Vital Signs

October 2006

NIH Chooses Rochester to Lead National Initiative

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Announcing the News: Senior leadership talk to faculty, staff and media about the new $40-million NIH grant. From L. to R.: University President Joel Seligman; Medical Center CEO Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D.; School of Medicine and Dentistry Dean David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D.; and Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Research Thomas Pearson, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.

On Oct. 3, history was made at the University of Rochester, as senior leadership announced that the National Institutes of Health had made its largest grant ever to the University when it selected the School of Medicine and Dentistry as one of 12 institutions to lead the emerging field of clinical and translational research.

The $40-million grant will be spread over five years to establish a Clinical and Translational Science Institute, which will work to produce innovative technology and methods that more efficiently and more quickly advance treatments to patients.

"We have been piecing together the building blocks for clinical and translational science at the School of Medicine over my entire time as dean," said David Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the School of Medicine since 2002 and principal investigator for the NIH project. "We share a common vision with NIH that there should be an academic home for such research. Our Institute is the next logical step in this area of investigation. The School of Medicine increasingly will be known as one of the places for conducting translational research and for training successful academic researchers."

In winning the award, the School takes a seat among some of the nation's most prestigious medical schools and universities including Yale, Duke and Columbia universities and the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.

"We won the Super Bowl of clinical translational research," said Medical Center CEO Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., during the press conference announcing the grant. "Now the work begins."

That work is multifaceted and will include increased funds for pilot projects and faculty training; enhanced services for data management, computer simulation, biostatistics, epidemiology, research ethics and community involvement; new master's and doctoral degree programs in clinical and translational science; and formation of a network of hospitals and biomedical research institutions in upstate New York whose members will collaborate on projects and share resources.

For more in-depth information visit: Clinical and Translational Science Institute.


Orthopaedics Reaches No. 1 Spot in NIH Funding
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Advancing in Research: From L. to R.: Edward M. Schwarz, Ph.D., professor of Orthopaedics; Randy Rosier, M.D., Ph.D., Chair of Orthopaedics, and J. Edward Puzas, Ph.D., professor of Orthopaedics recently review research findings.

The Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation has reached a major milestone, earning the No. 1 ranking spot based on funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2005. In reaching this distinction, the Department heads a list of some of the nation's top-rated academic medical schools including Yale University, Washington University, Thomas Jefferson Medical School and the University of Pennsylvania.

"The University of Rochester has a distinguished history of musculoskeletal research, a heritage that was furthered strengthened with the creation of the Center for Musculoskeletal Research in 2000," said David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. "I applaud the tireless efforts of Department Chair Randy Rosier, Center Director Regis O'Keefe, and their team, whose hard work and creative focus are resulting in notable orthopaedic research accomplishments that have true translational importance for patient care."

A majority of the Department's research is conducted in the Musculoskeletal Research Center, one of the few formal musculoskeletal research centers in the country. Headed by Regis O'Keefe, M.D., Ph.D., Center staff of 65 includes 16 faculty, and close to two dozen graduate students and post-doctoral fellows who work in the areas of Bone Biology, Cartilage Biology, Skeletal Repair, Inflammatory Bone Diseases, as well as Musculoskeletal Clinical Research.

Recent research by faculty garnering recent national attention includes studies allowing scientists to transform transplanted bone graft into living tissue; studies of the effects of lead on skeletal growth and development, as well as bone fracture healing; investigations into the causes of bone loss in joint implants; and the development of a gene therapy to augment bone repair.

Most recently, the Department landed a $7.8 million Center of Research Translation (CORT) grant in orthopaedics from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. A team of orthopaedic faculty will work on a variety of basic science and clinical research aimed at speeding the conversion of basic bone science into new treatments that prevent arthritis, improving fracture healing and saving limbs.

"This is an exciting time for us, both as researchers and as physicians," Randy Rosier, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, said. "We are getting close to the point where decades of research is finally paying off, with several of our teams on the cusp of translating exciting research discoveries into clinical treatments. I congratulate all orthopaedics faculty and staff for reaching this accomplishment, and also thank our colleagues throughout the Medical Center, who have helped to support our work."

School of Medicine Progresses in Ranking

The School of Medicine and Dentistry moved up one spot to No. 29 in the overall 2005 NIH rankings, with $143 million in funding. In all, 10 departments both ranked among the top 25 and within the top 25 percent of their peers in 2005. The School of Nursing also moved up one spot in NIH funding in 2005, ranking 12th out of 102 nursing schools with total NIH support of $3 million. Congratulations to all faculty and staff, whose hard work and vision make these high rankings possible.

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You Have the Power to Beat the Flu

white coatStrong Memorial Hospital is arming itself with more than needles this year to encourage all clinical faculty and staff to obtain a flu vaccine. Through the newly launched InFLUence program, a series of informational and convenient vaccination programs will begin reaching hospital employees to help boost vaccination rates among frontline clinicians.

According to Paul Graman, M.D., Strong Memorial's epidemiologist, influenza is a serious infectious disease responsible for about 36,000 deaths and 226,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. each year. He said that health care professionals play a special role in preventing the deadliest cases of this disease because they directly interact with those at greatest risk of experiencing serious complications from the flu.

"Health care professionals are at risk both of transmitting flu to their patients and being exposed to flu from their patients," Graman said. "We need to do all we can to keep ourselves, our patients, our co-workers and our families as safe and healthy as possible."

Research shows that the most effective way to prevent influenza is through annual vaccinations. Unfortunately, research also shows that less than half – just 40 percent – of health care professionals nationwide receive the influenza vaccine each year.

Representatives from Infection Control, Occupational Health and Safety, University Health Service, Human Resources, and the Pharmacy Department formed a team to develop a program to increase influenza vaccination rates among clinical faculty and staff.

"Our goal in creating InFLUence is to remind our clinicians how important it is that they get vaccinated," said Strong Memorial's Chief Operating Officer Kathy Parrinello. "By providing them with timely information, and making the actual vaccination as simple and convenient as possible, I'm confident we'll be able to boost our rates this year."

Program components include:

  • Peer Vaccination Program: Almost all units in the hospital and at outpatient clinical locations have designated a nurse who will be available to vaccinate faculty and staff right where they work. See your nurse manager or supervisor for more information.
  • Mobile Vaccination Carts: Beginning in November, Mobile Vaccination Carts will visit Strong Memorial Hospital departments to vaccinate large groups of faculty and staff. Please call 275-7795, Option 1 to arrange a visit. The Mobile Vaccination Cart also will attend several Grand Rounds throughout November and December.
  • Flu Clinics: In addition to the flu clinics run by the HR Benefits Office for all University faculty and staff, flu clinics geared toward health care professionals will be held in the House of Six Nations cafeteria during November through January.
  • Health Updates: Those faculty and staff who participate in Health Updates during October to January can receive a flu shot during these annual exams.
  • InFLUence Hotline: A hotline (275-1732) for faculty and staff is available to call with any questions and concerns about the program, or any general questions about the flu and the vaccine.

There is no charge for Strong Memorial employees to receive a flu shot, though please bring both your employee ID and insurance card when getting vaccinated.

For more information about the flu, including information on frequent vaccine myths, flu vaccine myths, and a complete schedule of upcoming flu clinics, visit the InFLUence website, accessible through the Medical Center's intranet. If you have any questions on the program, please call 275-1732.



MCNet Substantially Upgrades Medical Center Computer Network

white coatA comprehensive upgrade to the Medical Center's networking infrastructure, MCNet, is underway. When completed MCNet is expected to boost network capacity, add a new level of reliability, and place wireless technology throughout the Medical Center allowing connectivity for wireless laptops and other Wi-Fi mobile devices in most areas. Enhanced security features are also part of the package.

Led by Information Systems Division staff, MCNet will cover the entire Medical Center campus. The Medical Center's current network design and equipment, which connects more than 20,000 computers and devices, is over eight years old. With increased staff and computing demand, network requirements have been growing at about 10 percent each year. The MCNet upgrade will replace the existing network with a newly designed state-of-the-art network provided by IBM and Cisco Systems.

MCNet also will include exceptional security features to address a growing amount of critical systems and general concern about a safe computing environment. These features will be turned on once the network is in place and will have minimal visible impact to users. It will, however, create one of the safest computing environments available while maintaining broad access capabilities.

"We are very excited about the opportunities MCNet will bring to our operations – both academic and clinical," said Jerry Powell, chief information officer for the Medical Center. "This network upgrade will enhance the quality and effectiveness of our network and will make wireless connectivity available throughout the medical center."

MCNet will be phased in over a period of nine months. Planning, testing, and configuring the network components is underway now. The actual upgrades are expected to begin in November, and will continue well into 2007. Most of the work will be done behind the scenes and will have little noticeable impact to users. In fact, the majority of the work to take place between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

All work will be carefully scheduled and monitored to minimize impacts to users and systems. A detailed schedule is under development and will be posted on the MCNet Upgrade project web page at Specific notifications will be posted in affected areas prior to work being done. November is the first month end users might encounter a brief disruption in connectivity.

Any questions or concerns regarding this project should be addressed to the MCNet Project Manager Dave Lindsey at 275-0175 or




Faculty Spotlight

Media Clips


The Chicago Tribune (Oct. 17) carried David Topham’s comments on the implications of new research on Spanish flu for scientists working on a vaccine against bird flu.

Kevin Fiscella’s work on racial disparities in medical screening was covered by the Washington Post (Oct. 17).

New Scientist (Oct. 17) covered research by Howard Federoff on a vaccine against mad-cow disease.

Research by Nega Goji and John Treanor on a possible “prime and boost” vaccination strategy against bird flu was covered by the Associated Press (Oct. 16).

Newsday (Oct. 11) carried Christopher Ritchlin’s comments on new findings that patients with psoriasis are at increased risk for heart disease.

Saleem Ismail’s work on a potential new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease was covered by several TV stations around the country (Oct. 11).

UPI (Oct. 11) reported Robert Shaw’s work showing that our facial bones sag as we age.

The London Daily Mail (Oct. 10) quoted Andy Goodman about the promise of a new drug to help patients with multiple sclerosis.

The New York Times (Oct. 10) quoted Jane Greenlaw about decision-making at the end of life.

An analysis by Michael Pichichero on the best antibiotics to use to get rid of a strep infection was covered by Ivanhoe Broadcast (Oct. 9).

Benedict DiGiovanni’s find that a simple stretching exercise can relieve plantar fasciitis was covered by USA Today (Oct. 9).

The University’s role in a new network established by NIH to develop clinical and translational research was reported in an Associated Press (Oct. 3) story carried around the nation.

The Associated Press (Oct. 2) spoke with Handy Gelbard about his work aimed at treating or preventing the dementia that affects many AIDS patients.

ABC’s 20/20 (Sept. 29) featured the University’s research on gender differences in the way people navigate.

The role of Medical Center cardiologists in diagnosing the condition of a hockey star was covered widely in the Denver Post (Sept. 29).

Kevin Fiscella’s work on racial disparities in medical screening was covered by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution (Sept. 29). (Sept. 26) ran a story quoting Ruth Lawrence about the health benefits of breast milk.

ABC affiliate KTBS in Louisiana covered Jonathan Friedberg’s research testing a potential new treatment for lymphoma (Sept. 25).

Jeff Peters spoke with the Wall Street Journal (Sept. 24) about the changing face of esophageal cancer.

WebMD (Sept. 18) turned to Robert McCann to help put new research on genetic biomarkers and lifespan into perspective.

Cecelia Horwitz discussed with Newsday (Sept.16) future technologies that will likely be available to monitor one’s health.

Work by Arthur Moss and colleagues on the risk of sudden death among boys and girls with a heart rhythm disorder was covered by HealthCentral (Sept. 13).

Newsweek (Sept. 12) covered Robert Frisina’s publication showing that hormone-replacement therapy hurts hearing.

Karl Kieburtz was quoted in an Associated Press (Sept. 8) story about the safety of mercury fillings.

Reuters Health (Sept. 6) spoke with Gary Lyman about possible use of an anti-clotting medication for patients with cancer.

The Syracuse Post-Standard (Sept. 4) covered a state program funding several investigators that uses fines from speeding tickets to fund research on spinal cord injuries.

New Scientist (Sept. 4) interviewed John Looney about the interplay between the nervous system and the immune system.

Ruth Lawrence discussed with the New York Times (Sept. 1) the plight of nursing mothers seeking to carry breast milk aboard airplanes.

Scientific American (Aug. 29) spoke with John Treanor about the possibility that blood from surviving patients might help those infected with bird flu.

Richard G. Farmer, M.D., M.S., professor of Medicine and chief of the Gastroenterology and Hepatology Division, was selected as an honoree in the American Gastroenterological Association Foundation’s 2007 Mentors Research Scholar Award program. Recognized nationally and internationally as an expert in inflammatory bowel disease, the award honors Farmer’s contributions to the future of gastroenterology through mentoring activities of more than 100 gastroenterology Fellows and junior faculty.

Robert Holloway, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor in the Department of Neurology, has been appointed co-chair of the Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement Stroke and Stroke Rehabilitation Work Group. An AMA-led initiative, the Consortium is working to provide performance measurement tools to practicing physicians to facilitate quality improvement in providing care to stroke victims.

Ania Majewska, Ph.D., an assistant professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy, has won the prestigious 2006 Cajal Club Explorer Award, which honors a junior scientist who received an advanced professional degree within the last six years. The oldest ongoing neuroscience professional society, the Cajal Club gives out three prizes to outstanding neuroscientists at different stages of their careers investigating the cerebral cortex or its connections. Majewska was honored for her work examining dendritic spine changes at the molecular level. By understanding the dynamics of spine shape changes and utilizing state-of-the-art technology to observe structures in live tissue, Majewska hopes to gain insight into possible targets for therapeutic treatment.

Donna Tortoretti, RNC, C.M.A.C., chief executive officer of the Center for Nursing Entrepreneurship (CNEC), is being honored by the Rochester Women's Network for Innovation and Accomplishment. The CNEC’s Health Care Consulting Associates links community forensic needs with legal nurse consulting, providing expert testimony, on-site consultation and other care consulting services. Under Tortorelli’s leadership, Health Care Consulting Associates moved from an exclusively research and development base entity into a web-based practice working with other national companies to broaden its range of services.

James R. Woods, Jr., M.D., Henry A. Thiede Professor and chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, will accept the Outstanding Media Award from the Malignant Hyperthermia Association of the United States (MHAUS) for contributing to public awareness of the disease through effective use of media. Malignant hyperthermia is an inherited and sometimes fatal disease. The video helps teach health care providers about the disease through scenarios that simulate real-life situations.

Amy Vierhile, RN, P.N.P., will receive the Association of Child Neurology Nurses Award for Excellence in Child Neurology (ACNN) this month. The annual award recognizes and honors a nursing professional for distinguished service within the profession of child neurology nursing. An avid advocate for patients and their families facing the challenges of complex neurological disorders, Vierhile is known for her resourcefulness and creative approach in working with families by providing advice and by identifying the best resources in the community for patients’ benefit.

Two emergency medicine nurses will be honored by the New York State Emergency Medical Services Council later this month. Betty Montgomery, R.N., E.M.T., will receive the Registered Professional Nurse of Excellence award, given annually to a registered nurse whose dedication and insight helps to support and improve prehospital care. Both a nurse at Strong’s emergency department and an actively practicing paramedic, Montgomery has helped to expand the knowledge and skills of future paramedics through her mentoring skills. She previously won the regional Nurse of the Year award in April. Sharon Chiumento, R.N., E.M.T., will receive the Harriet C. Weber EMS Leadership Award, given annually to a long-time EMS leader whose dedication has helped promote and expand EMS organizations within the community and the state. As quality improvement coordinator and manager of the Office of Prehospital Care for the Monroe and Livingston Counties EMS Council, Chiumento’s tireless quality oversight and coordination of training opportunities has greatly strengthened the EMS community in our region. Chiumento also won the regional Leadership Award earlier this year.



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Last updated: 06/23/2009 10:11 PM