Friday, August 9, 2019

USA researchers receive Bander Award in support of pulmonary-related research

Thomas Rich, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine (far left), and Silas Leavesley, Ph.D., associate professor of chemical and bimolecular engineering at USA (far right), work in an engineering lab with Craig Browning, a doctoral student in the science systems engineering program at USA.
Silas Leavesley, Ph.D., professor of chemical and bimolecular engineering at the University of South Alabama, and Thomas Rich, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology at the USA College of Medicine, recently received the 2019 USA Center for Lung Biology Murray Bander Faculty Development Award. The award – which is given to one or two investigators each year— seeks to foster innovative discoveries in pulmonary research and promote faculty development.

As members of the USA Center for Lung Biology, their novel research seeks to develop a hyperspectral clinical imaging endoscopy platform to more effectively diagnose and treat abnormal tissues in the upper airway.

According to Leavesley, who also holds a joint appointment in the USA College of Medicine department of pharmacology, this research holds far-reaching potential for improving patient care.

Endoscopes, essentially long tubal devices used to visualize interior parts of the body, are used in pulmonary medicine to diagnose and monitor a wide variety of conditions such as cancers, cysts, environmentally induced damage or airway blockages. Currently, visual inspection is performed using a standard color camera for imaging which provides images in red, green and blue (RBG).

“Our research seeks to develop a next-generation endoscope that provides images in many different colors, referred to by their characteristic wavelength,” he said. “This technique of imaging at many wavelengths of light is called hyperspectral imaging and has previously demonstrated the ability to provide accurate detection of certain types of abnormal tissues such as cancers.”

Leavesley said this new technique is needed as traditional white light imaging with a RGB camera only provides limited wavelength data for detecting cancers or other diseases. “By contrast, the hyperspectral imaging approach that we are developing should allow much more sensitive detection of certain types of conditions, such as specific cancer types, by detecting a spectral signature from the tissue and matching it to a set of known spectral signatures,” he said. “This technique is analogous to fingerprint matching in forensics.”

Murray Bander, a World War II veteran who moved from New York to Mobile to operate a clothing shop, died from complications of pneumonia in 2001. He left his estate to the USA College of Medicine in 2003 and the Murray Bander Endowment for the Center for Lung Biology was established to support scholarly activities in lung biology. Monies from the award provide support for one year, although it is possible to submit successive applications.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Save the Date: Pediatric Grand Rounds Aug. 16

Yula Indeyeva, M.D., a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon at McCollough Plastic Surgery Clinic in Gulf Shores, Alabama, will present at the next pediatric grand rounds.

Her lecture, titled "Molding Therapy for Newborns with Congenital Auricular Deformities: A Successful Non-Surgical Correction Method," will be held at 8 a.m. Friday, Aug. 16, at the Strada Patient Care Center first-floor conference room.

In her talk, Indeyeva will identify relevant embryology, normal auricular anatomy, and prevalence of auricular deformities; determine awareness of congenital auricular deformities amenable to early non‐surgical correction; describe the technique of creating and applying a corrective ear splint; assess photographic results of correction; and establish a protocol allowing for early identification and referral of auricular deformities for non‐surgical correction.

Pediatric 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 Nicole Laden at or (251) 415-8688.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Munn named chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at USA College of Medicine

Mary B. “Mimi” Munn, M.D., has been appointed professor and chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and will start in September. In addition to her administrative leadership for the department, Munn, who is a maternal-fetal medicine physician, will provide specialty care for women with high-risk pregnancies at USA Health.

"We are excited to welcome Dr. Munn back to Mobile and to USA Health," said John V. Marymont, M.D., M.B.A, vice president for medical affairs and dean of the USA College of Medicine. “We believe Dr. Munn will advance the mission of USA Health with her track record as an accomplished medical educator and her keen understanding of our community’s unique healthcare needs.”

Munn completed her undergraduate degree from Spring Hill College in Mobile. She earned her medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. Following medical school, Munn completed her residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at USA Health Children’s & Women’s Hospital and her fellowship in maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“Undoubtedly, I am most looking forward to the opportunity to come back and work with outstanding and dedicated clinicians, and working together to make a difference in the lives of the women of our community,” Munn said. “There is definitely a shared vision and strong commitment to improving women's health at USA Health, and it is a privilege and an honor to be part of such an incredible organization.”

“Excellence in maternity care is a cornerstone of USA Health, and we are grateful that Dr. Munn has joined our team to provide leadership in this area,” said Owen Bailey, FACHE, chief executive officer for USA Health and senior associate vice president for medical affairs. “Dr. Munn’s passion for caring for women is evident, and we look forward to working with her in enhancing the obstetric and gynecologic services USA Health provides to our region.”

Prior to joining USA, Munn served as an associate professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology, division of maternal fetal medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. At UTMB, she served as director of ultrasound and prenatal diagnosis as well as chair of the quality care committee.

Munn has received numerous honors, including the Council on Resident Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology National Faculty Award and being appointed the Howard and Lillian Becker Professorship in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Her clinical interests are ultrasound and prenatal diagnosis. Her research interest is in noninvasive prenatal testing for aneuploidy, an abnormal number of chromosomes in the cells.

Munn is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and the subspecialty of maternal-fetal medicine by the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

She is a member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the International Society for Prenatal Diagnosis.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Sarcoma treatment provides multidisciplinary learning opportunities for residents and medical students

USA Health's surgical oncology team uses a multidisciplinary approach to treat sarcoma. 
Sarcoma is a rare cancerous tumor that occurs in connective tissues - fat, nerve, muscle, bone – impacting anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 patients a year in the United States, which is just 1 percent of all cancers reported annually. The rare nature of these tumors underscores the need for unique expertise and experience for successful treatment.

There are about 50 different types of sarcomas, and they fall on a spectrum with slow growing and easy to treat at one end to aggressive and more difficult to treat on the other. Sarcomas can also grow to the size of a basketball or watermelon that are mainly found in the abdomen.

Sarcomas require a multidisciplinary approach with a high level of expertise and experience to treat them successfully because they vary so much and are so rare. At USA Health, our surgical oncology team - J. Harrison Howard, M.D., Spencer Liles, M.D., and Annabelle Fonseca, M.D. - provides just that.

As an academic physician who is on faculty at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, Howard says he has the opportunity to teach residents and medical students about sarcoma and the importance of treatments that involve an experienced, multidisciplinary team.

“It has been demonstrated time and time again that people do better when they are treated by physicians that have extensive experience with this disease,” said Howard, who is fellowship-trained in treating sarcomas.

The treatment types for these tumors also varies: sometimes it’s just surgery, sometimes it’s radiation and surgery, and sometimes it’s chemo and radiation upfront followed by surgery.

“There’s a huge spectrum in how the tumors behave, and that's why it’s important to have a physician with extensive training and experience treat these,” Howard said, adding that sometimes treatments performed by inexperienced providers can make things worse rather than better for the patient.

For patients, Howard said that sarcomas can be hard to pinpoint but it’s important to look for lumps and growths that are deep in the muscle or tissue. Also, if a person’s belly is growing at fast rate, he recommends talking with your primary care physician.