Vital Signs

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October 2007

PBS highlights URMC cardiac specialists

Teenager Matthew Oill (left) undergoes a stress test performed by pediatric cardiologist David Connuck, M.D., to determine if he needs an implantable defibrillator. Matthew and his family are profiled Monday in the PBS series "The Mysterious Human Heart."

“The Mysterious Human Heart,” a three-part PBS series featuring University of Rochester Medical Center cardiologists Arthur J. Moss, M.D., and James P. Daubert, M.D., will air in October across the country and locally on WXXI-TV 21.

The in-depth documentary developed by award-winning filmmaker David Grubin explains the heart: how it works, what can go wrong with it and how we treat it. The three-part project follows the compelling stories of patients whose hearts have led them to a brush with mortality. Through these encounters, the series explores the most common misconceptions about this unique organ and documents the latest scientific and medical revelations - discoveries that have transformed our understanding of the heart and provided new insights into the best ways to prevent and treat heart disease.

Moss, Daubert and several of their University of Rochester Medical Center patients are included in the portion of the documentary airing at 10 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15. Titled “The Spark of Life,” the hour focuses on the electrical system of the heart and how it functions to keep a heart beating - and what happens when the cardiac rhythm is interrupted. It features cardiac arrhythmia conditions such as Long QT Syndrome, a condition Moss has been studying for decades and for which he is the worldwide expert.

Bring your lunch and enjoy a rebroadcast of the hour-long PBS documentary at noon on Tuesday, Oct. 16, in the Adolph Auditorium, Room 1-7619.

Also airing: At 9 p.m. Oct. 15, “The Endlessly Beating Heart” looks at the heart as a muscle. At 9 p.m. Oct. 22, “The Hungry Heart” considers the effects of atherosclerosis, blockages caused by plaque in the vessels.

Moss, a professor of Medicine/Cardiology Division and director of the Heart Research Follow-up Program, is an internationally recognized expert on understanding rhythm disorders of the heart. Such arrhythmias cause many of the 330,000 sudden cardiac deaths each year in the United States. Daubert is an associate professor of Medicine/Cardiology Division and director of the Heart Rhythm Program and the Electrophysiology Labs at the Medical Center.

Leadership Changes

Rosier Tapped to Head Clinical Research

Randy Rosier, M.D., Ph.D.

Randy Rosier, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Orthopaedics, will serve as interim Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Research. Rosier is filling in for Thomas Pearson, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., who is taking a year-long sabbatical and will return to his role as Senior Associate Dean in July 2008.

Rosier is nationally recognized as an outstanding clinical and translational investigator, underscored by his recently securing a $7.8 million NIH grant to establish a Center for Research Translation in musculoskeletal disease, putting him at the forefront of his field.

A long-time faculty member at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rosier has earned the reputation of being a highly collaborative researcher. These credentials, coupled with his most recent role as chair of the Department of Orthopaedics for the past seven years, gives Rosier broad familiarity with faculty members who are involved in clinical and translational research, and with the infrastructure that supports this work.

In December of last year, Rosier announced that he would step down as chair of Orthopaedics to focus on his expanding portfolio of research. His tenure as chair produced some remarkable milestones: establishing the Center for Musculoskeletal Research; achieving the top ranking spot among all orthopaedic departments based on NIH funding; relocating all orthopaedic and rehabilitation clinical services into one location at Clinton Crossings in 2001, which resulted in a doubling of patient visits; and increasing full-time clinical and research faculty.

Schneider Steps Down as Emergency Medicine Chair

Sandra Schneider, M.D.

Emergency Medicine Chair Sandra Schneider, M.D., recently announced that she would step down as Department Chair. Gregory Conners, M.D., M. P.H., professor of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics, will serve as interim Chair.

For close to 15 years, Schneider led the Department of Emergency Medicine, having been named its Founding Chair in 1993. During her tenure, she essentially built a new department from scratch, and oversaw many significant developments. She was instrumental in the design of the new Emergency Department, which to this day continues to serve as a model for other facilities nationally and internationally. The department is currently ranked 12th in National Institutes of Health rankings, and will likely enter the top five next year based on additional grants.

Academically, the department also has excelled. It houses one of the most sought-after residency programs in the country, and now offers several fellowship programs in Sports Medicine, EMS and International Emergency Medicine. Many of its programs, like the Emergency Pharmacist Program, have won awards and are considered national models.

Schneider also has been an active member in national emergency medicine organzations, serving in leadership positions for many of them including the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, Association of Academic Chairs of Emergency Medicine, Emergency Medicine Foundation, and the American College of Emergency Physicians. With the prospect of her expanding responsibilities nationally in these organizations, Schneider felt she could not devote her full attention to leading the extremely busy Department of Emergency Medicine. She will stay on at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, working on the advancement of Emergency Medicine nationally and also on her own research. She is also looking forward to increasing her efforts on teaching and patient care.

While a national search is conducted, Conners will head the Department. He has most recently served as Division Chief for Pediatric Emergency Medicine and Vice Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine. A graduate of Amherst College and SUNY Stony Brook School of Medicine, Conners completed his residency in Pediatrics and fellowship in Pediatric Emergency Medicine, both at Children's National Medical Center in Washington D.C., before joining the UR faculty. He obtained his M.P.H. at the School of Medicine & Dentistry, and earned an M.B.A. at the Simon School. He is a Fellow both of the American Academy of Pediatrics and of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Eastman Dental Center Proves to be Strong Addition to URMC


Eastman Dental Center

Since its merger with the University of Rochester a little more than 10 years ago, the Eastman Dental Center continues to be at the forefront of clinical care, postdoctoral education, groundbreaking research and unprecedented community service.

For example, the number of dental patient visits continues to increase, and in 2006, reached an all time high of 140,500 people who were served at the Eastman Dental Center or at one of its community sites.

And on the education front, more than 700 dentists from around the world competed for 48 postdoctoral specialty training positions in Pediatric Dentistry, Periodontology (gum disease), Prosthodontics (implants), Orthodontics, General Dentistry, and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

“The merger has allowed for better patient care through cross disciplinary treatment between the dental center and the hospital,” said Cyril Meyerowitz, D.D.S., M.S., director of the Eastman Dental Center and chair and professor of the Eastman Department of Dentistry. “It’s also provided for better collaboration on all levels, making us the area’s clear leader in high quality multidisciplinary care.”

Take 18-year-old patient Jim Nowakowski, for example, who at seven months, had the first of many surgeries to treat a cleft palate at Strong Memorial Hospital (SMH). His ongoing treatment is led by a multidisciplinary team of doctors at SMH, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, and EDC Orthodontics, who have worked together to adjust Nowakowski’s jaws, replace missing bone, and straighten his teeth as he grew.

Dentistry researchers continue to be leaders in the field, and recently have captured national attention in areas such as gene therapy and arthritis, the relationship between natural products and tooth decay, and bone loss and periodontal disease, to name a few.

Established in 1915, the Eastman Dental Center – that tall, uniquely shaped building next to the parking garage on Elmwood Avenue – stays true to its original mission, when George Eastman founded it with a vision of healthy smiles for every child in Rochester, regardless of economic circumstances.

Today, Eastman’s vision is carried out in the Center’s many programs aimed at helping kids living in Rochester’s inner city. One such effort is an innovative teledentistry program aimed at addressing dental caries (tooth decay). Trained health specialists capture images of the child’s teeth and gums, which are then sent via computer to a pediatric dentist at the Dental Center, who can initially assess the child’s oral health. While the program doesn’t substitute for a regular exam, it’s an excellent step toward early detection and prevention.

EDC also treats those who may not otherwise get treatment through its SMILEmobiles, fully equipped trailers that travel to different elementary schools throughout the year. They are staffed with a dentist, hygienist, dental assistant and administrative coordinator who provide complete oral exams, x-rays, cleanings, fluoride treatments, and other services if needed.


Deadline Approaching for Health Care Plan Enrollment

Faculty and staff have until Oct. 31 to enroll in the new health care plans. Four sessions (see below) will be held later this month to help answer any remaining questions about each of programs. Representatives from the Benefits Office, Aetna, and Excellus also will be available for faculty/staff to speak with individually.

Tuesday, Oct. 23
3 to 5 p.m. - House of Six Nations, North End

Wednesday, Oct. 24
12 to 2 p.m. - House of Six Nations, North End

Thursday, Oct. 25
7:30 to 10 a.m. - Flaum Atrium, Medical Research Building
11 a.m. to 2 p.m. - House of Six Nations, North End

A Health Care Program Decision Guide, which recently was mailed to the homes of all faculty and staff, includes detailed information about the new health care plans, FSAs, and information about open enrollment. Faculty and staff need to enroll in their plan of choice by Oct. 31 either online at or by telephone at (877) 258-2556 (weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.) by Oct. 31.

Remember that the Online Cost Estimator is available to help faculty and staff determine which of the University's new health care plan options is the best overall value for them. The online tool contains an interactive calculator allowing employees to compare payroll deductions, deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. For more information on the four new health care plans and a link to the online enrollment tool and the online calculator, visit, or contact the Benefits Office at 275-2084 or


Children’s Hospital to Help Kids by Helping Parents

When children are admitted to Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong or visit one of our outpatient clinics, their parents are generally asked whether they smoke. The answer is noted in the child’s chart, but that’s about as far as it went until recently.

A new initiative seeks to take children’s potential secondhand smoke exposure a couple steps further by proactively asking smoking parents if they want help to quit. If so, they are connected with a local or state program for help and support.

“We aren’t expecting busy nurses and residents to get into motivational counseling,” said Jan Schriefer, R.N., assistant director of Pediatric Quality and leader of this quality improvement project under Elise van der Jagt, M.D., M.P.H., medical director of Inpatient Pediatric Units. “We just want to get parents who are ready to quit linked up with these already established programs.”

If parents aren’t interested in quitting or simply haven’t been able, they will be offered non-judgmental advice on how to lessen secondhand smoke exposure for their children through no smoking rules in the home, car and in child care.

“Not all parents will be ready or able to quit when we ask them, so we’ll encourage them to establish firm rules about not smoking in their homes or cars. Those rules could be particularly helpful for our patients with respiratory problems, such as asthma or pneumonia,” said Jill Halterman, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor at the university’s Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong.

Secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard that is linked to a whole host of health issues, including sudden infant death syndrome and ear infections. Infants and young children who are exposed to smoke are at higher risk of infections, such as colds, pneumonia, bronchitis and respiratory syncytial virus. Children also can develop or have worse asthma as a result of being exposed to secondhand smoke.

A recent analysis of 200 charts of Golisano Children’s Hospital patients revealed that almost every child was screened about whether parents smoked. It even showed that 30 percent of those children whose parents smoke, do so in the house. But there was no documentation of whether any attempt was made to counsel the parents about not smoking inside or about programs to help them quit.

“Most smokers know they are addicted and want to and try to quit. These new programs will help parents be more effective at quitting, both for their own health, and for their children and families,” said Jonathan Klein, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of Adolescent Medicine at Golisano Children’s Hospital. Klein is also the director of the new national Julius B. Richmond Center of Excellence for Children, which is dedicated to preventing children’s exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.

The quality improvement committee that is implementing the smoking cessation program has streamlined paperwork for enrolling patients so that it only adds a few minutes to house staff’s duties. This is a key issue for already busy nurses, residents and physicians.

“I find that parents don't usually bring it up unless they are asked, but once they are asked, they are open to discussion,” said Deepa Camenga, M.D., pediatric resident. “It takes less than three minutes, usually, to present this information and help direct parents to smoking cessation resources.”

The program is already being used in many pediatric outpatient clinics and is slowly being implemented in the pediatric inpatient units. It may eventually be expanded to obstetrical areas.


Learn More about PRISM Proposal

The Medical Center recently announced that it is submitting an application to the New York State Department of Health for 123 additional beds to Strong Memorial Hospital’s license. If approved, the project, dubbed PRISM, will include a new 330,000-square-foot, six-story tower to house adult and pediatric beds, as well as two stories dedicated to Imaging Sciences.

Faculty and staff can learn more about the PRISM project by attending one of the upcoming Strong Memorial Employee Forums later this month. Strong Memorial’s Chief Operating Officer Kathy Parrinello will be on hand to discuss the program, and answer any questions you may have. Food and beverages will be served.

Tuesday, October 30
Noon to 1 p.m. Whipple Auditorium (2-6424)

Wednesday, October 31
Noon to 1 p.m. Whipple Auditorium (2-6424)

Thursday, November 1
8 to 9 a.m. North End of House of Six Nations Cafeteria



Faculty Spotlight

Media Clips


USA Today (Sept. 25) carried a story about Sports Medicine’s program to prevent knee injuries in young women.

Michael Pichichero’s research showing evidence for a new drug-resistant “superbug” that is causing ear infections in children was covered by the Associated Press (Sept. 18).

John Treanor discussed new developments on the bird flu front with the Canadian Press (Sept. 18).

WebMD (Sept. 14) spoke with Robert Davis about treatment for low testosterone levels.

Ruth Lawrence’s comments on the situation of a nursing mother who is seeking extra time for her medical licensing exams were carried by the Associated Press (Sept. 12).

Ed Puzas discussed the necessity of vitamin D for strong bones with the Winston-Salem Journal (Sept. 6).

The Baltimore Sun (Sept. 6) quoted Caroline Hall in a story about use and overuse of medication in children.

Reuters (Sept. 5) carried a story about Kelly Conn’s research showing that parents’ misperceptions and worries often hinder the treatment of asthma in their children.

Mark Noble’s work on the vulnerability of brain cells to chemotherapy was covered by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (Sept. 1).

The Medical Center’s smoke-free policy was mentioned by several California newspapers (Aug. 30) in articles about a similar policy at Stanford. (Aug. 29) quoted Alice Pentland in a story about the long wait time to have a suspicious mole checked compared to the shorter waiting period for patients trying to get rid of wrinkles.

The Los Angeles Times (Aug. 27) quoted Robert Doty in an obituary of physiologist Benjamin Libet.

Craig Jordan was quoted by Science (Aug. 23) about the role of stem cells in cancer.


Howard B. Beckman, M.D., clinical professor of Medicine and Family Medicine, will receive the Lynn Payer Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Literature on the Theory, Practice and Teaching of Effective Health Care Communication and Related Skills. The award will be presented at the American Academy on Communication in Healthcare International Conference in October in Charleston, S.C.

Chin-To Fong, M.D., clinical associate professor of Pediatrics, Dentistry, and Oncology, and chief of the Division of Pediatric Genetics, has received the Alumni Association 2007 Gold Medal Award. He was nominated by the Interclass Student Senate. The Gold Medal Award was established by the School of Medicine and Dentistry Alumni Association to pay tribute to members of the faculty “in recognition of integrity, inspiring teaching, and devotion to medical students.” The first award was given in 1952 to Samuel W. Clausen, Professor and Chair of Pediatrics.

Paul R. Katz, M.D., professor of Medicine and chief of the Division of Geriatrics, and medical director for Monroe Community Hospital, has collaborated to produce Practice of Geriatrics, 4th Edition (Elsevier, 2007). The new text equips providers with knowledge to provide effective care for a growing geriatric patient population. Other University of Rochester contributors to the text include: Bilal Ahmed, M.D., Thomas V. Caprio, M.D., David C. Foster, M.D., MPH, William Hall, M.D., Jurgis Karuza, PhD, Jeffrey Lyness, M.D., Frederick Marshall, M.D., Michael R. Privitera, M.D., MS, Gwen K. Sterns, M.D., and T. Franklin Williams, M.D. Former geriatric fellow William Lyons, M.D., also contributed.



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