Friday, October 25, 2019

Academic-centered healthcare drew neonatologist back to USA

Kalsang Dolma, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, sought out a career at an academic medical center – specifically USA Health – in part because of the opportunity to positively influence physicians in training.

“I have always felt that academic centered healthcare was the best fit for me,” Dolma said, “because it not only gives me an opportunity to practice evidence-based medicine, but it also offers a platform to share that knowledge with the next generation.”

Dolma works as a neonatologist within the Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at USA Health Children’s & Women’s Hospital. As many as 80 premature infants are cared for in the NICU each day. Part of her role includes giving monthly presentations to medical students and advanced practice providers.

“Neonatal-perinatal medicine is a field that is rapidly growing,” Dolma said. “It is extremely important to keep ourselves updated on the latest research. For me, giving lectures is the best way to quickly share that information with students and colleagues.”

Her major research interest is in the field of pulmonary lung biology and pathogenesis of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) as it relates to the airways of preterm infants who have an increased risk for developing lung diseases.

The ability to help newborns thrive drew Dolma to a career in neonatology: “For a mother, a newborn baby means the world to her. And by providing the best clinical care, we can give a mother back her world.”

Dolma is board certified in pediatrics. She earned a medical degree from Maulana Azad Medical College at Delhi University in India. She completed a pediatric residency at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and a neonatology fellowship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“Children's & Women's Hospital has a very special place in my heart,” she said. “I did my pediatric residency here and I also had my child at this hospital. It will always remain special to me.”

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Malozzi to discuss nuclear stress testing

Christopher Malozzi, D.O., assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and a cardiologist with USA Health, will present at the next cardiology grand rounds.

His lecture, "Nuclear Stress Testing: Basics of Image Acquisition" is set for 11:30 a.m. Oct. 25, in the cardiology conference room at USA Health University Hospital.

In his talk, Malozzi will review the basics of stress testing, including selecting the appropriate patient and testing modality, and review the basics of nuclear perfusion imaging.

Cardiology grand rounds takes place every Friday of the month. For more information, contact Angela Hunt at or (251) 471-7923.

Bassam to present on neuropathic pain

Bassam Bassam, M.D., professor of neurology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, will present at the next neurology grand rounds. His lecture, titled "Neuropathic Pain," is set for 8 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29, at USA Health University Hospital in the second-floor conference center.

In his talk, Bassam will review neuropathic pain mechanisms and management.

Neurology grand rounds take place each Tuesday at 8 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) 445-8262 or email

USA awarded NIH Instrumentation Grant to enhance biomedical research

Mikhail Alexeyev, Ph.D., professor of physiology and cell biology at the USA College of Medicine, places a sample in the Seahorse XFe24 extracellular flux analyzer as Domenic Spadafora, Ph.D., manager of the flow cytometry facility at the USA College of Medicine, and research technician Nataliya Kozhukhar look on.
Together, 11 investigators at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute recently received a Shared Instrumentation Grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to purchase a Seahorse XFe24 extracellular flux analyzer. 

According to Mikhail Alexeyev, Ph.D., professor of physiology and cell biology at the USA College of Medicine, the new equipment will enhance biomedical research across USA and help investigators maintain their competitiveness for extramural funding. 

“This instrument measures the bioenergetic health of the cells and tissues by measuring various parameters of mitochondria – the cellular powerhouses,” Alexeyev said. “All cells need energy to survive and ATP is the universal energy currency in our bodies. Mitochondria produce the bulk of ATP in most cells – hence, the designation of powerhouses – and it has been long since known that mitochondrial function is altered in aging and disease.”

Some extreme examples of mitochondrial malfunction include mitochondrial diseases – which are often incurable, lethal disorders with very limited palliative treatment options – and cancer, in which mitochondrial function is altered dramatically. 

Alexeyev, who serves as principal investigator on the grant, said this new tool has far reaching potential to impact patient care. “By helping improve our understanding of the mechanisms of disease, this instrument holds the potential to develop effective treatments for a wide range of diseases,” he said. “In particular, it will help researchers at USA who are involved in projects to advance their respective fields of study. Specifically projects investigating mitochondrial disease, mitochondrial DMA damage and repair, vascular physiology and pathology, cellular metabolism, host-pathogen interaction, immunology, cancer biology and cell biology.”

Additional investigators at the USA College of Medicine who are part of this grant include Mary Townsley, Ph.D., senior associate dean and professor of physiology and cell biology; Troy Stevens, Ph.D., Lenoir Louise Locke Chair of Physiology and Cell Biology; Mark Gillespie, Ph.D., professor and chair of pharmacology; Richard Honakanen, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and molecular biology; Robert Sobol, Ph.D., chief of molecular and metabolic oncology; Sarah Sayner, Ph.D., associate professor of physiology and cell biology; Steve Lim, Ph.D., assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology; Jonathon Audia, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology and immunology; Robert Barrington, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology and immunology; and Diego Alverez, Ph.D., associate professor of physiology and cell biology.  

Follow-up study finds LINX procedure most effective treatment for GERD

A new study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology shows that patients who experience gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) have better results – both short and long-term – after having the LINX procedure than those who treat their GERD with medication.

William Richards, M.D., professor and chair of surgery at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and director of the USA Surgical Weight Loss Center, performs the LINX procedure at USA Health and was one of the CALIBER study investigators and authors.

The article "Magnetic sphincter augmentation superior to proton pump inhibitors for regurgitation: 1-year randomized controlled trial" (CGH-D-19-01338)” is a follow-up to a study that began several years ago and was published approximately a year and a half ago as the study participants hit six months post-surgery. The current article reflects patient results after one year.

“A minimally-invasive outpatient procedure has yielded better patient results at 6 months and 1 year than an increase in medication,” Richards said. “That’s a pretty big deal.”

The trial studied approximately 150 patients who had severe GERD and were already taking proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). The patients were randomized into medical therapy, which put them either at the maximum dose of PPIs per day or the LINX procedure.

“Early results indicated that the patients who had had the surgery were far better with less symptoms, improved results, and satisfaction with their care,” Richards said. “After one year, they were still doing well. Surgery sustains that really good outcome.”

According to Richards, this type of trial, that is randomized and controlled to answer a specific question, provides level one evidence, which is the best level of evidence “We’re conducting research to answer these types of questions,” Richards said. “USA Health is on the cutting edge. We participate in trials with our colleagues to investigate how we’re doing and how we can do better and provide better care to patients. Now, we have at least one answer.”

GERD, commonly referred to as acid reflux or heartburn, is a disease that is caused by a weak lower esophageal sphincter. This weak muscle allows stomach acid and bile to flow back into the esophagus, often damaging the lining of the esophagus and causing symptoms like heartburn or chest pain.

LINX is the only device approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of GERD and has proven to eliminate dependence on medication and improve quality of life. The device consists of a small, flexible band of magnets that is surgically placed around the esophagus just above the stomach to help prevent reflux.

Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology is a journal published by Elsevier on behalf of the American Gastroenterological Association.