Vital Signs

June 2006

Wilmot Cancer Center Celebrates Groundbreaking of New Facility

$42.5M Campaign Supports Expansion of Cancer Care, Research for Cures

Leadership from throughout the University of Rochester and Medical Center gathered in mid-May to officially mark the start of construction of the new James P. Wilmot Cancer Center, which will expand local cancer care and research and lay the groundwork for national prominence.

"We celebrate the bright future of the Wilmot Cancer Center," said University President Joel Seligman. "This new facility will stand as a shining example of the University's strong commitment to outstanding care and research."

The state-of-the-art, 163,000-square-foot building doubles the amount of space for clinical and translational research and provides hope for cures as it brings scientists and doctors together to help engineer better therapies. It also provides patient access to a greater number of new, cutting-edge therapies and an unprecedented level of privacy.

"This new cancer center building raises the bar for cancer care and research here in Rochester and around the world," said Richard I. Fisher, M.D., director of the Wilmot Cancer Center and Cancer Services for Strong Health. "We have outlined our vision, which is simple: We will take a leadership role in finding cures for cancer. All of our plans for the future of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center are driven by that singular goal."

Construction is underway at the corner of Crittenden Boulevard and East Drive, serving as the southeast anchor to the Medical Center campus. It is funded in part by a $42.5 million comprehensive campaign to support the expansion of clinical care and the recruitment of 25 additional clinicians and scientists to expand research efforts.  Completion is expected in spring 2008.

The campaign will support the Cancer Center’s $65 million strategic plan, which lays the foundation for capturing the National Cancer Institute designation as a comprehensive cancer center. This important designation will bring additional funding for research to Wilmot, allowing for greater expansion of programs in the coming years.

"When you build clinical and research programs that demonstrate leadership within the cancer field, the National Cancer Institute recognizes those contributions by funding additional research and designating the center as one of the best in the country," said Fisher, who worked at the NCI from 1972-84.

A Growing Need
The need for cancer care has grown dramatically in recent years, with Wilmot experiencing 15 to 20 percent increases in patient volume each year for the past four years. In 2005, oncologists provided care to 6,500 people, and that figure is expected to double by 2009. Each day, Wilmot doctors and nurses provide about 100 chemotherapy infusions and 110 radiation therapy treatments. This increased volume puts a further stress on the current Cancer Center, which outgrew its existing facility long ago, forcing research operations to shift to other areas of the Medical Center and the relocation of the infusion center and oncology clinics to the Ambulatory Care Facility, on the other side of the campus.

The new building and programs will allow people to stay close to home for the very best cancer care and accommodate a growing number of people from outside the region coming to Rochester for expert care. Wilmot has one of the largest clinical programs for lymphoma and leukemia in the Northeast and leads the nation in shaped-beam stereotactic radiosurgery to destroy tumors that were once considered untreatable.

The new four-story facility will feature a three-story glass atrium at the entrance, allowing natural lighting to fill the facility. Patient care areas will be located on the ground and first floors, with easy access from the ramp garage that serves Strong Memorial Hospital.

Translational research laboratories – designed to bring discoveries from research labs to the patients' bedsides – will be moved into the new facility, allowing scientists and oncologists to talk about ideas, research and treatment outcomes. This model has proven effective in the nation’s elite cancer centers.




Outpatient Visits Continue to Climb at Strong

Increasing Trend Leads to Outpatient Movements

Last year alone, more than one million patients were seen at the Medical Center on an outpatient basis, either for visits or procedures. With hospital and faculty outpatient visits continuing to increase 5 to 7 percent each year, facilities are being rehabbed and/or reconfigured onsite and offsite to accommodate this meteoric growth.

"With the steady growth we have experienced since the Ambulatory Care Facility opened in 1996, we are regularly re-working space and evaluating space needs for all of our outpatient programs to ensure each is operating in a space that is suited to their clinical needs," said Betsy Slavinkas, clinical director of Ambulatory Care at Strong Memorial Hospital. 

The majority of the moves in 2006 effect practices operating out of the ground and fifth floors of the ACF and from the U-tower above University Health Services. According to Slavinkas, these relocations are just the beginning of many more outpatient practice moves to come over the next three years as space becomes available. For example, when the new Cancer Center facility is completed, ACF-3 will have a large area that will be vacant, and the line is already forming for the next occupants.

Below is a recap of recent and upcoming moves.  As with all practice relocations, plans are dependent on a number of items which can substantially change timing and/or the move itself.

Vascular Surgery: Moved in early April from ACF-Ground to Building H at Clinton Crossings. Along with the current Vascular Surgery Practice, this new space allows for the opening of a new Vein Center to treat varicose veins. The Wound Center, which treated patients in both ACF-Ground and ACF-2, also moved to share space in Building H with Vascular Surgery.

Strong Epilepsy Center: In mid-May, all outpatient visits, including outpatient EEGs,  moved to 919 Westfall Rd., Building C.  The Center previously shared space with other Neurology outpatient programs on the second floor of the U-tower, which hindered its ability to accommodate increased patient volume. 

Pediatric Sleep Center: In the last week of May, pediatric visits and consults moved from the 2337 S. Clinton location to 919 Westfall Rd., Building C.  The move of Heidi Connolly, M.D., with her team, allows for the new space, designed in a "kid-friendly" manner, to improve the patient experience for children.

Surgery: In 2005, Plastic Surgery moved its practice from ACF-2 to Building E at Clinton Crossings.  The practice recently expanded services offered at this site, and now is able to conduct minor outpatient procedures as well.  Colorectal Surgery is also seeing patients at this site, as is Surgical Oncology.

Occupational and Environmental Medicine: The portion of the Department that provides physicals and other health care services to area companies is scheduled to move to 400 Red Creek Drive, in the same building that houses the Mary M. Parkes Center for Asthma, Pulmonary and Allergy Care. Strong Health Updates and other services provided for Strong Health employees will continue to be conducted onsite, with an eventual move into ACF as space becomes available.




From L to R: Richard Reichman, M.D., Robert Rose, Ph.D., and William Bonnez, M.D.

Work by Med Center Scientists Paves the Way for New Cervical Cancer Vaccine

The creation of a successful vaccine against cervical cancer, just approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this month, is the culmination of research that has roots at the Medical Center led by virologists Richard Reichman, M.D., William Bonnez, M.D., and Robert Rose, Ph.D.

The new vaccine targets a group of viruses known as human papillomaviruses (HPV), which cause 12,000 cases of cervical cancer in women in the United States annually. About 4,500 women in the nation die of the disease every year. The toll is much worse in other parts of the world, where Pap smears to detect the disease in its earliest stages are not widely available. In some parts of the world, cervical cancer is the leading cause of death by cancer in women.

Research done more than a decade ago by the research trio is integral to the technology, which takes aim at a portion of a class of viruses that also cause all warts. Now, the research is poised to save lives and become part of one of the first vaccines to prevent a form of cancer.  

For more information on the fascinating field research the group undertook to develop its findings, visit and click on "Cervical Cancer Vaccine."




National Association Honors Evarts with Highest Honor

One of orthopaedic’s highest honors, the AOA-Zimmer Award for Distinguished Contributions to Orthopaedics, was awarded June 21 to University of Rochester Medical Center CEO C. McCollister Evarts, M.D., at the American Orthopaedic Association’s annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

The award is presented annually in recognition of outstanding leadership in the advancement of the art and science of orthopaedics, as well as sustained and substantial contribution and leadership to orthopaedic surgery. The honor includes a $50,000 monetary award, which Evarts has pledged to the School of Medicine and Dentistry’s C. McCollister Evarts Merit Scholarship Fund.

"I am humbled and honored to be singled out for this prestigious award, joining the company of some of orthopaedics' finest surgeons and researchers," Evarts said.

Evarts' distinguished career, including pioneering work as an orthopaedic surgeon, mentor, educator and strategic leader, all were factors in his selection.  To be considered for the award, nominees must have achieved pre-eminence in one or all of the following areas: clinical, education and research.  In addition, nominees' contributions must have changed the practice of orthopaedics worldwide.  

Evarts is credited with helping to introduce total hip replacement surgery to the United States and highlighting the prevention of thromboembolic disease in the musculoskeletal patient. A member of the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, he has held the top leadership post at two academic health centers, where he helped spur advancements in medical education, research, clinical care and community outreach. Author of over 200 articles in peer-reviewed journals, Evarts is also the editor of the 5-volume textbook, Surgery of the Musculoskeletal System. He has served as president of the Association of Orthopaedic Chairmen, The Hip Society, the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American Orthopaedic Association.

The AOA-Zimmer Award comes on the heels of a series of other national and local honors recently bestowed on Evarts. The Monroe County Medical Society recognized Evarts with the Edward Mott Moore Award, the highest award given by the Society to a physician in recognition of excellence in education, patient care, research and community service. The Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and its Department of Surgery recently created a new professorship, the C. McCollister Evarts, M.D. Professor in Artificial Organs, to honor the works of Evarts. He also was recognized in the Physician Category of the Rochester Business Journal’s annual Healthcare Achievement Awards for making a significant impact on the quality of health care in the Greater Rochester area. 

Last year, the Rochester Academy of Medicine presented its highest honor, the Albert David Kaiser Medal, to Evarts in recognition of his long, distinguished career, the same year he became one of the few to ever twice win the John Charnley Award. This prestigious award is given by the Hip Society, an exclusive member organization comprised of leading orthopaedic surgeons who specialize in total hip arthroplasty.




Kids Become Professionals for A Day

Pharmacists of Tomorrow:  A group of girls carefully measure out liquids as they prepare a mock medication in the Strong Memorial Pharmacy.  From L. to R:  Samantha Chizuk, Christina Griffo, Maria Jorge and Mariah Beverly.

Creating a specialized medication was just one of the many hands-on activities experienced by the 200 children who participated in the Medical Center Administrative Group’s Take Your Children to Work Day this past April.  From tours of the blood bank to monitoring of brainwaves, from peering through microscopes to taking part in a security patrol, sons and daughters (and sometimes their friends) of Medical Center faculty and staff had the opportunity to try out a career in the health care or higher education industry, at least for a couple of hours.

Since 1995, MCAG – or the Medical Center Administrative Group – has been organizing this highly popular event.  Since that time, approximately 1,700 girls and boys have been able to get a birds-eye view of the many different career choices available to them in health care and higher education at the University of Rochester. 

To orchestrate an annual event of this magnitude each year is a Herculean effort, especially when considering it is an all-volunteer effort.  Ten members, from both MCAG and the River Campus Administrative Group, or RCAG, form a steering committee to plan and oversee Take Your Children to Work Day activities.  Heather Booth, current chair of MCAG and research program manager of the Program in Neurobehavioral Therapeutics within the Department of Psychiatry, is continually impressed with the outstanding results of this hard-working committee.  In addition, the event relies heavily on its tour volunteers, which this year, numbered 53. 

"When MCAG originally started what was then called Take Your Daughter to Work Day, our events were limited to our members' children," said Nora Plumeri, MCAG liaison to the Office of the Senior Vice President for Health Affairs.  "As the popularity of the day grew, so too did the desire of others throughout the Medical Center to have their children participate. So we opened the MCAG event up to all faculty and staff, and since then, we have difficulty keeping up with demand."

MCAG and RCAG volunteers work steadily for four months to plan activities for each year’s event.  Designing a selection of programs that is both interesting and safe for 200 children aged 9-15 can be challenging, and also depends on the participation of various departments throughout the Medical Center and River Campus.  Despite the impact of HIPAA regulations and the subsequent decrease in departments able to participate, in 2006, 30 Medical Center and River Campus departments offered tours to children. 

"The experiences we are able to offer our children are directly linked to the number and diversity of participating departments," said Dan Leyrer, co-chair of the MCAG Take Your Children To Work Day committee.  "This past April, we had a terrific mix, and as a result, children were exposed to everything from foodservice operations to red blood cells.  It really was a great day."

Next year, it is hoped that the event can be expanded to 300 children, but to do so, both MCAG and RCAG will need more participation from volunteers and departments throughout the Medical Center and River Campus. 

"We wish we could include everyone, but we need to make sure we have enough volunteers to safely escort the children to the various activities.  Likewise, as we increase the number of children, we’ll need to increase the number of departments participating so we have enough interesting activities to spread out among the children," Leyrer added.

If you’re interested in devoting time to the event, or would like to host a tour of your department, please contact Leyrer, who will continue to serve as the Committee Co-Chair, as he has for many years.  Leyrer can be reached via email at




Manchester Appointed Chief of General Medicine Unit; Wins Prestigious Award

Ralph Manchester, M.D., F.A.C.P., associate professor of Medicine and director of University Health Service (UHS), was recently named chief of the General Medicine Unit. With his new responsibilities, Manchester will oversee the primary care physician services provided by faculty and staff out of the Ambulatory Care Facility, as well as the training of 80 internal medicine residents.  He replaces David Lambert, M.D., who has guided the GMU Division for the past five years, and has chosen to concentrate his activities on his growing role as associate dean for Medical Education.

Manchester’s new appointment comes at a time when he is receiving national attention for his role in championing the "open access" and primary care provider models of health care delivery for college students.  Under his direction, in 1999 UHS became one of the first in the country to assign students a primary care physician (PCP) or nurse practitioner (NP) to coordinate and oversee their care while attending school.  This "open access" or primary care provider model of health care delivery successfully links students with their PCP or NP about 75 percent of the time at Rochester, and is increasingly becoming the standard of care at colleges and universities nationwide.

For his role, Manchester was honored with the distinguished Edward Hitchcock Award at its recent annual meeting of the American College Health Association (ACHA) in New York City. The award honors ACHA members who have made outstanding contributions to advancing the health of all college students, and is named in memory of Edward C. Hitchcock, Jr., M.D., who founded the first college health service in 1861.

"It is a great honor to be recognized by my peers, and is an especially poignant award for me, as my mentor, previous UHS Director Dr. Cliff Reifler, is also a recipient of this award," Manchester said. "I hope to continue making contributions to this very important field of medicine."

Manchester has been actively involved in UHS since joining the Department of Medicine in 1983. He was appointed medical chief of UHS and an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine in 1985.  In 1994, he became the director of UHS.

In addition to his duties at UHS and the Medical Center, Manchester has taken on leadership roles at several national associations.  He has served as president of the ACHA, the New York State College Health Association and the Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA). In addition, he has chaired the ACHA Clinical Medicine Section, Continuing Medical Education Subcommittee, and Continuing Education Committee. Manchester is the editor of Medical Problems of Performing Artists and is a consulting editor for the Journal of American College Health.

He received a bachelor of science degree from Tufts University, and a medical degree from the University of Vermont College of Medicine.  He completed his residency training at the University of Kentucky, where he served as chief medical resident from 1982-83. Manchester is an author or co-author of over 20 articles in peer-reviewed publications. 



Smoke Free Update

smoke freeOn June 15, the Medical Center, along with three other area hospitals, announced to the community that it will become a smoke free campus effective November 16.  Earlier in the month, a letter from Medical Center CEO C. McCollister Evarts was mailed to all employees alerting them of the new policy. 

Faculty and staff can learn the latest information and developments through a new web site. Located on the intranet, it can be accessed directly off the intranet home page by clicking on the Smoke FREE Inside and Out symbol. 




Faculty Spotlight

Media Clips


Alan Smrcka’s work on G-protein coupled receptors was covered on the news pages of JAMA (June 14).

The European press has been covering a surgical procedure performed by James Aquavella to restore the sight in the eye of a seven-week-old infant by implanting a plastic cornea. The story on the front page of the Times of London (June 12) caught the attention of the London Daily Express, BBC (June 13), Spanish radio and several other outlets.

HealthDay (June 12), Reuters Health (June 14), the Independent (South Africa) and several other publications covered Ilan Goldenberg’s research on implantable defibrillators and heart failure.

The University’s role in the development of the cervical cancer vaccine, and its implications for young women, were featured in several stories worldwide. Cynthia Rand was quoted in Time Magazine (June 12) and ABC News (June 8); Michael Keefer was quoted by ABC (June 8); Marjorie Hunter was quoted in the Boston Globe (June 5); and vaccine developers William Bonnez, Richard Reichman and Robert Rose were featured in the Baltimore Sun (June 9), Toronto Star, and in outlets such as China’s People’s Daily and several Australian news services.

Jeanne O’Brien spoke with the London Daily Mail (June 6) about using antioxidants to fight infertility.

WebMD (May 31) turned to Glenn Currier to discuss a possible link between schizophrenia medication and tumors.

Susan Fisher’s work on the possible role of a virus in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was covered by UPI (May 25).

Ed Messing’s study on the effectiveness of screening for bladder cancer was covered by Reuters (May 25) and several Web outlets around the world.

Work by Maiken Nedergaard on the activity of astrocytes was covered by UPI (May 17) and the Discovery Channel (May 17).

Mark Noble discussed the promise of stem cells to treat disease in the Buffalo News (May 16).

Tris Smith was quoted in a Time Magazine (May 15) cover story about the promise of early and intense intervention for treating autism.

The ongoing Seychelles study of mercury and seafood was mentioned in an article on a ruling by a California judge that mercury warnings on tuna cans are unnecessary on the San Diego Union's web site. (May 13)

The Baltimore Sun (May 12) turned to Sharon Humiston for comment on who should be protected first if a bird flu pandemic occurs.

Ben Miller’s work on a fast device to detect deadly e.coli was covered by (May 12).

UPI (May 11) covered Sandra Jee’s work showing that very young children in foster care are at risk for developing health problems.

David Topham spoke with WebMD (May 10) and other publications about recent findings about the effect of an adjuvant on the bird flu vaccine.

The University’s cox-2 patent fight was mentioned in a New York Times (May 5) story on a patent recently awarded to Ariad Pharmaceuticals.

Comments by John Treanor on preparations in case a bird flu pandemic occurs were carried by the Associated Press (May 2) to dozens of outlets on several continents, including Australia, Africa, Europe, North America, and Asia.

Donna Palumbo discussed with WebMD (May 1) the possibility that drugs used to treat ADHD stunt children’s growth.

Orthopaedic surgeon and Director of University of Sports Medicine Michael Maloney, M.D., was awarded a Traveling Fellowship by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), a world leader in sports medicine education, research, communication, and fellowship.  The Traveling Fellowship is awarded bi-annually to three orthopaedic surgeons in North America deemed to be the future leaders in sports medicine by their peers.  As part of the fellowship, Maloney recently completed a month-long tour of Europe’s top sports medicine and Olympic training centers to observe and share best practices and advances in research.

Alice Pentland, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Dermatology, was elected to a one-year term as president of the Society for Investigative Dermatology (SID).  SID is the pre-eminent organization for the science of skin health and diseases and serves scientists and physicians working in academic settings, researchers in government and industry, practicing dermatologists, residents and fellows, and members of the lay community interested in skin research.

Oral biologist Hyun (Michel) Koo, D.D.S., Ph.D., assistant professor and principal investigator of the Laboratory of Applied Oral Microbiology in the Eastman Department of Dentistry, and Robert Marquis, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, recently received Distinguished Scientist Awards from the International Association of Dental Research, the largest organization of dental researchers in the world. The awards recognize outstanding and innovative achievement in dental research worldwide.  Koo, who already has established a track record of research success in determining how certain foods can help develop and prevent dental decay, received the Young Investigator Award. The Senior Investigator award for a lifetime of achievement was presented to Marquis for his body of research into understanding how bacteria get the nutrients they need to stay alive, even in hostile environments like the body.

Ganesh Palapattu, M.D., assistant professor of Urology, received a $100,000 grant from the Prostate Cancer Foundation to study whether bone marrow-derived cells can contribute to the development of prostate cancer.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) awarded Karen Mustian, Ph.D., an ASCO Junior Investigator Research Merit Award, at its 2006 annual meeting in June. The highly competitive award is given to outstanding early-career researchers to recognize their cancer prevention and control research. Mustian is an assistant professor of Radiation Oncology.

An article on direct-to-consumer drug advertising, co-authored by Ronald Epstein, M.D., and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in April 2005, was selected as “Article of the Year,” by Academy Health, the major health services research meeting in the U.S. The Society of General Internal Medicine also selected the article as the “Best Published Research Paper of the Year.” Epstein is a professor in the Departments of Family Medicine and Psychiatry.

David Pinto, Ph.D., assistant professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy and Biomedical Engineering, has been awarded a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue his research using the power of numbers to improve human health. The program, part of NSF’s program to support promising scientists early in their careers, gives Pinto $590,000 for his research during the next five years. A neuroscientist and mathematician, Pinto is working closely with doctors who treat epilepsy, using his mathematics background to understand the disease in a way that no one has before.

Neurologist Benjamin Segal, M.D., associate professor of Neurology and director of Neuroimmunology Research, helped lead an effort to secure a new Collaborative Multiple Sclerosis Research Center Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society – the only one in the nation established by the society this year. With $825,000 in funding from the society, the center’s goal is to bring together the University’s strengths in vaccine biology, cellular and molecular biology, virology, and clinical MS research in a concerted effort to learn more about the disease.



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Last updated: 06/23/2009 10:08 PM