Monday, December 17, 2018

Med School Café - Expert Advice for the Community

Dr. Meir Mizrahi, assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and a gastroenterologist with USA Physicians Group, presented December's Med School Café lecture, "How to Treat Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease."

Dr. Mizrahi earned his medical degree from the Bologna School of Medicine in Bologna, Italy. He completed his residency training and a fellowship in gastroenterology at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel. He then completed a research and clinical fellowship at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, in the Center of Advanced Endoscopy in Boston.

Watch December Med School Café - Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) on YouTube or below.


USA College of Medicine Welcomes New Emergency Medicine Faculty

Dr. Alan Heins recently was appointed associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and serves as an emergency medicine physician at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital.

Dr. Heins received his medical degree from the University of South Florida College of Medicine in Tampa, Fla. He completed his residency training in emergency medicine at the University of Maryland Medical System in Baltimore. After completing his residency training, he served as an attending physician at USA University Hospital and USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital while completing his master’s in public health at Emory University in Atlanta.

Dr. Heins is a member of the American Medical Association and the American College of Emergency Physicians. He also is a chair of the American College of Emergency Physicians Public Health and Injury Prevention Committee.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

USA Faculty Honored at Inventor Recognition Luncheon

Back row: Reggie Taylor, Dr. Andrew E. Byrd, Dr. Victor Solodushko; middle row: Dr. Kuang-Ting Hsiao, Anna Buford, Dr. Brian Fouty; front row: Dr. Gary A. Piazza, Dr. Sanjeev Srivastava, Dr. Ajay Singh, and Dr. Seema Singh.
The University of South Alabama Office of Commercialization and Industry Collaboration (OCIC) recently held its 2018 Inventor Recognition Luncheon.

The Inventor Recognition Luncheon is an opportunity for the OCIC to acknowledge the university’s inventors for their dedication to innovative research that results in valuable intellectual property. At the event, special recognition awards were formally presented to inventors named on recently issued patents in the United States.

This year the OCIC presented six awards to the following USA inventors listed on five U.S. patents that issued between October 2016 and October 2018, as well as the inventor of the university's first licensed trade secret:
  • Dr. Brian Fouty, professor of internal medicine and pharmacology at the USA College of Medicine and a pulmonologist with USA Physicians Group; and Dr. Victor Solodushko, associate professor of pharmacology at the USA College of Medicine, are co-inventors on a patent issued Dec. 12, 2017. The patent describes a gene delivery system that utilizes genetic elements of the piggyBac family transposon system, and methods of introducing nucleic acid into target cells. This technology consolidates plasmids into a single delivery vector, while also dramatically reducing incorporation of non-essential DNA into the target genome, thereby reducing or eliminating potential side effects associated with more traditional transposition systems. 
  • Dr. Ajay Singh, professor of oncologic sciences at the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the USA College of Medicine; and Dr. Seema Singh, associate professor of oncologic sciences at the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute, are co-inventors on a patent issued Nov. 28, 2017. The patent describes a method to alleviate Gemcitabine (chemotherapeutic) associated resistance in pancreatic cancer. Another patent, issued Oct. 4, 2016, included co-inventor Dr. Sanjeev Srivastava, assistant professor of oncologic sciences at the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute. The subject of this patent was the identification of relevant functions of Myb in prostate cancer. 
  • Dr. Gary A. Piazza, professor of oncologic sciences and pharmacology, leader of the Cancer Chemoprevention and Experimental Therapeutics Programs, and chief of the Drug Discovery Research Center at the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute, is an inventor on a patent issued Aug. 7, 2018. The patent covers both diagnostic tools and therapeutics for the treatment of cancer based on phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibition. This assay is an opportunity to repurpose known inhibitors of PDE towards a cancer therapeutic indication as well as identify novel compounds as PDE specific inhibitors. 
  • Dr. Kuang-Ting Hsiao, professor of mechanical engineering, is the inventor on a patent issued Sept. 4, 2018. The patent is a transformative method of manufacturing composite materials that enhances a fiber-reinforced polymer’s level of performance, while mitigating weaknesses and enabling multi-functionality. 
  • Anna Buford, a research assistant in physiology and cell biology, is the inventor of a trade secret formulation of a specialty cell culture media allows primary cells isolated from animals to remain viable longer and survive a greater number of passages than standard cell culture media. This can significantly reduce the cost associated with in vitro studies that require primary cells from a myriad of animal models.
The USA Office of Commercialization and Industry Collaboration is responsible for managing the intellectual property assets of the university and serves as a point of contact for research-related industry collaboration.

Register Now: Pediatrics Symposium Set for Jan. 18

The University of South Alabama Department of Pediatrics and the Office of Continuing Medical Education will present "Be Better, Be Greater, Be Extraordinary in Pediatric Care" Jan. 18, 2019, in the Strada Patient Care Center first-floor conference room. The symposium is set for 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., followed by a mix and mingle.

The symposium will bring together experts in sports participation in children, authorities in the care of children with chronic medical conditions, and experienced specialists in the care of children with metabolic and hormonal needs.

Dr. Russell Steele, a nationally known pediatric infectious disease specialist, is the keynote speaker.

Other speakers include Dr. Lynn Batten, associate professor of pediatrics at the USA College of Medicine and a pediatric cardiologist with USA Physicians Group; Dr. Anthony Martino, professor and chair of neurosurgery at the USA College of Medicine and a neurosurgeon with USA Health; Dr. James Toldi, assistant professor of family medicine at the USA College of Medicine and a family medicine and sports medicine physician with USA Physicians Group; and Dr. Anne-Marie Kaulfers, associate professor of endocrinology at the USA College of Medicine and a pediatric endocrinologist with USA Physicians Group.

Register online or contact Sharrie Cranford at (251) 414-8080 or scranford@southalabama.edu to register.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

12th Annual COM Research Forum Winners Announced

The 12th annual Research Forum hosted by the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and USA Mitchell Cancer Institute was held Nov. 9, 2018, on USA’s main campus. First place winners Tyler Mattox and Dr. Antonio Ward were presented travel awards for their extensive research.

“Presentations this year were exceptionally good,” said Dr. Donna Cioffi, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the USA College of Medicine. “The topics included basic and translational science, as well clinical medicine. It was indeed exciting to see the outstanding work being done here at the USA College of Medicine and at the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute. It is something we can all be proud of.”

The forum consisted of two sessions. The morning session was comprised of nine oral presentations, and the afternoon session had 41 poster presentations.

Tyler Mattox, a basic medical science graduate student, won a $1,000 travel award for best overall graduate student presentation. “I plan to use the award to attend a cancer research conference, which would allow me to share our findings with the brightest minds in oncology research,” he said. “In addition to presenting my results, the exposure to cutting-edge projects from other institutions will allow me to return to USA with new ideas and collaborations to continue moving my project forward.”

His research was performed in oncologic sciences in the lab of Dr. Gary Piazza, chief of the Drug Discovery Research Center and Abraham A. Mitchell Distinguished Investigator and professor of oncologic sciences at USA Mitchell Cancer Institute.

Mattox said his project focuses on characterizing the mechanism of action of a novel anti-cancer compound DC070-547. “We found that DC070-547 potently and selectively inhibits the growth of pancreatic tumor cells that harbor a mutation in a RAS gene,” he said. “Mutations in RAS genes are known to drive aggressive and metastatic cancers such as pancreatic, lung and colorectal cancers. These tumors are notoriously resistant to conventional treatment options, and this resistance can often be attributed to a RAS mutation.”

After nearly 40 years of research in both academia and the pharmaceutical industry, Mattox said there are still no FDA-approved RAS inhibitors on the market. “My project presents a first-in-class RAS inhibitor that holds promise to be developed for the treatment of pancreatic cancer, along with other RAS-driven cancers,” he said.

The post-doctorate award was presented to Dr.Ward for his research on colorectal cancer tumor formation. According to Dr. Ward, colorectal cancer can develop from non-cancerous polyps – or abnormal tissue growth – found on the colon and have the potential to become cancerous over time if not properly removed or treated.

The goal of his research is to develop small molecule inhibitors that target specific mutations, or oncogenes, responsible for colorectal cancer progression. “One of these oncogenes responsible for colorectal cancer progression, β-catenin, is  highly expressed in colorectal cancer due to a mutation of the APC/β-catenin gene.  β-catenin expression has been correlated with colorectal cancers that also have high expression levels of the enzyme phophodieterase-10 (PDE10),” he said.

So far, Dr. Ward said PDE10 inhibitors have only been developed to treat central nervous system disorders. “Our lab has discovered for the first time that PDE10 is a target for colorectal cancer treatment and has developed a compound that is selective for PDE10 with greater potency than current PDE10 inhibitors that also exhibit anti-cancer properties by its effect on β-catenin cell signaling.”

Dr. Ward said his research has far-reaching potential to impact patient care. “The colorectal cancer burden is very high in the United States,” he said. “Therefore, developing and discovering a small molecule inhibitor that can one day be applied as a preventative or therapeutic drug for treating pre-cancerous colorectal polyps will greatly reduce cancer progression and overall colorectal cancer burden.”

Both Mattox and Dr. Ward agree that the annual Research Forum is beneficial for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows alike. “I am truly blessed to be a part of such a talented group of researchers at the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute,” Mattox said. “MCI has previously played a significant role in my life by aiding family and friends in their fights against cancer, and now I am fortunate to be conducting my dissertation research in the same building.”

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

Mark Your Calendar: Forum on Community-Engaged Scholarship Set for Jan. 11

The University of South Alabama Center for Healthy Communities, in collaboration with the USA Office of Community Engagement and the USA Translational Research Service Center, is hosting its 3rd Forum on Community-Engaged Scholarship.

The forum, titled "Building Blocks for Impactful Community Engagement Toward Health Equity," is set for Jan. 11, 2019.

The forum has a two-fold objective: focus on key elements of community engagement that foster progression to health equity; and encourage interconnections between researchers and community-based organizations working toward health equity in our community.

The forum will include a panel discussion on practical experiences of community engagement for working towards health equity and a poster session highlighting projects and organizations.

Register to attend the forumSubmit a poster abstract.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Med School Café: Expert Advice for the Community

Dr. Gino DiVittorio, who serves as a rheumatologist with USA Mobile Diagnostic Center, presented November's Med School Café lecture, "Gout."

At the lecture, Dr. DiVittorio discussed the diagnosis and treatment options for gout.

Dr. DiVittorio earned his medical degree from the University of Los Andes in Merida, Venezuela. He completed his residency training in internal medicine at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore and fellowship training in rheumatology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in Birmingham, Ala.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

USA Welcomes New Critical Care and Burn Surgeon

Dr. Andrew Bright recently was appointed assistant professor of surgery at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and serves as a critical care and burn surgeon with USA Health.

Dr. Bright earned his medical degree from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg, W.V., under the Health Professions Scholarship Program with the US Navy.  After completing a surgery internship at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., he served for two years as a physician with 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, deploying twice to the Middle East.

He then completed his residency in general surgery at USA University Hospital, earning multiple honors to include induction in the Gold Humanism Honor Society.  He then re-commissioned in the U.S. Navy and served as a general surgeon from 2014 to 2017.  He deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan where he served as a trauma surgeon and was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal.  After returning to the United States, Dr. Bright completed a surgical critical care fellowship with an emphasis on burns at USA University Hospital.

Dr. Bright is board certified by the American Board of Surgery in general surgery and surgical critical care.  He is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha, the American Burn Association and the Southern Medical Association.  He is an instructor in “Stop the Bleed,” Advanced Burn Life Support, Advanced Trauma Life Support, and Advanced Surgical Skills for Exposure in Trauma.  Dr. Bright also volunteers with the Christian Medical Ministry through the annual surgical mission to Kibogora Hospital, Rwanda.

Basic Medical Sciences Student Receives AHA Predoctoral Fellowship

Meredith Gwin, a third-year Basic Medical Sciences Ph.D. student at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, recently was awarded a two-year American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship.

Her research focuses on the role of gamma secretase activating protein (GSAP) in the production of cytotoxic beta amyloid during hospital-acquired pneumonia.

"Patients in the intensive care unit that get hospital-acquired pneumonia have increased incidences of morbidity, including neurocognitive decline and mortality post-discharge," Gwin said. "We believe that the beta amyloid produced by the lung endothelium could be contributing to the morbidity and mortality seen in these patients. The outcome of this proposal could give us insight into a new prevention and/or therapy for end-organ damage and neurocognitive decline seen in ICU patients that acquire nosocomial pneumonia."

Dr. Troy Stevens, director of the USA Center for Lung Biology and Lenoir Louise Locke Chair of Physiology and Cell Biology at the USA College of Medicine, encouraged Gwin to apply for external funding for her research.

"I was extremely excited when I received my award notice. I actually cried - happy tears, of course," Gwin said. "It is really cool to see something I’ve dreamed about and worked so hard on become reality."

Gwin said she would like to thank the following individuals for their contributions to her research: Dr. Stevens; Dr. Mikhail Alexeyev, professor of physiology and cell biology; Viktoriya Pastukh, research assistant in physiology and cell biology; Nataliya Kozhukhar, research technician in physiology and cell biology; Dr. Domenico Spadafora, manager of the USA Flow Cytometry Core Laboratory; Dr. Ji Young Lee, assistant professor of physiology and cell biology and internal medicine; Dr. Ron Balczon, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology; Sarah Voth, a Ph.D. candidate in the department of physiology and cell biology; and Nicole Housley, research technologist in microbiology and immunology.

Learn more about the American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship.


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Tammi Milton Named Employee of the Month for December

Brittany Brown, left, director of operations for internal medicine, and Howard Holcomb, assistant administrator for USA Physicians Group, present Tammi Milton, center, with the Employee of the Month Award.
Tammi Milton, a medical assistant at USA Stanton Road Clinic, received the USA Physicians Group Employee of the Month Award for December.

Milton's family and co-workers gathered in the clinic's lobby to surprise her with the honor. "Thank you guys so much," said Milton, who joined Stanton Road Clinic in June 2010. "I love my job, and I love my patients. They know that. There is nothing I wouldn't do for them."

Brittany Brown, director of operations for internal medicine, presented her the award, which includes one paid day of administrative leave. "It speaks volumes about you as an individual, of course, but also the clinic you represent," Brown said. "Thank you to each one of you for giving back to our patients and making a difference."

"Since day one, Tammi has been my go-to person," said Robin Geary, clinical nurse supervisor. "On top of an employee relationship, we have developed a friendship."

Beverly Kellen, director of operations for Stanton Road Clinic, was unable to attend the presentation but wrote a letter to extend her congratulations. "We are so very proud of you and your dedication to our patients, your super attitude and camaraderie that you exhibit toward your coworkers," Kellen said. "You are exemplary, Tammi, and that is why you are being recognized today."

The USA Physicians Group Employee of the Month Award recognizes employees who exhibit exceptional customer service, compassionate patient care, teamwork, and a willingness to go above and beyond their professional duties. To nominate an employee, fill out the USA Physicians Group Employee of the Month Nomination Form.

Monday, December 3, 2018

USA Welcomes Dr. Brett Martin to Radiology

Dr. Brett Martin recently was appointed assistant professor of radiology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and serves as a neuroradiologist with USA Health.

Dr. Martin received his medical degree from Louisiana State University in Shreveport, La., and completed a radiology residency at the USA College of Medicine. He completed a neuroradiology fellowship at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.

He is a member of the American College of Radiology and the American Medical Association, and he is certified by the American Board of Radiology. Dr. Martin is also a community theater volunteer at the Joe Jefferson Playhouse in Mobile.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Dr. Glen Borchert Joins USA College of Medicine Faculty

Dr. Glen Borchert recently was appointed associate professor of pharmacology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine. He has a secondary appointment as associate professor of biology at USA.

He earned his Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. He completed postdoctoral research in structural biology at the University of California at Berkeley and postdoctoral research in immunology at Illinois State University in Normal, Ill.

Dr. Borchert has received research awards totaling more than $3.3 million. Currently, he is the primary investigator of the project "MicroRNAs: What are they targeting?", sponsored by the National Science Foundation's Division of Molecular and Cellular Biology. He is also the co-investigator of "DNA lesions and gene expression in hypoxic lung disease," sponsored by the National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.   

He is a member of the RNA Society, the Alabama Academy of Science, the Genetics Society of America, and the American Physiological Society.

Mark Your Calendar: Pediatric Grand Rounds Dec. 21

Dr. Roger Berkow, professor and vice chair of pediatrics at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and a pediatrician with USA Physicians Group, will present December's pediatric grand rounds.

His lecture, "Pediatric Oncology: A 30-Year Perspective," is set for 8 a.m. Friday, Dec. 21, in the conference room on the first floor of the Strada Patient Care Center.

Dr. Berkow will discuss the advancements in care and cure rates of childhood cancer over the past 30 years, the obstacles and next steps to continued improvement in care and cure rates, and the biology of cancer. 

Pediatrics grand rounds is every third Friday of the month. The event is open to USA faculty, staff and students. A light breakfast, coffee and beverages will be provided.

For more information, contact LaTasha Williams at latashawilliams@health.southalabama.edu or (251) 415-8688.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

USA Physicians Group to Recognize Outstanding Employees

USA Physicians Group is re-establishing the Employee of the Month program to honor employees who exhibit exceptional customer service, teamwork, and a willingness to go above and beyond their professional duties.

All USA Physicians Group employees, including full-time and part-time status, who have completed their six-month probationary period are eligible to be nominated for the award. Physicians and members of administration are not eligible for the award.

Monthly honorees will receive one paid administrative day of leave. The day of leave must be scheduled and approved in advance and will be based on their normal work schedule. For example, if the employee normally works an 8-hour shift, the administrative day of leave will be 8 hours.

Honorees will also be recognized in the Med School Watercooler blog and on USA Physicians Group social media outlets.

To nominate an employee, fill out the USA Physicians Group Employee of the Month Nomination Form.

USA Medical Students Take First Place in APPA Poster Contest

Second-year medical student Shyla Hossain
attended the conference and presented their poster.
Lauren Chastain and Shyla Hossain, students at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, recently won first place in the poster contest at the Alabama Psychiatric Physicians Association (APPA) fall conference in Mobile.

Chastain, a fourth-year medical student, and Hossain, a second-year medical student, won for their project, "Overdose without the Dose: A Case Study of Patient Handoff in Psychiatry."

Dr. W. Bogan Brooks, associate professor of psychiatry at the USA College of Medicine and a psychiatrist with USA Health, served as principal investigator of the study. They also worked with Dr. Shanthi Gatla, a fellow in child and adolescent psychiatry at USA Health.

"Our project highlighted the importance of efficient communication between health care providers as patients transition between facilities throughout treatment stages," explained Hossain, who attended the conference and presented their poster. "We illustrated this through a patient case; the patient's chart revealed five different diagnoses and medications over the span of 11 months! With her in mind, we conducted a literature search on patient handoff procedures and were able to introduce several mnemonics to the APPA attendees."

Hossain said many of the conference attendees were acutely aware of the problem and had experience with similar cases. "Using a structured method of communication significantly improves patient outcomes and reduces hospital stays, and we sincerely hope some attendees were able take back our suggestions to their own practice," she said.

Hossain said she is proud to have taken part in such relevant research that could be applied to any field of medicine. "As an M2, research is not something that we have a lot of time for, and it is something you have to seek out for yourself. I enjoy doing research and sought out Dr. Brooks early in my M1 year," she said. "It is very rewarding to have achieved first-place with a wonderful team of mentors who strongly believe in providing opportunities to help students achieve beyond their goals."

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

December Med School Café to Address Treatment of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Med School Café for December will feature Dr. Meir Mizrahi, assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and a gastroenterologist with USA Physicians Group.

His lecture, titled "How to Treat  Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease," will be held Wednesday, Dec. 5, at the Faculty Club on USA's main campus. Lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m., and the presentation will begin at noon.

Dr. Mizrahi earned his medical degree from the Bologna School of Medicine in Bologna, Italy. He completed his residency training and a fellowship in gastroenterology at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel. He then completed a research and clinical fellowship at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, in the Center of Advanced Endoscopy in Boston.

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

The Med School Café lunch and lecture 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.

Monday, November 19, 2018

USA Physicians Group Welcomes Nurse Practitioner Erin Sheppard

Erin Sheppard recently joined USA Physicians Group as a family medicine nurse practitioner.

Previously, Sheppard spent over 10 years as a registered nurse, traveling to serve in labor and delivery departments in Arizona, California, Colorado, Louisiana, Nevada, Texas and the island of St. Croix. Most recently, the last several years of her tenure as an RN were spent in labor and delivery at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital.

She earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Southern Mississippi, where she was a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society, and completed her master’s degree at USA College of Nursing, where she was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society. Currently, Sheppard is pursuing her doctorate of nursing practice at USA.

Sheppard is now accepting new patients. To make an appointment with her, call (251) 434-3475.

Friday, November 16, 2018

USA Health Employees Well Represented on US-A Team, Christie Miree Awards

Several USA Health employees were nominated for the Christie Miree Award and named to the US-A Team. 
The University of South Alabama recently honored several USA Health employees as nominees and winners of the 2018 Christie Miree USA National Alumni Association Outstanding Employee Awards. The Christie Miree recipients were chosen from the US-A Team, which recognizes outstanding employees who are nominated by their peers.

The following USA Health employees were honored at the reception. Here are a few excerpts from their nominations.

Greg Bolin, Director of Security and Grounds, USA Health - Administrative Category, US-A Team

"Greg shows tremendous leadership as it is exemplified throughout his department! His department acts with kindness, respect, willingness to help, and most importantly keeps USA Health safe. All of these aspects are a great tribute to Greg and the person he is. Greg truly lives the USA C&W mission and is a pillar of this hospital."

Ellen Guy, Ward Clerk, University Hospital - Clerical Category, US-A Team and Christie Miree Award Winner

"Mrs. Guy dedicates herself to her colleagues, our patients and the university. She has unconditional love for people. ... Mrs. Guy never hesitates to take the time to sit with grieving families and offer them prayers and a loving hug. She gives so much and asks for nothing in return. She is more than just an amazing employee, but also an amazing person."

Ricky Jones, Custodial Worker II, USA Children's & Women's Hospital - Service Category, US-A Team and Christie Miree Award Winner

Ricky is constantly in motion - working to complete all tasks and assist where he can. His pleasant demeanor and can-do attitude is ever present. He has been described as the Energizer Bunny - he just keeps going and going. He works hard to do the job of which he can be proud. His work ethic sets an example for others. He is the employee you want on your team."

David Ponder, Maintenance Technician II, Strada Patient Care Center - Crafts/Trades Category, US-A Team and Christie Miree Award Winner

"David is responsible for keeping all 133,000 square feet of the Strada Patient Care Center up and running, no matter the issue. He takes ownership of all tasks and follows them through to completion. He is always one step ahead and is thinking of what is best for the building. ... David is well liked and respected by our staff and physicians in the building."

Emily Reeves, Grant Accountant III, USA College of Medicine - Professional Category, US-A Team

"The nature of the grant business can be rather hectic and demanding at times due to sponsor deadlines. No matter the circumstance, Emily is always professional, courteous and extremely patient when interacting with faculty and staff. No doubt she is a team player as she is always eager to lend a helping hand and is highly respected by her peers."

Vaughan Tomko, Biomedical Equipment Technician II,  USA Children's & Women's Hospital - Technical Category, US-A Team and Christie Miree Award Winner

"Vaughan became the FetalLink-Cerner guy for the Biomed department, working with all persons connected to the project, which is a large undertaking keeping a system of that size running and configured. ... With Vaughan's ability to do high-quality work, and his good people skills, it has helped raise the Biomed department's standards for patient care and services."

Christie Miree is an alumna of USA and a former member of the board of trustees. Learn more about the award here. View more photos from the event.

USA Chapter Receives 2018 Pediatric Interest Group of the Year Award

From left, fourth-year medical students Perrin Windham, Natalie Carlisle and Lydia Sandy accepted the award on behalf of the USA Pediatric Interest Group. 
The University of South Alabama Pediatric Interest Group, a student-run organization, recently received the Pediatric Interest Group of the Year Award, given by the Medical Student Committee of the Section on Pediatric Trainees (SOPT) of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Fourth-year medical students Natalie Carlisle, co-president; Lydia Sandy, co-president; and Perrin Windham, co-vice president, attended the AAP National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, Fla., to accept the award for their group. In addition to the award, the students received scholarships to cover travel expenses.

"We applied for this award in June 2018 and were notified that our group was the recipient in September," Carlisle said. "This award is open to all pediatric interest groups across the country, and we were told that there were 11 applications this cycle."

Carlisle, Sandy and Windham received the award during the medical student session of the conference, where they also had the opportunity to present a PowerPoint about USA's Pediatric Interest Group.

"It was great to be able to highlight the work that our organization has been able to complete in the past year and what we are able to do for children and their families in our community," Carlisle said.

Dr. Molly Markowitz, executive coordinator of medical student initiatives at the American Academy of Pediatrics, wrote in their award letter: "Among the many applications received this year, your chapter stood out as one that not only proves what a chapter can do, but also sets the standard high for what is achievable as an interest group."

Visit www.aapexperience.org for more information on the AAP National Conference and Exhibition.

Dr. Om Jha Recognized For Faculty Innovation

Dr. Om Jha, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and a neonatologist at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, recently received the 2018 Faculty Innovation Award from the USA National Alumni Association. This award is given to a faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in research.

“I feel honored and humbled to be considered and selected for this prestigious award,” he said. “Innovation and exploration are engines that power the march of modern science into the future. I am a lifelong learner and a healthcare ethnographer. I like to observe the process of delivery of healthcare from admission to discharge for my patients, and this has inspired me to come up with concepts to bridge unmet needs.”

Since starting at USA Health in 2015, Dr. Jha has filed two non-provisional patents at the U.S. Patent and Trademark office: “Silver Nanoparticle Sleeve” used to decrease hospital-acquired infections and “Newborn Temperature and Heart Rate Monitor Wrap.”

Dr. Jha earned his medical degree from Calcutta Medical College in Kolkata, India. He completed two pediatric residencies at Patna Medical College and Hospital in Patna, India, and at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield, Ill. He then completed a fellowship in neonatology at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Click here to learn more about the 2018 USA National Alumni Association Awards.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Patient Discusses Benefits of Collaborative Care at USA Health in Facebook Live Video

From left, Dr. Phillip Henderson, Dr. Karen Fagan and patient
Kim Crowell
Dr. Karen Fagan, professor of internal medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and director of the USA Pulmonary Hypertension Center, and Dr. Phillip Henderson, assistant professor of internal medicine and a gastroenterologist and hepatologist with USA Health, presented grand rounds for November.

After their presentation, Drs. Fagan and Henderson, along with their patient Kim Crowell, participated in a Facebook Live video to discuss the lifesaving benefits of advanced collaborative care at USA Health.

"At the region's only academic health system, we were able to collaborate in taking care of a very ill patient with multi-system disease and highlighted the outcome of that person's collaborative care here at USA," Dr. Fagan said.

Crowell was diagnosed with portopulmonary hypertension, a rare form of pulmonary arterial hypertension that results from advanced liver disease. "I would not be sitting here and able to share this story today without these guys and without the whole team here at USA," Crowell said.

"With our expertise in transplant hepatology and pulmonary arterial hypertension, we really were able to benefit this patient," Dr. Henderson said.

Learn more about Kim Crowell's story in our Facebook Live video.

USA College of Medicine Annual Report Now Online

The Annual Report of the University of South Alabama College of Medicine catalogs the accomplishments of faculty, students, residents, fellows and staff in teaching, research, scholarly and community service during the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

The full report is now available online.

USA Health Hosts Meet & Greet for Dr. Michael Chang

Owen Bailey, chief executive officer for USA Health, introduces Dr. Michael Chang, new chief medical officer for USA Health.
USA Health hosted a Meet & Greet for Dr. Michael Chang Nov. 13, at Dumbwaiter Restaurant in Springhill. More than 100 people attended the reception.

Dr. Chang recently was named chief medical officer for USA Health and associate vice president for medical affairs and professor of surgery at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine.

View more photos from the event.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Dr. Pack-Mabien Receives 2018 Outstanding Regional Nurse Practitioner Award

Dr. Ardie Pack-Mabien, nurse practitioner at the University of South Alabama Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center, recently was selected as the 2018 Outstanding Regional Nurse Practitioner for the Bay Area by the Nurse Practitioner Alliance of Alabama.

“I feel extremely proud and humble to be recognized by nurse practitioners in this region for my commitment to the care of individuals in Alabama, but more so for making differences in the lives of my patients here at USA,” she said.

For the past 20 years, Dr. Pack-Mabien has provided comprehensive medical care, education and counseling with compassion and dedication to adults and children with sickle cell disease at USA Health.

“It is very gratifying to have a child hug my neck in the office or draw me a picture, an adolescent or young adult come to me in a public setting with a sense of pride just to say, ‘Hi, Mrs. Ardie,’ or the parents of my patients comforted and reassured after a long and extensive conversation about their child’s current illness. I can’t even imagine myself doing anything else,” Dr. Pack-Mabien said.

Dr. Pack-Mabien graduated from the USA College of Nursing with a bachelor degree, and received her master’s degree from the University of Mobile and her Ph.D. from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The NPAA awards provide an opportunity to give recognition to individual health care providers, educators or advocates, the in-the-trenches team members and the leaders who inspire, motivate and empower others around them to make a difference in the lives of those for whom they provide care. Learn more about the Nurse Practitioner Alliance of Alabama.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

USA Health Physicians Group Welcomes New Urologists

Dr. William Terry and Dr. Lorie Fleck are accepting new patients at University Urology.
University Urology – a newly established USA Health Physicians Group clinic – recently welcomed two urologists, Dr. Lorie Fleck and Dr. William Terry.

As the only urology clinic in the area backed by the resources of academic medicine, Dr. Fleck said she is looking forward to work alongside Dr. Terry to bring urology services to USA Health.

“In addition to seeing patients at the clinic, I will also serve as an adjunct professor of surgery at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine,” Dr. Fleck said. “I am excited about the opportunity to combine patient care with teaching and research.”

Dr. Fleck earned her medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia, where she also completed her residency training in urology. She is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society, American Medical Association, American Urologic Association, Society of Urodynamics and Female Urology and the Society of Women in Urology. She also serves as a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and is board-certified by the American Board of Urology. She is subspecialty board-certified in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.

Dr. Terry, who also serves as adjunct professor of surgery at the USA College of Medicine, said he is looking forward to serving the community that molded him into the physician he is today.

“Being a part of a health care system that has both great leadership and caring and well-trained physicians is a huge win for not only USA, but also the Mobile region,” he said. “I am happy to be part of this equation.”

Dr. Terry earned his medical degree from the USA College of Medicine in 2008 and completed an internship in general surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He then completed his residency training in urology at UAB.

University Urology is located at 3290 Dauphin St. in Suite 301. Both Dr. Fleck and Dr. Terry are now accepting new patients. To make an appointment, call (251) 660-5930.

USA College of Medicine Expands Intramural Grants Program

The University of South Alabama College of Medicine provides funds for basic science or translational research through an annual competitive Intramural Grants Program for faculty to develop new research ideas (seed funding), develop new critical preliminary data for revised extramural proposal submissions, or enable sustained research progress between extramural grant funding periods (bridge funding).

The USA College of Medicine has expanded the Intramural Grants Program to allow:

  • Two cycles per year, funding permitting
  • All COM full-time faculty to submit as principal investigators
  • COM faculty with less than $300,000 in extramural support to apply for seed funding to develop new ideas

The USA College of Medicine has launched the competition for Cycle 2.  Details are outlined below:

  • Internal Submission Deadline: Monday, Jan. 14, 2019
  • Award Cycle: March 1, 2019 - Feb. 29, 2020
  • Discipline/Subject Area: Basic science or translational research programs
  • Funding Available: $150,000.00
  • Eligibility: Full-time faculty (assistant professor or above) with primary appointment in the COM are eligible to apply as principal investigators. 

Collaborative proposals with co-investigators in other departments/units are encouraged. Clinical trials will not be supported.

Click here for more information and to apply for the competition.

Mark Your Calendar: Lunch and Learn Sessions for Faculty

The Office of Faculty Affairs will host the following "Lunch and Learn" sessions for faculty:
  • Dec. 4, noon to 1 p.m.: Promotion and Tenure Workshop
  • March 12, 2019, noon to 1 p.m.: Writing Abstracts and Manuscripts
  • May 8, 2019, noon to 1 p.m.: Implicit Bias and How It Impacts Our Health Care Encounters
All sessions will be held in the USA Children's & Women's Boardroom. Lunch will be served.

Email Nicole Schultz at nschultz@southalabama.edu to sign up for the sessions.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

New Primary Care Practice Established on Hillcrest Road

Dr. Charla Evans, left, and Dr. Daniela Weatherly see patients at Hillcrest Primary Care.
Dr. Charla Evans and Dr. Daniela Weatherly recently joined USA Health as family medicine physicians at a newly established practice, Hillcrest Primary Care.

Dr. Evans earned her medical degree from the University of North Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. She then completed her residency training in family medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, followed by an obstetrical fellowship at UAB.

Prior to joining USA, Dr. Evans served as a family medicine physician at Infirmary Health Diagnostic and Medical Clinic in Mobile. She is a member of the American Medical Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, Medical Association of the State of Alabama, Mobile Medical Society and the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

Dr. Evans and Dr. Weatherly with the staff at Hillcrest Primary Care.
Earlier this year, Dr. Evans received Lagniappe’s 2018 Nappie Award for Mobile Bay’s Best Doctor.

Dr. Weatherly earned her medical degree from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Craiova, Romania. She then completed her residency training in family medicine at Texas Tech Family Practice in Amarillo, Texas.

Prior to joining USA, Dr. Weatherly served as a family medicine physician at Diagnostic and Medical Clinic in Mobile. She is fluent in English, Romanian, Italian, French and Spanish.

Hillcrest Primary Care, a new practice located at 1261 Hillcrest Rd., is part of USA Health Physicians Group. Dr. Evans and Dr. Weatherly are accepting new patients. To make an appointment, call (251) 660-5940.

Surgical Oncologist Dr. J. Harrison Howard Joins USA Health

Dr. J. Harrison Howard recently joined the University of South Alabama College of Medicine as an associate professor in the Department of Surgery and a surgical oncologist with USA Health.

Dr. Howard had most recently served as an assistant professor of surgery at the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute at The Ohio State University. He will focus his practice at USA Health on the treatment of melanoma, sarcoma and GI malignancies.

“I see a real opportunity to offer cutting-edge cancer care to the people in lower Alabama, coastal Mississippi and the Florida panhandle,” he said. “Being a native of Alabama, I’m also excited to come back and serve the state I love.”

Dr. Howard said that a career in academic medicine gives him the opportunity to work with medical students and residents, conduct research, and collaborate with multidisciplinary teams on patient care.

“The advent of immunotherapy is one of the most revolutionary treatment advances we’ve seen in all of cancer care,” he said. “The side effects are so minimal. It’s exciting to see patients who are treated with state-of-the-art therapy continue to live their lives and feel good.”

A native of Birmingham, Dr. Howard earned his medical degree at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and completed his residency at UAB Hospital. He served as a surgical oncology fellow at the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, California. He is board certified in general surgery.

He is accepting new patients. To make an appointment with Dr. Howard, call (251) 434-3711.

USA Health Welcomes Surgical Oncologist Dr. Annabelle L. Fonseca

Dr. Annabelle L. Fonseca recently joined the University of South Alabama College of Medicine as an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery and a surgical oncologist with USA Health.

Dr. Fonseca completed a fellowship in complex general surgical oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2018. At USA, her clinical focus will be tumors of the liver, pancreas, gastric and biliary system, as well as other gastrointestinal tumors.

Dr. Fonseca has a special interest in the treatment of patients with cystic diseases of the pancreas. Her research focuses on pancreatic cystic disease, and the progression of these lesions to pancreatic cancer. She also conducts clinical research seeking to improve delivery of care and clinical outcomes in patients undergoing surgery. “In addition to providing high quality health care, we can make a huge difference through research,” she said.

Dr. Michael A. Finan, director of the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute, said, “We are assembling an incredibly talented team of cancer surgeons to address complex cases and to advance knowledge through cutting-edge cancer research. Two of our surgical oncologists, Dr. Fonseca and Dr. Spencer Liles, trained at MD Anderson. Patients throughout the Gulf Coast region can receive the highest quality of cancer care right here in Mobile at the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute.”

A native of Mumbai, India, Dr. Fonseca earned her medical degree at Padmashree Dr. D.Y. Patil Medical College in India. She continued her training at Yale University, obtaining a Master of Health Science degree at Yale University School of Medicine. While at MD Anderson, she also completed a National Institute of Health T32 research fellowship focusing on pancreatic cystic disease.

Dr. Fonseca said she was drawn to surgical oncology because it is a field that is emotionally fulfilling. “It allows us to work with and help patients during their most difficult times, and offer them a chance for cure," she said.

Dr. Fonseca is accepting new patients. To make an appointment, call (251) 434-3711.

Department of Surgery to host Frazer/Leigh Memorial Lecture

Dr. Kenneth Sharp, professor and vice chairman of the Vanderbilt University Department of Surgery, will present two upcoming CME-accredited lectures.

Both lectures are open to the public and are made possible through the Emmett B. Frazer, MD., 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. Sharp will present his first lecture, "Will Surgical Societies Be Relevant in the Future?" at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, in the Strada Patient Care Center conference room.

He will also present the grand rounds lecture, "Modern Surgical Treatment of Achalasia," at 7 a.m. Friday, Nov. 2, in the University Hospital conference room.

Dr. Sharp earned his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University and completed his residency training at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System. He completed a fellowship at Lock Haven VA Hospital and post-graduate training at John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford University. He is board-certified in general surgery by the American Board of 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) 445-8230.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Med School Café - Expert Advice for the Community

Dr. William Richards, professor and chair of surgery at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and director of the USA Surgical Weight Loss Center, and Dr. John Hunter, assistant professor of surgery at the USA College of Medicine and a colorectal surgeon with USA Health,  presented October's Med School Café lecture, "Robotic Hernia Repair."

During the talk, they discussed abdominal wall and inguinal hernias – how they occur, what can be done to fix them, and what to expect after a repair. They also discussed new robotic surgery techniques at USA as they apply to hernia repair and how they improve the patient experience and outcomes.

Watch October Med School Café - Robotic Hernia Repair on YouTube or below.

Register Now for CME Credit

The Office of Continuing Medical Education is hosting two upcoming opportunities for CME credit.

2nd Annual Evidence Based Symposium: "EBP – Transforming Healthcare"
Friday, Oct. 26, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the USA Student Center
Registration fee: $25

2nd Annual Conference on Ethics and Opioids 
Friday, Nov. 9, from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the USA Student Center
Registration Fee: $50

View the CME course schedule for more information and to register.

USA Health Honors Employees at Game Day 2018

USA Health showed appreciation to its employees at the USA Jaguars vs. Troy University football game on Oct. 23, 2018.

Each USA Health employee and volunteer who registered for the event received two complimentary tickets to the game. Prior to the game, guests enjoyed a tailgate dinner provided by Sonny’s BBQ.

USA Health employees were selected to walk onto the field during the game to be recognized: Veronica Hudson, Children's & Women's Hospital; Shaeneka Livingston, Mitchell Cancer Institute; Cindy Nelson, Mitchell Cancer Institute; Michael Owen, Children's & Women's Hospital; Emily Reeves, College of Medicine; Shelia Ross, University Hospital; Dr. Troy Stevens, College of Medicine; Kenya Turner, Physicians Group; and Charlie Ward, University Hospital.

Check out highlights from USA Health Game Day in the video above, and click here to view more photos from the event.



Thursday, October 18, 2018

November Med School Café – 'Gout'

The November Med School Café lecture will feature Dr. Gino DiVittorio, who serves as a rheumatologist with USA Mobile Diagnostic Center.

His lecture, titled “Gout,” will be held on Nov. 9, 2018, 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.

At the lecture, Dr. DiVittorio will discuss the diagnosis and treatment options for gout.

Dr. DiVittorio earned his medical degree from the University of Los Andes in Merida, Venezuela. He completed his residency training in internal medicine at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore and fellowship training in rheumatology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in Birmingham, Ala.

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

The Med School Café lunch and lecture 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

Dr. Natalie Fox Named Assistant Administrator, Chief Nursing Officer for USA Physicians Group

Dr. Natalie Fox, director of nursing and a pediatric nurse practitioner with USA Physicians Group, recently was named assistant administrator and chief nursing officer for USA Physicians Group.

As she transitions to her new role, Dr. Fox is spearheading the quality initiatives for USA Physicians Group that focus on improving population health outreach and reducing barriers to patient access.

She will also be leading the team-based care approaches at USA Physicians Group. She will continue to see patients in the department of pediatrics.

"I am excited about this new opportunity as I continue to help our organization use data-driven approaches transform our clinical practice teams to value-based care models of service” she said.

Dr. Fox, who joined USA Health in 2011, earned her doctorate degree in nursing from USA in 2017. She also earned both her Master of Nursing in Pediatrics and Bachelor of Nursing from USA. She maintains adjunct faculty appointments at the USA College of Nursing and the USA College of Medicine.

She is active in the Mobile community, serving as an AIDS South Alabama Advisory Board Member and USA College of Nursing Alumni Board Member. She is also part of the Leadership Mobile Class of 2019, as well as the Mobile Bay Monthly’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2017.

Monday, October 15, 2018

COM Research Forum Submission Deadline Extended

The deadline for abstract submissions for the University of South Alabama College of Medicine Research Forum has been extended to Friday, Oct. 19.

The registration and abstract form can be found here.

The 12th annual forum, co-sponsored by the College of Medicine and the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute, is set for Nov. 9, in the Medical Sciences Building.

The forum highlights the excellent biomedical research under way in the College of Medicine and its partners throughout the university. It is an opportunity for graduate students in the Basic Medical Sciences Ph.D. program as well as postdoctoral fellows, residents, clinical fellows, and new faculty in the College of Medicine and Mitchell Cancer Institute to present their research to the biomedical science community. Participation is required for all BMS graduate students in their second year and beyond.

For more information, contact Donna Cioffi at dlcioffi@southalabama.edu or Luciana Barnes at lsilva@health.southalabama.edu.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Pediatric Grand Rounds to Address Mass School Shootings

Dr. Daniel Preud’homme, professor of pediatrics at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and director of the USA Pediatric Healthy Life Center, and Dr. Jacob Pessia, a resident physician in pediatrics with USA Health, will present October's pediatric grand rounds.

Their lecture, titled "Mass School Shootings in the United States," is set for 8 a.m. Friday, Oct. 19, in the conference room on the first floor of the Strada Patient Care Center.

They will discuss the trends in mass school shootings, compare and contrast the increased prevalence of mass school shootings with trends in adolescent behaviors that contribute to violence and with trends in victimization at school, describe access to firearms in the U.S. and the laws governing their availability, and explain the difficulty in screening for the next potential school shooter.

The event is open to USA faculty, staff and students. A light breakfast, coffee and beverages will be provided.

For more information, contact LaTasha Williams at latashawilliams@health.southalabama.edu or (251) 415-8688.

Dr. Ningyong Xu Awarded NIH Grant

Dr. Ningyong Xu, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in the Department of Physiology and Cell Biology, recently received the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Her project, titled “TRPC4-Dependent Cytosolic Calcium Signals Coordinate Interendothelial Forces That Elicit Gap Formation,” studies the mechanism underlying inflammation-induced lung tissue swelling.

According to Dr. Xu, her research has far-reaching potential to impact patient care, as lung tissue swelling contributes significantly to the mortality and morbidity of patients in intensive care units. “Lung endothelial cells, which form a barrier to keep blood contents within the vessels, express pore-forming proteins in their plasma membranes to form calcium channels known as the canonical transient receptor potential 4, or TRCP4,” she said. “Inflammatory substances in the bloodstream cause the TRPC4 channel to open and allow calcium ions to enter the lung endothelial cells. Calcium influx serves as a critical signal to pull endothelial cells apart and form holes in the vessel wall. Thus, fluid, proteins and blood cells in the bloodstream penetrate through these holes into the interstitium, leading to lung tissue swelling.”

Dr. Xu said the ultimate goal is to perform a target-based drug screen and identify new drugs targets for lung swelling patients. “This grant allows me to test my hypothesis and pave the way to discover novel and effective drugs for lung edema patients,” she said. “Reducing contractile forces and improving lung endothelial barrier integrity could be potential drug targets to reduce lung endothelial permeability.”

“I would like to thank the many people who helped me during this grant application,” said Dr. Xu. “My mentor and sponsor, Dr. Troy Stevens, along with my co-sponsor Dr. Dhananjay Tambe, guided me through this proposal.”

Dr. Xu also credits a host of supporters, secretaries and grant officers for playing a vital role in helping her secure the three-year grant from the NIH: Drs. Elly Trepman (Grand Rapids, Minn.), Mary Townsley, Mikhail Alexeyev, Silas leavesley, Mike Lin, Michael Francis, Thomas Rich, Mark Taylor, Donna Cioffi, Michelle Schuller, Diego Alveraze, Steve Lim, and Ms. Charlene Jorden, Kelli Robinson, Penny Cook, and Jennifer Collins. “Thank you all for the support to make this happen,” Dr. Xu said.

The Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA postdoctoral fellowship is designed to enhance the research training of promising postdoctoral candidates who have the potential to become productive, independent investigators in scientific health-related research fields relevant to the missions of the participating NIH Institutes and Centers. Learn more about the grant here.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Dr. Ji Young Lee Receives American Heart Association Grant

Dr. Ji Young Lee, assistant professor of physiology, cell biology and internal medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, recently received a $231,000 three-year Career Development Award from the American Heart Association. The grant will allow Dr. Lee to study the effects of acidosis on pneumonia.

"Acidosis is common during pneumonia; however, the way acidosis impacts lung injury and repair is poorly understood," said Dr. Troy Stevens, professor and chair of physiology and cell biology at the USA College of Medicine and director of the USA Center for Lung Biology. "Dr. Lee has resolved a mechanism that seems to be essential to the lung’s injury and repair program. Her work is highly innovative, and the completion of the work she has proposed may change treatment options in pneumonia and minimize the need for fluids, electrolytes, alcohol or surgery that have been major complicating factors for current acidosis therapies. This work will set the stage for Dr. Lee’s career as an independent clinical-scientist.”

Dr. Lee said, “When I came to USA five years ago for a pulmonary and critical care fellowship, I had a dream of conducting translational research; however, I was not equipped to be an independent investigator. My amazing mentors and role models, Drs. Troy Stevens, Karen Fagan and Brian Fouty, transformed me into a competitive candidate for extramural funding, in addition to other profound influences they had on me. As I have worked closely with Center for Lung Biology and Pulmonary and Critical Care division, I can confidently tell our fellows they are in an exceptional environment to grow as academic pulmonologists."

Dr. Lee credits other mentors and supporters who made this award possible: Drs. Errol Crook, Ronald Balczon, Mikhail Alexeyev, Thomas Rich, Diego Alvarez, Mary Townsley, John Marymont and Edmund Miller (Feinstein Institute for Medical Research); faculty and fellows of pulmonary division; Dr. Stevens’ lab members; assistance with animal protocol by Dr. Michele Schuler; administrative support by Jennifer Collins, Charlene Jordan and Jennifer Chaplin; and helpful advice on grant writing by Drs. Jon Simmons and Soo Jung Cho (Cornell University).

The American Heart Association has funded more heart disease and stroke research than any organization outside the federal government, thanks to the generosity of donors and supporters.

USA Health Game Day T-shirts Now Available

USA Health Game Day 2018 is coming up on Oct. 23, and we've designed a special T-shirt for the event. We hope you will join us in wearing one to the game. USA Health employees also can wear these shirts to work the day of the game.

The long-sleeve Comfort Colors T-shirts cost $12 and are now available for purchase at the following locations:

University Hospital Gift Shop (accepts cash only)
Monday through Friday – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Saturday – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sunday – 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Children's & Women's Hospital Gift Shop (accepts cash and cards)
Monday through Friday – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday – 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The USA Jags will take on Troy University Tuesday, Oct. 23. The tailgate starts at 4:30 p.m., and kickoff is at 7 p.m. Tickets are free for USA Health employees, volunteers and medical students.

The deadline to register for Game Day is Oct. 15. Register here.

Visit the event page for more information on USA Health Game Day 2018.

Check out the promo video below of the shirts being printed specially for the event.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Mark Your Calendar: College of Medicine Research Forum

The 12th annual University of South Alabama College of Medicine Research Forum, co-sponsored by the College of Medicine and the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute, is set for Nov. 9.

The forum highlights the excellent biomedical research under way in the College of Medicine and its partners throughout the university. It is an opportunity for graduate students in the Basic Medical Sciences Ph.D. program as well as postdoctoral fellows, residents, clinical fellows, and new faculty in the College of Medicine and Mitchell Cancer Institute to present their research to the biomedical science community.

The deadline for abstract submissions is Friday, Oct. 12. Participation is required for all BMS graduate students in their second year and beyond.

Registration and abstract form can be found here.
 
For more information, contact Donna Cioffi at dlcioffi@southalabama.edu or Luciana Barnes at lsilva@health.southalabama.edu.

USA Welcomes Pediatric Surgeon Dr. Hanna Alemayehu

Dr. Hanna Alemayehu recently joined the University of South Alabama College of Medicine as an assistant professor of surgery and will serve as a pediatric surgeon with USA Physicians Group.

Prior to joining USA, Dr. Alemayehu served as a clinical instructor in surgery at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.

She received her medical degree from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York and completed her residency at New York Medical College in Valhalla, N.Y. Following her residency, she completed a fellowship in pediatric surgery at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

Dr. Alemayehu has performed extensive pediatric surgical outcomes research and has authored dozens of manuscripts. She has won several awards, including the Children’s Mercy Hospital Every Time Award.

She is accepting new patients. To make an appointment with Dr. Alemayehu, call (251) 415-1475.