Vital Signs

August 2007

New Facility to Foster Emerging Biotech Companies

The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) recently dedicated the Rochester BioEnterprise Center, a new facility that will support the development of early stage biotechnology and life science companies. The new facility will play an important role in regional economic growth and is supported by $2.5 million in funding from New York’s Gen*NY*sis program.

The University has converted a former Wyeth laboratory building at 77 Ridgeland Road in Henrietta into 40,000 square feet of office and laboratory space. The Rochester BioEnterprise Center will be the first technology incubator in the region with wet lab facilities, a necessary ingredient for biotechnology companies to develop products, and will serve as an important link in the chain of resources necessary to promote and foster the growth of early-stage life science companies on a regional scale.

"The University of Rochester Medical Center has a strong track record of converting new technologies into commercial ventures and keeping those companies – and the jobs they create – here in greater Rochester," said Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., CEO of URMC. "The Rochester BioEnterprise Center will facilitate this effort by providing a place to nurture these new companies in an environment that strengthens both their science and their commercial potential."

Approximately five to 15 new "bio" ventures emerge in the Rochester region each year and it is anticipated that these numbers will grow as the region becomes more entrepreneurial and local universities generate more innovations with commercial potential. Three clients are confirmed and have already moved into the building: URMC Labs (laboratory services), NaturalNano (nanomaterials), and Egenix (cancer therapeutics). Four additional prospects are engaged in serious discussion and are likely to join the Center by September.

Early stage biotechnology ventures often require long periods of development and validation and in many instances must conduct this work with limited financial investment. Incubators, such as the Rochester BioEnterprise Center, can serve as a temporary and cost-effective home for new companies while they transition from early research and product development to active commercialization while operating in an environment that links these entrepreneurs with services, advisors, and potential clients and investors.

The facility will be managed by High Tech Rochester, which will extend its business support services – business and marketing plan development, entrepreneurs-in-residence, and networking with potential clients and investors – to BioEnterprise Center clients.

The Rochester BioEnterprise Center will be open to any qualified early stage life science, biotech, chemical, pharmaceutical, medical, dental or health service company that needs wet lab facilities, regardless of its relationship to the University.



URMC and RGH Announce Neuromedicine Partnership

Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., Medical Center CEO, announces partnership.

The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and Rochester General Hospital (RGH) have formed a partnership that makes RGH an affiliate of URMC’s Neuromedicine program. The affiliation is expected to improve access and quality of care for individuals with neurological disorders.

"This agreement is not only good for patients, it’s a victory for Rochester," said Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., Medical Center CEO. "The affiliation will enhance the delivery of care for the area’s residents, and I see this as the first step in an effort to discover new ways to collaborate on care and research. It’s part of URMC’s overall regional strategy to partner with others in leveraging our Centers of Excellence to draw more patients to our community’s hospitals."

URMC neurologists will be located on-site at RGH to staff the hospital’s Stroke Center and provide general neurological care. URMC will recruit eight new full-time faculty neurologists to serve at Rochester General. In addition, the two health systems will collaborate on community and professional education as well as neurological research projects.

The partnership will create the opportunity to develop a regional approach to neurological care. For example, the joint stroke program – which will be one of the largest in the country – will work to establish best practices, track and improve medical outcomes, and conduct coordinated public education campaigns.

This agreement builds upon an existing community-wide clinical alliance in neurosurgery. Since 2003, Rochester Neurosurgery Partners (RNP), spearheaded by the Department of Neurosurgery, has been providing neurosurgical care at Rochester’s four acute-care hospitals, including RGH. The group includes 25 physicians and support staff who provide a wide range of neurosurgical procedures. RNP recently received a grant from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield to begin tracking neurosurgical outcomes and is working to reduce costs and drive improvements in care.

"The experience with the Rochester Neurosurgery Partners has demonstrated the enormous potential of community-wide collaboration in this field," said Webster H. Pilcher, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Neurosurgery. "Our partnership has been a model of cost effective and cooperative health care delivery and is indicative of what could be achieved on a larger scale."

Both health systems expect that the neurology component, when added to the surgical partnership, will yield opportunities to create nationally recognized Centers of Excellence in the field and make Rochester a preferred destination for neurological care.

While the partnership between URMC and RGH will initially be limited to stroke and general neurological care, both sides envision expanding to other joint clinical, research and educational programs in the future, such as neuromuscular diseases, epilepsy, and movement disorders.

"The goal is to build an environment in which both health systems can work collaboratively to advance our knowledge of these diseases and provide the highest level of neurological care," said Robert C. Griggs, M.D., chair of the Department of Neurology. "This agreement will enable us to create a city-wide program that expands services within a community that is dramatically underserved in terms of practicing neurologists and neurosurgeons and, in doing so, we will be able to offer more patients access to cutting-edge therapies."




URMC Lauded for Care of Patients with Respiratory Disorders

U.S.News & World Report’s 2007 America’s Best Hospitals issue has listed the University of Rochester Medical Center’s (URMC) programs in Respiratory Disorders as the 37th best in the nation. The ranking encompasses all of the Medical Center’s pulmonary care programs – from outpatient services to inpatient treatment, including critical care.

URMC’s program was selected from among 5,462 hospitals evaluated in the magazine’s 18th annual hospitals ranking list. The ranking of Respiratory Disorders is based on high volume of demanding procedures, low mortality, availability of technology and advanced patient services, high quality and robust nursing care, and reputation.

This year marks the first time that URMC’s respiratory care disciplines have been recognized by the magazine. "This much-appreciated honor is a credit to the effort that our faculty and staff have put into making URMC’s respiratory care patient-friendly and medically innovative," said Steve Georas, chair of Pulmonary Medicine.

For instance, last year URMC was recognized by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement as one of the first hospitals in the nation to eliminate ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). Through a series of preventive measures, URMC dropped the frequency of VAP from 6 percent at the start of the initiative, to 0 percent in 2006.





Eighth-Floor Renovations Near Completion

MICU Celebration (From L. to R.): Kathy Parrinello, SMH chief operating officer; David Kaufman, M.D., F.C.C.M., SICU director; Mary Wicks, R.N., M.P.A., associate director of Nursing/Adult Critical Care; Tim Kehl, R.N., M.S., MICU nurse manager; and Michael Apostolakos, M.D., director of Adult Critical Care and the MICU.

In mid-July, the newly renovated Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) opened at Strong Memorial Hospital, following on the heels of the surgical intensive care unit (SICU) opening in February. The layout of the unit is identical to the SICU, containing 12 patient rooms that are twice as large as previous rooms, as well as many other new amenities.

Both renovations are part of a two-year, $12 million overhaul to three of Strong Memorial’s intensive care units (ICU), representing the most significant renovation to these units in more than three decades. By September, it is hoped that construction on the space previously occupied by the Burn/Trauma unit will be complete, and will open as a Progressive Care Unit specializing in treating patients who are doing well in their recovery but still need more intensive nursing care.








University Salutes Staff

Forty-three Medical Center employees with more than 25 years of service recently were honored by the University. University President Joel Seligman (left) and G. Robert Witmer, Jr., chairman of the University of Rochester's Board of Trustees (right), were on hand to present recognition gifts to each of the employees. For a complete listing and photos of all honorees, please visit





Program for At-Risk Infants and Mothers Recognized

In-home visits with pregnant and new mothers is an integral part of the Baby Love program.

Baby Love, a social work program for at-risk infants and mothers based out of Strong Memorial Hospital, has been recognized by the Hospital Association of New York State as one of the state’s best examples of an institutional commitment to improve the health of the surrounding community.

"It is an honor to be recognized by our peers in the health care community," said Mardy Sandler, L.M.S.W., director of the Baby Love program. "Baby Love is making a difference in the lives of young women and their families and we are proud of the success that this program has achieved."

For almost two decades, the Baby Love program has conducted home-visits with at-risk mothers aimed at reducing infant mortality, premature births, low birth weight rates, and foster care placement in poor inner-city neighborhoods. The program has been cited as a key factor in significantly reducing neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admission rates. For example, after it started working with the Monroe Plan (an organization that primarily serves low-income individuals), a 60-percent drop in NICU admission rates was recorded. Another pilot project using Baby Love outreach workers has reduced the disparity in NICU admission rates between African-American and white teens.

Baby Love serves approximately 200 medically and psychosocially at-risk pregnant women and teens, their newborns, and families per year. Teams of social and outreach workers visit the homes of at-risk pregnant women and teens weekly to ensure patients have access to regular health and social services and that their homes are ready for the arrival of the newborn. The outreach teams also help families secure needed goods and services such as food, clothing and baby items. Families referred into the program are enrolled as early in the pregnancy as possible and the home visits continue until the child’s third pediatric well-care visit.

Baby Love emerged from a community-wide effort to respond to the health challenges facing inner-city families and the program is an integral part of two community-wide initiatives – the Rochester Early Enhancement Program and Rochester Healthy Start. It is just one example of how faculty and staff support the Medical Center’s mission to improve the health and wellbeing of our community. In 2006, the Medical Center established the Center for Community Health to help sustain and expand such community outreach efforts.




Faculty Spotlight

Media Clips


David Pearce and Jonathan Mink were featured in an Associated Press story (July 16), that was carried by more than 100 outlets around the world, including MSNBC and the Los Angeles Times, for their efforts treating Batten disease and their work with families affected by the rare disorder.

A study by David Krusch showing that electronic medical records pay for themselves was covered by the Washington Post (July 12), Forbes, and several other Web sites.

Timothy Quill discussed end-of-life care with a columnist from the Boston Globe (July 3).

MSNBC (July 2) quoted Thomas O’Connor in an article about depression in children from families where there has been a divorce.

The Lehrer News Hour (July 2) featured Project Link, a program run by the Department of Psychiatry for the mentally ill, in an extended story on the Virginia Tech tragedy and programs that might help prevent similar happenings. Robert Weisman and Steve Lamberti were featured in these following clips.

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An Associated Press (July 2) story on work by Thad Boss and colleagues studying a new alternative to traditional weight-loss surgery was carried by scores of outlets, including USA Today.

Judith Baumhauer, M.D., professor and chief of the Division of Foot and Ankle Surgery in the Department of Orthopaedics, was elected as secretary for the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society, placing her on track to serve as the organization’s first female president in 2011.

Cardiologist Gladys Velarde, M.D., associate professor of Medicine and founder/director of the Strong Women’s Heart Program, recently was awarded the Hispanic Health Leadership Award by the National Hispanic Medical Association for her commitment to improving health care for Hispanics and the underserved.

John E. Gerich, M.D., professor of Medicine and program director of the General Clinical Research Center, has been awarded the Novartis Prize for Long Standing Achievement in Diabetes. The Novartis Prize recognizes Gerich’s scientific accomplishments in the fields of regulation of glucose metabolism and the disease development of Type 2 diabetes, as well as his training of nearly 50 fellows.

Philip Fay, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, is a recipient of a special projects award from Bayer HealthCare LLC to study hemophilia. The awards are targeted at a wide range of research projects in which investigators are trying to prove or disprove theories. Fay’s prior research has led to discoveries in redesign of proteins that may lead to improved blood clotting.

James Powers, M.D., professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and of Neurology, received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Meritorious Contributions to Neuropathology at the annual meeting of the American Association of Neuropathologists. The group is the largest and most prestigious neuropathology association, with members around the world.

Shirish Balachandra, M.D., of the Department of Family Medicine, was one of 20 medical residents from the U.S. to receive the 2007 AAFP/Bristol Myers Squibb Award for Excellence in Graduate Medical Education. The award is given to those residents who "represent the most outstanding family medicine residents in the country." A former U.S. Peace Corp volunteer, Balachandra was recognized for his leadership role among residents in the Family Medicine program, including encouraging volunteers for a trip to rural Honduras, and for organizing other residents to provide care for local refugee patients.

The American Association of Medical College's Northeast Group on Educational Affairs has presented Clayton Baker, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine, and Stephanie Brown Clark, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of Medical Humanities, the Award for Innovation in Pre-Clinical Medical Student Education. Baker and Brown were recognized for their work on Taking a History, Telling A Tale: A Storytelling Approach to Teaching History-Taking Skills, a medical humanities course for second-year medical students using a variety of oral and textual narratives to develop students’ medical history-taking skills.

Ralph F. Józefowicz, M.D., associate chair for education in the Department of Neurology, has been named director for neurology of The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc. The board sets the standards to be met by physicians seeking to earn certification in psychiatry and neurology specialties, and administers related examinations. As director, Józefowicz will lead discussion on certification policy, direct an examining team for the oral neurology boards and chair question-writing committees. He was nominated for his prominence in neurological education, question-writing experience and ability to evaluate residents’ clinical skills.



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Last updated: 06/23/2009 10:00 PM