Thursday, October 17, 2019

Trimm to present on implicit bias at OB/GYN grand rounds

Franklin Trimm, M.D., associate dean for diversity and inclusion at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and assistant vice president for medical affairs at USA Health, will present at the next OB/GYN grand rounds. His presentation, "Implicit Bias in Academic Medicine," is set for 7:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 18, in the Atlantis Room at USA Health Children & Women's Hospital.

In his talk, Trimm will discuss the science of unconscious bias, how bias and processes of the unconscious mind can impact critical decisions and results, and how to apply strategies for practicing more conscious awareness.

OB/GYN grand rounds take place every Friday at 7:30 a.m. The lectures are open to USA faculty, staff and students.

Contact Nicole Huie at (251) 415-1563 or for more information.

USA basic medical sciences graduate student research published

A new study examining early immune responses in the cornea was recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science. The study examined a type of lymphocyte known as a Gamma Delta T cell to provide protection in the cornea against Herpes Simplex Virus-1 (HVS-1), the leading cause of infectious blindness in people in developing countries.

Steffani Fitzpatrick, a graduate student in the department of microbiology and immunology in the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, was the lead author. The research presented in the article documented immune responses that occurred in the cornea of the eye following an infection by the Herpes Simplex Virus.

Other collaborators include primary investigator Robert A. Barrington, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology and immunology at USA, and Robert N. Lausch, Ph.D., professor emeritus of microbiology and immunology.

Using an experimental model, researchers studied a type of lymphocyte called a Gamma Delta T cell. They found that a certain subset of Gamma Delta T cells helps to limit the corneal damage, reduces the spread of the HSV-1 virus and aids in survival following infection. The research also showed that the T cells produce a specific type of protein called IL-17 that helps with the defensive responses.

Previous research shows that Gamma Delta T cells offer an important early immune defense against a variety of viral and bacterial pathogens.

"As we learned more, we realized this could be a really important target," Barrington said. "One of the profound things that Steffani's work revealed is that it can potentially help improve the paradigm for how we measure the effectiveness of vaccines."

Current treatment options are limited to a few anti-viral medications that limit the spread of the virus, but there are no vaccines available to eliminate the virus, Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick successfully defended her thesis in September and will graduate from USA in December with a Ph.D. in basic medical sciences. This is the first time her research has been published in a national journal.

This study builds on more than 30 years of research produced during Lausch's career at USA, Barrington said. The current research was supported by grants from the Lions Eye Research Foundation in Mobile, Alabama.

"There's still more to be known,” Fitzpatrick said. "We are continuing to work on the project to fully understand the role the cells play."

Mark Your Calendar: Scalici to present at surgery ground rounds

Jennifer Scalici, M.D., associate professor of interdisciplinary clinical oncology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, will present at the next surgery grand rounds. Her presentation, “Gynecologic Oncology for the General Surgeon” is set for 7 a.m. on Oct. 18 at the USA Health University Hospital second floor conference center.

In her talk, Scalici will define the surgical management of gynecologic malignancies.

Surgery grand rounds take place every Friday at 7 a.m. The lectures are open to USA faculty, staff and students. A light breakfast, coffee and beverages are provided.

For more information, call (251) 445-8230 or email

Professor’s memoir teaches lessons in running, cancer and life

Phillip Fields, Ph.D., will be signing copies of his book from 12:30 to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17, and Thursday, Oct. 24, at the USA Health University Hospital cafeteria.

Phillip Fields, Ph.D., has just finished signing copies of his memoir for a couple of second-year medical students in his office at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine.

“Never give up,” says Fields, explaining the main takeaway from his book, “The Long Road Back to Boston: Running Marathons with Leukemia.”

The recently published book by the professor of anatomy at the USA College of Medicine is about running, coping, digging deep for strength and finding one’s passion.

“There’s a quote that says what we do with terrible news defines who we are,” Fields says. “If you find your passion and stay with it, your diagnosis is not going to be life shattering; it will only be life changing. And the diagnosis will not mark the end of life, but the beginning.”

In the book, Fields describes in detail the sudden-onset shortness of breath at age 60 that eventually led to a trifecta of bad news: the leukemia diagnosis at USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute, the grim prognosis and the advice against running to protect his spleen and prevent hemorrhage.

Fields was told that he had five to seven years to live -- and the doctors were advising against more running. Rather than give up his passion, he set an ambitious goal to run a marathon in every state and Washington, D.C., by December 2012.

What followed was a push to finish 51 marathons in 47 months as he fought through fatigue, chemotherapy and side effects from the treatment.

“For me, not being able to run was the worst of the three pieces of bad news,” he said. “Now, more than ever, it is why (and how) I have been able to manage the diagnosis of leukemia, life expectancy numbers, chemotherapy and everything else tossed my way.”

Two weekends after each of his six chemotherapy treatments, Fields ran a marathon in a different state. He found that running kept his mind off of treatment.

Before the cancer diagnosis, Fields had qualified for and run the Boston Marathon, an achievement that most runners consider a rite of passage. He desperately wanted to return.

In 2015, years after completing the 50-state goal, he entered the Boston Marathon again – this time through the ALLY Foundation. Three years later, he entered through the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Returning to the Boston Marathon brought back memories from 1996 and the exhilaration of running past hundreds of thousands of spectators in the final 2 miles.

“It’s amazing,” he recalls. “You want to kiss the ground.”

Fields donates royalties from the book to a variety of charities, including USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute and the Ronald McDonald House. “The Long Road Back to Boston” has been accepted for inclusion in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s suggested reading section of its website.

“Leukemia has been a blessing that I thank God for every day,” he said. “Because of that diagnosis, I have seen every state and hiked in every major national park in the U.S. and Canada.”

Lexie Hensley, a second-year medical student at the USA College of Medicine, said she was inspired by the professor’s journey. “His book was funny in some parts and sad in others, and some parts just left me in awe,” Hensley said. “I’m truly amazed at the mental and physical strength it took for Dr. Fields to be able to conquer all of those marathons, some while undergoing treatment.”

Despite heart damage from chemotherapy, Fields continues to run marathons. He encourages his students to never give up trying to get where they want to be in life as long as they enjoy the journey.

“I think back on what I’ve seen and been able to do,” he says. “You find that if you really want to, you can reach a lot deeper than you ever thought possible.”

“The Long Road Back to Boston” is available for purchase on ($6.99 for Kindle and $15.65 for paperback).