Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Dr. Terri Babineau to Present Two Lectures at USA College of Medicine

The University of South Alabama College of Medicine is hosting two lectures featuring Dr. Terri Babineau, former assistant dean of student affairs and global and service learning and associate professor of family medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) in Norfolk, Va.

Dr. Babineau will present “Burnout in Healthcare and Mindfulness Tools” to first- and second-year medical students at noon on Jan. 5, 2017, in the Health Sciences Building, Room 1013.

She also will present a joint Grand Rounds lecture for the departments of obstetrics and gynecology and pediatrics, titled “Narrative Medicine in Response to Burnout,” on Jan. 6, 2017, at 7:30 a.m. in the Atlantis Room in the CWEB-2 building behind USA Children's & Women's Hospital. The USA Department of Internal Medicine is sponsoring the Grand Rounds lecture.

Dr. Babineau earned her bachelor of science degree in nursing at the University of Virginia and her medical degree from EVMS, where she also completed a family medicine residency. She is currently pursuing a master of studies degree in mindfulness based cognitive therapy at the University of Oxford in Oxford, U.K.

While at EVMS, Dr. Babineau also served as medical director of the HOPES Student Run Free Clinic and director of community outreach and global learning. She has received numerous awards, including the EVMS President’s Faculty Award for Teaching in the Clinical Sciences and the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award from the Gold Foundation for Humanism in Medicine.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

University of South Alabama Named to Alabama’s Regional Autism Network

Amy Mitchell, a speech-language pathologist in developmental/behavioral pediatrics at USA Health, and Dr. Hanes Swingle, professor of pediatrics at the USA College of Medicine and a developmental/behavioral pediatrician with USA Physicians Group, pose for a photo Dec. 14, 2016. USA has been named one of three universities in the Alabama Regional Autism Network, which provides support for people with autism spectrum disorders.
The University of South Alabama has been named one of three universities in the Alabama Regional Autism Network, or ARAN, which launched in October.

The Alabama Interagency Autism Coordinating Council (AIACC) established the ARAN to facilitate a lifelong system of care and support for people with autism spectrum disorders. The Alabama legislature provided USA with initial funding of $75,000 to establish the network.

Amy Mitchell, a speech-language pathologist in developmental/behavioral pediatrics at USA Health, said the network was created to empower those who have autism spectrum disorders, as well as their families and care providers. “As part of this network, we are here to help people of all ages find resources and general information about autism spectrum disorders,” she said. “We’ll do everything we can to help everyone we can.”

The network connects families to services in-state, including local agencies and school districts. Although the network itself will not provide direct services to individuals with an autism spectrum disorder, it will provide individual and direct family assistance, technical support and consultation, professional training and public education programs to increase awareness about autism and autism-related disabilities.

“Ultimately, we are matching available resources with individuals’ needs,” Mitchell said. “The network is a virtual ‘one-stop shop’ for information, referrals and advising about what’s available in the community.”

The USA Regional Autism Network (RAN), which serves Mobile, Baldwin, Washington, Clarke, Monroe, Conecuh and Escambia Counties, joins the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Auburn University to make up the Alabama Regional Autism Network. There is a plan for the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Huntsville to join the network in the near future.

According to Mitchell, USA has a long history of working with children with developmental disabilities, including autism. Dr. Hanes Swingle, professor of pediatrics at the USA College of Medicine and a developmental/behavioral pediatrician with USA Physicians Group, was one of the original appointed members of AIACC. “His leadership and involvement in AIACC has really put USA on the map state-wide for autism services,” Mitchell said.

USA also formed an Autism Interest Group in 2009, which meets every quarter to share information about activities relevant to autism that are being conducted in each of the colleges. This has resulted in opportunities for inter-departmental research, teaching and service collaboration.

When the Regional Autism Network became a reality, faculty members from each of the colleges represented in the USA Autism Interest Group (Education, Arts & Sciences, Allied Health, Nursing and Medicine) volunteered to form an advisory committee to help in the planning and implementation of the USA RAN.

The USA Division of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics operates an Autism Diagnostic Clinic on the campus of USA Children's & Women's Hospital at the Strada Patient Care Center. The mission of the clinic is to improve the lives of children with autism spectrum disorders in the greater Gulf Coast area through early identification and diagnosis, as well as to provide educational outreach to those who serve children in the community.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, around 1 percent of the world's population has an autism diagnosis, with an estimated one in 68 children in the United States identified with autism spectrum disorder. The number of individuals diagnosed with the disorder in the United States has increased by nearly 120 percent since 2000, making it the fastest-growing developmental disability and an urgent public health care need.

To learn more about resources available in our community for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, call the USA RAN at (251) 410-4533.

Med School Café- Expert Advice for the Community

Dr. Edward Panacek, professor and chair of emergency medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, presented the November Med School Café lecture titled “I’m an Emergency Physician and I Play One on TV.”

Dr. Panacek discussed his role in the Discovery Life Channel show, Untold Stories of the ER, and his role in the department of emergency medicine at USA.

Med School Cafe is a free community lecture series sponsored by 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.

Watch the video below to view the lecture in its entirety.

Med School Cafe - “I’m an Emergency Physician and I Play One on TV” from USA Health on Vimeo.

USA Welcomes Dr. Wadad Mneimneh

Dr. Wadad Mneimneh recently was appointed assistant professor of pathology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine.

Dr. Mneimneh earned her medical degree from Saint Joseph University in Beirut, Lebanon. In 2004, she completed her residency training in anatomic pathology at Hotel-Dieu de France Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon. She then completed a fellowship in anatomic pathology focusing on gastrointestinal, liver, thoracic and hematopathology in France.

After moving to the United States, Dr. Mneimneh completed her second residency training in anatomic and clinical pathology at Albany Medical Center in Albany, N.Y. She then completed a fellowship in surgical pathology with a focus on gastrointestinal and liver pathology at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, Ind., and a fellowship in pulmonary and surgical pathology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

She is a member of the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology and the Pulmonary Pathology Society.

Dr. Mneimneh is board-certified in anatomic and clinical pathology by the American Board of Pathology.

Friday, December 9, 2016

USA Basic Medical Science Students Defend Doctoral Dissertations

Brandon D’Arcy and Tiffany Norton, two students from the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Basic Medical Sciences at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, recently defended their doctoral dissertations.

Norton described a potentially fatal fungus in humans in her dissertation that was titled “Prenylation Pathways Mediate Growth, Development, Thermotolerance, and Virulence in Aspergillus fumigatus.” Her research showed that mislocalizing proteins by stopping the addition of hydrophobic molecules impairs the ability of the fungus Aspergillus fumigatus to develop and grow properly at human body temperature. Norton hopes that her work as a researcher will lead to the development of new antifungal drugs, as fungal infections can be difficult to diagnose and treat.

Brandon D’Arcy studied whether human cells could be engineered to degrade excess cholesterol in his dissertation, “Enabling Cholesterol Catabolism in Human Cells." His research identified unique, cellular forms of treatment for familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), a genetic disease characterized by high levels of cholesterol. D’Arcy hopes that his research will allow for more effective treatment for those who suffer from FH, as the disease can be difficult to treat due to the variations in genetic defects found in those with FH. “My dissertation impacts both USA and the medical community by demonstrating that an outside-the-box style of research still has a strong place in basic research,” D’Arcy said.

Both researchers look forward to their futures in using research to combat serious medical conditions.

“I am generally interested in studies that investigate disease processes in the human body (infectious or non-infectious) or development of treatments,” Norton said. She is currently pursuing a position as a postdoctoral research fellow in gynecological oncology at the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute, and she hopes to stay as close to lab work as possible throughout her career.

D’Arcy is joining Dr. Aishwarya Prakash at the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute as a postdoctoral fellow. “Dr. Prakash is leading MCI’s new structural biology lab, where we will study key enzymes involved in cancer progression and their underlying molecular mechanisms,” D'Arcy said.

Both Norton and D’Arcy are grateful for the time they spent working and learning in the labs of the basic medical sciences Ph.D. program at USA.

“I am greatly indebted to the USA College of Medicine, Dr. Mark Taylor and the Basic Medical Sciences Ph.D. Program. I would also like to thank Dr. David Wood and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and my research advisor, Dr. Jarrod Fortwendel, for investing in me as a student and developing me as a researcher,” Norton said. “This phase of my training has been a very invigorating and enjoyable experience, and I would recommend the program to others who might be interested in medical research.”

“I would like to thank the University of South Alabama and the Basic Medical Sciences program for providing the environment and opportunity for students to reach their fullest potential,” D’Arcy said. “I would also like to thank my mentor, Dr. Richard Honkanen, who has instilled in me that one’s limitations are only defined by themselves.”

For more information about the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Basic Medical Sciences, click here

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

10th Annual COM Research Forum Winners Announced

Dr. Nathaniel Holton (left), and Ed Crockett recently were recognized with awards for the research they presented at the USA College of Medicine's 10th annual Research Forum.
The University of South Alabama College of Medicine hosted its 10th annual Research Forum on Nov. 4, 2016. Travel awards recently were presented to Ed Crockett and Dr. Nathaniel Holton for their extensive research.

Forum organizer Dr. Donna Cioffi, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at USA, said excitement filled the air at the forum. “This year, the number of presentations was just a few less than last year, but the overall turnout was our biggest yet,” she said. The forum consisted of two sessions - the morning session was comprised of nine oral presentations, and the afternoon session included 55 poster presentations.

Ed Crockett, a basic medical science graduate student, won a $1,000 travel award for best overall graduate student presentation. He was recognized for his poster presentation titled “Thermal Imaging: Advancing Burn-Wound Analysis by Infrared Imaging.” He chose to do his research in the department of pharmacology in the lab of Dr. Wiltz Wagner, with assistance from Dr. Jon Simmons, assistant professor of surgery at the USA College of Medicine.

According to Crockett, it is important to use infrared thermal imaging as a method to assess the severity of burn depth because the information will help determine if the viable tissue will heal on its own or require grafting. The thermal imaging sensor used for his research is small, plugs into an Android cell phone and operates using a free app.

Crockett said using infrared thermal imaging to detect skin surface temperature provides physicians with information that is otherwise unavailable in visible light, allowing them to see heat that is undetectable to the naked eye. “Visible light is detectable with the naked eye between 400 and 700 nano-meters,” Crockett said. “Heat emission and light emission are closely linked, so the hotter the object, the shorter its wavelength of emitted light.”

Crockett believes this technique for assessing burn depth will remove the subjective assessment which is only 50 percent accurate on the first day. “Our technique can increase the first-day accuracy and reduce the pain and suffering days sooner if a graft is required,” he said.

Crockett said the forum provides a great opportunity for students. “Participating in this research forum is an excellent opportunity for young scientists to gain experience discussing their research with a broad audience,” he said. “Since it is a local event, we are able to practice our presentations with people we know in a relaxed atmosphere before taking them to national conferences.”

The post-doctorate award was presented to Dr. Nathanial Holton for his research project titled “Application of Laser Micro-Irradiation for Examination of Single and Double Strand Break Repair in Cells.” Dr. Holton performed his research at the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute in the lab of Dr. Natalie Gassman, assistant professor of oncologic sciences.

According to Dr. Holton, although molecular biology techniques have helped clarify the structure, enzymatic functions and kinetics of a large number of DNA repair proteins, there is still a need to understand how repair proteins interact and coordinate repair within the constraints of the nucleus. He found laser micro-irradiation to be a powerful tool for studying DNA damage repair response.

Dr. Holton’s research demonstrates the power of laser micro-irradiation to examine repair of single and double strand breaks in cells. Using lasers, he created a very small spot of DNA damage within the nucleus of the cell and studied the recruitment of DNA repair proteins to that spot of laser damage. His research describes how to properly calibrate and control the applied laser power to induce specific damage mixtures, providing methods for performing laser micro-irradiation data acquisition and analysis.

Dr. Holton believes it is beneficial for students to participate in the Research Forum because it is a great place to introduce themselves to the research community, helping build a professional network.

“The connections that are made during some of these meetings can be critically important for future career development,” he said.

To learn more about participating in the annual College of Medicine Research Forum, contact Dr. Cioffi at dlcioffi@southalabama.edu.

Josh Braswell of Mobile Selected as Floragraph Honoree on Donate Life Float in Rose Parade

Karen Braswell, clinical education coordinator for the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, has served as an advocate for organ donation following her son, Josh’s, untimely death and his subsequent donation in 2003.

Next month, Josh’s floral portrait, or floragraph, will be among 60 other organ, eye and tissue donors appearing on the Donate Life float in the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, Calif.

The symbolic float, made of organic material, will be in the shape of a Polynesian catamaran propelled by 24 organ, tissue and eye recipients, with 12 living donors walking alongside carrying flowers. Ocean waves on the float will be comprised of 1,000 white Akito roses given in memory or honor of those touched by donation. Josh's floragraph will be displayed on one of the sails, and it will go back to his parents after the parade.

“We are proud that our son was able to save five lives through organ donation, and we are very excited that Josh was chosen to be a part of the parade,” Braswell said. “We are looking forward to attending the Donate Life ceremonies and events leading up to the parade on Jan. 2.”

In June 2003, Josh sustained injuries in an automobile accident and was life-flighted to USA Medical Center. His accident left his parents with a heart wrenching decision that would affect the lives of five other individuals. Josh’s parents honored his decision to be an organ donor – a decision that he often communicated with his family.

“This invitation to participate in the parade will be a great opportunity for us as a family to continue to spread the word about organ donation,” Braswell said. “If you have not already done so, please tell your loved ones how you feel about organ donation. Josh was in the medical field, and fittingly, his last act on Earth was to save five lives.”

Recently, representatives from the Alabama Organ Center gathered at the USA Faculty Club, along with Josh's family and friends, to complete a floral portrait of Josh. A video from the event can be found here - https://vimeo.com/193445874.

Click here to view the full story featured on al.com.

For more information about the Donate Life Rose Parade float, visit donatelifefloat.org.

Monday, December 5, 2016

College of Medicine Accepting Nominations for Faculty Assembly Positions

The USA College of Medicine is currently soliciting nominations for two positions within the College of Medicine Faculty Assembly - vice chair and secretary.

The Faculty Assembly serves as the venue for active participation of all College of Medicine faculty with the goal of achieving and maintaining levels of excellence in all aspects of medical education, research and health services.

The vice-chair will be responsible for presiding over meetings of the Faculty Assembly in the absence of the chair. The secretary will be responsible for keeping meeting minutes and distributing notices of meetings and all necessary information to the Council.

With the College of Medicine's upcoming strategic planning, as well as the need to make changes in the promotion and tenure guidelines and faculty assembly by-laws, faculty engagement in the assembly is vital in the upcoming year.

USA College of Medicine faculty should send nominations to Nicole Schultz at nschultz@southlabama.edu by Monday, Dec. 12, 2016.

Dec. 8 DSS to Feature Dr. Karla Satchell

The next Distinguished Scientist Seminar at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine will feature Dr. Karla Fullner Satchell, professor of microbiology and immunology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

The lecture, titled “Role of Large MARTX Toxins in Vibrio Pathogenesis,” will take place Dec. 8, 2016, at 4 p.m. in the first floor auditorium of the Medical Sciences Building on USA’s main campus.

Dr. Satchell earned her Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Washington in 1996. She then completed postdoctoral training at the University of Pittsburgh and Harvard Medical School. Her research focuses on the role of secreted protein toxins on bacterial pathogenesis.

The lecture series is comprised of distinguished scientists from other academic institutions who are invited by the USA College of Medicine basic science departments to present a seminar showcasing their latest research findings. Faculty, staff and students are strongly encouraged to attend.

Learn more about Dr. Satchell here.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Latest Issue of CURRents Available Now

The latest issue of the CURRents newsletter is now available. The University of South Alabama College of Medicine’s Division of Medical Education created the newsletter, which is published two times a year.

Dr. Anthony Gard, assistant dean for medical education and professor of cell biology and neuroscience at the USA College of Medicine, said the newsletter was created to inform USA College of Medicine faculty, residents and students about ongoing developments in the medical education program.

The format of the CURRents newsletter parallels undergraduate medical education (UME) quality improvement efforts. In every issue, readers are updated on the progress toward completion of particular program initiatives as quality improvement cycles of planning, doing, studying and acting are worked through and described.

Click here to view the fifth issue of the newsletter and to subscribe.

University Physicians Group Recognized

The University of South Alabama Physicians Group hosted a celebration for the clinic scoring the highest for courtesy and respect on patient satisfaction surveys. The University Physicians Group, located at USA Commons, was recognized for having the highest score of 93 percent for quarter three.

“This accomplishment reflects the hard work and dedication University Physicians Group providers and staff demonstrate by going the extra mile to meet the expectations and needs of our patients,” said Becky Tate, administrator for ambulatory services and affiliate development at USA Health.

According to Tate, exhibiting excellent customer service in the delivery of care for patients is vital. “Helping patients feel welcomed, comfortable and appreciated will not only provide an enjoyable visit, but it will also help our physicians better understand and address the needs of our patients,” she said.

The patient satisfaction survey includes questions concerning ease of appointment, courtesy of staff, waiting time to see the physician, respect shown and privacy needs met. Responses for courtesy, respect and meeting patients’ privacy needs are mathematically averaged to determine scores.

The purpose of these quarterly awards is to keep customer service in the forefront of USA Physicians Group clinics. In recognition of their outstanding customer service, the University Physicians Group clinic recently was awarded an ice cream party.

To qualify for the customer service award, the clinic must receive at least 50 patient satisfaction surveys for the quarter. For USA Physician Group clinics interested in improving their customer service skills, training sessions are available. To learn more, contact the Office of Compliance at 471-7836.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

USA Welcomes Dr. Katie Malozzi

Dr. Katie Malozzi recently was appointed as a full-time staff physician for the University of South Alabama Student Health Center.

Prior to her appointment to USA, Dr. Malozzi was a family medicine staff physician at Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center in Biloxi, Miss.

Dr. Malozzi previously served as a family medicine staff physician and United States Navy Senior Medical Officer at Naval Health Branch Clinic Gulfport in Gulfport, Miss.

She earned her doctor of osteopathic medicine degree at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Philadelphia and completed a family medicine internship and residency at Naval Hospital Pensacola in Pensacola, Fla., where she served as chief resident.

Dr. Malozzi is board-certified in family medicine. To make an appointment, call (251) 460-7151.

The USA Student Health Center is located at 5870 Alumni Drive on USA’s main campus. Student Health Services are available during each semester to all students actively enrolled in the University. In addition, the center has sports medicine services available for students and collaborates closely with the athletics department and all university athletes. For more information on the USA Student Health Center, click here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

USA Medical Student Serves as Representative at American Academy of Pediatrics Conference

USA medical student Lauren Nelson (left) at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition. Nelson serves as an assistant district representative on the Medical Student Subcommittee. 
Lauren Nelson, a third-year medical student at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, recently attended the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition (NCE), where she served as an assistant district representative on the Medical Student Subcommittee (MSSC).

The AAP NCE is an annual pediatric conference for physicians, residents, medical students, nurses and allied health members giving practical updates and reviews of pediatric practice, research, and advocacy. The 3-day conference includes over 350 educational sessions, including practical hands-on learning and networking, in addition to the largest pediatric technical exhibit of its kind.

The MSSC works within the AAP to develop and provide medical resources for medical students. Students across the United States are represented by the subcommittee’s 10 districts, with each district featuring both a district representative and an assistant district representative. Nelson serves as assistant district representative in district 10. “It was an awesome experience to get to meet in person with the medical student sub-committee leaders that I communicate with frequently,” Nelson said.

Nelson also worked as the medical student ambassador to Dr. Alisa Acosta during the conference. Dr. Acosta is the associate program director for the pediatric residency program at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Dr. Acosta, along with other panelists, gave medical students the opportunity to have residency application questions answered by the experts.

Nelson was grateful for all of the networking and learning opportunities she experienced in meeting with pediatric leaders, as well as fellow students during the conference. “It is important to surround yourself with others who share your passion and work ethic, as this helps you stay goal-oriented and motivated,” Nelson said.

Medical students in the AAP are part of the Section on Pediatric Trainees (SOPT), which includes medical students, residents and fellows. Within SOPT, the medical student subcommittee has a myriad of opportunities for medical students to get involved. Nelson encourages all medical students to get involved with the AAP.

“We’re always looking for medical student contributions to our quarterly newsletter, and there are several workgroups within the medical student subcommittee that always have projects going on that need medical student help. I am happy to put medical students in touch with the appropriate workgroup leader if they would like to get more involved,” Nelson said.

Nelson is very grateful for the opportunity to learn more as she brings knowledge and awareness of pediatric issues back to the USA community. “Since being involved with the NCE, I’ve realized how important advocacy is in pediatrics. Kids need a voice to advocate for them.”

For more information about the AAP, SOPT and MSSC, click here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

USA Physicians Group Clinics Begin Moving into Strada Patient Care Center

Jackson Black, 3, laughs as Lauren Crawford, a medical assistant in pediatric cardiology, checks his O2 levels during his appointment Nov. 21, 2016. Jackson was one of the first patients seen in the new Strada Patient Care Center.
The first wave of USA Physicians Group clinics – pediatric development/genetics, pediatric cardiology, high risk obstetrics, surgical oncology and plastic surgery – moved into the Strada Patient Care Center this past weekend. On Monday, the clinics began seeing patients in their new spaces.

Located across from USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital, the 133,000-square-foot Strada Patient Care Center contains 153 patient exam rooms, 16 nurses stations and seven educational conference rooms. Additional clinics will move into the new building during the next several months.

Dr. Lynn Batten, director of the division of pediatric cardiology at USA, said the new space is open and modern. “I’m excited, and our patients will be very excited because this is a huge, positive change from our previous clinic,” she said.

In addition, she said the new space will affect patients’ frame of mind.

“When they sit in this waiting room, they have a full wall of windows and can see the Geri Moulton Children’s Park,” Dr. Batten said. “The environment is peaceful and calming, which is especially needed for cardiology patients who already may be anxious about their appointment.”

Among the first patients seen at the Strada Patient Care Center was three-year-old Jackson Black, who has been a patient of Dr. Batten’s since he was one month old. His mother, Deja Black, said the new Strada Patient Care Center is very impressive and much needed.

“It’s really nice - I love it,” she said. “The openness and the view of the park from the waiting area is wonderful.” Black said Jackson’s first appointment in the new facility went very well. “We love Dr. Batten,” she said. “Jackson loves coming to see her, and everyone is always so nice and cordial. The new space is just an added bonus.”

First impressions are important, and Dr. Batten said the new space – with new furniture and leading-edge technology and equipment – is a major benefit to patients. “I think as a patient it makes you feel better about the person taking care of you."

In addition, Dr. Batten said the new building brings providers together in one space. “Now, we are right next to genetics and developmental pediatrics. We pass each other in the hall, and we share clinical space,” she said. “Pediatric cardiology shares a lot of the same patients with genetics, and it’s fantastic that we’re in the same area together. Having other specialties right next door makes patient care much more streamlined.”

The Strada Patient Care Center is named in honor of Dr. Samuel J. Strada, dean emeritus of the USA College of Medicine, and his late wife, Judy. Their names were placed on the building as a lasting honor, recognizing their contributions to the mission of USA and their efforts to help those in our community.

A large portion of the USA Physicians Group practice will move from their current locations to the new building. Later next month, the second group of clinics will be moving into the Strada Patient Care Center. These clinics include neurosurgery, obstetrics and gynecology, and reproductive specialists. In January, orthopaedics, physical therapy, neurology and radiology will move into the new building. The move is scheduled to be complete by March 2017.

Click here to view more photos from the move. To learn more about the Strada Patient Care Center, visit http://www.usahealthsystem.com/strada-patient-care-center.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

USA Medical Students Present at 14th Annual AMA Research Symposium

USA medical students (from left) Mazen Omar, Vikash Pernenkil, Maelynn La, Jordan Nickols and Lauren Chastain present original research at the 2016 American Medical Association Research Symposium.
Five medical students at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine recently presented at the 2016 American Medical Association (AMA) Research Symposium in Orlando, Fla.

At the symposium, second-year medical students—Vikash Pernenkil, Mazen Omar, Lauren Chastain and Maelynn La, and third-year medical student Jordan Nickols—had the opportunity to showcase their original research to AMA members.

Vikash Pernenkil chose the topic “Trends in Smoking and Obesity Among U.S. Adults Before, During and After the Great Recession and Affordable Care Act Roll-Out.” He said his research is important because smoking and obesity are two preventable health risk factors that contribute significantly to morbidly and mortality in our country.

“Presenting research at a conference like this is a great opportunity to inform others who may be able to take this epidemiological information and implement it to improve the lives of patients,” Pernenkil said.

Lauren Chastain’s research explored the perceptions of diabetic patients toward their chronic disease and their knowledge concerning Self-Monitoring Blood Glucose (SMBG). Traditional SMBG involves checking their blood sugar a few times a day to track their glycemic control.

Chastain said she chose this topic because she is very interested in the public health, patient satisfaction and educational aspect of medicine. “Understanding patient perspectives can promote meaningful dialogue to foster compliance with prescribed self-management routines,” she said.

“Diabetes is a growing epidemic both in the United States and worldwide, so knowing how to best educate and successfully work with patients is vital.”

Omar, another second-year medical student at USA, chose the topic “Association of Stress Test Findings with the Presence and Extent of Coronary Artery Disease in Patients with vs. without Diabetes.”

Through his research, Omar concluded that diabetic patients with an abnormal stress test are more likely to have coronary artery disease than a non-diabetic patient. “There are currently no separate guidelines for giving diabetic patients stress tests,” Omar said. “However, this research shows that there is a need to do so.”

Although this project was her first presentation as a medical student, Maelynn La said she had substantial research experience while earning her undergraduate degree at USA. La presented her research on “The Association of Nonspecific T Wave Abnormalities with Ischemic Heart Disease.”

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with many of those deaths preventable,” La said. “I knew that I wanted to contribute to the efforts of preventing heart disease with my research project to identify early findings of heart disease on ECG.”

Jordan Nickols presented his research on “Lipopolyysaccharide Induced Pulmonary Endothelial Barrier Disruption and Lung Edema: Critical Role for Bicarbonate Stimulation of AC10.”

Nickols said the conference brought about excitement for what the future might hold. “It was a great experience to meet like-minded medical students from across the country who were excited about making a difference in medicine through their research, and for others, through their involvement with AMA and the establishment of policies in the medical field,” he said.

The AMA Research Symposium is hosted annually by the AMA Student Sections, Resident and Fellow Section and the International Medical Graduates Section.To learn more about the AMA Research Symposium, click here.

Mark Your Calendar: Upcoming Town Hall Meetings

Dr. John Marymont, Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the College of Medicine, invites all faculty and staff of the College of Medicine and USA Health to join him at a Town Hall Meeting on Nov. 28, 2016, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Atlantis Room at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital.

A second Town Hall Meeting will be held for all College of Medicine and USA Health faculty and staff on Nov. 29, 2016, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the USA Medical Center Conference Center.

These meetings will provide an opportunity for faculty and staff to ask questions and meet with USA President Dr. Tony Waldrop and Dr. Marymont.

USA Translational Research Service Center Provides Research Support

Dr. Mark Gillespie, professor and chair of pharmacology at the USA College of Medicine, is site principle investigator for a Clinical and Translational Sciences Award.
A team at the University of South Alabama is providing research support services to USA researchers through its Translational Research Service Center (TRSC).

The Center is supported by UAB’s Clinical and Translational Sciences Award (CTSA) from the National Institutes of Health. The USA College of Medicine is one of 11 institutions in the southeast – including five academic medical centers – that is a partner on the award.

One of the key goals of the CTSA is to facilitate translational research, which is a field of medical science aimed at translating basic laboratory discoveries into improved patient care. As the region’s only academic medical center, USA’s state-of-the-art medical research laboratories and clinics are well positioned to lead this effort.

The TRSC team plays a key role in this initiative and is comprised of basic and clinical science researchers and administrators that provide research support services and facilitate training, professional development and collaboration. The team brings expertise in informatics, statistical analysis and research design, clinical research support and community engagement resources to USA researchers.

The award provides funding for a wide range of services and activities, converging on its central mission to address disparities and diseases disproportionately represented within the Deep South by accelerating discoveries to improve human health.

 “We want our affiliation with the CCTS to help capitalize on USA’s position as the Gulf Coast’s academic medical center through our commitment to translational research, as well as our mission to improve healthcare to underserved populations in our community,” said Dr. Mark Gillespie, CTSA site principle investigator, as well as professor and chair of the department of pharmacology at the USA College of Medicine.

“There are many underserved populations here on the coast, and we are in a position to impact not only the health of the population, but also the health of the economy,” Dr. Gillespie said.  “For example, if we could lower the frequency of chronic disease in these populations, this would have a dramatic effect on the health and health-economy across the spectrum.”

There are many opportunities for students, fellows, residents and faculty to bring their ideas for research to the TRSC. Dr. Gillespie encourages members of the USA Health community to reach out to the TRSC if they have ideas for clinical research. “All they need to have is the beginning of an idea, and the TRSC team will help grow it into a good plan of action.”

The TRSC also offers many educational opportunities at USA. Training through the networks that the CCTS supports is available to students, fellows, residents and faculty online and through sabbaticals at the CCTS. “All of the opportunities for training and research help to make our students and faculty rise above the competition in healthcare,” Dr. Gillespie said. “We are the only institution in our community that does translational research, and we will provide students and faculty with resources they need to be the best.”

For more information about the USA TRSC, click here.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

USA Welcomes Dr. Antwan Hogue

USA College of Medicine alum, Dr. Antwan Hogue, was appointed assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and will serve as a hospitalist at USA Medical Center.

Prior to joining USA, Dr. Hogue served as a hospitalist and internal medicine physician at West Florida Hospital in Pensacola, Fla.

Dr. Hogue earned his medical degree from USA in 2012. He then completed his residency training in internal medicine at Palmetto Health Richland Hospital where he served as chief resident and was named Resident Teacher of the Year.

Dr. Hogue is board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. He is a member of the American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians.

Dr. Eugene Cioffi Speaks at International Carbohydrate Symposium

Dr. Eugene Cioffi, associate professor of pharmacology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, was a keynote speaker at the International Carbohydrate Symposium (ICS) in New Orleans.

Dr. Cioffi was one of eight people selected to present at the forum and said it was “an honor to speak at such a prestigious event.”

His presentation, titled “Functional Glycomics: Our Sugar-Lined Blood Vessels,” illustrated how simple to complex sugars and sugar chains attach to the inner lining of blood vessels.  These sugars – known as glycans – are essential biomolecules with functions including the recognition of antibodies, which help remove viruses and bacteria.

Dr. Cioffi’s research for the ICS expanded upon the multi-disciplinary research being conducted at USA’s Center for Lung Biology (CLB) by showing the interesting differences in the lungs versus the rest of body, where carbohydrates play different and unique key roles in healthy and diseased states.

Dr. Cioffi completed his Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn. He completed both a postdoctoral fellowship and a research faculty fellowship at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.
The International Carbohydrate Symposium is presented by the American Chemical Society. For more information about the event, click here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Students, Faculty Present Research Projects at 10th Annual COM Research Forum

The University of South Alabama College of Medicine’s 10th annual Research Forum was held Nov. 4, 2016, on USA's main campus.

The forum consisted of two sessions - the morning session was comprised of nine oral presentations, and the afternoon session included 55 poster presentations.

Dr. Donna Cioffi, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at USA, said the research forum is beneficial for both students and faculty. “The forum is a great way for students and post-docs to learn how to network and gives participants a chance to practice their presentation skills,” she said. “The forum also provides the researchers an opportunity to get feedback on their projects, which might include new or different ways of testing a hypothesis, consideration of novel applications or even what might be a good journal to publish in.”

Dr. Cioffi said the event often leads to new collaborations between different research groups within the College of Medicine and Mitchell Cancer Institute.

This is the second year that the research forum is offering travel awards – one for the best overall graduate student presentation and one for the best overall post-doctoral fellow presentation. These awards are $1,000 each and are to be used for travel to national or international meetings or workshops.

According to Dr. Cioffi, the awards were made possible by the generous support of the College of Medicine dean's office, the graduate school, USA Mitchell Cancer Institute and the BMSSO graduate student organization. Awards will be announced within the next week.

To learn more about participating in the annual COM Research Forum, contact Dr. Cioffi at dlcioffi@southalabama.edu.

Click here to view more photos from the event.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Dr. Mary Townsley Named COM Interim Senior Associate Dean

Dr. Mary Townsley, professor of physiology and cell biology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, has been named interim senior associate dean of the USA College of Medicine.

Prior to this appointment, Dr. Townsley served as associate dean for faculty affairs. She has been a member of the USA College of Medicine faculty since 1988.

"Dr. Townsley is an accomplished and respected leader in academic medicine.  She has a proven track record of success at our medical school," said Dr. John V. Marymont, vice president for medical affairs and dean of the USA College of Medicine. "I am delighted that Mary has accepted this new role and look forward to working with her to continue strengthening our institution."

During her career at USA, Dr. Townsley has served the medical school in numerous key roles, including interim chair of the department of physiology and cell biology, director of training programs for the USA Center for Lung Biology, director of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program at USA and a lead organizer for LCME accreditation processes at the USA College of Medicine.

Dr. Townsley earned her Ph.D. in physiology from the University of California at Davis and completed postdoctoral studies at USA. Her research interests focus on mechanisms that regulate the integrity of the alveolar septal barrier in the lung and the pathobiology which leads to the development of acute lung injury.

In 2013, Dr. Townsley received the Leadership Award from the Pulmonary Circulation Assembly of the American Thoracic Society (ATS). Also in 2013, she was named the USA Phi Kappa Phi Scholar of the Year.  Dr. Townsley was honored in 2011 by the American Heart Association's Council on Cardiopulmonary, Critical Care, Perioperative and Resuscitation with the Distinguished Achievement Award.  She was also a member of the 2000 Class of Fellows in the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine Program for Women (ELAM).

Dr. Townsley currently serves on editorial boards of the journals Microvascular Research, Pulmonary Circulation and Frontiers in Physiology. She has chaired peer-review study sections for lung biology, the United Peer Review Steering Committee, and the Council on Cardiopulmonary, Critical Care, Perioperative and Resuscitation, all for the American Heart Association (AHA). She served on numerous peer review study sections for the National Institutes of Health and the Veteran's Administration, as well as other national committees for the American Physiological Society, the ATS, and the Microcirculatory Society.

Dr. Townsley is a member of the American Heart Association, American Thoracic Society, the Society for Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine, and the American Physiological Society.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Dr. Strada Honored with Retirement Reception

The University of South Alabama College of Medicine hosted a retirement reception honoring Dr. Samuel J. Strada, dean emeritus of the USA College of Medicine, on Oct. 25, 2016.

Dr. Strada began his career at the USA College of Medicine in 1983 when he was recruited as chair and professor of the department of pharmacology. He was named senior associate dean for the USA College of Medicine in 1994. During his career at USA, he also served as acting director of the graduate program in basic medical sciences, assistant dean for admissions and acting chair of psychiatry.  An avid Jags supporter, he also served as chair of the Athletic Council and as Faculty Athletic Representative from 1990-1997.

Throughout his lengthy career at USA, Dr. Strada has made significant contributions to medical education and research in the state of Alabama, as well as the nation.

Earlier this year, the USA Board of Trustees honored Dr. Strada and his late wife Judy by naming the new clinical care building that will open in November, the Strada Patient Care Center.  This building will house much of the USA Physicians Group clinical practice.

View more photos from the reception here.

USA Resident Presents Multiple Research Posters at ACG Meeting

Dr. Andrew Berry, second-year internal medicine resident at USA, presents research at the GI American College of Gastroenterology Annual Scientific Meeting and Postgraduate Course.
Dr. Andrew Berry, a second-year internal medicine resident physician at the University of South Alabama, recently presented multiple research posters at the national GI American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) Annual Scientific Meeting and Postgraduate Course in Las Vegas, Nev.

Dr. Berry said the projects were multidisciplinary and multi-institutional, representing a group collaboration of hard work. “It was a great opportunity to represent USA and be part of such collaborative efforts,” he said.

Four of his research projects included involvement from USA medical students, nursing administration and College of Medicine faculty members including—Dr. Brooks Cash, professor of internal medicine in the division of gastroenterology; Dr. Jack Di Palma, professor of internal medicine in the division of gastroenterology; Dr. Phillip Henderson, professor of internal medicine in the division of gastroenterology; Dr. Alana Schilithuis, assistant professor of internal medicine; and Dr. T.J. Hundley, assistant dean for medical education and student affairs.

Dr. Berry served as lead author for six of the research presentations and co-author for the remaining six. Of the 12 research projects, seven were full studies and five were clinical vignettes.

Ultimately, Dr. Berry said the goal is to have his research published in impactful journals. “As one of our projects suggests, only a mere 20 percent of all abstracts at the national GI conference are published in three years,” he said. “We aim to get all of our research published in sooner than three years.”

Dr. Berry said publishing the articles is not only important academically, but the literature can be quickly utilized in patient care. “One of the studies is part of a series of studies with Dr. Cash related to online symptom checker use among patients and clinicians, a topic that is already garnering public appeal,” he said.

The ACG was founded in 1932 and holds yearly meetings and regional postgraduate training courses. The ACG establishes research grants and also publishes The American Journal of Gastroenterology. More than 12,000 physicians from 82 countries are members of the ACG. Through annual scientific meetings, regional postgraduate training courses and research grants, the ACG provides its members with the most accurate and up-to-date scientific information on digestive health and the etiology, symptomatology and treatment of GI disorders.

To view Dr. Berry’s abstracts, click here

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Dr. Allen Perkins Awarded HRSA Grant

Dr. Allen Perkins, professor and chair of family medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and a family medicine physician with USA Physicians Group, recently was awarded a $2.3 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The purpose of this award is to help establish an inter-professional training environment focused on population health and improving care for complex patients at the USA Family Medicine Center.

The project, titled “The Complex Patient in the Primary Care Medical Home,” focuses on team-based care in the family medicine, mental health and pharmacy training environment.

Dr. Perkins said he is very excited about the possibilities that this funding provides. “Through the incorporation of the enhanced use of data, population metrics, mental health access and team-based care we will be able to provide better care at lower costs to patients,” he said. “By utilizing medical professionals in training, not only will the patients in the center receive better care, but as those in training move into their practice setting they will take their skills with them. Our hope is that we will improve access to mental healthcare and improve the health and well-being of many in lower Alabama.”

“Aside from the transformative value the grant will have for family medicine in the management of complex patients, the lessons from this project will ultimately improve the health of the broader population,” said Beverly Kellen, chief administrator for the department. “The collaborative approach with professionals from medicine, nursing, nutrition, social work, pharmacy and health education is unique but necessary to provide care to complex patients.”

Dr. Perkins will be the guest speaker at the USA Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice (IPECP) Interest Group inaugural meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, at 3:30 p.m. on USA’s main campus. He will discuss this project along with additional opportunities for interprofessional research and training.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Dr. Herbert Chen to Present Frazer/Leigh Memorial Lecture

Herbert Chen, M.D., F.A.C.S., surgeon-in-chief chair of the department of surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, will present two AMA/PRA/ CME accredited lectures in November.

Both lectures are open to the public and are made possible through the Emmett B. Frazer, M.D., F.A.C.S., and Milton M. Leigh, M.D., F.A.C.S., Memorial Endowments at the University of South Alabama department of surgery.

Dr. Chen will present the first lecture, "Success in Academic Surgery,” Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. in the USA Medical Center conference room.

His second lecture, “Medullary Thyroid Cancer,” will take place Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, at 7 a.m. in the USA Medical Center conference room.

Dr. Chen earned his medical degree from the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C. He completed his surgical residency at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md., along with a postdoctoral research fellowship and a surgical oncology and endocrinology fellowship. Dr. Chen came to UAB from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, Wis., where he was the Layton F. Rikkers, M.D., Chair in Surgical Leadership, chair of the division of general surgery, vice chair of research for the department of surgery and professor in the departments of surgery, biomedical engineering and pediatrics.

Dr. Chen has mentored more than 100 faculty, post-doctoral fellows, residents, medical students, and undergraduates in his lab.  He has published more than 430 original research and review articles and has edited 12 textbooks.

Dr. Chen is an associate/section editor for Annals of Surgery, Annals of Surgical Oncology, Scientific American Surgery, The Oncologist, and Journal of Surgical Research, and serves on six other editorial boards. He is also the past-president of the Association for Academic Surgery, the current secretary-treasurer for Surgical Biology Club II, and the current president-elect for the Society of Clinical Surgery.

This annual Memorial Lectureship is given to honor the legacies of Dr. Emmett B. Frazer and Dr. Milton M. Leigh as leaders in clinical service and graduate surgical education in the Mobile community.

For more information contact the USA Department of Surgery at (251) 471-7990.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

USA Health to Offer Free Skin Cancer Screenings

USA Health will offer free skin cancer screenings for all USA Health and Dental Plan members on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016.  Appointments are available from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the University of South Alabama Plastic Surgery Center, located at 1 Medical Park.

Screenings will be performed by Dr. Curtis Harris, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon with USA Physicians Group, and Dr. Ron Brooks, a plastic surgeon with USA Physicians Group.

According to Dr. Harris, exposure to the sun is the most common precursor to skin cancer and it is important to limit your exposure to sunlight.

If you have a questionable area on your skin, Dr. Harris recommends having it checked by a physician. If cancer is found, treatment may include radiation or removal. “Early detection is important,” he said. “The smaller the lesion is, the easier it is to treat successfully.”

There are several risk factors to consider in a melanoma diagnosis including family history of melanoma, prior melanoma, multiple pigmented skin lesions and some rare genetic syndromes. In addition, a history of extensive or severe sun exposure or severe sunburns may also contribute to the development of this potentially fatal cancer.

To schedule your free skin cancer screening, call (251) 660-5763.

Symposium on Environment and Humanitarian Care November 4-6

USA medical students participate in a wilderness medicine course earlier this year.
The Wilderness Medical Society (WMS) will offer a continuing medical education course for medical professionals from all fields on Nov. 4-6, 2016, in Deer Park, Ala.

The event focuses on wilderness medicine, the practice of medicine where definitive care is more than one hour away, and often days to weeks away. Outdoor skills will be taught during the weekend event that can be helpful for those who respond to natural disasters.

Dr. Lynn Yonge, an assistant clinical professor for the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, membership chairman of the WMS, and faculty advisor for the USA Wilderness Medicine Student Interest Group, will host the event at Longleaf, his family tree farm in Deer Park, Ala. The property is a 340-acre, certified Alabama Treasure Forest.

Dr. Yonge is also asking those who can to make a contribution to the USA Wilderness Medicine Student Interest Group. “The group has been very popular with medical students,” Dr. Yonge said. “The planned Emergency Medicine residency at USA is highly interested in making this curriculum and activity their own.”

Dr. Sidney Brevard, associate professor of surgery at USA, will be one of the event's speakers. “Dr. Brevard gave one of the best lectures I've ever heard about a physician living in primitive conditions during a disaster, helping their patients survive third-world types of conditions,” Dr. Yonge said. “I think many of us are willing to help in the face of natural disasters, but we just might not know how. This course is designed to open the door to that knowledge.”

Dr. Yonge has been involved with WMS for more than 10 years. His role as chair of the organization prompted him to volunteer his property and time for the event. “I want WMS to be accessible to health professionals and students. This conference was designed to be an affordable way to get a taste of the organization,” Dr. Yonge said.

For more information about the Wilderness Medical Society and for registration information, click here.

USA Health Honors Employees at Jags Game

Benjamin Gumbs, lab technician supervisor II at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, waves to the crowd as he and several other employees of USA Health are recognized at the USA Health Game Day event on Oct. 20, 2016.
USA Health recently showed appreciation to its employees at the USA Jaguars vs. Troy University football game on Oct. 20, 2016.

Each USA Health employee who registered for the event received two complimentary tickets to the game. Prior to the game, employees also enjoyed a tailgate dinner provided by Sonny's BBQ.

Ten USA Health employees were selected to walk onto the field during the game to be recognized: Courtney Thomson, USA Children's & Women's Hospital; Jeff Terrell, USA Children's & Women's Hospital; Robert Schwan, USA Medical Center; Ellen Guy, USA Medical Center; Beverly Kellen, USA Physicians Group; Dr. Chris Jones, USA Physicians Group; Susan Sansing, USA College of Medicine; Benjamin Gumbs, USA College of Medicine; Lynn Collins, USA Mitchell Cancer Institute; and Aly Fernandez, USA Mitchell Cancer Institute.

Click here or watch the video below to view more photos from the event.

USAHealth Game Day 2016 from USA Health on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

November Med School Cafe- Untold Stories of the ER

The November Med School Café lecture will feature Dr. Edward Panacek, professor and chair of emergency medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine.

His lecture, titled “I’m an emergency physician and I play one on TV,” will be held on Nov. 4, 2016, at the USA Faculty Club on USA’s main campus. Lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m., and the presentation begins at noon.

Dr. Panacek’s presentation will focus on both his role in the Discovery Life Channel show, Untold Stories of the ER, and his role in the department of emergency medicine at USA.

Dr. Panacek earned his medical degree from USA. He completed both his residency and fellowship training at the University of California Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, Calif. He is recipient of multiple awards for excellence in emergency medicine and research.

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