the American Board of Surgery and is a member of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons and the Society of Surgical Oncology.